By: Martin Cisneros
I was getting ready to read the book of Revelation this evening from Rotherham's translation when the Holy Spirit touched me very deeply with a thought. We know that the book of Revelation was originally addressed to 7 Churches in Asia. There's no disputing that. The only questions have been as to whether it had literal or spiritual fulfillments, if it's fulfillments were exclusively 1st century, or for the near future from then or now, and/or if it has multiple fulfillments, or if it should be taken as explicit Christian allegorical porn whose objective isn't the exposure of human flesh for Christians to see, but the exposure of the nakedness and impotence of wickedness in the presence of the finished work of the Christ.
Here's the part that the Holy Spirit touched me with very deeply: as you read through chapters 2 and 3, those 7 churches DEFINITELY DID NOT have it all together -- from the natural way of looking at things -- with their tolerance of those holding the doctrines of Balaam, of Jezabel, of the Nicolaitans, etc. Some were praised for seeing through false Apostles and false Jews, but others were condemned for fornication, whether literally or in the sense of a book of Hosea reference; there were condemnations for the eating of sacrifices to idols; a condemnation on getting caught up with the wealth that's the natural outcome of the Gospel working in one's life in it's entirety: they were condemned for straying from being rich towards God; there were rebukes for forsaking one's first love, etc.
Whatever the book of Revelation means, and whatever it meant to it's first century audience -- they didn't have to be proficiently walking in spiritual maturity without sinking in their attempt to walk on the water with the Lord [like Peter did] before the Lord could give them such a grand Revelation. They didn't have to have it all together before the Lord would give them such a grand revelation. Paul spoke very strongly to spiritual babies about not being able to show them anything because of their inconsistency in the faith, their wavering in love, and their fluctuating hope because of being caught up with the affairs of this life. Sometimes in reading those comments from Paul in 1Corinthians and elsewhere, it can be a little discouraging when from our own perspective, [so often] if we could just see a few steps further than where we're at, then we'd be able to walk a straighter line with the Lord, or at least have more hope and praise towards the Lord.
When there are seasons of our lives that Christ's Ephesians 4 gifts to us of whatever Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers that He's placed in our lives -- when we're in those seasons that they can't really get through to us because of whatever's going on in our heads, in our lives, in our pains, etc. -- one of the purposes of the book of Revelation is to show us that even when we don't have it all together, He's still able to get through to us in His own way to show us the triumph of Christ over sinners; of Jerusalem over Babylon; of Good over evil. He can still show you exceedingly, abundantly, above, and beyond all that you can ask, think, or imagine according to His power -- even when you feel condemned and as though He'd have absolutely no reason to, because you don't feel like you're even trying with what He's given you thus far. He's not limited by your performance, even in the things that He's able to show you. He's not limited by the strength of your roots. He's still willing and able to show you all kinds of things, even when you're emotionally a total mess!
Jesus is still hearing things from the Father that He fully intends to pass along to you -- inspite of what you just did, or failed to do; should have done, wished you'd done/hadn't done -- whatever! Perhaps like John on the isle of Patmos you've thought that this latest whatever means that your life, ministry, relationships, or whatever are completely over with because of this latest incarceration by your flesh or the natural realm around you. He'll speak to you again. He'll touch you again to where you'll fall under the manifestation of His Presence and Power, and you'll get up on your feet totally refreshed by Jesus, your High Priest. You'll understand the mystery of all of the glory that surrounds Him, that you're called to inherit and walk together with Him in. Perhaps it won't be a Jewish menorah that He'll show you, but it'll be the mystery to your own family, to those that you're STILL called to minister to, inspite of feeling like you're in chains and powerless to speak or to be heard.
I'd noticed about a year ago while reading my Scarlett's New Testament that the 7 seals seemed to overlap with the 7 trumpets which would overlap with the 7 bowls, but just this evening noticed an overlapping with the 7 letters, so that:
letter to 1st church goes with 1st seal, 1st trumpet, and 1st bowl;
letter to 2nd church goes with 2nd seal, 2nd trumpet, and 2nd bowl;
letter to 3rd church goes with 3rd seal, 3rd trumpet, and 3rd bowl;
letter to 4th church goes with 4th seal, 4th trumpet, and 4th bowl;
letter to 5th church goes with 5th seal, 5th trumpet, and 5th bowl;
letter to 6th church goes with 6th seal, 6th trumpet, and 6th bowl;
letter to 7th church goes with 7th seal, 7th trumpet, and 7th bowl.
