Revelation 1:1-3

The End Times

In my last post, we reviewed a brief Introduction to Revelation.  In this post, we begin our verse-by-verse study of The Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah to Yochanan.

1 This is the revelation which God gave to Yeshua the Messiah, so that he could show his servants what must happen very soon. He communicated it by sending his angel to his servant Yochanan, 2 who bore witness to the Word of God and to the testimony of Yeshua the Messiah, as much as he saw.  3 Blessed are the reader and hearers of the words of this prophecy, provided they obey the things written in it!  For the time is near!” ~ Revelation 1:1-3 (CJB).

“This is the revelation which God gave to Yeshua the Messiah…” It is important from the beginning to understand that the central figure of this book is Yeshua the Messiah and the central theme is His Second ComingYeshua is both the One revealed (referred to variously as Son of Man, Lion of Judah, Lamb, Word of God) and the Revealer. God transmits the unveiled truth to Yeshua, and His angel conveys it to Yochanan  for God’s servants in the churches. [1]

“… he could show his servants…” It seems obvious that this revelation is intended for the servants of God. God has never given us any portion of Scripture that was not for our edification. A “servant in Scripture pertains to the position of bondservant.  One who has been redeemed and set free, but chooses a life of obedience to the one who set him free.

”What must happen very soon.” Compare this with: “But there is a God in heaven who unlocks mysteries, and he has revealed to King N’vukhadnetzar what will happen in the acharit-hayamim [End Times]. Here are your dream and the visions you had in your head when you were in bed. 29 “Your majesty, when you were in bed, you began thinking about what would take place in the future; and he who reveals secrets has revealed to you what will happen.” ~ Daniel 2:28-29 (CJB)

To what degree the writers of the Brit Hadassah regarded the End Times as imminent is debatable. Contrast, for example, 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 [2] with 2 Kefa 3:2-10 [3]. Yet they did urge believers to stay alert, for the Messiah may return without warning, like a thief in the night (cf. Matthew 24:32-25:30, Mark 13:32-37, and 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).

The prophecy must happen very soon because it is secured by God’s sovereign purpose and power. It will take place soon, because “the time is near.”  In the epilogue, Yochanan, unlike Daniel, is told not to seal his prophecy. “Then he [an angel] said to me [Yochanan], Don’t seal up the words of the prophecy in this book, because the time of their fulfillment is near” ~ Revelation 22:10 (CJB).  Whereas Daniel was told by his angel: “But you, Dani’el, keep these words secret, and seal up the book until the time of the end. Many will rush here and there as knowledge increases.” Daniel 12:4 (CJB) Yochanan’s visions are important for his first-century readers as well as for later generations of believers.

Without doubt the early church lived in expectancy of the imminent return of the Lord; but so should every generation of believers. The Brit Hadashah expresses a tension between imminence and perspective; the time is near, yet the end is delayed.  “So stay alert, because you don’t know on what day your Lord will come. But you do know this: had the owner of the house known when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you too must always be ready, for the Son of Man will come when you are not expecting him.” ~ Matthew 24:42-44 (CJB)

Sterns opines that “A more strained rendering of the Greek, especially in view of verse 3 (“For the time is near”), is, “what must happen rapidly”; i.e., once the events described commence, it won’t take long for all of them to occur.”  Angels play a significant role in the book of Revelation. [4]

“Blessed are the reader and hearers of the words of this prophecy…” This is the first of a series of seven beatitudes that are found in the Book of Revelation (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; 22:14). “Blessed,” as found here, is the same word that is used in Matthew (5:3-11) in the Sermon on the Mount. The word means happy, holy, or content.

