Chapter 6

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Written to the Church

or to the Jews? (Part II)

 

 

 

Is it true that Revelation chapter four to nineteen refers to Israel and, therefore, these chapters do not apply to the Church?

 

There is no basis for this assertion. Revelation begins and ends with references to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (1:4; 22:21), just as almost all the epistles to the Church. We can see that the entire Book of Revelation applies to the Church in the following verses:

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass” (1:1; 22:6). “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” means the complete book is meant for His servants, not just certain chapters.

“I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches” ( 22:16). Again, the entire Book of Revelation is to be read in the churches, not just part of it.

Furthermore, Christ commanded John to prophesy not primarily to Israel, but “before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” ( 10:11).

In chapters four to nineteen, we see a vivid picture of the Church keeping the faith of Jesus in spite of persecution from the beast, but we do not find anything about the beast persecuting Israel. Moreover, the events of these chapters coincide precisely with events described in the gospels and the epistles. (See the chart at the close of this chapter.) There are also at least thirty–seven references to the Church, employing terms such as “brethren,” “the faithful,” “his wife” “saints,” etc. In fact, almost every chapter in Revelation 4–19 refers to the Church:

 

Chapter 5:8,9—“The prayers of the saints.” The redeemed “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”

Chapter 6:11—“Fellow servants” and “brethren.”

Chapter 7:9—“A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues.”

Chapter 8:4—“The prayers of the saints.”

Chapter 9:4—Those who have “the seal of God in their foreheads” are protected.

Chapter 11:3,18—The “two witnesses.” “The saints, and them that fear thy name.”

Chapter 12:11,17—Overcomers “by the blood of the Lamb.” They who “keep the command-ments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus.”

Chapter 13:7,10—“War with the saints.” “The patience and faith of the saints.”

Chapter 14:12,13—“The patience of the saints . . . they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” “The dead” who “die in the Lord.”

Chapter 15:2—Those who have “victory over the beast.”

Chapter 16:15—“He that watcheth, and keepeth his garments.”

Chapter 17:14—The “called and chosen [the elect], and faithful.”

Chapter 18:4—“My people.”

Chapter 19:7,8—“His wife—saints.”

 

We even read a warning to the Church: “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (Rev. 16:15). Jesus gave an admonition in Revelation 13:9 that is similar to the Word He gave to each of the seven churches in chapters two and three: “If any man have an ear, let him hear.”

From beginning to end, the Book of Revelation is not only for the Church, but it is clearly about the Church. Its message, therefore, is most vital to the Church. This is why Satan opposes it. Is there any wonder that out of sixty–six books of the Bible it is in Revelation that God pronounces blessings to those who read and keep it, and cursing to those who add or take away from it?

“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (1:3; 22:7).

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” (22:18).

“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (22:19).

In saying that Revelation four through nineteen does not apply to the Church, we should beware that we do not “take away from the words of the book of this prophecy.”

 

Can the Book of Revelation be understood?

 

Absolutely! God would not promise a blessing for reading it if He didn’t intend for us to understand it. The sayings of the prophecy of this book are revealed, not sealed ( 22:10). God Himself will show “unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass” (1:1). But humility and holiness of heart are essential for those who read Revelation and want to understand it. It’s impossible to live contrary to the Bible and at the same time have spiritual insight into the revelations of God. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant” (Psa. 25:14). Jesus said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matt. 11:25).

To understand Revelation, at least three things must be kept in mind:

1. Much of Revelation is written in figurative speech—the four beasts, a great red dragon, the woman with two wings of a great eagle, the serpent, the beast with two horns like a lamb which speaks as a dragon, etc. Therefore, it should be interpreted in the light of the books that we understand such as the gospels and the epistles.

2. The events in chapters four through twenty are not written in chronological order; they repeat themselves at least four times. Events describing the Second Coming, for example, are repeated in chapters 6, 11, 14, 16, and 20. The seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments are more or less parallel descriptions of the same events, each ending with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. We must determine by comparing with the context and other scriptures whether a particular passage is present or future—“The things which are” or “the things which shall be hereafter” (Rev. 1:19).

