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Questions in the Book of Revelation

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
March 8, 2021 1:00 am

Questions in the Book of Revelation

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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March 8, 2021 1:00 am

Pastor Karns helps us to address questions that arise when studying the book of Revelation.

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Well if you would turn in your Bible to the book of the Revelation continue in our study, there. This is the fourth message from these opening verses from the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Let me read the first nine verses of chapter 1 the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants things which which must shortly take place and he sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ to all things that he saw.

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it for the time is near. John to the seven churches which are in Asia. Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come in from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.

To him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests to his God and father to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with clouds, and every eye will see him, even they who pierced him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him. Even so.

Amen. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

I John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God for the testimony of Jesus Christ thus stands the written eternal word of God. Let me introduce this message a little bit differently. By telling you a personal story probably 30 years ago. I obtained a New Testament commentary set of John Calvin's work and they were. He was a used commentary set in when I got them home and begin to look at them a week or so gone by, I noticed that there was a volume missing so I called the friend that purchased them from an mention that to him and ask if he had that other book of the set and he said this the book that was omitted was the book of the Revelation. He said the reason you don't have a copy of the book of the Revelation is because John Calvin did not write a commentary on the book of the Revelation he read a commentary on every other book of the New Testament, but he did not write one on the book of the Revelation and I did a little bit of reading about what was behind that and he was just he was uncertain he was perplexity felt like he almost needed to have a code understand the book of the Revelation because of the signs and the symbols that were associated we find throughout the book, and I don't know how that strikes you, but I'm thinking couple of things number one.

I have similar thoughts about the book of the Revelation it is a very daunting book a very challenging book, but as part of the canon of Scripture is part of God's revelation. It's a book that he wants us to to know and understand. It's a book that is given and is there's a promised blessing for those who read it inherent and keep those things that are written in the book but some of asked if if it's my intention to preach through the book of the Revelation in my my answer answer to that is no I don't how many messages I'm going to bring from the book of the Revelation, but I I I I am convinced at this time that there some some help here and God is directing me to bring some messages and tonight will be another one of those messages and I don't know how long I'll tarry in this book, but you'll see tonight as I bring this message to some of the challenges that are related to understanding the book. In fact, I want to say on the front end. It is not my purpose to unsettle anybody is not my purpose to bring a crisis to your faith, but I'm to be sure, and some things tonight that perhaps you've never heard before and that's always what I hear a preacher say that. Always think all I have suspicions about anything that's new. It's what I'm saying is not new. What I'm saying is perhaps new to you. You haven't heard this, but I think it is accurate, it is its accurate interpretation and be glad to talk to anybody later about it but so I would love to just challenge you to beginning here to to think with me about our approach to the book of the Revelation, the book of Revelation is in the genre of prophecy. That's not because a group of academic scholars have said that it's says it right here in verse three Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy. So prophecy is the genre of the book of the Revelation it's speaking of future events of the big question is from John's perspective is. John wrote these things, how far into the future was these things that take place and so that is challenging.

The second thought that comes to my mind as I think about Calvin's reluctance to to write a commentary on the book of the Revelation is if he was reluctant. What is it say about those who have an eschatology and an understanding they think that they've got everything, understood everything nailed down were going to an indigo around and hold Bible prophecy meetings to explain all of its found in the book of the Revelation. I think it calls for some humility. I think it calls for some his patient and I think it calls for. Let's not be so quick to say I know everything about what is written here if a man like John Calvin had reluctance. There certainly grounds for me to have reluctance and for all of us to have humility and go you know what is a lot of different people have looked at this book and have some various opinions about it and we can all be right member, right on with her was. Maybe it was Don Theobald who said this, maybe even more. Web.

One of the menus come for Bible conference and says about things he said we can all be right and it's possible that were all wrong. The nobodies right about something so that's what I want to do tonight. Look at some opening verses here in the book of Revelation that we've touched on, but have before tonight. Not camped on and begin to consider were confronted with many questions when we come to the book of the Revelation.

Let me just mention four questions that confront us in. There are many, many others, but these the ones are on my mind tonight.

Question number one. The books audience was the Revelation written chiefly for the benefit of the people living in the final days before the consummation of God's kingdom was it written primarily for the first century church or was it written for the church of all the ages the audience who did God intend primarily this book to address question number two.

The meaning of the book of the Revelation is the book of Revelation describing events that were unfolding in the first century as John was writing and talking about things that were near things that would surely come to pass. Was he speaking about those things that would come to pass in the first century, in his generation, or was he writing about events that would be long long into the future.

Here we are nearly 2000 years removed from John writing these words, the meaning of third critical question is when when was the book of the Revelation written.

When did John write this book. What is the historical context and you know when you're studying a book of the Bible beginning to get into it and there's all those introductory pages about authorship and all kinds of other things and we tend to just kinda skip over that and get to chapter 1 verse one and get on with it. Well there some very, very important and critical questions that the introductory material raises and hears. Here is a an absolutely critical question.

When was the book of the Revelation written in our day.

The majority opinion is that it was written in the late 90s A.D. there is a significant group of others who believe that the book of Revelation was written during Nero's reign wrong Nero, the Roman Emperor during his reign, and Nero range from 54 A.D. to 68 A.D. in the critical hinge point about this in terms of when it was written is this was it written before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, or was it written after that is a critical critical question and you'll see as we move forward tonight how critical a question is and then question number four. The question I want to deal primarily with tonight is the question of time frame. References timeframe references and there are a host of them and I want to draw your attention to them and try and get her mind around how were to understand these references the first time frame reference occurs in the book's opening verse. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants things which must shortly take place. John was given a vision.

John was commanded to write these things down things that would shortly take place. Verse three Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it for.

Here's a second time reference for the time is near. Things that must shortly shortly take place and the time is near. Not only in these opening verses, but in the opening chapter in the middle of the book at the end of the book we find all kinds of time references were warned that the time is at hand. These things must shortly come to pass. Behold, Jesus says I come quickly. Surely, I come quickly.

There's these kinds of references and we have to wrestle with how to weed to interpret them man wrote extensively about this.

His name is gentry has wrestled with these time references and I'm going to draw your attention to a number of them so that you get a sense of how often they appear and how critical they are to a proper understanding of shown you to their verses one verse three. Listen to chapter 2 in verse will start in chapter 2 in verse 16, to the church of Pergamum's were 16 repent or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

I will come quickly.

Chapter 3 in verse 11. Behold, I'm coming quickly. Hold fast what you have that no one may take your crown get over one in verse 19 of chapter 1 chapter 1 verse 19 write these things in which you have seen, this is in my Bible red letter words of Christ to John Wright the things which you have seen in the things which are in the things which will take place after this take place after this.

After what what is the antecedent to this is the question. Chapter 3 and verse 10 because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold I am coming quickly. I'm coming quickly so there's a context there of judgment and suffering the needs to be taken into account and then when you get to the end of the book turn over the chapter 22 chapter 22 verse six. Then he said to me, these words are faithful and true in the Lord God of the holy prophet sent his angel to show his servants, the things which must shortly take place. Verse seven behold I am coming quickly. Verse 12 and behold I am coming quickly and my reward is with me to give to everyone according to his work. Verse 16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright in the MorningStar in the Spirit and the bride says common let him of hearsay, and let him who thirsts, whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in the book and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the book of life from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Verse 20 he who testifies to these things says, surely I am coming quickly and this man can gentry raises this question.

How could events related to two or two. 2 to 3000 years in the future be considered at hand or soon or is it says near how is that possible a straightforward reading of the text creates problems for us and skeptics have seized on this skeptics of said you see the Bible is full of air that the apostles believe that the coming of Jesus was soon they were wrong. Jesus's own statements show that he he too was wrong about his coming and we have to be at a place to be able to answer the critics over therein. Second Peter chapter 3 Peter's writing about the second coming of Christ, and he said God is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness that is long-suffering to us were not willing that any should perish but all should come to repentance, so whatever conclusion you draw about your attempt to reconcile the promise of Christ coming with the statements that he's coming quickly that that his coming is at hand. One thing you've got to nail down if you're going to be faithful to the Scriptures is that God is not slack concerning his promise brought a message two weeks ago on the second coming of Christ from chapter 1 verse 787 aspects of the second coming of Christ.

So I am adamant in my commitment to the second coming of Christ.

Nothing that I say tonight should take away from that second coming of Christ, Pastor Barkman mentioned this morning that I noticed this, but each of the five chapters in the end of each chapter there is a reference to the second coming of Christ and will be looking forward to seeing what that exposition of first Thessalonians brings to us. Along those lines, but what can gentry did in his consideration of these time references is to put them in three different categories.

There are three different Greek words that are employed in used the very close but there there a bit different and the first group is under the heading of shortly and quickly that there is the Greek word it's used it's translated shortly and quickly.

There's another Greek word that she used that is translated near or at hand.

And then there is 1/3 group of words that are used that are translated that there is an event or something about to happen on the point of being manifested so you can see how closely those three different words are but can gentry is of a strong opinion and I will get to that in a minute nearly 2000 years of church history have passed since John wrote these words and were back again in Revelation chapter 1. These writing about things that he has seen in a vision that must shortly take place. The time is near us what he is saying. At the very beginning of this letter and here's the question how do we reconcile the language of shortly quickly nearness with the passing of nearly 2000 years is he speaking about those things related to the second coming of Christ, or is he speaking about those things related to the end of the age. This is what can gentry says one solution is to understand shortly. In the sense of suddenly or without delay. Once the appointed time arrives.

He insists that we must not take an approach, contrary to a straightforward approach will take the time to look at each one of those verses. Under those three categories that he gives to us, but let me give you a couple of other references that use the same words so it's so you see that is not just confined to prophecy and here in the book of the Revelation, but other places so you can kinda get a sense of the.

The way it is.

These words are being used. Listen to acts chapter 12 in verse seven.

This is Peter. While he's in prison now, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shown in the prison, and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, arise quickly and his chains fell off his hands arise quickly.

You see there's not much of a time lapse there. There's not years and months and long time there.

The word there arise quickly and it says, and his chains fell off his hands.

Romans chapter 16 in verse 20 list of this verse. Let me back up and read verses 17 see you get the context of Paul's writing. He says now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple for your obedience has become known to all.

Therefore, I am glad on your behalf.

But I want you to be wise in what is good and simple, concerning evil and then verse 20 and the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly and then one more reference when there's a there's 10 or 12 that I just chose three. First Timothy chapter 3 verse 14 Paul's writing to the church, running Paul's writing to Timothy here and he says these this in verse 14. These things I write to you though.

I hope to come to you shortly. But if I'm delayed I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourselves in the house of God which is church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth Paul stating his intentions to come and he says I hope to come to you shortly. That's his desire that was his hope, and it's hard to read along delay into that. So what does can gentry make of this ring. We have to be honest here with what we're reading and what were being confronted with this is the honest question.

How could events that are two or 3000 years in the future be considered at hand it, it's hard to reconcile that in here is gentry's point. He says all three of these were groups that he looked at point to the nearness of the things foretold in the book of the Revelation, but the question is what is being pointed to what is John writing about what is he what is in the future that is near that is at hand and this is gentry's position that the book was written before 70 A.D. and what is at hand. What is near is Jesus Christ coming in judgment of the nation of Israel and of the Jewish community and the destruction of the Jewish Temple you take that interpretation and go back through those time references. It removes an awful lot of question and an awful lot of doubt and bring some clarity. I'm not saying that that answers every question but it's something we have to give some serious thought to more back to what I believe to be a very very critical question and that is the timing of the writing of the book and can gentry wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject. He wrote a book entitled, before Jerusalem fell and he's advocating that the context of the Revelation that John was writing what was near and again he was writing during the reign of Nero, who reigned from 54 to 68 A.D. and persecution is come upon the church.

John is in exile on the island of Patmos for his testimony and for his commitment to the gospel of Christ. So persecution is come upon the church. Nero's reign is moving toward the middle or toward the end and the destruction of Jerusalem is maybe two, three, five years out at them at the most is John is writing and that is what John is referring to with his language of nearness and it is at hand.

Maybe all new teammate never even thought about that but that's what I'm suggesting to you that can gentry's writing. Listen to what Jay Adams we know Jay Adams is.

This is what Jay Adams said about can gentry's doctoral dissertation, before Jerusalem fell. He said quote here is a book.

Some of us have been awaiting for years.

Mr. gentry convincingly demonstrates the fact the book of Revelation was written as it in so many ways declares prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, it should receive a wide reading and get this, and ought to rattle a lot of windows.

In other words, it's going to bring up evil and it's going to cause people to rethink their whole approach to the book of the Revelation.

Well when considering when a book was written. There is you're looking for internal evidence you're looking for external evidence. What I mean by external evidence, extra-biblical sources. People who wrote historically during the time the collaborates what some of the things that helps us date Josephus and other historians that would be external evidence, but the strongest evidence in my opinion, is internal evidence what what were doing here tonight what I'm doing trying to do is to demonstrate a hermeneutic that were committed to what is at hermeneutic. We believe a correct biblical hermeneutic is a historical grammatical cultural approach to the Scriptures.

What I mean by that will. The aim of an historical grammatical cultural approach to the Scriptures, is to discover the meaning of a passage as the original author in this case, John would have intended and what the original hearers would've understood and there are multiple answers to that question. What did John mean by the words that he used grammatically and we spent time looking at that.

The time references to nearness and at hand and shortly what did he mean by that, and how did those he wrote to understand what he said that's our approach here is the first thing is were looking at internal evidence were looking at the group. The grammar of the language that's being employed in trying to understand the second thing here as we look at internal evidence is this.

If John wrote the book of the Revelation after the destruction of the temple, the fall of Jerusalem. The fact that he never mentions the destruction of the temple in the book of Revelation is work worth noting not. It is an argument of silence but the silence is deafening because in a Jewish context, the destruction of the temple is cataclysmic and the fact that John would've never mentioned it. Had he been writing after the fact, raises questions. Questions like what hadn't happened yet.

That's why John had mentioned one more issue of internal evidence, and that is turn with me to Revelation chapter 17 Revelation chapter 17.

I want to begin to read in verse seven and read down through verse 18. Again, John is writing or seven but the angel said to me why did you marvel.

I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the seven horns. The beast that you saw was and is not and will ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go to perdition and those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was and is not, and yet is here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is in the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was and is not, is himself also the eighth and is of the seven and is going to perdition. The 10 horns which you saw are 10 kings who have received no kingdoms as yet but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast, these will make war with the Lamb and the Lamb will overcome them, for he is Lord of lords and King of Kings and those who are with him are called, chosen and faithful that he said to me, the waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, our peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues, and the 10 horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire for God is put it into their hearts to fulfill his purpose to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled and the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth. Now if you are little bit perplexed by what I said to you about John Calvin and his hesitancy about going near the book of Revelation to try and understand it. Just reading that portion right there, will cause you to scratch her head.

10 kings and Beeson a woman that wears the worst of the codebook to understand what these symbols and signs are yes but here's what I want to draw your attention is were considering internal evidence here as to when John wrote the book of the Revelation notice with me verse 10 is there are also seven kings seven kings.

Five have fallen, one is any other has not yet come in when he comes, he must continue a short time. Now the question is who are these kings and commentators say they represent the Roman emperors, so John is writing in a context where five Roman emperors or kings have been on the scene and are no longer notice again verse 10.

There also seven kings. Five have fallen five have fallen, one is, there is a king who is present right now and the other has not yet come so he's talking about seven kings.

Five have fallen away one is raining at the present and there's one that is yet future and the question is who is that King that is raining presently. As John writes as you go back through documents and all people have considered and thought about the various kings. They start with Julius Caesar now he wanted to be known as a Caesar, not as a king but as you recall, the language of the New Testament John chapter 19 verse 15 I think the people said we have no novocaine except Caesar. So the people acknowledge Caesar is a king. So if he's the first king you begin to count through the various Roman emperors who were in power when you get to the sixth King. Guess who is is Nero, Nero, and again Nero range from A.D. 54 280 68.

And if that's accurate, then we know who's on the throne, who is the Roman king. As John writes that's pretty strong evidence that internal evidence that John is writing before the destruction of Jerusalem in the fall, the Jewish nation, not after. Now again there's you probably are aware that there are counter arguments to all of this, but I'm just setting before you some evidence that we need to think about. We need to consider is were trying to understand the book of the Revelation correctly. You see it's not just the book of the Revelation, there's this language. All through the New Testament listen to what Peter said in his first letter. This is first Peter chapter 4 verse seven, Peter says, but the end of all things is at hand. That raises a couple of questions before we even finished the verse the end of all things is at hand. What in does he have in mind and how do we understand that whatever it is he making reference to is at hand.

The end of all things is at hand. Therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.

Though there are three distinct possibilities as to what Peter means when he announces that the end of all things that hang the first possibility is that the end of the world is near, bringing with it the end of all things on earth that would be this cataclysmic event that would bring an end to life on this earth as we know it. That's a possibility.

The second possibility is that Peter is referring to the end of all things Jewish. Looking toward the catastrophic event that took place again in A.D. 70, when the temple was destroyed in Jerusalem was trodden underfoot by the Gentiles and you you have to you have to work hard at getting your mind around what that would've meant for a Jew in that context. From the Jewish perspective the end of Jerusalem the end of temple worship would be the end of everything. It's not a minor thing.

It's a major major thing that the second possibility and 1/3 possibility is Peter has in mind the nearness of the demise of those reading the epistle that there earthly life will soon come to an end and were challenge the life is but a vapor that appears for a little while and vanishes away were to look at life is very short, very fleeting, so there again. There are three possibilities of just that one verse there in first Peter chapter 4 verse seven. So again I five raised a lot of questions in your mind, and I am no doubt if you're following with me tonight.

I have my purpose again is not to alarm you, is not to cause you to think all pastor MasterCard is going off the deep end. He's he's embraced some erroneous theory of the book of the Revelation, it violates everything I've thought about the book of the Revelation listen to me. I am committed to the doctrine of the second coming of Christ. Nothing changes in my understanding in that regard, I would've demonstrated for you tonight. I hope is again a and a biblical hermeneutic a historical grammatical cultural hermeneutic bringing that to the text of these time reference versus trying to understand what what what God is meaning. These things are near these things are at hand. These things are gonna happen shortly because we have critics that are looking at that and saying well if the second coming is in mind somebody's misleading somebody because that's not shortly. That's not it. Right now, that's not at hand. You understand now there's a measure of truth in the statement, but I don't know that it fully satisfies us in every regard Peter is saying in the context of the second coming and is I think second epistle the day as to the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. In other words, God lives outside of time and it seems like 2000 years is a very long time but God lives outside of time in a day to the Lord as a thousand years is a is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day so again were forced to bring an eternal perspective to these things because were looking at it in a time and a time reference contexts were counting days and months and years. However weight we look at that God God is not God is not failed to keep his promise. Jesus said he was coming again, and he will come again and nothing should shake our faith in that reality. So might my plan is to do it, do a bit of broad study in the area of eschatology were kind of getting your feet wet here tonight with this I'd like to in the future. Survey the major eschatological positions. What is a premillennial position. What is a post millennial position.

What is in all millennial position and talk about those things so that we can get her mind and have an appreciation for the various ways people come to the Scriptures and draw various conclusions about end time matters. Pray for me about that. That's not an easy task to take on and on mindful that a mist in the pulpit creates a fog in the pew and I don't want to create a fog in your mind. Perhaps you say what you did that tonight with this. I'm just asking you to wrestle with the text of Scripture. What is it mean where these time references mean I want you to see tonight how critical it is to understand and think. Depending on when John wrote this letter changes your entire interpretation of the book of the Revelation because of John wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple then all of that is, those events are passed or not. Future to John and those are hearing them right. And that's critical, but I think there's some pretty strong evidence for an early writing of the book of Revelation, and if that is so the changes a lot of things and for me to bring some clarity clears up some questions I've had in my mind we raise tonight so thank you for following with me tonight. I'll be in my office tomorrow and would like to call in ask questions or send me off an email will wrestle through these things together but our goal is to understand the word of God right understand what God meant by giving us this word the way he did. Shall we pray. Father, we thank you tonight for in an errant word. We thank you that is reliable, that it is trustworthy that it is profitable for us for Dr. for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. How we thank you tonight that are subject is the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. How we thank you that he has promised that he is coming again and he's coming to rule in righteousness and truth.

And we rejoice in that we pray that you would help us to live in the reality of that truth that he is coming again, and where to live with watchfulness and with expectation and with hope. We thank you for what has been revealed to us here in John's letter out to him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and is made us kings and priests to his God and father to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.

Amen


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