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01 the alpha and the omega (part1) 01 the alpha and the omega (part1) Document Transcript

  • Amen! Hallelujah! - A study of the Book of Revelation Lesson 1 The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Text: Revelation 1:1-8; 22:8-12 Date: March 4, 2007 Authored By: Dale Wells Palm Desert Church of Christ
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) REVELATION IS A BOOK TO BE UNDERSTOOD Rev 1:1-3 WEB This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things which must happen soon … Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written in it, for the time is at hand. Most people begin with the assumption that we can’t really understand the Book of Revelation. John, on the other hand, assumes the book can be understood. He makes it clear by his choice of words. His first word is apocalypsis – an “unveiling”, “uncovering”, “revealing”, or “disclosure” of something that had previously been concealed. It is significant that he did not call it a “mystery” (mysterion), but a “revelation.” THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “MYSTERY” AND “REVELATION” Eph 3:1-7 WEB … by revelation the mystery was made known to me … when you read, you can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; which in other generations was not made known to the children of men, as it has now been revealed … that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of his promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel … Paul makes a point that what was once a “mystery” is now a “revelation”. By nature, a mystery isn't understood until it is revealed. Once it is revealed, it is no longer a mystery. In Revelation, something that had once been a mystery was revealed. THE BOOK BEGINS WITH A BLESSING ON THE ATTENTIVE, OBEDIENT READER AND HEARER. “BLESSED” (MAKARIOS) IS THE WORD OF THE BEATITUDES Page 2
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Mat 5:3-12 WEB “Blessed are the poor in spirit … Blessed are those who mourn ... Blessed are the gentle … Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness ... Blessed are the merciful ... Blessed are the pure in heart … Blessed are the peacemakers … Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness' sake ... “Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake ...” In the Beatitudes, Jesus describes the kind of character he expects of his followers. No one looks at the Beatitudes and thinks they represent unattainable demands. Neither should we look at the blessings in Revelation and think they are unattainable. “BLESSED IS HE WHO READS” Rev 1:3 WEB Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written in it, for the time is at hand. The Greek (ho anaginooskon) literally means “the one who reads aloud”. Even if we didn’t know that from John’s choice of vocabulary, it is apparent from the second blessing on “those who hear”. John envisions a congregational setting in which one person reads the Book of Revelation to an assembled congregation. “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HEAR” “Hear” (akouoo) is a word that means different things in different contexts. With a noun in the genitive case, it meant “hear”. When it is used with a noun in the accusative, as here, it meant “understand.” In other words, Jesus intended the message to be understood. The Bible gives a good example of the different uses of akouoo as “hear” and as “understand” One good example is found in the accounts of Paul's Damascus road experience, which seem contradictory – particularly in the King James Version. Page 3 View slide
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Act 9:7 KJV And the men … with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. Act 22:9 KJV And they that were with me saw … the light … but they heard not the voice ... In Acts 9:7, akouoo is used with the genitive case. In Acts 22:9, it is used with the accusative case. Modern translations clear up the confusion. Act 9:7 WEB The men … with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one. Act 22:9 WEB “Those … with me … saw the light … but they didn't understand the voice … “BLESSED ARE … THOSE WHO … KEEP THE THINGS … IN IT” The word “keep” (terountes) means “observe”, or “obey”. If God intended people to “understand” and “obey” the book, he must have written a book that they could understand, with commands they were capable of obeying! So, if that is the case, why is the book so misunderstood? People misunderstand the book because of faulty assumptions they bring to the text, not because of what the text, itself, says. Many assume it is a message to “us” about “our” time. That is a faulty assumption that leads to faulty conclusions. POPULAR APPROACHES TO REVELATION Some people see the Book of Revelation as a “summary of history”. They see the Catholic Church, invasions of Rome by Goths, Vandals, Moslems and Turks, and the Reformation with Luther and Calvin. Philip Melanchthon, a contemporary of Luther, took this approach to the book. Recent authors who adopt this approach are Albert Barnes and John Hinds. Each such writer has had to reapply historical events to put himself Page 4 View slide
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) in the last days, because began with the presumption that he was living in the last moments of time. Some people believe the Book of Revelation only deals with the end of time. I’ve read authors going back to 1948 who thought they were living in the last moments of time. Each has had to rewrite his timeline when unfolding events proved him wrong. Something is fundamentally wrong with an approach to the book that requires you to rewrite your interpretation every time history disproves it. Yet, people keep buying their books, and these authors keep cranking them out, even though history has proved them wrong every time! REVELATION'S TIME FRAME IS SET BY TWO PHRASES The first is the Greek dei genesthai en tachei - “the things which must happen soon”. Rev 1:1 WEB This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things which must happen soon... Rev 22:6 WEB He said to me, “These words are faithful and true. The Lord God … sent his angel to show … the things which must happen soon.” Some believe that en tachei means “certainly”. The use of the word in other contexts shows that tacheoo means “quickly”. Act 22:17-18 WEB “It happened that, when I had returned to Jerusalem, and while I prayed in the temple, I fell into a trance, and saw him saying to me, 'Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not receive testimony concerning me from you.' Gal 1:6-7 WEB I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel; and there isn't another gospel. Page 5
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) 2Ti 4:9 WEB Be diligent to come to me soon... The first readers of Revelation were meant to understand that the fulfillment of the book would be soon - from their point of view, not ours! THE TIME IS AT HAND The second phrase is the Greek ho gar kairos engus – “for the time is at hand”. Literally, engus means “in hand”. The idea is “within the grasp” or “within reach”. The use of “the time is at hand”. Rev 1:3 WEB Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written in it, for the time is at hand. Rev 22:10 WEB He said to me, “Don't seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. This same expression is used elsewhere. Mar 1:14-15 WEB … Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand! …” Rom 10:8-9 WEB “The word is near you, in your mouth, and in your heart;”... Phi 4:5 WEB Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. No Greek text ever uses engus of something remote. It always means something near. REASONS FOR INTERPRETING THE BOOK IN LIGHT OF ITS TIME: First, it was a “revelation” to its first readers, not a “mystery”. Second, it was intended to be read, understood, and acted on by its Page 6
