Prophecy and Prophets ~ Part 1 

In my last post, we concluded our exploration of the life of Elisha as we learned of Elisha’s Death. As I stated then, after studying the lives of Eliyahu and Elisha, I wanted to look at this whole concept of what is a prophet and are prophets still on the scene today. I had been intrigued with Eliyahu and Elisha because they were prominent figures in the Tanakh but had not written one of the canonical prophetic books.

Despite my verse-by-verse exploration of Revelation in the End Times Series during 2017, I don’t consider myself a “prophesy nut or expert.” I am quite satisfied that God is still on the throne and only He knows when He will return to vanquish the wicked and begin His millennial rule.

A reliable source tells me that at least two more years will be needed to reach the last known people groups on planet earth that have not heard the Gospel message, don’t have the Bible in their language and have not formed a local Kehilah. That said, why am I interested in exploring further what is a prophet and are prophets still on the scene today?

I started the research for this series not in my extensive library, but on Google. My query for a list of prophets in the Bible led me to GotQuestions. Their definition for who was a prophet is “someone in the Bible who revealed God’s message to others.” Note the past tense in that definition. Some heard directly from God and passed on the words through writing or speech. Some interpreted dreams or visions of others. The messages could be prophecies of the future, messages for the listener, or warnings for others.

Interestingly, Noach was the first name on the list. I recalled that God talked to him several times as recorded in Genesis 6-9, but I didn’t recall Noach talking to his neighbors about what God had told him. Messianic Jews 11:7 has been interpreted by some to mean that God told Noach to preach against his evil neighbors, but I don’t see that. By trusting, Noach, after receiving divine warning about things as yet unseen, was filled with holy fear and built an ark to save his household. Through this trusting, he put the world under condemnation and received the righteousness that comes from trusting.” ~ Hebrews 11:7 (CJB) OK, so his righteous living in trusting God to build the ark was a witness to his faith.

The list goes on with some notable patriarchs and others, including Avraham, Ya’akov, Yosef, Moshe, Aharon, Miriam and the seventy elders of Israel (see Numbers 11:25). The list goes on to identify twenty others by name and multitude unnamed prophets before Eliyahu and Elisha arrive on the scene.

The last prophet to prophecy in Israel was Mal’akhi until the angel visited Z’kharyah, the father of Yochanan the Immerser. Mal’akhi’s message was a call to obedience and a promise of the coming Messiah. Following his oracle, there was a divine silence for 400 years.  Sometime down the road, I may do another character study on one of the other prophets in the Tanakh.

The list of named prophets in the Brit Hadashah is much shorter. As mentioned above, Z’kharyah is first on their list followed by Miryam, Elisheva, Shim’on, and Hannah all surrounding the birth of Yeshua. So much for the end of divine silence. Yochanan the Immerser spent his life exhorting people to confess their sins, turn to God and follow Yeshua. There is a multitude of others in the Brit Hadashah mentioned in the list which we look at in future posts.

In my next post, I want to dig into the references in my library to see if we can pin down a definition of prophecy and what makes someone a prophet. Not yet sure when I will get to the spiritual gift of prophecy and the office of the prophet within the Kehilah, but we will cover that as well.

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Final Blessing & Curse and Conclusion

Revelation 22:16-21
The End Times

In my last post, we examined Revelation 22:11-15 ~ God’s Completed Work. In this post, we conclude our study of Revelation by investigating Revelation 22:16-21 ~ Final Blessing & Curse and Conclusion.

16 “I, Yeshua, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the Messianic communities. I am the Root and Offspring of David, the bright Morning Star. 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ Let anyone who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let anyone who is thirsty come  –  let anyone who wishes, take the water of life free of charge.” 18 I warn everyone hearing the words of the prophecy in this book that if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues written in this book. 19 And if anyone takes anything away from the words in the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the Tree of Life and the holy city, as described in this book. 20 “The one who is testifying to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’” Amen! Come, Lord Yeshua! 21 May the grace of the Lord Yeshua be with all!” ~ Revelation 22:16-21 (CJB)

I, Yeshua, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the Messianic communities harkens back to Revelation 1:1-2.  It’s as if He has put a bow on the whole scroll as a gift to His followers.

I am the Root and Offspring of David. King David sprang from this Root, because Yeshua pre-existed David (Micah 5:1(2), Yochanan 8:58), and through Yeshua, everything, including David’s ancestor Adam, was made (Yochanan 1:1-2, 14). But Yeshua is also David’s offspring; in particular, He is the promised Son of David who would be the Messiah (see Matthew 1:1). Yeshua’s Davidic ancestry is referred to in the rest of the Brit Hadashah also at Mattew 1:6, 9:27, 15:22, 21:9; Luke 1:32, 2:4, 3:31; Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8. In Revelation, the term Root of David is also found at 5:5. As for the bright Morning Star see Revelation 2:28 and 2 Kefa 1:19.

The Final Invitation

The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ Let anyone who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let anyone who is thirsty come  –  let anyone who wishes, take the water of life free of charge. This final invitation consists of three comes. Moved by what we have read in this book and looking around at what is happening in our world today, we join our voice and say to the lost, “Come!”

As in verses 14-15, either Yeshua or Yochanan may be speaking here. No matter which, both the Spirit and the Bride, the Messianic Community, also identified with the New Jerusalem (21:2), agree with Yeshua in reiterating his call to the thirsty to take the water of life free of charge (see 21:6).

