26 March 2014 by Jason Law CM –
If ever there was one subject matter in Christianity that is splitting, it is the Book of Revelation and the events in it. Many interpretations have been given to the events in it, and even the approach to it has been divisive; some view the events as a warning of God’s future judgment on sinners, while others adopt a viewpoint of redemption rather than judgment. On 15th-16th of March 2014, Rev Rosy Leong conducted an in-depth course into the book in a zonal DUMC cellgroup camp.
Rev Rosy Leong is a Missionary Evangelist and teacher to many parts of the world for more than 30 years. Traveling the world with her husband, an itinerant preacher, her ministry spans across countries like China, Australia, USA, Africa, India, Nepal, Thailand, and Hong Kong. She specializes in Endtimes, Inner Healing and Deliverance, including Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Rev Rosy shared that despite the many interpretations, there are specific things in the book that are crystal-clear.
The first thing Rev Rosy shared was on the importance of the study of the Book of Revelation and the guidance for it. Primarily, the book has a special place in Christianity; it was dictated directly by Jesus Christ Himself (Rev 1:1), with promises of blessing to the person who reads and keeps to heart what is written within it (Rev 1:3). The second reason is because of the prevalent use of symbols, colour, and numbers within it. Because of this, there is a need for an understanding of the symbolical significance of the events, and it is unwise to approach Revelations literally. Some examples of these symbolic elements are the numbers 7 meaning perfect, whole and complete (Deut 28:7), and 1000 years meaning ‘a very long time’ rather than a definite time period (2 Peter 3:8). Other examples of elements are the colour White for Purity, Black for Death(ash), Red for Bloodshed and Wrath, and Green for Grace.
The other thing of note is that the first focus in the Book of Revelation is on the 7 different types of Churches (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea). Chapters 2 and 3 of Revelations have a particular significance because it does not just describe churches in literal locations in AD100, but also the types of churches in the Last Days. In summary, the 7 Churches and their significances are:
1. The Loveless Church (Ephesus) [Rev 2:1-7]:
The Ephesian Church was praised for good works and their abhorrence and exposure of false prophets, but rebuked for forsaking their first love.
2. The Persecuted Church(Smyrna) [Rev 2:8-11]
The church in Smyrna was praised for being rich spiritually even under persecution, and is one of two churches with no rebuke.
3. The Compromising Church (Pergamos) [Rev 2:12-17]
The church in Pergamos was praised for staying true to Jesus and for not renouncing their faith, but rebuked for having some members held to Baal.
4. The Corrupt Church(Thyatira) [Rev 2:18-29]
The church in Thyatira was known for its good deeds but rebuked for tolerating false religion and immorality.
5. The Dead Church (Sardis) [Rev 3:1-6]
The Sardinian church had a few members that stayed pure, but while outside they seemed alive, within they were spiritually dead.
6. The Faithful Church (Philadelphia) [Rev 3:7-13]
The church in Philadelphia was rooted in the Word and there was no rebuke for this church.
7. The Lukewarm Church (Laodicean) [Rev 3:14-22]
This church had no praise and was rebuked for its lukewarm, false church acting.
From this list of Churches, certain things are clear; God honours the faithful Church, and those that stood fast through persecution, and He desires wholehearted, sincere responses rather than false religiosity. Each of the church symbolizes the type of Christian we are, and it is very important that we recognize which Church we are and take heed of God’s counsel to us.
The very first promise for Christians in the Last Days is the Rapture of the Church. There are 3 views of the Rapture: Pretrib (before 7 years of tribulation); Mid Trib (3.5 years in midst of tribulation); and Post Trib (end of Trib). There will be a great celebration called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and the Judgment Seat of Christ where God will reward His bride, the Church with crowns (Crown of Life: those martyred, Crown of Glory: pastors and deacons; Crown of Rejoicing: soul winners; Crown of Incorruptible: saints who live in purity, Crown of Righteousness: those who lived righteous lives).
The other promises from God to faithful and virtuous believers are deeply related to His second coming. This will usher in the Millennium Reign and finally, the New Heaven and New Earth. Different viewpoints exist for the Millennialism:
Premillennialism: Jesus will literally and physically return to the earth and take the righteous back to Heaven with Him.
Ammillenialism: Named for its rejection of the theory that Jesus will have a literal, thousand-year-long, physical reign on the earth.
