Q – I am totally enjoying the eschatology series.
Jim – I’m glad. I find it to be very engaging material, and I figure it’s in the Bible for a good reason, so we certainly ought to take the time to explore it.
Q – Anyway, I was listening to tape E-6 and you mentioned something about the Catholic Church having something to do with seven hills, which is Roma, and my brain just stopped at that and I went searching around for more information.
So…I used my trusty website crawler to search Revelation for ‘seven hills’ and what I got was a reference to Revelation 17:9. KJV says ‘seven mountains’…and from what commentary I could find it seems most everyone is in agreement that this beast is Roman, or derives its power from Rome, or is actually physically located somewhere near Rome.
Matthew Henry even went so far as to say that Rome had certain types of governmental offices, seven in all, the last two of which were a ‘non-Christian Emperor and a Christian Emperor’ and then went on to talk about how the Christian Emperor had not yet appeared on the scene of world. Duh.
Jim – Okay, too much exposition on the part of commentators. They love to ride roughshod over these scriptures and start imposing things onto the imagery that the symbols don’t necessarily reflect. So, let’s look at Rev. 17:9 more closely.
We have to back up so we’re up to speed when we hit it. In Chapter 13, John stood upon the sand of the sea – a symbol of all the people of earth, in accordance with Abraham’s promise that his seed would be as plentiful as the stars of heaven and the sands of sea – and saw a beast rise up which had seven heads and ten horns, and upon the horns were ten crowns. And, upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
The beast appeared bodily as a leopard. We know from our study in Daniel that the leopard was a symbol of the Grecian Empire, and its first king, Alexander the Great. The beast had the feet of a bear. Daniel identified the bear, lifted up on one side, as the Medo-Persian Empire, and the two kings, Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian. The beast had the mouth a lion, which Daniel identified as the Kingdom of Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar.
I take that to mean that the last beast, the ‘little horn,’ the antichrist figure, will be the embodiment of Alexander. He will stand in the area of Medo-Persia (Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, Assyria, Trans-Jordan). But, he will speak from Babylon. That’s important. His message will be Babylonish at its core. The beast is empowered by the dragon, an obvious allusion to Satan, who gives him a place of power and great authority – being, after all, the prince of the power of the air, who also offered Christ all the kingdoms of the Earth if Christ would worship him (Mat. 4:8-9).
Now, many people get the next bit of imagery wrong. They say that the scarlet covered beast of Rev. 17 is the same as this beast. Therefore, they talk about the wounding of one of the dragon’s heads. I’ve even see artistic representations of a seven headed dragon with a wounded head. But, that’s wrong.
Rev. 13:1 says that the leopard/bear/lion beast had seven heads (v.1), ten horns and ten crowns. The scarlet colored beast of Rev. 17 has seven heads and ten horns, but no crowns. In Rev. 13:3, one the seven lion heads is wounded to death, but his deadly wound is healed. These seven lion heads are most easily interpreted as the seven ruling spiritual “heads” – or demonic powers – who oppressed Israel. One of those demonic powers is cut down as though he were dead. I believe that directly parallels what we just studied about the ram and he-goat (Daniel 8). Daniel identified the ram with two horns as the kings of Medo-Persia, and the he-goat with one notable horn as the first king of Grecia, Alexander. But, just as the he-goat was at the zenith of his power, his horn – the symbol of power – was broken off. That’s the deadly wound that was suffered by one of the heads.
But, the wound is healed and that same head rises to power again. The apostle John is going to help us understand that in chapter 17. But, Rev. 13:3-4 tell us that when this wounded head returns to power the whole world will wonder after him and worship the dragon that empowers the beast. In verse 5, his Babylonish mouth speaks great blasphemies and he has power for forty-two months; three and a half years.
But, very importantly, this wounded head rise out of the “bottomless pit,” or the Greek “abussos,” from which we get “abyss.” This is not an earthly ruler who gets shot and recovers. If it were, in fact, an earthly person, he would have to pre-exist the Apostle John, and have a deadly wound for 2,000 years, and then rise from the abyss. That’s a bit much to ask of anyone.
