Chapter 02 the alpha and the omega (part 2)

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Chapter 02 the alpha and the omega (part 2)

  1. 1. Amen! Hallelujah! - A study of the Book of Revelation Lesson 2 The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) Text: Revelation 1:1-8; 22:8-12 Date: March 11, 2007 Authored By: Dale Wells Palm Desert Church of Christ
  2. 2. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) THE OLD TESTAMENT BACKGROUND OF THE BOOK In 404 verses, there is not a single Old Testament quote. Yet, there are hundreds of allusions to the Old Testament. 278 verses (70% of the book) reference the Old Testament. The UBS Greek New Testament cross-references the Old Testament over 500 times. By contrast, Paul's letters contain only 95 direct quotes and about 100 other allusions to the Old Testament. In Revelation, we see the Son of Man, Balaam & Balak, Jezebel, one ruling with a rod of iron, the Book of Life, the throne in heaven, four living creatures, a scroll, the Lion of Judah, God’s people marked, trumpets of judgment, two witnesses, a beast out of the sea, the Song of Moses, Armageddon, the fall of Babylon, the new heaven and new earth, the new Jerusalem, the tree of life, all directly out of the Old Testament. SEVEN GOLDEN LAMPSTANDS Rev 1:12 WEB I saw seven golden lampstands. This is reminiscent of the menorah in the tabernacle and in Zechariah's vision. Exo 25:31-40 WEB “You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. … You shall make its lamps seven. Zec 4:2 WEB He said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I have seen …a lampstand all of gold, with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon … ONE LIKE A SON OF MAN. Rev 1:13-16 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 were like burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace. His voice was like the voice of many waters … His face was like the sun Page 2
  3. 3. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) shining at its brightest. The picture comes from OT images of the Messiah & the divine messenger. Dan 7:13 WEB I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man,… Dan 10:5-6 WEB I lifted up my eyes, and looked, and, behold, a man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with pure gold of Uphaz: his body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as flaming torches, and his arms and his feet like burnished brass THE SCENE IN REVELATION 4-5 TAKES PLACE AROUND GOD'S THRONE IN HEAVEN. Rev 4:2-5 WEB … Behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and one sitting on the throne that looked like a jasper stone and a sardius. There was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald to look at. … Out of the throne proceed lightnings, sounds, and thunders. There were seven lamps of fire burning before his throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. THE DESCRIPTION IMPORTS ASPECTS OF THE VISIONS OF SEVERAL PROPHETS. Isa 6:1 WEB … I saw the Lord sitting on a throne... Eze 1:27-28 WEB As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh Dan 7:9-10 WEB I saw until thrones were placed, and one who was ancient of days sat … his throne was fiery flames, and the wheels of it burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him... Page 3
  4. 4. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) AROUND GOD'S THRONE IN REVELATION 4, JOHN SAW 4 LIVING CREATURES. Rev 4:6-8 WEB In the midst of the throne, and around the throne were four living creatures … 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. The four living creatures, each … having six wings, are full of eyes around about 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 WORDS ARE REMINISCENT OF OT IMAGES OF GOD. Eze 1:5-10 WEB Out of the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. ... Everyone had four faces … the face of a man … the face of a lion … the face of an ox … the face of an eagle. Isa 6:2-3 WEB Above him stood the seraphim. … One called to another, and said, “Holy, holy, holy, is Yahweh of Hosts! …” WHEN THE LAMB OPENS THE FIRST 4 SEALS, JOHN SEES 4 HORSES AND RIDERS. Rev 6:1-8 WEB I saw that the Lamb opened one of the seven seals … And behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow. ... When he opened the second seal, … Another came forth, a red horse. … When he opened the third seal … behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a balance in his hand. … When he opened the fourth seal, … behold, a pale horse, and he who sat on it, his name was Death. ... THE HORSES AND RIDERS ARE A REMINDER OF GOD'S JUDGMENTS IN THE OT. Zec 1:8-10 WEB “I had a vision … a man riding on a red horse, … and behind him there were red, brown, and white horses. Then I asked, 'My lord, what are these?'“ … “They are the ones Yahweh Page 4