“…provided they obey the things written in it!  For the time is near!”  This first beatitude in Revelation says blessed, happy, holy, or content is the one who reads, hears and keeps the things that are written in this book. Some might use the words, “cranky” or “critical” to describe those who read through this book. However, God says if you read this book, if you listen to this book, and if you keep or guard the truth that is revealed in this book, you are following the pathway of divine blessing. Take note of the fact that Revelation is a prophetic book. It is the last prophecy given by God to man. In the book of Revelation we find a compilation of all other prophecies in the word of God. Prophecies that are not previously fulfilled are consummated in the book of Revelation. There is no more God given, written revelation to man after John wrote Revelation. [5]

This is also sound advice from Mr. Jones:

“Now concerning the interpretation of Scripture, always use the literal approach. The only exception to this rule comes when, within the passage itself, it is obvious that it should be interpreted symbolically. The Bible does use figures of speech. God gives this revelation to Yeshua, who gives it to an angel, who communicates it to John, who writes it down for Christians throughout the ages. The angel mentioned may have been an Old Testament prophet. The word angel doesn’t always refer to a spiritual being it can actually mean “messenger.” On two other occasions (Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9) the angel continues sharing with Yochanan. However, Yochanan on those occasions makes the mistake of bowing before the angel and receives a sharp rebuke in return. The angel identifies himself as being one of the brethren, and in Revelation 22:9 as being one of the prophets. There is no other account of an angel of heaven speaking of himself with such description.”

Now that we have looked at what Scripture says and looked at several commentaries for enlightenment, let’s take a few moments to look at how the Four Views of interpretation look at Revelation 1:1-3.

It should come as no surprise that the phrases “must happen very soon” and “For the time is near!” get the only attention in this passage.  As a matter of fact, we don’t get a lot of dissension until we get to Chapter 4.

Special Comparative Note on Revelation 1:1-3
Historicist Approach: Historicists see fulfillment as beginning shortly after Yochanan’s time, but extending long beyond through the entire age of the church.
Preterist Approach: The earlier date of the writing prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE is more comfortable for early-date Preterists.  Later-date Preterists apply the fulfillment to the fall of Rome centuries after Yochanan’s time.
Futurist Approach: Futurists see the terms “very soon” and “near” having some meaning other than which first comes to mind. (1) Very soon can mean shortly or quickly thus meaning there will be a rapidity of fulfillment whenever the proper time may come, but may be thousands of years later than Yochanan’s time. (2) Very soon means that the time is near may be taken literally, but that Yochanan is speaking per God’s ways as noted above in 2 Kefa 3:8.  Even an event two thousand years removed might be regarded as near from God’s perspective.
Idealist Approach: For Idealists, the time is always near, since visions transcend any particular time.

In my next post, we continue to our verse-by-verse study of this fascinating prophesy.  As we go through the letter, I’ll continue to present the different views as we come to passages that are interpreted differently by the adherents to those views of interpretation presented in Part 1 of the Glossary.

Click here for PDF vesion.

[1] As most of my regular followers know, I abhor the word “church” in discussing the activity of the Messianic Kehilah (see my explanation for why in the Glossary).  However, I have decided to bend my thinking in this series since when we talk about the End Times we frequently use the phrase “Church Age.”  Beginning in chapter 2, we will dive into the letters to the “Seven Churches.” So, for purposes of being politically correct, I will acquiesce.

[2] 29 What I am saying, brothers, is that there is not much time left: from now on a man with a wife should live as if he had none — 30 and those who are sad should live as if they weren’t, those who are happy as if they weren’t, 31 and those who deal in worldly affairs as if not engrossed in them — because the present scheme of things in this world won’t last much longer.” ~ 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 (CJB)

[3] 8 Moreover, dear friends, do not ignore this: with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, he is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. 10 However, the Day of the Lord will come “like a thief.” On that Day the heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will melt and disintegrate, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up. ~ 2 Peter 3:8-10 (CJB)

[4] “Jewish New Testament Commentary” by David H. Stern

[5] The above two paragraphs appear in “A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation” by Don Jones.

The Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah to Yochanan

The End Times

In my last post, we completed our Glossary of Theological Terms Used in the Study of the End Times In this post, we will review an Introduction to Revelation.

Introduction to Revelation

The book of Revelation, the last book in the Brit Hadassah, polarizes readers. Some see in it the key to the universe, or at least the key to the future. Others find it completely opaque or dismiss it as nonsense. Some regard its highly picturesque language as literal, others as symbolic, and still others as sometimes one and sometimes the other, or even both at once.  In Glossary of Theological Terms Used in the Study of the End Times ~ Part 1, we reviewed the Four Views of interpreting the book.

The Greek word for “revelation” is apokalupsis (“unveiling”), which gives the book its other popular title, The Apocalypse, and raises the question of how this book relates to a category of Jewish writing called “apocalyptic literature.”

