What Do a Pregnant Woman and a Dragon Have to do with Easter?

Everyone loves a good story. Whether it be an action story, a drama, a comedy, tragedy, romance, etc., a well told story is likely to capture the attention of anyone willing to listen. And I’m quite certain that most could recall in their minds one story that rises above all others. For me, one of those is Lord of the Rings…all three. It  encompasses everything necessary to make a good story and brings them together into a drama that holds the reader captive from beginning to end. But there is one story that rises above all the rest, and this one is true: the story of Jesus Christ. It is the climax of this story we celebrate at this time every year. Jesus Christ died for our sins, rose from the grave and ascended into heaven, thus defeated sin, death and Satan and secured the everlasting salvation of his people. This “Christ event” was the climactic event in an ongoing struggle between good and evil, a struggle that began in Genesis 3:15:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.

Christ is this “Seed of Woman” and he defeated the Serpent at the cross (Col. 2:15). The rest of the story is him bringing in the fullness of his Kingdom.

What a story! But, you might ask, what does this have to do with this post’s title? Well, as you might have guessed, the title is a reference to the book of Revelation. But before we go further, read this:

¶ Then a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and with the moon

Blake's The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clo...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

under her feet, and on her head was a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was screaming in labor pains, struggling to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: a huge red dragon that had seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadem crowns. Now the dragon’s tail swept away a third of the stars in heaven and hurled them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. So the woman gave birth to a son, a male child, who is going to rule over all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was suddenly caught up to God and to his throne, and she fled into the wilderness where a place had been prepared for her by God, so she could be taken care of for 1,260 days. ¶ Then war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But the dragon was not strong enough to prevail, so there was no longer any place left in heaven for him and his angels.So that huge dragon—the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world—was thrown down to the earth, and his angels along with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the ruling authority of his Christ, have now come, because the accuser of our brothers and sisters, the one who accuses them day and night before our God, has been thrown down. But they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore you heavens rejoice, and all who reside in them! But woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has come down to you! He is filled with terrible anger, for he knows that he only has a little time!” ¶ Now when the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of a giant eagle so that she could fly out into the wilderness, to the place God prepared for her, where she is taken care of—away from the presence of the serpent—for a time, times, and half a time.Then the serpent spouted water like a river out of his mouth after the woman in an attempt to sweep her away by a flood, but the earth came to her rescue; the ground opened up and swallowed the river that the dragon had spewed from his mouth. So the dragon became enraged at the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep God’s commandments and hold to the testimony about Jesus. And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.

Well? Hopefully, you read it like you would any good story. If not, read it again, and follow the plot. It’s twists and turns. Get caught up in the action, the close calls and epic battles. Ask yourself, “who is this woman?”, “who is the dragon?”, “what’s with the child?” Does any of it sound familiar? “Why is there a war in heaven, and how is it that this woman and child escape this fierce dragon?” Try to figure it out like you would any mysterious drama that you’re not quite sure about until the very end. That’s part of the excitement…trying to figure out the mystery! This is an epic drama, a perplexing mystery. This is a good story.  But even more importantly, it is God’s word and is extremely important for our lives as believers. 

Homework: Go read Revelation 1-12. Think of it as a story. Get involved. Ask questions. When you get to chapter 12, think about how it relates to what goes before…then come back, scroll down and finish reading this….

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Back? Okay, lets talk through the scenes:

