Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Revealing Revelation - IT IS FINISHED

With this post we will conclude our discussion on the Book of Revelation and, in turn, conclude with the purpose of this blog…where do I go from here after all this time?

Rev 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Here again we have many images that are closely associated with what is known as the Eternal State. But like our discussion of the New Jerusalem I believe we will find things that are both future and present realities and also find no necessity to force this description into exclusively a future timing.


It is impossible to ignore the similarity between the image of the river flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb and the picture of a similar river flowing from the Temple in Ezekiel 47.

Eze 47:1Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east…

We go on to discover that this river that started small at the threshold of the Temple grows to a mighty raging river, reaches the sea and covers the entire sea, making all the water it touches fresh and giving life to the vegetation and animals.

In the Ezekiel passage the water comes from the Temple and in revelation we are told the New Jerusalem (the Church) does not have a Temple but that the Father and the Lamb are the temple. this then shows the image in Ezekiel of the Temple find fulfillment in the Church through the river proceeding from God and the Lamb, the new Temple.

So, what are we to make of the water itself? Jesus uses an identical term in His own ministry that should give us some clues.

John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This water of life pictures the spread of the Gospel being successful throughout it’s run. What it touches comes to life! This is not a future event, but the present, ongoing expanse of the Gospel.

John then borrows almost word for word from the image in Ezekiel when discussing the impact of the river on the trees and the leaves of those trees. In the Revelation passage the tree mentioned is the Tree of Life, but we are told that it’s leaves are used for the healing of the nations (peoples). Note the similar usage in Ezekiel.

Ez 47:12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

John again borrows from an Old testament passage to reveal that the promises made to Israel find their ultimate fulfillment in Christ and His Church.

The discussion of the lack of things being accursed may directly tie to the finished work of Jesus Christ as He became accursed (as one who hangs from a tree) so that we would not be accursed. But with His work complete and His REVEALING in Heaven as King and Lord, the accursed work is finished once and for all (Hebrews).

We are then reminded that like how Satan marked his own on the foreheads, Jesus did as well. Again, there is no reason to take this marking literally as this Old testament concept was a popular theme and should be understood that way.


The image of Jesus being the light should not be confusing to even the cursory glance. Scripture is replete with the use of the image of light representing Christ. Here John visualizes the work of Christ and the Spirit in the individual and Church body member.

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Christian no longer walks in darkness. He is always and forever surrounded by the light of Christ. I would hope a more detailed exposition would not be necessary.

The rest of this Chapter contains some final words to confirm the authenticity and importance of the book that I will take just a few moments to point out as they relate to out overall discussion.

Rev 22:7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

Here John bookend his epistle by reminding his audience that the events described within it’s pages are to take place “soon.” There is no reason to rehash this concept as the introductory thesis dealt with the question of soon ad nauseum!

Rev 22:10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near

This too was dealt with previous, but as a note of reminder this phrase to NOT seal up the prophecy reinforces the idea of the soon coming nature of the events described in the book. In fact, it is in stark contrast to Daniel being told to seal up his book for events were far off, despite the fact the events Daniel described began their fulfillment within a couple hundred years. Yet there are those who would continue to argue the events described as taking place “soon” in Revelation and worthy to not have the book sealed have yet to take place some two thousand years later!

Rev. 22:17-19 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

This points again to the present placement of these actions as the river the provides life (spiritual) would have no meaning in the Eternal State as those present would have already received the life giving spirit previously. This again is a present reality.

Rev 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.

Note that His coming (which was soon) was for the purpose of judgment. This is not a coming to Rapture away His Church or even establish some earthly kingdom. It was to bring His recompense and judge His enemies and the enemies of His Bride.

Rev 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, [19] and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

This may be one of the most misused, abused and misapplied passages in the entire book. It is been attempted by many to apply this to all of Scripture and to mean something that it quite possibly had no intention of meaning.

Most likely this was written to the scribes who would be responsible for transcribing the letter as it was passed around the Christian church community. Be careful! That’s what is being said. There is warning that is universal for all of Scripture to handle the words properly, graciously and humbly. Do not add or subtract to the word of God. That is universal, but the misapplication over the years has been staggering.

Most often it is used by proponents of a position against the opponents stating that to come to a different conclusion on the Book of revelation would require one to wither add or subtract to what was written. This common fallacy is quite unfortunate and damaging to the body that readily needs graciousness, humility and proper exegesis of difficult passages.

Rev. 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! [21] The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Revealing Revelation - The New Jerusalem

This post ties directly and, in a sense, concludes the previous discussion on the New heavens and New Earth. Just as John concludes this discussion with the picture of the New Jerusalem proceeding from Heaven, so does the Church receive it’s birth as the New Heaven and New Earth Covenant is created. But note just when this takes place and what qualifications are given regarding what this means.

