by Glen Penton
In ancient Israel, a person who went into debt and lost his land was losing both home and the way to make a living, both for himself and his descendants. So the Law provided various ways to recover that lost estate. One way was for a close relative to buy back the land for the family by paying all the debts himself. So when a person lost his land, the local judges wrote a formal deed to the land, specifying all the sorry details about how much was owed to whom, with how much interest, and so on. To preserve the dignity and privacy of the bankrupt individual, they rolled up and sealed the document. The only person who could legally break the seals or open the document was the bankrupt person's redeemer. To serve as a redeemer, a person had to meet three qualifications. The prospective redeemer had to be
- able to pay the total cost of redemption (recorded on the outside of the scroll),
- willing to pay it all, and
- a near relative. (That way, if you were in financial trouble, some developer from the city couldn't go to your creditor, and buy your family's farm to set up a shopping mall.)
Archeologists have found such scrolls, complete with the cost of opening and reading the scroll noted on the outside.
Through the last book of the Bible, God wanted to communicate a message of hope to believers under persecution. So He gave a vision of Himself, in
- pride and oppression by people in power,
- violence and war,
- hunger and poverty,
- persecution of those who obey God,
- the alienation between God and people, and most important,
- God's fury against human sin.
It seems that the point of the scroll-symbolism in Revelation is that Yeshua did not die and rise again just to become my personal Rescuer (wonderful as that is, and as badly as we each need it!), but also to restore the entire planet, which we humans have lost by our foolish sinfulness. Human history and planet Earth have a magnificent future. He has graciously given a pioneering role in that plan of cosmic renewal to those of us who follow Him. A clear grasp of that reality makes a big difference in how we survive the sorrows of a world awaiting redemption.
To see an overview of His redemptive Plan in history, click here.
For a short summary of victorious beliefs, click here.
For more about the human plight, click here.
On His strategy for telling others this Good News
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Revelation 5:1And at the right hand of Him Who sat on the throne, I saw a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?" 3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.
4 So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or even to look at it. 5 But one of the elders says to me, "Don't cry. Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has succeeded. He can open the scroll and to loose its seven seals."
6 And look! There with the throne and the four living creatures, and with the elders, I saw Him. There stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of the One Who sat on the throne. 8 And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of those whom God has made His own. 9 And they sang a new song, with the words,
"You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were killed,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
10 And have made us kings and cohens to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth."
11 Then I looked, and I heard the sound of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 loudly singing,
"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and the ones in the sea, and everything everywhere singing,
"Blessing and honor and glory and power
To the One Who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever! Amen!"
14 And the four living creatures were shouting the "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped the One Who lives forever and ever.
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6:1 Then I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, "Come and see." 2 And look! I saw a white horse. And the one who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out to conquer. And he conquered.
3 When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come and see." 4 And another horse, fiery red, went out. It was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, that people should murder one another; and a great sword was given to him.
5 When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come and see." And look! I saw a black horse, and the one who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice from among the four living creatures say, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; but don't touch the olive oil and the wine."
7 When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come and see." 8 And look! I saw a pale horse. The name of its rider was Death, and Hell followed with him. Power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with war, with hunger, with death, and by wild animals.
9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the lives of those who had been killed for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 They shouted loudly, "How long, holy and trustworthy Lord, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who live on earth?" 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them. And each was told that they must rest a little while longer, until the number of their fellow workers, their brothers and sisters who would be killed as they were, would be completed.
12 Look! When He opened the sixth seal I saw a tremendous earthquake; and the sun became black as goat-hair sackcloth, and the moon became like blood. 13 The stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when shaken by a strong wind. 14 Then the sky receded like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich people, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free person, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One Who sits on the throne and from the fury of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His fury has come, and who can survive?"
Revelation 8:1 When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven shofarot. 3 Then another angel, holding a gold censer, came and stood at the incense altar before the throne. He was given a lot of incense, to offer it upon that gold altar, with the prayers of all those whom God has made His own. 4 So the smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of His own, ascended before God from the angel's hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunder, lightning, and an earthquake. 6 Then the seven angels who had the seven shofarot got ready to blow them.
7 The first angel blew the shofar. Then hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.
8 Then the second angel blew the shofar. Then something like a great, burning, fiery mountain was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. 9 And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
10 Then the third angel blew the shofar. And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Bitterness. A third of the waters were poisoned with it, and many people died from the bitter water.
12 Then the fourth angel blew the shofar. And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night. 13 And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through mid-heaven, shouting loudly, "Woe! Woe! Woe! to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the shofarot of the three angels who are about to blow them!"
9:1 Then the fifth angel blew the shofar. And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. 2 He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke came out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. 3 Then out of the smoke locusts came on the earth. Power was given to them, like the power that scorpions have here on earth. 4 These locusts were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the agony of a scorpion sting. 6 In those days people will seek death and not find it. They will want to die, and death will run from them. 7 The shape of the locusts was like horses ready for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and they had human-like faces. 8 They had hair like women's hair, and teeth like lions'. 9 They had breastplates of something like iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of an army of horse-drawn chariots running to a battle. 10 They had tails like scorpions, with stingers. Their power was to hurt people for five months. 11 They had as king over them, the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon, and in English, Destruction.
12 One woe is past. Look! Here come two more after them!
13 Then the sixth angel blew the shofar. And I heard a voice from the four horns of that gold altar which is before God, 14 tell the sixth angel who had the shofar, "Release those four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates."
15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for that particular hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of humankind. 16 The number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. 17 And this is how I saw the horses in the vision: Those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the horses' heads were like lions' heads; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and sulfur. 18 By these three plagues a third of humanity was killed--by the fire, the smoke, and the sulfur which came out of their mouths. 19 Their power is in their mouths and in their tails. Their tails are like snakes. The tails have heads, and with them they do a lot of damage.
20 But the rest of the people, the ones who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of what they had done. They did not stop worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. 21 They did not turn from their murders, their witchcraft, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.
Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel blew the shofar. And there were loud voices in heaven shouting, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He shall reign forever and ever!" 16 The twenty-four elders who had been sitting enthroned before God, fell on their faces and worshipped Him, 17 and sang,
"We thank You, O Lord God Almighty,
The One Who is and Who was and Who is coming,
Because You have taken Your great power and begun to rule.
18 The nations were angry, and Your fury has come,
And the time of the dead, that they will be judged,
The time for You to reward Your workers the prophets, and all those You've made Your own,
Those who seriously follow You, small and great,
The time for You to destroy those who destroy the earth."
19 Then the Temple of God was opened in heaven, and the box of His covenant was visible in His Temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunder, an earthquake, and a terrible hailstorm.
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