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) first readers. Third, its time of fulfillment was close at hand – from the perspective of its first readers. Picture yourself as a member of the church in Pergamum. At worship one Lord’s Day, you learn that Antipas has been executed for his faith. You know that you may be next! Then, a messenger arrives with a letter from John that is supposed to give you hope. What do you want to know? What to expect in 2000 years? No! You want to know if you’re going to be alive tomorrow! If not, you want to know “what then?” Was it worth it for Antipas to lose his life! Or for you to lose yours! You don’t care about some 21st Century writer; you want to know what’s about to happen to you and what God is going to do about it! Revelation is a message to First Century Christians about First Century concerns! KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING REVELATION All literature is not intended to be read alike. You don't read Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Edgar Allen Poe the same way. You don't read William Shakespeare and Stephen King the same way. You don't read a newspaper and poetry the same way. The same is true of a biography and a prophecy, or a history and a math textbook. They are not written the same way; and they are not interpreted the same way. Revelation is written in a style called apocalyptic. Apocalyptic writings have distinctive characteristics that must be understood in order to properly interpret the writings. Let’s look at some distinctive characteristics as they are found in the Book of Revelation. For example, Revelation is written in symbols. John uses fantastic imagery that is not intended to be taken literally. Page 7
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) WHAT IF I TOLD YOU THAT YESTERDAY, I SAW A VISION. I saw what looked like a living creature. It had four legs, but it stood up on two, like a man. It had a prominent nose. It was brown and had long ears. I saw another living creature. It looked like a bird without wings. It was blue and had two legs with three toes on each foot. The first creature held a red cylinder. One end was pointed and a string came out of the other end. He straddled the cylinder and put a flame to the string. The first living creature sped toward the second living creature. The second stepped aside as the first sped past. Who are the two creatures? Wile Coyote and Road Runner! READ REVELATION THE WAY YOU WATCH ANIMATIONS In order to understand the book you must use your imagination. In the book, we’ll see a seven-headed dragon, a seven-headed beast, a lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, a prostitute riding a beast, etc. Don’t belabor the details – they’ll distract you from the picture. Let the picture take hold of your imagination and you will come to understand the book. REVELATION MAKES EXTENSIVE USE OF SYMBOLS SOME OF THE SYMBOLS ARE SELF-EVIDENT ONE LIKE A SON OF MAN Rev 1:13-18 WEB And among the lampstands was one like a son of man, clothed with a robe reaching down to his feet, and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and his hair were white as white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet Page 8
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) were like burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace. His voice was like the voice of many waters. He had seven stars in his right hand. Out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining at its brightest … “Don't be afraid. I am the first and the last, and the Living one. I was dead, and … I am alive forevermore … This is clearly Jesus. It can be no one else THE LAMB OF GOD Rev 5:5-6 WEB One of the elders said to me, “Don't weep. Behold, the Lion who is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome; he who opens the book and its seven seals.” I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. Anyone who knows very much about the Bible will have no difficulty identifying the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, and the Lamb of God, as Jesus. It just cannot be anyone else. TWO WITNESSES A small part of it helps us identify the figures behind the picture. Rev 11:6 WEB These have the power to shut up the sky, that it may not rain during the days of their prophecy. They have power over the waters, to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. Clearly the figures depict Moses and Elijah. The picture of someone shutting up the sky comes from the life of Elijah. The picture of someone turning water to blood and striking the earth with plagues comes from the experience of Moses. A RADIANT WOMAN GIVES BIRTH TO A UNIQUE CHILD Page 9
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Rev 12:1-5 WEB A great sign was seen in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child. She cried out in pain, laboring to give birth. ... She gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. John expects his readers to identify the woman as Mary, and her child as Jesus. A CONQUERING KING ON A WHITE HORSE Rev 19:11-16 WEB … behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it is called Faithful and True. … His eyes are a flame of fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has names written and a name written which no one knows but he himself. He is clothed in a garment sprinkled with blood. His name is called “The Word of God.” … Out of his mouth proceeds a sharp, double-edged sword, that with it he should strike the nations. He will rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty. He has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Again, there can be no doubt that this is Jesus. THE TEXT EXPLAINS THE LESS OBVIOUS SYMBOLS What are the stars and lampstands? Rev 1:20 WEB[T]he mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the angels of the seven assemblies. The seven lampstands are seven assemblies. In Revelation, the lampstands are churches and the stars are their messengers. What about the dragon out to devour the child Rev 12:9 WEB The great dragon …, the old serpent, he who is Page 10
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) called the devil and Satan ... In the Apocalypse, the dragon is Satan. THE PROSTITUTE RIDING ON A BEAST Who is the prostitute? The text helps us out: Rev 17:18 WEB The woman … is the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.” She is riding a beast with seven heads. Rev 17:9-11 WEB The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings … The text makes a dual application of the 7 heads. They are seven mountains on which the woman/city sits. They are also seven kings. Rome was the 1st Century city that sat on seven mountains, whose kings ruled the world, so the prostitute is Rome. THE SEA BEAST Rev 13:1-8 WEB … I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads. On his horns were ten crowns, and on his heads, blasphemous names … The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority … He opened his mouth for blasphemy against God ... It was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. Authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation was given to him… The enemy in Revelation was the Roman Empire. The prostitute is the City of Rome. The City of Rome rides atop the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire receives its power from Satan. THE EARTH BEAST Rev 13:11-18 I saw another beast coming up out of the earth. He Page 11