 

Does Revelation 4:1 depict the gathering of the Church before the Tribulation?

 

No, not at all. Revelation 4:1 states, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” This verse refers to John, not the Church—“I looked,” “I heard,” “talking with me,” “shew thee things which must be hereafter.”

Moreover, according to his other writings in the gospel and the epistles of John, the gathering of the Church will occur after the Tribulation: “When he [Jesus] shall appear” (1 John 2:28; 3:2); “in the day of judgment” (1 John 4:17); “at the last day” (John 6:39,40,44,54).

 

Are there other indications in Revelation that the Church will go through the Tribulation?

 

Yes, many:

• The foretelling of the rise of the beast and the false prophet and of the number of the beast (666), which the Church will resist taking (chapter 13; 15:2).

• The prophecies of fierce persecution from the beast against the Church (6:9–11; 7:14; 13:7–10; 14:12; 20:4).

• The mention of God’s protection upon the Church ( 3:12; 7:2,3; 9:4; 14:1; 22:4).

• A warning to the faithful of the consequences of worshiping the beast and his image, and of receiving his mark (14:9–12).

• Encouragements to the Church, such as, “Behold, I come as a thief, Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments” ( 16:15). See also Rev. 2:25; 3:11; 14:13; 22:7,12,20.

• Assurances to the Church that she will have ultimate victory in her conflict with the powers of darkness at the glorious return of her Lord Jesus Christ (15:2,3; 17:14; 19:11–20; 20:4; 21:3–7).

 

In Revelation 13:7, the beast makes war with the saints. Can you prove that “the saints” refers to the Church and not to Jews, as many teach?

 

The word “saints,” meaning holy ones, occurs thirteen times in Revelation. In the rest of the New Testament, the word “saints” is found at least forty–seven times with reference to the Church, but not once to Israel. There is no reason to believe this usage is changed in Revelation. Also, the saints in Revelation 19:8 are described in verses 7 and 9 as “his wife” who is called to “the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Clearly, the Bride of Christ is the Church.

In addition, the description of the saints in Revelation fits the description of the saints in the epistles:

     
The Saints In the Epistles In Revelation
     
Are redeemed by Jesus’ blood Eph. 1:1 with 1:7 Rev. 5:8,9
Will judge the world 1 Cor. 6:1,2 Rev. 20:4,9
Are the called 1 Cor. 1:2,24 Rev. 17:14
Are the chosen Eph. 1:1 with 1:4 Rev. 17:14
Are the faithful Eph. 1:1 Rev. 17:14
Are out of every nation Rom. 1:5 with 1:7 Rev. 5:8,9
Are holy Col. 1:2 with 3:12 Rev. 20:6,9
Are a praying people Eph. 1:1 with 1:16 Rev. 5:8; 8:3,4
Have faith and patience 2 Thess. 1:4 with 1:10 Rev. 13:10
Are the wife of Christ 2 Cor. 1:1 with 11:2 Rev. 19:7,8
Are called “God’s servants” Rom. 1:7 with 6:22 Rev. 19:2,5,8
Are overcomers Rom. 1:7 with 12:21 Rev. 15:2,3
Keep the commandments of God 1 Cor. 1:2 with 7:19 Rev. 14:12
Die in the Lord 2 Cor. 1:1 with 5:8 Rev. 14:12,13
Fear God Phil. 1:1 with 2:12 Rev. 11:18
Are resurrected 2 Thess. 1:10 Rev. 19:6–9
See their enemies judged 2 Thess. 1:5–10 Rev. 19:8,17,18
Are rewarded Heb. 6:10 Rev. 11:18
Are God’s covenant people Eph. 2:12–19; Heb. 8:10 Rev. 21:7
Are recorded in the book of life Phil. 1:1 with 4:3 Rev. 13:7,8
     

In what other ways does the Book of Revelation relate to the Church?

