The Rider On The White Horse
Interpretation: The rider on the white horse is Christ. The Roman Empire and its Emperors are defeated once and for all and are utterly destroyed. The victory is accomplished by God and Christ alone; human armies do not participate.
Christ did “conquer” the Roman Empire without help from human armies and without the cataclysmic destruction we might infer from John’s vision. The Roman Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D.; which ended all persecution of Christians and returned confiscated Church property. In 391 A.D., Christianity became the official state religion of the Empire.
The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse Are The First Four Of Seven Seals
The four horsemen appear only in Revelation chapter 6. Some additional context is needed to understand their identity and meaning.
This book is Jesus;Christs revelation to His servants , showing major events that will take place prior to His return to the earth. These events are written under seven distinct seals of a single scroll, which only Christ Himself can open to reveal their contents .
The first six seals are all opened in Revelation 6. The seventh seal is opened in chapter 8 and continues to the end of the book.
The seventh seal represents the Day of the Lord and is actually the main theme of the book. The Day of the Lord is the time of Christs intervention in this world to wrest control from Satans dominion and from the rebellious human rulers under him and to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth.
So the first six seals are all preliminary events that will lead up to the Day of the Lord.
These horsemen represent events that have been ongoing since this prophecy was given and that will intensify in the end times, before the climactic return of Jesus Christ.With this context in mind, we now look at Revelation 6 where we find six seals disclosing events that will lead up to the end of the;worldor, more accurately, the end of this evil age.
How Does This Tie Into Verse 20 Behold I Stand At The Door And Knock
Knowing what was happening in Laodicea helps you know the meaning of behold I stand at the door and knock. Let me point your attention to a few thoughts.
Jesus was outside the church.Isnt interesting that Jesus has to knock on the door. This means he was not present in the church. Imagine there was a church that carried his name but where Jesus had to knock on the door to get in. They were having church and doing church, but they didnt include Jesus in their church. They may have used his name in song and worship but thats where it stopped. If there is an example of church on a superficial level, this is it. Remember this was a church that lauded its blessings but what was missing was the blesser. They were a Christian church with no Christ in it leaving Jesus to knock on the door to get in. This is a tragedy
Jesus was outside their hearts.Jesus was not just outside the church in general, he was outside of the hearts of the individuals. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says this.
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Revelation 3:19
Are You Ready For An Apocalypse
Theres an age-old saying, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Each day our lives settle into familiarity. We have our routines, we see the same people, we do the same tasks. We begin to see the world in well-worn patterns, ways of thought that seem so stable that we come to believe nothing can ever shake them.
The story of the Bible is meant to do just that to shake us from our view of the world like a dog shakes off water after a swim. But the Bible doesnt just deconstruct the way weve always seen things; the Bible replaces our frail paradigms with a new robust one, one that comes from Gods perspective. When we let the Bible become our lens for how we view our reality, we become free of old, worn out paths, and everything begins to look different. We get divine clarity.
Or to use biblical language, we have an apocalypse.
An apocalypse? Isnt an apocalypse the catastrophic end of the world?
Well, yes. In modern, western vernacular, that is what the word means. Just google apocalyptic movies, and youll find Godzilla, Zombieland, Terminator, and the like. In the popular imagination, an apocalypse is the dreaded unraveling of everything good.
But that is not what the word apocalypse means in the Bible. In the Bible, an apocalypse is what happens when someone is exposed to the transcendent reality of Gods perspective. An apocalypse is a confrontation with the divine so intense that it transforms how a person views everything.
Coronavirus: What Is The Meaning Of Apocalypse In The Bible
The concept of apocalypse has a long and rich literary and religious tradition whose meaning goes beyond what we see on dramatic movie posters.
The word;apocalypse;is derived from the Greek word;apokálypsis, which translates most literally to an uncovering. In the context of religious texts like the Bible, the word is most often used in relation to a holy disclosure of information or knowledge, usually through some sort of;prophetic;dream or vision. The knowledge in these visions is typically related to either end times or to insights into the truth of the divine.
Several elements are often associated with biblical apocalypse, including but not limited to image-based;symbolism, numbers, and specific or significant periods of time. In the;Christian;Bible, there are two major apocalyptic books; in the Hebrew Bible, there is only one.
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Implications For The Christian
These events are coming, but we dont know when. We hope that our spirits will discern the rise of this Antichrist so we can rebuke and reject him. We live in an age where lies are easily and quickly disseminated over the internet and social media; we must put on the Full Armor of God and pray for discernment.
