Saturday, September 12, 2020

Revelations Study: End of Chapter 1. Beginning of Chapter 2: the Son of Man, the Stars, The Menorahs, and the Letters

 

Revelation Study End of chapter One, beginning chapter 2

 

Revelation 1:18-19 18 am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of [a]Hades and of Death.

This is where we see the resurrection brought out, the bearing of the resurrection. Christ’s victory over death was immensely important to the early Christians as evident in the book of Acts. The resurrection being stressed so early on in Revelation truly ties right in to not only the gospels and Acts, but old testament books like Isaiah who spoke of this day

Isaiah 53:5 5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

 

Here is the translation from the complete jewish Bible which gives us a more reverent look at what Jesus did for us:

 

Complete Jewish Bible: But he was wounded because of our crimes,
crushed because of our sins;
the disciplining that makes us whole fell on him,
and by his bruises* we are healed.

Now Hades…hades is the place of departed spirits as in Acts 2:27, 31

Acts 2:27 27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

Acts 2:29-31 29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, [a]according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.

It is NOT the place of torment, GEHENNA

The word gehenna is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew ge-hinnom, meaning “Valley of [the sons of] Hinnom.” This valley south of Jerusalem was where some of the ancient Israelites “passed children through the fire” (sacrificed their children) to the Canaanite god Molech (2 Chronicles 28:333:6Jeremiah 7:3119:2–6). The place is called “Tophet” in Isaiah 30:33. In later years, Gehenna continued to be an unclean place used for burning trash from the city of Jerusalem. Jesus used Gehenna as an illustration of hell.

God so despised the 
false god Molech that He explicitly forbade the Israelites from having anything to do with him in Leviticus 18:21. He even warned them of the impending judgment He would send their way if the Jews didn’t keep their attention and worship directed toward Him. In another prophetic warning, God re-named the Valley of Hinnom as the Valley of Slaughter (Jeremiah 19). The Gehenna Valley was thus a place of burning sewage, burning flesh, and garbage. Maggots and worms crawled through the waste, and the smoke smelled strong and sickening (Isaiah 30:33). It was a place utterly filthy, disgusting, and repulsive to the nose and eyes. Gehenna presented such a vivid image that Christ used it as a symbolic depiction of hell: a place of eternal torment and constant uncleanness, where the fires never ceased burning and the worms never stopped crawling (Matthew 10:28Mark 9:47–48). (gotquestions.org)

Mark 9:47-48 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into [a]hell fire— 48 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

 

That word for hell is GEHENNA

However hades in this book is linked with death and regarded as an enemy

Now the Keys! Keys represent authority and Christ Holds the keys of death and hades. He has the power to send people to death and Hades OR to deliver one from death and Hades. Christ is a supreme ruler, he is seated at the right hand of the Father which indicates the highest level of authority next to Almighty God. He has a supremacy over the spirit world and over death itself. The Tyrants and wicked rulers who persecuted John’s reader’s as so far from having this kind of power and supremacy.

Again in vs 19 John is told to write down what he has seen, the things that are, and the things that will happen in the future. This is obviously very important to the Lord because it is REPEATED, like the Lord looking at John and saying “CAPISCE?”

Verse 19 was a most important bit of information to John, and it ought to be a word of caution for us. God tells John that this vision is both for now and for the future. However,  which part of it is “for now”, which part is for the future? How far into the future is this future part spoken of, are left unanswered.

Revelation 1:20: The mystery of the 7 stars and 7 gold menorahs

The mysteries of God and there are MANY:

we have for a long time attempted to put the form, nature and substance of God in a nice neat box. That box is usually labeled The Trinity; and then rather rigid descriptions and functions of each “person” are defined. Any disagreement is met with the charge of heresy. There is no denying the multiple attributes of God (sometimes called persons) that the Bible itself identifies clearly as God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. However, the Old Testament also adds other attributes of God called the Shekinah and the Angel of the Lord. Yet just how these attributes all function together and how precisely they function and what form or forms they appear in is not so cut and dry in the Holy Scriptures. Yes, it is biblically explicit that God the Father is preeminent, He is on the Throne. It is equally explicit that God the Son (Jesus Christ) saves sinners and the Holy Spirit empowers Believers with new natures, and is also the counselor. But beyond that the functions and forms of each are not exhaustively defined and seem to have rather elastic boundaries, because they make up 1 Godhead, 1 ruling body with three parts. (torah class)

