Contrary to what many think, through some simple study aids and techniques, Bible prophecy, including the last book of Yahuah's written Word, the Revelation of the Lord, can be clearly understood by the "average" person (like me, Watchman Bob). Please read this brief essay to learn how:
The three basic messages of the Bible are simple. Any infant or mentally handicapped person who does not even know human language can understand them because they are best communicated through nonverbal actions. They are: (1) the pure, unselfish love of Yahuah, (2) the absolute necessity of total trust in the One who takes care of us, and (3) the essential importance of perfect obedience in submission to the One who created us and sustains us. Understanding and yielding our lives to those three messages will save us from the main consequence of sin (separation from Yahuah) and from spiritual impotence and misery in this life. In Fact, acceptance and submission to those three messages will fill our hearts with spiritual peace, love, joy, and hope that transcend all understanding and carry us through any circumstance in which we may find ourselves.
However, if we want more understanding of what Yahuah tells us about the past, present or future, then we need to dig into Scripture and study it diligently. But it is still not that difficult. We do not have to have a seminary education or even to know the original biblical languages (Primarily Hebrew and Greek) to understand Scripture just as well as any minister, Bible teacher, seminary professor, or even the Pope. Did you know that? Yahuah did not design the Bible to be read and understood only by the highly intelligent or highly educated. He designed it to be understood by the average person, if that person is enlightened by His Spirit. Studies have shown that most of the King James Bible, even with its outdated Old English language, can be understood by the average fifth grader. To me, that is good news.
I personally prefer and recommend the Hebraic Roots Version (HRV), translated from Aramaic and Hebrew manuscripts and with an abundance of explanatory footnotes and cross-references, because the Bible was originally written from a Hebrew cultural context using many Hebrew terms, idioms and modes of thought that are not clearly or, in many instances, even accurately translated in other versions of the Bible. Virtually all other translations of the Bible, particularly of the B’rit Hadashah (including The Complete Jewish Bible) are translated from corrupted Greek manuscripts and cast a Greek/Gentile (anti-Semitic) slant on Yahuah’s Word. But that is not to say that the HRV is perfect, because one of Satan’s favorite ploys to mislead Yahuah’s People is to corrupt His Word, and many distortions have crept into all versions of the Scriptures through the centuries. I use the HRV as my basic study text but also compare it with other translations. That is easy to do with a computer program like e-Sword, in which several versions can be lined up side-by-side. By the way, e-Sword is absolutely free and can be downloaded at www.e-sword.net. Another excellent free program is Bible Analyzer, which can be downloaded at www.bibleanalyzer.com.
Commentaries (including this one) can help throw light on the meaning of Scripture, but their interpretations must always be confirmed by our own prayerful, Holy Spirit-led Bible study. The Berean Believers in Yahushua were commended for checking out for themselves in the Scriptures what even the apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, taught them (Acts 17:11). Again (we cannot emphasize it enough), just remember one important point: The Bible is its own best interpreter! If we will just dig into it - learning what it says; comparing related words, statements, and sections; asking Yahuah to reveal its meaning to us - it will start to make sense to our minds and come to life in our hearts until we know that we know that the Bible is truly Yahuah's inspired Word of Truth! "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." If there are some words we do not understand, locations of places we do not know, or if we want to compare how words or concepts are used in different parts of the Bible, plenty of study aids like dictionaries, atlases, and concordances are available. In fact, on the Internet we can find all the help we need. And computer software like e-Sword, Bible Analyzer, or BibleWorks places all those kinds of helps right in front of our eyes and at our fingertips.
About one-third of the Bible is prophetic. This commentator knows that there are all kinds of attitudes toward and interpretations of the prophetic parts of the Bible. Some believe that the Bible is just a collections of myths. Some believe that its prophecies are just allegorical - symbolically portraying the universal conflict between good and evil, or something. Some believe that the prophecies of Scripture are literally true but have virtually all been fulfilled. Others believe in some combination of allegorical and literal fulfillment of Biblical prophecies. Many volumes have been published extolling each point of view. So we are not going to wade into that debate: it is far beyond the scope of this little essay. I am just going to share with you what I believe that Yahuah has shown me through His prophetic Word that impacts every human being on Earth at the present time and will impact every person in the near future, based on a lifetime (70 years) of being taught the Bible and studying it for myself.