Yeshua had just said, I am coming soon! (v. 12). The Spirit, the bride, and whoever hears, join in the chorus and prayer, Come. Yeshua answers, Yes, I am coming soon (v. 20). It is His last recorded word, the parting message to His waiting bride as He passes out of sight. The passage contains an invitation to sinners to come to Him, that they may be ready when He comes. As a result, some will ask Yeshua to save them, and others will harden their hearts further. It is for each to decide – choose life or choose death. This decision has eternal consequences. If you have not accepted Yeshua as your Lord and Savior yet – don’t delay. Ask Yeshua to be your Lord and Savior and receive His free gift of eternal life! ( see 2 Corinthians 5:17; 6:2; John 14:6; Romans 5:8; Mark 1:15).

A Final Warning Against the Mutilation of God’s Word

I warn everyone hearing the words of the prophecy in this book that if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues written in this book. 19 And if anyone takes anything away from the words in the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the Tree of Life and the holy city, as described in this book. The final warning follows the form of Deuteronomy 4:2, which reads: In order to obey the mitzvot of Adonai your God which I am giving you, do not add to what I am saying, and do not subtract from it. Yochanan’s warning refers to the Book of Revelation, not to the whole Bible.

Adds to them is not about those who amplify to have a better understanding, nor is it addressed to those who in their zeal to understand fail to interpret the actual meaning correctly. The warning seems to fit those who claim additional revelations or who write other volumes and claim them to be an inspired part of the Bible. Since it is recognized by all of Orthodoxy that claimed another revelation from God is the sign of a cult, it is those who would take away that might well be those closer to home! It is not unusual for many Believers even pastors and teachers to ignore the Biblical prophecies, even entire books of prophecy – Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Revelation, and all the rest, which are essential parts of the Bible which the Lord has given. Many of these same people go a step further and deny the miracles as recorded in the prophecies of the Scriptures, saying that future events will not be nearly so horrific or apocalyptical. It would not be wise to be among those who are always picking the Bible apart rather than just trying to live by its teachings.

The Final Prayer

“The one who is testifying to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’” Amen! Come, Lord Yeshua! 21 May the grace of the Lord Yeshua be with all!” M. R. DeHaan frames these final words: [1]

Revelation began with Him, and ends with Him, and is about Him. We have written this book that you who are unsaved might come to Him and that those of you who have come might love Him more and look with new eagerness for His return… The night is dark, and the world seems to be in the throes of death. Humanity is engulfed by turmoil and confusion. The dark clouds of coming judgment and distress are upon the horizon, and the rumblings of coming judgment may be heard. Men everywhere are wondering about the future, and some are despairing. One of those days or nights, however, while the world is occupied with its frivolities and empty pleasures and scoffing at the Word of God, a form will rise above the lashing waves, as on Galilee, to vindicate forever the devotion and the patient watching of that remnant in all ages who have not abandoned the hope of His coming again, and take them home to the realms of bliss where sorrow and sighing, loneliness and heartache will never be known and where, with loved ones gone before, we shall rest forever in the perfect service of our perfect Lord. “Even so, Come. Lord Yeshua.”

With this concluding thought by Dr. DeHaan, we have now analyzed and evaluated each of the 404 verses of the Book of Revelation, from Chapter One, verse one to Chapter Twenty-two and verse twenty-one.

Remember the opening verses of Chapter One introduced us to the purpose of the book. 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, who bore witness to the Word of God and to the testimony of Yeshua the Messiah, as much as he saw. ~ Revelation 1:1-2 (CJB)

The Kehilah is instructed to say Amen at the close of the public reading of the book. The two final sentences, one for heaven and one for the earth, set the tone for those inspired to do the Lord’s will. So I echo the words of Yochanan: Come, Lord Yeshua and May the grace of the Lord Yeshua be with all.

In my next post, we’ll begin a new series based on the Letter to the Messianic Jews (Hebrews).

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[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

God’s Completed Work

Revelation 22:11-15
The End Times

In my last post, we examined Revelation 22:6-10 ~ Affirmation of God’s Word. In this post, we explore Revelation 22:11-15 ~ God’s Completed Work.

11 “Whoever keeps acting wickedly, let him go on acting wickedly; whoever is filthy, let him go on being made filthy. “Also, whoever is righteous, let him go on doing what is righteous; and whoever is holy, let him go on being made holy.” 12 “Pay attention!” [says Yeshua,] “I am coming soon, and my rewards are with me to give to each person according to what he has done. 13 I am the ‘A’ and the ‘Z,’ the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” 14 How blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they have the right to eat from the Tree of Life and go through the gates into the city! 15 Outside are the homosexuals, those involved with the occult and with drugs, the sexually immoral, murderers, idol-worshippers, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” ~ Revelation 22:11-15 (CJB)

Whoever keeps acting wickedly, let him go on acting wickedly; whoever is filthy, let him go on being made filthy. “Also, whoever is righteous, let him go on doing what is righteous; and whoever is holy, let him go on being made holy.” 12 “Pay attention!” [says Yeshua,] “I am coming soon, and my rewards are with me to give to each person according to what he has done. 13 I am the ‘A’ and the ‘Z,’ the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. The phrase I am coming soon found in Revelation 22:7, 12, 20, does not mean immediately! It says that once the process begins, he will come quickly; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. The coming of Yeshua will be so sudden that humanity will not have a chance to change any part of his lifestyle! Whoever keeps acting wickedly, let him go on acting wickedly; whoever is filthy, let him go on being made filthy…whoever is holy, let him go on being made holy.”  When Yeshua appears, it will be too late to repent; too late to accept Him as your Lord and Savior; too late for heaven.

I am the “A” and the “Z” (the Alpha and the Omega), the Beginning and the End is a repeat from Revelation 21:6. The First and the Last is a paraphrase from Isaiah 44:6, where Adonai says: Thus says Adonai, the King of Israel, and its redeemer Adonai of Hosts [heavenly armies]: I am the first, and I am the last, and beside me there is no God.” By applying this text to Himself, Yeshua once again identifies Himself as Adonai.

How blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they have the right to eat from the Tree of Life and go through the gates into the city! 15 Outside are the homosexuals, those involved with the occult and with drugs, the sexually immoral, murderers, idol-worshippers, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. These verses may be the words of Yeshua (as this version has it), or of Yochanan. Those who wash their robes, who obtain forgiveness for their sins. How? “With the blood of the lamb” (7:14), that is, through the atoning work of Yeshua the Messiah, so that their robes are “white” (7:14; see also 3:4, 19:7-8, Isaiah 1:18). To eat from the Tree of Life and go through the gates into the city is to enjoy eternal life in fellowship with God. Yochanan continues to draw a contrast between those who live in obedience and those who live in disobedience. The distinction is between those who live their lives for Yeshua and those who live for themselves. God wants humanity to understand if they choose to live a self-serving, self-seeking, selfish lifestyle, he can only hope to reap hell for all eternity.

Outside in the lake of fire (20:12b, 21:8, 21:27) are unrepentant sinners. They are out not only in the future but out even now, to the extent that the Kingdom of God has broken through into this world in the hearts and lives of the saved.

Homosexuals, Greek kunes (“dogs”). One can imagine real wild dogs slavering over the wicked excluded from the city (compare Mattew 15:26, Luke 16:21). But Deuteronomy 23:18-19 illustrates the figurative use of the word “dog” in the Bible to mean “male (homosexual) prostitute”:  “No daughter of Israel is to be a female prostitute (k’deshah), nor is a son of Israel to be a male prostitute (kadesh). You are to bring neither the wages of a female prostitute (zonah) nor the wages of a dog (kelev) into the house of Adonai your God in payment of any vow; both of them are an abomination to Adonai your God.”

In my next post, we’ll examine Revelation 22:16-21 ~ Final Blessing & Curse and Conclusion.

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Affirmation of God’s Word

Revelation 22:6-10
The End Times

In my last post, we examined Revelation 22:1-5 ~ Renewal of the World. In this post, we explore Revelation 22:6-10 ~ Affirmation of God’s Word.

6 Then he [the angel] said to me, ‘These words are true and trustworthy: Adonai, God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show His servants the things that must happen soon. 7 Look! I am coming very soon. Blessed is the person who obeys the words of the prophecy written in this book!’8 Then I, Yochanan, the one hearing and seeing these things, when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, ‘Don’t do that! I am only a fellow-servant with you and your brothers, the prophets and the people who obey the words in this book. Worship God!'” Then he said to me, ‘Don’t seal up the words of the prophecy in this book because the time of their fulfillment is near.'” ~ Revelation 22:6-10 (C3B)

The Certainty of Yeshua’s Return

Then he [the angel] said to me, ‘These words are true and trustworthy: Adonai, God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show His servants the things that must happen soon. 7 Look! I am coming very soon. Blessed is the person who obeys the words of the prophecy written in this book!Once again, Yochanan is assured of the honesty and integrity of this report. Note the words: These words are true and trustworthy. This revelation, which Yochanan has been given for the Kehilah, is to be taken seriously to heart. In Revelation 19:11 Yeshua is shown coming from heaven on a white horse, and in the same verse, He’s given a name: Faithful and True. This is the same phrase found here in verse six! It would seem that these words are being backed by the very person and character of the Son of God Himself. In verse seven is an exciting promise in the words of Yeshua: Look! I am coming very soon.

There is no doubt about our Lord’s coming. He is coming! Therefore, the question is not will He come, but are we prepared for His arrival? Some might ask if He is coming, why the delay? We find that answer in 2 Kefa: “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.”  ~2 Kefa 3:9 (CJB) Have you repented of your sins and placed your faith and trust in the Lord Yeshua HaMashiach? If Yeshua were to appear today, would you go to be with Him?

The Worship of Angels Forbidden

“I, Yochanan, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God. It would seem that this revelation so overcame Yochanan that he does what might seem to be a natural reaction, to worship the angels, whom the Lord created, rather than the Creator Himself. This is the second time (Revelation 19:9-10) Yochanan has been guilty of such a response. William Newell adds these words: [1]

The fidelity and humility of the angel abase and shame us. Though higher than man, he is a fellow-servant (sundoulos) – a word that wholly excludes independence, in which man glories. Note also how the angel remembers “the prophets,” those faithful servants of God, and also that the angels themselves are “keepers of the words” of this book of The Revelation. Doubtless, Michael and his angels derive their very courage for the terrific conflict of chapter 12 from the revelation of certain victory given through Yochanan the beloved. How wonderful are the ways of God! Let us lay dose to our hearts the angel’s words: Worship God. These words will search us out. Unless we are walking with God, other gods are ho/ding our affections. The very glory of divine revelations may tend to turn our weak hearts away from adoration of the divine, Person, Himself.

Then he said to me, ‘Don’t seal up the words of the prophecy in this book because the time of their fulfillment is near. Dani’el who lived over two thousand five hundred years ago was given a number of prophecies concerning the End Times.  After receiving the prophecies he was then told to seal up the book. “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)

The question arises, how long will it be sealed? The answer is, even to the time of the end. How will we know when the end is near at hand? Again, the explanation is, many will rush here and there as knowledge increases. In light of these two signs involving travel and knowledge, it is easy to conclude that the time for Yeshua to appear is drawing near. Dani’el was commanded to seal his book, but now Yochanan is being given an opposite command as he is told not to sea/the prophecy of this book because the time of their, fulfillment is near. Jerry Falwell adds these thoughts: [2]

In verse 10 Yochanan is commanded not to seal the words of the prophecy of this book. The reason is dear. There is a blessing for anyone who keeps the sayings of the prophecies given in Revelation (22:7). Besides, the time is near when the Lord will come quickly, and people will need to understand what God is doing for them (cf. Dan. 12:4). The period which will usher in the eternal state is very near, and in Yochanan ‘s day, as in ours, the end is always impending, because Christ may return at any moment and the time piece of Revelation will start ticking away. Therefore, this book is to be opened, read, and heeded as a source of blessing.

