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PROPHECY

Introduction to Revelation

 

The Lord Jesus Christ is the one great Subject of the Word of God (Compare Luke 24:27; John 5:39), being the promised "Seed" of the woman (Gen. 3:15). He is therefore the Master-key to the Divine revelation of the Word. The whole Bible is about Him directly or indirectly, and as everything centers in and around Him, apart from Him it cannot be understood.

A. The King and the Kingdom, in promise and prophecy (The Old Testament)
    B.    The King presented, proclaimed, and rejected (the four Gospels)
            C.      Transitional. The kingdom again offered and rejected
                        (The Acts and the earlier Epistles)

    B.    The King exalted and made Head over all things to "the church which is His body".
                    The "mystery"  (the later Pauline Epistles). The kingdom in abeyance (Hebrews 2:8).

A. The King and the kingdom unveiled. The King enthroned. The kingdom set up.
        Promise and prophecy fulfilled (The Revelation).

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF REVELATION

The word "Revelation" is from the Greek = Apocalypsis (an unveiling), sometimes called THE APOCALYPSE.

It is the last book of the Bible and the only book of the New Testament that is exclusively prophetic in character.
Revelation belongs to the class of apocalyptic literature in which the divine message is conveyed by visions and dreams.

THE AUTHOR

John, the "Beloved" disciple and the one used of God to pen the gospel of John and the letters, I, II, & III John. The earliest definite historical reference to this Apocalypse appears in the works of Justin Martyr (A.D. 135), who, in alluding to the 20th chapter, said that John one of the apostles of Christ, prophesied that those who believed in Christ would dwell in Jerusalem a thousand years.

DATE AND PLACE

Early interpreters of the book place it in the reign of Domitian (A.D. 81—96), almost at the close of the first century.

DESTINATION

Revelation was addressed to seven churches of the Roman province of Asia, which occupied the western third of what is now Turkey.

THE SCOPE

The key to unlock the meaning and scope of the book is found in Revelation 1:10, "The Lord’s day" = the day of the Lord (Jehovah). (See Isa. 2:12) being yet future. It follows that the whole book must concern the things belonging to "THAT DAY", and consequently is wholly prophecy.

ITS HEBREW CHARACTER

The language of the book is Greek but its thoughts and idioms are Hebrew. This links it with the Old Testament. and shows that its great purpose is to declare God’s final dealings with the Jew and the Gentile as such; and that "the church of God" of the Pauline Epistles and this dispensation has a place in Revelation (See Rev. 2,3)

Again in Matthew (the Hebrew Gospel) are some 92 quotations from and references to the Old Testament. In Hebrews there are 102. In Revelation are found no fewer than 285. This emphatically stamps its close connection with the Old Testament and Israel.

THE SEVEN TITLES OF CHRIST IN REVELATION

THE SEVEN TITLES OF CHRIST IN REVELATION

The references of Christ in the book of Revelation further attest its Hebrew character:

1. "The Son of Man" (Rev. 1:13; 14:14) Never found in the Pauline Epistles to the "churches"
2. "The Almighty" (Revelation 1:8)
3. "The Lord God" (Revelation 3:8 and see Rev. 22:6) Compare this title with Gen. 2:4-3:24 in connection with "paradise"
4. "The First and the Last" (Rev. 1:11,17; 2:8; 22:13) Never associated with "the church which is His body"
5. "The Prince of the kings of the earth" (Rev. 1:5) Never used in connection with "the church"
6. "Who is to come"
(=The Coming One)
(Rev. 1:4) Occurs sixteen times in the Gospels, Acts, Hebrews (10:37); three times in Revelation, and nowhere else
7. "The Living One" (Rev. 1:18) A title only found in Daniel (4:34; 12:7) and six times in this book. Thus linking Daniel and Revelation in a very special manner

THE BRIDE AND THE WIFE

The "Bride" and the "Wife" of Rev. 21:9 must not be confused with the "Wife" of Rev. 19:7. The latter is Israel called out from among the nations for blessing in "the Land"; the earthly consort of "the Great King" (Compare Psalms 45; Jer. 3:14). This "wife" (Rev. 19:7) is connected with the Millennial Jerusalem which, with the rest of the earth "that now" is, will pass away and give place to the new earth with the new Jerusalem, succeeding and replacing the former. "The bride, the Lamb’s wife" of Rev. 21:9, is still of Israel, but the Israel of the "heavenly calling" (Heb. 3:1): all those connected with the "heavenly country" and "the city with the foundations" for which they "looked" (Heb. 11:13-16); the "Jerusalem above" of Gal. 4:26. Hence the significance of the term "bride" (numphe) in Rev. 21:9.

