From:  Worth’s Scriptural Handbook of Proof Texts                      Return to Home

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.                               © 2012

 

Reproduction of this book for non-profit circulation by any electronic or print media means is hereby freely granted at no cost—provided the text is not altered in any manner. 

 

Selected sections may be left out if desired.  If accompanied by additional, supplemental material—in agreement or disagreement—it must be clearly and visibly distinguishable from the author’s original text.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6:

Supernatural in Today’s World?

 

 

 

 

 

                        059      Demon Possession

060      Prophets:  Testing Today’s

061      Tongue Speaking:  Twenty-First Century Imitation

Versus First Century Genuine

062      Miracles:  Bible Age Healings Versus Modern Day Imitations

063      Miracles:  The Ending of Genuine Ones     

 

                        064      The 144,000

065      Book of Revelation and the Kingship of Jesus       

066      Book of Revelation:  Interpreting the Work

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 # 059 #

Demon Possession

 

 

            1.  Jesus accepted the reality of demon possession and claimed the power to cast them out.

            Matthew 12:22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.   23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?   24 But when the Pharisees heard [it], they said, This [fellow] doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.   25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:   26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?   27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast [them] out? therefore they shall be your judges.   28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.   29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

 

            2.  Demon possession was not merely misdiagnosed physical disease:  Physical illness is distinguished from demon possession.

            Matthew 4:24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.

            Matthew 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with [his] word, and healed all that were sick.

            Acts 5:16 There came also a multitude [out] of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

 

            3.  More than one demon could be in a person.

            Mark 5:8 For He said to him, "Come out of the man, unclean spirit!"   9 Then He asked him, "What [is] your name?" And he answered, saying, "My name [is] Legion; for we are many."

            Luke 8:1 Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve [were] with Him,   2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities -- Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,   3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.

 

            4.  Demons could compel a person to act in strange and dangerous ways contrary to his or her own interests.

            Mark 5:1 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes.   2 And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,   3 who had [his] dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains,   4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him.   5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.

            Mark 9:17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, "Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit.   18 "And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not."   19 He answered him and said, "O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me."   20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.   21 So He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood.   22 "And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."

 

            5.  The vast contemporary mythology of demon possession is just that and nothing more—it has no root in Biblical teaching.

            The Bible gives the individual name of no demon save Legion (and that was far more a numerical reference than a “name” one); modern mythology records hundreds.

            Other modern myths:  The value of a crucifix to ward them off.  The effigacy of “holy water.”  Elaborate rites of exorcism.   

 

            6.  It was predicted that both prophecy and demon possession would come to an end after salvation became available—which happened when Jesus was crucified.  Hence the passing of both would be expected not many decades later.

            Zechariah 13:1 "In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.   2 " It shall be in that day," says the LORD of hosts, "[that] I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.

 

            7.  Miraculous bestowal of the prophetic gift ceased by the time the New Testament was completed and mankind had available the perfect, complete will of God.  This had to be the end point for demonic power as well or the result would have been leaving the Devil and demonic powers unfettered by Divine intervention.

            1 Corinthians 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.   9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.   10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

 

 

 

 

 

# 060 #

Prophets:

Testing Today’s

 

 

            1.  Even when there was the genuine gift of prophecy on earth, there were many men and women who falsely claimed to possess the gift—out of self-delusion, conscious lying, or a combination of both.  Hence even if the prophetic office were alive today, we would still expect a goodly number of pretenders.

 

            A.  Jesus predicted that there would be many false prophets and that many would be deceived by them.  Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

            Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

           

B.  John wrote that such folk were common during his ministry.  1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

 

 

            2.  Genuine prophets were always right—not just some of the times.          

 

            A.  This was accepted as a valid test by the prophet Micaiah.  2 Chronicles 18:27 And Micaiah said, If thou certainly return in peace, [then] hath not the LORD spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, all ye people.

 

            B.  This was accepted as a valid test by the prophet Jeremiah.  Jeremiah 28:9 The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, [then] shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him.

