If you’ve read any part of the book of Revelation, you know it has a lot of symbols and figurative language. It also describes literal, future historical events. So how do we approach such an epic saga? Here are the necessary tools.
1. We take a passage literally unless it doesn’t make sense that way. Example: the sharp sword coming out of Christ’ mouth in Rev. 19:15.
2. We can’t determine the meaning of the symbols or figurative language based solely on what we think they mean. That would mean anything goes, and that’s not God’s style.
3. So when God uses a symbol, He must provide the meaning of it. The interpretation is either stated in the passage (or near it), or it comes from the other books of the Bible, especially the Old Testament. An example of the interpretation nearby is the meaning of the 7 lampstands in Revelation 1:13 and 20. An example of the interpretation from the Old Testament is the meaning of the Woman with the stars and moon over her head in Revelation 12. Check out Genesis 37:9.
4. The Revelation is actually a series of visions. And it is not one continuous chain of events from start to finish. To read it that way only leads to confusion and wrong interpretations, such as multiple raptures. Some parts are continuous. But a major section (chapters 11-19) offers instant replays of the key events.
5. It begins with an Introduction (chapters 1-5) that sets the stage and brings us up to speed on end-time events from Heaven’s perspective. Chapters 6 and 7 provide a sequential overview of the Church Age (Days 5 and 6 in God’s prophetic Week). Chapters 8 and 9 provide a sequential overview of the first 3½ years of the 7th Day that is known as the Wrath of that Day. Chapter 10 is a divine break in the saga, where John receives the little book so that he can prophesy again. Chapter 11 begins a series of mini-visions that are instant replays of the Wrath. The wrath is actually the 3½-year war against the Beast (the Antichrist).
6. The mini-visions in chapters 11-19 offer different “camera angles” or perspectives of the events, including the participants, battle strategies and tactics, and how the war ends. These allow us to make the right “call” concerning each pivotal play on the “field.”
7. Chapter 20 describes the rest of Christ’s 1,000-year reign over the earth from Heaven, including Satan’s final rebellion, the separation of the sheep and goats, and the final judgment. Chapters 21-22 describe what happens after the Last Day, including the marriage supper of the Lamb in a new heavens and new earth. They also describe the Perfect Day of Eternity Future, and conclude with an admonition to watch and earnestly expect our Lord’s return.
Each section of the Revelation has a specific purpose. It is not only a revelation from Jesus Christ; it also reveals Him, who is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10). It takes all that was prophesied in the past by the prophets and combines it into a meaningful whole concerning what will take place at the end. It confirms everything previously written, and adds and expands on it.
It reveals Christ as the King of kings, the Head of the Church, and the Bridegroom united with His Bride as One New Man appointed to judge the earth in righteousness. So forget about strumming harps on fluffy clouds or roaming the streets of gold for lack of anything better to do. Our earthly assignment will be done, but then we step into our next assignment. Stay tuned for what lies ahead!
God is the creator of both the physical (natural) realm and the spiritual (supernatural) realm. “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16).
The unseen realm is why there are mysteries in God’s Word. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29).
Hebrews 1:1-4 tells us that the mystery of His will was revealed to us through Christ’s first coming. “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets [the Old Testament times or the early Days], has in these last days [New Testament or the Church Age] spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Ephesians 1:9 adds that God “made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.” The mystery doesn’t pertain to God Himself, but to His plans and purposes for mankind, and particularly the Bridegroom and His Bride.
Why does this matter to us today? Because the Bride plays a pivotal role in the culmination of the mystery of God’s will. It’s laid out primarily in the book of Revelation. The last book of our Bible begins with these words: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw” (vs. 1-2).
In other words, this is Jesus’ direct revelation to us, His servants, about the rest of the mystery. That’s why verse 3 adds: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”
The book covers the final signs of this age that we are living in, and then explains the Last Day of God’s prophetic Week. You may know this 1,000-year time period as Christ’s millennial reign. The book highlights the first 3½ years of that 7th Day, also known as the Day of the Lord.
Sadly, many Christians avoid this final revelation of the mystery of God’s will because, well, it seems so mysterious. It doesn’t have to be that way. As Isaiah 40:3-5 declares, it’s time to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming. It’s time to make a clear, straight highway, where the low and high places are leveled out, the crooked or twisted places are made straight, and the rough places made smooth. It’s time for the Body of Christ to see clearly the time of the end together.