  5. 5. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) has sent to go back and forth through the earth.” Zec 6:1-8 WEB … I lifted up my eyes, and saw … four chariots … In the first … were red horses; in the second … black horses; in the third … white horses; and in the fourth … dappled horses, all of them powerful … “These are the four winds of the sky, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth. … OTHER PROPHETIC REFERENCES TO FOUR JUDGMENTS. Eze 14:21 WEB For thus says the Lord Yahweh: How much more when I send my four sore judgments on Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the evil animals, and the pestilence … Jer 15:2-3 WEB … Where shall we go forth? … Thus says Yahweh: Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for captivity, to captivity … THE SIXTH SEAL BRINGS AN EARTHQUAKE WITH COSMIC CONSEQUENCES. Rev 6:12-17 WEB … The sun became black as sackcloth … and the whole moon became as blood. The stars of the sky fell to the earth ... The sky was removed like a scroll when it is rolled up … The kings of the earth … 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?” Rev 6:12-17 WEB THE DESCRIPTION REMINDS THE READER OF GOD'S JUDGMENTS IN THE OT. Joe 2:30-31 WEB … The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood … Eze 32:7-8 WEB … I will cover the heavens, and make the stars of it dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its Page 5
  6. 6. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) light.... Isa 34:4 WEB … the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll… Isa 2:19 WEB Men shall go into the caves … From … the terror of Yahweh, And … the glory of his majesty, When he arises to shake the earth mightily. Hos 10:8 WEB They will tell the mountains, “Cover us!” and the hills, “Fall on us!” REV 7 DEPICTS 4 ANGELS BEING HELD BACK UNTIL GOD'S PEOPLE ARE SEALED. Rev 7:1-8 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. I saw another angel ascend from the sunrise, having the seal of the living God. He cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Don't harm the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads!” … THIS PICTURE IS REMINISCENT OF A SIMILAR PASSAGE IN EZEKIEL 9. Eze 9:1-6 WEB … Behold, six men … every man with his … weapon in his hand; and one man … clothed in linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side. … The glory of the God of Israel … called to the man clothed in linen, … Go … set a mark on the foreheads of the men that sigh … over all the abominations … To the others he said … Go you through the city after him, and strike: don't let your eye spare, neither have you pity; … but don't come near any man on whom is the mark … THE FOUR TRUMPETS OF REV. 8:7-12 ARE HARBINGERS OF GOD'S JUDGMENTS. Rev 8:6-12 WEB The seven angels who had the seven trumpets Page 6
  7. 7. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) 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. THE JUDGMENTS DEPICTED BY TRUMPETS COME FROM VARIOUS PLACES IN THE OT. In part, they come from the Day of the Lord in Joel. Joe 2:1-3 WEB Blow you the trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm in my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of Yahweh comes, For it is close at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn spreading on the mountains, A great and strong people; … A fire devours before them, And behind them, a flame burns. … Yes, and no one has escaped them. THEY ARE ALSO REMINISCENT OF THE PLAGUES OF EGYPT Exo 9:23-26 WEB Moses stretched forth his rod … and Yahweh sent thunder, hail, and lightning … Exo 7:19-21 WEB … Yahweh said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ' … stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, … all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. The fish that were in the river died; and the river became foul, and the Egyptians couldn't drink water from the river … Exo 10:21-23 WEB Yahweh said … “Stretch out your hand … that Page 7
  8. 8. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.” Moses stretched forth his hand … and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days… IN REVELATION 10, JOHN IS TOLD TO EAT A LITTLE BOOK THAT AN ANGEL GIVES HIM. Rev 10:8-11 WEB The voice … said, “Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.” I went to the angel … He said to me, “Take it, and eat it up. It will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.” I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up. It was as sweet as honey in my mouth. When I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter... THIS EPISODE IS REMINISCENT OF AN EXPERIENCE OF THE PROPHET EZEKIEL. Eze 2:8-3:3 WEB But you, son of man, … open your mouth, and eat that which I give you. When I looked, behold, … a scroll … He said to me, Son of man, eat that which you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat the scroll. He said to me, Son of man, cause your belly to eat, and fill your bowels with this scroll that I give you. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. IN REVELATION 11, JOHN IS TOLD TO MEASURE GOD'S TEMPLE. Rev 11:1-2 WEB 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. Leave out the court which is outside of the temple, and don't measure it, for it has been given to the gentiles. They will tread the holy city under foot for forty-two months. ZECHARIAH SIMILARLY ENVISIONED A MAN MEASURING JERUSALEM. Zec 2:1-5 WEB I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and, behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then I asked, “Where are you Page 8