 

            C.  If a prophet’s words are not fulfilled, we have nothing to fear from his other predictions either.  Deuteronomy 18:21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?   22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that [is] the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, [but] the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. 

 

 

            3.  Genuine prophecy is always consistent with previously revealed truth.           

 

            A.  A prophet could not be a genuine one—even if his predictions came true (!)—if he also taught the violation of God’s commandment against worshipping other gods.  Deuteronomy 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,   2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;   3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.   4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.   5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn [you] away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. 

 

            B.  A prophet could not be a genuine one if he or she endorsed and encouraged the violation of God’s moral laws.  Jeremiah 23:13 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.   14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.  15 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.   16 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, [and] not out of the mouth of the LORD.   17 They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.

 

            C.  False prophets whitewashed whatever moral evils they saw, but they would not be able to keep the evils from ultimately being exposed as such.  Ezekiel 13:5 Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD.   6 They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made [others] to hope that they would confirm the word.   7 Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith [it]; albeit I have not spoken?  

8 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I [am] against you, saith the Lord GOD.   9 And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I [am] the Lord GOD.   10 Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and [there was] no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered [morter]:   

11 Say unto them which daub [it] with untempered [morter], that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend [it].   15 Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered [morter], and will say unto you, The wall [is] no [more], neither they that daubed it;   16 [To wit], the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and [there is] no peace, saith the Lord GOD.    

            Such people were under a double indictment:  encouraging evil and delusion and discouraging the righteous from doing what was right-- Ezekiel 13:22 Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life.

 

 

            4.  Genuine prophecy has ended.

 

            A.  The Old Testament prophesied that after salvation became available to the world, that prophecy would come to an end—that even genuine prophets would discover their gift to have vanished.  Zechariah 13:1 In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.   2 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, [that] I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.   3 And it shall come to pass, [that] when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the LORD: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.   4 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:   5 But he shall say, I [am] no prophet, I [am] an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.

            This can not b e a prediction of the end of false prophecy because false prophecy has never ceased and, unless God miraculously changes the nature of man, never will cease.  Hence what the text is talking about is the genuine prophet who discovers that the prophetic gift has left and who is tempted to “fake” it—but rejects that option.

 

            B.  When the word of God became “perfect” (i.e., was completed in writing), supernatural gifts of revelation such as prophecy were brought to an end.  1 Corinthians 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.   9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.   10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 

 

 

 

 

 

# 061 #

Tongue Speaking:

Twenty-First Century Imitation

Versus First Century Genuine

 

 

            Modern tongue speaking can not be genuine because it so differs from the genuine phenomena of the first century.  Sincerity does not produce genuineness; only if the Holy Spirit were moving in the way it did in the days of the apostles would it be genuine.  That era provides the only sure guide to what the phenomena looks like.

 

            1.  Five background facts we must keep in mind when evaluating modern claims.

 

            A.  It is rarely claimed that the “language” spoken is a known speech.  Even rarer are attempts to document it as such.  If they were genuine, wouldn’t we expect recognition of them to be very common by those who speak them as their native tongue?         

            B.  Tongue speaking occurs among those of contradictory belief.  Do we really believe God would give such a great blessing to those who could not agree on religious fundamentals?  Isn’t somebody self-deceived in such circumstances?

 

            C.  So radical are some of these folk, that other tongue speakers (rightly) believe them to be heretical.  Does God really give those who are heretical the gift of tongues?    

 

            D.  Tongue speaking groups have not been Divinely protected from internal splintering over practice and doctrine.  If the Holy Spirit really was intervening, wouldn’t the Spirit have acted to bring both sides back together again?

 

 

            2.  Today it is believed that all mature Christians should be able to speak in tongues.  In New Testament times, it was only expected that some Christians would do so.

            1 Corinthians 12:29 [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?   30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?   31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

            1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.   8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;   9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;   10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:   11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

            (NKJV) 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

            (TEV) 1 Corinthians 12:11 But it is one and the same Spirit who does all this; as he wishes, he gives a different gift to each person.

