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The First Sight

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11)

 

The book of Revelation puzzles many who read it. It seems strange and sometimes bizarre. Many avoid the book because the contents elicit fear about the predictions of things to come. However, the book of Revelation is the only book of the Bible that promises a blessing to those who read, hear, and apply its contents. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” (Revelation 1:3).

Revelation opens with the last remaining apostle of Jesus, the Apostle John, “in the Spirit the Lord’s Day.”[1] The Roman government arrested and exiled John to the prison island of Patmos for preaching the disruptive Gospel of Jesus Christ.[2]

The initial recipients of the book were seven churches in Asia Minor: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.[3] To these, the risen Christ addresses individual letters.[4] These churches existed in John’s day, but because of the commendations and reproofs Jesus gives to these churches, some have seen in them patterns of each throughout church history.

John then describes his first glimpse of Jesus as though in a vision. This is not the Jesus John remembers during His earthly ministry. This Jesus is awesome to behold. John says, “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (Revelation 1:12-16). The dazzling sight caused John to fall at His feet in awestruck fear, but that tender, familiar voice reassured him of the One he loved. “… Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:17-18).

John saw Jesus in the midst of seven lampstands holding seven stars in His right hand. Jesus explained to him that the seven lampstands represented the seven churches and the seven stars represented the seven angels, i.e., messengers or pastors, of the seven churches.[5] The image reminds us that Jesus dwells among His churches and that He keeps and protects the pastors of His churches in His right hand (a position of power). This should also serve as a warning to pastors. Just as Jesus’ right hand protects His messengers, He also has the power to crush the pastor that fails in his responsibility to Jesus’ Bride, the Church.

As noted earlier, Jesus dictates direct messages to each of the seven churches. Immediately following the last word to the church of Laodicea, John looks up and sees an open door in heaven and hears a sound (Greek: phōnē) like that of a trumpet that said, “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne” (Revelation 4:1-2, emphasis mine).

Many see the Rapture of the Church in these verses. John is commanded to “come up here” and “immediately” he sees the throne of God for the first time. From this point forward, the Church no longer appears on earth until Christ returns with His saints in Chapter 19.

There are many who teach that the Rapture is not taught in the Bible. They correctly argue that the word “rapture” appears nowhere in the Bible. However, neither do the words bible or trinity, yet no one will argue that these concepts are not taught in the Bible. “Rapture” translates the Greek word harpazō into the Latin raptus meaning “to seize; to catch away or up; to pluck, pull, or take by force”. This is what happened to John. He was on the earth and “immediately” he was caught away into the throne room of God.

Jesus gave us the first promise of the Rapture before going to the cross. He said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). Paul teaches of the time when the trumpet shall sound and our corrupt bodies will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. The dead in Christ will rise from their graves, and we who are alive will join them to meet Jesus in the air.[6]

John enters the presence of God and his first sight is the throne of God. The person seated on the throne appears not as a human or any other creature, but rather as a glorious splendor. Of Him, John says, “And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald” (Revelation 4:3). The Bible teaches that God has no human form, except in the form of Jesus. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24, emphasis mine). John was given a privilege that even Moses (or anyone else for that matter) was denied. Moses, who spoke with God face-to-face as with a friend,[7] wanted to see God in His glory, but God denied his request, “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Exodus 33:20, emphasis mine). Yet, somehow John saw God in all of His glory and did not die. In our corrupt human bodies, we cannot withstand the glory of God’s presence. However, at the Rapture, our bodies will be transformed in such a way that we can be in the presence of God in His full glory and not be harmed, just like John.

The scene overwhelmed John. There were lightnings, thunders, and voices. Around the throne of God, John saw 24 thrones upon which seven elders sat wearing white robes and crowns of gold.[8] Some suppose these represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles. Others suggest that they merely represent believers of all the ages. In either case, the white robes represent the righteousness of Christ conferred on them. The golden crowns are stephanos, which are “victors crowns” awarded to them for conquering sin, not through their own righteousness, but through the blood of Christ.

John then sees seven lampstands around the throne defined as the “seven spirits of God” Some suggest that these seven lampstands represent seven attributes of the Holy Spirit as described by the prophet Isaiah. “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him [i.e., Jesus], the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:2, emphasis mine). We know that the Holy Spirit indwells believers and thereby indwells the Church. In the first chapter, John sees Jesus in the midst of seven lampstands, which represent the churches. Now, these same lampstands (i.e., churches) are seen around the throne of God. I see the lampstands representing both the Holy Spirit and the churches wherein the Holy Spirit resides. The attributes described by Isaiah certainly apply as well.