Now here mystery does not mean what is mysterious like we think i.e. having an atmosphere of strangeness or secrecy. (merriam-webster), like an eerie mystery unfolding that has that dark strange feeling. Mystery here means something people of their own power could never work out for themselves, BUT has now been made known to them by Almighty God. This theme travels through the gospel messages as well

2 thessalonians 2:6-7 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the [a]mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only [b]He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way

1 corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God [a]ordained before the ages for our glory,

In revelation mystery means that Jesus Christ, Yeshua, reveals and makes known to man the meaning of certain symbols which man could not have guessed. As we see john does not know the meaning until Christ reveals it.

Other mysteries of God: in last weeks teaching we examined Zechariah 14 which actually turns on its head the nearly universal Christian doctrine that when Christ returns He’ll step foot on the Mt. of Olives and then it splits. Yet the original Hebrew of the Bible says clearly that YHWH, God the Father, is coming and it is HE that will step foot on the Mt. of Olives and split it in two. John seems to agree with Zechariah by identifying God the Father as the One who is, was, and is coming.

Now we see this divine being in John’s vision not define himself in standard terms, because long standing, back to the OT, of God the Father are mixed or spoken of with very clear attributes of God the Son, Jesus

Well it is not wise here to apply a neat and tidy solution to a problem that clearly is not neat and tidy

Rather we should take these unconventional descriptions of unnamed divine persons and understand this as a mystery, knowing that in one form or another this is the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Our real challenge is that as modern humans, including Believers, we just don’t like lingering unanswered questions about God. We want and answer for everything. We are so used to googling and the internet and IMMEDIATELY getting an answer that these lingering unanswered questions or MYSTERIES about God make us uneasy at times. However we are not meant to know everything about the Lord until we meet Him. Somethings are better left a mystery sometimes for our own mental well being, until the appointed time

The last verse of chapter 1 directly relates to the subject matter of chapters 2 and 3: the letters to the 7 Believing congregations of Asia. Back in verse 16 of chapter 1, God is said to be holding 7 stars. Now in verse 20 God explains that the 7 stars symbolize 7 Heavenly angels. Stars are standard Old Testament imagery representing angels so this wasn’t hard for John to make the connection

So the seven stars are first explained

The 7 stars are the 7 angels each assigned to 1 of the 7 churches across the continent of Asia. Now the word angel can mean messenger. There is actually no place in revelation where it does not refer to heavenly beings. The term angel is found 67 times in revelation

In the upcoming chapters you will see these letters addressed to the “angel” of the church being written to which is a strange way to treat a “guardian angel”. It may actually be directed to the spirit of that church

what is a bit more difficult a concept  for modern Believers is that it is said that these are 7 angels each associated to one or the other of 7 Asian Churches. Western Christianity generally has a harder time with this than some of the other branches of Christianity because the more evangelical denominations tend to emphasize the ministry of Christ and the Holy Spirit, and deemphasize or minimize the ministry of angels. Thus it is common in Revelation commentaries to say that these are NOT heavenly angels at all, but rather they are messengers…..human messengers associated with those churches. These are NOT human messengers for clearly the word and the context used make it very clear these are indeed heavenly beings

what we do know is throughout the Word of God we see angels dispatched from different “divisions” who oversee various interests, assignments, and regions for the Lord. We see Gabriel, an Archangel visit Daniel with a VERY important message, we see Michael an archangel and “chief prince” dispatched as a warring angel in that same chapter to engage the prince of Persia principality. In Joshua 5 we see the captain of the army of the Lord of Hosts was dispatched to lead Joshua and the Jews into battle. In Genesis 3 a cherubim angel was placed on the east side of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.

The seven menorahs are the 7 congregations/churches that actually exist. Now why are these congregations menorahs? Because the light is Christ, Yeshua, the menorah’s are simply for showing and displaying the light as congregations of believers should very well be

Now before we proceed we must discuss something

While we are usually unaware of it, we all live in our own religious and cultural bubbles or our personal worldviews. These bubbles are often not transparent and so we aren’t always conscious (or only vaguely conscious) of what exists outside of them. For example as related to the Christian faith: European and American Christians usually believe that whatever we know of Christianity is generally shared by all who call themselves Christians. This very broad type of Christianity shared by Europeans and americans today is known as western Christianity

Because time has a way of causing us to forget much of our past, it surprises Western non-Catholics to learn that the main branch of Western Christianity called Protestantism owes it’s existence and a good percentage of it’s holidays, sacraments, customs and doctrines to Catholicism from whence it came.