  9. 9. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) going?” He said to me, “To measure Jerusalem ...” … and another angel went out to meet him, and said to him, “Run, speak to this young man, saying, 'Jerusalem will be inhabited as villages without walls, … For I,' says Yahweh, 'will be to her a wall of fire around it, and I will be the glory in the midst of her. IN REVELATION 11, TWO WITNESSES PREACH FOR THREE-AND-A-HALF YEARS. Rev 11:3-6 WEB I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands, standing before the Lord of the earth. If anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies. … These have the power to shut up the sky, that it may not rain ... They have power over the waters, to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague ... THESE TWO WITNESSES REMIND US OF THE TWO OLIVE BRANCHES IN ZECHARIAH 4. 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?” I asked him the second time, “What are these two olive-branches, which are beside the two golden spouts, that pour the golden oil out of themselves?” He answered me, “Don't you know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” THE POWER TO TURN WATER TO BLOOD AND INFLICT PLAGUES REMINDS US OF MOSES. Exo 7:19-21 WEB Yahweh said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, 'Take your rod, and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their ponds of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.'“ Moses and Aaron did so … and all the waters Page 9
  10. 10. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) that were in the river were turned to blood. ... THE POWER TO SHUT THE SKY AND PREVENT RAIN REMINDS US OF ELIJAH. 1Ki 17:1 WEB Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the foreigners of Gilead, said to Ahab, As Yahweh, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. IN REV 12, JOHN SEES A WAR IN HEAVEN WITH SATAN BEING THROWN TO EARTH. Rev 12:7-9 WEB There was war in the sky. Michael and his angels made war on the dragon. The dragon and his angels made war. They didn't prevail, neither was a place found for him any more in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, the old serpent, he who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. THE DESCRIPTION SOUNDS LIKE A SIMILAR DESCRIPTION IN ISAIAH 14. Isa 14:12-15 WEB How you are fallen from heaven, day-star, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit on the mountain of congregation, in the uttermost parts of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the uttermost parts of the pit. IN REVELATION 13, JOHN SEES A BEAST COMING OUT OF THE SEA. Among its many unusual characteristics, it has features of a leopard, bear and lion. Rev 13:1-2 WEB Then I stood on the sand of the sea. I saw a beast Page 10
  11. 11. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) 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 beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. IN A SIMILAR OT PASSAGE, DANIEL SAW FOUR BEASTS COMING OUT OF THE SEA. Dan 7:1-7 WEB … I saw in my vision … and, behold, the four winds of the sky broke forth on the great sea. Four great animals came up from the sea... The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings… Behold, another animal, a second, like a bear… After this I saw … another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; … After this I saw … a fourth animal … and it was diverse from all the animals that were before it; and it had ten horns. IN REV. 14, GOD'S JUDGMENT IS SEEN AS A HARVEST OF GRAIN, THEN GRAPES. Rev 14:14-20 WEB … “Send forth your sickle, and reap… for the harvest of the earth is ripe!” He … thrust his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped … “Send forth your sharp sickle … for the earth's grapes are fully ripe!” The angel … gathered the vintage of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. The winepress was trodden … and blood came out … even to the bridles of the horses, as far as one thousand six hundred stadia. IN THE OT, HARVESTING GRAIN AND GRAPES DEPICT GOD'S JUDGMENT Joe 3:12-14 WEB "… Put in the sickle; For the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the winepress is full, The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.” Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of Yahweh is near… Isa 63:1-6 WEB Who is this who comes from Edom … Why are you red in your clothing, and your garments like him who treads in the wine vat? I have trodden the winepress alone… I trod them in my Page 11
  12. 12. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on my garments … I trod down the peoples in my anger … and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth. REV. 18 BEGINS WITH THE PROCLAMATION THAT “BABYLON THE GREAT” HAS FALLEN. Rev 18:1-3 WEB After these things, I saw another angel coming down out of the sky… He cried with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great… For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her sexual immorality, the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from the abundance of her luxury.” THE PROPHETS MADE SIMILAR PROCLAMATIONS IN THE OT. Isa 21:9 WEB He answered, Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the … images of her gods are broken to the ground. Jer 51:7-8 WEB Babylon has been a golden cup in Yahweh's hand, who made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunk of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed… Jer 51:13 WEB You who dwell on many waters, abundant in treasures, your end is come, the measure of your covetousness. REVELATION 19 DESCRIBES THE WEDDING SUPPER OF THE LAMB. Rev 19:5-9 WEB … “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns! Let us rejoice and be … glad, and let us give the glory to him. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready.” It was given to her that she would array herself in bright, pure, fine linen: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. He said … “Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb' … These are true words of God.” THE PROPHETS SPEAK OF ISRAEL BOTH AS GOD'S BETROTHED AND AS Page 12