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke like a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast ... He makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast … saying to those who dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast … and causes as many as wouldn't worship the image … to be killed… It looks like a lamb – a religious figure. This “lamb” speaks with the dragon's voice. (The dragon has already been identified with Satan.) It also forces people to worship the first beast (the Roman Empire with its kings) on pain of death. THE EARTH BEAST IS ALSO CALLED THE FALSE PROPHET The Earth Beast is called the “False Prophet” Rev 19:20 WEB The beast (e.g. the sea beast) was taken, and with him the false prophet (e.g. the earth beast) who worked the signs in his sight, with which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. How could Satan use religion to promote his agenda? What sort of entity could Satan use that would incorporate religious symbols (like a lamb) and prophets, in order to force people to worship the emperors? This could only be the emperor cults (concilia) that forced Roman subjects to worship the emperors. They were especially active toward the end of the First Century. A PUZZLE TO SOLVE, NOT A MYSTERY TO IGNORE You should approach the book the way you solve a puzzle. Start with what you know, then solve the rest. In solving a crossword puzzle, you don’t stay on one across. You keep looking for some word you know. It might be 37 down. You start there, and work out the words around it. In putting together a jigsaw puzzle, you don’t start with one piece and try to fit the other pieces around it. You get the edges put Page 12
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) together, then you put the blue (sky) at the top and the green (grass) at the bottom. You start with the easy pieces. Before you know it, the others just seem to fit. That’s the way it is with Revelation. You start with the facts you know: The Lamb is Jesus; the Dragon is Satan; the Prostitute is Rome; the Heads are emperors, etc. You work from there. Before you know it, the whole picture comes together! If you’d like a simplified overview of the book, I offer “Revelation for Dummies.” It only has three points: God Rules! Jesus is Lord! We win! OPPOSITIONAL PAIRS IN REVELATION TWO LAMBS The Lamb of God. Rev 5:6 WEB I saw in the midst of the throne … a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain … The lamb that speaks with the voice of a dragon. Rev 13:11 WEB I saw another … He had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke like a dragon. TWO WOMEN The prostitute. Rev 19:1-2 NIV “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, (2) … He has condemned the great prostitute … The bride of the Lamb. Rev 19:6-7 NIV “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. (7) Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Page 13
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) TWO WHO CLAIM DOMINION God on the throne in heaven. Rev 4:2 WEB … Behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and one sitting on the throne The dragon who attempts to invade heaven. Rev 12:7 WEB There was war in the sky. Michael and his angels made war on the dragon. The dragon and his angels made war. TWO MARKS ON PEOPLE’S FOREHEADS The seal of God. Rev 7:3 WEB “Don't harm the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads!” The mark of the beast. Rev 13:16-17 WEB He causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free and the slave, to be given marks on their right hands, or on their foreheads; (17) and that no one would be able to buy or to sell, unless he has that mark, the name of the beast or the number of his name. KINGS OF THE EARTH AND THE KING OF KINGS Rev 17:12 WEB The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority as kings, with the beast, for one hour. Rev 19:16 WEB He has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” There are many other oppositional pairs, but this should be enough for you to get the idea. Page 14
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) THE SYMBOLISM OF NUMBERS Numbers were used symbolically in apocalyptic literature. Four numerals in Revelation are oppositional pairs. 7 stands opposed to 3 ½. 12 stands opposed to 6. Other symbolic numbers are not paired: 1/3, 2, 4, 10, 1,000. SEVEN SYMBOLIZES GOD'S COMPLETED WORK “Seven” occurs more often in Revelation than in the rest of the New Testament. “Seven” also occurs more in the Book of Revelation than in any Old Testament Book. "Seven" symbolizes God completing the work he set out to do. Gen 2:1-3 WEB The heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. On the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. God blessed the seventh day, and made it holy, because he rested in it from all his work which he had created and made. REVELATION BEGINS WITH A LETTER TO 7 CHURCHES. Rev 1:4 WEB John, to the seven assemblies ... Rev 1:11 WEB ... “What you see, write in a book and send to the seven assemblies …” Rev 1:20 WEB ... The seven lampstands are seven assemblies. “Assemblies” translates ekklesiai, which is rendered “churches” in other versions. THE FIRST VISION FEATURES TWO SEVENS The son of man is among 7 lampstands. Rev 1:12-13 WEB ... I saw seven golden lampstands. And … one Page 15
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) like a son of man Rev 1:20 WEB ... The seven lampstands are seven assemblies. Rev 2:1 WEB To … Ephesus write: “He who ... walks among the seven golden lampstands … He is holding 7 stars. Rev 1:16 WEB He had seven stars ... Rev 1:20 WEB ... The seven stars are the angels of the seven assemblies... Rev 2:1 WEB To … Ephesus write: “He who holds the seven stars... says these things: BEFORE GOD'S THRONE WERE 7 LAMPS Rev 4:5 WEB ... There were seven lamps of fire burning before his throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. These are the seven spirits of God seen elsewhere. Rev 1:4 WEB ... Grace to you and peace ... from the seven Spirits who are before his throne; Rev 3:1 WEB “And to the angel of the assembly in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God ... A 7-SEALED SCROLL WAS OPENED BY A LAMB WITH 7 HORNS AND 7 EYES. Rev 5:1 WEB I saw, in the right hand of him who sat on the throne, a book written inside and outside, sealed shut with seven seals … (5) One of the elders said to me, “Don't weep. Behold, the Lion who is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome; he who opens the book and its seven seals.” (6) I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Page 16
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. GOD'S JUDGMENTS WERE ANNOUNCED BY 7 ANGELS WITH 7 TRUMPETS. Rev 8:2 WEB I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Rev 8:6 WEB The seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. Another warning of judgment came in 7 thunders. Rev 10:3-4 WEB ... When he cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices. When the seven thunders sounded, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from the sky saying, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders said, and don't write them.” THE DRAGON AND SEA BEAST EACH HAD 7 HEADS & THE DRAGON HAD 7 CROWNS Rev 12:3 WEB Another sign was seen in heaven. Behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven crowns. Rev 13:1 WEB Then I stood on the sand of the sea. I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads ... THE PROSTITUTE SITS ON A BEAST WITH 7 HEADS. Rev 17:3 WEB ... I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet-colored animal, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. Rev 17:7 WEB The angel said to me, “Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. THE HEADS CORRESPOND TO 7 MOUNTAINS AND 7 KINGS Page 17