In his introductory remarks in the Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern, he writes:

George Eldon Ladd calls Jewish apocalyptic “tracts for hard times.” Biblical imagery and symbolic language are used to express the idea that this world offers no hope for improvement; but history will end with a cosmic catastrophe, at which time the apparently victorious wicked will be punished and the downtrodden righteous rewarded. Such books as The Assumption of Moses, 1 Enoch, 4 Ezra and The Apocalypse of Baruch are examples. Moreover, Isaiah 26-29, Zechariah 12-14, and Daniel 7-12 offer a biblical pattern for these later, extra-biblical books.

The book of Revelation is sometimes said to be merely another example of Jewish apocalyptic, but there are these differences:

  1. Most of the Jewish apocalypses were written pseudonymously, in the names of heroes long dead. Revelation’s author uses his own name, reflecting the fact that in New Testament times God had restored prophecy (Acts 11:27), and Yochanan was a prophet (Revelation 1:3).
  2. Jewish apocalypses are pseudo-predictive – the author writes from a viewpoint in the past and “predicts” history that has already taken place. But Yochanan stands in his own time and looks forward to God’s future consummation of his redemptive purpose.
  3. The Jewish apocalypses are entirely pessimistic about the past and present. Revelation’s author looks to the past work of Yeshua as the ground for present hope. Moreover, the book of Revelation is highly distinctive in the way it uses the Tanakh.

There are very few direct quotations, but no less than five hundred allusions to the Tanakh, especially the books of Exodus, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and Daniel. In fact, they are so numerous and frequent that I have not attempted to note very many of them either in the text of the Jewish New Testament or in this commentary; the interested reader should consult other commentaries on Revelation. But the overall effect of so many Tanakh references and allusions is to anchor every part of the book in the God-inspired words of Israel’s Prophets.

Author

Early Church Fathers – notably Justin Martyr (writing c. 135-150 CE), Melito of Sardis (mid-2nd century), and Irenaeus of Lyons (writing c. 185 CE) – consistently identified the author as Yochanan the son of Zebedee, the beloved talmid who authored the Fourth Gospel and three other epistles in the Brit Hadassah.

Date

There were ten Roman emperors who are believed to have persecuted Messianic Believers.  However, only two did so during the lifetime of Yochanan – namely Nero, who reigned from 54 to 68 CE, and Domitian, who reigned from 81 to 96 CE.  Most modern scholars appear to favor the later date, in the later time of Domitian, for the writing of Revelation, placing it at about 96 CE.  Others defend an earlier date in the reign of Nero – perhaps 67 or 68 CE.  Preterists favor the earlier date since that would make the book predate the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

The strongest argument for the later date is based on the testimony of extrabiblical sources.  Several church fathers indicate that Domitian was emperor when Yochanan wrote Revelation.  All of them base their information on the important testimony of Irenaeus quoted in “Against Heresies 5.30.3”: “John received the Revelation almost in our own time, toward the end of the reign of Domitian.”

Key Themes [1]
1. Through his sacrificial death, Jesus Christ has conquered Satan, the accuser, and has ransomed people from every nation to become a kingdom of priests, gladly serving in God’s presence. 1:5, 18; 5:5-10; 12:1-11
2. Jesus Christ is present among his churches on earth through his Holy Spirit, and he knows their trials, triumphs, and failures. 1:12-3:22
3. World history, including its woes and disasters, is firmly in the control of Jesus, the victorious Lamb. 5:1-8:1
4. God is presently restraining his own wrath and his enemies’ efforts to destroy the church as he patiently gathers his redeemed people through the testimony that his suffering people proclaim about Jesus. 6:5-11; 7:1-3; 8:6-12; 9:4-6, 18; 11:3-7; 12:6, 13-17
5. Present disasters (war, drought, famine, epidemic disease), though limited in scope by God’s restraint, are foreshadows and warnings of escalating judgments to come. 6:3-16; 8:6-13; 11:13; 16:1-21; 20:11-15
6. By maintaining their faithful testimony to the death, believers in Jesus will conquer both the dragon and the beast. The martyrs’ victory, now hidden, will be manifest in their vindication at Christ’s return. 2:10-11, 26-29; 3:11-13; 6:9-11; 7:9-17; 11:7-12, 17-18; 12:10-11; 14:1-5; 15:2-4; 20:4-6
7. Satan attacks the church’s perseverance and purity through violent persecution, through deceptive teaching, and through affluence and sensual pleasure. 2:1-3:22; 13:1-18; 17:1-18:24
8. At the end of the age, the church’s opponents will intensify persecution, but Jesus, the triumphant Word of God, will defeat and destroy all his enemies; the old heaven and earth, stained by sin and suffering, will be replaced by the new heaven and earth; and the church will be presented as a bride in luminous purity to her husband, the Lamb. 16:12-16; 19:11-21; 20:7-22:5