 

 

3.  In the first century, tongue speaking involved real, existing human languages and not ecstatically produced jibberish.

            Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.   2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.   3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.   4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.   5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.   6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.   7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?   8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?   9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,   10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,   11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

                       

            To rebut this evidence tongue speakers often appeal to-- 1 Corinthians 14:27 If any man speak in an [unknown] tongue, [let it be] by two, or at the most [by] three, and [that] by course; and let one interpret.  You will note, by the brackets, that “unknown” is a translator’s addition.  It is omitted by such translations as the NKJV and NASB.  Even if included, it would only mean unknown to the speaker, as in Acts 2.  If it were already known to the speaker, supernatural guidance as to the language would not (or, at most, rarely) be needed by the speaker.

 

 

            4.  In the first century, “tongues” were a gift of the Holy Spirit rather than a learned phenomena.  Today the vast bulk of tongue speaking (99%?  more?) is “ecstatic”—consisting of jibberish and nonsense syllables strung together.  Unlike genuine tongues (the real languages of the apostolic age), anyone can eventually learn how to do this.  

Indeed, there are even outlines to teach you how—as if the Spirit would have to have you take a lesson before it could intervene to give you the gift!  Indeed, the existence of such literature surely argues the case—powerfully—that the contemporary phenomena is self-induced and has nothing to do with the Divine Spirit actually acting upon anyone.           

            1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.   8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;   9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;   10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:   11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

 

 

            5.  Although speaking in tongues was respected in the first century, it was considered an inferior gift compared to some others.  It was conspicuously not considered the pre-eminent gift as is often the case today.           

            1 Corinthians 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater [is] he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

            (NKJV) I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies [is] greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

            1 Corinthians 14:18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:   19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that [by my voice] I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an [unknown] tongue.

 

           

            6.  Today an unlimited number of individuals are permitted to “speak in tongues”—indeed, simultaneously—while in the age when the gift was genuine it was limited to only three individuals in one church service and not simultaneously.

            1 Corinthians 14:27 If any man speak in an [unknown] tongue, [let it be] by two, or at the most [by] three, and [that] by course; and let one interpret.

            (Weymouth) 1 Corinthians 14:27 If there is speaking in an unknown tongue, only two or at the most three should speak, and they should do so one at a time, and one should interpret.

 

           

            7.  Today’s tongue speaking commonly occurs regardless of whether an interpreter is present or not.  Likewise many people do not have their “tongues” interpreted.  Both practices are contradictory to the first century pattern.

            1 Corinthians 14:27 If any man speak in an [unknown] tongue, [let it be] by two, or at the most [by] three, and [that] by course; and let one interpret.   28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

 

 

            8.  Whether to speak aloud or not was under the conscious control of the tongue speaker in the apostolic age.  Today many justify speaking spontaneously claiming that the Spirit caused them to do so.  The Spirit did not act that way in the first century!

            1 Corinthians 14:27 If any man speak in an [unknown] tongue, [let it be] by two, or at the most [by] three, and [that] by course; and let one interpret.   28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.   29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.   30 If [any thing] be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.   31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.   32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.   33 For God is not [the author] of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.   Paul says it explicitly of prophets, but is it not implicit in his remarks about tongue speakers as well—that the gift is under self-control?  If not, how in the world could tongue speakers have obeyed his demand to “keep silence in the church”?

 

 

            9.  Women were to abstain from using spiritual gifts in the church assembly.  “Tongue speaking” women of today feel no such inhibition—indeed, that it creates a kind of obligation to speak.  (Even though Paul believed there was no such thing or would not have prohibited the practice in the first place!)

            1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law.   35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

            Even limiting the principle to the women specifically in mind (married women) plays havoc with the contemporary practice.

