Editor's note: We are continually seeking the truth in God's word. All content has suggestive conclusions. We recommend that all readers of this website search the scriptures for themselves and pray for understanding to prove or disprove all content.

 

 

Revelation


Forever, Long Ago, of The Age?
Two words imply infinite states in the Bible; one is the Greek word athanasia (undying), which is only found in two places, 1 Corinthians 15:53, where it mentions resurrected ones as clothing themselves with immortality, and at 1 Timothy 6:16, where Paul speaks of Jesus as having received it. The other Greek word is aidios, which is used at Romans 1:20 to describe God's Power and Might as eternal, and at Jude 6 when speaking of the perpetual state of gloomy darkness that rebellious angels have been confined to. However, the Greek word aionos (pronounced ai-on-oss), which is used throughout the Bible and is often translated as forever and everlasting, is what the English word eon is derived from. It means an indefinite period, and there is no exact English word to translate it. The best equivalents are age(s) or era(s). Where the plural form of the word (ages) is used, it refers to a long time... at least multiple generations. However, where the singular form is used (age or era), this appears to mean a much shorter period, such as a lifetime, generation, or era. And where the term ages of ages is used (such as at Ephesians 3:21), which is usually said in reference to The God, we would assume that this truly means forever. It is noteworthy that aionos is the word that is used in the Greek Septuagint in place of the Hebrew word ohlam, which is also translated as forever and time indefinite in popular versions of the Ancient Scriptures of Israel. So this one word (aionos) is translated as forever, everlasting, eternal, system of things, time indefinite, [end of] the world, long ago, from of old, etc. Obviously, something is very wrong here, because the word can't mean a period having a definite end in one place and infinity in another.
Take for example, the unique way that aionos is used in the question that Jesus' Apostles asked him, which is found at Matthew 24:3, ‘What will be the signs when you are near and this age will come to its conclusion?' You can see that the word aionos obviously doesn't mean forever, everlasting, or eternal in this case, nor did it mean world or system of things. It simply meant the age or, the time before the end would come. And for them, that meant the age when God's Temple at Jerusalem would be destroyed, because that's what Jesus had just told them.
The word aionos (which we have translated as age here) is also translated as world (KJ) and as system of things (NW) in other Bibles. However, if the Apostles had meant any of those words, they would have used the Greek word cosmos, not aionos, for world or system of things. The ancient Hebrews viewed everything (and rightly so) as having a beginning and an end. For that reason, you will only find three places in the Bible where words are used that imply no end and none that imply no beginning. An interesting possible insight on the reason for this can be found at Hebrews 1:10-12, which says: ‘Long ago, O Lord, you laid the foundation of the earth and your hands made the heavens. They will destroy themselves, but you will remain. They will grow old just like clothes do. Then, as [you would do to] a robe, you will wrap them up and repair them like clothes. Yes, you are the one, and your years will never expire.' The problem with most Bible translations is that when they encounter the word aionos in all its different tenses, they interpret it according to accepted doctrine, not according to the way that Jesus and his disciples used it. So the common renderings forever, eternal, and everlasting are used even when the word is in its singular forms (aioni, aiona, aionos, aionion, aionian, aionios, aioniou), and this totally distorts the meaning of the text. Take for example, the scripture at John 5:24, where Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth; the one who hears what I say and believes in the One that sent me will have life in this age. He won't have to be judged, but has crossed over from death to life.' Most Bibles translate Jesus as saying that those who believe in the One who sent him will have everlasting life (or the equivalent). However, the words that Jesus used there were, zoe aionos (life age - singular), not zoe aionion (life ages - plural).
Notice how Jesus explained the meaning of these words with his next statement, ‘He won't have to be judged, but has crossed over from death to life.' So what Jesus was saying here, wasn't that they would have everlasting life, but that they in their current life would be considered among the living, not among the dead (see Revelation 20:12). This doesn't necessarily mean that they won't live forever... it's just that Jesus wasn't really saying that. What we find (from consideration of the evidence found in the bulk of Jesus' words about life) is that he never taught the hope of ‘life eternal,' ‘everlasting life,' or ‘immortality,' in those specific words. However, the concept is still there. What he taught was that righteous people will receive ‘life in the age,' or be considered worthy of (possibly everlasting) life by God during their current lifetimes... that their names would be written in ‘the scroll of life,' and that they would not have to be judged, but will have already ‘crossed over from death to life,' as Jesus said at John 5:24. Yes, we know that this is a difficult concept to understand, but it's what Jesus actually said.

 

Soul or?
The Greek word psyche (as in psychology) has been translated many ways, including soul, life, etc. However, psyche actually means something that breathes. It is used in the Bible to describe both breathing animals and breathing humans. So by definition, a soul cannot leave the body, because a soul is what the living body (whether human or animal) is (see Genesis 2:7).
In ancient Greece, philosophers eventually added another meaning to psyche: The inner person (as opposed to the person that others see and come to know). And with time, the pagan religion of Greece started to teach that this inner person is its own entity and can never die (is immortal). Over the centuries, this pagan Greek doctrine crept into the Christian religions. Please see the link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soul for more history of the word. However, such Greek philosophical thought never influenced Jesus and his Apostles. So, they consistently used psyche to indicate a living person or animal. The teaching that the soul is immortal stands in direct conflict with Jesus' promise of a resurrection, because, if a person is immortal (can never die) he/she can never be resurrected (brought back to life).
In addition, the teaching of the immortality of the human soul is totally without support from the Bible. The word immortal(ity) (Gr: athanasia or undying) is only mentioned in the Bible in two places, and it isn't used with or applied to the word soul in either case. Both of these scriptures show that immortality is only given by God as a reward for righteousness. And as Ezekiel 18:4 says, ‘The person (gr. psyche or ‘soul') that is sinning will die (gr. apothaneitai).' Of course, there are places in the Bible where the word soul means more than just a living, fleshly body. For example, God is recorded to have spoken of ‘My Soul' in several places. Obviously, God is much more than just a ‘soul' as most people think of that term, and He surely wasn't talking about His having a human body. So we must conclude that what He was referring to is His life. Then there are Jesus' words found at Matthew 10:28, which read, ‘Don't be afraid of those who kill the body but can't kill the person (psyche). Rather, be afraid of him who can destroy both the person and the body in the garbage dump.' Here, Jesus is using the word psyche (soul) to refer to the value of life that remains with God until the resurrection. And he obviously isn't referring the soul as immortal here, because he says God will destroy (gr. apolesai) the [unrighteous] soul or person. Unfortunately, no single word can be used to translate psyche in every possible Bible application, so various terms are used herein, depending on the circumstances, but always in an attempt to harmonize with the meaning.


