Prophecy or History?
Even a few sentences in, we can tell the Book of Revelation is unlike anything else in the Christian Testament. But the truth is, there is really nothing like it in the Hebrew Scriptures either, although there are many references to various prophetic imagery and events from the Hebrew scriptures.
Typically, this sort of document would be called an Apocalypse, which literally means, “uncovering” or “revealing,” and which references the complete and final destruction of the world, leading to a new world. The uncovering or revealing is the parting of the curtain to show the heavenly or divine perspective of what is happening now and what will come.
But the Book of Revelation is so much more, for it is a letter containing seven more letters. And at regular intervals throughout the whole of this epic document we are given to understand that it is also prophecy—we must pay it heed.
But how? As spiritual allegory? As predictions of actual future events? As prophecy already fulfilled long ago, yet with truths still relevant for today?
Answering these questions is all part of the adventure as we read these ancient pages together.
First time to the site? Start here
From the blog
As John watched, smoke filled the heavenly Holy of Holies, preventing anyone from entering in. For John, this would have brought to mind God’s instruction to Moses that God later portrayed in all reality. #Revelation15 #HolySmoke #ShekinahKeep reading
Futurist theologians look ahead, staying alert to the signs of impending divine rescue in the Rapture and divine judgement in the Great Tribulation. For futurist scholars, Revelation 14 remains a pivotal event yet to occur.
#Revelation14 #ApocalypseKeep reading
Revelation 14:14-20 speaks of harvesting earth and trampling the grapes of that harvest in the winepress of God’s wrath. But it is not juice that runs deep and red, it is an immense river of blood. What is being depicted here? #Revelation14 #WinepressKeep reading
Whatever this passage may mean in concrete terms, for its intended audience it was as if the Lord were saying, “I hear your cries, and I see your pain. I have not forgotten you.” #Revelation14 #Winepress #GrapesofWrathKeep reading
Whether from the point of the cross, or from the point of each believer’s death, the blessing is the same—believers will be in the Lord, receiving rest and refreshment from their earthly ordeal, and rewarded for their enduring faith. #Revelation14Keep reading
Technically I should have translated “it” as “she,” but I did not. Because even more technically, in English, a city is not a female. It is a very large cluster of buildings organized as an entity.
Babylon is not a woman. #Babylon #FallenFallen #Rev14Keep reading
All perspectives recognize the unique position of Chapter 14 acting as a bridge between what has so far transpired and what is about to come. John described the Lamb of God standing upon Mount Zion, surrounded by a mighty company. #Revelation14 #144000Keep reading
The Mark of the Beast is an iconic image from John’s Apocalypse, a number, or a name, etched into the hand and/or the forehead of every person living in the time of the dragon and its beasts. #Revelation13 #MarkoftheBeastKeep reading
I spent some time just sitting with this, because it is such a famous couple of lines. The Mark of the Beast! Does it not conjure up story after story of those who have tried to imagine what this would be like? #Revelation13 #MarkoftheBeastKeep reading
The second beast conscripted people to create an image of the first beast, then imbued this image with a spirit that could speak. The second beast insisted – using threat of execution – that all people worship the image of this first beast. #Revelation13Keep reading
If the first beast is strange and frightening, the second is downright shiver-worthy. It comes as a promoter of the first beast, which is now weirdly passive, but it has far more power than the first.
What does it all mean? #Revelation13 #TheSecondBeastKeep reading
Who is this beast, exactly? What is the beast’s war against the saints? Why is the length of time so specific? How are Christians supposed to respond?
Four different views shed at least some light. #Revelation13 #TheBeast #TribulationKeep reading
The original first century audience for John’s Apocalypse was in the middle of some of the worst persecution Christians have endured. So this scene cut close to the bone for them. And there was also an overlay of the Temptations of Christ #Revelation13Keep reading
A massive heavenly conflict, the ultimate in cataclysms.
Is this oracle a glimpse into the prehistoric dawn of creation, long before humanity entered the stage? Or is it a harbinger of the terrifying time to come, the Tribulation? #Revelation12 #SatanKeep reading
To the watching world, it seemed as though God had abandoned these two prophets to their foes. At last, or so they must have thought, God’s opponent had gotten the upper hand. What glee! What giddy excitement! But also what despair.Keep reading
Some are certain John’s Revelation is about the end of human history. Others take a broader view that John’s Revelation has to do primarily with spiritual things believers of every era and culture will benefit from. #Revelation11 #TwoWitnessesKeep reading
The Two Witnesses are something of a conundrum for expositors looking to history for fulfillment.
Were they actual people (some think so), or representative of groups of people? Maybe they’re allegories for truth? #TwoWitnesses #Revelation11Keep reading
John’s visions dovetail in several places with Ezekiel’s vision, and especially here, the correlations are strong.
So what was measuring the temple to signify? As you probably have guessed, answers may vary (!) #Revelation11 #MeasuringtheTemple #EzekielKeep reading
Revelation 11-13 speaks repeatedly of a timeframe that seems to last about 3.5 years (the length of Jesus’s ministry, interestingly enough). But there is not consensus about what it all means. #Revelation11 #TheBeast #TheGreatTribulationKeep reading
the prophets of old. When the seventh trumpet is sounded, the whole thing will have been revealed.
