The Book of Revelation: Intro
The Book of Revelation has inspired many with its mysteries. Many cults as well as mainline Christian groups have been caught up in trying to explain the symbolisms. Some attempt to make it fit modern times while others see it as a specific time in history. Because of this Book, many have tried to set dates as to the return of Jesus and so far have failed. I am not supposing I know all the mysteries of the Book of Revelation, yet as I talk many seem to wonder where I get some of my views. Though, to be brutally honest, many of my views are still in flux and have yet to solidify. I will though attempt in this series to walk with the reader through Revelation as a single Book. Yet, before I do that I see that I may need to point out some things that made me rethink my previous views.
One area that is of great interest is that of the Rapture. Some are quick to point out certain passages and state they prove the Rapture to be true, some also point to these same passages to show the Rapture to not be true. I will only show you what I see and let you decide. I do not seek to convince the reader to my view; only give some points to consider. Though I will start out my journey with you the reader in other books, when I start the series we will read it as it is written. I have found that most often when a book of the Bible is taken as written and was intended to be read, those find that it speaks more clearly than if I jump from book to book as if the Bible was some huge jig-saw puzzle that needs to be interpreted.
I will start in Luke 21:20 -35
20. "When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.
23. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 25. "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
27. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." 29. He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32. "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 34. "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. 35. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.
I am offering a 3'rd alternative. I do not agree with the Rapture view, nor do I yet see the time of the gentiles has come to its end. Also, I consider myself a partial preterist as I have a hard time seeing that death and Hades have been tossed into the Lake of Fire yet, as... people and things still die. In the day we are clothed in the imperishable and incorruptible I see that death will be gone. My point is that when one looks at the passage in Luke, it plays out as the death, resurrection and ascension then the destruction of the temple. The point were the "Left Behind" folks get confused is that the passage is most often translated as "comes in the clouds" as opposed to the alternative "appears in the clouds"...All I am saying is that if one looks at it as appears and thinks of Jesus at His ascension... this all fits well in what Scripture teaches. Also realize that Jesus had not gone to the Cross yet... so most often He would reference things to come to include His death.I think that this is a good alternative view and the weakest point is whether one can prove it is "comes" or "appears"...We agree that the Kingdom is ever expanding, yet I see that started with Jesus, and was poured out on all flesh at Pentecost. I see this was the time and not 70ad that the Kingdom true was on earth.70ad is still important as it was the sign that ushered in the time of the gentiles as I stated.Again... look at it and it all fits.The very generation that Jesus spoke to saw the death, burial, resurrection, ascension, Pentecost, destruction of the temple and then the ushering of the time of the gentile. So to me to hang it all on 70ad misses out that this passage.Even in Matt 24 if one looks at it in light of Jesus talking about the signs of the Cross and Resurrection and such... the word "coming" can mean "presence". Even if it is still "coming" the Cross, Resurrection et al were still to come. To me the idea of lightening does not have to mean the second coming, but still can reference the first coming. Jesus spoke of the time that He was there as the "last days"... Admittedly Matt 24 is harder to see what is going on, yet, here Jesus is not pointing to the cross, resurrection and all. Rather he is talking directly of the destruction in 70ad. Yet if one takes note that Jesus was talking to mainly a Jewish audience He would stress what was of importance to them… being the destruction of the Temple in 70ad. Luke which was written mainly to Gentile audiences, would emphasize the age of the Gentile.
I think this is where I part ways with the full preterist view. I see that though 70ad fulfilled the prophecy that Jesus made... it did not mean that all the end times had come to fulfillment.I see the groans as still in the pains of giving birth. Yet, there is still the birth to come. 70ad was the sign that the birthing pains started. I see that the resurrection of Jesus was the conception of the new creation… that Jesus was the first fruit of it. I see that 70ad was the beginning of the birthing pains… as the destruction of Jerusalem was surely a “pain”… and now I see that God is still gathering those that will come to faith. 70ad was the end and judgment of Israel for their rejection of Jesus as Messiah. Though the gentiles started coming to Jesus before 70ad I see that after 70ad is the time of the gentiles. Isaiah 9 and Matt 4 speak of this time that the Gentiles who were living in darkness now have seen a great Light… being Jesus.
