Our dear friend Neil writes,
‘Dear Richard, At last I have managed to finish part 5 of the study articles on Revelation. One of those cases where making it short is far more difficult than writing it as a tome!! At one stage it was 19 pages, so I changed the whole approach. It can’t be long now before the New World Order reveals its plans in a way that leaves nothing to the imagination – we couldn’t live in more exciting and what are more clearly “end-times”.’
Indeed! Also, in our chat over Rev 22:20 I mention some translations state ‘soon’, whereas literal Greek has ‘quickly’, which implies suddenly. Neil reminds me he writes in ‘SIGNS’ of ‘soon’ in Rev 1:1 often being translated as meaning events will take place over a short period of time, rather than our concept of ‘soon’. So, I propose scheduling this last part for publishing at 11th minute of 11th hour of 11th day of June 2022!
To my ploy Neil replies, “11th hour on the 11th sounds significant/appropriate in light of recent comments on the Battle for Britain, changing of the guard, Big Ben’s imminent recommencement of regular chiming, the quickening (exponential) pace of prophetic end times indicators (wars and rumours of wars) etc, etc. Time is short!” (American prophet Robin D Bullock goes live at The 11th Hour every Tuesday – RB’s note.)
WHAT IS THE BOOK OF REVELATION FOR? – Part 5: CHAPTERS 19-22
I start this section with something of a digression, relating to the whole of the Book of Revelation. At Revelation 19:10 it says: “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”. For ease of reading, I have tried to avoid too much cross-referencing in these articles. Nevertheless, the whole of Revelation is interwoven with links back to scripture in general, and to the prophetic scriptures in particular, from both the old and new testaments. The Old Testament records the creation of the world, the selection of God’s chosen people Israel, their successes, failures, trials and tribulations, the restoration of Israel after exile, and all things prior to the first advent of Jesus. The New Testament adds the prophecies of the disciples and, in particular, of Jesus in Matthew 24 & 25. These themes and prophecies are picked up in Revelation. Some suggest that the whole Bible could be studied from Revelation, using it as the basis for a form of reverse analysis of scripture (not for the faint-hearted!).
The last four chapters of Revelation describe the victorious fulfilment of God’s magnificent plan for the redemption of mankind. It is the glorious culmination of the Bible story, the revelation of our destiny, and the absolute confirmation of God’s love.
Again, I adopt a narrative style, rather than repeating large sections of scripture. However, I do recommend that readers study the chapters carefully before (and while) considering this narrative.
Chapter 19 begins with universal rejoicing at the destruction of Babylon, which is synonymous with all that is evil and corrupt in the political and economic systems of the world. There is a veritable “Hallelujah Chorus” in heaven, giving God the glory for all things. The bride (the true church) has been made ready and the wedding of the Lamb is celebrated with a great wedding supper. A white horse “whose rider is called Faithful and True” (Jesus) appears on the scene. He is leading the armies of heaven in His full glory as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The beast (the antichrist) leads an axis of evil powers against Jesus. The Armageddon battlefield is revisited: the vision features a second invitation to a supper. But this is gruesome carrion feast for birds of prey, a gory contrast to the glorious marriage supper of the Lamb! Jesus destroys the axis of evil with the sword of His mouth and the beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire.
Chapter 20 opens with the dawn of the Millennial Age (20:1–10). Satan, the father of lies, is locked up in the bottomless pit and can no longer subvert and seek to thwart God’s rule. Jesus restores the life of those who were martyred for their faith (the first resurrection) and they reign with him for 1,000 years. However, we are warned that Satan will be released “for a short while”.
Incredibly, when he is released, Satan is able to raise a vast army from the four corners of the earth. (Gog and Magog are mentioned, which has led to much speculation – see after-note 1). This vast army marches on Jerusalem, but fire comes down from heaven and completely destroys it. Satan is thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where he will remain for ever.
This chapter closes with a vision of a great white throne. The dead are judged and those who are not in the “book of life” are thrown into the lake of fire. (Again, there are various opinions on aspects of the white throne judgement – see after-note 2).
A new world now replaces the old! A glorious new Jerusalem is described and we see various features of its magnificence and beauty. In other words, we are shown a picture of the new earth and what it will be like for the believers who live there. In essence, the new Jerusalem is portrayed as a garden of Eden and this wonderful panorama provides a fitting conclusion, not only to the Book of Revelation but also to the entire Bible.
