EDITOR’S NOTE: This groundbreaking series is being offered in celebration of a previously top-secret project and now unprecedented new 3-Volume book series (over 10-years in the making) from best-selling scholar Dr. Thomas Horn and acclaimed biblical history and theology majors Donna Howell and Allie Anderson: THE MYSTERY OF JESUS FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION—YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW
In the first verse of Revelation chapter 4, we see a shift from a historical perspective to a future one: “After this I [John] looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, ‘Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter’” (emphasis added). Note the similarity of the word picture here to all prior mention of Jesus “coming in the clouds” with a “trumpet blast.” As commentators acknowledge, this is the moment when the scene switches from things seen on earth to the mysteries revealed in the heavenly realm regarding the ultimate plan of God. John the Revelator is asked to “come up hither” through “a door…opened in heaven,” because Christ is about to reveal “things which must be hereafter.” Thus, futurists believe this is the marking of the point at which we are no longer reflecting upon the things of John’s day or ours, but of future events we all still have yet to face—i.e., we are now departing from the Church Age to the end of all things. Many scholars also note that John’s being taken up into the clouds is a foreshadowing of the Rapture of all saints. As we continue, consider that this is the first of a phrase John repeats throughout Revelation to introduce a new vision: “After this…” (see: 7:1, 9; 15:5; 18:1; 19:1).
John writes that he was “immediately in the Spirit” upon hearing Jesus call him upward (4:2). He sees a throne occupied by One who glistened like gemstones, and around the throne was an emerald green aura that circled Him like a “rainbow” (the sign of God’s Covenant; Genesis 9:16). (Note early on that this vision is remarkably similar to what Ezekiel saw as recorded in Ezekiel 1:26–28. Likewise, Revelation chapters 4–5 bear many images in common with Daniel 7.) Around this main throne are twenty-four others, and on each one is seated an elder wearing white robes with golden crowns (Revelation 4:1–4).
Debate regarding the identity of the twenty-four elders has produced some radically different views. Many scholars cling to the easiest conclusion: They’re the twelve tribal patriarchs of Israel and the twelve apostles, uniting the central figures of the Old Testament with those of the New Testament. But some argue that the redeemed will not sit upon thrones until after God’s final plans come to completion. That there is an exception to this rule in the case of the twenty-four elders here is supported by how they are described. Revelation elsewhere (2:10; 3:4–5, 18, 21; 6:11; 7:9, 14) reviews what the redeemed will receive (white robes, crowns) if they are among the “overcomers” mentioned in chapters 2–3. Two categories of “crowns” are given specific treatment in Revelation as well. The stephanos are the crowns of those who have become victorious over something, while the diodemata crowns (of verses such as 19:12) belong to kings. The stephanos worn by the twenty-four elders in 4:4 denote crowns of victory in a trial, and we therefore find good reason to assume that the natural interpretation—patriarchs and apostles—is the most likely identity of the elders. This conclusion is further supported by the apparent consummation of the righteous from both Testaments: a consecration visible through acknowledging the “heroes” of the Hall of Faith (Old Testament) joined in perfection with “us” (New Testament redeemed) in Hebrews 11:39–40. This image becomes yet sharper by the visual of the future dwelling place of the Bride of Christ in Revelation 21:12–14. While we respect that other interpretations are possible, we are choosing to continue under the teaching that the elders are the Old Testament’s twelve patriarchs and the New Testament’s twelve apostles.
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From the throne comes thunder and lightning, and before the throne are seven lit torches, “which are the seven Spirits of God” (or the sevenfold Spirit of God). In front of the throne is a body of water, sparkling like glass or crystal (Revelation 4:5–6a). (A deep dig into the words “thunder” and “lightning” shows that this phenomenon might have actually been a “voice” that one can “see,” manifested into flickering flames. For more information on this exciting possibility, and to see how the New Testament Pentecost was a nearly irrefutable fulfillment of a promise that began at Mt. Sinai at the delivery of the Law, see The Messenger by Tom Horn, pages 101–129.)
Four “beasts” (or “living creatures”), covered with eyes on their front and back, are standing around the throne. “And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle”; they had six wings, also covered with eyes, and day and night they said, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” Each time these beings worship, the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the One on the throne, esteeming His worthiness to receive glory, honor, and power, for He created all things that pleased Him (4:6b–11).