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Rev 17:9-10 WEB Here is the mind that has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits. They are seven kings. Five have fallen, the one is, the other has not yet come. When he comes, he must continue a little while. 7 ANGELS ADMINISTER GOD'S JUDGMENTS. Rev 15:1 WEB I saw another great and marvelous sign in the sky: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them God's wrath is finished. Rev 15:6-8 WEB The seven angels who had the seven plagues came out, clothed with pure, bright linen… One of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God... No one was able to enter into the temple, until the seven plagues of the seven angels would be finished. 7 BOWLS OF WRATH WERE POURED OUT ON THE EARTH Rev 16:1 WEB I heard a loud voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God on the earth!” Rev 17:1 WEB One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here. I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute … Rev 21:9 WEB One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were loaded with the seven last plagues came, and he spoke with me, saying, “Come here. I will show you the wife, the Lamb's bride.” SEVEN BEATITUDES IN REVELATION Rev 1:3 WEB Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written in it, for the time is at hand. Rev 14:13 WEB 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now Page 18
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) on … that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them. Rev 16:15 WEB “Behold, I come like a thief. Blessed is he who watches…” Rev 19:9 WEB Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Rev 20:6 WEB Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over these, the second death has no power... Rev 22:7 WEB Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. Rev 22:14 WEB Blessed are those who do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city. SEVEN “I AM” SAYINGS IN REVELATION Rev 1:8 WEB “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev 1:17-18 WEB … “Don't be afraid. I am the first and the last and the Living one. I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. I have the keys of Death and of Hades. Rev 2:23 WEB … I am he who searches the minds and hearts. I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. Rev 21:6 WEB He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give freely to him who is thirsty from the spring of the water of life. Rev 22:13 WEB I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Rev 22:16 WEB I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify these things Page 19
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) to you for the assemblies. I am the root and the offspring of David; the Bright and Morning Star.” MORE SEVENS IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION 7 kinds of men hide from God’s judgment. Rev 6:15-17 WEB The kings of the earth, the princes, the commanding officers, the rich, the strong, and every slave and free person, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains. They told the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of his wrath has come; and who is able to stand?” 7 things the Lamb is worthy to receive. Rev 5:12 WEB ... “Worthy is the Lamb who has been killed to receive the power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing!” 7 aspects of worship toward God. Rev 7:11-12 WEB All the angels were standing around the throne … and they fell on their faces before his throne, and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might, be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” The message of the number 7 is that God is working – and he will accomplish his purpose. 3½ DEPICTS SATAN'S ATTEMPT TO THWART GOD'S PURPOSE The opposite of 7 in Revelation is 3½. 3½ is half of 7. That is no accident. 7 depicts God accomplishing his will. 3½ is a period of calamity and suffering waiting for God's deliverance. Daniel envisioned a 3 ½ year oppression during a fourth kingdom Page 20
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Dan 7:25 WEB He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High; and he shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and half a time. The expression comes from a year (“time”) + two years (“times”) + six months (“half a time”). A TIME OF OPPRESSION AND PROVISION It was the time of drought during the reign of Ahab 1Ki 17:1 WEB Elijah … said to Ahab, As Yahweh, the God of Israel, lives … there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. Jam 5:17 WEB Elijah … prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it didn't rain on the earth for three years and six months. It was also the time when God provided for Elijah 1Ki 17:3-6 WEB Get away from here, turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith … (6) The ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. THE PICTURE COMES FROM MILITARY SIEGES Sieges are described in months, not days. The Roman army would completely surround a fortification, cutting off all supplies. While they built their siegeworks, they waited for starvation and disease to decimate the besieged. That is why invaders measured sieges in months. One example is the Jewish-Roman War. The Jewish-Roman War began in 66 AD. Jerusalem fell about 42 months later in 70 AD. The siege of Jerusalem lasted 3½ months (May 10 to August 29, 70 AD) before the Temple fell. Page 21
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) It is a time when Satan attempts to stop God’s work, but during which God is in control! 3½ YEARS IN REVELATION 11 The Gentiles besiege God’s city for 42 months. Rev 11:1-2 A reed like a rod was given to me. Someone said, “Rise, and measure God's temple, and the altar, and those who worship in it. (2) Leave out the court which is outside of the temple, and don't measure it, for it has been given to the nations. They will tread the holy city under foot for forty-two months. That is the same time period during which the two witnesses prophesy. Rev 11:3 I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” 3½ DAYS IN REVELATION 11 The beast kills God's two witnesses, and it appears that he has stopped God’s work in the world. After 3½ days, God raises them from the dead. Satan can’t win! He has the power of death, but God has the power of life! Protection and provision are expressed in terms of days. Mat 6:11 Give us today our daily bread. The invader may measure a siege in months, but to the besieged, survival is day-by-day. How many days can they hold out before starvation or disease decimate their population and force their surrender? 3½ AS 1260 DAYS AND “A TIME, TIMES, AND HALF A TIME” God cares for the woman for 1260 days. Page 22
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Rev 12:6 The woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that there they may nourish her one thousand two hundred sixty days. Satan tries to get at the woman protected by God. Rev 12:13-14 When the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. (14) Two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, so that she might be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. He can’t get to her, because God is protecting her. The outcome is always the same – God wins! TWELVE SYMBOLIZES GOD'S PEOPLE Twelve and its multiples (24, 12,000, 144,000) is the second most prominent number in the Book of Revelation. IN REVELATION 4 24 ELDERS SIT ON THRONES Rev 4:4 WEB Around the throne were twenty-four thrones. On the thrones were twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white garments, with crowns of gold on their heads. These likely represent the 12 patriarchs from the Old Testament, and the 12 apostles from the New Testament. In other words, the 24 elders, stand for God’s people under both covenants. IN REVELATION 7 THERE ARE 144,000 PEOPLE SEALED. Rev 7:4 WEB I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel These are the people with God’s seal of approval on their foreheads. These consist of 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. This Page 23
