In the previous post, we looked at several passages from the Book of Revelation that address the return of Jesus. In this post, we complete our study by examining passages from the last chapter of Revelation. In addition, we offer a brief summary of posts from November and December regarding the second coming of Jesus.
Revelation 22:7 – “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
Three times in the epilogue of Revelation, Jesus declares, “I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:7, 12, 20). This accentuates the urgency of Christ’s return and affirms his previous promises in the Gospels and the Book of Revelation. His repeated statement also validates what John has seen and heard on Patmos, and what the apostles have written about in their eyewitness accounts and epistles.
Jesus attaches a blessing to the promise of his imminent return: “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” This is the sixth of seven blessing statements, or beatitudes, in Revelation. [The seven beatitudes of Revelation may be found at Rev. 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14.] While we wait expectantly for the Lord’s return, our lives should reflect the truth of Scripture. When we conduct ourselves in this way, we find ourselves happy.
We may not fully understand the details surrounding the Day of the Lord, but the New Testament writers make several truths plain: (1) Jesus is returning one day – physically, visibly, in power and great glory; (2) we do not know the day or the hour of his return; (3) we should live in view of his imminent return; (4) when he comes, all people will know it; (5) Jesus will judge all people personally, rewarding believers according to their faithfulness and punishing unbelievers in varying degrees according to their evil deeds; (6) he will create new heavens and a new earth, setting everything right; and (7) the glory of eternity with Christ will cause the “former things” of this world to fade away.
Eternity may seem far off to us. Yet if we keep the prophecies of Revelation in front of us, we learn to live more comfortably in the tension between the already and not-yet.Continue reading
Previously: I fell at his feet to worship – Revelation 19:10
Rev. 19:11 – Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. 13 He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is called the Word of God. 14 The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. 15 From His mouth came a sharp sword, so that with it He might strike the nations. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. 16 And on his robe and on His thigh He has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (HCSB)
Then I saw heaven opened
For a second time in Revelation, John sees both heaven opened and a white horse. But the visions are not the same. In Rev. 4:1, after obeying the command to write to seven churches in Asia Minor, John sees an open door in heaven and is invited to “Come up here” where he is shown what must take place after this. Now, in Rev. 19:11, he sees heaven opened once again and views the climax of these events. In a similar fashion, John has seen a rider on a white horse in Rev. 6:2, and he sees a rider again now. But they are very different riders.
While some commentators argue that the riders in both passages depict Jesus, the differences between the riders indicate otherwise. In fact, the only similarity is that both characters are riding white horses. It’s more likely that the rider in Rev. 6:2 symbolizes the quest of Rome’s neighbors, particularly the Parthians, to expand their empires, leading to war (red horse), famine (black horse), and epidemic disease (pale horse). Or, as futurists contend, the rider depicts the Antichrist of the end times.
This is the last in a five-part series on the Prosperity Gospel.
As we wrap up this series on the Word-Faith movement, let’s ask: What should be our attitude toward wealth and health?
We should be content with what we have.
Paul experiences many hardships in his ministry – beatings, shipwreck, hunger, cold, imprisonment, and much more. Yet he writes that he has “learned” to be content (see Phil. 4:11-12). Further, he reminds Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).
We should be indifferent toward wealth.
Prosperity is neither good nor evil. But our attitude toward wealth reveals a great deal about us (see 1 Tim. 6:6-10, 17-19).
Agur’s request of the Lord in Prov. 30:8b-9 expresses a proper attitude toward worldly gain: “Give me neither poverty nor wealth; feed me with the food I need. Otherwise, I might have too much and deny You, saying, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or I might have nothing and steal, profaning the name of my God.”
Jesus specifically warns us against laying up treasures on earth (Matt. 6:19-21) and reminds us that we cannot be slaves to both God and money (Matt. 6:24).