Rev 21:6 And he said to me,”It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.

We immediately hear words that should ring familiar to the reader. “It is done!” Just like the words spoken from the cross we see the conclusion of the work of the Son as the New Heavens and Earth are formulated. At this same time He declares that He is offering the thirsty water that comes from the spring of the water of life.

If this is the Eternal State what need would there be of partaking in the water of life. This would be reserved, as the text clearly indicates, for those who are thirsty. The eternal state would not need this water to be shared as one would no longer be thirsty. So, again it appears there is evidence that John has returned to the end of Chapter 19 and the final picture of the Fall of Jerusalem as evidence that this New Heaven and earth is being fully presented and that the generation of repentance is done. The fading away (Hebrews 8) of the Old Covenant is complete as the Temple is destroyed and the New Jerusalem, the Church, is introduced fully as the dwelling place for the Lord.

In fact this verse is followed by a description of what happens to those who are sinners. This includes the “future” wrath they will experience in the Lake of Fire. Yet this is mentioned after the judgment passage in Chapter 20 again pointing to John’s retracing his steps in Chapter 21 to events and timing preceding chapter 20.

We are then given a beautiful picture of this New Jerusalem and it’s mighty expanse and glorious representation. Many have made much of it’s supposed literal expectation. Some have even gone on to argue that this 1,500 mile city must be pyramid shape for it to possibly exist on planet earth. But this literal interpretation must be avoided as the text itself already declares what this city “literally” represents.

Rev 21:9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,

This is NOT some picture of a large actual brick and mortar city some 1,500 mile cubed floating to earth from the clouds above. This is the CHURCH! This is the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb. She is both beautiful and large. And she becomes the dwelling place of the Lord Almighty.

We are also told, like in Ezekiel, that the measuring is done by angels. This denotes a spiritual reality, not a physical one. This differentiates itself from John’s measuring of the physical temple previously in the book. The expanse of this city (Church) is spiritual as the spiritual Temple in Ezekiel shows the spiritual expanse of the work of God in time and eternity through the spread of the water that preceded from that Temple.

To punctuate this fact the very next passage mentions the lack of need of a temple to exist.

Rev 21:22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.

There is no longer a need for a Temple since the finished work of Jesus Christ makes approaching the father possible. This is what the book of Hebrews argues from verse one. This is not a future reality for the Church and it’s members, but a present one that began at the first coming of Christ.

Finally if you will note in the final verses of this passage talk about things that simply do not belong in the ETERNAL STATE.

Rev 21:24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Nations existing during the eternal state? Kings of the earth? Really? Unclean things and people? If this is picturing the eternal state these things should not even be brought up let along considered possibilities. But despite the presence of unclean people in the Church physical, the Church Spiritual – which is what is represented here – will have no unclean things or people because they have been bought by and represented by the Lord Jesus Christ.

This present reality should, again, bring us so much comfort and joy! He dwells with us!!Not will dwell with us but DOES dwell with us!

Sermon Audio Link - Re-Post

I have received a few more requests for the link to the Sermon Audio series of the Sunday School class that birthed this blog, here’s the link…


Revealing Revelation - The (Not So) New Heaven and Earth

For some reason I have dreaded and postponed the writing of this post. Not because of the subject matter, nor a lack of familiarity with the arguments, but rather this post could easily become the exact opposite of the purpose of this blog. As stated several times, the intention of this blog was to walk through difficult prophetic issues and passages and try like crazy to simplify make them easier to understand.

I have yet to figure out how to do so with this topic.

As discussed in the previous post there are several different views on how to approach the topic of the New Heavens and the New earth, but the more I read on the subject the more the simpleexplanations simply do not suffice. I would love to state that this is just all some future “Eternal Order” and leave it to that. But the more I study the more I see the language usage employed by John following the language used by Isaiah to mean something completely different.

The first order of business, then, is to see if the case can be made from the Old Testament passages that the concept in question is actually a picture of the Eternal State or whether it is a past or present reality.

Isa 65:20 “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.

21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands.

23 They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them.

Note how many non-Eternal State type functions the people of the Lord will partake in. They will eat and drink, build houses, work the land, have children and eventually die. Those are not the hallmarks of the eternal state in which one lives eternally with God in heaven, or as argued, on a re-established new Earth. Yet this falls immediately under the heading and introduction of the New Heaven and New Earth.

There is more of an explanation to be found in Chapter 66 and how it relates to the New Covenant. This will be expanded and understood more clearly when compared to passages in the New Testament including Hebrews and Revelation.

So, what does the New heaven and Earth look like functionally in Chapter 66? Here are highlights of the chapter worth noting.

Isa 66:1 This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?

