In January, I committed to reading the Bible every day. It’s been a wonderful experience, and on Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays) I like to write a post about what I am learning from Scripture. You can read my past posts on the Bible here.
Today, I want to talk about Revelation and the End Times. Before I do, I need to put a disclaimer that any discussion of Revelation typically involves much speculation. Revelation is the final book of the Bible, and it details what will happen leading up to, and after Jesus’ second coming. Much of Revelation is to be taken as a symbolic telling of what will occur, rather than a literal account. For instance, there is a passage describing a massive beast with 7 heads, this is considered by most biblical scholars to be symbolism for an empire on earth that will have 7 kings, a head for each one.
So anything I write here, you should assume it is my speculation on what I think Revelation could mean, because that’s all it is. My guess. And since I have very little experience reading the Bible, it’s quite possible that a year from now, I could believe something different. I think my main hope for what I am writing is that you would read my words, and want to investigate further for yourself.
Now, as I have mentioned here before, when I decided to start reading the Bible in January, I had it in my mind that I should read the first book of the Bible, and then the last. Genesis, then Revelation. Almost everyone agrees that a new reader to the Bible should NOT tackle Revelation early on, but I can be quite stubborn and like to do things differently.
So I read Genesis, then read Revelation, and quite frankly in my first reading of Revelation, much of it was over my head. Which is to be expected. So I went back and read Exodus, then shifted gears and started reading the New Testament from the start.
As I was working through the New Testament, I loved all of it, but especially Paul’s letters to the churches. What struck me about Paul’s writings is he kept impressing to both jews and gentiles that being a Christian is a gift. And that you can glorify God by being a positive example for others, especially non-believers. Paul’s instruction was quite empowering as he encourages us to do more, to be more active, to walk stronger in our faith, and to understand that our eyes should be set on our eternal home in Heaven, not on a quite temporary time in human form.
So still inspired by Paul’s encouragement about growing into your role as a Christian, I continued throughout the New Testament, and finally reached Revelation, which I read for a second time. This time, the messages were slightly clearer, and at this point I decided that I wanted to stop and do some research on Revelation and get a better handle on exactly what I was reading.
The basic story of Revelation that I had understood it to be up till this point was: The world will continue to fall deeper into despair. At some point, a person will arrive who many will believe is Jesus, but who is actually the antichrist. Things would get even worse. Then Jesus would return, and save us all from the horrors of this world.
In short, things would get worse and worse and finally Jesus would come back to save us from ourselves. We just have to wait till His ‘appointed time’.
But after reading Paul’s letters and his constant encouragement that Christians should be more proactive, it seemed to be a bit of a disconnect with what I thought I understood Revelation to mean. Basically, it didn’t seem to agree with the theory that Christians are powerless to do anything but wait on Jesus to come back and save us in the final days.
So I started doing some research into the teaching of Revelation. I started exploring what biblical scholars say about what Revelation could actually mean.
A large part of the Revelation story, as I understood it, involved the breaking of 7 seals, with each seal pouring out a different type of judgment on sinners on earth. My assumption has always been that these seals will be broken in the final days. However, many biblical scholars actually believe that some of these seals have already been broken, and some of the periods of violence we have seen thus far reflect this. A few teachers even make a case that ALL the seals have already been broken.
But what really struck me was the disagreement about the role that Christians will play in the final days. As I said earlier, I had believed the basic story of the end times to always be that things on earth will progressively get worse, until Jesus has His second coming, and in effect saves us from ourselves.
The more I read about Paul’s writings, I began to notice that this thinking of how Christians should be bold and feel empowered didn’t really coincide with a story that ends with Christians being weak and powerless and having to be saved from ourselves by Jesus.
Then I found a biblical scholar/prophet named Johnny Enlow who has a different interpretation of our role as Christians, and what will happen in the end times. Enlow’s contention is that when Jesus is called The King of kings, that the ‘kings’ doesn’t refer to the rulers on earth. Actually, what this means is that all Christians are royalty, we are all kings. And Jesus is our King, and Jesus is waiting on Christians to assume their role as kings on earth.
Enlow believes that when satan tricked Adam and Eve into eating of the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, that besides introducing sin into the world, that satan also took over authority of the earth from Adam and Eve. Authority over earth was gifted to Adam and Eve by God in the Garden of Eden. But when satan tricked Adam and Eve into sinning, satan took their rightful authority over earth.
Until…Jesus died on the Cross. When Jesus died on the cross, according to Enlow, He took over all authority on earth from satan. And that means man now once again has authority on earth, and satan no longer does.
