Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Revelation: The Dragon and the Little Horn

This is a chapter by chapter copy of my sister's book, "The End is Near."

Continued from previous post...

          “And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.  But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.  And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.  But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.  So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus."               Rev. 12:13-17

          Satan is furious about losing to Jesus and decides to go after those who follow Jesus.  The true followers of Jesus were forced to flee, many hiding in the mountains and forests where they were able to avoid the flood of people searching for them (see Appendix 2).  Those who remained in the populated areas were less able to avoid persecution.  The persecution lasted “…a time and times and half a time… which is the 1260 days mentioned in verse 6.  It is calculated this way: “a time” is one year, “times” is two years, and “half a time” is six months, giving a total of 1260 days (360 + 720 + 180 = 1260).  This time period is also mention in Daniel 7.
            “…out of this kingdom (Rome) ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings.  He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One…and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.”  Dan. 7:24, 25

          Do you remember the mouthy, blasphemous horn we saw in chapter two of this book?     
It is mentioned in Daniel 7:8 and Daniel 8:9-14, 23-26 as arising after Greece.  But we had questions about this because we knew Rome followed Greece.  Well, here our questions are answered.  This mouthy, blasphemous horn does arise after Greece, but we can see here that it comes out of Rome and after the Western Roman Empire had been carved up into ten kingdoms.  And this horn does uproot and subdue three of the ten kings.  When the Emperor Justinian declared the Bishop of Rome as head of the Christian churches and gave him civil powers to go with his new religious powers, three of the ten kingdoms opposed this.  The Heruli, the Vandals and the Ostrogoths fought against this new arrangement but by 538 CE the last of them had been crushed.

  The Bishop of Rome, the Pope of the Catholic Church, the blasphemous horn, was now unopposed and was able to wield its unlimited powers as it saw fit for 1260 years.

This is Belle writing now: If you think it cruel and unfair to name the Pope as being the little horn, I am adding what the protestants of old said.


Many Protestant reformers, including Martin LutherJohn CalvinThomas CranmerJohn ThomasJohn Knox, and Cotton Mather, identified the Roman Papacy as the Antichrist.[38] They held that the Antichrist power would be revealed so that everyone would comprehend and recognize that the Pope is the real, true Antichrist and not the vicar of Christ. The Centuriators of Magdeburg, a group of Lutheran scholars in Magdeburg headed by Matthias Flacius, wrote the 12-volume "Magdeburg Centuries" to discredit the papacy and identify the pope as the Antichrist. The fifth round of talks in the Lutheran–Roman Catholic dialogue notes,
In calling the pope the "antichrist," the early Lutherans stood in a tradition that reached back into the eleventh century. Not only dissidents and heretics but even saints had called the bishop of Rome the "antichrist" when they wished to castigate his abuse of power.[39]
The Pope as the antichrist was so ingrained in the Reformation era, that Luther stated it repeatedly. For example:
"This teaching [of the supremacy of the pope] shows forcefully that the Pope is the very Antichrist, who has exalted himself above, and opposed himself against Christ, because he will not permit Christians to be saved without his power, which, nevertheless, is nothing, and is neither ordained nor commanded by God”.[40]
"nothing else than the kingdom of Babylon and of very Antichrist. For who is the man of sin and the son of perdition, but he who by his teaching and his ordinances increases the sin and perdition of souls in the church; while he yet sits in the church as if he were God? All these conditions have now for many ages been fulfilled by the papal tyranny."[41]
John Calvin similarly wrote,
"Though it be admitted that Rome was once the mother of all Churches, yet from the time when it began to be the seat of Antichrist it has ceased to be what it was before. Some persons think us too severe and censorious when we call the Roman Pontiff Antichrist. But those who are of this opinion do not consider that they bring the same charge of presumption against Paul himself, after whom we speak and whose language we adopt .. I shall briefly show that (Paul's words in II Thess. 2) are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the Papacy."[42]
John Knox on the Pope wrote,
"Yea, to speak it in plain words; lest that we submit ourselves to Satan, thinking that we submit ourselves to Jesus Christ, for, as for your Roman kirk, as it is now corrupted, and the authority thereof, whereon stands the hope of your victory, I no more doubt but that it is the synagogue of Satan, and the head thereof, called the pope, to be that man of sin, of whom the apostle speaks."[43]
Thomas Cranmer on the Antichrist wrote,
"Whereof it followeth Rome to be the seat of Antichrist, and the pope to be very antichrist himself. I could prove the same by many other scriptures, old writers, and strong reasons."[44]
John Wesley speaking of the identity given in scripture of the Antichrist wrote,
"In many respects, the Pope has an indisputable claim to those titles. He is, in an emphatical sense, the man of sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled, the son of perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers, destroyed innumerable souls, and will himself perish everlastingly. He it is that opposeth himself to the emperor, once his rightful sovereign; and that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped - Commanding angels, and putting kings under his feet, both of whom are called gods in scripture; claiming the highest power, the highest honour; suffering himself, not once only, to be styled God or vice-God. Indeed no less is implied in his ordinary title, "Most Holy Lord," or, "Most Holy Father." So that he sitteth - Enthroned. In the temple of God - Mentioned Rev. xi, 1. Declaring himself that he is God - Claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone."[45]
Roger Williams of the Vicar of Christ or Pope wrote,
"the pretended Vicar of Christ on earth, who sits as God over the Temple of God, exalting himself not only above all that is called God, but over the souls and consciences of all his vassals, yea over the Spirit of Christ, over the Holy Spirit, yea, and God himself...speaking against the God of heaven, thinking to change times and laws; but he is the son of perdition."[46]


