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.

Prayer Requests for Week of April 19th, 2015

Hey all,

Please post any requests for prayer in the comment section below or email them to me (atozmom.wordpress@gmail.com) and I’ll be happy to get them posted!

Mine:  We are trying to buy a house.  Pray God removes all barriers and puts us where He wants us.

Have a great week!  God bless!

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 30

Hey all,

As all of these are personal questions, I won’t be posting my answers here.  I’ll just give you all a summary of what I learned for the year.  This will be my Sharing Day so to speak.

I learned that God only desires our faith in Him and obedience.  That’s it.  Later, it’s changed to faith in His son, Jesus Christ.  It’s so simple that most people are tripped up by it.

I learned how truly amazing Moses was.  Everyone knows about Moses but most people just know him as the guy who parted the Red Sea and turned some water into wine (this was my impression at least).  But Moses was so much more.  He was the closest to God a person can be.  He did amazing things for 40 years for millions of people.  He had a heart for God.  He stumbled and paid the price like we all do.  But his life was extraordinary.  It gives courage to those of us who live ordinary lives.

I learned how incredibly stubborn God’s people were and how this explains much of how we are today.  Man’s nature never changes.  Neither does God’s.  Repeatedly, the Israelites fell. Repeatedly, they rebelled.  Repeatedly, they turned away.  Always God picked them up.  Always God forgave them.  Always grace prevailed.  God is amazing and loving and awesome. Compassionate, forgiving, and omnipotent.  Protector.  Provider.  Comforter.  The story of the Israelites journey out of Egypt is a story of grace and God’s goodness.  His will in all.

I learned about the importance of helpers.  How we all need them.  Asking for help is okay. Humbly receiving it is even better.

I learned how God’s grace and judgment are not to be questioned.  We all know His ways are not our ways.  We all deserve death.  Anything we receive in our walk on earth is all by Him.  Every breath is by His grace alone.  One day we will all take our last when He deems it so.  What would happen if we all lived out that truth?

The Study of Moses was a struggle for my kids, especially the giving of the laws.  The first half of Moses they loved.  Full of heroic stories and deeds.  The second half was a drag.  Archaic laws that went over their heads.  But they came and they had fun and I know they got something out of it. Even if they don’t realize it until later on down the road.

Anytime I read God’s word my faith is strengthened.  Moses is a man after God’s own heart. Knowing more about him helps me to know more about what God wants for me.  Moses’s walk was an extraordinary one.  I only hope I can lead one half as well!

Final Link:  Just a little summary in a nutshell of Moses’s life and some important lessons to glean:

http://www.gotquestions.org/life-Moses.html

Thank you all for studying with me, for sharing your thoughts, for being my “group”.  It was amazing.  I can’t wait for Revelation!  Bring it on!  Have a great summer break and God bless!

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 29, Day 5: Deuteronomy 34

Summary of passage:  Moses climbed Mount Nebo and God showed him the Promised Land.  Moses died as the Lord had said and was buried in Moab.  He was 120 years old.  The Israelites mourned his death for 30 days.  Joshua took over as leader of the people.  There has never been anyone before or since like Moses.

Questions:

10a)  God promised the Promised Land to Abraham and his descendants (Isaac, Jacob, etc).  The land was from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates River, which included the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Raphaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites–the whole land of Canaan.

b)  It is a fulfillment of God’s promise, one the Israelites have waited for for centuries.  Finally, the time has come.  All of the people (including Moses) must have been overwhelmed with God’s faithfulness and their faith must have grown.  God would keep His promises of a Savior and a time when all would live forever with Him on heaven and earth.

11)  Filled Joshua with the Holy Spirit.  Thus, the Israelites listened to him and accepted him as their new leader as well.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Faith.  Prayer for decisions.  Prayer for guidance in his role for my life.

Conclusions:  Dang!  I really wanted to study the Israelites in the Promised Land!  Is that a study in BSF?  The Minor Prophets perhaps?  I know BSF alternates Old Testament with New Testament, but it would be cool to do this study back-to-back because I fear when we get to the Minor Prophets in a few years I won’t remember a lot of the details of the study of Moses.  I’m an order/chronological freak so I’d love to do the bible straight from the beginning to the end.