Rev. 17:8 is part of an angelic interpretation of the scarlet beast –
“The beast that thou sawest was [before John’s time], and is not [during John’s time], and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition; and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was [before John], and is not [during John’s time] and yet is [after John’s time].”
The scarlet beast on which the woman rides is, itself, the last world ruler, who is empowered by the dragon, comes out of the abyss, begins his work of perdition, and everyone dwelling on earth wonders at him. He existed before John’s time – the time of Roman Empire – he was in the abyss during John’s time, as though wounded to death, and will rise out the abyss like a resurrection, his deadly wound suddenly healed.
A little side note: Notice that the whole world wonders at him, except those whose names are written in the book of life from the foundations of the world (there’s election!). Why? Why don’t those people worship him? Why aren’t they counted among those “that dwell on the earth? Because they’ve already been taken out of the earth. Their names in the book guaranteed their exit before the perdition. Keen, eh?
Notice the structure of John’s sentence – those who dwell on the earth at the time of beast’s arising are the people “whose names were not written in the book of life…” Only those not written remain behind, despite Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” theories. But, you have to accept Sovereign election to be able to grasp what John proclaimed. Tim is still struggling with that. Besides, Tim has forgotten to study his Israelology.
Meanwhile, John said the exact same thing back in Chapter 13 verses 7-8 (so there’s adequate witness for you) –
“And it was given unto him to make war with the [Jewish] saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations [the rest of the non-Israelitish world]. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear.”
The people that are left are not written in the book. It couldn’t be any clearer. And, there will not be a mass conversion of Gentiles after the beast comes to power. No new names are being written into the book. It was written “from the foundation of the world.” God decreed in advance who His elect were. That may seem harsh and exclusionary, but it’s also unavoidable if you take Scripture at face value and let the original author’s language direct your thinking.
Anyway, Rev. 13:11 tells us that John saw another beast coming up out of the earth that had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He looks Christian, but he speaks Satan’s theology.
“Now the spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (1 Tim. 4:1-2)
Rev. 13:12 tells us that the lamb figure, the false prophet, exercises the same type of power as the beast. The dragon drives them both. He is the one who causes everyone on the earth to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He does miracles, calling down fire from the sky. He is the one who inspires the people to erect an image to the beast. He even has the power to give life to the image so it will speak, causing people to worship the image or be killed – just as in Nebuchadnezzar’s time. It is this false prophet that causes everyone to take the mark in their right hand or forehead.
So, the alliance of this great political leader and the miraculous religious leader completes the evil trinity – the dragon, his son the beast, and the spiritual leader, the false prophet.
Okay, now jump over to Chapter 17. The seven angels have poured out the seven vials of God’s wrath. Plagues have overtaken the earth. Earthquakes have rocked and crumbled the great cities of the earth. Then, Babylon itself came into God’s remembrance, and He determined to give her the cup of his fierce wrath (Rev. 16:19).
So, chapter 17 begins with God pouring out His wrath over Babylon – the city, the history, the religious system. It’s called –
“… the great whore that sitteth upon many waters. With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (17: 1b-2)
Verse 3 shows John a woman upon the scarlet-colored beast, full of the names of blasphemy, with seven heads and ten horns. She is arrayed in splendor, and has a golden cup in her hand, full of the abominations and filthiness of her fornications. On her head is written, “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” She is drunk with the blood of saints and the martyrs of Jesus.
Now, this is an intensely interesting image. John would have recognized this image. She is Venus, or Semirimus, or Ishtar. But, she’s also known as Nemesis, the goddess of revenge. Here’s a good quote concerning her –
“While this is the inference naturally to be deduced from the words of Pausanias, we find it confirmed by an express statement of Photius, speaking of the statue of Rhamnusian Nemesis: ‘She was at first erected in the form of Venus, and therefore bore also the branch of an apple tree.’–(PHOTII, Lexicon, pars. ii. p. 482.) Though a goddess of love and a goddess of revenge might seem very remote in their characters from one another, yet it is not difficult to see how this must have come about. The goddess who was revealed to the initiated in the Mysteries, in the most alluring manner, was also known to be most unmerciful and unrelenting in taking vengeance upon those who revealed these Mysteries; for every such one who was discovered was unsparingly put to death. – (POTTER’S Antiquities, vol. i., “Eleusinia,” p. 354.) Thus, then, the cup-bearing goddess was at once Venus, the goddess of licentiousness, and Nemesis, the stern and unmerciful one to all who rebelled against her authority. How remarkable a type of the woman, whom John saw, described in one aspect as the “Mother of harlots,” and in another as “Drunken with the blood of the saints.”!
