Revelation for Beginners–an Introduction

February 17, 2008 on 2:10 pm | In REVELATION FOR BEGINNERS | Comments Off on Revelation for Beginners–an Introduction

Light sabers flash, galactic forces clash, futuristic spacecraft engage in deadly combat—control of the universe is at stake. “Long ago, in a galaxy far away”—so begins one of the most famous film series of all time—Star Wars. But while the movie series is science fiction, there is in actual fact an intense struggle going on for rulership of this world, and ultimately the universe, that is definitely not fictional, a concept which may be frightening and unsettling to some. It is a struggle of cosmic proportions even though it is mostly invisible unless you know what to look for. It involves “alien” life forms, which can be seen only in rare and unusual circumstances, but which seek to influence us (and some of them even seek to destroy us)–and which make “War of the Worlds” look like child’s play. While science speculates about, and actively seeks for, life beyond our planet as we know it, the Bible pulls back the curtain, as it were, and reveals what science does not know—there are other life forms in our universe, extraterrestrials if you please. There are two “forces” at war with each other. As active, and perhaps unwilling, participants in this epic conflict, we are forced to take sides.

The challenges we face are: How can you identify the two sides? Which side is right (or does it matter)? Can we know now which side will win in the end? Why do we have to take sides? And how can we be survivors in the final episode of this real-life reality drama? This is no video game or Hollywood blockbuster—it’s for real, and our decisions determine whether life terminates for us in the near future or if we live forever on a re-born planet.

So what does this have to do with Revelation? Revelation reveals (that’s what the name means) to us the true nature of the conflict and its final outcome. Many people are afraid to study the book, notwithstanding its admonition to “read and understand,” or else they get hopelessly bogged down trying to decipher the mysterious symbolism. At the same time, there are views of end-time events portrayed in the media and recently published books that are terrible misrepresentations of the true biblical picture, with potentially fatal results. You will be able to sort out fact from fiction as a result of our study together. You will also see a picture of Jesus you’ve likely never seen before. Assuming you may be a beginner in this study, we will take time to explain everything in a user friendly way and will not fly through the book at warp speed.

Before we begin exploring this mysterious book of the Bible, there are a few pitfalls to be aware of. Some people try to interpret Revelation by reading the daily newspaper or watching the latest TV news broadcast. That can lead to highly speculative and inaccurate conclusions. It is not a biblical method. It is important to note that this book is different from most books of the Bible in that it is strongly symbolic in nature—you cannot take everything literally. We will learn how to decode these symbols. Another factor many overlook is that it borrows heavily from the Old Testament in its language and imagery—it sort of assumes you have a knowledge of the Old Testament (hereafter referred to as OT). We will need to frequently refer back to the OT for help in our interpretations. Another major tool that most people are not aware of is that the book of Daniel (also rich with prophetic symbolism) is critical in setting patterns and paradigms for the interpretation of Revelation. The connections between the two books are many. Consequently we will spend much time there in order to lay the foundation for an accurate decoding of the last book of the Bible. And since Revelation begins by saying it is a revelation of Jesus, not just by Him but also about Him, then we should also be able to get a clearer picture of Jesus, His character, and His work in our behalf as we near the close of earth-time as we now know it.

This series of studies will guide you through a galaxy of prophecies that will startle, amaze, and yet also inspire and reassure. If you take them seriously, you will never be the same again. There are also many vital spiritual lessons to be learned in this book that can help us now as well as in the future. I would encourage you to begin every study with prayer: “Lord, please give me wisdom and understanding as I study Your Word. Help me not to twist it or ignore it. Guide me in applying its principles to my daily life. Help me to see Jesus through it all. Thank you for what you will be doing to help me in this process.” This appeal to the sovereign of the universe will bring to your aid a “force,” a divine power and insight into the interpretation. Now, let’s begin!


March 15, 2008 on 6:20 pm | In REVELATION FOR BEGINNERS | Comments Off on DREAMS AND VISIONS–1:2

Psychics, mediums, and channelers claim to be able to speak with the dead. A prophet claims to communicate with the living God. Just how does that happen? Revelation 1:2 speaks of “all things that he (John) saw.” How did he “see” these things—was he, as we sometimes say, “just seeing things”? Was he hallucinating? Was he taken bodily to heaven? Did God give him a Power Point presentation? In Old Testament times a prophet was sometimes called a “seer,” 1 Samuel 9:9–(“Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: “Come, let us go to the seer”; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.”). In other words, he was one who could “see” things and events others could not.

In Numbers 12:6 God says, “If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision, I speak to him in a dream.” So what is the difference between a vision and a dream? As we know from experience, dreams typically happen while we are asleep, whereas a vision can happen any time, day or night. It usually happens while the prophet is awake. Daniel 10:17 also adds something Daniel experienced while in vision: “My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength. 17For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me.” Apparently there is a supernatural aspect to the visionary experience—he could be alive and yet not be breathing. This is not the result of too much pickles and ice cream for supper, but rather it is a direct revelation from God to the mind of the prophet accompanied by supernatural phenomena. But the vision apparently seems real to the prophet—perhaps it is somewhat akin to “virtual reality” experiences, i.e. information and pictures are transmitted to the mind which the mind interprets as something actually being experienced. The prophet may not know whether it is actually happening or he/she is just “seeing” it. The apostle Paul one time tried to describe what it was like in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4: “1It is £doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. 3And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—4how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” Apparently he couldn’t tell whether it was an actual experience or only something he was seeing on the video screen of his mind.

It may be somewhat like when you are dreaming—it seems real, you even experience emotions (like fear, joy), and may even attempt to move physically or try to speak (you have no doubt heard of someone talking in his sleep, or sleep walking), all in response to what the mind is projecting on its internal video screen.

So the prophet John didn’t just sit down and decide to write a best-seller. He saw in visions many symbolic representations of the future given to him by God which he then wrote down and tried to describe as best he could. He also provided a different picture of Jesus than we have previously seen. And due to the heavenly origin of the visions, we need to pay attention. They are not given for entertainment or to provide fodder for the latest Hollywood blockbuster. They are serious information for serious times.

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