Just like the elders, these “four creatures” inspire many interpretational differences. First, it should be stated that Ezekiel also saw four living beings of a similar (but not identical) description in the first chapter of his prophetic revelation (Ezekiel 1:5–14; also see 10:12–15, 20–22, and Isaiah 6). Together, these two visions, along with notes about the covenantal sign of the rainbow around the One on the throne in both places, paint a collective picture of the glory of God being realized in one Judge (Christ). The lion, ox, man, and eagle can, therefore, be interpreted as elements of the nature of Jesus, as many scholars and theologians have done since just after the writing of Revelation. Jesus is: 1) the Lion of the tribe of Judah, as emphasized in the Gospel of Matthew through the image of Him as King of Israel; 2) the servant “animal” (ox) or the Suffering Servant, as emphasized in the Prophets and the Gospel of Mark; 3) the sinless Man, as emphasized in the Gospel of Luke; and 4) the Eagle (mightiest and swiftest of the birds making its home in lofty nests) who is quick to soar down from His heavenly home to earth offer salvation as emphasized in the God-Man images of the Gospel of John. Not everyone agrees this is the best interpretation, especially since there are variations between the scenes in this vision compared to those of Ezekiel. However, the “four living creatures” of this scene appear in one of the most enigmatic passages in the whole Bible, and it would take a considerable amount of time to parse out all the possibilities. Additionally, because the Beast is in close proximity within this book, many earlier commentaries simply go out of their way to correct the term “beasts” as being a descriptor of the creatures in some translations, simply making a brief statement that the “creatures” or “living beings” (or equivalent) are some kind of mysterious, celestial, and heavenly servants of God without addressing them at length. Because this “characteristics of Christ” view has been steadily held by highly respected scholars since just after the time of John, this is the one we have chosen to give most focus upon here. Another possibility, according to Kendall Easley’s Revelation commentary, is that the cherubim atop the Ark of the Covenant—which were not fully described in the building pattern of Exodus 25:10–22—were “winged guardian figures…with features of several animals,” and that these living creatures are the “heavenly reality” of the characters upon the Ark’s Mercy Seat.[i]
The Seven Seals (Revelation 5:1–8:5)
Without doubt, even among serious scholars, the Lamb that appears in Revelation 5 is Jesus, and the scroll with seven seals is one that nobody in the universe is able to open…except this Lamb.
John sees the seven-sealed scroll, with writing on the inside and out, in the right hand of the One on the throne. A strong angel with a loud voice shouts: “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” Nobody above, on, or under the earth is worthy enough, so John weeps (Revelation 5:1–4).
It is often explained that John wept because he had been promised he would be shown what comes next (4:1), and now he is frustrated because he thinks in this moment he will not be shown the revelation. It is surprising how many scholars adopt this view. A number of questionable conclusions can be drawn from this interpretation. Does John actually doubt that Christ will come through on His promise to show him what comes next? Such a thought seems absurd, and it paints John as crying out of a selfish, perhaps even childish, motive.
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A much more logical deduction comes from the fact that John, a man whose Gospel shows him to be highly trained in theology and the history of Israel, immediately recognizes the scroll as the very kinsman-redeemer contract symbol that it is proven to be in the coming verses. And if nobody in the universe can open it, then it’s natural for John shed tears over the idea that God’s Kinsman-Redeemer plan for mankind as contained in the contract will never be fulfilled—thus, humanity is doomed for all time. (If you haven’t yet read about the glorious parallel of this picture as we wrote in our study of Ruth—or if it has been some time since you reviewed that material—we suggest returning to that beautiful comparison now, as it is one of the most powerful moments in this entire work!)
While John is sobbing, one of the twenty-four elders says, “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” John looks up and sees a Lamb that appears as if it had been slaughtered. He is adorned with seven eyes (the fullness of knowledge and wisdom) and seven horns (fullness of all authority), which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God. The Lamb steps forward and takes the scroll from the One who sits on the throne, and the twenty-four elders and four living creatures fall down before the Lamb. Holding golden bowls of incense “full of odours, which are the prayers of saints” and harps, they sing a new song about the Lamb who was slain; whose blood was the ransom for the sins of humanity; and who causes every tribe and every nation to become a Kingdom of priests for God who will reign on the earth (5:4–10).