So, in the NHNE there is no Temple. There is no physical house for the Lord to abide. rather we discover the New testament understanding in that the Church is the New Temple and residence of the Lord. This is expanded in Revelation as the New Jerusalem (the Church) descends and we are told that He will live with and within this new residence and amongst it’s inhabitants. This Old Covenant Temple is replaced in the NHNE by the Church

Isa 66:3 But whoever sacrifices a bull

is like one who kills a man,

and whoever offers a lamb,

like one who breaks a dog’s neck;

whoever makes a grain offering

is like one who presents pig’s blood,

and whoever burns memorial incense,

like one who worships an idol.

They have chosen their own ways,

and their souls delight in their abominations;

4 so I also will choose harsh treatment for them

and will bring upon them what they dread.

For when I called, no one answered,

when I spoke, no one listened.

They did evil in my sight

and chose what displeases me.

Sacrificing is abolished and rejected because of the evil done bu those who claim to be His. This is not a future event, but rather a first century event as the NHNE is eternally established when the following takes place…

Isa 66:6 Hear that uproar from the city,

hear that noise from the temple!

It is the sound of the LORD

repaying his enemies all they deserve.

Does this not perfectly predict what we have been discussing in all of these posts? The Lord repays His enemies that are found where? In the city and Temple! But before the “labor pains” (Matt 24) take place we discover this prediction…

Isa 66:7 “Before she goes into labor,

she gives birth;

before the pains come upon her,

she delivers a son.

8 Who has ever heard of such a thing?

Who has ever seen such things?

Can a country be born in a day

or a nation be brought forth in a moment?

Yet no sooner is Zion in labor

than she gives birth to her children.

So, the children of Zion that are birthed right before her labor pains, or destruction. The Church undeniably comes forth from Zion, and it is her destruction and removal that make way for the birth of the Church. It even begins with the birth of a “son!” So this repayment of God’s enemies in the city and Temple also births the Church that would proceed from her.

This birthing then leads to the rest of Chapter 66 which is fulfilled with promises to these new children of Zion. All of this is contextually found under the heading of the New Heaven and New Earth!

So, perhaps it is best to understand the NHNE covenantally as a picture of the promised New Covenant that find origination in the Old testament, institution in the Gospels, unfolding in the Acts and explanation in the rest of the New Testament.

This coincides beautifully with the picture painted in Hebrews 8 where we are told the Old Covenant and it’s ways were fading away forever to be replaced with this new and better Covenant. Which then leads to a better understanding of Revelation 21.

But before addressing Chapter 21 directly it is important to remind the reader that much of the New Covenant language deals with the impact of an eternal work of Christ found in the New Covenant that outshines the limited work of the ceremonial law of the Old Covenant. So, when eternal images are used they done so to show the greater power and impact of this New Covenant.

Rev. 21:1-3 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. [2] And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [3] And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

With the previous information one must now ask the question is there anything here that did not begin with the introduction of institution of the New Covenant in the first century? Was the Church not established and did it not come from God in heaven (not of this world…). Is God’s dwelling place not with man?

Did Paul not clearly dictate that the old has passed away and that all things become new? (2 Cor 5:17)

Did the end of the sea (Gentile Nations) not take place in the birth of the Church? Since the sea is seen in the Old Testament and in Revelation 17 as representing the gentile nations it’s usage here now makes more sense. There is no longer Jew nor Gentile in the New Covenant therefor the sea is no more covenantally.

So, John here is now returning to the end of Chapter 19 after a brief glimpse into the future describing the Kingdom era and it’s eventual end. this return is marked by the restating the proof of the New Jerusalem’s existence is the destruction of the Old Covenant, most notable the symbol of that covenant, the temple. Once that symbol has been destroyed it becomes covenatally obvious that the New Jerusalem (the Church) takes center place in the Covenantal relationship between God and Man, and this is accomplished by the finished work of Jesus Christ as aptly argued in the book of Hebrews!

Please note that Chapter 21 ends by stating there there is no longer a Temple. Exactly what the prophet Isaiah stated would signify theNHNE… an event some 2,000 years in the past!

The Church should not frown on this understanding, but rejoice mightily. This is a great and powerful truth! The power of the truth that God resides in and with His people eternally should cause the church to rejoice and should, like they did in the first century, embolden the members of His body to proclaim His truth from one end of the heaven to another with passion and confidence.

He is our God and we are His people!

Revealing revelation - New Heaven and Earth Introduced

The final two chapters will receive a limited exposition for several reasons. The first is that the vision is so symbolic and “otherworldly” that stating any view emphatically is dangerous. The second, and most important, is that the plethora of views makes determining the right interpretation very difficult. Finally, since the preterist tends to emphasize those events which are clearly past events in Revelation at this point guessing about the things of the future is conjecture at best.

But we will walk through the differing views is grace and understanding. There will be limited dogmatism as a result of the three points above. What will be emphasize are those points which the passage clearly makes while leaving conjecture to the prophetic prognosticators.