Scene 1: Signs in Heaven

John sees two signs in Heaven. The first, a woman with a crown of 12 stars on her head. She is clothed with the sun and the moon. What might the number 12 remind you of? Twelve disciples maybe? And what about the 12 tribes of Israel? 12 is an important number in Scripture, and in these two examples it seems that it represents the people of God. If you know your Old Testament well, the stars, son and moon might remind you of Joseph’s dream, in which the stars, sun and moon all bow down to him. We know that all Israel descended from Jacob and his sons, so perhaps this woman represents Israel, the Old Testament people of God? The woman is in great pain because she is about to give birth to a male child. Who is this child? Any guesses? When you think of a woman giving birth in the Bible, what first comes to mind? Exactly! Mary and Jesus. But this woman isn’t just Mary, but rather Mary is one person in the group that the woman represents. Mary was a Jew, and thus so was Jesus. The picture we have here, then, is that of Jesus descending through the line of Israel (think Matthew 1:1-11). The second sign John sees is a fierce red fire breathing dragon. Who might this be? Clearly the dragon is an enemy to the child to be born and wants to destroy him as soon as he is born. Any guesses? It seems pretty clear that the dragon is the Devil, the enemy of God, hell-bent (literally) on wiping out the promised Messiah, and it seems as though he will succeed! But something happens…the child is caught up to the throne of God before the dragon can devour him. He is rescued! So if the woman represents the OT people of God, and the child represents Christ, then the child being caught up before the dragon can devour him must represent Christ’s victory over Satan. His entire life, death and resurrection, and ascension are encapsulated in this birth and rescue into heaven. Christ is victorious!

Scene 2: War in Heaven

The next paragraph describes a fierce war in Heaven. To determine what this scene is meant to convey, first consider when this war takes place. Two possibilities immediately arise. First, this war could take place after the previous scene when the child was caught up to heaven. Maybe the dragon followed him up to Heaven? The idea being that the battle was the necessary consequence of Satan following the child. But how does the woman, who is seen in Heaven along with the Dragon, end up on earth? The dragon is thrown down in scene two, yet no such movement is attributed to the woman. 

The second possibility is that this scene is another description of the events of scene one, kind of like two camera angles on the same football game. This would mean that this war is not the chronological result of the child’s ascent, but rather it is another depiction of the same event. Thus, in the first scene, Christ’s victory over the Dragon is pictured as his being caught up to heaven, while in the next scene it is pictured as the Dragon being thrown down to earth. I think this is likely for a few reasons. First, the language itself does not indicate an ensuing event. 12:1 begins in a similar fashion and introduces recapitulation (a retelling of the same events). Also, the next scene (13-18) is clearly subsequent, and it adds “and when”, referring to a previous event which must necessarily take place before what follows (the Devil must be thrown down before he can see that he is thrown down). Finally, the gospels depict a war between the Seed of Woman and the Serpent throughout Christ’s life, culminating in his death, resurrection and exaltation. The battleground was not in heaven, but on earth! So John here is depicting the heavenly counterpart to what took place on earth (cf. Matt. 16.19).

But why picture Christ’s work as a heavenly war between angels? First, angels in the OT are often depicted as the mighty arm of Yahweh.  His power is portrayed by multitudes of angels doing his bidding. Also, Michael held a unique role in protecting Israel and contending with the Devil (see Dan 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 9). Second, in contrast to ancient combat myths in which the two opposing powers are on equal footing, John depicts a “non-combat” myth in which the servants of Christ vanquish the enemy with ease. Even so, we find the most direct answer in the text itself, and it has to do with what Christ’s victory on earth accomplished in heaven. The Dragon, identified as “the ancient serpent…the Devil and Satan…” is the ultimate enemy behind all attacks on God’s people, and only the first stage of his defeat has taken place: the elimination of his accusation of believers before God’s throne. Part of the purpose of chapter 12 is to explain why a defeated foe still rages on earth in the form of intense persecution by worldly powers. The answer is that in losing his place of accusation in Heaven, he has been “thrown down” to earth, where he still rages (12:9). The second stage of his defeat will not take place until he is “thrown down” from the earth into the second death (20:10). Though the Dragon’s defeat here is preliminary, it is nonetheless decisive and guarantees the final victory. It is a cause for praise!

Interlude: Praise in Heaven

Because of the dragon’s defeat, all Heaven erupts in praise. What does it mean that the Accuser has been thrown down? The apostle Paul has the answer, 

Who will bring accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies, who is the one who condemns?! Christ is the one who died, moreover was raised, who is also at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:33-4).

This provides explicit commentary on John’s vision: by virtue of Christ’s victory – his life, death, resurrection, ascension to God’s right hand and his continual intercession – Satan is rendered incapacitated when it comes to bringing accusation against the elect before God’s throne.