Around the throne is a crystal sea. It is difficult to know what John saw in this. It is all strange and wonderful and beyond words to describe. John could only relate what he saw by his limited earthly vocabulary. But then he sees four strange creatures full of eyes and with six wings each. One “beast” had the head of a lion, the second the head of a calf, the third the head of a man, and the fourth the head of an eagle.[9] The eyes represent the omniscience of God and the four different heads represent all of God’s creatures: wild animals, domestic animals, human beings, and avian life. All of God’s creation never ceasing to praise Him day or night “saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).

John then observed that when these praised God, the 24 elders prostrate themselves and cast their victor’s crowns before the throne saying, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

With the focus on the throne, John spots something new. “And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals” (Revelation 5:1, emphasis mine). By its description, we know that this “book” is actually a scroll – perhaps parchment – with writing on both sides, rolled up and secured with seven seals. Many suggest that this scroll represents the title dead to the earth and the kingdoms thereof. When God created the earth, He gave dominion over the earth to man whom He created in His image on the sixth day of creation.[10] However, man lost that dominion when he sinned in the Garden of Eden.[11] The dominion of earth transferred to Satan. Paul calls him the “god of this world.”[12] When Satan tempted Jesus, he offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world if He would only bow down and worship him. “And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it” (Luke 4:6, emphasis mine). However, his ownership is only temporary.

Then John saw and heard a strong angel proclaim, “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” (Revelation 5:2). And no one in heaven, on earth, or under the earth was found worthy to take the scroll and break the seals. The situation was dire indeed. All of God’s creation hung in the balance and there was no one to come to the rescue. John says, “And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon” (Revelation 5:4).

John’s tears were soon assuaged. “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof,” John says, “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” (Revelation 5:5-6). John the Baptist saw this Lamb come to him to be baptized in the Jordan and proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He was slain on the cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb, and rose again on the third day.[13] Horns represent kingdoms and the Lamb has seven representing completion. All the kingdoms belong to Him. He is “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16). Seven eyes suggest omniscience with all the attributes of the seven Spirits of God.

Only the Lamb, by virtue of His sacrifice, is worthy to take and open the scroll. “And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne” (Revelation 5:7). When the Lamb took the scroll, a great celebration broke out in heaven. The four living creatures and the 24 elders prostrate themselves before the Lamb. “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).

Then the rest of heaven breaks out in praise, “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:12-13).

Worthy indeed! I cannot imagine how John must have felt at the first sight of heaven and the throne of God. I cannot wait to see it for myself!

The 14 chapters that follow bring us back to earth and the events that will transpire during the seven-year Tribulation. The scenes are horrific. However, the Church, the Bride of Christ, will not experience the horrors of the Tribulation. The Church, as we saw will be around the throne of God and not on earth. Will you be there or will you experience the horrors that are coming upon the earth? Your ticket out of here was purchased by Jesus more than 2000 years ago. All you have to do is accept it. Check out my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Revelation 1:10

[2]  Revelation 1:9

[3]  Revelation 1:11

[4]  Revelation 2-3

[5]  Revelation 1:20

[6]  1 Corinthians 15:50-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

[7]  Exodus 33:11

[8]  Revelation 4:4

[9]  Revelation 4:6-8

[10]  Genesis 1:26-28

[11]  Genesis 3

[12]  2 Corinthians 4:4

[13]  1 Corinthians 15:3-4

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Again, Are We There Yet?

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (Matthew 24:6)

Last Sunday evening, September 25, 2022, was Rosh HaShanah,[1] the Feast of Trumpets. For the first time in many years, I was no longer excited about that event. In the past, this time of year elevated my anticipation for our Lord’s return to snatch up His Bride, the Church. Because the Lord fulfilled the first four spring feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost) and has not fulfilled the last three fall feasts (Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles), it made sense to me that the Feast of Trumpets (the next on the calendar) was the perfect time for the Lord to sound the trumpet and call us home.

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, emphasis mine).

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, emphasis mine).

