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The Book of Revelation:

Some Questions of Interpretation

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Question #1:  Who is the Laodicean Church? I have some thoughts on this, but I would like to hear what others believe. Why does God spew them out of his mouth? and Why does he tell them to buy God's Gold and white raiment. Why does he tell this church to open the door and allow Jesus to come in and fellowship with him.

Response #1:  The short answer is "the church today is the Laodicean church". The seven churches of Revelation represent consecutive eras of the Church Age, Laodicea being the last one, just prior to the return of Christ (lasting from approx. 144 years from 1882 to 2026 when the Tribulation begins). I have written a very extensive treatment of this available at the following link: "Laodicea: The Era of Degeneration (Apathy)" in CT 2A.

It is because of apathy towards the Word of God (a trend we see growing each and every day) that our church era as a whole is about to spit out of the Lord's mouth – right into the Tribulation! They are assume they are doing well since they are materially prosperous, but they are in fact spiritually poor and blind to their true situation; their nakedness refers to the shame of their present condition, spiritually immature and thus truly unproductive for the Lord even though they assume they are doing "great things for God". Jesus is knocking to alert them/us to this horrible spiritual condition, and we should pay attention and "let Him in" – that is something which can only be accomplished by turning away from our apathy and becoming zealous for Him through zeal for His truth contained in the Word of God, to be followed up of course by believing this truth, living it in faith, and helping others to do the same through the ministries we have been given to do (these are the essential steps in the process of spiritual growth and production which are so generally lacking in our current era, despite all the hoopla; see the link: in Pet. #12: "An Overview of Spiritual Growth"; and in Pet. #13: "The Process of Spiritual Growth").

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2:  Do most consider Thyatira as a picture of Roman Catholicism? Considering how corrupt Thyatira was - and how it pictured the Catholic church during the Dark Ages - it is interesting that God doesn't expect as much from these church age believers as He does from other churches/eras. I think that this is probably the principle with Naaman as well. And if this is true would it not give legitimacy to the Catholic church during the dark ages?

Response #2:  This is written up with great specificity at the following link in CT 2A: Thyatira: 360 years 802 to 1162 A.D. "The Era of Compromise". The essential thing is that this church era was characterized by an official church establishment ("Jezebel") which our Lord rebukes, but also by a positive trend among certain individual believers in the true Church toward evangelism which our Lord praises. This gives no legitimacy to the Roman Catholic church bureaucracy. Indeed, the threat of discipline was eventually carried out through, among other things, the black death on the one hand and the entire withdrawal later on of all divine utilization of this organization during the Reformation. As I say, this is all explained in the link above.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:  My question is this, have the first four seals been opened? It seems definite to me that the events they seem to describe (comparing them to the four groups of horses in Zech.6) have already been set in motion.

Second, if the first four seals indeed have been opened, the church is still here. In all the pre-tribulation rapture writings I have read, the church is gone before the first seal is opened. Is it possible that the church will live through the tribulation as the Israelites lived through the plagues of Egypt?

Response #3:  While I believe and teach that there is not in fact a correlation between the similar sounding passages you reference (the horsemen in Zech.6 are real angels; the horsemen in Rev. 6 are symbolic visions of the sort for which Revelation is noted; cf. the Woman and the Dragon, the Beast, etc.), I do indeed believe that the pre-Tribulation rapture theory is an incorrect and dangerous misreading of scripture (please see the following link: The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory). As to the first four seals, in my interpretation of the book of Revelation, the seven seals are what keep the book closed; breaking them open opens the book of "the revealing Jesus Christ" (and it is through the actual historical occurrence of the events in Revelation that our Lord will return at the end of the Tribulation which takes up the bulk of Revelation's contents). Before the book is opened, the seals provide an overview of the major trends that will occur once the Tribulation begins (with 1-4 giving the trends of the first half, 5-6 the second half, and 7 = Armageddon and the 2nd Advent). For example, the fifth seal shows the Great Persecution, something that only takes place during the second half of the Tribulation, the "Great Tribulation" as the Bible calls it. In other words, the seals are like book-jacket pictures which give a hint of what is inside. Breaking the seals begins the Tribulation (something only the Lamb can do), which is itself the necessary precursor to the 2nd Advent and Jesus' revelation to the world. You can find out the specifics at the following link: in Coming Tribulation part 2B: "The Seven Seals".

