Impact

Part XI: The Lord of the Scroll – When will the King of Kings Return?

One of the fundamental beliefs of Christianity is that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return, gather those alive on Earth that truly believe in Him (i.e., His Church), and then move them to be with Him forever!

Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians.For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:13–17 NET)

Consequently, inquiring minds have wondered WHEN this will occur.

As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3 NET)

Many had tried to predict WHEN this would occur, only to be proven wrong when their date passed without it transpiring.

Furthermore, the enemy of our souls – Satan – in his usual manner (2 Corinthians 2:11), attempts to confuse the matter by tempting us with many variations of the opposite of truth (e.g., Jesus is not returning or certainly not in your life, so no need to worry about it just eat, drink and be merry) leading to complacency (2 Peter 3:3-7) and many variations of the counterfeit of truth (e.g., His return is so imminent you need to stop everything you are doing and wait for His return or in fact He is on Earth now – quick go see him!) leading to anxiety (Matthew 24:24. 1 John 2:18. 2 Thessalonians 2).

Jesus said,

I have told you now before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. (John 14:29 NET)

Therefore, without trying to be wrong (again) in predicting a date, let us simply see what the Bible says about when Jesus will return for His church.

I heard, but I did not understand. So I said, “Sir, what will happen after these things?” He said, “Go, Daniel. For these matters are closed and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made clean, and refined, but the wicked will go on being wicked. None of the wicked will understand, though the wise will understand. (Daniel 12:8–10 NET)

A First-Century Galilean Wedding

Now on the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine left.” Jesus replied, “Woman, why are you saying this to me? My time has not yet come.” His mother told the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washing, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.Jesus told the servants, “Fill the water jars with water.” So they filled them up to the very top. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the head steward,” and they did. When the head steward tasted the water that had been turned to wine, not knowing where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), he called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the cheaper wine when the guests are drunk. You have kept the good wine until now!” Jesus did this as the first of his miraculous signs, in Cana of Galilee. In this way he revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:1–11 NET)

Weddings are among the most exciting events of our lives! Weddings point to love, hope, faith, new beginnings, and all the beautiful things in this life, not just for the couple being married but for all of us. Yet even amid all the excitement, the couple must gather and compose themselves so they can adequately handle the planning and preparation not just for the ceremony itself but also for the countless details that lead up to the ceremony. (7)

But unlike today’s modern wedding, the 1st-century Galilean wedding ceremony had very different customs, traditions, and rituals. For us to better understand the words and parables of Jesus, we must first understand the culture He was in. All of the disciples of Jesus, except for Judas Iscariot, were from Galilee. And when it came to weddings, the Galileans’ traditions differed from the rest of Israel. In addition, Jesus spent two-thirds of His time in ministry in Galilee. (7)

A Galilean wedding was the most important event in the town. It occurred near the city gate, and everyone rushed to witness it. Witnesses had to be present to ratify the covenant. The written marriage covenant was read by the groom’s father to the bride. (7)

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. (John 3:16–18 NET)

Gifts or dowry were exchanged with the most extravagant given to the bride by the groom’s father. The dowry was an insurance policy not for the bride’s purchase but to care for her.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 1:21–22 ESV)
He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 5:5 NET ESV)
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13–14 ESV)

At the betrothal or engagement ceremony, the big moment comes when the groom pours wine into a ceremonial cup that he presents to the bride. The cup is called the Cup of Joy. Once he does this, she has the choice as to whether or not she will accept or reject his marriage proposal. It is completely up to her whether or not the wedding takes place, as she is given all authority for this decision. If she accepts the groom’s proposal, she indicates this by accepting and drinking from the cup of joy and now becomes the bride (Hebrew calah or kallah pronounced kal-law). The cup of joy is then passed back to the groom, who drinks from it, thus ratifying the marriage covenant. The groom then says, “you are now consecrated unto me by the Laws of Moses, and I will not drink this cup again until I drink of it anew with you at my father’s house. (7)

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.” And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, from now on I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26–29 NET)

Once the marriage covenant is ratified, then begins the year-long process of preparation for the wedding. The groom and bride are technically married, united under a new covenant. However, the groom must live apart from his bride until the day of their wedding feast. The bride still lives at her house, but she is no longer of it, for she belongs to the bridegroom and lives for him now. Everything looks the same but is now different because she belongs to the bridegroom. She is not bound by the old house anymore.

The groom is now responsible for preparing for the day he will be reunited with his bride. He will acquire materials to build a new room in his father’s house for him and his bride. He will craft new furniture, including tables and stools, and purchase oil lamps, rugs, and dishes for the wedding feast that will take place in their new home. (7)

“Do not let your hearts be distressed. You believe in God; believe also in me. There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too. And you know the way where I am going.” (John 14:1–4 NET)

The bride must purchase materials and prepare her wedding dress for the hour that the wedding will take place. The bride was to remain always ready, remaining busy preparing for the groom’s return. The bridesmaid must also prepare their dresses. (7)

Typically, in Galilee, about one year would elapse for a wedding at the father’s house. However, the groom, bride, bride’s father, nor anyone else knew the day and the hour of the wedding. Only the groom’s father knew the day and the hour of the wedding. It was to be a surprise wedding! (7)

But as for that day or hour no one knows it—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son—except the Father. Watch out! Stay alert! For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey. He left his house and put his slaves in charge, assigning to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to stay alert. Stay alert, then, because you do not know when the owner of the house will return—whether during evening, at midnight, when the rooster crows, or at dawn—or else he might find you asleep when he returns suddenly. What I say to you I say to everyone: Stay alert!” (Mark 13:32–37 NET)
“Learn this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. “But as for that day and hour no one knows it—not even the angels in heaven—except the Father alone. For just like the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. And they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one left. There will be two women grinding grain with a mill; one will be taken and one left. “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:32–44 NET)

At a Galilean wedding, the hour would be in the middle of the night when the groom’s father would tell the groom to go get his bride. Consequently, the bride and her virgin bridesmaids slept in their wedding clothes to be ready with lamps prepared to go out to meet the groom. (7)

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of the virgins were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish ones took their lamps, they did not take extra olive oil with them. But the wise ones took flasks of olive oil with their lamps. When the bridegroom was delayed a long time, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is here! Come out to meet him.’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied. ‘There won’t be enough for you and for us. Go instead to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they had gone to buy it, the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went inside with him to the wedding banquet. Then the door was shut. Later, the other virgins came too, saying, ‘Lord, lord! Let us in!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you!’ Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour. (Matthew 25:1–13 NET)
The human spirit is like the lamp of the LORD, searching all his innermost parts. (Proverbs 20:27 NET)
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9 NET)

The five wise bridesmaids had “prayed the price (1)” to be born again, as indicated by having olive oil (1) ready for their lamps, thus representing the Holy Spirit within their spirits. The foolish bridesmaids believed in the Lord (even the demons believe in God (James 2:19)) but never repented of their sins and placed their faith in Him as their Lord and Savior to be born again from above, as indicated by no olive oil for their lamps, representing no Holy Spirit within their spirits and thus no salvation. (7)

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we preach), because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation. For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:8–13 NET)

When the father, in the early hours of the morning, finally tells his son to go get his bride, the son grabs his shofar (1) and blows it, awakening the groomsmen sleeping with him. As they set out into the street heading to the bride’s home, the shofar is blown long and loud, awakening the bride and her bridesmaids, who quickly trim their lamps. The bride and the bridesmaids rush out into the night air, anxiously awaiting the groom’s return. Other guests who were invited, and were ready, join the groom and groomsmen as the procession makes its way to the bride. (7)

The groom looks upon his bride with love. She and her bridesmaids are dressed in beautiful, brilliant white flowing gowns illuminated by the lamps, contrasting with the dark new moon night sky (1). She is lovely to Him, and to her, He makes the concept of submission sacredly desirable and empowering (Esther 2:15-17). They are now reunited as one forever to live in the Father’s house.

Groomsmen bring a litter and lower it to the ground before the bride. The bride modestly steps into and gently sits and lowers herself down into the litter, then the groomsmen lift her up to transport her to the groom’s father’s house and their new room, where the wedding feast has been prepared. The ancient Galileans referred to this as “flying the bride to the father’s house.” (7)

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18 NET) 

The bride and groom arrive at the groom’s father’s house and enter the new room where the marriage supper has been prepared. All those that joined the procession enter and are seated. (7)

Then I heard what sounded like the voice of a vast throng, like the roar of many waters and like loud crashes of thunder. They were shouting: “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the All-Powerful, reigns! Let us rejoice and exult and give him glory, because the wedding celebration of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. She was permitted to be dressed in bright, clean, fine linen” (for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints). Then the angel said to me, “Write the following: Blessed are those who are invited to the banquet at the wedding celebration of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These are the true words of God." (Revelation 19:6–9 NET

Those that entered that were not wearing wedding garments were thrown out into the darkness of the night as they were not prepared (i.e., not wearing robes of righteousness, not born again (Revelation 19:8)). That is, they did not choose to be the chosen (1). (7)

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to summon those who had been invited to the banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Look! The feast I have prepared for you is ready. My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.” ’ But they were indifferent and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest seized his slaves, insolently mistreated them, and killed them. The king was furious! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but the ones who had been invited were not worthy. So go into the main streets and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ And those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all they found, both bad and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the wedding guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ But he had nothing to say. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:1–14 NET)

Then the groom’s father shuts the door, and no one else can enter. Those not ready to join the procession when it went through the town will be left in the darkness of the night. (7)

Go, my people! Enter your inner rooms! Close your doors behind you! Hide for a little while, until his angry judgment is over! For look, the LORD is coming out of the place where he lives, to punish the sin of those who live on the earth. The earth will display the blood shed on it; it will no longer cover up its slain. (Isaiah 26:20–21 NET)
The Seventy Weeks of Daniel
While I [Daniel] was still speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and presenting my request before the LORD my God concerning his holy mountain—yes, while I was still praying, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen previously in a vision, was approaching me in my state of extreme weariness, around the time of the evening offering. He spoke with me, instructing me as follows: “Daniel, I have now come to impart understanding to you. At the beginning of your requests a message went out, and I have come to convey it to you, for you are of great value in God’s sight. Therefore consider the message and understand the vision: “Seventy weeks have been determined concerning your people and your holy city to put an end to rebellion, to bring sin to completion, to atone for iniquity, to bring in perpetual righteousness, to seal up the prophetic vision, and to anoint a most holy place. (Daniel 9:20–24 NET)

In 539 B.C., the Messenger Archangel Gabriel, who would later announce the births of both John the Baptizer and Jesus, the final sacrifice, came to Daniel when the evening sacrifice (3 P.M.) would have been held in the temple. He explained to Daniel that there were seventy weeks of years of prophetic history that would be divided into three sections or periods:

The Seventy Weeks of Daniel
1 week of years (1 x 7 = 7 years)

Period I: Jerusalem to be Restored and Rebuilt

7 weeks of years (7 x 7 = 49 years)

So know and understand: From the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives, there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will again be built, with plaza and moat, but in distressful times. (Daniel 9:25 NET)

The seven weeks (or sevens) of years in which Jerusalem’s city was to be restored and rebuilt, which was decreed in 457 B.C. by Artaxerxes to Ezra and completed with much distress in 408 B.C., forty-nine years later. (Ezra 7:11-26. Ezra 9:1. Isaiah 58:12) (35)

The Seventy Weeks of Daniel
1 week of years (1 x 7 = 7 years)

Period II: The Anointed Prince Arrives

62 weeks of years (62 x 7 = 434 years)

So know and understand: From the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives, there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will again be built, with plaza and moat, but in distressful times. (Daniel 9:25 NET)

The sixty-two weeks (or sevens) of years began with completing Jerusalem’s restoration and rebuilding in 408 B.C. However, for simplicity, the first contiguous seven years are added back to the sixty-two years. Then, we calculate the end date of the sixty-nine weeks (483 years) time period from the order to rebuild the temple (457 B.C.) to determine when the Anointed Prince (Luke 4:18. Acts 4:27;10:38. Isaiah 9:6) was predicted to appear on the scene.

483 years – 457 B.C. + 1 (offset for no year zero) = 27 A.D.

Jesus then bursts onto the scene (68), being declared, by John the Baptist (John 1:29,36), the Lamb of God who will take away the world’s sin! The Anointed Prince is Yeshua Hamashiach (Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Anointed, or Jesus the Messiah)! Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), was revealed to Israel when baptized by John the Baptist and anointed with the Holy Spirit by God His Father.

This occurred on the Day of Atonements, which was the 10th of Tishri 3788 (Monday, September 29, 27 A.D.), when Jesus’ human body was 32 years old (Luke 3:23). Thus satisfying the legal requirement of being at least 30 years old before entering the priestly service (Numbers 4:3).

Furthermore, the Day of Atonements was not designated as a “Pilgrimage Festival,” meaning there was no requirement for all males to be in Jerusalem during this time, as required for Pilgrimage Festivals (1). Consequently, Jesus could be with John the Baptizer at the Jordon River on this day.

Going down under the water, He is baptized (1) by John the Baptizer and, in so doing, publicly accepted the mission of dying as the sacrifice for man’s sin on the cross (Romans 6:4,5). This, even as the scapegoat was sacrificed and its blood sprinkled over and in front of the mercy seat on the Day of Atonement, typologically represents Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross for our sin and sins (Leviticus 16:15-19. Leviticus 23:26-32).

Now in those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River. And just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my one dear Son; in you I take great delight.” (Mark 1:9–11 NET)

The anointed Prince of Peace had arrived! Also, the water baptism was the moment when Jesus became our High Priest establishing a new order of priesthood not of Aaron but like Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:10). John the Baptist, who was of the order of the priesthood of Aaron, officiated in the priesthood ordination ceremony by washing Jesus in water (i.e., baptized Him) and then God the Father anointed Him with the Holy Spirit (which the oil of the Old Testament represented, Leviticus 8:1-12). Jesus becomes our High Priest (1) so that He can later offer Himself as our sacrifice for sin on the cross of Calvary! (Hebrews 7). God, His Father, announces to all present that Jesus is His unique Son with whom He is well pleased.

Full of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the desert where The Two Kingdoms (1) The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan – will have their first confrontation! (Luke 4:1). Typologically, the scapegoat sent into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement to face Azazel (the fallen angel (1), Satan) represented Jesus being led into the wilderness to face Satan (a fallen angel (1)) (Leviticus 16:5-10;20-22).

Jesus then went to His hometown and framed His mission as doing the work of Isaiah 61:1,2;58:6 That is, the proclamation of the good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight for the blind, setting at liberty the oppressed, and proclaiming the year of the Lord.

Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:16–19 NET)

Jesus conducted His public ministry, again which started at His Baptism at human age 32 on the 10th of Tishri 3788 (Monday, September 29, 27 A.D.) as the Son of Man on Earth and ended on Wednesday, Nisan 14, 3791 (Wednesday, April 25, 31 A.D.) (31)(62)(63) at His crucifixion. That is, Jesus’ ministry totaled three and a half years, from water baptism to crucifixion.

Thus one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time the Lord Jesus associated with us, beginning from his baptism by John until the day he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness of his resurrection together with us.” (Acts 1:21–22 NET)(cf. John 15:26,27)

Note a selection criterion for the replacement of Judas was that they had been with Jesus from the beginning, which started with His baptism.

Jesus’ death on Wednesday, April 25, 31 A.D. (Nisan 14, 3791) was thirty-six years after His birth (1), which occurred on Saturday, March 20, 6 B.C. (Nisan 1, 3755). Nisan 1 is called Rosh Chodesh (1), meaning the “beginning of the new moons or months” of a year. (Exodus 12:2) It began the annual Hebrew Religious Calendar (1).

Rosh Chodesh was not designated as a “Pilgrimage Festival,” thus not requiring anything other than the previously mandated monthly New Moon trumpet blasts, sacrifices, and offerings (1). Meaning that there was no requirement for all males to be in Jerusalem during this time, as required for Pilgrimage Festivals (1). Consequently, Joseph could be with Mary (1) in the Tower of the Flock (1) at Bethlehem during the birth of Jesus (Yeshua).

Furthermore, this means Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Hebrew – Shavuot) (aka, the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of Harvest). This was on June 7, 7 B.C. (Hebrew Sivan 10, 3754), with Sivan being the third month (1) of the Hebrew religious calendar. How appropriate for the Lord of the Harvest to be conceived during the feast that celebrates wheat harvest! Wheat (1) represents humans that choose to be the chosen! (1)

Don’t you say, ‘There are four more months and then comes the harvest?’ I tell you, look up and see that the fields are already white for harvest! (John 4:35 NET)

The Lord of the harvest is the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom the Father has committed all judgment (John 5:22;5:27–29; cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:5–10). The compassionate Lord seeks to rescue people from His wrath and judgment through the prayers of believers. This is the paradox and wonder of the gospel. The judge commands His people to pray that more sinners be saved from His judgment; more than that, that more evangels be sent to those sinners because the judge and executioner was Himself executed to save others from being executed by Him.” (44)

The Seventy Weeks of Daniel
1 week of years (1 x 7 = 7 years)

Period III: The Anointed One is Cut Off, followed by the Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple

Now after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing. As for the city and the sanctuary, the people of the coming prince will destroy them. But his end will come speedily like a flood. Until the end of the war that has been decreed there will be destruction. (Daniel 9:26 NET)

“The expression be cut off means “to be killed.” After sixty-two weeks or 483 years, but before the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, Jesus was to be killed. (36)

He was led away after an unjust trial— but who even cared? Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded. (Isaiah 53:8 NET)

“It says ‘Messiah shall be cut off [Karat]. …in Hebrew, it is the same word. It means the new covenant will begin with the cutting of a sacrifice. So Messiah will be the sacrifice offered up to begin the new covenant.” (23)

At the age of 36 years, Jesus was cut off on Wednesday, Nisan 14, 3791 (Wednesday, April 25, 31 A.D.), the midpoint of the week and the midpoint of a human’s life that averages approximately seventy years.

The days of our lives add up to seventy years, or eighty, if one is especially strong. But even one’s best years are marred by trouble and oppression. Yes, they pass quickly and we fly away. (Psalm 90:10 NET)
He has taken away my strength in the middle of life; he has cut short my days. (Psalm 102:23 NET)
Now after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing. As for the city and the sanctuary, the people of the coming prince will destroy them. But his end will come speedily like a flood. Until the end of the war that has been decreed there will be destruction. (Daniel 9:26 NET)

Furthermore, it says: and shall have nothing. The noun may mean “nothingness” to explain His state at death, or the Hebrew term may also mean “but not for Himself,” meaning He did not die for Himself, but for others. That is probably the intent of the passage.” (36)

And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. (Daniel 9:26 ESV)

“The word people in the Hebrew text has a definite article. It is the people, specific people, who are the subject of the action. In other words, it is not the prince who shall come who will destroy the city and the Temple, but rather, the prince’s people shall come. The point of that second phrase in verse 26 is that the people’s nationality and the prince that shall come are the same. The prince that shall come in this context is the Antichrist, whom Daniel has already spoken about in chapters 7 and 8. By saying the prince, Daniel uses the article of the previous reference because he has spoken of him in the previous chapters. The prince that shall come, still the future, is of the same nationality as the people who will destroy the city and the Temple. After the Messiah is cut off, the city and the Temple will be destroyed.” (36)

“This occurred in A.D. 70, forty years after the death of the Messiah. It is known from history who the people were. The people who destroyed the city and the Temple in A.D. 70 were the Gentiles of Rome, the Romans. Since the Antichrist must be of the same nationality as the people who destroyed the city and the Temple, it is this verse that shows that the Antichrist will be a Gentile of Roman origin.” (36)

Again, Daniel’s prophecy revealed the timing that the Messiah would arrive and be anointed, and after that, then Jerusalem would be destroyed.

Since Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70, the Messiah has definitely come, the sacrifice has been offered up, the new covenant has been cut [karat], and has definitely begun. (23)

“Then he states: and the end thereof shall be with a flood, meaning that the end of Jerusalem and the Temple shall be the result of a flood. Whenever the figure of a flood is used symbolically, it always is a symbol of a military invasion. Jerusalem was destroyed by a Roman military invasion, first under Vespasian and then under Titus.” (36)

And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. (Daniel 9:26 ESV)
They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away as captives among all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24 NET)

“For the remainder of the interval before the start of the seventieth seven [i.e., The Times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24) that started with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 A.D.], the Land will be characterized by war. This has certainly been true throughout the history of the Middle East. As a result of the wars, desolations are determined, a reference to the state of the Land as determined or decreed by God.” (36)

This future 70th prophetic week (1) occurs after “The Church Age.”

Period IV: The Church Age

The Seventy Weeks of Daniel
1 week of years (1 x 7 = 7 years)

The Church Age

An “age” is a historical period of time or an era. Some historians divide human history into many epochs and name them according to their defining characteristics: Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Middle Age, Modern Age, Postmodern Age, etc. Biblical history, too, can be divided into different eras. When those divisions emphasize God’s interaction with His creation, we call them dispensations. More broadly, biblical history can be divided into two periods, roughly following the division of Old and New Covenants (Testaments): the Age of the Law and the Church Age. (9)

The Church Age is the period of time from Pentecost (Acts 2) to the Rapture (foretold in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). It is called the Church Age because it covers the period in which the Church is on earth. It corresponds with the dispensation of Grace. Jesus predicted the Church Age in Matthew 16:18 when He said, “I will build my church.” Jesus has kept His promise, and His Church has been growing for almost 2,000 years. (9)

Jesus does give us a clue to the approximate length of the church age (Luke 13:32). Remembering a day with the Lord is a thousand years (1) (2 Peter 3:8) then Jesus was telling Satan (the spiritual “fox” that was working through King Herod) that for approximately two thousand years (two Heaven days), the church will be alive on Earth with deliverance and healing. Then in the third thousand years (the third Heaven day), Jesus will start His millennial reign on Earth! (4)

This fits the pattern of God, who never changes (Malachi 3:6. Hebrews 13:8). In Genesis 1, the Earth was restored in six Heaven days (1) (six thousand Earth years), and God then rested on the seventh day (seventh thousand Earth years). There are four thousand years (four Heaven days) from Adam to Jesus’ birth; add two thousand years (4) (two Heaven days) of the church age for a total of six thousand years (six Heaven days). Then rest will come in the seventh thousandth years (Seventh Heaven day) – the thousand-year reign of Jesus on Earth called the Day of the Lord!

Another clue is given in the purification of those made unclean (1) by contacting anything associated with human death (i.e., a corpse, bones, and grave). Recall, we are dead in our trespasses and sin until we are born again from above (1).

“ ‘Whoever touches the corpse of any person will be ceremonially unclean seven days. He must purify himself with water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and the seventh day, then he will not be clean. (Numbers 19:11–12 NET)

Again, this refers to Heaven’s days of one thousand years each and the same time period from two different perspectives. The third day is from the perspective of starting the count from the birth of the church. Meaning that at the end of the two-thousand-year church age, or the beginning of the third day, some people will have been purified with the water of the word (i.e., born again) and raptured. The seventh day is from the perspective of the restoration of the earth. Then some will be found purified with the water of the word out of the Great Tribulation and brought to Heaven on the Seventh Heaven day, which is the beginning of the millennial reign of Jesus!

Another clue is given in the transfiguration of Jesus.

Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them privately up a high mountain. And he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. Then Moses and Elijah also appeared before them, talking with him. (Matthew 17:1–3 NET)

The transfiguration was a preview of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27–28 NET)

We know the disciples have died for almost 2,000 years, and Jesus has not yet come into His kingdom. And yet Jesus said some were standing there and would not see death until they saw Him coming. What was He talking about? Jesus here talked about the Transfiguration, for the Transfiguration was a preview of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Transfiguration was a foretaste of glory; the Transfiguration was a glimpse into the future. And indeed, some were standing there—Peter, James, and John—who did not taste death until they saw the Son of man, the Lord Jesus Christ, in His glory, in His kingdom, because that is what the Transfiguration was. (6)

Now, what is the significance of “after six days?” Six is the number for man, and it speaks of failure. Seven is the number for completion. Man is a six; he is one less than seven. And so, six days represent 6,000 years of human history. Man’s recorded history on this globe has been 6,000 years. But there’s a new day—a great day coming—and after six days of failure will come the perfect day, the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. After 6,000 years of failure, there is coming 1,000 years of peace and righteousness when the Lord Jesus Christ shall rule and reign. Just as the Transfiguration was the Second Coming of Jesus in miniature—six days, or the history of man in miniature, foretelling that our Lord will come after six days—and the seventh day will be the millennial rest of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (6)

Then one of the elders asked me, “These dressed in long white robes—who are they and where have they come from?” So I said to him, “My lord, you know the answer.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb! (Revelation 7:13–14 NET)

In conclusion, we should not be complacent or anxious about our Lord Jesus’ return. Rather we are to be faithful in doing what the Lord asks us to do moment by moment and living a life that will allow us to look forward to His return with unashamed joy (1 John 2:28), but letting Him “worry” about the bigger picture of bringing everything to its rightful end – Maranatha! (5) (Romans 13:8-14. Ephesians 5:1-18. 1 Corinthians 4:2. Luke 12:22-32. Philippians 4:6. Matthew 25:1-30).

Please see the following links for more information from Revelation Chapters 1-3 concerning the condition of churches during the Church Age:

– Seven Church Conditions during the Times of the Gentiles:

The Throne Room of God

1. The Open Door to Heaven

After these things I looked, and there was a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet said: “Come up here so that I can show you what must happen after these things.” (Revelation 4:1 NET)

After receiving the prophetic messages to the seven congregations, the scene moves from Earth to Heaven, where John sees a door open. Speaking in apocalyptic language, this is not a literal door but a prophetic door of revelation. (10)

John wants us to understand that he will receive a vision of Heaven that can only come by spiritual revelation from God Himself. He will be privileged to see what is happening in Heaven and then record that for the believers confronted with the throne of the imperial cult of Rome. (10)

But the revelation is not only for believers in the seven congregations; it is for believers of all time who struggle with the challenge and heartache of seeing men and governments exalt themselves in place of God. What we see on earth is not reality. The reality is what we see in Heaven. We just need the spiritual revelation to see it, and John gives it to us.

John hears a voice speaking to him and says it is like a trumpet-shofar (1). He uses the same phrase in Revelation 1:10.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day when I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, (Revelation 1:10 NET)

John was used to the voice of the Lord sounding like a trumpet-shofar. When the Lord brought the Hebrews out of Egypt, the Lord spoke to them (1) through the sound of the trumpet-shofar (Exodus 19:13-19). The people were so frightened by the experience that they asked Moses for the Lord not to speak to them directly again (Exodus 20:18-19).

So one way the Lord continued to speak to them was through trumpets-shofars (Numbers 10:1-10). When John heard the voice of the Lord, he heard it as the sound of a trumpet-shofar. This was part of the history and heritage of his people in hearing the Word of the Lord. He knew what it meant, and it certainly got his attention. (10)

The voice told John to come to Heaven to receive the spiritual revelation of the next things the Lord wanted to show him. There are two statements here to consider:

1. The statement commanding John to come to Heaven.

Ministers who believe and proclaim a pre-tribulation rapture interpret this verse and command to “Come up here” to mean that John represents believers who are raptured or caught up to Heaven at this time before the beginning of the tribulation. Scholars and serious students of the Book of Revelation certainly have the right to their studied interpretation of the Book. We should bless, love, and respect those who have different views than ours and not be dogmatic where there is a difference of opinions. (10)

Furthermore, believers who have only been taught the pre-tribulation rapture may be surprised to learn that not everyone shares this interpretation of this specific Scripture. We need to be humble and teachable. When we read or hear teaching contrary to what we have always believed, we should be like the Bereans who search the Scriptures daily to discover the truth.

These Jews were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they eagerly received the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11 NET)

It is important to remember that the Book of Revelation is written in an apocalyptic writing style. This means we should not interpret this book too literally. This may shock some, but John was not literally raptured to Heaven. I know this may really sound upsetting if this is the only interpretation you have been taught and accepted. God bless all well-meaning godly ministers who teach this view. (10)

It just didn’t happen. John is using apocalyptic language to say that he is going to receive a prophetic word from God that is supernatural. He is using symbolic language to describe it. There was no literal door and no literal rapture of John’s body to Heaven at this time. (10)

John had a spiritual vision of Heaven, but he was still on the earth at Patmos. Physically, he did not go anywhere. Since he was not literally raptured, this verse cannot possibly suggest a literal rapture of believers to Heaven in God’s great end-time chronology of events. Those who do so are certainly making a good-faith effort to understand and interpret this verse. I applaud them, but this interpretation turns an apocalyptic statement into a literal event that simply cannot be supported by this verse. I pray that you will have “ears to hear.” (10)

2. The statement when the Lord says He will show John “things which must take place after this.”

Scholars who interpret the Book of Revelation literally see chapters 4-22 as the chronological order of the Book of Revelation. There is certainly a chronological order to some events John describes. But when John says, “things which must take place after this” he uses apocalyptic language to refer to the next part of his prophetic vision. He does not necessarily mean the next events but the next part of his vision. The point is not to read in too literal an interpretation of spiritual language. There are successive chronological events in the Book of Revelation. We must be cautious and not dogmatic in interpreting “otherworldly” language and symbols too literally. (10)

The Throne in Heaven

Immediately I was in the Spirit, and a throne was standing in heaven with someone seated on it! And the one seated on it was like jasper and carnelian in appearance, and a rainbow looking like it was made of emerald encircled the throne. (Revelation 4:2–3 NET)

To emphasize that he is having a prophetic vision, John once again says that he is “in the Spirit.” John uses this phrase four times (see Rev. 1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10). The reader would understand John to be saying that the Holy Spirit was giving him an additional spiritual revelation that he could not possibly know by his own human intellect or imagination. These “in the Spirit” statements are the order for understanding the Book of Revelation. (10)

In his spiritual state, John sees the throne room of God in Heaven in all of its glory and beauty. Someone was seated on the throne. This “One” is the Creator of all things. He is not the generic “god of the world,” nor is He the god of any religion outside of the Bible. He is Yahveh, the Judeo-Christian God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; He is the God of Israel. (10)

The Lord Himself makes this claim as we learn in Isaiah:

This is what the Lord, Israel’s king, says, their protector, the Lord who commands armies: “I am the first and I am the last, there is no God but me. (Isaiah 44:6 NET).

Because God is so glorious in His appearance, no one can see Him in the fullness of His blazing glory and dazzling beauty. Surely we can understand that the creature cannot see the Creator in His fullness. If we did, we would all die. (10)

A natural example we can all understand is that no one can look directly into the sun without seeing spots or going blind. We must turn our eyes away from the sun or look at it with special glasses or through dark clouds. This is what the Bible means when it says that God is invisible or cannot be seen (see 1 Tim. 1:17; John 1:18).

In the Hebrew Bible, we are told that God “spoke to Moses face to face” (Exodus 33:11). This is a Hebraic figure of speech. The writer wants us to understand that when Moses approached God, he was not in a spiritual trance or having a vision like John but was fully conscious and aware that he was in God’s presence. It does not mean that Moses literally saw God’s face.

Later in the same chapter, Moses pleaded with God to show him His glory. The Lord then told Moses that no one could see His face, meaning the fullness of His glory, and live. (Exodus 33:18-23.)

So when the Bible talks about someone seeing the Lord, it does not mean that the person sees Him in bodily form. It means that the person sees a manifestation of God which the person describes in heavenly terms of majestic divine glory and beauty.

For example, Exodus reads:

Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up,and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear like the sky itself.(Exodus 24:9-10 NET).