 In my next post, well examine Revelation 22:11-15 ~ God’s Completed Work.

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[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Ibid.

Renewal of the World

Revelation 22:1-5
The End Times

In my last post, we examined Revelation 21:22-27 ~ The Habitation of God. In this post, we begin to explore the last chapter of The Revelation of Yeshua HaMassiach to Yochanan by examining Revelation 22:1-5 ~ Renewal of the World.

1 Next, the angel showed me the river of the water of life, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 Between the main street and the river was the Tree of Life producing twelve kinds of fruit, a different kind every month; and the leaves of the tree were for healing the nations  –  3 no longer will there be any curses. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will worship Him; 4 they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 5 Night will no longer exist, so they will need neither the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because Adonai, God, will shine upon them. And they will reign as kings forever and ever.” ~ Revelation 22:1-5 (CJB)


Graphic courtesy of Google

The Water of Life

Next, the angel showed me the river of the water of life, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  The first thing mentioned in this chapter is the river of the water of life. The Psalmist said: “There is a river, whose streams make glad the city of God, the holiest dwelling-place of the Most High. God is in the midst of her…” ~ Psalm 46:5-6.

How vital water is to human life. Settlers to new areas always search out water before beginning any building and putting down roots. This was especially so in Yochanan’s day, as most of the people were agriculturally centered. Water would be their first priority (see Joshua 15:19). Water not only represents that which is refreshing but also essential. Man cannot live long without water. In the New Jerusalem, the source of refreshment is the throne of God.

The Tree of Life

Between the main street and the river was the Tree of Life producing twelve kinds of fruit, a different kind every month; and the leaves of the tree were for healing the nations no longer will there be any curses.  The Tree of Life was initially in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9), but after sinning, Adam and Eve had to barred from it (Genesis 3:22) and the way to it guarded by a keruv (cherub) (Genesis 3:24). Here in restored Eden, the Tree of Life is restored. Like the other phenomena of the New Creation (21:14-21), it is unlike anything we now know, producing twelve kinds of fruit, a different kind every month. Moreover, the leaves of the tree are for healing the nations – no longer will there be any curses. Here healing seems to mean “making whole.” Heaven has no illnesses; the point is that sickness cannot exist in that perfect environment. These leaves provide all the healing power necessary to sustain ideal health for God’s people. Even though there is no sickness in the eternal state, the fruit and the leaves from this Tree of Life provide physical well-being to those in heaven. The curses were evils that came upon the nations – both Israel and the Gentile nations – due to their continued and unrepented sins; most of the biblical prophets pronounced curses at one time or another.

The Throne of God

The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will worship Him; 4 they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 5 Night will no longer exist, so they will need neither the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because Adonai, God, will shine upon them. And they will reign as kings forever and ever.”  The central theme of existence in the redeemed world will be worship of God and of the Lamb Yeshua the Messiah, who share the throne. His servants will be entirely focused and completely satisfied when they worship him (which is not always the case today!), because (1) having unimpeded fellowship with God, they will see His face, and (2) His name will be on their foreheads, meaning that God will have made them wholly His own (see also 7:2-3, 13:16-17a, 14:1, 17:5). Night, with its darkness symbolizing God’s absence (Yochanan 1:5-9, 3:19-21; 1 Yochanan 1:5-7, 2:7-11), will no longer exist,… because Adonai, God, will shine upon them. Moreover, the physical and the spiritual will be intimately interconnected, since God’s immediate presence will make them need neither the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun. And, as promised in Revelation 3:21 and 1Corinthians 6:2-3, they will reign over the universe with the Messiah and with God as kings forever and ever.

Ray Stedman summarizes these three verses: [1]

From this magnificent scene of the Holy City flow three ministries that the redeemed saints will perform: First, empowered service. The saints will joyfully serve God. There is no greater privilege, pleasure, or joy that you and I could ask than to spend eternity in service to the God of our salvation. Second, intimate fellowship. The Saints will see His face and bear His name, just as a bride bears her husband’s name and sees his face. Third, enlightened authority. The saints shall reign forever and ever. Remember George Bernard Shaw’s complaint about heaven as an “inane, dull, useless, miserable” place? Have you ever pictured heaven as a boring place? You couldn’t be more wrong! What is it that causes boredom? Selfishness! The feeling of, “I want to be gratified, I want to be pandered to, I want to be indulged, I want to be excited, I, I, I!” But in heaven, there will be no selfishness. There will be continual excitement, discovery, anticipation, gratitude, praise, and the joy of being a partner in an eternal adventure with God Himself!

Revelation 22:5 concludes the description of the new heaven and the new earth. Think about the difficulty Yochanan must have had in finding the vocabulary to describe this scene. Man in his most vivid imagination could not come close to visualizing how the actual new heaven and new earth will look! Remember the Apostle Paul’s words recorded in 1 Corinthians: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no one’s heart has imagined  all the things that God has prepared  for those who love him.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9 (CJB)

In my next post, we’ll examine Revelation 22:6-10 ~ Affirmation of God’s Word.

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[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

 

The New Jerusalem ~ Part 2

Revelation 21:15-21
The End Times

In my last post, we reviewed the Revelation 21:9-14 ~ The New Jerusalem ~ Part 1.  In this post, we continue to explore Revelation 21:15-21 ~ The New Jerusalem ~ Part 2.