Historically, Semirimus/Venus, the mother of God, the queen of Heaven, is always depicted with a branch in one hand and a golden chalice in the other.
So, in verse 7, the angel explains the image. And, verse 8 is quoted above. Verse 9, then (the actual topic of this minor treatise) says,
“And, here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth. And, there are seven kings: five are fallen [prior to John], and one is [during John’s time], and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh he must continue a short space.”
So, this must mean, first and foremost, that the seven heads on the scarlet beast represent seven kings/kingdoms – Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome (the one contemporary with John) and the one to come. Then, verse 11 says,
“And, the beast that was [prior to John’s time], and is not [during John’s time] even he is the eighth, and is of the seven and goes into perdition.”
So, the lion/leopard/bear beast, the one with the wounded/healed head, who comes from the bottomless pit to go into perdition, is part of these seven kings/kingdoms. He is the demonic power that will possess the scarlet beast’s seventh king.
I’ll put in plainer language. Seven demonic kingdoms are slated to rule over God’s people, Israel. Five had gone by during John’s time of writing – AD 92 – one was current with him (Rome) and one was to come. It hasn’t arrived yet. Each of these kingdoms was driven by demonic power in high places. But, one of the demonic entities that ruled prior to John’s time was cut off cataclysmically and bound into the abyss. When the seventh world ruler rises up and takes power, the beast that was cast into the pit will arise and possess this ruler, infusing him with a conquering ability unknown since the days of Alexander.
So, the seven mountains are easily interpreted as seven kings (17:10). But, the whore is said to sit on many waters and to commit fornication with the kings of the earth. So, she is above any single government and her influence is spread worldwide. And, the people of the earth have been placed in a spiritual stupor, like drunkenness, because of her fornications. Now, all through the Old Testament, God likens the worship of other gods to fornication. That’s why the true church is called a chaste virgin (2 Cor. 11:2). So, this woman represents a religious system that harkens back to Babylon, which fornicates with kings and world leaders, and has led the unsaved inhabitants of the earth into her wicked system. She’s wealthy and dressed with precious stones and pearls. But, in her golden cup are the abominations of her religion and blood of saints and martyrs.
Now, “saints” in verse 6 is a reference to Jewish saints, as contrasted to the martyrs of Jesus. So, she is responsible for the blood of Jews and Christians. And, lastly, in Chapter 18, she is identified as “that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” In 18:2-3 she is identified as Babylon. In verse 4, God’s people, Israel, are beckoned out of her so they will not fall under her plagues. Verses 5-24 describe her ultimate destruction.
There’s only one religious system on planet earth, here in these times, that has ruled over the kings of the earth and which took its traditions and worship from Babylon. And, that’s the Catholic Church. It’s practically axiomatic. For the last 2,000 years, no other church that has identified itself as genuinely Christian (the Mormons aside) has led as many people astray as the Catholic Church.
So, I’m willing to say that if Christ were to return today, there is no other organized entity on earth that fits the bill. Only the far-reaching, historic Catholic Papacy provides a suitable throne for the false prophet. And, he will teach the people the ultimate false worship, when he causes every person on earth to worship the beast.
So, what about the “seven hills”? I think that was your question, right?
The Greek word “oros,” translated “mountains” in Rev. 17:9, is used in Acts 1:12 to describe the hill districts, as distinct from the lowlands, above the Sea of Galilee. So, some translations, like the NIV, translate it as “seven hills.”
It’s more than convenient that the woman is identified as a city and that she is seated on seven hills. The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “It is within the city of Rome, called the city of seven hills, that the entire area of Vatican State proper is now confined.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, Thomas Nelson, 1976, s.v. “Rome”).