At first, second, and third glance, they don't seem to perfectly parallel, but there will be enough of a coincidental similarity of details to where it's worth setting up 4 columns with 14 lines a piece in ms word or on a private webpage for any of you with your own websites so that you can list the category of each above each of the Scriptures from left to right, so that in private you can consider letter 1 with seal 1, trumpet 1, and bowl 1, etc. One of the letters to one of the churches will say that those who are worthy will dwell with Him dressed in white, and the corresponding judgment further in the book of revelation will mention the souls of those under the altar that are given white robes. Under one trumpet a third of the creatures in the sea (perhaps the Mediteranean) dies, while in the same corresponding bowl you'll have every single living thing in the sea die, so that perhaps what's an initial catastrophe of a third of the creatures in the sea dying isn't checked, but then leads to the death of every living thing in that sea. 7th trumpet that ends with the sickle judgments in Revelation 14 could be read with the bowl judgment leading all of the way to the lake of fire judgment in Revelation 20.
7th letter advises buying gold from the Lord that doesn't perish, or something to that effect, while the 7th seal says that all of our prayers are on a golden altar. False Jews in 6th letter and the sealing of the 144,000 genuine Jews in the 6th seal. Famine with seal 3, waters are made bitter in trumpet 3, and the people are forced to drink blood with the 3rd bowl.
Each of these is worth looking at in it's apparent grouping together, whether you're leaning towards preterism, futurism, a historicist interpretation, or somewhere between all three of those interpretations. For ease in putting together your own table in word or in some other way so you can research these in side by side categories, here's how I'm currently studying them:
1st: Revelation 2:1-7 with Revelation 6:1-2 with Revelation 8:6-7 with Revelation 15:1-16:2
2nd: Revelation 2:8-11 with Revelation 6:3-4 with Revelation 8:8-9 with Revelation 16:3
3rd: Revelation 2:12-17 with Revelation 6:5-6 with Revelation 8:10-11 with Revelation 16:4-7
4th: Revelation 2:18-29 with Revelation 6:7-8 with Revelation 8:12-13 with Revelation 16:8-9
5th: Revelation 3:1-6 with Revelation 6:9-11 with Revelation 9:1-12 with Revelation 16:10-11
6th: Revelation 3:7-13 with Revelation 6:12-7:17 with Revelation 9:14-11:14 with Revelation 16:12-16
7th: Revelation 3:14-22 with Revelation 8:1-5 with Revelation 11:15-14:20 with Revelation 16:17-22:21
On some of these cross references you might see only very slight similarities and compliments, but there's enough here to where it's worth further investigation. I hope I didn't mess up on any of the references, but I think I've given enough of the general idea. I'm not yet proposing an interpretation, but just perhaps an interesting way of studying it.
Is the third of what dies in the sea and then later everything that dies in the sea talking about Rome or about a catastrophe with the Mediteranean with the actual sea life? Preterists, historicists, and futurists may each feel as though they have an interpretation on that, but grouping each of these judgments together like that might enrich each of your interpretations. Or perhaps it'll give you a starting point if you tend to avoid the book of Revelation 'cause it's one of the parts of the Bible where absolutely everybody's got an opinion and everybody contradicts everybody else, whether Arminian, Universalist, or Calvinist; Premillenialist, Postmillenialist, or Amillenialist. It's the only book of the Bible that closes with the promise of an angel accompanying it to testify to you concerning the things that are written in that book (Revelation 22:16).
I'll have to do more studying on Passover and all of the traditions associated with it. One of those, "I need to, but who's got the time??" kinda things... But as I'm looking at these judgments categorized like this, the book of Revelation is looking more and more like a Passover document. As I said in my previous post, I'd previously noticed that the 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls seemed to overlap with each other, but when the Holy Spirit said last night for me to have another peak at the letters to the 7 Churches and I sorta caught the gist of what I felt like the Lord was telling me about it, I went to my website and set up a webpage not viewable by others where I could set up 4 columns with 14 rows (7 for the actual Scriptures involved and 7 for a heading over each so that it wouldn't look like cookie-cut gibberish). And I went to the Concordant website where I could get my hands on a copy of their New Testament without having to type all of that out. By going to an online copy of the New Testament, then all I had to do was copy/paste the Scriptures into the various columns that I'd created. I chose the Concordant for this because I wanted a reasonably accurate translation, and it lacks the doctrinal bias that I've detected in Rotherham's. I wanted to know if I was hearing from the Lord, or if it was just a peculiarity about how my Scarlett's New Testament was translated. There are soooo many translational mirages out there, so that on some doctrines it won't stand the scrutiny of refering to a different translation, that I just wanted to be sure. I had been mentally toying with the idea for over a year, as I said. But when I actually had those Scriptures in front of me in 4 side-by-side columns, that's when I started noticing throughout the night last night and most of this morning that there were more points of similarity than questions about "how does this tie together, if this is the way to read this?" The 7th letter concludes with Christ's invitation to dine with Him, which the Lord's been telling me recently to take a little more seriously and literally than I had for years and years. But that's for a different post sometime, when He's explained further or when my life's gotten a bit wilder with a dinner Guest a few times.
Anyway, the 7th letter concludes with Christ's invitation to dine with Him.
There's silence after the 7th seal is opened for half an hour.
Towards the close of the 7th trumpet judgment you've got the reaping of the wicked and of the righteous from the earth.
