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 16 of Series – Did These Things Shortly Come To Pass (About Some False Teachings)

Revelation 1:1 says that the Book is to be about “things which must shortly come to pass.” Did these things come to pass?

Jesus’ Own Claim to Fulfilling Scripture

Luke 24:27: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scripture the things concerning himself.”

Luke 24:44-45: “And he said unto them, ‘These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.”

If we don’t see Jesus’ fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures, we are not reading them correctly.

Did Christ Fulfill Old Testament Prophecies? – Some Examples

Joel 2:28-32, Matthew 24:29-34; Revelation 1:7; 6:12 all deal with the subject of the blackening of the sun and the moon becoming blood. Have these been fulfilled?

Jesus Himself taught concerning the time of the destruction of Jerusalem: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken, (30) And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with power and great glory.” Matthew 24:29-30.

And in the same discourse, Matthew 24:34: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.” Jesus said these things would be fulfilled in that generation, that is, within the next 40 years or so.

Was The Sun Blackened and The Moon Blood?

Popular prophecy now teaches that these prophecies of the sun blackened and the moon becoming blood as well as Jesus’ coming in the clouds as also stated in Revelation 1:7 has never yet been fulfilled: “Behold he cometh with clouds and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” Yet this passage has a referent in Joel 2:31: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.”

Revelation 6:12 makes a similar statement:  “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.” Modern popular prophecy teaches that this will happen at some future time of the “Great Tribulation,” (see below).

Joel 2:28-32 Fulfilled

The passages in Joel 2:28-32a, (which is to occur after the events of the preceding verses), are quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2:16-21, as having been fulfilled. The blessings are to “the remnant whom the Lord shall call,” i.e., the Church. (Joel 2:32. See also Romans 10:13). Since Acts 2:16-21 quotes and interprets Joel 2:28-32 as having been fulfilled, there should be no further question. It was fulfilled.

Zechariah 12:10: “…And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced” is also declared to have been fulfilled in the crucifixion of Christ, John 19:37.

The Great Tribulation

Dispensationalists and pre-millennialists say that Zephaniah 1:17- 18 also has never yet been fulfilled but speaks of a yet future time of great tribulation. Yet we find in the histories of Josephus that just such slaughter occurred during the destruction of Jerusalem, (Wars 4.3.6-11).

The immediate reference of Zephaniah 1:17-18 is to the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar which followed soon after the original prophecy was given in about 610 BC as described by the Book of Lamentations, also 2 Kings 25:8-21; and 2 Chronicles 36:14-21.

As a general reference, it can be applied to the later destruction under Titus, as described by Josephus in his Wars of the Jews. There were many similarities between the conditions during the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar and that of Titus.

As an eschatological reference, it can be applied to the end of any nation or people who have had the knowledge of God and have refused it, (Psalm 9:17: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all nations that forget God.”)

The Word of God is Eternally Relevant

The Great Tribulation for the unbelievers, the wicked, which came to pass in the destruction of the Jewish nation, circa 70 AD, was an example to the whole world. All of these things were written for our learning, (Romans 15:4). They are still extremely relevant.

Some Notes On Translation

In the process of translation, there is often more than one synonym for a word. For example, the Hebrew word eretz may be translated either “earth” or “land.” Since the word that is translated ‘earth’ may also be translated as ‘land,’ the prophecy can therefore be accurately applied to the destruction of “all the land,” as when the land of Israel was destroyed, or “all the earth,” as in the eschatological future. Likewise the term “all the inhabitants of the land” can equally be translated “all the inhabitants of the earth.”

The End of the Age/(World) Came

The Gospel was fully preached before 70 AD. Matthew 24:14: “And the Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” This was fulfilled as stated in Colossians 1:6, 23: “[The Gospel] which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:… “[the Gospel] which was preached to every creature which is under the heaven:…”

The Hebrew word goy is most often translated as “Gentiles/Gentile nations”; however, the twelve tribes are sometimes called “nations” as in Genesis 35:11; Exodus 19:6; Acts 2:5. The Roman Empire is called “all the world” in Luke 2:1.

Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled. The “End” of the Jewish age (world) came in 70 AD. Many other such examples might be cited.

For a full exposition of these Scriptures, see my book, Revelation In Context, pages 229-232.

Next Lesson: More About False Teachings

Lesson 15 Of The Series – Josephus’ Witness Of The Destruction of Jerusalem

The Abomination Of Desolation

It was “morally imperative” that Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem be fulfilled within that generation. He said: Matthew 24:15: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) … (33-34) “So likewise ye, when ye see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.”

The “abomination of desolation” was the slaughter of their own countrymen, the sedition against authority, the warring factions of those Jews who raised their armies in order to be named the High Priest by Rome. This “abomination” was carried into the Holy of Holies:

“Those men made the temple of God a stronghold for them, and a place whither they might resort, in order to avoid the troubles they feared from the people; the sanctuary was now become a refuge, and a shop of tyranny, (Josephus’ Wars 4.3.6-7)”

The High Priest, Ananus, said: “Certainly it would have been good for me to die before I had seen the house of God full of so many abominations, or these sacred places that ought not to be trodden on at random, filled with the feet of these blood-shedding villains” (Wars 4.3.9).