As well, the woman is said to have the word “Mystery” on her forehead, and up until the time of the Reformation – when the popes were being called the Antichrist – the word “mystery” was inscribed on the miter, so that the pope himself wore the word in his forehead.
“It is very remarkable what has been observed by some, that the word “mystery” was formerly upon the frontlet of the pope’s mitre, and was removed by Pope Julius the Third, when it was observed that the Protestants made use of this passage of Scripture, and applied it to the Romish antichrist. Joseph Scaliger affirms that he saw mitres at Rome with this inscription on them.” www.freegrace.net/gill/Revelation/Revelation_17.htm
I’ve included the freegrace we address to supply the source of this quote; but I cannot suggest that you read Gill on Revelation. He is reformed, but he’s very historicist/amil. His teaching on reformation theology is solid, but we differ eschatologically – as you might imagine.
Another interesting quote –
“The Church took most of its features from pagan mystery religions: vestments, pomp, ritual, mitre, wafer. When Western fundamentalist Christians try to argue that the Church took nothing from the mystery religions, they are not only arguing against sceptics and atheists, they are arguing also against the millions of protestant Christians whose protest was precisely that the Roman Church had adopted pagan practices.
The Vatican Hill in Rome considered sacred to Peter was previously sacred to Mithras. The cave of the Vatican was a Mithraeum until December 25, 376 AD, the birthday of the sun god, when a city prefect suppressed Mithraism and seized the grotto in the name of Christ. Mithraic artifacts found there were taken over by the Church. Why is the Pope’s crown called a tiara, a Persian headdress? The head of the Mithraic faith was the Pater Patrum, the Father of Fathers, who sat in Rome. The head of the Christian faith was the Papa or Father-the Pope-who subsequently sat in the same seat in Rome!
In the fourth century Constantine effectively merged Mithraism with Christianity and the other solar cults of the Empire under the control of the Christian bishops. Patriarchal pagan purists as well as worshippers of Isis defied official syncretism for a few hundred more years but after the beginning of the fifth century, the bishops were confident enough to purge pagan religions.”
This author of that quote was actually trying to prove that the worship of Mithras was transformed into Christianity, as an argument against the credibility of Christ. But, his historic point is well taken, even if his conclusion is errant.
So, my point in all this is that it is nearly impossible to miss the Catholic connection to this Revelation imagery. Surely, this woman, identified as a city, and called Babylon, is representative of the historic Roman church. That’s just too hard to ignore.
Q – So, I’m jumping ahead in our study, but is Revelation 17 referring to the Catholic Church? I know it’s not a simple question, but I would also like to know how she is drunk with the blood of the saints.
Jim – Well, I hope that I’ve addressed most of your questions. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it whenever we reach that part of Revelation…if the Lord tarries that long. And, you’re forgiven for jumping ahead.
She is drunk with the blood of “saints,” the “hagios,” the “set aside” people – a Jewish reference considering the overall context – and the blood of Jesus’ martyrs because the kings who followed after Babylonian mystery religion caused the systematic destruction of Israel, and the Roman Church has always been at war with the protestant, reformed – what we would consider the “true” – Church. What do you think the Crusades and the Inquisition were all about? Or, even Hitler, for that matter?
The leading cause of death in this world has been religion run amuck.
Q – Okay, another question. Considering what you said above about everyone left on earth during the tribulation being not written in the book of life, I’m a little confused on this one. I thought that the beast was given power to ‘make war against the saints’ and that the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation 7 and 14 are Jews saved out of the tribulation, as are the multitudes marked and mentioned in Revelation 7 (esp. vv 3, 9, 14 – it says ‘they are those who have come out of the great tribulation’). ?
Jim – You are essentially correct in your logic. We just have to arrange the details properly, which may have been my problem more than yours. 🙂
There’s plenty of debate about the 144,000. I think much of the debate is gratuitous and unnecessary. The apostle John, the author of Revelation, was himself a Jew and an elder of the Jerusalem Church, though he also served at Ephesus. When he identified the 144,000 as “of all the tribes of the children of Israel,” that was very, very specific language; so specific, in fact, that there should be no debate whatsoever. But, the creeping amillennialism of the modern church has infiltrated that verse and gone so far as to say that the 144,000 represent the Church, the “true Israel.” But, John – in an effort to avoid any such confusion – took the time to spell out 12,000 from each of the tribes of Israel. He included both of Joseph’s offspring, Ephraim and Manasseh (which is incredibly significant, considering that they continue to carry the Abrahamic promise of inheritance) and he omitted Dan, which has caused a string of debates.