Monday, 27 February 2017

Revelation: War in Heaven.

Excerpts from my sister's book, "The End is Near."
Continued from previous post...

“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman…and she was with child…Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems…And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.  And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.  

Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.  And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon.  The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.  And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.  Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.””  Rev. 12:1-10

          Here we see the birth of Jesus: the birth of Christianity. 
Satan tried, and failed, to kill Jesus through king Herod when Jesus was born (see Matt. 2:13-20).  Prior to Jesus’ death, Satan was the ruler of this world within limits set by God (see Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7; Matt. 4:8, 9), but Jesus’ sacrificial death redeemed the world from Satan’s control and Jesus became the absolute ruler of this world (see Rev. 5:9-13; Rev. 12:5).  Satan did not want to give up control so a war broke out and he and his angels were thrown out of heaven by force. 
Satan is no longer allowed to come before God in heaven and accuse us of anything.  We now belong to Jesus and he represents us before God as our redeemer, our savior, and substitutes his perfection for our faults.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Revelation: Thyatira & Sardis.

Continued from previous post...
Now we are ready to read what John was shown.
          “Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it.  Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.”  Rev. 11:1, 2

Since 70 CE, when Titus and his army destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, no other temple has been built to replace it, and the New Jerusalem does not have a temple (Rev. 21:22), so we can eliminate both of these as the holy city that will be trod on for forty-two months (1260 years, see Appendix 2). 
 In the previous chapter of this book we saw that a woman stands for a city, which stands for a group of people that have something in common.  In 1 Cor. 3:16 Paul says that Christians are the temple of God.  So what we learn here is that true believers will be safe spiritually even though they may be harmed physically (trod under foot). Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  Matt. 10:28
          “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”  These are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands that stand before the Lord of the earth.”  Rev. 11:3, 4
          We saw in Revelation Chapter 1 that the seven churches are represented by the seven lamp stands surrounding Jesus– one lamp stand for each successive church.  So why are only two lamp stands mentioned in Rev. 11?  What happened to the other five?  There are only two lamp stands in this vision because the events that are being described apply to only two of the churches – Thyatira and Sardis.  These two churches existed during the 42 months, the 1260 years, mentioned above in Rev. 11.  This time span lasted from the time the Bishop of Rome achieved undisputed authority in 538 CE until the Pope was put in prison in 1798 CE. 

                                                   Martin Luther/Reformation
 The two olive trees are the Holy Spirit and Jesus (see Appendix 2) and they are with the churches throughout their experiences.  Even though they have the power to “…devour their enemies…to shut up the sky…and to strike the earth with every plague…” (Rev. 11: 5. 6) they do not do so during this time.  Why?  Because whenever true believers were brought to trial and forced to defend themselves, they became powerful “witnesses” for God’s truth.  Some who saw their bravery and heard the truth in their words became believers themselves.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Revelation: Sweet and Bitter Words.