“Great slaughter was made on both sides, and a great number were wounded. As for the dead bodies of the people, their relations carried them out to their own houses; but when any of the zealots were wounded, he went up into the temple and defiled that sacred floor with his blood, insomuch that one may say it was their blood alone that polluted our sanctuary.” (Wars 4.3.11)

“And now the outer temple was all of it overflowed with blood; and that day … saw eight thousand five hundred dead bodies there, (Wars 4.5.1-2).

Josephus’ Witness Of God’s Vengeance For Innocent Blood

Even Josephus knew that there was a penalty to pay for shedding innocent blood. He describes the murder of the high priest Jonathan who dared to oppose the Roman appointed Felix:

“They slew Jonathan, and as his murder was never avenged, the robbers went up with the greatest security at the festivals after this time; and having weapons concealed in like manner as before, and mingling themselves among the multitude, they slew certain of their own enemies, and were subservient to other men for money; and slew others not only in remote parts of the city, but in the temple itself also; for they had the boldness to murder men there, without thinking of the impiety of which they were guilty. And this seems to me to have been the reason why God, out of his hatred to these men’s wickedness, rejected our city; and as for the temple, he no longer esteemed it sufficiently pure for him to inhabit therein, but brought the Romans upon us, and threw a fire upon the city to purge it; and brought upon us, our wives, and children, slavery, – as desirous to make us wiser by our calamities,” (Antiquities 20.8.5).

Josephus Refers To The Ancient Prophets

“And who is there that does not know what the writings of the ancient prophets contain in them, – and particularly that oracle which is just now going to be fulfilled upon this miserable city? – for they foretold that this city should be then taken when somebody shall begin the slaughter of his own countrymen! And are not both the city and the entire temple now full of the dead bodies of your countrymen? It is God therefore, it is God himself who is bringing on this fire, to purge the city and temple by means of the Romans, and is going to pluck up this city, which is full of your pollutions,” (Wars, 6.2.l).

Thus the moral imperative of Revelation 1:1, “things which must shortly come to pass” was fully accomplished in the fall of Jerusalem and the fleshly nation, Israel.

Next Lesson: Some False Teachings

The Creation of Marriage

The Creation

Genesis 1:27-28: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them and said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

This amazing passage of Scripture gives us the knowledge of God’s original creation and intent. He endowed Mankind, male and female, with the unique ability to create other living souls by multiplication of themselves! By this unspeakably powerful gift of reproduction, they could take dominion over the rest of God’s earthly creation.

Jesus referred to this, God’s original creative purpose and endowment, as having never changed from the time of creation: Matthew 19:4-6: “And he answered and said unto them: Have ye not read that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female. And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (See also Mark 1-:6-9).

These Scriptures define the meaning of marriage: the union of a man and a woman for the intended endowment of the blessed privilege of procreating and filling the earth with Mankind. Every person, then, is a link in the chain of creation from the first man to eternity. It is his contribution to the whole family of humanity.

The original intent was that there would be no death; however, after the original sin which brought the curse of death upon the human race, conception by the woman was to be greatly multiplied, Genesis 3:16.

Christ came to reverse the curse and to give eternal life to as many as would receive it. Ephesians 5:25-33: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, That he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church: For we are member of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh.

“This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. ”

Marriage is the natural, physical, expression of the spiritual reality of Christ’s relationship to the Church. It symbolizes and is the image of that relationship. To pervert and prostitute that image is to desecrate a holy thing.

The consummate marriage is depicted in Revelation 21:9-22:5. The Lamb of God, Jesus, takes unto Himself His beautiful Bride, the Church: “And they shall reign for ever and ever.” It is in that relationship that Mankind can have dominion over the earth.  God’s intended purpose from the beginning is being fulfilled in the marriage of Christ and the Church.

For those who are confused about the issue of “same-sex marriage,” let it be noted that such can never be endowed with the privilege to reproduce and therefore it cannot be a marriage in God’s sight. Although they may make whatever contracts they choose so far as legal, living arrangements, they can never be “married.” If they practice perverted sexual sins, it is not an act of love, but of lust, Romans 1:24-27. God’s judgment is already pronounced upon such sin; the choice brings about its own consequences.

We should not harbor hatred toward them, but compassion and determination to lead them to the Truth and to healing and deliverance. They are simply ensnared by the devil’s lies as are all others who reject the salvation offered by Jesus Christ.  They are fallen human beings, with talents and emotions and great potential, just as all other human beings.

The love of God constrains us to seek to deliver them, but never to consent with them that their sin is legal in the sight of God, Romans 1:32.