The prophet Micaiah described his vision of the Lord in this way:

Micaiah said, “That being the case, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, with all the heavenly assembly standing on his right and on his left. (1 Kings 22:19 NET).

Isaiah described a vision of the Lord similar to John’s. Isaiah said:

In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the sovereign master seated on a high, elevated throne. The hem of his robe [glory] filled the temple. Seraphs stood over him; each one had six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and they used the remaining two to fly. They called out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord who commands armies! His majestic splendor fills the entire earth!” The sound of their voices shook the door frames, and the temple was filled with smoke. (Isaiah 6:1–4 NET).

The prophet Ezekiel said that the heavens were opened to him and that he “saw visions of God” (Ezekiel 1:1). In the rest of the chapter, Ezekiel describes all he saw using language similar to Moses, Micaiah, Isaiah, and John (see Ezekiel 1). (10)

As with others who have had a true vision of Heaven, John does not describe God in a definable form, but in terms humans can understand. John speaks of God’s blazing glory and dazzling beauty as brilliant gemstones of jasper and (carnelian or sardius). (10)

Jasper was one of the stones in the high priest’s breastplate (1) (Exodus 28:20). Jasper is also mentioned later in Revelation to describe the brilliant, pure light of the glory of God; it is called a “precious stone” that is as “clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:11). From a spiritual standpoint, we can say that jasper symbolizes the pure holiness of God. (10)

While we don’t know the exact color of the jasper that John sees because it is crystal clear, we can think of it today as resembling a brilliant, sparkling diamond. Both the wall and the first foundation of the New Jerusalem are made of jasper (Revelation 21:18-19). Because jasper is said to be crystal clear, the glory of God can be seen emanating everywhere throughout New Jerusalem, the city God has prepared as the eternal home of His people. Praise God! (10)

Carnelian (or Sardius) is a beautiful red like a ruby. Sardius was also one of the stones in the high priest’s breastplate (Exodus 28:17). It is listed as the sixth foundation of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:20).. In contrast, the jasper symbolizes the holiness of God, we can understand that the deep blood-red carnelian is a spiritual symbol of the necessity of redemption through the blood of an innocent substitutionary sacrifice for sin. (10)

In addition to these gorgeous stones, John sees an emerald or green-colored rainbow around God’s throne. The way John describes it, the rainbow is a full circle around the throne. The full circle symbolizes eternity, much like the wedding ring symbolizes the sacredness of the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. Exodus 28:17 lists emerald as one of the stones in the breastplate of the high priest. It is also the fourth foundation of the wall of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:19). (10)

A Full Circle Rainbow over Australia (17)

From the ground, typically, only the top portion of a rainbow is visible because directions toward the ground have fewer raindrops. From the air, though, the entire 360-degree circle of a rainbow is more commonly visible.

The rainbow is a sign of God’s covenant of life, as we learn in Genesis 9:12-17. Through his vision of God’s throne, John is given an apocalyptic message that a holy God has entered into an everlasting blood covenant with His people through the innocent substitutionary sacrifice of His Son, who gave His life for the sins of mankind. (10)

Furthermore, John’s vision contrasts the heavenly throne of God with the earthly throne of the emperor and imperial cult worship. To the people living under Roman rule, the majesty and splendor of the emperor’s throne represented the most powerful ruler in the world. The emperor was a “god” to be feared and obeyed without question. You proved your loyalty to the emperor by sacrificing to him at his temple or statue and altar. The believers were faced with this challenge and crisis. (10)

The Roman emperor controlled most of the world. His power was absolute, and his riches immeasurable. He could do whatever he wanted. He could kill your body but not your soul. (Matthew 10:28) Yet his power and majesty could not even compare to the sovereign rule of God over all of His creation. Caesar’s power, wealth, and glory, as represented by his throne, were nothing compared to the blazing glory and dazzling beauty of the throne of God.

Furthermore, the emperor would have no power at all unless the Almighty allowed for it. We learn this in the Gospel records in the Bible. When Pilate threatened Jesus with crucifixion (10)

Jesus said to him,

Jesus answered, You would not have any power or authority whatsoever against (over) Me if it were not given you from above. For this reason the sin and guilt of the one who delivered Me over to you is greater. (John 19:11 NET)

The vision of the throne room of God would certainly comfort the believers and assure them that God alone was the sovereign Lord and Master of the universe. He alone was to be feared and obeyed. He alone was to be worshiped. In time, He would judge the arrogance of the imperial cult and set His people in the place of honor. Therefore, the believers to whom John wrote learned not to fear those who ruled over them in this world. John’s message applies to believers today; we should pray for those in authority over us, but ultimately, our lives are in God’s hands, not those of evil rulers. (10)

First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people,even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human,who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God’s purpose at his appointed time. (1 Timothy 2:1–6 NET)
Work to see that the city where I sent you as exiles enjoys peace and prosperity. Pray to the Lord for it. For as it prospers you will prosper.’ (Jeremiah 29:7 NET)

God alone is the supreme sovereign over His creation. And He has promised eternal rewards to His people who overcome the temptations of this world. While evil rulers can kill our bodies, God will raise us with new bodies to live with Him forever. (10)

As Paul writes:

Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8:11 NET)

All the Caesars are dead, but Jesus, the Son of Man, lives! Earthly leaders only rule for a short time, but God rules forever. He alone is to be feared, praised, and worshiped. (10)

While God will pour out His wrath on the ungodly, He has an everlasting covenant of life for His people purchased for us through the substitutionary blood sacrifice of Jesus. As Paul wrote to the believers at Thessalonica:

For God did not destine us for wrath but for gaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep we will come to life together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:9–11 NET). (10) 

The 24 Elders

In a circle around the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on those thrones were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white clothing and had golden crowns on their heads. (Revelation 4:4 NET)

Around the throne of God, John sees 24 elders clothed in white. They are also sitting on thrones and have gold crowns on their heads. Who are these 24 elders, and what are they doing around the throne of God? (10)

The word elder (Gk, presbuteros), as used in the book of Revelation, is only used of the twenty-four elders and is used twelve times (Revelation 4:4,10;5:5,6,8,11,14;7:11,13,14;11:16,17,18;14:3;19:4). (18)

The word elder is used in different ways throughout the Bible. it is used for older men who were tribal leaders. Egypt, Moses, and Aaron called the elders to inform them that Yahweh had sent them (Exodus 4:29,30). Later, seventy elders were set up as a special group to assist Moses (Numbers 11:16,17). In the New Covenant, the word elder was used for the rulers of the synagogues (Matthew 21:23;26:57) and for the leaders in the early church (Acts 14:23). It was also used in describing the great Old Covenant men of faith (Hebrews 11:2).

And now, if you will diligently listen to me and keep my covenant, then you will be my special possession out of all the nations, for all the earth is mine, and you will be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you will speak to the Israelites.” (Exodus 19:5–6 NET)

The significance of the fact that there were twenty-four elders is clarified in the Old Covenant. The priesthood of ancient Israel, made up of the house of Aaron, was divided into twenty-four courses or groups of priests. (1 Chronicles 24). Each group served for two weeks each year on a rotation basis. As the prophet was God’s spokesman to the people, the priest was the people’s representative before God. The number twenty-four in connection with the priesthood would speak of complete representation. Each group of priests had one priest who represented it. When these twenty-four priests met together, they represented the entire priesthood and, simultaneously, the whole nation of Israel.

These elders were specifically said by John to be “sitting” (Revelation 4:4;11:16). To any Jewish contemporary of John, that would have been an amazing statement. They knew that the Levitical priests never sat down because their work was never done. (1) Their work was never done because the sacrifices of animals they offered could never take away sin – they could only cover sin for a year. But Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice, a sacrifice that was infinite and eternal and, therefore, never had to be repeated. The writer of Hebrews reveals that:

The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, and he sustains all things by his powerful word, and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:3 NET)

These twenty-four elders were seated on thrones around the Heavenly Father because Jesus, our Great High Priest (1), had once and for all opened the way into the Most Holy Place (1) in Heaven! These are the same thrones promised to overcomers at Laodicea (1).

I will grant the one who conquers permission to sit with me on my throne, just as I too conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21 NET)

This background information should give us a good idea of who the twenty-four elders represent. In the Bible, numbers often have symbolic meanings. Scholars understand that the number 12 can symbolize government or leadership and can be a representative number. Furthermore, the Bible refers to Jews and non-Jewish believers as the priests of God (see Exod. 19:6; 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10). (10)

When considering everything, the twenty-four elders are seen with Jesus the High Priest (Revelation 5) and represent the following:

The redeemed ones of the twelve tribes of Israel (including proselytes and all that received righteousness through faith since the fall of Adam) who were liberated when Jesus moved Paradise (aka, the Garden of Eden (1)) from Hades back to Heaven (1).

and

The redeemed ones, Jews and Gentiles, who directly or indirectly were born again through the ministry of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (the original eleven plus a replacement).

Together, they represent the company of all believers (i.e., Jews and Gentile believers) that had died and are with the Lord sometime before the Seals on the Scroll were opened.

Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord—for we live by faith, not by sight. Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6–8 NET)

Again, they are seen in Heaven offering constant praise and worship to our God.

Similarly, the twelve gates in the New Jerusalem have the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel, while the foundations of the city have the names of the twelve apostles. (10)

The city possesses the glory of God; its brilliance is like a precious jewel, like a stone of crystal-clear jasper.It has a massive, high wall with twelve gates, with twelve angels at the gates, and the names of the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel are written on the gates.There are three gates on the east side, three gates on the north side, three gates on the south side and three gates on the west side.The wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:11–14 NET)

These elders are clothed in white clothing (Revelation 4:4). Again, a Jewish contemporary of John would have immediately understood the significance of the white robes. When the ancient high priest of Israel on Yom Kippur (i.e., the Day of Atonements) prepared to enter the Holy of Holies and the presence of God, he would change from his magnificent priestly robes;

High Priest’s Golden Garments

and put on the holy (white) linen garments (1) (Leviticus 16:4).

High Priest’s Holy (White) Garments

When he withdrew from the tabernacle, he again put on the “Golden Garments” (Leviticus 16:23,24). In the presence of the people, the magnificent priestly garments were to be worn. However, in the presence of our Holy God, who is a consuming fire, a linen robe was worn. The “white raiment” in which the elders were clothed speaks elegantly of their entrance “within the veil” in the presence of God. The same significance is seen in the statement that these are the same white garments reserved for overcomers at Sardis (1):

But you have a few individuals in Sardis who have not stained their clothes, and they will walk with me dressed in white, because they are worthy. The one who conquers will be dressed like them in white clothing, and I will never erase his name from the book of life, but will declare his name before my Father and before his angels. (Revelation 3:4,5 NET)

That is, overcomers will enjoy the divine presence forever!

Note these elders had “golden crowns” on their heads (Revelation 4:4). The Greek word for “crown” used here is stephanos, which means a victory crown more than the crown of a sovereign Lord, which is the Greek word transliterated as diadem. This is the same crown promised to overcomers at Smyrna (1):

‘I know the distress you are suffering and your poverty (but you are rich). I also know the slander against you by those who call themselves Jews and really are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. The devil is about to have some of you thrown into prison so you may be tested, and you will experience suffering for ten days. Remain faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown [stephanos] that is life itself. (Revelation 2:9–10 NET)

The crowns upon the heads of the twenty-four elders suggest that those they represent are overcomers and victorious. They are seen in their representative priestly ministry – not in sacrifice, but intercession:

and when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders threw themselves to the ground before the Lamb. Each of them had a harp and golden bowls full of incense (which are the prayers of the saints). (Revelation 5:8 NET)

They are also seen in their priestly ministry of praise:

the twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns before his throne, saying: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created!” (Revelation 4:10–11 NET)

In summary, they are clothed in white, which symbolizes their purity; they are sitting with the Lord on their own thrones, which symbolizes their royal position as Kingdom people; and they are wearing gold crowns, which symbolize they are victors on their heads. They are constantly offering praise and worship to God and singing the new song of the redeemed. (10)

In his apocalyptic vision, John sees the believers in the seven congregations (1) receiving the promises the Son of Man gave to those who overcame (Revelation 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 21:7). He writes this to them to encourage them, not to “fix their sandals” (1) at the altar and statue to the emperor. If they overcome, they will receive the promised blessings. Hallelujah! (10)

The Caesars organized formal emperor worship festivals with choirs, singing, dancing, and sacrifices. It was quite a spectacle as the community expressed their loyalty and allegiance to the empire. It was a joyous festival of celebration for sure. Yet, it paled compared to the praise and worship of God’s people in Heaven. The believers in the seven congregations to whom John wrote should not feel “left out” of the worldly excitement accompanying emperor worship in their towns. If they overcame, they would have a celebration in Heaven to look forward to; it would be pure and holy and much more exciting. Plus, it would last forever. (10)

This prophetic vision was specifically for the people facing the challenge and crisis of the imperial cult of emperor worship. But his vision is certainly relevant to all of God’s people throughout history who have stood firm and resisted compromising their faith even when it meant persecution and martyrdom. As with God’s people in times past, we too were overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (see Rev. 12:11). This is certainly an encouraging word for believers today who live in an increasingly anti-God world. (10)

Seven Flaming Torches

From the throne came out flashes of lightning and roaring and crashes of thunder. Seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God, were burning in front of the throne (Revelation 4:5 NET)

John sees the awesome and frightening power of God around His throne, which we would certainly expect from the Creator of the universe. He mentions lightning, thundering, voices (loud rumblings), and seven lamps of fire). Anyone who has ever been in a violent thunderstorm can appreciate the power and force of what John sees. It can be terrifying. In the Bible, these phenomena accompany the presence of God and symbolize His awesome power and majesty. I can guarantee the emperor did not have such an entourage surrounding him. (10)

When God revealed Himself at Mount Sinai (1), His presence was announced with thundering, lightning, a thick cloud, smoke and fire, and a long, loud, frightening blast of the shofar that got louder and louder. The whole mountain shook violently, and the people were terrified. (Exodus 19:16-19.) (10)

Throughout the Book of Revelation, these phenomena are manifested when God concludes His series of judgments. For example, when the seventh seal is opened, God announces the coming judgments with thundering, lightning, noises (rumblings), and an earthquake (Revelation 8:5). This is repeated when the seventh trumpet is sounded (Revelation 11:19). In addition to the thunderings, lightning, rumblings, and the earthquake, there is great hail. John records the same phenomena with the seventh bowl judgment and adds that the earthquake is the largest the earth has ever experienced (Revelation 16:18). (10)

Our God is awesome! No earthly ruler, no matter how much power and control he has, can compare to the greatness of our God. He alone is worthy of our awe and our praise and worship. In their arrogance, ancient emperors and Caesars and modern would-be dictators think they are in control. They laugh at God and His people. Yet they are nothing compared to our God. (10)

He will have the last laugh, as we learn in the Book of Psalms:

Why do the nations rebel? Why are the countries devising plots that will fail? The kings of the earth form a united front; the rulers collaborate against the Lord and his anointed king. They say, “Let’s tear off the shackles they’ve put on us! Let’s free ourselves from their ropes!” The one enthroned in heaven laughs in disgust; the Lord taunts them. Then he angrily speaks to them and terrifies them in his rage, saying, “I myself have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill.” The king says, “I will announce the Lord’s decree. He said to me: ‘You are my son! This very day I have become your father! Ask me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the ends of the earth as your personal property. You will break them with an iron scepter; you will smash them like a potter’s jar!’ ” So now, you kings, do what is wise; you rulers of the earth, submit to correction! Serve the Lord in fear! Repent in terror! Give sincere homage! Otherwise he will be angry, and you will die because of your behavior, when his anger quickly ignites. How blessed are all who take shelter in him! (Psalm 2:1–12 NET)

For those who may be tempted to “fix their sandals” (1) before the altars of the anti-God government and world system, do not do it. The arrogant leaders of the nations of our world who seek to rule without God are neither to be feared nor admired. They are to be pitied. They come and go and only last a short time. But our God is the Ancient of Days. His days are without number, and His Kingdom is everlasting. Our God in Heaven will soon break the power of every puny dictator and foolish council of nations. They will soon bow to Him and acknowledge that our God is God and He alone is sovereign. (10)

As we also learn in Psalms:

Let all the people of the earth acknowledge the Lord and turn to him! Let all the nations worship you! For the Lord is king and rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:27–28 NET)

In addition to the natural phenomena surrounding the throne of God, John also sees seven lamps of fire burning before the throne of God. In this instance, we don’t have to interpret what John means by this symbol because he tells us. He says that the seven lamps of fire are the seven Spirits of God. (10)

We cannot see the Holy Spirit unless the Spirit is embodied in some way, such as in the form of a dove (1) when Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:16) and in the tongues of fire in Acts 2:3. In John’s vision, the Holy Spirit is manifested through the seven lamps of fire. (10)

In Revelation 1:4, the seven Spirits of God send greetings to the seven congregations. In Revelation 3:1, Jesus told the believers at Sardis that He had the seven Spirits of God. In discussing these verses, I mentioned that the number seven, when connected to God, means completeness. The seven Spirits of God connect to Isaiah 11:2 and Zechariah 4:2-6. The phrase refers to the Holy Spirit or, as John would say in Hebrew, Ruach HaKodesh. (10)

The Seven Spirits of God

From John, to the seven churches that are in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from “he who is,” and who was, and who is still to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, (Revelation 1:4 NET)(cf. Revelation 5:6)

He refers to the Holy Spirit as the “seven Spirits who are before His [God’s] throne.” Once again, seven is the number of completion or fullness. This instance refers to the perfect Holy Spirit who receives God’s Words and gives them to God’s people.

You might be saying – I thought the Holy Spirit (1) was one Spirit?   I believe this verse in the apocalyptic book of Revelation points out that while there is one Holy Spirit, He has seven facets, characteristic manifestations, or ministries.  These characteristic ministries are stated in the Old Testament prophesy about the then-future time during Jesus’ Earthly ministry when the Holy Spirit would come upon Him in His fullness (Luke 3:21-23. Luke 4:1. John 3:34).

And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD (Isaiah 11:2 KJV)

In the Bible, a person’s characteristics are revealed through their name.  Therefore, studying these seven names of the Holy Spirit will help us to understand Him and what He desires to accomplish in our lives.

1. Spirit of the Lord

The word Lord here is Yahweh which is often translated as Jehovah.  This name reveals that the Holy Spirit is not just God but the covenant-keeping God.  He will see to it that all the promises in the Bible are fulfilled (Exodus 34:6,7). He watches over the covenant to enforce it, explaining why the warning not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is given (Luke 12:10). That is, to reject the Holy Spirit’s offer of being born again or saved (1) leaves nothing after death but God’s wrath in Hell (1) (John 16:7-15). Furthermore, He is the One that communicates the will of God from the Lord Jesus, the head of the church in Heaven, to the church on Earth (Acts 1:2. Acts 13:4. Acts 20:28. Romans 8:9. Colossians 1:18-20). 

2. Spirit of Wisdom

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to impart wisdom to those that receive Him.  This is evident in the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8. Mark 13:11. Luke 12:11,12). A great definition of wisdom is the ability to use knowledge.

3. Spirit of Understanding

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to impart understanding to those that receive Him (1 John 5:20. Acts 1:16. Acts 4:25. Acts 28:25. 2 Peter 1:21 ). 

4. Spirit of Counsel

The Holy Spirit is the One that gives us God’s counsel in all our plans (Proverbs 3:5,6. John 14:26. Acts 13:2. Acts 15:28. Acts 16:6. Acts 20:23. Acts 21:11. 2 Corinthians 13:13).

5. Spirit of Might, Strength, or Power

The Holy Spirit is the One that gives strength or power to do the work of Jesus (Isaiah 40:31. Acts 1:8. Acts 4:8. Acts 4:31. Acts 10:38. 1 Thessalonians 1:5,6. Hebrews 2:4).

6. Spirit of Knowledge

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to impart knowledge to those that receive Him.  This is evident in the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8. Luke 2:25-30).

7. Spirit of the Fear of the Lord

The Holy Spirit teaches us to fear the Lord (Acts 9:31).  To fear the Lord is not to be afraid of God but rather have infinite respect and reverence for His holiness (Exodus 20:20). This holiness is so powerful that its proclamation shook the temple in Heaven (Isaiah 6:3,4). It is the love of God that draws us to salvation (Romans 2:4); however, the fear of God must be added to this love for holiness to be perfected in our lives (2 Corinthians 7:1).

The Four Living Creatures

and in front of the throne was something like a sea of glass, like crystal. In the middle of the throne and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second creature like an ox, the third creature had a face like a man’s, and the fourth creature looked like an eagle flying. Each one of the four living creatures had six wings and was full of eyes all around and inside. They never rest day or night, saying: “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God, the All-Powerful, Who was and who is, and who is still to come!” And whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns before his throne, saying: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created!” (Revelation 4:6–11 NET)

John continues to describe his prophetic vision in apocalyptic language and mentions a sea of glass before the throne of God. He says it is like crystal. He did not mean that he saw a literal sea. He was using figurative language to describe the floor in front of God’s throne. He is trying to explain the limitless splendor and riches of God in contrast to that of the emperors. (10)

When Moses, Aaron, his sons, and the 70 elders of Israel approached God on Mount Sinai, they saw something similar under the feet of God. (10)

Exodus reads:

and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear like the sky itself. (Exodus 24:10).

In Ezekiel’s vision of Heaven, he also mentions an expanse that he describes as:

Over the heads of the living beings was something like a platform, glittering awesomely like ice, stretched out over their heads. (Ezekiel 1:22 NET)
The shape of an expanse, with a gleam like awe-inspiring crystal, was spread out over the heads of the living creatures. (Ezekiel 1:22 HCSB)

In ancient times, including the New Testament era, crystal-clear glass was rare. As a result, crystal was very expensive. The Romans considered crystal a luxury item that only the super-wealthy could afford. Of course, the emperors had crystal, but even to them, it symbolized wealth and extravagance. By saying that God’s throne sits on a sea of crystal-clear glass, John is making a big point for the believers to whom he is writing. He is saying that the throne of God far surpasses that of any earthly ruler, including the emperor. Therefore, do not “fix your sandals” before the altar to Caesar. (10)

This is certainly a word for us today. The glory of God that believers will enjoy in Heaven makes the riches of this world pale in comparison. Whatever the world can offer us in the way of material riches is not worth having if it means we must compromise or bow to the anti-God system to get it or keep it. God’s riches far surpass anything this world can offer us. He has an infinite supply of spectacular splendor waiting for us to enjoy on the other side.

John also sees four “otherworldly” beings around the throne of God. The English language translation refers to them as four living creatures or beings. Who are these strange beings, and what are they doing around the throne of God? (10)

Because John is a Jewish visionary, we find the answer in the Hebrew Bible, where we learn that God created special beings called the “host of heaven” (Neh. 9:6). We know them by their more common name, angels (1). Angels are mentioned throughout the Hebrew Bible as well as the New Testament and in all ancient cultures. (10)

God created angels before He created human beings and endowed them with supernatural abilities far beyond those He gave to humans. Angels are personal beings God created to serve Him and his people. We cannot see angels with our natural eyes unless they reveal themselves to us. Many people claim that they have seen angels. They are very active in our world; we are unaware of their presence and activities. (10)

Because God so transcends humans, it is not feasible for Him to directly reveal Himself to us unless He appears in a veiled way, as He did at Mount Sinai. In our fallen human condition, we simply cannot stand in the direct presence of our Creator. The gap between the infinite Creator and the finite creature is too great. Angels, therefore, assist God in ministering to people. When necessary, they connect Heaven to Earth as God’s messengers communicating His plans and will to mankind, executing His plans and will on the earth, announcing and carrying out His judgments, praising and worshiping God, etc. (10)

Two of the highest orders of angles mentioned in the Bible are called cherubim and seraphim. The etymology of the word cherubim is not clear. Because of their ministry in the presence of God, scholars have understood the word to mean “holiness.” We first learn about cherubim in the Garden of Eden (1), where God placed them at the entrance to prevent Adam and Eve from eating from the tree of life after they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:24). (10)

God instructed Moses to make a sculpture of two cherubim and affix them to the Ark of the Covenant where God would meet with Moses in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle. God’s glory appeared between the cherubim above the mercy seat. Cherubim were also embroidered on the curtains of the tabernacle and later in the Temple. In his apocalyptic vision, Ezekiel described four living creatures similar to what John saw in his revelation (Ezekiel 1 and 10). (10)

Considering all the references to cherubim, they are the living “Chariots of God” carrying Him when He appears to humans. They serve as guardians of God’s throne and His presence. Of course, God does not need any special beings to guard His throne or presence, but He has created cherubim for this purpose so He can connect with human beings.

The word seraphim is derived from a Hebrew word, saraph, which means “to burn or burning ones.”

Isaiah said:

In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the sovereign master seated on a high, elevated throne. The hem of his robe [glory] filled the temple. Seraphs [seraphim] stood over him; each one had six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and they used the remaining two to fly. They called out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord who commands armies! His majestic splendor fills the entire earth!” The sound of their voices shook the door frames, and the temple was filled with smoke. (Isaiah 6:1–4 NET).

Isaiah’s description of the seraphim is similar to the four living creatures John describes. John says that each living creature has six wings and is full of eyes. One has the face of a lion, one the face of a calf, one the face of a man, and one the face of a flying eagle. (10)

It would be easy to speculate at length on the meaning of the symbolism of their appearance (their faces and wings), but the important consideration is the function of the seraphim. In Hebraic thinking, the function is more important than form. So what is their function? It seems that their sole purpose is to glorify God through continuous praise and worship. They are God’s praise and worship leaders in Heaven. Along with the cherubim, they are God’s highest order of angels who lead all of Heaven in glorifying God for His greatness as expressed in the beauty of His holiness. (10)

While the English translation of words is slightly different, their worship is basically the same as what Isaiah saw and heard in his vision. We are blessed that John records this heavenly worship for us:

Each of the four living creatures had six wings; they were covered with eyes around and inside. Day and night they never stop, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is coming. (Revelation 4:8 NET)

In a deeply moving song she copyrighted in 1986, Elisheva Shomron put these powerful words to music. Below are the Hebrew lyrics with the English translation in brackets: (10)

Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh [Holy, holy, holy],
 Adonai Elohim Tz’va’ot [Lord God of Hosts]…
 Asher hayah [who was]
 V’hoveh [and who is]
 V’ yavo [and who is to come]

This awesome worship of God continues with the seraphim giving glory and honor and thanks to the Lord. The 24 elders watching all of this cannot simply be idle observers. They fall on their faces before God, cast their crowns before His throne, and declare: (10)

Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created. (Revelation 4:11 NET)

May we do the same as we contemplate the greatness of our Father in Heaven. (10)

Whenever the Roman emperor would begin his procession in a parade of triumph, the crowds would line the streets and greet him, saying, “You are worthy.” The Roman Emperor Domitian added the phrase “our Lord and God” to the greeting.

In our current passage, John encourages the believers faced with emperor worship to recognize that God alone is worthy. He alone is the Lord God. He alone has created everything and sustains everything by the Word of His power. No Roman emperor ever created anything out of nothing. They are born, they live, and they die. But the Lord God Almighty created everything by the power of His spoken Word. He alone transcends time and space. He was, He is, and He is to come (Revelation 4:8). Hallelujah! (10)

The Caesars of Rome and the arrogant leaders of our world today are nothing compared to the Creator of the universe. In light of this glorious heavenly vision, believers should not bow to the anti-God governments and leaders of our world. The One True God will soon pour out His judgments on them until they bow to Him. (10)

When John says that the 24 elders cast their crowns before the throne, he is using symbolic language to say that they are acknowledging that God alone is worthy of their praise and worship. Because of God’s greatness and goodness, His power, His grace, and His mercy, they were able to overcome. May we do the same! (10)

Period V: The 70th Week of Daniel

The Seventy Weeks of Daniel
1 week of years (1 x 7 = 7 years)

Events during the 70th Week of Daniel Expanded

Daniel’s 70th Week Expanded

The Scroll

Then I saw in the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne a scroll written on the front and back and sealed with seven seals.And I saw a powerful angel proclaiming in a loud voice: “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or look into it. So I began weeping bitterly because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered; thus he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw standing in the middle of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the middle of the elders, a Lamb that appeared to have been killed. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then he came and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne, (Revelation 5:1–7 NET)

As John looks closer, he sees the Almighty God, Creator of the universe, holding a scroll in His right hand. The scroll is written inside and on the back and is sealed with seven seals. What is this seven-sealed scroll, and why does God have it in His right hand? (10)

In ancient times, people wrote on parchment and scrolls. In our study of God’s prophetic message to the believers at Pergamos, we learned that parchment was first developed at Pergamos, from which the word parchment is derived. Parchment was made from animal skins, particularly the skins of sheep and goats. We learn in the apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy that he used parchment (Timothy 4:13). (10)

Scrolls were primarily written on papyrus which was a paper-like material made from reeds from the Nile delta in Egypt. The books Paul mentioned to Timothy were probably papyrus scrolls. We learn in the Hebrew Bible that the prophets often wrote their messages and visions on a scroll (Jeremiah 36; Ezekiel 2; Isaiah 29; Daniel 12). (10)

Because of the way that papyrus material was made, it was easier for people to write only on one side of the scroll. When necessary, they went to the extra trouble to write on both sides. For example, when God gave His words to Ezekiel, He had written on both sides of the scroll. (10)

Ezekiel writes:

Then I looked and realized a hand was stretched out to me, and in it was a written scroll. He unrolled it before me, and it had writing on the front and back; written on it were laments, mourning, and woe. Ezekiel 2:9-10).

From this verse in Ezekiel, we learn that the scroll in Revelation was not the first time that God had written an important message on a scroll. (10)

If the contents of a scroll were to be read only by an authorized person, the writer would seal the scroll to keep its contents private. Only the authorized person could loose the seals and open the scroll. We see an example of this in Isaiah, which reads:

To you this entire prophetic revelation is like words in a sealed scroll. When they hand it to one who can read and say, “Read this,” he responds, “I can’t, because it is sealed.” (Isaiah 29:11).

When Daniel struggled to understand his prophetic vision, the Lord sent an angel to explain its meaning. (10)

The angel said to Daniel:

Now I have come to help you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to future days.” (Daniel 10:14 NET).

Then the angel said:

But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase (Daniel 12:4 NET).

The angel repeated himself to Daniel:

He said, “Go, Daniel. For these matters are closed and sealed until the time of the end. (Daniel 12:9 NET).

Whenever a scroll was sealed, people knew that the document had not been opened and that the contents written in the document had been kept confidential. Only the authorized person could loose the seals, open the document and read the contents. (10)

In the Bible, the right hand symbolizes power and authority. For example, Psalm 98 is a song of victory and praise to God for His salvation and judgment. It begins with this exuberant praise: (10)

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he performs amazing deeds! His right hand and his mighty arm accomplish deliverance. (Psalm 98:1 NET).

The Lord gives the following word of assurance to His people:

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you! Don’t be frightened, for I am your God! I strengthen you— yes, I help you— yes, I uphold you with my saving right hand! (Isaiah 41:10 NET).

