Study of The Book of Revelation
W. T. Russel (Tape #14)
I would like to discuss some
things about literal and symbolic things in the book of Revelation. There are
other books of the Bible which deal with symbols as the book of Revelation.
Daniel, Ezekiel, and even Jeremiah of the Old Testament used symbols. It was
left up to the reader to determine what that symbol represented. The Bible
teaches us that God is a spirit. Jesus explained the difference between the
spirit and the flesh or the physical in the twentieth chapter of John. Thomas
said I won't believe its Christ until I put the tip of my fingers in the print
of the nails in his hand and thrust my hand into his side. Jesus appeared in
their midst, and they were all together. Knowing the mind of Thomas, Jesus said,
reach your finger and feel the prints of the nails in my hand. Thrust your hand
into my side and be not faithless, but believe it. Thomas didn't have to for he
said "My Lord and My God." Christ was spirit because Christ was God, the Holy
Spirit was God and the Father is God. There are three personalities in the
Godhead, but the three are one. They are united in one equally. The only
difference existing between the persons of the Godhead is the office--their
official standing. Jesus is the word made flesh. The word, which was spirit, was
incarnated in human flesh giving Christ a body like ours. He wants to the grave
with that body, and he arose from the grave with that body. However his risen
body was a spiritual body of flesh and spirit not a body of flesh and blood. Now
let's see the definition of the spirit. Jesus said God is a spirit, and they
that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Jesus appeared in the
upper room through locked doors in the midst of his disciples. They naturally
thought he was a spirit because he didn't come in the door but just appeared in
their presence. All of God's children will have that attribute at the
resurrection. There won't be any barriers to the resurrected body. Jesus said
handle me and see. So the resurrected body of Jesus could be touched. He was a
person just as he went to the grave and told them a spirit has not flesh and
bones as we have. God doesn't have flesh and bones for he is a spirit. I know
the Bible speaks about God having hands, eyes, ears, and feet, but it's
altogether spiritual. It is the language that human beings can understand and
perceive of God being a spirit having the tendencies we have in the flesh but
not in the same form. Jesus is the only member of the Godhead with the same form
as ours, and it took the incarnation to bring it about. We are not to think of
any other member of the Godhead as having our form except Christ. Another
misconception of some is that the Holy City or New Jerusalem is heaven. It's not
just as Nashville is not Davidson County or the State of Tennessee. The Holy
City or New Jerusalem is a symbol only, as I see it, of the church in her final
glory. As I said before, I do not know the meaning of the gems and all of the
metals mentioned in this city. I'll say this much though, it certainly is the
eternal grandeur of the church to be looked upon in her final glory. It is not
to be taken as a literal city. Heaven, however, is a literal place today. The
heaven that now is, is going to pass away as you would roll up a piece of paper
and cast it out into a mighty wind. This heaven is the location of the souls of
the saints now. At the end of the world when Christ comes out of the heaven that
now is with all of his holy angels and all the disembodied spirits, the door of
mercy will be closed forever and heaven will pass away as a scroll when it's
rolled together and cast into a mighty wind. See Revelation 6:14. He said I'm
going to make a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. God
made the earth pure and finitely holy. No sin marred it until Adam transgressed
the law of God. As a result of his transgression, God sent a curse on this earth
and made it bring forth thorns and briers since that time. The earth that now is
will be burned up so said the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3:10. We have also read,
the earth and the heaven fled away, and there were found no place for them.
Everything must have a place to exist. Therefore they will no longer exist. God
created the sun, moon, stars, and the elements. The Bible said the elements will
melt with fervent heat. The same God who created all of those things adaptable
to humanity also said the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly,
but by reason of him who had subjected the same in hope. See Roman 8:20. The
earth was made suitable and adaptable to the lives of human beings. God put
everything in this earth that man would need while he lives here. He gave man
the intelligence to seek out what he had put in the earth whether it is under
the earth, in the earth, or above the earth. Wherever it is, man has carried out
the command of God to subdue it. The time is coming when the earth will no
longer be needed. An earth adaptable to humanity will not be needed because
humanity will no longer exist. The saints of God, after the resurrection, will
possess spiritual bodies like the resurrected body of Jesus. Christ said he
would create a new heaven and a new earth wherein would dwell righteousness. A
new heaven and earth will be made adaptable to the spiritual family of God
Chapter 22:1 "And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb."
