Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church; Date: 19 February 2012

For more sermons and other writings check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org

 

 

Revelation 02 – Soon

 

The Bible book of Revelation begins with a church leader writing to seven churches – (located in seven cities in the Roman province of Asia) – and he was not doing well and neither were the churches. Listen to his words – Revelation 1:9: “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” John – the leader – the author of the book – was on the island of Patmos which was a prison island – not unlike Alcatraz – a rocky, mountainous place about ten miles long and six miles wide. [Show map of Patmos and the seven churches.] He may have had chains around his ankles – working in the mines. What led to his banishment was his witness to Jesus. Pressure – agony – had come his way and this was for everyone. In his own words – John was a brother and companion in the tribulation that everyone experienced – and kingdom – (but – so it seemed – a kingdom on the back-foot) – and patient endurance.

Then – one day – as he worshipped – it happened. I read – Revelation 1:10-16:

 

On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

 

This was an amazing experience. How would you respond to Jesus’ voice that was loud like a trumpet – like the sound of rushing waters – and his appearance of brilliant light and so forth? What would this do for you on the island of Patmos? You are going to be changed. Jesus is far more real than you would have thought. A glimpse of him is overwhelming. He’s there and he’s big.

John could not handle the vision. He writes – Revelation 1:17: “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid ... ’” John fell at Jesus’ feet like dead – mortified – (literally) scared stiff – until he heard Jesus say: “Do not be afraid.” John may have also felt drained of all energy which also happens when imperfect – sinful – humans come close to God.

 

Daniel 10:8: So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless.

 

Daniel 10:15-19: While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak. How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.” Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”

 

Revelation 1:17: “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid ... ’” Jesus touched John. He placed his right hand on John’s body in a gesture of love and comfort – stooping down from his glorious heights to the cowering bundle of humanity at his feet.

Jesus who is the Lord over everything – who is busy with the whole world and the affairs of millions (billions) of people – he takes the time and care to touch one man because he is afraid and needs strength. Is this you? Can you see him touch you this morning? He has not changed. He loves his people and everyone that lives on earth.

Jesus has us covered. His hand is on us and he is saying to our fearful hearts: “You’re forgiven. Do not be afraid. I love you.”

This is why John begins his letter to the churches – (you find these words in the first chapter of his book of Revelation) – with these words – Revelation 1:4-6:

 

John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

   To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

 

John was touched by Jesus; therefore could not praise him enough. He came face to face with the overpowering attributes of Jesus – his voice like a loud trumpet, his brilliant face, blazing eyes, the sword out of his mouth – but had experienced grace. He writes: “Grace and peace to you ... [especially] from Jesus Christ ... ” Then, before he did anything else, John launched into the core proclamation of the Christian faith: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”

However – building on this foundation – John learned even more about Jesus. What do you think John may have been struggling with on the island of Patmos? What can be a problem for you when the Christian testimony gets you into trouble, life crumbles in prison, freedom of speech and mobility are shut down, iron shackles make for sore skin, church members are torn apart and the general population thinks that this is a good idea? What thoughts might go through your head?

Maybe you would begin to wonder about the Christian faith, asking yourself: “Where is Jesus? Where is the power? I thought that I would experience a greater measure of breakthrough in mission and health and provision? What’s going on?” Then – as these thoughts begin to take a hold on you – you may adapt further to the prison reality on Patmos and change your thinking on Jesus. You bring him down to the level of the current tribulation where the church is boxed in by enemies from all sides. This is what could cross your mind: “Yes – Jesus saved me on the cross. I love him. His body was bruised for me and his blood poured out of him onto the ground. I have a suffering Saviour who made a way for me into eternity. This is what I am grateful for and – therefore – this side of eternity – I just hang in there because salvation concerns the future of eternal life and not the current circumstances.”

Do you recognize this kind of thinking? It expects very little from Jesus now and exercises faith purely for the forgiveness of sins to spend the future in heaven. I am not sure how much John was influenced by these thoughts but what do you think his vision of Jesus would have done for him? What is it doing for you? Have another look:

 

Revelation 1:10-16: ... I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet ... I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw ... someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

 

Jesus did not look like commiserating with John in persecution. He did not look like the suffering Jesus any more. He was not there in weakness (as on the cross) – encouraging John to wait out this time here on earth because nothing could be done before the day of judgement and eternity. There was a sharp sword coming out of his mouth. His eyes were like blazing fire. Stars were in his right hand and his entire face was shining with immeasurable brilliance. He spoke like someone that meant business – with loud trumpeting sounds.

As you let this vision grown on you, what may again be rising up in you? Faith! Jesus is not going to wait until the after-life before he is taking charge of business here on earth. Something is about to happen. Jesus is powerful already now and he looks like he is ready to use his power – now. And he does – just keep reading the book of Revelation.

The vision certainly inspired John to assert again the present authority of Jesus Christ. Nothing and no one compared to him. I read to you again how he began his letter to the churches in the very first chapter of the book:

 

Revelation 1:4-6: John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

 

Can you see how John immediately identified Jesus as theruler of the kings of the earthwhich is a description of him that is applying now in the present – not only in some distant future. At the time of writing Revelation – John may have languished on the prison island of Patmos but his jailers and the oppressive regime of the empire were subject to his Saviour – Jesus Christ. He – the man in chains – belonged to the true ruling power – not his persecutors.

For John and the churches – the situation would change – soon. Jesus would exercise his rule and pull the kings of the earth in line and this is what the very first verse of the book promises – Revelation 1:1: “The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place ... ” Revelation 1:7: “Look, he is coming with the clouds ... ”

However, how soon would Jesus come? How soon do you think that Jesus is coming to change our circumstances? Will John always sit on a prison island or will there be another kind of future? The answer that you will give is absolutely crucial because – depending on your view – you either become a positive – faith-filled – agent of change or you become a passive – disengaged – bystander in the affairs of this world.

Many people read the book of Revelation as if the future was one continuous chain of bad news and – granted – most chapters of Revelation spell out wrath, judgement, persecution and untold suffering. For instance, even popular culture knows about the battle at Armageddon (Revelation 16:16) and the four horsemen of the apocalypse – Revelation 6:2-8:

 

I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.

When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

 

I may show you a picture of the Four Horsemen (show picture) and another one that connects them with the 9/11 terror attack in New York (show picture). These horsemen feature in books, film and television, music and video games. For instance, Coldplay’s album Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends is a reference to The Four Horsemen; quoting the last line of the last song: “I don’t want to follow Death and all of his friends.” (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Horsemen_of_the_Apocalypse_in_popular_culture). There is a YouTube video which apparently shows the Fourth Horsemen – Death and Hades on a pale horse – in the midst of rioting in Cairo (Egypt) in 2011 (show video):

 

Fourth Horseman ‘Ghost’ of the Apocalypse at Egypt protests: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAMaYSQgdnE.

