Thursday, January 31 2019
The Book of Revelation amazes readers. Many are fearful of its symbolism. However, a little knowledge of history helps the reader. John even writes that the reader must understand with wisdom inferring outside knowledge concerning the rulers of Rome in the first century (Rev 13:18; 17:9).
John wrote Revelation to Christians who were already enduring “tribulation” (Rev 1:9; 2:9–10). The Book of Revelation is also a book of encouragement teaching Christians that Christ is ultimately victorious while those seeking to live godly lives will endure persecution (cf. 2 Tim 3:12).
The four horsemen of John’s Revelation revealed events of the spreading of the gospel, the chaotic and destructive state of the world, and the following persecution upon Christians in the Great Tribulation (Rev 6:1–11; 7:13–14). The first mention of the Beast includes the Beast warring and killing the Two Witnesses, two prophets of God (Rev 11:7). Satan gave power and great authority to the Beast as representing the whole of the emperors of Rome (Rev 13:1–2). When the Red Dragon, Satan, was cast down to earth, he warred with Israel and then Christians (Rev 12:7–9, 13, 17). Later, John described one of Rome's emperors and called him the Beast who would greatly persecute the church (Rev 17:9–11; cf. 13:5–8).
John expressed God’s justice, “If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (Rev 13:10 ESV). Justice is an encouragement to Christians as God exercised His just wrath against those who do not repent. However, God’s justice does not contradict His mercy and grace (Exod 34:6–9). God created humanity in His image, and people still have the imprint of moral justice when their hearts are right with God. Furthermore, John saw those who were slain for the Word of God who cried out to God, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev 6:10).
Can today's Christians face persecution? Will you stand by your faith even if you lose your livelihood, your home, or your life? One day, another great persecution will come again as Revelation depicts (Rev 20:7–10). Christians must stand by faith in the gospel (1 Cor 15:1–2). Nothing will move the faithful from the hope of resurrecting like Jesus to glorified bodies (Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 6:14). On the last day, baptized believers will resurrect to live eternally in the heavenly country — “the world to come” (Heb 1:10–12; 2:5; 11:10–16).
Tuesday, January 29 2019
Have you ever wondered how you could better understand the Book of Revelation? Would finding clues and keys to Revelation help you read and discover more? The following article turns to Revelation 17 revealing the Beast as a significant key to understanding John’s Revelation.
The apostle John wrote, “This calls for a mind of wisdom” (Rev 17:9). Then, John revealed that the Beast of one of a line of kings connected with the city that sits on seven hills (Rev 17:10). John wrote about a harlot woman drunk on the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus that represents a city that sits on seven hills (Rev 17:5–6, 11, 18). Every historian recognizes that the ancient city that sits on seven hills is Rome. The harlot city committed sexual immorality with the kings of the earth (17:2). The harlot city is over the nations of the earth and has dominion over the kings of the earth (17:15, 18). Eight kings came from this harlot city, and the eighth king was the Beast.
The Beast helps date the Book of Revelation because the Beast is one from the line of the kings of Rome. John spoke of these kings writing that five kings have fallen, one is, one is to come for a short time, and then the eighth who is the Beast will rise (Rev 17:10–11). While seeing God's Revelation, Christ commanded John to write (Rev 1:11, 19; 21:5). Revelation 17:10 revealed that John’s writing occurred during the reign of the sixth emperor. Scholars debate over whether the first ruler in the line of Roman emperors is Julius Caesar or Augustus Caesar. The first king determines whether the Beast is Vespasian or Domitian. The Beast king would resemble Nero revived as John wrote that the Beast “it was and is not and is to come” and “as for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven” (Rev 17:8, 11). John would have received and written Revelation during the reign of the sixth king, who is either Nero from AD 54–68 or Vespasian from AD 69–79.
With this key knowledge from Revelation 17, one reading Revelation can unlock more about the Beast in Revelation 11–19, and the reader can understand Revelation with greater ease and depth. The ultimate message of Revelation is that the saints will be victorious because of their King. The kings of the earth served the Beast and made war on the Lamb (Rev 17:12–14). However, the Lamb will conquer them because “He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings, and those with Him are called and chosen and faithful” (Rev 17:14).