The Annotated Revelation: ten horns and seven heads Re.17:8-12

In order to understand this passage we need consider the visions of Daniel, the seer and these provide us a useful insight into the manner the Spirit employs visions. After introducing the four beasts in the Book of Daniel (ch.7) the little horn narrative is an interruption a ‘turnpike moment’ giving the gentiles their chance to burst in while the Scripture has been focussing the rise and captivity of the nation of Israel. The little horn fits the historical person of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He is reported to have defiled the temple of Jerusalem and is associated with ‘the abomination of desolation (Matt.24:15)’ referred in the Book. His might and reign was as sudden as it was short-lived. Historically his place has been determined.
What we are considering are visions from the perspective of the nations. The little horn had supplanted three horns and established itself as powerful. ”In this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking like a man. And a mouth speaking great things (Dan.7:8).The significance of ten horns has been held back. So the little horn is a sign. So was Jonah. “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth(Matt.12:40). What happened to Jonah was not for himself but also as a pointer to the son of man. It is thus we need see the place of the little horn in the end times. As a sign and articulated symbol he points to the ten horns and seven heads as the history of nations.

These ten horns are associated with the beast on which the Scarlet woman is seated. ‘The ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings (Re.17:12). These ten horns were held back by the Spirit in the Book of Daniel as in the case of the prophecy of 70 weeks. This pertains ‘to bring in everlasting righteousness’ and unto the end of the war desolations are determined’ (Dan.9:24-27). This seventy weeks prophesy is articulated and the selfsame articulation we see in apocalyptic visions as well. We have already considered the Re.12 as an example. So prophecies, visions are articulated as men and symbols serve as signs. The beast and the the little horn are tied in by a clue ‘a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies (Re.13:5; Dan.7:8,11 ‘great words which the horn spake’)

Another feature of the visions mentioned in the Book of Daniel we note the vision of Judgement at the end to indicate these are referring to selfsame end,- of everlasting righteousness. We have the imagery of the Ancient of days and the expression,‘and the books were opened (Dan.7:10).’ A similar verse shows us the role of Daniel’s vision was to underpin the beast with ten horns who were to be judged and sent to perdition. The symbol of the fourth kingdom represented by this fourth beast kept in suspended animation while the horns one after the other made war with the saints and prevailed Dan.7:20-23 and it must speak for the time for sorrows associated with the great tribulation. Judgment mentioned in Dan. 7:10 and Dan. 7:25-26 are about the same.
The title that the Scarlet woman carried ‘Abominations Of The Earth(v.5)’ recalls the defilement of the temple of God at the time of the little horn.
The seven heads on which the woman sits signify seven mountains(v.9). Rome readily comes to mind but she is also called Babylon the Great. This being a vision we need accept the name may refer to any great city. Above everything else we are considering Time as set by the Holy Spirit.
(To be continued)


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The Annotated Revelation: earthly wisdom -Re.17: 4-7

The Spirit while narrating the mystery of the Scarlet Woman informs us certain directions that have had its origin from the fall of man. The serpent beguiled Eve at first by presenting the forbidden fruit to her senses. She “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree to be desired to make one wise…(Ge.3:6).” Adam and Eve became wise in one sense and realized that they were naked. Their newly acquired wisdom prompted them a solution, which was only superficial. In order to appreciate how temporal it was is to compare with the emblem of the lamb slain before the worlds began. Will not God who had conceived the heaven and the earth by his Power and Wisdom know all that was needful for His creation? By same token also had provisions to meet all eventualities, given that man was created with free will? When the Lord God made them coats of skins and clothed them we see hands-on approach of God who would send his messengers, prophets and his only begotten Son in due time. Wisdom of man always is at variance with that of God. The reason is simple: like Satan who usurped into the serpent to beguile Adam and Eve had nothing at stake than undo the Salvation Plan as often and as best he can. So his wisdom working through Aaron was in producing a golden calf. He had no direct knowledge of God as his younger brother Moses had. It is what faith can add to life (He.11:24-29). He was the mouth of Moses and directly responsible to the children of Israel. He wanted to assure the people who had soon forgotten what the Lord God could do. Wisdom of Moses was from God so faith was to be His instrument than provide any stopgap solution. “Things which are seen are temporal but the things which are not seen are eternal (1 Co.3:18).”
In our time we have seen governments run by men cannot deliver promises and nations are at war with one other so truly they are unruly as waves tossed about. What wisdom do you think is working behind these nations? “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts…this wisdom is ….devilish (Jas.3:14-17).
While we discuss this vision of the Harlot and the scarlet beast we are given entire history of wisdom that has produced them. The overcoming church, of both Jews and Gentiles have been removed from the earth, so when the Spirit places them in the wilderness one can understand the earthly wisdom is earthly sensual and devilish.

