Lesson 7. The Major Players.

In the last lesson we saw two sets of seven plagues sent to the people on earth. God had been letting his flock of Christians be persecuted through the unbelieving Roman officials. The Christians were in need of spiritual cleansing which God's discipline was supposed to provide. But they wrongly saw their troubles as coming only from Satan, not from God. They thought that God appeared powerless to stop Satan. The unbelievers also thought that the God of the Christians was powerless. Therefore God is showing his power also in the worldwide plagues by sending war, rebellion, famine, epidemic, earthquakes, and other disasters. Though both Christians and unbelievers should realize their helplessness before God and turn to him in repentance, most people do not. God must therefore send worse troubles.

READ Revelation 10:1-7.

The angel has the glory of God about him. By standing in the air with one foot on the sea and the other on the land (you might visualize a giant figure hundreds of feet tall) he shows his power and authority over all the world. He cries out with a loud voice.
What echoes back in return (verse 3)?

This may be the voice of God speaking (Psalm 29:3-9), naming things that will happen.
Is John allowed to write down what he heard (verse 4)? ___yes, ___no.
So we will never know the details before we get to heaven.
Who is the angel swearing by (verse 6)?

What does he swear (last words of verse 6)?

During the days of the last trumpet call "the mystery of God" will be fulfilled. This mystery was also told to the prophets. This "mystery" is the establishment of God's kingdom and the destruction of the enemies of God and of God's people. This obviously will be good news to the Christians John is writing to.

READ Revelation 10:8-11.

The scroll contains a listing of what will happen. It is much shorter than the scroll with the 7 seals opened by the Lamb. The news is sweet because it announces the Church's victory; it is bitter because it foretells her suffering. John is told to prophesy (tell God's word) about everyone.

READ Revelation 11:1-3.

What three things is John to measure (verse 1)?
What is he not to bother measuring (verse 2)?

The Temple of God refers to the Church, by which God is worshipped. John is saying that the core of the Church, made of those faithful to God will survive the persecution. The extra, optional things, frills, etc., of the church will probably be destroyed (trampled on) by the persecutions. They might loose their synagogues, homes, feasts, freedoms, leaders, right to gather in worship, and other things, but the Church as a whole will make it through the persecutions. John was told not to bother measuring the extra things because they will pass away.

A period of time is mentioned: 42 months (Rev. 11:2, 13:5), 1260 days (Rev. 11:3, 12:6), and 3.5 years (times) (Rev. 12:14, Daniel 7:25, 12:7).
Multiply 3.5 years by 12 months per year:
Multiply 42 months by 30 days per month:

Obviously these are all the same period. Daniel gives this as the length of the persecutions under Antiochus Epiphanes (Remember him from a beginning lesson?). By John's time, 3.5 years was used to describe any period of persecution which will eventually end, regardless of its duration. So the coded sentence, "They will trample on the holy city for 42 months," means that the unbelievers (the nations) will persecute (trample) the Church (holy city) for a limited time of persecution. The period may be more or less than a literal 3.5 years.

READ Revelation 11:4-14.

The "two witnesses" (olive trees, lampstands) are code symbols also. In Zechariah 4 the symbols specifically refer to Joshua and Zerubbabel, the high priest and governor, respectively, of Judea after the return from the Babylonian captivity. In Revelation 11:6 these two witnesses are described in terms of Elijah (stopping the rain) and Moses (bloody water and other plagues), the two greatest prophets of the Old Testament. Some people speculate that John meant his code to refer to Peter and Paul, who were killed (11:7) in Rome (11:8) by Nero (11:7). Peter was given authority over the Church and the world by Jesus (Matthew 16:19) to send people to heaven or hell, to forgive or not to forgive people. This sounds like the consuming fire of Rev. 11:5. The beast of Rev. 11:7 comes from hell and is thought to represent Nero.

