January 20, 2016

Introduction to the Book of Revelation & Revelation Chapter 1



An introduction to the study of the Book of Revelation 
for the Sunday evening small group
at First Baptist Church, Glenville, West Virginia.
This is the outline from which I taught.


-         Name:        Revelation, Apocalypse, “unveiling” or “uncovering”
-         The same word used Romans 16:25, Galatians 1:12, Ephesians 1:17; 3:3—describes unveiling of a spiritual truth.
o   Ex.: Romans 16:25-26— 25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God,…”
-         Also used to describe the revealing of the children of God (Romans 8:19), the incarnation (Luke 2:32), His glorious appearing at His 2nd coming (2Thessalonians 1:7; 1Peter 1:7).
o   Ex.: Romans 8:19— 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.”
-         No question about author (1:1, 4, 9; 22:8)—John, the apostle & author of 4th gospel & the 3 epistles of 1,2,&3John; he was the last surviving apostle & is thought to have died around 100 A.D.
-         Place of writing: Island of Patmos, in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Asia Minor (Turkey today).

o   John exiled there by the Roman Emperor Domitian.
§  Arrested in Ephesus while ministering at the church there & surrounding countryside; exiled because of his witnessing for Christ & work establishing Christian churches (Revelation 1:9).
§  Tourist attraction today; Christian pilgrimage

-         Date of the vision: est. 94-96 A.D., shortly before John’s death. John was in his mid- to late-90s.

-         There is almost no debate about authorship & date—affirmed by writings of church fathers in early 2nd century A.D.

-         2 purposes:

o   Conveyed commendations & warnings to 7 churches in Asia Minor at which John had ministered & had witnessed their development (chapters 2 & 3);
o   Record of a series of visions from the risen Christ…visions that laid out the future history of the world.

-         Themes

o   Warnings & exhortations to the church—warnings about sin, exhortations to holiness.
o   The doctrine of the last days…
§  Final political makeup of the earth at His appearings
§  The last battle in human history
§  The career & ultimate defeat of the antichrist
§  Christ’s 1,000-year kingdom on earth
§  The glories of heaven & the eternal state
§  The final state of the wicked & the righteous; God rules over the kingdoms of mankind, and He will accomplish His sovereign purposes regardless of human and demonic opposition

-         Millennial Views

o   3 primary views
§  The millennium is mentioned in Revelation chapter 20, where it talks about 1,000-year period of time when Jesus rules with his saints over the earth in its sinful state. Satan is said to be bound for the 1,000 years so that he cannot deceive the nations, then after 1,000 years, Satan is once again released. There is one final rebellion which is crushed by Christ and then there is the final resurrection and judgment of all people.

§  Amillennialism

·       Millennium is figurative; a picture of what is being experienced now in the church through the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit
·       Bk of Revelation is entirely symbolic and not a prophecy of literal future events
·       Christ will return at the end of the age (a long age, not literally 1,000 years) to begin the eternal state
·       Origin: the teaching of St. Augustine.
·       Still popular (Presbyterians)

§  Postmillennialism
·       The millennium is in process through the church
·       The church, through the preaching of the Gospel, will bring the world into a “golden age”…end of evil and universal acceptance of God
·       Christ to return after this golden age & establish the eternal state
·       Origin: the teaching of the Puritans
·       Popular in 17th-19th centuries
·       Also called “preterism”; interprets all end-times prophecies as events which have already happened, except for Jesus’ return
·       Holds that events prophecied in the book of Daniel happened in the second century BC & the prophecies of Revelation happened in the 1st cent.
·       Still held by a very few sects today.