 

 

            10.  Genuine tongue speaking had the purpose of confirming and conveying the gospel message.  Ecstatic tongues (nonsense syllables endlessly repeated) prove, by their very nature, that they could not be the kind of intelligible “tongues” spoken in the first century.

            Hebrews 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him];   4 God also bearing [them] witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?  

            Also consider how in Acts 2 tongues were used to (1)  teach the word and (2) by the fact that the message was delivered in the listener’s own language, confirmed the validity of the message as well.

 

           

            11.  Precious few of those who claim the power to speak in tongues meet the Biblical pre-requisite:  baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

            Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.   16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.   17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.  God never intended tongues to be a permanent phenomena (1 Corinthians 13:8-10); in contrast, He never gave any indication that the salvational nature of baptism would ever change.  

 

 

            12.  To reject Paul’s restrictions on tongue speaking is to reject the will of God.

            1 Corinthians 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

            Some will attempt to ignore these restrictions on the grounds that they are speaking in “heavenly” or “devotional” terms while Paul is regulating a different type of tongue speaking.  But Paul is talking about whatever kind of tongue speaking that occurred in his day—not just some type(s); he was laying down blanket rules concerning all types.

 

 

 

 

 

# 062 #

Miracles:  Bible Age Healings

Versus Modern Day Imitations

 

 

            1.  Unlike today when generous giving is actively encouraged in connection with being healed, Bible age healers never accepted, demanded, or expected money as a reward for their role in healing the sick.  Remember the admonitions “give generously to show your faith”?  And without faith you can’t be healed, can you?  Or the strips from the tent of a traveling healer that you can use as prayer cloths?

 

            A.  The Old Testament attitude indicts modern faith healing practice.

 

            (1)  Elisha rejected all worldly rewards for the healing of Naaman. 

            2 Kings 5:13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, [if] the prophet had bid thee [do some] great thing, wouldest thou not have done [it]? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?   14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.   15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that [there is] no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.   16 But he said, [As] the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take [it]; but he refused.

           

Note the disaster that overtook Elisha’s servant when he decided to take what Elisha had declined!

            2 Kings 5:20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, [as] the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.   21 So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw [him] running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, [Is] all well?  22 And he said, All [is] well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.   23 And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid [them] upon two of his servants; and they bare [them] before him.   24 And when he came to the tower, he took [them] from their hand, and bestowed [them] in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed. 

25 But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence [comest thou], Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither.   26 And he said unto him, Went not mine heart [with thee], when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? [Is it] a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?   27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper [as white] as snow.

            If every faith healer who made a plea for money were to be struck with leprosy this way, you would need to have a “leper’s colony” exclusively for preachers!

 

            B.  The New Testament attitude indicts modern faith healing practice as well.

            Matthew 10:1 And when he had called unto [him] his twelve disciples, he gave them power [against] unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.   But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.   7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.   8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

 

 

            2.  Genuine Bible age healers were always successful.  There were never any failures.

 

            A.  There were no failures in the ministry of Jesus.

            Matthew 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with [his] word, and healed all that were sick.

            Matthew 12:14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.   15 But when Jesus knew [it], he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;   16 And charged them that they should not make him known:

            Matthew 14:34 And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.   35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;   36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

            Mark 6:54 And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him,   55 And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was.   56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.

 

            B.  There were no failures in the ministry of the apostles after Pentecost.

            Acts 5:16 There came also a multitude [out] of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

 

 

            3.  In the Bible age the miraculous cures were instantaneous and complete.  There was none of the “go home and get fully well; your healing has begun.”  Instead, they knew it was already finished. 

 

            A.  This was the case in the healings performed by Christ.

            Matthew 8:3 And Jesus put forth [his] hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

            Luke 18:43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw [it], gave praise unto God.

            John 5:8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.   9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

 

            B.  Similar instantaneous and complete healings were what occurred in the healings performed by the apostles as well. 

            Acts 3:16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

            (Holman)  Acts 3:16  By faith in His name, His name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.

Acts 9:34 And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.