So, it seemed to me, that the Feast of Trumpets was the perfect time for Jesus to take His Bride to His Father’s house. However, for the last twenty or so years, I have been disappointed (but not discouraged) every year when Rosh HaShanah came and went because the Rapture did not take place. Recently, Amir Tsarfati[2] convinced me that the Feasts are intended for Israel, not for Christians. Jesus will fulfill all the fall feasts but at His Second Coming, when He returns at the end of the seven-year Tribulation as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.[3] That makes the Rapture of the Church imminent; it can happen at any time without warning. There are no signs to predict the Rapture.

So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matthew 24:33-36, emphasis mine)

This year, I was not disappointed when Rosh HaShanah came and went without the Rapture, because I understand that it should catch us by surprise, but not unaware or unprepared.

Jesus told us that “when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33). Luke quoted Jesus in his Gospel saying, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28, emphasis mine).

For what things should we be looking? The biggest hint is the nation of Israel, which God promised to restore after a long period of diaspora. God speaking through the prophet Ezekiel said, “For I will take you from among the heathen [i.e., “the nations”], and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land” (Ezekiel 36:24). The Old Testament prophets all make many similar predictions. Ezekiel also presents a vision of Israel as a valley full of dry bones that come together and rise up as a mighty army.[4] In the same chapter, God gives Ezekiel a vision of two sticks – Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and Judah (the Southern Kingdom) – that separate, but in the end, God brings them back together.[5]

On May 14, 1948, God fulfilled that prophecy and a nation was born in a day![6] On the day of its birth, defenseless and without an army or air force, the Arab nations that surrounded it attacked with the intention of annihilating the newborn nation. However, God’s plan was not to be thwarted, and God saved Israel and defeated its enemies. The greatest sign that our “redemption draweth nigh” is the nation of Israel.

So, that was more than 70 years ago! Well, friend, that is a generation, and Jesus promised that “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34, emphasis mine). Many of Jesus’ predictions of the last days (which will intensify in the seven-year Tribulation) are taking place right now and getting worse. Just read the Olivet Discourse recorded in Matthew 24 and consider the condition of the entire world today!

Ezekiel 38-39 predicts the alliance of Russia, Turkey, and Iran (Persia) along with their allies. Russia is called “Magog” and the “prince” of Magog is Gog. To the Russian leader, God says, “… Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, … in the latter years thou shalt come into the land [i.e., “Israel”] that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them” (Ezekiel 38:3-4, 8, emphasis mine).

Very recently, due to a weakened America, “Magog” (Russia) invaded the sovereign country of Ukraine. Just a few days ago, Russia annexed four of Ukraine’s eastern territories. At about the same time, the two gas pipelines that supply Russian gas to Europe, Nord Stream 1 & 2, exploded mysteriously. No “accident” occurred to cause the explosions; the explosions were man-made. The POTUS, prior to the “annexations” made claims, whether intentional or as a mental slip of the tongue (as our President is prone to do), that if Russia annexed the Ukrainian territories, “we” would put a stop to Nord Stream 1 & 2? Did the US blow them up? No one has admitted to it; however, Poland blames the US. There are some that believe Russia blew up the pipelines. But, does that make any sense?

Regardless of who is to blame, the fact remains that Europe is in dire straights and winter is coming. Then comes Israel to the rescue. In recent years, Israel has discovered and developed large gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea and is prepared to sell gas to Europe by way of Egypt. They will pipe the gas to Egypt and Egypt will pipe it to Europe as well as liquifying and selling the gas in liquid form to Europe. What will Russia think of that? Could this be the “hooks in the jaw” that God uses to turn Gog’s attention to Israel? It could be.

Russia, Turkey, and Iran all have troops stationed in Syria on Israel’s northern border. The stage is set for Ezekiel’s Gog of Magog war. Will it take place before the Rapture, and we get to witness it, or will it take place after the Rapture? We cannot know for sure, but we can know that with the conversion of all the things of which Jesus spoke all over the world and this very intriguing development, we can be sure that our “redemption draweth nigh.”