Chapter 22:2 "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
Chapter 22:3 "And there shall be no more curses: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:"
Chapter 22:4 “And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads." Chapter 22:5 "And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God give they light: and they shall reign for ever and ever." Chapter 22:6 “And he said unto me, these sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done."
Chapter 22:7 “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that kept the sayings of the prophecy of this book."
Chapter 22:8 "And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things."
Chapter 22:9 "Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God." He told John not to worship him but worship God. Angels were not to be worshipped, and neither was man.
Chapter 22:10 "And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand." In the Old Testament, Daniel had a vision in which God told him to seal up the vision and not yet reveal what he saw. In this vision, John is told to reveal the prophecy of this book. This is just a benediction to the book of Revelation. That's all it is. A benediction and a final amen. You know that word amen means "so may it be." It goes back to the first chapter of the book.
Chapter 22:11 "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he who is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." This is a declaration that as the end finds you, so shall you forever be. Chapter 22:12 "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Soul salvation is by grace, but rewards come by works.
Chapter 22:13 "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." He told us this at the beginning of Revelation, but evidently he thought it needful to remind all again.
Chapter 22:14 "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." No unbeliever has the right to the tree of life, neither entrance into the church. What is the distinction between the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life? Let's go back to the Garden of Eden. God planted a garden eastward in Eden, placed Adam and Eve in that garden, and said of every tree in the garden, thou mayest freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it: for in the day that thou eats thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 2:16-17. (This is not the tree of life.) He said the one that stands in the midst of the garden is the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the day that thou eats thereof thou shalt surely die. Someone has asked me the question, "Could they have eaten of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden?" I finally came to the conclusion that they didn't need the tree of life until they fell or transgressed the law of God. I do not believe they ate of the tree of life ever. We see in this verse that those who do his commandments may have right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city. What is that tree of life? It's that which gives immortality to the body. Wouldn't it have been a sad thing when Adam transgressed the law of God and stood a sinner condemned, without God, without any hope, if he had reached forth his hand and ate of the tree of life? If he had, he would have lived, and the whole human race would have lived in a sin-cursed world forever and ever without any hope. That's the reason God said since Adam has transgressed the law, Gen. 3:22 ".... and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:" He turned them out of the Garden of Eden and placed at the entrance of the Garden cherubim and a flaming sword to keep the way of the tree of life. We studied about cherubim as we studied this book. The cherubim are the agency of angels that God uses as instruments in carrying out his purpose in the world. Eastward at the Garden of Eden was set up cherubim which is a symbol of the throne of God's grace. Wherever you find the cherubim or angels whether they have faces, wings or wheels it represents the divine presences of God and God's divine grace and mercy. Eastward in the Garden of Eden, the throne of grace was established that it might keep the way of the tree of life. The only people who will ever be able to partake of that tree of life will be those who have come to the throne of grace and obtained mercy in the salvation of their souls. They can partake of that tree of life and live eternally in an immortal body. This tree is another symbol. Genesis 2:9 tells us the tree of life was in the midst of the garden. Adam was not a subject of the tree of life until he transgressed God's law as shown in Genesis 3:23 that to eat of this tree would bring eternal life but in the sinful state. Paul said in I Corinthians in 15:53 "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." 15:54 "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." The raised can then say this: 15:55 "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" Paul said the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. When the last one comes out of the grave, the victory will be won forever and eternally. Christ will then turn the church kingdom over to the Father as said in I Corinthians 15:28 "And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." Chapter 22:15 "For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loved and makes a lie."
Chapter 22:16 “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star." Note he had sent his angel to testify of the things in the churches. So this is the testimony of the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. It starts in the first part of the book, and it ends in the last amen of the Book of Revelation.