So we’re starting a new series on the final book. In our next blog, we will give you the broad overview of how the book unfolds. That in itself should clear up a lot of the confusion. We’ll also give you some traveler’s trip to guide you along the journey. We can’t wait to get started!
As the only Ever-Existing One, God created the heavens and the earth (Col. 1:16). He created the spiritual or supernatural realm, and He created the physical or natural realm. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present. He is the Supreme One, the ultimate Ruler over all that exists.
The creation story tells us that mankind was brought into this world to fulfill a specific purpose. This grand cosmic plan is the great theme of the Bible. It is called the mystery of His will. The mystery doesn’t pertain to God Himself, but to His plans and purposes for us. The mystery that was hidden in times past (the Old Testament) has now been made known to us through the New Covenant established by Jesus (Eph. 1:9).
Since God made us in His image and likeness, we also have a will. Having a will gives us the ability to choose, particularly to choose to love and to worship. Our will doesn’t take away from the fact that God is sovereign. It simply means that in His sovereign wisdom, God has chosen to give us a will so that we can choose to love Him.
Choices always have consequences. Because God is just, as well as loving, He must respect our choices. This means He cannot override the consequences of our choices. By “cannot,” I mean will not, because God will not break His own truths.
The power of choice was on visual display in the Garden of Eden. God set two special trees there: the Tree of Life (in God) and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (apart from God). We all know where that led. Instead of choosing God’s best, Adam and Eve settled for good and evil, and a lesser garden existence.
Their choice to rebel and sin against God brought serious consequences to this world: death, decay, destruction, deception, pain, sickness, and suffering. Suffering comes from three places: (1) our own wrong choices; (2) the wrong choices of others that impact us; and (3) the accumulated effect of sin on this earth, seen in natural disasters and catastrophes.
This means that we can’t always have a choice in what happens to us. But we do always have a choice as to how we deal with what happens to us. We can react (re-act) in kind, getting angry and seeking revenge. Or we can respond (re-spond) according to the Spirit, with wisdom, a heavenly perspective, and the fruit of the Spirit.
Reacting in kind puts us in bondage to the lies and hatred of the world. This eventually leads to bitterness, destruction, and death. Reacting by the Spirit releases grace and sows seeds of truth. Of course, the individuals involved can choose to reject that grace and truth. But the seeds have been sown. We’ve done our part.
Jesus said that His followers are not of this world, even though we are still in it. Because we have the Spirit within us, we can choose to walk by the Spirit or walk by the flesh (the natural ways of this fallen world). The first choice comes from the Tree of Life; the second choice comes from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
This is the reality of every choice that comes before us in these times. God longs that we choose Life.
Isaiah prophesied two absolutely vital truths of our faith. Both have to do with Christ’s coming to the earth. As for Jesus’ first coming? “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord...” In other words, the gospel that we are saved by grace through faith. As for His second coming? “…and the Day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2). In other words, to execute justice against evil.
Surprisingly, Isaiah goes on to prophesy that this vengeance would bring comfort, joy, and praise. How can this be? Those words aren’t what we normally associate with vengeance. That’s because we look at that word from our earthly perspective—from mankind’s imperfect anger and justice. God’s love is perfect. Mankind’s love is conditional. God’s justice is perfect. Mankind’s justice is inconsistent.
God has an appointed time for His vengeance. It is set for the first 3½ years of the Day of the Lord. And it is known as the Wrath of that Day. The purpose of God’s wrath is to incarcerate Satan and his evil forces, and seal up sin once and for all. In the process, the rebellious, counterfeit one-world order shall be destroyed.
No longer will believers have to endure the suffering and injustice that comes via sin and rebellion. Instead, faith, hope, and love will endure. The world will be made right again. Well, actually, it will be made new. Like earth, version 2.0!
If you or someone you know has a problem with the idea of God’s wrath, Alisa Childers, in her book, Another Gospel?, offers this insight from Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf. After witnessing the horrors of the Bosnian war, he saw the comfort in God’s wrath. “Though I used to complain about the indecency of the ideas of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.”
Sin, rebellion, and evil are ugly. Every single instance results in someone being hurt, robbed, killed, or destroyed (John 10:10). As Childers’ points out, “those who denounce God’s wrath are often the very same people who complain that He allows suffering and evil in the world. Yet Scripture tells us of a God who not only gives us an answer for the problem of evil but literally becomes the answer.”
The historical record is clear on what evil brings. With each passing year, the consequences of evil escalate, like a super virus feeding on itself. Could any of us have imagined the lengths to which evil would go in these last couple of years?
