Week # 5
Part III Week 5, 6, 7, and 8
The Book of Revelation:
Sometimes during the apostle John's lonely exile on the tiny island of Patmos, the risen, glorified Jesus Christ appeared to His beloved disciple in all His glory; white head and hair, eyes of fire, feet of brass, a voice "as the sound of many waters . . . and His countenance was like the sun shining in it strength" (Revelation 1:14-16). John's reaction was understandable. He wrote: "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead" (1:7). The Lord's assignment for John sounded simple enough: "Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this" (1:19). The apostle could not have imagined, however, the impact those "things" would have on every Christian's understanding of the future. These were "words of . . . prophecy" (1:3); 22:7), meaning they foretold the future and offered exhortations about those events-what Jesus described as "the things which will take place after this."
The apocalyptic imagery of Revelation must have utterly overwhelmed John at times, based as it was on fantastic symbols and images. John was compelled to use words to write down the revelation, but received it primarily in pictures-we can only imagine a sky-size, three-dimensional, high definition viewing.
John is considered to be exiled to Patmos, undergoing a time of persecution under the Roman rule of Domitian. Revelation 1:9 states: "I, John, both your brother and companion in tribulation... was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. The Apostle John was exiled to the prison island of Patmos because he wouldn't stop preaching the Gospel,
Early tradition says that John was banished to Patmos by the Roman authorities. This tradition is credible because banishment was a common punishment used during the Imperial period for a number of offenses. Among such offenses were the practices of magic and astrology. Prophecy was viewed by the Romans as belonging to the same category, whether Pagan, Jewish, or Christian. Prophecy with political implications, like that expressed by John in the book of Revelation, would have been perceived as a threat to Roman political power and order.
There were many others who were exiled as the Apostle John, such as Daniel, Moses, Ezekiel, and Lucifer (Satan) himself.
This is the era of our time in chapter 2-3, the church age. Beginning of the church age was the death of Christ (Luke 23:46); Burial of Christ (Luke 23:50-54); Resurrection of Christ (Matthew 28:1-10), and the descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-5).
The Seven Churches:
Let's talk about the seven churches. While in exile the Apostle John wrote seven letters to the seven churches.
The seven churches described in are seven literal churches at the time that John the apostle was writing Revelation. Though they were literal churches in that time, there is also spiritual significance for churches and believers today. The first purpose of the letters was to communicate with the literal churches and meet their needs at that time. The second purpose is to reveal seven different types of individuals/churches throughout history and instruct them in God's truth.
A possible third purpose is to use the seven churches to foreshadow seven different periods in the history of the Church. The problem with this view is that each of the seven churches describes issues that could fit the Church in any time in its history. So, although there may be some truth to the seven churches representing seven eras, there is far too much speculation in this regard. Our focus should be on what message God is giving us through the seven churches. The seven churches are…….
(1) () - the church that had forsaken its first love (2:4).
(2) () - the church that would suffer persecution (2:10).
(3) () - the church that needed to repent (2:16).
(4) () - the church that had a false prophetess (2:20).
(5) () - the church that had fallen asleep (3:2).
(6 ) : () - the church that had endured patiently (3:10).
(7) () - the church with the lukewarm faith (3:16).
The Rapture: Jesus comes for the Church:
The word does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning "a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away." The concept of the "carrying off" or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.
The rapture of the church is the event in which God "snatches away" all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. The rapture is described primarily in , and . God will resurrect all believers who have died, give them glorified bodies, and take them from the earth, along with all living believers, who will also be given glorified bodies at that time. "For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever" ().
The rapture will involve an instantaneous transformation of our bodies to fit us for eternity. "We know that when he [Christ] appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (). The rapture is to be distinguished from the second coming. At the rapture, the Lord comes "in the clouds" to meet us "in the air" (). At the second coming, the Lord descends all the way to the earth to stand on the Mount of Olives, resulting in a great earthquake followed by a defeat of God's enemies ().
The doctrine of the rapture was not taught in the Old Testament, which is why Paul calls it a "mystery" now revealed: "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed" ().
The rapture of the church is a glorious event we should all be longing for. We will finally be free from sin. We will be in God's presence forever. There is far too much debate over the meaning and scope of the rapture. This is not God's intent. Rather, the rapture should be a comforting doctrine full of hope; God wants us to "encourage each other with these words" ().The timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation is one of the most controversial issues in the church today. The three primary views are pre-tribulation (the rapture occurs before the tribulation), mid-tribulation (the rapture occurs at or near the mid-point of the tribulation), and post-tribulation (the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation). A fourth view, commonly known as pre-wrath, is a slight modification of the mid-tribulation position.
First, it is important to recognize the purpose of the tribulation. According to (), there is a seventieth "seven" (seven years) that is still yet to come. Daniel's entire prophecy of the seventy sevens () is speaking of the nation of Israel. It is a time period in which God focuses His attention especially on Israel. The seventieth seven, the tribulation, must also be a time when God deals specifically with Israel. While this does not necessarily indicate that the church could not also be present, it does bring into question why the church would need to be on the earth during that time.