Hades: Hell or the Grave?
The Greek word Hades (they pronounced it hah-des) has been translated both as Hell (which is thought of as a place of torture) and as the Grave in other Bible versions (such as the King James). Since one word can't mean two very different things, which translation is correct? Hades (like the English word Hell) actually means the place of the dead. However, as pagan Greek philosophy started to develop and creep into Christianity, the later-day Greek view of Hades (a place of torture) was applied to it. Was this a correct application? An insight into how the ancient Hebrews and the early Christians understood the word can be gained by looking at how it was applied in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Ancient Scriptures of Israel (the ‘Old Testament' Bible of Jesus' day). There, the Hebrew word Sheol is translated into Greek as Hades in every instance, yet in each case, these are obvious references to the grave (the place of the dead), not to a place of conscious torture (see Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10). Another revealing application of the word Hades is found at Revelation the 20:13. It says there, ‘The sea (gr. he thalassa) gave up its dead, death and the grave (gr. thanatos kai ho hades) gave up those dead in them, and they were all judged by the things they did.' Notice that those who die at sea are differentiated from those who are buried in graves (Hades) and in other places (thanatos). So Hades is better translated as grave.
In the book of Job, another word that is used once in the Christian-era Scriptures and often translated as Hell, is found in two places. That Greek word is Tartarus, which refers to the place where evil gods or angels are sent.

 
Living Creatures or Animals?
In Revelation, we read of four heavenly creatures that picture the major qualities of God (wisdom, justice, love, and power). The Greek word that is used to describe them here is zoo (pronounced Zō-ah), as in the place where people go to see animals today. This word simply means animals, but it is translated in most Bibles as living creatures, which was likely done for ‘politically-correct' reasons. However, John just wrote animals, so that's how the word is translated here.


Satan, Devil, Lucifer, Beelzebub
It is appropriate that the heavenly name of the great Opposer and Slanderer of God is never given in the Bible. However, several terms (and one mistakenly) have been used to describe him. Here is a list of those descriptions: 1. Satan: This is a Hebrew word meaning, opposer, resistor, a smart person who does things to serve his own interests, and/or a person who can't be fooled. It was applied to the Evil One because of his opposition to God. To prevent people from thinking of it as a name, it is translated as ‘the Opposer' herein. 2.  Devil: This is the only Greek word (Diabolos) used in the Bible to describe the evil one. The first part of the word, dia, means through. Bolos means throw (it's where we get the English words ball and bowl). So, Devil means one who throws through, which implied Slanderer in Greek, so that's the way it's translated herein. 3. Lucifer: The name Lucifer is commonly tied to the Biblical Opposer, however the name doesn't appear in most versions of the Bible. It does appear once in the King James Bible, at Isaiah 14:12, in which the King of Babylon is referenced as Lucifer, Son of the Morning, which is translated from the Hebrew words Helel ben Shahar - Day Star, Son of the Dawn. This term was used there, because Lucifer is the Latin term for the planet Venus, which is also known as the morning star. So, there is no direct link in the Bible between the entity known in Hebrew as Satan and the person who was referred to as Lucifer. This was a myth that was created by Augustine after he translated the text in Isaiah from the original Hebrew into Latin. 4. BeelZebub: There are eight references in the Bible to this Hebrew word, and it does refer to the Slanderer. However, once again, this is not a proper name. It appears to be a title. Beel (like Baal) means Lord, and Zebub appears to refer to flies (the insects). So, BeelZebub likely means Lord of Flies.
Is the Opposer (Slanderer or BeelZebub) a real person? All one has to do is look at the titles he was given above to realize that he is. To deny his existence negates the rest of the Bible. For example, when dealing with Adam's sin, why did God adhere so closely to a law when other options were available to Him? Why didn't he just destroy rebellious Adam and create another man?
The fact is, He created men and His messengers with the ability to choose whether to serve Him or not, so none are automatons. And as a man failed in the Paradise of Pleasure, we can assume (and as the Scriptures support) that there were failures (and rebels) in the heavens also. This is the reason why it became necessary to have a law that clearly outlined what rebellion against God constituted, and what the consequences for violating that law would be. It was obviously for the sake of the millions of millions of heavenly spirit (breath) creatures that the issue of rebellion here on the earth had to be resolved by legal means, and in a way that demonstrated the love and loyalty of God's first-born son, which resulted in the painful need for a ‘ransom' (Jesus' death). And the idea that the Slanderer isn't real raises other questions. For example, while Jesus was being tempted in the desert, was he simply struggling with the bad inside himself rather than against a real, evil personality? If so, we would have to conclude that there was bad in Jesus.
Also, was the battle in heaven (as spoken of at Revelation the Twelfth Chapter) just figurative and not a real war against the Opposer and his messengers? If so, then there are still ‘evil thoughts' in heaven prior to that battle. And, in what sense would ‘the Opposer' and his ‘messengers' lose the battle and be confined to the earth? Also, why would internal evil be ‘angry' in knowing that he just has ‘a short period of time left?'
And lastly, when the Opposer entered God's presence and spoke to Him (Job the First Chapter), could we assume that this inherent evil was found in God? That isn't likely. However, there is some question as to the use of the Greek word Diabolos found at 1 Chronicles 21:1 (in the Greek Septuagint). First, since Diabolos is a Greek word and First Chronicles was written in Hebrew, we would assume that Diabolos (Slanderer) was substituted for the Hebrew word Satan (Opposer). But the text seems to imply that a slanderer (or resistor), not the Slanderer, had come to David. And we would have to assume it to be a satan or resistor that came to him. So, we don't really know if the text implies that the Evil One came to him, if it was just an evil spirit that came over him, or if someone bad had urged David to defy God and take a census of Israel.