The Harlot of Babylon had allied herself with the secular powers and their patronage had become essential for her expensive life style. In a manner of speaking she, having got rid of her first love played harlot. Babylon as a city was more like the House of sin where she was completely at home. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

“I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns (v.7)
This beast who ‘shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition’ refers to Re.9:2.

(To be continued)

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The Annotated Revelation: Ch.17: 1- 4- overview

While St John mentioned the mark of the beast he prefaced it with the line: Here is wisdom. When a Christian is so seized with putting a name to the beast and can come up with preposterous list of names (from late Saddam Hussain to self-styled caliph of daesh) one may be pardoned to believe wisdom that each applied is nothing more than curiosity intruding into things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up in his carnal mind (Col.2:18). Wisdom here we need apply is that which comes from above, of which Apostle James says that God shall give liberally (Jas.1:5). Such wisdom is to spiritually discern the word rightly and not for scoring a point by foisting his political antipathies to truth. The mystery of the Harlot of Babylon however speaks of quite something else..

We are considering apocalyptic visions of John and as with articulated visions these visions do run into one another. For instance when one of the seven angels carries the apostle to the wilderness it refers to the left out church in the wilderness. We shall see in verse 3, “So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast…. (17:3)” Man child is a collective name for the overcoming church. Second coming of Christ in mid air,- the rapture, and the removal of the Messiah and his company of saints to heaven are elided over. By the same token the great tribulation and of the martyrs who were redeemed of the earth do not find special mention here. As with visions what we are to focus is on the Salvation Plan of God and where it is leading to. It is to the Marriage of the Lamb. Marriage, harlot are all terms to be spiritually understood comparing like with like- “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Co.2:13)”.
When God promised to bless Abraham he was also offering it unilaterally all the nations of the earth on the earth. One crucial point is ‘in thee.'(Gen.12:3). These blessings are to overflow from him to the rest. When Israel went whoring after the foreign gods we see the nation turning the will of God upside down. Such practices do not come all of a sudden and we see in the golden calf set up by Aaron a quick fix to becalm a restive mob. “And (Aaron) fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.(Ex.32:4). Just as the nation vowed they shall obey God they switched over to worship the molten calf.” Here we see carnal man with two worlds,- unseen world of the spirit and world of the senses. In order to live in one spirit of faith is what we require. In order to live as worldly as one sees around him, it is gold that makes great impact on those who despise life of faith. So any theology built around it is pointing to the Harlot of Babylon.
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other….(Matt.6:24).” ‘You cannot serve two masters’ Jesus said. If would consider the Mother Church(Bride of Christ and church personified) in place of Abraham how should she conduct? Would she not conduct her life as Abraham did so blessing through her bring the whole families of the earth? When St John qualifies the Church as Babylon it is because she stands a symbol for perversion of a church in whom grace is merely a tool for making money. It is thus the modern churches have displayed manifold grace of God. Prosperity of a leper shall not cover her nakedness though arrayed in purple and scarlet. She is riding the beast. She is the residue of the Church left out.

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(v.1)”:
As Babylon is a stand in for many cities we shall see its hold across the length and breadth of the globe.

“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(vv.2-4).”
Prior to the 2018 Us mid-term elections news media carried reports about the evangelicals,- all affiliates of high sounding names, Moral Majority, Family Research Council and so on, pitching in to further the cause of their candidates. It is not politics finding its way into the churches but these ministers of God riding the coat tails of secular power are like the proverbial woman riding a tiger.’ Getting off it is very tricky. Whether GOP or democrats or any other in the US or elsewhere, these represent politics: ‘scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns’.
(To be continued)

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The Annotated Revelation: The Seventh Angel: ch.16: 17-21

“And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done (v.17).”
Compare this with a similar action where the Man With the Sharp Sickle thrust in the sickle on the earth and ‘the earth was reaped.” The angel pouring out his vial into the air brings out response as the Son of man’s action does. The earthquake hailstones are all consequences of the angel with vial as treading out the winepress and gathering the vine of the earth are signified by the sickle (Re.15:18-20).

“And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; (v.18a)”
This expression as explained before signifies the judgment as ordained from the throne of God. The cities of the nation fell. We read in the next verse, “and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” .We shall examine this in the chapter18. Does not this line, “And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” bring to mind the vision of the King in the Book of Daniel (Dan.2:44)? The stone that was cut out of the mountain without hands shall break in pieces and clear everything else when ‘God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed.’