At the end of the 7th bowl judgment, you've got the White Throne Judgment.
So, perhaps, tying the above together, the White Throne Judgment might only be 30 minutes. Talk about Daddy being a speed reader when the Books are opened!!
With the blowing of the 7th trumpet the woman (whom some interpret to be Israel) is nourished by God in the wilderness. And lastly, with the pouring out of the 7th bowl, it says "Happy are those who are invited to the wedding dinner of the Lambkin."
Angels or human messengers are loosed at the Euphrates River with the 6th trumpet, while with the 6th bowl the Euphrates River is dried up to make a path for the road for the kings of the orient to be made ready.
This is getting more and more interesting as I'm looking at it.
It's seeming more and more to me as a Passover document where we're seeing all of the judgments that lead towards our passage from old earth to new earth. I don't [yet] know enough about Passover to say this authoritatively, but there's a chance that the 7 letters, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and the 7 bowls synchronize with each of the 7 days of Passover and the traditions/fulfillments related to that. For Preterists, obviously, it would enhance their view that the book of Revelation is the passage from the old wineskin of Judaism to the new wineskin of Christianity. But to me, the prophecies are a little too detailed to be limited to that.
I think that I finally understood why the Church Fathers narrowly allowed the book of Revelation into the canon. The very first verse of the Book of Revelation says that the whole revelation is a message delivered by an angel. Paul, in Colossians, viewed angelic revelations of a doctrinal nature to be, at best, "suspect." If the Book of Revelation was written as early as some have insisted, then perhaps the Book of Revelation was being criticized by Paul, in particular, in Colossians.
For several reasons that I'll have to elaborate at either a later date, or on a different website, I believe that we're in the time period of the opening of the 3rd and 4th seals. Again, starting with the letters, the spirit of Balaam in the Church where preachers are trying to keep people out of the various areas of "promised land" that the Lord's ministered to them regarding. Balaam is beating his donkey, in various ways, literally, figuratively and metaphorically. Jezabel is present with the sexual looseness even in Churches, and the eating of foods and animals that have been sacrificed to/by corporate idolatry. Jesus is presently killing kids born of this Jezabel spirit, perhaps up to and including the abortion issue -- 'cause at any other time in history, people that know how to pray and have the fullness of the Spirit would have stopped abortion before it had gone an entire year. But it's only continued to get crazier and crazier, so that it makes you have to take another look at the Letter to the Church at Thyatira.
The postmillenial hope/expectation of reigning with Christ on this earth prior to the return of Christ is growing in people who'd view themselves as premillenialists, which logically doesn't work 'cause "any moment now" they're supposed to go sailing off into the sky. Interesting things have been happening with the sun, moon, and stars; people are getting sick from the sun.
In fulfillment of the Hosea 2:18; Jeremiah 31:27-28 covenant, animals are starting to lose their fear of man as they're being lead towards Isaiah chapter 11, but currently they still have their wildness of Psalm 104 to where they'll corner you and eat your lunch. So, we have that going on, in addition to the protective promises of God starting to kick in, in the behalf of animals, so that those that harm animals are themselves now being harmed. Diseases are coming upon mankind through animals, and various other things are happening so that you have death coming upon mankind through the beasts of the earth in Revelation 6:8 and the daily newspapers. The economy is at best, questionable. All of these things relate to the third and fourth seals, third and fourth letters, third and fourth trumpets, and third and fourth bowls.
I'd love to share more along the lines of this perspective. Not sure that I know of any more to share, but I'll lean on the Holy Spirit for some type of typing utterance 'cause I've already shared all that's thus far occured to me along these lines. Both due to this computer having some graphics issues when it comes to working with the Adobe program, and because for too many years I never did my own studying but read everybody else's books to know what I believed the Lord won't let me have a look at the link that was posted on this thread for an interpretation that's already been given by a former NASA staff member on the whole perspective that this thread was started with. The Lord will probably let me look at it later, but for a few days/weeks/months the Lord's wanting me to study to show myself approved. He's been having me fly solo on the whole Hosea 2:18 Animal Gospel as well, so, that's sorta nothing new with the Lord wanting me to study the Scriptures for myself on a topic.
Right now, I'd love to know if the book of Revelation was written in the way that it was to keep prying eyes out of it's message 'cause [if this is the way to interpret it] to the undecerning eye it would appear to be just gibberish or the ramblings of a crazy man when read from start to finish, from chapter 1 to chapter 22.
(Joseph Prince claims it's division into 22 chapters isn't accidental, but is Providential. He claims that each chapter corresponds to each of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the imagery associated with each of those letters. But I don't have a copy of his teaching along those lines. And I [genuinely] don't know if he makes it available in the US. Anybody reading this that would like a peak for themselves at teaching along those lines can try contacting his ministry at http://www.josephprince.org to see if they make any book of Revelation teaching available in the U.S. He's also briefly teased on his television program, while talking about other things, that the 7 seals of the book of Revelation relate to the 7 types of spirits that you're freed from when you come to Christ. That's mean, his having teased like that and not having given more details on that occasion, right? But he did allude to having already taught that and having it on either CD or DVD.)