"30. "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory." If read with the understanding that as John wrote what was happening in heaven (even if it is symbolic and whether it is an early date or later date as the dates would not matter) When Jesus was revealed in Heaven as the Lamb of God by the opening of the scroll, the temple was destroyed. Now again I admit I cannot show proof-text of this, yet if you read the verse this way as it can also be translated:30. "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the Heaven, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man appearing on the clouds of the heaven, with power and great glory."
Now admittedly what puts a kink in this scenario is that last verse in this passage:
35. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.
Though I do not see the Rapture in these versus as some claim, I keep in mind I see that there may be more than to the prophecies of Revelation. I see that in the whole of scripture there is often a near/far aspect to prophecy. Sometimes there will be a prophecy given that is fulfilled in the age it is given and then later fulfilled in its fullness. For example the virgin birth which is prophesied in Isaiah. Please, let’s not get into the argument over “virgin versus young girl” as I think we would agree that most young girls, and especially in the Jewish religion would be a virgin so whether the girl in Isaiah was or not, does not mean that Mother Mary was not.
Yet in the example King Ahaz heard of the enemies of Israel were coming from the north. Isaiah was sent by God to calm King Ahaz by giving a promised sign to Israel. Now think about that, as God does not do things without greater reasons. If He sends a prophet to speak, this may mean more than what is happening in the immediate.
Isaiah 7: 14. Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Most will state that Isaiah was talking not of a child born in his time but of a future time:
Isaiah 9: 6. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
I agree that this is true which is part of my point, yet many do not know that it was also fulfilled in Isaiah’s time.
Isaiah had two wives and two sons.
Shear-Jashub which means "A remnant shall return".
Mahershalalhashbaz which means “The spoil speeds and the prey hastens”.
Now here is the interesting point. Ahaz has this great fear and asks for a sign to be given. Again I am not going to quivel over “virgin versus young woman”. I see that Isaiah was originally told to name his son from his second wife, Immanuel as a sign God was with Ahaz if he trusted Him. Yet Ahaz did not trust God but went and formed an alliance with the Assyrians. Then, God later told Isaiah to name the son that was to be Immanuel Mahershalalhashbaz. Piecing this together takes a little time and I am not going into all the details of this, as I am making another point. Because of Ahaz’s lack of faith, he did not get to see the sign fulfilled but was given what would happen to him for his disobedience which was his destruction. Yet the point that many miss is not about “virgin” but about the Name Immanuel which means “God with us.” Matthew later emphasizes that Jesus would be referred to “God with us.” Matthew did not mean that Jesus’ literal Name would be Immanuel for there is no record outside of Matthews account that Mary referred Jesus by Immanuel. The point of the earlier fulfilled prophecy (though not in it’s original intent) was that God was for Israel and if Ahaz obeyed God, He would protect them. In a sense this prophecy speaks to us today. If we do not turn to Jesus who is sign of “God with us” we will become spoiled seeds (Matthew 13) and become the prey of God who will return to judge and set all things right.
The near/far view does not need the near prophecy to be perfect as often these are messed up by man such as in the case of Moses striking the Rock once to signify that the messiah would come twice, once as a Suffering Servant, then again as King… Moses messed up the second time as he was to speak to the second Rock but struck it. These Rocks as I stated were prophetic signs of Jesus. First the Rock that was struck in Exodus 17 was the Suffering Servant the second Rock again was Jesus and a sign that we must confess to the Rock for the waters of salvation… Yet, Moses struck the second Rock in anger and forfeited he opportunity to go into the Promised Land. Again, we have a choice to choose Jesus now and speak (confess) to Him now, or in a sense strike him again and make a mockery of the Cross which will forfeit out opportunity to enter into the New Creation.
I see this pattern in The Book of Revelation as even in the opening passage:
Rev 1: 19. "Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”