“And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great (v.21)
Having seen the King’s dream interpreted by Daniel did point to a rock that was foreordained we can see how the Spirit has tied up the narrative about God the Son. Here below we have a verse: “And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder (Matt.21:44)”. This telling passage came at the end of a Parable of the Wicked Tenants and the chief priests and the Pharisees for whose benefit Jesus had used understood that he was talking about them. Jesus Christ would have wished that they understood truth of his role in the Salvation Plan. He was a symbol and also the truth. Since it was foreordained accordingly in heaven his coming as Servant King as well as Messiah King in truth determined their destiny in eternity. In rejecting him in the first instance they laid on themselves a stumbling block; in rejecting him after the Millennial Reign those who resisted invited upon themselves the wrath of God. It is what the hailstone in the vision signified.

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The Annotated Revelation:Re.13-16 Armageddon

The vision is set in God’s Time in which the objects are tokens and these do not stand for themselves. So when a material object is shown in a vision the Spirit has a purpose: it can be a vehicle, a token for God’s wrath or Mercy. It serves a far greater purpose to be bound by only its natural properties. It has no limit of time either, as in the example of the rock we considered in the previous post. God’s Will must be brought to mind of man. As we shall see in the ten plagues that visited the land of Egypt flies, locusts and frogs appeared; these appeared however not for themselves. God wanted the Pharaoh to see his divine Power and stand in awe. Here was God’s use of every day reality multiplied several degrees to be seen as a plague. It was a warning to Pharaoh. Now let us see what the apostle saw in the vision. “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the dragon..(Re.16:13)” When he says these are like frogs, its significance cannot be lost on the reader. These are tokens to give an unclean spirit a form. Thus tokens are more than the objects themselves.

The seed of woman shall bruise his head so God had warned the serpent (Ge.3:15) and when the Spirit sets up a vision where the hail stones play a part we take the hint: the power of Satan must be destroyed. The stone therefore indicates fulfillment of divine Will . “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn.3:8).” When we compare the Salvation Plan of God we can well appreciate the symbolism adopted by the Spirit. Symbolism as a narrative device also shows on what uncertain terrain we stand if we were to approach the Bible literally.

“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon,,,, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 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(vv.13-14)”.
From the above we shall see frogs are more than unclean spirits but are associated with kings of the earth. With this information we can place what made the Pharaoh harden his heart despite of the so many plagues visiting the land.. “Who is the Lord…I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go (Ex.5:2).” His haughtiness and hardening of heart was against God who not only would punish the Pharaoh for blasphemy but use his very stubborn pride as the means to increase the trust of a nation He had chosen.
The verses reveal three unclean spirits working through the dragon, the beast and antichrist or the false spirit. Each has a number of 6 in order to make their union. The false prophet is sold to do the bidding of the beast to whom the dragon has given his authority (Re.13:4). Like man a tripartite being these three serve as spirit soul and body. Mark of the beast 666 referred to the unity of purpose and will. Their league merely points to the evil and unclean spirits that have come together. These shall certainly come to a boil. It is what God had warned the serpent and also what Daniel the seer had predicted. When the great voice out of heaven says; ‘it is done'(Re.16-17) it signified the bruising the seed of the serpent and the rock cut of the mountain without hands would demolish their kingdoms to set up instead the kingdom of God for eternity.

“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon (vv.15-16)”.
Armageddon is the name of the place where the dragon and his league are once and for all vanquished. We shall examine this from the perspective of the nations in the chapter 19.
(To be continued)

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The Annotated Revelation: Re.16:1-12 Man and Nature