I certainly understand your concern. It is a concern that any dedicated Christian should have. We do indeed live on the threshold of the Tribulation (according to the Seven Millennial Day interpretation to which I ascribe, it can't be more than a couple of decades or so away; please see the link: "A Question of Chronology"). Given the hard times ahead – and coming soon – we certainly ought to be taking every opportunity to grow spiritually and prepare spiritually by growing closer to Jesus through the truth of His Word. However, many if not most of our fellow Christians are basking in a false sense of security, unaware of the nearness of the end times and assuming in any case that they will be exempt from its troubles.

So while we may have some differences of interpretation, I want to commend your interest and encourage your continued study of the Word of God. You are certainly welcome to the materials at Ichthys any time. Two important series on this topic available at present are as follows:

The Satanic Rebellion: Background to the Tribulation

Coming Tribulation: A History of the Apocalypse

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob Luginbill


Question #4:

What is the statement nation against nation referring to, and has this event already occurred?


Response #4:
 

This is something addressed in CT 3B. Greek does not have an indefinite article (i.e., an "a" or "an"). This fact has often resulted in the phrase being misunderstood by English speaking interpreters. In this case, the error is to see this statement as a generality (i.e., something that will keep happening over and over again) rather than what it is, the prediction of a specific event. The correct way to translate this phrase in Matthew 24:7 is "A nation will rise against A nation, even A kingdom against A kingdom". This hasn't happened yet, inasmuch as the context of Matthew 24 is the "beginning of birth pangs" which precede the Great Tribulation during the first half of the seven year period known collectively in scripture as "the Tribulaiton". In other words, this world struggle between the two major power blocks of that future time will not occur until the Tribulation has begun. Specifically, what is being referred to here is the conflict between antichrist's revived Rome and the southern alliance, the seven kings/crowns/horns against the three (see the link: in CT 3B: "The First Campaign against the South").

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.


Question #5:

Dr. ___

In You write in part 3B of Coming Tribulation: Antichrist and his Kingdom: "Aside from the brief foreshadowing of his rise by the first seal (Rev.6:2), the book of Revelation does not formally introduce "the beast" until chapter 13."

There is a good reason that he is not mentioned until then. If this vision was coming to John from the antichrist himself, then I could perhaps believe that he would wish to paint himself white, to hide what he really is. However, this vision is not coming from him, but from God the Father, who would never deceive or try to deceive. This is a "revealing." John used the color white, I think 16 other times in the book, to portray righteousness. Why then, would anyone think that at the first seal, white is meant to deceive? Certainly, it is not. Neither is there any other words about the first seal that would give one such an idea. This is just tradition, which originated from poor exegesis.

Due to lack of time, I will not go step by step, and the Holy Spirit led me. Just let me say that John was privileged to see, in vision form, the very moment that Jesus ascended into heaven, after rising from the dead. The moment He arrived, He started breaking the seals. If you have questions, feel free to ask.


Response #5:
 

Dear Friend,

Since "Why then, would anyone think that at the first seal, white is meant to deceive?" is a question, I will respond briefly. This is not meant to be a deception on the part of God. I certainly never said anything of the kind. However, antichrist is a deceiver, therefore portraying him as a deceiver is entirely what we ought to expect. He is a "wolf in sheep's clothing". He will portray himself as if he were Jesus Christ, the Messiah (which is why he is called anti- or substitute-Messiah). So in the same way that the false prophet "has horns like a lamb but speaks like a dragon", what we have is not God deceiving us by such a portrayal, but rather God giving us a very vivid and (one would have thought) unmistakable sign of the deception that will come from antichrist (i.e., he will be easily mistaken for Christ by unbelievers et al.). The fact the first horseman carries a bow rather than the sharp two-sided sword that proceeds from our Lord's mouth is a clear indication that this is not Christ. However, the (incorrect) interpretation which sees the horseman as Christ is in fact the more "traditional" view. For the deceptive nature of antichrist as the false Messiah, see the following link (if interested: "Coming Tribulation: Part 3B: Antichrist and his Kingdom").

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill


Question #6:

I thank you again for answering me. I will agree, of course, that God has not intention to deceive us. The problem is, someone guessed, many, many years ago, that the first seal was the antichrist, and someone else that did not know thought that sounded as good as anything, and so it went. It reminds me of the calf that wondered lost, and a wolf wondered after it, in the same path. Then another animal, seeing the walking was easier, wondered after it, and so on, until one day the same crooked path became a highway; and men wonder, why is this road so crooked! Therefore, I ask you to take off any preconceived hat, and go back and study this portion of scripture again. There is not one word that would give anyone any hint that there is something evil about this rider: nothing at all. Why is this? Of course, because the intent of the author was that this white horse was to represent righteousness, not evil. Remember, John used white 16 other times, and each of these times, it was to represent righteousness. Why then, would anyone think this one verse would be different? Knowing God as we know Him, we can be SURE that God would not change his meaning of white in this one verse.