The fact that God has this scroll in His right hand is John’s way of symbolically saying that God Himself wrote the contents of the scroll. As the Creator of the universe, He can give the scroll to whomever He pleases. (10)

The Lamb is Worthy

and when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders threw themselves to the ground before the Lamb. Each of them had a harp and golden bowls full of incense (which are the prayers of the saints).They were singing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed, and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels in a circle around the throne, as well as the living creatures and the elders. Their number was ten thousand times ten thousand—thousands times thousands—all of whom were singing in a loud voice: “Worthy is the lamb who was killed to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature—in heaven, on earth, under the earth, in the sea, and all that is in them—singing: “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor, glory, and ruling power forever and ever!” And the four living creatures were saying “Amen,” and the elders threw themselves to the ground and worshiped. (Revelation 5:8–14 NET)

When Jesus took the scroll, Heaven and Earth began a spontaneous chorus of praise and worship to God and the Lamb. The sounds of creation singing a new song of redemption filled Heaven and Earth. Nothing Rome or the Caesars could orchestrate could compare to the exaltation John saw and heard. Caesar is dead; Jesus lives! (10)

It began with those nearest the throne. The four powerful angels and the 24 elders started this heavenly worship by bowing before the Lamb. Each had a harp in one hand and a golden bowl of incense in the other. The harp symbolized their praise and worship, while the bowl of incense symbolized the prayers of God’s people (Psalms. 141:2; 150:3). (10)

John writes:

They were singing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed, and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10 NET).

Jesus is worthy because He has redeemed us. In biblical times, God established that a slave could be redeemed or set free by one worthy to purchase his freedom. But one had to qualify to be a redeemer.

In biblical times there were five requirements to be a redeemer. Only when these five requirements were met was one considered a worthy redeemer. (10)

  1. The person had to be a near kinsman. In other words, he had to be the nearest kin family member.
  2. The person had to be willing to redeem the slave. He could not be made to redeem the one in bondage.
  3. The person had to be able to redeem the slave. This means there could be no technicalities that would disqualify the person as a redeemer.
  4. The person had to be a freeman. A slave could not redeem a slave.
  5. The potential redeemer had to have the money or price required to redeem the slave. (10)

This is the story of Ruth and Boaz, as recorded in the Book of Ruth, particularly in chapter 4.

Jesus is worthy to take the scroll, open the seals, and redeem us because He is the only one that has met all of the requirements to be a redeemer. Even though we do not like to acknowledge it, we are all subject to sin, satanic temptations, and the fear of death. Christians call this a sin nature. In Hebrew, Jews call it the yester hara (evil inclination). Whatever you choose to call it, this is the universal human condition. God’s judgment for this condition is separation from Him, what the Bible calls death. We need to be redeemed or set free. But since we are all sinners, there is none among us who can save us. Even God cannot save us from Heaven. According to His requirements, God would have to become one of us to redeem us. (10)

And this is exactly what God did for us. As God in human flesh, Jesus was one of us, a nearest kin member of the human race. He willingly gave His life for us. He could have called for thousands of angels to come and rescue Him (Matthew 26:53), but He did not. He was born to die in our place. Jesus was able to redeem us because He was without sin. Therefore, He could take our place as the innocent substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. Because Jesus was perfectly righteous, neither sin, Satan, nor death had claims on Him. Therefore, He was free to redeem us. And finally, Jesus was able to pay the price for our redemption. That price was His own pure blood which He shed for us. (10)

Peter says it this way:

You know that from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors you were ransomed—not by perishable things like silver or gold, but by precious blood like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, namely Christ. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was manifested in these last times for your sake. Through him you now trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:18–21).

Whereas most religions have an ethno-centered focus on one particular group of people, Jesus has made redemption available for “whosoever will.” His offer of redemption is not just for a certain people group; it is for everyone who will call upon His name. (10)

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13 NET). 

He has redeemed us out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Hallelujah! This was predicted in the Book of Psalms, which tells us: (10)

Sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord! Praise his name! Announce every day how he delivers! Tell the nations about his splendor! Tell all the nations about his amazing deeds! (Psalm 96:1-3 NET).

The glorious Son of Man has not only redeemed His people, but He has also made us His royal priests on the earth. This was God’s promise to the Hebrews when He brought them out of Egypt. (10)

He said:

And now, if you will diligently listen to me and keep my covenant, then you will be my special possession out of all the nations, for all the earth is mine, and you will be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you will speak to the Israelites.” (Exodus 19:5-6).

While the Jewish people often failed to keep God’s covenant, as do believers today, Jesus was the one Jewish man who perfectly kept the covenant with His Father in Heaven. Jesus is the perfect Jew and the perfect human. Through our identification with Him, believers from all ethnic backgrounds and nations have the promise of ruling with Him both now and at His coming as His priests and a light to all nations. (10)

While Christian believers have not replaced the Jewish people in God’s eternal covenant, Jesus has brought us into that covenant by redeeming us and making us His own people. (10)

As Peter writes:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. You once were not a people, but now you are God’s people. You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Rome is no more, and the Caesars are dead. God will judge the nations of our world and all the would-be Caesars of our day. But the people of God will live forever in God’s glorious Kingdom on earth. Therefore, don’t “fix your sandals” before the Emperor or the anti-God governments of our world. They are nothing compared to the exalted Son of Man and the glorious destiny He has for His people. (10)

Now when the angels of Heaven saw and heard the first chorus of worship, they too joined their voices with those nearest the throne. They said with a loud voice, (10)

“…all of whom were singing in a loud voice: “Worthy is the lamb who was killed to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12 NET).

John says the number of the angels shouting their worship to God was ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands. Wow! Literally, these phrases could be translated as “myriad upon myriad,” which means a number too great to count. It is John saying that all the angels of Heaven, too many to count, all at the same time, shouted their praise and worship to the Lamb. We can’t imagine such a noise. All of Heaven was filled with angelic shouts to the Lord. It should take our breath away just to contemplate this. (10)

Daniel saw this scene in a vision and said:

“While I was watching, thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His attire was white like snow; the hair of his head was like lamb’s wool. His throne was ablaze with fire and its wheels were all aflame. A river of fire was streaming forth and proceeding from his presence. Many thousands were ministering to him; Many tens of thousands stood ready to serve him. The court convened and the books were opened. (Daniel 7:9,10 NET).

In John’s vision, the angels shout a sevenfold honor to the Lamb, similar to the praise and worship David offered to the God of Israel: (10)

David praised the Lord before the entire assembly: “O Lord God of our father Israel, you deserve praise forevermore! O Lord, you are great, mighty, majestic, magnificent, glorious, and sovereign over all the sky and earth! You have dominion and exalt yourself as the ruler of all. You are the source of wealth and honor; you rule over all. You possess strength and might to magnify and give strength to all. (1 Chronicles 29:10-12).

Because Jesus was faithful to His destiny, God the Father has chosen to share His glory with His Son. We can understand this at the human level. Fathers love to honor their children who uphold the family name, or as we would say, “make him proud.” Jesus made His Father in Heaven proud. As a result, God has honored His Son, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. (10)

Finally, John hears all of the creation join in the glorious praise and worship of God and the Lamb:

Then I heard every creature—in heaven, on earth, under the earth, in the sea, and all that is in them—singing: “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor, glory, and ruling power forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13 NET).

This is the fulfillment of Paul’s words:

As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11 NET).

With all of Heaven and Earth giving glory to God, the four special angels and the 24 elders join in the worship:

And the four living creatures were saying “Amen,” and the elders threw themselves to the ground and worshiped. (Revelation 5:14 NET).

May we who are called by His name do the same. May we join the heavenly hosts in unfettered praise and worship to our God. May we, the holy, royal priests of God on the earth, continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. Amen!

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, acknowledging his name. (Hebrews 13:15 NET)

What is this Scroll?

The scroll is the “Scroll of Authority,” which is the original title deed to rule planet Earth given to the first Adam by God. This scroll stated that man was to be the ruler over Earth but only for a finite time.

They cried out, “Son of God, leave us alone! Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29 NET)
Therefore you heavens rejoice, and all who reside in them! But woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has come down to you! He is filled with terrible anger, for he knows that he only has a little time!” (Revelation 12:12 NET)

The first Adam, the original ruler of Earth, made a legal covenant with Satan (1) by eating from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – the original sin. Consequently, God being JUST, must honor this covenant, thus giving Satan man’s authority to rule (i.e., the right to use his archangel power) in the WORLD system (1 John 5:19) he has built on Earth for the time specified originally to the first Adam in the Scroll of Authority (Acts 26:18. Ephesians 2:2).

Realize covenants contain blessings for those keeping the covenant and curses for those breaking the covenant (cf. Deuteronomy 28:1-14;15-68). Satan’s blessings for those that keep this covenant are various levels of cruelty (Proverbs 12:10).

A righteous person cares for the life of his animal, but even the most compassionate acts of the wicked are cruel. (Proverbs 12:10 NET)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. (John 10:10 NET)

Furthermore, Satan placed these curses as seals on the Scroll of Authority so that any attempt to open the scroll to break the covenant with Satan would release the curses. Satan then hid it where he thought no man could retrieve it – in the Abyss of Hades. He did this in an attempt to maintain his rule on planet Earth beyond the terms of the Scroll of Authority (i.e., indefinitely).

However, it seems Satan did not consider that God would become Man (1). (John 1:1,14) Jesus not only took our sin to the Abyss (1) for eternal storage but, upon leaving (1), retrieved the Scroll of Authority and gave it to God His (and our) Father upon His ascension. By taking the Scroll of Authority, He restored the right to rule planet Earth to a man – the Son of Man, Jesus the Messiah, who is God (Matthew 28:18, Revelation 1:18).

When the Scroll of Authority is revealed to those in Heaven (i.e., to those that had accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior (1) from both the Old and New Covenants (2) and have died), no one in Heaven on Earth or in Hades was found worthy to open its seals (Revelation 5:2-4). Then the Lamb of God who took away the world’s sin appears – the Lion of the Tribe of Judah! (Revelation 5:5-7. John 1:29. 1 John 2:2) Jesus the Messiah alone is the sinless God-Man that has the authority to open the seals – an authority He purchased with His own blood (Revelation 5:9-14. Isaiah 28:15-18). Jesus, who came in the flesh, is Lord! (1 John 4:2,3. 1 Corinthians 8:6. 1 Corinthians 12:3) Now when the lease terms are revealed by opening the scroll – and then satisfied – Satan could be evicted from His position as God of this World (2 Corinthians 4:4). Why not evict Satan sooner? I am glad you asked!

Again, the problem is Satan’s seals of curses on the scroll. Satan designed the curses as seals such that the opening of each seal would release a destructive curse upon the creature that God loved and wanted to rescue – mankind! This was Satan’s backup plan to keep the terms of the lease from being revealed and fulfilled, thus an attempt to ensure his rule over his world system indefinitely.

Consequently, God made way for those that by faith have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior to escape God’s WRATH even as those in Noah’s ark escaped the flood’s destruction (1 Peter 3:20). That is, the Body of Christ (aka, the Bride of Christ or the Church) is figuratively God’s Ark to preserve mankind living on planet Earth before the time comes to open the last Scroll’s Seal which results in initiating the trumpet and bowl judgments of Gods Wrath. All that accept God’s MERCY by entering the Ark (i.e., accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior) will be saved from the release of God’s WRATH during this time that is known as the “Day of the Lord.” That is, believers will be translated (1) immediately to Heaven to join the rest of those that have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior (1) before they fell asleep (i.e., died) in both the Old and New Covenant periods (2) (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. 1 Thessalonians 5:9. Matthew 24:21. 2 Corinthians 5:8).

Again, believers are taken (raptured) to Heaven during the interval or pause before the Seventh and the last Seal of the Scroll of Authority is opened (Revelation 7:9-17). This means that what Satan meant for a curse on all mankind becomes an instrument or tool for divine judgment of WRATH on those that have refused the greater MERCY freely made available to all.

Nevertheless, those who call upon the Lord can still be saved during this period of God’s Wrath (Revelation 7:13,14). Why? Because MERCY triumphs over JUDGMENT, and God’s MERCY is FOREVER! (James 2:13. Psalms 136) Nevertheless, many will not turn to the Lord during this time and will be eternally destroyed (Revelation 9:20,21.Revelation 16:9-11.Revelation 20:11-15).

So, how can a good God that is GRACE, MERCY, and COMPASSION pass JUDGMENT for destruction?

Because His Great MERCY is extended to all equally, and He waits patiently for all to accept it (Matthew 5:45. 2 Peter 3:9). However, when the point is reached that a person or persons an act of their will decide to never change from serving evil (Satan) to serving good (God), then the only thing left is a JUDGMENT of WRATH that will keep them from affecting the MERCY to be received by those that have chosen to serve God. That is, the MERCY for the future of those that have chosen to serve God trumps the present MERCY extended to all resulting in the removal of those that have chosen to serve evil.

If the wicked are shown mercy, they do not learn about justice. Even in a land where right is rewarded, they act unjustly; they do not see the Lord’s majesty revealed. (Isaiah 26:10 NET)
The wicked have no chance for deliverance, for they do not seek your statutes. (Psalm 119:155 NET)

Remember, refusal of the greater MERCY leaves only the WRATH. (1)

Daniel’s 70th Week Expanded

The Beginning of Birth Pains

The Opening of the First Four Scroll Seals

Jesus referred to the opening of Seals 1-4 as the “Beginning of Birth Pains.”

All these things are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24:8 NET)
These are but the beginning of birth pains. (Mark 13:8 d NET)

Beginning birth pains come and go to announce that birth is coming soon, but not yet.

The breaking of the first four seals releases what has been referred to as the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.” While scholars have speculated on what the first-century believers understood these to be, we don’t know what they believed. What we do know is that each horse is a different color and the color symbolizes the reality of its judgment on the earth.

The First Scroll Seal (The AntiChrist and false Christs)

I looked on when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a thunderous voice, “Come!” So I looked, and here came a white horse! The one who rode it had a bow, and he was given a crown, and as a conqueror he rode out to conquer. (Revelation 6:1–2 NET)

Jesus’ parallel prophecy of His opening of the First Scroll Seal:

Jesus answered them, “Watch out that no one misleads you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many. (Matthew 24:4–5 NET)
Jesus began to say to them, “Watch out that no one misleads you. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and they will mislead many. (Mark 13:5–6 NET)
He said, “Watch out that you are not misled. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them! (Luke 21:8 NET)

Note in verse one the role of Jesus in opening the seals. While He returns to Earth as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (the King and Ruler over the nations), He opens the seals as the Lamb. It is His role as the Lamb of God that makes Him authorized and worthy to open the seals and reveal Satan’s curses on the earth.

When Jesus was first on the earth, Satan offered Him all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would bypass the cross and worship satan. Jesus rebuked satan and said:

Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ ”Then the devil left him, and angels came and began ministering to his needs. (Matthew 4:10–11 NET)

Because Jesus was faithful to His mission to give His life for our sins, God gave Him the kingdoms of this world. Jesus didn’t give in to the temptation. Because He was obedient even to the point of dying for us, God has exalted Him to the highest honor. (10)

You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross! As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5–11 NET)

It is the same with God’s people today. As the world’s governments become increasingly anti-God, we, too, will be tempted to compromise to avoid suffering. May we, like Jesus, resist this temptation. May we have the conviction and courage to put God first in our lives, knowing He will honor us with victory over the enemy. (10)

Paul encourages us with these words:

For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18 NET).

And let the people of God say, “Amen!” and not “Oh, my!”

In the opening verses of Revelation 6, one of the four special angels calls to John. His voice is so powerful that John says it is like thunder. Imagine someone’s voice being so loud it sounds like thunder. (10)

When it was time for the citizens of Roman territories to bow down to their emperor, one of the emperor’s worship leaders would call the people to worship. I can guarantee you that his voice did not sound like thunder. (10)

The glory and the worship of the Almighty, and those speaking for Him, far surpass the puny grandeur of emperors. The self-exalting pomp and ceremony of emperor worship cannot compare to the splendor of Heaven. People who have traveled to Europe can see with their eyes that ancient Rome is in ruins. Yet, we can see in the Book of Revelation that God’s city prepared for His people is eternal. The Roman Empire has been relegated to the dustbins of history, but the Kingdom of God is forever. Modern-day “would-be Caesars” will fail. Whatever glory they may achieve will be short-lived, but Jesus is Lord forever! Hallelujah!

Paul would remind us:

For God did not destine us for wrath but for gaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep we will come to life together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 NET).

This thundering voice calls to the horseman:

I looked on when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a thunderous voice, “Come!” (Revelation 6:1 NET)

This invitation command to “Come” is repeated for seals two, three, and four to each of the horsemen. (11)

The breaking of the first four seals releases what has been referred to as the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.” While scholars have speculated on what the first-century believers understood these to be, we do not know what they believed. (10)

What we do know is that each horse is a different color and the color symbolizes the reality of its curse released on the earth.

The prophet Zechariah also had a vision in which he saw colored horses in a different setting from what John saw.

I was attentive that night and saw a man seated on a red horse that stood among some myrtle trees in the ravine. Behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses. (Zechariah 1:8 NET)

The first rider John sees is on a white horse. A rider on a white horse is the oriental symbol of a conqueror. So the white horse is a symbol of victory. This rider has a bow and a crown but no arrows. The Greek word for “crown” used here is stephanos, which means a victory crown more than the crown of a sovereign Lord, which is the Greek word transliterated as diadem. This is not a king but a political leader. The mention that the bow and the crown are given to him rather than taken by him could suggest that the world powers willingly accept him as their leader. (10)

Our best interpretation of this rider and the white horse is that he is the last of the many false messiahs that Jesus warned about who will deceive the nonbelieving world. He is known as the antichrist or anti-Messiah who will appear on the scene at the end of days and whose appearance begins the time of tribulation Jesus outlined. Jesus said this would be a time of great lawlessness and deception.

The apostle Paul calls this false messiah “the lawless one” who is empowered by satan to deceive the people of the world:

Because our world conditions are so chaotic, it is easy to see nations would be willing to relinquish their national sovereignty to a charismatic world leader who would promise peace and prosperity. The Bible indicates that there will be a false “world peace,” a deception (Ezekiel 13:10; Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11). (10)

“ ‘This is because they have led my people astray saying, “All is well,” when things are not well. When anyone builds a wall without mortar, they coat it with whitewash. (Ezekiel 13:10 NET)
They offer only superficial help for the harm my people have suffered. They say, ‘Everything will be all right!’ But everything is not all right! (Jeremiah 6:14 NET)
They offer only superficial help for the hurt my dear people have suffered. They say, “Everything will be all right!” But everything is not all right! (Jeremiah 8:11 NET)

It is a false promise which will only lead to war, famine, disease, and suffering on a scale the world has never known. This is made clear in the opening of the next seals. (10)

The apostle Paul wrote these words:

While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman who is pregnant, and they will never escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:3 NET)

Because world leaders will reject the rule of the One True God, the Lord will allow them to believe and accept the lying deceptions of a false messiah. That is a just judgment. If people do not accept the truth, they will believe a lie. (10)

The Rise of the AntiChrist as the friend of Humanity

The AntiChrist will be a “composite” man. One who embraces in his character the abilities and powers of Nebuchadnezzar, Xerxes, Alexander the Great, and Caesar Augustus. He will have the marvelous gift of attracting unregenerate men and the irresistible fascination of his personality, his versatile attainments, superhuman wisdom, great administrative and executive ability, along with his powers as a consummate flatterer, a brilliant diplomatist, a superb strategist, will make him the most conspicuous and prominent of men. All these gifts will be conferred on him by Satan, whose tool he will be and who will thus make him — Superman. He will pose as a great humanitarian, the friend of men, and the special friend of the Jewish race, whom he will persuade that he has come to usher in the “Golden Age” as pictured by the prophets and who will receive him as their Messiah. He will intoxicate men with a strong delusion and his never varying success. And when he shall be slain and rise again, he will have lost none of these powers but will also be the embodiment of all kinds of wickedness and blasphemy.” (8)

He will likely be the political leader of the New World Order that the globalist organizations of our day want to establish. Since the United States is the last great superpower, the globalist leaders have worked behind the scenes for decades to weaken the sovereignty of America so it will join the New World Order League of Nations. We would have to be blind not to see this happening before our eyes. To dismiss this as the rantings of conspiracy theory kooks is to live in denial. It is certainly possible that America will soon become a third-world country. (10)

The three most powerful globalist organizations are the Bilderbergers, the Trilateral Commission, and the Council on Foreign Relations. Their members make up most of the elite American leaders in politics, the media, education, and banking and finance. With America’s financial institutions failing, they believe they are on the verge of achieving their goal. (10)

The Antichrist will deceive the lost people of the world

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:24 NET)
Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God. Surely you recall that I used to tell you these things while I was still with you. And so you know what holds him back, so that he will be revealed in his own time. For the hidden power of lawlessness is already at work. However, the one who holds him back will do so until he is taken out of the way, and then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and wipe out by the manifestation of his arrival. The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false. And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned. (2 Thessalonians 2:3–12 NET)

The Antichrist in Prophecy

“After these things, as I was watching in the night visions a fourth beast appeared—one dreadful, terrible, and very strong. It had two large rows of iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and anything that was left it trampled with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that came before it, and it had ten horns. “As I was contemplating the horns, another horn—a small one—came up between them, and three of the former horns were torn out by the roots to make room for it. This horn had eyes resembling human eyes and a mouth speaking arrogant things. (Daniel 7:7,8 NET)
“This is what he told me: ‘The fourth beast means that there will be a fourth kingdom on earth that will differ from all the other kingdoms. It will devour all the earth and will trample and crush it. The ten horns mean that ten kings will arise from that kingdom. Another king will arise after them, but he will be different from the earlier ones. He will humiliate three kings. He will speak words against the Most High. He will harass the holy ones of the Most High continually. His intention will be to change times established by law. They will be delivered into his hand For a time, times, and half a time. (Daniel 7:23–25 NET)
The male goat acted even more arrogantly. But no sooner had the large horn become strong than it was broken, and there arose four conspicuous horns in its place, extending toward the four winds of the sky. From one of them came a small horn. But it grew to be very big, toward the south and the east and toward the beautiful land. It grew so big it reached the army of heaven, and it brought about the fall of some of the army and some of the stars to the ground, where it trampled them. It also acted arrogantly against the Prince of the army, from whom the daily sacrifice was removed and whose sanctuary was thrown down. The army was given over, along with the daily sacrifice, in the course of his sinful rebellion. It hurled truth to the ground and enjoyed success. (Daniel 8:8–12 NET)
Toward the end of their rule, when rebellious acts are complete, a rash and deceitful king will arise. His power will be great, but it will not be by his strength alone. He will cause terrible destruction. He will be successful in what he undertakes. He will destroy powerful people and the people of the holy ones. By his treachery he will succeed through deceit. He will have an arrogant attitude, and he will destroy many who are unaware of his schemes. He will rise up against the Prince of princes, yet he will be broken apart—but not by human agency. (Daniel 8:23–25 NET)
The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but will receive ruling authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These kings have a single intent, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. (Revelation 17:12–13 NET)
Children, it is the last hour, and just as you heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. We know from this that it is the last hour... Who is the liar but the person who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This one is the antichrist: the person who denies the Father and the Son. Everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father either. The person who confesses the Son has the Father also.  (1 John 2:18,22,23 NET)

The rider of this white horse may also be the “Beast From the Sea” described in Revelation 13:1-10.

The Second Scroll Seal (Wars)

And when He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sits on it, it was given to him to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him. (Revelation 6:3–4 NET)

Jesus’ parallel prophecy of His opening of the Second Scroll Seal:

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom... (Matthew 24:6–7 a)
When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. These things must happen, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom... (Mark 13:7–8 a NET)
And when you hear of wars and rebellions, do not be afraid. For these things must happen first, but the end will not come at once.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. (Luke 21:9–10 NET)

When the exalted Lamb of God opens the second seal, the second powerful angel, or living creature, beckons John to “Come and see.” This time, John sees a fiery red horse. John says three things about the rider of this horse: he takes peace from the earth, he causes people to kill one another, and he is given a great sword. From this, we understand that the red horse symbolizes war. (10)

Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars, and nations and kingdoms would fight each other. While His prediction has certainly proven true in history, the rider of this horse will cause wars in the last days that will escalate into a worldwide war and the final Battle of Armageddon. (10)

1. Evil in men’s hearts to want to rule over themselves apart from God.

Why do the nations rage And the peoples meditate on a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against Yahweh and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord mocks them. Then He speaks to them in His anger And terrifies them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”(Psalm 2:1-6 NET).

2. Evil in men’s hearts to want to conquer their neighbors. God has appointed boundaries for the nations, as we learn in Deuteronomy:

“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, When He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of Israel. (Deuteronomy 32:8 NET).

How interesting that God set the boundaries of the nations in relation to the covenant land He promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When nations seek to expand their borders beyond what God has allotted to them, wars are the result.

3. The nations’ desire to destroy the reborn state of Israel. One of the major themes of the Bible is that God will bring the Jewish people back to their ancient land in the end times in fulfillment of prophecy. Of the many Scriptures that speak of this subject, probably the most famous is the Valley of Dry Bones in the Book of Ezekiel:

“And speak to them, ‘Thus says Lord Yahweh, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; (Ezekiel 37:21).

The anti-Semitic leaders of our world hate God, hate the Jews and Israel. They also hate Bible-believing Christians. They constantly make their anti-Israel resolutions through the hate-filled, Arab-dominated United Nations. I believe this demon-inspired animosity will eventually cause a series of wars culminating in Armageddon. (10)

The next war between the Arabs and Israel may not be contained to the Middle East. It may bring all the nations into war. Ezekiel writes about a confederation of nations coming from the north (north of Jerusalem) in the latter days to attack Israel (see Ezekiel 38-39.) The writer of Psalm 83 tells about an Arab confederacy that seeks, in current-day verbiage, to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth.” (10)

While previous Arab dictators care nothing about their people, they have kept radical groups in check. But with the leadership changes taking place in Arab countries, it is most likely that radical Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood will come to power. They do not recognize the legitimacy of Israel and will do everything they can to fight Israel. Ironically, the U.S. government naively recognizes the legitimacy of the Muslim Brotherhood. This will further bring God’s judgment on America.

Furthermore, immense gas fields have been discovered in the Mediterranean off the coast of Haifa. It is estimated that there is enough gas for Israel to become completely self-sufficient and a major gas exporter for decades. It is also believed that there are huge oil fields located beneath the gas fields. God is blessing Israel with these natural resources because the time to favor Zion has come (see Psalm 102). However, all these discoveries will certainly tempt Israel’s enemies to attack Israel so they can get their wealth. This is all written in the Bible. (10)

Indeed, I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, and half of the city will go forth in exile, but those left of the people will not be cut off from the city. (Zechariah 14:2).

Zechariah further explains Israel’s eventual plight:

“Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples all around. Now the one in siege against Jerusalem will also be against Judah. “But it will be in that day, that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who heave it up will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it. (Zechariah 12:2-3 NET).

The Third Scroll Seal (Famine)

And when He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” Then I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sits on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “One choinix of wheat for one denarius, and three choinix of barley for one denarius, and do not harm the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:5–6 NET)

Jesus’ parallel prophecy of His opening of the Third Scroll Seal:

...And there will be famines...  (Matthew 24:7 b)
 ...and there will be famines...  (Mark 13:8 c NET)
There will be... famines... (Luke 21:11 b NET)

When the exalted Son of Man, the Lamb of God, opens the third seal, the third powerful angel, or living creature, also beckons John to “Come and see.” This time, John sees a black horse. The rider has a pair of scales in his hand with which he measures wheat and barley for payment. The rider is told not to disturb the oil and the wine. From this description, we understand that the black horse probably symbolizes hyperinflation and famine, which are the natural results of war. (10)

In ancient times, when merchants wanted to sell their products, they brought them in bulk to the shuk, the outdoor marketplace. The shuk is much like a farmers’ market today. Instead of nice fancy packaging marked with the price, the merchant offered his grains and herbs and spices and other dry goods such as nuts, dates, figs, etc., loose in bins. If you wanted to know how much the merchant was selling his product for, he would weigh the product on his scale with the produce in one balance and the weight in the other. He would then tell you how much you would have to pay to buy the produce. (10)

Our modern-day shuks (grocery stores) have their own hi-tech version of this ancient form of buying and selling. Stores assign numbers to different produce items. Customers then select these items, place them on the store scale, and punch in the assigned numbers. The computer compares the weight of the produce to the price and prints out a price sticker. The sticker saves time during checkout because the price is already on the bag. (10)

John was writing to people who were used to this marketplace buying and selling. He heard a voice from among the four living creatures calling out the price of the produce. In the vision, the produce items were bread and oil, and wine. These were the staples of people living in Bible times. The vision revealed that they would have to pay more than normal for basic, everyday food items. (10)

Wheat was considered a better grain than barley, so it was more expensive. When John received this revelation, a denarius was a Roman silver coin about the size of a dime equal to a day’s wage. The shopper would have to pay a denarius just to buy one quart of wheat, the amount of bread a person would consume in one meal. He could buy three quarts of barley for a denarius which would enable him to have three meals for the day. (10)

This means the shopper would have to work all day just to buy enough bread for one person. It did not cover the wife and kids. This price was ten to fifteen times the normal price of the produce. That meant working all day just to buy a loaf of bread and nothing else—no oil or wine. The economic condition in which prices exceed the product’s value is hyperinflation. (10)

Simply put, hyperinflation is caused when the government prints an excessive money supply without a comparable increase in goods and services. This results in an imbalance in the supply and demand for money. As the government prints more money, it has less value (purchasing power). It doesn’t take long before other governments and the citizens lose confidence in the currency. The government panics and prints more money which means it takes even more to purchase the same goods and services. Then at a certain point, the currency becomes worthless. (10)

To give you some examples of how bad this can be, in Germany in 1923, the highest monthly inflation rate was 29,500 percent. This amounted to daily inflation of 20.9 percent. Prices doubled in 3.7 days. In Hungary in 1946, the highest daily inflation rate was 207 percent. Prices doubled every 15 hours. In Zimbabwe in 2008, the highest daily inflation rate was 98 percent. Prices doubled in 24.7 hours. This information is readily available by researching articles on hyperinflation’s impact on nations. (10)

If the United States government continues to print money with no comparable increase in goods and services, this could easily cause a massive devaluation of the U.S. dollar and a further weakening of the U.S. economy. This could cause other governments to lose confidence in the dollar as the currency of choice. If this monetary policy is coupled with war, it could certainly create hyperinflation.