Dragon
That the Bible speaks about what is translated as dragons (gr. drakonta) several times, raises some interesting questions. The dragon (although supposedly a mythical animal) is one of the world's most widely recognized creatures. It is highly regarded in the Buddhist religion and is seen in ancient religious carvings from around the world. This testifies that people have believed in the existence of dragons for as far back as human records go. Why? Note that dragons are thought of as animals with the bodies of snakes (gr. orphis), but they also have feet and legs.
What was the dragon? Revelation 12:9 tells us, when it says, ‘So, the huge dragon was thrown out. He is the first snake, the one who is called the Slanderer and Opposer, who is misleading the whole earth.' So, from the above, we see that the vision identifies the dragon as ‘the Opposer' and ‘the Slanderer,' and it says that he was the first snake, the one who seduced Eve in the ‘Paradise of Delights' (see Genesis 3:2). The fact that the dragon is viewed as a snake with legs in religious legends throughout the world, testifies to the fact that people everywhere once believed in the Bible account in Genesis, and they also believed that when God cursed the snake to ‘travel on its chest and belly,' it lost its legs. It is interesting that dragons are also part of the folklore of Europe, for who hasn't heard the story of St. George and the dragon. Yet, if you read that story, you'll see that it is actually an allegory about man's fight against sin and the Slanderer. So in that case, it refers to the original dragon, or the first creature of terror. Notice that Job 7:12 asks, ‘Am I the sea or the dragon that guards it?' This view that a dragon guarded the edges of the seas was common throughout Europe until after the Sixteenth Century, for dragons were usually drawn at the edges of maps of seas during that time. Yet, as we can see, the actual reference may have been to animals and fish that men feared and didn't understand, not snakes with legs. However, notice how vividly Job described the Slanderer as the dragon at Job 26:12, 13, where we read, ‘By His strength He has settled the sea in its bed, and in His wisdom He's filled it with whales. The bolts from the skies stand in awe of Him, and He's ordered the death of the dragon that rebelled.' We find a whole Chapter in Job (Chapter 41) that is obviously a description of the evil one, but has gone mistranslated for centuries, simply because its meaning has been misunderstood. Other Bibles speak of a leviathan or a behemoth here, and some of a crocodile. And in the Septuagint, we find no name at all or any explanation, leaving us to guess what is being described. It is unusual that some translators have thought that this creature was a crocodile, for crocodile is a Greek word that is easily recognized, since it is spelled almost the same as in English. There is one place where that word is found in the Law of Moses, at Leviticus 11:25, when listing animals that shouldn't be eaten, and in that place most Bibles also translate the word crocodile wrong. If you read the text of Job 41, you'll see an obvious reference to a fire-breathing dragon. For notice how verses 18-21 describe it: ‘His sneezing brings about brightness, and his eyes are like the morning star. From out of his mouth comes burning lamps, like the scattered grates of a fire. From out of his nostrils comes the smoke of a furnace, burning with the fire from coals. His life is much like live coals, and flames shoot from his mouth. ' At this point, critics could say the Bible was talking about a mythical dragon, and others would say that God is describing a wild ox. Yet, notice the further description in verses 31, 32: ‘He breaks from the abyss as though a brass cauldron; he thinks of the sea as his own ointment jar, and the abyss of Tartarus as his captive. For, to him the abyss just a promenade.' If you examine these verses, you'll see that God is using cryptic text to explain to Job just who is to blame for his problems. Yet, the use of the words Tartarus (the place where evil gods are sent) isn't found again in the Bible until the reference at 2 Peter 2:4, and the only mention of his coming out of his prison (pit or abyss) is found at Revelation 20:7.
Clearly, this second-to-the-last Chapter in Job, as in any good writing, brings back into play all the characters that the book started with. Then, why did Jewish scribes and translators have so much trouble understanding this Chapter that there are obvious deletions? There are four likely reasons:
· They didn't believe in fire-breathing dragons
· They didn't know that the Slanderer was the dragon
· They didn't know of the Slanderer's position in Tartarus or the pit
· A correct understanding would have linked the Book of Job to the Scriptures of the Christian era.
It is interesting that we again find mention of a dragon at Isaiah 27:1, where we read: ‘In that day, God will bring His great, holy, and strong sword against the dragon - the crooked and fleeing snake - and He will do away with the dragon, the one in the sea.' This is an obvious reference to the destruction of the same dragon mentioned at Revelation 12:9 above, but it goes unnoticed in Hebrew texts, where the word leviathan is once more misunderstood. Of course, the word dragon is of Greek origin, so it came after the Hebrew text was written; and regardless of popular (mis)conceptions, leviathan is probably its Hebrew equivalent. What is particularly interesting about this scripture, is that it speaks of the dragon from the sea in the same words as found at Ezekiel 32:2, where the reference is obviously to the land of Egypt and to its destruction. And you will also find references to the land of Egypt in the song of Isaiah 26, 27. However, this song seems to speak of some future time when God's people (Israel) are released from a symbolic Egypt at Armageddon , for notice the words of the prophecy found at Isaiah 26:18-21, which say: ‘We won't fall, though all others who live on earth will fall, but the dead will be raised from their tombs. Then all on the earth will be joyful, for, as dew You'll send them a cure, while the land of the godless will fall. Proceed, O my people, to enter your bedrooms! Go inside, lock your doors, and hide a little while! For, this will happen, then that, and the rage of Jehovah will pass. {Look!} From His Holy Place Jehovah sends His rage, upon all those living on earth. He'll unveil all the blood on the earth... and He won't cover up those He destroys anymore.'
So, Egypt seems to be used here as a symbol of the godless nations that are destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16) and the dragon that represents them, appears to be the Opposer.


The Woman and Her Seed
One of the marvels of John's writings is that he ties the first prophecies and first words of the Bible into the Bible's last written books (John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation). For example, the words that are written in Revelation the Twelfth Chapter about the ‘woman' and her ‘seed,' and the ‘dragon' and his ‘messengers,' shows the thrilling conclusion to a Bible ‘mystery (gr. mysterion),' which was anticipated for some 4,000 years prior to John's writing. In fact, at Romans 16:25 it is referred to as, ‘the revelation of the mystery that has been kept quietly for the ages.' The prophecy that the Revelation is explaining, is the first one found in the Bible. At Genesis 3:15, God said to the Snake (the Slanderer), ‘I'll create hatred between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will watch for your head and you will watch for his heel.' So here in the Revelation, the four characters of Genesis 3:15 are identified. They are:
· The ‘snake' (or dragon) is the Slanderer
· The Slanderer's ‘seed' are (in part) the Slanderer's messengers
· The ‘woman' who gives birth to the seed is God's faithful heavenly organization (the ‘Jerusalem Above')
· The ‘woman's seed' (which was ‘born' when the Slanderer was thrown out of heaven) is God's entire Kingdom arrangement - Jesus and his ‘chosen ones,' which were selected from among men. They make up ‘the New Jerusalem.'