Reader, are you prepared for that event? After Jesus takes all the true Christians out of the earth, there will come of time of trouble like the world has never experienced. It is called the seven-year Tribulation. If you think things are bad now, you ain’t seen nothing yet! You do not want to be around for what is coming. Ask Jesus to save you from God’s wrath that is to come. Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Rosh HaShanah” — Rosh HaShanah | Ernie’s Musings (erniecarrasco.com)

[2]  Amir Tsarfati of Behold Israel.com: Behold Israel – A Non Profit Teaching Ministry

[3]  Revelation 19:11-16

[4]  Ezekiel 37:1-14

[5]  Ezekiel 37:15-28

[6]  Isaiah 66:8

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Tisha B’Av

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

At the posting of this article, August 6-7, 2022, Jews everywhere solemnly observe Tisha B’Av or the Ninth of Av. Av is the fifth month on the Jewish calendar which begins with the month of Nissan. Christians, for the most part, are ignorant of Jewish observations and feasts; but the same God that gave observations to the Jews is not a God who does things arbitrarily or at random and without purpose, and He does not change. So, even though Christians are under a different “covenant” than the Jews, that does not render these observations meaningless. It behooves Christians to study and understand the Jewish feasts and observances because, while they may not directly apply to us, they have great significance in our understanding of our God.

Tisha B’Av, like Purim and Chanukah, was not given by God as one of His seven Feasts of the Lord.[1] These “observances” were started by the Jews as memorials to God’s intervention in the life of the nation. Purim looks back to God’s salvation of the Jews that were in Babylon from the hand of Haman.[2] Chanukah commemorated the miraculous preservation of the oil in the menorah for eight days at the cleansing of the Temple after it was desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes.[3]  

Tisha B’Av, however, reminds the Jews of God’s judgments on the nation for one sin or another. These judgments always fell on the Ninth of Av beginning when 10 of the 12 spies sent to spy out the Promised Land returned with a bad report.[4] The website “Rapture Ready” lists 29 judgments against the Jews from Av 9, 1312 BC to Av 9, 2020 AD.[5]

Perhaps the most significant judgments to the Jews were those involving the Temple. The Babylonians razed Solomon’s Temple on Av 9, 586 BC. The Romans destroyed the second temple, Herod’s Temple, on Av 9, 70 AD. Pete Garcia, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, suggests the possibility (not the inevitability) that the Rapture of the Church could take place this year on Tisha B’Av.[6] (I recommend that you read his article in the link provided below. He goes into much greater detail than I plan to go into here.) Pete got his idea from Greg Lauer,[7] another student and teacher of end-times prophecy. (I recommend that you read his lengthy article as well. He goes into great detail to develop his theory and he employs sound logic in doing so. You can find the link to his article in the endnotes below.)

In brief, here is the summary of the idea that the Rapture could take place on Tisha B’Av – perhaps even today, August 7, 2022. By way of disclaimer, allow me to emphasize that neither of these men are setting a date for the Rapture, which “of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). We cannot know the exact day or the hour; however, we can observe the signs and the season so that we should be ready. Therefore, Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13). How can we watch if we do not know what to watch for?

We already see many of the signs of which Jesus spoke[8] taking place: Israel reborn, wars and rumors of wars, famines, and pestilences, economic collapse, worldwide hatred of Israel, the formulation of the Gog of Magog alliance,[9] [10] etc. These “labor pains” are increasing in number and frequency alerting us to the soon return of Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. However, before that happens, the Church must be removed, and that is where the idea of the Rapture on Tisha B’Av comes to play.

Here is the idea in a nutshell. When Solomon dedicated the first temple, the glory of God filled the Temple to the point that the priests could not minister in the Temple.[11] Several hundred years later, the Prophet Ezekiel records seeing the glory of God depart the Temple.[12] The Babylonians then entered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple of God on Av 9, 586 BC.

After 70 years of captivity, the Medo-Persian Empire conquered Babylon and Cyrus allowed the Jews to return and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. There is no record that this second temple enjoyed the filling by the glory of God. It was not until the time of Christ that the Temple experienced the presence of God in the form of Jesus Christ. Recall how at the cleansing Jesus declared, “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:13, emphasis mine). Of course, we know what happened later. The Jews rejected and crucified their Messiah during Passover, 30 AD (or 33 AD, the exact year is debatable). As a result, the Romans destroyed the Temple on Av 9, 70 AD.

The First Temple enjoyed the presence of God the Father. The Second Temple enjoyed the presence of God the Son. There is yet a Third Temple that enjoys the presence of God the Holy Spirit. Where might that Temple be? “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Holy Spirit resides within believers, the Church, the Bride of Christ. This Temple restrains Satan’s forces on earth and must be removed in order for God’s judgment to come upon the God-rejecting world. “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now [restrains] will [restrain], until he [i.e., the Holy Spirit] be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8, emphasis mine). When the Holy Spirit is taken “out of the way,” He will take His Temple with Him. This is what we understand as “the Rapture” of the Church.

