Book of Revelation
One – most loved / hated books.
Scares the pants off.
Paint false picture – trusting Him. – Slaughters?!
Offer a different way of looking.
A view very common : bible scholars.
Unfortunately : very rare when it comes to the ‘popular’ level.
New perspective for most of us.
Don’t have to agree with me. – Not into groupthink.
Just listen. And see what happens.
Open handed/Closed handed beliefs
- Denominations disagree here
- Theological opinions
- Disagree w/pastor
- Disagree w/best friend
This – where we are. – End Times stuff.
UNITY despite DIVERSITY
How does God do battle?
People think: he fights the same way most human wars are fought: by killing those who oppose you.
“In Revelation, Jesus is a pride-fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” (Well Known preacher guy.)
Seems – violent book – violent God
Actually – violent book – non-violent God.
(3 violent scenes)
!- LSD -!
Quick Overview of Whole Book
Chapter 1: Setting the stage
“Hey I’m gonna show you some stuff, and I want you to write it down, and send it to these seven churchs.”
Gives encouragement and warning to the 7 churches.
Enters through the heavenly door
Gets into the throne room.
God’s holding a scroll, symbolizes God’s character. Only the bloody sacrificial lamb can open it.
The lamb starts popping open the 7 seals.
1st seal – Rider – white horse
2nd seal – Rider – Fiery red horse
3rd seal – Rider – black horse
One of the angels says “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”
Talking about in 92AD – shortage of food but an overabundance of wine. – Corruption
4th seal – Rider on a pale horse
Rider was named death
Souls of the martyr’s cry out to God asking how long till he will avenge them.
They’re given white robes.
They’re told to wait till more of their brothers and sisters are martyred.
Great earthquake – Devastates the earth
Sun-black / Moon-red
‘The Army of the Lamb’
(Violent picture 1.)
144,000 / Clothes washed in blood
Silence for half an hour
Darn it! There’s still 7 trumpets we have to blow.
First 4 trumpets blow – each bringing disaster & desruction
5th trumpets blows (9:1)
Chimney opens and locusts come out and sting everyone who doesn’t have God’s mark.
6th trumpet blows (9:13)
Voice says “release the 4 angelic beasts that are bound.”
Angels go a kill a third of mankind.
John (who’s having the vision) – instructed – go grab the scroll and eat it. (10:8-9)
It’ll taste sweet, bitter in stomach. – He does.
He’s told about the 2 witnesses (or prophets) (11:3)
- Preach in jerusalam
- Killed after 1260 days – By beast.
- God will revive them
7th trumpet blows (11:15)
Voices shouting: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord”
A woman “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet,” has a baby that’s almost eaten by a huge red dragon
7 heads, 10 horns – (Satan)
Child is saved and brought into heaven.
Archangel Michael fights the dragon
Kicks him out of heaven
Dragons begins to make war against the woman’s children.
Dragon delegates his power to “The Beast”
Meanwhile another beast (the false prophet) arrives
Convinces people to worship the first beast. (13:11)
Forces them to get the beasts mark (666) – right hands & foreheads.
Hear the news : Babylon has fallen.
The Wine Press
Violent picture 2.
Angels swung his sharp sickle on the earth
Throws ‘grapes of the earths vine’ – winepress
Blood flows – winepress (14:20)
Rising as high as a horses bridle (5 feet) for a distance of 1,6000 stadia (180 miles)
Some other angelic beings empty 7 bowls containing 7 plagues across the earth.
John – vision – Prostitute (whore of babylon)
Angel announces babylon’s destruction.
So then many voices announce the lamb (Jesus) will soon be married to his bride.
The final battle
(Violent Picture 3.)
Jesus comes from heaven – rope dripping w/blood & sword coming from his mouth to “slay the nations.”
Leads his army against the beast and the ‘kings of the earth’
Beast & false prophet hurled into a fiery lake
Jesus & the saints rule for 1,000 years.
After 1000 years, Satan gathers his forces and attacks the saints but they’re consumed by fire.
Satan – hurled into the fiery pit.
Immediately: Day of Judgement comes
Everyone is resurrected and judged.
Finally see: New Heaven and a new earth.
“New Jerusalem” decend from heaven”
Perfection. No suffering. No tears. No shame. No sea.
End w/words of Jesus :
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
Holy War – How does God do battle?
When you do a quick overview, it kinda seems like he fights the same way most human wars are fought: by killing those who oppose you.
1. Apocolyptic Literature
Not technical telling.
It’s an artistic telling where images symbolize something else.
2. A Book for Martyrs
7 specific churches in asia – about to face intense persecution and martyrdom.
Standing up to Rome – about to fight back.
Contrasting their martyrdom with the death of Jesus Christ.
Introduce – few characters
Lamb – Jesus
Dragon – Satan – Chapter 12
Babylon – symbolizes Rome & all ‘empires of the world’.
Comes from Daniel
It’s a theme through the bible – resisting the power of empire – Satan tempted Jesus.