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) number is not to be taken literally. JACOB'S 12 SONS & ISRAEL'S 12 TRIBAL LAND DIVISIONS WERE NOT IDENTICAL Jacob adopted Joseph’s sons in place of Joseph. Gen 48:5 WEB Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you into Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh, even as Reuben and Simeon, will be mine. So there were two tribes associated with Joseph, and Israel literally had 13 tribes. There were only 12 land divisions because Levi received cities in the other tribal lands. Num 35:2 WEB Command the children of Israel that they give to the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in WE COULD SAY THE SAME THING ABOUT THE APOSTLES. Jesus had 12 apostles. But Judas was a traitor, and he was replaced by Matthias. Act 1:26 WEB They drew lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. With the addition of Paul, we have 13 apostles. Gal 1:1 WEB Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead) Yet, we always speak of the 12 apostles and the 12 tribes. HOW DOES JOHN GET 144,000 IF THERE WERE 13 TRIBES? John gets to that number by leaving out the tribe of Dan. The point is not that no one is redeemed from Dan, but that all of God’s people Page 24
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) are accounted for! The number is to be taken symbolically, not literally. John is not being dishonest. Don’t judge the Biblical writers for making numbers come out the way they wanted them to. It reflects a difference between the way we and they use numbers. THERE IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF THIS IN MATTHEW 1. Mat 1:17 WEB So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the exile to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the carrying away to Babylon to the Christ, fourteen generations. Yet, the numbers don't quite add up. In the first group, you count both Abraham and David to get 14. The second group has 15 names, unless you omit David to reach 14. However, in the third group, you have to include both Jeconiah (the last name in the second group and the first name in the third) and Jesus, in order to reach 14. THERE ARE OTHER PROBLEMS WITH MATTHEW 'S GENEALOGY. Matthew omits Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah. Mat 1:8 WEB … Joram became the father of Uzziah. The actual line was: Joram, Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, Azariah/ Uzziah. Matthew dropped Jehoiakim. Mat 1:11 WEB Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the exile to Babylon. Josiah was the father of Jehoiakim, who was deposed in favor of his son Jehoiachin. Matthew doesn't mention Jehoiakim, but only refers to Jehoiachin, calling him Jeconiah. Page 25
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) He says Zerubbabel was Shealtiel's son. Mat 1:12 WEB After the exile to Babylon, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel. Shealtiel became the father of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was actually the son of Shealtiel's brother, Pedaiah. 1Ch 3:19 WEB The sons of Pedaiah: Zerubbabel, and Shimei. WHY WOULD MATTHEW MAKE THESE CHANGES AND DELETIONS? Was he being dishonest? Not at all! To the ancient writers numbers were not so much a matter of precise calculation as they were a representation of important concepts. In the case of Matthew 1, the key is found in the name of David. ANCIENT ALPHABETS WERE NOT LIKE OUR MODERN ALPHABETS. We have separate sets of characters to represent numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.) and letters (a, b, c, etc.). Ancient languages, including Hebrew and Greek, had alphabets composed of characters that served a dual purpose as letters and numbers. Thus “a” could either serve as a letter, or it could be the numeral “1”, “b” could be used as the numeral “2”, etc. ANCIENT WRITERS ENGAGED IN “GEMATRIA” (GREEK ISOPSEPHIA). They added up the values of letters in a name, with the sum becoming the "number" of the name. They used that number to represent the name, especially when they wanted to reveal the identity to some, but conceal it from others. This will be important to understanding “666” in Rev 13:18, so we will go into it in detail later. Archaeology has found ancient examples of gematria. Graffiti in Pompeii: “I love her whose number is 545.” Only the couple would know about whom he was writing. A Roman inscription describes one Gaius as a holy and good man. It Page 26
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) combines three words with the numerical value 284: Gaios = 3 + 1 + 10 + 70 + 200 = 284 (Ha)gios = 1 + 3 + 10 + 70 + 200 = 284 Aga(th)os =1 + 3 + 1 + 9 + 70 + 200 = 284 The words are gematrically interchangeable, because they are of equal value. “DAVID” CONSISTED OF THREE LETTERS – EQUIVALENT TO “DVD”. “D” was the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, with a value of “4”; “v” was the sixth letter, with a value of “6”. (Ancient Hebrew had no vowels.) So the number of “David” is 14. (d+v+d = 4+6+4 = 14) Matthew wants us to see Jesus as the Son of David, so he points out 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 among the Davidic kings, and 14 from the end of the Davidic dynasty to the coming of the Son of David! In Revelation, John also follows an accepted practice of ancient writers – one familiar to his readers – when he uses numbers as symbols to represent broad concepts. THE RADIANT WOMAN WEARS A CROWN OF TWELVE STARS. Rev 12:1 WEB A great sign was seen in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. We recognized this woman earlier as an idealized picture of Mary. Now, we can see that the twelve stars represent God’s people – her crowning glory. 12 DOMINATES THE DESCRIPTION OF THE HOLY CITY. Rev 21:10-17 WEB He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God … having twelve gates, and at the Page 27
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) gates twelve angels; and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. … The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb … Twelve thousand stadia. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. Its wall is one hundred forty-four cubits, by the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. THIS IS THE CITY WHERE GOD’S PEOPLE LIVE! It is a cube 12,000 stadia on each side, with 12 gates, having walls 144 cubits thick. So the city has access for all of God's people (gates); it has plenty of room for all of God's people (dimensions); it has plenty of security (angels at the gates) and plenty of protection for God's people who live there (walls). The New American Standard Bible misses the point. It gives the length of all sides as 1,500 miles. On the surface of the earth, this would be the equivalent of a city stretching from San Diego, to Houston, to Winnipeg, to Vancouver, British Columbia. Adding the dimension of height yields a volume 85% as large as the moon! It should be apparent that John isn’t giving literal dimensions. He is showing the reader that this city that is big enough to house, provide for and protect all of God’s people. It follows the use of the "12" in the rest of the book. 6 SYMBOLIZES REBELLION AGAINST GOD It is a number that depicts man’s attempt to dispense with God. It is no accident that six is half of twelve, any more than it is an accident that three-and-one-half is half of seven. THE CONTRAST BETWEEN SIX AND TWELVE Twelve depicts the people of God, loyal to him and protected by him, while six depicts man in rebellion against God and attempting to usurp God’s throne. Just like Satan’s attempts to stop God in his tracks (seen in the figure of three-and-one-half), man’s attempts to eliminate God always result in failure. Page 28