Chapter 22:17 "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Look how he mentioned that first--the Spirit and the bride. Who's the bride? The church. The Spirit came on the day of Pentecost. Jesus said it will abide with you forever. I've got to go away. For if I go not away the comforter will not come. But I will pray the Father and he'll send you another comforter, and he will abide with you forever. He'll reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of a judgment to come. The commission was given to that distinct church who received the baptism of the spirit on the day of Pentecost, and it came that day to stay with the church until Jesus comes again. It's been here ever since, and it will be here until he comes back. Who else is supposed to have a part in winning the lost? "And let him that heareth say, Come." Everyone who is born of God has a responsibility of leading others to Christ whether in the church or out of the church. They are children of God and have the right to say come.
Chapter 22:18 "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:" This is serious. This verse means it is the complete revelation, the final book with nothing more to be added. We have many who have taken on themselves to write their own Bible or books such as the Mormons have and claim it to be another Revelation. It plainly says in verse eighteen whoever adds to or takes away from this book, the plagues written therein shall be added to them, and their part will be taken out of the book of life. Everyone has a right to have his name written in the book of life but all must meet the conditions.
Chapter 22:19 "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” I've had so many people come to me and say, "Well, it's possible that names can be taken out of the book of life." It didn't say that. I want to tell you that because of Jesus’ death and shedding of his blood on the cross of Calvary, he gave every rational being in the world a right to a place in the book of life. There is a part for every individual to have his name. It's big enough to include his name, but he must meet the conditions which are laid down in the gospel. He is saying here if someone takes away from this prophecy and the things that are written in this book, his part will be taken out of the book of life. It will be taken away from him. And from the holy city and from the things which are written in this book. This is the same as Jesus giving one talent to one servant, and he took it and buried it in the earth. This can be found in Matthew 25:25-27.
Chapter 22:20 "He which testified these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." So may it be. That's what that means. These are the words of John. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." I'm satisfied when John had viewed all God had showed him in vision, he was able to say, and even longingly, that Jesus would come quickly, that the things revealed in this book might be experienced by him.
Chapter 22:21 "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." Read here Paul's writing of what's going to happen at the end of the world and the kind of rule that will be here when the Lord comes back. At the end of these scriptures read how Professor Alexander Trotter confirms this.
II Thessalonians 2:1 "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him," 2:2 "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand." 2:3 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;" 2:4 “Who opposed and exalted himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sat in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." 2:5 “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" 2:6 “And now ye know what withhold that he might be revealed in his time." 2"7 “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way." 2:8 “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:" 2:9 “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders," 2:10 “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." 2:11 “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:” 2:12 “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." The following was written about two hundred years ago. Our country was just a very young baby at that time and was rejoicing over the fact of a democracy. It was written by Professor Alexander Trotter about the fall of the Athenian Republic, the Republic of Athens, Greece. The truth of his words ring out today as we find ourselves in the center of the cycle that takes a democracy from freedom to bondage. How much freedom do you have today? Here are his words. I want us all to get this. It would be well to remember it. "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves the largest from the public treasure. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasure with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average ages of the world’s great civilizations have been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence. From bondage, spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back again into bondage." That was a wise man. Can we escape the cycle? It seems the only hope could be understanding what is happening to us because there can be no question that those who do not understand history are bound to repeat it. I think that's in exact agreement with what the Apostle Paul tells us concerning the man of sin that is coming who will be a world dictator. This whole world will be under a dictatorship, and freedom and democracies will be obliterated forever and ever. I don't know how long he is going to last, but at the end of his reign is going to be the end of the world. So this world we are living in tonight is growing worse and worse. It's not going to get any better. The Bible tells us that evil seducers will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. There is no scripture that I have ever found to give us any encouragement that at the very end there is going to be a time of peace. It's just the reverse. It just gets worse and worse and worse. Our generation or period of time has never had any trouble. We will really not know the value of freedom until we are under a dictatorship that forces their will upon us in our worship and service of God. I appreciate getting that piece of information. I say again that man was a wise man.