Friday, January 8, 2016

Understanding the Book of Revelation - Chapter Six, This Means War!

Chapter 6 - This Means War!

It may seem like we're getting away from our look at Revelation, but we're not. One of the beautiful things about Revelation and our ability to understand it is that we need to look at nearly every other book of the Bible. Don't worry, I'm not going to go that far, but there are some basic things that we do need to look at to establish an understanding of what's going on in Revelation. For now we need to go back to the beginning – Genesis.

“And the Lord God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all [domestic] animals and above every [wild] living thing of the field; upon your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust [and what it contains] all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring; He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel.” – Genesis 3:14-15

Genesis – beginnings. The world as we know it came into being. Mankind began. There was another first in Genesis as well – the first promise of the Messiah was given immediately after Adam’s act of disobedience. It shouldn’t surprise us that God seemed to be fully prepared for the events that took place in the Garden. He knows the end from the beginning and had prepared the perfect sacrifice before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). I’m sure God would have preferred that Adam hadn’t disobeyed, but kids will be kids!

Immediately following the promise of the Messiah, the Lord showed Adam the high price required for his disobedience in a very graphic way. Rather than allowing the couple’s nakedness to be covered by garments they had made from leaves, God slaughtered animals, spilling innocent blood not only to make garments to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness, but to cover their sin and satisfy God’s holy law. It is this perfect justice that required a perfect sacrifice to eventually be made – one that would not only cover our sins, but that would actually cleanse us of our sins.

This first promise of the Messiah did something more than serve as a word of hope for fallen mankind. It also served notice to Satan. From that moment he knew his days were numbered. He also knew something else – that the Messiah would be born; He would be human. What Satan didn’t know was when or where this promised Messiah would be born. After Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, they began having children. It is in this first generation of “Garden-exiled” people that we see Satan begin his campaign against mankind in hopes of thwarting God’s redemptive plan.

“And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, but for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed. And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it. And Cain said to his brother, Let us go out to the field. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” – Genesis 4:3-8

Here we see Cain and Abel. One brought the Lord an offering of the fruits of his own labor. The other brought an offering of the firstborn of his flock. In the sacrifices Cain and Abel brought before the Lord we see one man trying to do things his way, while the other was doing things God’s way. One sacrifice was accepted, the other was rejected. If you’re wondering whether it would have been difficult to discern God’s acceptance of an offering, the following passages should clear it up.

In 1 Kings 18:38 we read, “Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice and the wood and the stones and the dust, and also licked up the water that was in the trench.” Then in 2 Chronicles 7:1 we read, “When Solomon had finished praying, the fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house.”

So, fire falling from heaven to consume the sacrifice meant that the sacrifice was accepted by God. No fire – no acceptance. (Personally, I like it when God makes things easy like that.) Not only did Cain see that God had accepted his brother’s sacrifice while rejecting his own, but when he got angry about it, God spoke to him directly. We can only guess that Cain’s pride was greatly injured by God’s rejection of his sacrifice. Using that offense as an opening, Satan instigates mankind’s first act of murder. (We must remember that at this point in history Satan still did not know when or where the Messiah would be born, simply that He would indeed be born of a woman.) Not only does this murder serve as a vehicle for Satan to pour his anger out on men, but it also serves as his first attempt to begin wiping out mankind with the hope of preventing the Messiah’s birth.

It really didn’t take long for things to start falling apart for mankind after that. Satan went to work right away to interfere in the affairs of men, particularly when it came to man’s relationship with God. In the beginning of Genesis 4, Adam and Eve began having children. By the end of Genesis 4 those children had grown up and had children of their own. Mankind also began profaning the name of God. Now, if you look in your Bible you will most likely find Genesis 4:26b reads something like this: “At that time men began to call [upon God] by the name of the Lord.” It is now widely held that this is an unfortunate mistranslation and that men weren’t calling upon God’s name in reverence, but rather profaning God’s name. If you think about it, this really would make more sense considering that people were already familiar with God. Also, in Genesis 5:22-24 we see that Enoch walked in habitual fellowship with God, so this must mean that the knowledge and reverence of the Lord was already with men rather than something new that began when Seth was born at the end of Genesis 4. So, by the end of Genesis 4, moral decay was rampant and about to take a turn for the worse, as we will see in Genesis 6. But first we are presented with a very curious chapter in the Bible.