The Great Babylon
The ‘whore' that is identified in Revelation the Eighteenth Chapter appears to be a composite of all ‘Christian' and Judaic religions that have shared in having a ‘throne over the kings of the earth.' After all, what other group has wielded such an influence over worldly governments throughout the ages? Why have we concluded that this whore constitutes unfaithful ‘Christian' and Judaic religions? Well, take the time to read God's pronouncement against Jerusalem, as found in Ezekiel Chapter Sixteen, and you'll see striking parallels to the prophecies concerning The Great Babylon in Revelation. And since unfaithful Jerusalem was in a covenant relationship with God, those who she represents today must also be those who claim a covenant relationship with God, Christendom. Then why is she referred to as Babylon? Well, unfaithful Israel was referred to by the names of other unrighteous places, such as Sodom and Egypt, in order to illustrate just who she was acting like. And remember that after the Medes and Persians destroyed the ancient city of Babylon, it's a fact that many Jews remained in that city, considering it their home, which wasn't at all what God wanted. Now, some believe (and teach) that The Great Babylon has already fallen. Yet, notice the location of this prophecy in the book of Revelation... it comes after the first mention of the Battle of Armageddon (but not after it happens, which is further described in Chapter Nineteen), and just prior to ‘the marriage of the Lamb.' So, its destruction, as described in Revelation 17:16, will come at the hands of the ‘ten horns' of the wild animal, which clearly symbolizes all the rulers of the earth. And it is then that we read (at Revelation 18:4) of the warning for ‘my (Jesus') people' to get out of her. So, since its destruction by the kings of the earth hasn't happened yet (as it did in the fall of ancient Babylon), The Great Babylon doesn't appear to have fallen.
She is called a whore, because she claims to represent the God of the heavens, but she has really sold her allegiance to the ‘wild animals' of the earth, and these will eventually turn and destroy her. And she is likely called Babylon, because pagan doctrines that originated in ancient Babylon are still being taught in her.
An insight into why she is called a whore can be found in the words of James 4:4, which say, ‘Adulteresses, don't you know that if you're a friend of the world, you're an enemy of God? So, whoever wants to be a friend of the world is putting himself down as God's enemy.' Notice that the ‘whore' of Revelation was guilty of doing what James mentioned as being wrong. She is deeply involved in this world's politics. And if you read Ezekiel Chapter twenty-three, you will see how God Himself likened Jerusalem to a woman who was promised to Him but became a whore through her unfaithfulness... which is what much of modern Christendom and Judaism has done today. So, God is the One who explained who this whore is. In the past, others have identified The Great Babylon as being the Catholic Church (see the book The Two Babylons , by Alexander Hyslop). Yet, there is no single religion that can be pointed to as standing alone in its involvement in corruption and political entanglements, for almost all are guilty of this today. Yet, others have described The Great Babylon as being all religions, both Christian and pagan. And though this could be so, Jesus' people cannot be found (as such) within pagan religions. And in the account found in Ezekiel Sixteen, the guilt and destruction of other non-Israelite peoples is also mentioned. So, if the vivid account of the condemnation of Jerusalem, as found in Ezekiel, parallels the condemnation of The Great Babylon, and this specifically pictures those who claim a covenant relationship with God, then the other religions are not left off the hook. Our conclusion that the destruction of The Great Babylon and the destruction of ancient Jerusalem pictures the overthrow of all Christendom and Judaism seems to be supported by the prophecy concerning events leading up to Jerusalem's destruction found in Ezekiel 9:4-6, where we read, ‘Go through the midst of the city - through the midst of Jerusalem - and put a sign on the foreheads of the men who are groaning and deeply upset over all the lawless deeds that are being done in their midst ... go through the city behind him and strike! Don't allow your eyes to spare or show mercy. Kill and wipe out old men, young men, virgins, women, and children! But don't go near those who are wearing the sign... and start at My Holy Places!' Notice that this destruction was to start in God's holy places and with the elders who were there in the Temple (‘the House of God'). And then salvation was to come from among all in Judah who were sighing and groaning over the bad things that they saw being done by those who called themselves the leaders of God's people. So, our conclusion is that The Great Babylon represents all Christendom, and those who must get out of her are all the honest hearted who are found in Christendom.


New Jerusalem
At Ephesians 2:21, 22, Paul spoke of Jesus' chosen ones as being assembled ‘into a Holy Temple for Jehovah' as ‘a place for God to live in by [His] Breath.' What is he talking about here?
Paul's reference is later explained in the Revelation, where this Temple of God was spoken of as being assembled of ‘a hundred and forty-four thousand who were purchased from the earth,' (Revelation 14:3) and are taken to heaven from among the symbolic earthly ‘twelve tribes of Israel.' (see Revelation 7:4, 5). They then make up a heavenly ‘city' or seat of government for the earth. Notice how Revelation 21:2, 3 describes it,
‘I also saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It had been prepared as a bride who is dressed for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne say, Look! God's tent is with men. He is going to pitch his tent among them. They will be His people and He will be their God.' Finally, Revelation Chapter 22 gives us a vision of this glorious Holy City, which is built on a foundation of the ‘twelve Apostles of the Lamb.' Notice the description found at Revelation 22:9-12, 14, ‘He said, Come here! I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife. So, he carried me away by [God's] Breath to an enormously high mountain. There he showed me Jerusalem, the Holy City, coming down out of heaven from God. It had all the glory of God. It had a shine like the most precious of gems. It gleamed like a crystal-clear jasper stone. It had thick high walls and twelve gates. And at the twelve gates, there were twelve messengers. [On the gates] were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. The city wall also had twelve foundation stones, and the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb were written on them.' This is the special hope of those who are chosen to be a part of God's arrangement to govern the earth from this ‘New Jerusalem' and to ‘become one' with Jesus as ‘the bride of the Lamb.'


The Morning Star
Admittedly, our rendering of Psalm 110:3, ‘For, since the time that you came from the womb, I made you to be the morning star,' could be wrong, because it differs from the Hebrew text and other translations of the Septuagint. The Greek word in question here is eosphorou, which some translate as dawn. However, others argue that the word should be translated as morning star, and we find this logical because Jesus referred to himself as the morning star at Revelation 2:28, and again at Revelation 22:16. So, this would explain what scripture he was quoting. Notice that this rendering is also more in harmony with the principles of Hebrew poetry, for it better reflects the thought of the previous verse, ‘In that mighty day you'll be the sovereign, and in the brightness of your holy ones you will shine.' It also just makes more sense than the Hebrew words, ‘in the splendors of holiness from the womb of the dawn,' which don't appear to mean very much, and which don't tie into other prophesies.
Revelation 2:28 says, ‘I'll also give him the morning star.' Notice the explanation the Bible itself provides at Revelation 22:16 of who this morning stare is; ‘I (Jesus) sent my messenger to you [so you would] bring this testimony against the congregations. I'm the root and the descendant of David, the bright mmorning star.'