Chapter 22 concludes with an authentication of the source of the message (Jesus). In emphasising “I am the Root and the Offspring of David”, Jesus makes it absolutely clear that this is the culmination of the story of Israel (v16). Readers (and listeners) are invited to respond to the message (v17). There is a dire warning against tampering with the text (v18-19). Again, it is made clear that this is a book of prophecy. Lastly, and for the third time in Chapter 22, Jesus says:
“I am coming quickly”.
After-Note 1: The name Gog appears in three separate texts: 1 Chronicles 5:4, Ezekiel 38–39 (ten times), and Revelation 20:8: Ezekiel 38:2 mentions a Gog, “the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.” In Ezekiel 38–39, Magog is a region to the extreme north of the land of Israel (Ezekiel 38:6). Gog of Magog, by the Lord’s influence (see Ezekiel 38:4), leads a coalition invasion force against Israel. In Ezekiel’s vision, the Lord destroys this vast army on the mountains of Israel. The name Magog occurs five times: Genesis 10:2; 1 Chronicles 1:5; Ezekiel 38:2, 39:6; and Revelation 20:8. Although there undoubtedly was an ancient people known as Magog living far to the north of Israel, in Revelation it may depict an evil alliance (i.e., be used as a simile), rather than be a specific leader and country. This End-Times “axis of evil” seeks to remove the Lamb from his throne.
Going a little deeper, some commentators are more specific and claim that “Gog” is a title for the leader of Russia and that Magog is an ancient tribal name for that region. Some suggest that Meschech and Tubal are historical names for Moscow and Tobolsk. The inference is that Russia (probably leading a coalition) will invade Israel in the End-Times. However, there is a conflict of opinions as to the timing of this invasion. Some locate it before the millennium and others after, as per Revelation 20:7–10. Various alternative suggestions are given, in attempts to rationalise the apparent conflict of timing between the battles in Ezekiel and Revelation. I believe that a close reading of the relevant scriptures shows that:
a) In Revelation 20 the invaders are stopped in their tracks and consumed by fire i.e. no battle really takes place and Jerusalem is unscathed, whereas:
b) In Ezekiel 38 and 39 there is a much more comprehensive (pre-millennial) conflict with troops entering a restored Israel and descriptions of the scenes before and after the battle.
Why the emphasis on this? Because I think the Ezekiel 38-39 battle could be soon.
After-Note 2: The White Throne Judgement. Revelation 20:15, looks decisive: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”. What is clear from scripture is that salvation is not based on works but by grace (the unmerited favour of God) through faith. Good works are the fruit of genuine faith (Ephesians 2:8–10), not the other way round. Believers are judged on the basis of their works with regard to reward or loss of reward in the new Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 3:10–15).
On a Pre-millennial understanding of Revelation, those before the great white throne include all the people who have ever lived but who have not responded to God’s offer of salvation — in other words, the great majority are likely to be unbelievers. Premillennialists assume that those who were believers prior to the Millennium will already have been judged at Jesus’ judgment seat, and will have received their rewards for faithful service, or suffered loss for some level of failure (see 1 Corinthians 3:10–15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; and Romans 14:10–12). But many people survive the Great Tribulation and enter the millennial era. They, and their descendants born during the Millennium would, presumably, have the opportunity to make a decision to believe in Jesus. One might expect, therefore, that many of them will be in this judgment scene before the great white throne. Their being there would explain the need for the books of record, referred to in Revelation 20:12. However, many obviously do not accept Jesus as Saviour because Satan is able to deceive a vast number, when he is released at the end of the Millennium. So, unbelievers from the millennial age are likely to be present as well.
An Amillennial approach to Revelation is less complicated. They do not accept the notion of an interim earthly millennial kingdom and, therefore, expect all (believers and unbelievers) to be before the final judgement seat. Amillennialists view the 1,000-year reign in a spiritual rather than an earthly sense. They also reject any idea that undermines the covenant concept of unity in the people of God, e.g., that advocates a different destiny, or routes to that destiny, for the Jewish people and the church. In other words, they would not accept the idea of pre-tribulation for the church, leaving the Jews to live through the tribulation, before the literal fulfilment of the Old Testament–covenant promises to Abraham and his descendants. I sure readers will realise that there are myriad variations on these themes.
You may find a Glossary of End Times Terminology helpful!