Revelation In Context

The book Revelation In Context, by Irene Belyeu, is a literary and historical commentary on the Biblical Book of Revelation with supporting referents and notes.

Although you will find many helpful articles and blog posts regarding this historical and inspirational book on this website, seekers of the truth of the Revelation will want to study and explore more in depth by purchasing the book.  There are two editions of the book available.

  • Volume 1 — This book is for the serious seeker of the truth of the Revelation and would be ideal for a class setting where each student has a copy of Volume 1 also with access to the Complete Edition as a reference work. (397 pages)
  • Complete Edition — This book contains all of Volume 1 and, in addition, all of the Referents and Notes from the Bible, Rabbinic writings, the Apocrypha, and Enoch. (657 pages)

Printed versions of the book may be purchased online at: Xulon Press and the Complete Edition from Amazon; and Volume 1 from Amazon. It is also available at Living Word

Lesson 3 Of Series – To Fulfill the Old Testament Prophecies

In all Bible prophecy, there is:

 

  • An immediate literal fulfillment that proves the inspiration of the prophet;
  • Then there is the general reference, or universal principle that is involved because God does not change, because He is no respecter of person, and because His Word is eternal;
  • Then there is the eschatological reference which involves the ultimate fulfillment.

Many years before this, God had spoken through Jeremiah, (chapter 25), to serve up the wine cup of wrath first to Jerusalem, then to all the nations of the earth. Some of these nations are called by name, while others are grouped in large headings, or, as in verse 26: “All the kings of the north, far and near…and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth.”

Note that the immediate fulfillment of judgment upon Jerusalem, as foretold by Jeremiah, was the destruction of the city followed by a captivity of seventy years. This was literally fulfilled in about 588 BC.

The General Reference or Universal Principle

After the nations are called by name, (Jeremiah 25), it is said: “…the king of Sheshach shall drink the cup of wrath after them,” (v. 26). Sheshach is a code name, or cipher, for symbolic Babylon; that is, any city that fills the same role as Babylon did in that day. For example, in Jeremiah’s time, Babylon had “served themselves” of God’s people: They had slain them, made them captives and had otherwise persecuted them. Babylon had worshiped and served idols and indulged in astrology and had infected Israel and Judah with this sin. The term Sheshach represents the pattern, symbol, or name, of all who do these sins, (the general reference or universal principle involved). So in Jeremiah’s prophecy the pattern was set by which the whole world would be judged. That is, the universal principle was declared and demonstrated. Verse 29 states:

“For lo I begin to bring evil on the City which is called by my name, and should you be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the Lord of hosts.”

The Ultimate Fulfillment

The destruction of Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day was the beginning of the pattern of God’s wrath poured out upon a people who have had the full revelation knowledge of Him and have turned from Him. By the time of Christ, it was Jerusalem that had moved into this role of symbolic or Mystery Babylon. She had served herself of God’s people, the Christians, (true Israel), and had worshiped idols of Mammon and of military power. She had even rejected and crucified the Christ, the Son of God. So it became morally imperative that God’s vengeance for His saints and His wrath against sin be fulfilled. The Book of Revelation declares that the time has come and it “must shortly come to pass.”

Next: Lesson 4: Tests Of A Prophet

Lesson 4 of Series – Tests Of A Prophet

Proof Tests Of A Prophet

At the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation, it was morally necessary that He meet the requirements of the Biblical tests of a prophet.

The four proof tests required of a prophet were:

  • First, He should cause signs and wonders to come to pass. This is seen as evidence of the prophetic calling from Moses to the Apostles. Jesus clearly qualified under this test. But signs and wonders alone did not suffice for proof of the prophetic office, as stated in Deuteronomy 13:1-5.
  • Secondly, even though the prophet could do miracles, he also must turn the people from their evil ways according to Jeremiah 23:22, and not to strange gods. Again, Jesus qualified eminently under this rule.
  • The third test is illustrated in Deuteronomy 18:18-22 and Jeremiah 28:9: the true prophet would be proven when his words came to pass; whereas if he made predictions that did not happen, then he was known to be a false prophet. That this attitude toward the office of a prophet was prevalent in the New Testament era is evidenced by the words of Gamaliel to the Sanhedrin when he said:

“Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will be overthrown: but if it is of God, ye will not be able to overthrow them, lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God,” (Acts 5:33-39).

These three tests had served the nation well for many years, but when false prophets proliferated at the time of the Babylonian exile they began to say, (perhaps citing such works as the Book of Daniel), that their prophecies were for a distant time, and that they were not to be judged by their own generation. This situation created a crisis such as described in Zechariah 13:1-5 wherein parents were to slay their own child if he claimed to be a prophet, and Amos was ashamed to be called a prophet, asking only to be known as a herdsman and gatherer of sycamore fruit.

