A Short Course in the book of Revelation
by Osmer Harris
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A piece of preliminary information: I have been reading the Chronicles of Narnia and this has effected some aspects of my thinking. I find the grace and mercy of God to be even more predominant, not only in the way I think, but I see this aspect of God all throughout the scriptures, and the Revelation is no different.
Other aspects that bring about a clarity to the Revelation:
The rise of Islam. Technically we are dealing with a resurrected Ottoman empire.
This word resurrected takes on a whole new meaning when applied to the “beast” whose head was wounded. (Check this out at your leisure in Revelation 13); The economic collapse of the nations; The push for one world, socialist government (What makes this more of a reality is things like the Bilderberg group.); The major turn of events going on in America, the nation I live in.
I should not fail to note that in many parts of the world Christians are being hunted and killed.
The world is not changing, it has changed. Islam is an extraordinary and imminent threat to all civilizations that refuse to follow their teachings and bow to Allah.
In light of that, I feel compelled to tell you, I will never bow my knee to Allah.
“I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as much like a Narnian as I can, even if there isn't any Narnia.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair
When I read this line it shook me. When people challenge us and ridicule us with their senseless logic, telling us that there is no reason to serve God, then it is time to have the backbone to understand a principal; there is something greater, that speaks to us, telling us that there is a life more important than the one we are living; a life as a person called to be a Prince in God’s kingdom. Even if I could not prove it, this life is a far better course of action and way to live. I choose to live this way regardless, but I know he is real. Aslan is not the name I know him by, but since Aslan means the Lion in the Turkish dialect, and my God is the Lion of Judah, then it works for me.
Many have taken the time to read the overviews of the Revelation and therefore understand the time frame in which John wrote. Rome was a force and impact in his life, and not for the better, but this not really what I wish to convey here.
God is in control no matter what the situation looks like.
An example of that kind of thinking shows up in this statement:
“Don't you mind," said Puddleglum. "There are no accidents. Our guide is Aslan; and he was there when the giant king caused the letters to be cut, and he knew already all things that would come of them; including this.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair
John wrote and describe things that would have been impossible to understand, unless, God saw to it that he understood, but like Daniel, John was told to not disclose some aspects.
If you will walk through the book of Revelation with the attitude, God has had this all planned out and knew this would come, then you should be able to read this book understanding that your hope is in him, and those who reject him have very little.
The word, apokalupsis, translated Revelation, means to uncover. It’s usage in the NT conveys the drawing away by Christ of the veil of darkness.
It is the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Who is this Jesus Christ? He has many names. If you are familiar with the Chronicles of Narnia then you might know him as Aslan.
Make no mistake about it – He is:
The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords
The Lion of the tribe of Judah
The beginning and the end
The Son of God
The creative Word of God
The creator of all things
The lamb of God, slain for the sins of the world.
The worthy one
The first born from the dead
The bright and morning star
He who sits upon the throne
I could go on and on, but as this book of Revelation comes to a dramatic end, He is that judge who comes back to the earth to set things straight.
The first three chapters cover Jesus addressing the churches. These places were real, but also symbolic of the church today.
Words of encouragement and warning were given to all but one. The Laodicean church, the last church, was destroyed because they did not respond to the warnings that were conveyed through John’s pen.
What does that mean to us today? Take heed, God is not joking.
Sadly I think the candle has been blown out.
A prophetic word; We are the Laodicean church.
The time of Jacob’s troubles or the great tribulation period.
Chapter 4 of Revelation opens with the statement that initiates the time of judgment against Israel and the nations, “after these things.”
There is a logical aspect to this. The context of the previous three chapters have been addresses to the church. To say “after these things”, to me anyway, implies things that follow the church age. Not once does the text address the church after this point, but it does address the time of judgment. Scripture tells us that we were not destined for judgment. That is fairly open-ended, and could imply something befalling the church, should it not respond to warnings.
Here is what you need to ask yourself.
Is God’s word true or not?
- If not, then all of us have wasted our time.
- If true, and it is, then understand, Jesus took all the punishment for our sins.
Hebrews 7:21-27 NIV but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever.'" (22) Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. (23) Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; (24) but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. (25) Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (26) Such a high priest truly meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. (27) Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
Hebrews 9:11-12 KJV …..but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
Hebrews 9:26 KJV …... but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Hebrews 10:4-12 KJV For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ….(10) By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (11) And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: (12) But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
There is no longer a sacrifice, hence no punishment for sins. What is left is a punishment for those that refuse to accept the one who made that final sacrifice.
Again you have a decision to make: Pre, Mid, or Post tribulation?
There is a correct answer, but is it really important if you are pursuing your first love, Jesus Christ? Not really, for whether he comes for you early or late, He will come.