In my next post, we will begin our verse-by-verse study of this fascinating prophesy.  As we go through the letter, I’ll present the different views as we come to passages that are interpreted differently by the adherents to those views of interpretation presented in Part 1 of the Glossary.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] ESV Study Bible, The: English Standard Version.

 

Glossary of Theological Terms Used in the Study of the End Times ~ Part 3

The End Times

In my last post, we defined the terms Dispensation and Millennium.  In this post, we will explore the Three Main Views of the Millennium. [1]  Like the Four Views for interpreting the Book of Revelation, it may be helpful to print the PDF version out to keep it handy as we go through our study, especially when we get to chapter 20.

Premillennialism:
This is the belief that the second coming of Yeshua will precede the Millennial Kingdom.  Many expect a literal 1,000-year period here on earth wherein Yeshua will reign with His Believers prior to the New Heaven and New Earth being established.  The Millennial reign will be characterized by international peace and justice resulting from the universal rule of Yeshua.  At the end of this period, Satan will be released from the bottomless bit and a brief period of freedom will follow to put the Believers to a final test before the final White Throne Judgment of God.

There are two varieties of premillennialismHistoric and Dispensational.  The later differs from the former in its emphasis on the continuing centrality of national Israel in God’s eschatological program and in anticipating a Rapture of Believers [2] to heaven before the beginning of the Tribulation.

Premillennialists are most likely to be those who have adopted the Futurist view of interpreting Revelation.

Postmillennialism:
Postmillennialists teach that Yeshua will return at the end of the Millennial period.  Per this camp, the Millennial Kingdom will be established through the evangelical mission of the church.  This endeavor will be so successful that most people will become Believers resulting in a lengthy period of peace on earth before Yeshua’s Second Coming.

Postmillennialists are most likely to be those who have adopted the Preterist view of interpreting Revelation.

Amillennialsim:
Amillennialists understand the thousand years of Revelation 20 as a symbolic number representing an indefinitely long period of time which happens to correspond to the entire span of time from the First Coming of Yeshua until His Second Coming.  In short, the Church Age.

Amillennialists are found amongst Historicists, Preterists and Idealists, but rarely among Futurists.

 

I’ve recently learned that my WordPress theme doesn’t do a very good job of formatting 4 column charts.  The following attached PDF chart summarizes the four views of Millennialism for various categories.  Click here.

In my next post, we will begin to explore the Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah to Yochanan.  As we go through the letter, I’ll do my best to present the different views as we come to passages that are interpreted differently by the adherents to those views of interpretation presented in Part 1 of the Glossary.

Click here for the full PDF version of the post.

[1]  Most of the material in the first portion of this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg.

[2]  I will be dealing with the issue of the Rapture in a later post when we get to Chapter 4.

[3]  The Moody Handbook of Theology

Glossary of Theological Terms Used in the Study of the End Times ~ Part 2

The End Times

In my last post, we defined the term Eschatology and reviewed the Four Views of interpreting the Book of Revelation.  In this post, we will define Dispensation and Millennium.

Dispensation
The word dispensation became prominent in biblical studies in a recent eschatological movement which dates from 1830 in Scotland.  This movement called dispensationalism can be traced back to the visions of Margaret McDonald, a member of the Plymouth Brethren Church.  She believed that the return of Christ would be in two distinct stages.  The believer would be caught up to the Lord in the air before the days of the antichrist.  Then there would be a final revelation of Christ at the end of the age.