I think that the first chapter of Revelation points to this being the way to read it when Jesus passes along the message through His angel that He's wanting those 7 churches written to. (i.e. what we've been talking about with the letters to the 7 churches corresponding with the 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls in numerical order) If this isn't the way to read it, then minimally these patterns were put into the book to show it's divine inspiration and that it's not just a collection of myths, visions, and dreams that grew over a couple of centuries -- as is always the criticism with everything related to Christianity to start with in higher academia. At least in the United States.
I'd noticed in Daniel chapter 2 that with that vision of the 4 world empires, that it's a situation where all 4 of those are concurrently a problem when Christ would grind them to powder. At least, that's how the NASB is indicating. I'm not too sure how this fits in with my Postmillenialism, since Christ commenced His reign 2000 years ago. But perhaps this goes into the category on the difference between the time frame of "Church militant" and "Church triumphant" when we plow right into the millenial reign of the saints.
Has anybody besides me noticed that we've been dealing with Babylon in the middle east with this "war on terrorism" and now the prince of persia is wanting to raise hell? Next is something Greek. What, I couldn't possibly tell you apart from the Holy Spirit manifesting with a Word of Wisdom. And then something Roman, which some are telling us is the "revived roman empire" with the E.U. It's in the days of these 4 issues on the world scene that Christ annihilates the competition for world dominance. The supposed fulfillment from what? 2500 years ago or so, until 1800 years ago wasn't a situation where all 4 were concurrently competing for world dominance. If all of this were going to go down right now, then we've got basically 4 spheres of existance right now that everything else fits under the category of with the religious, the cultural, the economic, and the political. Daniel's vision is repeated twice with the same bottomline message. One is the different parts of a statue that are made of different things that are supposed to represent these 4 world forces, while the other is 4 different animals at work, if I remember right. Daniel chapter 2 and Daniel chapter 7 seem to essentially have the same message. One of the creatures in Daniel 7 is a leopard. And we have a leopard appearing on the scene in Revelation 13:2, according to my CLNT and my NASB. I don't have a copy of the Concordant translation on the book of Daniel, so, I'm not sure if they'd concur in the translation of a leopard for Daniel's vision. But, all of the big Bible commentaries will try to claim that this leopard was Alexander the Great. But what's he doing over here in the book of Revelation around the middle of the book? We could try to argue for the preexistence of Christ for the earlier chapters of Revelation, but that would make it all hopelessly confused on why He's already opening the seals, releasing the trumpets, and the bowls in the behalf of mankind if He hadn't even died yet.
Whatever anybody thinks about the nature of these judgments from the first chapter of Revelation to it's last chapter, it's noteworthy that the Apostle of Love wept when he thought that nobody was going to open the scroll with the 7 seals. Which in our study here would translate into his weeping over the trumpets not getting blown and the bowls not being poured out, if they're all different ways of looking at the same thing or follow up info on the status of what's going on over time with the same things released by the letters and the seals, whether we're talking about over a period of months, years, or generations from the first to the last of the seals, trumpets, and bowls. John wept at the thought that nobody would unleash all of that.
I'm sure that a lot of us as little kids, after hearing the contents of the book of Revelation for the first time, were wondering why Jesus even bothered with opening the seals if it was all going to turn out SOOOO BADLY!!
The Apostle of Love thought that something would be amiss if those seals weren't opened. With the 7th trumpet being blown, we find a leopard being unleashed on the scene in Revelation 13:2. If I'm reading it correctly, then it says in Revelation 13 that this leopard only has dominion for 42 months, or three and a half years. But it conquers the saints with it's blasphemy against those dwelling in heaven, which according to Ephesians is us. This has to be read with Daniel 'cause I believe it's in Daniel chapter 7 where it says that the saints are apparently overcome UNTIL the judgment is rendered by the Most High in the behalf of the saints. And comparing Daniel with Revelation on these points, it's obvious that the millenium begins around this time, or rather shortly thereafter. This would agree with the millenium being a part of the judgment of the 7th bowl 'cause we live and reign with Christ (going forth conquering and to conquer) for a thousand years and disciple the nations. After the leopard falls before the saints, there's still evil going on on the earth and perhaps for a considerable amount of time afterwards, but we've regathered our barings and are riding with Christ conquering and overcoming the nations at this point with the proclamation of the Gospel.
