STRANGE WORK

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE BOOK OF

REVELATION



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Nearly three millennia ago, the prophet Isaiah predicted that the Lord God of hosts would one day rise up and do a strange work on the Earth. Furthermore, he said it would come as a destruction upon the whole earth (Isaiah 28:21-22). The last thing that mankind expects today is that the true and living God would literally intervene on planet earth. Yet, with one voice, the prophets of the Bible predict that is exactly what He is going to do. The book of Revelation is the most detailed of the Bible's prophecies concerning that coming intervention. The lion’s share of Revelation (chapters 6 through 18), give in-depth details about the events, personalities and reasons for that fast approaching day of reckoning scheduled for our world.

Someone has dubbed the book of Revelation, The prophetic Grand Central Station of the Bible. That is a good way to describe it. All of the great eschatological (end times) themes of the Bible run to the book of Revelation like train-tracks to one central hub. So, when it comes to end time prophecy, the book of Revelation is the most important and relevant book on the subject… especially for us twenty-first century believers who are living way down here in what is most assuredly the closing days of world history.

 

A photograph of Ahmadineajad speaking at Columbia University. 

 

Back in 2007, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then President of Iran, was a guest speaker at Columbia University. Speaking in Arabic, he began his remarks with a prayer …

In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful … Oh, God, hasten the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those to attest to his rightfulness.

This prayer was a call for the Shia Islamic Messiah, Imam al-Mahdi, (the Twelfth Imam) to appear and conquer the world (victory) … and for Ahmadinejad's audience at Columbia (those) to one day bow their knees (attest to his rightfulness) to this long prophesied and anticipated, Islamic world dictator.

Many Moslems of Ahmadinejad’s sect believe they can hasten the coming of their Twelfth Imam by starting a war of genocide to defeat the Little Satan (Israel) and its ally, The Great Satan (USA). Disturbingly, Amadinejad has said that he would like to hasten the coming of the Twelfth Imam by personally starting this last great World War that Shia Moslems believe will usher in their Messiah.  Ahmadinejad’s regime published a video for distribution to the Islamic world called The Coming Is Near. In it, the case is made that all the unrest that is taking place in the Middle East is a sign of the Mahdi’s soon arrival.

Meanwhile, around the globe, fanatic Islamic Holy Warriors carry out their centuries old agenda of murdering or subjugating the "infidels" (non-Muslims) while they await their Imam Al-Mahdi to come and fulfill their dream of Islam being the ONLY religion on planet Earth. Truly, as the Bible predicts:

…in the last days, perilous times will come… Second Timothy 3:1b

A major obsticle to Shia Islam's agenda is the little nation of Israel. For decades, the eyes of the world have been drawn to this tiny country and its capital at Jerusalem. When Israel was established by the United Nations in 1948, for the first time in nearly two millennia large numbers of Jews began returning to their ancient homeland. Immediately, war erupted as surrounding Islamic states attempted to eradicate the fledgling new country. They were not successful, however ... but, war after war continues to erupt over that tiny land. Arabic nations, the Palestinians, and a host of Islamic fundamentalist organizations have all done their best to destroy Israel but she continues to survive.

Enter, Bible prophecy.

The Bible predicts that in the last days both Israel and the ancient nation of Babylon will rise again and play key roles in the culmination of earth history as we know it. And, according to Scripture, Jerusalem will be centerstage in a great final conflict between the two. In the midst of that conflict, Jerusalem will become Antichrist's world capital and Babylon, the name of his worldwide empire (Rev.17:18).

Geographically, ancient Babylon was located at the head of the Persian Gulf where Iran, Iraq and Kuwait are situated today. You will remember that it was in ancient Babylon, under King Nebuchadnezzar, that man-worship first raised its ugly head when Nebuchadnezzar made a statue of himself and commanded that everyone in his empire must fall down and worship it (Daniel 3). However, three young Hebrews … Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego … refused to do so. So, Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown alive into a super-heated furnace of fire. However, the one true and living God intervened and miraculously rescued them and the three young Hebrews walked out of Nebuchadnezzar's furnace without a single hair on their bodies having been singed. Nor, was there even the smell of smoke upon them!