So, since God does not do things arbitrarily or at random, it makes sense that the “Third Temple,” belonging to the Holy Spirit should also be removed, like the first two, on Tisha B’Av. If not today, then next year, or the next.

No man knows the day or the hour when Jesus will call His Bride home. As His Bride, we should be prepared daily for Him to call us home. It does not necessarily have to be on Tisha B’Av. It could be on Rosh HaShanah, or perhaps on Pentecost or any day when we least expect it. The point is to be ready and watching daily. We have work to do, and when our Lord calls us home, we want Him to find us working to increase His kingdom.

Are you ready to meet Jesus? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Rosh HaShanah” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

[2]  Read the book of Esther.

[3]  Read the apocryphal books of the Maccabees.

[4]  Numbers13:25-14:12

[5]  https://www.raptureready.com/2021/07/15/the-ninth-of-av-tisha-bav-by-jeff-van-hatten/

[6]  “This B’Av Rapture?” — https://www.rev310.net/post/tish-b-av-rapture

[7]  “A Pattern with a Hole” — https://www.alittlestrength.com/articles/2022/2206-pattern.htm

[8]  Matthew 24

[9]  Ezekiel 38-39

[10]  “Magog, Tubal, and Persia” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2022/07/24/magog-tubal-and-persia/

[11]  2 Chronicles 5:11-14

[12]  Ezekiel 9:3; 10:18

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Magog, Tubal, and Persia

Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee. (Ezekiel 38:9)

The prophet Ezekiel speaks of a time “in the latter years”[1] when a coalition of nations will come against Israel. The prophecy names the nations by their names assigned at time of the dispersion at the Tower of Babel.[2] The names are listed in the Table of Nations[3] and illustrated in the map above. Since that time, the names of these nations have changed many times over so that we no longer recognize them as those named by the prophet. However, God does not lose track, and He does not forget.

So, as we study Ezekiel’s prophecy in Chapters 38 and 39, it requires that we look at a map depicting where these nations ended up when they were originally dispersed. Let us examine Ezekiel’s list and compare it to the map above. I will emphasis the significant names.

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. (Ezekiel 38:1-6)

Note, first of all, that “Gog” is a person, not a nation. He is a “chief prince” from the nation of Magog. When we look at the map (above), we find that Magog, Meshech, and Gomer are in the region we recognize as Russia.

Tubal we recognize as modern-day Turkey. The “house of Togarmah” (not shown on this map) is also in the “north quarters” of Turkey and also in modern-day Georgia (Russia). Persia was known as Elam prior to Ezekiel’s time, and we find it on the map in the area of modern-day Iran.

Ezekiel lists the lands of Cush and Lud (from Genesis 10) as Ethiopia and Libya. As we look at the map, we observe that Cush is further south than modern-day Ethiopia and corresponds more closely to modern-day Somalia.

It is worth noting that all of these nations are Islamic nations with the exception of Russia, and even Russia has a high Muslim population.

Bringing Ezekiel’s prophecy forward to our day and time, we find that the prophecy speaks of a coalition of three main nations: Russia, Turkey, and Iran with Libya and Somalia in alliance. God says to these nations, “I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth” (Ezekiel 38:4, emphasis mine). “Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land [Israel], thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee. Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land” (Ezekiel 38:9-12, emphasis mine).

According to Ezekiel’s prophecy, Russia, Turkey, Iran, and their allies will invade Israel “to take spoil and to take prey.” Will this take place before or after the Rapture of the Church? Prophecy experts differ in opinion about this point. However, it appears that the stage is being set for that event.

On Friday of this week, July 22, 2022, the leaders of Russia, Turkey, and Iran met for the purpose of forming an alliance.[4] We have long known of the animosity Iran has toward Israel. Turkey has not necessarily been a friend to Israel. Lately, Russia’s relationship with Israel has cooled over Israel’s support for Ukraine. Additionally, Russia has stopped the migration of Jews from Russia to Israel. To top it off, Israel is on the verge of exporting its natural gas to Europe, which has the potential of cutting into Russia’s profits. The three nations are not happy with Israel and neither are their allies, Libya and Somalia.

It seems that it is only a matter of time before the “Gog of Magog” invasion takes place. Will the Bride of Christ witness this event? I do not know. What I do know is that the invasion will fail.