I believe that Yahuah is real and communicates through His inspired Word, the Bible, to those whose minds, heats, and spirits are open to Him. I also believe that the Bible is literally true. When it says, "In the beginning, [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth," I believe that is exactly, literally what happened. When it says that Yahushua, Yahuah the Father's only begotten Son, was crucified on a Roman cross and was resurrected from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion, I believe that is exactly, literally what happened. When Scripture says that someday soon, the Savior will return to give those who have believed in Him and dedicated their lives to Him glorified bodies and take them to a place He has prepared for them in Heaven, I believe that is exactly, literally what will happen. When the Bible says there will be a man it calls Antimessiah (among other names) who will deceive the whole world into following him as its (false) messiah, I believe that is exactly, literally what will happen. Of course, as in many great works of literature, the Bible uses symbolism, especially in the poetic and prophetic parts. But it is not difficult to tell from the context which characters, events, places, and so forth are symbolic and which are literal. And this commentator has found that when he reads the Bible in this common-sense way, taking it at face value, asking the Lord to reveal the Truth of His Word to him, then it really comes to life, helping him to understand history, what is happening in the world around him at the present time, what is going to happen in the near future, and what he needs to be doing about it - exactly how he needs to be living his life.
In addition to the above assumptions, there are six principles of interpretation of Bible prophecy that may be helpful in understanding those prophecies:
The events of Bible history that impact Yahuah's People repeat themselves over and over until they reach their final fulfillment during the Final Seven Years and the Millennium. Western Gentiles have a Greek mindset and linear concept of history in which all events occur sequentially. However, the inspired writers of the Scriptures, the Hebrews, had a circular view of history in which events repeat themselves in different ways over and over. Solomon (the wisest man in history) said, "What has been is what will be, what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Then, he repeated the same truism by stating, "That which is has already been; and what is to be has already been" (Ecclesiastes 3:15). And the apostle Paul wrote that everything that happened to ancient Israel has implications for those living in the present (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11). In other words, by studying the history of Israel and the nations that impacted Israel in the past, we can know the future of Israel and nations that will impact her at that time (all the nations of the world).
For example, Yahuah's People Israel exited from Egypt and the bondage of Pharoah, and the army of Pharaoh was destroyed. Then, they were led into the Promised Land by Yahuah. But, in 722 BCE, many of the northern kingdom Israel were taken into captivity by the Assyrians and subsequently dispersed throughout the world; and the southern kingdom Judah was taken into captivity by the Babylonians in 604-586 BCE. Then, a remnant of the House of Judah returned to the Promised Land from captivity in Babylon in 536 BCE. Then, after being dispersed into the nations by the Romans in 70 and 135 CE, in 1948 CE they returned from the nations of the world to re-establish the nation of Israel. In the near future, at the mid-point of the Final Seven Years, they will again escape into the "wilderness" (hiding places), this time from the tyranny of Antimessiah, and just as Pharaoh's was, his army will be destroyed. Finally, at the end of the Final Seven Years, "all Israel will be saved" - brought back into the Promised Land by Yahuah (cf. Ezekiel 37:21; Romans 11:26). In the same way, Yahuah's People the Believers in Yahushua are, at the present time, scattered among the nations of the world, but will, when He returns to "gather His elect from the four winds" (Matthew 24:31), take them to dwell in and to reign with Him from New Jerusalem. See the commentary on Chapters 7 and 20 for details.
Another example of Israel's history repeating itself is the prophesied War of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38), in which multiple nations of the world come against Israel. A partial fulfillment of that prophecy occurred when nations of the Middle East and North Africa came against Israel when her people returned to the Land in 1948, then attacked her again in 1967 and 1973. A more complete fulfillment will probably occur at the beginning of the Final Seven Years, at which time the armies of the nations that come against Israel will be destroyed and the anti-messiah will enact a peace treaty with Israel that he will later treacherously abolish when he attempts to destroy Yahuah's people (cf. Ezekiel 38:19-22; Daniel 9:27; Isaiah 28:15). Then, at the end of the Final Seven Years, the armies of many nations will come against the Messiah in Jerusalem. Then, the final War of Gog and Magog will occur when the armies of all nations gather against the Lord's People and New Jerusalem at the end of the Millennium. See the commentary on Chapters 19 and 20 for details.
