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 Rapture and What Does that Have to do with the Tribulation?

The rapture is the belief that either before or after Christ returns the Christians still alive on earth will be transformed, receive their resurrected bodies, and be taken in the clouds with Jesus.  This is based entirely on Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.

Again, there is debate amongst eschatologists about the timing of the rapture.  They are divided into three camps:  Pretribulation, Midtribulation, and Posttribulation.

Pretribulationists believe the rapture will occur at the beginning of the 7 year tribulation period.  This means no believers will experience any tribulation period.  This belief holds all believers on earth will be members of the restored Jewish nation.

Midtribulationists believe the rapture will occur at the halfway point, 3 1/2 years before the return of Christ at the very beginning of the Great Tribulation period.

Posttribulationists believe the rapture will happen when Christ returns at the very end of the Great Tribulation or 7 year time frame before Christ returns.  The church will continue throughout the tribulation.

Paul also discusses the rapture in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 51-52.

Some scholars even profess a partial rapture where only the pious Christians will be taken with Christ while the rest must suffer first and then be taken.

The rapture and Christ’s Second Coming are different events although both involve the End Times. The rapture is where Christ gathers the believers in clouds.  The Second Coming is where Christ returns to earth to establish his kingdom, defeat the AntiChrist, and judge non-believers and end the tribulation.

Keep in mind all of these are theories.  We know the rapture will occur.  We don’t know when.  God does not tell us.  We know Christ will return.  God does not tell us when.  Furthermore, Scripture doesn’t expressly teach one view over the other.  Thus, what we have is man trying to determine God’s ways given what little we are told in the Word.  There is nothing wrong with this; in fact it is our job as Christians to try to divine what God is telling us.

We just have to remember our knowledge is limited and in the end only one thing matters:  we will be with God.  In the meantime, we live like He tells us to live.  God will take care of the rest.

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.