Genesis 5 is a precious jewel hidden in the midst of mankind’s history. Now, if you’re like me, when you come to a list of genealogy in the Bible, such as this chapter of Genesis, you get a little bleary eyed and your mind begins to wander. I’m sure the people were very nice and it’s wonderful that God chose to immortalize them by having their names recorded in the Bible, but was it really necessary to list them all?

Would you be surprised to find out that those names really are significant and aren’t just there to test our endurance? One thing that we need to remember is that names and their meanings are very important in the Jewish culture and that every Hebrew name has a meaning. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the lineage God presents in Genesis 5.

Here is the list of men named in Genesis 5, in the order of their birth: Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah. Methuselah is notable for two things. First, he lived for 969 years, making him the oldest person ever to have lived. Second, his death brought the flood of Noah. In fact, his name means to bring or to send forth death and many believe that it was God’s mercy in His delaying the judgment of the flood that allowed Methuselah to live so very long. Now let’s look at the meaning of each of these names to see if there is anything significant going on here.

Name Meaning
Adam . . . . .  . . . Man
Seth . . . . .  . . . . Appointed
Enosh . . . .  . . . . Mortal, frail, or miserable (root is incurable)
Kenan . . . . . . . . Sorrow, dirge or elegy
Mahalalel . . . . . . Blessed or praised God
Jared . . . . . . . . . Shall come down
Enoch . . . . . . . . Commencement or teaching
Methuselah . . . . Death – to bring or to send forth
Lamech . . . . . . . Lament or lamentation (despairing)
Noah . . . . . . . . . To bring relief or comfort (comfort or rest)

So, if we put all of these names together we have the following sentence:

Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching His death shall bring the despairing comfort, rest.

Could it be that in the genealogy of Genesis 5, God tucked away the message of the Gospel? That certainly appears to be the case. This genealogy would seem to be the next declaration of the Messiah, but more than that, who He would be, how He would come and what a portion of His ministry would be. The Messiah would be the Blessed God Himself. He would “come down” from His rightful place in heaven, and He would bring comfort and rest to those in despair. In fact, when Yeshua read from the prophet Isaiah (chapter 61, verses 1 and 2) thousands of years later, He declared this portion of His ministry and proclaimed the fulfillment of the passage from Isaiah.

“And there was handed to Him [the roll of] the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened (unrolled) the book and found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity], To proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound. Then He rolled up the book and gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were gazing [attentively] at Him. And He began to speak to them: Today this Scripture has been fulfilled while you are present and hearing.” – Luke 4:17-21

It is very interesting to note that Yeshua stopped reading before the passage ended, leaving out “and the day of vengeance of our God.” The day of vengeance had not yet happened when Yeshua read this passage, and indeed He will not be fulfilling that portion of Scripture until the end of the seven year Tribulation period.

So, by the time we get to Genesis 5, the information given about the Messiah has increased, but it has not yet narrowed in its scope. It was probably due to the broad range of the information regarding the Messiah that Satan’s attack was still focused on mankind as a whole. And with the information he had been given thus far, I suppose it only made sense that Satan got right to the heart of the matter in trying to pollute the available gene pool in order to prevent the birth of the Messiah. Confused? Let’s look at Genesis 6 for some clarification.

“When men began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair, and they took wives of all they desired and chose. Then the Lord said, My Spirit shall not forever dwell and strive with man, for he also is flesh; but his days shall yet be 120 years. There were giants on the earth in those days – and also afterward – when the sons of God lived with the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” – Genesis 6:1-4

This text can be quite perplexing. Let’s take a look at each verse of this passage to see if we can get a better idea of what’s really going on here.

Verse one says, “When men began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them.” This seems to be pretty straightforward. Men began to do a lot of begetting and as is usually the case, some of their offspring were female.