A third example is the rise of many prototypes of the anti-messiah - Nimrod, Pharaoh, Haman, Antiochus Epiphanes, Herod the Great, the Roman general Titus, Constantine, Hitler, et al. - throughout history, which will culminate in the final false messiah - the incarnation of Satan - arising to rule the world. See the commentary on Chapter 13 for details.
A fourth example is the fall of Babylon, which has actually already occurred twice. The ancient city of Babylon founded by Nimrod/Sargon, the ruler of the world’s first empire, the Akkadian Empire, fell very quickly when a comet impacted the earth with the force of dozens of nuclear bombs only about 125 miles from the capital city of Akkad and nearby Babylon, killing the residents of that part of the empire and scattering survivors far and wide. Then, the Babylonian Empire ruled by Nebuchadnezzar also fell quickly—in a surprise infiltration and overthrow in one evening—to Cyrus, King of Persia. Very similar to ancient Babylon, especially Nimrod’s Babylon, all natural life in modern Babylon the Great will very quickly, in "one hour," be annihilated by fire, probably near the midpoint of the Final Seven Years, setting the stage for the rise of the anti-messiah. Then, Babylon will be totally physically annihilated at the end of the Final Seven Years. See the commentary on Chapters 17 and 18 and Appendix 1 - Who is Modern Babylon? for details.
Bible prophecies are fulfilled literally, specifically, and without fail. For example, the prophet Daniel foretold in about 538 BCE, when the Jews were still in captivity in Babylon, that an order would be issued for them to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar) and that it would be 483 years from the time that command was issued until the arrival of “Messiah the Prince” (Daniel 9:25). According to Biblical and historical records and astronomical calculations, from the time the Persian king Artaxerxes issued the order on Aviv 1 (on the Jewish calendar), 457 BCE, to rebuild Jerusalem (cf. Nehemiah 2:7-9), it was exactly 173,880 days (483 prophetic years of 360 days, to the day) until Yahushua was identified by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of Yahuah,” the Messiah, on Aviv 1, 27 CE. Uncanny, is it not? And there are hundreds of other specific Bible prophecies that have been fulfilled with 100% accuracy, while none have been proven to be false.2
Both the Jews and the Followers of Yahushua are the People of Yahuah. Yahuah’s ancient People Israel who have looked forward in faith to the coming Messiah (including Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah and all the other Tanakh Saints plus present-day Jewish people of faith), although they have not yet recognized that Yahushua is their Messiah, are just as much the People of Yahuah as are those who have already accepted Yahushua as their Savior and Lord. They have just been temporarily blinded to who their Messiah is until all the Gentiles who are being saved have been “grafted into” the Kingdom of Yahuah and made “fellow citizens” in the “commonwealth of Israel.” In fact, it is more correct to affirm that Gentiles who have come to faith in Yahushua are now Israelites (in a spiritual sense) than it is to state that Jews who have come to faith in Yahushua are now Christians. A very important key to understanding the prophetic Scripture - all of it, including the Revelation - is understanding that it was written by Hebrews, the caretakers of Yahuah’s Word, for all of Yahuah’s People - Jews and Believers in Yahushua. See Appendix 3 - Who are the People of Yahuah - for more details.
Bible prophecy applies to Yahuah's physical People the Jews in a physical sense and to Yahuah's People the Community of Believers in Yahushua in a spiritual sense. For example, Revelation 18:4 states, "Come out of her [Babylon], my People, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues." The correct interpretation is that Yahuah's people the Jews should come out of literal Babylon and return to Israel, and Yahuah's People the Followers of Yahushua, who are already partakers of the indwelling Spirit of Yahuah under the New Covenant, should repent of ("come out of") Babylon's sins and take refuge in the Kingdom of Yahuah and His righteousness.