Rev. 21:1-3 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. [2] And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [3] And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

There is great debate as top whether this passage is a future or past event. Though modern prophetic ideology argues this is clearly a future event with the creation of a entirely new physical heaven and earth, many have argued that it is simply a picture of how the “New” Covenant differs relationally with the Old Covenant.

Where the Old Covenant placed blocks between God and man like the Temple, Priestly system and a law of sacrifices that could only cover sin, the New Covenant is one in which God dwells with and in man and where the outer system of laws and sacrifices are done away with and new form of relationship is created. This New Heaven and New earth then describe this relational shift which is best understood only after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the symbol of the Old Covenant, the Temple.

This, is is argued, is akin to Paul’s idea of a “New Creation” that the believer undergoes and takes part in.

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Those taking a more literal view argue this must be the future “Eternal State” in which man and God live harmoniously in Heaven together for all eternity. This is argued because of the belief that this section must follow chronologically the previous section, which does deal with the final judgment and the end of the old earth.

As mentioned previously, though, when John starts a section with “Then I saw” it does not always mean that the vision must follow chronologically in a timeline, but rather it was the order in which witnessed the visions. He often retraced similar events as we see in the seven cycles of judgment, wrath and victory throughout the entire book.

Finally there is the symbolic View which argues that this vision is simply a symbolic view of Heaven in the present and eternal state. This view has had a large contingent of supporters throughout all of Church history.

But now we will list in a simple bullet format those ideas found in the rest of the Chapter that lead the expositors and supporters of a particular view to come to those conclusions.


This is primarily the view of Futurist and Dispensationalist and is seen exclusively as the Eternal State. The picture is one of a re-created Garden of Eden – complete with the Tree of Life – and the eternal resting place for all that belong to God. the emphasis, though, is that this is a future event with the reasons stated below.

  • Several phrases have “eternal” emphasis
  • No more death, morning, tears, pain, etc (v. 3)
  • All things new (v. 4)
  • It is done (v. 6)
  • New Jerusalem descending from heaven (v. 10)
  • No more son or moon (v. 23)
  • No longer will anything be accursed (22:3)
  • No more night (22:5)
  • They reign forever (22:5)


This is primarily the view of some Amillennialist and Full Preterist. Though it has been primarily a Minority Position in Church history it has always had adherents. This is a present reality, but is symbolic for what is happening in heaven in relation to the Church. Reasons for this expectation below.

  • The imagery cannot be taken literally
  • This is the individual Eternal State for believers
  • Heaven – Eternal Spiritual State of the believer from the point of salvation
  • Emphasis is on the After-Life
  • Symbolist demand that these descriptions must still be a part of the original time qualifier – shortly come to pass. As a result this must be seen as a present reality.


This is primarily the view of most Amillennialist nearly all Postmillennialist and Preterist and does share some similarities with the Symbolic view presented above, so some level of crossover should be expected. Reasons for adherence to this view are dealt with below.

  • The images (heaven, earth, city, river, New Jerusalem) are applied to the Church which is a present reality and, coupled with the idea of the New Heaven and Earth representing the New Covenant, those Old Testament images find their application in the Church
  • Current and future state of the Church for all eternity
  • Phrases interpreted Spiritually according to their usage both in the Old and New Testaments. We find New Testament writers applying Old Testament “New heaven” imagery to the present state of the Church (Temple, Priest, etc).
  • Old heaven and earth – the old covenant
  • New heaven and earth – new covenant
  • “Sea was no more” represents the end of the view of the separation of God’s people and the gentile nations. They are to be seen as part of Spiritual Israel, which was a first century reality.
  • All things made new (2 Cor 5:17). Paul uses similar imagery to describe the believer.
  • God always being with man mirrors Jesus’ own words when He stated “Lo, I am with you always…” Again, this was a present reality in the first century and continues to today.
  • No Temple (v. 22). This important Covenantal factor should not be overlooked.
  • Old Testament usage of the term New heaven and earth (Isa 65)

It is with this usage of the term that we will next turn our attention. What is meant by New Heaven and New earth as it used in both Old and New Testament passages.

Revealing Revelation - The Second Coming

One of the most often asked questions I receive while teaching these concepts in a classroom setting is at what point do I see the Second Coming of Christ or is it not represented at all in the book?

Though many preterist, and not just the heretical full preterist, argue that the book of Revelation does not deal with the Second Coming at all I simply do not see it this way. They argue that the context of the timing of the book and it’s demand that the things written within it’s pages were to happen “soon” preclude a discussion of the Second Coming.

But since in this Chapter the author himself describes a long period of time called the Millennium and then goes on to describe what happens at the end of that Millennium, one must follow where the author leads. He chose to take the event descriptions beyond the “soon” context, but does so clearly by telling the reader that these events take place after a long period of time.