I know you are probably ready to read about the seventh church and the seventh seal; ready to find out what is going to happen at the end of the world.  We could do that, but we would only understand part of what we are reading about if we did that right now.  You see, what has happened in the past has brought us to where we are now; and what has happened in the past is going to happen again.  Therefore, it is important to spend some more time learning what happened to a couple of churches in the past so we will know what to expect when it is our turn to go through times of trouble.

          Did you ever have to give someone bad news?  If you loved that person and cared about his or her feelings, you probably tried to soften the blow by giving some good news first, or at least tried to find something positive to ease the pain of what was to follow. 

 "The good news is..."

Our God is a merciful God, and when Jesus was giving John visions of what was to come, he made sure to give John hope before giving the bad news, which would give hope to those believers who would read Revelation and go through the troubles described.  Jesus followed the pattern established with Daniel and the visions about world empires – successive visions with each vision adding more detail than the last.  So what we have in the remaining chapters of Revelation are words and visions of hope followed by more and more detail regarding the times of the churches – including the seventh and last church.  But we are going to follow the story chronologically, so as we discuss each topic you will find we are jumping from vision to vision, collecting the pieces and putting them together into one continuous storyline.  At first we will be skipping parts of the good news, or the words of hope, because they refer to the end of the story.  We will address them in their proper time.
          In Ezekiel 3:1 we find that Ezekiel, a prophet for God, was told to, “…eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.”  In Revelation Chapter 10, before John is given more information as to what will happen to two of the churches we looked at in the last chapter of this book, an angel holds a book and John, also a prophet of God, is told to take the book and eat it.  He is also told that, “…it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” (verse 9)  This confirms what we discussed in the previous paragraph where our merciful God mixes good news with the bad news that John must relate. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Revelation: The Church of Philadelphia.

Continued from previous post:

Philadelphia:  Evangelism           Sixth Seal:  Stirring Up       1798 CE – ? CE
          “I know your deeds.  Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.  Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.  He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.”  Rev. 2: 8, 10-12

          The Protestant movement withstood the assault from the false church and it began to grow exponentially.  On top of that, in 1798 CE  General Berthier of the French army removed Pope Pius VI from his papal throne, religiously weakening and politically crippling the Catholic Church.  The Protestants had persevered, had kept God’s truth, and now that the Catholic church was in a weakened state, a door had opened and it was time for them to reach the whole world with their message.  (see 1 Cor. 16:9; Col. 4:3)

But what is this hour of God’s testing?  It is a two-week (see Appendix 2) period of time that ends the Philadelphia church era when the people of the world will be shaken up and tested.  (see Jam. 5:9)  You see, when you test something, you are trying to determine if it passes a certain criteria; you are making a judgment as to something’s worthiness.  For instance, in school we wrote exams so the teacher could judge whether or not we knew the subject matter well enough to pass and move on in our studies.  In this passage Jesus is telling his followers during this era that the testing is not for them, it is meant for the world.  They are told to simply hang on to the truth.  Jesus promised his messengers that they would be with him in the temple of the New Jerusalem when it was set up and that they would be called by His name.

          “I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth…The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.  Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”  Rev. 6: 12-17

This picture is of the Alpha-Monocerotid meteor outburst in 1995. NASA

Earthquake: San Francisco

As the Philadelphia church era ends, the sixth seal will be opened and, within the two-week period time of testing, these signs are going to be given.  As they occur, great fear will grip people and test their beliefs – or lack thereof.  Jesus, in Luke 21: 25, 26, said the same thing as here in Revelation when he said, “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars…men fainting from fear….” Jesus also said in verse 31 that, “…when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.”

These signs will frighten even the bravest, but we see in Revelation 7:1, the verse that immediately follows the sixth seal and precedes the seventh seal, that John says, “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree.”   Angels are sent to delay the final calamities that will occur under the seventh seal and fall upon the earth during the era of the seventh church.  This is so that the gospel can be preached to the entire world and those shaken up by the hour of testing will have a chance to turn to God and be saved.  This is a probation period for Christians living in the end times, similar to the 70-week probation period given to the Jews that ended in 34 CE when Stephan was stoned.  (see chapter three)  We do not know how long our probation period is going to be, but Jesus’ warning in Luke 21: 31 that says these signs mean that the kingdom of God is near, so we can assume it will be a short time span.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Revelation: The Church of Sardis.