 

Footage of rioting in Cairo appears to show a ghost horse and rider, whether it’s the reflection of the fire on the camera lense or lense flare or maybe photoshopped, CGI whatever, it is just amazing and remains a strange phenomenon.

 

It seems that these Four Horsemen are never far from us; therefore – and so argues much of popular thinking – this world can rightly said to go from bad to worse and any hope for the future can only be about eternity – not victory and progress here on earth.

One pastor offers the following reflection:

 

Kris Vallotton: Heavy Rain, Ventura: Gospel Light 2010, p201-203: Let’s fast-forward again to the year 1970, when a dramatic shift took place in our worldview. A book was published entitled The Late Great Planet Earth. This book helped to popularize an eschatology that changed the Church’s message from “The Kingdom is at hand” to “The end of the world is near”. It assisted in creating an expectation for the Antichrist to institute the destructive nature of the “Beast” and his deceptive mark. This resulted in a kind of “Beam Me Up, Scotty” theology in most Christians as we began to anticipate a sudden cosmic rescue. (Let me be clear that Hal Lindsey, the author of the book, simply put words to an end-time view that was already popular in the Jesus Movement, and like all of us in every epoch season, he was operating out of the revelation revealed to his generation.) ...

Here is another interesting side note. I was born January 31, 1955, the same year Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were born. Bill Joy was born in November 1954. These men were some of the main catalysts that birthed the Information Age. Few, if any, of the people who ushered in the Information Age were followers of Jesus Christ. Steve Jobs is a Buddhist, Bill Gates is an agnostic, Michael Dell is Jewish and I am not sure about Bill Joy. “So what’s the point?” you ask. Well, have you wondered why there was hardly a single Christian at the forefront of the emerging Information Age? I believe it’s because the Jesus Movement, which largely embraced the Late Great eschatology, was birthed at the same time. Christian young people were all waiting for the great escape, leaving their non-Christian peers to follow the kairos clock of the Information Age and become the forerunners of the new epoch season. There were no Christian forerunners because there were no forethinkers. We were all taught to live for eternity, but no one seemed to understand that we were also supposed to live from eternity.

 

This pastor’s assessment is open for debate but his basic premise is valid. If you have no hope for this life – if everything is always about the future in heaven – you will not engage here on earth – you will not invest hope, faith and courage into establishing God’s reign in Toowoomba (and the region and the nation) already now.

At our local Christian bookstore – (Koorong) – you can buy – (or may have already bought) – theLeft Behindbook series which comprises sixteen bestselling novels. In these books, there is good action and entertainment but are we doing our faith any favours? [I watched the movie.] Consider the following:

 

Information from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_Behind. Left Behind is a series of 16 best-selling novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins ... The primary conflict of the series is the members of the Tribulation Force against the Global Community and its leader Nicolae Carpathia—the Antichrist. Left Behind is also the title of the first book in the series. The series was first published 1995-2007 by Tyndale House ... The series has been adapted into three action thriller films with the fourth being discussed by Cloud Ten Pictures. The films are Left Behind: The Movie, Left Behind II: Tribulation Force and Left Behind: World at War. The series also inspired the PC game “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” and its sequels, “Left Behind: Tribulation Forces” and “Left Behind 3: Rise of the Antichrist”.

 

Based on dispensationalist interpretation of prophecies in the Biblical books of Revelation, Daniel, Isaiah and Ezekiel, Left Behind tells the story of the end times, in which true believers in Christ have been “raptured,” (i.e. taken instantly to heaven) leaving the world shattered and chaotic. As people scramble for answers, a relatively unknown, Romanian politician named Nicolae Jetty Carpathia rises to become secretary-general of the United Nations, promising to restore peace and stability to all nations. What most of the world does not realize is that Carpathia is actually the Antichrist foretold from the Bible. Coming to grips with the truth and becoming born-again Christians, Rayford Steele, his daughter Chloe, their pastor Bruce Barnes, and young journalist Cameron “Buck” Williams begin their quest as the Tribulation Force to help save the lost and prepare for the coming Tribulation, in which God will rain down judgment on the world for seven years.

 

In 1998, the first four books of the series held the top four slots in the New York Times best-seller list simultaneously, despite the fact that the New York Times ' best-seller list does not take Protestant bookstore sales into account. Book 10 debuted at number one on this list. Total sales for the series have surpassed 65 million copies. Seven titles in the adult series have reached #1 on the bestseller lists for the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly.

 

... making it the best-selling Christian fiction series in history.

 

Do we live now with the intent of not beingleft behindat the moment of time when God – so the expectation of some – removes the church from the earth and completes the world’s fate by letting it go from bad to worse to its final doom? What are we: spectators of world-events – waiting in the wings for an easy escape from responsibility – or history makers ourselves in Jesus’ name? What is going to happen on planet earth?

Have a closer look at the book of Revelation. John was a companion in the suffering and patient endurance which had come upon the entire church (Revelation 1:9) but – on the prison island of Patmos – Jesus appeared to him with eyes blazing like fire and a shard two-edged sword coming out of his mouth and a voice like a loud trumpet. He was walking among the lampstands which represented the church and the angels of the churches were safe in his right hand. Therefore – on account of this vision and the entire experience of prophetic revelation (recorded in the chapters of his book) – John had no doubt that a change was coming and it was coming soon. He made this the theme of the book and wrote in the very first verse:

 

Revelation 1:1: The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John.

 

Then six verses later – John again spelled out again the core promise of Revelation:

 

Revelation 1:7: “Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.

 

This was going to happen soon but how soon? When you go to the very end of the book of Revelation, there are again references to the coming of Jesus Christ which was to be soon:

 

Revelation 22:6-21: The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.” “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.” ...

Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near ... ” [Cf. Revelation 10: 4: “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.”]

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” ...

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” ... He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

 

The question is: Did Jesus come soon as promised or was there a delay? John lived in the first century but this is now the 21st century. Has Jesus come to John and the persecuted church as promised? We need to be careful here. John himself was prophesying that there would be years of conflict, judgement and persecution and then he added that – after these years – before the world would finally end and before Jesus would return for the final judgement, there would be another thousand year reign of God’s people:

 

Revelation 20:1-3: And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

 

Thus, John knew that Jesus would not establish a new heaven and a new earth for more than a thousand years and – still – he declared and bore witness to Jesus’ promise: “I am coming soon.” John was not a penny short in his head; therefore what is going on?

The events which provide the major focus in the book of Revelation would indeed happen soon. John was not spending chapters upon chapters on prophesying about the distant future – twenty long centuries (and more) down the track. He made the Christians understand the newspaper headlines of the next few years.