I happen to take the Pre-Tribulation view and Revelation 4:1 is a valid and primary reason. Additional arguments tend to center upon the timing of Jesus return and the deluge of grief about to be poured out on the world.
Chronologically what do we begin to see happening?
Immediately after the rapture: all hell breaks loose.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 KJV (6) Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; (7) And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, (8) In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (9) Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (10) When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
The concept I wish to convey is that God is taking vengeance upon them that do not know God, not obeying the good news of Jesus Christ.
What is the problem that almost all people have with the book of Revelation?
They do not understand it, primarily because it uses symbolism and multiple people and places get the same name.
Allow me to attempt a simple, comprehensible explanation?
The Lamb, slain for us, opens the seals, and judgment begins.
This comes as angels pour out bowls of judgment, and trumpets are blown signifying more judgments coming.
This period of judgment lasts for seven years.
It is a time marked by massive earthquakes and
fire falling from the sky, we have yet to see anything like that.
Literal and spiritual Darkness. Spiritual darkness is all around us and getting darker.
Political upheaval – We have been watching much of this on the news. It will get worse.
Martial Law. The plans and means are already in place in America.
Lack of food which will cause food costs to go through the roof.
Vicious and wide spread rioting
War. In all likelihood Iran will attack Israel, but expect to see many nations involved
Almost immediately this global leader will step forward, declare peace, and there will be a form of peace. This charismatic leader will be Islamic.
Islam will declare this man to be the Mahdi they have been waiting for.
After what seems like a few days of panic there will be three and one half years of relative calm or peace. I say relative peace because the violence against Christians we in America just saw with the recent (June 2012) Dearborn Michigan video, will become predominant throughout the United States and other so-called civilized nations as Islamics attempt to gain control.
You should understand something about Islam. Those that claim to be moderates or at least those that do not follow the Qur’an closely will be scrutinized as well. Islam will force them to take a position. Either follow in Jihad or die the death of an infidel. I work with a caring, wonderful Persian woman. I would consider her to be a moderate. I do not know what she will do when pressed. I have prayed to God that he infest her dreams with images and messages about our Jesus Christ, the risen one, and yet she has said nothing to me. Folks, you either have to believe that God will do what he says, or he is a liar. He is not a liar, therefore I trust that he has permeated her dreams and fear is the only thing that keeps her mouth and heart closed. Choosing not to find the lamb that was slain for you, could be a sincerely bad decision on your part.
With the snatching away of the followers of Christ as the flash point for time, you can count three and one half years and you will watch this charismatic leader, that declared peace go crazy, as he throws off the political and economic world leaders that have fed him money and support, and declares jihad upon the world.
Islam, under this world leaders guidance, will attempt to enforce Sharia law upon the world and there will be an attempt to change times and seasons to match Islamic law.
The judgments, sent by God, will not stop the entire seven years, and will begin immediately.
I wish I could tell you that the governing bodies of the United States would not do this, but they will take many, primarily those of you who are bold enough to follow the risen Christ, prisoner and you will be tortured and killed. Islam is primarily the ones that lop off heads, but then why is the United States training our military to use guillotines. This country of ours has over 600 prison camps set up to accommodate this type of action.
Those who continue to come to acknowledge Christ, and my bible says the number of those who will lose their heads over their testimony will be innumerable.
You need to understand this! The Holy Spirit of God is not going anywhere. You cannot kill it, and you are not driving it away. It is the drawing force of God, through the Holy Spirit, that continues to pull people to him.
Those that come to follow Jesus Christ during this time will become embolden. They will speak with power and authority and will act as Elijah did. If you do not understand this statement then I strongly suggest that you read the second chapter of the Prophet Joel. It describes a horrible time of destruction from an army coming upon Israel and it’s people.
And yet, take note:
Joel 2:27-32 MKJV “ And you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Jehovah your God, and no one else; and My people shall never be ashamed. (28) And it shall be afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams; your young men shall see visions. (29) And also I will pour out My Spirit on the slaves and on the slave women in those days. (30) And I will show wonders in the heavens, and in the earth, blood and fire and pillars of smoke. (31) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of Jehovah. (32) And it shall be, whoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be saved; for salvation shall be in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as Jehovah has said, and in the remnant whom Jehovah shall call.”
In the midst of horror, followers of Christ will open their mouths and stop the sun in the sky; still the enemy in it’s tracks; cause a veil of darkness to fall on those that pursue them; bring healing and life to others that seek the way; call fire down from heaven, and why? Because God is still in control no matter what the circumstances look like. The Apostle Peter declared this on the day of Pentecost.
Joel 2:13-14 MKJV Yes, tear your heart and not your robes, and turn to Jehovah your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and He pities because of the evil. (14) Who knows if He will turn and have pity and leave a blessing behind Him, a food offering and a drink offering to Jehovah your God?