  13. 13. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) HIS WIFE. Hos 2:19-20 WEB I will betroth you to me forever ... in righteousness, in justice, in loving kindness … and in compassion. I will … betroth you to me in faithfulness; And you shall know Yahweh. Isa 54:1-8 WEB … For your Maker is your husband … For Yahweh has called you as a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even a wife of youth, when she is cast off, says your God … JESUS IS THE DIVINE WARRIOR WITH HIS ENEMIES' BLOOD ON HIS CLOTHES. Rev 19:11-16 WEB … behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it is called Faithful and True. In righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on his head are many crowns … He is clothed in a garment sprinkled with blood… 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 … wrath of God ... He has … a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” PORTIONS OF THIS PICTURE COME FROM ISAIAH AND THE PSALMS. Isa 63:1-6 WEB … I have trodden the winepress … trampled them in my wrath; … their lifeblood is sprinkled on my garments, and I have stained all my clothing … Isa 11:1-5 WEB … a shoot out of … Jesse … he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth… Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. Psa 2:9 WEB You shall break them with a rod of iron. You shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” WE COULD GO ON AND ON. The foregoing examples barely scratch the surface of the rich allusions to the Old Testament that literally fill the pages of the Book Page 13
  14. 14. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) of Revelation. John refers frequently to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. He also refers repeatedly to the Psalms, Exodus, and Deuteronomy. He often reinterprets Old Testament passages, giving them new meanings. The simple fact is, in order to understand the Book of Revelation, you have to know the Old Testament. THE HISTORICAL SETTING OF THE BOOK Julio-Claudian Dynasty Augustus (27 BC-14 AD) Tiberius (14-37 AD) Caligula (37-41 AD) Claudius (41-54 AD) Nero (54-68 AD) JULIO-CLAUDIAN DYNASTY IMPERATOR CAESAR AUGUSTUS Emperor 27 BC - 14 AD Founder of the Roman Empire, the great nephew of Julius Caesar. On Caesar's assassination (44 BC), he used Caesar's money and name (both acquired under his will), he raised an army, defeated Antony, and extorted a consulship from the Senate (43 BC). Octvaius took the western Roman world as his share, and Antony the eastern. While Antony was distracted by military campaigns and his liason with Cleopatra, Octavius undermined him at home. Matters came to a head in 31 BC, and the Battle of Actium followed, Octavius emerging victorious as the sole ruler of the Roman world. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE THRONE NAME AUGUSTUS His new name, Augustus (‘exalted’), had religious overtones. His Page 14
  15. 15. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) long reign (27 BC-AD 14) was a time of peace and reconstruction at home, sound administration and steady conquest abroad. In gratitude the Romans awarded him the title Pater Patriae (‘Father of his Country’) in 2 BC, and on his death made him a god (Divus Augustus). During his reign, Augustus accepted deification in the Roman provinces, thus laying the foundation for the concilia, or emperor cult. Jesus was born during his reign. Luk 2:1-5 WEB Now it happened in those days, that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. … (4) Joseph … went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; (5) to enroll himself with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being pregnant. TIBERIUS JULIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS Emperor 14 – 37 AD The stepson of Augustus. His reign was a political disaster. The death of his heir Germanicus (19) was followed by a reign of terror by the praetorian prefect Sejanus. The people despised him He moved to Capri, an island retreat, in 26 & never returned to Rome. that had been his home since 26. Jesus’ ministry and death occurred during his reign. Luk 3:1-2 WEB Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar… (2) in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. GAIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS GERMANICUS (CALIGULA) Emperor 37 – 41 AD Page 15