John is careful not to name where these two witnesses were murdered.
What two names does he substitute (verse 8)?
Sodom is a city (Genesis 19) that was destroyed because of its promotion of homosexual behavior (sodomy) and other wicked activities. Egypt put God's people in slavery and suffered plagues during the Exodus because its people were enslaved to their idols. "Where also their Lord was crucified" seems to mean Jerusalem, but it could also mean the nation of the Roman Empire. Later the "great city" is called Babylon, but in terms that obviously mean Rome. It was the Roman authority that the Jews used to crucify Jesus. So John is very carefully saying that the Romans killed these two witnesses from God. If he said that without using coded language, he might be killed for treason.
How does the non-Christian world react to the death of God's two witnesses (verse 10)?

What happens to the two after they have been dead for awhile (verses 11,12)?
Then what happens to the world (verse 13)?

The code number 7000 means that all classes of society (7) were killed in great numbers (1000). Otherwise a literal 7000 is not very much by today's standards. That's what they get for being happy over the temporary defeat of God's witnesses. However, this time they give glory to God rather than cursing. At last it is time for the seventh trumpet.

READ Revelation 11:15-19.

Who takes over ruling the world (verse 15)?
How long will this rule last?

For what do the 24 elders praise God (verse 17)?
What is to happen to God's servants, the prophets and saints (verse 18)?

What happens to everyone else?

God's temple is now open in heaven for all to see; God is ruling boldly and making no secret of it.

READ Revelation 12:1-6.

The woman is the nation Israel, the nation chosen to belong to God and share his authority.
How many stars are on her crown (verse 1)?
This probably represents all the tribes. The child is to be the Messiah (Jesus). The Messiah comes from the Jewish nation.
Who is the dragon (look ahead to verse 9)?

The "stars" swept from heaven (verse 4) may refer to the fallen angels.
Who do you suppose tried to get Herod to kill Jesus at birth, as in Matthew 2:16?
Who tried to get Jesus to abandon his mission at the temptation (Matthew 4:1)?
Who entered Judas to get Jesus betrayed and crucified (Luke 22:3)?
Who tried to destroy the child of the woman (Rev. 12:4)?

Where did the Messiah (child) go (Rev. 12:5)?
Where did the woman go (verse 6)?
Who takes care of her?

This probably represents the scattering of the Jews by the Romans in 70 A.D. as the Jewish nation was destroyed. God has indeed taken care of the Jews. They are still around today as an identifiable group. No other ethnic group has ever been scattered and persecuted so much for so long and has yet survived. This scattering (living in the wilderness) lasted from 70 to 1948 A.D., or 1878 years. So the 1260 days of Rev. 12:6 obviously is not literal, but rather a code number for the period of persecution.

READ Revelation 12:7-12.

This is what is called a "flash-back". John tells not about the present or future, but about the distant past.
What happened in heaven (verse 7)?
Who lost (verses 8,9)?
Where were the losers expelled from (verse 8)?
Where did they go (verse 9)?

In the book of Job, Satan roamed the earth looking for bad evidence with which he could convict people of being unfaithful to God. He still does. He even has power to make life easy or miserable for people to get them to reject God. Satan thus tells God of people's sinfulness. He accuses them.
How do people overcome the power and accusations of Satan (especially when his accusations are true), verse 11?

So the blood of Jesus defeats Satan, as do our testimony and actions that show we belong to Jesus.
How much time does Satan have left on earth to accomplish what he is doing (end of verse 12)?

His great wrath and fury is his anger. Satan will try everything possible to keep people from becoming faithful to God. Satan is encouraging you to be rebellious against God, his Bible, his commandments, and his Church. With many of you Satan has succeeded. God is allowing this to happen because he has already provided a way out for you if you want it. It becomes obvious this way who wants to go to heaven to live with God forever. If we want to resist Satan, God lends us his power. We can freely tell Satan, when he tempts us, that Jesus has already defeated him, that we belong to Jesus and will stay that way even when we die. Many of you, however, though claiming to belong to God, let Satan rule over you instead.

READ Revelation 12:13-17.

Now back to the woman and her child.
Is the serpent able to defeat the woman (verses 15-17)?
Who does he war against next (verse 17)?

READ Revelation 13:1-10.