I forgot to mention.
That as all this destruction associated with the seven year period of judgment begins, God sends two witnesses or prophets back to earth.
Understand something. It is appointed unto every man, once to die. Elijah the prophet never died, but was taken to God in a fiery chariot, and Enoch, a prophet of God, walked right off the earth and into God’s arms. I fully expect these two men (their names are not that important) to show up immediately after the rapture.
The two prophets will preach Jesus Christ as the risen Messiah, do the miracles that Elijah did while he walked this earth the first time, and they will, by their word, slay those that rise against them.
For three and one half years they will stand in the streets of Jerusalem declaring this message.
News stations will broadcast their words and actions, not in support, but in amazement and mockey. We know this for when they are killed the news will broadcast their deaths, as they lie in the street for 3 days. They will rise from the dead on the third day and ascend to heaven to, just as Jesus did, and this will be broadcast for all the world to see.
Sadly, the deaths of the prophets will be the result of a personage the Revelation calls “the false prophet.”
Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10; Revelation 11:7
Islam calls this man Isa, or Jesus bin Mariam (Jesus, the son of Mary, not God.)
In Matthew 24 the disciples asked Jesus a question. His response was startling, as the first thing he said was, “see to it that you be not deceived.”
Why is that important?
Because this man, the false prophet, presents himself as Jesus, a Jew, of the priestly lineage, and he is a Muslim. He will declare that the teachings were wrong, and that everyone has to follow Allah and his prophet Mohammed.
Daniel 8:23-25 KJV And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. (24) And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. (25) And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
(Is it possible that this passage could be speaking of only one man? Certainly, but when you take other sources of information like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_Islam, then the characters and their descriptions begin to make sense.
The Mahdi, in contrast with the Muslim Jesus, will give rain and money. Now anyone with money to give could do some of that, but the rain aspect.
Consider that Revelation 11 tells us two witnesses sent from God. There is debate upon their arrival and place it at the mid-tribulation point. Those two witnesses have control over the rain as well as other heavenly events. Rain is a big issue in the middle east, but a bigger issue when someone takes it away. If the Mahdi could bring it back then he suddenly appears to be a more powerful force, hence greater deception.)
He will deceive many Jews, and a number of mindless people who have refused to open a bible and find out what the truth about God is.
In Islam, Jesus (Isa; Arabic: عيسى ʿĪsā) is considered to be a Messenger of God and the Masih (Messiah) who was sent to guide the Children of Israel (banī isrā'īl) with a new scripture, the Injīl or Gospel.
The Mahdi, that Islam awaits, is said to produce new portions of the Torah that make everything clear. When Jesus Christ answered the disciples about when and what to look for, he said, “see to it that you are not deceived...”. I suspect that the emphasis is there on purpose.
In addition to the cults we know of, a new one showed up at the door recently. They claim that not only had Jesus returned as a Korean and is lying in state, but Mother God herself was there, dead as well. That comes off as totally unbelievable to me, and yet there are over 20 thousand followers.
What would deceive so many? Signs, wonders, claims, provable lineage, and the production of documents disproving Christianity.
Islam also believes that this man who is declaring himself to be Jesus, is also the enforcer of Sharia. How would that impact you if the one you thought came from God inverted the very thing you thought you understood to be true, and now demands that you follow Allah or die.
Of course many will die, and scripture calls them Saints, but there will be some that follow this fool.
(From Wikipedia) According to Islamic tradition which describes this graphically, Jesus' descent will be in the midst of wars fought by the Mahdi (lit. "the rightly guided one"), known in Islamic eschatology as the redeemer of Islam, against the Antichrist (al-Masīh ad-Dajjāl, "False messiah") and his followers. Jesus will descend at the point of a white arcade, east of Damascus, dressed in yellow robes – his head anointed. He will then join the Mahdi in his war against the Antichrist. Jesus, considered as a Muslim, will abide by the Islamic teachings. Eventually, Jesus will slay the Antichrist, and then everyone from the People of the Book (ahl al-kitāb, referring to Jews and Christians) will believe in him. Thus, there will be one community, that of Islam.
Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43: Kitab-ul-`Ilm (Book of Knowledge), Hâdith Number 656:
Narrated Abu Hurairah: Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts)"
—Collected by Muhammad al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari
The pigs they refer to are the Jews. The Jizya tax is the extortion money they charge non-Muslims to live in a Muslim land (this does not prevent or exclude you from attack or beheading in anyway.)
The breaking of the crosses may be symbolic language. Just look around you, crosses are coming down everywhere, deemed politically incorrect or offensive.
Jesus Christ told us that if God did not cut the time of tribulation short no man would survive. That means that there will be blood in the streets, and not just the blood of Christ followers.