Nothing is prophesied in the book of Revelation that was not previously foretold, usually several times and in various ways, in other books of the Bible and in the events, traditions, and festivals of Israel. The Bible states, "The LORD Yahuah does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). And no CE book of Scripture draws on BCE prophecy more than the Revelation (39 quotes and over 200 references). So, for a clear understanding of the meaning of the Revelation and what will happen in the near future, knowledge of other Bible Scriptures, especially the Tanakh, and most especially the book of Daniel, is absolutely essential. Also, the Spring feasts or festivals prescribed by Yahuah (Leviticus 23) - Pesach (Passover), Hag haMatzah (Unleavened Bread), First Fruits of the Barley Harvest, and Shavuot (Pentecost) - were “dress rehearsals” for the Messiah’s first coming, accurately foretelling to the very day and, in some instances, the very hour of His first advent: His arrival in Jerusalem being proclaimed the Messiah (Matthew 21:9), His being nailed to the cross and His crucifixion (Luke 23:44-46), His resurrection (Luke 24:1), and the outpouring of His Spirit on His followers (Acts 2:1-18). In the same way, the Fall Feasts - Yom Teruah (the Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (the Feast of Atonement), and Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) - accurately foretell the events of the Messiah’s second advent, including the resurrection of the Righteous, the catching away of His Bride (the Assembly of Believers in Him) to Heaven, the final outpouring of the Wrath of Yahuah on the earth, the return of Yahushua as King of kings and Lord of lords, the destruction of His enemies, the separation of the “sheep and the goats” among His People Israel and the nations, and the establishment of His millennial kingdom on Earth. So, a knowledge, not only of prophetic Scripture, but of the historical events, traditions, and feasts of Israel prescribed by Yahuah are essential to fully understanding the sequence and timing of the events of the Revelation.
Time and sequence must be interpreted correctly. There is much confusion among Bible expositors regarding the timing and sequence of events of the Revelation. The text must be studied carefully for clues regarding the correct interpretation. One helpful principle is that after chapter 3, when John is told to “Come up here” (4:1), the view is from Heaven. And the view from Heaven is panoramic—more like looking at a mural than a strict time-line sequence of events.
Chapters 6 and 7 preview some events that will occur sequentially throughout the “Final Seven Years.” Then, the revelation of the first six trumpet judgments is given in chapters 8 and 9. Then, chapters 10 and 11:1-13 interrupt the narrative to give more details about what is happening during the execution of the Lord’s judgments. Then, 11:14-19 briefly describes the execution of the seventh trumpet judgment. Next, chapters 12-14 interrupt the narrative again to reveal more details of what happens during the last half of the “Final Seven Years.” Chapters 15 and 16 reveal what happens in Heaven and on Earth when the six “last plagues” of the bowls of the Wrath of Yahuah are poured out on Earth. Chapters 17 and 18 detail the history of mystery Babylon the Great and how she and literal Babylon the Great will be destroyed during the “Final Seven Years.” Finally, chapters 20-22 preview the millennial kingdom of the Messiah, including details about New Jerusalem, until the initiation of timeless eternity.
Although the exact timing and sequence of many events of the Revelation are unclear, some definite time markers are given and should be interpreted literally, unless the context indicates otherwise. As examples, several events are identified as happening during the last 42 months, 1260 days or three and one-half years of the “Final Seven Years”: the pursuit of “the woman” (Israel) into the wilderness, where she is provided for and protected from “the serpent” (Satan) 1260 days (Revelation 12:6); the “beast” (Antimessiah) declaring himself to be “god” (2 Thessalonians 2:4) at the midpoint of the seven years (cf. Daniel 9:27) and ruling over Earth, causing the “Great Tribulation,” for 42 months (Revelation 7:14; 13:5); and the “two witnesses” prophesying during this same period of time (Revelation 11:3). These specific time markers are very helpful in determining the timing and sequence of events of the Revelation, as will be clarified in the commentary.
If you can agree with the above simple assumptions and principles, then Yahuah may use this book to cause the Revelation to come to life for you. The insights that are going to be shared from Yahuah's Word in this Revelation commentary may not only astonish you but may save your (eternal) life. If you do not agree about how Scripture prophecy should be interpreted, then I pray that you will read on anyway, because you may see that there is more - a whole lot more - to the Bible in throwing light on what is happening in the world than you thought.
2 For a complete explanation of how Biblical dates are accurately determined, get the DVD The Creator’s Calendar and the Restoration of All Things at www.michaelrood.tv or view the YouTube videos by the same name.
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