This is why it is time to understand the importance of the Wrath of that Day. God is in control. We need not fear. He’s given us Christ’s armor to stand firm in His truth and provision. He’s given us His word, such as Psalm 91 and Mark 16 to protect us. He hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. We need to know and act on the anointing of God within us to draw people to Christ—the answer to the evil and injustice in this world. Our focus needs to be on individuals, not the nations. God already has the nations in His hands.
Jesus began His ministry by reading a passage from the scroll of Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).
Then He closed the scroll. Oddly, He stopped mid-sentence. The full line from Isaiah 61 reads, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God.” Why didn’t Jesus complete the sentence? What’s up with that?
The purpose of our Lord’s first coming was to make it possible for fallen humanity to be restored back to God. The Son of God became the Son of Man in order to pay the price for sin. In doing so, He brought forgiveness, healing, and deliverance. He established a new and better covenant established on better promises (Heb. 8:6).
If we continue reading in Isaiah 61, the rest of the to-do list is just as welcoming and encouraging. So why did Jesus stop where He did when quoting Isaiah? The simple answer: It wasn’t time yet.
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that the Day of Vengeance is the Wrath of that Day, that happens as the 7th Day—the Last Day in God’s prophetic great Week—dawns. The 7th Day dawns with our Lord’s return, when He gathers the Church to take us back to Father’s House in Heaven.
This gathering marks a shift in our assignment. We are raptured and taken to the throne in order to be seated as the heavenly immortal government. Our role is to execute God’s vengeance against evil through the trumpet and bowl judgments seen in Revelation. But that’s only half of the assignment.
The flip side has to do the fact that we replace the Ephesians 6:12 hierarchy of evil forces over the earth. Through our intercession and declarations we release: (1) comfort to all who mourn, especially the newly saved remnant of the nation of Israel; (2) beauty for ashes; (3) the oil of joy for mourning; and (4) the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. For what purpose? That the inhabitants of the earth may be called trees of righteousness, that planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified (Isaiah 61:2b-3).
Together with Christ, as One New Man, we finish the mission of the Good News. Together we usher in the restoration of all things. To God be the glory, forever and ever.
Recognizing our future role once we are raptured is a message of comfort, hope, and victory. The rapture isn’t “bad eschatology” as one prominent pastor declared in Charisma magazine. It’s God’s Word and His plan to complete the assignment in the only way possible. At the appointed time, by the perfected immortal government united fully with Christ in one Spirit.
In the meantime, we continue our Lord’s commission to preach the good news, heal, bring deliverance, and preach the acceptance that is available by grace through faith.
sWe like to use the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle when it comes to understanding end-time prophecy. The puzzle pieces are bundled into the "box" that we call our Bible. Most puzzle solvers like to begin by finding the border pieces, especially the four corners. Today we're going to share with you seven pivotal pieces to help you solve the prophetic end-time puzzle.
These pivotal pieces help you see into the mysteries of the end-time Scriptures. The word for "mystery" in the Bible doesn't refer to something that cannot be found or understood. It describes something that is hidden, but can be known through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is always revealed at the right time, the appointed time, and it takes a seeking heart to understand it.
#1: God's great Week and the mystery of prophetic time (2 Peter 3:8). In God's sight, 1,000 years of our time equals 1 great Day. His prophetic plan of redemption unfolds across 7 great Days or 7,000 years.
#2: Knowing the times and the seasons and the mystery of the unknown Day and hour (Matt. 24:35-37). God has predetermined set times with corresponding signs that mark significant events in His plan of redemption, which help us mark where we are in God's timetable.
#3: Daniel's 70th Week prophecy and the mid-week pause for the mystery of Christ and His Church (Daniel 9:20-27). The theme of the prophecy is the coming of Messiah the Prince, Christ's first and second coming, and what He would accomplish accordingly.
#4: Christ's end-time teaching on the Mount of Olives and the hidden mystery of the gathering that He revealed (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). Jesus answered the disciples' questions regarding when the Temple would be destroyed and what would be the signs of the end of this age and His return, thereby introducing the rapture.
#5: Those sealed for the Day of Redemption and the mystery of their symbolic, numerical representation (Rev. 7 & 14). Why the Bride, the Church, is sealed by the Holy Spirit for that Day, and why we are pictured in Heaven before the throne of God at this point in the Revelation. It's all about His promise and our calling.