The Israel of Rev. 19:7 is not spoken of as bride (numphe), because she has become wife (gune). Compare the "married to you" = am become your husband (consummation) of Jer. 3:14. Here (Rev. 21:9) the term "bride" indicates clearly that the betrothal has taken place and that the marriage will be consummated when the bride shall have come down out of heaven. John sees her coming down in Rev. 21:10.

The loose way in which we speak of a "bride" as not only a contracting party at the time of the marriage ceremony, but also of her after she has become wife (gune), is responsible for much confusion as to the "wife" of Rev. 19:7 and the bride-wife of Rev. 21:9. Strictly speaking, "bride" is to be applied only to a betrothed virgin (Greek parthenos = Hebrew bethulah), when the marriage (legal) ceremony takes place. Directly after, she ceases to be "bride", and has become (legally) "wife", although from the forensic point of view consummation of the marriage may be delayed (Comp. Matthew 1:25).

NUMBERS

Numbers hold a prominent and significant place in Revelation. These in order are:

2 occurs eleven times
3 occurs eleven times
3 1/2 occurs twice
4 occurs 33 times
5 occurs 3 tunes


Seven is thus seen to be the predominate number, occuring 54 times. Seven is the Divine number of Perfection, and is generally recognized as God's thumb print.

6 occurs twice (including 13:18
7 occurs 54 times
10 occurs 9 times
12 occurs 22 times
24 occurs 7 times
42 occurs twice
144 occurs 4 times
666 occurs once
1,000 occurs 9 times
1,260 occurs twice
1,600 occurs once
7,000 occurs once
12,000 occurs 13 times
144,000 occurs 3 times
100,000,000 occurs once, 5:11
200,000,000 occurs once 9:16

SEVEN IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Among every ancient people, especially in the East, a religious significance attaches to numbers. This grows out of the instinctive appreciation that number and proportion are necessary attributes of the created universe. This sentiment passes over from heathenism into the Old Testament.

The number seven was regarded by the Hebrews as a sacred number, and it is throughout Scripture the covenant number, the sign of God’s covenant relation to mankind, and especially to the CHURCH.

The evidences of this are met in:

the hallowing of the seventh day
the accomplishment of circumcision, which is the sign of a covenant, after
SEVEN DAYS
the part played by the number in marriage covenants and treaties of peace.

It is the number of purification and consecration (See Lev. 4:6,17; 8:11,33; Num. 19:12).

Seven is the number of every grace and benefit bestowed upon Israel; which is thus marked as flowing out of the covenant, and a consequence of it:

VICTORY The priests compassed Jericho seven days, and on the seventh day seven times, that all Israel may know that the city is given into their hands by God, and that its conquest is a direct and immediate result of their covenant relation to Him. (Joshua chapter 6)
HEALING Naaman is to dip in Jordan seven times, that he may acknowledge the God of Israel as the author of his cure.
REWARD It is the number of reward to those who are faithful in the covenant (See Deut. 28:7; I Sam. 2:5)
PUNISHMENT to those who are forward in the covenant (See Lev. 26:21, 24,28; Deut. 28:25), or to those who injure the people in it (See Gen. 4:15,24; Exod. 7:25)
CELEBRATION All the feasts are ordered by seven, or else by seven multiplied into seven, and thus made intense still. Thus it is with the Sabbath, the Passover, The Feast of Weeks, of Tabernacles, the Sabbath-year, and the Jubilee

Similarly the number appears in God’s dealing with nations outside the covenant, showing that He is working for Israel’s sake and with respect to His covenant. It is the number of the years of plenty and of famine, in sign that these are for Israel’s sake rather than for Egypt’s. Seven times pass over Nebuchadnezzar, that he may learn that the God of his Jewish captives is king over all the earth.

SEVEN IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

Seven also occurs as a sacred number in the New Testament. There are:

SEVEN BEATITUDES
SEVEN PETITIONS in the Lord’s Prayer
SEVEN PARABLES in Matt. 13
SEVEN LOAVES
SEVEN WORDS from the Cross
SEVEN DECONS
SEVEN GRACES (Rom. 12:6-8)
SEVEN CHARACTERISTICS of wisdom (See Jas. 3:17).

In the Apocalypse the prominence of the number is marked. To a remarkable extent the structure of the book is molded by the use of numbers, especially the numbers seven, four, and three.

Seven's in Revelation:

1. Seven spirits before the throne.
2. Seven churches.
3. Seven golden candlesticks.
4. Seven stars in the right hand of Him who is like unto a son of man.
5. Seven lamps of fire burning before the throne.
6. Seven horns of the lamb.
7. Seven eyes of the lamb.
8. Seven seals of the book.
9. Seven thunders.
10. Seven heads of the great dragon.
11. Seven heads of the beast from the sea.
12. Seven angels with the trumpets.
13. Seven plagues.
14. Seven mountains which are the seat of the mystic Babylon.