The Lamp Stands
Notice what was represented by the lamp stands in the Revelation. Revelation 1:20 says, ‘The seven lamp stands signify the seven congregations.' So, lamp stands must picture callings or groups of Christians. Where the lamp stand is spoken of as being ‘removed' (at Revelation 2:5), this appears to indicate that the congregation will be removed from its position of favor.
Spiritism, Druggery, or Involvement in the Occult? The Greek word that is translated involvement in the occult at Galatians 5:20, is pharmakia. This word has been translated many ways over the years to fit particular religious ‘hot buttons.' Some have applied it to forbid spiritism and others have applied it to forbid the use of illicit drugs (due to the ‘pharmacy' connection). However, the word refers specifically to the use of ‘magic potions' that are supplied by mystics, such as witches and the like. And some connection to modern-day (prescribed and patent) medicines as sold in drug stores could be implied. However, the difference is that modern medicines aren't supposed to suggest ‘magical' or occult powers. The particular Greek/English interlinear Bible that we used translated pharmakia as druggery. However, the nuance that druggery implies in American English simply isn't correct. It suggests the misuse (abuse) of mind-altering drugs... and that isn't the primary meaning of pharmakia. While mind-altering drugs would likely have played a role in ancient potions, the corrupt act mentioned here clearly refers to any involvement in occult practices and contact with the demons.


The Kingdom
The word Kingdom is translated from the Greek word basileia, which refers to the realm of a king (basil). A common misconception about this Kingdom is that it isn't real... that it's just a state of mind. This conclusion is based on Jesus' words found at Luke 17:21 which say (in Greek), he basileia tou Theou entos hymon estin (the Kingdom of the God in you is). These words are then translated as, ‘for God's Kingdom is within you.' However, this couldn't be the correct meaning, because, notice that (at Luke 17:20) Jesus said these words in reply to a question that was raised by the Pharisees, and he certainly didn't believe that the Kingdom was in their hearts. So, what did Jesus mean? He was saying that he, the king of that Kingdom, was there in their midst, and that the hope of becoming kings in that Kingdom was being offered to them. And while it's true that real Christians ever since that time have in fact been members of that Kingdom in their hearts, the word Kingdom (an area of rule) implies that there will be an actual time of rule and a realm for Jesus and his faithful servants. And, since it appears as though some of these kings will rule from heaven, the place where they rule from is called ‘the Kingdom of Heaven.' However, Kingdom of Heaven appears to refer to the rule from heaven and not to the place where those who are ruled will live. We draw this conclusion from Jesus' words as found at Matthew 8:11, which reads: ‘Many from the sunrise and sunset will come and recline [at the table] with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven.'
That such faithful individuals as Abraham weren't really in heaven at the time Jesus spoke these words (but they were alive in God's memory), is confirmed by what Jesus said at John 3:13, ‘Nobody has gone to heaven other than he who came from heaven, the Son of Man.' So, Matthew 8:10-12 must be referring to Abraham and his descendants living under the rule of a heavenly Kingdom government. These faithful ones don't appear to qualify to be rulers in heaven themselves, because they weren't ‘born again' to receive the value of a spiritual life, nor were they part of the ‘Sacred Agreement for a Kingdom' (Luke 22:29) that Jesus made with his Apostles just prior to his arrest and execution. Notice how Jesus showed that the Kingdom of God hadn't already arrived at the time he was speaking, for we are told at Luke 19:11, ‘While they were listening to these things, he told them another illustration, because he was getting close to Jerusalem, and they all thought that the Kingdom of God was about to happen instantly.' Then Jesus told about a man who made a long trip to a distant land to receive kingship. So, a long period of time was obviously involved between when Jesus would leave on his journey (to receive kingship in heaven), and the time when he would return to reward his faithful slaves. There is a definite time for this Kingdom to start its rule, which is made clear by the words of Revelation 12:10. For there we read, ‘Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say, This is the moment when the salvation, the power, the Kingdom of our God, and the authorization of His Anointed began. Because, the one who has been accusing our brothers has been thrown down... the one who has been complaining about them day and night in front of our God!' So, when the Opposer and his messengers are/were expelled from heaven, God's Kingdom begins there. However, it must await the end of the ‘short period of time' before God's opposers are destroyed at ‘Armageddon' and any of its effects will be seen on earth. Then, what is the Kingdom? The term appears to refer to a coming rulership of the earth by God, Jesus, and a spiritual Israel that originates in the heavens but extends to those in charge on the earth, for John wrote at Revelation 1:6, ‘[Jesus] made us to be a Kingdom of Priests to his God and Father.' And he wrote that a heavenly group sang this song to him about Jesus (at Revelation 5:9, 10):
‘You bought people for God with your blood,
From every tribe, language, ethnicity, and country.
Then you made them rulers and Priests to our God,
And they'll rule as kings on the earth.'
Then at Revelation 2:26 it's recorded that Jesus promised: ‘I'll give he who conquers and obeys whatever I tell him to do down to the end, power over the nations.'
And again at Revelation 3:21, Jesus promised: ‘Then I'll allow the one who conquers to sit down with me on my throne, just as my Father has allowed me to sit on His throne, because I have conquered.'