Think about what you would have to pay for basic food items if the price doubled daily. On Monday, the price for a loaf of bread might be $3.00. On Tuesday, it would be $6.00. By Sunday, the price of a loaf of bread would be $192.00. This is more than a day’s wage for most folks. This is a very real possibility for the U.S. (10)

In addition to hyperinflation, the U.S. could easily experience severe economic depression. This is the opposite of hyperinflation. In a time of economic depression, prices go down. While it might seem good to see prices go down, in an economic depression, they go down in an out-of-control spiral as sharp as the upward movement seen in hyperinflation. Since people anticipate that prices will go down, they postpone buying until the prices are lower. The result is that companies cannot sell their products and services at a profit. When companies cannot sell their products and services at a profit, they stop buying from their vendors, curtail their business operations, and terminate employees. Even though prices for goods and services are lower, few people can buy anything because most don’t have jobs. (10)

The worst-case scenario is what economists call stagflation. Stagflation is the perfect economic storm. This situation combines the worse features of inflation and depression. In this situation, prices for goods and services continue to rise even as economic depression causes millions of people to lose their jobs. As God continues to judge American materialism and greed, the U.S. will certainly experience some measure of hyperinflation, depression, and stagflation. The wealth of the middle class will be completely destroyed. Only God’s people who have been obedient to Him and good stewards of His resources will survive the economic catastrophe that I believe is coming to America. Those who have ears, let them hear! (10)

The Fourth Scroll Seal (Disease and Death)

And when He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” Then I looked, and behold, a pale horse; and he who sits on it had the name Death, and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6:7–8 NET)

Jesus’ parallel prophecy of His opening of the Fourth Scroll Seal:

There will be...  plagues in various places... (Luke 21:11 c NET)

When Jesus opened the fourth seal, the fourth living creature called John to “Come and see.” This time John saw a pale horse. The general interpretation is that the color is a ghastly pale green. John learns that the name of the rider of this horse is Death and Hades. Since death represents the physical grave and Hades the abode of dead souls, they are considered one and the same. John hears the unthinkable: that Death and Hades were given power over a fourth of the population of the earth to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth. (10)

In the Hebrew Bible, we learn that the Lord pronounced similar judgments when His people continued to reject Him. The Lord spoke through Ezekiel and said that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were there, He would not spare His judgment on the people. But God also said He would leave a remnant who would survive and turn to Him. (Ezekiel 14:12-22.) (10)

The natural results of war and famine are plagues, disease, and death. Tragically, throughout history, whenever there have been major wars, people suffered in these ways. Many who survived the wars died of building collapses, fires, floods, starvation, crowded living conditions, poor sanitation, contaminated water supplies, exposure to the elements, and the spreading of diseases such as typhoid and cholera. (10)

Now that we have weapons of mass destruction, it is easy to understand how nuclear weapons, along with biological and chemical warfare, could destroy a fourth of the earth’s population. With a world population will reach 8 billion people on November 15, 2022, this would mean more than 2 billion people would die when the fourth seal is opened. With such a monumental tragedy, we can also understand how wild animals would attack weak and sickly human beings. Yet, even with such terrible destruction, God would bring three-fourths of the world’s population through this judgment and give them time to repent. (10)

As we read about these terrible curses coming on the earth, we wonder how a loving God could cause such suffering. The answer is that God does not cause this suffering. Mankind causes this due to the hardness of his heart. It is the result of the evil in people’s hearts to live their lives without God. While God is longsuffering with us, there does come the point when God knows that we will not turn from our sins and seek Him. Since the masses do not want Him, God removes His covering of protection and provision and leaves mankind to himself. While God cares for His people, those who reject Him end up destroying themselves, which we see in the opening of these seals. Let us not blame God for our own failings. (10)

Again, Jesus referred to the opening of Seals 1-4 as the “Beginning of Birth Pains.”

All these things are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24:8 NET)
Daniel’s 70th Week Expanded

The Great Tribulation

Jesus indicated that the opening of the 5th Seal was the start of the “Great Tribulation.”

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. (Matthew 24:21 ESV)

The Fifth Scroll Seal (Martyrdom of those that keep the Word of God and Testify of Jesus)

And when He opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the witness which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Master, holy and true? Will You not judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And a white robe was given to each of them; and it was told to them that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow slaves and their brothers who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. (Revelation 6:9–11 NET)

Note these Christians were martyred for the same reason John was imprisoned on the Island of Patmos:

I, John, your brother and the one who shares with you in the persecution, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony about Jesus. (Revelation 1:9 NET)

This also is the reason given for Satan making war with Christians:

So the dragon became enraged at the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep God’s commandments and hold to the testimony about Jesus. And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.
 (Revelation 12:17 NET)

Jesus’ parallel prophecy of His opening of the Fifth Scroll Seal:

“Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nations because of my name. Then many will be led into sin, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will appear and deceive many, and because lawlessness will increase so much, the love of many will grow cold. But the person who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. “So when you see the abomination of desolation—spoken about by Daniel the prophet—standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. The one on the roof must not come down to take anything out of his house, and the one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen. And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matthew 24:9–22 NET)
“You must watch out for yourselves. You will be handed over to councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a witness to them. First the gospel must be preached to all nations. When they arrest you and hand you over for trial, do not worry about what to speak. But say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. The one on the roof must not come down or go inside to take anything out of his house. The one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! Pray that it may not be in winter. For in those days there will be suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, or ever will happen. And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved. But because of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut them short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe him. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, the elect. Be careful! I have told you everything ahead of time. (Mark 13:9–23 NET)
But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will be a time for you to serve as witnesses.Therefore be resolved not to rehearse ahead of time how to make your defense. For I will give you the words along with the wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will have some of you put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of my name.Yet not a hair of your head will perish.By your endurance you will gain your lives. “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Those who are inside the city must depart. Those who are out in the country must not enter it, because these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away as captives among all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:12–24 NET)

When Jesus opens the fifth seal, none of the four living creatures call John to “Come and see.” Whereas the first four seals related to judgments on the earth which needed to be revealed to John, the fifth seal is a heavenly scene. Since John has a prophetic vision of what is happening in Heaven, it is unnecessary to call him forth. He can see this for himself. And what he sees is certainly heartbreaking. (10)

John sees under the altar in Heaven the souls of those who have been martyred for the Word of God and their testimony. Obviously, this is not a time of “easy-believism.” There will not be any casual believers during this time on the earth. There will not be any “Sunday-morning Christians” who live for themselves the rest of the week. There will not be any “mega-churches.” Like the believers in the seven congregations of the first century, the people of God will be persecuted and scattered, and many will be martyred. This situation will certainly distinguish true believers from those who profess faith but don’t really possess faith. (10)

In John’s vision, these martyrs are crying out for justice. They want to know how long they must wait before God avenges those that took their lives. (10)

They cried out with a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Master, holy and true, before you judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?” Each of them was given a long white robe and they were told to rest for a little longer, until the full number was reached of both their fellow servants and their brothers who were going to be killed just as they had been. (Revelation 6:10,11 NET)

The Lord comforts them by clothing them with white robes but tells them they must wait until His mercy for those that will be saved has been satisfied. (10)

The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NET)

Unfortunately, more would be martyred for their faith. We must understand that these did not die due to God’s wrath, as it has not been poured out yet. In fact, God’s wrathful judgments described later in the Book of Revelation are His answer to the prayers of these faithful believers. It is during the future Day of the Lord that God will pour out His wrath on the remaining wicked. For there is no mercy for the wicked that have chosen to never change from their evil ways.

If the wicked are shown mercy, they do not learn about justice. Even in a land where right is rewarded, they act unjustly; they do not see the Lord’s majesty revealed. (Isaiah 26:10 NET)
It is terrible to show partiality to the wicked, by depriving a righteous man of justice. (Proverbs 18:5 NET)
The Lord protects those who love him, but he destroys all the wicked. (Psalm 145:20 NET)

No, it was not God’s wrath that killed these martyrs, but Satan’s wrath released through the curses from the seals!

Therefore you heavens rejoice, and all who reside in them! But woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has come down to you! He is filled with terrible anger, for he knows that he only has a little time!” (Revelation 12:12 NET)
So the dragon became enraged at the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep God’s commandments and hold to the testimony about Jesus. And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.
 (Revelation 12:17 NET)

Anyone who tries to live a godly life in this world can certainly understand the heart cry of these martyrs. The Lord’s people often groan to themselves and to the Lord for His soon return to end the evil in our world. It is a normal and natural desire for godly people to grow weary of evil and long for righteousness. We, too, ask, “Lord, how much longer are You going to put up with the evil in our world? How much longer will it be before You judge the wicked?” (10)

John says that he sees these souls under the altar. This does not necessarily mean that he saw a literal altar but that he saw the altar in his vision. In ancient times, people built altars of their gods and made sacrifices to them. They did this to appease the anger of their gods. This is because the life of the flesh is in the blood. They hoped their gods would accept the animal’s blood in their place. When making the sacrifices, they would pour out the blood of the animal under the altar. (10)

The Lord also required His people to make sacrifices, but with a major difference. One of the Hebrew words translated as “offering” is korban. The word means to “draw near.” In other words, the people were instructed to offer sacrifices to God to draw near to Him, not to appease His wrath. God provided the system of the blood of the innocent substitutionary sacrifice that stood in place of the people. This was how God could judge sin while showing mercy to the sinner. These souls were described as being under the altar because they chose to draw near to God rather than the anti-God world system. (10)

At the Temple in Jerusalem, the blood of the sacrifices was poured into a basin underneath the altar. Water then carried the blood from the Temple Mount to the Kidron Valley. When the people saw the blood and water, they knew the Lord had accepted their sacrifices. Likewise, the blood of these martyrs was an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. They had not died in vain. (10)

John says that these souls are given white robes. White in the Bible and in pagan religious services, past and present, symbolizes purity.

The psalmist wrote:

Who is allowed to ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may go up to his holy dwelling place? The one whose deeds are blameless and whose motives are pure, who does not lie, or make promises with no intention of keeping them. (Psalm 24:3-4 NET).

Jesus said,

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8 NET)

He also promised those who overcame that they would be given white garments:

The one who conquers will be dressed like them in white clothing, and I will never erase his name from the book of life, but will declare his name before my Father and before his angels. The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3:5–6 NET)

These believers are given white robes and are in the presence of God because they are spiritually and morally pure. These believers are given white robes to clothe their naked souls until they receive new resurrected bodies.

John later speaks of these martyrs and provides additional details on why they were killed:

One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement; they worshiped the dragon because he had given ruling authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying: “Who is like the beast?” and “Who is able to make war against him?”The beast was given a mouth speaking proud words and blasphemies, and he was permitted to exercise ruling authority for forty-two months. So the beast opened his mouth to blaspheme against God—to blaspheme both his name and his dwelling place, that is, those who dwell in heaven. The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them. He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation, and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed. (Revelation 13:3-8 NET)
Then I saw another beast coming up from the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but was speaking like a dragon. He exercised all the ruling authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and those who inhabit it worship the first beast, the one whose lethal wound had been healed. He performed momentous signs, even making fire come down from heaven in front of people and, by the signs he was permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, he deceived those who live on the earth. He told those who live on the earth to make an image to the beast who had been wounded by the sword, but still lived. The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast—that is, his name or his number. This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the beast’s number, for it is man’s number, and his number is 666. (Revelation 13:11–18 NET)
Then I saw thrones and seated on them were those who had been given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. These had not worshiped the beast or his image and had refused to receive his mark on their forehead or hand.  (Revelation 20:4 NET)

While we do not know all the theological answers, we know that these believers overcame the world and entered the presence of God. And that is what is important. (10)

Daniel’s 70th Week Expanded

The AntiChrist’s True Nature Revealed

After three and one-half years of Daniel’s 70th week, the Antichrist will reveal his true nature.

He will confirm a covenant with many for one week. But in the middle of that week he will bring sacrifices and offerings to a halt. On the wing of abominations will come one who destroys, until the decreed end is poured out on the one who destroys.” (Daniel 9:27 NET)

The Abomination that Causes Desolation

The Antichrist will desecrate the Third Temple in Jerusalem and setup up the Abomination that causes desolation in the Most Holy Place.

His forces will rise up and profane the fortified sanctuary, stopping the daily sacrifice. In its place they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. (Daniel 11:31 NET)
“So when you see the abomination of desolation—spoken about by Daniel the prophet—standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), (Matthew 24:15 NET)
“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. (Mark 13:14 NET)

The Antichrist will declare he is the one true God for three and one-half years.

He will speak words against the Most High. He will harass the holy ones of the Most High continually. His intention will be to change times established by law. They will be delivered into his hand For a time, times, and half a time. (Daniel 7:25 NET)
“Then the king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every deity and he will utter presumptuous things against the God of gods. He will succeed until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been decreed must occur. He will not respect the gods of his fathers—not even the god loved by women. He will not respect any god; he will elevate himself above them all. (Daniel 11:36–37 NET)
What he will honor is a god of fortresses—a god his fathers did not acknowledge he will honor with gold, silver, valuable stones, and treasured commodities. He will attack mighty fortresses, aided by a foreign deity. To those who recognize him he will grant considerable honor. He will place them in authority over many people, and he will parcel out land for a price. (Daniel 11:38–39 NET)
Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4 NET)
The beast was given a mouth speaking proud words and blasphemies, and he was permitted to exercise ruling authority for forty-two months. So the beast opened his mouth to blaspheme against God—to blaspheme both his name and his dwelling place, that is, those who dwell in heaven. The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them. He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation, and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed. (Revelation 13:5–8 NET)

The Antichrist’s attempt to be the one true God is similar to what Lucifer (Satan) attempted.

Look how you have fallen from the sky, O shining one, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the ground, O conqueror of the nations! You said to yourself, “I will climb up to the sky. Above the stars of El I will set up my throne. I will rule on the mountain of assembly on the remote slopes of Zaphon. I will climb up to the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High!” (Isaiah 14:12–14 NET)

Satan, the dragon, will empower the Antichrist, a human from the sea of people but possessed by a spirit from the abyss of Hades.

So that huge dragon—the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world... (Revelation 12:9a NET)
When they have completed their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss will make war on them and conquer them and kill them. (Revelation 11:7 NET)
Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, and on its horns were ten diadem crowns, and on its heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority to rule. One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement; they worshiped the dragon because he had given ruling authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying: “Who is like the beast?” and “Who is able to make war against him?” The beast was given a mouth speaking proud words and blasphemies, and he was permitted to exercise ruling authority for forty-two months. So the beast opened his mouth to blaspheme against God—to blaspheme both his name and his dwelling place, that is, those who dwell in heaven. The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them. He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation, and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed. If anyone has an ear, he had better listen! If anyone is meant for captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed by the sword, then by the sword he must be killed. This requires steadfast endurance and faith from the saints. Then I saw another beast coming up from the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but was speaking like a dragon. He exercised all the ruling authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and those who inhabit it worship the first beast, the one whose lethal wound had been healed. He performed momentous signs, even making fire come down from heaven in front of peopleand, by the signs he was permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, he deceived those who live on the earth. He told those who live on the earth to make an image to the beast who had been wounded by the sword, but still lived. The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast—that is, his name or his number.This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the beast’s number, for it is man’s number, and his number is 666. (Revelation 13:1–18 NET)

The Antichrist will perform many signs and wonders to deceive the people.

He performed momentous signs, even making fire come down from heaven in front of people and, by the signs he was permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, he deceived those who live on the earth. He told those who live on the earth to make an image to the beast who had been wounded by the sword, but still lived. The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed. (Revelation 13:13–15 NET)

The Antichrist will wage war against the saints of God.

“Then I wanted to know the meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others. It was very dreadful, with two rows of iron teeth and bronze claws, and it devoured, crushed, and trampled anything that was left with its feet. I also wanted to know the meaning of the ten horns on its head, and of that other horn which came up and before which three others fell. This was the horn that had eyes and a mouth speaking arrogant things, whose appearance was more formidable than the others. While I was watching, that horn began to wage war against the holy ones and was defeating them, (Daniel 7:19–21 NET)

The Antichrist will Trample Jerusalem for Three and one-half years.

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Those who are inside the city must depart. Those who are out in the country must not enter it, because these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away as captives among all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20–24 NET)
But do not measure the outer courtyard of the temple; leave it out, because it has been given to the Gentiles, and they will trample on the holy city for forty-two months. (Revelation 11:2 NET)

The Antichrist will establish his headquarters in Jerusalem, between the Mediterranean and Dead Seas.

He will pitch his royal tents between the seas toward the beautiful holy mountain. But he will come to his end, with no one to help him. (Daniel 11:45 NET)

The Sixth Scroll Seal (Cataclysmic Disaster on Earth)

Then I looked when the Lamb opened the sixth seal, and a huge earthquake took place; the sun became as black as sackcloth made of hair, and the full moon became blood red; and the stars in the sky fell to the earth like a fig tree dropping its unripe figs when shaken by a fierce wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the very important people, the generals, the rich, the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath [i.e., the day of the Lord] has come, and who is able to withstand it?” (Revelation 6:12–17 NET)

Jesus’ parallel prophecy of His opening of the Sixth Scroll Seal:

“Immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29–30 NET)
“But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. (Mark 13:24–25 NET)
There will be great earthquakes... there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21:11 a, d)  
“And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth nations will be in distress, anxious over the roaring of the sea and the surging waves. People will be fainting from fear and from the expectation of what is coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (Luke 21:25–26 NET)

In the sixth seal, John sees cataclysmic disturbances on Earth that affect the atmosphere. Likely the earthquake included super volcanic eruptions with the associated ash and volcanic matter ejected into the atmosphere. Those in daylight would see the ash cloud darkening the sun and causing the preexisting clouds to appear “rolled up” as the heated air expands outward. Those affected during the night hours would see the moon appear red, and the stars sequentially hide as the ash cloud rapidly expands.

Jesus said His hour “has come” before betrayal and crucifixion, meaning it was about to begin.

He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough of that! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. (Mark 14:41 NET)

Similarly, John said that the Day of Jesus’ wrath had come during the opening of the Sixth Seal, meaning it was just about to begin after the Seventh Seal was opened.

They said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?” (Revelation 6:16–17 NET)

The disturbances caused by the opening of the Sixth Seal are a prelude to the Day of the Lord, which had not yet begun but is just about to begin!

God’s Seal of Protection

Impending Curses

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so no wind could blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. (Revelation 7:1 NET)

In the chapter’s opening verse, John sees four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth. They are ready to release these four winds, which will cause terrible devastation. What are these angels and these four winds? They are fallen angels that will release demonic forces.

The prophet Daniel used similar language in his apocalyptic description of the coming days of judgment:

Daniel explained: “I was watching in my vision during the night as the four winds of the sky were stirring up the great sea. Then four large beasts came up from the sea; they were different from one another. (Daniel 7:2–3 NET)

The prophet Zechariah saw something similar in his apocalyptic vision:

Once more I looked, and this time I saw four chariots emerging from between two mountains of bronze. Harnessed to the first chariot were red horses, to the second black horses, to the third white horses, and to the fourth spotted horses, all of them strong. Then I asked the angelic messenger who was speaking with me, “What are these, sir?” The messenger replied, “These are the four spirits of heaven that have been presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth. The chariot with the black horses is going to the north country and the white ones are going after them, but the spotted ones are going to the south country. All these strong ones are scattering; they have sought permission to go and walk about over the earth.” The Lord had said, “Go! Walk about over the earth!” So they are doing so. Then he cried out to me, “Look! The ones going to the northland have brought me peace about the northland.” (Zechariah 6:1–8 NET)

He described four chariots pulled by different colored horses. When Zechariah inquired into the meaning of his vision, an angel told him that the four chariots symbolized four spirits or winds of Heaven.

Releasing the four winds will bring further destruction to the earth and humanity. Because of this, the Lord will not allow the four winds to be released until His people are sealed and therefore protected from what is to follow. This is an example of God’s mercy during these terrible judgments.

Holding Back Further Curses Temporarily

Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, who had the seal of the living God. He shouted out with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given permission to damage the earth and the sea: “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees until we have put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” (Revelation 7:2–3 NET)

Here we see God’s mercy in action. He sends a holy angel to tell the four fallen angels to hold back the four winds of further judgment until God’s people are protected. When the Lord opened the sixth seal, the unrighteous of the world hid from God and cried out,

because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?” (Revelation 6:17 NET)

The answer is that the people of God can stand because the Lord seals them for protection. Hallelujah! The Lord knows those who are His just as parents know their children. The prophet Nahum writes,

The Lord is good— indeed, he is a fortress in time of distress, and he protects those who seek refuge in him. (Nahum 1:7 NET)

The apostle Paul gave the same word of comfort and encouraged God’s people to live holy lives. He even referred to God sealing His own. Paul wrote to Timothy:

However, God’s solid foundation remains standing, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from evil.” (2 Timothy 2:19 NET).

We must distinguish God’s judgments on the wicked from the wicked persecuting the righteous. While God does not promise to spare His people from persecution and tribulation, there are numerous examples in the Hebrew Bible of God protecting His own before releasing His judgments. We learn in Genesis 6-8 that God saved Noah and his family in the ark before He judged the world with the great flood. He delivered Lot before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19). In the Exodus story, God did not rapture His people out of Egypt. He protected them and then delivered them once His judgments were over. (10)

In the Book of Ezekiel, we learn that God purposed to destroy the wicked in Jerusalem. But first, He instructed a holy angel to go through the city of Jerusalem and put His mark on the foreheads of His righteous remnant. They were marked for protection just as these are marked. (Ezekiel 9.)

The sealing of the 144,000 for Protection

Now I heard the number of those who were marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed from all the tribes of the people of Israel: From the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Asher, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Zebulun, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed. (Revelation 7:4–8 NET)

Here we have a respite in the breaking of the “Seals” that God’s “elect of Israel” may be “Sealed.” (10) The seal, in the Roman world and in the Bible, indicates possession (ownership) and protection. They are sealed on the forehead to indicate they belong to God (possession) and will experience His security (protection). Their sealing is to exempt them from God’s wrath, which had just been announced and then delayed until they are sealed. Contextually, God’s wrath cannot be understood to include the first six seals.

There is an example in the Book of Ezekiel of God marking His own before administering His judgments. When the Lord called His holy warring angels to judge the wicked, He had one of them put a mark on the forehead of the righteous. Those who had the mark of God would be protected from His wrath.

Ezekiel reads:

Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub where it had rested to the threshold of the temple. He called to the man dressed in linen who had the writing kit at his side. The Lord said to him, “Go through the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of the people who moan and groan over all the abominations practiced in it.” While I listened, he said to the others, “Go through the city after him and strike people down; do no let your eye pity nor spare anyone! Old men, young men, young women, little children, and women—wipe them out! But do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary!” So they began with the elders who were at the front of the temple. (Ezekiel 9:3–6 NET)

In addition, God reserved 7000 in the days of Ahab, who did not bow the knee to Baal:

I still have left in Israel seven thousand followers who have not bowed their knees to Baal or kissed the images of him.” (1 Kings 19:18 NET)

Similarly, there will be a “remnant chosen by grace” of 144,000.

But what was the divine response to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand people who have not bent the knee to Baal.” So in the same way at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if it is by grace, it is no longer by works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:4–6)

God will reserve 144,000 of Israel during the Tribulation period who will not bow their knee to the Antichrist. This is not the sealing of the Holy Spirit, by whom the Believer is sealed. His indwelling presence in the believer is the absolute guarantee that his eternal salvation is secure. That what God has begun in His child He will bring to consumption and that nothing can thwart the divine purpose for His redeemed ones.

And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Christ—you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13–14 NET) 

But rather a “sealing” at the hand of holy angels.

Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, who had the seal of the living God. He shouted out with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given permission to damage the earth and the sea: “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees until we [angels] have put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” (Revelation 7:2–3 NET)

Jesus prophesied of this event:

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31 NET)

What this SEALING is, we are told it is “Jesus’ Name” and the “Father’s Name” is to be written on their foreheads.

Then I looked, and here was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were one hundred and forty-four thousand, who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1 NET)

Realize they God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit share a common name – Jesus! (1)

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  of whom the whole family in the heavens and on earth is named, (Ephesians 3:14,15 YLT)

They were “Sealed” on their FOREHEADS where others could see it. Theirs was no secret discipleship.

The 144,000, 12,000 from each Tribe, will be of earthly Israel, the literal seed of Abraham, living at that time, and not of a mystical or spiritual Israel. Though the “Twelve Tribes” were long ago lost among the nations, their whereabouts are not unknown to God. And though they may have lost their genealogical books and records so as not to be able to trace their Tribal descent, God knows where they are and who is who, and on that day, the angels, with omniscient precision, will seal them according to their Tribes, 12,000 from each Tribe. The Angel who has charge of the sealing comes from the East. This is significant. It intimates that the “Sealed Ones” have their gaze directed toward the “Sun-Rising,” as if looking for the fulfillment of the promise. (8)

“For indeed the day is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant evildoers will be chaff. The coming day will burn them up,” says the Lord who rules over all. “It will not leave even a root or branch. But for you who respect my name, the sun of vindication will rise with healing wings, and you will skip about like calves released from the stall. You will trample on the wicked, for they will be like ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the Lord who rules over all. (Malachi 4:1–3 NET)

The “Elect” then of Israel will be those who “respect Messiah’s name” and, like Simon and Anna, watched for His First Coming. They will be looking for what they believe is the first coming of their Messiah. (8)

The Twelve Tribes of Israel

Note there is a remarkable difference in the names of the Tribes as recorded here and the original Twelve Tribes. Here the names of Dan and Ephraim are omitted, and Joseph and Levi are substituted. Why is this? The reason is plain in the Old Covenant:

Beware that the heart of no man, woman, clan, or tribe among you turns away from the Lord our God today to pursue and serve the gods of those nations; beware that there is among you no root producing poisonous and bitter fruit. When such a person hears the words of this oath he secretly blesses himself and says, “I will have peace though I continue to walk with a stubborn spirit.” This will destroy the watered ground with the parched. The Lord will be unwilling to forgive him, and his intense anger will rage against that man; all the curses written in this scroll will fall upon him and the Lord will obliterate his name from memory. The Lord will single him out for judgment from all the tribes of Israel according to all the curses of the covenant written in this scroll of the law. (Deuteronomy 29:18–21 NET)

Any man, woman, family, or TRIBE that should introduce idolatry into Israel should have their or its name “obliterated” or blotted out from under heaven and be separated from the Tribes of Israel. (8)

This is exactly what the Tribes of Dan and Ephraim were guilty of when they permitted Jeroboam to set up “Golden Calves” to be worshipped, one at Dan in the “Tribe of Dan” and the other at Bethel in the “Tribe of Ephraim.” (8)

Jeroboam built up Shechem in the Ephraimite hill country and lived there. From there he went out and built up Penuel. Jeroboam then thought to himself: “Now the Davidic dynasty could regain the kingdom. If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem, their loyalty could shift to their former master, King Rehoboam of Judah. They might kill me and return to King Rehoboam of Judah.” After the king had consulted with his advisers, he made two golden calves. Then he said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to go up to Jerusalem. Look, Israel, here are your gods who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” He put one in Bethel and the other in Dan. This caused Israel to sin; the people went to Bethel and Dan to worship the calves. (1 Kings 12:25–30 NET). 

This is why the Tribes of Dan and Ephraim are omitted from this chapter, and the names of Joseph and Levi are substituted. However, the Tribes of Dan and Ephraim are on the list of the Twelve Tribes that shall occupy the Holy Land during the Millennium: (8)

“These are the names of the tribes: From the northern end beside the road of Hethlon to Lebo-hamath, as far as Hazar-enan (which is on the border of Damascus, toward the north beside Hamath), extending from the east side to the west, Dan will have one portion. Next to the border of Dan, from the east side to the west, Asher will have one portion. Next to the border of Asher from the east side to the west, Naphtali will have one portion. Next to the border of Naphtali from the east side to the west, Manasseh will have one portion. Next to the border of Manasseh from the east side to the west, Ephraim will have one portion. Next to the border of Ephraim from the east side to the west, Reuben will have one portion. Next to the border of Reuben from the east side to the west, Judah will have one portion. (Ezekiel 48:1–7 NET)
“As for the rest of the tribes: From the east side to the west side, Benjamin will have one portion. Next to the border of Benjamin, from the east side to the west side, Simeon will have one portion. Next to the border of Simeon, from the east side to the west side, Issachar will have one portion. Next to the border of Issachar, from the east side to the west side, Zebulun will have one portion. Next to the border of Zebulun, from the east side to the west side, Gad will have one portion. Next to the border of Gad, at the south side, the border will run from Tamar to the waters of Meribath Kadesh, to the Stream of Egypt and on to the Great Sea. This is the land which you will allot to the tribes of Israel, and these are their portions, declares the sovereign Lord. (Ezekiel 48:23–29 NET)

That is, the sealing of the Tribes in this chapter is more for Heavenly Preservation than to keep them for an earthly inheritance. This view is confirmed by the fact that they are later seen with the Lamb on the Heavenly Mount Zion. (8)

Then I looked, and here was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were one hundred and forty-four thousand, who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. I also heard a sound coming out of heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. Now the sound I heard was like that made by harpists playing their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from humanity as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb, and no lie was found on their lips; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:1–5 NET)

The omission of their names in this list of these “Sealed Ones” is to show that the Tribes of Dan and Ephraim must pass through the remainder of Daniel’s 70th week unprotected by sealing.  (8)

Again, these are Jews that have not bowed to the Antichrist; they believe in the soon-coming Messiah and zealously keep the commandments. However, they have not yet acknowledged that the Messiah has already come already in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and He is the cloud man of Daniel that is coming again!

I was watching in the night visions, “And with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man was approaching. He went up to the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty. All peoples, nations, and language groups were serving him. His authority is eternal and will not pass away. His kingdom will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13–14 NET)

As Western believers, we must understand that Christians are part of the Commonwealth of Israel and have become “one new man” with them.

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh—who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed on the body by human hands—that you were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, when he nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11–22 NET)

The Church is not Israel but is joined with Jews as the “one new man,” also known as the new “Israel of God.”

But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! And all who will behave in accordance with this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:14–16 NET)

Speaking symbolically, Jewish believers are not grafted into the Christians’ wild olive tree, but Christians are grafted into the cultivated Jewish olive tree.

Now if some of the [Jewish] branches were broken off, and you, a [Gentile] wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them and participated in the richness of the [Jewish] olive root, do not boast over the [Jewish] branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the [Jewish] root, but the [Jewish] root supports you. Then you will say, “The [Jewish] branches were broken off so that I [a Gentile] could be grafted in.” Granted! They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but fear! For if God did not spare the natural [Jewish] branches, perhaps he will not spare you [a Gentile branch]. Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God—harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And even they [Jewish branches]—if they do not continue in their unbelief—will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a [Gentile] wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated [Jewish] olive tree, how much more will these natural [Jewish] branches be grafted back into their own [cultivated Jewish] olive tree? (Romans 11:17-24 NET)

While Abraham is the natural father of the Jewish people, he is the spiritual father of all true believers.

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26–29 NET)

He is “Our Father Abraham.”

For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace, with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants—not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (Romans 4:16 NET)

Zechariah saw this “One New Man” company of people when he wrote: (10)

The Lord who rules over all says, ‘In those days ten people [a representative number] from all languages and nations will grasp hold of—indeed, grab—the robe [tzitzit] of one Jew and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” ’ ”

Jesus spoke of this company of people in His teaching of the sheep and goats: (10)

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?’ Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31–46 NET)

He explained the judgment of the nations at His coming and used words His listeners could understand. He talked about sheep and goats. Just as a shepherd separates his sheep from his goats, the Lord says He will separate the righteous (the sheep) from the unrighteous (the goats) at His coming. Jesus told us that the basis of this separation is how the Gentiles treated the Jews during the tribulation. Those who help the Jewish people will be considered righteous because their actions are proof of their faith. (10)

Nonbelievers certainly would not help the Jewish people because they hate the Jews and the God of the Jews, which is why they have accepted the Mark of the Beast. (10)

Interestingly, Satan has his own counterfeit seal during this time enacted by the False Prophet. In a similar public manner, the followers of the Antichrist will be “Sealed” in their foreheads or on their right hand, with the “Mark of the Beast,” which is the Number of his Name, or 666.

The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast—that is, his name or his number. This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the beast’s number, for it is man’s number, and his number is 666. (Revelation 13:15–18 NET)
Daniel’s 70th Week Expanded

The Rapture of the Believers

After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with palm branches in their hands. They were shouting out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood there in a circle around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they threw themselves down with their faces to the ground before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Praise and glory, and wisdom and thanksgiving, and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Then one of the elders asked me, “These dressed in long white robes—who are they and where have they come from?” So I said to him, “My lord, you know the answer.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb! For this reason they are before the throne of God, and they serve him day and night in his temple, and the one seated on the throne will shelter them.They will never go hungry or be thirsty again, and the sun will not beat down on them, nor any burning heat, because the Lamb in the middle of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:9–17 NET)

The First Return of Jesus the Messiah

The first time will be to rapture or “take away“(1) the Church, thus rescuing it from the pouring out of God’s wrath during the “Day of the Lord.” (13) During this return, Jesus will come with all the Christians that have died, from Adam to the time of His coming, and will not set foot on Earth but rather descend only into the lower atmosphere (3). Realize, to those that are lost (i.e., have not accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord), this return will be as a thief in the night.

Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night. Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape.(1 Thessalonians 5:1–3 NET)

To those that are not saved, Jesus’ first return will be like a thief in the night. However, to those saved, Jesus’ first return will NOT be as a thief in the night.

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness for the day to overtake you like a thief would. For you all are sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness. So then we must not sleep as the rest, but must stay alert and sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:4–6 NET)

Christians can and should recognize the signs that His return is drawing near; however, the exact timing of this first return of Jesus is only known by God the Father.

But as for that day or hour no one knows it—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son—except the Father. Watch out! Stay alert! For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey. He left his house and put his slaves in charge, assigning to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to stay alert. Stay alert, then, because you do not know when the owner of the house will return—whether during evening, at midnight, when the rooster crows, or at dawn—or else he might find you asleep when he returns suddenly. What I say to you I say to everyone: Stay alert!” (Mark 13:32-37 NET)
But as for that day and hour no one knows it—not even the angels in heaven—except the Father alone. For just like the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. And they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man.Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one left.There will be two women grinding grain with a mill; one will be taken and one left. “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:36–44 NET)

During this first return, He will:

1. Resurrect and transform the decayed bodies of those that have already died into perfect glorified bodies. Then reunite these glorified bodies with the spirits of the saints that have come with Him from Heaven. Saints are those that have a personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son, including:

  • all that died in the Lord from the time of the first Adam and went to Paradise in Hades (1) (after the resurrection, Jesus moved Paradise (1) and its occupants to Heaven), and
  • all that have died in the Lord after the resurrection of Jesus and went to Paradise in Heaven.
Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51–52 NET)
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians. For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
(1 Thessalonians 4:14-16 NET)

2. Transform the bodies (i.e., pass them through death to glorification, thus complying with Hebrews 9:27) of the Christians alive on Earth at His appearing.

And just as people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment, so also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation. (Hebrews 9:27–28 NET)

That is, those who are alive and have a personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son.

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:17–18 NET)
But our citizenship is in heaven—and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20–21 NET)

3. Draw both groups that now have glorified bodies to Himself and transport them (us) to Heaven.

Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure). (1 John 3:2–3 NET)

We Christians will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, where our works will be judged.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:10 NET)
If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw,each builder’s work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test what kind of work each has done. If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12–15 NET)

This is a judgment for what we have done (i.e., our works, including our motive for doing them) for the determination of any reward and NOT a judgment of whether we can be with the Lord forever (the latter has already been decided based on our belief or faith in Jesus’ completed work on the cross (1)).

because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:9–13 NET)

The Seventh Scroll Seal (Silence in Heaven)

Now when the Lamb opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (Revelation 8:1 NET)

The prophet Zephaniah predicted the time of silence before the Day of the Lord.

Be silent before the Lord God, for the Lord’s day of judgment is almost here... (Zephaniah 1:7 NET)

When the Lord opens the seventh seal, all the glorious worship and praise of Heaven stops. What a contrast: from the loudest and deepest worship and highest praise, the throne room of God is now silent. Can you imagine silence in Heaven for thirty minutes? It is like all heavenly hosts are holding their breath, waiting for the Lord to reveal its contents. We might say that this is the “lull before the storm.”

There are occasions when the manifested presence of God is so holy the only response is silence. In the Hebrew Bible, we learn that there are times when God does something so dramatic, His people need to be silent.

Zechariah writes:

Be silent in the Lord’s presence, all people everywhere, for he is being moved to action in his holy dwelling place. (Zechariah 2:13). 

Habakkuk cautions:

But the Lord is in his majestic palace. The whole earth is speechless in his presence!”  (Habakkuk 2:20).

Jesus, the Son of Man, has opened the Scroll of Authority and has the right to control any further curses from Satan. The Great Tribulation would have lasted for an additional 1.75 years with the added destruction caused by the Seventh Seal (i.e., the four fallen angels). Hence the silence in Heaven as God, in His mercy, stops the Curse from the Seventh Seal from being released upon those remaining on Earth at this time.

And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matthew 24:22 NET)

Daniel’s 70th Week Expanded

The Day of the Lord

Isaiah and Paul refer to the Day of the Lord as a pregnant woman who has progressed from initial spurious birth pains to regular full-on childbirth labor. Unlike the initial birth pains, this kind of labor will not cease until the child is born.

Wail, for the Lord’s day of judgment is near; it comes with all the destructive power of the sovereign judge. For this reason all hands hang limp, every human heart loses its courage. They panic— cramps and pain seize hold of them like those of a woman who is straining to give birth. They look at one another in astonishment; their faces are flushed red. (Isaiah 13:6–8 NET)
For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night.Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:2–3 NET

The Day of the Lord is the phrase used by the prophets to speak of the outpouring of God’s wrath against evil at the end of days. They described the response of the world’s people in terms similar to John’s statement that the haters of God would try to hide from Him.

Isaiah wrote that, on the Day of the Lord, His enemies will crawl with fear into holes in the ground.

Go up into the rocky cliffs, hide in the ground. Get away from the dreadful judgment of the Lord, from his royal splendor! Proud men will be brought low, arrogant men will be humiliated; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. Indeed, the Lord who commands armies has planned a day of judgment, for all the high and mighty, for all who are proud—they will be humiliated; for all the cedars of Lebanon, that are so high and mighty, for all the oaks of Bashan; for all the tall mountains, for all the high hills, for every high tower, for every fortified wall, for all the large ships, for all the impressive ships. Proud men will be humiliated, arrogant men will be brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. The worthless idols will be completely eliminated. They will go into caves in the rocky cliffs and into holes in the ground, trying to escape the dreadful judgment of the Lord and his royal splendor, when he rises up to terrify the earth. At that time men will throw their silver and gold idols, which they made for themselves to worship, into the caves where rodents and bats live, so they themselves can go into the crevices of the rocky cliffs and the openings under the rocky overhangs, trying to escape the dreadful judgment of the Lord and his royal splendor, when he rises up to terrify the earth. (Isaiah 2:10–21 NET)

The heavens will turn black, and neither the stars, moon, nor the sun will give their light. (10)

Wail, for the LORD’s day of judgment is near; it comes with all the destructive power of the sovereign judge. For this reason all hands hang limp, every human heart loses its courage. They panic— cramps and pain seize hold of them like those of a woman who is straining to give birth. They look at one another in astonishment; their faces are flushed red. Look, the Lord’s day of judgment is coming; it is a day of cruelty and savage, raging anger, destroying the earth and annihilating its sinners. Indeed the stars in the sky and their constellations no longer give out their light; the sun is darkened as soon as it rises, and the moon does not shine. I will punish the world for its evil, and wicked people for their sin. I will put an end to the pride of the insolent, I will bring down the arrogance of tyrants. I will make human beings more scarce than pure gold, and people more scarce than gold from Ophir. So I will shake the heavens, and the earth will shake loose from its foundation, because of the fury of the Lord who commands armies, in the day he vents his raging anger. (Isaiah 13:6–13 NET)

Isaiah also said that the heavens would melt away and disappear like a rolled-up scroll, and the stars will fall from the sky. (10)

All the stars in the sky will fade away, the sky will roll up like a scroll; all its stars will wither, like a leaf withers and falls from a vine or a fig withers and falls from a tree... For the LORD has planned a day of revenge, a time when he will repay Edom for her hostility toward Zion. (Isaiah 34:4,8 NET)

In their apocalyptic visions, Jeremiah and Ezekiel said the heavens would become dark so that the sun, the moon, and the stars do not give out their light.

“I looked at the land and saw that it was an empty wasteland. I looked up at the sky, and its light had vanished. I looked at the mountains and saw that they were shaking. All the hills were swaying back and forth! ...Because of this the land will mourn and the sky above will grow black. For I have made my purpose known and I will not relent or turn back from carrying it out.” (Jeremiah 4:23–24;4:28 NET)
When I extinguish you, I will cover the sky; I will darken its stars. I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not shine. I will darken all the lights in the sky over you, and I will darken your land, declares the sovereign Lord. (Ezekiel 32:7–8 NET)

In Hosea’s vision of the Day of the Lord, he said the people would beg the mountains to bury them and the hills to fall on them. (10)

The high places of the “House of Wickedness” will be destroyed; it is the place where Israel sins. Thorns and thistles will grow up over its altars. Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!” and to the hills, “Fall on us!” (Hosea 10:8 NET)

Joel said this would be such a terrible time of God’s judgment that the cry would be, “Who can survive it?”

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm signal on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land shake with fear, for the day of the Lord is about to come. Indeed, it is near! It will be a day of dreadful darkness, a day of foreboding storm clouds, like blackness spread over the mountains. It is a huge and powerful army— there has never been anything like it ever before, and there will not be anything like it for many generations to come! Like fire they devour everything in their path; a flame blazes behind them. The land looks like the Garden of Eden before them, but behind them there is only a desolate wilderness— for nothing escapes them! They look like horses; they charge ahead like war horses. They sound like chariots rumbling over mountain tops, like the crackling of blazing fire consuming stubble, like the noise of a mighty army being drawn up for battle. People writhe in fear when they see them. All of their faces turn pale with fright. They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. Each one proceeds on his course; they do not alter their path. They do not jostle one another; each of them marches straight ahead. They burst through the city defenses and do not break ranks. They rush into the city; they scale its walls. They climb up into the houses; they go in through the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them; the sky reverberates. The sun and the moon grow dark; the stars refuse to shine. The voice of the Lord thunders as he leads his army. Indeed, his warriors are innumerable; Surely his command is carried out! Yes, the day of the Lord is awesome and very terrifying—who can survive it? (Joel 2:1–11 NET)

Joel also wrote that the sun and moon and the stars will be darkened before the Day of the Lord. (10) Recall this occurred after the opening of the Sixth Scroll Seal.

After all of this I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your elderly will have revelatory dreams; your young men will see prophetic visions. Even on male and female servants I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will produce portents both in the sky and on the earth— blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sunlight will be turned to darkness and the moon to the color of blood, before the day of the Lord comes — that great and terrible day! It will so happen that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered. For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who survive, just as the LORD has promised; the remnant will be those whom the LORD will call. (Joel 2:28–32 NET)
Crowds, great crowds are in the valley of decision, for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision! The sun and moon are darkened; the stars withhold their brightness. (Joel 3:14,15 NET)

Peter applied Joel’s prophecy to the day of Pentecost when the Church was born, which is also when the “Last Days” began,

‘And in the last days it will be,’ God says, ‘that I will pour out my Spirit on all people, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. And I will perform wonders in the sky above and miraculous signs on the earth below, blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will be changed to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes. And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:17–21 NET)

Nahum wrote that the awesome manifestation of the holy wrath of the Lord would cause the mountains to quake and crumble to dust, the hills to melt, and the earth to tremble (earthquakes). He, too, asked who could survive the fierce anger of the Day of the Lord.

The mountains tremble before him, the hills convulse; the earth is laid waste before him, the world and all its inhabitants are laid waste. No one can withstand his indignation! No one can resist his fierce anger! His wrath is poured out like volcanic fire, boulders are broken up as he approaches. (Nahum 1:5–6 NET)

Zephaniah gave one of the most terrifying descriptions of the Day of the Lord. He called it a day of terrible distress and anguish. He said it would be a day of ruin and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, of clouds, blackness, trumpet calls, and battle cries. He added that the Lord would make a terrifying end to all the people on the earth.

The Lord’s great day of judgment is almost here; it is approaching very rapidly! There will be a bitter sound on the Lord’s day of judgment; at that time warriors will cry out in battle. That day will be a day of God’s anger, a day of distress and hardship, a day of devastation and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and dark skies, a day of trumpet blasts and battle cries. Judgment will fall on the fortified cities and the high corner towers. I will bring distress on the people and they will stumble like blind men, for they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dirt; their flesh will be scattered like manure. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s angry judgment. The whole earth will be consumed by his fiery wrath. Indeed, he will bring terrifying destruction on all who live on the earth.” (Zephaniah 1:14–18 NET)

Malachi also asked who would endure the Day of the Lord.

You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” Because you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord’s opinion, and he delights in them,” or “Where is the God of justice?” “I am about to send my messenger, who will clear the way before me. Indeed, the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his temple, and the messenger of the covenant, whom you long for, is certainly coming,” says the Lord who rules over all. Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can keep standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, like a launderer’s soap. He will act like a refiner and purifier of silver and will cleanse the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will offer the Lord a proper offering. The offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in former times and years past. “I will come to you in judgment. I will be quick to testify against those who practice divination, those who commit adultery, those who break promises, and those who exploit workers, widows, and orphans, who ref use to help the immigrant and in this way show they do not fear me,” says the Lord who rules over all. (Malachi 2:17–3:5 NET)

In His summary of the end times, Jesus gave a similar description of these cataclysmic changes. He said:

“Immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31 NET).

Jesus added:

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. "(Matthew 24:35 NET).

Here is one final word, this time from Peter:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens will disappear with a horrific noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze, and the earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare.Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness,while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God? Because of this day, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze!But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. (2 Peter 3:10-13).

No wonder the haters of God hide in caves and beg the mountains and rocks to fall on them. They cannot face the judgments of God and of the Lamb on this terrible and great Day of the Lord. We can see that being martyred for the Lord is much better than being the object of His wrath. Let the people of God say, “Amen!” (10)

The Seven Trumpets

Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel holding a golden censer came and was stationed at the altar. A large amount of incense was given to him to offer up, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar that is before the throne. The smoke coming from the incense, along with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it on the earth, and there were crashes of thunder, roaring, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. Now the seven angels holding the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. (Revelation 8:2–6 NET)

Before the archangels blow the trumpets, John sees another angel standing at the altar with a golden censer. John specifically mentions that this angel has much incense. John explains, using imagery from the tabernacle and later the Temple, that the angel sprinkles the incense over the hot coals of the altar, causing the smoke of the incense to billow up in the presence of God. (10)

We learn in the Book of Exodus that the priests offered incense before the Lord every morning and every evening: (10)

Aaron is to burn sweet incense on it morning by morning; when he attends to the lamps he is to burn incense.When Aaron sets up the lamps around sundown he is to burn incense on it; it is to be a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. (Exodus 30:7-8).

In addition to this action, once a year, the high priest would take blood from the brazen altar in the courtyard and smear it on the horns of the incense altar. He would then sprinkle the incense on the hot coals. As the sweet incense filled the room, the high priest would enter the holy of holies directly into the presence of God. (10)

Leviticus reads:

and take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord and a full double handful of finely ground fragrant incense, and bring them inside the veil-canopy. He [Aaron] must then put the incense on the fire before the Lord, and the cloud of incense will cover the atonement plate which is above the ark of the testimony, so that he will not die. (Leviticus 16:12-13).

We learn in the Book of Psalms that incense offered before God is the biblical symbol of the prayers of God’s people.

May you accept my prayer like incense, my uplifted hands like the evening offering! (Psalm 141:2 NET)

When John says the angel has much incense, his contemporary readers would have understood him to mean that God’s people have offered many prayers for justice against those who have persecuted them.

Recall when the fifth seal was opened:

And when He opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the witness which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Master, holy and true? Will You not judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And a white robe was given to each of them; and it was told to them that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow slaves and their brothers who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. (Revelation 6:9–11 NET)

The time has come to judge and avenge the blood of the martyrs. When the angel throws the fire incense to the earth, it symbolizes God answering the prayers of His people. God’s response to their prayers results in a great shaking on the earth which John describes as noises, thundering, lightning, and an earthquake. John describes similar “shakings” on the earth at the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:19) and the seventh bowl judgment (Revelation 16:18). It is important to understand that these are also our prayers that God is answering. (10)

Note the Curses from the Seals were implemented by Satan’s fallen angels. However, God’s wrath will be released on all mankind (i.e., Israel and the Gentile nations) by God’s holy angels blowing Trumpets.

In answer to the prayers of His people, God releases seven trumpet judgments on the earth.

We learned that the Lord restrained the four fallen angels from releasing Satan’s curse on the earth’s vegetation and water until He sealed His people for protection against these judgments.

Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, who had the seal of the living God. He shouted out with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given permission to damage the earth and the sea: “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees until we [angels] have put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” (Revelation 7:2–3 NET)

Now that this has been accomplished, the Lord opens the seventh seal.

The first four trumpet judgments are against the earth’s natural resources. In each judgment, a third of the natural resources are devastated.

The last three trumpets are spiritual judgments through angelic and demonic activities.

Before considering these judgments, it is important to understand their purpose. They are God’s judgments against the gods of the world system that the people worship. They are not against the people themselves, although it is the people who suffer. The reason God sends these judgments is to show the world that He is the One True God and to bring people to repentance. (10)

This is what the Lord did when He sent the plagues to Egypt. The plagues were not against Pharaoh and the Egyptian people but against the gods that Pharaoh and the people worshiped. Yet, it was the people who suffered because they worshiped these false gods. The list below shows the gods that the Egyptians worshiped and the plagues that the One True God sent against each of them to show His sovereignty and superiority and to warn Pharaoh to repent.

Egyptian Deities
God’s Judgment Plague
Osiris—god of the Nile
the Nile turned to blood
Heqt—frog goddess
frogs covered the land
Seb—Earth god
dust turned to lice
Scarabus—a flying bug
swarms of flies
Apis—bull god
death to livestock
Neit—god of health
boils and sores
Shu—god of nature
hail and fire
Serapia—god of locusts
locusts eat what remains
Ra—the sun god
darkness over the land
Pharaoh—the incarnation of Ra
death of firstborn

The First Trumpet is Blown

When John says he sees something thrown from Heaven to Earth, this wording means that the judgments are God’s answer to the prayers of His people. (10)

The first angel blew his trumpet, and there was hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was thrown at the earth so that a third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. (Revelation 8:7 NET)

This first judgment of hail and fire mixed with blood is said to be thrown to the earth. This is God’s judgment on the earth’s vegetation. The result is that one-third of the earth, trees, and all green grass is burned up. With the Weather Channels available to us today, we certainly can understand the devastation caused by hail and fire and tornadoes and lightning. (10)

This judgment is similar to the seventh plague in Egypt: (10)

Hail fell and fire mingled with the hail; the hail was so severe that there had not been any like it in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. The hail struck everything in the open fields, both people and animals, throughout all the land of Egypt. The hail struck everything that grows in the field, and it broke all the trees of the field to pieces. (Exodus 9:24-25 NET).

In describing the day of God’s judgments on the earth, Joel laments: (10)

To you, O Lord, I call out for help, for fire has burned up the grassy pastures, flames have razed all the trees in the fields. (Joel 1:19).

God made an interesting statement to Job when He was rebuking him. The Lord asked Job the following questions: (10)

Have you entered the storehouse of the snow, or seen the armory of the hail, which I reserve for the time of trouble, for the day of war and battle? (Job 38:22-23).

The Second Trumpet is Blown

Then the second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain of burning fire was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea became blood, and a third of the creatures living in the sea died, and a third of the ships were completely destroyed. (Revelation 8:8–9 NET)

In this second judgment, John describes a great mountain burning with fire thrown into the sea. The result is that one-third of the sea becomes blood, a third of everything in the sea dies, and a third of ocean-going vessels are destroyed. (10)

All of these judgments may show God doing something supernatural He has never done before or God disrupting the normal order of His creation. We know in the Bible and history that God has worked through nature to accomplish His purposes. In fact, most great battles in history were won due to the weather, not because of superior armaments—and we know who is in charge of the weather. (10)

As this “mountain” is to fall on the sea, and the Judgments poured forth by the “Trumpets” and “Vials” are to fall mainly on that part of the world bordering on the Mediterranean Sea, the “Sea” here mentioned is probably the Mediterranean Sea. Notice that John does not say that it was a “Mountain” that he saw cast into the sea, but that it appeared like a mountain, not a burning volcano, but an immense meteoric mass ablaze with fire. That was as near as John could describe it. (8)

This judgment reminds us of the first plague God sent in Egypt against Osiris, the god of the Nile. God turned the Nile River into blood, killing the fish in the Nile and making the Nile undrinkable. (10)

Exodus reads:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over Egypt’s waters—over their rivers, over their canals, over their ponds, and over all their reservoirs—so that it becomes blood.’ There will be blood everywhere in the land of Egypt, even in wooden and stone containers.” Moses and Aaron did so, just as the Lord had commanded. Moses raised the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile right before the eyes of Pharaoh and his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood.When the fish that were in the Nile died, the Nile began to stink, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood everywhere in the land of Egypt! (Exodus 7:19-21).

The Third Trumpet is Blown

Then the third angel blew his trumpet, and a huge star burning like a torch fell from the sky; it landed on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. (Now the name of the star is Wormwood.) So a third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from these waters because they were poisoned. (Revelation 8:10–11 NET)

Whereas the second trumpet-shofar judgment is on salt water, this third trumpet-shofar devastates one-third of the earth’s fresh water. In John’s vision, he sees a phenomenon that he describes as a great burning star falling from Heaven into the rivers and freshwater sources. He says the name of the star is Wormwood. Whether this is a supernatural phenomenon or a natural disruption from God, the judgment makes the waters bitter and poisonous to drink. (10)

The word translated as “wormwood” actually indicates bitterness. It is a plant that has a very bitter taste. If a person ingested very much of the oil from the plant, they could die from the poison in the plant. Because of its bitter taste and potential as a deadly poison, people in the Bible spoke of wormwood as something bad, a symbol of God’s judgment or their suffering.

For example, in Proverbs, the temptations of an immoral woman are likened to wormwood. On the surface, she is sweet, but if one “drinks” of her cup of sin, the supposed sweetness turns to wormwood:

For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her seductive words are smoother than olive oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. (Proverbs 5:3-4 NET).

Because God’s people turned away from Him, the Lord told Jeremiah that He would give them wormwood as a judgment:

The Lord answered, “This has happened because these people have rejected my laws which I gave them. They have not obeyed me or followed those laws. Instead they have followed the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts. They have paid allegiance to the gods called Baal, as their fathers taught them to do. So then, listen to what I, the Lord God of Israel who rules over all, say. ‘I will make these people eat the bitter food of suffering [wormwood] and drink the poison water of judgment.I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have known anything about. I will send people chasing after them with swords until I have destroyed them.’ ” (Jeremiah 9:13–16 NET)
The Lord says, “I saw the prophets of Samaria doing something that was disgusting. They prophesied in the name of the god Baal and led my people Israel astray. But I see the prophets of Jerusalem doing something just as shocking. They are unfaithful to me and continually prophesy lies. So they give encouragement to people who are doing evil, with the result that they do not stop their evildoing. I consider all of them as bad as the people of Sodom, and the citizens of Jerusalem as bad as the people of Gomorrah. So then I, the Lord who rules over all, have something to say concerning the prophets of Jerusalem: ‘I will make these prophets eat the bitter food of suffering [wormwood] and drink the poison water of judgment. For the prophets of Jerusalem are the reason that ungodliness has spread throughout the land.’ ” (Jeremiah 23:13–15 NET).

When Jeremiah complained to the Lord about his ridicule and suffering as God’s prophet, he said:

He shot his arrows into my heart. I have become the laughingstock of all people, their mocking song all day long. He has given me my fill of bitter herbs and made me drunk with bitterness [wormwood]. (Lamentations Lamentations 3:13–15 NET).

The Fourth Trumpet is Blown

Then the fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. And there was no light for a third of the day and for a third of the night likewise. Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying directly overhead, proclaiming with a loud voice, “Woe! Woe! Woe to those who live on the earth because of the remaining sounds of the trumpets of the three angels who are about to blow them!” (Revelation 8:12–13 NET)

While the first three trumpet-shofar judgments were directed at the earth, the fourth judgment is seen as God’s sovereignty over the lights He placed in the sky. As a manifestation of His sovereign power over His creation, God darkens the sun, the moon, and the stars for a third of the day and night. This darkness could be the result of the three previous judgments; it could also be the result of a solar or lunar eclipse, or it might indicate that God is orchestrating it supernaturally. It doesn’t matter how God does this; the results are the same. (10)

God darkened the sun in the ninth plague against Egypt. The Egyptians worshiped the sun, and Pharaoh was thought to be the incarnation of Ra, the sun god. The One True God demonstrated His sovereign superiority over the Egyptian deity by darkening the sun. It was so completely dark that the people could not see anything. God’s judgment was not against His people, so they had light. (10)

Exodus reads:

The Lord said to Moses, “Extend your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness so thick it can be felt.” So Moses extended his hand toward heaven, and there was absolute darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days.No one could see another person, and no one could rise from his place for three days. But the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. (Exodus 10:21–23 NET).

The prophets spoke of the day of the Lord when God would judge the world by darkening the lights in the sky. Isaiah wrote: (10)

Look, the Lord’s day of judgment is coming; it is a day of cruelty and savage, raging anger, destroying the earth and annihilating its sinners. Indeed the stars in the sky and their constellations no longer give out their light; the sun is darkened as soon as it rises, and the moon does not shine. (Isaiah 13:9–10).

Joel spoke about these judgments in the day of the Lord: (10)

The earth quakes before them; the sky reverberates. The sun and the moon grow dark; the stars refuse to shine. (Joel 2:10 NET).

Amos explained:

Woe to those who wish for the day of the Lord! Why do you want the Lord’s day of judgment to come? It will bring darkness, not light. Disaster will be inescapable, as if a man ran from a lion only to meet a bear, then escaped into a house, leaned his hand against the wall, and was bitten by a poisonous snake. Don’t you realize the Lord’s day of judgment will bring darkness, not light— gloomy blackness, not bright light? (Amos 5:18–20 NET).

In His summary prophecy of the end times, Jesus spoke of these signs in the heavens happening just before He returns:

“Immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29–30 NET).

Luke recorded similar words from Jesus:

“And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth nations will be in distress, anxious over the roaring of the sea and the surging waves. People will be fainting from fear and from the expectation of what is coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.Then they will see the Son of Man arriving in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to happen, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25–28).

“Woe, Woe, Woe” (verse 13)

We would think that this clear demonstration of the sovereignty and supremacy of the One True God would cause people to repent of their sins and turn to Him. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. It is truly difficult to understand the hardness of people’s hearts against God. They would rather curse God and die than acknowledge Him and repent. (10)

Once again, we turn to Pharaoh as an example. When God sent the first plague, how did Pharaoh respond? (10)

Instead of repenting, Exodus says,

Each man threw down his staff, and the staffs became snakes. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted.(Exodus 7:12–13).

He responded in the same way after the second plague:

The Lord did as Moses asked—the frogs died out of the houses, the villages, and the fields. The Egyptians piled them in countless heaps, and the land stank. But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted. (Exodus 8:13–15 NET).

After the third plague, even Pharaoh’s magicians understood that the One True God was sending the plagues. It did not matter to Pharaoh.

The magicians said to Pharaoh, “It is the finger of God!” But Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted. (Exodus 8:19).

Nothing changed after the fourth plague:

and the Lord did as Moses asked—he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. Not one remained! But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also and did not release the people. (Exodus 8:31–32). 

Pharaoh responded the same way after each plague (Exodus 9:7,12,35; 10:20,27; 11:9-10).

We don’t normally think of these plagues as a means of God showing His mercy. However, God could have sent one plague, which would have been enough. He could have judged them immediately. In fact, at Passover, the Jewish people sing a special song entitled, Dayenu, which means “it would have been enough.” But in His mercy, God exposed the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart by sending a succession of plagues until it was clear that Pharaoh would never repent.

As we will see in the following woes, the people experiencing these “Day of the Lord” judgments respond in the same way as Pharaoh. Because God continues to show mercy by allowing people to repent, no one can say His judgments are unjust. He sends more judgments until it is clear the people will not repent.

It is at this time that Jesus returns to bring the final judgment against the ungodly.

The Fifth Trumpet is Blown – The First Woe

Given the hardness of the people’s hearts, God announces three additional judgments called “woes.” These three woes are the fifth, sixth, and seventh trumpet judgments. Since these woes involve releasing demonic activity, they are directed against those who oppose God. They are not against God’s own people. God has already put the seal of protection on those who are His. Once again, we remind ourselves that these judgments are God’s answer to the prayers of His people for justice. This is the wrath of God against an unrepentant world.

Then the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the abyss.He opened the shaft of the abyss and smoke rose out of it like smoke from a giant furnace. The sun and the air were darkened with smoke from the shaft. Then out of the smoke came locusts onto the earth, and they were given power like that of the scorpions of the earth. They were told not to damage the grass of the earth, or any green plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their forehead. The locusts were not given permission to kill them, but only to torture them for five months, and their torture was like that of a scorpion when it stings a person.In those days people will seek death, but will not be able to find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them. Now the locusts looked like horses equipped for battle. On their heads were something like crowns similar to gold, and their faces looked like men’s faces. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. They had breastplates like iron breastplates, and the sound of their wings was like the noise of many horse-drawn chariots charging into battle. They have tails and stingers like scorpions, and their ability to injure people for five months is in their tails. They have as king over them the angel of the abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. The first woe has passed, but two woes are still coming after these things! (Revelation 9:1–12 NET)

In the first woe, John gives a vivid description of frightening tormenters that inflict terrible suffering on those who have the Mark of the Beast. Using apocalyptic language, he sees a star falling from Heaven to Earth with the key to the bottomless pit. Since this is apocalyptic symbolism, we must do our best to correctly interpret the meaning of John’s words. (10)

First of all, John does not literally mean a star. He is talking about an angel. There are several reasons why we should think this is an angel. In the Book of Job, angels are called stars. God rebuked Job and said that angels sing His praises. God also refers to them as the “sons of God” in that He created them. God speaks of a heavenly praise service,

when the morning stars sang in chorus, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7).  

This is Hebrew parallelism in which both the morning stars and the sons of God are the same company of angels. Also, in Revelation 20, John says that he saw an angel coming down from Heaven with the key to the bottomless pit:

Then I saw an angel descending from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a huge chain. Revelation 20:1).

When John says that the angel has the key to the bottomless pit, he means God has given the angel the authority and permission to release those in the bottomless pit. So what is the bottomless pit? Who is held in it? And why is God releasing them?

In the Bible, the phrase “bottomless pit” or abyss refers to the abode of the worst of Satan’s angelic and demonic followers. These spirit beings followed Lucifer in his rebellion against God. They are so evil God has bound them or “chained them” in the bottomless pit until this time when He releases them as part of His “Day of the Lord” judgments. (10)

Peter referred to these demons and said:

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but threw them into hell [Tartarus, an abyss or bottomless pit] and locked them up in chains in utter darkness, to be kept until the judgment, (2 Peter 2:4 NET)

Jude adds:

You also know that the angels who did not keep within their proper domain but abandoned their own place of residence, he has kept in eternal chains in utter darkness, locked up for the judgment of the great Day. (Jude 1:6 NET).

When Jesus was ministering in the area of the Gadarenes (the modern-day Golan Heights), He encountered a demon-possessed man. When Jesus confronted the demons,

And they began to beg him not to order them to depart into the abyss [bottomless pit].” (Luke 8:31 NET). 

The Lord honored their request and sent them into a herd of swine (pigs). You recall from the story that when the demons entered the swine, the animals went crazy and ran off the cliff into the Sea of Galilee.

When the angel opens the bottomless pit, a tremendous amount of smoke is released into the air. There is so much smoke that everything turns dark. Then out of the smoke, John sees locusts.