#6: The prophetic analogy of birth pains and the mystery of a royal priesthood birthed from death on that same Day (Rev. 12, Isaiah 66, Col. 1:18). This is when we are fully conformed to His image, including being raised on the Third Day and overcoming death.
#7: The Age to Come and the mystery of our heavenly calling (Rom. 8:17; Eph. 2:7; 1:17-21). We are raptured and taken to our prepared place in Heaven to fulfill our next assignment as joint-heirs with Christ. Complete in Him, we rule during the Last Day (the 7th Day) from the 3rd Heaven, until the time of the end and the restoration of all things. Then God makes the new heavens and earth, we descend to the earth as the City, and we enter the Perfect Day.
We've covered these keys throughout these blogs. They are documented in greater detail in Jeff's books that are available through this website (Resources Tab). For an introductory course on these keys, check out our link to our study guide called: Keys to Understanding Christ's Return--What You Need to Know About Your Future.
Many believers recognize that we are in the end-times and that Christ is coming soon. But both "soon" and the "end-times" are so vague when they stand alone, out of the context of the Scriptures. How do we deal with the uncertainty? How do we deal with the headlines and the chaos of these times?
Around a third of the Bible deals with prophecies and the time of the end. So why are so many churches ignoring the topic? Why do so many believers avoid the book of Revelation even though we know it tells us the end of the story? The simple answer: the clouds of confusion.
The Apostle Paul described it this way: "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known" (1 Cor. 13:12). We've inherited conflicting views of the end-times from past generations who saw things dimly and in part. No one view of the end-times had it all correct, and none had it all wrong.
Daniel 12:4 (Amplified Version) describes it this way: "But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the Book until the time of the end. [Then] many shall run to and fro and search anxiously [through the Book], and knowledge [of God's purposes as revealed by His (Old Testament) prophets] shall be increased and become great."
We are now in the "time of the end" when we need to understand the times so that we know what we are to do (1 Chronicles 12:32). Consequently, God is bringing the breath of His Spirit to blow away the clouds. He is giving believers eyes to see and ears to hear, if they are willing to lay aside their preconceived ideas inherited from the past. It's time to put away incomplete, immature view of God's chronos time and kairos signs (1 Cor. 13:11).
It's not always easy to lay down the traditions of men, even when they came from the right spirit of pursuing the things of God. Yet we need the same heart that the Bereans had when Paul came to their city: "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).
Paul's anointed prayer in Ephesians 1:15-21 is so very crucial now, for it is time for the knowledge of the end-times to increase. The Spirit of wisdom and revelation is giving greater insight into the knowledge of Christ and His return. We need the eyes of our understanding to be enlightened. We need to know the hope of HIS calling in us, both our calling now to bring others to Christ, and our future calling as the heavenly Esthers, when He gathers us to Him and takes us to Father's House at the rapture.
We need to know the glory of HIS inheritance in us. And we need to know the exceeding greatness of HIS power toward us who believe. This is how we redeem the time now, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:16).
Throughout Church history, God's Spirit highlighted certain Scriptures to bring clarity to the elemental doctrines of our faith (Heb. 6:1-2). So it shouldn't surprise us that He is doing the same thing now in our time concerning the doctrine of resurrection and judgment (the end-times). In the next few blogs we will review the key truths that God wants us to grasp so that we can see clearly what lies ahead in His chronos timetable. Those same keys will help us see the Book of Revelation more clearly as well.
Father wants us to know what to do. We are the need-to-know generation who shall see Christ's return. We can be certain.
We've been looking at the Appointed Day, the Last Day in God's prophetic great Week of the plan of redemption. It dawns with the rapture and concludes with the final great white throne judgment. As we've seen, some will arise to everlasting life and others will arise to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2).
Among those who arise to spend eternity with God are the Old Testament saints, including the prophet Daniel. "But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the Days" (Daniel 12:13, emphasis added).
Every enemy is defeated, including Death and Hades. Satan's final sentence and incarceration is done. Eternal righteousness has come to the new heavens and the new earth. The restoration of all things is complete. It is the end of the great Week and the end of the Days.
So then what? Does a new "week" start? Or perhaps a new Day, an 8th Day? If you take the number 8 and lay it on its side, you get the symbol of eternity. That's our clue. What comes next is eternity future. It has several names in the Bible: the Day of God, the Perfect Day, and the Unknown Day and Hour.