  16. 16. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) Youngest son of Germanicus and Agrippina. He was brought up in an army camp and nicknamed Caligula from his little boots (caligae). He was extravagant, autocratic, vicious, and mentally unstable. He wreaked havoc with the state finances and terrorized those around him, until he was assassinated. He demanded worship and ordered that his statue be placed in the Jerusalem temple, but he died before the order was carried out. TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS GERMANICUS Emperor 41 - 54 AD Nephew of Tiberius. He was kept secluded because of physical disabilities. He devoted himself to historical studies, and so survived the in-fighting of the imperial house. He became emperor in the chaos after Caligula's murder. He was progressive, engaging in public works and administrative reform, making a lasting contribution to the government. He was poisoned by his fourth wife, Agrippina. He expelled the Jews from Rome. Act 18:1-3 WEB … (2) He found a certain Jew named Aquila … who had recently come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome … IMPERATOR NERO CLAUDIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS GERMANICUS Emperor 54 - 68 AD Agrippina, urged Claudius to adopt Nero, then poisoned him, making Nero emperor. His first years were good, thanks to his advisers: his mother, Seneca, and the Praetorian Prefect Burrus. After his mother's murder (59), he was more interested in debauchery than government, and corruption set in. He was blamed for the Fire of Rome (64) and attempted to make scapegoats of Christians. Rome endured four more years of tyranny before he was toppled by the army, and forced to commit suicide. Page 16
  17. 17. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) Nero's persecution of Christians was localized around the city and Peter and Paul were martyred. CIVIL WAR 69 AD – The Year of Four Kings. On January 1, 69 AD, Galba was on the throne. On December 31, 69 AD, Vespasian was on the throne. Between Galba and Vespasian, two emperors occupied the throne: Otho (3 months) and Vitellius (8 months). SERVIUS GALBA IMPERATOR CAESAR AUGUSTUS Emperor June 9, 68 – January 15, 69 AD He became consul in 33, and administered Aquitania, Germany, Africa, and Hispania Tarraconensis with competence and integrity. In 68 the Gallic legions rose against Nero, and in June proclaimed Galba emperor. But he soon made himself unpopular by favoritism, ill-timed severity, and avarice, and was assassinated by the praetorians in Rome. IMPERATOR MARCUS OTHO CAESAR AUGUSTUS Emperor January 15 – April 17, 69 AD Nero took Otho's wife for his mistress, and later married her. He was sent to govern Lusitania (58-68), and joined Galba in his revolt against Nero (68). When he was not proclaimed Galba's successor, he rose against the new emperor, who was slain. Otho was recognized as emperor everywhere except in Germany. Aulus Vitellius marched on Italy, defeated Otho's forces, and Otho committed suicide. IMPERATOR AULUS VITELLIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS GERMANICUS Emperor April 19 – December 20, 69 AD Galba appointed him to command the legions on the Lower Rhine (68). He was proclaimed emperor at the beginning of 69. His army Page 17
  18. 18. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) ended Otho's reign by the victory of Bedriacum. He gave himself up to pleasure and debauchery. Many of his soldiers deserted when Vespasian was proclaimed emperor in Alexandria. Vitellius was dragged through the streets of Rome, and murdered. FLAVIAN DYNASTY IMPERATOR CAESAR VESPASIANUS AUGUSTUS Emperor 69 – 79 AD Declared emperor by the Eastern troops during the Jewish Revolt. He ended the civil wars that followed Nero's overthrow, put the state on a sound financial footing, and restored military discipline. Among his building projects was the Colosseum. His last words were, “Puto deus fio” (“I think I'm becoming a god”). After death, in 79, he was deified. Revelation was likely written during his reign. Rev 17:9-11 WEB ... The seven heads … (10) … are seven kings. Five have fallen, the one is, the other has not yet come … (11) The beast … is … an eighth… IMPERATOR TITUS CAESAR VESPASIANUS AUGUSTUS Emperor 79 - 81 AD Elder son of Vespasian. He was popular for his generosity, charm, and military prowess. He was exceptionally good-looking, cultivated, refined and friendly. Suetonius called him “the darling of the human race”. He engineered the destruction of Jerusalem (70) and suppressed the Jewish Revolt. He completed the construction of the Flavian Amphitheatre, better known as the Colosseum. His sudden death at age 41 was supposedly hastened by Domitian. IMPERATOR CAESAR DOMITIANUS AUGUSTUS GERMANICUS Page 18
  19. 19. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) Emperor 81 – 96 AD Younger son of Vespasian, and last of the Flavians. He alienated the ruling class by his tyranny. He was paranoid about opposition after the revolt of Saturninus, the Governor of Upper Germany (89). He unleashed a reign of terror in Rome that lasted until his assassination. He demanded to be called Lord and God. He initiated an extremely severe persecution of Christians. Revelation was written to prepare Christians for his persecution. THE ESSENTIAL MESSAGE OF THE BOOK Revelation is a message to seven churches in First Century Asia Minor. Rev 1:4-5a WEB John, to the seven assemblies that are in Asia … These seven churches are typical of the church as a whole. We know that, because each letter ends with a word to all the churches. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22 WEB THE AUTHOR IDENTIFIES HIMSELF AS JOHN FOUR TIMES. Rev 1:1 WEB This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ … which he sent and made known by his angel to his servant, John, Rev 1:4 WEB John, to the seven assemblies that are in Asia … Rev 1:9 WEB I John, your brother and partner with you in oppression, Kingdom, and perseverance in Christ Jesus, was on the isle that is called Patmos because of God's Word and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Rev 22:8 WEB … I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things … WHO WAS THIS JOHN? Page 19