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) THE MOST INFAMOUS USE OF SIX IS FOUND IN REV 13:18. Rev 13:18 WEB … He who has understanding, let him calculate the number of the beast ... His number is six hundred sixty-six. 666 is rebellion, compounded by rebellion, compounded by rebellion! 666 is man’s attempt to usurp God’s throne! 666 in Rev 13:18 is clearly a gematria. Behind the number is concealed a name known to the hearers and readers of the text of that time. Within a century of the writing, the name behind the number was lost. Irenaeus, a 2nd Century Christian posed several possibilities, but he was unable to determine exactly what name was behind the number. POSSIBLE NAMES THAT MAKE SENSE IN LIGHT OF THE HISTORICAL SETTING Lateinos = “Latin” (e.g. Rome, the city or the empire) = 30+1+300+5+10+50+70+200 = 666 Teitan = “Titus” (the common name of the three Flavian Emperors: Vespasian,Titus and Domitian. Vespasian was the emperor at the time Revelation was written. Titus came to the throne shortly thereafter. Domitian began the first empire-wide persecution of Christians.) = 300+5+10+300+1+50 = 666 Kaisarsebaston = “Caesar Augustus” (“worshipful Caesar”). The imperial name = 20+1+10+200+1+100+200+5+2+1+6+70+50 = 666 (Note: this calculation requires using the obsolete letter stigma (= 6) in the place of the letters sigma (= 200) and tau (= 300). I do not regard this as particularly objectionable, since the book was intended to be read aloud. The hearers would be used to associating the “st” sound with the value of 6.) EIGHT CONTRASTS WITH SIX IN OTHER APOCALYPTIC WRITINGS. Eight symbolizes resurrection. It is not used symbolically in Page 29
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Revelation. Early writers mentioned that Christians met on”the eighth day of the week, which is also the first”, because of Jesus resurrection from the dead! In contrast with “666”, Jesus is “888”. In the 2nd Century, the Sybilline Oracles say that Jesus is 888. The gematrical value of “Jesus” (Ieesous) is 888. The writer pointed out that 8 symbolized resurrection. Thus, Jesus is truly 888. The one who is 666 can never measure up to the one who is 888! 1/3 SYMBOLIZES GOD’S RESTRAINT IN JUDGMENT Rev 8:6-12 WEB The seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared … to sound. (7) The first sounded, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood... One third of the earth was burnt up, and one third of the trees were burnt up … (8) The second … sounded, and something like a great burning mountain was thrown into the sea. One third of the sea became blood, (9) and one third of the living creatures … in the sea died. One third of the ships were destroyed. (10) The third … sounded, and a great star fell from the sky … and it fell on one third of the rivers … (11) … One third of the waters became wormwood … (12) The fourth … sounded, and one third of the sun was struck, and one third of the moon, and one third of the stars; so that one third of them would be darkened, and the day wouldn't shine for one third of it, and the night in the same way. THIS HAS OLD TESTAMENT ROOTS IN EZEKIEL Eze 5:1-2 WEB You, son of man, take a sharp sword; You shall take it as a barber's razor to you, and shall cause it to pass on your head and on your beard: then take balances to weigh, and divide the hair. (2) A third part you shall burn in the fire in the midst of the city … and you shall take a third part, and strike with the sword around it; and a third part you shall scatter to the wind …. Eze 5:12 WEB A third part of you shall die with the pestilence, and Page 30
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of you; and a third part shall fall by the sword around you; and a third part I will scatter to all the winds, and will draw out a sword after them. TWO SYMBOLIZES TESTIMONY Emissaries are often sent in pairs. Mar 6:7 WEB He called to himself the twelve, and began to send them out two by two … Mat 11:2-3 WEB … John … sent two of his disciples (3) and said to him, “Are you he who comes, or should we look for another?” The Jewish law of evidence required two witnesses. Deu 17:6 WEB At the mouth of two … or three witnesses, shall he who is to die be put to death; at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. Deu 19:15 WEB One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall a matter be established. THE ONLY SIGNIFICANT USAGE OF TWO IN REVELATION IS IN CHAPTER 11 Rev 11:3-11 WEB I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred sixty days…” (4) These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands, standing before the Lord of the earth. ... (7) When they have finished their testimony, the beast … will make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them. … (10) Those who dwell on the earth rejoice over them, and they will be glad … because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. (11) After the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet. Great fear fell on those who saw them. THE IMAGE COMES FROM ZECHARIAH 4 Page 31
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Zec 4:2-3 WEB He said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I have seen, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon; there are seven pipes to each of the lamps, which are on the top of it; (3) and two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side of it.” Zec 4:11-14 WEB Then I asked him, “What are these two olive trees on the right side of the lampstand and on the left side of it?” … (14) Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” THE TWO REPRESENT THE TESTIMONY OF THE LAW AND PROPHETS Moses and Elijah were sent to strengthen Jesus at the Transfiguration. Mat 17:1-3 WEB After six days, Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain by themselves. (2) He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as the light. (3) Behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them talking with him. In Revelation 11, they are sent to proclaim God's word. FOUR SYMBOLIZES THE ENTIRE EARTH AND UNIVERSE The symbolism of the number 4 is derived from the 4 points of the compass and the 4 directions of the wind, and also from the 4 seasons. In Babylonian mythology the 4 signs of the Zodiac, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius, appear as powerful figures which support the firmament of heaven by its 4 corners, or as the beasts of burden of the 4-wheeled heavenly chariot. The number 4 thus symbolizes the entire earth and universe. EZEKIEL DESCRIBED 4 CREATURES WHICH FORMED GOD'S HEAVENLY ENTOURAGE. Page 32
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Eze 1:4-28 WEB I looked, and behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, a great cloud, with flashing lightning… (5) Out of its midst came the likeness of four living creatures. This was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. (6) Everyone had four faces, and each one of them had four wings. … (10) As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man; and they four had the face of a lion on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four had also the face of an eagle. …(28) … This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh. JOHN SAW 4 CREATURES AROUND GOD'S THRONE WORSHIPING HIM. Rev 4:6-8 WEB … In the midst of the throne, and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes before and behind. (7) The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle. (8) The four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within. They have no rest day and night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!” THE 4 CREATURES WORSHIP THE LAMB, AS WELL. Rev 5:6-14 WEB I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures … a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain … (8) Now when he had taken the book, the four living creatures … fell down before the Lamb … (9) They sang a new song, saying, “You are worthy to take the book, and to open its seals … (11) I saw, and I heard something like a voice of many angels … (12) saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb …” (13) I heard every created thing … saying, “To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb be the blessing, the honor, the glory, and the dominion, forever and ever! Amen!” (14) The four living creatures said, “Amen!” THROUGHOUT REVELATION THE 4 CREATURES WORSHIP & SERVE GOD Rev 7:11-12 WEB All the angels were standing around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces Page 33