My friend, I do not expect these things to be believed immediately. Ideas die hard. But I challenge you to lay aside your preconceived ideas for a while, and just read chapters 4 -6, with this in mind. Let the word speak.

It seems many great teachers of the bible, just lay aside good exegesis when it comes to this book. An example is trying to make Rev. 4:1 be the rapture. This kind of exegesis has opened the door for many worse ideas, such as prewrath. No, we need to follow the same rules here as anywhere else in the bible: let the context tell us - not preconceived ideas.

Your brother in Christ,


Response #6:
 

In regard to "preconceived ideas", as you would surely find if you were to read the entire Coming Tribulation series front to back (of course only the first six of the eventual nine installments are presently available), very little of the material here follows any other strain of teaching – not out of disrespect, but because painstaking independent research has led, under the Spirit's influence, to the conclusions, exegesis, and teaching contained therein. To put it simply, I have not allowed the fact that any interpretation was original to keep me from writing the truth, nor have I shied away from agreeing with other interpretations when the facts of scripture confirmed them. This series is the result of years of careful and conscientious work, and none of the conclusions contained therein were reached without a good deal of "sweat". Of course, these facts alone do not guarantee that everything or even anything in the series is "correct", and for this reason I am only to happy to take questions, comments, and criticisms. But the one criticism that cannot legitimately be leveled against these studies is that they merely regurgitate "preconceived ideas".

The four horsemen represent trends that take place during the Tribulation (please see the link: "The Seven Seals"). That is to say, they are symbolic visions (along the lines of the "woman and the dragon" in chapter 12 or the "scarlet beast" in chapter 17), visions which John is invited to "come and look at" (the correct Greek text of what the angel tells him in all four cases, though not what one finds in any of the English versions where the impression given is that the angel is calling forth these horsemen). Further, the seals, taken as a whole, represent the entire Tribulation, with #5 and #6 giving us the two major events of the second half, namely, the Great Persecution and Armageddon. Seals occur on the outside of a book, and in this case by looking at the seals we see by way of preview what is in the book. The seventh seal, the final one, opens the book and begins the unveiling of the contents, that is to say, starts the Tribulation. Since the final seals are in chronological order, that the first seal represents a vision of antichrist makes all the sense in the world. For it is the unveiling of antichrist that is one of the first major events of the Tribulation (cf. 2Thes.2:3ff.). Secondly the other three horsemen all represent evil trends accelerated by the removal of the Spirit's restraint, lawlessness, famine and death respectively – poor company for righteousness or the Church or our Lord, but a fitting group of associates for antichrist. Finally, the fact that the word "white" is generally applied to righteousness is not at all a fatal flaw in the argument here. For one thing, please note that it is the horse that is white, not the rider. The rider's color is not addressed at all; the rider is not said to wear white. Since the whole idea here is to portray antichrist not only as a conqueror but also as a deceiver, the fact that he is mounted on a horse whose color is completely inconsistent with his true character should come as no surprise and in principle is precedented in the book of Revelation. That was my point in mentioning the false prophet who in the vision "has horns like a lamb but speaks like a dragon". He has characteristics of righteousness ("horns like a lamb"), but his whole demeanor is so evil as to be sufficient to prevent those who are truly following Christ from being deceived. It is the same with antichrist, who looks to many like a sheep from the clothing with which he disguises himself, but inwardly is a wolf. For many (an entire third of the Church included) will be deceived into thinking that he is Christ (please see the link: "The Great Apostasy").

As for other indications that this is indeed antichrist and not Christ or the Church or righteousness personified or any other positive or spiritual "trend" that is being previewed we have the following evidence:

1) As a seal-preview, this horseman should represent something unique to the Tribulation, and something negative at that: this fits antichrist but certainly not the Church et al.

2) The bow represented "unfair" and unconventional warfare in the Mediterranean world of that time. Christ's weapon (and ours in Christ) is the sword (cf. "the sword of the Spirit"), never the bow; but this is an appropriate weapon for antichrist whose entire modus operandi will be characterized by subterfuge. Not insignificantly the bow is also the weapon of Gog, the name given to the beast in Ezekiel: "I will strike your bow from your left hand, and make your arrows fall from your right hand" (Ezek.39:1).