Also, in John 12:31-33 the same author writes:

now is the judgment of this world, now the ruler of this world will be thrown out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to myself.

This is what it means that “the salvation and the Kingdom and the power of God have come.” Christ has defeated Satan, our sins are justly forgiven and the Father, because of Christ’s shed blood, is drawing all his people to himself through the Holy Spirit. The accuser is thrown down, and his time is short.

Scene 3: the Dragon’s Rage

The final scene might seem like a strange ending to our story. In one breath, the enemy is defeated, and in the next he is persecuting the people of God. First, notice that in light of Christ’s work, the woman now represents the people of God post-Pentacost. That is, she is the corporate body of Christ. I think we find our answer to this strange ending in something said previously. 

And they conquered him [the dragon] by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives unto death.

In other words, the people of God conquer in the same way that Christ did. We do not love our lives to the point that we would deny Christ to save them. Anytime a Christian remains faithful to the point of death, it is another nail in the coffin of the enemy.  Notice that no matter how hard the dragon pursues the woman, she is always supernaturally protected. This scene envisions God’s spiritual protection of his people in the midst of great tribulation. The “earth-dweller” is a technical term in Revelation that refers to those who follow the dragon rather than Christ. It is they who should beware. But we rejoice in the midst of suffering and the dragon’s rage, for as we conquer the dragon is that much closer to his eternal incarceration…he is bound for the lake of fire and it is by the faithful testimony of believers to the point of death that he makes his way there! Does the dragon rage? Yes. Are we afraid? No! For the accuser is cast down, and soon he will be forever cast out. He is conquered by the blood of the Lamb, and he will be vanquished by the Lamb’s wrath (Rev. 20.7-10).

Christ is risen, he is risen indeed. His life and death and resurrection demonstrate his absolute authority over Satan and all the enemies of God. We conquer because he conquered, it is by his death that we live, and by his death death will one day die!

So, What Do a Pregnant Woman and a Dragon Have to do with Easter? In light of Revelation 12, you tell me!

(Now go and read the rest of the story!!)

 

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Project Memorize Revelation: 1:1-3

Above is a video I did reciting Revelation 1:1-3 in Greek. My goal is to finish memorizing the entire book by the time I write my dissertation in a year or so. I’ll also do a blog post on the portions I recite. The Greek and English texts are shown below. Should be fun!

“Τhe Revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ).

These first three words tell us the purpose of the book of Revelation. The word revelation simply means to unveil. It carries the idea of revealing something that is at present hidden. It is a Revelation both about Jesus Christ and one given by him. Here in this first verse it’s clear that the Revelation is given by Jesus Christ; it was given to Jesus by God (the Father) to show his servants what must take place and then Jesus in turn reveals it to John. Also it is very important to see right from the beginning that the Revelation is just that, it’s a revelation. It’s not something that’s meant to confuse, or something that’s meant to keep hidden; it’s just the opposite: it is an unveiling.

Revelation was most likely written at around 90 ΑD under the reign of the Roman Emperor Dometian. It was a time of intense persecution of Christians where believers were being boiled alive, sawed in half, stoned, and beaten for their faith. They may have been tempted to ask the question “what am I missing here?” Jesus Christ promised that he would return that he would make all things right, that he would overthrow his people’s enemies and that he would rule and reign forever. At this point in church history it certainly didn’t look like that was happening or would happen anytime soon, so the unveiling of the Revelation given by Christ himself is to show what is hidden behind those circumstances: that Christ reigns even now! So as we read through this book we should always have at the back of our mind the question: what does this say about Jesus Christ and his rule?

