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The Big Purpose of Revelation: Mission to the Nations
Revelation shows the final outcome of God’s promise to bless the nations through Abram (Genesis 12:1-2). The blessing would be through Jesus, the Lamb of God, sacrificed to make redemption and reconciliation possible. The mission would continue as Jesus sent his people, full of the Spirit, to be a people on mission to the nations (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). The mission would continue as Jesus sent his people out in the way the Father sent him (John 20:21). That meant the people of Jesus would be the faithful witnesses to the sacrificial love of God in Jesus.
Not only would we proclaim that message, we would “walk the talk” through our own sacrificial service as faithful and true witnesses to the grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love of God in Christ and through the people of Christ.
Seven times (7x) you will find the four-fold (4x) phrase, or a version of it— tribe, language, people, and nation. John uses two of his favorite numbers to represent completion (7) and comprehensiveness (4). The mission of God has been successful. The promise is fulfilled.
The glory and honor of the nations are brought into the new city (Rev. 21:24-27). In the middle of that new city is a river of life with trees that bring healing to the nations (Rev. 22:1-3). The curse upon humanity that came in the garden is now ended in a city that has a garden!
Revelation also has much warning in it. It shows the judgment of God on all that is evil and destroys his world (Rev. 11:18). The warning is given so people would repent and turn to God, so that those who are enemies can become friends and heirs. Some do not repent (Rev. 9:20-21). Others do
repent (Rev. 11:13).
The message of God’s salvation is given through the faithful witnesses, which is fully described in Revelation 11:1-13. There is a price for faithful witness (John 20:21; Matthew 10:24-42). Did you know the Greek word translated as witness is marturia or martyr? The Greek word for messenger
is angelos (or angels). When we do our work as messenger and witness, we are like the angels and the martyrs.
Pray that Jesus will empower you to be his faithful messenger and witness to God’s redeeming love. Look for opportunities to be his faithful witness. Be prepared for resistance and opposition.
Revelation 10: The Angel and the Little Scroll
The angels in Revelation are not your Christmas card type of angels. These are not your chubby cheeks, child-like angels. The angels of Revelation are majestic, awe-inspiring, and the sight of them causes fear. The most majestic angel in Revelation is found in Revelation 10:1-7. This angel is so majestic it is described with characteristics similar to that of Jesus. This angel is a holy messenger, bringing the opened scroll of Revelation 5:1–8:1 to John.
The scroll is referred to as both the little scroll and the scroll (vv. 2, 8, 9, 10). These are NOT different scrolls, but the same scroll. Otherwise, the original scroll has been unsealed and disappears! This is the scroll unsealed and opened.
(10:5) This angel stands on both sea and land, showing it is greater than the beasts of sea and land that will appear in chapter 13.
(10:6) No more delay. Judgment on evil and justice is advancing.
(10:7) The mystery of God is the revelation of how he will fulfill all the promises of salvation and blessing in a rebellious, sinful world.
(10:9-11) This passage is a combination of Ezekiel 2:8-3:11 and Jeremiah 15:16. John is the peak prophet who must prophesy the final and most complete word of God to the world.
God’s words are sweet when they are taken to heart (10:9), but when they are actively rejected by those who hear, they become bitter. The message of salvation by grace is sweet, but the rejection of that message is bitter to the one who speaks and to the one who rejects.
Chapter 10 is a turning point chapter in Revelation. The 7 seals have been opened; 6 of the 7 trumpets have sounded. These first two warnings-judgments have been partial (1/4 and 1/3). They were meant to produce repentance and have not done so. The 7 thunders judgments have been withheld, with the assumption that they would not work either (10:3-6).
Jesus is the faithful witness (1:5). In the 7 churches, there have been faithful witnesses. Antipas was the ultimate faithful marturia (2:13). Now the stage is set to describe the mission of faithful, sacrificial witness to the truth. That is the scene of Revelation 11:1-14.
Revelation 11:1-14: The Two Witnesses
This section of Revelation is loaded with Old Testament meaning. The core message of Revelation is: Witness to the truth and trust God for the results of truth speaking, and for your own final salvation-resurrection! As all of Revelation, it spoke to that century, to all centuries, and to our 21st century.
First, there are two witnesses, for the Jewish law says a testimony must be established by two witnesses (John 8:16-18; 2 Corinthians 13:1).
Second, they represent the church. They are referred to as the two olive trees and lampstands (Rev. 11:4; 1:18-2:1). It is possible they also represent Old Testament Israel and the New Testament Church together. They are NOT two individuals, they represent God’s people.
Third, they represent the two prophets, Moses and Elijah. They have power to stand against those who oppose God. Moses stands against Pharoah and his magicians with the power of plagues. Elijah stands against King Ahab and the false prophets with the power of fire.