Yes! Our Kinsman Redeemer—our Boaz, our Go’el—has opened the scroll, just as foreshadowed in the tiny book of Ruth! Such an unbelievable moment in time is well worthy of praise, so it’s not a surprise that praise is the very next thing to take place in John’s vision.
John looks around again, hearing the voices of thousands and millions together—elders, creatures, and angels—singing a song acknowledging that the Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy of power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing. Another song rose up from “every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea,” recognizing that blessing, honor, glory, and power belong to both the One on the throne as well as the Lamb, forever. While the four living creatures shout “Amen!” the elders fall down and worship the Lamb (5:11–14).
As John watches, the Lamb breaks the first of the seven seals. One of the four living creatures summons John to come and look up, and when he does, he sees a white horse. Sitting atop the horse is a conqueror of many battles who wears a crown and carries a bow (6:1–2).
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DOES “THE MYSTERY OF JESUS” INCLUDE THE WORLD PREPARING FOR ANTICHRIST?
The identity of this horse-rider is of great debate among scholars. Some believe it is Jesus, the victorious Gospel message, or the Church. This is most immediately recognized by: 1) the horse’s white color, which is used in Revelation to represent holiness and purity; 2) the fact that the crowned Christ is riding a white horse while defeating His enemies in 19:11–16; 3) Psalm 43:3–6, identified as a messianic prophecy in Hebrews 1:8, describes the King of kings taking down His enemies with arrows; 4) this first of four horses is not connected to one of the “woes” (addressed shortly), and is therefore unlike the next three horses that have been almost unanimously identified with evil. Others conclude that this rider is, like those who follow, also evil, and quite possibly Antichrist, himself. Support for this possibility can be seen in the following ruminations: 1) Antichrist will, in so many ways, look just like Jesus (before he later shows himself to be the deceiver), so the Christ-like imagery here applied to Antichrist is intentionally showing this strong, external resemblance (see this reality in Revelation 12–13; also see how dark forces imitate the light in 2 Corinthians 11:13–14); 2) just as this rider is “conquering” those he opposes, the Beast is elsewhere “conquering” or “overcoming” (same Greek word, nikao) the saints in the apocalyptic scenes (Revelation 11:7; 13:7); 3) Zechariah 1:8–15 and 6:1–8 depict the horses belonging to the “evil angels of the four pagan kingdoms”[ii] in the book of Daniel (chapters 2 and 7), which link the nature of all four horses to this same prophetic fulfillment here in Revelation 6:1–8; 4) Mark 13:5–6, Matthew 24:4–5, and Luke 21:8 all describe that, right before the Second Coming, an outbreak of false christs and false prophets will appear upon the earth, claiming that they come in the Name of Jesus, and misleading multitudes (also see: 2 Thessalonians 2); 5) the first four trumpets, as well as the first four bowls, are often viewed as representing parallel judgments (but not always), and in a book like Revelation with so many symbolic patterns, it therefore stands to reason that the four horseman would be parallel also; 6) as Beale notes, the fourth horse wraps up the activities of the first three, and since the fourth is “death,” then the first is also representative of something evil: the demon Revelation 9:7 are also crowned horsemen.
After taking all possibilities into consideration, we believe the white rider is Antichrist, or at least some symbolic manifestation of his influential, wicked power. With that established, traditional pretrib Rapture timing places the great removal (Rapture) of the Church at the moment this man is revealed, which is right here in the narrative of John’s visions. So for our pretrib readers, the terrifying events in the book of Revelation from this moment forward can be read with the understanding that the Church has been removed from the world.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:4, we read that Antichrist “exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” The verse means just what it sounds like, and from an absolute, extreme literal interpretation, Antichrist will claim to be God. As an imitator of Christ, most scholars acknowledge the likeliness that he will claim to be Christ, Himself. Back in 1 John 4:3, we read of the many “antichrists” that will be in the world (apart from the eschatological Beast figure) and how to recognize them: “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” Though this verse referring to what is “already in the world” cannot be talking about the Beast of Revelation who had not arrived yet (“there many antichrists,” 1 John 2:18 states) it directly addresses the “spirit” of anyone who, tragically, would deserve that title. Therefore, it stands to reason that when Antichrist, the Beast, rises in the last days, he will do both: claim to be the long-awaited Messiah and deny that the Jesus of the four Gospels was the Son of God.