In Revelation 11 with the blowing of the 7th trumpet, there's an earthquake, lightnings, thunders, and great hail, which might agree with Hal Lindsey and others if all of this comes out of some type of nuclear blast with war in the middle east. That's not the only possible reason for the earthquake, but because of the nature of it and the way it's described in Revelation 11, as I've just said, then that's why I'm inclined to think that something really nasty just happened in the Mediterranean region around the time of the blowing of the 7th trumpet. Perhaps that's how the leopard comes to power in Revelation 13:2, in whatever form that winds up being, whether political, religious, economic, or cultural with television or whatever. With the pouring out of the 7th bowl -- remembering the parallels that we'd been talking about thus far, and that we've just talked about the 7th trumpet -- with the pouring of the 7th bowl, we have lightings, voices, and thunders yet again in Revelation 16, like we did in Revelation 11's closing. And because of the magnitude of the earthquake that's indicated in this instance in Revelation 16, then that's why I'm inclined to believe that we're dealing with something nuclear or perhaps with meteorites 'cause of the lightnings, which could be either spiritual or natural phenomenon. The lightnings in Revelation aren't as carefully spelled out as the candlesticks being Churches or the city of 7 hills which is either Rome, Italy, or Bath, England, or any number of other places with 7 hills that might be involved if this is future prophecy. Allowing for just a moment that this might be a nuclear catastrophe that's just happened, in the 17th and 18th chapters of Revelation we have the burning of the spirit of prostitution, and of perhaps a literal city, whether Rome, a republic of Babylon, or whatever.
I'm not dogmatizing about an interpretation yet. I'm just tossing out there another interesting oddity about the book of Revelation that's the tying together of the 1st letter, 1st seal, 1st trumpet, and 1st bowl.
For those of you who hold to a futurist interpretation of the book of Revelation (and I'm not saying that I don't. I'm still looking at it objectively for the first time in my life rather than presuming based upon the Hal Lindsey stuff I was raised on) -- if any of you happen to lean towards the ancient tradition of the future coming AntiChrist being a Catholic Pope that is a defector from the faith either based upon St. Malachi's prophecy or perhaps that taken as corroboration to your own studies of the Scriptures: here's an interesting place where the dots seem to connect with that interpretation with the interpretative principle that I'm working through on the book of Revelation at this season of my life.
The first Church letter (chpt 2, vs. 1) addressed to the first of the 7 Churches addressed in the book of Revelation deals with Nicolaitanism, which as many of you know deals with denominationalism, and particularly of the Catholic variety. The first seal, if you believe as I've just talked about in the previous paragraph, you'd probably take to be the coming of AntiChrist. The first trumpet causes hail and fire mixed with blood to be cast upon the earth and there's an ecological disaster from that. Probably just in the European and/or the Mediterranean area. (Could this be where some of you slip in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 with the war of the latter years that involves Russia and a collection of Muslim nations accidentally self-nuking because of the Lord working against them in their attempt to invade Israel?) The first letter, as I said, could reference Catholicism, and there's a tradition about a future Pope that turns away from the faith, which according to this tradition could be the coming of AntiChrist with the opening of the first seal in Revelation chapter 6. Something crappy goes down during that time period, and some Bible prophecy teachers believe that Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 start the tribulation that they're anticipating that's at least 7 years in duration. Though I'm not yet ready to be a total proponent of that view without more careful study on my own. So, we've covered letter #1, seal #1, and trumpet #1. What's left? Bowl #1? Yup!
Chapter 2, verse 1 for the starting of the first letter.
Chapter 6, verse 1 for the opening of the first seal.
Chapter 8, verse 7 for the blowing of the first trumpet.
Chapter 16, verse 2 for the pouring of the first bowl.
What do we have with the pouring of the first bowl? Remember, with the first letter and the first seal, according to this view, is supposed to be a Papal defection from the Christian faith that's supposed to be in the near future, as of when I'm typing this. Background information for the first trumpet. And now with the pouring out of the first bowl we have a punishment upon those who are worshipping the image of the beast! So, the religious theme continues from the 1st letter to the 1st bowl being poured out. And what's this punishment that comes upon those who worship the image of the beast and have his mark? A grievous and malignant ulcer that's come upon those who have the mark of the beast, and who are worshipping the image of the beast. Where could this grievous and malignant ulcer have come from? With the blowing of the first trumpet there was some type of ecological disaster that may have been nuclear. And with excessive radiation, and particularly with the wrong type of radiation -- as in the man-made kind -- there's easily the potential for a genetic oops, the weakening of the immune system, and/or really slow healing and/or the burning of your flesh (i.e. until there's a hole) etc.
I'm not entirely sold on any interpretation of the Book of Revelation right now because too many teachers that I've heard over the years have contradicted themselves repeatedly, contradicted each other, and have contradicted things that I've seen to be very plainly in the Scriptures -- both on this book of the Bible and other areas of doctrine. But to me, this was very interesting when I saw a glimpse of this, this evening!! If we look over at the 7th letter that was written, which closes the third chapter of the book of Revelation, then we discover some interesting things about modern scholarship on the part of Christians that's very eye-opening!
