BSF Start Dates 2015

Like last year, I’m wondering when you all begin.  I haven’t heard from my leader yet and it’s almost September!  I wonder if that’s because Labor Day is late this year.

If you wouldn’t mind could you leave your location and start date in a comment below?  I’m getting a lot of comments/questions on it and it might help others!

God bless!

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: Where did the “Church” Go?

The word “church” is used 19 times in the first 3 chapters of the book of Revelation.  Then it’s not used again until Revelation 22.  So what happened in Revelation 4-21?

We are not sure.  Scholars use this fact to support the pretribulationist view that Christians are indeed exempt from any tribulation because the word is not used.  In fact, the word “church” is never used in Revelation when discussing the Tribulation.  Romans 8:1 says Christians will not experience any wrath from God.  This is the strongest evidence for this view in the Bible.

Those who disagree say the word “saints” used throughout Revelation 4-21 means the church.  However, this is a different Greek word and why would John, the author of Revelation, use a different word here unless they were different?

However, scholars will point out that the Greek word “saints” is used 59 times in the New Testament to refer to a true believer in Christ.  So perhaps the writer of Revelation merely switched terms.  Furthermore, the word “church” is also missing from the books of Mark, Luke, John, and others.  Does this mean the church didn’t exist?

No.  As most of us know, the idea of the church meaning the body of Christ developed after the apostles were dead and has evolved over time to mean believers.

Hence, in my opinion, we can’t conclusively draw any conclusions as to why the word “church” is missing here but used elsewhere as well as the word “saints”.  As a writer, word choice is subjective and a prerogative by the writer.  John could have simply been bored and wanted a change!

My reason for this post is two-fold:  1)  Don’t read too much into word choice and translation choices. The Word is God-breathed but man-written and man-translated.  2)  I just wanted you all to notice this in Revelation.  I’m unsure if BSF will even mention this as the debate is intense in the eschatological community.  But I find it interesting and good to know.  If you read much on the End Times, you will see this mentioned over and over again.  With so many out there with an opinion, it’s good to form your own opinion.  But you can’t without the knowledge.

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.