Called and Chosen
There seems to be quite a bit of difference between these two words (called and chosen) and their implications for the people involved. For, notice what Jesus said as recorded at Matthew 22:14, ‘Many are the called but few are the chosen (gr. polloi eisin gar cletoi, oligoi de eclectoi).' And this verse could be possibly even be translated as ‘Many are the nominated but few are the elected.' These words of Jesus seem to put an end to the notion that everyone who is called by God was foreordained to that position before his/her specific birth. Rather, what was determined is that there would be people in general (not specific individuals) who would be chosen. Because, as Jesus makes clear here, not all who are among the called (or the nominated) to this hope are thereafter counted among the chosen (elected). For, why would God call people if He already knew that there was no chance of their being chosen? Notice how this was stated at Revelation 17:14. There we are told, ‘Then they'll go and fight against the Lamb. But, because he's the Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb and those who are with him (the called, elected, and faithful) will conquer them.' So, ‘the called' also have prove faithful in order to become ‘the elected' to serve with Jesus. That was the point of Jesus' parable at Matthew 22:1-14, which (as Jesus said) was an illustration concerning ‘the Kingdom of Heaven.' In that parable, many were initially ‘called' to the banquet of the King, but they didn't want to come. The obvious reference here is to the Jews who were invited first to become kings in that Kingdom, but who for the most part, rejected the invitation. The king then ordered his slaves to go out into the streets and ‘call' anyone who wishes to come to the banquet. These words obviously refer to the calling of people of the nations, or the gentiles (gr. tas ethne - the ethnics). So, is this parable talking about being called to heaven to rule there with Jesus... for isn't the wedding banquet for God's son to be held in heaven, and aren't those who are invited to God's banquet the bride who will be with Jesus in heaven? We have always thought so, but notice that the guests in this parable aren't referred to as virgins (as was the case of those mentioned in Revelation 14:1-4). Rather, they are called ‘both the wicked and the good,' which is a strange way to refer to the ‘Saints.' Next, as the parable continues, the king noticed a guest who wasn't properly dressed for a wedding feast (he didn't have the required qualities). This guest was then bound and thrown back outside (but not killed). Do as you can see, he was called but not chosen. Now, if we were to assume that this banquet is held in heaven, and since he was already there at the feast, we must ask: was he then kicked out of heaven... and if so, we would also have to ask, then why was he taken there to begin with? Now, we do suspect that there are those who are taken to heaven to rule with Jesus, but if so, they are likely the bride at the wedding feast, not the guests (see Revelation 17:7-9). For, notice what Paul said of himself at Philippians 3:11, ‘... so I can somehow be found worthy of the upward resurrection from the dead.' What was Paul talking about here? It appears as though, when speaking of ‘the upward resurrection,' he was saying that although he had been ‘called,' he may not have been ‘chosen' yet for heavenly life. That this is what he was likely talking about, can be seen from what he said at Philippians 3:12, ‘[I'm not saying] that I've made it yet, or that I'm already perfect.' Then he continued with the words (at Philippians 3:14), ‘I am running toward the goal, the prize of the upward (gr. ano - upward or higher) calling from God through the Anointed One Jesus.' So, notice that the Bible speaks both of a ‘calling' and of an ‘upward calling,' which we assume refers to being called to heaven. And how would Paul know that he had been ‘chosen' for this lofty reward? It appears as though such a person must first endure incredible suffering for his/her beliefs (as did Jesus), for notice what Paul wrote at Romans 8:17, ‘We have to suffer together so we can also be glorified together.'
Such suffering must be much more than what is typical of the suffering and death of mankind. Does this ‘suffering' require a dying a martyr's death? That seems to be the gist of the prophecy at Revelation 6:9-11, which says, ‘When he opened the fifth seal, I saw the lives of those who had been slaughtered because of the Word of God and because of the testimony that they gave, underneath the altar... Then they were each given a white robe and they were told to take it easy just a little while longer, until the full number of their fellow slaves and brothers was filled (who were going to be killed, as they were).' But, in the case of Jesus' words found Matthew 22:14, (‘Many are called but few are chosen'), we would have to conclude that God calls many people from among mankind to become His faithful slaves and to thereafter attend the wedding banquet of the Lamb (whether in heaven or earth is not stated), but not all who are called are found worthy.


The Word
The Greek word logos is often rightly translated as word. However, logos implies a greater meaning than that; it means the expression of a thought. So Jesus is truly the complete expression of God's thoughts. People have often wondered why John used such unusual wording to start this, his literary masterpiece. Yet, it is obvious he was explaining Genesis 1:1-3. For, notice how that scripture reads, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. But the earth was unsightly and unfinished, darkness covered its depths, and God's Breath moved over its waters. Then God spoke (gr. eipen), saying, May there be light, and light came to be.' So, you can see that God spoke, and the things came into existence by means of some unnamed person or force. Now, follow John's opening words (at John 1:1-4) and notice how they dovetail with and explain Genesis 1:1-3: ‘In the beginning there was the Word. The Word was with the God (gr. ho theos) and the Word was a powerful one (gr. theon). He was with God long ago, and through him it all came to be... life came to be, and this life was the light of all men.' As you can see, the account in Genesis says that God spoke things into existence, and John is explaining what God said (what the ‘Word' was). In other words, God ‘spoke' and the ‘Word' (Jesus in his pre-human existence) did the work. So, if John 1:1 appears to support the idea of a trinity to some, this is unintentional. John was simply trying to impress on his readers that; although Jesus isn't mentioned in Genesis 1:1, he was there with God and was himself a powerful god who actually did the work (with God's power) when God ‘spoke' the heavens and earth into existence. Are we to conclude from John's writing here that Jesus' heavenly name is ton Logos (the Word or Expression of a thought)? No! Recognize that John was just employing inspired play on words to draw attention to the phrasing of Genesis 1:1. Jesus' pre-human name was likely Michael, which means: Who is Like God (not a question but a statement). And John called him ‘the Word' to point out Jesus' most ancient high position as a co-worker with God, who created whatever things God spoke.


The Seven Congregations
After explaining that it is a vision of ‘the Lord's Day' (Revelation 1:10), the first portion of Revelation speaks of messages to seven congregations, which (because of the stated period) may represent all faithful congregations, lamp stands, or Christian religions in our time; for notice how all the problems of modern religions are represented by these chosen groups:
· One had fallen from the position it once had
· One was being persecuted for its faithfulness
· One was faithful but was infected by the teachings of the Nicolaitans and some were following the teachings of Balaam
· One was serving faithfully, but was influenced by a Jezebel force
· One was spiritually dead
· One was plagued by the synagogue of the Slanderer
· One was lukewarm and neither hot nor cold.
So, it appears as though this prophecy is foretelling that the Opposer would infiltrate many Christian religions to the core during the Lord's Day.