3) Christ wears a diadem or kingly crown (diadema) but this horseman wears an athletic crown (stephanos) which celebrates personal achievement and effort rather than royal right.

4) The military victory which begins and continues (nikao used twice) shows a long process which we may take as occurring throughout the Tribulation's first half, whereas Armageddon will be a near instantaneous defeat of antichrist by the true Christ at the end of the Tribulation's second half. On the other hand, the entire first half of the Tribulation is indeed characterized by antichrist's war-making as he gains control of Babylon, then revived Rome, then defeats the southern alliance in two major and massive campaigns until he becomes thereby the de facto "ruler of the world" to human eyes: "Who is like the beast? And who is able to make war with him?". So this description fits antichrist like a glove.

On balance, there is a substantial amount of evidence leading us to see the first horseman as antichrist. On the other hand, there are many reasons to resist the interpretation that the horseman is anything positive – with the sole exception of the color of his horse. But as I say, not only is this not a decisive point since the attribute is not even of the person himself, but it is also well within in the reach of precedented scriptural descriptions for this color to be used as an indication of the fact that many in that time to come will be confused and assume that antichrist is what he says he is rather than what we know him truly to be.

In the One who is the true Messiah, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.


Question #7:

What does this passage mean regarding no more sea?

Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

Why would God put that last phrase, "and there was no more sea" in this verse. Why is that phrase important? Some people think the sea refers to gentiles or evil, but that verse is not symbolic like Rev 13 where the beast rises out of the sea, it's literal (new earth, heaven, etc.)


Response #7:
 

I take this in the literal sense as well. In the eternal state, there will be no sea, only dry land, on the New Earth. The sea, after all, only came to be as a result of the judgment upon the original earth pursuant to Satan's rebellion. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth – but the sea only shows up in verse two of the first chapter of Genesis on the other side of the Genesis gap (see the link: the Genesis Gap), covering the earth in judgment (as it would do a second time in the days of Noah). It is important symbolically to have sea and land today just as it is important to have darkness and light today – so that all mankind may be able to see from the world around them the difference between evil and good: light and land are conducive to human life, but no one can live in sea and darkness. But in the eternal state, when evil has been removed from the universe once and for all, and the universe has been purged clean with fire (cf. 2Pet.3:12-13), there will be no more sea but only dry land as it was in the beginning, just as there will be no more darkness but only light as it was in the beginning (Rev.21:25; 22:5). This explains why the second death is a sea of darkness and fire, two things representing evil which will no longer exist in the perfect eternal state, suffused with the means by which they and those who chose for them are ultimately judged, namely, fire. For more on this, see the following links:

The Lake of Fire (I. SR #5)

The Darkness (in SR #2)

The Sea (in SR #2)

The New Heavens and the New Earth (in SR #5)

In anticipation of the resurrection and seeing those wonders in person in company with our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.


Question #8:

My question, in the trumpet judgments each trumpet lasts a predetermined amount of time. In the 7 vials of wrath there is no time line given, (as far as I can tell) . Therefore is there any way to tell or no how long each of these singular vials will last, i.e. will they repeat, will there be a break in between.

God Bless you and your ministry!


Response #8:
 

Dear Friend,

I am pasting in here a chart dealing with the bowl (vial) judgments included in CT 5.
 


 

In contrast to the strictly sequential trumpet judgments, the bowl judgments as can be seen by their description in Revelation and as depicted above to be overlapping. We know the terminus for the bowl judgments (Armageddon and the Second Advent), and we have also the time-line of the Great Tribulation and the example of the trumpet judgments as a guide to work with as well. Based upon these factors, a reverse parallel in the length of the judgments is posited (as can be seen from the fact that the Great Tribulation lasts three and a half years [i.e., the seventh trumpet], but the build up to Armageddon is short by comparison [i.e., the seventh bowl]), as well as an overlapping of the judgments (as implied in Revelation 16 and as befits intense judgments of wrath intended to punish as opposed to judgments intended to warn). The result of this analysis can be seen on the chart above, yielding a sequence which comports well with what we know about the other events of the Great Tribulation. This schema, for example, gives ample time for the Great Persecution to run its course before the answering judgments begin. You can find out more about this at the following link: The Seven Bowl Judgments of God's Wrath.

Thanks again for your support.

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

 


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