Verse two says, “The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair, and they took wives of all they desired and chose.” This is where things usually start getting a little muddled. There are generally two camps when it comes to this passage as a whole, and this verse in particular. On the one side, there are those that say that the sons of God were merely human men who took wives for themselves. While this sounds plausible, if we look at the passage carefully we find that this cannot be the case. The term “sons of God” is used solely for beings created directly by God. Adam was a son of God. The angels, being direct creations of God, are sons of God. (These, of course, are not to be confused with The Son of God, Yeshua the Messiah.) We who are regenerate in the Messiah are also called sons of God because through the Messiah’s atonement we have been adopted by God. But children born of human parents are never called sons of God, rather they are called sons of men. Understanding this, it becomes evident that this verse is not speaking of human men taking human women for their wives, but of angels – fallen angels – taking wives for themselves from the daughters of men.

Verse three says, “Then the Lord said, My Spirit shall not forever dwell and strive with man, for he also is flesh; but his days shall yet be 120 years.” Here the Lord seems to have finally had His fill of man’s disrespect, as well as man’s allowing, and perhaps even enjoying, this union between angels and humans. So here God limits man’s lifespan to 120 years.

Verse four says, “There were giants on the earth in those days – and also afterward – when the sons of God lived with the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” The final verse in this passage seems to confirm the conclusions that must be made in verse two. The word in the original text that is translated “giants” does not merely mean that the offspring of these unions were unusually tall. They were in fact what we would call monsters. Yes, they were giants in that they were a great deal taller than any mortal man. In fact, there have been archeological finds confirming that there have been individuals well over thirteen feet tall. It is also interesting to note that these hybrids had six fingers on each hand.

In a recorded incident that would fall into the “and also afterward” category, we are introduced to Goliath of Gath, and we are told that he was nearly ten feet tall (1 Samuel 17). There is another interesting fact about these giants. “And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; he also was a descendant of the giants. And when he defied Israel, Jonathan son of Shimei, brother of David, slew him. These four were descended from the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hands of David and his servants.” – 2 Samuel 21:20-22.

Going back to Genesis 6:9, we see that Noah was “blameless in his [evil] generation.” If the term “blameless in his [evil] generation” meant that he was righteous, why also mention that he walked habitually with God? What we are seeing here are two different and distinct issues – one is Noah’s relationship with God, the other is Noah’s bloodline or genealogy. Noah and his family were chosen by God to repopulate the earth not only because Noah had an intimate relationship with God, but because their gene pool hadn’t been polluted by demonic intermingling. This purity was essential as the Messiah had to be born a man, not a hybrid, as it was mankind that He would come to redeem, not fallen angels.

With the flood came the second recorded widespread judgment of God upon this planet; the first being when Lucifer sinned against God. And with the end of the flood God establishes a covenant with Noah (Genesis 9). It is after the flood that God causes animals to become fearful of man. It is also at this time that God gives man animals for food in addition to the vegetation He has already given man to eat. God also establishes accountability for murder.

In Genesis 11 we find the account of the tower of Babel. This episode in our history was yet another attempt by Satan to remove man’s devotion and worship from God and redirect it to Satan and his fallen angels. The people, who all spoke a common language, decided to build a tower to reach the heavens. Perhaps they were trying to reconnect with the “sons of God” who had come down prior to the flood (and who would indeed come again). Perhaps, as some archeological finds seem to indicate, the tower was an astrological device to be used to take charge of their own fate without the interference of God. Whatever their ultimate goal, God did not like what He saw. He confused the people’s speech, giving them different languages and bringing this massive building project to an abrupt end.

It isn’t until Genesis 12 that we see God get more specific regarding the Messiah by calling one person out to be in covenant with Him. This man was named Abram (later renamed Abraham). God later chose to perpetuate this covenant through subsequent generations of Abraham’s offspring, specifically Isaac and Jacob. It is this narrowing of focus that brings the brunt of Satan’s attacks to the people God had chosen and it is here that the seeds of anti-Semitism were planted.

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