And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face. For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man’s sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD. (Ezekiel 38:18-23, emphasis mine)

God will intervene for Israel – not because Israel is a Godly nation, but because God is faithful to His promise. He said He would do it, and He will do it. And His purpose in doing so is so that Israel and all the world will witness Israel’s miraculous deliverance. “Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 38:23, emphasis mine).

For the Christian, this should be encouraging news. We are seeing prophecy being fulfilled right before our eyes, and that means our Lord’s return to call us home is very near. Are you prepared to meet Him? If you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Ezekiel 38:8

[2]  Genesis 11:1-9

[3]  Genesis 10

[4]  “Russia, Iran, and Turkey Forming a Biblical Alliance” — https://gospelnewsnetwork.org/2022/07/22/russia-iran-and-turkey-forming-a-biblical-alliance/

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Seven Lamps

And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. (Revelation 4:5)

Recently, I started reading my Bible through again beginning with the New Testament, but this time in Spanish. I arrived at Apocalipsis (Revelation) Chapter 4, and Verse 5 gave me pause. I am reading in the Reina-Valera Revisión 1960, which translates επτα πνευματα του θεου (the seven spirits of God) as “los siete espíritus de Dios.” What caught my attention is that “espíritus” was in lower case suggesting this is NOT the Holy Spirit.

I cross-referenced my KJV (1873), and it too had “spirits” in lower case. However, my e-Sword[1] electronic Bible that resides on my computer, uses the 1769 KJV and it capitalizes “Spirits.” Seeing the difference between the 1769 and 1873 made me look to the original 1611; it capitalized “Spirits” – “the seuen Spirits of God.” Looking further back to the 1599 Geneva Bible (the one used by the Pilgrims), I found “spirits” in lower case. Finally, I looked at the Reina-Valera Revisión 1909 and found “Espíritus” capitalized.

Obviously, the translators cannot agree if the Greek πνευματα refers to the Holy Spirit or spirits in general. Spanish is notorious for putting in lower case most words that we in English normally capitalize, like days of the weeks, names of months, and reserving capitals mostly for proper names only. It could be argued that the problem with English was the lack of orthographical standardization prior to the 18th and 19th centuries so that the translators could not agree to capitalize or not.

The question remains, are “the seven spirits of God” the Holy Spirit or is this referring to something else? Throughout the NT, the Holy Spirit is always spoken of in the singular, never in the plural. The only possible exceptions are here in Revelation 4:5, and in Revelation 1:4; 3:1; 5:6. That the “spirits” belong to God is perfectly clear, but to conclude that they refer to the Holy Spirit is rather nebulous.

I looked to some reputable prophecy teachers for insight. Clarence Larkin, whose commentary on Revelation is the foundation upon which others build, completely overlooked Revelation 4:5. He commented extensively on Verse 4 and skipped right over to Verse 6.[2] Apparently, he was unconvinced one way or the other. Ed Hindson, Professor of Religion and Dean of the Institute of Biblical Studies at Liberty University commented, “The seven lamps of fire depict the seven Spirits of God (cf. 1:4)”[3] without any further explanation. Note too that he capitalizes “Spirits” indicating that he believes these to be the One referring only to Revelation 1:4 for support.

Let us examine that verse. “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne” (Revelation 1:4, KJV 1769, emphasis mine). This is the first appearance of this phrase in the NT. Note the capitalization of “Spirits” for no apparent reason. Nothing in the text itself warrants the capitalization. For comparison, the 1873 KJV does not capitalize “spirits” nor does the 1611. The 1599 Geneva Bible does capitalize “Spirits” but adds a note which I will address later. So, we remain in a biblical fog on the meaning of “the seven spirits.”

Tim LaHaye, another well-respected prophecy teacher who is now in the presence of our Lord and knows all things perfectly now, suggested that “the seven Spirits of God” represent seven characteristics of the Holy Spirit as described in Isaiah 11:2: (1) the spirit of the Lord, (2) the spirit of wisdom, (3) the spirit of understanding, (4) the spirit of counsel, (5) the spirit of might, (6) the spirit of knowledge, and (7) the spirit of the fear of the Lord. LaHaye draws a convincing parallel of the seven attributes of the Holy Spirit, but why would John make such an ambiguous connection when elsewhere in the Revelation he refers to “the Spirit” in the singular?[4]

In all the 50 years that I have studied end-times prophecy, I have been taught and have come to believe that “the seven spirits of God” referred to the Holy Spirit. I am unconvinced now. Looking at this from a different perspective, I have arrived at the conclusion that “the seven spirits of God” represent the raptured churches that are before the throne of God. Here is how I arrive at this conclusion.