The primary Scripture passage on the rapture is . It states that all living believers, along with all believers who have died, will meet the Lord Jesus in the air and will be with Him forever. The rapture is God's removing His people from the earth. A few verses later, in , Paul says, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." The book of Revelation, which deals primarily with the time period of the tribulation, is a prophetic message of how God will pour out His wrath upon the earth during the tribulation. It seems inconsistent for God to promise believers that they will not suffer wrath and then leave them on the earth to suffer through the wrath of the tribulation. The fact that God promises to deliver Christians from wrath shortly after promising to remove His people from the earth seems to link those two events together.
Another crucial passage on the timing of the rapture is , in which Christ promises to deliver believers from the "hour of trial" that is going to come upon the earth. This could mean two things. Either Christ will protect believers in the midst of the trials, or He will deliver believers out of the trials. Both are valid meanings of the Greek word translated "from." However, it is important to recognize what believers are promised to be kept from. It is not just the trial, but the "hour" of trial. Christ is promising to keep believers from the very time period that contains the trials, namely the tribulation. The purpose of the tribulation, the purpose of the rapture, the meaning of , and the interpretation of all give clear support to the pre-tribulation position. If the Bible is interpreted literally and consistently, the pre-tribulation position is the most biblically-based interpretation.
The rapture and the second coming of Christ are often confused. Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a scripture verse is referring to the rapture or the second coming. However, in studying end-times Bible prophecy, it is very important to differentiate between the two.
The rapture is when Jesus Christ returns to remove the church (all believers in Christ) from the earth. The rapture is described in and . Believers who have died will have their bodies resurrected and, along with believers who are still living, will meet the Lord in the air. This will all occur in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. The second coming is when Jesus returns to defeat the Antichrist, destroy evil, and establish His millennial kingdom. The second coming is described in .
1) At the rapture, believers meet the Lord in the air (). At the second coming, believers return with the Lord to the earth ().
2) The second coming occurs after the great and terrible tribulation (Revelation chapters 6–1). The rapture occurs before the tribulation (; ).
3) The rapture is the removal of believers from the earth as an act of deliverance (; ). The second coming includes the removal of unbelievers as an act of judgment ().
4) The rapture will be secret and instant (). The second coming will be visible to all (; ).
5) The second coming of Christ will not occur until after certain other end-times events take place (;; Revelation chapters 6–18). The rapture is imminent; it could take place at any moment (;; ).
1) If the rapture and the second coming are the same event, believers will have to go through the tribulation (; ).
2) If the rapture and the second coming are the same event, the return of Christ is not imminent—there are many things which must occur before He can return ().
3) In describing the tribulation period, Revelation chapters 6–19 nowhere mentions the church. During the tribulation—also called "the time of trouble for Jacob" ()—God will again turn His primary attention to Israel ().
The rapture and second coming are similar but separate events. Both involve Jesus returning. Both are end-times events. However, it is crucially important to recognize the differences. In summary, the rapture is the return of Christ in the clouds to remove all believers from the earth before the time of God's wrath. The second coming is the return of Christ to the earth to bring the tribulation to an end and to defeat the Antichrist and his evil world empire.
DID YOU KNOW?
Patmos is a very small island on the Aegean Sea approximately 60 miles southwest of the site of ancient Ephesus, off the west coast of Turkey. Today the island's population is around 3,000. Visitors to the island can see a cave designated by tradition as the place where John received his revelation. There are several monasteries on the island dedicated to the veneration of the apostle John. In a 2009 survey of "Europe's Most Idyllic Places to Live," the Greek island of Patmos was ranked number one because of its "air of quiet tranquility"-quite the contrast to its use by the Romans as a place of punishment for exiles like the apostle John.
QUESTION: WEEK # 5
1. There are many Johns in the Bible which one was this John?
2. Why was John on the island of Patmos, and who sent him there?
3. What do the word exile means?
4. Explain each person beside John that was exiled in the Bible.
5. Why did Apostle John write to the seven churches?
6. Name each church spoken of in (Revelation 2:1-3:14-22).
7. Does Jesus come to earth during the rapture?
8. The rapture is described primarily in what scriptures?
9. During the Second Coming, the Lord descends all the way earth and stand where?
10. What is the difference between the rapture and the Second Coming?
11. Who will be resurrected at the rapture?
12. Will the Church be on earth during the Tribulation period?
13. What is post-tribulation period?
14. What is pre-tribulation period?
15. What will Jesus do when He return at the Second Coming?
16. Why is it important to keep the rapture and the Second Coming distinct?
17. What do the word rapture means?
Heavenly Father, I confess that I have sinned against You and need Your salvation. Please forgive me. I believe Jesus died for my sins and rose from the dead. I receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, fully trusting in the work He accomplished on the cross on my behalf. Thank You for saving me, accepting me, and adopting me into Your family. Guide my life and help me to do your will, and walk in close step with You, amen.
In your name, Amen:
Reading Assignment: Week # 5 Revelation 1-7 Monday through Sunday