The mention of the word locust was frightening to John’s contemporary readers. An invasion of locusts was a common plague in the world of the Bible. John’s readers knew that a swarm of locusts could consist of millions of hungry, winged creatures that darken the sky due to their great numbers. While their lifespan and the harvest season are only five months, locusts can strip the land of all the grass, trees, and crops, leaving behind them total devastation. With their massive numbers, they can devour the land in a very short time and move on to destroy another location. (10)

We recall that the Lord used locusts in His eighth plague against Pharaoh. Exodus reads:

They covered the surface of all the ground, so that the ground became dark with them, and they ate all the vegetation of the ground and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Nothing green remained on the trees or on anything that grew in the fields throughout the whole land of Egypt. (Exodus 10:15 NET).

One of the most devastating locust plagues occurred in the heart of the American breadbasket in 1875. In an article entitled “When the Skies Turned to Black,” Hearthstone Legacy Publications gives the following report. (10)

While the agricultural production of the states of Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas has helped feed the world, a plague of locusts stripped the land leaving it barren. The states of Missouri and Minnesota were also devastated. It was a swarm of Rocky Mountain locusts estimated to number in the trillions. They came out of nowhere and, within hours, devoured every crop in their pathway. Observers estimated that the swarm was 1,800 miles long (yes, that number is correct) and 110 miles wide. Eyewitnesses say that the heavens were darkened. The locusts vanished as quickly as they appeared, leaving the country bare of vegetation. (10)(12)

The locusts in Revelation are not ordinary locusts. John’s description of them is terrifying. The prophet Joel compares an invading army to a swarm of locusts and gives a description similar to John’s: (10)

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm signal on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land shake with fear, for the day of the Lord is about to come. Indeed, it is near! It will be a day of dreadful darkness, a day of foreboding storm clouds, like blackness spread over the mountains. It is a huge and powerful army— there has never been anything like it ever before, and there will not be anything like it for many generations to come! Like fire they devour everything in their path; a flame blazes behind them. The land looks like the Garden of Eden before them, but behind them there is only a desolate wilderness— for nothing escapes them! They look like horses; they charge ahead like war horses. They sound like chariots rumbling over mountain tops, like the crackling of blazing fire consuming stubble, like the noise of a mighty army being drawn up for battle. People writhe in fear when they see them. All of their faces turn pale with fright. They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. Each one proceeds on his course; they do not alter their path. They do not jostle one another; each of them marches straight ahead. They burst through the city defenses and do not break ranks. They rush into the city; they scale its walls. They climb up into the houses; they go in through the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them; the sky reverberates. The sun and the moon grow dark; the stars refuse to shine. The voice of the Lord thunders as he leads his army. Indeed, his warriors are innumerable; Surely his command is carried out! Yes, the day of the Lord is awesome and very terrifying—who can survive it? (Joel 2:1–11). 

The point of John’s description is for his readers to understand that, like locusts, this is a powerful swarm, or army, which cannot be stopped. (10)

While literal locusts eat everything in their way, these locusts do not eat the crops. They torment people, specifically people who have taken the Mark of the Beast. John likens the pain they inflict to the sting of a scorpion. While the sting of a scorpion is extremely painful, it is not normally fatal. (10)

Likewise, those tormented by these locusts suffer great pain for five months. They are in such anguish that they try to kill themselves but are restrained from doing so. John adds that the locusts are ruled over by an angel who is the king of the bottomless pit. (10)

They have as king over them the angel of the abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. (Revelation 9:11). 

Both of these words have the same meaning of “destroyer.” (10)

We should be able to understand by all that John says about these locusts are they are not literal locusts but a demonic army released by God as a judgment on those who oppose Him. John gives us a big clue when he says they have a king over them because literal locusts do not have a king, according to Proverbs: (10)

locusts have no king, but they all go forward by ranks (Proverbs 30:27).  

The fallen angel who is the king of the bottomless pit is most likely satan. (10)

John’s readers would have also been familiar with the imagery of smoke coming out of the bottomless pit. Laodicea, Colosse, and Hierapolis were tri-city areas within a few miles of each other. Hierapolis was the city with the hot mineral springs that constantly bubbled at the top, like we see at Yellowstone National Park. These springs gave the appearance of a “lake of fire” that could erupt at any moment, much like Old Faithful, the geyser at Yellowstone that erupts like clockwork to the amazement and amusement of tourists. (10)

The chief deity of Hierapolis was the Greek god Apollo. There was a temple to Apollo and underneath this temple was a deep cave that the people believed to be the home of Hades (Greek) or Pluto (Roman). In Greek mythology, Hades or Pluto was the god of the underworld or the god of the dead. Since the cave was believed to be the home of Pluto, it was called “the Plutonium.” (10)

In his excellent publication, Understanding the Revelation, scholar and archeologist Jim Fleming gives the following fascinating explanation. There was an entrance from the temple into the Plutonium, which emitted a dense fog of poisonous gas from the cave. The priest of Pluto knew how far down into the cave they could go before inhaling the gas. As a way of influencing and controlling the people, the priests would take an animal with them into the cave to sacrifice to Pluto. Of course, the animal did not know how far down to go before inhaling the gas. It would die, but the priests would live. As you can imagine, this was most impressive to superstitious people who had a primitive understanding of the earth’s natural resources. (10)

When John wrote about seeing fiery smoke coming out of the bottomless pit with locusts released to torment the people, they understood what he meant. The people lived in constant fear of the demonic spirits of the underworld. The imagery of steaming hot springs flowing out of caves, lakes of fire, earthquakes, and volcanoes spewing smoke and fire were all around them.

Ironically, the very people these demons are attacking in Revelation 9 are the ones who took the Mark of the Beast. They are the ones who sold their souls to Satan. These demons are tormenting their own followers. And that is the way satan operates. While he appears as an angel of light, his destructive nature and that of his demonic army destroy his own people.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14 NET) 

Those who take the Mark of the Beast, thinking they will escape persecution, will, in the end, be tormented and killed by the evil ones they thought would later protect them from harm. What a tragic miscalculation!

John notes that this is the first woe, but two more are coming. Yet, no matter how many woes God sends, like Pharaoh, the people still refuse to repent.

The Sixth Trumpet is Blown – The Second Woe

Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a single voice coming from the horns on the golden altar that is before God, saying to the sixth angel, the one holding the trumpet, “Set free the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates!” Then the four angels who had been prepared for this hour, day, month, and year were set free to kill a third of humanity. The number of soldiers on horseback was two hundred million; I heard their number. Now this is what the horses and their riders looked like in my vision: The riders had breastplates that were fiery red, dark blue, and sulfurous yellow in color. The heads of the horses looked like lions’ heads, and fire, smoke, and sulfur came out of their mouths. A third of humanity was killed by these three plagues, that is, by the fire, the smoke, and the sulfur that came out of their mouths. For the power of the horses resides in their mouths and in their tails, because their tails are like snakes, having heads that inflict injuries. The rest of humanity, who had not been killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so that they did not stop worshiping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk about. Furthermore, they did not repent of their murders, of their magic spells, of their sexual immorality, or of their stealing. (Revelation 9:13–21 NET)

Before John can finish contemplating the horrors of the first woe, he hears a voice from the four horns of the altar calling the sixth angel to sound the trumpet-shofar for the second woe. In Revelation 6:9-11 we learned that those who gave their lives for their faith were seen under the altar crying out for God to avenge their deaths. They are said to be “under the altar” because when the sacrifices were made at the tabernacle and Temple, the blood of the sacrifices poured out under the altar. The Lord told them to wait a little while, and their prayers would be answered. (10)

In Revelation 8:3-6 an angel presented the prayers of these faithful to the Lord as it was time for God to answer them. As we have been reminded, the judgments are God’s answer to the prayers of His people. All true believers cry to God to vindicate their lives, judge evil, and establish righteousness on earth. While God has answered these prayers in part throughout history, these judgments are the final answer to our prayers. While we are saddened at the suffering brought about by the judgments, we rejoice in the final destruction of evil. (10)

The voice of the angel at the altar now instructs the sixth angel to give the signal for the sixth trumpet judgment. The sixth angel is told to release the four angels bound at the Euphrates River. Who are these four angels, and why the Euphrates River? (10)

John is made to understand that God has bound these angels for a specific time in history until He is ready to release them. In the Bible, the angels who serve God are never bound, only fallen angels who followed Lucifer in his rebellion against God. While God has allowed many of these fallen angels the freedom to be active in our world, He has restrained others.

To our understanding, these four powerful angels that God has kept bound throughout history just as He had bound the angelic and demonic spirits in the bottomless pit. Since it is time for God to use them for His purposes, He releases them to attack those who oppose Him. Again we see the irony: the people the demons attack are those who unwittingly serve them.

John informs us that these powerful demonic spirits are bound at the Euphrates River. Why the Euphrates River? There are several reasons. In the ancient world, the Euphrates River was the natural boundary separating the East from the West. When the invading armies from the East attacked the Western nations, they had to cross the Euphrates River. The Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and Medes came from the East. The Euphrates River was also the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire. The powerful Parthian army was on the other side, ready to attack Rome.

There was also a spiritual connection to the Euphrates River as it was the eastern boundary of the land God promised to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 15:18). In Bible times, God’s people considered the nations to the east of the Euphrates to be pagans who worshiped demons. For example, Babylon was where Nimrod attempted to establish the first organized religion against God (Gen. 11:1-9). The Babylonian religion was spread to future empires, including Rome. It became the “Mother Religion” of all religions, contrary to the worship of the One True God. So the Euphrates was both a natural and spiritual barrier separating God’s people from those opposed to God.

These four fallen angels are so powerful they can send a great army to attack those who have the Mark of the Beast. John says their number is 200 million. This is the ultimate in spiritual warfare. Whether this number is literal or an apocalyptic way of saying “more than we can number,” their evil, destructive nature causes the death of one-third of all human life.

Scholars have different views about the nature of this great army. Some believe it to be a literal army representing the first phase of the last great battle, which is further described in Revelation 16:12-16. Others believe, due to the size and description of this army, that John sees an innumerable company of demonic spirits. Regardless, the devastation is the same—a third of humanity is killed by the fire, smoke, and brimstone coming out of the demon’s mouths. John could be describing modern nuclear warfare as, some believe, spiritual manifestations of demonic power, or both.

Now any reasonable person would think that people who survived this horror would turn to God. But unfortunately, they do not. There is nothing rational or logical about sin. It is willful rebellion against God. John says they do not repent of their worship of demons and idols, their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immorality, or their thefts. Like the Pharaoh, they harden their hearts against God.

Interestingly, John mentions “sorceries” (Revelation 9:21). This English word is translated from the Greek word “pharmakeia.” You can probably recognize the English words derived from “pharmakeia.” They are the words pharmacy or pharmaceutical. Now, what do we get at the pharmacy? We get drugs. The occult uses drugs to alter the minds of their followers so they can control them. (10)

What we see here is a description of a world of people who have sold their souls to the devil, cannot make sound decisions due to the influence of drugs and have no moral constraints. They are totally controlled by evil spirits. While God, in His mercy, has made every effort to bring these people to repentance, they continue to refuse to acknowledge and submit to Him. Since they will not accept redemption, what choice does a just God have but to bring further judgment?

The Angel with the Little Scroll

Then I saw another powerful angel descending from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun and his legs were like pillars of fire. He held in his hand a little scroll that was open, and he put his right foot on the sea and his left on the land. Then he shouted in a loud voice like a lion roaring, and when he shouted, the seven thunders sounded their voices. When the seven thunders spoke, I was preparing to write, but just then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders spoke and do not write it down.” Then the angel I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by the one who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, and the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, “There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God is completed, just as he has proclaimed to his servants the prophets.” (Revelation 10:1–7 NET)

The angel John sees is not an ordinary angel. It is a powerful angel. John says that it is “another powerful angel,” meaning that he has seen an angel like this one earlier in his vision. He may be referring to the “powerful angel” who asked the question to all of Heaven: (10)

And I saw a powerful angel proclaiming in a loud voice: “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals?” (Revelation 5:2 NET)

The same Greek word, ischuros, is translated as “mighty” and “strong” in English. Both are angels of great rank and power. The Lord sends this second mighty angel with a message for John which he records in Revelation 10. Three times John mentions that the angel has one foot on the sea and the other on the land. The fact that this angel has one foot on the sea and another on the land is John’s way of saying that the angel has a message for the whole world. This description of how the angel is standing is a clear and powerful statement that: (10)

The Lord owns the earth and all it contains, the world and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1 NET)

The description of the angel is not as important as the function he serves. Yet, the description is breathtaking. I am sure that seeing an ordinary angel is overwhelming. But seeing an angel like this one would certainly be a defining moment in life, one which none of us would ever forget. (10)

This may be the angel Daniel saw when God gave him a vision of the end times. Daniel described that angel with these words:

I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen; around his waist was a belt made of gold from Upaz.His body resembled yellow jasper, and his face had an appearance like lightning. His eyes were like blazing torches; his arms and feet had the gleam of polished bronze. His voice thundered forth like the sound of a large crowd. (Daniel 10:5–6 NET)

No wonder the vision of this mighty angel so overwhelmed Daniel that he could not stand in his presence (Daniel 10:8-9). Anyone who has had an overwhelming experience with the manifested presence of the Holy Spirit can understand this. (10)

The angel in John’s vision has a little book in his hand. That the book is open suggests that God will reveal its contents. When the angel gives a mighty shout, John likens his voice to that of a roaring lion. When a lion roars, everyone nearby is alerted. Similarly, the sound of the angel’s awesome voice signals the contents of the seventh trumpet judgment to be revealed to John.

John hears seven thunders uttering their voices. John doesn’t literally mean the physical phenomenon of thunder. It is his apocalyptic way of describing heavenly voices that are as loud as thunder. The voices reveal the contents of the seventh trumpet. As John is about to write down what he hears, another voice from Heaven tells him to seal up, or keep to himself, the words of the seven thunderous voices. Later, John will learn what the seven thunder voices are saying. But for now, God does not want John to reveal their words. (10)

The mighty angel then lifts his hand to Heaven and swears, or makes an oath, in the name of the One True God that the time for His final judgment has come. God will no longer offer His mercy to those who have opposed Him. Their time to repent is over. (10)

This action of swearing an oath is mentioned in the Old Covenant:

“ ‘When a person sins in that he hears a public curse against one who fails to testify and he is a witness (he either saw or knew what had happened) and he does not make it known, then he will bear his punishment for iniquity. (Leviticus 5:1 NET)

The Lord says that if someone is put under oath as a witness, they must speak the truth of what they have heard or seen or know to be true. This is the Scripture that the high priest used to coax Jesus to defend Himself just before His crucifixion: (10)

But Jesus was silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:63–64 NET)

We still follow this custom today when witnesses are sworn in at court. Each witness places his left hand on the Bible and raises his right hand, promising to tell “the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me, God.” (10)

Returning to Daniel, we see a similar exchange between Daniel and the powerful angel talking with him. After the angel gave Daniel prophetic revelation, the angel told Daniel to seal up the vision until the time of the end: (10)

“But you, Daniel, close up these words and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will dash about, and knowledge will increase.” (Daniel 12:4 NET)

When asked how long it would be before the prophecies were fulfilled, the angel lifted his hands to Heaven and swore by Him, who lives forever and ever, that the end-time events would occur in God’s time. When Daniel inquired further, the angel said to Daniel: (10)

I heard, but I did not understand. So I said, “Sir, what will happen after these things?” He said, “Go, Daniel. For these matters are closed and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made clean, and refined, but the wicked will go on being wicked. None of the wicked will understand, though the wise will understand. (Daniel 12:8–10 NET)

It should seem obvious to us that this final revelation to John fulfills the words the angel gave to Daniel. The seven-sealed scroll has been opened. All but the Seventh trumpet has been blown. The contents of the last judgment are sealed for now but will soon be revealed. As Peter wrote: (10)

For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer. (1 Peter 4:7 NET)

The angel then confirms that when the seventh trumpet sounds, the mystery of God will be finished. While the angel does not say what he means by “the mystery of God,” he does say God declares it to His servants, the prophets. What is the mystery of God? What did God declare to the prophets? (10)

The mystery of God is His divine plan or secret, which He is either yet to reveal or which He has already revealed to those who did not fully understand it. It is a mystery. But at some point in God’s timing, the mystery will be understood. (10)

The angel says that God has revealed His mystery to His prophets. The angel means the prophets in the Old Covenant. The angel is referencing Amos, who says: (10)

Certainly the sovereign Lord does nothing without first revealing his plan to his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7 NET)

Peter explains the mystery that God revealed to the prophets: (10)

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully. They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory. They were shown that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things now announced to you through those who proclaimed the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things angels long to catch a glimpse of. (1 Peter 1:10–12 NET)

God’s mystery is the eternal covenant that He made with Himself by which He would bring salvation to mankind. He would reconcile Jews and Gentiles to Himself and each other through the blood of an everlasting covenant He would make with Himself on our behalf. He would put His own Spirit within us so that we could share His divine nature and live forever with Him in eternity. (10)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, (1 Peter 1:3–4 NET)
From Simeon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, have been granted a faith just as precious as ours. May grace and peace be lavished on you as you grow in the rich knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord! I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. Through these things he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire. (2 Peter 1:1–4 NET)

The writer of Hebrews explains:

Now may the God of peace who by the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, equip you with every good thing to do his will, working in us what is pleasing before him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20–21 NET)

The prophets in the Hebrew Bible predicted it but did not fully understand everything they were prophesying. This is because its fulfillment would come later when God prepared for Himself a body and became one of us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. (10)

Peter further explains:

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was manifested in these last times for your sake. Through him you now trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:20–21 NET)

Peter adds:

Moreover, we possess the prophetic word as an altogether reliable thing. You do well if you pay attention to this as you would to a light shining in a murky place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you do well if you recognize this: No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:19–21 NET)

God continues to reveal more of this divine mystery to His prophets, including John, who recorded it in the Book of Revelation. And not only did He reveal the mystery to His prophets, but to all of God’s people who revere Him. King David explains, (10)

The Lord’s loyal followers receive his guidance, and he reveals his covenantal demands to them. (Psalm 25:14 NET)

A good example of this is recorded in the Book of Second Kings. There we learn that the King of Syria sent his army at night to surround the city where the prophet Elisha was staying. The next morning, Elisha’s servant went outside and saw the Syrian army surrounding the city. In a panic, he ran to Elisha and told him the situation. Elisha told his servant not to worry because they had more fighting for them than did the King of Syria. Of course, the servant was completely confused by this answer. It was only he and Elisha. Then Elisha asked God to open his servant’s spiritual eyes so he could see the angelic army ready to fight on behalf of Elisha: (10)

Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he can see.” The Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw that the hill was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17 NET)

So it is in the Book of Revelation. While we might not be able to see it with our physical eyes, God has a mighty army of angels fighting on our behalf. Although many are martyred during this time, they overcome death and stand in the presence of God, crying out for justice. The final answer to their prayers will soon manifest in the blowing of the seventh trumpet judgment.

Eating God’s Word

Then the voice I had heard from heaven began to speak to me again, “Go and take the open scroll in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take the scroll and eat it. It will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.” So I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it, and it did taste as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. Then they told me: “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings.” (Revelation 10:8–11 NET)

The same voice that told John to seal the words in the little book now tells John to take the little book from the mighty angel and eat it. I do not know about you, but I would really be frightened to ask the angel to give me the book, much less reach out my hand to such a powerful being. It is good to be reminded that John is not literally doing this. He sees himself doing this in his apocalyptic vision. He is physically on the Isle of Patmos, while spiritually, he has this vision. (10)

The mighty angel gives John the book, tells John to eat the book, and warns him that, although the words will be sweet in his mouth, they will turn bitter in his stomach. Sure enough, this is what John experiences. The words in the little book are sweet to the taste but upset his stomach. Now, what is this about? Is John literally eating a book? I think we know the answer. John does not literally eat the book; he internalizes the words so that they become part of him.

We discover this same idea of eating God’s words in the Hebrew Bible. The prophet Jeremiah used the same phrases, saying:

As your words came to me I drank them in, and they filled my heart with joy and happiness because I belong to you. (Jeremiah 15:16 NET)

When the Lord spoke to Ezekiel, He told him to eat God’s words. He meant that Ezekiel should spiritually digest God’s Word so that it would become part of Ezekiel. The Lord said: (10)

As for you, son of man, listen to what I am saying to you: Do not rebel like that rebellious house! Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.” (Ezekiel 2:8 NET)

Ezekiel continued:

Then I looked and realized a hand was stretched out to me, and in it was a written scroll. He unrolled it before me, and it had writing on the front and back; written on it were laments, mourning, and woe. He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you see in front of you—eat this scroll—and then go and speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth and he fed me the scroll. He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your belly with this scroll I am giving to you.” So I ate it, and it was sweet like honey in my mouth. (Ezekiel 2:9–3:3 NET)

King David likened the Word of God to honey, saying it is:

The commands to fear the Lord are right and endure forever. The judgments given by the Lord are trustworthy and absolutely just. They are of greater value than gold, than even a great amount of pure gold; they bring greater delight than honey, than even the sweetest honey from a honeycomb. (Psalm 19:9–10 NET)

Psalm 119 is a great chapter that explains the many benefits of the Word of God. In this psalm, we read: (10)

Your words are sweeter in my mouth than honey! (Psalm 119:103 NET)

There was a Jewish tradition to use honey on the first day of school for children just beginning their studies. The teacher would give the children an object containing the words of God coated with honey. The children were then instructed to lick the honey off the object, thus associating God’s Word with the sweetness of the honey. (10)

We are to digest God’s Word so that it becomes part of us. God’s Word should become the bone of our bones and the flesh of our flesh. God’s Word should be alive in us with His very own life and power working in us, through us, and out of us. (10)

God’s Word is sweet to the soul. It is the real “comfort food” or “soul food.” It gives us love when we feel unloved, peace when we are troubled, joy when we are depressed, hope when we are hopeless, faith when we are doubting, rest when we are stressed, and comfort when we are burdened. (10)

Jesus, Himself said,

But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”(Matthew 4:4 NET). 

The living Word of the living God can impart God’s own life into us. This is because God’s spoken Word has His life in it. Just as when we speak, and our life or breath comes out of us to form our spoken words, when God speaks, the breath of His life comes out to form His words. When the Holy Spirit imparts those words, God’s life comes into us through them. (10)

Yet, God’s Word can also be bitter when we have to speak His Word of judgment or correction to others or when He speaks it to us. That is not pleasant. God’s Word of rebuke can cause us great grief and give us a spiritual stomach ache, so much so that we actually lose our physical appetite. We can become so anguished and heartsick about sin and its consequences, or about the fact that the wicked seem to prosper, or about the immorality all around us that a time of prayer and fasting is the only thing that can console us.

This is what is happening to John. He is glad to receive the Word of God. It is sweet to the taste, but it gives him spiritual heartburn when he digests it. The words he will have to prophesy are unpleasant; they are words of more suffering and judgment. (10)

The angel tells John that he will have to speak more prophecy. His audience will be the whole world, or as the Bible states it, (10)

Then they told me: “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings.” (Revelation 10:11 NET)

The rest of the Book of Revelation contains the further prophecies John is to speak. Much of what John prophesies is bitter because it is about the further judgments of God in an anti-God world. However, the end of the prophecies is sweet, as they tell about the coming of the Lord to establish His Kingdom on the earth. (10)

As today’s believers, we have the prophetic words of John available to us. It is our responsibility to speak these words to our generation, as God commissioned Ezekiel to do. God put His words in Ezekiel and called him to be a watchman:

Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you must give them a warning from me. When I say to the wicked, “You will certainly die,” and you do not warn him—you do not speak out to warn the wicked to turn from his wicked deed and wicked lifestyle so that he may live—that wicked person will die for his iniquity, but I will hold you accountable for his death. But as for you, if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wicked deed and from his wicked lifestyle, he will die for his iniquity but you will have saved your own life. (Ezekiel 3:17-19).

As watchmen, believers must contemplate God, His plan of redemption, His counsel and decrees, and His prophetic season and words. We are to listen to what God is saying, and we are to say it. We are to watch what God is doing and do it. We are to partner with God to observe, guard, protect, warn, and proclaim who He is in His nature and what He is doing in our world today. We must be alert to the prophetic season in which we are living. We must be single-minded, spiritually sober, and focused on the things of God. We must avoid being foolishly caught up in the things and cares of the world. We must be faithful and vigilant, particularly as we approach the “Day of the Lord.” (10)

Measuring the Temple of God

Then a measuring rod like a staff was given to me, and I was told, “Get up and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and the ones who worship there. But do not measure the outer courtyard of the temple; leave it out, because it has been given to the Gentiles, and they will trample on the holy city for forty-two months. (Revelation 11:1,2 NET)

John will be an actual participant in this part of his vision. The angel gives John a measuring rod and tells him to measure the Temple, the altar, and the worshipers at the Temple. However, he tells John not to measure the outer court because that is the Court of the Gentiles. The angel further informs John that the Gentiles will attack the holy city of Jerusalem for 42 months or three and one-half years. (10)

This is the last three and one-half years of Daniels’ 70th week. It is composed of The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, a period of time Jesus mentioned:

For then there will be great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen. (Matthew 24:21 NET)

This time period is also referred to by the phrase “time, times and half a time:” (10)

Then I heard the man clothed in linen who was over the waters of the river as he raised both his right and left hands to the sky and made an oath by the one who lives forever: “It is for a time, times, and half a time. Then, when the power of the one who shatters the holy people has been exhausted, all these things will be finished.” (Daniel 12:7 NET)
But the woman was given the two wings of a giant eagle so that she could fly out into the wilderness, to the place God prepared for her, where she is taken care of—away from the presence of the serpent—for a time, times, and half a time. (Revelation 12:14 NET)

In addition to the number of months (i.e., 42) and years (i.e., 3.5), John also refers to this time in terms of 1,260 days: (10)

And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3 NET)
So the woman gave birth to a son, a male child, who is going to rule over all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was suddenly caught up to God and to his throne, and she fled into the wilderness where a place had been prepared for her by God, so she could be taken care of for 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:5–6 NET)

The Old Covenant says the Jews will rebuild the Temple in preparation for the coming of Messiah.

In the future the mountain of the Lord’s temple will endure as the most important of mountains, and will be the most prominent of hills. All the nations will stream to it, many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mountain, to the temple of the God of Jacob, so he can teach us his requirements, and we can follow his standards.” For Zion will be the center for moral instruction; the Lord will issue edicts from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2–3 NET)

The prophet Daniel discusses an evil person, the Antichrist, who will commit the “abomination of desolation, which includes the stopping of sacrifices at the third Temple built at the end of times.

...As for the city and the sanctuary, the people of the coming prince [the Antichrist] will destroy them. But his end will come speedily like a flood. Until the end of the war that has been decreed there will be destruction. He will confirm a covenant with many for one week [7 years]. But in the middle of that week [3.5 years] he will bring sacrifices and offerings to a halt. On the wing of abominations will come one who destroys, until the decreed end is poured out on the one who destroys.” (Daniel 9:26 b; Daniel 9:27 NET)
The ships of Kittim will come against him [the Antichrist], leaving him disheartened. He will turn back and direct his indignation against the holy covenant. He will return and honor those who forsake the holy covenant. His forces will rise up and profane the fortified sanctuary, stopping the daily sacrifice. In its place they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. (Daniel 11:30–31).

Jesus referred to Daniel’s prophecy and warned the believers to flee Jerusalem when they saw the Abomination of Desolation standing in the holy place. (10)

“So when you see the abomination of desolation—spoken about by Daniel the prophet—standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. The one on the roof must not come down to take anything out of his house, and the one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen. And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matthew 24:15–22 NET)

Paul also refers to the Abomination of Desolation and says that he is the one: (10)

Now regarding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him, we ask you, brothers and sisters,not to be easily shaken from your composure or disturbed by any kind of spirit or message or letter allegedly from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God. (2 Thessalonians 2:1–4 NET)

John talks about the Temple of God and clearly puts it in the time of the Great Tribulation at the end of the age before the coming of Messiah. (10)

Then a measuring rod like a staff was given to me, and I was told, “Get up and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and the ones who worship there. But do not measure the outer courtyard of the temple; leave it out, because it has been given to the Gentiles, and they will trample on the holy city for forty-two months. (Revelation 11:1–2 NET)

When we put all the Scriptures together, it is clear there will be a third Temple built before the coming of the Messiah. It is a prophetic sign of the end times. (10)

Why would God want to rebuild a Temple in Jerusalem? As non-Jewish believers, we know that when Jesus said, “It is finished or completed!” (10)

When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30 NET)

He meant He was the once-and-for-all perfect sacrifice for sin. We know that, but Jewish people do not, and this is a Jewish Temple. (10)

As is true of the Christian Church, the Jewish people need a great spiritual awakening and revival. The Temple will be a great catalyst for this spiritual renewal. It will be like a magnet drawing Jews back to Israel and back to their covenant God. The Temple and the sacrifices offered at the Temple will be an important visual aid for the Jewish people to understand the necessity of a blood covenant sacrifice for sin. From a Christian view, this could point the Jewish people to Jesus and His death as the ultimate sacrifice for their sins. (10)

Building a Temple at the end of days is not just a Christian understanding. The core prayer of Judaism for thousands of years is called The Amidah. In this prayer, the Jewish people connect the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple with the coming of Messiah. The 14th blessing says: “And to Jerusalem, Your city, may You return in compassion, and may You rest within it, as You have spoken. May You speedily establish the throne of David within it. Blessed are You, Hashem, the Builder of Jerusalem.” (10)

The seventeenth blessing says: “Be favorable, Hashem, our God, toward Your people Israel and their prayer and restore the service to the Holy of Holies of Your Temple. The fire-offering of Israel and their prayer accept with love and favor, and may the service of Your people Israel always be favorable to You. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who restores His presence to Zion.” (10)

God will restore His presence to Zion, that is, Jerusalem. While most of our Jewish friends do not realize it, and many Christians are ignorant of who Jesus really is, the Jewish Messiah and the Christian Savior and Lord are one and the same person. He is the Jewish Yeshua returning to His people in the land of Israel. The rebuilding of the Temple will hasten this glorious event. (10)

As we observe prophetic events, do we see any sign of this Temple being built? Absolutely, yes! Most of any Christian group who goes to Israel today will visit the Temple Institute under the direction of Rabbi Chaim Richman. Rabbi Richman tells us that 80 percent of all the vessels needed for Temple use have been made. (10)

Furthermore, thousands of young men are being trained in the Yeshivas (Jewish Seminaries) in Israel to serve as priests at the Temple when it is built. All of us who attend the Christian celebration of Succot in Jerusalem see this for ourselves at the Western Wall celebration led by these priests in training. This celebration is attended by many thousands of Israelis as well as hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of Christians. (10)

Why does the angel tell John to measure the Temple, the altar, and the worshipers? There are several instances in the Hebrew Bible when God told His prophets to measure the Temple and Jerusalem; the earlier instructions were similar to what John is told to do by the angel. (10)

For example, an angel told Ezekiel to measure the Temple, that most likely represents the Temple during the Messianic age, which is commonly called the Millennium Temple (see Ezekiel 40). Zechariah saw a man who would measure Jerusalem (Zechariah 2:1-2). In three other references, the Bible mentions stretching out a line for measuring, both in building and destroying (2 Kings 21:12-14; Isaiah 34:11; Lamentations 2:8). (10)

By reading these passages in context, we learn that when God speaks about measuring something, He marks off territory—whether for blessing or judgment, protection or destruction. We do this today when determining the size of a lot for building purposes or when we plan to demolish a structure. We mark off the land or building to separate it from the adjoining area. (10)

Since John is told to measure the Temple, the altar, and the worshipers, we would understand this to mean that God is marking off the Temple and the people for protection. In the Zechariah passage, God says that He will be a wall of fire around Jerusalem. (10)

But I (the Lord says) will be a wall of fire surrounding Jerusalem and the source of glory in her midst.’ ” (Zechariah 2:5 NET)

Because John is told not to measure, or mark off, the Court of the Gentiles, we would understand that God will allow this area to be devastated by the Gentiles when they attack Jerusalem for 42 months. This could be the time that Daniel, Jesus, and Paul wrote about in the Scriptures we referenced earlier. (1F0)

To better understand this situation, it helps to know that the Holy Temple courtyard was divided into two different areas. In the outer Court of the Gentiles, both Jews and devout Gentiles could assemble. But in the inner Court of the Jews, only Jews were allowed. To keep this separation, the Jews built a 4.5-foot high wall called the Soreg, which divided the Court of the Gentiles from the Court of the Jews. The Jews placed many signs on the wall strategically warning Gentiles in Greek and Latin not to proceed, or they would be killed. Several of these “stone billboards” have actually been discovered by archaeologists. (10)

There is a story in the Book of Acts relating to this. The Jews erroneously believed Paul had brought Gentiles into the Temple beyond the Court of the Gentiles. As a result, they sought to kill Paul: (10)

When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from the province of Asia who had seen him in the temple area stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, shouting, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this sanctuary! Furthermore he has brought Greeks into the inner courts of the temple and made this holy place ritually unclean!”(For they had seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him previously, and they assumed Paul had brought him into the inner temple courts.) (Acts 21:27–29 NET)

During the time of Jesus, greedy merchants had set up their shops and booths in the Court of the Gentiles, turning it into a marketplace. They took over the area so that there was no room for the Gentiles to worship God. This was the situation that angered Jesus to the point of overturning their product tables. (10)

John wrote:

Now the Jewish feast of Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple courts those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables.So he made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple courts, with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold the doves he said, “Take these things away from here! Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace!”(John 2:13-16 NET)(cf Matthew 21:12-13.)