Let me give you a quick overview of Revelation. Chapter 1: Introduction. Chapters 2 and 3: Short letters to seven churches in the Roman province of Asia. Chapters 4 and 5: A vision of God’s throne-room in heaven and the introduction of Jesus as the Lion of Judah who triumphed as a Lamb that was slain. Chapters 6 to 8: Jesus opens the seven seals of the scroll which – once opened – spells out the destruction of God’s enemies. Chapters 8 to 11: Seven angels sound the seven trumpets of judgement on the earth. Chapters 12 to 14: These chapters contain a flashback to Jesus’ birth and explain the demonic contest with Satan’s beast from the sea and another beast from the earth. Chapters 15 to 16: Seven angels pour out seven bowls of wrath which are the seven last plagues and these complete God’s wrath. Chapter 17: The vision of a prostitute – Babylon by name – sitting on the beast (from the sea) further explains the underlying reality of the previous judgements. Chapter 18: Babylon has fallen. Chapter 19: Jesus rides on a white horse in victory over the beast and the kings of the earth. Chapter 20: Satan is bound for one thousand years and then finally conquered. Chapter 21 and 22: There will be a new heaven and a new earth because the first heaven and the first earth will have passed away. The new Jerusalem – the beautiful bride of Jesus Christ – will come down out of heaven and be established on earth. Chapter 22: Jesus gives the assurance that he will be coming soon.

This overview may be a little confusing but the many chapters of Revelation are fundamentally concerned with God wreaking judgement on those that have and are opposing him. Seven seals are broken to release the time of judgement. Then, seven trumpets and seven bowls of wrath complete the work. The end result is that Jesus comes from heaven riding on a white horse in victory and establishing a thousand year reign before the final defeat of Satan and the appearance of a new heaven and a new earth. One chapter in particular explains in more detail the nature of the battle and – of importance for us – makes references to the time-frame and the identity of God’s opposition:

 

Revelation 17:3-18: One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”

Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. The name written on her forehead was a mystery: BABYLON THE GREAT / THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES

AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.

This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.

“The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”

 

After the opening of the seven seals, the blasts of the seven trumpets and the last seven bowls of wrath, one of the angels who had the seven bowls gave John more insight into what the entire battle was about – Revelation 17:1-2:

 

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”

 

The seals, trumpets and bowls of wrath were about the punishment of thegreat prostitute”. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery which is Bible language for committing idolatry – breaking the bond of love with the one true God and exposing themselves to other masters.

The angel took John on a study tour – Revelation 17:3-6:

 

Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.

The name written on her forehead was a mystery: BABYLON THE GREAT / THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.

 

According to this vision, there were two identities which were somehow connected: 1) The woman – (Babylon The Great / The Mother Of Prostitutes) – was sitting on 2) a beast which had seven heads and ten horns. However, it was the woman that was drunk with the blood of God’s people. She seemed to be responsible. She was the one riding the beast.

John looked at the prostitute and the beast, was puzzled by what he saw and did not understand the vision – as we may not understand – but – immediately – the angel gave him more information. John received an explanation which is also going to help us – Revelation 17:6b-18:

 

When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.

This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.

“The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”

 

I will not comment on all aspects of the angel’s explanation but the beast had seven heads which stood for seven hills. For John and his readers, this first reference served as a pointer to the capital of the Roman Empire – Rome, which famously was the city built on seven hills. My former teacher at the Seminary in Adelaide wrote in his commentary: “You didn’t have to be a genius to work out that the seven-headed beast is Rome” (John Strelan: Where Earth Meets Heaven, Adelaide: Openbook Publishers 1994, p279). Even before Jesus’ birth, Rome was also known as the Seven Hills”. (In Latin – the language of the Empire – the word is “Septimontium”.)

Then – and this illustrates the complexity of many of the visions in Revelation – the angel further explained that the seven heads did not only stand for seven hills but also seven kings. Furthermore, these seven kings were not all future kings but had been and were the leaders of the Empire now – Revelation 17:10-11: “[The seven heads] are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.”

Five of the seven kings were already in the past. One was reigning now. The seventh would be in power only for a little while and then give way to an eighth king – (represented by the entire beast rather than a single head) – but – at the time of the eighth king – (soon after the present king’s reign) – destruction would come on the entire beast.

Here – as clearly as we want it to be – we can discern that the book of Revelation was not about the distant future for John. He was imprisoned on the island of Patmos by Rome. This was part of the suffering and patient endurance of all Christians in the Empire but the powers that had locked him up – Roman power – would not last. After the reign of the present king, there would be the short reign of another and then with the reign of the eighth king the beast would be destroyed. This would not take long.

Who then was the prostitute? We know what would happen to her. Her ride on the beast was not going to end well – Revelation 17:15-18:

 

Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns [ten more kings] you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire ... The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”

 

The beast – representing the Roman Empire – with the help of other kings – will hate the prostitute and destroy her with fire. Who was she? Here she was identified asthe great city that rules over the kings of the earth”? Who would this be?

The answer may be unexpected but biblical. The woman that was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls – the woman that was holding a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries – the woman that had a name written on her forehead: BABYLON THE GREAT / THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH – the woman that was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people – was none other than Jerusalem – God’s chosen people the Jews.

She was riding the beast of Rome and was the (hidden) power behind the throne – the spiritual superpower behind the political superpower – that waged war against those that believed in Jesus (and she would indeed be destroyed by the Roman beast in 70 AD). [Please understand that this is not anti-Jewish – anti-Semitic – propaganda. Jesus was a Jew. All the apostles were Jews. Every Bible book was written by a Jew. Jesus himself declared that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). We are grateful to inherit their history with God. In the same way, if you are an Italian, please do not take offense at saying that the Roman Empire was the beast of Revelation 17.]

From the beginning – God had declared to Abraham – the ancestor of all Jews and source of blessing for us all – Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” With this promise, God made Abraham the key to the welfare of the nations. He made him – and later the city of Jerusalem as the capital of his descendants – the ruler of the fate of the nations. Depending on their stance towards Abraham – and later Jerusalem – they would be blessed or cursed. There was power operating according to spiritual decrees.

For instance, when the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and deported the population, they reaped destruction for themselves. As they cursed Abraham and his seed, they themselves were cursed because God declared in the midst of Babylon’s wickedness towards Jerusalem – Jeremiah 51:49: “Babylon must fall because of Israel’s slain ... ” Thus, the tiny nation of Israel determined the downfall of the Babylonian empire. [See also Genesis 18.]

Today – Christians operate in the same power. Jesus said – Matthew 10:40-42: “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

In this way – Jerusalem exerted power over all the earth. She was meant to be the source of blessing for all – a holy people to God – but then the source itself became corrupted and passed on its corruption. Jerusalem perverted its spiritual leadership and turned out to be the fiercest enemy of God himself.

The Romans killed Jesus but – according to the Bible – they were incited and pressured by God’s own people – the Jews – Luke 24:20: “The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him.” Acts 2:36: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” The first Christian that was killed was killed by the Jews in Jerusalem. At the time – the Christian that was about to be killed – Stephen – declared to them – Acts 7:51-52: “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him.”