§  Premillennialism
·       The oldest view; held by the apostolic fathers.
·       Relies on a literal interpretation of prophecies of Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul (1 & 2 Thess.) & book of Revelation
·       That is, these are literal prophecies of real future events
o   the kingdoms predicted in Daniel
o   the regathering of Israel & rebuilding of the Temple
o   the return of Christ for His church & the rapture
o   the 7-year tribulation
o   the return of Christ with His church to reign for 1,000 years
o   the judgment & eternal state
·       Premillennialism is the only view that honors the simplest and most reliable Bible interpretive method—that the Bible means literally what it says
o   & that predictive prophecy of the future will be fulfilled just as surely as the biblical prophecies we have seen fulfilled in the past.
·       Some difference of opinion about pre-, mid-, & post-tribulation rapture, but all agree times of increasing troubles for the church preceding the rapture

_______________


Revelation Chapter 1

Revelation 1:1-3—“The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

-         “Revelation”—something clearly visible

-         “Blessed”—the only book in the Bible…promises blessing for the one who reads it & “…takes to heart what is written in it…”

-         “…the time is near…”—refers to epoch, age, era, or season… interp. present age or church age…telling us that the next age or era is imminent. Christ’s return for His church is the next event…

-         Note Matthew 24:36-39…no one knows the time of His appearing—“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”

-         Note 2 Peter 3:3-4…anticipates long delay…so long that people will begin to question whether He will ever come—“3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’”

Revelation 1:4-8—“4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. 7 ‘Look, he is coming with the clouds,’ and ‘every eye will see him, even those who pierced him’; and all peoples on earth ‘will mourn because of him.’ So shall it be! Amen. 8 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’”

-         7 churches in Asia Minor…modern Turkey…7 key cities…sort of like county seats…church established in each

-         “…who was, and who is to come…”…the eternal God…I AM… always present & always will be…

-         “…the seven spirits before his throne…”…most likely ref. to the 7 churches in Asia Minor…7 biblically is the number of completeness…parallel meaning=fullness of the HS…

-         7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds,’ and ‘every eye will see him, even those who pierced him’; and all peoples on earth ‘will mourn because of him.”…Daniel 7:13 (“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.”) & Zechariah 12:10 (“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”)…ref. to the Jews (“…house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem…”)

-         8 “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’”…the beginning & the end…(El Shaddai)…leaves no doubt as to the one speaking to John—God…

Revelation 1:9-11—“9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: ‘Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.’”

-         Patmos—Small island in the Aegean Sea…isolated…John exiled “…because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus…” …John banished from populated areas of the Roman Empire due to His preaching & teaching…

-         John heard the audible voice of God…

Revelation 1:12-20—“12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. 19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”

-         V. 12 “…seven golden lampstands…” each lampstand represents a church…the 7 churches in Asia Minor (v. 20)…a church from which the light of life is shown…7 being the number of completeness, the 7 lampstands are representative of all churches.

-         V. 13 “…Son of Man…”… Christ…81 times in the gospels…

-         V. 14 “…white like wool…”…most likely a blazing white…a white light (Daniel 7:9—“the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool.”)…

-         V. 15 “…voice like the sound of rushing waters…”…no longer the clear, crisp, sound of the trumpet heralding victory…but now the voice of power & authority…like the sound of the powerful, relentless crashing surf against the rocks of the island’s shore…

-         V. 16 “…he held seven stars…”…these are the angels (messengers) of the 7 churches (see v. 20)…the meaning of holding them in His hands: He controls the church & its leaders… “…double-edged sword…”…a broad weapon signifying judgment…

-         V. 17 “When I saw Him I fell at His feet…”…a common response to seeing the Lord in all His glory…

o   Genesis 17:1-3—“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” 3 Abram fell facedown…”

o   Isaiah 6:1-5—“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’”

o   Ezekiel 1:28—“28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”

-         V. 18—“I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever. And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

o   “…keys of death and Hades”…(Hades=Sheol, the place of the dead)…Holding the keys, it is Christ who decides on the timing of life and death…

-         V. 19—“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now, and what will take place later.”…this is sort of a brief outline of the book… “what you have seen”=chapter 1; “what is now”=letters to the churches (vv. 2 & 3)…and “what will take place later”=chapters 4-22.