Fours in Revelation:

1. Four living creatures round the throne.
2. Four angels at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds.
3. The New Jerusalem is foursquare.
4. Authority is given to Death to kill over the fourth part of the earth, and he employs four agents.

Three's in Revelation:

1. Three woes.
2. Three unclean spirits like frogs.
3. Three gates on each side of the heavenly city.
4. The
TRISAGION, or "thrice holy," is sung to God the Almighty, to whom are ascribed three attributes of glory.

The use of the number's Seven, Four and Three are so remarkable and continuous that it requires an analysis of the whole book for their perfect illustration.

OCCASION

Revelation was written for the express purpose of declaring : "the things which must shortly come to pass" (Rev. 1:1), in order that the evils in the church might be corrected and that they might be prepared for the events that were about to confront them.

METHODS OF INTERPRETATION

A.

THE PRETERIST

Holds that Revelation is simply a picture of the conditions prevalent in the Roman empire of the late first century, cast in the form of vision and prophecy to conceal its meaning from hostile pagans.
B. THE HISTORICAL Contends that the book represents in symbolic form the entire course of Church history from the time of its writing to the final consummation, and that the mystical figures and actions described therein can be identified with human events in history.
C. THE FUTURIST

On the basis of the threefold division given in Revelation 1:19, suggests that "the things whicht hou sawest" refer to the immediate environment of the seer and the vision of Christ (Rev. 1:9-19), "the things which are" denote the churches of  Asia, or the Church age, which they symbolize (Rev. 2:1-3:22), and "the things which shall be hereafter" relate to Christ’s return & God’s city.

D. THE IDEALIST (SYMBOLIC) Treats Revelation as purely a dramatic picture of the conflict of good and evil which persists in every age, but which cannot be applied exclusively to any particular historical period.

Note: For the sake of this study we will only explore the HISTORICAL and FUTURIST position.

STRUCTURE AND CONTENT

Revelation contains four great visions, each of which is introduced by the phrase "IN THE SPIRIT".

Each of these visions locates the seer in a different place, each contains a distinctive picture of Christ, and each advances the action significantly toward its goal.

The First vision (Rev. 1:9-3:22) Pictures Him as the critic of the churches, who commends their virtues and condemns their vices in the light of His virtues.
The Second vision (Rev. 4:1-16:21) Deals with the progressive series of seals, trumpets and bowls,  which mark the judgment of God upon a world cominated by evil.
The Third vision (Rev. 17:1-21:8) Depicts the overthrow of evil society, religion, and government in the destruction of Babylon & the Beast,armies defeat.
The Fourth vision (Rev. 21:9-22:5) Is the establishment of the city of God, the eternal destiny of His people.

THE STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK AS A WHOLE

A. Ch. 1     INTRODUCTION

        B. Ch. 2,3    THE PEOPLE ON THE EARTH

                C. Ch. 4,5        IN HEAVEN     (The Throne,Book, and Lamb)

                        D. 6:1-7:8 ON EARTH    (6 Seals,144,000)

                C. 7:9-8:6    IN HEAVEN (Great Multitude,7 Seal)

                       D. 8:7-11:14 ON EARTH (Six Trumpets)

    C.     11:15-19 IN HEAVEN     (The Seventh Trumpet)

                        D. 11:-19-        ON EARTH     (Earthquake, &c.)

                C. 12:1-12    IN HEAVEN    (Woman,Child, & Dragon)

                        D. 12:13-13:18 ON EARTH (Dragon, Two Beasts)

                C. 14:1-5        IN HEAVEN     (Lamb, 144,000)

                        D. 14:6-20    ON EARTH    (The Six Angels)

               C. 15:1-8    IN HEAVEN     (The Seven Vial Angels)

                        D. 16:1-18:24 ON EARTH (The Seven Vials)

                C. 19:1-16    IN HEAVEN     (The Marriage of the Lamb)

                        D. 19:17-20:15    ON EARTH    (Final Five Judgments)

        B. 21:1-22:5    THE PEOPLE ON THE NEW EARTH.

A. 22:6-21 CONCLUSION

THE REVELATION

In this book all the other books of the Bible come and meet. In it is the consummation of all previous prophecy.

Daniel foretells as to Christ and the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, and the last Anti-Christ.

        John’s Revelation fills up the intermediate period, and describes the millennium and final state beyond Anti-Christ.

Daniel, as a godly statesman, views the history of God’s people in relation to the four world-kingdoms.

        John, as an apostle, views history from the Christian Church aspect.

The term APOCALYPSE is applied to no Old Testament book. Daniel is the nearest approach to it; but what Daniel was told to seal and shut up till the time of the end, St. John, now that the time is at hand is directed to reveal.

 

Forward to the Next Section:  John to the Seven Churches

Bibliography

 


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