In Jerusalem, a great persecution broke out and Jews threatened the lives of other Jews who were Christians in other parts of the Roman Empire – Acts 8:1-3: “ ... On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria ... But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.” Acts 9:1-2: “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”

When Saul became the Christian Paul, he himself faced death in Rome because of more persecution by the Jews – Acts 24:1-9: “Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor. When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: ‘ ... We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him ... ’ The other Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.” Acts 25:24-25: “Festus said: ‘King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome.’”

In the book of Revelation, the dominant Jews had reached a stage where the Bible identified them as synagogue of Satan” – Revelation 2:9: “ ... I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” Revelation 3:9: “I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”

There was the active persecution of Christians by Jews – with the help of the Romans – but there was also the pressure from the spiritual corruption which had made the dominant Jews asynagogue of Satan”. Their zeal for traditions and human law enforcements threatened to corrupt the message of salvation by faith through grace – apart from our own efforts:

 

Acts 21:20-22: When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come”

 

Galatians 1:6-9: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

Galatians 2:11-16: When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”

Galatians 3:1-5: You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?

 

From Jerusalem – even from within the Christian church under the leadership of James – there was pressure to deny the gospel – justification by faith (not works) – and put one’s trust again in a long checklist of dos and don’ts. There was power coming from Jerusalem that was Jewish in origin – (ultimately human in origin) – and led to the persecution and also spiritual corruption of the church. The Romans and also Christians came under the spell of Jerusalem.

From this angle, the reference to the prostitute as thegreat city that rules over the kings of the earthin Revelation 17:18 can rightly be understood as a reference to Jerusalem – especially in the light of God’s declared favour on this city in the past: “ ... the city of our God, his holy mountain. Beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth, ... the city of the Great King” (Psalm 48:1-2).

However, there is more evidence which I want to present (because commentators disagree on this point):

 

1. Jerusalem is already identified as a great city in Revelation 14:8 and 11:8: “ ... the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified.”

 

2. The prostitute was called “Babylon the Great” in Revelation 17:5. Thus, she was called by the name of an ancient enemy of God and – in the book of Revelation – it was Jerusalem that had already been collecting these kinds of designations: Sodom and Egypt (Revelation 11:8). She was now the city that had inherited the combined wickedness of Babylon, Sodom and Egypt.

 

3. Jerusalem was the only “woman” betrothed to God; therefore only she could commit adultery against God (Revelation 17:2-5; Jeremiah 3:8,14; Hosea 2).

 

4. In the book of Revelation the great prostitute is set up in contrast to the pure bride of Christ which is the new Jerusalem that will come down from heaven – Revelation 21:2: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Once the prostitute – old Jerusalem – is destroyed, the pure bride of Christ – the new Jerusalem – can take its place.

 

Even in the very first chapter of Revelation, there are hints that what will happen soon is the destruction of Jerusalem – the prostitute riding on the beast of Rome according to Revelation 17:

 

Revelation 1:1: The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John.

 

Revelation 1:7: “Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.

 

Those that have pierced Jesus will see him coming in the clouds and his coming will give cause for mourning because he is coming in judgement.

 

[End of Part I: I may pause here and complete the message next week. I know that this is leaving much hanging in the air but we already get a sense how Jesus is working to overcome present foes now because – contrary to popular Christian thinking – persecution is not better than favour among people to preach and proclaim the Gospel.

I illustrate this point with a testimony which will close with a video clip – showing what Jesus’ victory can look like also among us:

 

Reinhard Bonnke: Living A Life Of Fire, Orlando: E-R Productions LLC 2009, p467-479: I flew to Kano, Nigeria, in mid-October of ’91. I was so excited. The largest evangelistic meetings of CfaN history would begin two days ... In Kano we expected the crowd to be even greater [than 500,000] in size. My ground team had enhanced our sound equipment to meet this challenge. I sensed that we were about to see the greatest breakthrough in the history of modern evangelism. What made it noteworthy was the location – Nigeria’s Muslim north ...

John Darku, the crusade director, looked worried as we approached him. He took me to one side. “Reinhard,” he said, “you cannot go into the terminal. There are snipers who have sworn to kill you.”

I looked at the terminal and could see armed soldiers standing by the windows ... “The snipers will have to get past the soldiers,” I suggested. “Some of the soldiers are likely to have radical Muslim sympathies,” John said. “All they have to do is look the other way.” ...

I listened to the local radio news of Muslim unrest concerning our visit. I thought that underneath all the arguments, they were really upset that many Muslims would turn to Christ in our meetings, as they had done a year earlier in Kaduna ...

I had been zealous for Nigeria. It was home to more people than any other African nation. With a population of 140,000,000, it ranked as one of the ten most populated countries on the planet ... However, about half of the people in Nigeria are Muslims. Most are concentrated in the north. Christian evangelism among Muslims is forbidden. On the other hand, Muslims seek to convert “infidels”, including Christian believers ...

In order to follow God’s vision of a blood-washed Africa, I knew that sooner or later Christ for all Nations would have to penetrate Muslim strongholds in the northern part of the continent, including Sudan, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Chad and Egypt ... Kano was a Muslim holy city, a walled fortress from ancient times, built by slaves. It was home to the kind of fanatical Muslim resistance we would eventually meet as we pushed further north in Africa ...

At noon we arrived back at our house. Our host met us, wringing his hands. “Kano is burning,” he said. “A Muslim mob has gone on a rampage.” We looked back toward the city and sure enough, we could see columns of smoke rising. Reports came that the young men we had seen at the emir’s palace had just come from a mosque where a mullah had told them, “Bonnke must not be allowed to preach in the holy city of Kano.” ...

The next morning, John Darku arrived at our house  with a senior air force officer. The officer said, “The governor has declared a state of emergency. You must pack your things and leave now.” ... “The airport is teeming with rioters. They are trying to cut off your escape route. We can’t go back there.” ... “How much time do we have?” I asked. “Five minutes,” the air force officer said. He looked genuinely scared. “Get your things. We must go, now!” ...

From the roof of the house, we could see the reflection of fires flickering across the night sky. Explosions could be heard as petrol stations were set on fire. Huge clouds of black smoke billowed into the air. Occasional gunfire rattled through the darkness. We were out of sight, but hardly removed from the danger zone. The entire city was being ransacked in a mad search for me ...

The next morning I sent word to my team to gather at my location for prayer. We would decide what to do next. Our people came, but they told of seeing dead bodies and burned-out wreckage strewn through the streets as they drove to the meeting. Hundreds were dying. The mob was totally out of control. The local police were not able to contain them. As Christians were encountered in the streets, they were being killed.

The officer from the air force base came to the compound. He told us that the army was clearing the airport, trying to secure it so that we could leave ... As we waited for word from the aiport, I took a walk around the grounds. A feeling of grief came over me. All of the events in Kano became glaringly real. Christians were dying because I had come to town. Yet, no – it was much more than that. Kano was burning because of the gospel of Jesus Christ ...