-         V. 20—“The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”


o   “Angels”—lit. “messenger”…could be either…but probably refers to leaders in the churches…7 leading elders (we call them deacons)… “lampstands”—mentioned previously…the 7 churches…lamps giving the light of the gospel from the churches.

Introduction to End-Time Prophecy

An introduction to the study of the Book of Revelation 
for the Sunday evening small group at First Baptist Church, Glenville, West Virginia.
This is the outline from which I taught.


The Signs of His Coming

-          No date
o   Mark 13:32-35:  “…about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. 35 Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.”

-          The Bible teaches imminent return—in the next moment!

o   While the Bible talks about conditions in the last days…there are no calamity; political, economic, or religious developments; & no prophecies needing to be fulfilled…before JC returns for His bride, the church.

§  James 5:7-9: “7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

o   1 Thessalonians 5:1-9: “Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

o   Titus 2:11-13: “11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,…”

-          We do know from scripture the order of future prophetic events.

1.      The latter times or the last days of the church age (now)
2.      The return of Christ for the church, His bride—1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: “13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

3.      Third in the order of prophetic events…the 7-year tribulation period on earth (Revelation 4-19), also called the “70th week of Daniel” (Daniel 9:24-27)—
Daniel 9:24-27— 24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. 25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”[1]

4.      Fourth in the order of prophetic events is the return of the Lord “with power and great glory” with His church to establish His Millennial reign on earth (Revelation 20 and Matthew 24:29-30)—

Matthew 24:29-30—29 “Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.

-          We believe we are now in the latter days (end times, or last days) prophesied for the church age. Scriptures referring to this period of time, or dispensation, describe the social conditions and attitudes that will be apparent at the time immediately before the return of Christ for His church (called the “rapture”).

o   1 Timothy 4:1-5—1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

o   2 Timothy 3:1-9— But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses,[2] so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

o   2 Timothy 4:3-4—3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

o   2 Peter 3:3-4—3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

o   These prophesied “last days” for the church will be marked by apostasy, seduction by false spirits, unnatural affection, pride, treachery, skepticism, etc.—that is, an accurate description of the world in 2016!

-          We are not told in the Bible to become preoccupied with specific “signs” to immediately precede our Lord’s return for us, but only the general conditions that will exist in the “last days.” From its inception in the first century A.D., the New Testament tells us that His return is imminent, and that we should be expecting it at any moment. Paul calls this our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13— 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,…). This applies to every generation of Christians, but we believe that the conditions the Bible describes as characteristic of the last days of the church age are evident today.

o   Matthew 24 has been subject to much discussion. In Matthew 24:3, the disciples asked Jesus, “…what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” The church age and the rapture of the church are not taught in the Old Testament, so it is thought by many Bible scholars that the disciples could not, therefore, be asking about these doctrines, because they had yet to be revealed by the Holy Spirit. There are many just-as-qualified Bible scholars who believe Jesus is referring generally to His return, without differentiating between His return for His church and His return to reign with His church. I believe the former interpretation is to be preferred.

What they were asking Jesus was what signs would precede His return as to rule Israel (as prophesied in the Old Testament). His response refers to His return at the end of the tribulation to rule not just Israel, but the entire earth in His millennial kingdom This is found in Matthew 24:29-30—29 “Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.

o   Another evidence that Jesus may have been referring to His return at the end of the tribulation in Matthew 24 is His mention in verse 14 that “…this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” The universal preaching of the gospel is accomplished finally in the tribulation period, and is described in Revelation 14:6-8—“6 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. 7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” Note the timing of the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to every person on the earth—after the rapture but before the Lord returns at the end of the tribulation to establish His millennial kingdom.

