Thursday, March 31, 2016

"Coming Soon" in Philadelphia to "Knocking at the Door" in Laodicea

When one does a comparative analysis of Jesus' address to the Seven Churches of Asia one will notice a little progression which lends an argument in favor of each Church succeeding one another, and each Church having a time figuratively represented by the seven golden lampstands. Jesus says to John "the seven lampstands are the seven Churches" recorded in verse 19 of chapter 1. We could imagine that each stand has oil or a candle and these will only burn for so long on Earth.

After not having focused on his return in his address to the first five, in the sixth and seventh Churches, Philadelphia and Laodicea respectively, we see that Jesus hints that his Return is imminent.

To Philadelphia he says,

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one can take away your crown. (Rev 3:11)

Then to Laodicea he says,

Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking! (Rev 3:20)

And so it seems like that in the time of Philadelphia Jesus is on the way to the house, the Church on Earth, approaching quickly so to speak. But when Laodicea succeeds Philadelphia, Jesus is standing at the door and knocking, indicating that he will Return from Heaven in the time of Laodicea.

I also noticed that Jesus gives a singular favor to Philadelphia. He promises Philly that he will "keep them from the hour of temptation, which shall overcome the whole world in order to test those living upon the earth." This hour of temptation which will overcome the whole world seems to clearly reference the reign of Antichrist. This time of Antichrist's reign is brief less than a decade and so Jesus fittingly uses the figure of an hour.  This is in opposition to the tribulation for ten days in the Church of Smyrna which I think represents ten major persecutions led by ten Roman Emperors in the nascent Church. Some of these Roman Emperors reigned for two decades, for example Diocletian from 284 to 305 in addition to the general persecution lasting for centuries with the intensity increasing and decreasing pending emperor. Antichrist on the other hand will overcome the whole world for no more than seven years, and then Jesus will return.  Jesus will prevent the Church of Philadelphia from the advent of Antichrist, but he will not prevent Laodicea.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Who Opens the Seals? Jesus

Then I saw in the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne a scroll written on the front and back and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a powerful angel proclaiming in a loud voice: “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or look into it. So I began weeping bitterly because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered; thus he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”  (Rev 5:1-5)

And I saw that the Lamb had opened one of the seven seals . . . (Rev 6:1)

We all know the Lamb is the risen Jesus. Why then do we speculate how the Tribulation will begin???  Jesus alone, out of all Heaven and Earth, is found worthy to open the seals, thus unleashing the white horse and rider with his Divine mission. If the first seal represents the beginning of the so called End Time events or broadly speaking the Tribulation, it is Jesus who initiates and officiates. Extremist Arabs who belong to an Islamic apocalyptic cult do not initiate the events of the Tribulation. The Second Divine Person does. Nations do not initiate the events by dropping nukes or waging a war; the sinful Christian Church does not initiate the events; Jews do not, Muslims do not; Mother Nature does not; the Pope does not, a maniac murderer who thinks he is Mahdi and head of an Islamic State does not, a stock market crash does not, Antichrist does not . . . Jesus does. Again, Jesus does. Jesus has patiently allowed his Church to journey and he will course correct and heal her through a masterfully conducted Tribulation which is also replete with miracles, graces, turning points, mercy, sufferings, and so on. This is Jesus' Tribulation. This is his work. No one else or nothing else initiates this little Tribulation. One would think that this would be obvious, but the people who write eschatology these days seem oblivious to this concept clearly signed into the Script.

Furthermore, when the prophetic narrative flows into the white horse, it is implied that Jesus is the One who imparts the crown to the rider of the white horse. The crown comes from Heaven. Similar with the rider of the red horse (the second seal) who could be an Angel. An authority is granted to him from Heaven. Similar with the rider of the black horse (third seal) who could be an Angel. This Angel is instructed either by one of the four living creatures, or Jesus from Heaven, since John heard a voice from the midst of the four living creatures. Similar with the fourth. These riders are given authority and instructions to complete a mission, from God and no one else. The four horseman are Divine strategies. There is intention, aim, purposes, goals, implied. These are not senseless and meaningless 'forces' progressing through the Earth. The the inhabitants of the Earth do not initiate them. Jesus is the One who is officiating over these events. This is Jesus' Tribulation. If the reader is so daft as to not pick up on these important and reasonable narrative points whether made explicit or implied then he is disqualified from interpretation.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Good Friday

Happy Good Friday.  This painting is by priest and mystic Zlatko Sudac, from the islands of Croatia. He painted this with his own blood on canvas in a sort of mystical experience he had!!!

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to Myself. (John 12:32)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Insight into the Church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:10)

The Seven Churches of Asia Minor addressed by Jesus in his Revelation to John, prophetically represent multiple successive generation of Christians from the Ascension of Jesus to his Return. Smyrna relates those who lived from about the time of the Apostles Peter and Paul's martyrdom to about the reign of Constantine. If you read Jesus' address to Smyrna carefully you will notice that he is clearly encouraging those who would at that time have suffered under the elite of the Roman Empire. The name Smyrna itself could be a morph on the word myrrh, which was used in anointing dead bodies.  Myrrh was also exported from the ports of literal ancient Smyrna. Thus its prophetic significance in Revelation.  Think of this name as an affectionate one coming from the lips of Jesus, for he associated this Church closely with himself.  He was gifted myrrh and was put to death like many of this time.  Ancient Smyrna is a prophetic model for the nascent Church of the Roman Empire.

Although the Roman persecution was more or less constant, historians tend to divide into ten major persecutions, coinciding with the reign of ten emperors out of the 50 or so between Nero and Constantine. These emperors are listed as

Nero (54-68 AD)
Domitian (81-96)
Trajan (98-117)
Marcus Aurelius (161-180)
Septimius Severus (193-211)
Maximinus (235-238)
Decius (249-251)
Valerian (253-260)
Aurelian (270-275)
Diocletian (284-305)

These ten reigns coinciding with major persecutions are prophesied by Jesus in his address to Smyrna:

Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. The devil is about to have some of you thrown into prison so you may be tested, and you will experience suffering for ten days. Remain faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown that is life itself. (Revelation 2:10)

In context of Sacred Scripture, sometimes the word 'day' is used figuratively to relate an undefined time. Its left to the reader to figure this out. In this context ten days figuratively, even prophetically, represents the time of the reigns of ten Emperors under which there were great persecutions, other then what Christians had to commonly deal with when the Church was first growing. When you see the Roman Martyrology or read the commentaries in your Liturgical text an Emperor will usually be referenced under which the Saint was killed. For example Saints Peter and Paul were martyred under Nero.