So, with this in mind let us consider the passage in question. We will deal first with the events immediately preceding the second Coming and then discuss what is best seen as the actual, physical Second Coming of Christ.

Rev. 20:7-9 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison [8] and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. [9] And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city,

The first thing to note is that this time of victory for the Gospel is concludes with the release of Satan. And just like the description of his binding limited his ability to deceive the nations, his release allows a return to the deceiving work of Satan, though limited in time and expanse.

This army is represented by the Old Testament battle figures of Gog and Magog. Now it should be considered that Gog means “leader” and that Magog was the name of his people. This could simply mean that this army would be the leader and his people or Satan and his minions, simply using a popular Old testament reference to give the reader the sense of the import of these army.

This leads to the very real possibility that this battle is actually a spiritual battle between truth and error (Gospel and deception) as Satan’s last gasp. This is amplified by the target of Satan’s army, the camp of the saints and beloved city. Some mistakenly jump to the idea this is in reference to the physical city of Jerusalem. But as we have seen throughout the rest of the book, the physical city of Jerusalem is not the beloved city, but rather referred to as Egypt, Sodom and Babylon.

The beloved city is most likely the “camp of the saint” or most simply, the Church. This fits with the soon to come description of God’s beloved and holy city, the New Jerusalem that is also called the Church. So, the final days of history will reveal a last ditch effort by Stan to deceive the nations and attack the works of the Church.

On a side note the reader may want to consider the conspicuous absence of Jesus from the discussion. He is simply NOT on earth at this time! The futurist, Premillennial understanding places Jesus in the city of Jerusalem, surrounded by the physical armies of Satan. He is forced to cower at the face of Satan’s great army and must await rescue from on high! This is both unBiblical and insulting to the work and power of the glorified, risen and omnipotent Christ. I dealt with this in a post called The Second Humiliation of Christ which can be found here…

and here…

So, Satan has one last shot at deceiving the nations, but is quickly and swiftly and dealt with.

Rev. 20:9-10 … but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, [10] and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Satan’s last shot of rebellion is quickly squashed as fire from heaven comes and destroys the rebellion and puts an end to the work of the Devil. So, what should the reader do with the picture of this fire that comes from Heaven?

Let’s consider other similar uses and then consider the timing of the fire in relation to the other events that follow. Doing this will really help galvanize these concepts into a coherent system. First, let’s the consider the following passages and the use of fire.

2 Thes. 1:7-8 when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels [8] in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God…

2 Peter 3:10-12 But the day of the Lord will come … heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed… [12] because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

The image of fire in judgment seems to picture the coming of Christ in final judgment and victory. His Second Coming is pictured as fire coming from heaven and this fire does the work of judgment in the final sense. This also hearkens back to the story of Elijah on Mt. Carmel where God sent fire to destroy the works of the prophets of Baal.

Since the Second Coming and Judgment are so closely related and we see fire coming from heaven at the return of Christ it is best to see this picture in Revelation as the actual, physical Second Coming of Christ. Note how it is a final act, not an act followed by a Millennia or by a physical presence of Christ on earth as stated above.

What does follow is judgment of the eternal order.

Rev. 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. [12] And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.

So, immediately following the fire from heaven is the final judgment. This makes the case that the fire from heaven is the second Coming even stronger as we have seen previously that the final judgment IMMEDIATELY is preceded by the second Coming of Christ. This was dealt with in a concept call The Unity of the Eschatological Complex and was discussed in a post called Wanna Sound Really Smart? which can be found here…

But for review note in the following how the Second Coming is immediately followed by the final judgement…2 Thessalonians 1:7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

2 Tim 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom

1 Cor. 4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God

Matt 25:31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats…46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

So, with just the handful of passages above we clearly see that the second Coming and Judgment are simultaneous events and since the Revelation passage states that immediately following the fire from heaven that the white throne of judgment is revealed it is safe to argue that the fire from Heaven is, in fact, a picture of the Second Coming of Christ. And most importantly His coming is “post” millennially! It takes place AFTER the Milennium and at the end of time just like 1 Cor 15, Matt 25, John 5 and 6 and elsewhere argue as well.

Rev. 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. [12] And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. [13] And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. [14] Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. [15] And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

To finish this section I wanted the reader to take note of how both the elect and the damned are judged at the same time. There is no Millennium between their judgments as the Premillennialist argue, but rather they are simultaneous events just as the rest of Scripture dictates (Matt 25; John 5).

So, to sum up the return of Christ is picture here and elsewhere as fire from Heaven, it takes place immediately before the judgment and on the Last Day (John 6) and is an event that takes place AFTER the Millennium.