Ephesians 5:7, 11: “Be ye not therefore partakers with them…. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

 

Lesson 14 Of The Series – God Is The Kinsman-Redeemer Of His People

God Is The Kinsman-Redeemer Of His People

God is morally obligated to avenge His family as their Kinsman-Redeemer. The law that willful murder must be avenged is set forth in Numbers 35:16-21: “The avenger of blood shall himself put the murderer to death when he meets him,” (RSV).

This passage is quite simply put and so straightforward as to require little explanation except for the term “avenger of blood,” the go’el. The go’el was the nearest kinsman, who also had the rights and obligations of Redeemer. As Redeemer, he could buy back a field that had been lost through indebtedness and marry a childless widow in order to raise up an heir for the deceased family member as illustrated in the Book of Ruth. He could buy back a person who had been sold into slavery for indebtedness. This term is frequently used of God as the Redeemer of His people. It is in this sense that we must understand the admonition found in Leviticus 19:18:

You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord,” (RSV).

For people living within the Covenant relationship, God was their nearest Kinsman, their Go’el. They were not, therefore, to usurp His office by taking upon themselves the role of avenger. (This passage is quoted in Rom. 12:19 and Heb. 10:30.)

Blood Vengeance Is Also A New Testament Doctrine

That the laws concerning the shedding of blood were taken seriously in the New Testament era is well attested. In the trial of Christ Pilate declared that he was “innocent of the blood of this Man,” while the Jews cried out: “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matt. 27:24-25).

Even Judas realized that he must pay the penalty: “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood,” (Matt. 27:4). But the chief priests and elders refused to fulfill the law, so he destroyed his own life.

Peter and the other apostles were very bold to accuse the Jews of blood guilt. This bothered the High Priest: “You intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. But Peter … answered, ‘The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree,’” (Acts 5:28-30). (See also Acts 2:23; 3:15; 4:27, RSV.)

Stephen was very bold in his accusation before the Council:

“Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered,” (Acts 7:52 RSV).

For this witness, they added yet another crime, the slaying of innocent Stephen.

God Is Also Morally Obligated To Cleanse The Land Of Innocent Blood

Not only was God the Avenger of Blood for the sake of His covenant people, but He was also morally and legally obligated to avenge innocent blood to cleanse the land from defilement for He is the Owner and Occupant of the land:

“You shall not thus pollute the land in which you live; for blood pollutes the land, and no expiation can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of him who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the Lord dwell in the midst of the people of Israel,” (Num. 35:33-34. See also Deut. 19:11-13, RSV.)

God’s concern for the land is again expressed in Deuteronomy 32:43 RSV: “Praise His people, O you nations; for He avenges the blood of His servants, and takes vengeance on His adversaries, and makes expiation for the land of His people.”

Next Lesson: Josephus’ Witness To The Coming of Christ In The Clouds

Lesson 13 Of The Series – Parables Of Vengeance

This lesson continues to show the “things which must shortly come to pass” of Revelation 1:1. These things were morally necessary. The saints expected to be avenged; Jesus had promised it; Paul predicted it; and in 2 Thessalonians, he told when it would happen.

Jesus’ Parables of Vengeance

Two references from the Gospels make it very clear that the saints expected to be avenged soon of the persecution they were experiencing at the hands of the Pharisaical Jews. One is the parable of the unjust judge in the context of the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem: “Will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice quickly.” (See also Luke 18:3-8, NIV).

The other parable is that of the vineyard, Matthew 21:33-45. It clearly shows that Jesus intended to take the “vineyard,” the Kingdom of Israel, away from the Pharisees and give it to the Christian saints, the Church. He fulfilled this promise and in doing so, He took vengeance upon those wicked Pharisees.

Paul Predicted Vengeance For The Saints

Paul predicted that the saints to whom he wrote, as well as himself would be avenged by the revelation of Jesus Christ, executing wrath upon their enemies. In his letter to the Thessalonians Paul mentions the suffering of the churches in Judea at the hands of:

“The Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men…In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit….The wrath of God has come upon them at last,” 1 Thessalonians. 2:14-16, NIV.

But the saints will not be under that wrath: “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Thessalonians 5:9.

“When The Lord Jesus Is Revealed From Heaven”

That wrath is described in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, NIV: “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power on the day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you because you believed our testimony to you.”

Also see Luke 21:27-32, (NIV), in the context of His message concerning the destruction of Jerusalem: “(27) And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory…. Lift up your heads, because your redemption is near…. (32) Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away till all be fulfilled.” And so it was.

The Church Confirmed That These Things Were Fulfilled

The early Church believed that these Scriptures were true as evidenced by the fact that they accepted them into the Canon. Therefore, they must have seen the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the remaining Jews as the fulfillment of their promised vindication, and must have believed that Jesus Christ was revealed from heaven in some publicly attested way such as was recorded by Josephus in the passage cited previously, (Wars 6.5.3).

Next Lesson: God Is Morally Obligated to Avenge His People, Continued.