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) before his throne, and worshiped God, (12) saying, “Amen! Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might, be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Rev 14:3 WEB They sing a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the one hundred forty-four thousand, those who had been redeemed out of the earth. Rev 15:7 WEB One of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. Rev 19:4 WEB The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne, saying, “Amen! Hallelujah!” ZECHARIAH SAW A VISION OF 4 NATIONS BEING BROKEN BY 4 OF GOD'S SERVANTS. Zec 1:18-21 WEB I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and behold, four horns. (19) I asked the angel who talked with me, “What are these?” He answered me, “These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” (20) Yahweh showed me four craftsmen. (21) Then I asked, “What are these coming to do?” He said, “These are the horns which scattered Judah, so that no man lifted up his head; but these have come to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations, which lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it.” A VISION OF 4 CHARIOTS DEPICT GOD'S OMNIPRESENCE & OMNISCIENCE. Zec 6:1-8 WEB Again I … saw … four chariots came out from between two mountains ... (2) In the first … were red horses; in the second … black horses; (3) in the third … white horses; and in the fourth … dappled horses … (5) … “These are the four winds of the sky, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth. (6) The one with the black horses goes out toward the north … and the Page 34
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) white went out after them; and the dappled went forth toward the south …” (7) … So they walked back and forth through the earth. (8) Then he … spoke … saying, “Behold, those who go toward the north … have quieted my spirit in the north ...” THE 4 CREATURES ANNOUNCE 4 HORSES WITH THE OPENING OF 4 SEALS. Rev 6:1-8 WEB I saw that the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying … “Come and see!” (2) And behold, a white horse ...(3) When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come!” (4) Another came forth, a red horse ... (5) When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come and see!” And behold, a black horse … (7) When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see!” (8) And behold, a pale horse ... THE OT MENTIONS THE 4 WINDS & THE 4 CORNERS OF THE EARTH. Isa 11:12 WEB He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. Jer 49:36 WEB On Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of the sky, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation where the outcasts of Elam shall not come. REVELATION HAS 4 ANGELS AT 4 CORNERS OF THE EARTH HOLDING BACK JUDGMENT. Rev 7:1 WEB After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth, or on the sea, or on any tree. Rev 9:13-15 WEB The sixth angel sounded. I heard a voice … (14) saying to the sixth angel who had one trumpet, “Free the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates!” (15) The four angels Page 35
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) were freed who had been prepared for that hour and day and month and year, so that they might kill one third of mankind. GOD'S ENEMIES COME FROM THE 4 CORNERS OF THE EARTH. Rev 20:7-8 WEB And after the thousand years, Satan will be released from his prison, (8) and he will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war; the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. TEN SYMBOLIZES LIMITS The connection between the number ten and limits probably has to do with anatomy: ten is the number of fingers on the human hand. Once you have counted to ten, you have exhausted all of your fingers, and hence, all of your chances. There are a number of places in the Bible where a person, in essence, counts to ten and then says: “Enough!” We will just consider a few of them. TEN YEARS WAS LIMIT OF ABRAM'S PATIENCE WITH GOD'S PROMISE. Gen 13:16 WEB I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then your seed may also be numbered. Gen 16:3 WEB Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife. TEN WAS THE LIMIT OF GOD'S PATIENCE WITH SODOM. When Abraham bargained with God to spare Sodom, he tested God’s limits till he reached the number ten. God said ten people would be enough for him to spare the city. Gen 18:32 WEB He said, “Oh don't let the Lord be angry, and I will speak just once more. What if ten are found there?” He said, “I will not destroy it for the ten's sake.” Page 36
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) TEN WAS THE LIMIT OF JACOB'S PATIENCE WITH LABAN. Gen 31:41 WEB These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS WERE THE LIMITS GOD SET ON ISRAEL'S CONDUCT. Exo 34:28 WEB He was there with Yahweh forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread, nor drank water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. The fact that God was in the habit of giving people ten chances is seen in at least two other events in during the life of Moses. TEN PLAGUES SHOWED THE LIMIT OF GOD'S PATIENCE WITH EGYPT. Israel's release from Egypt comes at a high price— not for those who are seeking freedom, but for those who would deny it. Egypt suffers for Pharaoh's obstinate refusal to let Israel go. In spite of plague after plague, Pharaoh continues to harden his heart. Not until the tenth plague does Pharaoh finally release Israel. And it is the tenth plague that results in the decisive judgment on Egypt. TEN REBELLIONS TEST THE LIMITS OF GOD'S PATIENCE WITH THE EXODUS GENERATION. Num 14:20-23 WEB Yahweh said, I have pardoned according to your word: but in very deed, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Yahweh; because all those men who have seen my glory, and my signs, which I worked in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have tempted me these ten times, and have not listened to my voice; surely they shall not see the land which I swore to their fathers, neither shall any of those who despised me see it The rabbis listed Israel's rebellions as follows: (1) AT THE RED SEA Page 37
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Exo 14:11-13 WEB They said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you treated us this way, to bring us forth out of Egypt? (12) Isn’t this the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians?’ For it were better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.” (13) Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of Yahweh, which he will work for you today: for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you shall never see them again. (2) AT MARAH Exo 15:23-25 WEB When they came to Marah, they couldn't drink from the waters of Marah, for they were bitter … (24) The people murmured against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" (25) Then he cried to Yahweh. Yahweh showed him a tree, and he threw it into the waters, and the waters were made sweet. There he made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there he tested them; Marah, also known as manroot, is a very bitter wild cucumber thought to be the reason for the bitter waters at Marah. Touch your tongue to a cut root and your jaw will lock. Natives threw crushed root into water bodies to stun fish. (3) IN THE WILDERNESS OF SIN Exo 16:2-4 WEB The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron in the wilderness; (3) and the children of Israel said to them, “We wish that we had died by the hand of Yahweh in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots, when we ate our fill of bread, for you have brought us out into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (4) Then said Yahweh to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from the sky for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law, or not. (4) HOARDING MANNA Page 38