 

 

            4.  Those New Testament healings that do not completely fall into these categories are still ones fully completed before the sick had to be sent home unhealed. 

 

            A.  There is the case—before Pentecost—of where the apostles were not able to cast out a demon but as soon as Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, He promptly did so.  The contextual implication could be that the failed effort had occurred shortly (hours?) before He returned; after all, if any significant time had gone by, one could easily imagine the parent returning home, saddened and broken-hearted.

            Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,   2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.   14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a [certain] man, kneeling down to him, and saying,   15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.   16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.   17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.   18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.   19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?   20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.   21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.  

            (RSV) Matthew 17:18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly.

            Our text leaves no hiding place for the modern pseudo-healer:

            (1)  The failure was blamed totally on the healer, and NOT on the sick person’s lack of faith.

            (2)  Through God’s grace it was provided that a person promptly became available who could and did heal the victim.  Today people can search a lifetime without ever securing that result.

            (3)  When the healing occurred, it was promptly and not spread over weeks or months or longer.

 

            B.  There is the case from the ministry of Jesus where the healing, oddly enough, took place in two parts but which took place immediately one after the other and produced a complete healing within what gives every appearance of being mere minutes.  Can any pseudo-healer today do his miracles even that way?  The sick still left fully healed and cured.    

            Mark 8:22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.   23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.   24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.   25 After that he put [his] hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.   26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell [it] to any in the town.

 

 

            5.  In the Bible age, there were miracles which few even among the most devout Pentecostals of today would be thrilled to try to duplicate.

 

            A.  There was miraculous protection from food that could kill the eater. 

            2 Kings 4:38 And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and [there was] a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets [were] sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.   39 And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred [them] into the pot of pottage: for they knew [them] not.   40 So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O [thou] man of God, [there is] death in the pot. And they could not eat [thereof].   41 But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast [it] into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot.

            (Today’s English Version) 2 Kings 4:40 The stew was poured out for the men to eat, but as soon as they tasted it they exclaimed to Elisha, "It's poisoned!"--and wouldn't eat it.

 

            B.  There was miraculous protection from poison (either inherent to or added to) what one drank.

            Mark 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

 

            C.  There was miraculous protection from poisoned snake bite.  Although there are those today who attempt this—and if the snakes are milked of venom or one is very good at it—one can successfully do so for an extended period.  The problem is that it is done in the context of a worship service where the handler has part of the initiative; there is not the slightest shred of evidence that this is the context of Jesus’ promise.  The one example we have is in every day life where it is entirely the snake who decides what, when, and whether to act.

            Mark 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

            Acts 28:1 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.   2 And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.   3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid [them] on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.   4 And when the barbarians saw the [venomous] beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.   5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.   6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.

 

 

            6.  Individuals today who attempt to perform miracles virtually never meet the New Testament prerequisite for being able to do—having been immersed for the forgiveness of sins.

            Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.   16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

            To the extent that “believers” worked miracles without being apostles or having apostolic hands laid upon them, they were still believers who were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins.  Also:  the Scriptures never speak of salvation becoming independent of baptism for the remission of sins; it does speak of miracles coming to an end (1 Corinthians 13-10).

 

            7.  The use of medicine was not criticized and the individuals who were ill were not treated as if inferior Christians for being so or for not receiving healing.  Truth be told, this phenomena strongly argues that healing was far, far more for validating the truth of the gospel message than for anything else; those who were healed enjoyed the wonderful “side effect” of that Divine power being utilized while others were brought to recognize that Divine power lay behind the “good news message.”

 

            A.  If Luke could be called “beloved” even when a physician, there must not have been anything inherently wrong in utilizing the medical services of such an individual.

            Colossians 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

            Philemon 23 There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus;   24 Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.

            Note how being a physician did nothing to keep Luke from being implicitly singled out for praise for his gospel work.

 

            B.  Paul recommended to Timothy a type of “medication” to take.  He did not tell him that to take medication indicated a lack of faith or that he should wait until a miracle cured his problem.