Fast-forward to our present day.

Iran has long desired to conquer its neighbors. The last war that Iran initiated against Iraq cost over a million lives. And, had it not been for the assistance of the United States, Iran would have prevailed. If Iran could succeed in conquering Iraq, much of the territory of the ancient Babylonian Empire would be reconstituted.

Allow me set forth a possible scenario. If the Rapture of the Church were to occur today, the United States of America would be crippled beyond belief. Millions who occupy key and strategic positions throughout our nation would suddenly and instantly vanish from the earth. The result would be utter chaos throughout every area of infrastructure and society ... communications ... transportation ... utilities ... government ... and, most importantly, the United States military, would be severely disrupted and crippled ... all in the blink of an eye. In an atom of time, our nation would be thrown into paralysis and chaos.

Not so, however, with the Islamic world. Those nations would lose almost no one. With Christian nations disabled and in complete disarray, the Islamic world would be free to quickly unite and make its long desired move for world domination … and ancient Babylon could quickly rise again. Under those circumstances, The Man of Sin (Antichrist) could step forth upon the world scene ... declare that he is the Twelfth Imam and billions of fanatic Muslim adorers would instantly be available to march beside him to conquer the world.

Three and a half years later, his conquest would be completed by the invasion and conquering of Israel ... breaking his treaty with them and seizing the temple at Jerusalem where he would stake his claim to be "God". Then, as was the case with the ancient king Nebuchadnezzar before him, man-worship would once again be imposed upon the whole world (Rev. 13). Man-worship, having begun in Babylon, would once again be centered at Babylon in one last great Gentile, blasphemous, world dominating theocracy. In Daniel 11:37-38, a passage that refers to the coming Antichrist, we read,

Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honor the God of forces and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.(KJV)

 

Many believers have puzzled over that passage and sought to interpret it. I suggest, if Antichrist were a Moslem, the phrase the God of his fathers (from whom he will turn away), would be referring to Allah ... and the God of forces (to whom he will turn), would refer to Satan. According to the Bible, this switch of allegiance will occur when Antichrist seizes the Jew's temple at Jerusalem (midway through the Tribulation). He will then declare that he himself is God and demand to be worshipped by all (Daniel 11:36; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). We will discuss this in greater depth when we come to Revelation 13.

As for the nation of Israel, she too would be little affected by the Rapture of the Church. Very few of her people would go missing as well. Today, Israel is the sole (though undeclared) nuclear armed Middle Eastern power. Therefore, she would emerge from the Rapture as a power to be reckoned with. This is probably the key reason why Antichrist will enter into a treaty with her (Daniel 9:27). That prophetic treaty will insure the peaceful existence of the Jews in their homeland during the first three and a half years of the Tribulation and give them the time and authority to rebuild their temple.

This is my take ... a very possible scenario of what could happen after Christ removes his believers from planet Earth (the Rapture of the Church).

Everywhere, people are asking, Are the world events I am witnessing the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy?

War? Coronavirus? Earthquakes? Violent storms? This study of Revelation answers these questions. All these things are stirrings … stirrings that point to the inexorable approach of the great world changes that will bring Antichrist to power. Earth's history is fast approaching this great prophetic event. When it actually takes place in time, like passengers on a runaway train, the peoples of our world will be thrust into the amazing and perilous days of the Tribulation that Daniel and Jesus foretold and that are so precisely outlined in the book of Revelation.

Now, let me say a few words about this commentary.

     First, Strange Work is unique among commentaries on Revelation because it takes the position that the visions of the book are in the exact chronological order of their future fulfillments. I am not aware of any other commentary that recognizes that fact. Although this may seem unimportant, this unique position adds a wealth of new and fresh information to several things that heretofore have seemed very mysterious and difficult to interpret. Four examples come to mind:

 

           In Strange Work you will find a unique interpretation of the judgment of the sixth seal, as to its timing, centrality and literal character … Revelation 6:12-17.