The Two Witnesses
Who the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3, 4 are or will be is open to religious debate, which we won't enter here, for that is just speculation. We know that they are described as, ‘The two olive trees and the two lamp stands that have been standing on the earth in front of the Lord.' So, we know that they represent callings or gatherings, because we were told at Revelation 1:20, ‘The seven lamp stands signify the seven congregations.' Why are there two and not seven? Because the messages to the seven congregations prove that not all are faithful, and what God's Law requires is that a matter is proven at the mouth of two or more witnesses. What testimony will be required of these two witnesses? We don't know, but in the case of ancient Israel there were two witnesses (Joshua and Caleb) who could testify to what Jehovah had done by delivering His people from Egypt and through the Red sea. They were also witnesses to their receiving the Law from God, and to the people's agreeing to be party to His Sacred Agreement. So in this case, the two witnesses will be able to testify to some great act by God. Otherwise, there would be no need for witnesses. What is this great act? All we have is what the following verses tell us. Revelation 11:3 says they will ‘prophesy for one-thousand two-hundred and sixty days wearing sackcloth.' Then verses 3-6 say, ‘If any of their enemies wish to harm them, fire will come from their mouths and consume them. So, if anyone wants to persecute them, that's how they're going to die, because they've been authorized to close up the sky so no rain will fall during the period of their prophesying. They're also authorized to turn water into blood and to bring every sort of plague to the earth whenever they wish. Verses 7 and 8 continue, ‘And when they've finished their witnessing, the wild animal that comes out of the pit will fight against them, conquer them, and kill them. Then their corpses will lie in the main street of the great city, which [God's] Breath refers to as Sodom and Egypt. It's where their Lord was hung on a pole.' And verses 11-13 tell us, ‘However, after the three and a half days, God sent His breath of life into them and they stood up on their feet, and this frightened those who saw them. Then [the two witnesses] heard a loud voice from heaven say to them, Come on up here. And their enemies saw them go into the sky in a cloud. A tremendous earthquake followed this and a tenth of the city [of Sodom and Egypt] toppled. This earthquake killed seven-thousand people and frightened all the rest, so they gave glory to the God of heaven.' There were also two other witnesses that the Bible speaks of, Moses and Elijah, who were with Jesus in the transfiguration. This is an interesting match up, because the death of neither one was witnessed by man (though both died). Does this have significance? There were three witnesses who came along with Jesus at that time, Peter, John, and James. And what did they see? At Matthew 16:28 Jesus said concerning this, ‘I tell you the truth, some of you who are standing here won't taste death until you see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.'
So, perhaps these findings will provide some clues as to who the two witnesses are or will prove to be.


Dragon's Messengers
At Revelation 12:9 we read, ‘He (the dragon) was thrown down to the earth along with his messengers. In Greek, the word that is translated messenger is aggeloi (angels). So, God and Jesus have their ‘messengers,' and the Slanderer and Opposer has his. How many? Revelation 12:4 says that ‘he drags a third of the stars of heaven.' So it looks like the dragon has great (but limited) success. Are these messengers ‘demons?' No, for demon (gr. diameno) appears to mean fixed in one place, which describes the ‘sons of God' who came to earth and assumed human bodies in Noah's day. Because they had forsaken heaven, they were put into a prison-like state here on the earth during ‘the (Great) Downpour. From other Bible accounts about demons, it appears that this ‘fixing in one place' means that they must be associated with either living or non-living things, which is referred to as ‘possession.' However, notice that the ‘messengers' in John's vision still had access to the heavens until they lost the battle there in ‘the Lord's Day.' At that time, they were thrown to the earth, but there is no indication that they became fixed to objects or people. So, this may be the reason why the Revelation refers to them as ‘messengers,' not as demons. Why would ‘a third' of God's heavenly messengers choose to follow the dragon in rebellion? While the Bible deals with the extent of the earthly rebellion against God, one can only imagine the full extent of the heavenly rebellion. A glimpse into the type of offer that the Slanderer might have made can be seen by the offer that he made Jesus after his 40-day trek in the desert. Luke 4:6 tells us, ‘Then the Slanderer said, I'll give you power over all of these and the glory of them, because they have been given to me and I can give them to whoever I wish.' So, the Slanderer has power over all the governments of the world as the above statement shows (also see Revelation 13:7). And offering heavenly messengers their own worldly governments, empires, and even religions, must have been the enticing lure... POWER!


The Day of the Lord
Throughout the Bible, we find references to ‘the Day of Jehovah,' and ‘the Day of the Lord.' Are both of these references to the same time, and if so, how do we know? There is no conflict between the two Days; in fact, they appear to be the same. Notice what we are told in the Revelation, when it is speaking of the beginning of that Day (at Revelation 12:10), ‘This is the moment when the salvation, the power, the Kingdom of our God, and the authorization of his Anointed One began.' As you can see, the purposes of that Day are tied together. For, the establishment of God's Kingdom (with the battle in heaven and the ouster of the Opposer and his messengers) and the authorization for Jesus (the Lord) to rule appear to begin at the same time. So, does the Lord's Day begin when the things spoken of in the Revelation start to happen? It appears to be so, because it starts out with John's words (at Revelation 1:10), ‘Through the Breath [of God] I found myself in the Lord's Day.'
What are some of the features of that Day? Well, they appear to start with the ouster of the Opposer and his messengers from heaven (See Revelation 12), which is followed by the destruction of ‘The Great Babylon' (See Revelation 17, 18). Then in rapid succession there comes the ‘marriage of the Lamb' (acceptance of the rest of the Anointed ones to heaven?), the Battle of Armageddon, the abyssing of the Opposer and his messengers, and the resurrection (see Revelation 19, 20). And finally, the Opposer is released for a short time, which precipitates the battle against Gog of Magog , and which is thereafter followed by the descent of ‘New Jerusalem' to the earth, and the making of the ‘new earth and sky' (see Revelation 21). Also, in the prophecy found at Joel 2:1-12, ‘the Day of the Lord' appears to start with the destruction of Jerusalem by worldly armies (the destruction of The Great Babylon?), and this is followed by the destruction of the worldly armies, in Joel Chapter Three (Armageddon?). And in between these two events, we read of the marvelous outpouring of God's Breath upon His faithful servants (Joel 2:28-32).
Peter wrote in length about this period, and at 2 Peter 3:7 he wrote: ‘It was also promised that; What's [now] in store for the earth and sky is fire, which [will come] during the Judgment Day, when godless men will be destroyed.' And although many misinterpret these words as describing just the destruction of the wicked at Armageddon, the context shows that he was looking at a much longer period of time, the total ‘Lord's Day' or ‘Judgment Day'... the ‘thousand-year' period spoken of at Revelation Chapter Twenty. For what he said about the burning of the earth and sky and of the ‘new earth and sky' corresponds exactly with the end of the thousand years and the promises found at Revelation 21:1. So, from the periods described in the Revelation, near the end of Jesus' thousand-year reign there will be a judgment of the wicked (those who join with Gog of Magog) and they will be destroyed. Then there will be a ‘new earth and sky.' What does that really mean? Perhaps we'll all have to live to see it to be sure.


