Thomas R. Schreiner: A Mixture of Intrigue and Intimidation The book of Revelation both attracts and repels readers. It attracts readers because it introduces a strange new world, an apocalyptic vision that captures our imagination. We all sense that some dimensions of life are beyond us, that there are mysteries surpassing our comprehension, and Revelation introduces us to this world, inviting us to hear what God says to us. We wonder, what will happen in the future, and how will the world come to an end? Revelation reveals to us where the world is going, and it tells us what we should do to be part of the new world that is coming. At the same time, Revelation can repel us because we wonder what it all means and perhaps because we despair of making any sense of it at all. Martin Luther felt this way when he complained that Christ is not clearly taught or revealed in the book!1Our
The Dangers of Reading Providence
Sam Storms: As I’ve been preaching through the book of Revelation it has become ever more evident to me that reading divine providence is a tricky and often dangerous business. By “reading providence” I mean the tendency that all of us have to interpret what God is doing in the world around us and even in our own lives. We typically try to read providence because we are uncomfortable with mystery. We don’t like being kept in the dark about why God does or doesn’t do certain things. We don’t like having to tell people that we can’t answer their questions about why, if God is good and powerful, he permits evil to flourish in the world. We would much rather create an answer, even when the Bible remains silent. I am regularly asked what natural disasters mean. Why do they occur? Is God trying to tell us something? Is it always punishment for sin, or could it be a
The First and Second Resurrection
Dennis E. Johnson: In a second perspective on the “thousand years” following the binding of Satan, John saw thrones and the judges who occupied them, the souls of those who had been beheaded for staying true to Jesus (Rev. 20:4–6). These souls “came to life” and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Their coming to life is “the first resurrection,” and it shows that “the second death”—the eternal torment that awaits God’s enemies (19:20; 20:10, 14–15)—has no power over them. Some premillennialists construe “the first resurrection” as believers’ bodily resurrection at Christ’s second coming (see 1 Thess. 4:13–17; 1 Cor. 15:20–23). Although John does not mention a “second resurrection,” these premillennialists believe that a subsequent bodily resurrection of unbelievers is implied in the statement, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended” (Rev. 20:5). In this premillennial view of the future, therefore, there are two bodily resurrections separated by a
5 Tips for Reading the Book of Revelation
Leah Baugh: The book of Revelation is a tough book to read. It is full of strange and often scary imagery, confusing numbers, time references, and much more. However, with just a few tips for understanding certain confusing elements, the book opens up as an important and helpful book for Christians. 1. The book is visual prophecy. One of the first things that help us understand the book is understanding what kind of book it is. John tells us in the opening chapter that what he has written is a prophecy from Jesus. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Rev. 1:3) 2. This prophecy was given to John in a series of visions. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see.” (Rev. 1:10-11)
How Should We Interpret the Book of Revelation?
Sam Storms: Perhaps the single greatest controversy surrounding Revelation and the most important issue when it comes to interpreting the book, is the question of its structure. Many, perhaps most, evangelicals read Revelation as if it is describing a short period of time that is still in the future. Those who embrace what may be called the futurist view of the book most often will argue that what we have in Revelation 6-19 is a description of events that will take place in the future in a period of seven years they call The Great Tribulation. And as you know, there are many who insist that Jesus will return and rapture his people out of this world prior to the outpouring of divine judgment in the “Great Tribulation.” The result is that what we read in Revelation 6-19 has little, if any, immediate practical relevance for a lot of Christians. For them it is fascinating to talk about, but it
The 144,000 of Revelation 7
Kevin DeYoung: The 144,000 are not an ethnic Jewish remnant, and certainly not an Anointed Class of saints who became Jehovah’s Witnesses before 1935. The 144,000 “sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel” (Rev. 7:4) represent the entire community of the redeemed. Let me give you several reasons for making this claim. First, in chapter 13 we read that Satan seals all of his followers, so it makes sense that God would seal all of his people, not just the Jewish ones. Second, the image of sealing comes from Ezekiel 9, where the seal on the forehead marks out two groups of people: idolaters and non-idolaters. It would seem that the sealing of the 144,000 makes a similar distinction based on who worships God, not who among the Jewish remnant worships God. Third, the 144,000 are called the servants of our God (Rev. 7:3). There is no reason to make the 144,000 any more restricted than that. If
The Book of Revelation Is Not Just about the Future
This post is adapted from the chapter entitled “Revelation” by Charles E. Hill in A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized, edited by Michael J. Kruger. The Denouement of Scripture The “Revelation of Jesus Christ” portrays in dramatic fashion the paradoxical present rule of Jesus Christ as King of all the kings of the world, his ultimate triumph, and the salvation of his people through tribulation. As monumental as this is, it is not all. In the course of re-experiencing the visions John saw on Patmos, John’s audience witnesses not only the salvation of man, God’s image, but also the reclamation of the heavens, the earth, and the subterranean regions (i.e., the sea, the abyss, hades, fountains of water), the domains of man’s dominion as originally given in Genesis 1–3. Revelation presents to us a great Serpent, a woman who brings forth a male child who is to rule the earth, and a final restoration of the
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You’re ‘More than a Conquerer’—But What Does that Mean?