15 The angel speaking with me had a gold measuring-rod with which to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city is laid out in a square, its length equal to its width. With his rod, he measured the city at 1,500 [1]miles, with length, width, and height the same. 17 He measured its wall at 216 feet by human standards of measurement, which the angel was using. 18 The wall was made of diamond and the city of pure gold resembling pure glass. 19 The foundations of the city wall were decorated with all kinds of precious stones—the first foundation stone was diamond, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh turquoise and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, with each gate made of a single pearl. The city’s main street was pure gold, transparent as glass.” ~ Revelation 21:15-21 (CJB)

The angel…measured the city at 1,500 miles, with length, width, and height the same. The city was a perfect cube, as was its prototype, the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. Placed over the United States of America, it would extend from Maine to Florida and from the east coast westward to Colorado, plus extends 1,500 miles into the sky.  Talk about a megalopolis?  Admittedly, I have a tough time understanding the engineering of such a humongous structure, but with God, nothing is impossible.

The names of the Twelve Tribes inscribed on the gates, and the Twelve Emissaries on the foundations, may be meant to indicate that the founders of the City would never be forgotten but would be held in loving remembrance by the City’s inhabitants throughout the endless ages of eternity.

The precious stones emulate the breastplate of the High Priest, bearing 12 stones inscribed with the names of the 12 tribes (Exodus 28:15-30) must have been a sort of dim foreshadowing, given in the distant past, of what God was working toward. The stones are similar to those of the New Jerusalem. There is difficulty in identifying some of these stones. They may not have been the same as those which now bear their names.

The foundation’s sparkle with the colors of the rainbow. Each gate is a pearl, and the whole is composed of the most valuable and beautiful material things known to man, constructed together in a spectacle resplendent beyond imagination—a display of eternal beauty, glory, peace, security.

There are always the skeptics who question this as being a literal city. The real question to be answered is, why not? If a man can build the majestic and beautiful cities of today, why can’t the Creator of the universe create an even more magnificent and more uniquely beautiful city? This city, built by God, is the same city that Abraham was in search of For he was looking forward to the city with permanent foundations, of which the architect and builder is God ~ Hebrews 11:10. Also, just before Yeshua ascended back up into heaven, he told the disciples: In my Father’s house are many places to live. If there weren’t, I would have told you; because I am going there to prepare a place for you. ~ Yochanan 14:2. Yeshua was talking about this Holy City, which is a real city and the future home of all children of God.

He measured its wall at 216 feet by human standards of measurement, which the angel was using. 18 The wall was made of diamond and the city of pure gold resembling pure glass. This measurement appears to be the thickness of the wall as Revelation 21:12 says it had a great, high wall.

The angel describes the walls as made of diamond and the city of pure gold resembling pure glass. He now turns to explain the foundations! And what a description it is.

The foundations of the city wall were decorated with all kinds of precious stones—the first foundation stone was diamond [other translations say “Jasper”], the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh turquoise and the twelfth amethyst. Warren Wiersbe has this to say: [2]

Building foundations are usually underground, but these foundations will not only be visible but beautifully garnished with precious stones. Each separate foundation will have its own jewel, and the blending of the colors will be magnificent as God’s light shines through. No one can be dogmatic about the color of these gems, and it really doesn’t matter. Jasper, as we have seen, is a clear crystal. Sapphire is a blue stone, and chalcedony is probably greenish-blue. The emerald, of course, is green; and the sardonyx is like our onyx, a white stone streaked with brown, though some scholars describe it as red and white. Sardius is a red stone (sometimes described as “blood red”) and chrysolite a yellow quartz like our modern topaz. Beryl is green and topaz a yellow-green. We are not sure about the chrysoprasus; some think it is a golden-tinted stone, others, an apple-green color. The jacinth is probably blue, though some claim it was yellow; and the amethyst is a rich purple, or blue-red.

Compare the foundation stones with the judgment breastplate of the Cohen HaGadol, which also had twelve different stones. They represented the twelve tribes of Israel, whose judgment Aaron was to “bear on his heart before Adonai continually” (Exodus 28:15-21, 29-30).

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, with each gate made of a single pearl. The city’s main street was pure gold, transparent as glass.” There are twelve gates, three to the north, three to the south, three to the east, and three to the west. On each gate, there is the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Each gate is a great pearl, indicating that entrance to the city is made possible only through the death of Yeshua, for pearls are a product of physical suffering. The gates are open continuously, allowing people to come and go at will.

In my next post, we’ll examine Revelation 21:22-27 ~ The Habitation of God.

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[1] Translators and commentators seem to have difficulty in converting stadia into miles.  Most range from 1400 to 1500 miles.  At that distance, I’m not sure 100 miles is all that significant.

[2] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

The New Jerusalem ~ Part 1

Revelation 21:9-14
The End Times

In my last post, we reviewed the Revelation 21:1-8 ~ Overview of the New Creation.  In this post, we continue to explore Revelation 21:9-21 ~ The New Jerusalem.

9 One of the seven angels having the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues approached me and said, “Come! I will show you the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb.” 10 He carried me off in the Spirit to the top of a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city, Yerushalayim, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It had the Sh’khinah of God, so that its brilliance was like that of a priceless jewel, like a crystal-clear diamond. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates; at the gates were twelve angels; and inscribed on the gates were the names of the twelve tribes of Isra’el. 13 There were three gates to the east, three gates to the north, three gates to the south and three gates to the west. 14 The wall of the city was built on twelve foundation-stones, and on these were the twelve names of the twelve emissaries of the Lamb.” ~ Revelation 21:9-14 (CJB)

One of the seven angels having the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues approached me and said, “Come! I will show you the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb.” 10 He carried me off in the Spirit to the top of a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city, Yerushalayim, coming down out of heaven from God. M. R. DeHaan writes of confusion about the New Jerusalem: [1]