This letter illustrates perfectly the inherent negativity of modern exegesis. Most Christians would recognize this as the letter to the Church that's going straight to Hell where they'll be bathed in the blasphemies, the brimstone, the devil's pitchfork, etc., etc., etc. in the ever-increasing Kingdom of Satan's Lake of Fire that'll ever be filled with each of those worlds whose unrepentant inhabitants the new Hitler...uh...er...I mean Christ will be tossing in there to writhe and to scream, moan, sob, and shriek as God heaps greater and greater suffering upon them throughout the endlessness of eternity as God uses all of His magnificent power in a perpetual miracle and outworking of His faith to increase their torments in proportion with each new level of acclimation that the inhabitants of the habitation of the damned reach as their sin increases, expands, and abounds to the glory of Satan, the Almighty Free-will of mankind, etc., etc.
Sorry, I was starting to get a bit carried away as I beheld the beast that sits upon many waters, but you get my point without my further elaboration...
This Laodicean Church is actually the zealous Church that repents, opens the door, and dines with Christ continually while seated on His Father's Throne until they [together with Christ] deliver up the Kingdom to the Father in 1Corinthians 15:28.
This 7th letter corresponds with the 7th seal, the 7th trumpet, and the 7th bowl of Revelation. These aren't just the 11th hour repenters, these are the repenters at 11:59:59:59 for whom the heavens are hushed for half an hour with the opening of the 7th seal. This is the Church that lives to see the Kingdoms of this world having become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ in Revelation 11:15 with the blowing of the 7th Trumpet which is one of the triumphant crowning acheivements of the preaching of the Gospel. They are the woman in the wilderness in Revelation 12 whose "seed" is caught up to the Throne of God while they themselves are nourished in the wilderness in Revelation 12:6 on the wedding dinner of the Lambkin that's spread before them in the process of time in Revelation 19 after the pouring out of the 7th bowl.
It's the very Church that's going forth conquering and to conquer whose robes are dipped in Blood and who've inherited the Name "Word of God." What they've bound on earth is bound in heaven and what they've loosed on earth is loosed in heaven as we see in Revelation 19 with Christ going forth with the armies of heaven in His High Priestly ministry in the beautiful vision that is given to us of what's going on as the Church on earth has moved from the militant phase to the occupational phase because the devil has been bound for a thousand years. Revelation 19 shows Christ in heaven as the New Testament "Abraham," while the Church -- His "Isaac" -- is on the earth enjoying the hundredfold.
Not only is the 7th letter; the letter to the Laodicean Church the picture of those whose gold is refined in the fire and whose garments have been made white in the Blood of the Lamb, but they've wiped lukewarmness from God's Creation. They're a type and shadow of us, and at the same time they're historically a Church that many theologians and pastors will be repenting to with much weeping for all of their misrepresentations of their overcoming character in the 1st century.
The more that I'm looking at lining up the judgments in this way (i.e. letters to 7 churches correspond to 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls in # order), the more it's seeming to add something to the theory that some have had about the letters being 7 distinct, though perhaps overlapping, eras within the Church age -- so that by the time you come down to the 7th Church, the Laodicean Church which corresponds with what leads into the White Throne Judgment with the camp of God's people being surrounded by the spirit that would try to make them wreched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked after a period of time of unprecidented prosperity with global discipleship -- earth's, or rather the Body of Christ's, golden age. Gog and Magog, whatever else they mean and whatever else their intent are trying to make people "wreched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked."
I don't believe in a premillenial return of Jesus Christ, since I'm a postmillenialist, so even if I were to allow a 7 year tribulation in the way that some would understand it, that would simply be the prelude to the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit in history rather than the Bodily return of His Majesty. If each of those 7s were to stand for one of the years of that tribulation period within which there'd be the conversion of Israel, each of these 7 years could still be the "resurrection" of the Churches in Turkey that this letter was addressed to with evangelism going on in that part of the world on a level that hasn't been seen in over a thousand years so that they can live and reign with Christ for a thousand years alongside of us. How else would this have been a letter of deep hope to those 7 Churches who'd honestly have little investment or cause for concern in what was about to immediately befall Jerusalem in 70AD if the book of Revelation were written prior to 70AD? Turkey's far enough to where they didn't have to care beyond the level of sentimentality about what was about to happen to Jerusalem in 70AD if the book of Revelation was written prior to 70AD as some have insisted. But a bit of a subliminal about the resurrection of their own congregations (i.e. local fellowships rather than necessarily an immediate arising of the same individuals from back then) in our time could grant a sense of immortality to those congregations in the ancient sense of military overcomers.
The Laodicean Church could also be said to be working in an intercessory priestly role in the behalf of the world to where the particular indictments against that Church could be more of what they were taking upon themselves in the behalf of the world of the world by faith as they pray and repent in the behalf of the world and reach for that mercy from God until it's flowing. They're in the midst of buying refined gold to take care of wrechedness, the miserable, the poor, the blind, and the naked of the world which we find in the last two chapters of Revelation which could still be read as the era of the 7th bowl. The Spirit and the Bride say "Come!" Jesus says "I stand at the door and knock. If any man open the door..."