What a way to rivet our attention!Keep reading
As soon as I read John was not to reveal what the seven thunders had spoken, that became the one thing I wanted to know most. What did they say? Why tantalize with this astonishing scene, but deny the pronouncement framed within it?Keep reading
There is a lot to think about in John’s last words of this chapter. He delivered a sad eulogy concerning the people who survived the six trumpets. As you are no doubt anticipating, commentators have very different ideas about how to understand John’s assessment.Keep reading
The fifth trumpet seems either definitely metaphysical or highly allegorical, so how do expositors who take the historical or more specifically preterist views read these verses?Keep reading
How interpreters have imagined this scene is in large part influenced by their point of view. Taken simply as a scene, it is horrific. Is it metaphorical? Is it commentary on a situation? Is it prophecy to be literally fulfilled? Is it a warning that may not come to pass if heeded?Keep reading
Though each perspective sees the fulfillment of these trumpets occurring in very different timeframes, there are certain overarching themes on which all four views agree.Keep reading
The tremendous power in the prayers of the holy ones was also revealed to John. You and I think of that power as reaching up to God and the Lord responding in divine might. But this time, John watched as these sacred prayers were thrown forcefully back to earth in a startling reversal of how…Keep reading
After so many disturbing images from the breaking of the seals, John was now swept up in a rapturous time of praise and thanksgiving, as the mighty multitude, the elders, all the angels, and the four living creatures exalted God, singing,Keep reading
It is the final act of the sixth scroll, just as the sixth day of Creation had a final, climactic act of bringing forth humankind and blessing all that lived across the face of the earth. Imagine the two scenes side-by-side:Keep reading
The specificity of the number 144,000 intrigues our modern minds, and features fundamentally for at least one modern day group, the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Is this number literal or symbolic? Why go through each tribe? What is being revealed, exactly?Keep reading
So far, everything John saw concerned a single planet. The four horsemen traversed the globe, and the martyrs called out for God’s judgment of those living on earth.
But now the entire cosmos seems to be coming unglued, and the imagery, as fantastic as it is, was vividly familiar to John’s audience.Keep reading
Before John’s surely horrified eyes, a ghastly figure appeared as the fourth living creature called forth the specter of Death. The horse was pallid with the sickly hue of plague, and the ominous dark shadows of Hades settled around Death’s form, resting above its steed.Keep reading
What John saw he beheld with dread. The world of antiquity was no stranger to famine.
In fact, not long after the Gospel had broken through the barrier of race and religion, the subject of a severe famine comes up in the Book of Acts.Keep reading
This is what John gazed upon in awe and wonder. The elders, consecrated before God, representative of the whole Church, robed in the white garments of righteousness, and crowned with the glory of eternal life, having been sealed by the Holy Spirit.Keep reading
For those who will respond to Jesus’s chastening—who open the door to Jesus’s gentle knock—then Jesus would come in to dine together with them, certainly a reference both to God’s invitation in the Torah to feast with God, and to the love feasts of the early church, celebrating the Lord’s Supper.Keep reading
The word Jesus used, ἐμέω | emeō, actually means vomit. It brings to mind that feeling of having put something so repellant into one’s mouth that the gag reflex kicks in and out it spews before one hardly has the chance to stop.Keep reading
Jesus’s promises to the assembly in Philadelphia included crowns and a throne, rewards that may seem anachronistic to those of us who never grew up with kings and queens in our governments. So, how do we understand what Jesus is saying to people like us, today?Keep reading
After affirming their salvation, Jesus promised the assembly in Philadelphia that others would know He loved them.
Jesus also promised protection from what was about to come, but though that promise seems straightforward, commentators have puzzled over what it really means.Keep reading
In the longest of His seven letters, Jesus’s words to Thyatira hold—at least to my ears—grief over Jezebel and her adherents, and concerned warning over those who were not repenting of what Jesus called porneia and debauchery.Keep reading
if the Ephesian Christians had subtly replaced their love for God and each other with a love for righteousness and right doctrine, the Pergamenian Christians had subtly allowed the erosion of right doctrine in their own midst, while they still held to their faith and trust in Christ.Keep reading
The impact of John’s vision was powerful, even overwhelming. His senses could hardly take it all in, every aspect was at maximum capacity—flashes of fire and lightning, the thunderous roar of waterfalls, the blinding glow of white light, the heat and gleam of burnished bronze.
But now, with Jesus’s gentle touch and quiet reassurance, this…Keep reading
Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.
New posts in your inbox
My passion for the Bible began when I was eight or nine years old, somewhere in there, when on occasion my dad would take me to synagogue, where he sang. I remember watching the men in synagogue pray the words of scripture, murmuring and weeping, lovingly touching and kissing the Torah, and I wished I could read what they were reading.
Imagine, then, my wonder when I was given a Bible of my own! Read more
Let’s hang out
[Image above: Matthias Gerung, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]