Justin Holcomb: Because of Jesus’s resurrection, all threats against you are tamed. Jesus conquered death, so death and evil aren’t the end of the story. You can have hope. In Revelation, one of the key themes is conquering through suffering. The number of occurrences of the verb “to conquer” illustrates this (it appears 17 times). John describes amazing promises, addressing them specifically to those who “conquer”: “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (2:7) “The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death” (2:11) “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it” (2:17) “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations” (2:26) “The one
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Truth grounded in revelation
D.A. Carson: The revelation has come to us in the natural world, in great events of miraculous power attested by witnesses, in the personal work of the Spirit of God, in the enormously rich variety of writings that make up the Bible, and supremely in the person of Jesus Christ. These are not mutually exclusive channels. For instance, most of what we know propositionally about Jesus is found in the Bible, including those parts that preserve the testimony of witnesses – so here we have Jesus himself, witnesses who have left words about him, and the Bible that preserves them and conveys them. First, the content can be indeed, has been- put into propositions, creeds, catechisms, statements of faith. It has substance. Of course there is an interpretive element in all our confessions, for finite beings cannot know anything without interpreting it. Only omniscience can escape the limitations of perspectivalism – of looking at things form a limited perspective.
Kingdom Come by Sam Storms
Coming soon (excuse the pun!) from Christian Focus, my good friend Sam Storms’ latest book; perhaps the benchmark text on eschatology and amillennialism: Featured Review “…the most helpful book on the various millennial views I have seen since W. J. Grier’s The Momentous Event. His work is marked by careful exegesis of pertinent texts, and ranges widely and deeply in all of the relevant Scriptural passages dealing with the end of the age.” Douglas F. Kelly ~ Richard Jordan Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina Description The second coming of Christ is a matter of sharp disagreement amongst Christians. Many hold to premillennialism: that Christ’s return will be followed by 1,000 years before the final judgement, a belief popularised in the popular Left Behind novels. However, premillennialism is not the only option for Christians. In this important new book, Sam Storms provides a biblical rationale for amillennialism; the belief that 1,000 years mentioned in the book of Revelation
A Great Multitude and a Great Hope
Kevin DeYoung: After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10) The great multitude is a host of overcomers. They’ve done it. They triumphed. They finished the race. They faced hunger and thirst and heat and tears (v. 16), but they did not curse God. They did not bail. They did not compromise. They held fast to word of God and the testimony of Jesus. They proved to be more than conquerors through him who loved us. They also prove to be a colorful bunch. This is not a vanilla multitude. When we get to heaven we will be pleased to find a vast
The Christmas Story from the Perspective of Rev.12:1-6
By D. A. Carson in his outstanding book Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (Crossway, 2010): The scene is grotesque. The dragon stands in front of the woman. She is lying there in labour Her feet are in the stirrups, writhing as she pushes to give birth, and this disgusting dragon is waiting to grab the baby as it comes out of the birth canal and then eat it (12:4). The scene is meant to be grotesque: it reflects the implacable rage of Satan against the arriving Messiah. Do we not know how this works out in historical terms? The first bloodbath in the time of Jesus takes place in the little village of Bethlehem — in the slaughter of the innocents as Herod tries to squash this baby’s perceived threat to his throne. Jesus is saved by Joseph, who is warned by God in a dream and flees to Egypt. Herod, in a rage, “gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem
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Who Are the 144,000 in Revelation?