Poverty's about to be abolished perdy soon. If death is the last enemy to be abolished, then the Goliath of poverty's got to come down a bit sooner. "Always" is a word used in the book of Romans regarding a threat against Israel that St. Paul quotes from the Psalms that their back would be bent over "always." I'm not sure that I totally understand that statement that St. Paul quotes. Must be a Hebrew euphemism for a backslidden condition 'cause that's how St. Paul seems to use it. Yet he concludes by saying that all of Israel shall be saved and this will mean much greater riches for the world. Obviously spiritual in some way, but perhaps riches should be read as "riches" as well. Just as this word that contains the ominous word "always" will surely come to an end because all of Israel shall be saved, in the same way, I believe that when Jesus said "the poor you will have with you always" is likewise something that's not meant in the sense of actual "everlasting" language.
With the way that I've been looking at the book of Revelation, the 7th and last of the Churches that the book is addressed to are in absolute abundance, yet in the sight of Christ they've wandered from a blessed position to being poor, blind, wreched, and naked. That would seem to correspond to the end of the millenial age which is after the 7th bowl. So, they buy gold from Him refined in the fire, fire falls from heaven, and there's a new heavens and a new earth. I don't believe the close of Revelation 20 teaches a final apostacy, but a final revival in the way that I'm reading Revelation. I believe that the Gog and Magog situation in Revelation 20 is an attempt at a demonic attack. There's nothing to demand that in Revelation 20 that that's human armies that have turned away from Christ. Satan is loosed for a little season. Perhaps still self deceived enough to think that he's escaped 'cause of his own cleverness, stunning power, or whatever. And when people merge the earthly wealth with the heavenly wealth by opening the door to Christ afresh, then as the fire of God comes in you've got the beauties of the newer and much higher level of prosperity, and Father stabilizing the universe sufficiently enough with the Blood of Christ to where it can stand the intensity of His full Presence living among us without limitation. But world peace and the end of poverty are really really really soon on the horizon. We need it for the discipleship of the nations, and even if spirituality teeters on waning towards the end of the millenium (however long that winds up genuinely being), the whole earth will hear the knocking Christ before the fire that falls winds up being a condemning fire because of the last verse or two in Malachi. The future is something to look forward to 'cause Jesus Christ has already prepared the way through the veil of His flesh.
It says in the Gospel of John that those who believe on Jesus, as the Scriptures have said (about Him, no doubt) then out of their belly would flow rivers of living water, which the Gospel of John goes on to interpret for us as the Holy Spirit's baptism upon our lives. In the book of Isaiah, I believe around the 12th chapter we're assured that with joy you draw water from the well of salvation. Yet here in Revelation 21:3-8 we're told:
3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
7He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
I know we tend to each be already fairly comfortable with our interpretations, for the most part. But is this passage in Revelation 21 saying that the Lake of Fire isn't something that you're thrown into from the outside, as the imagery of Revelation 20 by itself would seem to indicate, but by contrasting it with the fountain of living water is this saying that the Lake of Fire is synonymous with the condemnation [and wrath] spoken of in the Gospel of John chapters 3 and 5 that would be the portion of unbelievers for the duration of their unbelief?
Is the Lake of Fire nothing more than the agitation that erupts within an unbeliever when [through the preached Word (Mark 16:15-20)] the Spirit of the Lord draws near in convicting the world about sin because they don't believe on Jesus, of righteousness because Jesus is at God's right hand and we don't see Him any more, and of judgment because the prince of this world has been judged?
Do we go from Lake of Fire to fountain of living water, according to the above passage in Revelation 21:3-8 and everything else that you know about the New Testament, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the message of the Universal Restoration in the Scriptures??
It's starting to make more sense to me that the Lake of Fire is something that happens within you as a response to the Spirit of the Lord drawing near, if your heart isn't right, than to say that it's this big execution pit. When you're heart is right, then from your faith and it's contact with the Holy Spirit – rivers of living water will flow from your innermost being, or rather from your belly as the KJV is actually pretty faithful to the Greek on that point.
Many of us have had terrifying fears before that would arise within us either in response to a dangerous situation or to something stupid that we were seeing in a movie. When fear comes up like that because of wrong information and a wrong heart where our Lord is concerned while He's come into our presence in an extra special way – then where else is there to run from the fear? It will just intensify because you're anticipating the worst from the only one in the entire multiverse that would be capable of doing to you everything that you're fearfully imagining.
That's not to say that He ever would, but enough wrong information, self deception, and fear running wild and you could turn 1200 thread count bed sheets into something frightful in your own mind. A lot of people miss that when they come across Scriptures about the terrors that someone will experience in the Presence of our Lord if their heart isn't right. It's self-inflicted torment for the most part. If your spirit had hair on top of it's head and you turned every single hair completely white with your fear because God approached, that wouldn't be a reflection on Him. That would be your own knees knocking. And I'm not minimizing the torment that could come out of that. A horrendously guilty conscience is an intolerable burden!