From Judea, Rome is across the Mediterranean Sea. Rome is therefore a great power that came "out of the sea." This is what John means by this beast. Many people ruled over the Roman Empire. These are represented by the heads, horns, and diadems. Notice that the number of heads and horns is the same as the dragon (Satan) has. The blasphemous titles on the heads refers to the emperor worship that John is condemning. The power of the beast is symbolized by the animal references.
Who gives the beast (the Roman Empire) his power (verse 2)?

The fatal wound (verse 3) is an obvious counterfeit of the wounds of Jesus. It may refer to the fact that only four of the twelve emperors up to John's time had died naturally; the others were killed by themselves or by others. Yet the empire lived on and remained powerful. The beast is then something like Jesus who is alive after he was killed.
Who do the people then worship (both of them) and why? (verse 4)

In verses 5 and following, the beast is allowed to insult God (blaspheme), to make itself be worshipped, to be proud, and to persecute (42 months).
Who is the Roman Empire allowed to make war upon (verse 7)?
Who will win?
Is that good news for the Christians suffering persecution?
Who does not worship the beast (verse 8)?

John warns in verse 10 that whoever is meant to be captured will surely be captured, and whoever is meant to be killed by the sword will surely be killed by the sword.
What must the saints therefore have?

READ Revelation 13:11-18.

Another beast appears, coming out of the land this time, and becomes the first beast's prophet.
Who does this beast sound like (verse 11)?
What does this second beast do (verse 12)? Of whom do these people make an idol (verse 14)?
What happens to those who refuse to worship the idol of the beast (verse 15)?

In chapter 7 God "brands" (seals) everyone belonging to him. Now in 13:16 the beasts also mark everyone who belongs to them. Satan rules over the beasts, so everyone siding with the beasts becomes part of the flock of Satan.
What do you suppose happens to those who refuse to have the mark of the beast as their identification (verse 17)?

In verse 18 John carefully throws out another code number. There are several ways of looking at this number 666 (616 in some manuscripts). In the first place, the number 6 falls short of the perfect number 7, so in 666 it falls short three times. It in this way represents someone who tries to be God but doesn't make it. This could represent the practice of emperor worship, which John condemns. John, himself, was probably in exile on Patmos because he refused to worship the emperor. John says of the 666, in literal Greek, "for the number of a man it is." It stands for a man's name. If John simply said the man's name he would be killed for treason. So John codes it instead.

You have probably heard about Roman numerals, where letters of the alphabet are used for numbers. I=1, V=5, X=10, L=50, C=100, D=500, M=1000. In Greek and Hebrew every letter had a numerical value. Dates on Greek language coins were written in Greek letters, with the numerical value of the date being equal to the sum of the numerical values of the Greek letters (shown in Figure). Throughout the ages many people have suggested names that might add up to 666. No one has come up with a good name, and John's original intent has been lost. In about 150 A.D., the church leader Irenaeus suggested the word whose Greek letters transform to our LATEINOS, (30 + 1 + 300 + 5 + 10 + 50 + 70 + 200 = 666) meaning a Latin or Roman person. That is not really a man's name. Emperor Nero (50 + 5 + 100 + 800 = 955) doesn't work in its short or longer forms. Emperor Domitian, who was causing all of the trouble for the Christians, adds to 485 in a short form and 755 in a longer form common on coins. The title Caesar adds to 332 in its Greek form. On some Greek language coins an A is added to its end, making 333 for its value. That word, repeated 2 times in an act of emperor worship would total 666.

I was able to find one coin (number SGI-876) listed for the Decapolis area (east of Sea of Galilee) on which the name "Domitian Caesar" was abbreviated. Add up its value using the number table above. This exercise is just to show you how this "numerology" works, not to give what John intended for a meaning.

Whatever John's code really meant, most likely he was warning his flock not to worship any emperor nor any person who declares himself to be god. We are to remain faithful to God alone, even through persecution and death.

Notice that the dragon (Satan), the resurrected beast (Rome), and his helper beast (later called the false prophet) form a kind of counterfeit Trinity. They try to be like God to keep people from worshipping the true God. They are still around today though they have different forms which are not very obvious. We are still asked to make just about anything more important in our lives than the true God.
What or who is most important in your life?
Does it show?

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Background, Introduction, Lesson 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11