- Created on Wednesday, 24 June 2009 15:43
The first major section of the book of Revelation is a description of seven churches. Leading up to this, John first “saw seven gold lampstands, and among them there was what looked like a human being…The seven lampstands are the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:12,20). Of course, this individual is Jesus, symbolically described as dwelling in the Holy Place with his church.
We are spending quite a bit of time on the sanctuary symbolism since this forms an important foundation for understanding much of the book of Revelation. As we move into a description of the seven churches, we will see that what Jesus is trying to accomplish with his “church” (i.e. – his friends) is to bring them into a closer relationship and intimacy and in the process to transform them from within.
We have said that our job as priests (Revelation 1:6; 5:10) is to copy what we see our High Priest doing. Just as Jesus’ mission on earth and now as our High Priest was/is to reveal the truth about God’s character, our mission as priests is precisely the same.
- Created on Wednesday, 17 June 2009 15:43
Back to the book of Revelation…sort of. Last time we discussed our mission as priests (Revelation 1:6; 5:10) and that this task involves a very specific purpose: “It is the duty of priests to teach the true knowledge of God” (Malachi 2:7). As priests we are to display the beautiful character of God as revealed by Jesus Christ. Our workplace is the sanctuary (or temple) which represents the mind. When priests diffuse a true knowledge of God the result is to cleanse the temple as people change their mind about who God is and begin to see him as the same in character as Jesus.
In a previous article on the book of Revelation, I made the claim that “The book of Revelation should be seen as a message of healing, not a message of destruction.” (1) Very much in parallel with this, the sanctuary system is also a message about healing and a restored relationship (at-one-ment) with God. So let’s spend a little more time on the subject of healing and then next time on the meaning of the furniture and blood in the sanctuary system. All of this will be helpful as we continue through the book of Revelation.
- Created on Wednesday, 03 June 2009 15:43
Now we return to Revelation chapter 1 which opens by telling us that “This is the revelation of Jesus Christ… This is his report concerning the message from God and the truth revealed by Jesus Christ.” (1) Previously we listed the repeated use of this phrase “the truth revealed by Jesus” in the book of Revelation and that this ultimately refers to the truth about God’s character as seen in the Person of Jesus Christ. We also described that this truth about God’s character is the core belief of those who are God’s side in the cosmic conflict and that the entire “war in heaven” motif in chapter 12 revolves around the central question of God’s trustworthy character. Can God be trusted with infinite power? Is God someone to be afraid of (as Adam and Eve seemed to believe as they hid in the bushes) or is God someone to be a friend of? The entire book is an expansion of these issues in this cosmic conflict.
When I was about 12 or 13 I watched the original “Mission Impossible” series. I remember how intrigued I was when the agents were given their top secret missions, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…” along with some of the coolest gadgets one could imagine – hidden weapons in their pens, glasses and shoes! The book of Revelation opens by assigning us with a very specific and high priority mission: “He loves us, and by his sacrificial death he has freed us from our sins and made us a kingdom of priests to serve his God and Father.” (2) What does it mean to be a priest? This commission is repeated in chapter 5, “You have made them a kingdom of priests to serve our God, and they shall rule on earth.” (3)
- Created on Thursday, 28 May 2009 15:43
This will be the last article on the “war in heaven” described in Revelation chapter 12 and then we will go through the book more systematically. For me personally, the things discussed in this article are at the heart and center of everything that is important. In addition, we can only understand the book of Revelation when we see clearly the issues in this war given that the “cosmic conflict motif” is the central theme of the book.
For many it seems impossible that a Sovereign God could allow for a war to develop. Wouldn’t this suggest that God is weak or at least disinterested? Why didn’t he act with more authority and power to squash the rebellion? The 2nd century philosopher Celsus ridiculed this belief of the early Christians that a Sovereign God could have an opponent:
“Their utter stupidity can be illustrated in any number of ways, but especially with their misreading of the divine enigmas and their insistence that there exists a being opposed to God, whom they know by the name devil (in Hebrew, Satanas…”) (1)
- Created on Sunday, 24 May 2009 15:43
As we have discussed, the “war in heaven” described in Revelation 12 represents the central theme of the book of Revelation. Last time we identified the dragon in this conflict to be Satan, the slippery snake in the tree, the sentient being described in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, and the person responsible for initiating this war with God that occurred prior to the creation of Adam and Eve. Our question for this time is with regards to Michael who makes only one appearance in the book of Revelation, but it is precisely at this critical juncture. Who is Michael? The meaning of the name Michael is a question: “Who is God?”, “Who is like God?” or “One who is like God.” Perhaps implied in this is the question, “What is God like?”