I began to pray. “Lord, they say that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Right now, I don’t want to believe that. In Scripture I read that your Word is the seed. Jesus was the Word made flesh. He was the seed who fell into the ground and died, and you raised him up again, victorious over death. Let us bring forth the fruit of his resurrection in Kano, Lord. Let your gospel prevail, and protect Winfried and Gaby, and everyone who has come to serve you in this crusade.” ...

That day, in order to begin to control the city again, the local police and military announced a “shoot on site” curfew from 6p.m. until 6a.m. When the curfew was in place that evening, our evacuation began. We entered a convoy of armoured cars with soldiers at every gun slot ... Soon we were flying away, breathing easier aboard those rescue jets ...

Immediately I contacted our friends and partners around the world, asking them to fast and pray for a solution to the Nigerian stalemate. I had become personal non grata in the most populated nation in all of Africa. In the meantime we tried every diplomatic avenue available to us, but nothing seemed to bear fruit ... In Nigeria, however, the rumour mill and the popular media blamed us for the outbreak of the violence. This became our reputation, even though an extensive report assembled by the local governor exonerated us from all blame ...

 

Reinhard Bonnke: Living A Life Of Fire, Orlando: E-R Productions LLC 2009, p506-513: [1998] In two days, he said, Sani Abacha, the president of Nigeria would send his private jet to take me to a face-to-face meeting at his palace in Abuja. I could hardly contain my excitement. I felt certain that this was the opening to Nigeria we had been praying and fasting for, and with the Cameroon meetings cancelled, I was available to meet this schedule ...

We were driven to the airport and through a VIP entrance. No waiting in line at the passengers’ lounge. The limousine cruised across the tarmac directly to Nigeria’s version of Air Force One ... A lovely stewardess approached me with a bottle of Perrier and a glass of ice on a serving tray. “Welcome aboard, Reverend Bonnke. Welcome to Nigeria.” That is when I knew it was not a dream and it was not happening to someone else. My tears fell freely into my lap as I accepted that graciously offered drink. I could only manage to say, “Thank you.” ...

We slept well that night. The next day we waited to be summoned to the palace. We waited and waited. Hour after hour passed adn we expected to be called at any minute ... Finally, at seven o’clock that evening we were told that a limousine was waiting at the hotel VIP entrance ...

When the room had cleared, we sat down to tea and had the normal session of small talk. When the time seemed right, I said, “Your Excellency, I have a great desire to return to Nigeria and hold crusades. As you may know we held meetings here until the tragic events of October 1991.”

“You are most welcome to return,” he said. “The door is open. You will get every permit you need. I want to personally welcome you back to Nigeria.”

It is hard to describe how off balance I felt in that moment. This was a Muslim president welcoming me back in Nigeria. I had been beating on a solidly closed door for seven years. Now it flew open! I felt as if I’d stumbled forward onto my own nose.

“Your Excellency, I want to assure you that I do not incite any kind of religious hatred in my meetings as the press has said of me. I invite you to send some of your people to any meetings I hold in Nigeria and verify that this is true. I preach only the gospel of Jesus Christ to save sinners.”

He nodded and smiled. “I know you, Reverend Bonnke,” he said. “I was the general in charge of putting down the riots in Kano. I saw you but you did not see me. You did nothing to incite violence, and you are not to be blamed for any of the deaths that happened there. I do not need to send anyone to listen to your meetings. You can come and preach the gospel in Nigeria as soon as you want.”

Mission accomplished. I felt empty, having come full of arguments and assurances that were not necessary. He seemed pleased to simply relax and have more conversation. When at last we ran short of discussing the interests we shared, I began to find ways to preach the ABCs of the gospel to him. He kept me there until after midnight and I ended up preaching every sermon I knew. Every time I came close to the altar call, however, he would raise his hand and interrupt me – “I am Muslim. I am Muslim”, he said.

“It doesn’t matter that you are Muslim,” I replied. “The love of Jesus is indiscriminate. He loves all people, and he loves you.” ...

As we went into the next room another man was waiting there. President Abacha introduced him as his chief protocol officer. I instantly recognized his name. This was the man who had blocked our visa applications for the last nine years. Now he was smiling from ear to ear and shaking my hand.

“Reverend Bonnke,” he said, “where have you been all these years?” I held firmly to his hand and looked directly into his eyes. “I couldn’t get a visa.” “Couldn’t get a visa? Let me assure you that one call to my office is all it will take. Here, let me give you my business card.” ...

As we continued our ’98 crusade schedule I ordered our team to begin full-scale planning for our first return campaign in Nigeria ... Suddenly, the wind was taken from my sails. Sani Abacha was dead. A heart attack had taken him, they said, but his body had been buried hastily on the same day, fueling all sorts of rumours. A new president had been quickly sworn in, a Muslim military general ... No one knew him. No one knew what to expect from him. Nigeria was in turmoil ... Once again we were locked out of Nigeria ...

 

Reinhard Bonnke: Living A Life Of Fire, Orlando: E-R Productions LLC 2009, p515-529: ... “A Nigerian ex-general is staying in this hotel,” she said. “His name is Olusegun Obasanjo, and he would like to meet you.” “I would very much like to meet him,” I said. I recognized the man. This man was a former president of Nigeria. The very one Sani Abacha had imprisoned ... He had become a Christian while awaiting certain death ...

“Only days after Abacha died I received my freedom ... Now, the military regime is asking that I lend my voice to their call for free elections. Can you imagine such a reversal of fortune? If it is true, if it can believed, then elections will be held for the first time in 16 years. I keep asking myself, what would make this military regime let go of power? It seems too good to be true.” ... “Let’s pray together about this situation in Nigeria,” Obasanjo said. “It is time for change in my country. I am praying that this new leader, General Abubakar, is sincere in his promise to bring back democratic elections.”

We prayed together. Suddenly, I felt something strong inside my spirit. I felt that I was praying with the next president of Nigeria. I said nothing to him about it. “General,” I asked, “can you help me get a visa for Nigeria? Abacha opened the doors for my return, but now all of those connections have been lost. I want so much to return with my crusades.” ... “This is my private cell phone number. If you find it difficult to get permits to hold meetings in Nigeria, give me a call.” ...

Following our final cancellation in Philippines, I returned to Germany. It was there that the good news reached me that Obasanjo had won the presidential elections in Nigeria. Not only had he won, he won in a landslide, gaining nearly 64% of the vote. He assumed office on May 29, 1999 ... I took out my wallet and sorted through it to find a familiar piece of paper. On it Obasanjo had written his private cell phone number. I dialled it.

“Obasanjo speaking.” “Congratulations General on your election to the office of President of Nigeria, when can I come?” I said it all in one breath. “Immediately,” he said, chuckling on the other end of the line. “I’m on my way.” ...