Sardis: Truth            Fifth Seal: Reformation             1517 CE – 1797 CE

          “…I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.  Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.  So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent…But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.  He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”  Rev. 2: 1-5
          Jezebel had almost completely wiped out those who remained faithful to the pure teachings of Jesus, but the truth was not yet dead even though it looked like it.  A spark remained and it was about to be kindled into a full-blown fire.  Martin Luther, a Catholic monk, was a man in search of truth.  As he dug into the Bible he found that much of what he had believed in his previous religious life was untrue.  In 1517 CE he bravely wrote out the truths he had discovered and then posted them (his 95 theses, see Appendix 3) so everyone who could read would see the truth.  Some others, both in religious and political offices, saw the truth in what Martin Luther had discovered and together they started what became known as the Protestant Reformation (“protest”ing the false teachings of the Jezebel church).  Jesus promised those who fought against the false church that they would be clothed in white and have their names written in the book of life.

          “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”  And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.”  Rev. 6: 9-11
          The Jezebel church was not going to give up its power easily and the persecutions continued, but this time it was aimed at the visible and vocal Protestant movement.  Some European political powers stood up to the church for the first time, refusing to turn over their citizens to be killed, and Jezebel found herself losing power.
Anonymous engraver from the 17th century, "Way to burn those who were condemned by the inquisition."

Revelation: The Church of Thyatira.

Thyatira: Faithfulness          Fourth Seal: Religious Persecution            538 CE – 1516 CE


“I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads my bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality…But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them – I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. He who overcomes, and he who keeps my deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.”  Revelation 2:19, 20, 24-26

Jezebel was a wicked queen who led the people of her nation to abandon God and worship idols and she killed those who refused to submit.

 (1 Kin. 16: 31; 21:25; 2 Kin. 9: 7, 22)  In prophetic language, a woman represents a city and a group of people that have something in common (i.e. citizens of a city [“city”zens] have their place of residence in common). (see Appendix 2)  Here, Jezebel calls herself a prophetess, so Jezebel is a city and a group of people (“city”zens) who have a religion in common since they believe they speak for God. 

In the year 533 CE the Roman Emperor Justinian declared that the Bishop of Rome was to be the head of all Christian churches.  By the year 538 CE all opposition, both religious and civil, to this appointment was crushed.  The Bishop of Rome (city) was firmly established in his authority over religious and civil matters.  Those church members with the traits of Balaam and the Nicolaitans (“city”zens) had finally attained all the power and riches they had so desired (commonality).  They had set up a powerful church and were designing doctrines that would strengthen their control and would lead the masses astray.  But there were still believers who remained faithful to the teachings and the spirit of Jesus although they did not fight hard enough in the beginning against this false church with its false doctrines.  However, what was done was done and Jesus told them to hang on and as a reward they would rule with him.


When the Lamb broke the fourth seal…I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him.  Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.”  Rev. 6: 7, 8

     Hades is the Greek word for hell, and the experience of many of those who refused to follow Jezebel, the teachings of this false church, went through hell on earth, dying for their faithful adherence to the pure teachings of Jesus.  The Inquisitions and persecutions, the torturous and agonizing deaths of the faithful were unrivaled by anything in history.  Truly the ashen horse of Death followed by Hades fell upon those faithful people.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Revelation: The Church of Pergamum.

Pergamum:  Spiritual Corruption     Third Seal: Church/State      313 CE – 537 CE
          “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast my Name,  and did not deny My faith…But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam…So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.  Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth…To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.”  Rev. 2: 13-17

 In 313 CE, the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan which stopped the persecution of Christians and made all religions legal within the Roman Empire.

Emperor Constantine l and the Church.

For the most part the church remained faithful to the teachings of Jesus.  However, some who had the traits of Balaam and the Nicolaitans had infiltrated the church.  Balaam was supposed to be a prophet for God way back when the Hebrews were leaving Egypt and entering the Promised Land, but he was really in business for himself and eventually led the Hebrews astray (Num. 31: 16; 2 Pet. 2: 15; Jude 11).  The Nicolaitans were “Christians” who compromised their beliefs so they could justify taking advantage of sinful practices.  Jesus promised that those who did not get trapped by the teachings of these false believers would attain heavenly rewards.

