Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Revelation Chapter Six, Part 5 of 6

6:12-14 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
The sixth seal unleashes a great earthquake. It is not the greatest to come, but it moves mountains and islands out of their places. This seems to indicate that our continents suffer a violent shifting due to this global earthquake that changes the position of mountains and islands in the ocean. Apparently Jesuit missionaries in China uncovered an ancient record with similar language to this from an event long since past.

It said: “The Earth was shaken to its foundations. The sky sank lower toward the north. The sun, moon, and stars changed their motions. The Earth fell to pieces and the waters in its bosom rushed upward with violence and overflowed the Earth. Man had rebelled against the high gods and the system of the Universe was in disorder.” [Berlitz p. 126]

The Flood, as recalled by the ancient Chinese writings, was apparently a comparable earthquake when the fountains of the great deep rent open and inundated the earth during Noah’s day. As it was in the days of Noah, Jesus warned, so it would be during the days of the Son of Man, Matthew 24:37. The prophet Joel likewise wrote of such a forthcoming time that would precede the arrival of Christ: “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. And the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” Joel 2:30-31. Major geological changes, atmospheric changes, and changes within heavenly bodies will apparently happen before Christ’s return to this earth.

In this passage we read that the sun will be darkened. The moon, which reflects the sun’s light during the night, apparently suffers from this and takes on a blood red tint. John isn’t being literal presently; he does not mean the moon will bleed or some other nonsense. The wording indicates that the moon shall become as blood, or like blood, NKJV. The diminished light of the sun causes the moon to take on a blood-red hue. Joel adds in that there will be blood and fire mingled with pillars of smoke. This may refer to a future judgment from one of the trumpets, when fire and hail, mingled with blood, falls to earth and burns up all the green grass; this could easily explain the pillars of smoke Joel refers to, Revelation 8:7. Or perhaps the seismic activity triggers volcanic eruptions, which Joel could describe as “pillars of smoke.”

There is frequent reference in Scripture to the heavens and earth being folded up and cast away; generally contrasting the transient nature of our material universe to the immortal and immutable character of its divine Creator, Psalm 102:25-27; Isaiah 51:6; 2nd Peter 3:10. In fact there is an OT passage that speaks of this same incident John presently brings to our attention. Isaiah writes: “All the host of heaven (the stars) shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; all their host shall fall down as the leaf falls from the vine, and as fruit falling from a fig tree,” Isaiah 34:4. The sentence of sin that was passed when Adam transgressed affected the entire universe; all of creation suffered, Romans 8:19-22. Therefore all of creation (this present creation) shall be dissolved and cast away, and God will create a new Heaven and earth for His new children to dwell in forever, children that have been reborn in Christ’s image. It is vividly clear that this present universe will be destroyed, Isaiah 65:17; 2nd Peter 3:10-11; Revelation 21:1. It is also clear that the ultimate destruction of this present universe is not visited yet; God is certainly at this time showing “wonders” in the heavens, as Joel wrote.

We read in Matthew, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days (after the seven year Tribulation runs its course) the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory,” Matthew 24:29-30. The stars fall from the heavens, and angelic powers fall after that. It seems that sometime partway through the Tribulation that Satan is at last cast down from Heaven and denied further audiences with God, Revelation 12:8-9. Until this time Satan was permitted to come before God’s throne, Job 1:6; 2:1. After the powers of the heavens are shaken the sign of the Son of Man will appear in Heaven at Tribulation’s conclusion. What sign is this? Christ’s visible descent in power and great glory to fight for Israel and Jerusalem, to overthrow the Antichrist, to judge the nations, and to set up His Davidic kingdom, Zechariah 14:4; Acts 1:11; Revelation 19:19; Matthew 25:31-32; Amos 9:11-12.

To avoid confusion we must be very careful to allow Scripture to speak for itself, and never to force an interpretation when we are at a loss as to whether we have a proper understanding of Scripture, especially prophecy. Much damage has been done to Revelation and all prophetic Scripture in the Bible because we try to force the words to comply with our understanding instead of permitting our understanding to be conformed by the Holy Spirit. This was recently demonstrated with Harold Camping. The Watch Tower, Seventh Day Adventists, and many more cults have likewise suffered humiliation and shipwreck because of poor treatment and a low view of God’s word, and too high an opinion of our ability to wrest secret truths from it that God has otherwise forbidden.

When we begin believing that we are infallible in our understanding of Scripture and the sole purpose of our ministry is one of correcting everyone else in error, we have forgotten that God exalts the humble and humbles the proud. If we disdain correction you may have sound theology but you have become useless to the Holy Spirit. This is a path that will lead to a barren, joyless, puritan whose sole delight is to prove himself better than others around him with an intelligent methodology that breaks God’s word down to mere writing. It is a cold, perhaps smoothly running, but lifeless machine. God forbid that we should venture in this direction. Esteem others higher than yourself; if someone addresses what they believe is a potential error in our understanding of Scripture, let us not just dismiss them. Be a Berean.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Ian.

    Many have insisted on a tranquil flood, but as you point out, the statement that the fountains of the great deep were broken up in Genesis 7:11 clearly implies a massive earthquake. It is quite possible the mountains were far lower before the flood than they are today so less water would be required to cover them than would be needed now.

    As you point out, the flood is a type or forerunner of what God predicts in the end of time.

    ReplyDelete

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