The Role of J.N. Darby:  This two-stage return of the Lord, unheard of before 1830, became the platform for a movement called dispensationalism.  Miss McDonald’s pastor J. N. Darby (1800-1882) picked up on her idea and began to make use of it in his sermons.  Darby was responsible for developing the two-stage coming of Christ into a fully developed eschatology or theology.  He had been an Anglican clergyman until 1827 when he left the church to join the Plymouth Brethren.

Darby set forth the idea that God has set up seven time periods called dispensations for His work among human beings. The seventh or last dispensation will be the millennial reign of Christ (cf. Revelation 20). In each dispensation, people are tested by their obedience of God’s will according to a specific revelation of that will.

The Role of C. I. Scofield: Darby visited the United States on several occasions and won many advocates to his theology. However, C. I. Scofield popularized the dispensational system in his study Bible of 1909. He set forth seven dispensations in God’s dealing with human beings.

1.    Innocency (Gen. 1:28) This is the period of time in the Garden of Eden.
2.    Conscience (Gen. 3:23) This is the awakening of human conscience and the expulsion from the garden.
3.    Human Government (Gen. 8:20) This is the new covenant made with Noah, bringing about human government.
4.    Promise (Gen. 12:1) This is the new covenant made with Abraham.
5.    Law (Ex. 19:8) This is the period of acceptance of the Jewish law.
6.    Grace (John 1:17) This dispensation begins with the death and resurrection of Jesus.
7.    Kingdom (Eph. 1:10) This constitutes the final rule of Christ. [1]

Dispensationalism had a surge of popularity thanks to the writings of Hal Lindsey, whose Late Great Planet Earth (1970) was the decade’s best-selling book, and its acceptance by President Ronald Reagan, whose foreign policy, his opponents feared, was greatly influenced by dispensationalism’s view of a fast-approaching Armageddon. [2]

Millennium
The millennium (Latin for 1,000 years) refers to the reign of God’s people—especially martyrs – either spiritually before Christ’s second coming or else literally after His return but before the last judgment and the new creation.

Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over him the second death has no power. On the contrary, they will be cohanim of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years.” ~ Revelation 20:6

Revelation 20 is the only passage in the Bible that speaks about a 1,000-year period of saints ruling, yet this has been a matter of such great dispute that entire theological systems have been constructed based on particular interpretations of this chapter. [3]

Steve Gregg writes:

“It may surprise many to learn that the greatest issue of controversy related to the Book of Revelation, from earliest times to the present, has not been over the identity of the two witnesses in Chapter XX, or the meaning of the number “666,” or the timing of the Rapture in relation to the Tribulation.  Already, in the third century, the watershed issue in the interpretation of the Apocalypse was defined in terms of the “thousand years” in Revelation 20.” [4]

In my next post, we will explore the Three Main Views of the Millennium.  As we go through the letter, I’ll do my best to present the different views as we come to passages that are interpreted differently by the adherents to those views.

Click here for PDF version.

[1]  Holman Bible Dictionary.

[2]  Dictionary of Christianity in America edited by Daniel G. Reid

[3]  52 Words Every Christian Should Know by Kendell Easley

[4]  Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated by Steve Gregg

Glossary of Theological Terms Used in the Study of the End Times ~ Part 1

The End Times

In my last post, we reviewed what Yeshua had to say about the End Times in the Olivet Discourse contained in Matthew 24 & 25.  I pray that you have had a chance to review that by now.  In this post, as in the last series we did on Eternal Security, I want to start with a glossary of terms that are commonly used in a study of the End Times.

Eschatology
From Gk. eschatos, “last,” and logos, “study.”  A theological term employed to designate the doctrine of last things, particularly those dealing with the second coming of Christ and the events preceding and following this great event. [1]

There are two basic ways of approaching eschatology. The first, which has been most common over the centuries, focuses on those final events or situations which have not yet occurred. These are, chiefly, Jesus’ return, the millennium, the last judgment, the final resurrection, and heaven and hell. Over the last century, however, scholars have generally agreed that the New Testament was written in an atmosphere pervaded by eschatology. Early Christianity was rooted in the paradoxical conviction that the last things had “already” occurred, even though they were “not yet” fully completed. (Jesus’ resurrection, for instance, was understood as the beginning of the final resurrection of the dead. [2] This conviction lay at the heart of the early church’s joy and hope. It shaped its understanding of Jesus, salvation, mission, and all else. Accordingly, when scholars speak of eschatology today, they are often referring not simply to events which have “not yet” occurred, but chiefly to the way in which the last things are “already” present, and to the attitudes and expectations which this arouses. [3]

