Finally, Revelation has a new Jerusalem, where there would be no suffering or death. God would dwell with humans in this new Jerusalem. There was a long description of this new Jerusalem in Revelation. There would be a a river of life and trees of life. The curse of sin would come to an end. Is this a description of heaven?
The end of Revelation has a millennium concept. The dragon was sent to a bottomless pit and abyss. He was locked up for a thousand years. But then he was released. He then made war against the people of God but lost. He ended up like all the other beasts or evil ones in the fiery lake, to suffer there eternally. They referred to this as the second death, the eternal death. The term “second death” occurred here in Revelation four times. The second death will not come to those who lived through the devil’s tribulation. The second death was the lake of fire, since all the bad guys and beasts went there. Christians have understood this second death, after human death, as the separation from God with some torment or destruction, an eternal pain. However, some Christians interpret the second death as a cleansing period like a purgatory. Have you ever heard the term “second death”?
In Revelation, there was one beast where one of his heads appeared to be killed, but his fatal wound healed. In other words, he was dead and then brought back to life. This was to show the power of Jesus Christ. He had control over life and death. What do these death and resurrection references mean with regard to the beast? These beasts represent both the devil and human kingdoms and its king. Do you heal well from wounds?
In Christian eschatology, the Antichrist refers to people who opposed Jesus Christ and substituted themselves in Christ’s place. The gospels also used the term false Christ and false prophets, sometimes singular and sometimes plural. The five uses of the term “Antichrist” or “Antichrists” in the Johannine epistles do not clearly present a single individual Antichrist. In the gospels, there were false messiahs and false prophets who produced great signs to lead Christians astray. The Antichrist was a group of people. Among the patristic Christian writers, this Antichrist concept shifted to various political leaders and heretics. In fact, Jerome in the fourth century warned against saying that the Antichrist was the devil. In the Middle Ages, Antichrist became a term for individuals or groups of people that someone did not like. Thus, the sixteenth century reformers used this term to apply to the ruling papal authorities, the pope as the Antichrist. Only with the enlightenment in the eighteenth century did the concept of the enemy as the Antichrist die out. The rise of recent evangelical Christian churches has renewed this term of the Antichrist as the devil incarnate or concentrations of demonic power filled with lawlessness. Thus, the term Antichrist is still prevalent in religious circles today. What do you think about the Antichrist?
Everybody loves Armageddon, since this is where the last great battle will take place. According to the Book of Revelation, Armageddon was the prophesied location of a gathering of armies for a battle during the end times, either a literal or a symbolic location. Today it is used as a term to talk about nuclear war. There really was a mountain or high hill of Megiddo in northern Israel, where real battles took place. Despite all the talk about Armageddon, it only appears once in Revelation and the New Testament. However, Megiddo was mentioned twelve times in the Old Testament, but it had no apocalyptic prophecies attached to it. In fact, Revelation does not say that there will be a battle there, only that a bunch of kings gathered there. Nevertheless, Armageddon has become the symbolic name for the end of the world. What do you think that Armageddon means?
Who are Gog and Magog in Revelation? Interestingly enough, there are statues of these people. They also appeared in the Old Testament, the New Testament and in the Quran. They are either individuals, tribes, or lands. In Revelation they are two separate nations or people, allies of Satan against God. The Gog prophecy was meant to be fulfilled at the approach of what is called the end of days. Gog and Magog were enemies to be defeated by the Messiah, at the beginning of the Messianic age. Gog and Magog have created all kinds of legends, such as Alexander the Great might have fought against them. They may have been part of the ten lost tribes of Israel. These names were applied to the Vikings, the Huns, the Mongols, and other nomad tribes. Ezekiel was one of the first to mention them. They might be a reference to Gyges, a king of Lydia in the early seventh century BCE. Jewish tradition changed Ezekiel’s Gog from Magog into Gog and Magog. There was a whole tradition about Gog and Magog among the later Muslims, that some identified with European powers. Of course, some identified Gog and Magog with the Roman Empire. Some medieval European world maps also show the location of the lands of Gog and Magog in the far northeast part of Asia. Marco Polo placed Gog and Magog among the Tartars or the Mongols. In the early nineteenth century, some Hasidic rabbis identified the French invasion of Russia under Napoleon as “The War of Gog and Magog”. In the twentieth century, many believed that Russia and Gog were one and the same. According to an unconfirmed report, US President George W. Bush, in the prelude to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, told French President Jacques Chirac, “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East.” Thus, the legend of Gog and Magag continues to the present day. Had you ever heard of Gog and Magog?