We argue and fight over when Jesus will come back to extract those that look for him, hence the earlier question, Pre, Mid, or Post Tribulationist.
Tribulation is a relative term and we in America may only now be starting to come to grips with it. Right now in many parts of the world Christians are being hunted and killed. Beheadings seem to be sport to these peaceful Muslims.
What are you supposed to do in the midst of a violent world? Pray. Joel chapter 2 gives us the precedent to declare authority over the enemies camp.
I would strongly suggest that you ponder what Jesus did when they took him and killed him; continue to be a witness regardless.
Understand this. Jesus said that the tribulation would get so bad that no one would survive it. Are we even close to that point yet? Not even. You, in your comfortable, safe home, are not even close, but the day will come when they will hunt you down as well.
Not having learned about this savior who rose from the dead, Jesus. What will give you the backbone to stand for him in that day?
Jesus will return to earth as he said he would.
This will happen at the end of the seven-year period of judgment. There will be no secret about it, for it will be open and clear for everyone to see.
His return to earth is distinctly different from the time when he comes to gather his flock. Although that time will be with clouds also, he does not return to earth but we who are awaiting him, go up to meet him.
He will come with the clouds. Dan 7:13; Mark 13:26; Revelation 1:7
A shofar will be blaring throughout the atmosphere. 1Cor 15:52;
He will plant his feet on the Mount of Olives, and the mount will split in two, creating a great valley. Zech 14:4
He is coming in fury, and a sword will proceed out of his mouth with which he will slay those that fight against him, and there will be many. Revelation 1:16; Revelation 19:21
The church, previously caught up to be with him, will return with him, on that day, and assist in battle against the nations. Revelation 19:14
The New Jerusalem will descend upon the earth.
This will begin the thousand-year reign upon the earth.
The resurrected for their testimony will reign with Jesus during this time.
The new Jerusalem will come down out of heaven and be physically planted on earth. Many do not believe this, but that is not important. What is, is that scriptures tell us that the nations must come to this place and bow before him yearly for the next thousand years. Refusal to do that will have horrendous results for the first offense and a rather instantaneous death for the second. Revelation 21:2; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 3:9; Revelation 15:4; Isaiah 60:14
Those slain for following him will rule over this earth during the next thousand years, and there will be peace. Daniel 7; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 20:6
When this thousand-year time period is over and God has made tremendous efforts to show mercy to the nations, it will end with the great white throne judgment. The rest of the dead will come to life and all not in the flock will be judged. Again God shows mercy, for he grants entrance to those who were not merely selfish.
I do not think it necessary to dwell on the eternal torment in store for those who rejected him, for God gave them so many opportunities and signs that would draw them to him.
Just as those who follow him will be in a perfect presence, filled with peace, those without will be swept away to an eternity of torture with their master.
I see this letter as doing three things. It has the potential to enlighten those who wish to understand, and possibly provoke many to read for themselves. Reading is the only way that you will come to understand the nature of God.
The second aspect would be the message to those who did not make the gathering of the church. I am sure you thought you deserved to go, and have had or will have had your tantrum. You are in a very dangerous place, not only spiritually, but physically. You either suddenly grow a backbone and take a position for Christ, something that you were obviously not very good at before, or you accept the “mark” of the beast and worship Allah, sealing your fate as one that refused to follow Jesus Christ.
While everything could use more thought, I have written this last sentence without giving it that much thought. The third thing this writing could do to you is push you further away from the God you desperately need. I feel confident in saying this; you have cried out for him to redeem your life for years, but have struggled with this stupid arrogance that seems to feel that no one has the right to tell you how to live. You prove your lack of understanding when you talk and act like that, for God has never thrown anything out there for us to do that was impossible or impractical.
Many have seen the practicality of God’s ways and chosen to live by them, because it was a better way to live.
Caleb was one of those, among Israel, that went into Canaan’s land to spy it out. He came back and told them it can be taken. Israel rejected his words, because this alien was not going to tell them what they could do.
Alien, really? Yes, he was not born a Jew, but chose to be one. He was still following God after 80 years and was still determined to take the land that his God had promised. He was willing to let some stranger tell him how to live, and he lived what he considered a better life, a life of promise.
If you have not read the Chronicles of Narnia series then you do not know that it ended with heaven. Strangely, at first, they could not tell the difference. What they noticed was that is was richer, fuller, more colorful, and bigger with every turn. There was an unsurpassed peace, and the knowledge that God was in total control.
I invite you to know him as the Calormen ruler came to know him. He is beyond your wildest dreams, for heaven is of him. Jesus said, “no man comes to the Father but through him.” I suggest you ask Jesus to make himself real to you, and watch the adventure begin.
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