Again – book of Daniel – 4 beasts – sea – wicked kingdoms.
Beast – Persecutes the saints
Symbolizes – violence of babylon.
aka the Great whore – the whore of babylon
Symbolizes – immorality & idolatry of Babylon.
All under the authority of ‘the dragon’ & given power by the dragon.
Book for Martyrs
Early Church Christians are refusing to conform the to ways of the beast.
Seems like: The beast is about to devour them.
To them, it looks like the beast (Rome) is gonna win.
Kill this little Jesus movement.
Revelation is written to remind these Christians
When it looks like you’re losing, you’re really winning.
When you die, you’re still winning.
The world – under influence of the beast aren’t gonna get that.
Like Paul in 1 Corinthians 1 – To the world, the crucified Christ is foolish and weak.
But to us, it’s the power of God.
Huge theme – Deception vs. Truth
Huge theme in revelation – Deception vs. truth
The Dragon (Satan) is called ‘The Deceiver’ 9 times in Revelation.
The Lamb – “faithful & true”
God who is truth fighting his battle against the lies/deception.
The battles fought in the book of revelation are battles fought against deception. Not people.
Our battle is never against flesh and blood, and that’s true here.
The real battle – Jesus’s total victory over Satan on the cross.
NOW the only BATTLE left to fight is against the deception that keeps people trusting in babylon/beast/prostitute instead of the power of the lamb.
This book is reminding the people who are about to give their life for Jesus.
- Don’t buy into the lie that they have the power.
- YOU have the power. The power of the Lamb.
- You win by following his example, even unto death.
When you read the book of revelation, you’re reading about the battle between the lamb’s love and the beasts violence.
“God’s kingdom does not come by the violence of the beast, but by the self-sacrificial love of the Lamb.”
3 Violent Pictures of God
Turn the modern violent interpretation on it’s head.
Not God’s battle against wicked people, it’s God battle against the deception that keeps people away from Him.
1. The Army of the Lamb
Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. (Revelation 7:4)
Some people: Man, God’s got an army of thousands and they’re gonna slaughter everybody!
Here’s how it means the opposite:
144k – Just like last week: the numbers mean something – 24 elders.
- 12 tribes of Israel
- 12 Apostles
THIS time. Multiplying. And then multiplying by a 1,000.
1,000 is jewish slang for indefinitely huge.
“God is faithful to 1,000 generations.”
“God owns the cattle on 1,000 hills.”
Teenagers say a billion.
144,000 God’s people throughout the generations, making the point that it’s huge.
Also, you can tell it’s not literal (few verses down):
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7:9)
He’s saying: the army of God is huge.
Picture a little house church getting ready to take a stand against rome.
10 people about to be killed.
- They’ve already killed – family & friends.
- Cooked to death
- Dragged to death
- Skinned alive
- Boiled to death
Picture how small & alone you’d feel.
John: You think the Roman army is huge? Picture the army of God.
You’re a part of that army.
The army that lays down their life for others.
Be encouraged. You’re not alone.
Also, holding palm branches – symbol – worship.
What kind of army fights with palm branches?! One that fights not with swords but by worshipping God.
They’re fighting the beast, the dragon with palm branches.
And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (Revelation 14:3)
You can see the song in different parts of revelation, but it talks about how the lamb has triumphed by laying down it’s life.
Only they can sing the song, only they can learn this song.
B/C it’s foolishness to the rest of the world.
These are the people who understand the character of God.
Everyone else will think it’s weak and foolish.
Only these people could think that dying is any sort of victory.
Army that follows a tiny lamb.
Doing what the lamb does and that’s how they fight their battle.
These are they who have come out of the great tribulation (being martyred); they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14)
IF you were to take this literally, how would you wash something in blood to make them white?
No, these warriors aren’t washing blood off their clothes, their washing their clothes in blood.
Not their enemies blood, the blood of their leader.
They triumphed over him (the dragon) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)
How were they victorious?
- By slaughtering wicked people?
- No. By the blood of the lamb and by not shrinking from death.
Only blood in scene – Lamb!!!
The 144,000 represent God’s people who are victorious by laying down their lives for others.
2. The Wine Press
Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” (Revelation 14:18)
The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. (Revelation 14:19)
They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia. (Revelation 14:20)
Rising as high as a horses bridle (5 feet) for a distance of 1,600 stadia (180 miles)
From here to the Arizona border.
Some people: This is how the world is gonna end!
An angel will come and gather up the wicked people, and put them in this thing where Jesus can come step on us and creates this unbelievable pool of blood 5 feet deep and 180 miles long.
If you’re taking it literally, one of most ferocious pictures of God imaginable.
But again, this is picaso literature.
Here’s how it means the opposite:
1. Grapes gathered – not wicked
It’s not b/c they’re wicked or bad. It just says they’re ripe. It’s their time.
2. Being squished is not God’s judgement
Throughout revelation, people aren’t judged by being stepped on in the vat. They’re judged by being made to drink the blood of the people who were in the vat.