Let us now consider the description of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, the Lamb’s wife. Theologians have been confused by this expression “the holy Jerusalem, the Lamb’s wife.” How can the New Jerusalem be a city and at the same time be the wife of the Lamb, the bride of Christ? If we study the passage carefully, there need be no difficulty. The city and its occupants are one. This chapter of Revelation concerns a literal city of inexpressible beauty. It is the New Jerusalem. The redeemed church of Christ, the bride of the Lamb, is to dwell in that New Jerusalem. The city and its inhabitants are one. Today we speak the same concerning cities. When I mention a certain city, for example, Grand Rapids, Michigan, I may mean either or both the material city and its buildings or the inhabitants of Grand Rapids. From one point of view, Grand Rapids is a city. However, Grand Rapids is also a company of people who, like myself, live here. For instance, if I say that Grand Rapids is a beautiful city, you know that I refer to its beautiful location and its fine buildings and streets. But if I say that Grand Rapids is a wicked city, you know immediately that I am referring to the people of Grand Rapids and not to its buildings, streets, and trees. The term “Grand Rapids” may refer either to the city itself or to the people who live there. In the same way, God speaks of the New Jerusalem. The term indicates both a literal city and also the occupants of that city; it is both the city and the bride, the building, and its occupant. That is why God calls it both “the holy city” and “the wife of the Lamb.”

It had the Sh’khinah of God, so that its brilliance was like that of a priceless jewel, like a crystal-clear diamond. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates; at the gates were twelve angels; and inscribed on the gates were the names of the twelve tribes of Isra’el. 13 There were three gates to the east, three gates to the north, three gates to the south and three gates to the west. The glory of God illuminates the entire city. Later, in Revelation 21:25, it is disclosed that night will not exist there. The people of Yochanan’s day lived in fear of the Roman soldiers. Night time seemed only to intensify the horror. Therefore, the mention of walls and gates gave the additional comfort of safety to the people of Yochanan’s day. Also, the posting of an angel at each gate communicated the idea of further support that in this eternal state, all fear would be gone. The fact that the twelve tribe’s names will be inscribed on the twelve gates certainly implies that Israel will have access to the holy city along with the bride of Christ.

The wall of the city was built on twelve foundation-stones, and on these were the twelve names of the twelve emissaries of the Lamb. Thus, the foundation has been laid, the walls built, and the gates hung. The names of the twelve apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel are inscribed visually and prominently, so no one will ever forget that the heritage of the saints of all ages is rooted in them. This is precisely the teaching of the Rabbi Sha’ul when he tells the Kehilah: You have been built on the foundation of the emissaries and the prophets, with the cornerstone being Yeshua the Messiah Himself. ~ Ephesians 2:20 (CJB).

The twelve tribes of Israel are mentioned in the Brit Hadashah at Matthew 19:28 and Luke 22:30, where the emissaries are to judge them; at Acts 26:7 as a synonym for the entire Jewish people; at Ya’akov 1:1 in the greeting; and at Revelation 7:4-8 by name. The twenty-four elders of Revelation 4:4 may represent the tribes plus the emissaries. Conclusion: there is no Kehilah apart from the Jewish people and no Israel apart from the Brit Hadashah.

In my next post, we’ll examine Revelation 21:15-21 ~ The New Jerusalem ~ Part 2.

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[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

Overview of the New Creation

Revelation 21:1-8
The End Times

In my last post, we reviewed the Summary of Revelation 20 and an Introduction to Chapters 21 and 22.  In this post, we begin to explore Revelation 21:1-8 ~ Overview of the New Creation.

As with the rest of Revelation, there is no consensus among expositors regarding the closing chapters of the book.  However, as with Chapter 20, the disagreement among scholars does not divide along the lines of the Four Views we have been studying. Consequently, my comments, by and large, will reflect the literal, premillennialist viewpoint.

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had passed away, and the sea was no longer there. 2 Also, I saw the holy city, New Yerushalayim, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride beautifully dressed for Her husband. 3 I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “See! God’s Sh’khinah is with mankind, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and He himself, God-with-them, will be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will no longer be any death; and there will no longer be any mourning, crying or pain; because the old order has passed away.” 5 Then the One sitting on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new!” Also, He said, “Write, ‘These words are true and trustworthy!’” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the ‘A’ and the ‘Z,’ the Beginning and the End. To anyone who is thirsty, I myself will give water free of charge from the Fountain of Life. 7 He who wins the victory will receive these things, and I will be his God, and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the untrustworthy, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those involved with the occult and with drugs, idol-worshippers, and all liars — their destiny is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, the second death.” ~ Revelation 21:1-8 (CJB)

The New Heaven and New Earth: Revelation 21:1

This chapter does not refer to a new social order in this present world, but to the eternal home of the redeemed, in the “Father’s house are many places to live” Yochanan 14:2 (CJB). It is one of the most beautiful, comforting, and precious chapters in the whole Bible.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had passed away, and the sea was no longer there. The first heaven and earth have passed away, as Kefa had said (2 Kefa 3:10), the heaven with a roar (an explosion?) and the earth and its works burned up. What amount of change in the physical universe is involved, we do not know. Nor do we know whether it will be this earth made over and renewed by fire, or an entirely different earth. Nor to what extent, with our glorified, incorruptible, spiritual bodies, we may be confined to any real planet or star, or be free to roam in the limitless spheres of space and eternity. How we would love to know! Someday we shall.