Let’s look at a few scripture passages about authority on earth. First, Luke 4:5-8 (NKJV):
5 [d]Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
Now let’s look at Matthew 28:16-18 (NKJV):
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
See the difference? When satan first tempts Jesus, he says he has authority over all Jesus can see, and offers it to Him. Yet after Jesus has risen, He states to His disciples that all authority on earth has been given to Him.
These two passages, the first before Jesus died on the cross and the later after, seem to say that there was a shift in authority from satan to Jesus between the time before and after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
The contention by many biblical scholars, including Enlow, is that when Jesus died on the cross, He not only paid the debt for our sins, but He also reclaimed the authority over earth than man lost in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God (I say Adam and Eve instead of Eve because while Eve did eat the apple first, Adam was there with her and did not stop her, then he ate it as well. So it’s unfair to try to position this as if Eve was responsible for man’s fall in the Garden of Eden, Adam was there with her, and they both agreed to disobey God together. Eve did not act alone).
So….this means that by dying on the cross, Jesus reclaimed authority on earth, for man. So man has authority over earth that before Jesus’ first coming, had belonged to satan since he deceived Adam and Eve.
The issue is, man hasn’t been exercising his authority over earth. This also completely reframes the book of Revelation and what will happen in the end times.
For instance, many biblical scholars have long contended that the breaking of the seven seals of the scroll will be the spilling out of judgment on earth for man’s sins. And that this breaking of seven seals will happen at a point in the future, the seals will be broken, God’s judgment will pour out on the earth, and this will pave the way for Jesus’ Second Coming to save us.
Enlow, however, claims that the breaking of the seven seals has already happened.
Further, the breaking of the seals wasn’t to signify the beginning of judgment, it was to signify the END of satan’s authority to harm the earth! When the seven seals were broken, satan’s authority over earth was also broken.
So if this is correct, that means the breaking of the seven seals would have happened most likely when Jesus reclaimed authority over earth, ie His death on the cross. When Jesus died, He became worthy to take the scroll from God, and loose its seals.
At this point I’m sure your head is spinning because mine was when I first started studying this theory. But the more I researched this theory, it seemed to line up. For instance:
- The Bible repeatedly references that the earth is GOOD, and that it will endure FOREVER. In fact, the Bible even says that after Jesus’s second coming, that there will be a New Jerusalem on earth. This doesn’t make sense if Revelation is telling us about how the earth will be destroyed in the end times.
- In Revelation, John is brought up in Heaven to the throne room, and he sees that God is on His throne holding the scroll. And an angel in a loud voice asks if anyone is worthy to take the scroll and open it? And the Bible says John wept, because no one could be found worthy to open the scroll. Until, the Lamb (Jesus) was found worthy, and He opened the scroll. And Heaven cheered and celebrated because someone was found that could open the scroll. Now….if the opening of the scroll meant a pouring out of death and destruction on earth, why would all of Heaven be celebrating that??? But if the opening of the scroll and the breaking of the seals was really about ENDING the death and destruction, then Heaven celebrating makes perfect sense.
- Which version of the end times would bring more glory to God: First, if man fell further and further into sin until God had to step in and cleanse the earth with death and destruction, then Jesus came to earth to defeat satan and save man from his own sin (again) or……Second, if man instead stepped into and began to assume his authority over earth, and acted as God intended, and we began to defeat satan by removing him from the areas of the earth where he no longer has power. Then in the final battle, Jesus returns to earth to lead us into the final battle, which sees satan’s ultimate defeat. Personally, I think the second version would bring more glory to God, because we would be in a position to help Jesus by claiming the authority that He had gifted us.
- Jesus is referred to as The King of kings. I always assumed that meant that Jesus was the King over all the kings (rulers) on earth. But the kings on earth ARE CHRISTIANS. From Revelation 1:5-6: “5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Ok, that’s probably enough for now, so I wanted to leave you with a video from Johnny Enlow that will help get you started learning more about Revelation. If you enjoy Enlow’s teachings, he has hours and hours of instructive videos where he breaks down what Revelation means in great detail. Here’s the first video, and his detailed analysis of Revelation starts around the 25 min mark if you want to fast forward:
Now again, if you’ve read this far, and you are thinking ‘I just don’t agree with that!’, then that’s ok. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind about Revelation or the end times. I’m just sharing what I have learned, and all I would ask is that you investigate for yourself and do your own research. Pray about it and ask God to give you the wisdom to discern what is real from what is not. That’s exactly what I do before I start reading the Bible every single day.