In the meantime, one pastor likens unbelievers to zombies. If the normal constraints of society are pulled away, how will human beings act? he asks. They will be horribly selfish and monstrous to each other because, as Paul says in Ephesians 2:1, they are dead in trespasses and sins.
People who dont know Jesus are empty and constantly hungry, dead inside. They move around and eat but they are not alive. We must behave as though the apocalypse is starting tomorrow and spread the good news with some urgency.
The apocalypse is a grim certainty, but we can also find peace, embrace hope, and take courage from the fact that Jesus is going to finish what he started as Jared Wilson puts it. He reminds us: Some day, Jesus the Redeemer will return to redeem everything. This life will be redeemed, this earth will be redeemed, these very bodies will be redeemed, and so our hopes and dreams and fears and failings will all be redeemed as well.
What Will Happen To Christians During The Apocalypse
Some controversy remains as to whether Christians will experience three and a half years of torment or be called home before that starts. Dr. J. Rodman Williams leads us to 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3 for more information.
Timothy was sent to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. According to Dr. Williams, Paul is warning the church at Thessalonica to expect to suffer before Christ returns.
Revelation itself and eschatological literature indicate that the Antichrist will force everyone to receive his mark in order to obtain basic necessities such as medical care and food. Those who refuse the mark will be beheaded . Even if Christians arent beheaded, they will be tortured or murdered somehow.
In His goodness, God will call His children home, but they will have to face a period of persecution. There is much uncertainty as to whether God will give unbelievers more time to repent and be saved before the bitter end. But, the emphasis in the Bible is on believing in Jesus now which implies urgency. That urgency suggests there will be no second chances. Time will run out. Everyone who refuses to give allegiance to Christ will go to Hell with Satan for eternity.
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Interpretations Of The Apocalypse
Although Christ is clearly the central figure of Revelation, the apocalypse was foretold in the Old Testament, hundreds, and even thousands of years before Johns writing. God planned the end from the beginning. The text presupposes familiarity with Old Testament language and concepts, especially those taken from the books of Daniel and Ezekiel.
The final book of the Bible is taken literally by some, figuratively by many. Authorship is debated did John write the entire book? And if so, which John? Is this the Apostle John? Does the book speak of a real apocalypse or a symbolic one? The end of sin for individual Christians and in the world, or a dramatic event spanning several years?
Will everyone be judged at this time? Perhaps all people will go to Heaven because Satan will be defeated. Maybe the apocalypse has already taken place and Revelation is about Christians being persecuted in Rome.
Gospel-believing theologians generally believe that the Apostle John wrote the Bibles final book as a legitimate prophecy from God, but that much of the language is symbolic. They believe that the apocalypse has yet to take place and will involve cataclysmic events worldwide in which people will be judged.
The Beast From The Earth
Interpretation: There is some disagreement, but this beast most likely represents the Roman emperor Nero. The Hebrew language used letters to represent numbers. Taking Nero’s Greek name , writing it in equivalent Hebrew letters and adding up the value of the letters yields 666. The Christians of Jewish origin, who were familiar with Hebrew, would see this immediately. But the Roman authorities would not be able to figure it out.
Nero, a fierce persecutor of Christians, had committed suicide in 68 A.D. But there was a persistent rumor that he was still alive. The healed wound in , alludes to that rumor. The emperor’s image was stamped on Roman coins, so no one could buy or sell without having the beast’s image ” rel=”nofollow”>Revelation 13:16-17).
The dragon , the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth represent a sort of “unholy trinity” to mock the real Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
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An Apocalypse Is Not An Ending Its A New Beginning
An apocalypse is not the unraveling of good! On the contrary, an apocalypse is a reorientation to what is truly good, if you dare to accept it.
Take the story of Jacob. He cheated his brother, deceived his father, and ran for his life straight into his own personal exile. Jacobs former way of life was over. Surely, this was the permanent unraveling of anything good for him and for his future. And right at this point, God reveals himself in a dream that transforms an ordinary place into a meeting place with God, so that Jacob can gain Gods perspective over his circumstances.
You can read the full story in Genesis 28:11-17. Jacob falls asleep on the ground and has a divine dream where he sees a stairway connecting heaven and earth with angels ascending and descending the staircase.
Above the stairway, God stands and speaks to Jacob and promises to bless him and his descendants, to give them the land he had promised to Abraham and Isaac, and to multiply his descendants and expand his family. God even gives Jacob the promise of his continued presence and protection.
When Jacob wakes up, he sees everything differently, even his physical environment. Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it. He was afraid and said, How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven .
The Good News Of The Apocalypse
When Jesus Christ returns to earth, He will forcefully put down all opposition and establish the Kingdom of God. This will be the start of 1,000 years of global peace, prosperity and abundance. This Millennium of joyous, meaningful existence is a stark contrast to the apocalyptic scenarios imagined by many today. While there are difficult times ahead, God tells us the future is very bright!
To learn more about what is prophesied to occur at the end of this age, please see the section on end-time prophecy on this Life, Hope & Truth website.
About the Author
Chris Moen currently serves as associate pastor of the combined Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Michigan, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.
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The Holy Spirit Restrains
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way;.
Forty days after Jesus resurrection, He and His disciples were talking and a cloud swept Him into the heavens. Two men dressed in white told them He would return in the same manner as they watched Him go. Jesus was raptured.
Paul tells of being caught up to the third heaven and was allowed to hear inexpressible words, which man is not allowed to speak;. Paul was raptured. Revelation 4:2 tells us John heard words from heaven, Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things. John was raptured. Thats three.
The Holy Spirit of God, the one who restrains will be taken out of the way before the Day of the Lord occurs. Where does Gods Spirit reside today? In the soul of every believerHes the down payment of our inheritance. When the Holy Spirit is removed from this world, dear one, every believerthe Churchthe body of Christgoes up with this indwelling part of GodAnd thus, we shall always be with the Lord .
Apocalyptic Literature Of Revelation
Revelation falls into the literary genre of apocalyptic literature. The dictionary defines apocalyptic as describing or prophesying the complete destruction of the world.
This has led many to view Revelation as describing the end of the world as we know it. But apocalyptic has an entirely different meaning in the Scripture.
The first sentence in Revelation reads, The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place .
The word translated revelation in this passage is the Greek word apokalypsis. It is defined as revelation, what is revealed, disclosure, to make the information known with an implication that the information can be understood.
This word is also used elsewhere in Scripture and is generally translated as revealed. Matthew 11:27 is an example where we find Jesus saying, I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.
So, the visions of Revelation are essentially pulling back the covers and helping John, and his readers, to see what would normally be hidden. It is a glimpse into what is happening from a heavenly perspective.
These visions are filled with symbolism and Old Testament references. And they can be confusing to the modern reader. But knowing the culture and audience this was originally written to can help in understanding the message of this book.
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Different Interpretations Of The Apocalypse In Revelation
- Preterists hold that Revelation describes events that would “soon take place” for John and his first-century readers.;
- Futurists typically interpret Revelations chapters 4-22 as referring to historical events in the distant future for John and the churches of Asia Minor, including a final crisis period followed by Jesus’ return to establish his kingdom on earth, judge evil, and usher in the new creation.;
- Historicists interpret 6:1-20:6 as a prophetic outline of the major historical developments from John’s day until Jesus’ return often focusing on Western church history. Few today follow this.;
- Idealists believe that Revelation symbolically depicts the ongoing conflict between the forces of God and of Satan throughout the church age. Idealists are reticent to identify John’s symbols with particular past or future historical events, though many idealists affirm that Jesus will return to establish His eternal kingdom in the new creation.
The “millennium” is the thousand-year period in Revelation 20:1-6. Interpretations are divided over this as well.;
Amid these many interpretive approaches, Revelation’s central message is clear: God sovereignly rules history and will complete his plans to judge and save through Jesus, the slain Lamb and returning King.
Major Approaches to Interpreting Revalation is an adapted excerpt from the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible edited by D. A. Carson and published by Zondervan .;
God Finishes What He Begins He Wastes Nothing
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book;.
The bowl judgments that follow are hideous and swift . Those still alive refuse to repent of their deeds, and as the 7th angel pours out his bowl on the air, a loud voice comes from the temple in heaven, It is done. And a final 5th great earthquake, like no other, shakes the whole earth. Islands vanish and mountains disappear. Hailstones weighing one hundred pounds each fall from heaven, but men still blasphemed God.
In Revelation 19:11-16 heaven opens and King Jesus accompanied by His armies of angels and the armies clothed in fine linen following our King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The battle is brief as He strikes the nations with the sword from His mouth.
The earth is transformed into a broad plain with Jerusalem as its center. There is no sea, but a clear river flows from the temple where Jesus will rule and reign for 1,000 years to fulfill Gods covenant with Abraham and his descendants.
The last words of this Apocalypse are found in Revelation 21 and 22, words I pray will bring you hope, confidence, strength, and joy. Our God is Sovereign over the universe. His Word is Truth.
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