Until the time of 1000 A.D. the Catholic Church represented and controlled the majority of the known world’s Christianity; but then the Eastern Orthodox Church split off from it in what was called “The Great Schism”.

The great Schism: was the break of communion since the 11th century between the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches.[1] The schism was the culmination of theological and political differences which had developed during the preceding centuries between Eastern and Western Christianity.

A succession of ecclesiastical differences and theological disputes between the Greek East and Latin West pre-dated the formal split that occurred in 1054.[1][2][3] Prominent among these were the issues of the procession of the Holy Spirit, whether leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist,[a] the Bishop of Rome's claim to universal jurisdiction, (Wikipedia.org)

 

What remained of the still large Catholic Church as controlled by the Pope remained largely intact until the early 1500’s. This is when Martin Luther shook things up and began his protest movement that eventually led to the Protestant Reformation that birthed the Protestant branch of the Western Church. However in the 5 centuries that had passed since the Great Schism, by the time of Luther many sub-branches of the Eastern Orthodox Church had already come into existence. And since the creation of the Protestant branch with Luther as its founder, a few thousand sub-branches of Protestantism have sprung from it. (torah class lesson 4 revelation 1)

Most Western Christians don’t have a vast knowledge of any denomination beyond their own, or for that matter anything about the workings of the Eastern Orthodox Churches or their doctrines and beliefs. Even further removed from our awareness are the many independent and lesser known Christian branches such as the Chaldean, Coptic and Ethiopian whose Bibles contain some books the Western Branch doesn’t have, and the reverse is the same.

 

From our Western Christian perspective these foreign and remote Church branches might call themselves our Christian brothers and sisters; and we may accept that association until we find out just how different some of their doctrines are from ours, their sometimes divergent views of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, how they worship, and more. What happens many times is then we have doubts about their faith or whether they can even rightfully be called “Christian”.

But perhaps what is as troubling is that the part of the make-up of these bubbles we all exist in that defines our faith has also resulted in most Believers not being aware or educated in the actual beginnings of our faith as presented first in the Old Testament and later in the Gospel accounts; a Jewish faith, on account of one very special Jew (Yeshua, Jesus), within the backdrop of the Jewish religion as it existed in the 1st century. It is within this context and mindset that John writes and his visions from the Lord are tailored. It is not the easiest context to access or understand for gentile Believers of all eras past or present. The farther in time we live and go forth from those amazing days of the New Testament authors, the challenge becomes greater and perhaps more complex. Yet without interpreting God’s Word in the proper context, the door opens wide to a large variety of interpretations and doctrines. Common sense says that since there are this many interpretations and doctrines and that they vary so greatly they can’t all be right. How do we discover the truth? Sometimes it feels like searching for a needle in a haystack doesn’t it?

In this case is it necessary to know about all the many branches of Christianity in order for us to have a firm and proper faith? Maybe not all but enough at time to get the jist. Nonetheless just as we have gained from learning about the Torah and the Old Testament, and that they are anything but a threat to our faith in the salvation that Christ offers. Actually the OT makes us appreciate what He did for us and why, all the more. Perhaps in that same way there are some other wonderful, faith-strengthening truths that reside just outside these bubbles we have inhabited for so long. We need to in a way understand this in order to approach revelation as we go forward and deeper in this study

There are vast complexities in the book of revelation as you can already tell.

Some of the reason is that it was written within the construct of the ancient Jewish faith, mindset and culture of the 1st century A.D., BUT it is handed down to us in Greek manuscripts that are then translated into English (which complicates the issue of communicating Jewish thought when translated outside a jewish construct).

Therefore we are going to discuss some underlying elements of Revelation that are  based on Jewish thought and culture and can easily be (and have been) overlooked and misconstrued. The hope is it will go even further than giving a better understanding of revelation BUT of the new testament in general.