Revealing Revelation - The Millennial Musings

Now that the binding of Satan is behind us we will now turn our attention to the events that take place during this Millennium. As we discovered in our previous discussion, Satan was bound at Christs’ first advent and his binding was limited to his ability to utterly deceive nations. This allows for the triumph of the Gospel in time and actuality.

The focus now, though, shifts from the binding of Satan back to the situation faced by the persecuted masses. It is at this point that we must not forget that one of the primary purposes of John’s writing to “reveal” Christ is that His revelation was to bring assurance and comfort to those who were, like John, presently facing horrific persecution and tribulation at the hands of the Jews and roman government.

It is back to those first century martyrs and victims of persecution that the focus returns. But it is also quite probable that the truths reflected in the discussion of those first century saints has direct impact on the Church throughout history.

Rev. 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

There have been several possible interpretations of this passge through history and all appear plausible and can find justification within the text itself.

The first view, what I will label the Augustinian View, is that this passage represents the spiritual reigning of all of those that comprise the true Church throughout the ages. This pictures both the living and deceased members of the Church that from salvation forward are seated in the heavenlies with the Sion and rule and reign with Him throughout eternity.

The second view, with I will refer to as the Reformed View, states that this is a picture of the “spiritually resurrected” saints. By this it is meant that this pictures the rule and reign of the saints in Heaven throughout history from the point of their death forward. This would take place during the time between their death and the one, general, bodily resurrection at the end of time. This coincides with Paul’s statement that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

The third view is what has been brought to me attention by Dr. Kenneth Gentry. He has recently embraced this view and, as a result, will cause him to make some adjustments to his previous writings and his present work, which is a commentary on the book of Revelation. Though it is not original to him (others have promoted this view including famed theologian Vern Porthress), I will label this the Gentry View for easier reference.

The Gentry View, which I will not be able to do justice to in this short amount of time, is that this is a special resurrection especially for those of the first century martyrs. These are same ones who were previously seen under the altar begging for their revenge against their persecutors. The context regarding those involved is those that were beheaded and did not worship the Beast. This context limits the discussion of Revelation 20 to those first century believers only and should be seen as representing any group outside of the originally intended audience. The resurrection in question then, is simply a special resurrection of the first century for those particular persons.

I am not in the position to take a stand on any of the three though I have, over time, embraced a combination of the first two. I have only recently been made aware of the third view and cannot do it justice to critique or embrace it at this time.

The first two, though, do have a common thread that ties them together and that is found in the following two verses.

Rev. 20:5-6 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. [6] Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

If the G entry View is correct and the first resurrection is an exclusive promise to the first century martyrs that the “rest” in verse 5 would include the rest of humanity, saved and unsaved alike. If incorrect then the first two views would argue that this first resurrection should be seen as a “spiritual” resurrection that takes place at the moment of salvation.

This would appear to align itself well with the other writings of John, especially what is found in His Gospel. Consider the similarity of ideas of different kinds of “resurrections” and who partakes in them from the Gospel of John.

John 5:25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

What from the outset appears to be a passage about a “resurrection” is quickly shown to be a spiritual and not a physical resurrection. Note how Jesus declares that this “coming to life” of those who hear His voice is taking place at a time that was “now here.” He is not referring to a future event some several millennia away, but rather a present and continuing event.

Note also that it is those who “hear” His voice that come to life. These are the spiritually dead who hear His voice, not the physically dead in the tombs (as we shall see). He also even further explains what kind of resurrection is in question when He states that this “now” event is a life giving event in which He gives “life” to the spiritually dead. This is best seen simply as salvation. Those who hear His voice and come to life (resurrected) receive this life from the Son.

To make it even more obvious that this first resurrection is spiritual he immediately contrasts this “now here” timing resurrection with a physical one that takes place later, at time He would later refer to as the “Last Day.” (John 6)

John 5:28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

So, this resurrection occurs on the last day and involves those who are “in the tombs.” These dead are the physical dead and are contrasted with the previously discussed spiritually dead. Also note that the previous spiritual resurrection was only for those that hear His voice (spiritually), but this resurrection is for “ALL” that are in the tombs. This resurrection will include everyone as everyone will hear His voice on the Last Day.

Also note that this resurrection is a single event for both the saved and the damned. they are not separated by a millennia. Jesus clearly here pictures a single resurrection of all of the dead, both those who will receive eternal life and those who will receive eternal damnation.

This is also amplified in Matthew 25 where we learn of one general judgment that takes place at His coming.

Matt 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

This one, general judgment of both the sheep and the goats coincides with this one, general resurrection. So, there is no room to insert a millennia into the above verse just as there is no room to insert one in the John passage dealing with the resurrection of the elect and damned. It is one single event and is contrasted to the spiritual resurrection of salvation that is found earlier in John 5.