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Exo 16:19-20 WEB Moses said to them, “Let no one leave of it until the morning.” (20) Notwithstanding they didn't listen to Moses, but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and became foul: and Moses was angry with them. (5) GATHERING MANNA ON THE SABBATH Exo 16:27-29 WEB It happened on the seventh day, that some of the people went out to gather, and they found none. (28) Yahweh said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? (29) Behold, because Yahweh has given you the Sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days. Everyone stay in his place. Let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” (6) AT REPHIDIM Exo 17:1-7 WEB All the congregation of the children … encamped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. (2) Therefore the people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test Yahweh?” … (5) Yahweh said to Moses, “…(6) Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb. You shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. (7) He called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because the children of Israel quarreled, and because they tested Yahweh, saying, “Is Yahweh among us, or not?” (7) AT HOREB Exo 32:1-6 WEB When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered … to Aaron, and said … “Come, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don't know what has become of him.” (2) Aaron said … “Take off the golden rings … and bring them to me.” (3) All the people took off the golden rings … and brought them to Aaron. (4) He … fashioned it Page 39
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) with an engraving tool, and made it a molten calf; and they said, “These are your gods, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” … (8) AT TABERAH Num 11:1-3 WEB The people were complaining in the ears of Yahweh. When Yahweh heard it, his anger was kindled; and Yahweh's fire burnt among them, and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. (2) The people cried to Moses; and Moses prayed to Yahweh, and the fire abated. (3) The name of that place was called Taberah, because Yahweh's fire burnt among them. (9) AT KIBROTH HATTAAVAH Num 11:4-20 WEB …The children of Israel also wept again, and said, “Who will give us flesh to eat? (5) We remember the fish, which we ate in Egypt for nothing; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic; (6) but now we have lost our appetite. There is nothing at all except this manna to look at.” … (18) Say to the people, …"Yahweh will give you flesh, and you will eat. (19) You will not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days, (20) but a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it is loathsome to you; because that you have rejected Yahweh who is among you, and have wept before him, saying, “Why did we come out of Egypt?” (10) THE LAST STRAW IS KADESH BARNEA! Num 14:1-24 WEB … (2) All the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said to them, Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would that we had died in this wilderness! (3) Why does Yahweh bring us to this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will be a prey: wouldn't it be better for us to return into Egypt? … (20) Yahweh said, … (22) … all those men who have seen my glory, and my signs, which I worked in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have tempted me these ten times, and have not listened to my voice; (23) surely they Page 40
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) shall not see the land which I swore to their fathers, neither shall any of those who despised me see it ... THE USES OF “TEN” IN REVELATION The church at Pergamum was going to suffer ten days, at the end of which, God would say, “Enough!” Rev 2:10 WEB Don't be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested; and you will have oppression for ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life. When the devil has done his worst, he is still limited by what God allows him to do! THE DRAGON AND THE SEA BEAST HAVE 10 HORNS. Rev 12:3 WEB Another sign was seen in heaven. Behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven crowns. Rev 13:1 WEB Then I stood on the sand of the sea. I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads. On his horns were ten crowns, and on his heads, blasphemous names. They have power, signified by the horns (as we'll see later), but they only have the power God gives them – in other words, God sets limits to their power. 10 HORNS ARE 10 KINGS – GOD SETS LIMITS ON THE BEAST'S POWER. Rev 17:3 WEB … I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet-colored animal, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. Rev 17:7 WEB The angel said to me, “Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. Page 41
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Rev 17:12 WEB The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority as kings, with the beast, for one hour. 1,000 SYMBOLIZES LIMITLESSNESS 1,000 is used for “all” of something. Begin with something simple. Psa 50:10 WEB For every animal of the forest is mine, and the livestock on a thousand hills. It is obvious that God is not exempting the livestock on other hills, nor the livestock in valleys. What he’s saying, quite simply, is that all livestock belongs to him. APPLY THAT REASONING TO OTHER PASSAGES: Deu 7:9 WEB Know therefore that Yahweh your God, he is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with them who love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations, The point is that God shows steadfast love to everyone who loves him and keeps his commandments. Psa 68:17 WEB The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands. The Lord is among them …. The message is: God has immeasurable power. And when we come to that troublesome text about 1,000 years, remember that time is insignificant to God. An eon to man is a moment to God. Psa 90:4 WEB For a thousand years in your sight are just like yesterday when it is past, like a watch in the night. God’s schedule is not to be judged by man's. Page 42
  • Lesson 1—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) 2Pe 3:8 WEB But don't forget this one thing, … that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. REMEMBER THE SYMBOLIC USE OF 1,000 WHEN WE GET TO REV 20:2-7 He seized the dragon … and bound him for a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss …that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were finished … I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus … They lived, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead didn't live until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection … they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with him one thousand years. And after the thousand years, Satan will be released from his prison … The devil’s power is limited (10 horns), but God’s dominion over the devil is unlimited (1,000 years). Page 43