-          There will, however, be signs Israel is to look for during the tribulation period. This is the time when the church is with the Lord in heaven looking down on the events transpiring on the earth as the Lord judges Israel and the rest of humanity. Looking down on the events, the church witnesses the ordeal of the Jews and Gentiles alike as the Lord judges and witnesses to Israel in preparation for His return to reign.

o   Jesus reveals to His disciples some of the signs that will take place during the tribulation as the time nears for His return to reign:

§  False messiahs and prophets deceiving many (Matthew 24:5, 11)
§  Wars and rumors of wars (v. 6)
§  Unprecedented political turmoil, famine disease, and earthquakes (v.7)
§  Martyrdom, betrayals by members of one’s family (vv. 9-10)
§  Licentiousness and lawlessness as in the days of Noah (vv. 37-39)
§  A 10-nation confederacy of the revived Roman Empire (Daniel 2, Revelation 13)
§  The building of the temple in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:26-27)
§  Physical signs—earth, sun, moon, and stars (Luke 21:25; Joel 2:30-31)
§  Hearts will fail for fear due to cataclysmic events (Luke 21:26)
§  The believing remnant of Israel will be gathered from throughout the earth (Matthew 5:31)
                                                                                                                                   
-          These signs precede the coming of the Lord “…in power and great glory…” to redeem believing Israel and usher in His 1,000-year reign on earth (Luke 21:27-28; Matthew 24:27, 30, 42).

-          We see the advent or imminence of some of these signs now, just another indication that the time may be near. The signs Jesus told to His disciples will become fully evident, however, after the Lord returns for the catching up of His church in the air (the rapture) and will precede His return at the end of the tribulation.

-          Note that the Christians in Thessalonica were troubled because of false teachers who taught them that they had somehow missed the rapture (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3—1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”

o   The terrible trials and persecutions these Christians were suffering made them wonder about the times and left them susceptible to false teachers telling them that they were in the midst of the great tribulation.

o   Paul’s reassurance in 2 Thessalonians is in the context of his first letter to the Thessalonian Christians, in which he promised them (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18): “16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together[3] with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

-          It seems readily apparent that the spirit of apostasy the Bible describes as characteristic of the last days is present today, which leads us to an ever-increasing realization that the Lord’s return for His church and the beginning of the tribulation period are imminent. That has been the “blessed hope” of the church since its inception and the expectation of every generation of Christians since the apostles.

-          While we wait for and anticipate His return, we must continue to do the Lord’s work of reaching the lost, encouraging one another, walking in the Spirit, and demonstrating in our manner of living the difference Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit makes in our lives.

-          The Holy Spirit admonishes us to live as though the Lord’s return will happen at any time (1 John 2:28—“28And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.”)

-          Finally, as we look forward to His appearing, we can take to heart the words of 1 John 3:1-3— 3See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”



Footnotes:

[1] These are “sevens” of years and describe a period of 49 years (7 sevens), thought to be the time between Daniel’s writing until the end of Nehemiah’s ministry or the end of the prophecies of Malachi; followed by a period of 62 sevens (483 years), for a total of 490 years (69 “sevens”) until the first advent of the Messiah, which is thought to have been fulfilled with the triumphal entry of the Messiah circa 30 A.D. The final 7 years (the 70th “seven”) is the prophesied 7-year tribulation.
[2] Jewish tradition holds that these were two men among the Egyptians who went with the Israelites in the Exodus, and that they were the ones who urged the Israelites to make and worship the golden calf while Moses was on Mt. Sinai. They are not mentioned in the Old Testament, however.
[3] Anytime someone tells you the term “rapture” does not appear in the Bible, refer them to 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The Greek word is translated to English here as “caught up together.” The origin of the English word “rapture” comes from Latin translation of this verse in the Latin Vulgate, a translation produced in the 4th century A.D. and in use for more than 1,000 years prior to the translation of the Bible into common languages. The term “rapture” is a transliteration of the Latin verb raptus in v. 17, or perhaps the transliteration of the French form of the same word, meaning to “catch up” or “take away.”