This then is quite probably what John is describing in the Revelation passage as well.Those who take part in the first resurrection (salvation) are those that the second death (eternal) has no power over and those who are proclaimed as priests of God. this language is vital in that it is quite a common theme in the New Testament that those who are His through faith are made priests of God, especially here in Revelation

1 Peter 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light

Revelation 1:6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

This truth takes place in the present and extends throughout history while the second and physical resurrection in simply a single event that ends history. Also it should be noted that this all began with the first coming of Christ, and as Matthew 25 points out, it will be consummated and completed at His second coming. That is the Millennium!

Revealing Revelation - The Millennial Binding of Satan (Part 2)

In part one of our discussion on the binding of Satan we spent a vast majority of the time dealing with the timing issue of the binding of Satan, which in turn, tells the reader when the “thousand years” began. This famed Millennium, we discovered, begins when Satan is bound and Jesus did this during His first advent!

This quite often leads to cries of ridiculous and guffaws for truly anyone can simply look at the world around us and note that Satan could not be bound. Sin is still rampant, evil still abounds and the work of the minions of Satan appear to not have been curtailed by any ones estimation. This, of course, leads to the important discussion of not just “when: Satan is bound, but for what purpose is this binding?

With that important question in the front of our minds let us consider the passage before us.

Rev. 20:3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

This binding, as we discovered previously, is chalk full of symbolic and spiritual language and must be understood as so. No actual chain, pit or seal can actually subdue on non-corporal being that is not extended in space. Remember, the physicality of Satan is not present, but rather, he, like all the angels, are spiritual beings, not constrained by the laws of physicality humans and animals are faced with.

No chain, no matter how thick and strong it would, could keep this being bound for he cannot be limited by spatial restrictions. The same for a pit or seal placed in that pit. He is spiritual and invisible.

Not only that, but most importantly, the passage limits the scope of his binding and the purpose for which he is bound…

so that he might not deceive the nations any longer

This binding which took place during the first advent of Christ was for the express purpose that he would no longer be able to deceive the nations and keep the Gospel from penetrating the hearts and minds of those outside of the previous Covenant community, the Jews.

If you recall from the previous post the binding described by Jesus was so that He (Jesus) could plunder the goods of the “strongman’s possession. Those lost souls in the nations that have been for centuries blinded are now able to hear and respond to this Gospel proclaimed.

The finished work of Jesus was a true paradigm shift in human history. Before the first advent the Gospel, the truth by which a man and community could be saved, was nearly exclusively the divine possession of the Israelites under the promise to Abraham and continuing with Moses. But the promise to Abraham was that “all” nations would be blessed through him and through the “seed” that would come from him. That seed, Jesus Christ, fulfilled the promised that all nations would be blessed. This is done when Satan is bound and the nations were no longer utterly deceived.

Jesus, through this binding of the first century, begins to plunder that house of the strongman. He proved this by casting out demons and demonstrating that the kingdom of God had truly arrived and was not postponed!

The Church today must understand this promise and take her rightful place as the bearer of this “Good News” of the Gospel and proclaim it throughout the whole earth for Satan has been bound, the nations are no longer deceived and the Gospel sees a bright and hopeful future! This is diametrically opposed to modern prophecy prognosticators that see no hope for the Church and actually see her fail in history.

This sad bastardization of the truth of Gospel must be opposed for it is unBiblical and unnecessarily pessimistic set against the backdrop of scripture that proudly proclaims a rich and glorious and victorious Church that is being adorned for her Groom. This adorning is completed by the proclamation of the Gospel as the Church recognizes she was handed the keys the to the kingdom and that the gates of Hell will not prevail against her!

Revealing Revelation - The Millennial Binding of Satan (Part 1)

It has been a while since the most recent post as this section of Revelation is so controversial and the views are as diverse and multiple as there are commentaries on the subject. And just as I had prepared to work through the passages in question a commentator I admire quite a bit, Dr. Kenneth Gentry, mentioned that he has changed his perspective on the passage. And though I am comfortable and confident with my position, when someone of his stature mentions a change I wanted to at least consider those changes.

Dr. Gentry was gracious enough to send me some information on this change and I have worked through his ideas. We will not address these changes in this post, but the view will be reflected in following posts.

Finally, the delay has also been brought about by the fact that this blog was never meant to reflect my positions exclusively, but to combine the differing views within the preterist perspective and present them fairly along with a critique of the futurist perspective. Dr. Gentry’s position change necessitated I take the time to discover the best way to present all of the above.

As a result, the next several posts will slowly walk through the positions and I will only offer my opinion as an addendum to the views expressed. We will also limit the majority of our discussion to the timing and nature issues of the Kingdom and not the differing perspectives of “Millennial Positions” which have been detailed previously.