Here is perhaps a more accurate translation of this famous verse which implies that Satan was the instigator of the conflict: “And war burst forth in heaven: Michael and his angels had to fight with the Dragon…” (1) Several individuals have commented on this strange cameo appearance of Michael. “When the dragon has been defeated the kingdom is awarded, not to Michael and his angels, but to Christ.” (2) And, “It is strange for it to be Michael, rather than the Messiah, who overcomes the dragon.” (3)
- Created on Thursday, 21 May 2009 15:43
In the 2 previous articles, I have suggested that chapter 12 lays the foundational theme for the entire book of Revelation. “The likelihood that Revelation has a chiastic structure that puts the ‘war of the ages’ at the centre of the chiasm sets this section apart as the one that gives perspective to the entire narrative.”(1) This section of the book stands out as “a fresh beginning”(2) , “an uncharacteristically abrupt fresh start” (3), and “the pinnacle of the apocalyptic prophecy.”(4) As we will see, chapter 20 provides a parallel bookend to this section which also serves to reinforce the centrality of chapter 12 as the focal point for Revelation’s unfolding story.
Revelation 12 is made up of 3 distinct sections: verses 1-6 describe a woman in the pains of childbirth and a dragon waiting to devour her child but that the child was snatched away to heaven; verses 7-12 describe a war breaking out in heaven between Michael and Satan and that Satan was defeated and cast to the earth; verses 13-17 describe this dragon as pursuing the woman who gave birth to a boy.
- Created on Monday, 18 May 2009 15:43
Where does the book of Revelation begin?
That probably sounds like a strange question to ask, but it is helpful to recognize that this book does not travel along a strict linear timeline from point A to Z. We need to read this book with all of our artistic creative imagination brought to the forefront. Revelation should be “analyzed” as a work of art – not as mere words on a page that follow in a neat and tidy progression. For example, a famous symphony by Mozart or Beethoven would be a good analogy. These masterpiece symphonies typically begin with no more than bits and pieces of a recurring theme. As the piece progresses these fragmentary melodies gradually come together but it is not until midway through the piece that everything climaxes with a familiar theme. Only then will a novice listener be able exclaim, “Oh, I recognize that!” By contrast, the listening experience for an individual who is already very familiar with the symphony is much more rewarding since he or she can pick up on all the subtleties and nuances that have pointed to the main melody from the very beginning.
- Created on Saturday, 27 December 2008 15:43
In 1844, a German Biblical scholar by the name of Constantin Von Tischendorf arrived at Saint Catherine’s Monastery, on Mount Sinai, in search of ancient Biblical manuscripts. At the end of a long day he was asked by a monk if he would like a fire to warm his room. To his astonishment, the monk then proceeded to start the fire with a pile of ancient manuscripts. These forty-four leaves were felt to be of little value to the monastery and had been carelessly discarded in the trash. Von Tischendorf, however, soon determined that this pile of “trash” was a virtually intact ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament. This discovery ultimately led Von Tischendorf to uncover other Biblical manuscripts at this monastery that were hundreds of years older than what had been the best available to scholars at that time, ultimately improving the accuracy and reliability of our current day translations of the Bible.
- Created on Tuesday, 12 May 2009 15:43
Last week’s Bible study on the book of Revelation was the final meeting of the year for the medical students at Loma Linda. There was so much additional information that I wanted to include in this Bible study and so I would like to share some written comments on the book of Revelation over the next several months. These thoughts have been stimulated by studying Revelation with my wife Dorothee, as well as an excellent class we have been attending on the book of Revelation, led by Dr. Sigve Tonstad.
It is difficult and usually painful to unlearn something but that is exactly what I have had to do with the book of Revelation over the last 10 years. I realize now that for most of my life I have read this book with an entirely false premise. My mindset had been, “If I study this book hard enough, God will lead me to discover a future timeline and a future end-time schedule of events.” Looking back, I recall having unhealthy desires primarily to understand things such as the next major tragedy that would strike planet earth or that perhaps God would lead me to discover something about the next pope, U.S. President, or about the next major world-war. For me, there was a complex mixture of fear and excitement involved in studying this book. It certainly had not occurred to me that “discovering Christ” was to be a part of the reading experience.