“To show his servants what must take place soon.” (δεῖξαι τοῖς ⸀δούλοις αὐτοῦ…)

This phrase has been the brunt of many debates over the years as to the timing of the book of Revelation. Those who think that everything in Revelation starting in chapter 4 is wholly future would say that this phrase doesn’t mean anything about a near present fulfillment of these events, but rather as the Scripture teaches “to God a day is like 1000 years in 1000 years is like a day.” We are therefore to live as though these events are happening very soon when in reality they may still be years and years and years in the future and indeed in John’s time they were at least 2000 years from taking place. There are also those who want to emphasize the then present fulfillment of the book of Revelation who often look to the destruction of the Jewish Temple in A.D. 70 as the fulfillment of most of what is described in it. I, however take a mediating position. I don’t believe most of the book of Revelation was fulfilled in A.D. 70, partly because I believe the book of Revelation was written later. Also, it makes much more sense to see in the events described in Revelation a description of things that will take place at the very end of history. On the other hand, I do not believe that the majority of Revelation had only a future fulfillment with regard to John’s day. Briefly, it seems to me that the book of Revelation describes events which are taking place in John’s day, will continue to take place throughout church history, and will find a culmination in the events just before and when Christ returns. More on that as we study the book.

“And he showed and he signified it by sending through his angel to his servant John.” (καὶ ἐσήμανεν ἀποστείλας…)

  The word we should pay attention to hear is “signify”, which in the context of Revelation appears to carry the idea of something revealed through symbols. This word can carry that idea at its root and it seems apparent, given the symbolism throughout Revelation, that this is its intended use here. So, we should avoid reading Revelation in a strictly literal sense where possible and instead give proper weight to the fact that it is a revelation given through signs and through symbols. The seven seals, the seven bowls, the seven trumpets, the scroll, Babylon, the great harlot, the Dragon, the beasts, the sea, the thousand years, etc. are all symbols pointing to a reality beyond themselves. It is this reality that John’s apocalypse is meant to unveil.

“He testified concerning the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ as much as he saw.” (ὃς ἐμαρτύρησεν τὸν λόγον ⸋τοῦ θεοῦ⸌ καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ…).

Everything that John sees and conveys in Revelation is a testimony to God’s word and to Jesus Christ. In Romans 9 Paul, when reflecting on Israel’s mass rejection of Jesus Christ, asks the question “has God as God’s word failed?” The present circumstances of Paul’s day regarding Israel naturally led to that question, so Paul proceeds to demonstrate why God’s word has not failed and indeed is being fulfilled.  Similarly, the book of Revelation’s purpose is to demonstrate that God’s word given through Jesus Christ has not failed, and that it is being worked out even in their present tribulations.

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud and who hears the words of this prophecy, and who keeps the things written in it, for the time is near.” (Μακάριος ὁ ἀναγινώσκων καὶ ⸂οἱ ἀκούοντες⸃ ⸄τοὺς λόγους⸅ τῆς προφητείας ⸆ καὶ τηροῦντες τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ γεγραμμένα, ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς ἐγγύς).

John directly addresses the person in charge of reading his letter out loud to the churches in Asia as well as those who will hear it read. He exhorts them to keep what he writes, because the time is near. Now, this blessing is one of the primary reasons I love the book of Revelation. It is the word of God and it promises a blessing on those who keep it. Some might say that the blessing comes as we in the 21st century watch these events unfold before our eyes, and in a sense I agree with that. However, it seems clear that the same would be true of those first century readers of the Revelation. It is essential then to recognize that the readers contemporary to John would have been able to understand everything that was written in their own time, and if an interpretation of Revelation suggests that only we in our time can understand the symbols it contains, then it should probably be questioned. As the verse says, for the time is near. The events of Revelation are upon us, as they were upon those Christians in the 1st century suffering tribulation.

So, let us read and study these words carefully, and let us keep what is written. In the book of Revelation we will see the majesty, glory, wonder, and sovereignty of our God and his Christ. When rightly understood, Revelation can only lead to the people of God crying out in praise for the God who rules all things, for the Lion and the Lamb, Jesus Christ, who has secured for all time the salvation of his people, and the Spirit who enables them to endure to the end!

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Interacting with “The End”, Part 3: Snapshots of Revelation

A Review of Craig Groeschel’s “the End”: Part 3

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In the past month or so I have reviewed two of Craig Groeschel’s in his 3 part series titled “The End.” In the spirit of completeness I’d like to take a look at his final message “Snapshots of Revelation.” As the title indicates, in this message Groeschel takes 40 minutes and gives his audience a jet tour of the book of Revelation. This is actually a very difficult thing to do, and personally I would not attempt it unless I was doing a series on the entire book and wanted to begin with a brief overview. Revelation is the type of book that requires a lot of introduction to give people an idea of the type of literature being dealt with. Having said that, Groeschel does a good job of summarizing it and getting at the heart of the message, which I agree with him on. Still, there are some differences in the details and so lets take a look at his message and see where we might differ.