  20. 20. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) Justin Martyr (2nd century) held it was the apostle John. We know the author was well versed in Scripture, well known to the seven churches of Asia Minor, convinced that the church would triumph over its enemies. Dionysius (3rd century), suggested it was John the Presbyter, who appears elsewhere in ancient writings. I believe it was the apostle. REVELATION WAS WRITTEN AS CHRISTIANS WERE FACING IMPENDING PERSECUTION. Most believe it was during the reigns of Nero (54-68) or Domitian (81-96). I believe it was during Vespasian's reign (69-79). Rev 17:10-11 WEB 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. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven... The 5: Julio-Claudians. The 3: Flavians ROMAN AUTHORITIES WERE BEGINNING TO ENFORCE EMPEROR WORSHIP. Christians were facing increasing hostility. Warning to Smyrna: Rev 2:10 WEB ... 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. Promise to Philadelphia: Rev 3:10 WEB … I … will keep you from the hour of testing which is to come on the whole world ... Page 20
  21. 21. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) CHRISTIANS WERE ALREADY SUFFERING FOR THEIR FAITH. In Pergamum, Antipas had given his life. Rev 2:13 WEB … You hold firmly to my name, and didn't deny my faith in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. Others had been martyred. Rev 6:9 WEB … I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed for the Word of God, and for the testimony of the Lamb which they had. JOHN, HIMSELF, HAD BEEN EXILED TO A PENAL COLONY ON PATMOS. Rev 1:9 WEB I John, your brother and partner with you in oppression, Kingdom, and perseverance in Christ Jesus, was on the isle that is called Patmos because of God's Word and the testimony of Jesus Christ. SOME CHRISTIANS WERE BEGINNING TO DABBLE IN SIN. Some in Pergamum were advocating compromise. Rev 2:14-15 WEB But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to throw a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans likewise. Thyatirans were tolerating immorality and idolatry. Rev 2:20 WEB But I have this against you, that you tolerate your woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. She teaches and seduces my servants to commit sexual immorality, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. JOHN'S PURPOSE IN WRITING IS CLEAR. Page 21
  22. 22. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) He writes to encourage the faithful to resist the demands of emperor worship. He tells his readers that the final showdown between God and Satan is imminent. Satan will increase his persecution of believers, but they must be faithful, even if it means death. They are sealed against any spiritual harm and they will be vindicated when God judges his enemies and rewards his people. THE MESSAGE IS “GRACE” AND “PEACE”. “Grace” refers to blessings we don’t deserve. “Peace” refers to a harmonious relationship with God in the middle of turmoil. There is a good reason why biblical writers like Paul and John made use of the combined greeting: “Grace and peace”. In the 1st Century, the greeting of the Greeks was the Greek charis, meaning “grace”; the greeting of the Jews was the Hebrew shalom, meaning “peace”.By using both greetings, the writers emphasized the inherent unity of Jew and Gentile in Christ! WHO IS THE AUTHOR OF GRACE AND PEACE? The eternal God, “who is … was and … is to come”. This is the way God identified himself to Moses. Exo 3:14 WEB God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM,” and he said, “You shall tell the children of Israel this: “I AM has sent me to you.” It is also one way God identified himself to Israel. Isa 41:4 WEB Who has worked and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I, Yahweh, the first, and with the last, I am he. The meaning of “Yahweh” is “the existing one”. It doesn't matter whether you are talking about the past, or the present, or the future, God always IS! GRACE AND PEACE ARE ALSO GIFTS FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT. Page 22
  23. 23. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) “[T]he seven Spirits who are before his throne” is a reference to the Holy Spirit. The NIV footnote suggests an alternate reading that may actually give us a better concept of what John is getting at: “the sevenfold Spirit”. Remember the use of numbers in the Book of Revelation? To say that the Spirit is “the sevenfold Spirit” is to say that the Holy Spirit is engaged in seeing that the whole work of God is accomplished. It is God's Spirit at work! LAST, BUT NOT LEAST, GRACE AND PEACE ARE THE GIFT OF JESUS CHRIST, HIMSELF. JESUS IS DESCRIBED THREE WAYS. He is the “faithful witness”. In other words, Jesus is “reliable.” Rev 3:14 WEB “To … Laodicea write: “The … Faithful and True Witness … says... Rev 19:11 WEB I saw … a white horse, and he who sat on it is called Faithful and True … He is the “firstborn of the dead”. This is reminiscent of the Davidic king. Psa 89:27 WEB I will … appoint him my firstborn Paul describes Jesus this way: Col 1:18 WEB He is … the firstborn from the dead He is “ruler of the kings of the earth”. This is reminiscent of the descriptions of the king and of the Messiah. Psa 89:27 WEB I will also appoint him ... the highest of the kings of the earth. Rev 19:16 WEB He has … a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND Page 23