“When He broke the third seal…I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.  And I heard a voice…saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”  Rev. 6: 5, 6

During this time the church was growing rapidly as Christianity was replacing paganism.  But those who had infiltrated the church and who had the traits of Balaam and the Nicolaitans were intent on having the best of both worlds.  They believed in God and wanted eternal life, but they also wanted all the power and pleasures the world had to offer…even if it meant compromising their faith.  So here we see, in the history of God’s church, the beginning of the unifying of church and state, of religious and political (secular) powers.  The black color of the horse represents the spiritual darkness in which the church found itself, and the scales denote shared weight given to both the church (religion) and the state (politics).  Even though much of the Christian purity was being bartered away, the oil and the wine (see Appendix 2) was not damaged because there were still many faithful followers of Jesus who refused to go along with the corruption entering the church.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Revelation: The First Two Churches.

Ephesus:  Apostolic Age           First Seal:  Purity        31 CE – c. 100 CE             
“I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.  But I have this against you; that you have left your first love.  Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first…To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.”  Rev. 2: 2-7

          The early church, from Jesus’ ascension into heaven until the death of those who knew Jesus personally, is often called the Apostolic Age.  Here they are commended for their work and tenacity that was motivated by love for Jesus.  But as time went on their motivation changed and was replaced by something else, perhaps a sense of duty.  Jesus’ promise to them is that they will be in paradise. 

…the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and…I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.”  Rev. 6: 1, 2  (see Appendix 2 for an explanation of horses in prophecy and in visions)
          The white color of the horse denotes the purity of the early church, and the rider represents the apostles spreading the word and conquering paganism.

Smyrna:  Martyrdom      Second Seal:  Roman Persecution       c. 100 CE – 312 CE
“I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)…Do not fear what you are about to suffer.  Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days.  Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life…He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.”  Rev. 2: 9-11
          The church during this time may have been poor when it came to money and power to protect itself, but it was rich spiritually.  There was fear in the church due to the persecutions but Jesus says they will have eternal life.

          “…He broke the second seal…And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another;  and a great sword was given to him.”  Rev. 6: 3, 4
          The red color of this horse denotes the spilling of the blood of the saints.  Beginning with Nero, the Roman Emperors often persecuted Christians for one reason or another.  But late in the first century CE, the emperor Domitian demanded everyone within his empire to worship him as divine, but Jews and Christians refused.  This began a full-scale persecution and makes it easy to identify the rider of the red horse as the office of Emperor. 


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Revelation: The Seven Churches.

Continued from last post:
Did you ever have a best friend?  Someone with whom you had a lot in common; someone you hung out with constantly; someone you would trust with your most important secrets and possessions?  John, the guy who wrote down what became the book of Revelation in the Bible was, and had, a best friend – Jesus.  When Jesus was on this earth John was his closest buddy and as Jesus was dying on the cross he trusted John enough to ask him to take care of his mother Mary as if she were his own mother. (John 19: 26, 27)  And when it came time to reveal (the definition of Revelation) the end time prophecies, Jesus once again turned to John, someone he could trust.

          In the first chapter of Revelation we learn that John was in exile on a little island called Patmos because he refused to stop preaching the Gospel of Jesus to anyone who would listen.  By this time John was an old man and one Sabbath morning, while he was praying, a loud voice behind him made him turn around and there was Jesus, his old friend.  Jesus was clothed with the glory of heaven and was standing amid seven lamp stands while holding seven stars in his right hand.  Jesus explained to John that the seven lamp stands were the seven churches in Asia and that the seven stars were the angels of the seven churches.

Who are the seven stars, or angels, of the seven churches?  Some say they are literal angels assigned to guide and watch over the churches, but because the messages sent to the churches contain reprimands, we have to conclude that the seven angels/stars cannot be perfect heavenly beings.  The stars must represent flawed humans, so the logical conclusion is that they represent church leaders such as priests, pastors, elders, etc.  And what are the seven churches?  Jesus himself lists them in Revelation 1: 11:  Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. 