Postmillenialism: Jesus’ 2nd coming after the Millennium
These whole sequences of events have their own proponents as to when and how each will take place, but there is definite agreement to its major points. There will be a Rapture and a Great Tribulation, closely interconnected with each other. The Rapture will take place either before, amidst, or after the Great Tribulation, and after the 7 years of tribulation, Jesus will come for a 2nd time. He will judge the world, and ultimately redeem the fallen world into its final state as the New Heaven and New Earth. This is a promise that His faithful followers can take hope in, but there is also much warning to take heed of.
Rev Rosy shared that there are 2 types of revival; corporate and personal. Each person is responsible for their relationship with God, not just on a corporate level but also on a personal level (Phillipians 2:12). The good news is when we are at our lowest, God is there to revive us. The Holy Spirit points us to the Lord and we need to take control of our own thoughts and walk with God. Concerning preparation for the End-days, we’re soldiers of Christ, and daily we have spiritual battles to fight. Many of us are bruised but the bruising shows we’re on the right path, and the constant thing we need to focus on is the fact that satan and his demons are outnumbered by God and His army. We need to be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit.
Throughout the passages in the Bible concerning the End-days, numerous warnings have been given by God to us to help keep us alert and aware. The identification (including the power) of the antiChrist has been revealed to us. Revelations 12:15 and 13:15 make known clearly to us that the antiChrist has great power in his mouth (already evidenced through the spirit of antiChrist in charismatic persecutors of the Church like Hitler and Nero) but that his power cannot compare to that of God’s (Revelations 12:16). By extension, it also clearly shows that the spiritual part of our beings have great power through our mouths. The words we confess can either lead us to defeat or deliverance.
As followers of the Lord, we must plan, be organized and disciplined in our devotional life. We must train ourselves to be strong and committed. Priority should be given to the Lord as testified by the lives of the martyrs and saints. Anxiety is toxic, contagious, and defeating, and fear and torment open the doors to the enemies. In everything, learn to give thanks to the Lord and trust in Him for all things (Psalm 23:4). The rise of false prophets (Matthew 24:24) also warns us that balance is important. The Word and the Spirit must go together. Learn to love the Word of God so that we are discerning at all times. Don’t make signs our priority (2 Corinthians 11:14).
We must also be wary and watch out for any attempts to bind together any political, economic, or religious entity under one world system. Just as God is triune, satan will pervert the Trinity through himself, the antichrist (Rev 13:11-18), and the false prophet (Rev 13:1-10). During the Great Tribulation, the enemy will implant his mark (666) on those who submitted to him as a sign of ownership. The technology to implement this is also something Christians should watch out for. Together, the world structure and technology are some of the distinct signs we can take heed of.
The other great developments we need to be aware of are those taking place in Israel. Israel has a special position in the Last Days, and many events will unfold there before the End-times. Even amidst the Great Tribulation, the Bible tells us that God will still show His immense compassion by trying to redeem as many souls as possible through the evangelism of the 144,000 saints (Revelation 7, Revelation 14) and 2 great Witnesses for Christ (Revelation 11). The saints will brave persecution and some will go through death to bring the message of hope and redemption to those left behind. These will all unfold before the 7 great bowls of God’s wrath (Revelations 16).
Before the wrath of God, the saints who had triumph over the beast will stand beside the vast sea of glass (Revelations 15:2) and raise their worship to God. Rev Rosy pointed out 3 principles that stood out about the 144,000 saints:
1. The Bible does not specify what the great sea of glass is but it brings to mind purity and transparency. The saints kept themselves pure from sexual immorality and wickedness despite their sufferings (Revelation 14:4-5)
2. The 144,000 worshipped the Lord with all of their mind, and soul, and spirit (Revelations 15:2-4)
3. They knew the time to repent and focused on the Lamb of God (Revelations 15:3)
These are principles we can put into practice even before the Great Tribulation.
Rev Rosy reminded us that more than any sign or wonders, it is the inner spiritual life of Christians that matter most. We must love the Lord and care for the things He cares for. The End-times is not just a sequence of events. There is a purpose to it, and as Christians, it is very important that we understand that purpose. By doing so, we will recognize the End-times foremost as a time of hope and redemption for faithful believers.
References for pictures