Western theologians and ministers tell us that God did away with His holy laws when Jesus died for our sins. Of the many Scriptures they quote to support their belief, one is Paul’s statement in Ephesians which says:

For he [Jesus] is our peace, the one who made both groups [Jews and Gentiles] into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition [the Soreg], the hostility, when he nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed. (Ephesians 2:14–16 NET)

Because the Jews had a covenant relationship with God and the Gentiles did not, the Jews were the chosen ones, and the Gentiles were the pagans. This is what caused the enmity between Jews and Gentiles. God’s covenant and laws were just an outward manifestation of enmity. But because Jesus died for both Jews and Gentiles, His death has made way for Jews and Gentiles to be reconciled to God and to one another. We both have access to God. There is no more wall of separation. Spiritually speaking, the wall of separation has been torn down. Gentiles can now enter into the holy presence of God through the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. (10)

Paul said,

And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:17–18 NET)

The Two Witnesses

And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth. (These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.)If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes out of their mouths and completely consumes their enemies. If anyone wants to harm them, they must be killed this way. These two have the power to close up the sky so that it does not rain during the time they are prophesying. They have power to turn the waters to blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague whenever they want. (Revelation 11:3–6 NET)

In the midst of all of the fighting, the Lord raises up two witnesses who prophesy for 1,260 days, or three and one-half years, or 42 months. John does not give the names of the two witnesses. Because of the nature of their miracles, some believe they are Moses and Elijah. But since Moses died, it is not likely that he is one of these two witnesses. The only two people we know of in the Bible who never died are Enoch (see Gen. 5:21-24) and Elijah (see 2 Kings 2:1,9-12). Since John does not give their names, it really does no good to speculate.

John does say that the two witnesses are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. He is referring to a Scripture in Zechariah where we are told that Zechariah had a vision of a lampstand with two olive trees, one on the right and the other on the left of the lampstand. Zechariah did not know what his vision meant, so he asked:

Next I asked the messenger, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the menorah?” Before he could reply I asked again, “What are these two extensions of the olive trees, which are emptying out the golden oil through the two golden pipes?” (Zechariah 4:11,12 NET)

The angel answered

He replied, “Don’t you know what these are?” And I said, “No, sir.” So he said, “These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” (Zechariah 4:13–14 NET)

For Zechariah, the two anointed ones were Zerubbabel and Joshua. Zerubbabel was the governor of Judah, while Joshua was the high priest. Both were involved in the rebuilding of the second Temple. They both became discouraged in their efforts, which is why the Lord raised Zechariah to encourage them. (10)

The olive trees supply the oil for the lampstand, and in the Bible, oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. This is why the angel made the following statement to Zechariah: (10)

Therefore he told me, “These signify the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord who rules over all.” (Zechariah 4:6 NET)

In other words, Zerubbabel and Joshua would successfully complete their task of rebuilding the Temple because God’s Spirit would empower them. God would enable them to do what they could not do in their own strength.

The two witnesses John sees are like Zerubbabel and Joshua in that God will empower them to do miraculous signs and wonders. The miracles testify to the living God judging the people for their sin of rejecting Him. John notes that they are wearing sackcloth, a garment of sadness and mourning. Even though the haters of God and His people seek to kill the two witnesses, God protects them for the three and one-half years of their ministry.

The Two Witnesses Are Killed

When they have completed their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss will make war on them and conquer them and kill them. Their corpses will lie in the street of the great city that is symbolically called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was also crucified. For three and a half days those from every people, tribe, nation, and language will look at their corpses, because they will not permit them to be placed in a tomb.And those who live on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate, even sending gifts to each other, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. (Revelation 11:7–10 NET)

When their appointed ministry time is over, God allows the Beast to kill them. John explains that the Beast is the one that ascends out of the bottomless pit. Who is this Beast? Interestingly, the word beast, when referring to evil, is mentioned 37 times in the Book of Revelation. There is the Beast From the Sea, the Beast From the Earth, and in this reference, the beast from the bottomless pit. In the Book of Revelation, the bottomless pit is also referred to as the sea (see Rev. 11:7; 13:1; 17:8.) (10)

The Beast From the Sea is a reference to the antichrist, while the Beast From the Earth is a reference to the False Prophet.

We discussed previously that the fifth trumpet (Rev. 9:1-12) released tormenting demons from the bottomless pit, which is also called the abyss. The abyss is the biblical name for the abode of demons. The Beast coming out of the bottomless pit is Satan. With God’s permission, Satan stirs up his followers to kill the two witnesses.

John explains that this is happening in Jerusalem. It is sad to read that John compares the spiritual condition of Jerusalem to Sodom and Egypt. Sodom represents the worse in immorality, while Egypt is the biblical symbol of idolatry. This is not only a battle for physical Jerusalem but also for the heart and soul of Jerusalem. (10)

God made many promises in the Bible that He would return to Jerusalem. At that time, Jerusalem will become the throne of God.

At that time the city of Jerusalem will be called the Lord’s throne. All nations will gather there in Jerusalem to honor the Lord’s name. They will no longer follow the stubborn inclinations of their own evil hearts. (Jeremiah 3:17 NET)

The battle for Jerusalem is Satan’s last desperate effort to rule the city in place of God. If the ministry of the two witnesses is happening during the last three and one-half years of Daniel’s 70th week. (10)

they are killed only a few days before the coming of Jesus described in Revelation 19.

Bible-believing people have great respect for the dead. Because of their beliefs about the next world, they must honor the dead by burying them as quickly as possible. In Psalm 79, the writer laments that the dead were not given a proper burial. This was after the Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem in 586 b.c. He describes a situation similar to the scene John sees in Jerusalem: (10)

O God, foreigners have invaded your chosen land; they have polluted your holy temple and turned Jerusalem into a heap of ruins. They have given the corpses of your servants to the birds of the sky; the flesh of your loyal followers to the beasts of the earth. They have made their blood flow like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury them. (Psalm 79:1–3 NET)

Because of their satanic hatred of the two witnesses, those who killed them refused to bury them. Instead, they left their bodies on display for three and one-half days. This was the greatest show of hatred, insult, and humiliation to the dead. Those who opposed God and His servants celebrated the death of the two witnesses with a party and exchanging gifts. This will most likely be seen around the world via satellite. (10)

The Two Witnesses Resurrected (verses 11-14)

But after three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and tremendous fear seized those who were watching them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them: “Come up here!” So the two prophets went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies stared at them. Just then a major earthquake took place and a tenth of the city collapsed; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. (Revelation 11:11–13 NET)

The celebration of the death of the two witnesses does not last very long. At the end of the three and one-half days, God breathes His life into the dead bodies of the two witnesses, who are resurrected. Can you imagine the startled look of horror and disbelief on the faces of the people of the world? By killing the two witnesses, they think they have killed God. Yet, God shows the world that they cannot kill Him. (10)

When the two witnesses are resurrected, the world’s people hear a loud voice from Heaven calling God’s servants to ascend to Heaven. The whole world sees this take place. (10)

Similar language is used to describe the ascension of Jesus to Heaven as recorded in the Book of Acts:

After he had said this, while they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud hid him from their sight. As they were still staring into the sky while he was going, suddenly two men in white clothing stood near them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9–11 NET)

The prophecy about Jesus returning is about to be fulfilled in the Book of Revelation. But first, God calls His two witnesses to Heaven before He sends further judgment on those who oppose Him. John tells us that a great earthquake destroys a tenth of Jerusalem, causing the deaths of 7,000 people. Those who remain alive clearly recognize the hand of God and give Him glory. This does not necessarily mean that they repent, but they simply acknowledge the obvious: the God of Heaven is the One True God who is the supreme sovereign Lord of the universe. (10)

The Second Woe from the Sixth Trumpet blast has Passed

The second woe has come and gone; the third is coming quickly. (Revelation 11:14 NET)

This brings an end to the second of the three woes. John learns that the third woe is at hand. (10)

The Seventh Trumpet is Blown (The Third Woe)

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 NET)

The Kingdom of our Lord and His Christ

What is the Gospel of the Kingdom? What do we mean when we talk about the Kingdom of God? We must understand that the Kingdom of God does not relate to time. It is not a question of when. For example, the question of when Jesus will come and establish His Kingdom is not the issue. People erroneously want to relate the Kingdom of God to time. Therefore, they ask the question, “When?” The result of this thinking is to relegate the Kingdom of God to the future only. In the Bible, the Kingdom of God is not related to time. It is related to space. It is not a question of when but where. What is the Kingdom of God, and where is it? (10)

The Kingdom of God is the rule of God over His creation. His Kingdom is everywhere present. It is expressed through the lives of His people who have chosen to live under His rule and who obey His royal decrees and commandments. By so doing, they manifest His Kingship on the earth. This is called “taking on the Yoke of the Kingdom.”

When Jesus said,

Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” (Matthew 11:29–30 NET), 

He meant we should acknowledge the Kingdom of God in our lives. (10)

God has always had a people living under His rule. In this sense, the Kingdom of God is past, present, and future. But since God is outside of time, His Kingdom is always present. It always was, always is, and always will be. All people can experience God’s Kingdom when they obey God’s commandments and live under His rule. (10)

Since Western Christians often and erroneously believe that grace means “no commandments,” few experience Kingdom life. While all true believers live in God’s Kingdom, they don’t all experience God’s Kingdom blessings because they don’t keep His commandments. (10)

God’s commandments are His instructions for living in His Kingdom. His commandments are not the legalism of man-made rules. When Western preachers and teachers say that God “did away with the law,” they can give Christians the impression that being saved by grace means God places no demands on their lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, salvation is by grace alone, but that grace empowers us to be liberated from ourselves, not from the rule of God. (10)

Jesus said:

“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. (John 14:15 NET)
The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.” (John 14:21 NET)

Can anything be clearer than this statement by Jesus? (10)

God’s Kingdom Past

Adam and Eve

In the past, God’s Kingdom rule was delegated to Adam, who was given dominion over all of God’s creation. He was only given one commandment, which he did not keep. When Adam and Eve sinned, they no longer enjoyed God’s Kingdom blessings. While God’s Kingdom fills Heaven and Earth, we can only operate in it when we obey Him. Except for Noah, Adam and Eve’s descendants chose not to live in God’s Kingdom. (10)

Abraham

Around 4,000 years ago, God created a new company of people through whom He would express His Kingdom to the world. Jewish tradition teaches that Abraham was the first person to address God as Master or Adonai (Lord), thus declaring His Kingdom over the world. (10)

God declared that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be a unique people who would be a kingdom of priests to the nations. As they lived under His Kingship and obeyed His commandments, they would manifest His Kingdom to the nations. (10)

And now, if you will diligently listen to me and keep my covenant, then you will be my special possession out of all the nations, for all the earth is mine, and you will be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you will speak to the Israelites.” (Exodus 19:5,6 NET)

At Sinai

At Sinai, God’s chosen people said,

He took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people, and they said, “We are willing to do and obey all that the Lord has spoken.” (Exodus 24:7 NET). 

History teaches otherwise. As a company of people, the Jewish people have not lived up to their high calling. Even so, they acknowledge God as King, even when not operating in His Kingdom. (10)

Many believers have learned the first part of the Jewish blessing, which says, “Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Haolam,” meaning, “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe.” God is King of the universe, even though we may not personally acknowledge Him as King in our lives. (10)

A central theme in Judaism is Tikkun Olam which in the Hebrew language means “repairing the world morally and spiritually.” It is the vision of the prophets in the Bible to make the world a better place where justice and righteousness, and peace—that is, Kingdom conditions—prevail over evil. We are not put on this earth as mere spectators to live a certain number of days on the earth and accumulate things. We are to actively partner with God in establishing His Kingdom on earth, knowing that it will not fully come to Earth until Messiah comes to Earth as King and Lord of the nations. (10)

King David

The Kingdom of God manifested on the earth is the focus and plan of the Bible. When God appointed David as king, David prayed to the Lord: (10)

David praised the Lord before the entire assembly: “O Lord God of our father Israel, you deserve praise forevermore! O Lord, you are great, mighty, majestic, magnificent, glorious, and sovereign over all the sky and earth! You have dominion and exalt yourself as the ruler of all. (1 Chronicles 29:10-11).

Psalms

The Kingdom of God was frequently acknowledged in the Book of Psalms.

For example,

“All kings will bow down to him; all nations will serve him., all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him.” (Psalm 72:11 NET)

Let all the people of the earth acknowledge the Lord and turn to him! Let all the nations worship you! For the Lord is king and rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:27–28 NET)

The Prophets

The prophets also spoke about a golden age when God’s Kingdom would be fully manifested on earth. (10)

Daniel’s words are an example:

In the days of those kings the God of heaven will raise up an everlasting kingdom that will not be destroyed and a kingdom that will not be left to another people. It will break in pieces and bring about the demise of all these kingdoms. But it will stand forever. (Daniel 2:44 NET).
Then the kingdom, authority, and greatness of the kingdoms under all of heaven will be delivered to the people of the holy ones of the Most High. His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; all authorities will serve him and obey him.’ (Daniel 7:27 NET)

Zechariah’s words are an example:

The Lord will then be king over all the earth. In that day the Lord will be seen as one with a single name. (Zechariah 14:9 NET)

Intertestamental Period

The Kingdom of God was also a major emphasis between Malachi and Matthew. Somewhere during that time, the Jewish people, out of reverence for God, were afraid they would misuse His name. A simple solution to their concern was simply not to say it. So instead of saying God’s name, the Jews substituted other words which they considered to be synonyms for God’s name. (10)

For example, instead of saying the Kingdom of God, they would say the Kingdom of Heaven. Western scholars not connected to their biblical Hebraic roots have written volumes of pages and books trying to explain the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven, not realizing they are the same thing. This name substitution is similar to the respect children show to their parents; they don’t call their parents by their first names but by titles such as Father and Mother or Dad and Mom. (10)

The following are examples of this practice:

It is for many to be hemmed in by few, for in the sight of Heaven, there is no difference between saving by many or by few. It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heaven (1 Maccabees 3:18–19 (NRSV).

And now, let us cry to Heaven, to see whether he will favor us and remember his covenant with our ancestors and crush this army before us today. (1 Maccabees 4:10 NRSV).

Clearly, God’s people do not cry out to the place called Heaven but to God Himself.

God’s Kingdom Present

John the Baptist and Jesus

While Christianity in America has not emphasized the Gospel of the Kingdom, it is the emphasis in the New Testament, which is a continuation of what was proclaimed in the Hebrew Bible. In between the writings of the two sections of the Bible, people often substituted the word Heaven for the name of God. (10)

The Kingdom of God and the idea of grace and faith are not new to the New Testament. All the writers of the New Testament, with the possible exception of Luke (15), were Jews who received their concepts and understandings of the Kingdom of God and grace and faith from the writers of the Hebrew Bible, beginning with the Book of Genesis. God’s grace and mercy operating through His kingdom are central to the teaching in the Hebrew Bible, what Christians call The Old Testament or Old Covenant. The Kingdom of God is not only a past reality; it is a present reality extended to Gentiles who acknowledge Jesus as their King and live, by God’s mercy and grace, under God’s rule. (10)

The New Testament opens with John the Baptist proclaiming,

In those days John the Baptist came into the wilderness of Judea proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” For he is the one about whom Isaiah the prophet had spoken: “The voice of one shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ” (Matthew 3:1–3 NET)

Jesus had the same message,

Now when Jesus heard that John had been imprisoned, he went into Galilee. While in Galilee, he moved from Nazareth to make his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way by the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, and on those who sit in the region and shadow of death a light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach this message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:12–17 NET)

In Hebraic thinking, the phrase “at hand” means “imminent, bursting forth, ready to be revealed.” Whenever Jesus did a miracle, it was a manifestation of the Kingdom of God in their midst. Jesus preached the Kingdom of God, and then He demonstrated it by healing people and delivering them from demons.

Matthew said,

Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of disease and sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23 NET)

The most famous “Christian prayer” is really a Jewish prayer we have called the Lord’s Prayer (1). In this prayer, Jesus prays to the Father, saying,

“may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10 NET). 

God’s Kingdom is manifested on the earth when God’s people do God’s will.

In His greatest recorded teaching in the Bible, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explained how to live as Kingdom people.

He said,

But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33 NET)

After this teaching, Jesus sent His talmidim (students/disciples) to preach the same Gospel of the Kingdom.

Matthew says:

As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near!’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. (Matthew 10:7–8 NET)

Similarly, Luke says,

Heal the sick in that town and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come upon you!’ (Luke 10:9 NET)
Now at one point the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, so he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:20–21 NET)(16) 

In Matthew, Jesus said that the Gentiles would enter His Kingdom and become part of the Commonwealth of Israel.

I tell you, many will come from the east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, (Matthew 8:11 NET)

In Matthew 24:14, Jesus said:

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14 NET)

Paul and the Kingdom of God

Paul also focused his preaching on the Kingdom of God. Because we put so much emphasis on his message of faith and grace, we don’t realize that this message was presented within the context of his central message of the Kingdom of God. Let’s read Paul’s words and those of Luke, James, and Peter.

Paul:

They strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions.” (Acts 14:22 NET)

Paul gave his farewell to the believers at Ephesus and reminded them that he preached to them the message of the Kingdom of God.

“And now I know that none of you among whom I went around proclaiming the kingdom will see me again. (Acts 20:25 NET)

When the Jews in Rome came to see Paul in prison,

They set a day to meet with him, and they came to him where he was staying in even greater numbers. From morning until evening he explained things to them, testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus from both the law of Moses and the prophets. (Acts 28:23 NET)
Paul lived there two whole years in his own rented quarters and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete boldness and without restriction. (Acts 28:30–31 NET)

In those verses, we discovered an incredible truth: the Gospel of Jesus is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and this message is found in the Law of Moses and from the lips of the prophets.

Philip:

But when they believed Philip as he was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they began to be baptized, both men and women. (Acts 8:12 NET)

James:

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? (James 2:5 NET)

Peter:

For thus an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for you. (2 Peter 1:11 NET)

God’s Kingdom Future

God’s Kingdom is not only past and present; it is also future, as the Scriptures declare. In Matthew, Jesus said that those (the sheep) who give social assistance to His brethren (the Jews) will inherit God’s Kingdom.

All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:32-34 NET)

The following verse is most interesting:

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 NET)

It seems that these loud voices are those of the angels of heaven proclaiming the final message of the Gospel of the Kingdom. (10)

The Revelation gives further clarification:

So the one seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. (Revelation 14:16 NET) 

This last trumpet judgment will bring the full measure of the Kingdom of God to Earth. As was just shown, it has always been here in part, but with the King coming to Earth in person, the Kingdom of God will be fully manifested on Earth. (10)

The Revelation tells us that God’s covenant Kingdom people will reign with the Lord for 1,000 years on this earth:

Blessed and holy is the one who takes part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6 NET)

Finally, we learn in Revelation that God’s Kingdom is everlasting, existing before the beginning of time and continuing after time is no more. The Lord God will reign into eternity over His creation as sovereign King and Master.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life—water as clear as crystal—pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, flowing down the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river is the tree of life producing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month of the year. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations. And there will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city. His servants will worship him, and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more, and they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will shine on them, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1–5 NET)

As we awaken to this shift of emphasis from the Gospel of Salvation to the Gospel of the Kingdom, from “Churchianity” to Kingdom life, we will soon see biblical kinds of miracles as being commonplace for ordinary believers who are willing to submit themselves to the Yoke of the Kingdom of God. The greatest outpouring of God’s supernatural manifestations is at hand. While evil will increase, the glory of God’s Spirit will anoint His people with His presence and power as in the days of the first coming Messiah. We see this happening in the ministry of the two witnesses. (10)

We will soon see the time when the Kingdom of God in Heaven will so fill the earth that God’s people will be ready for the coming of the Lord. God’s Kingdom is past, present, and future. It was, it is, and it is to come. May His Kingdom come, and may His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven (see Matt. 6:10). May we all embrace the Yoke of His Kingdom. (10)

Kingdom Worship

Then the twenty-four elders who are seated on their thrones before God threw themselves down with their faces to the ground and worshiped God with these words: “We give you thanks, Lord God, the All-Powerful, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations were enraged, but your wrath has come, and the time has come for the dead to be judged, and the time has come to give to your servants, the prophets, their reward, as well as to the saints and to those who revere your name, both small and great, and the time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth.” Then the temple of God in heaven was opened and the ark of his covenant was visible within his temple. And there were flashes of lightning, roaring, crashes of thunder, an earthquake, and a great hailstorm. (Revelation 11:16–19 NET)

When the elders hear the long-awaited news that God is about to fully establish His Kingdom on the earth, they fall on their faces and worship God as “the One who is and who was” (Revelation 11:17). He is the Almighty, the Great I AM who transcends time and space. His Kingdom that is forever will now be fully manifested in time on the earth in the person of the King Himself—Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, and King of kings and Lord of lords. The great prayer that Jesus taught us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come to Earth is being fully answered. (10)

As world leaders realize their rule without God is over, they are filled with anger and rage against Him. God will now pour out His final wrath against them, forever destroying their godless “One World System.” This transfer of kingdoms from the rule of man to the rule of God is the final fulfillment of Psalm 2. (10)

The writer of that great psalm looked into the future and proclaimed:

Why do the nations rebel? Why are the countries devising plots that will fail? The kings of the earth form a united front; the rulers collaborate against the Lord and his anointed king. They say, “Let’s tear off the shackles they’ve put on us! Let’s free ourselves from their ropes!”(Psalm 2:1-3 NET).

These world leaders are so deceived as to think they can defeat God. The Lord’s response is to laugh at their foolish arrogance:

The one enthroned in heaven laughs in disgust; the Lord taunts them. Then he angrily speaks to them and terrifies them in his rage, saying, “I myself have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill.” [Jerusalem]” (Psalm 2:4-6 NET).

The psalmist then sees God proclaiming His Kingdom:

The king says, “I will announce the Lord’s decree. He said to me [the Messiah]: ‘You are my son! This very day I have become your father! Ask me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the ends of the earth as your personal property. You will break them with an iron scepter; you will smash them like a potter’s jar!’ ” (Psalm 2:7–9 NET)

Writing with clear spiritual eyes, the psalmist sees God giving His final warning to world leaders:

So now, you kings, do what is wise; you rulers of the earth, submit to correction! Serve the Lord in fear! Repent in terror! Give sincere homage [bow down in humble submission]! Otherwise he will be angry, and you will die because of your behavior, when his anger quickly ignites. How blessed are all who take shelter in him! (Psalm 2:10–12 NET)

When Messiah comes to set up His Kingdom, the righteous dead will be raised and rewarded for their faithfulness to worship and serve the One True God through their faith and trust in His Son. They will rule and reign with Him, as explained throughout the Scriptures. But the unrighteous will be judged and forever banished from the presence of God. (10)

Looking forward to this time, an angel gave the following words of comfort and assurance to Daniel:

Many of those who sleep in the dusty ground will awake— some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting abhorrence. (Daniel 12:2 NET).

Jesus explained it this way:

“I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the solemn truth, a time is coming—and is now here—when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, thus he has granted the Son to have life in himself, and he has granted the Son authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. “Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out—the ones who have done what is good [acceptable to God] to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil [unacceptable to God] to the resurrection resulting in condemnation. (John 5:24–29 NET)

Almost as a footnote to this proclamation and worship, John sees the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies of the Temple in Heaven. Bible students recall that when God delivered the Hebrews from Egypt, He instructed them to build a tabernacle or tent where He would dwell among them. God’s glorious presence resided in the inner room—the Holy of Holies above the Ark of the Covenant. (10)

The Ark of the Covenant was a small chest with statues of cherubim attached to the lid. This represented the throne of God on earth at that time. It was the way God chose to dwell among His people. Later, David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the City of David and placed it in the tent he built to worship the Lord. When Solomon built the Temple, he had a great dedication service when he moved the Ark from the City of David to the Temple. The glory of the Lord so filled the Temple that the priests could no longer minister. All they could do was worship God.

The Second Chronicles reads:

The priests left the holy place. All the priests who participated had consecrated themselves, no matter which division they represented. All the Levites who were musicians, including Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and relatives, wore linen. They played cymbals and stringed instruments as they stood east of the altar. They were accompanied by 120 priests who blew trumpets. The trumpeters and musicians played together, praising and giving thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they loudly praised the Lord, singing: “Certainly he is good; certainly his loyal love endures!” Then a cloud filled the Lord’s temple. The priests could not carry out their duties because of the cloud; the Lord’s splendor filled God’s temple. (2 Chronicles 5:11-14 NET).

The connection between the worship when Solomon dedicated the Temple to what John sees in Heaven should be obvious. When John says that he sees the Ark of the Covenant, his readers would understand that he sees the throne room and the presence of God. Like the priests at the dedication of the Temple, the 24 elders (the number of course or groups of priests (1 Chronicle 24:1-19) representing redeemed Israel) fall down and worship God. (10)

As He did with the opening of the seventh seal and the pouring out of the seventh bowl judgment, God endorses what John has written with lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail (see Revelation 8:5; 16:18-21). This is God’s way of saying, “Amen!” (10)

FLASHBACK – Satan’s original Sin, Rebellion, and Fall

Michael the Archangel

Then war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But the dragon was not strong enough to prevail, so there was no longer any place left in heaven for him and his angels.So that huge dragon—the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world—was thrown down to the earth, and his angels along with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the ruling authority of his Christ, have now come, because the accuser of our brothers and sisters, the one who accuses them day and night before our God, has been thrown down. But they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore you heavens rejoice, and all who reside in them! But woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has come down to you! He is filled with terrible anger, for he knows that he only has a little time!” (Revelation 12:7–12 NET)

The fourth personality John sees is Michael, along with his angels. Michael is mentioned five times in the Bible (Daniel 10:13,21;12:1; Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7). Again, Michael is one of the archangels of God. He is also the guardian angel of Israel (Daniel 10:21;12:1).

In these verses, John pauses in his writing about the dragon attacking the woman. He will resume the story at the end of the chapter. The reason he pauses is to explain to us the spiritual warfare and rebellion he sees in Heaven. This is the event Daniel saw as recorded in Daniel 12. It is the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

Daniel writes:

At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book (Daniel 12:1).

John tells us that Michael and his angels fight a war against the dragon and his angels. John identifies the dragon as the devil and Satan. The word devil means “slanderer” or “false accuser,” while satan means “adversary.”

Many people doubt the reality of a literal, personal devil. They believe the devil is just a character out of the imagination of man’s mind. They think of him as a strange character in a red suit with a long tail, horns, and a pitchfork. This image came about in the Middle Ages when the devil was portrayed this way in plays so the audience could recognize his character when he came onto the stage. (10)

Nothing could be further from the truth about what the devil is like. There is a personal devil and a spirit world that we cannot comprehend with our physical senses. Whether one believes this does not change reality. (10)

There are two passages in the Hebrew Bible that many scholars believe refer to Satan’s origin and fall. These are Isaiah 14:10-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19. In their immediate historical context, the Isaiah Scripture literally refers to the rise and fall of the king of Babylon. In contrast, the Ezekiel Scripture refers to the king of Tyre similarly. With this in mind, the wording in these verses seems to go far beyond addressing mere human kings; instead, it uses them as examples to aid us in understanding the fall of Satan. (10)

Briefly, the Bible would have us understand that Satan was at one time called Lucifer. This name means “light-bearer.” Lucifer was God’s most perfect, splendid creation. It seems that he was the top-ranking angel and served at God’s throne. His outward appearance was iridescent, like a magnificent rainbow reflecting the glory of God. (10)

When God created Lucifer, He created him perfectly in every way. People often ask, “How could a good God create an evil being like the devil?” Because there is such a contradiction of a good God creating an evil being, they conclude there must not really be a devil. Part of this reasoning is correct. God did not create Lucifer as an evil being. He created Lucifer as the most glorious of all of His angelic beings for the purpose of serving Him and reflecting His glory. Some scholars believe that Lucifer was God’s heavenly praise and worship leader. (10)

However, because of the sin of pride, Lucifer desired worship for himself. He led a rebellion in Heaven against God. According to John, Lucifer convinced one-third of the stars (angels) to follow him (Revelation 12:4,7,9; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6). It was Lucifer who introduced sin and evil into God’s world.

Jesus saw this in the Spirit and said to His disciples,

So he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. (Luke 10:18 NET)

Of course, God could not allow this rebellion. While giving lucifer limited access to His presence, God stripped him of his glorious position. Lucifer then became known as satan or the devil. The angels that followed him became his demonic army. As I have shared previously, some of these demons are so powerful that God assigned them to the bottomless pit until the end times when He releases them as judgment against those who oppose Him. He allows the other demons limited freedom to serve satan and attack human beings in what believers call spiritual warfare.

While satan lost in his attempt to be worshiped in Heaven, he did not give up. His pride and hatred of God drove him to establish his worship and rule on the earth. He has done this by creating an anti-God world system. This Satan desires to live out his god-image by ruling over this world system. This will find its climax, as described in the following chapters in the Book of Revelation. (10)

Working behind the scenes through his human servants, the anti-Messiah and False Prophet, Satan will establish the final form of his one-world political-religious-economic-military-social system. We call it “the New World Order.” Nonbelievers will unwittingly worship satan by taking the Mark of the Beast. (10)

With his limited access to God, Satan constantly slanders and accuses God’s people of being unworthy of God’s grace and mercy. It is as if Satan is taunting God to cast away the believers with the same judgment God gave him. (10)

For example, we learn in the Book of Job that Satan came before God and accused Job of worshiping and serving God only to get God’s blessings (Job 1:6-12). The Lord knew Job’s heart and gave Satan permission to test Job. Bible students know that Job suffered greatly but stayed true to God. God was honored, Job was vindicated, and Satan proved himself to be a liar who falsely accused Job.