  24. 24. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation turns on the question: Who rules? The emperor thought he ruled the world. He was mistaken! Revelation has as its theme: God Rules! DOXOLOGY At this point in the text, John erupts in spontaneous praise. He extols the wonderful works that Jesus has done on our behalf! Rev 1:5b-6 WEB To him who loves us, and washed us from our sins by his blood; and he made us to be a kingdom, priests to his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. HE BEGINS WITH THE WORDS, “TO HIM WHO LOVES US”. This is a present, active participle. (The KJV incorrectly renders it as a past tense, “loved”). Often, in Greek, when a word is in the present tense and active voice, it conveys both (1) present action, and (2) ongoing action. Thus, the meaning is not just that Jesus loves us now, but that he never stops loving us! His love continues – past, present, and future. There is no end to Jesus' love for us! JOHN SAYS THAT JESUS “WASHED US FROM OUR SINS BY HIS BLOOD”. That may be an incorrect translation. Most modern Greek editions have the verb as lusanti, (“loosed”), not lousanti (“washed”). The words sound the same, but they are spelled slightly differently. Regardless of whether we read “loosed” or “washed”, the meaning is not radically different for the Christian. It is the form of the word that is telling. It is an aorist participle – referring to a completed past action. In other words, at a point in the past, Jesus “loosed” or “washed” us from our sins, so that we are no longer bound to, or sullied by them. That's the heart of the message conveyed by this phrase. Page 24
  25. 25. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) John continues to say that Jesus has made us into something special. Rev 1:6 WEB... [H]e made us to be a kingdom, priests to his God and Father… This was God's plan for Israel: Exo 19:6 WEB and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation…” Isa 61:6 WEB But you shall be named the priests of Yahweh; men shall call you the ministers of our God… The church, “God's Israel” (Gal 6:16), is “a kingdom” (not “kings”, as in KJV); Christians are “priests”. 1Pe 2:9 WEB But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: THE COMING OF THE LORD Rev 1:7 WEB Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, including those who pierced him. All the tribes of the earth will mourn over him. Even so, Amen. The Bible says a lot about the “coming” of the Lord. Most people do not understand the “coming” of the Lord. Most think of the “Second Coming”. Much of the time, when the Bible talks about the Lord “coming”, it is not talking about the "second coming." The Bible speaks of several times when the Lord has “come”. OT PROPHETS USED IT TO DESCRIBE GOD'S JUDGMENT ON A NATION, OR A PEOPLE. Isa 13:9-11 WEB … the day of Yahweh comes … For the stars of the Page 25
  26. 26. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) sky and the constellations of it shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in its going forth, and the moon shall not cause its light to shine. I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity: and I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. He is not describing the end of the world, but the end of Babylon's world: Isa 13:1 WEB The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see. IN OTHER PASSAGES, THE SAME MOTIF OCCURS. Isa 19:1 WEB The burden of Egypt. Behold, Yahweh rides on a swift cloud, and comes to Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall tremble at his presence; and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. According to Isaiah, God is riding on a cloud and wreaking all sorts of havoc in the world. But the text clearly says that this is God's judgment on Egypt. Isa 30:30-31 WEB Yahweh will cause his glorious voice to be heard, and will show the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and the flame of a devouring fire, with a blast, and tempest, and hailstones. For through the voice of Yahweh shall the Assyrian be dismayed; with his rod will he strike him. In this text, God describes a coming judgment on Assyria in terms reminiscent of the Book of Revelation. ISAIAH OFFERS ANOTHER EXAMPLE TO SHOW THAT THIS IS A COMMON THEME. Isa 63:1-7 Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this who is glorious in his clothing, marching in the greatness of his strength? I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Why are you red in your clothing, and your garments like him Page 26
  27. 27. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) who treads in the wine vat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yes, I trod them in my anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on my garments, and I have stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore my own arm brought salvation to me; and my wrath, it upheld me. I trod down the peoples in my anger, and made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth. … ISAIAH'S DESCRIPTION SOUNDS MUCH LIKE WORDS WE WILL READ IN REVELATION: Rev 14:19-20 WEB The angel thrust his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vintage of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. The winepress was trodden outside of the city, and blood came out from the winepress, even to the bridles of the horses, as far as one thousand six hundred stadia. But the context of Isaiah shows that the prophet is describing God's judgment on Israel. WHEN YOU READ THOSE TEXTS A COMMON THEME EMERGES. The Coming, or Day of the Lord, refers to the day when the Lord judges a nation and punishes it for its sins. John says the Lord is coming. We must view that from a First Century perspective. God had judged Babylon, Egypt, Assyria and Israel with previous comings. John assures 1st Century Christians that he is going to judge Rome, as well. As we shall see, that is the empire against whom the Lord's coming is directed in the Book of Revelation. AND THE UNGODLY WILL BE SORRY ABOUT THE WAY THEY TREATED JESUS. Page 27