 

Revelation particularly relates to the Church because it contains Christ’s message of repentance and revival. He comes to the Church to encourage, to warn, and to rebuke in love that she might repent and receive new life to overcome and walk in righteousness (chapters 2 and 3). If there were ever a time the Church needed this message, it’s today!

Also, it relates to the Church because it is “the Revelation of Jesus Christ,” which the Church needs to overcome the world. Jesus Christ is revealed as the Lamb of God twenty–eight times. The saints have their robes washed “white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14), their names written in the “book of life of the Lamb” (13:8; 21:27), and they have power to overcome Satan “by the blood of the Lamb” (12:11).

As a result, the saved will have “victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, [and] stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God” and singing “the song of the Lamb” (15:2,3).

What a day of rejoicing that will be! “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready . . . Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (19:7,9).

The revelation of Christ is a tremendous source of strength and courage to the Church. He is revealed as:

 

• The Almighty (1:8)

• Alpha and Omega (1:8)

• Amen ( 3:14)

• Beginning of the creation of God ( 3:14)

• Bright and morning star ( 22:16)

• Faithful and true witness ( 3:14)

• First and last ( 1:17; 2:8; 22:13)

• First begotten of the dead (1:5)

• King of saints (15:3)

• King of kings ( 17:14; 19:16)

• Lion of the tribe of Judah (5:5)

• Lord of lords ( 17:14 19:16)

• Lord God Almighty ( 11:17; 15:3)

• Offspring of David ( 22:16)

• Root of David (5:5; 22:16)

• Prince of the kings of the earth (1:5)

 

In contrast, Satan is portrayed as the great red dragon (12:3); that old serpent (12:9); the devil ( 2:10; 12:9); the accuser of our brethren ( 12:10); and the deceiver of all nations through the beast and the false prophet ( 19:19,20; 20:3,8).

Revelation also reveals the holiness of God and of all that pertains to Him: the Lord holy and true (3:7; 4:8; 6:10; 15:4); the holy angels ( 14:10); the holy apostles and prophets ( 18:20; 22:6); and the holy city for a holy people (21:2,10,27). In these last days when iniquity abounds and the love of many is waxing cold, this message of holiness of heart should be preached and insisted upon in the Church. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14; Matt. 5:8).

Revelation thunders warning about the wrath of Almighty God and His judgments on “the men which had the mark of the beast, and on them which worshipped his image” (14:9–11; 16:2); them who “have shed the blood of saints and prophets” (16:6); them who “blasphemed the name of God” and “repented not” (16:9); “Babylon” (14:8; 16:19); Satan, the beast, and the false prophet (16:10; 19:20; 20:10); and on whoever “was not found written in the book of life” (20:15; 21:8).

These truths must be preached in order for men and women to fear God and repent. It is the responsibility of the Church to warn perishing souls to flee the wrath of God to come. If we fail to do so, their blood will be on our hands (Ezek. 3:18,19).

Finally, the Book of Revelation applies to the Church in its example to her of our Lord’s tender love and compassion for the backslider and for whoever will come to Him. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (3:20). “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (22:17).

 

According to the Book of Revelation, who is “blessed”?

 

In Revelation, the following seven beatitudes occur:

1. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (1:3; 22:7).

2. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (14:13).

3. “Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” ( 16:15).

4. “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (19:9).

5. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (20:6).

6. “Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (22:7).

7. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” ( 22:14).

 

Is the Church represented in the end–time prophecies of Daniel?

 

Yes. In Daniel, the Church is represented as “the saints,” “the mighty and holy people,” “the people that do know their God,” “thy people, written in the book,” “they who awake to everlasting life,” and “they that be wise.” A comparison of these scriptures with parallel verses from the New Testament shows clearly that these prophesies in Daniel refer to the Church.

   
The Church in Daniel’s Prophecies The Church in Parallel N. T. Verses
   

The saints

 
But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever—Dan. 7:18. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever—Rev. 11:15.
   
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them—Dan. 7:21. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them—Rev. 13:7.
   
Judgment was given to the saints of the most High—Dan. 7:22. Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?—1 Cor. 6:2.
   
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High—Dan. 7:25. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle [the Church, Eph. 2:21,22] —Rev. 13:6.
   
The mighty and holy people  
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: . . . and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people—Dan. 8:24. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints [holy ones], and to overcome them—Rev. 13:7.
   
The people that know their God  
And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall be corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits—Dan. 11:32. He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father—John 14:12; 17:3.
   
Thy people, written in the book  
And at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book—Dan. 12:1. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth . . . but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life—Rev. 21:27.
   

They who awake “to everlasting life”

 
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt—Dan. 12:2. All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation—John 5:28,29.
   
They that be wise  
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament—Dan. 12:3. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father—Matt. 13:43.
   

Is the message of Matthew 24 and 25, Revelation 4–19, and Daniel 7–12 for the Church as much as the message in Mark, Luke, Acts, and the epistles?

 

Yes, because their events are in harmony, which may be seen on the chart below:

 

End–Time Events of Matthew 24 and 25, Revelation 4–19, and Daniel 7–12
Compared with the Same in Mark, Luke, Acts, and the Epistles

           
Events Matt. 24–25 Rev. 4–19 Dan. 7–12 Mark–Luke Acts–Epistles
           
Many deceivers Matt. 24:4, 5,11,24,26 Rev. 18:23; 19:20 Dan. 11:23 Mark 13:22, Luke 21:8 2 Thess. 2:3, 4,9–12
           
Church persecuted Matt. 24:9, 10,13,22 Rev. 6:9–11; 13:6,7,10 Dan. 7:21, 25; 8:24 Mark 13:20; Luke 18:7,8 1 Thess. 3:4; 2 Thess. 1:4
           
Iniquity abounding Matt. 24:12 Rev. 9:20, 21; 13:5,6 Dan. 11:32; 12:10   2 Thess. 2:7; Jude 1:17–19
           
Apostasy Matt. 24:5, 10,12 Rev.13:3,8, 16; 18:3 Dan. 11:32 Luke 13:25–27 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 Tim. 4:1
           
The end Matt. 24:3, 13,14 Rev. 14:14, 15 with Matt. 13:39 Dan. 7:26; 8:19 ; 11:27; 12:9,13 Mark 13:7, 13; Luke 21:9 1 Cor. 1:8; 15:24 ; 1 Pet. 1:13
           
Gospel preached Matt. 24:14 Rev. 11:3; 14:6 Dan. 12:3 Mark 13:10 Col. 1:5; 2 Pet.3:9,10
           
Coming in glory for His Church Matt. 24:30, 31 Rev. 6:12–17 with 7:9–17; 14:14–20 Dan. 7:9–14; Mark 8:38; 14:62; Luke 21:27 Col. 3:41
           
Judgment Matt. 25:31, 34,41,46 Rev. 6:16; 20:11 ,15; 21:7,8 Dan. 7:9,10; 12:2 Luke 17:26–30; 21:35 2 Thess.1:7–10; 2 Pet. 3: 7,10
           
An eternal kingdom Matt. 25:34, 46 Rev. 11:15; 19:7–9; 21:1 Dan. 7:18, 22,27 Luke 13:28, 29 2 Pet. 3:13
           
Beast destroyed   Rev. 19:20 Dan. 7:11   2 Thess. 2:8
           
Rewards Matt.25:34 Rev. 11:18 Dan. 12:3 Luke 14:14 2 Tim. 4:1,8
           

In summary, the gospel of Matthew, Revelation 4–19, and the end–time prophecies of Daniel are best interpreted as being written primarily to the Church, not to the Jews. Considering these passages separately, and comparing them to other scriptures, both support this interpretation. Therefore, the end–time events expressed in these passages refer primarily to the Church.

 
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