          Middle East                            Turkey and the location of the seven churches              

            As we have seen in previous studies,  prophecies often have a dual application.  The characteristics of the literal seven churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) parallel the spiritual characteristics of the Christian church as a whole throughout its history.  So as we study what Jesus says about the seven churches we will be applying it to the history of Jesus’ true followers for the past 2000 years. 
But that is only half the story.  Along with the spiritual characteristics of the church at different times, we will also learn what worldly experiences the church went through.  In Revelation Chapters four and five we are shown something that occurs in heaven.  God, on his throne, is holding a book with seven seals securely closing it.  The Lamb of God – Jesus – takes the book from God.  The Lamb has “…seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.”  Rev. 5: 6   Jesus is the leader, the horn, of all seven churches, and the Holy Spirit (the eye) watches over and guides the seven churches through their experiences. (see Appendix 2) 

Friday, 17 February 2017

Part 13: A Double Meaning.

Okay, this is Belle writing right now. If any of you are upset by math and numbers, you may be getting either bored or upset by now. Just stick with us. We move into Revelation in the next post.
I know these dates and numbers are very important or else God wouldn't have given them to us so we could know what would happen in the last days. God is a God of great detail. Just read about the instructions of how to build the Sanctuary in Exodus and how to sew the priests clothing!  Details are important to God because each detail has a meaning.
Continued from previous post...
So does this mean Octavian is the horn of Daniel Chapter 8?  Yes, and no.

The angel Gabriel told Daniel that this particular vision “…pertains to the time of the end.” (Daniel 8: 17)  How can it pertain to the end of time when we know Egypt became a province of Rome over 2000 years ago?  That is because this vision has a dual application.
We saw in chapter one of this book that Jesus’ prophecy in Matt. 24: 6-8 applied to both the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE and to the end of the world at the end time.  So, too, does the vision of the horn in Daniel Chapter 8 apply to two time periods; the emperors of Rome in ancient times and the power that grows from Rome in the end times.  One produces the other and, just like from parents to children, similar traits are passed down.

So if we look at the power that followed Greece in Daniel Chapter 8 as being a twofold prophecy, we can break it down like this.

Ancient Times                                                          End Times

Rome                                                                      Offspring of Rome
Emperor                                                                  Blasphemous Horn
Destroyed Temple                                                    Trample the Holy Place
 at Jerusalem
 Demanded the Emperor                                           Calls itself equal to God
 be worshipped                                                        and removes Jesus’ sacrifice

Daniel 8: 11 and 14 say that the horn “…removed the regular sacrifice from Him (meaning God), and the place of His sanctuary was thrown downFor 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.”  In Gen. 1: 5 we see that an evening and a morning is another way of saying ‘one day’, and we have proven that a day in prophecy is actually one year, so here we have a timeline of 2300 years.  The first thing we must determine is where this timeline starts.  

We understand that this vision applies to events in both ancient times and the end times.  It also applies to the old system of religion practiced by the Jews (the “…small horn which grew…toward the Beautiful Land” where the temple in Jerusalem was) and to the new system set up by the sacrifice Jesus made for us and that he is offering in our place in heaven (the horn “…grew up to the host of heaven…and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him…”), so the 2300 years must cover Rome and its offspring, and time periods before and after Jesus was crucified.

We saw that the 70-week probation period given in Daniel Chapter 9 was the last chance for the Jewish nation to get with the program.  They failed and the spread of the gospel to all people began with the scattering of Christians.  After the vision containing the 2300 days, but before giving Daniel the 70-week prophetic warning for the Hebrews, the angel Gabriel told Daniel that he had come to give him ”…insight with understanding.” (Dan. 9: 22) 

How does the 70-week prophecy of Daniel 9 give help in understanding anything else?  Part of what it gives us is a starting point for the previous vision’s timeline…457 BCE.  So if the 2300 years also begins in 457 BCE, then its end would be 1844 CE.  Did anything important happen in the year 1844?  Not that we can see with our mortal eyes because Daniel 8: 14 says that at the end of the 2300 years the “…holy place will be properly restored” and, as we have seen, this applies to what Jesus does for us in heaven.  We will go into more detail about this in later chapters.