 

Reinhard Bonnke: Living A Life Of Fire, Orlando: E-R Productions LLC 2009, p541-544: For our return to Nigeria, we decided to hold a crusade in Benin City. It had been scheduled for October, my first Nigerian event in nearly a decade ... The police asked what size crowd we expected. We estimated 500,000. They laughed at the number ...

I couldn’t believe my eyes as I gazed out over a crowd of 400,000 on the first night. The salvation response was immense. I estimated one in four hands was raised to receive Jesus. What an incredible start. Then miracles of healing began to occur. This was the familiar pattern. I knew that the word would spread like wildfire, ...

But perhaps the most horrible assault of Satan in the history of our work occurred after that first night’s meeting. At the intersection where Winfried had predicted problems, 14 people were trampled to death as they attempted to make their way home ...

In spite of the tragedy, the next night our crowd grew to 500,000 ...

Our Port Harcourt meetings were held in December of that year, just two months later. We saw even larger crowds. However, some of our sound equipment failed to reach a significant portion of the field on the first night because of a sudden change in wind direction and our inability to overcome it ... Still, in Port Harcourt, we saw something completely unprecedented. Over one million people registered decisions to accept Jesus as Saviour in six days – 1,110,267 to be exact. That meant that more than half of the crowd of 2,100,000 attending those meetings became new converts.

Never had it become clearer to me that what Satan had intended for evil, God was turning for an even greater good. The disaster at Kano, which had expelled us from Nigeria for nine years, had also made us a legend in this land. The name Bonnke had become a whispered household word ... We scheduled four more crusades in Nigeria for the coming year of 2000 ...

 

Reinhard Bonnke: Living A Life Of Fire, Orlando: E-R Productions LLC 2009, p567-568: We began to feel the weight of the coming crusade in Lagos, Nigeria, long before it arrived. In a city with a population of 7,500,000 and another 10,000,000 living within a 20-mile radius, our scouts and teams sent reports of crowds beyond any we had ever seen ... We were scheduled to six-nights of meetings. The opening crowd exceeded all that we had previously seen. It was well in excess of 750,000. The power of God manifested in many miracles, and I knew what this would mean ... On the final night the sea of faces stretched beyond the limits of my vision. A crowd of 1,600,000 had gathered; almost triple the size of any we had seen so far. At the invitation 1,093,000 responded and registered decisions for Christ. When they repeated the sinner’s prayer after me, their voices sounded like the thunder of Victoria Falls ... A million responded to one invitation ... ]

 

[Beginning of Part II:] Those that have pierced Jesus will see him coming in the clouds and his coming will give cause for mourning because he is coming in judgement. The referencecoming with the cloudsis interesting because its origin is in Daniel 7:13 where it does not refer to Jesus’ final return but the establishment of his rule. I read the chapter in Daniel to you:

 

Daniel 7:1-28: In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.

Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.

The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it. And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’

After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule. After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.

While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.

As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.

Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

 

I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this. So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’

Then I wanted to know the meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws—the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favour of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.

He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time. But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’

This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”

 

Without going into details, I put before you the following explanation:

 

From http://www.truthnet.org/Daniel/Chapter7/ (accessed 17 Feb 2012): Daniel 7 is a foundational chapter in understanding bible prophecy and God’s plan for the nations.  In this chapter, Daniel sees a vision, which maps out the course of nations, leading to the kingdom of God.

Chronologically this chapter takes place between chapters 4 and 5.  Chapter 5 is the final year of Belshazzar’s reign 539 B.C., and the transition between the Babylonian and Persian kingdoms.  Chapter seven takes place in the first year of Belshazzar’s reign, 553 B.C. 

Daniel has a vision of four great beasts rising out the turbulent waters of the great sea.  Daniel however, focuses on the fourth beast and its meaning. Along with the four beasts Daniel, also sees events taking place in Heaven. He describes the “Ancient of Days”, and the “Son of man”, who will succeed the earthly kingdoms of the four beasts. 

Chapter 7 complements the pattern established in the second chapter.  In the second chapter, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream, of an immense image with a head of gold, arms and chest of silver, thighs of bronze, legs of iron and feet made from iron and clay.  In this dream, a stone from a mountain smashes the image at its iron and clay feet.  The stone becomes an enormous mountain encompassing the earth. The explanation given by Daniel is that each segment of the image represents a succeeding earthly kingdom, with the head of gold representing Nebuchadnezzar.  The stone represents the kingdom of God crushing the kingdoms of man and God’s kingdom established on the earth.  More light is shed on God’s program in chapter 7.

Here in seven, we see the division of kingdoms represented by 4 beasts; a lion, bear, leopard and a horrific beast with iron teeth and bronze claws.  The culmination of history ends when a son of man [“coming with the clouds”] destroys this final kingdom pictured as the fourth beast.  This fourth beast corresponds with the Iron and clay feet “kingdom” in Daniel chapter 2.

 

From http://www.gci.org/bible/daniel2 (accessed 17 Feb 2012): It is agreed by almost all scholars that Daniel 2 and 7 set forth four empires as ruling one after another. These are the empires of the Babylonians, the Medes and the Persians, the Greeks and Macedonians and the Romans. These four worldly empires of ungodly resistance are overthrown by a fifth “empire” that will be established on earth to enforce God’s righteousness, peace and mercy. As mentioned earlier, this fifth empire is established by the “rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands” (Daniel 2:45), or the Son of man in Daniel 7. This Messiah, this Rock, will destroy all earthly empires and will rule the final kingdom of righteousness with the saints.

 

Thus – in light of Daniel 7 – Revelation 1:7 declares that Jesus will be coming soon – “coming in the clouds” – to establish his reign by triumphing over the fourth beast – the Roman Empire – and those that have pierced him – the Great Prostitute according to Revelation 17 – adulterous Jerusalem – that is riding the beast. These events were not to occur in the distant future but soon and – indeed – even before the establishment of a new heaven and a new earth – (at least one thousand years before) – Jesus was promised to come. The vision is given in Revelation 19:11-16:

 

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

 

Finally, this line of interpretation only aligns the book of Revelation with Jesus’ own prophecies about Jerusalem:

 

Luke 19:41-44: As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

 

Luke 21:20-24: When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

 

Jerusalem would be destroyed as an execution of God’s punishment on her. This finally happened (soon after the book of Revelation was written) in 70 AD – 40 years after Jesus’ prophecy – when the Roman general Titus came with legions of soldiers, reduced the city to rubble, smashed the stones of the temple and burned everything. According to the ancient historian Josephus – 1,100,000 people were killed during the siege, of which a majority were Jewish, and 97,000 were captured and enslaved.