In Sha’ul’s writings to the church in Thessalonica, he was reassuring the Believers that “we who remain alive when the Lord comes will certainly not take precedence over those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with God’s shofar; those who died united with the Messiah will be the first to rise; then we who are left still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 (CJB)

In my research for this series I ran across the following quote regarding the study of eschatology that I think we all need to keep in mind as we proceed on our digging into this subject:

“One of the greatest needs in the discussion of eschatology is humility. We should seek to keep a proper perspective on such matters—not elevating a minor issue to a major one, or making a litmus test out of debatable doctrine. This does not mean that we cannot have convictions on debatable matters, but we must recognize our finitude and the lack of explicit clarity in the Bible on some eschatological issues. Below is a brief list of end-times matters on which Christians legitimately disagree.” [4]

Plummer goes on to specifically list: The Rapture, The Book of Revelation, The Millennium, and The Nation of Israel.

The Four Views [5]
There are four commonly accepted Messianic views for interpreting the Book of Revelation.  During this series, I will be sharing each as we do our verse-by-verse study for those camps that have taken a position on the subject.  It may be helpful to print out the PDF version (see below) and keep it handy to refer back to as we go along.
Historicist Approach:
This is the classical Protestant interpretation and sees Revelation as a prewritten record of the course of history from the time that Yochanan transcribed the message to the end of the world.  Fulfillment is in progress at present and has been unfolding since Yeshua’s resurrection.
Preterist Approach:
This views Revelation’s prophecies as already having occurred in the ancient past.  While they were future to Yochanan when he transcribed, they are now past from our vantage point.    I must admit, it’s hard for me to wrap by head around this view.
Futurist Approach:
This view asserts that most prophecies of Revelation have not been fulfilled and await future fulfillment.  Many who hold this view apply everything after Chapter 4 to a relatively brief period of time before the return of Yeshua.
Idealist Approach:
This view does not attempt to find individual fulfillments of the visions but takes Revelation to be a great drama depicting transcendent spiritual realities between Yeshua and HaSatan.

In my next post, I want to define dispensationalism and present the most popular views of the millennium and rapture of the saints before we start dissecting Revelation.  As we go through the letter, I’ll do my best to present the different views as we come to passages that are interpreted differently by the adherents to those views.

Click her for PDF Version.

[1] The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary.

[2] “But the fact is that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died.” 1 Corinthians 15:20

[3] Holman Bible Dictionary.

[4] 40 Questions About Interpreting Bible by Robert L. Plummer

[5] Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated by Steve Gregg.  I will be using this text extensively, but not exclusively, as we dig into this fascinating book of God’s Word.  For the serious student, I would highly recommend purchasing your own copy.  I got mine on Amazon.

 

The Olivet Discourse

The End Times

In my last post, we began a new series on the End Times by reviewing the beginning of time in B’resheet.  We are on an adventure to see if we can gain some understanding of the End of this Age.  In this post, I want to re-cap what we have already learned in What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 1 – 13.

The Olivet Discourse is contained in Matthew 24 & 25.  The Olivet Discourse grew out of some questions the talmidim asked when Yeshua told them that the temple would one day be destroyed.  First, they wanted to know when.  This answer is not recorded in Matthew but is given in Luke 21:20-24.  Second, they asked about the sign of Yeshua’s return.  This is answered in Matthew 24:29-44.  In their final question, they asked about the sign of the end of the age.  Yeshua’s reply is in Matthew 24:4-8.