After a brief introduction, Groeschel divides his message into 5 sections and themes:

1) Jesus is the Alpha and Omega (Chapters 1-3): Jesus is coming soon

2) Jesus is the Lamb of God (Chapters 4-5): He is worthy to open the scroll

3) Jesus is the Righteous Judge (Chapters 6-18): Jesus righteously judges the earth

4) Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Chapter 19): Jesus returns with his church

5) Jesus is the Bridegroom and we are the Bride (Chapter 21): Jesus takes us, the church, to the heavenly city

There are many ways to divide up the book of Revelation, and this broad outline does a good job of hitting some of the main themes of the book. So, lets move through the outline.

First, Groeschel makes some introductory comments about Revelation. He talks about how it is “really creepy and scary” and so people avoid it. Actually, however, he then correctly asserts that this book will “build your faith…and if you’re a follower of Jesus you should get excited about what God is showing you through the book of Revelation.” The problem is that people “don’t know how to read it.” This is exactly right! Revelation does have some images and symbols we simply are not used to. It is a type of literature called “apocalyptic” that was common in that day, but is foreign to what we are familiar with today. Groeschel rightly states that when it comes down to it, Revelation is about Jesus Christ, and as we read it we should always be asking the question, “what does this say about Jesus?” Groeschel does this in each of his sections, and thus gets the main theme of each right.

1) Jesus is the Alpha and Omega (Chapters 1-3): Jesus is coming soon

Here Groeschel points us to Revelation 1:7:

But then he goes on to say that “this is not the first return of Jesus when he comes back like a thief…the first time he comes for his church, this time he comes with his church…” My question is, why is this not the same coming as described in 2 Thessalonians 4? Let’s compare the two texts:

So, if we look at both of these texts, it would seem they are speaking of the same event. It is the Lord Jesus who is coming in both. 2 Thessalonians describes a cry of command, the voice of an archangel, the trumpet of God. Also, each speak of the Lord coming on the clouds. In 1 Thessalonians believers are caught up in the clouds to meet him, while in Revelation 1 he is coming on the clouds. Should we, therefore, take these as two separate comings, or as discussed in a previous post, see these events as describing the same coming, with 1 Thessalonians focusing on the perspective of the believer and Revelation describing the perspective from heaven. It seems that at that final trumpet, we will meet the Lord in the clouds and return with him to judge the nations. Every eye will see him, every ear will hear and all who have rebelled against him will mourn. It is much more likely that this is the case, and no reason from either of these two texts to take them as separate events.

But what about the language of a thief? 1 Thessalonians goes on to say:

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers,[b] you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children[c] of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.

So what does Paul intend to say when he uses the metaphor of a thief? The text tells us: “When people are saying ‘there is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman.” It is the suddenness of Christ’s coming that make it like a thief, not its secretness. It is sudden destruction that will come upon the ungodly like a their. It is as the labor pains that suddenly come upon a pregnant woman (Is 66:7; Jer 6:24; 22:23; 50:43; Mic 4:9). But it will not surprise believers, for they are prepared because they have trusted in Christ. It will not be a time of destruction for them, but a time of blessing. Paul makes this very point in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-9

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from[b] the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because ourtestimony to you was believed.

Therefore, it is unlikely that 1Thessalonians 4 and Revelation 1 represent two separate comings of Christ, but rather two perspectives on his final coming.

2) Jesus is the Lamb of God (Chapters 4-5): He is worthy to open the scroll

Pastor Craig does a good job summarizing section two, and I agree with him for the most part. Jesus Christ is the slain lamb of God, who alone is worthy to open the scroll which symbolizes God’s purposes for humanity as revealed in the remainder of the Revelation. We press on.