            1 Timothy 5:23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.

            (Holman)  1 Timothy 5:23 Don’t continue drinking only water, but use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.

            Note also that here was a man who had “frequent illnesses,” was a man who worked directly with the apostle Paul, and yet—so far as we can tell—was never healed.  Healing was clearly not considered part of the atonement.

 

            C.  Paul appears to have suffered from a long-term health problem that was never Divinely removed.

            2 Corinthians 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.   8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.   9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

            (International Standard Version) 2 Corinthians 12:7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of the exceptional nature of these revelations, a thorn was given to me and placed in my body. It was Satan's messenger to keep on tormenting me so that I would not become conceited.

 

 

 

 

 

# 063 #

Miracles:

The Ending of Genuine Ones

 

 

            1.  The Old Testament prophet Zechariah predicted the ending of demon possession (hence, of the power to cast out demons as well) and the cessation of prophecy as well.

            Zechariah 13:1 In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.   2 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, [that] I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.   3 And it shall come to pass, [that] when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the LORD: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.   4 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:   5 But he shall say, I [am] no prophet, I [am] an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.

            There are three things wrong with the claim that this refers to false prophecy coming to an end:

            (1)  The ending of demon possession and prophecy are both mentioned.  Since the first was a real rather than faked phenomena, we would naturally expect the second (prophecy) to also refer to something objectively real rather than a counterfeit.

            (2)  Barring God destroying our human freedom of choice, there is no reason to expect that false prophecy will ever come to a total end. 

            (3)  The description of the prophet implies that he is a genuine one:  “the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision.”  This can only be spoken of a true prophet walking in his integrity and discovering the gift is no longer there; he resists the temptation to “fake it.”  One would never expect a false prophet to be “ashamed of his vision” because he is either deluded or already knows he is faking.    

 

2.  Paul predicted that miracles of revelation would cease when the “perfect” came, i.e., when the perfect law of the New Testament was completed.

            1 Corinthians 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.   9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.   10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

            The “perfect” Paul has in mind must be the perfect or completed revelation of God’s will for each of the three items he mentions in his list (prophecy, tongues, knowledge) either refer to the means of Divine revelation (prophecy and tongues) or the product of revelation (knowledge).         

 

            3.  Paul’s prediction of the ending of the miraculous can not be fulfilled in the return of Christ.  If anything, the return of Christ will make the re-inauguration of miracles, rather than their ending.

 

            A.  The visible return of Christ from heaven will be a miracle.

            Acts 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.   10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;   11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

 

            B.  The resurrection from physical death will be a miracle.

            1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.   14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.   15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.   16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:   17 Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.   18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

 

            C.  The simultaneous change of our bodies at Christ’s return will be a miraculous event.

            1 Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.   51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,   52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.   53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.   54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

 

            4.  All miracles came to an end, not just some of them.

 

            A.  There is no logical reason to end only some of them and not all.

 

            B.  Gifts of revelatory power are specifically spoken of as ending in 1 Corinthians 13.

 

C.  And Zechariah spoke of demon possession ending.  Hence the miracle of exorcism was to cease and this was a form of miraculous healing.

 

 

 

 

 

# 064 #

The 144,000

 

 

            There are only two passages that mention the “144,000.”  Both are found in the highly figurative Book of Revelation (7:1-10; 14:1-5; 9:3-4 refers to the group but without any specific number attached).  The Jehovah Witnesses claim that the 144,000 are the literal total number of human beings who will ever be granted a home in heaven, while the remainder of the redeemed will live forever on this earth.  They also believe that even today some members of the 144,000 may yet remain unselected.  However they have some very serious problems in making the texts fit what they believe:  

 

            1.  The 144,000 were just Jews.  There is not one iota of Biblical proof that even one single Gentile was included among them.