As I stated earlier, throughout the NT the Holy Spirit is always referred to in the singular, never in the plural. The Godhead a unified plurality composed of three single entities working separately and together simultaneously. (I know that is a difficult concept to grasp, but that is what the Bible teaches, and we must accept that by faith.) So, the Holy Spirit is always the Holy Spirit, not Holy Spirits. Therefore, in this verse (and also 1:4, 3:1 and 5:6), “the seven spirits of God” must refer to something else which helps explain the confusion about capitalization. Here’s what I think.

Revelation 4:5 says, “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God” (KJV 1873, emphasis mine). Have we been introduced to seven lamps before this point? Yes, indeed we have; the first time John sees Jesus. “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks … The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:12, 20, emphasis mine).

Someone might well say, “There is a big difference between a “lamp” and a “candlestick” (some modern translations say lampstand). Amen (‘tis true)! John saw Jesus standing in the midst of seven candlesticks (lampstands) representing the seven churches Jesus would address. The word in the Greek is luchnia, which is a lampstand or candelabrum designed for supporting a lamp (or torch). In 4:5, John sees seven lamps before the throne. The Greek word there is lampas, which is a torch or lamp. Thayer’s Greek Definitions adds further, “a lamp, the flame of which is fed with oil.” Isn’t that interesting? Oil is also symbolic of the Holy Spirit.

So, on earth, John sees Jesus in the midst of seven lampstands designed to support lamps, i.e., flaming torches. The Holy Spirit is often depicted as a flame of fire. That could be a study on its own, but by way of example, the flaming bush that Moses confronted in the wilderness was the Spirit of God.[5] The Spirit of God was seen as a pillar of fire by night as the children of Israel wandered in the desert.[6] Later, when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost, He appeared as “tongues of fire” over their heads.[7]

We know that the Holy Spirit indwells every true believer and by extension, He indwells every true church of Christ. So, as John sees Jesus in the midst of the seven churches (which represent all of His churches throughout the ages), he sees the lampstands, the churches, shining forth the lamps (torches) which are, in fact, One Spirit. Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15, emphasis mine). Now, John does not describe the candlesticks as having torches. However, it seems silly to think that Jesus would be in the midst of lampstands with no lamps burning. That, in fact, would be rather sad because it would mean that the Holy Spirit was not in the Churches. Why then would Jesus be in their midst?

Jesus then addresses the seven churches, which represent the churches of all the ages, in chapters two and three. Now we come to Chapter 4. John says, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne” (Revelation 4:1-2). Every good prophecy teacher I know suggests that this represents the Rapture of the Church. The first three chapters dealt with the Church on earth at this present time. Now, John is called up to heaven and from this point on, the Church is no longer seen until the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and she returns to earth with Christ.[8]

This is John’s first vision of heaven and the first thing he sees is God on His throne surrounded by (among other things) “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God” (4:5). These seven lamps, I say, represent the seven churches that John saw on earth, which were raptured up with John when he heard the command, “Come up hither!” They are now just lamps. There is no further need for the lampstand, because they have done their job.

I found a note from the 1599 Geneva Bible on Revelation 1:4 very interesting. It says, “That is, from the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. This Spirit is one in person according to his subsistence: but in communication of his power, and in demonstration of his divine works in those seven churches, perfectly manifests himself as if there were many spirits, every one perfectly working in his own church” (emphasis mine). That goes along with what I have concluded.

Without completely rejecting the notion that “the seven spirits of God” refers to the Holy Spirit, I suggest that the “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne” are the seven churches that are “the seven spirits of God” through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Notes:


[1]  e-Sword: Free Bible Study for the PC – https://e-sword.net/

[2]  Clarence Larkin, The Book of Revelation Illustrated, (The Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, Philadelphia, 1919), pp. 38-41.

[3]  Edward Hindson, The Book of Revelation: Unlocking the Future, (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, 2002), p. 59.

[4]  Revelation 1:10; 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 11:11; 14:13; 22:17

[5]  Exodus 3:2

[6]  Exodus 13:21

[7]  Acts 2:1-4

[8]  Revelation 19

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