The first thing to note about Chapter 20 is that there is great disagreement about the timing of the events described. Many argue that it follows directly in a timeline from Chapter 19’s description of the “coming of Christ.” The Premillennialist argues that the coming described in Chapter 19 is the literal Second coming and this will institute the 1,000 year Millennial reign of Christ on earth.

Some preterist also see these two passages taking place chronologically, but since the preterist argues that the coming described in Chapter 19 represents either Christ coming in judgment against apostate Israel or Rome or the coming of the Gospel throughout history, the Millennial picture that follows began in the first century.

Another option is that Chapter 20, like Chapter 19 and the seals, trumpets and bowls represent the same event told from different perspectives. that event is the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. And how John also returns to historical events in Chapter 12 (the birth and life of Christ) here John goes back to the binding of Satan at Christ’s first coming, initiating the Millennium during his first advent.

But let’s consider the passage itself with the above views in our minds. In this first post we will deal exclusively with the binding of Satan found in the first two verses and the purpose of that binding as discussed in the third verse.

Rev. 20:1-3 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. [2] And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,

The first thing to consider is the often used concept of “then I saw” which does not necessarily mean that the events described are chronological, but simply the order in which John saw the visions. This is also true of Chapter 12 as discussed above and in Chapter 12 we have John describing events that were clearly in the past (birth of Christ, death, ascension, etc) but the vision is placed in the center of the book. Though this does not discount the possibility of these events being chronological from the events of Chapter 19 it is not necessarily true.

The second item to consider is the identity of the angel. Many have argued that it is Michael, the same angel that John described defeating the serpent in Chapter 12. The rest of scripture, though, points to the idea that this being is non other than Christ Himself.

The first clue to this is that the angel as described is “holding” the keys to the bottomless pit. These don’t appear to have been “given” to Him but rather that they belong to Him. This could only be Christ. This is also in great contrast to Satan who was “given” the keys earlier in the book (Chapter 9). Those keys do not belong to him and, in fact, were obtained by Christ during His first coming as is presented in the opening chapter of the book.

Rev 1:18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

The concept of the one with the keys having the authority to open and lock is found elsewhere in the Scriptures as the Church is given the keys to the kingdom and Isaiah even prophesied that one would come who would have the key to the kingdom of David (Isa 22:22). This is fulfilled in Christ. He is given this authority and so this helps our understanding of the identity of this angel.

More than this, though, we must consider the rest of Scripture and how Christ is shown defeating and “binding” Satan at His first coming. Consider the passages below and note special consideration of the timing of these events.

Matt 12:29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.

Jesus has just cast a demon out of a man to prove His dominion over Satan and that He had already bound the strong man (Satan). The parallel passage reveals even more.

Luke 11:21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil

As we will see in the following post regarding the purpose of the binding Jesus here described how He was dividing the spoils, the souls of the lost, and conquering Satan’s domain and shows that Satan is incapable of defending his own turf. He does so through binding and defeating Satan at His first coming. But even more support can be seen below.

John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.

The New Testament writers continue this argument of victory as well.

Col2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Heb 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

This is not a postponed binding. This is an historical fact. Again, the purpose of the binding will be dealt with later and will shed much light on these passages as well.

Finally in this passage we should note the strong symbolic and nonliteral language used. Satan is a spiritual being and a literal chain would not hold him in any way. Even a literal sealing of some sort of passageway would not contain a spiritual, non corporal being.

In fact, the imagery John employs include using the figurative descriptions of the devil used previously like the serpent and dragon. The nonliteral language is meant to portray the spiritual binding that is clearly represented. The following verse will limit the purpose of the binding and will be discussed later. So then this is also also true of the time constraint used; the infamous one thousand years.

Scripture has used the concept of a thousand in symbolic and nonliteral ways almost exclusively. Take note of the usage of a thousand in the passages below and note how the expression is used.

Exodus 20:6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Deut. 7:9 God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Psalm 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.

2 Peter 3:8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

So, with Scripture as our interpretive guide, we should see that the term a thousand need not be taken literally, any more than it’s usage in the passages above.

The timing of the Millennium should not be in question either as it is noted that it begins with the binding of Satan that Jesus Himself stated took place during His first coming. But for what purpose is this binding and how can we know that the binding in question took place in history? That will be the focus of our next post as we look at the next verse in this passage.

Revealing Revelation - Looking Back at the Millennium

Much of what will be covered over the next few posts has been covered previously on our introductory discussion on the Millennium. This most controversial handful of verses has birthed four distinctive positions with multiple subsets of each. We cannot and will not spend too much time dealing with the different views as they too have been discussed previously as well.

This mini-post will simply offer the links to those discussions for your benefit. the following posts will examine the arguments surrounding the preterist interpretation of the Millennium. This will incorporate much of what has previously been discussed, but will be in a review format so the post links below may prove beneficial.



Next we will begin an actual discussion of the opening verses of Chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation