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The Revelation of Jesus Christ

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
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November 4, 2020 7:00 am

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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November 4, 2020 7:00 am

Angels, trumpets, thrones, thunder, scrolls, seals, stars, crowns, plagues, dragons, lions, and a lamb. These are just some of the actors and props in the book of Revelation - a book youre either a bit crazy about, or think is a bit crazy. Listen, as Dr. James Boice introduces this important and sometimes mystifying book that completes the New Testament.

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Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet Ministry of finance of convincing evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically. This past summer I was reading commentary on Revelation by Jay Ramsey Michaels alike came across a tongue-in-cheek edition of the book drew it from something called the Devil's dictionary, published in 1947 I went like this. Revelation now famous book in which St. John the Divine concealed all that he no revealing is done by commentators who know nothing but entirely true that John concealed what a no because the ending of the book records these words from John's angelic diet. Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book because the time is near. It means that the book was written to be read and understood and as a matter of fact, the very first paragraph contains a blessing for those who do read it and feed it. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it because the time is near. True revelation is still obscure to most if not all readers, and even the most diligent and persistent commentators have been divided over what John is saying or have been more written about the book of Revelation about any other single book in the Bible GK Beals new commentaries about this past year this if you would believe it. 852 items in the bibliography. It's a very big book, and that even the more selected bibliography Robert Mounce has 278 commentaries, articles or reference volumes. Haven't you noticed that when you been studying books if it's not anything particularly long. It's just presented as a bibliography, but when it's exhaustive and there are hundreds of entries.

Writer always calls it a select bibliography, meaning that he knows hundreds more. St. Jerome was the translator of the Latin Vulgate student all of the book of Revelation. He said the Apocalypse of John has as many secrets as words. Martin Luther didn't like it. A number of books of Martin Luther didn't like this is one of them.

He said my spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book. If you ask well why not explain, but what sad misunderstanding is one sufficient reason for the small esteem in which I hold it.

Jesus Christ is neither taught in it nor recognize it only goes to show that even great men can have blind spots or extremely other Protestant reformer didn't like Revelation either. He said it's not a biblical book. Well, how can we avoid studying a book like this they words and images of Revelation a made their way into popular culture as a matter fact were very conscious of it.

Today we speak.

Now the new millennium term that is drawn from Revelation the thousand year. This mentioned there in Revelation 20 recent movie is called Armageddon the name of the place where the final battle between God and the forces of evil set to take place according to chapter 16 of words like antichrist or mysterious number 666 of the seventh seal Mark Bergman movie by that title. Years ago, the new Jerusalem of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse of this was almost endless. Because these images are part of our culture real reason for studying revelation however is not because it's images are part of our culture, but because it's part of the Bible. God promises a blessing on all read and study the Bible as a matter fact it says in second Timothy 316 that all Scripture is God. It is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work that applies to Revelation 2 study the book carefully were going to find that it's as edifying as any other portion of God's word and will be used by him to equip us for doing good works, doesn't mean that it's easy to study and what I propose to go in our exposition of the first chapter gives us an opportunity to do that is to deal with some of the critical problems for understanding Revelation that comes naturally out of the text so it works well but we want we really doing here is laying groundwork for what's going to become increasingly necessary as we got onto the more difficult sections. First thing we have to do is ask what kind of the book. It is a technical term for laughs in biblical studies as you honor it means a type French word borrowed into New Testament studies determine what genres we don't have to do that very much for the parts of the Bible. For example, we read Paul's letters and on up the struggle will not because we understand what a S that's not difficult to reread the Gospels. Not exactly narratives or bibliographies that are somewhat unique, but we don't have a great deal of difficulty understanding the nature of the gospel. But when we talk about Revelation, we ask what in the world is how does it fit in what what is its type answer is it's actually three things all at the same time. It's a letter because it's addressed to the seven churches in the province of Asia comes in as early as verse four fossil prophecy as a way the apostle John identifies his book, beginning as early as verse three, which also have it. Later on, especially in chapter 22 and then thirdly, it is a unique type of writing from this period of history known as an Apocalypse. We made references to two of these three types of literature. In Revelation 1 to 3, which is what you're studying now in the third comes in the next verse look at them one at a time Apocalypse. First of all, that's the most difficult word is come into the English language is a transliteration of the Greek word for Revelation, which is found in verse one begins the revelation of Jesus Christ. What is Apocalypse apocalypses word made up of two parts up the first part it means away from them Which means a covering of availing you take a veil covering away from something. What you do is unveil or reveal X and of course that's what the word means. Now that word is been picked up by scholars to describe the whole hype of literature that was written about this. It's interesting that they don't take the word from the other literature and apply it to Revelation. The word comes from Revelation is a description of the other literature grew up in the near East roughly between 200 BC to 100 A.D., or if you want to put something more specific to that time of the persecution of the Jews by Antioch epiphanies 567 BC, the destruction of the Jewish nation by Hadrian. Perhaps 135 A.D. these apocalyptic books are filled with vivid images. The kind of things you might expect in the dream revision and the chief idea throughout all of them is that history is the working out of the struggle between good and evil. On a cosmic scale is books often have angelic guides, interpreters use symbolic numbers, like 666 of the cars in Revelation. One example of an apocalyptic book would be even one writer called one of the world's sixth worst books are the Israel Apocalypse which is responsible for some of the worst features of medieval theology Revelation is like this in some ways which his wife, property, and an Apocalypse but it's different true.

For one thing, Revelation identifies its author.

The other books generally don't, or if they have a name of the author is not really the author somebody from the past. At a later writer is using again. Revelation claims to be a prophecy. Most of the act. Apocalyptic books really don't. That brings us to the second of these daughters and that is a prophecy. This is the word John himself uses to describe his works there in verse three Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take it to heart, because the time is near the sports Revelation of the same category as Old Testament prophecies like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel the Minor Prophets, and undoubtedly that's intentional on John's part when he begins by calling the book of prophecy is books predicting the future, but that's only one, and not necessarily the most important thing they did what they really are doing is speaking to the president, in light of what is to come in there calling for repentance, faith, and changes in lifestyle for those who hear the prophecy and respond to it. John is obviously doing that he wants us to keep as well as read it, and specifically the conclusion of the letters to the seven churches that are found in chapters 2 and three are like this. They are all urged to repent and seek the first love.

The third thing is a letter Revelation is also that begins with the customary letter format name of the author swallowed by the name of those to whom the author is writing, followed by a greeting Revelation also ends is a letter to go to the 22nd chapter, verses eight through 21 you find it there when I was studying the book of Romans. I referred to Romans as a doctrinal treatise wrapped up in a letter you might say Revelation that it's an apocalyptic prophecy wrapped up in a letter to Kate Beale when I mentioned earlier that has 852 items of his bibliography lists a sentence from a large introduction to the New Testament by DA Carson.

Some others to conclude that the most preferable view is that Revelation is a prophecy cast in an apocalyptic, molded, written down in letter form. Ramsey Michaels also mentioned a moment ago says it's a letter it's like no other early Christian letter we possessive.

It's an Apocalypse. It's like no other Apocalypse. It's a prophecy is unique among prophecies you see why we say it's difficult to interpret as a second introductory matter than I want to look at in this first study and that's it. If history which John's Revelation should be applied.

This is probably the most critical of all the questions the parliament conferences early on. Matter fact it's very first verse because John says these visions are referring to what must soon take place to verses further on in verse three wants us to take this to heart, because he says the time is near Marie Bentley say really more than 1900 years have passed since these words were written in time.

Stone appeared with Tom yet or have they ever question that has led to four main approaches of the book, may just refer to them and discuss them here will be coming back to them again and again later versus the spore assist approach has to do with history or the unfolding of history and that probably is the historic Protestant interpretation of the book sees Revelation is a pre-written record of the course of the world from the time of the writer to the end was much to commend that.

For one thing, much if not all of the prophecy is about what is to come for another numerous phrases in the book that suggest an unfolding future outlook like Revelation 119.

John is told to write down what he has seen what is now will take place later.

All Revelation 41 where a voice from heaven calls to them saying come up here and I will show you what must take place after this.

Proponents of this view usually understand the seals, trumpets, bowls is a foretelling of successive historical events such as the Christianization of the Roman Empire. The attack on the Christian empire of the Middle Ages by the Goths, Muslims or corruption of the medieval Essay the founding of the Holy Roman Empire under Charlemagne, the Protestant Reformation. Even the age of Napoleon, the Nazi era, or more recently the collapse of the Soviet Union. What's the problem with that view. The main problem with that view is that subjectivity is proponents inevitably see the events Revelation reaching a culmination in their own time. The second coming of Jesus Christ is virtually around the corner, plus very little agreement among commentators who take that particular view and many today were sensitive to our living of a global culture. One of the problems is that these interpretations usually ignore what is taken and place in the Christian way in lands other than those in the Christianize West. This doesn't take Asia into account example or Africa or what's happening other places. So that's the first few second one goes by the name of credit risk that derived from the Latin verb crates area which means to go before or to have happened in the past when that is used in regard to Revelation. It means that the events prophesied in this book and in other New Testament passages such as Matthew 24 of already occurred.

The reason the prioress take their point of view is that they are very serious about references like soon you find Revelation 11 and this generation will not certainly pass away and all these things that happen. Matthew 2434 say this is going to happen literally and has happened. Now, while generally speaking, they maintain that these prophecies were fulfilled by God's judgment on Jerusalem for its destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D. it's true that some predators still look forward to the future. In some respects, for the most part, it would regard what we have been here. As already having happened, several problems with the one thing of Revelation and the other prophetic passages like Matthew 24 are now about the past line. They were written.

It was just around the corner were left with no real words about the future.

The disciples question.

When will this happen and what will be the sign of your coming in at the end of the age. Matthew answered another problem is that the decisive victory described in the last chapters of Revelation didn't happen at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, which is one reason why you have a kind of moderated printers people wanting to regard his most of it having happened at the time of Jerusalem, but still things to come. That's a second here's the third one, the futurist approach easiest way to solve all these difficulties is simply to defer the fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation to the future as to the time, shortly before Jesus Christ return the approach of dispensationalism by dispensational lists are the only futurist probably today, the dominant broad evangelical view in this new chapters 2 and three, which contain the letters to the seven churches are usually seen as a description of what is now Revelation 119 and chapters 4 through 22 verse by the heart of the book are seen as referring to the end times exclusively on these chapters run your student to teach in the future. Restoration of ethnic Israel to its own land churches rapture into heaven, a seven year tribulation. The appearance of the Antichrist battle of Armageddon. Christ second coming, the millennium and the establishing of a new heaven and a new earth. Futurist tend to take these prophecies more literally than other people. But of course that's easy for them because since none of these events have happened yet. There's no possibility of their interpretation being falsified major weakness of the position is that it leaves the book without any real significance for those to whom it is addressed. Ablation is meant to be significant is why John pronounces a blessing on those who hear it and take up the heart, so that's 1/3 position.

Here's the fourth. It's the symbolic approach. It affirms that the prophecies don't describe actual historical events either past or future, but instead they use symbols to portray transcendent spiritual realities such as the conflict between Christ and Satan or between good and evil strength of the position lies in the fact that Revelation does use symbols. Everybody is aware of Lance and symbols can do ham present significance were going to see that that actually is true. The weakness of the view is that it denies the book any specific historical fulfillment one way or another. Those views have been with us for centuries are not particularly new.

As a matter fact they been with us so long that in most cases, those who have worked with that kind of get hardened into their positions to be. This can't be any of the others and I suggest to many people that there's really no way to resolve these matters recently have to take one and get on with it. Whether it's right or not. I don't think that kind of pessimism is warranted and on the contrary, when I observed as I been reading more modern commentators on Romans, is that in these recent studies.

There is an attempt best understood as an attempt to recognize and include the best features of each of the four views while rejecting the more extreme views of each. Let me explain how I want to approach Revelation. I have two main guidelines first.

I believe that Jesus himself gives us the overall framework for all New Testament prophecy which the other New Testament writers consciously follow in Matthew 24 my chapter he recognizes and prophesies the imminent destruction of Jerusalem, but he also indicates that it is important and shattering is that event will be. It is not a sign of his immediate coming to be many signs in history.

He mentioned some of them or slams, earthquakes, persecutions, apostasy in the church, false prophets, but his point is that none of these are signs of his coming. And the reason they're not signs of his coming as it is, he is going to be sudden and without warning sign is not sudden or without warning is not going to be a particular warning is going to be like lightning flashing from the east to the west follows is the conclusion of that discourse that that is so then we have to keep watch and be ready because we don't know when Jesus Christ is turning latter half of Matthew 24 and all of chapter 25 use no less than seven illustrations images or parables to make that particular point of my first guideline second guideline a very important one is from John. First John 218, where the same writer was given his Revelation declares dear children, this is the last hour as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists, what that means. As I understand it is the biblical prophecy can have a genuine fulfillment in history.

Without that fulfillment necessarily being the final or full fulfillment of the prophecy you have examples of that in Revelation itself.

For example, in Revelation 214 John refers to people who hold the teaching available in verse 20 of the same chapter to that woman Jezebel. These are not reincarnation so that ancient mercenary prophet are that particularly wicked queen are simply examples of what we might call a recurring pattern in history. To put it this way your heart available. Even now there are many valence or to Jezebel. Well even now there are any Jezebel's give you another example. John the Baptist according to Jesus on teaching.

Not only was like, but in one sense actually was Elijah, Matthew 1114 let me put it another way, when the reformers of the 16th century identified the Pope of their day is the antichrist and the papacy is the great prostitute of Babel and I was literally the case for them in their time, Rome was an odd day proclaiming a false gospel and as such he was the enemy of Christ that was a true and literal fulfillment, but it does not exclude an even more complete or literal fulfillment of the same prophecies in the last days are there antichrist today. Indeed, there are and will be one of the end.

Other false prophet.

Yes, there certainly are there will be more and a particular false prophet will be outstanding before Jesus Christ returns. I said a moment ago that I detected in the reading a certain maturing among commentators of the book of Revelation. I want to give you. Just two examples that one involves a long quotation I ask you to bear with me as I read it, but it is to the point. This is by Robert Mounts is important. He says to say with the credit risk that the book must be interpreted in light of the immediate historical crisis in which the first century church found itself the author employs a literary genre that grew out of his own culture and linguistic mealy earliest figures of speech and imagery are to be interpreted in the context of his own historical setting esoteric and enigmatic references to some future culture totally foreign to first century readers. The cobalt bombs or Telstar European common market, with the historicists it's important to notice that the philosophy of history revealed in the apocalypses found specific fulfillment in all the major crises of human history up to the present with the futurist must agree that the central message of the book is eschatological, and to whatever extent the end has been anticipated in the course of history, it remains is the one great climactic point toward which all history moves this age will come to an end. Satan and his host will be destroyed and the righteous will be vindicated.

These are historical events which will take place in time and they are future with the idealist must agree that the events of history give expression to basic underlying principles.

God is at work behind the scenes to bring the pass and solemn intentions for man to whatever extent the idealist rules out the consummation it's difficult to see from history alone any cause for optimism.

The end gives meaning to the process. Here's a second example J. Ramsey Michaels I mentioned earlier is more of an idealist is still a combination of ideas just as chapters 2 and three are now read much like Paul's letters as pastoral messages first century congregations with implications for other churches many different times and places, so chapters 4 through 22 should be read as a series of first century visions containing promises and warning to Christian believers always and everywhere. They remind us, for example, that the world we live in is a battleground between good and evil, that in heaven. That battle is already one in the Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God is now in control troubles and disasters on earth are actually part of the divine plan. Double is active on earth deceiving the nations because he was defeated and thrown out of heaven, not because he never prevailed over God. Christians will confront the devil's futile anger in the form of an oppressive state that calls them to worship a human being rather than God. Michaels believes that although John situation the oppressive state. The Roman Empire even after Rome is been destroyed. The devil will deceive the nations a gap in the conflict repeat itself. I want to say one more thing before I end this introductory study. It comes from the fact that although this is difficult to see in English translations.

The first verse of Revelation is probably a deliberate echo of Daniel 228. One important change that were going to notice that there are many delivered echoes of Daniel as we proceed to Revelation. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar in that verse that God had shown him the word. There is actually the word revealed just as in Revelation 11 shown him what will happen in days to come. Refers to that vision of that great statue. The Nebuchadnezzar had was a forecast of four successive world empires and the significant thing is that a stone mountain uncut by hands, strikes that great statue with its feet falls over the ground in the dust and then rock or stone.

Looking down from the mountain grows up and fills the whole earth. Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that this is going to happen in the future. In days to come.

Now that's the verse that John seems to pick up and call but he changes the word come to the word soon other words, John is saying.

Unlike Daniel was told to seal up the words of his prophecy until the end because the end is not yet. Actually, the end has come, and therefore John is not to seal it. And Jesus is building his kingdom in our days.

Years ago when I wrote a book on Daniel. I came to that passage, I was unsure how to handle it. I mentioned that there are two different views you could see mountain growing up, to fill all earth as being a forecast of the church age. Following upon the collapse of the Roman Empire. Or you could say it is a reference to the final millennium reign of Jesus Christ. I said at the time that I probably preferred the latter I don't see it quite that way now.

I still believe in the future fulfillment of the vision. The kingdom of Christ, in my judgment will be a real literal kingdom in the last days.

I believe in a literal future millennium, but I also see the fulfillment in the present because it is now, in this age that Jesus is doing these things, Daniel. Look forward to a coming of the Messiah in the future.

John is saying that his prophecies are for now. Also, for every age of history until the final culmination of the second coming of Jesus Christ and the last judgment. That's why the opening paragraph ends with a blessing for those who read here and take part.

Once written. That's the first of seven beatitudes are blessings that are going to be found in the book everything in Revelation seems to be a series of seven almost perfectly echoes the words of Jesus in Luke 1128 who said, Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God, obey it, pronouncing the same kind of blessing on us as we study the book it's matched at the end of the prophecy by a curse of those who hear it and don't obey it was only in obedience of refined blessing. What we read the words of this blessing so that Revelation was not written primarily to give information to the mind, still less esoteric knowledge was written to enable Christian people to live for Jesus Christ today and requires that they do book imparts a moral obligation.

Revelation teaches us that the kingdom's of the world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.

Therefore, even though the kingdoms of the world seem all powerful and sometimes even glorious.

My point of view. We have to learn that the kingdoms of this world are destined for destruction of the kingdom of Jesus Christ will triumph. Recognizing that we are to live like empire of Babel and collapsed on was overrun by the Huns of the Goths, the kingdom of our God forever. Hallelujah, spray father, we thank you that we have had time here to begin to think about this important book of the New Testament and how we might understand and profit from. We stand at the threshold we look to you.

Open our understanding and lead us in a way will provide blessing parameters you are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview.

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