The judgement is in the drinking, not in the squishing.
“You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, you who are and who were; (Revelation 16:5)
for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.” (Revelation 16:6)
If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, (Revelation 14:9)
they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. (Revelation 14:10)
God doesn’t judge by squishing the grapes, it’s by making them drink the blood of the grapes.
“So who are these poor grapes?” The Martyrs!
It says – drinking – blood – God’s people. The one’s that THEY themselves crushed. They were squished like Jesus was squished.
So what’s w/ “drinking – blood – grapes”?
These people who killed the christians gonna have to drink their blood?! No, it’s saying peoples sin comes back on them. You’re gonna have to drink the blood that you shed.
The evil you sow is the evil you reap. The self destructive consequences of your evil comes back on you. This is true throughout the book. 3 times in revelation, drinking blood is symbolic of judgement for the sin they’re committing.
These people are bringing judgement on themselves. Sin is self-destructive. – Violence is self destructive. These murderers are going to have to live with the bitterness of their own violence.
Also, SOMETIMES it’s specifically mentioned that drinking this blood is what these people WANT to do.
Not forced, they choose it.
Ex: (Prostitute – symbolizes immorality)
I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. (Revelation 17:6)
If literal: how would you get drunk drinking blood? No alcohol. Metaphor – intoxicated with shedding blood.
We see throughout the bible – the self-destructive nature of sin coming back on us.
Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment. (Psalm 7:14)
Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. (Psalm 7:15)
The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads. (Psalm 7:16)
Pregnant w/evil – gives birth disillusionment.
Dig a hole – you fall in it.
You cause trouble – it comes back on you.
Your violence – comes down on your own head.
Jesus “You live by the sword, you die by the sword.” – Ironic.
The blood coming from the wine press is not God judging wicked people. It’s God’s people being martyred by Rome. And the people drinking the blood are those who acted violently experiencing the destruction of their own actions.
Only blood in scene – blood of the martyrs.
3. The battle of armageddon
Described – Bloodiest passage.
- Described as the bloodiest passage in the bible.
But I’ll show you: not 1 drop of blood is shed.
But I’ll show you: not a drop of blood shed.
He (Jesus) is dressed in a robe dipped (soaked) in blood, and his name is the Word of God. (Revelation 19:13)
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)
Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” (Revelation 19:15)
Some people: A bloody massacre.
This warrior soaked in blood. Like Braveheart, dripping in the blood of his enemies.
Here’s how it means the opposite
NOTICE he’s soaked in blood BEFORE he goes into battle. Not afterwards.
It’s B/C: he fights battles not by shedding the blood of others, but by allowing his own blood to be shed.
He’s going into battle while bleeding.
Followed by the army of the lamb.
Wearing fine linen, white & clean.
Not battle armor, ready to slaughter.
No, these people have been washed clean in the lambs blood.
The enemy here is not people.
Remember: the battle is against the lies. – Do you trust lamb power or babylon power.
He fights that with the sword coming out of his mouth.
What seems like a more appropriate enemy to fight with a sword coming out of your mouth? Wicked people, or lies?
He’s fighting lies w/ the truth of his word.
“Strike down the nations” – Represents – empire – human power
Keeps people in bondage.
For the critics: “Nah man, – nations – actual people. – Jesus – Kill.”
Well then why do we see them up again being redeemed in the next chapter?!
No, he slays the lies to free the people. He doesn’t slaughter the people.
The battle of armageddon is not against people but against the empires of deception that hold people in bondage. Jesus fights this battle with the truth of his word.
In all of this, God and God’s people not acted violently.
SHED “0” BLOOD
If that’s bad news to you, it’s because you identify with the beast and not the lamb.
In none of these stories does Jesus or Jesus’s people act violently against people. They slay the deception in order to free the people.
Jesus is still about:
- Loving your enemies
- Turning the other cheek
- Overcoming evil w/good.
- Self-sacrificial love
I hope – you can breathe a sigh of relief.
God – not schitsophrenic
Cruel – Evil
- God is not schitsophrenic
Return back to Jesus – put our faith – Lamb.
As they pass out – Thinking about –
God who wins his battles by shedding his own blood.
World – Foolish and Weak
What you believe about God will influence your affection for Him.
Some people – “Man, I wish I felt more for God.”
Broken, wrong opinions of Him that get in the way of that love.
Even if you’re not a “Revelation Person” :
Find a way – completely confident:
Language – He – always speak – love.
- Find a way to be completely confident:
- In his character.
- That the language he will always speak is love.
When Jesus comes to earth – Redemption, not destruction.
As we take communion –
Turn your focus back onto the little lamb – who shows us God’s character.
This is the Table, not of the church, but of the Lord.
It is made ready for those who love Him and for those who want to love Him more. So come,
You who have much faith and you who have little,
You who have been here often and you who have not been here long,
You who have tried to follow and you who have failed.
Come, because it is the Lord who invites you.
It is His will that those who want Him should meet Him here.
Come to the Table.
Take a minute – take communion – own time.