What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times
Part ~ 1 In this post, we covered Matthew 24:1-3 wherein Yeshua foretells of the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.
Part ~ 2 In this post, we looked at Matthew 24:3-8 wherein Yeshua warns the talmidim to Be Alert to the Signs.  Many will come proclaiming they are the Messiah and you will hear of wars and rumors of war.
Part ~ 3 Continuing in Matthew 24:9-14, Yeshua warns that the talmidim will be arrested, punished and put to death.  “But whoever holds out till the end will be delivered. And this Good News about the Kingdom will be announced throughout the whole world as a witness to all the Goyim. It is then that the end will come” ~ Matthew 24:13-14.
Part ~ 4 In Matthew 24:15-20 we learn about the Abomination of Desolation and examined Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 9.
Part ~ 5 Continuing with the Abomination of Desolation in Mathew 24:21-28, we explored the three main views regarding the Tribulation.  I will come back to this topic again in this series more in-depth then I did in the previous series.
Part ~ 6 Next, we explored the Coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:29-31.  We will be spending more time on this as well in this current series.
Part ~ 7 Matthew 24:32-35 presented the Lesson of the Fig Tree.  The blooming of the fig tree gives us a clue as to when He will return.  He won’t return until all He has said will happen comes to pass.  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away” ~ (v. 35).
Part ~ 8 Per Matthew 24:36-51, No One Knows the Day or Hour of His second coming.  It is the Father’s secret to be revealed when He wills.
Part ~ 9 Moving on to Mathew 25:1-13 we learned about the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids.  Yeshua continues to warn His talmidim to be alert and prepared for His return.
Part ~ 10 Matthew 25:14-23 deals with the Parable of the Talents.  In this post, we dealt with the first two servants who invested what was given to them and made a profit for their master.  It teaches us to be faithful with our own talents, time and treasures.
Part ~ 11 Continuing with the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:24-30, we see how the master dealt with the servant who just buried the master’s money and did not earn a profit.  It was in this post that I first raised the question Can Salvation Be Lost? 
Part ~ 12 Studying Mathew 25:31-36, we began to look at the metaphor of the sheep and the goats in The Final Judgment.
Part ~ 13 The Olivet Discourse and The Final Judgment concludes in Matthew 24:37-46.  We learned the differences between Sheol, Hades and Gehenna.  This is another subject I plan on reviewing again in this series.

For those who may not have read the above posts, I would highly encourage you to at least read Matthew 24 & 25 for yourself before going any further with this series.  They contain the words of our Lord that set the background for understanding the visions that were given to Yochanan as recorded in Revelation.

As we go through Revelation verse-by-verse, I will also be going back to the prophets who will confirm what Yochanan was seeing had been previously prophesied years earlier.

In my next post, I want to present the most popular views of the millennium and rapture of the saints before we start dissecting Revelation.  As we go through the letter, I’ll do my best to present the different views as we come to passages that are interpreted differently by the adherents to those views.

Click here for the PDF version.

 

 

 

 

The Beginning and the End

The End Times

In my last post, we looked at The Mysterious Festival of Hanukkah.  Today, I am starting a new series which I have entitled The Beginning and the End.  This is a series about the End Times.  I have never been much of an eschatology buff.  Yeshua declared: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away. However, when that day and hour will come, no one knows — not the angels in heaven, not the Son, just the Father. Stay alert! Be on your guard! For you do not know when the time will come” ~ Mark 13:31-33.  I knew that many people ignored this passage and tried to calculate exactly when the End would come; all failed.

Shortly after committing myself to the Lord, I read Hal Lindsey’s “Late Great Planet Earth” and was convinced a pre-tribulation rapture of the church would occur soon.  Then going through the entire Bible, I became a mid-triber hoping the pre-tribers were correct.  I devoured Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” series.  I thought it was a great fictionalization of the End Times and didn’t have too many concerns from a scriptural standpoint.  But, once again the idea of studying eschatology didn’t trip my trigger.

It now appears that God has cocked that trigger.  As I think I’ve shared before, my personal study in God’s Word this year has been through the Brit Hadashah (New Covenant), Tehillim (Psalms) and Mishlei (Proverbs) using the English Standard Version Study Bible.  In addition to the Olivet Discourse which I blogged on earlier this year, I kept running into passages in the Brit Hadashah by Sha’ul and Kefa that mention the End Times.  My Tuesday Skype group has also been studying the End Times and the Pastor at our church who leads the Senior Adult Ministry (Prime Time) has just finished a study on Revelation.  Ok, Lord, you got my attention.