 

           In Strange Work you will find a well supported interpretation of the cycle judgments of chapter 14 that clearly demonstrate they depict the coming judgment of ungodly Jews from all time …Revelation 14:14-20.

 

           In Strange Work you will find a probable identification of the seven kings in Revelation 17 who were types of the coming Antichrist Revelation 17:10-11

 

           In Strange Work you will find a probable key to understanding the mysterious 666 number of the beast in light of modern binary code used to transmit data over the Internet … Revelation 13:17-18

 

     Second, in Strange Work I make every possible effort to hold strictly to sound principles of biblical exegesis. Only when one follows a literal, grammatical, historical method of interpretation of the Bible does the Bible consistently yield its truths to its readers … Second Timothy 2:15b.

 

     Third, throughout Strange Work the actual biblical text, along with the relevant scriptures quoted are printed out for you so that everything will be right at your fingertips. You will not need to look up anything or even have a Bible on hand. For the most part, I use the New King James Version of the Bible and take the liberty to underline and bold it for you for added emphasis. For what it is worth, I also studied Revelation in the NIV and the ESV but I concluded that the NKJV was the better literal text to use for our study.

 

     Fourth, throughout Strange Work where the latest Greek scholarship throws new light on the text, the reader will find I have inserted NU’s notes. This abbreviation refers to two classic works on the original languages and manuscripts of the New Testament. The N stands for the twenty-sixth edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament and the U stands for the third edition of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, The New Testament Text. So, as you read along, you will be able to see where the latest Greek scholarship has clarified or improved on the translation of the New King James Version.

     Fifth, I have written Strange Work in the style of how I speak … as if the reader and I were just chatting together sitting in front of a cheery fireplace in a cozy room. Therefore, if you find the grammar and punctuation not exactly according to rule … it is on purpose … for ease of reading and my own way of communicating.

Now, I realize that the book of Revelation can be a bit intimidating for first time readers. But, I would strongly encourage each one to stick with it. The blessings and rewards for doing so are beyond measure. There are very few unsolved mysteries in the book of Revelation. After all, it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is not a book that is hard to interpret. The difficulty is in simply believing what it so plainly says. 

I would like to acknowledge some of those who have helped me in my understanding of the Bible and in my study of Revelation. The following great men have been used of the Lord to enlighten my understanding as well as my own walk with the Lord…

A Study in the Revelation ... E. F. Webber, D.D., F.R.G.S. Dr. Webber’s book was the first on Revelation that I read as a teenager. My saintly grandmother, Mrs. H.C. Hudson, who often listened to Dr. Webber’s radio broadcasts, sent it to me.

A Revelation of Jesus Christ ... J. B. Smith

The Apocalypse ... J. A. Seiss

Things to Come ... J. Dwight Pentecost

The Revelation of Jesus Christ ... John F. Walvoord

The Rapture Question ... John F. Walvoord

Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee ... J. Vernon McGee

Dr. Stanley A. Ellison ... Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon

Dr. Earl D. Radmacher ...Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon

Dr. John G. Mitchell ... Multnomah School of the Bible, Portland, Oregon

Dr. Roger D. Congdon ... Multnomah School of the Bible, Portland, Oregon


      Finally, here is an outline of the book of Revelation that I have found helpful. It would be a good one to memorize. The lion's share of it came from Dr. Stanley Ellison:

I.      The vision of Jesus Christ in Glory (Chapter 1)

II.    The vision of Jesus Christ midst his Churches (Chapters 2-3)

III.   The vision of Jesus Christ in Coronation (Chapters 4-5)

IV.   The vision of Jesus Christ in Judgment (Chapters 6-18)

V.    The vision of Jesus Christ in Return (Chapters 19-20)

VI.   The vision of Jesus Christ in Eternity (Chapters 21-22)



Ready to begin? Well then, fasten your spiritual seat belt because we are about to experience the most spectacular, eye-popping, into the future, biblical ride of our lives!

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.  

Proceed to Chapter One