            Revelation 7:4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed an hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.   5 Of the tribe of Juda [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad [were] sealed twelve thousand.   6 Of the tribe of Aser [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses [were] sealed twelve thousand.   7 Of the tribe of Simeon [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar [were] sealed twelve thousand.   8 Of the tribe of Zabulon [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin [were] sealed twelve thousand.

            It would be virtually impossible to stress the Jewishness of the group and the non-inclusion of one single Gentile than the way John provides his list—tribe specific.

 

            2.  The 144,000 are presented as a completed number.  There is not one iota of Biblical proof that some were added to the group later—in our century or any other.

            Revelation 7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.   2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,   3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.   4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed an hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.  

 

            3.  The purpose of the “sealing” of the 144,000 is clearly presented as protecting them from earthly calamity.  There is not one iota of Biblical proof that their “sealing” gave them a different destiny in eternity than that enjoyed by all other faithful Christians.  

            Revelation 7:2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,   3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.  

            Revelation 9:3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.   4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

 

            4.  The 144,000 are described in terms in which—if literal, as the number 144,000 itself is claimed to be—there is no room for even one single married person among them.

            Revelation 14:3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.   4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, [being] the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.   5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.  The NASB translates “virgins” as “celibates” but adds this marginal note:  “or, chaste men, literally, virgins.”           

           

 

 

 

 

# 065 #

Book of Revelation and the

Kingship of Jesus

 

 

            Contrary to widespread teaching, the Apocalypse conspicuously does not predict the yet future establishment of Jesus’ kingdom nor does it indicate that He is not yet on the throne ruling that kingdom. is kingdomH 

 

            1.  Christ’s kingdom was already in existence when John wrote the volume.  Hence Revelation can not be predicting its future establishment.

            Revelation 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him [be] glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

            (NASB) And He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

            A fundamental rule of interpretation that is often forgotten in the Apocalypse:  You interpret the figurative expressions of this book in light of the literal and clear cut language found within it and the epistles.  You should never do the opposite and use the figurative prophetic imagery of prophecy to get around and deny explicit and direct Biblical teaching.  If the kingdom of Christ was already in existence when John wrote then Revelation can not be predicting its yet future establishment!    

            Other passages also speak of it already being within existence:

            Mark 9:1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

            Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son.

 

            2.  Jesus is referred to as already ruling as king in those parts of the book—the first three chapters—that every one admits is referring to the first century.  Even those attempting to find here “the seven ages of the church”—stretching from its beginning to the Second Coming—will concede that the immediate subject concerns first century Christians in already existing congregations

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.

            (ASV)  And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood

            Revelation 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.  “Keys” symbolize authority to act or prohibit (as in Matthew 16:19).  Since Jesus has the “keys of David,” He has the imperial / regal / kingly authority of David.  Hence He is already ruling as King.  

            (TEV) Revelation 3:7 "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: "This is the message from the one who is holy and true. He has the key that belonged to David, and when he opens a door, no one can close it, and when he closes it, no one can open it.

            Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.  Note the “with My Father in His throne” as showing that they are not competitors and the implication that they are in full concurrence on what happens.  The image explains why in latter chapters Jesus is sometimes pictured as being on the throne and in other texts Jehovah is mentioned.  Such verses provide part of the total picture; the entire image is presented here:  Jesus “with” His Father on the throne.

 

3.  Between the then current world of the first chapter and the events of chapter twenty, Jesus is already on the throne and King throughout.   This carries with it the clear implication that His kingdom is already in existence and fully functional throughout that time period—regardless of how long (or short) it might be.

            Revelation 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, [be] unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

            Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

            Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

            Revelation 14:14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud [one] sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.

            Revelation 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him [are] called, and chosen, and faithful.

            Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.   13 And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.  15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.   16 And he hath on [his] vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

 

 

 

 

 

# 066 #

Book of Revelation:

Interpreting the Work

 

 

            1.  Any interpretation must begin with the fact that the book is highly figurative and contains much symbolism:  The book itself makes that crystal clear.  Hence crude literalism must be used with the greatest of caution.  