The prophet could not, however, forbear prophesying simply because the people rejected his message and continued in their sins or ridiculed him. When the Lord told Amos to “Go, prophesy” he went, for “The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8).

Ezekiel also was directed by the Lord to speak “whether they hear or refuse to hear,” (2:5). Either way, the time would come when “they will know that there has been a prophet among them.” It was not required that they turn the whole nation, nor even a majority, to righteousness. It was only required that those who did heed their words would be turned from sin.

The Fourth Test Of A Prophet

  • The fourth and final proof test of a prophet was that their predictions should not only be proven true, but be proven true within the generation who heard the prophet speak the prediction. The prophet was to give a signal prediction by which he would be proven in his generation, Ezekiel 12:25:

“But I the Lord will speak the word which I will speak and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, says the Lord God,” (RSV).

Christ Proven To Be A True Prophet

It is in this context that we see the implications of Christ’s words concerning the fulfillment of His prediction in “this generation.” Jesus would have been judged a false prophet if His prediction of the fall of Jerusalem had not happened within the time frame of the life of the contemporary generation. He offered this as the signal prediction by which His prophetic calling would be proven. In this context, the very event of the destruction of Jerusalem was itself a revelation of Jesus Christ because it proved His prophetic anointing.

Next Lesson: Old Testament Prophets Proven

 

Lesson 1 of Series Revelation 1:1 ‘Must’

Lesson I: Blessings And Cursings

First, a moral God cannot lie.

The promised blessings of the Covenant had been fulfilled many times over, but God had delayed his ultimate wrath because of His longsuffering and mercy. When the people sinned in the Wilderness, He had threatened to destroy the entire people and make of Moses His nation, but Moses interceded and they were spared.

The moral dilemma in 68 AD was that the entire fleshly race of Mankind had been infected by Sin and was therefore corrupt. But the Covenant required holiness as a condition of the eternal promises. It was therefore impossible that a fleshly people could inherit eternal promises. The eternal aspect of the Covenant required that there be an eternal Heir, which could not be if the sinful fleshly nation were all destroyed because of sin. This had provided a false sense of security for the descendants of Abraham, for they thought their fleshly nation was indestructible because of God’s promise. However, they had not reckoned with God’s power to raise the dead.

Christ The Eternal Heir

Although the entire nation had gone astray, in the resurrection Christ became the eternal Heir to the promises because of His unending life, and so the promises continue in effect through Him. From the moment of the resurrection onward, there was no necessity for any other fleshly heir in order to fulfill the promises. Because His flesh was descended from Abraham, the promises to the fleshly seed became eternally effective in Christ in His resurrected body.

Curses

It was therefore possible for God to bring the promised curses upon the entire remainder of the fleshly lineage of Abraham as it was necessary to fulfill His word. The promise of cursing in Deuteronomy 29:18-21 reads:

“Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away this day from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations; lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ …The Lord would not pardon him, but rather the anger of the Lord and his jealousy would smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book would settle upon him, and the Lord would blot out his name from under heaven. And the Lord would single him out from all the tribes of Israel for calamity, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant written in this book of the law,” (RSV).

Delayed fulfillment of the cursing was not to be taken as permissiveness, nor slackness, but rather as a token of mercy and grace in order to bring men to repentance. God rebukes and chastens the sons whom He loves, but when corrective measures are unheeded, the wrath of His judgment is sure, for God cannot lie. For the Jewish nation in the time of John the Revelator the time was up and they were due for repentance or judgment. The message of Jesus as well as that of John the Baptist was “Repent” to avoid “the wrath that is to come.”

 

Lesson 2 of Series: Judgment Against The Jews First

Why was it ‘Morally Necessary” that God Judge the Jews First?

Romans 2:2-11 sets forth the rationale for God’s righteous judgment against the Jews. In verses 2-3 we see that, in order to deter sin, judgment rightly falls upon those who do these evil things, lest sinners should hope to escape, and lest God’s purposes should be misunderstood, (verse 4). It is God’s nature as a holy God to bless the righteous and to condemn the wicked, (verses 5-8). He shows no partiality in judgment, (verses 6 and 11).

Since salvation was to the Jew first, then to the Gentiles, (Rom. 1:16), it is also just that God’s righteous wrath be revealed first against the Jews, but also against the unrepentant Gentiles in their time. This order: “the Jew first,” does not reflect any respect of persons in judgment, nor a superior position in grace. It simply shows God’s sovereign choice of method in revealing Himself and His salvation to the world. He chose to use the Jews as an example, a pattern, and as a type and shadow. Having had the privilege of receiving God’s revelation in the Law, the Covenant and the Prophets, they were held accountable for recognizing Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of all that was previously foretold and promised. By the same token, after Gentiles receive the Gospel, they too are equally responsible.

