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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Month

April 2019

Daily Bible thoughts 1904: Thursday 4th April 2019: Revelation 12:1-6: Further thoughts.

Revelation 12:1-6: Further thoughts.

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who ‘will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre.’ And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.NIV

Here are just a few more thoughts on the passage we started to look at yesterday:

  1. Since the seven trumpets followed on from the opening of the seven seals, it would be natural now to expect the outpouring of the seven bowls of wrath, to complete the story. However, what we have is a lengthy parenthesis from 12:1-14:20, and it shows the nature of the conflict Christ will bring to an end at His appearing. ‘’The ‘parenthesis’ thus lies at the heart of the book, in significance as well as position. It covers the whole Messianic period from the birth of Christ to the consummation.’ G.R.Beasley-Murray: ‘New Bible Commentary’’, p.1441. ‘’The dark secret is revealed; the real problem is identified; the curtain has risen on the drama-within-the-drama, the central action which forms now, the central scene in the whole book. The woman and her child are carrying the purposes of God for the world. The dragon is doing his best to snuff out those purposes before they can get under way.’’ Tom Wright: ‘Revelation for Everyone’, p.108.
  2. As we saw yesterday, the ‘’woman’’ represents the ‘Mother’ of the Messianic community i.e. the believing people of God through all ages – the ‘church’ in both Testaments. But as Tom Wright points out, Eve may also lie behind this figure, because she was told that her ‘’seed’’ would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15).
  3. Verse 6 accords with the teaching of 7:1-7 and 11:1,2. The church is kept safe from the wiles of the devil during the antichrist’s reign. There is seemingly another allusion to the Exodus story here. The people of Israel escaped from the tyrant Pharaoh by going off into the wilderness, although there they would have other challenges to face. (See also verse 13ff). ‘’The church needs to know that its present struggles and sufferings are not a sign that God has gone to sleep on the job. They are the sign that a great, cosmic drama is being staged, in which they are being given a vital though terrible role to play.’’ Tom Wright, pp.109/110.

Daily Bible thoughts 1903: Wednesday 3rd April 2019: Revelation 12:1-6: The great battle.

Revelation 12:1-6: The great battle.

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who ‘will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre.’And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.” NIV

Tom Wright tells of being at the funeral of a well-known cricketer. He says that, as many of the great man’s former colleagues and opponents piled in to the church, he had the frustrating feeling that he should known who they were. But they had changed so much from how they looked as younger men. Quite a few others at the funeral agreed with his thought that it would have been good if they’d worn labels on their heads to identify themselves!

Wright says we often feel like this as we read ‘Revelation’. There are so many symbolic figures, and we can’t always tell who they are with any ease. But there can be no doubt as to who is the central figure in this passage (5). It is obviously Jesus (Psalm 2:6-9). Similarly, with the ‘’dragon’’; we know this is Satan (9). From the beginning, the devil wanted to destroy Christ (see, e.g. Matthew 2:13, 16), but he was unable to succeed. Even though Jesus died some years after the initial attempt on His life, He was raised from death to be enthroned at the right Hand of God (5). His death could not happen outside of the Father’s purpose and timing.

The woman probably represents Israel or the church – possibly both. The ‘’twelve stars’’ no doubt represent the twelve tribes or twelve apostles, or, again, maybe both. Once more, this book speaks of the protection of the church (6). God is in control although the battle rages, and it is fierce. This message comes repeatedly in the book of ‘Revelation’. We now know, however, that God’s protection does not mean that believers will never suffer. But it does mean, that like Jesus, they can never be destroyed.

Daily Bible thoughts 1902: Tuesday 2nd April 2019: Revelation 11:15-19: The future has become the present.

Revelation 11:15-19: The future has become the present.

15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

‘The kingdom of the world has become
    the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
    and he will reign for ever and ever.’

16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshipped God, 17 saying:

‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
    and have begun to reign.
18 The nations were angry,
    and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
    and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
    both great and small –
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.’

19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.” NIV

I have found a comment from Tom Wright on these verses to be particularly helpful: ‘This climactic and decisive moment could well have come, one might suppose, towards the very end of the book. Indeed, parts of chapter 19 resemble what we have here. But this reminds us that we are not dealing, in Revelation, with a single sequence of events, in which the seals come first, then the trumpets, then all the material in chapters 12-14, culminating in the bowls of wrath, and so on. What we are dealing with is several different angles of vision on the one single great reality: that through the awful turmoil and trouble of the world, God is establishing through Jesus a people who, following the lamb, are to bear witness to God’s kingdom through their own suffering…’’ ‘Revelation for Everyone’, p.103.

I have deliberately put in italics what, for me, are the key words in this very significant quote. I appreciate that different Christians interpret this book in differing ways. I’m not dogmatically asserting that my viewpoint is correct. But this is certainly how I see it now, at this moment in time.

In verse 17 we read: ‘’We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who was and is…’’ Take a moment to compare that with 1:4: ‘’…him who is, and who was, and who is to come…’’ I’m sure you will immediately see the difference. By the time we reach 11:17, He’s come! The future is now the present.

In verse 18 we hear echoes of Psalm 2:1,2:’’Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against His Anointed One.’’ What we are seeing in Revelation 11 is the fulfilment of Psalm 2, as God’s Son-King comes to rule. The psalmist says that man’s best course of action in the circumstances is to submit, to sue for peace.

Do you ever feel insignificant and overlooked? Well, being ‘’small’’ (18b) won’t keep you from God rewarding (or judging!) you.

 

 

Daily Bible thoughts 1901: Monday 1st April 2019: Revelation 11:15-19: In the end, Jesus wins!

Revelation 11:15-19: In the end, Jesus wins!

15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah  and he will reign for ever and ever.’16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshipped God, 17 saying:

‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
    and have begun to reign.
18 The nations were angry,
    and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
    and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
    both great and small –
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.’

19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm. NIV

You may remember the story of the caretaker who said he understood the message of ‘Revelation’ and that it was all rather simple to understand: ‘In the end, Jesus wins!’ he said.  Over the high altar of Westminster Abbey, there is an inscription of verse 15 taken from the King James translation of the Bible. It reads; ‘’The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.’’ Not only is this above the altar, but also the Cosmati pavement where, for thousands of years, kings and queens have been crowned. It is there to remind all monarchs that their crowns are temporary and borrowed. That, of course is Biblically correct. But in the Greek translation the word ‘’Kingdom’’ is singular not plural, and is only used once. Tom Wright translates it: ‘’Now the kingdom of the world has passed to our Lord and his Messiah…’’

 In the end, Jesus is going to claim back this world as His rightful property; in the end, He wins!

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