The preposition “anti” can mean two things in Greek: “opposed to” and “instead of,” denoting a “substitution.”[iv] Matthew 24:5 states: “For many shall come in my name, saying, ‘I am Christ’; and shall deceive many,” and later in the same chapter, verse 24, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” The preposition in the name “Antichrist” (anti) therefore fulfills both definitions—he will be “opposed to” the true Jesus of the Gospels and position himself as the substitution (a pseudo-Christ), deceiving many as the long-awaited Messiah…even to the point that “the very elect” will believe what he says about himself. Genesis 3:15 prophesied the coming of two “seeds,” one of the woman (fulfilled in Jesus) and one of the serpent, now fulfilled here in this man, the literal son of Satan, who will reflect the powers of his evil father, the evil one spoken of in the “Lucifer” and “king of Babylon” ruminations of Isaiah 14. He will be unlike anyone the world has ever seen, and the folks alive on the earth in that day will say so outright (Revelation 13:4). The following list is only a small overview of the ways he will outperform the most impressive men in world history:
- Speaking presence (Revelation 13:5; Daniel 7:8, 20)
- Supreme political power (Revelation 17:12–13, 17; also see Daniel 9:27)
- Military command (Revelation 19:19)
- Earthly wealth and extravagance (Daniel 11:38)
- Economic policies and organizational skills (Revelation 18:3, 12–17, 22)
- Persuasive powers of self-aggrandizement (Daniel 11:36)
- Patient, successful oppression of God’s people (Daniel 7:25)
- Extremely attractive (Daniel 7:20)
Lastly, scholars have looked at the various descriptions of Antichrist throughout Scripture and have debated his future identity geographically and racially as a means of providing the world with additional ways to recognize him when he arrives. If we can figure out where he comes from and what people he belongs to, he will be easier to spot in the coming days. As fascinating and well-meaning as these trails of thought are, the results are all over the place, and any specific identification in these matters can only be mere speculation. But if we openly admit to speculation (and not dogmatism) in the matter, there are a couple interesting tidbits from Scripture that may prove helpful later.[v]
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GOD BROKE THE POWER OF “THE CHRISTMAS MAGI”? BUT IS SUCH “MAGI-CALISM” RETURNING NOW FOR THE RISE OF A DIFFERENT “CHRIST CHILD”?
First, the prophecies of Daniel (chapters 2, 7, 8; more specifically, 8:8–9, 21–23) and in Revelation (13:1; 17:3, 7, 12, 16) describe the geographical origin and eventual expansion of the “ten horns,” which represent the area of the world from which the Beast arises. Once these areas are compared to the biblical texts and history, they point to the Western division of Alexander the Great’s Roman conquests in today’s Western Europe. The people who took down the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70 are identified as “the people of the prince that shall come” (Daniel 9:26), further supporting the idea that Antichrist will come from within the Roman Empire (also see Daniel 7:7–8; Revelation 13:7).
Racially, our first clue lies in the fact that Antichrist will not “regard the God of his fathers” (Daniel 11:37). This language is strongly similar to the language throughout the Old Testament describing evil kings of Israel (especially in books 1 and 2 Kings), which suggests that Antichrist may be a Jew. Further support for this theory is that the tribe of Dan is missing from the tribes in Revelation 7:4–8, giving Antichrist an entire tribe of ethnic Jews to originate from without having his existence taint the sacred bloodlines of God’s people. (The reason Dan is missing is explained in the upcoming pages.) John 5:43, featuring words from the mouth of Christ, also possibly points to Jewish ethnicity: “I [Christ] am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” At first, it doesn’t appear that the other person who comes “in his own name” can only be interpreted as Antichrist, but when we look at the rest of Revelation and see the trust that the Jews will initially place in the Man of Sin, the pieces fit: Jesus, in this passage, was referring to “false christs,” as scholars unanimously acknowledge. The uber-false christ—meaning the very epitome of this sign—will be Antichrist, and the Jews will “receive” him, at least at first. Therefore, Christ’s warning could be viewed as an indicator that Antichrist will hail from the same nationality as Jesus did. But, while many scholars bounce back and forth on the issue, providing reasons for or against the concept of Jewish ethnicity, one major argument is often overlooked: Antichrist will be the supreme imitator of everything Christ was, so, if for no other reason, Antichrist could likely be a Jew simply because Jesus was.