  28. 28. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) Rev 1:7 “[E]very eye will see him, including those who pierced him. All the tribes of the earth will mourn over him.” That is reminiscent of the prophet Zechariah. Zec 12:10-14 WEB I will pour on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they will look to me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, … The “coming” of the Lord is the day of reckoning for the ungodly - and the day of reward for the godly! Whether the coming of the Lord is good news or bad news depends entirely on your relationship to him when he comes! TRUST GOD! 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.” Revelation's message is simple: “Trust God”. God describes himself as “the Alpha and Omega”. These were the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. That is like saying he covers our needs from “A to Z”. There isn't anything he isn't capable of dealing with. HE IS THE ONE “WHO IS AND WHO WAS AND WHO IS TO COME”. This reminds us of his self-revelation to Moses at Sinai. Exo 3:14 WEB God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM,” and he said, “You shall tell the children of Israel this: “I AM has sent me to you.” Yahweh signifies existence. God IS! Others come and go. In Egypt, there were many Pharaohs and many dynasties. One had a 10 lesson course in who rules – we call it the plagues. He finally learned that Pharaohs come and go; but God IS and God RULES! Page 28
  29. 29. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) DOWN THROUGH THE OT, OTHERS HAD TO LEARN THEIR LESSON THE HARD WAY. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that led to him being deposed. He was off the throne, and quite insane, until he acknowledged that God IS and God RULES! You can read the story in Daniel 4, but the bottom line was Nebuchadnezzar's final realization: Dan 4:34-35 WEB At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him who lives forever; for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation. … REVELATION WAS WRITTEN WHEN THE CHURCH WAS FACING MORE UPSTART KINGS In First Century Rome, there was a group of fellows who thought they ruled the world. Revelation is God's promise that the Roman emperors were going to learn the same lesson Egypt's Pharaohs and Babylon's Nebuchadnezzar learned: Kingdoms of the world come and go; God's kingdom remains. In other words, God IS and God RULES! THERE IS ONE LAST, GREAT WORD THAT JOHN USES TO DESCRIBE GOD. It is the Greek pantokrator, which means “all powerful”. This is a word that we're going to find in a number of contexts through the book. THOSE AROUND GOD'S THRONE EXTOL HIM AS “THE ALMIGHTY”. Rev 4:8 WEB The four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around about and within. They have no rest day and night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, Page 29
  30. 30. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) who was and who is and who is to come!” Rev 11:16-17 WEB The twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God's throne, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give you thanks, Lord God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was; because you have taken your great power, and reigned. THE “SONG OF THE LAMB” AND THE ALTAR PRAISE GOD AS “THE ALMIGHTY”. Rev 15:3 WEB They sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are your ways, you King of the nations. Rev 16:7 WEB I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.” THERE IS A BATTLE ON “THE GREAT DAY OF GOD, THE ALMIGHTY”. Rev 16:13-14 WEB I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits, something like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs; which go forth to the kings of the whole inhabited earth, to gather them together for the war of that great day of God, the Almighty. WHEN GOD JUDGES ROME, THE ELDERS PRAISE GOD AS “THE ALMIGHTY”. Rev 19:6 WEB I heard something like the voice of a great multitude, and like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of mighty thunders, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns! Jesus executes the wrath of God, “the Almighty”. Rev 19:15 WEB Out of his mouth proceeds a sharp, double-edged sword, that with it he should strike the nations. He will rule them with Page 30
  31. 31. Lesson 2—The Alpha and the Omega (Part 2) a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty. IN THE DESCRIPTION OF THE “THE NEW JERUSALEM”: Rev 21:22 WEB I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. John never lets us forget that God is “the Almighty”. He doesn't want the reader to lose sight of who’s really in control – God IS and God RULES! Page 31

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