The sea was no longer there, but there is a river (Revelation 22:1). So we wonder if it is to be taken literally. The vast amounts of seawater on the present earth is to function as a filtering system. Ray Stedman explains: [1]

Over 70 percent of the surface of our world is covered with salt water. The average depth of the ocean is 2.3 miles. Why does our planet need such a massive covering of salt water? Answer: To cleanse the earth and make life possible. The earth is bathed in God’s great antiseptic solution composed of about 96 percent water, 3.5 percent salt, and about .5 percent trace constituents—chlorine, magnesium, calcium, and the like. The salty brine of the ocean purges, cleanses, and preserves our planet, making it fit to live in. Many of the pollutants and wastes we produce get washed out of the soil and into our streams and rivers; others we deliberately dump into the rivers. The rivers wash these materials to the sea. The antiseptic salinity of the sea absorbs, scrubs, and breaks down these pollutants and wastes. The sun heats the sea, causing only pure, clean water vapor to float up into the sky, forming clouds which bring refreshing rain back to the land—a continuous cycle of cleansing and renewal. But in the new heaven and new earth there will be no more pollution, no more decay, no more need for cleansing, and thus no more need for a salty sea.

The New Yerushalayim: Revelation 21:2

Also, I saw the holy city, New Yerushalayim, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Just before Yeshua ascended back into heaven, He told His disciples that He was going to make a place for them (Yochanan 14:3); it is believed that this, the New Jerusalem is that place. The good news is that God is now taking reservations for that city. If you have never committed your life to Yeshua by faith, you can do so now, and that commitment will constitute your passport to heaven. The description of this city will be covered in detail later in this chapter.

We’ll examine the imagery of the bride beautifully dressed for her husband later in Chapter 21 and also in Chapter 3.

The Citizens of That City: Revelation 21:3-8

 I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “See! God’s Sh’khinah is with mankind, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and He Himself, God-with-them, will be their God. This important verse tells the final fulfillment of one of the most frequently repeated covenant promises in the Tanakh that God will dwell with His people and be their God, with full fellowship restored as in the Garden of Eden. See Genesis 17:7; Exodus 6:7, 29:45; Leviticus 26:11-12 (which is particularly related to this verse); Numbers 15:41; Deuteronomy 29:12(13); 2 Samuel 7:24; Jeremiah 7:23, 11:4, 24:7, 30:22, 31:33(34), 32:38; Ezekiel 11:20, 34:24, 36:28, 37:23, 27; Zechariah 8:8; and Messianic Jews 8:10; and v. 7 below.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will no longer be any death; and there will no longer be any mourning, crying or pain; because the old order has passed away.” 5 Then the One sitting on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new!” Also, He said, “Write, ‘These words are true and trustworthy!’”  One of the best ways that Yochanan found to describe all that was so positive about heaven was to approach it from the negative! No more tears, no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, and no more pain! Then, just in case there is difficulty in imagining a world without these things that are so common in the world today, things that have brought so much grief, he adds a postscript: These words are true and trustworthy! Yochanan quotes the Lord saying, Look! I am making everything new then continues in Chapters Twenty-one and Twenty-two to astound us with the further revelation of this promise.

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the ‘A’ and the ‘Z,’ the Beginning and the End. To anyone who is thirsty, I myself will give water free of charge from the Fountain of Life. 7 He who wins the victory will receive these things, and I will be his God, and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the untrustworthy, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those involved with the occult and with drugs, idol-worshippers, and all liars — their destiny is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, the second death. The one speaking must be Yeshua, as He identifies Himself as the Beginning and the End (here and in Revelation 22:13). Once again Yeshua calls attention to His deity; He wants us to understand that He and He alone is all that’s necessary to make all of this a reality. Once again, we find the Lord extending an invitation before it is eternally too late; also, read the invitations of Revelation 22:17.

In my next post, we’ll examine Revelation 21:9-21 ~ The New Jerusalem.

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[1] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

Summary of Revelation Chapter 20

The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 20:13-15 ~ The End of the World ~ Part 2.  In this post, we continue our practice of summarizing the previous segment in our exploration of the Revelation of Yeshua to Yochanan and an introduction to the New Heavens and A New Earth.

Summary of Revelation Chapters 20 [1]

We just concluded what has been called the most controversial chapter in all of Scripture.

In the view of Premillennialists, the golden age of peace and righteousness will not and cannot be realized until Yeshua personally returns. He will then bind HaSatan for 1,000 years and reign over this earth with a rod of iron. The saints who rule with Him will be the righteous who have experienced resurrection earlier in His Second Coming. HaSatan will be given one last chance at the end of this time and will succeed in deceiving many people, but his rebellion will be supernaturally crushed, and he will be eternally judged.

The amillennial position takes the Millennium to represent the present age, extending from the First Advent to the Second Coming of YeshuaYeshua bound HaSatan (symbolically) when He lived and died on earth centuries ago. In the future, HaSatan will again be loosed to bring mischief upon the Kehilah, but the Second Coming of Yeshua will result in his demise and will usher in an eternal new creation devoid of evil, death, and the curse. [Do they sincerely believe that HaSatan is not currently alive and well and impacting planet earth today?]

Postmillennialists believe that there will be a future golden age during which HaSatan will be bound, and peace and righteousness will prevail throughout the earth. This will not be accomplished by the personal return of Yeshua, but by the power of the Besorah preached through the Kehilah to all nations.  At the end of this golden age, HaSatan will launch an abortive attempt t destroy the work of God once again. That will trigger Yeshua’s Second Coming.

And, that folks is the reason why I am a Premillennialist!

Introduction of Revelation Chapters 21 & 22 [2]

The New Creation

Will there be a literal New Heavens and New Earth? What is the New Jerusalem?

As with the rest of Revelation, there is no consensus among expositors regarding the closing chapters of the book.  However, as with Chapter 20, the disagreement among scholars does not divide along the lines of the Four Views we have been studying.