One question on our end that no one appears to be addressing is this: What if Antichrist is from the tribe of Dan, appearing and speaking in every way Semitic, but he simply lies and says he’s from the tribe of Judah (like Jesus was)? Though we won’t mention any names, there have certainly been American politicians who have “fudged” their history a little (well, a lot, we think) to indicate they have a more impressive origin than they truly do. In that case, Antichrist could make every claim about himself that directly imitates the true Messiah of the Gospels without anyone being able to prove otherwise (and those who do attempt to prove otherwise, even if they have great evidence, will easily be written off as conspiracy theorists attempting nothing more than smear campaigns). In 2 Thessalonians 2:9–11, we read that Antichrist is the one “whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” The last two words of this passage are misleading in English, because the original Greek included the definite article (“the”). Antichrist is not just a lie, he is the lie: deception personified. No matter what this evil person claims to be, we can assume there is some twisting of his identity and origins. Therefore, our theory that he is ethnically a Jew, but lies about which tribe and location he’s from, is a valid possibility.
In any case, as stated, all theories about Antichrist’s origins are conjecture, but as watchmen of the signs, we should be open-minded to considering that he is possibly a Jew, maybe from the tribe of Dan, and most likely born in the Western region of the Roman Empire.
Keep all of this in the back of your thoughts as you see how the rest of John’s book play out…
John then watches as the Lamb breaks the second seal, and follows again the summons of one living creature to “look up.” He sees a red horse (the horse of war) whose rider has a sword and all authority to rob the world of peace, and battling and bloodshed take place throughout the earth (Revelation 6:3–4). The Lamb breaks the third seal, and John sees a black horse (the horse of famine) whose rider carries a set of scales (an instrument for weighing grain that was, in antiquity, a symbol of famine [Leviticus 26:26; Ezekiel 4:9–10, 16]). One of the four living creatures says, “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine” (Revelation 6:5–6). (These measurements in John’s day were between “eight to sixteen times” the cost of wheat or barley anywhere in the Roman Empire.[vi] Most scholars agree that the scarcity of wheat or barley amidst an “unhurt supply” of oil and wine suggests that the daily food dependency of the poor will be in major shortage, while the luxuries of the rich will not yet be affected at this point.[vii] Uniquely, the scholars behind the Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown commentary interpret this to mean that food will be scarce, while “the oil and wine were to be spared for the refreshment of the sufferers.”[viii]) The Lamb breaks the fourth seal, and John looks up to see a pale green horse (the horse of death), whose rider is named “Death.” This rider has a companion named “Grave.” Between the two of them, they are given authority over one-fourth of the earth “to kill with sword…hunger…death…the beasts of the earth” (6:7–8). (This concludes the four riders, whose judgments are likened to those sent by God in Ezekiel 14:21.)
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HOW OBAMA, HITLER, AND THE THRONE OF SATAN ARE CONNECTED TO “THE MYSTERY OF JESUS FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION”
The Lamb then breaks the fifth seal, and John sees the souls of the martyrs who died for the Name of Jesus under the altar. They shout out to the Lord, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” Each is then given a white robe, and they are instructed to rest just a while longer until the remaining martyrs, their brothers and sisters in the faith, have joined them (Revelation 6:9–11). The Lamb then breaks the sixth seal, and a great earthquake ensues. The sun darkens to black, and the moon turns as red as blood (6:12). (This language is reflected in the prophecy of Joel 2:31.) The stars fall to the earth like figs shaken from their tree by a mighty gust of wind, the heavens roll up like a scroll, and the mountains and islands are all moved from their original places (Revelation 6:13–14). (The note about the heavens “rolling up like a scroll” is reminiscent of Isaiah 34:4.) Then everyone—“the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man” (seven people groups)—took to hiding in caves and between mountain rocks, crying out so that they might be crushed and buried by avalanches to escape the judgment of the Lamb, for the great day of wrath has come, “and who shall be able to stand?” they ask (Revelation 6:15–17).