Now – what I find absolutely fascinating are the following words which are spoken in heaven in response to the breakthrough against the Great Prostitute and the Beast. I read them to you:

 

Revelation 11:15-18: The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name, both great and small— and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

 

As much as Jesus’ death and resurrection empowered him and made him purchase people for God with his blood – he would only break through in his reign here on earth once the demonic opposition which manifested in the Great Prostitute – (adulterous Jerusalem) – and the Beast – (imperial Rome) – was broken and destroyed. In a way – this makes sense. Persecution and suffering are not evidence of Christ’s reign but his judgement over the wicked is. When Jesus enforces his will – casts down whatever is demonized – then and only then does he establish his reign.

In the understanding of the book of Revelation (and maybe other Scripture passages such as Matthew 24), especially the downfall of Jerusalem marks a decisive new phase in Jesus’ kingdom. Now he had come to reign and his coming then – in the destruction of Jerusalem – (this is how I read the book of Revelation) – was in fact one combined action with his final coming at the end of time.

What would follow the victory over the Beast and Prostitute was an immediate thousand year reign of the church and the final destruction of all evil – including the devil – but this was not a separate issue. The book of Revelation does not spend more than ten verses on what would be coming after the victory of the Beast and before the final descent of a new heaven and new earth. In the telling of the prophetic vision, the triumph over the Beast launched one thousand years of victorious living which then connected – without further trouble – to the glorious end.

The coming of Jesus in judgement over Jerusalem and the final coming of a new heaven and a new earth were one connected sequence of triumph. This is how John could say that Jesus would be coming soon even though he knew and wrote about the thousand year reign which would have to be completed before his coming. What is stunning then is the importance that the book of Revelation assigns to the demise of the Great Prostitute and the Beast of Rome.

 

I may say a few words about the thousand year reign. While many chapters were devoted to the breaking of six seals, the seven trumpets of judgement and the seven bowls of wrath – the time of suffering would nevertheless be short: 42 months or 3.5 years – Revelation 13:5: “The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months.” [David Chilton: “It is interesting that Nero’s persecution of the church did in fact last a full 42 months, from the middle of November 64 to the beginning of June 68.”] See also Revelation 12:14 and 11:2-3: “They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”

Thus, a short period is contrasted with a much longer period: 3.5 years versus 1000 years. Since so much in the book of Revelation has symbolic meaning and refers back to the Old Testament, these two numbers could have their origin in Exodus 20:4-6 where God declared: “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

As God deals with families, so he is dealing with the world. His wrath lasts no more than three to four generations or years but his grace – his undeserved love – spreads over one thousand generations – one thousand years. Could it be that within the overarching history of Revelation – the victory over the Beast and the thousand year reign – we observe the same dynamic in our own context: brief outpourings of God’s wrath (in the midst or after brief persecutions) followed by long periods of Christ’s reign where he can be freely proclaimed.

 

[The internal dynamic of Revelation picks up on earlier instances of salvation history. For instance, the ten plagues in Egypt and the exodus out of Egypt in the past could be seen as a “prototype” which Revelation follows in overcoming another “Egypt” (Revelation 11:8). There are similar plagues and cosmic events which in Revelation result in another “song of Moses” – sung by God’s victorious people – beside a sea (Revelation 15:2-4). God may still follow the same pattern as outlined in Revelation and his former dealings with demonized nations.]

 

At this point, I mention an objection to the proposed interpretation of the book of Revelation. There are some that say that Revelation cannot apply to the 1st century and the destruction of Jerusalem because the visions in the book are too graphic for the past. John seems to have seen devastation of such magnitude that it must apply to the future and the catastrophic breakdown time before the end of the world.

The following episodes seem to provide evidence:

 

Revelation 8:7-9: The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

 

Revelation 14:19-20: The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia (about 300 kilometers).

 

However – while these words of destruction could have a literal meaning – the whole book of Revelation is dealing with symbolic visions and numbers. Blood flowed as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of about 300 kilometers because an angel trampled a winepress which marks this vision as a spiritual sight. There were practical implications but they did not have to follow the literal measurements of the spiritual vision.

In a recent dream, I saw the church filled with green gemstones up to the height of a man’s waist. I understood the dream to be about provisions of finances for the church and church members but I do not now expect the literal appearance of these gemstones and I do not even expect the equivalent of their monetary value which would be billions of dollars. God speaks through graphic visions where measurements can have symbolic meaning. For me – a church full of gemstones in a dream talks about abundance – not a precise number of precious stones.

The Bible backs up this kind of interpretation. In Deuteronomy 31:20, the promised land of God’s people was said to be flowing with milk and honey: “When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their ancestors ... ” However, this kind of language is a figure of speech for a fertile land – not a description of the substance that is flowing in creeks and rivers.

Furthermore, the Bible said the following about John the Baptism who was a forerunner of Jesus – Luke 3:3-6:

 

He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’”

 

In this reading – how was every valley filled in and every mountain and hill brought low? How was the entire countryside flattened into one smooth highway? Answer: By John’s preaching of repentance. This is another example where a prophetic vision about the landscape is of a poetic nature – possessing a symbolic rather than literal meaning. On this basis – the visions of Revelation can apply to the turmoil and tribulation which saw hundreds of thousands dead at the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. There was a large-scale war with untold suffering where the conquering armies laid waste to everything.

 

[The following book excerpt is also worth considering – Harold Eberle & Martin Trench: Victorious Eschatology,  Yakima: Worldcast Publishing 2008, p56-59: Matthew 24:29: “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

To understand this passage, first notice the time frame. Jesus said that these things would happen “immediately after the tribulation of those days”. Since the tribulation that Jesus described happened in A.D. 70, we should look for the fulfilment of this verse “immediately” after A.D. 70.

To see this fulfilment, we need to be familiar with certain Jewish idioms. The sun, the moon, and the stars frequently were used to refer to governing authorities. For example, Joseph had a dream in which the sun, moon, and stars all bowed down before him (Genesis 37:9); when Joseph relayed this dream to his family, they did not conclude that the sun, moon, and stars would literally bow, but that Joseph would be raised above governing authorities. Similarly, we can read in Revelation 12:1 that a woman appears with the sun and moon under her feet and a crown of stars on her head, meaning that she had great authority. In modern times we often use similar terminology when speaking of a movie star or a superstar. In biblical terminology, the fame and glory of large cities were said to shine as the sun, moon, or stars. When a certain city was destroyed, the sun, moon, or stars were said to darken.

For example, in the book of Ezekiel we can read about the judgement and coming destruction of Egypt: “‘When I extinguish you, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land,’ declares the Sovereign LORD” (Ezekiel 32:7-8).

This destruction that was prophesied by Ezekiel happened to Egypt, but there is no record of the sun, moon, and stars literally going dark.

We can understand this when we realize that prophets sometimes spoke in this apocalyptic terminology. We can compare it with modern-day idioms that people may use when tragedy strikes: “His life caved in around him!” “They pulled the rug out from under him!” “The sky is falling!” or “The lights went out!” It may be difficult for modern-day Christians to think of Jesus using such terminology, but that is exactly what he did. In fact, that is the only way we find this terminology used anywhere else in the Bible (as you will see in more examples listed below). It was a Jewish idiom in reference to coming destruction and the transfer of authority.