One example is discussing the crucial passage in Daniel 7 that is alluded to by John in Revelation 1:7 and 1:13, which speaks about “the one like a son of man” coming in the clouds. This will be a good example of what I just spoke of

What does Daniel mean by “son of man”? What did “son of man” mean to Jews in Christ’s era? Because John is writing within this context. since Yeshua regularly used “son of man” as a title for Himself, what did He truly mean by it? If you studied the Book of Daniel you may know this already If not, this will be entirely new to you. We will try and go another layer with this.

The most prevalent and perhaps influential Christian doctrines of our day say that the title Son of God refers to Christ’s divine nature, while the title Son of Man refers to His humanness. That is clearly not what the Scriptures says or means. In Old Testament times it was believed (and the Scriptures say) that the Lord adopted each Israelite King as His own son (mostly from a spiritual standpoint, but in a real way nonetheless). We get a straightforward example of this adoption as God spoke to David about the issue of David not being allowed to go forth with construction of a Temple for the Lord. Instead David’s son Solomon would.

1 Chronicles 28:6: CJB 6 "Moreover, He (God) said to me, 'David (Shlomo) your son will build my house and courtyards, for I have chosen him to be a son to me, and I will be a father to him

  NKJV Now He said to me, ‘It is your son Solomon who shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his Father.

 

the idea of a King of Israel being God’s adopted son (Son of God), was at this point in history establishing a very close bond between the earthly, entirely human, ruling King of Israel and God Almighty, Yahweh. This king is not divine, he is not God (In fact in other cultures like the Egyptian culture they took is way too far in the opposite direction believing their very human king/pharaoh was a god), but he, the king, is raised up by God to rule over His people and given special attentiveness, like a shepherd which David was long before he was made King, wisdom, and protection. This adoptive father/son relationship between the God of Israel and an Israelite king was primarily aimed at kings who came from the authorized line of kings which was the line of David.  This was the Line the messiah, Jesus, would come through on earth.

So, now lets take this new found knowledge and apply it in the new testament:

The opening words of The Gospel of Mark are: CJB Mark 1:1 The beginning of the Good News of Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of God. 

The term “son of God” is meant to communicate that Jesus, Yeshua is the long awaited Davidic king; it is not meant to reference Yeshua’s divine nature at that point. Now by no means does this mean that Mark did not think that Jesus was divine.

Now the term “the Son of God” coupled with the term Messiah (Mashiach) had a well established, well understood and culturally specific meaning to the Jewish people otherwise many may of not recognized who Jesus truly was. It spoke of the Jews’ long anticipated expectation for not just any Hebrew who might be king, but of a Davidic King to once again appear. So naturally these  familiar terms for that culture are what Mark uses to convey to his Jewish readers that Yeshua of Nazareth is not only the anointed one, the Messiah, but as Son of God, He is also from the line of David which had to be prophetically fulfilled with Jesus coming to earth. So the term Son of God actually refers to the human nature of Yeshua and not His divine. This needed to be identified this way to signal to the Jewish people that their Messiah, the King of the Jews, had arrived on the scene.

And at the Jordan river when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist

Mark 1:9-11 It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And immediately, coming up [a]from the water, He saw the heavens [b]parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

The Lord God was solidifying that as the Messiah Jesus is His Son, as he adopted other kings as His son in the line of David. So the Lord was proclaiming Jesus as such, His One and ONLY Son, John 3:16. However what this also did, the baptism, the Lord saying this was His beloved son, also then made Jesus High priest in the order of Melchizedek, another fulfillment of prophecy. This was the genesis 14 teaching

Now the “like  the son of man”

With that let’s deal directly about the “one like a Son of Man” in Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7. In verse 13 Daniel speaks of two distinguishable divine figures: The Ancient One and the “One like a Son of Man”. It must be understood that the original Aramaic this was written in says bar-enash, which correlates directly to the Hebrew word bene-adam, which both mean human being.

In Daniel’s vision when he sees this individual “like a Son” of Man come on the clouds from heaven, and in verse 14 it says that the Ancient One, who is God the Father, is giving him, Yeshua, rulership, glory and a kingdom over all the inhabitants of the earth. When Daniel sees a human being coming on the clouds, however, Daniel knows this figure cannot be a human being, so he writes “One LIKE a Son of Man”; or better “One LIKE a human being”.