3) Jesus is the Righteous Judge (Chapters 6-18): Jesus righteously judges the earth

Again, Groeschel’s main point here I can agree with. Jesus always judges rightly, and on the day of judgment no one will be able to say, “that’s not fair.” However, it is with Groeschel’s “bonus thoughts” that we depart ways. Basically, he interprets chapter 6-18 as entirely future, prophesying things that have not yet happened even in our time, things we are perhaps seeing right now. His thoughts are in bold, and my responses follow:

Temple Rebuilt (Rev. 11.1-2) – Groeschel takes the mention of the temple in Revelation 11:1-2 to prove that the temple will one day be rebuilt. The passage says:

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. 

I won’t spend a lot of time defending a particular interpretation of each of these issues, but rather I want to simply show that there are other interpretations which fit better what I believe these passages to mean; however, the question that should be asked, according to Pastor Craig’s own advice when it comes to the symbolic nature of Revelation, is could not Revelation mention a temple symbolically that did not actually exist literally? Of course, and that seems to be the case here. The question then that should be asked is, ‘what does this symbol mean?’ Just as in chapter 1, we are told that the seven golden lampstands represent the seven churches, so here we must decide what the temple represents. My answer, without a lengthy defense, is that the part of the temple that is measured is the true church, those who have trusted in Christ. The measuring indicates that they are protected from God’s wrath to be poured out in judgment. The ‘court of the Gentiles’ or outer section which is not measured, represents they heathen who have not trusted Christ. No such protection will be provided for them. They will be trampled.


Anti-Christ (Rev. 13 and 14-16)

Mark of the Beast

Anti-Christ killed and raised to life (13.3-4)

The anti-Christ is actually not named in Revelation, rather it is the beast from the sea. Again, I would simply ask what this beast would represent to John’s readers? And what would his mark represent? And what would it meant to John’s readers that he suffered what seemed to be a mortal wound (13:3-4)? All of these images would be utterly meaningless to John’s readers if this person were yet future, and if his mark was a microchip. A much more likely reading is that the beast represents none other than the pagan city of Rome and its emperor, who commanded worship as a god and who was responsible for the persecution John’s readers were enduring. By extension any nation and world leader who would set itself up against God could l be called the beast of Revelation. John himself said that he was “partner” with his readers in “the tribulation.” Surely the suffering talked about throughout the book refers to this same tribulation John and his readers were enduring.


Two Witnesses (Rev. 11)

Killed and raised to life

Shut up the heavens

issue any plague they want

Fire from mouth (“really cool trick”); “don’t mess with two witnesses”

Groeschel then discusses the two witnesses. He takes them literally, and all their powers literally as well. Again, we should ask similar questions. Why should all of these things be taken literally in a very symbolic book? In fact, later Pastor Craig will talk about the sword coming from the mouth of God as a symbolic representation of the word of God. I believe the symbolism here represents the same as that of the measured temple. The two witnesses, i.e. God’s true church, will be protected during the time of God’s wrath.


 Anti Christ raised up to assassinate world leaders; one world government (Rev 17.12-13; Dan. 7.24)

The Anti Christ is defeated at the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16.16-19)

Again, I would just advice a careful reading of the text to see if there is anything about a future one world government in Revelation 17. The beast is indeed defeated at the final battle, as are all nations and peoples who have opposed Christ. These are a few of the issues in Groeschel’s interpretation of Revelation that don’t seem to fit the context or overall point of the book.

4) Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Chapter 19): Jesus returns with his church

“He is not a candidate who we elect in and out of office. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords and when you read Revelation and see who Jesus is, it will build your faith.” Amen, Pastor Groeschel!

5) Jesus is the Bridegroom and we are the Bride (Chapter 21): Jesus takes us, the church, to the heavenly city

Pastor Groeschel ends very well. I say again, most of what he says I agree with and we can partner in the cause of the gospel because we hold these gospel truths. Christ is coming soon and this is a cause of joy and hope for all believers. These other issues we can debate and discuss, but praise God we need and should not divide over them.

Still, I believe that as Christians we must strive each day to be faithful to all of God’s word, including the unfamiliar texts of Revelation. These issues are not unimportant and they may well affect how we read Scripture and understand the gospel of the kingdom.

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