Consider how Isaiah decreed destruction upon a region south of Israel known as Edom: “And all the host of heaven will wear away, and the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; all their hosts will also wither away, as a leaf withers from the vine, or as one withers from the fig tree. For my sword is satiated in heaven, behold it shall descend for judgement upon Edom, and upon the people whom I have devoted to destruction” (Isaiah 34:4-5).

At that time in history the sky was not literally “rolled up like a scroll”. The hosts of heaven did not literally fall to the ground as leaves from a fig tree. Yet, Edom was destroyed.

Finally, consider God’s declaration of judgement through Isaiah upon Babylon: “For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light. The sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light” (Isaiah 13:10).

When Babylon was judged, there was no record of stars and constellations ceasing from shining. The sun was not dark when it came up. The moon did not dim. Yet destruction came.

If we are going to allow the Bible to interpret itself, we will conclude that Jesus was using apocalyptic language to declare destruction. Just as the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel spoke judgements against Egypt, Edom, and Babylon, so also Jesus as a prophet declared destruction upon Jerusalem. The disciples of Jesus would have recognized that phraseology. They knew the Old Testament. Such terminology was part of their cultural expressions.]

 

Before I am drawing to a close – let me give you a summary of the main points: 1) Jesus appeared to John in the strength of someone that meant business (blazing eyes, sharp sword from the mouth, voice like a trumpet, face shining like the sun). 2) Jesus promised to come soon. 3) If there is no hope for this world, we will not invest faith and courage into establishing God’s reign in our nation. 4) John recorded that Jesus would be coming soon even though he knew about a thousand year reign before the end of this world. 5) In the book of Revelation – the seals, trumpets and bowls of wrath are about the destruction of theGreat Prostituteand theBeastwhich stand for idolatrous Jerusalem and imperial Rome. 6) In Revelation 17 – the seven heads of the beast signify seven kings and it was already the sixth king that was reigning as John wrote down his visions. 7) Jerusalem was thegreat citybecause of her spiritual significance. God blessed those who blessed her and cursed those that cursed her. Yet, her spiritual power had become perverted. 8) The book of Revelation does not spend more than ten verses on what would be coming after the victory of the Beast and before the final descent of a new heaven and new earth. In the telling of the prophetic vision, the triumph over the Beast launched one thousand years of victorious living which then connected – without further trouble – to the glorious end. Thus, the coming of Jesus in judgement over Jerusalem and the final coming of a new heaven and a new earth were one connected sequence of triumph. This is how John could say that Jesus would be coming soon even though he knew and wrote about the thousand year reign which would have to be completed before his coming at the end of time. 9) God’s wrath lasts no more than three to four generations or years but his grace – his undeserved love – spreads over one thousand generations – one thousand years. 10) Within the overarching history of Revelation, we also experience brief outpourings of God’s wrath (in the midst or after brief persecutions) followed by long periods of Christ’s reign where we can freely proclaim him. 11) The book of Revelation is dealing with symbolic visions and numbers.

What is now the point of the entire message? Why is it helpful to understand that trumpets of judgement and bowls of wrath are not permanent fixtures in history but – in the case of Revelation – have served to overcome the demonized forces of persecution in the 1st century – the “Great Prostitute” of “idolatrous Jerusalem” and the “Beast” of “imperial Rome” – which was then followed by a thousand year reign of the church with Christ? How can this interpretation change us?

We have a hope for the future. We are not joining the throng of people that read the newspapers and then become depressed by negative headlines. We are not saying: “What’s the world coming to? This is going from bad to worse. This must be the end.” No! We are not saying: “Suffering – prison years on Patmos island – are our lot – always. As a Christian, pray for grace to endure but don’t get your hopes up for victory.” This is wrong. The trumpets of judgement will not always sound and when they sound, they are to win a battle against the forces of darkness. When God is shaking everything for a brief period of time, we rejoice because he is on the move – he is coming – and we look forward to one thousand long years of reigning with him here on earth.

 

Kris Vallotton: Heavy Rain, Ventura: Gospel Light 2010, p236-237: [A pastor writes:] I was lying on the floor of our prayer house in 2004, seeking God, when suddenly I was taken up in a vision that thrust me 100 years into the future. I found myself standing next to an old man in the living room of a huge, ornate mansion. I could see him perfectly, but he couldn’t see me. It felt like it was Thanksgiving or something – the home was filled with the smells of pies baking in the oven, and the excitement of a large family gathering was in the air. The elderly gentleman was encircled with several generations of family, all listening intently as he exuberantly told them stories, musing over the past as old men often do. Then something happened. His tone changed and his face grew serious, as if he was about to share something of great importance with them. Tears formed in his eyes as he looked off into the distance, like he was trying to recall some ancient secret told to him long ago. The entire room grew silent and more people gathered, leaning in to hear every word.

He began to speak to them about their noble roots and their royal heritage, staring into the eyes of each one as if he was looking for greatness in their souls. He spoke of the great price their forefathers had paid to obtain such favour, wealth and influence from God and man. But it was what he did next that stunned me. He pointed to a majestic stone fireplace that rose about 30 feet to a vaulted ceiling. I looked over toward the fireplace mantle where a large, beautiful artist’s portrait of Kathy and me hung. I was breathless as he finished his exhortation: “All this began with your great-great-great-greatmother and –grandfather!”

I instantly came out of the vision, struggling to gather my thoughts. Next I heard a thundering voice speak to my spirit: “Your children’s children’s children are depending on you leaving them a world in revival. You are no longer to live for a ministry. From this day forward, you are to live to leave a legacy!”

 

The future is going to be good. Jesus is the ruler of all the kings of the earth and his eyes are blazing like fire. His face is shining like the sun in all its brilliance. When he speaks, his voice is loud – like a trumpet. A sharp double-edged sword is coming out of his mouth. When we are in trouble, he is coming soon. He reigns by overcoming any beast of darkness – any forces that belong to Satan. There was a time when Australia was Christian – at least dominantly of the Christian faith. There is a cross – (two crosses) – on our flag. All of our schools were begun as Christian institutions. Even now, churches outnumber temples and mosques in our towns and cities – by far. There used to be prayer in our Parliament. All of our cattle brands used to have crosses in them. A Christian future is possible and we live to leave this kind of legacy. See the victory of Jesus with the eyes of faith. Because of him – we have hope.

Look again at the images of victory from Nigeria. After the killing of Christians and nine years of oppression, Jesus broke through and overcame darkness. [Show video.]

When John was in prison, Jesus appeared to him and told him that the same would soon happen also to him and the churches in his province. He was coming and he was coming with victory. The persecution would not last. Jesus is also coming to us – soon. Toowoomba – our nation – will break free and worship Jesus – with thousands raising their arms in praise. The future is going to be good – soon. Amen.