Rev. 14:15 – Another angel came out of the sanctuary, crying out in a loud voice to the One who was seated on the cloud, “Use your sickle and reap, for the time to reap has come, since the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 So the One seated on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. (HCSB)
The earth was harvested
John picks up the narrative in verses 15-16: “Another angel came out of the sanctuary, crying out in a loud voice to the One who was seated on the cloud, ‘Use your sickle and reap, for the time to reap has come, since the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So the One seated on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.”
The harvest in these verses, though not stated explicitly, refers to wheat or barley. The word for ripe (Gr.: xeraino) describes dried heads of grain and is different than the word used of ripened grapes in verse 18.
The phrase “another angel” does not imply that the “One like the Son of Man” is an angel. John simply is continuing his observation from the point of the three angels in verses 6-13. This angel comes out of the sanctuary and heads straight for the One holding the sickle. He bears a message from God the Father, who is seated on His throne in the heavenly Holy of Holies (Rev. 6:9; 8:3; 11:19). The message is simple: The time to reap has come; the earth is ripe for harvest. The One seated on the cloud asks no questions, nor does He hesitate. He swings His sickle over the earth, and it is harvested.
No doubt this is a harvest of people on the earth. But who are they? Commentators differ in their understanding of this passage. Some believe this is the harvest of the just, coming before the harvest of the unbelievers (vv. 17-20); it is distinct just as the wheat harvest is distinct from the harvest of grapes. Others, however, argue that scripture normally speaks only of unbelievers being cut down. Therefore, both the One like the Son of Man and the angel with the sickle are engaged in destroying the wicked; one harvest, two perspectives.
Rev. 14:14 – Then I looked, and there was a white cloud, and One like the Son of Man was seated on the cloud, with a gold crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. (HCSB)
One like the Son of Man
Seated on the cloud is “One like the Son of Man.” He wears a gold crown on His head and wields a sharp sickle in His hand. There is little doubt that this is Jesus, who calls Himself the Son of Man more than 80 times in the Gospels. The name is not exclusive to Jesus in scripture. For example, the Lord calls Ezekiel “son of man” more than 90 times, and the angel Gabriel once refers to Daniel by the same moniker. But there is no doubt that in specific contexts “Son of Man” refers to the second person of the Godhead.
The Son of Man clearly is a divine being in Dan. 7:13, and Jesus’ claim to be the Son of Man who will come on the clouds of heaven (Matt. 26:64) is sufficient testimony to convict Him of blasphemy and condemn Him to death in the eyes of Caiaphas. It’s important for us to understand that in preferring to call Himself “Son of Man” rather than “Son of God,” Jesus is communicating His incarnation. He is neither denying His deity nor exalting His humanity; rather, He is demonstrating that He is one person with two natures: divine and human.
As Ron Rhodes writes, “First of all, even if the phrase ‘Son of Man’ is a reference to Jesus’ humanity, it is not a denial of His deity. By becoming a man, Jesus did not cease being God. The incarnation of Christ did not involve the subtraction of deity, but the addition of humanity. Jesus clearly claimed to be God on many occasions (Matthew 16:16, 17; John 8:58; 10:30). But in addition to being divine, He was also human (see Philippians 2:6-8). He had two natures (divine and human) conjoined in one person” (found at http://christiananswers.net/q-eden/son-of-man.html).
The name “Son of Man” is found almost exclusively in the mouth of Christ in the New Testament. The apostles and other writers avoid the term, with a couple of exceptions. In Acts 7:55 Stephen exclaims, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” And, of course, in Rev. 14:14 John sees “One like the Son of Man” seated on a white cloud.
The early church fathers are of the opinion that Jesus uses the expression “Son of Man” out of humility and to demonstrate His humanity. Others think He adopts the title so as not to offend His enemies until His hour is at hand. Then, associating this lowly title with Dan. 7:13 and tying it to His deity forces the hands of both His accusers and followers to acknowledge Him as Messiah or reject Him as a pretender. At last, this title is “capable of being applied so as to cover His Messianic claims – to include everything that had been foretold of the representative man, the second Adam, the suffering servant of Jehovah, the Messianic king” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Son of Man”).