The New Heavens and the New Earth have been interpreted in primarily three ways: literally, symbolically of heavens, or spiritually.  Many tend to take the first position (as do most Futurists) and to acknowledge secondarily spiritual application to the present Kehilah.  A thumbnail sketch of each is:

Literalists:

  • Some take the descriptions in these chapters literally, as applied to a brand new planet and universe, which will be created after the close of the Millennium (premillennialists) or else at the Second Coming of Yeshua (some amillennialists and postmillennialists).
  • The New Jerusalem described here will be the eternal home of the redeemed.
  • This is the view of Futurists, especially dispensationalists. The focus is terrestrial.  The earth is restored to a condition like that which characterized the Garden of Eden.

Non-Literalists:

  • Some spiritualize the whole vision, applying it to a nonmaterial state of existence in heaven.
  • Others take the New Heaven and New Earth to represent what Sha’ul call a New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). [It is hard for me to reconcile symbolically that Yochanan was describing a new physical place to represent new creatures in Yeshua as Rabbi Sha’ul was talking about in that passage.]
  • The New Jerusalem represents the Kehilah itself, constituted under the imagery of the new Holy of Holies in its present earthly existence.

In my next post, we’ll begin to explore an Overview of the New Creation in Chapter 21:1-8.

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[1] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

[2] Ibid.

The End of the World ~ Part 2

Revelation 20:11-15
The End Times

In my last post, we began to explore Revelation 20:11-15 ~ The End of the World ~ Part 1.  In this post, we conclude our exploration of Chapter 20.

11 Next I saw a great white throne and the One sitting on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened; and another book was opened, the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 The sea gave up the dead in it; and Death and Sh’ol gave up the dead in them; and they were judged, each according to what he had done. 14 Then Death and Sh’ol were hurled into the lake of fire. This is the second death — the lake of fire. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was hurled into the lake of fire. ~ Revelation 20:11-15 (CJB)

As I said previously, this passage contains one of the Bible’s most personal messages. We ought to read it often. It will help us to be ready to answer the roll call.  There is so much packed into these five verses that to adequately do them justice; I decided to split this post into two parts.  We will concentrate on verses 13 to 15 in this post.

The sea gave up the dead in it; and Death and Sh’ol gave up the dead in them; and they were judged, each according to what he had done. 14 Then Death and Sh’ol were hurled into the lake of fire. This is the second death — the lake of fire. All the dead who have not participated in the first resurrection are now resurrected and judged. There is no longer any need for Sh’ol, where the bodies are held for judgment since this is the judgment. Nor is there a need for death, which is the punishment for sin, since sin is now being banished from the universe, as foretold by Sha’ul at 1 Corinthians 15:54-55. Likewise the sea, a biblical metaphor for death, destruction and turmoil (see Isaiah 57:20, Ezekiel 28:8, Psalm 107:25-28), harboring fearsome, Satanic creatures such as Leviathan (Isaiah 27:1, Psalm 104:27, Job 40:25-41:26(41:1-34)) and the beast of 12:18-13:8 above, releases its dead for judgment, so that, having served its purpose, it too disappears (Revelation 21:1).

Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was hurled into the lake of fire. This is the event foretold by the parable of the sheep and the goats in Mt 25:31-46:

“Then he will also speak to those on his left, saying, ‘Get away from me, you who are cursed! Go off into the fire prepared for the Adversary and his angels!’… They will go off to eternal punishment, but those who have done what God wants will go to eternal life.” (Mt 25:41, 46)

The eternal life spoken of is in Revelation 22:1-22:5.

The lake of fire may mean the wicked will experience the torment of burning and stench physically forever, or it may be a metaphor for the eternal pain of knowing that one is separated from the God for eternity.

This is the climactic moment for the wicked. It is not God who has determined their fate, but themselves, by their deeds that fall short of God’s holiness, and by their lack of trusting Him for salvation through Yeshua HaMessiah. “The Lord… is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins” (2 Kefa 3:9). Compare Romans 2:1-8, especially vv. 5b-6: “… by your unrepentant heart you are storing up anger for yourself on the Day of Anger when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed; for he will pay back each one according to his deeds,” as taught in Psalm 62:13(12) and Proverbs 24:12. God desires that the wicked should turn from his evil ways.

David Stern writes: [1]

“The Judaism of today tends to finesse or minimize the punishment to be meted out to the wicked. Orthodox Judaism speaks of a probationary period (like the Roman Catholic purgatory) of not more than eleven months for members of the House of Israel. In this sense, Judaism does not take sin seriously, in terms of its consequences to the individual sinner.”

To those who cannot relate to verses 11-15 because they find the doctrine of eternal punishment for the wicked too fearsome, or because they cannot accept that God would be “so mean—it’s against his loving nature,” the Tanakh replies, The fear of Adonai is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). Justice and mercy, holiness and love are qualities which God balances in His way, which may not be the way we would choose.

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, says Adonai, and my ways are not your ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

“There is a way which seems right to a man, but at its end are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12).

Special Comparative Notes on Chapter 20:13-15 [2]

Premillennialists believe that those who have been previously buried or fed to the fishes at sea will not be able to escape this final judgment (cf. Isaiah 26:21). Death and Sh’ol were revealed in the fourth seal.  Here they are personified as demonic powers that had previously held the dead captive but now must surrender their prey.

Amillennialists believe with the inauguration of the new heavens and the new earth in Chapter 21 and 22; there is no more need for Death and Sh’ol.  All those who persisted in the path of death will attain the thing they all were inadvertently pursuing: the second death.

Postmillennialists believe both the wicked and the redeemed will be included in the final judgment.  HaSatan and his confederates, Death and Sh’ol will be forever consigned to the lake of fire, along with anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life.  All of Yeshua’s and our enemies will be destroyed never to rise again.

In my next post, we’ll examine a Summary of Chapter 20 and an introduction to the last two chapters of the Revelation of Yeshua ~ a New Heaven and a New Earth.

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[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.