Fourth, they represent the kingdom reality of authority and the priestly reality of forgiveness (see Zechariah 3:8-4:14). The church is a kingdom and a priesthood (Rev. 1:6) and that is reflected in the work of Zerubbabel and Joshua in Zechariah.
Fifth, 3 ½ days is always a special number. Whether it is literal or not, it is always also symbolic, referring to something that is temporary, partial, and passing. Jesus was in the grave 3 days. John uses 3 ½ days. This is not literal, but symbolic of being temporary. The two witnesses, their defeat, and their deaths are temporary. They are raised to new life and ascend to heaven (vv. 11-12).
Sixth, this is a ministry of repentance. That is the symbolism of sackcloth (11:3). Their witness works. Verse 13 is crucial. It refers back to the time of Elijah when in all Israel there were only 7,000 faithful. And, in Sodom and Gomorrah, they could not even find 10 righteous people, so the city was destroyed. Now we see a great reversal, only 7,000 are killed and only 10% of the city is destroyed. The rest, a great majority, give glory to God. Faithful witness has worked!
(11:14) The second woe is now over. The third woe is to come. The third woe will focus on Babylon as the representative city of evil.
The great invitation of this chapter is that you and I would be faithful witnesses to the good news salvation of God. It will be hard, there may be a serious cost to do this, but that is our calling as the missional and Messianic people of Jesus.
Revelation 11:15-19: The 7th Trumpet
The 7th trumpet has sounded. When the 7th seal was opened, there was silence in heaven for half an hour (Rev. 8:1). When the 7th trumpet sounds there are loud voices in heaven (Rev. 11:15). If the silence was space to gather the prayers of God’s people, the loud voices are the praises of God’s
(11:15) This is a key interpretive passage in Revelation. God’s kingdom has come, more fully than ever. The Lord’s Prayer is materializing: Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven!
(11:17) This verse is carefully worded. Now God is the one who is and who was. He is no longer the one who is to come, since the ending is now here. God the King has come. The kingdom of God has come. What was awaited is being fulfilled.
There are six results of the coming of God’s kingdom:
• He has taken up his great power and now reigns/rules.
• His wrath (against sin and evil) has come.
• The time of judging has come (the King is also the Just Judge).
• The time of rewarding the faithful and reverent has come (all the faithful, great and small).
• The time to destroy the destroyers of the earth has come.
• The temple of God in heaven is opened (Rev. 19:11 also). And the result is theophany, or God’s appearance or manifestation (see the five signs of God’s mighty presence in 11:19).
(11:16) The fitting response is to fall on our faces in worship and give thanks. Revelation is a book of worship. We worship as we wait. We worship when the wait is over. Praise be to God the Almighty and to the Lamb who was slain (Rev. 7:10).
We are still waiting. The King is still returning. Spend time in worship all day long and rejoice that one day (maybe soon) the wait will be over.
Many scholars now conclude that the first half of the book of Revelation is over. The second half is about to begin.
Revelation 12: The Woman and the Dragon
Interpreters of Revelation often struggle with sequence. How much do the events of Revelation proceed in a linear fashion, one after the other? Many of the best interpreters do NOT see much of Revelation as sequential. Instead, the vision and visions of Revelation are more like video shorts or vignettes.
They are a series of unfolding snapshots. With chapter 12, John has changed the snapshots. He provides another powerful way to understand human history. History is the unfolding of a cosmic, supernatural level conflict. This chapter describes the conflict more strikingly than any other single chapter in the Bible. It is also the most concentrated teaching on the one called Satan.
There are three characters. One is easy to identity: Satan. The other is a woman. She is probably a mashup of Mary, the mother of Jesus; Israel, the mother of the Messiah; or Israel, the “mother” of the Church. It is one or some combination of the three. John’s vision is wide and deep and capable of multiple meanings that converge into BIG MEANING. It also has allusions to Eve and her child, who will defeat the serpent (Genesis 3:14-16).
They are about 20 statements describing the dragon—who he is and what he does. Make a list of all that is said about the dragon to learn how much hate and power evil has against God’s Messiah and Messianic people.
Notice the number 3 ½ again, only this time it is not given in years, but in days (12:6). This is obviously symbolic of a temporary situation.
There is a crucial point here. Notice that the dragon does NOT have the power to spiritually harm God’s people. This chapter ends with the dragon full of wrath that his schemes have not worked. So, a new demonic scheme will be tried beginning in chapter 13.
Rejoice and be comforted about the spiritual protection that is upon you. Also, be wise and confident about the devil. He is powerful, but his power is limited and temporary. Jesus wins! And so do his people, even if there are hard times ahead.
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