But, if John was striving to say anything at all, he was absolutely didactic about the fact that this group of people was comprised of 144,000 Israelites. I like Zodhiates’ summary of Rev. 7:1-17, so I’ll quote him.
This section contains the parenthetical portion between the sixth and seventh seals mentioning two distinct groups: (1) The 144,000, which are sealed, are from the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. This does not mean that the number of Israelites who will be saved will be limited to 144,000. Rather, it refers to the 12,000 out of each tribe who are sealed from the wrath of Satan and the antichrist. These are called “the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb (Rev. 14:4). (2) A great multitude, without naming the exact number from all nations as distinct from the nation of Israel, will also be saved. These are described as “they that have come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (v.14).
Notice the distinctions between these groups. The 144,000 are on the earth (v.1 and 3), but the great multitude is before the throne, in white robes, crying praises to God (v.9-10). When one of the elders tells John about the great multitude, he describes them as,
“These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
That’s the Church. They’ve been taken out of the earth, raptured “out of” great tribulation. The language here does not require that they be any part of the tribulation, only that they be taken out of it, or escape it. That’s why the Church is caught away prior to the Beast being revealed in the earth. Notice that the tribulation is still happening on earth, the angel has just sealed the 144,000 Israelites to protect them from harm, but the multitude is already wearing the robes they received at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (19:8). In fact, when Jesus returns at the end of the seventieth week, we accompany Him, wearing these self-same robes (19:14). The language is so similar in all these instances that it’s near impossible to ignore.
Now, as far as the beast making war with the “saints,” compare these two verses:
“And, it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and power was given him over all kindreds and tongues and nations.” (Rev. 13:7)
“I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” (Dan. 7:21-22)
John’s language is identical to Daniel’s language. Now, who are Daniel’s “saints”? They are Israel, Daniel’s people. Likewise, the saints in Rev. 13:7 are Israel. This is made even plainer by the contrast between the saints and “all kindreds and tongues and nations,” as opposed to Israel alone.
So, don’t let the “saints” language confuse you. That’s a trick of the interpreters who are determined to put the Church in the tribulation. But, they’re ignoring John’s perspective and use of language.
So, to summarize so far, we have 144,000 Israelites who are called the first fruits unto God and the Lamb. The first fruit offering (a distinctly Hebrew offering, by the way), was sacrificed to God for God’s glory. The 144,000 are the first Israelites miraculously saved by God’s intervention out of the scattered nations. They are truly the “first fruits,” marked and sealed, and taken up to Heaven – apparently en masse – beginning God’s promise to gather, convert and save national Israel.
But, the 144,000 are distinct from the great multitude that is in Heaven at that time, from every nation, kindred, people and tribe. They are already worshipping while God is dealing with earthly Israel.
Q – And, in Revelation 20 at the last judgment, v. 15 says ‘whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.’ Don’t the Jewish saints the beast makes war against have to be written in the book of life as well?
Jim – Yes, they do. And, Daniel said they would be.
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And, many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Dan. 12:1-2)
We should not confuse being written in the book with being in the Church – although I can see where my previous statement would have sounded like that. Every saved person, Jew or Gentile, is in the book. But, only the Church is raptured away, ending the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24, Rom. 11:25). The saints of Israel are protected, either by a marking and sealing, or by escaping to three areas into which God will not let the Beast encroach – Moab, Edom and Ammon (Dan. 11:41).
And, as the 1,000 years begin, there is a resurrection to life (Rev. 20:4-5). After the 1,000 years, there is a resurrection of judgment and death (Rev. 20:11-15) – just like Daniel said.
Q – If they were not, they would be cast into the lake of fire…? Or, is the book of life only for the Gentile church? I didn’t see this mentioned in this chapter –
Jim – Your logic is impeccable. I think we just needed to plug in the details.