On another occasion, we learn in Zechariah that Satan accused Joshua, the high priest, of serving God in stained garments. In other words, Joshua was not holy enough to be the high priest. The Lord rebuked Satan, forgave Joshua of any sin, and clothed him in clean garments. (Zechariah 3:1-5.)

Apparently, satan still has this limited access to God. He is still the “accuser of our brethren” (Rev. 12:10). But believers have a High Priest who lives forever to make intercession for us (see Heb. 7:25). When satan accuses us before God and when we feel conviction of sin, we can find forgiveness and be made spiritually clean through the blood of Jesus. When we accept the blood of the everlasting covenant for ourselves, God forgives our sins to be remembered no more. He casts them into the sea of forgetfulness. He separates us from our sins as far as the east is from the west. (See Hebrews 7-9.) Thank You, Lord.

We learn from John that God finally banishes Satan from His presence. The devil is cast out of Heaven; since he no longer has access to God to slander His people, he now vents his wrath against people alive on the earth during this time. He deceives the nonbelievers to embrace the “New World Order” of peace and unity while persecuting God’s people who refuse to take his mark. Because they are deceived by Satan, those who take his mark will now accuse the believers of being obstacles to world peace and enemies of the State. (10)

While John sees all of this, he hears a loud voice proclaiming the Lord’s final victory and judgment of Satan. The fullness of the Kingdom of God is about to be revealed. Jesus will soon return. The righteous will prevail and rule with the Lord on the earth. Believers in Heaven and believers on earth rejoice. Even though they are persecuted and martyred, God’s people overcome Satan through the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (Revelation 12:11). But those who oppose God also face the fierce wrath of Satan because he knows he only has a short time (three and one-half years) to deceive them into worshiping him.

Those who take the Mark of the Beast think this will help them overcome their struggles to survive and prosper. But it is a tragic deception. The real overcomers are those who are willing to die for their faith. As Jesus said:

I tell you the solemn truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain. The one who loves his life destroys it, and the one who hates his life in this world guards it for eternal life. (John 12:24–25 NET)

FLASHBACK: Israel is formed, Jesus is born, and Satan is scorned

The Woman

Then a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and with the moon under her feet, and on her head was a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was screaming in labor pains, struggling to give birth. (Revelation 12:1–2 NET)

John informs us that he sees a great sign. The Greek word that John uses for the sign is semeion. It refers to a supernatural signal or indication that something is about to happen on earth. Ancient people believed signs in the heavens were messages to them that changes were coming to the earth. John uses apocalyptic language that people of his time would understand. This would be no ordinary sign but a great sign meaning something extraordinary will happen. (10)

The sign that he sees is a woman. She is clothed with the sun, has the moon under her feet, and wears a garland or crown of 12 stars. The woman is pregnant to the point of having labor pains and is about ready to give birth. What is this all about? (10)

The Book of Genesis provides the answer to its meaning; it is found in the story of Joseph.

You may recall that Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob (Israel). Joseph had a dream in which his brothers bowed down to him.

Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him even more.He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had:There we were, binding sheaves of grain in the middle of the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose up and stood upright and your sheaves surrounded my sheaf and bowed down to it!” Then his brothers asked him, “Do you really think you will rule over us or have dominion over us?” They hated him even more because of his dream and because of what he said. (Genesis 37:5–8 NET)

Joseph was only 17 years of age when he had this dream, so he didn’t have enough wisdom to keep it to himself. Naturally, his older brothers resented Joseph for his arrogance. (10)

Joseph had a second dream. In this dream, his brothers and parents bowed down to him. Genesis tells what happened next:

Then he had another dream, and told it to his brothers. “Look,” he said. “I had another dream. The sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father and his brothers, his father rebuked him, saying, “What is this dream that you had? Will I, your mother, and your brothers really come and bow down to you?”His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept in mind what Joseph said. (Genesis 37:9–11 NET)

When Joseph told his father and brothers about the second dream, they scorned him even more. Yet, his father put the dream in the back of his mind and thought about it. (10)

Joseph’s dream was fulfilled years later in Egypt when Pharaoh made Joseph his second-in-command. When Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt seeking food, they did not recognize Joseph but bowed before him: (10)

When Joseph came home, they presented him with the gifts they had brought inside, and they bowed down to the ground before him. He asked them how they were doing. Then he said, “Is your aging father well, the one you spoke about? Is he still alive?” “Your servant our father is well,” they replied. “He is still alive.” They bowed down in humility. (Genesis 43:26–28 NET)

Considered in light of this story from Genesis, the woman whom John sees is Israel. John does a flashback to the Jewish patriarchs and the promise God gave them to be the bearers of the Redeemer of mankind. The sun represents Jacob, the moon represents Rachel, and the 12 stars represent the 12 children or tribes of Israel. (10)

The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) were the covenant people through whom God would bring the Messiah into the world. The woman crying out in pain symbolizes Israel suffering for centuries at the hands of the Gentiles while waiting for the birth of their Deliverer, the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. This sign reminds us that God also gave a sign in the heavens recorded in the New Testament when the Messiah was born to Mary, a descendant of the tribe of Judah.

When Jesus was born, the Jews were suffering greatly under the cruel rule of the Romans. God sent them a sign in the heavens that something remarkable was about to happen. This sign was the star of Bethlehem, which guided the wise men (astronomers) from the East to Jerusalem. When they saw the sign in Heaven, they connected it to a great event that was to happen on the earth, the birth of the King of the Jews. When they asked Herod exactly where the King of the Jews was born, he directed them to Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-8) according to the prophecy in Micah 5:2.

Out of fear, Herod killed all the baby boys two years old and under. Matthew said that this massacre fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah of Rachel weeping for her children. (Matthew 2:1-18.) Jesus was born in these circumstances of intense Jewish suffering.

The Dragon

Then another sign appeared in heaven: a huge red dragon that had seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadem crowns. Now the dragon’s tail swept away a third of the stars in heaven and hurled them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. (Revelation 12:3–4 NET)

The next sign John sees is a great, fiery red dragon. This frightening monster has seven heads, ten horns, and seven diadems or crowns on his head. In Revelation 12:9, we learn that the dragon symbolizes the devil or Satan. (10)

In apocalyptic language, the seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns represent nations and world leaders over which satan will rule in the end times. Since the number seven often means completion, the idea is that satan will have complete power and authority over a world united under his control. Only God’s people, and apparently some strong-willed independent holdouts, who refuse the Mark of the Beast, do not submit to him. This is why Satan energizes his puppet world leaders to persecute God’s people.

John gives further information in Revelation 13 and Revelation 17 where he tells us about the Beast From the Sea and the Beast From the Earth.

The description connects to Daniel’s prophecy about four great Gentile “beast” empires that will rule over Israel throughout history. Daniel wrote:

In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream filled with visions while he was lying on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream in summary fashion.Daniel explained: “I was watching in my vision during the night as the four winds of the sky were stirring up the great sea. Then four large beasts came up from the sea; they were different from one another. “The first one was like a lion with eagles’ wings. As I watched, its wings were pulled off and it was lifted up from the ground. It was made to stand on two feet like a human being, and a human mind was given to it. “Then a second beast appeared, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and there were three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and devour much flesh!’ “After these things, as I was watching, another beast like a leopard appeared, with four bird-like wings on its back. This beast had four heads, and ruling authority was given to it. (Daniel 7:1–6 NET)

In those verses, Daniel described three of the beast empires, which most scholars understand to be Babylon (Eagle), Persia (Bear), and Greece (Leopard).

Daniel described the fourth and last empire (Rome) with these words:
“After these things, as I was watching in the night visions a fourth beast appeared—one dreadful, terrible, and very strong. It had two large rows of iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and anything that was left it trampled with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that came before it, and it had ten horns. (Daniel 7:7 NET)

In verse 24, Daniel explained that the ten horns are ten kings.

These beast empires are the same that Daniel saw when he interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as recorded in Daniel 2. The king saw a great image in his dream. This so troubled him that he asked Daniel to tell him what the dream was and provide the interpretation. Daniel describe the dream and then explained the dream to the king.

“You, O king, were watching as a great statue—one of impressive size and extraordinary brightness—was standing before you. Its appearance caused alarm. As for that statue, its head was of fine gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs were of bronze. Its legs were of iron; its feet were partly of iron and partly of clay.You were watching as a stone was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its iron and clay feet, breaking them in pieces. Then the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold were broken in pieces without distinction and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors that the wind carries away. Not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a large mountain that filled the entire earth. This was the dream. Now we will set forth before the king its interpretation. “You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has granted you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor. Wherever human beings, wild animals, and birds of the sky live—he has given them into your power. He has given you authority over them all. You are the head of gold. Now after you another kingdom will arise, one inferior to yours. Then a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule in all the earth. Then there will be a fourth kingdom, one strong like iron. Just like iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything, and as iron breaks in pieces all of these metals, so it will break in pieces and crush the others. In that you were seeing feet and toes partly of wet clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom. Some of the strength of iron will be in it, for you saw iron mixed with wet clay. In that the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, the latter stages of this kingdom will be partly strong and partly fragile. And in that you saw iron mixed with wet clay, so people will be mixed with one another without adhering to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. In the days of those kings the God of heaven will raise up an everlasting kingdom that will not be destroyed and a kingdom that will not be left to another people. It will break in pieces and bring about the demise of all these kingdoms. But it will stand forever. You saw that a stone was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands; it smashed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold into pieces. The great God has made known to the king what will occur in the future. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is reliable.” (Daniel 2:31–45 NET)

The head of gold represented Babylon; the chest and arms of silver represented Persia; the belly and thighs of bronze represented Greece; and the legs of iron represented Rome. The feet of iron and clay with the ten toes correspond to the ten horns of Revelation. Daniel then sees a great mountain (kingdom) that destroys the image. Daniel explains that the great mountain is the Kingdom of God coming to Earth.

In Daniel 2, these kingdoms of men are described in terms of precious metals. This is how mankind sees himself in his pride and arrogance. In Daniel 7, these kingdoms are described as beasts which is how God sees the efforts of mankind to rule without Him. (10)

The Book of Daniel, particularly chapters 2, 7, and 12, provide critical background information for understanding John’s vision of the end-time “beast empire.” Therefore, it is important to carefully read these chapters while studying the remaining chapters in the Book of Revelation. It is also important that you do not get bogged down trying to figure out every detail of every symbol. It is more important to see the big picture and have an intimate relationship with the Lord. As these events unfold, God will show us how they play out on the stage of world history.

In Revelation 12:4 John reports that he saw Satan’s tail pulling one-third of the stars from Heaven to Earth. Once again, we remind ourselves that John is using symbolic language. He does not mean that satan literally has a tail or that a third of the physical stars in the sky follow Satan. He means that he could see with spiritual eyes the spiritual battles taking place in the spirit world in Heaven. John tells us more about this in the next few verses when he describes a rebellion in Heaven.

John sees Satan confronting the woman (Israel) when she is about to give birth to a child. Satan is waiting for the child to be born so he can kill the baby at birth. This is not just any child satan wants to destroy. John is talking about the birth of the Redeemer of mankind—the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Israel is personified in the woman who is to give birth to the Messiah. (10)

We know from the Bible that Satan attempted to kill Jesus from the moment He was born. Again, when King Herod learned of the birth of the King of the Jews, he killed all the baby boys two years old and under. It was Satan working through Herod in this demonically-inspired act. Although Satan failed in this attempt, he did not give up on his relentless attacks against Jesus. (10)

For example, Matthew tells us that Satan advised Jesus to tempt God by jumping off the pinnacle of the Temple (Matthew 4:5-6). This was before Jesus even began His ministry. Jesus would have died prematurely and failed to accomplish the purpose for which He was born. When Jesus gave His very first teaching in Nazareth, Satan stirred the crowd to throw Jesus off the cliff, but Jesus avoided them (Luke 4:28-30). Finally, Satan found a willing vessel in Judas, who betrayed Jesus to the Romans (Matthew 26:47-56). While Pilate had Jesus executed, Jesus made it clear that God allowed Pilate to make this decision (John 19:11). (10)

The Male Child

So the woman gave birth to a son, a male child, who is going to rule over all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was suddenly caught up to God and to his throne, and she fled into the wilderness where a place had been prepared for her by God, so she could be taken care of for 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:5–6 NET)

John further comments that God caught up Jesus (the Child) to His throne in Heaven. As the Lamb of God, Jesus bore the sins of mankind for us. He was the innocent once-and-for-all substitutionary sacrifice for sin. (10)

Isaiah prophesied this defining moment in history:

But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done. He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed. All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him. (Isaiah 53:4–6 NET)

Because Jesus had never sinned, He knew the prophecy in the Book of Psalms stating that God would not allow His soul to stay in the place of the dead or His body to decay:

Therefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my body also rests securely. For You will not abandon me to Sheol; You will not allow Your Faithful One to see decay. (Psalm 16:9–10 HCSB)

Acts records the ascension or “catching up” of Jesus to Heaven:

After he had said this, while they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud hid him from their sight. As they were still staring into the sky while he was going, suddenly two men in white clothing stood near them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9–11 NET)

John further identifies this male Child by referring to the Psalm 2 prophecies we have already explained. Because Jesus is returning as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, He will rule over Israel as the King of the Jews and over the nations as King of kings and Lord of lords. As God in human flesh, Jesus will rule with absolute authority and power, or as John says, “with a rod of iron (1)” (Rev. 19:15).

Now that Satan can no longer attack Jesus, he turns his hatred against the woman, that is, Israel and the non-Jewish followers of Jesus.

John gives more details in the rest of this chapter. For now he just says that God’s people flee to a place of safety where God takes care of them for 1,260 days, or three and one-half years. This is apparently the same time period in which the two witnesses are ministering, which seems to be the last half of the tribulation, known as the Great Tribulation.

Satan Persecutes the Woman

Now when the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of a giant eagle so that she could fly out into the wilderness, to the place God prepared for her, where she is taken care of—away from the presence of the serpent—for a time, times, and half a time.Then the serpent spouted water like a river out of his mouth after the woman in an attempt to sweep her away by a flood, but the earth came to her rescue; the ground opened up and swallowed the river that the dragon had spewed from his mouth. So the dragon became enraged at the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep God’s commandments and hold to the testimony about Jesus. (Revelation 12:13–17 NET)

As noted, the woman represents Israel. John explains that the Lord supernaturally protects and cares for (nourishes) Israel during this three and one-half year period. This situation is similar to when God provided manna in the desert for the children of Israel (Exodus 16:4) and nourishment for Elijah when he was in the desert (1 Kings 17:2-4). God can still supernaturally take care of His people, and He will do so during the Great Tribulation.

As King David said:

I was once young, now I am old. I have never seen a godly man abandoned, or his children forced to search for food. (Psalm 37:25 NET).

Using apocalyptic symbolism, John says that the woman was given two wings of a great eagle so she could fly into the wilderness (desert) in safety. The Lord has used this wording before as a figure of speech. When the Lord delivered the Hebrews from Egypt, He brought them into the desert and cared for them for 40 years.

Exodus reads:

‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt and how I lifted you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. (Exodus 19:4 NET)

Similar wording is found in Deuteronomy 32:11-12.

Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, so the Lord spread out his wings and took him, he lifted him up on his pinions. The Lord alone was guiding him, no foreign god was with him. (Deuteronomy 32:11–12 NET)

Jesus warned His disciples that Jerusalem would be attacked. This happened in the first Jewish revolt against the Romans. The war lasted for seven years from a.d. 66-73. Titus invaded Jerusalem and burned the city and the Temple in 70 A.D. Jesus had already told His disciples to flee to the mountains. (10)

Historians tell us that when the war began, the disciples fled east of the Jordan River to the desert town of Pella where God protected them from being completed annihilated by the Romans.

Some scholars believe that this was the complete fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy. However, despite legends to the contrary, Titus did not go into the Holy of Holies in the Temple. While there are clear parallels, Jesus’ words are in the context of the period of the Great Tribulation, which John is now describing (Matthew 24:15-28). This is similar to what happened when the Romans attacked Jerusalem, except this time, the situation is so bad the Lord will have to intervene through the coming of Jesus. (10)

Jesus explains:

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened (Matthew 24:21-22).

The devil, or Satan, referred to as “the serpent’’ (Genesis 3:1-15), seeks to drown the woman, but the Lord sends an earthquake to divert the water. Whether this is symbolic or meant to be taken literally, we don’t know. The Bible often uses flood terminology to symbolize great evil and distress. Isaiah described such times: “…When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:19).

In this instance, the water could be symbolic of Satan’s army pursuing the woman. We will know when we see it happening.

There are also numerous examples in the Hebrew Bible of God using the natural elements to destroy His enemies and the enemies of His people. God literally drowned Pharaoh’s army when they were pursuing the children of Israel. (10)

Whatever the exact interpretation of these verses, the point is that they show Satan doing everything he can to kill God’s people. Yet, God hinders him with both natural and supernatural means.

When Satan realizes that he ca not destroy Israel, he redirects his efforts against the rest of God’s people.

So the dragon became enraged at the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep God’s commandments and hold to the testimony about Jesus. (Revelation 12:17 NET)

Whether you believe these are the grafted-in Gentiles who are part of the Commonwealth of Israel or those newly saved during the Great Tribulation is a matter of interpretation.

What we do know for sure is that they are believers who keep the commandments of God. This certainly refutes Western Christian teaching that salvation by grace through faith means that believers are free from the commandments of God. There will be no casual, cultural, carnal, worldly, half-committed believers at this time.

As Jesus said:

The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.” (John 14:21 NET)
Daniel’s 70th Week Expanded

Mourning

The third woe is the sounding of the seventh trumpet-shofar judgment, which is the pouring out of the final bowls of God’s wrath on the earth. While the seventh angel announces the blowing of the seventh trumpet-shofar, the judgments are not described until Revelation 16. The rest of chapter 11 and chapters 12 through 15 do not advance the story in time but provide more details for our information.

The Second Return of Jesus the Messiah

I was watching in the night visions, “And with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man was approaching. He went up to the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty. All peoples, nations, and language groups were serving him. His authority is eternal and will not pass away. His kingdom will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13–14 NET)
“Immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet [shofar] blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29–31 NET)
But Jesus was silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:63–64 NET)

Jesus is the prophesied “Son of Man,” the God-Man, the Cloud-Man, the Messiah, and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah coming on the clouds to judge the nations and establish His physical Kingdom on the earth.

The Second Return as the Lord of Hosts

The second time Jesus will come to the Earth to defeat the Antichrist, destroy evil, and establish His millennial or thousand-year kingdom on Earth.

Now Enoch, the seventh in descent beginning with Adam, even prophesied of them, saying, “Look! The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all, and to convict every person of all their thoroughly ungodly deeds that they have committed, and of all the harsh words that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”These people are grumblers and fault-finders who go wherever their desires lead them, and they give bombastic speeches, enchanting folks for their own gain. (Jude 14–16 NET)
Then I saw heaven opened and here came a white horse! The one riding it was called “Faithful” and “True,” and with justice he judges and goes to war. His eyes are like a fiery flame and there are many diadem crowns on his head. He has a name written that no one knows except himself. He is dressed in clothing dipped in blood, and he is called the Word of God. The armies that are in heaven, dressed in white, clean, fine linen, were following him on white horses. From his mouth extends a sharp sword, so that with it he can strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod, and he stomps the winepress of the furious wrath of God, the All-Powerful. He has a name written on his clothing and on his thigh: “King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:11–16 NET)

This return is referred to as the Day of the Lord in scripture. But, again, a day with the Lord is a thousand years (1)

Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day. (2 Peter 3:8 NET)

That is, the DAY of the Lord encompasses the defeat of the Antichrist and evil and then the THOUSAND-YEAR reign of Jesus on Earth! 

Recall that the Scroll of Authority (1) leased to man the rule over Earth for a finite period of time. The man then made a covenant with Satan by sinning, thus giving Satan the right to rule over his world system for the same finite period of time. This period of time is known by both God and Satan.

When he came to the other side, to the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were extremely violent, so that no one was able to pass by that way. They cried out, “Son of God, leave us alone! Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:28–29 NET)
Therefore you heavens rejoice, and all who reside in them! But woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has come down to you! He is filled with terrible anger, for he knows that he only has a little time!” (Revelation 12:12 NET)

However, so that some people (i.e., those not raptured or martyred for their faith in Jesus after the Rapture) that go through the Great Tribulation period on Earth might remain alive, the lease is interrupted before its time is fulfilled.

For then there will be great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen. And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matthew 24:21–22 NET)

Satan is then imprisoned in the Abyss during these thousand years of Jesus’ reign on Earth.

Then I saw an angel descending from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a huge chain. He seized the dragon—the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan—and tied him up for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:1–2 NET)

Nevertheless, God being just, will release Satan for the balance of the time of the lease (i.e., a brief period of time), as specified in the Scroll of Authority, after the thousand-year reign of Jesus. 

The angel then threw him into the abyss and locked and sealed it so that he could not deceive the nations until the one thousand years were finished. (After these things, he must be released for a brief period of time.) (Revelation 20:3 NET)

Then Satan and all his evil will be removed forever! Hallelujah!

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are too, and they will be tormented there day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:10 NET)

Jesus does give us a clue to the approximate length of the church age (Luke 13:32). Remembering a day with the Lord is a thousand years (1) (2 Peter 3:8) then Jesus was telling Satan (the spiritual “fox” that was working through King Herod) that for approximately two thousand years (two Heaven days), the church will be alive on Earth with deliverance and healing. Then in the third thousand years (the third Heaven day), Jesus will start His millennial reign on Earth! (4)

This fits the pattern of God, who never changes (Malachi 3:6. Hebrews 13:8). In Genesis 1, the Earth was restored in six Heaven days (1) (six thousand Earth years), and God then rested on the seventh day (seventh thousand Earth years). There are four thousand years (four Heaven days) from Adam to Jesus’ birth; add two thousand years (4) (two Heaven days) of the church age for a total of six thousand years (six Heaven days). Then rest will come in the seventh thousandth years (Seventh Heaven day) – the thousand-year reign of Jesus on Earth called the Day of the Lord!

Another clue is given in the purification of those made unclean (1) by contacting anything associated with human death (i.e., a corpse, bones, and grave). Recall, we are dead in our trespasses and sin until we are born again from above (1).

“ ‘Whoever touches the corpse of any person will be ceremonially unclean seven days. He must purify himself with water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and the seventh day, then he will not be clean. (Numbers 19:11–12 NET)

Again, this refers to Heaven’s days of one thousand years each and the same time period from two different perspectives. The third day is from the perspective of starting the count from the birth of the church. Meaning that at the end of the two-thousand-year church age, or the beginning of the third day, some people will have been purified with the water of the word (i.e., born again) and raptured. The seventh day is from the perspective of the restoration of the earth. Then some will be found purified with the water of the word out of the Great Tribulation and brought to Heaven on the Seventh Heaven day, which is the beginning of the millennial reign of Jesus!

Another clue is given in the transfiguration of Jesus.

Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them privately up a high mountain. And he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. Then Moses and Elijah also appeared before them, talking with him. (Matthew 17:1–3 NET)

The transfiguration was a preview of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27–28 NET)

We know the disciples have died for almost 2,000 years, and Jesus has not yet come into His kingdom. And yet Jesus said some were standing there and would not see death until they saw Him coming. What was He talking about? Jesus here talked about the Transfiguration, for the Transfiguration was a preview of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Transfiguration was a foretaste of glory; the Transfiguration was a glimpse into the future. And indeed, some were standing there—Peter, James, and John—who did not taste death until they saw the Son of man, the Lord Jesus Christ, in His glory, in His kingdom, because that is what the Transfiguration was. (6)

Now, what is the significance of “after six days?” Six is the number for man, and it speaks of failure. Seven is the number for completion. Man is a six; he is one less than seven. And so, six days represent 6,000 years of human history. Man’s recorded history on this globe has been 6,000 years. But there’s a new day—a great day coming—and after six days of failure will come the perfect day, the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. After 6,000 years of failure, there is coming 1,000 years of peace and righteousness when the Lord Jesus Christ shall rule and reign. Just as the Transfiguration was the Second Coming of Jesus in miniature—six days, or the history of man in miniature, foretelling that our Lord will come after six days—and the seventh day will be the millennial rest of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (6)

Then one of the elders asked me, “These dressed in long white robes—who are they and where have they come from?” So I said to him, “My lord, you know the answer.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb! (Revelation 7:13–14 NET)

In conclusion, we should not be complacent or anxious about our Lord Jesus’ return. Rather we are to be faithful in doing what the Lord asks us to do moment by moment and living a life that will allow us to look forward to His return with unashamed joy (1 John 2:28), but letting Him “worry” about the bigger picture of bringing everything to its rightful end – Maranatha! (5) (Romans 13:8-14. Ephesians 5:1-18. 1 Corinthians 4:2. Luke 12:22-32. Philippians 4:6. Matthew 25:1-30).

Daniel’s 70th Week Expanded

Cleansing of the Temple

In development

Daniel’s 70th Week Expanded

The Kingdom Age

In development

His-Story (History) Series:



Shalom
(Security, Wholeness, Success)
Peace

Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 
(3 John 1:2 NET)


(1) Select the link to open another article in a new tab with additional information.

(2) Note: Those not able to choose for themselves (1) (e.g., aborted babies, mentally challenged, etc.) are also in Heaven.

(3) The Greek word used here for air is “aer,” which refers to the lower denser atmosphere. This contrasts with the Greek word “aither,” speaking of the upper thinner atmosphere. For example, a Greek would stand on Mount Olympus (6,403 feet high) and point up to “aither” and down to “aer.”

(4) Realize God does, at times, approximate by rounding off numbers. For example, Exodus 12:40,42 states that Israelites were in Egypt for 430 years, but Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6 approximate this by rounding it down to 400 years. Based on this, the church age could last until 2300 AD or whatever the highest number is that rounds down in God’s math (e.g., 2400 A.D.).

(5) Maranatha is the transliteration of the Koine Greek word that means “Our Lord Come!” (KJV 1 Corinthians 16:22). This word captures what our attitude should be concerning our Lord’s return. That is, while we are not to be complacent or anxious about His return, we should live such that if Jesus were to return at any moment, we would not be ashamed but rather prepared, excited, and filled with joy to see Him! (1 John 2:28. Ephesians 5:15,16).

(6) Rogers, A. (2017). Mustard Seeds and Mountains. In Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Mt 16:27–17:21). Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust.

(7) https://beforethewrath.com/

(8) Larkin, C. (1919). The Book of Revelation: A Study of the Last Prophetic Book of Holy Scripture (p. 124). Philadelphia, PA: Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate.

(9) Got Questions Ministries. (2002–2013). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Logos Bible Software.

(10) Booker, R. (2012). The lamb and the seven-sealed scroll. Destiny Image.

(11) The addition of “and see” (καὶ ἴδε or καὶ βλέπε [kai ide or kai blepe]) to “come” (ἔρχου, erchou) in 6:1, 3–5, 7 is a gloss directed to John, i.e., “come and look at the seals and the horsemen!” But the command ἔρχου is better interpreted as directed to each of the horsemen. The shorter reading also has the support of the better witnesses

 Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Re 6:1). Biblical Studies Press.

(12) (www.hearthstonelegacy.com/ when the skies turned to black the locust plague of 1875.)

(13) Traditionally, we have called this event “The Rapture,” although this word does not appear in most Bible translations.  The word rapture comes from the Latin, Rapare, which means to “take away” or “snatch out.” The word with the meaning of rapture in the Bible is the Greek word harpozo.  This Greek word harpozo is literally translated as “caught up” and has the following meanings: to carry off by force or rescue from the danger of destruction. 

The catching away or rapture of the church will occur during the Great Tribulation before God’s wrath is poured out during the Day of the Lord.

Jesus will carry us off by force when He removes us through the territory of the Prince of the Power of the Air (lower denser atmosphere (3)) who will apparently attempt to interfere with our leaving Earth (Ephesians 2:2). Jesus will rescue us from the danger of destruction by taking us to Heaven before the outpouring of God’s wrath during the Day of the Lord.

(14) Matthew, a Jew, wrote primarily to the Jews, presenting Jesus Christ as King of the Jews. Mark, a Jew, presented Jesus as a Servant and wrote to the Romans. John, a Jew, presents Jesus as the Son of God and writes to all men. Luke, a Greek, writes primarily to the Greeks. And because the Greeks were fascinated with Aristotle’s ideal republic and Plato’s ideal man, Luke writes of Jesus as the Son of Man, the perfect Man.

 Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 295). Thomas Nelson.

(15) Luke’s Ethnic Background. Scholarly opinion has been divided on the question of Luke’s ethnic background. In general, two views are proposed:

(1) Luke was a Gentile Christian: This view is based mainly on the internal evidence of the Gospel and Acts: the superior quality of the Greek language, the avoidance of Semitic words (except Amen), the omission of gospel traditions about Jesus’ controversies with the Pharisaic understanding of the Law and about what is clean or unclean, the transformation of Palestinian local color and details into Hellenistic counterparts. These and similar factors have been cited to identify the author as a Gentile Christian, i.e. one converted to Christianity from paganism.

The argument is sometimes pushed still further to maintain that the author was actually a Gentile Christian of Greek origin or an Antiochene Greek. This is based on Paul’s statement in Col 4:11–14, where three persons are listed as his Jewish-Christian co-workers, but Luke seems to be listed among other, presumably, Gentile-Christian collaborators. For instance, K. Lake years ago claimed that the early tradition identified Luke as “an Antiochene Greek” (“Luke,” in Dictionary of the Apostolic Church [New York: Scribner, 1922] 1. 719); and more recently, K. H. Rengstorf (Evangelium nach Lukas, 11) has called him a Gentile Christian, indeed of Greek origin. Many others have followed this view (e.g., W. K. Hobart, A. von Harnack, P. Vielhauer, G. B. Caird, W. G. Kümmel, A. Plummer, W. Manson, J. Schmid).

(2) Luke was a Jewish Christian. The view that the author was a Jewish Christian, i.e. a convert from Judaism, is based mainly on the interest displayed in Luke-Acts in the OT and its phraseology, the author’s alleged Palestinian language, and the Epiphanian tradition (Panarion 51.11) that he was one of the seventy-two disciples; sometimes the mention of Lucius as among Paul’s “kinsmen” (Rom 16:21) is also invoked. Among supporters of this view, one may cite A. Schlatter, B. S. Easton, E. E. Ellis, W. F. Albright, N. Q. King, B. Reicke.

For reasons that I shall try to set forth below, I regard Luke as a Gentile Christian, not, however, as a Greek, but as a non-Jewish Semite, a native of Antioch, where he was well educated in a Hellenistic atmosphere and culture.

Fitzmyer, J. A. (2008). The Gospel according to Luke I–IX: introduction, translation, and notes (Vol. 28, pp. 41–42). Yale University Press.

(16) …The emphasis here would be that the Pharisees confront the kingdom in Jesus. They do not need to look all around for it because its central figure is in front of their eyes…

 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51–24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1416). Baker Academic.

(17) A Full Circle Rainbow over Australia, Image Credit & Copyright: Colin Leonhardt (Birdseye View Photography)

(18) Anon

(##) For a higher number reference, see: The Feasts of Israel – Passover references

Hal has been teaching the Bible for over three decades. Presently, He desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home. Doulos Hal's Topical Index

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