The rider on a white horse appears twice in Revelation. John saw a white horse with a rider who had a bow and a crown. This rider had one purpose, to conquer. Who is the rider of the horse? Why is the horse white? Some believe this rider to be Jesus or a forceful ideology. Others think of him as the antichrist. However, later in Revelation, the good guy, Jesus Christ, was riding on a white horse. Good guys ride white horses and bad guys ride black horses, just like the old cowboys with white hats and black hats for bad guys. Do you like white horses?
One of the great disputes about Revelation among many scholars is about the fall of Babylon. First, there was the historic city of Babylon and the Jewish Babylonian captivity. The Babylonians fell to the Persians. However, most scholars tend to look at Babylon as a veiled reference to either Rome or Jerusalem. The favorite is Rome, either at the time of Emperor Nero in the 60s CE or Emperor Domitian in the 90s CE. Some Jewish writers had referred to Rome as Babylon. The seven hills and the blood in the streets would indicate Rome and the Roman persecution of the Christians. Rome was also a world power, as a pagan metropolis. However, Jerusalem also fits this description of Babylon. This great city of Jerusalem was where Jesus was crucified. The early or first Christian martyrs took place in Jerusalem with the stoning of the early Jewish followers of Jesus Christ. The Israelite prophets often described Jerusalem as unfaithful. The fiery destruction could apply to Jerusalem in the 70s CE, as the Romans destroyed that city. Besides, there was a great emphasis on the new Jerusalem as opposed to the old Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation. Perhaps, it is a little of both. What do you think about Rome and Jerusalem as the city of Babylon?
Revelation referred to the whore of Babylon. Is this a reference to both a symbolic female figure and place of evil? She was a representative of the great city that ruled over the kings of the earth. She was much like the personification of a capital city, like a woman who committed prostitution or adultery. There were some sexually promiscuous cities. Is Babylon a code name for the pagan Roman Empire? Rome was a ruler sitting on seven mountains, the center of world trade, the corrupter of cultures, and the persecutor of the Christian saints. Babylon could also mean Jerusalem, an apostate false queen, a former bride who has been unfaithful. Jerusalem also had seven hills. The fall of Babylon could refer to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Old Testament prophets referred to Jerusalem as being a spiritual harlot. Some Protestant Reformers referred to the pope as the whore of Babylon. Identification of the Pope as the Antichrist was written into Protestant creeds such as the Westminster Confession of 1646. The identification of the Roman Catholic Church with the whore of Babylon was also in the Scofield Reference Bible. There was an anti-Catholicism in many Evangelical movements that spoke of the whore of Babylon as the Roman Catholic Church, the false church. Do you believe that the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon?
There was a unique false prophet in Revelation. He influenced people to worship the beast. In this sense, he mimicked the Holy Spirit who leads people to worship Christ. He called himself a Christian, but he magnified the power of the beast. He seemed to legitimize his authority by performing great signs and wonders. Jesus Christ himself and the apostle Paul warned us about these false prophets. Satan and his followers generally mimicked God and his servants. Thus, Satan’s servants were called false apostles who disguised themselves as servants of the righteousness. Satan himself appeared as an angel of light, meaning that he pretended to be holy and truthful in order to deceive, like counterfeit money. Some Christian leaders were deceptive, saying one thing and doing something else. Other Christian leaders have embraced civil religion or nationalism as the way to salvation. False prophets arise all the time. We have to be aware of them. They pretend to be Christians, but are only concerned about themselves and their evil ways. Have you ever met a false Christian?