Q – I’m not critical of what you wrote, just poking it with a stick to see what it does. I would have guessed that scripture meant that everyone God hadn’t chosen to believe (those not written in the book of life), alive during the tribulation would worship the beast. And the leftover ones, the chosen ones, would be the Jews whose names WERE written in the book of life.
Jim – I agree with you and that’s a good way to put it. I think the point of confusion between us was my declaration that the only people left on earth during the time of the beast were people who did not have their names written in the book. I wasn’t clear. When Revelation says,
” … and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
John was purposely addressing the non-Israelitish world. So, I was agreeing with John that the only Gentiles left on earth, after the times of the Gentiles had closed, were those who were not in the book and were, therefore, worshipping the beast. But, John makes a distinction between the Gentiles and Israel all the way through his letter. So, I was simply going along with John’s logic, but didn’t make the distinction clear.
Yes, there are Israelites on earth whose names are written in the book. God turns his attention to them during the tribulation, after the Church is taken up. He begins by saving 144,000, representatives from every tribe, and calls them the first fruits. He keeps His remnant (as He always has) safe by guiding them into the wilderness for three and a half years (Rev. 12:6). And, they live into the millennium. Meanwhile, the 144,000 are found, intact, in Heaven, singing a song known only to them.
Is that clearer?
Q – Yes, much. That’s exactly what I thought you’d say. I agree wholeheartedly on the pretribulation rapture of the church – just wondering where the saints mentioned in 13:7-8 fall in. Does that make sense? I would think they are written in the book of life.
Jim – Yep. They are Israelitish saints, as opposed to the “kindreds, and tongues, and nations” also mentioned in that verse. The beast has power over both groups. He makes war with the “hagios” and overcomes them, some losing their heads rather than bow to his image. That, by the way, is a very Daniel-like imagery. Daniel and the Hebrew children also refused to worship Nebachadnezzar and his gods. This continues to be a prophecy concerning Daniel’s people and his city, Jerusalem. But, those who do not bow and are martyred are certainly written in the book of life, and their martyrdom is predestined, as we’ll see in a minute.
Q – Chapter 13 also says the false prophet (v15) ‘had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.’ Is it sort of implicit in this verse that there are those who would not worship the beast? Because everyone whose name ISN’T in the book of life worships him – v. 8 says ‘all those…shall worship him’ and that sounds definitive. Doesn’t it mean that these people are those whose names ARE in the book of life? Or is that too much assuming?
Jim – I think we’ve kind of cleared this up, but yes, there are Israelites who will keep to their religion and serve only God. They will not bow to the beast. They will give their lives, and appear under the altar in Heaven pleading for vengeance (Rev. 6:9-11). God responds that their brethren who must also be killed have to fulfill that destiny and then God will start the judgment, after all His own – Jew and Gentile – have been taken from the Earth, or tucked away safely in the wilderness.
“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held; and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” (Rev. 6:9-12)
Then, when God pours out that final wrath and judgment, the people who fall under that punishment are those who do not have their names written in the book.
The truth is that none of us are 100% certain of all the details concerning future events. We are doing our best to understand the revelation before us. And, it’s not easy sledding. But, I think some of the details are so consistent that we can come to a few pretty firm conclusions. Of course, it will all be obvious and laid bare when it comes to pass. And, we’ll look back in retrospect and see that it played out exactly as John predicted, even if we didn’t understand all the nuances.
In the meantime, I get frustrated by all the books and sermons I’ve seen and heard over the years that utterly miss the Israelogical elements of the book or Revelation and end up with all sorts of perverse and confusing conclusions that have the Church undergoing the punishment of God, as though the body of Christ would suffer a second time. Or, they say that the Church flees into the wilderness and is protected for 42 months, as though the entire Church world could hide out in the mountains of Canaan and no one would notice. Sheesh!
So, stick through it with me. Keep asking questions and keep me honest. We’ll work this out together and continue to develop a theology that worships God in spirit and in truth, while allowing the original authors to say what they say while we get in line with it.
Your grateful “fellowservant,”