As for the seven different categories of people who would hide, John uses numerical symbolism again to show completeness: All of God’s enemies, from the greatest to the least, will seek to hide from God, but they know He is inescapable, so they seek the relief of a quick death rather than face Him. This echoes the words of God’s prophet in regard to this sixth-seal earthquake: “Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty…And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth” (Isaiah 2:10, 19). The dust and debris loosened by the earthquake may be the cause of the sun blackening and the moon turning to blood as well.
Then John sees four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds, and another angel appears from the east, carrying the seal of God. He shouts to the other angels, “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” John listens to those who are listed as receiving the mark of God—twelve hundred from each of the twelve tribes, totaling one hundred forty-four thousand (Revelation 7:1–8).
After this, John sees an enormous crowd made up of every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and the Lamb. Each of them is clothed in a white robe and holds palm branches in their hands. They are shouting, “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” The angels are standing around the throne, elders, and the four living creatures. In one accord, they fall before the throne and worship God, singing: “Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen” (7:9–12). One of the twenty-four elders asks John who the white-robed ones are and where they come from. John answers, “Sir, thou knowest,” and the elder says that these are those who died during the Great Tribulation, having washed their garments in the blood of the Lamb, which made them white. This is why, the angel explains to John, they stand at the throne of God day and night, serving Him in His temple, and He shelters them. Never again will they hunger or thirst, and they will not be scorched by the sun, for the Lamb of God will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to the springs of the waters of life, and God will wipe away every one of their tears (7:13–17).
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WILL BLOOD OF THE ANTICHRIST “SAVE” PEOPLE FROM THIS!?
There are a number of things that need to be tackled here. First, as the number four is a Revelation symbol of the earth, John is not describing the shape of the earth as a flat square with an angel at each “corner”; rather, in context of the “four winds,” this is a symbol of the whole planet and the cardinal winds (north, east, south, west), as well as a reflection of such images as the “four winds of heaven” from one of the apocalyptic prophecies (Zechariah 6:5). In the Bible, wind is noted to be a natural force of destruction (Jeremiah 4:11–12; 49:36; 51:1–2). Some scholars acknowledge that the direction from which the other angel approaches is a reference to where light “originates” (in this “earth” context, that would be the sun, which rises in the east). Other sources of blessing are related to the east, such as the location of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8), the origin of the glory that entered the Temple (Ezekiel 43:2), and the magi who sought the Christ child (Matthew 2:1–2).[ix]
The mark of God is obviously not to be confused with the mark of the Beast. Collectively, scholars believe that the purpose of the mark of God upon the foreheads of the one hundred forty-four thousand is to gift these men and women with the supernatural ability to persevere during the coming Tribulation; whether that is a physical or spiritual provision, the answers vary. (Some believe the mark of God is given to strengthen them to endure what horrific events were just listed in chapter 6 regarding the first six seals. However, that is not the interpretation of the premillennialist.) God’s “marking” system is similar here to that described in Ezekiel 9 (an angel marks true believers, protecting them from the Babylonians) and Exodus 12 (God’s people mark their homes with the blood of the sacrificial lambs on the night of the first Passover). Generally, scholars also allow the one hundred forty-four thousand to be figurative language, as twelve is another “number of God” (twelve apostles, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve hundred from each tribe times twelve tribes as the number of the mark of God, and so on), while many futurists believe the number to be literal. Since this is the case, and interpretations around the rest of the book also vary, there is not a single idea everyone subscribes to as to whether this is a large group or a small one, in relation to the population of the earth in that day.
UP NEXT: THE MYSTERY OF THE 144,000 JEWS SEALED
[i] Easley, K. H., Revelation: Volume 12 (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers; 1998), 203.
[ii] Beale, G. K., The Book of Revelation… 376.
[iv] Hoyt, Herman A., The End Times, 116.
[v] These comparisons are everywhere, but the theories are presented quite succinctly by: Hoyt, Herman A., The End Times, 125–126.
[vi] Beale, G. K., The Book of Revelation… 381.
[vii] Morris, L., Revelation… 106.
[viii] Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, 568.
[ix] Morris, L., Revelation… 112–113.