Daniel was given a vision of a future divine/human Messiah, but he didn’t realize it. However, A new theological concept was born here in Daniel in Israelite/Jewish religious understanding; the theological concept of a human-appearing deity, who is given the title of the Son of Man, who is directly associated with the God of Israel.

 

This Figure is human, but in some unexplainable way he is also divine. He will come in clouds, this is clear as well. He will occupy a throne, in Heaven, right next to God the Father, the Ancient of Days. The Ancient of Days delegates dominion and authority over the entire planet of earth, and over everyone, this amazing Son of Man. These attributes that we find of the Son of Man concept in Daniel 7 we find in Jesus Christ of Nazareth. So what we learn is that, ironically, it is the Son of Man idea and the claim of Yeshua, that He is that Son of Man, that identifies Him as divine. This will now better help you further understand the gospels and why Jesus indeed said these terms on many occasions.

 

Ok On To Chapter 2…

The first thing we need to know is there is a general pattern these letters to these 7 congregations follow:

1.   A greeting “to the angel of the church in..”

2.   A title of the risen Christ that appears to be taken from the description in chapter 1

3.   A section we will title “I Know” which gives praise for what is good in the congregation’s record,. What they are doing right

4.   A criticism of the congregation

5.   A warning

6.   A encouragement beginning with “he who has an ear..”

7.   A promise that begins something like “to him who overcomes I will give..”

 

Now in the last 4 letters the order of 6 and 7 are reversed. So the promise comes first, then the encouragement

 

Now in the last study we covered something called a chiasm which is a literary technique. This is how chiasm is at play with the writing of these 7 congreagations:

Churches 1 and 7, so the first and the last, are in grave danger. So they suffer from the same spiritual condition

Congregations 2 and 6 are in great shape

Congregations 3,4,5 the middle, are teetering for they are neither really good nor really bad. Perhaps we would call these churches lukewarm!

 

The first congregation in chapter two is Ephesus. It was the most important of the seven cities. Though Pergamum was said to be the official capital of the province of Asia, Ephesus by far was its greatest city

It was a town where there were sitting judges to rule on matters

Acts 19:38 speaks of this: 38 Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a [a]case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another.

when a magistrate took up his appointment he had to go to his province at Ephesus

Ephesus was near the mouth of the river Cayster and a hub of a commercial center. The road from the Euphrates river and various valleys all ended and met at Ephesus

Ephesus was bustling with all sorts of religious activities

The chief cult of Artemis: in Greek religion, the goddess of wild animals, the hunt, and vegetation and of chastity 

The city had a prized status of temple sweeper: one consecrated to the service of the goddess

The great temple of this false goddess was one of the seven wonders of the world

However, there was a BIG problem with the spiritual culture of that city. Religion and magic were very intermingled. Magical arts were very popular amongst the people

 

Acts 19:19 19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.

 

Ephesian letters were considered charms widely regarded to cure sickeness and bring luck. Is this beginning to sound familiar at ALL to today? IE harry potter and faith, “Christian witches”

 

Now Paul spent over 3 years in Ephesus helping the church get established. You could imagine with that city saturated in such occultic practices it took some determination to get the church up and running. Timothy also spent time in Ephesus

 

So the greeting is to the angel at the church of Ephesus BUT the letter is addressed to that congregation. This message is very serious as it comes from Jesus Christ himself, who was holding the seven stars in his right hand, Revelation 1:16.

 

This was meant to give an effect that Christ himself as being present in the midst of the congregations. This is a Christ was is very concerned for them and cares for them and their spiritual condition

 

Jesus Christ, the exalted Christ, it is clear He KNOWS what is happening amongst His people. He selects three things:

 

1.     Their deeds

2.     Their hard work

3.     Their perseverance

 

There is something pointed out here. That the Ephesians are very zealous in their inability to tolerate wicked men. The scriptures say the Ephesians tested out men who claimed to be apostles and exposed them for what they were, false.

Paul had warned that savage wolves would come to trouble the Ephesian church

Acts 20:29 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. The Ephesians did not take their faith lightly, they were zealous that is clear. It was very demanding on them and they worked very hard amongst that climate to be followers of Christ

 

Reference materials:

Brittanica.com

Biblegateway.com

            Biblehub.com

            Torah Class, revelation

            Revelation by leon morris

            Wikipedia

            Gotquestions.org

 

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