Two Common and Opposite Errors When Studying the End Times [1]

Sometimes, examining the End Times degenerates into endless debates and unwarranted speculation about specific details. Other times, End Times curiosity comes to a screeching halt as people throw up their hands at what they’ve begun to feel is an impossible and fruitless enquiry.

  1. THE SLIP INTO UNWARRANTED SPECULATION ~ A slip into the rut of unwarranted speculation and guesswork results in a desire to wring more detailed data out of Scripture than Scripture clearly provides. The prophetic passages in Scripture are inflated until the rest of what Scripture has to say is marginalized, pushing Yeshua and the Besorah to the edges and corners of each page.
  1. THE SLIP INTO SHOULDER-SHRUGGING CYNICISM ~ A slip into the rut of shoulder-shrugging cynicism about the End Times results in downplaying or ignoring End Times (That describes me until recently.) A balanced understanding seems unattainable, so Messianics abandon careful study of the End Times.

These two possibilities represent two dangerous ditches in any study of the End Times.  During this series, I will do my best to build guard rails that will protect us from slipping into either of those ditches.

As we go verse-by-verse through the Revolution of Yeshua the Messiah to Yochanan, we will scour the rest of Scriptures to bring clarification and background information to provide the best possible understanding to what we read.  Where there is more than one viewpoint, I will present the most recognized explanations.

I want to cover the End Times from the beginning of the Tanakh to the end of the Brit Hadashah.  As I have heard it said many times, the Bible is the story of creation and redemption.  The Tanakh announces the coming of the Messiah and the Brit Hadashah assures us the Messiah has come and He will be coming back to judge us all.

In the Beginning

Let’s start in the beginning!  B’resheet 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”   We have already seen that the Ruach is God.  So, He was there I the beginning.  Yochanan (John) 1:1 also indicates that Yeshua was there as well.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  [The “Word” (GK logos) is a title for Yeshua in the Brit Hadashah.]  So, we see in this very first verse of the Bible the three persons of God – Father, Son and Spirit.  B’resheet 1:2 offers additional proof that the Rauch was present at the time of creation.  “The earth was unformed and void, darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water.” 

It is almost impossible for me to quote B’resheet 1:1 without giving a little more background information.  Some of you may have never heard this before.

In Hebrew, B’resheet 1:1 reads (Hebrew is read from right to left):

:הָאָרֶץ וְאֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם אֵת אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא בְּרֵאשִׁית

Transliterated (transcribed into English pronunciation) it reads: B’resheet bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’arets.  For me, belief in the truth of this one simple, yet utterly profound statement hangs all the validity of the entire Bible and serves as the basis for a belief in creationism.  If we cannot believe this one simple truth, then nothing else is relevant.  If we cannot believe the veracity of this one simple statement, then the entire rest of the Bible is merely words with no lasting meaning.

I want to share two interesting tidbits about this verse.

  1. In Hebrew, bara (בָּרָא) means “to create.” This verb is of profound theological significance, since it has only God as its subject. Only God can “create” in the sense implied by bara. The verb expresses creation out of nothing, an idea seen clearly in passages having to do with creation on a cosmic scale.[2]  Now, we all know that all of us can also create, but we can’t create out of nothing.  We must start with some raw material.  In Hebrew, the word for that kind of creation is asa (‏עָשָׂה).[3]
  2. No English translation of the Bible attempts to translate the Hebrew word et (אֵת).  It is a preposition before the noun hashamayim which means “the heavens.”  Now, I’m certainly not a grammar scholar in any language, but this is what I find fascinating about this word in the first verse of the Bible.  The first letter in the Hebrew alphabet is alef (אֵ) and the last letter is tav (ת).  Consequently, et is a pictorial representation of the first and the last.  Where have we heard that before?  “I am the Alpha and the Omega [4], the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  (Revelation 22:13)

We read in B’resheet 3 that because of the Fall, Adonai already had a plan in place to redeem mankind.  “Adonai, God, said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all livestock and wild animals. You will crawl on your belly and eat dust as long as you live. I will put animosity between you and the woman, and between your descendant and her descendant; he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel’” ~ Genesis 3:14-15.

In my next post, I want to re-cap what we learned earlier from Yeshua in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24 ~ 25) so its fresh in our memories.

Click here for the PDF version.

 

[1] Material in this section was taken from Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy.

[2] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet.