The Seven Beatitudes of Revelation

Here are the Seven Beatitudes of Revelation:

Revelation 1:3:  “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”

Revelation 14:13:  “Then I heard a voice form heaven say, ‘Write:  Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’  ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘They will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.'”

Revelation 16:15:  “Behold, I come like a thief!  Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

Revelation 19:9:  “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write:  Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’  And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.'”

Revelation 20:6:  “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”

Revelation 22:7:  “Behold, I am coming soon!  Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”

Revelation 22:14:  “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”

I didn’t even know these existed until this study!  It’s so cool how Jesus gave us the Beatitudes on the Sermon on the Mount as well as these through the angel.  Awesome!

As we go through out study, be aware of these final words of wisdom from Jesus.  A great website HERE explains them thoroughly.

Overview of Revelation: What all Scholars Agree On

Over the last few weeks, I’ve presented many eschatological views concerning the return of Christ.  We’ve discussed the rapture, the tribulation, and the millennium.  However, there are three things all eschatologists can agree on:

1)  There will be a Great Tribulation

2)  After the Tribulation, Christ will establish his kingdom on earth

3)  There will be a rapture (where all believers will become immortal and dwell with Christ forever).

The time frame is what is in question here, which leads to what will Christ’s Second Coming look like.

Why is this important for us?  Because Christ can come at any time.  We should be familiar with the signs so we are not fooled by any of Satan’s trickery.  Most importantly, the Second Coming gives us hope and faith.  Hope when things are bad.  Faith that God has not forsaken us.  Through this study of Revelation we should see both our hope and faith grow in leaps and bounds.

Overview of Revelation: What is the Great Tribulation? And What’s So “Great” about It?

Definition of tribulation according to Webster’s:  “distress or suffering resulting from oppression or persecution; a trying experience.”

The Tribulation and the Great Tribulation are all part of the study of eschatology (the End Times).  In terms of the Bible, the tribulation is the seven-year time frame (note the number 7) when God will finish gathering his disciples from His chosen people (Israel) and judge all of the unbelievers.  Believers will be exempt from this judgment (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53; 1 Thessalonians 5:9), commonly known as the rapture.

The Great Tribulation refers to the last 3 1/2 years of the tribulation.  Revelation 13:5 designates the time the Beast will be in power as 42 months.  Why the separation?  In the Great Tribulation, the Beast or Antichrist will be revealed and God intensifies His wrath.  Revelation 13-19 details God’s wrath on earth.

In the Tribulation there will be unparalleled suffering sent from God to earth for His purposes. This includes persecution of Christians by non-christians and in the Great Tribulation (the last 3 1/2 years) God will pour out his wrath on the ungodly.

Daniel is the first to reveal the tribulation in Chapter 9.  “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people (the Jews) and your holy city (Jerusalem) to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy” (Daniel 9:24).  Seventy sevens is 490 years (note the number 7 again).

Now here’s where it gets confusing.  Most scholars agree that 69 of the 70 ‘sevens’ have passed (Daniel 9:25-26).  This is 483 years, the exact time since the decree to build the Temple at Jerusalem until Jesus’s crucifixion.  This leaves one 7 year period to come (the Tribulation).  When is the question that is debated amongst scholars.

This leads us back to the differing views of eschatology:  preterists, futurists, historicists, and idealists who all hold differing views of when the 7 years will occur and what exactly will happen during those 7 years.

The preterists believe the 7 year period has already happened around the time of the destruction of the temple in 70 AD and it affected only the Jews.

The historicists like the preterists believe the tribulation has already happened as well; however, they believe it occurred when Rome fell from power in the Middle Ages.  They use the term “the persecution of the Saints” instead of the term tribulation which was used in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13.

Amongst the futurists, there is debate but in general they hold the 7 year period will begin when mankind is at its worst in terms of wars, poverty, and overall chaos and it will occur before Jesus’s Second Coming.

The idealists who generally believe Revelation is spiritual and not literal believe we are in tribulation now and dismiss the 7 year time period all together.  We wage war spiritually every day against the devil.

In sum, the tribulation is the 7 year period when God will judge humanity, which has reached its peak of evil.  Whether or not believers will face the tribulation is much debated and will be discussed in my next post along with the rapture.

Outline of Book of Revelation

Scholars differ on the breakdown of the book of Revelation.  Here’s my favorites amongst them.  I have no idea what BSF’s approach will be.

There are 7 visions in the book of Revelation recorded by John.  Four are considered key and they all begin with the words “in the Spirit”  (Rev 1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10).

The 7 Visions are:

1)  The church on Earth (chapters 1-3)

2)  The Lamb and the seven seals (chapters 4-7)

3)  Seven angels with trumpets (chapters 8-11)

4)  The church persecuted by Satan and the beast (chapters 12-14)

5)  The seven bowls of God’s wrath (chapters 15-16)

6)  Judgment of Babylon (17:1-19:10)

7)  Final judgment and victory (19:11-22:21)

Another Outline I found is this:

I  Introduction:  the return of Christ (1-1:8)

II  Christ, the critic of the churches (1:9-3:22)

III  Christ, the controller of destiny (4:1-16:21)

IV  Christ, the conqueror of evil (17:1-21:8)

V  Christ, the consummator of hope (21:9-22:5)

VI  Epilogue, appear and invitation (22:6-21)

Numbers will be very significant in the book of Revelation so pay attention when you see them.  I will be pointing these out as we go along.  The number seven is chief among them.

Overview of Revelation: What is Premillennialism? Debate over Revelation 20

Within the study of eschatology is the debate about when will Jesus come again.  There are three main interpretations of the Bible here known as amillennialism, postmillennialism, and premillennialism.  These beliefs all stem from Revelation 20 where Jesus’ Second Coming and the Millennium is discussed in some detail.

What is premillennialism?  This is the belief that Jesus will physically come again (the Second Coming) before (“pre” means before in Latin) the ushering in of the Millennium spoken about in the book of Revelation (Revelation 20:1-6).  Jesus comes, the Millennium begins, giving unbelievers a chance to turn to God, Satan in bound and then he’ll lead a final revolt, then the judgment occurs.

Amillennialism (“a” means no in Greek) is the belief that the book of Revelation is figurative and the time frame is indeterminate. Revelation 20 refers to the church age during which Satan’s power over the nations is restrained so the gospel can reach more people.  This belief holds that we are already in the church age, waiting for Christ to come and judge, and therefore Christ’s reign is in heaven and not here on earth.

Postmillennialists (“post” means after in Latin) see the millennium as a future period when truth will be revealed and accepted by the majority of people.  They believe in the literal 1000 year period or Golden Age but unlike the premillennialists, they believe the church, man, and nations will all eventually turn to Christ first and only when the majority of the world is ready for Christ will he return physically to earth and judge mankind and usher in the New World Order.  They believe the 1000 years has not begun yet.

Did you catch the key difference between the postmillennialists and the premillennialists? Postmillennialists believe man will convert people and reference Matthew 28:19-20 (the Great Commission).  Premillennialists believe Jesus himself will come and convert the majority of mankind to him.

In sum, amillennialists don’t believe in a physical coming of Jesus.  Postmillennialists and premillennialists believe Jesus will physically come to usher in his kingdom–the debate is in the details of when as well as the actual 1000 year period itself.

All agree that this world will end and Jesus will establish an eternal kingdom here on earth. The debate is over how and when.  Again, does it matter?  We can hold onto the hope and the truth that there will be a time when Jesus will reign.  For now, he reigns in our hearts.

This is at the end of our study but it’s good to have this idea in your head now and be thinking on it as we go along.  Perhaps there will be clues elsewhere.

To me, this is just plain interesting.  I love how God doesn’t make it clear because I believe the details don’t matter to Him.  He wants us.  Always has.  Always will.  As long as we’re secure in Him, the rest is merely fodder for the soul.

Overview of Revelation: What is Eschatology?

Eschatology is a Greek word meaning “the study of the last”.  In Revelation, eschatology refers to the study of End Times.  However, in Christian eschatology, it’s also the study of the end of life, the end of an age, the end of the world, etc.  More specific, it includes the study of the Second Coming of Jesus, the judgment of the world, the resurrection of the dead, and the creation of a new heaven and earth.  Further, the nature of the millennium, the intermediate state, the concept of immortality, and the eternal destiny of the wicked is also included.

For Christians, this is the study of what the Bible says about all of the above–chief among them being the Book of Revelation.

Within eschatology, there are various interpretations on what exactly the writings refer to.  Chiefly, these are preterism, historicism, futurism, and idealism.

Preterism from the Latin praeteritus, meaning “gone by” is the belief that all the prophecies of the Bible have already been fulfilled in the past–mainly in the first century AD in reference to the Book of Revelation.  Preterists believe the book of Revelation was written about the present conditions of the Jewish people and Christians in the Roman Empire and was written in a prophetic manner to hide the meaning from pagans.

Preterists see Christ’s second coming as spiritual and not physical and the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD as the final judgment and we are already living in a new earth.

Historicism is the belief that biblical prophecy is fulfilled in the past, present, and future–meaning prophecy is continually being fulfilled.  This view tries to associate biblical prophecy with actual historical events and people.

Futurism is the belief that biblical prophecy will be fulfilled only at the end of the age.

Idealism is the belief biblical prophecy is symbolic only–meaning it doesn’t refer to actual events but serves only a warning to mankind about behavior.  Revelation is a general discourse on the inherent good and evil in mankind, which is constant and never changes throughout time or history.  This view asserts good will triumph over evil but ignores the hows and whys and whens of it all.  This view dismisses entirely the book of Revelation as an apocalyptic writing.