The Time of Difficulty
The Greek work thlipsis (pronounced: thel/eep/sees) is used several times in the Bible, but it is difficult to find an equivalent word in common American English to translate it. It implies a painful, difficult time, and it was used to describe a woman's childbirth labor. Tribulation and travail are nice old English words that describe the meaning fairly accurately, but they aren't the types of words you would read in a newspaper today, so we have tried to use more common words to translate it, depending on the circumstances. Notice how Jesus applied this thlipsis when he was describing the climax of the time when he would be ‘near' (at Matthew 24:21), ‘Then there will come a difficult time, such hasn't happened since the world's beginning until now, nor should ever happen again.' Actually, Jesus appears to have been quoting a prophecy in the book of Daniel here, as he had just done in verse fifteen. But this time he is quoting the words found at Daniel 12:1, which read (in the common Bible of his time, LXX), ‘At that time Michael the great prince will stand up - the one who [watches] over your people's children. Then there will be a time of difficulty (gr. hemera thlipsios) such as has never been from the time there was a nation on the earth until then. That's when your people will be delivered - everyone [whose name] is written in the book.' So, obviously both scriptures are speaking of this same period. When will this ‘time of difficulty' begin? In answer, let's consider when this period started in the parallel fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy upon the city of Jerusalem. Notice that the period was to begin immediately after the thing described at Matthew 24:15, 16 happened, ‘When you see the disgusting destroyer standing in the Holy Place, then those in Judea should run to the mountains.' The ‘disgusting destroyer' was found to be ‘standing in the Holy Place' when the armies of Rome first camped around Jerusalem. That's when Christians were told to (and history says they actually did) get out of Jerusalem and hide in the mountains. Then, the ‘difficult time' started for Jerusalem, as the Roman armies returned and built a fence of pointed stakes around the city, which caused the people to starve. Thereafter, they were slaughtered by the tens of thousands. So, what parallels will there be when the ‘difficult time' finally arrives? Well, notice that what happened to Jerusalem was the (God-inspired) action of a great worldly army against an unfaithful religious people. Revelation the Eighteenth Chapter speaks of a similar event when describing a symbolic woman called ‘The Great Babylon.' There she is spoken of as being destroyed by worldly armies. So, the indication is that the symbolic destruction of Jerusalem and the destruction of The Great Babylon both picture a coming war upon unfaithful ‘Christian' and possibly Jewish religions by worldly governments, and that is to be preceded by an exceedingly difficult time for those who remain in them.
Is this ‘difficult time' the same thing as ‘the Battle of Armageddon?' No, for that battle appears to come against the armies that do the attacking sometime after the great time of difficulty and after they destroy symbolic Jerusalem. It would be presumptuous for us to try to set out the order in which all these things will happen. However, it is later in Jesus' account (at Matthew 24:29, 30) that we read: ‘Then the sun will grow dark, the moon won't put out light, the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of Heaven will shake. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds in the sky, with power and great glory.' So, does the sign of the Son of Man appear in the sky before the great time of difficulty or after it? Although the order of Jesus' words would indicate that it happens before the great signs appear in the heavens, the same prophecy as found in Luke's account seems to indicate that the attack against Jerusalem in 66-70 C.E. showed that he was somehow already present and directing the attack of the Roman armies against unfaithful Jerusalem. So, whether the great time of difficulty and the Battle of Armageddon come before, during, or after ‘the sign of the Son of Man' appears in the sky is unclear. And finally, Revelation the Seventh Chapter speaks of a huge crowd of people who apparently survive this ‘great time of difficulty.' Notice that it says (in verses 9, 10) ‘After all this I saw a crowd so large that nobody could count them. They came from all countries, nationalities, ethnic groups, and languages; and they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were all wearing white robes, carried palm branches in their hands, and they were shouting, We owe our salvation to our God who is sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb.' Then verse 14 goes on to tell us, ‘These are the ones that have come out of the great time of difficulty (gr. thlipsis).' So, according to these verses (and history), this faithful group escapes the ‘great time of difficulty' by fleeing the unfaithful religious institutions (such as the unfaithful Jewish religion in Jerusalem was during the first great time of difficulty) that will soon be destroyed by worldly armies. Then the Battle of Armageddon against the kings of the earth and their armies begins.


Lake of Fire
The Lake of fire, which is spoken of several times in the Revelation, is often thought to be Hell Fire. However, notice that what many Bibles call ‘Hell' is actually to be thrown into this lake. For at Revelation 20:14 we read, ‘Finally, death and the grave (gr. Hades) were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire symbolizes the second death.' This lake of fire seems to symbolize the same thing as what Jesus called Gehenna, which is often translated Hell Fire. Yet, the word simply means the Valley (heb. ga) of Hinnom. The Valley of Hinnom (also referred to as ‘the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom') was a garbage dump that was located along one of Jerusalem's outer walls. It was a beautiful park before Jerusalem's conquest by Babylon, but it was defiled when apostate Jews offered their children as sacrifices on an altar to the God Molech there. Then, after the repatriation to Jerusalem, the valley was used in a disrespectful way. As a garbage dump, it was customary to keep the garbage burning to reduce the stench and to limit vermin, so sulfur was frequently poured into the dump to keep the fires burning hot. This is why Jesus, when using the term, spoke of the fire as not being put out there. Also, because worms (maggots) bred along the edges of the dump, he could say that the worms don't die (or live perpetually). So, there is no indication that he was talking about humans. The only cases where humans were actually thrown into Gehenna provides an insight into what Jesus was talking about when he referred to people going there: The dead bodies of particularly vile condemned criminals were thrown into Gehenna's fires whenever the population felt that they were undeserving of a decent burial. As you read the Scriptures, you'll notice the importance that Hebrews placed on being ‘laid to rest with their ancestors.' So, when Jesus spoke of people being thrown into Gehenna, he was obviously referring to unrepentant sinners being thrown into the ‘garbage dump.' In other words, in the eyes of God they were unworthy of a resurrection. This same condition is also referred to in other places in Matthew's account as the fire of the age, and as ‘the lake of fire' in the Revelation. Why was that term used? Because fire destroys, and those who are destroyed there (such as the Slanderer, the wild animals that picture the worldly nations, and The Great Babylon) will be gone forever. Then why are those who go there spoken of as being tortured through the ages (such as at Revelation 20:8)? To understand this nuance, you must first understand how ancient peoples used the term that we've translated as torture. In Bible times, jailers were called by the same term, not necessarily because they performed physical acts of torture, but because by locking people up they were creating a form of mental torture.
And this is the thought that's implied by being thrown into the ‘lake of fire' or the ‘garbage dump.' Since symbolic things such as governments, churches, the Slanderer, and even death and the grave are thrown there, the ‘torture' doesn't imply experiencing pain, but it refers to the fact that such things will be locked away there forever. And as Revelation 20:14 explains it, ‘The lake of fire symbolizes the second (or eternal) death.'

 

 

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