The Jews Held Accountable

The life, works, death and resurrection of Christ had been fully revealed to the entire Jewish world in the period prior to AD 70, (Colossians 1:5-6). It was therefore morally imperative that they be brought to account. Romans 1:18-32 declares that God’s wrath is being revealed against those “who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” At that time, this applied specifically to the Jewish nation. It was they who were without excuse, (v.20), because they had been fully exposed to the knowledge of God, (v. 21), had had the truth of God, (v. 25), and knew about the promised judgments of God, (v. 32).

To those Jews Paul declared that “…the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.” (Rom. 2:24). It was morally imperative that God defend His Name against blasphemy.

Distinction Between Jews and “Those Who Call Themselves ‘Jews'”

Indeed, the name ‘Jew’ itself was being misused by these unbelievers, for Paul shows that true Jewish identity depends upon faith, not upon circumcision of the flesh, but rather that of the heart, “…in the spirit, and not in the letter,” (Rom. 2:28-29). (See also Deut. 30:6; Jer. 32:29.) In fact this passage in Romans 2 from verse 17, “Behold, thou art called a Jew,” through verse 29 furnishes a definition of the kinds of people “who call themselves Jews and are not, but do lie,” as mentioned in Revelation 2:9 and 3:9.

In Romans 3:5-6, Paul chides those Jews for suggesting that God might be unjust to take vengeance upon them for their sins. Then he says: “God forbid, for then how shall God judge the world?” This clearly indicates that judgment and vengeance against these Jews was a prerequisite, and was morally imperative if God was to judge the entire Gentile world later for these same sins.

The Word Must

Therefore, this word must, (Revelation 1:1), indicating a moral imperative, foreshadows what is about to be revealed to John. It was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem. God’s righteous wrath upon the unbelieving wicked is described symbolically as the destruction of “Mystery Babylon,” (Revelation 17 and 18).

Revelation 1:1 ‘Must’ The Moral Imperative

Introduction to This Series

This series of lessons will present the facts that the events pictured in the Book of Revelation were not merely an historical report, nor were they a prophecy of things which were to come to pass at some distant future time. They are a record of the fulfillment of things that had been covenanted and prophesied in the Old Testament and history of the nation of Israel, namely the end of the nation and its capitol city, Jerusalem. They are not foretelling the fall of the Roman Empire. Neither are they primarily the record of the invasion of Jerusalem by the Romans. They are the record of the fulfillment of God’s Word regarding His promises in the Covenants. They are about the things that God was morally obligated to fulfill.

1:1. “Things which must shortly come to pass.”

Overview

Ray Summers speaks of the word ‘must’ in Revelation 1:1 as indicating a moral necessity:

“The verb translated ‘it is necessary,’ or ‘must,’ … is an impersonal verb which indicates that a moral necessity is involved; the nature of the case is such that the things revealed here must come to pass shortly. The aorist tense of the infinitive ‘to come to pass’ adds to the truth that immediate action is necessary. The prepositional phrase translated ‘shortly’ means just what it says – shortly, quickly, hastily.”

However, Summers takes the position that the moral necessity was the fall of the Roman Empire. But this phrase could hardly be applied to the fall of the Roman Empire for that was neither done quickly, nor immediately in reference to the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation in the first century AD. The Empire fell over a period of more than a hundred years during the fourth and fifth centuries AD. Even through the period of the second century AD the historians Cary and Scullard could say: “To speak of a ‘decay’ of the Roman Empire at this period would be premature” (Cary and Scullard, 488). It is my position that the moral necessity in the Book of Revelation applies, rather, to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Although I disagree with many of Summers’ basic views, the fact remains that his definition and grammatical analysis of “must shortly come to pass” is quite correct.

What Was Morally Imperative At That Time?

To understand what was morally imperative, and why it was so, sheds much light upon the interpretation of the Book of Revelation since its stated purpose is to show these “morally imperative” events. These four things, at least, were morally imperative in the context of the times:

  1. God must fulfill the blessings and cursings promised in the covenant as recorded in Deuteronomy 28-30.
  2. He must vindicate the words of the Old Testament prophets, specifically, the seventy weeks of years and “Time, Times and Dividing of Times” as given to Daniel.
  3. He must fulfill the predictions made by Christ in order to vindicate Him as
    a. Prophet,
    b. Judge,
    c. Messiah
  4. He must fulfill the vengeance promised in behalf of His Covenant People who had become martyrs:
    a. Because of His covenant;
    b. As their God and Kinsman-Redeemer; and
    c. To cleanse the land from blood defilement.

Please follow this series to get the larger picture of the holistic interpretation of the Book of Revelation.