Thru the Bible – Day 353

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Day 353 – Thru the Bible

Today we continue Revelation.

Revelation 10The appearance of the angel invokes not only the Lord leading the people by the pillar of cloud and flame after the exodus, but also the salvation of Noah: the angel has a rainbow over his head. These past acts of salvation have led to and have been more fully fulfilled in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus provides the final, climactic act of deliverance, the deliverance of which every other deliverance is an anticipation.

The angel now comes to provide guidance for the redeemed. Revelation 1:1 said “God gave” the “revelation” to Jesus who “made it known by sending His angel to His servant John,” who was to “show to [the Lord’s] servants the things that must soon take place.” That chain of revelatory disclosure is being enacted: Jesus took the scroll from the Father in chapter 5 and opened it in chapters 6–8; the angel brings it down in 10:2, and John will eat the scroll and prophesy in verses 8–11. The universal significance of the message of what Jesus has done and will do is shown by the angel putting his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land.

John is authenticated as a true prophet as he reenacts a scene from Ezekiel 2:9–3:4. As John eats the scroll just as Ezekiel did, the people of God are given proof that he is a true prophet, like the Old Testament prophets, whom they can trust. The churches are confronted with false teachers (Revelation 2:14, 20), and a false prophet will soon enter the picture (13:11–18; 16:13). Those redeemed by the work of Jesus are to trust the prophet (John), who makes known the contents of the scroll that Jesus has opened. In 10:11 the message is sent to all peoples and nations and languages and kings, reminding us of the universal significance of what is unfolding throughout Revelation.

How does it encourage you to know all that Jesus is doing includes you?

 

Revelation 11There is disagreement among faithful Believers over the best interpretation of the temple, the two witnesses, and the three-and-a-half-year period in these verse. Some see the events described as reflecting past and present realities leading to Jesus’ return; many see these as primarily future. Yet those who see them as future events are also divided over the sequence of events indicated.

Perhaps all can agree, however, on how John intended this passage to function for his audience. John sees the temple protected for 42 months (three and a half years) in 11:1–2 and the two witnesses prophesying for the whole of their appointed time (1,260 days, another way to describe three and a half years) in verses 2–6. The two witnesses are killed in verse 7, but God vindicates them, and their resurrection is reminiscent of the valley of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37.

On any interpretation of the temple, the witnesses, and the time period, John’s description tells the churches that God is able to protect His people for the whole of the time He has appointed for them to preach the Gospel. And even if their enemies kill them, God can raise the dead. This would encourage persecuted churches to continue to proclaim the Gospel.

John seems to indicate that the temple that will be protected throughout the 42 months is the church. This appears to be why John refers to those who worship there in verse 1 and identifies the dwelling of God with those who dwell in heaven in 13:6. In keeping with Paul’s assertion that God’s people are His temple and that the Holy Spirit dwells in them (1 Corinthians 3:16), in the New Testament age the people of God, corporately represented in the church, are the temple.

Similarly, the two witnesses apparently symbolize the church proclaiming the Gospel throughout the duration of church history. They are identified as two lampstands; the olive oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit’s presence; and, in the imagery of Revelation, Jesus stands among the lampstands (1:12–13). We see in 11:5–6 a correspondence to Elijah (fire consumes their foes, and they shut the sky; see 1 Kings 17:1; 2 Kings 1:10–12) and Moses (they turn waters to blood and strike the earth with plagues; see Exodus 7:14–25). We should remember that elsewhere in the Bible, Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets, which combine to give witness to and preparation for the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 11:13; 17:1–5; Luke 24:27; John 1:45; Acts 28:23; Romans 3:21–22).

Thus, Revelation’s descriptions signify these two witnesses’ ability to demonstrate that there is only one living and true God (recall Elijah’s defeat of the prophets of Baal) and that God has fulfilled the pattern of the exodus in the salvation accomplished by Jesus, which is referenced in the symbolic identification of Jerusalem, where their Lord was crucified, with Sodom and Egypt.

The 42-month period is likely a symbolic way of referring to the whole period of time between the two comings of Jesus. The slaying of the two witnesses (11:7) and their resurrection a short time later (verses 9–11), followed by their being called up to God in heaven (verse 12), appears to portend an almost total stamping out of Christianity right before the return of Jesus and the resurrection described in 20:4–6.

This would make sense of the placement of the seventh trumpet blast immediately after this narrative: the church will proclaim the Gospel to all nations (Matthew 24:14), the full number of the Gentiles will come in (Romans 11:25), the witnesses will finish their testimony, and then the end will come. All of human history is being guided along under the wise and sovereign hand of God. We can trust Him even through the great trials that must be endured by Believers.

Leviticus 25:9 calls for the trumpet to be blown on the Day of Atonement in the Year of Jubilee. In language drawn from that passage, Isaiah prophesied that the new exodus would be marked by “a great trumpet” blast (Isaiah 27:13). Now John shows the fulfillment of the pattern of the Year of Jubilee and the prophecy of Isaiah as the seventh angel blows his trumpet (verse 15). The “kingdom of the world” becomes “the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ”; both “the Lord” and “Christ” are mentioned here, followed by the singular phrase “and he shall reign forever” (Matthew 28:19).

Recalling Psalm 2:1–3, Revelation 11:18 says the nations raged—and the church was persecuted as a result—but God’s wrath came, and His servants were rewarded and the wicked destroyed. There was an outpouring of wrath when the temple was destroyed, and the prophets described that day of the Lord with imagery similar to what we find in verse 19. There was also darkness and an earthquake when Jesus died on the cross (Matthew 27:32–54), and the veil was torn when Christ died (Matthew 27:51). The wrath that should have fallen on us fell instead on God’s Son, in our place. This is the message of the gospel, culminating in Revelation with trumpet blasts, but only after the crescendo has consistently built throughout the rest of the Bible.

With all the “scary” details depicted, how does the Gospel truth reassure you of God’s faithfulness through it all?

 

What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?

 

Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.

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