Good lesson today.  Great conclusion to the Life of Moses as we see him ascend into God’s arms.

End Notes:  Moses does get to set foot on the Promised Land with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17; Mark9; Luke 9).

Mount Nebo scholars believe is in the country of Jordan today.  The list of places is in a counter-clockwise circle from north to south.

Can you imagine Moses’s thoughts and feelings?  Immense job mixed with incredible sadness.

Note what Moses is called:  The servant of the Lord.  Not great leader.  Not prince of Egypt.  Not miracle-worker.  Not prophet.  Servant.  That is the greatest job God wants from all of us.

Moses died as the Lord had said.  This is usually translated “at the mouth of the Lord.”  This shows us that God keeps all of His promises–even the judgement ones.  Ancient Jewish custom says that Moses died as God took away his soul with a kiss.  Of all the ways to die, this is the best!

Note the Lord Himself buried Moses where no one can find his body.  Jude 9 tells us that the devil wanted the body of Moses.  We are not told why the devil wanted Moses’ body and scholars speculate reasons.  But we do know Moses appeared for the Transfiguration.  God was not done with him yet!

Notes Moses life divided by 40:  40 years in Egypt.  40 years in the desert leading sheep.  40 years leading people to the Promised Land.  God prepared Moses for 80 years for the last 40 years of His life.

God’s plan moves on as it always does.  But Moses is remembered for his intimacy with God, his miracles, and his leadership over Israel.  Moses was prophet, lawgiver, deliverer, and judge.  Before Jesus, he was the closest to God and in my opinion still is/was the closest human being (Jesus was both man and God) to God.

Scholars debate whether or not Deuteronomy 34 should really be the first chapter of Joshua.  First, it obviously wasn’t written by Moses (and no one knows who wrote this chapter).  Second, it seems to transition well into the first chapter of Joshua.  Furthermore, when these books were originally written one book followed another.  The modern divisions and chapter breaks are just that–modern.  This was an advent of the Middle Ages beginning in 1227 (Great note HERE) for the sole purpose of our convenience.  They are not from God.

One scholar believes the Bible was meant to read as a whole–the books without stopping.  The divisions can cause problems in interpretation as well.  (See article HERE).  Fascinating in my opinion.

Summation:  The bible is God-breathed.  The divisions are not God-breathed.

Modern Country of Jordan showing Mount Nebo:  http://www.atlastours.net/jordan/map.jpg

Mount Nebo is now a tourist destination.  Note this is where scholars think is the likely Mount Nebo from the Bible.  We are not 100% sure.  Information HERE

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 29, Day 4: Deuteronomy 33:26-29

Summary of passage:  Moses leaves the people with encouraging words, telling them there is no one like God who is their refuge and salvation and protector and provider.  They are blessed and will drive out their enemies with the Lord before them.

Questions:

8 )  They are God’s chosen people no matter their sins (just like we are today).  God chose them from the beginning and God will never abandon them.  They are righteous if they follow the sacrificial law despite their rebellion.  They are blessed and righteous because God said they are blessed and righteous.  In my book, that’s proof enough.

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God is omnipotent.  God never abandons us.  God drives out our enemies so we can live in safety.  God blesses us and is our shield.  God walks with me in my daily struggles which compound sometimes into the big struggles.  Knowing He is there makes life indescribably easier.

Conclusions:  Felt these questions could have been deeper.  Moses sums up his whole experience with God in these three verses and gives them as a gift to us.  God is there always and we should feel forever humbled and grateful and reverent for what He has done.

End Notes:  Note the power in these words:  “eternal God” and “everlasting arms”.  God is forever.  No other god was/is.

Israel shall live alone means Israel shall never merge with other people.  They shall continue to be separate and set apart from all the other people–which is true to this day.  Try reading the translation:  “Israel shall dwell in safety; alone shall the fountain of Jacob be”.

Most translations render “Blessed” in verse 29 as “Happy.”  Reads different, doesn’t it?  We should be happy God has saved us and chosen us.

On this side of heaven, we are to read this victory as Jesus’s victory on the cross as well.  These words instruct us:  The One, True God has saved us completely; therefore, He is to be our refuge, our shelter, our protector, our provider.  And in return we offer full faith, worship, and surrender to Him.