Many scholars don’t neatly fit into any of these categories and instead hold a mixture of beliefs. I have no idea where BSF will fall within these categories or if they will pick at all.  For now, just know the different viewpoints while studying the book of Revelation.  This will help give you the tools to decide for yourself what you think God is saying here.

Remember, always go back to God’s word.  And if it doesn’t make sense, that is okay.  We can never know what God knows nor is His ways ours.  Our job is to try to learn about Him through His word and be ready when He speaks.  And studying the Book of Revelation will help us to do just that.

Overview of Revelation: What does Revelation mean Anyways and What exactly is Apocalyptic Writings?

What does “Revelation” mean?

I’m a language and etymology buff.  I love Greek and Latin and wish in my earlier days I had studied both more.  The word revelation is from the Greek word ἀποκάλυψις apokalypsis, meaning “unveiling” or “revelation”.  The Greek word is formed from two Greek words “apo” meaning away from and “kalyptein” meaning to cover.  Hence, the word literally means “uncover.”  More fully, “an uncovering or disclosure of knowledge”, and “unveiling of knowledge.”

Hence, our English word “apocalypse“.  This word originally referred to the Bible and its prediction of imminent cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil and raises the righteous to life in the messianic kingdom.  Recently, it’s been broadened to mean the end of the world as we know it and not necessarily by God’s hand.

How did we get the word revelation from apocalypse?  Well, it’s Latin.  Revelation comes from the Latin word “revelare” meaning to “lay bare”, “unveil”, or “uncover”.  Hence, thanks to the monks of the Middle Ages, we use the Latin form of the word as the modern day title but we can also thank the Greeks for the word apocalypse.

The word apocalypse and revelation is the same Greek word just translated differently. The words’ meanings have evolved over the millennium but for our study both refer to the visions John received on the Island of Patmos.

Armageddon.  Originally in Hebrew, this word is “Har–Magedon” or “Har Meghiddohn”, means “Mountain (or hill) of Megiddo (the city).  Armageddon (Ἁρμαγεδών in the Greek) means a mountain or range of hills.  This word is used only once in the Bible in Revelation 16:16 and it refers to the GATHERING PLACE of  the forces of good and evil–NOT THE ACTUAL BATTLE.  Traditionally, this has been at the foot of Mount Megiddo in the Valley of Jezreel where some historians say more wars have been fought here than in any other location in the world.  This word like apocalypse has been broadened to mean the end of the world.

The final battle will take place outside Jerusalem in the Kidron Valley or Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2, 9-16) against Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:14-20; 16:14; 19:11-21; Joel 3:12-14).

Scholars disagree as to the actual location of the final battle.  Some take it literally.  Some figuratively.  Some say it will be world-wide.  Others argue the translations and the semantics.  In my mind all that matters is there will be a final battle of good versus evil and God will win.  Does it really matter where it will take place?

What is apocalyptic writings or literature?

Apocalyptic writings focus on the revelation of God and His plan for our world.  They always talk of future events and visions of the future.  Most discuss God’s triumph over evil.  And interestingly, God himself rarely speaks in these writings.  God’s word is usually communicated through angels or others God chooses.

Between 200 BC and 200 AD, apocalyptic writings were actually quite common and quite popular amongst Jews and early Christians.  Apocalyptic writings abound in symbolism, which is what makes the Book of Revelation so hard to understand especially to modern readers.  Symbols change and meanings are lost so a lot of what we will be studying had completely different meanings almost 2000 years ago and we just flat out don’t know what the symbols were supposed to mean either.

Apocalyptic writings came about in the era between the writing of the Old Testament and the New Testament.  God had stopped talking to His people, creating a void in the Jewish community.  Evil rulers were in power at this time (Rome and Greece and Persia before) and God’s people wondered where He was.  Hence, various writers began to write to fill this void and encourage the people that God’s kingdom is indeed still coming especially after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.  God’s people couldn’t understand how such a catastrophe could befall them.

Apocalyptic writings can be seen in the Old Testament in the books of Joel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Chapters 24-27 of Isaiah and chapter 33, and the Book of Daniel.  This was continued with the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.  The main difference between the Book of Revelation (the ultimate apocalyptic writing) and others is visions are left unexplained.  Hence, the difficulty and hence our challenge in studying it.

Furthermore, early noncanonical writings (many discovered with the Dead Sea Scrolls) were imaginary–not based off of actual visions from God.  Hence, I’m assuming we will only be studying what is in the Bible in BSF.

Rest assured, the one theme we will see in Revelation:  the ultimate victory of God.  Evil will be overthrown and God will reign.  This is our hope.  This is God’s promise.  His glory to us all.