And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel. (Rev. 7:4) Kevin DeYoung: Many sincere Bible-believing Christians would understand the 144,000 like this: The church is raptured prior to the great tribulation. During the time when the church is gone, a remnant of 144,000 ethnic Jews is converted (12,000 from each tribe). These Jewish converts, in turn, evangelize the Gentiles who make up the great multitude in white robes in v. 9. That’s one understanding of Revelation 7. A lot of godly people hold that understanding. Let me explain why I understand the 144,000 differently. The 144,000 are not an ethnic Jewish remnant, and certainly not an Anointed Class of saints who became Jehovah’s Witnesses before 1935. The 144,000 represent the entire community of the redeemed. Let me give you several reasons for making this claim. First, in chapter 13 we read that Satan seals all of his followers, so it
From Sam Storms’ – To the One Who Conquers: 50 Daily Meditations on the Seven Letters of Revelation 2-3 (Crossway) (used with permission) Chapter 50 – Enthroned! (Revelation 3:21-22) “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” No matter how many times I read this promise, I struggle to believe it. That’s not because I doubt its inspiration or accuracy. Jesus meant what he said and I embrace it. But to think of myself enthroned with Christ is simply more than I can fathom. Others of you may have a better grip on this than I do, but it strikes me as so utterly outlandish, not to mention presumptuous and prideful, that I blink at the words and have to pause simply to catch my breath.
7 Interpretive Helps for Revelation
Justin Childers has a helpful post on interpreting the book of Revelation. . 1. Revelation focuses on Jesus Christ. The point of this book is to make known the power, might, glory, and victory of the Lamb. 2. Revelation is given to reveal (make known). The purpose of this book is not to confuse, but to reveal. Revelation is not trying to hide something. Its intent is to show something clearly. 3. Revelation must be interpreted in light of the rest of Scripture (particularly the OT). MacArthur says 278 of its 404 verses allude to the OT Scriptures. 4. Revelation must be interpreted with humility. Godly scholars vary in their interpretations on this book. Being dogmatic about something that is not clear is unwise. Humility demands that we use words like, “most likely,” “possibly,” “sometimes,” “could,” “may,” and “probably.” 5. Revelation has an original audience (like every other Biblical book). Revelation is a letter written to real churches. Real original
“Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you…”
“‘But wait a minute,’ says somebody. ‘Are you saying that the passage of the years makes no difference? Are you asking me to believe that I have got to go back nearly two thousand years, and that the truth is what these men taught then?’ . . . Yes, I am, and this is why. There can be no development in this truth, and there has not been, because this is not truth that man works out for himself, but is truth which God reveals. Not one of the apostles was a discoverer of truth. The mighty apostle Paul never discovered the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. . . . It is a revelation; it is something that is given by God, something that has been revealed by him supremely in the person of his only-begotten Son.” D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Love So Amazing: Expositions of Colossians 1, pages 63-64. (HT: Ray Ortlund)
Do You Care What Christ Thinks of the Church?
Justin Taylor quotes from Sam Storms’ latest book, To the One Who Conquers: 50 Daily Meditations on the Seven Letters of Revelation 2-3 (pp. 30-31), where Storms comments on Jesus walking among the seven lampstands (Rev. 2:1): He is present in and among his people. He guards and protects and preserves the church. He is never, ever absent! No service is conducted at which he fails to show up. No meal is served for which he does not sit down. No sermon is preached that he does not evaluate. No sin is committed of which is he unaware. No individual enters an auditorium of whom he fails to take notice. No tear is shed that escapes his eye. No pain is felt that his heart does not share. No decision is made that he does not judge. No song is sung that he does not hear. How dare we build our programs and prepare our messages and hire our staffs
‘To The One Who Conquers’ by Sam Storms
From Sam Storms: My new book is now available! My new book, To the One Who Conquers: 50 Meditations on the Seven Letters of Revelation 2-3 (Crossway Publishers, 239 pp.), is now available for purchase at my website (www.samstorms.com). It retails for $15 but I’m selling it for $12. Once again, shipping and handling for orders placed within the United States is absolutely free. Of course, you can also purchase the book on Amazon.com if you prefer, or from your local Christian bookstore. I’m very excited about this volume, as it constitutes the second in a series of meditations on the biblical text that I’ve written. The first, The Hope of Glory: 100 Daily Meditations on Colossians was released earlier this year. The third, More Precious than Gold: 50 Daily Meditations on the Psalms, will be released in February of 2009. Here is a brief description of To the One Who Conquers: “The seven letters of Revelation 2 and 3