That last one might surprise you. Jesus spoke about this unique Day when He mentioned heaven and earth passing away in Matthew 24. That is, when God makes the new heavens and the new earth. It is "unknown" because mere mortals cannot comprehend an eternal Day.
"The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; but the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended" (Isaiah 60:19-20).
The Day never ends. Mind-boggling. Can we possibly imagine the glory of that Eternal Day when there is no sorrow, pain, sickness, death, injustice, war, tragedy, sin, deceit. . . ? "Oh Happy Day!" Nope, that doesn't do it justice.
If you've ever been blessed by being in the manifested presence of God on earth, then you've tasted of that glory. Now multiply that a zillion times over! No wonder we cry out, "Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever!"
The Appointed Day is also called the Day of the Lord and the Day of Judgment. Living or dead, believer or unbeliever, every person will be judged and will experience resurrection during that 1,000-year Day. The type of resurrection is what differs.
In the last blog we saw that believers are resurrected at the start of the Day of the Lord. We are judged as being His. We are born from the dead, overcoming death, as our Lord did, when we are raptured. Paul explains, "We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed --in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet."
Those believers who have already died and gone to Heaven shall be resurrected first, given new immortal bodies from the dust of the earth. Then those of us who are alive when He comes are instantly changed, receiving our immortal bodies.
All others will be judged and resurrected at the end of the Day of the Lord. That includes unbelievers, the Old Testament saints, those who accepted Jesus after the rapture, and those born during Christ's millennial reign over the earth.
Acts 24:14 describes two types of resurrection: the resurrection of the just and the unjust. The type of resurrection depends on whether or not the person's name is in the Book of Life, having received life in Jesus Christ (Rev. 20:12).
Those who now believe in Christ as the Savior receive the resurrection of the just, for they have been made righteous through the blood of the Lamb. They have received the forgiveness of their sins, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1). They live eternally with God.
Those who still reject Christ receive the resurrection of the unjust. They have chosen to reject reconciliation with God. They have chosen the ways of the world, which follows after Satan and ungodliness. John 5:28-29 calls this the resurrection of condemnation. They live eternally separated from God.
Then the final enemy -- Death and Hades (Hell) -- are cast into the Lake of Fire. Revelation 20 ends with these words: "This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire."
We always have a choice. Choices always have consequences.
Hebrews 6:2 lists resurrection and judgment as elementary or basic doctrines of our Christian faith. Resurrection and judgment are key themes of the Appointed Day. Hebrews 9:27 tells us about physical death: "And it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." The Bible is clear: there is no such thing as reincarnation.
Genesis 2:17 gives us a clue about what is typically called spiritual death. "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the Day that you eat of of it, you shall surely die." Physical death is being separated from our physical bodies; spiritual death is being separated from intimate communion with God the Creator, the source of life.
Every human is first and foremost a spirit being. A spirit doesn't die; it is eternal. Adam and Eve didn't immediately die physically when they ate of the tree. But they were separated from God. Sin creates a gulf between fallen humans and the holy God. Because of His great love, God made a way to bridge that gulf through Jesus -- what is commonly called the new birth or being born again.
Part of our salvation includes the hope of glory described in John 6:40. "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believe in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the Last Day."
Resurrection means to be lifted up, to be raised up, to be perfected, and to be completed. Every believer shall be resurrected at the Last Day. As that Day dawns, Christ will return and gather us to Him at the rapture, and take us to Father's House in Heaven (our prepared place). We receive our glorified, immortal bodies, and we receive our next assignment as part of the heavenly court at the right hand of the Father.
This is called the firstfruits resurrection (1 Cor 15:29). Christ was the first of the firstfruits (plural) when He arose on the 3rd day. Romans 8:29 explains that we are rest of the firstfruits: "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." James 1:18 calls us "a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." The Apostle Paul explains the order of our 3rd Day firstfruits resurrection in 1 Thess 4:13-18. The dead in Christ arise first, then those who are alive at His coming.
Firstfruits refers to a special offering brought to the Lord in the Old Testament before the first harvest could begin (Lev. 23). The offering reminded the people of their bondage in Egypt, God's deliverance, and the Promised Land. Unlike the other offerings, this was set apart solely for the Lord.
Our firstfruits resurrection happens at the start of Christ's 1,000-year reign (the 7th Day), for the Head and the Body must be fully complete and together in Heaven in order to reign as joint-heirs. This doesn't take away from Christ in any way, for He always has the preeminence (Colossians 1:18). It shows His great love for His beloved Bride and the amazing grace of being "in Christ."