 

            A.  Revelation 19:8 provides both the symbolism and its meaning.

            Revelation 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

            (Weymouth) Revelation 19:8 And she was permitted to array herself in fine linen, shining and spotless; the fine linen being the righteous actions of God's people.

 

            B.  Revelation 17:1-3 is interpreted by the book itself as figurative.

 

            (1)  The symbolism of Revelation 17:1-3-- Revelation 17:1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:   2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.   3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.  

 

            (2)  Verses later we are informed what that figurative language was intended to represent-- Revelation 17:9 And here [is] the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.   10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, [and] the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.   11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.   12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.

 

            C.  Revelation 13:11-17 is interpreted by the book as being figurative and representing something else.

 

            (1)  The description in Revelation 13:11-17--Revelation 13:11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.   12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.   13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,   14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.   15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.   16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:   17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  

 

            (2)  The explanation provided in Revelation 13:18--Revelation 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number [is] Six hundred threescore [and] six.

 

            2.  The time frame of the Apocalypse points to a fulfillment of most of the prophecy soon after it was written.

            * Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified [it] by his angel unto his servant John:   2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.   3 Blessed [is] he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time [is] at hand.

            * Revelation 1:19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.

            (Rotherham) Write, therefore--what things thou hast seen and what they are; and what things are about to come to pass, after these things.

            * Revelation 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number [is] Six hundred threescore [and] six.  Note that first century readers—who were being addressed—would be able to determine the identity of “666.”  Hence “666” lived in the first century or the early second at the latest (depending on whether you date the book in the 60s or 90s.)

            * Revelation 17:1-6 discusses the mother of harlots and the seven headed beast.  17:7-10 provides the interpretation and tells us that most of it had already been fulfilled since the sixth in the list was already reigning:  They were that close to it being totally fulfilled!-- Revelation 17:10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, [and] the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

            * Revelation 22:6 And he said unto me, These sayings [are] faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

            (NASB)  And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place.

 

            3.  In interpreting Revelation, we must adopt an interpretation and dates in harmony with the fact that genuine Christians are referred to as being alive throughout the book.  Very conservative commentators typically see Christianity being replaced by Roman Catholicism—though in which of the early centuries the final events occurred might well bring disagreements.  Yet such analysts typically place much of the book long after the critical break.  Consistency requires that one or the other of these tenets be rejected!

(Note:  To us, the fatal break would be the point at which believer baptism was replaced with infant baptism since you then not only had a doctrinally errant church, but you had one whose membership no longer matched that found in the New Testament based church.  When membership criteria no longer match, how in the world can it be considered the same church any longer?) 

            Revelation 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:   10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?   11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled.

            Revelation 7:3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

            Revelation 9:4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.  I.e., the same time as the events in 7:3.

            Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

            Revelation 13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  Since genuine Christians were being required to be “marked,” that implies they were still around and, apparently, in large enough numbers that their enemies wanted to distinguish them from everyone else.

            Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed [are] the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

            Revelation 16:6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

            Revelation 17:6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

            Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

 

            4.  In interpreting Revelation, we must adopt an interpretation and dates in harmony with the fact that miraculous gifts were still in existence.  If we believe that such gifts ended (roughly) with the completion of the New Testament, we are compelled to date at least the bulk of events prior to about the end of the first century or the early decades of the following one.  We have to give up a many century fulfillment for most of the book and a fulfillment of the greatest part of its predictions two millenniums later--or give up the cessation of genuine miraculous gifts.  Which will it be?      

            Revelation 11:3 And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

            Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,   7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.  Unless we are going to say that the angel preached the gospel personally, then he must have done so through intermediaries; who would be intermediaries for angels except inspired men and women? 

            Revelation 16:5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.   6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

            Revelation 16:14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, [which] go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.  Are we going to believe that God permitted demons to work miracles without having His own people working even more convincing ones?

            Revelation 18:20 Rejoice over her, [thou] heaven, and [ye] holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

            Revelation 18:24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.