The torments of the Lake of Fire are your own conscience boiling like an egg in the Presence of Jesus. The reality is that He wouldn't have to do anything to you except for getting a little closer and if your heart isn't right, you'll scream like an ax murderer is taking his sweet time taking all of your skin off, one dry razor burn after the other. Revelation 21 says that the Lord has made His home among mankind, and some are experiencing that as a fountain of living water, while others are experiencing a very unpleasant burning in the pit of their stomachs over it.
A lot of people look at the fact that the gates of the Holy City will never be closed at any point, but that there are angels at each gate. They think that that's to keep anyone out because outside of the Holy City are all of the people with all of the problems. Outside of the Holy City are the people with unresolved sin and worship issues before our Lord, fear and reluctance issues to come and bow before Him and to yield to all that He would have their lives to be through the power of His Holy Spirit. But how does the book of Revelation end? The Spirit and the Bride say "Come! Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely!!" In other words, no one has to be a prisoner of a guilty conscience, the rebellion of their past, and the weight of everything that they've become liable for with all that they've done while not being submitted to Jesus Christ.
That burning fear can stop. Those burning memories can lose their sting. That agony over having disappointed both themselves and their Lord Jesus can stop. The only inherent virtue in the fire is when it brings you to the point that you don't want it to burn any more, and you're ready to say "Lord Jesus, not my will, but Yours be done!" Revelation 5:13 and 1Corinthians 15:28 tell us that it's going to happen someday, because according to 1Timothy 2:6 Jesus Christ is still the corresponding ransom for all. That He's the corresponding ransom for all means that they're emphatically His, regardless of what anybody thinks that He will or ought to do with them. He'll show each of them the same grace and patience that He's shown to each of us.
Their burning will stop. Their thirst will be quenched with the Words of Jesus. The torment will stop. All tears will be wiped off of all faces – the Lord's face and the face of every single person that's ever existed or that will ever exist by that time period. Everything's already been taken care of. Everything has already been fixed. All of the problems, globally, are more mental and emotional than any kind of spiritual reality of darkness or anything like that. All things will be clarified and reconciled. The work of Jesus Christ, according to Romans 5, brings justification of life. That's not just talking about personally being made righteous or sanctified or anything like that. That means that there's something that's been released from the Heart of God into the Creation that will ultimately permeate absolutely all of it. It will make all of the previous pain and everything else that we've gone through totally worth it to get to see what we'll each see of wholeness and oneness for all of Creation with our heavenly Father.
Each of us has our part to play in the suffering. Each of us is that quantum event that when we resist a temptation, we've resisted it for all of Creation. When we refuse to walk in the old man, we're creating resistance for each individual in all of Creation to be able to put off the old man and to put on the new man through Jesus Christ. It's all related and we're all connected. Creation has fallen together through Adam and is rising together through Jesus Christ. Each temptation to vary from the pattern of Jesus Christ in our lives completely overcome by the power of our new lives in Jesus Christ is the second hand on the clock leading us towards the New Heavens and New Earth that God has for each and every single one of us. It's not a particular date on a calendar, like 2012, 2042, 2046, or 3010 when Jesus will come back and when the present heavens and earth will be engulfed into the New.
It's every act of rebellion against sin, every act of rebellion against hatred, ever act of rebellion against any word that's not a Word of the Gospel that'll get us there. There are only a certain number of temptations for each of us [to overcome] before Jesus screams the quickening Word and the Holy Spirit does something absolutely miraculous through our bodies that's unspeakable in conforming these vile bodies into the image of His own. Every temptation not overcome doesn't count in the final count. Every temptation not overcome is just one more temptation that'll need to be overcome. Every temptation not overcome won't push that button of life in the machinery of the heaven of heavens, that we're each awaiting the pushing of so that we can get on to the higher level of existence that each of us have been awaiting. We've each known there was something stronger, higher, better, richer, and more pure than this existence that we've been awaiting – whatever our views of the last two chapters of the book of Revelation, whether literal or figurative or somewhere in between.
Each of us has our Cross. All of us are already on it. We've just got to push our own nails out to be able to get off of it and to enjoy the fuller realm of life that Jesus Christ has created for us, both in this world and elsewhere. Each of us have been crucified long enough, but some yield to every emotion and every thought that's not the purity of the Gospel, so they prolong their own crucifixion needlessly. The Holy Spirit is the strength and wisdom within you. He's not a hand that'll pull the nails out for you and peel your butt off of that wood. You're going to have to push. You're going to have to rebel against death. You're going to have to rebel against what's "common." He's waiting on us. We're not waiting on Him. He's done what He's going to do. He's just along for the ride now enjoying the fellowship with each of us. He's [still] saying what He said in John 14:12-15 – "you've seen and heard all that I've done – now top it!"