Throughout the Bible we shall see God’s Will is made manifest by men and nature. He makes himself known through dreams and visions. King Nebuchadnezzar”s dream was no different than that of the Pharaoh. Of the latter the seven lean cows signified a grievous famine about to hit the land. Whereas the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and it indicated the end times. Here we see dreams and visions are set in God’s Time and it is the language of the Spirit. For this reason while we study the visions of St John we have to get behind the symbols the purpose and the direction of the divine Will. So articulated visions in the chapter 12 inform us through several images carried by the woman clothed with the sun. Each tableau served to throw light on one another. The woman in labour delivered a man child while the red dragon had already shown intent upon harm. We get to see their subsequent progression after the man child caught up to the throne. All these scenes are connected in time and as with a vision moving forward or backward in God’s Time. It is an articulated vision. In scenes where the dragon lashes out at the earth with a flood the earth steps in and saves ‘the remnant of her seed ‘(Re.12:17) These images are shorthand for the entire scriptural narrative where God had warned of the seed of the serpent bruising the heel of man. Their relentless war is evident in the slaying of Abel and down through passage of time. These are events and the visions hint at it by means of symbols. In short visions tell the truth through visual means. The rock that smashed the image in the King’s dream will have its counterpart in real events that assail man in his everyday world. Take the case of rock seen in the dream. It also refers to the seed of the woman God had warned in the Adam and Eve episode. St Paul speaking of Christ as spiritual rock ties up with what Jesus had said about himself. He was a stumbling block to the Jews.
The symbolic value of dreams and vision is to keep the Salvation Plan of God alive and potent to warn and uplift the spirit of man. It is thus we need look at the seven angels and their vials. When the seventh angel pours out we are told a great voice out of the temple of heaven saying ‘it is done’. At the end the Spirit mentions about hailstones each stone weighing a talent (or 45 kilogram) we can well appreciate what the vision in the Book of Daniel was about.

And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth… which worshipped his image (vv.1-2)
Pouring each vial has consequences. The first causes ‘the noisome and grievous sore ’to break upon the men, which had the mark of the beast.

“And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea(v.3)”.

The sea represents nations and in striking it the second angel was weakening the power of the beast. The third angel accordingly would hurt the rivers and well springs. Here we need understand the significance of spirits (angels) attached to nature so they uphold the glory of God in a manner of speaking. The earth maintains divine Laws as well as stand testimony to man’s wickedness.. Consider how Apostle James castigates rich men who short change laborer of his wages (Jas.4:1-4). Unless the earth did know the creative faith of God no miracle would be possible. The waters see and obey: At Moses’ command waters parted making a way for the children of Israel. We see the water turning into blood as a sign for the Pharaoh. “But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; (Ps.104:7;2:7))” This angel was personified for Apostle John’s benefit. The angel said, “Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments vv.5-7)” . The angel of the river is sure of divine commandments and another angel says Amen out of the altar in heaven.

“And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire; they repented not to give him glory (vv.8-12).
Each angel in his turn is steadily shutting out the might of Satan’s stronghold: his appeal to senses is checked by grievous sore and the scorching heat and tainted sea and fresh water. Euphrates dries out when the sixth angel pours out the vial on it.
(To be continued)

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The Annotated Revelation: the Great Harvest/ Re.14:14-20

In order to understand this passage we may recall the Parable of the Tares (Matt.13:24-30,38-42). “Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles together to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn (v.30).” Here we can see everything that offends and them which do iniquity; and it is into a furnace of fire these shall be cast(vv.41-42). We are also given a reason why this order where all things that offend must be gathered first and cast into fire. Only with this being done the righteous can shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father (Matt.13:43). This is how the householder has settled the matter. The householder is God and the field is the world. The good seed is the gospel. This gospel is of God. We deem it so in terms of Authority, which however has to be imposed. This is reconciliation, which shown from the standpoint of the Son is Gospel of Christ (Ro.1:1,16). Like the two sides of a coin we have the will of the Father and the salvation offered by the Son on the reverse.
In eternity the holy city is shown coming down from heaven. It is the holy city of God. Does it not signify that God has purpose concerning the new earth for those whom he has made righteous? They shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father (Matt.13:43). This shall explain the passage from the chapter 15. “ …Behold the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened….And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God…and no man was able to enter into the temple (vv.5-8).” Having said this we can return to the passage from Chapter 14. that was skipped over.
The Parable has bearing on throwing light why ‘no man was able to enter into the temple.’ His saints redeemed of the earth have to bide their time while the seven angels with seven vials and the Son of man with the sickle fulfilled the will of the Heavenly householder.

“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(v.14).
In the first vision we had seen ‘like unto the Son of man(1:13)having golden girdle.’ Here we see him with a golden crown.

“And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap:(vv.15-16)”
The angel sent from God tells the Man with the Sharp Sickle as to the time for harvest was on hand. ‘And the earth was reaped’ encapsulates judgment of God as having been fulfilled. And what we read in subsequent verses is a short account of two angels carrying out each angel representing the overcoming church (temple which is in heaven) and second (who came out from the altar) the martyrs. These gathered “the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles (vv.19-20)”. What the angels perform in heaven is in tandem with the earth. Conversely we read, “smoke from the glory of God, and from the power of God’ refers to the action performed by seven angels with seven vials on the earth reaching the temple in heaven(15:8).


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