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My Birthday Post! Revelation 12, Astrology, and Christ’s Birth

Posted by lehunt on May 5, 2017

 

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years….

-Genesis 1:14

If one believes the story of the magi visiting the baby Jesus, then one cannot entirely discount the idea of astrology.  The word magi refers to a class of people who were, among other things, astrologers, and the magi who worshiped Christ learned of him by means of a star.

Revelation 12:1-5 describes what many scholars believe is an astronomical event associated with the birth of Christ.  Above is a fascinating video by Dr. Michael Heiser illustrating the event.  Heiser believes that it represents Christ’s birth.  Below is a link to the Bethlehem Star website of Rick Larson, who believes it marks Christ’s conception.

 

Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

I favor Larson’s interpretation because, as he points out HERE, nine months after this event Jupiter and Venus conjoined, each contributing “its full brightness to what became the most brilliant star our man [the magus] had ever seen. Jupiter completed this step of the starry dance as it was setting in the west. That evening, our Babylonian magus would have seen the spectacle of his career while facing toward Judea.  No one alive had ever seen such a conjunction.”

This very same conjunction happened again in July of 2015 and moved me to write the following poem while watching it.  The picture is my attempt to photograph it.

 

 

 

 

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Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 11, Part 3

Posted by lehunt on April 12, 2017

File:The Wailing Wall Jerusalem.jpg

“The Wailing Wall” in Jerusalem,

formally a retaining wall for the temple during Jesus’s lifetime

v. 8: The city “where also their Lord was crucified” is Jerusalem.  So it is Jerusalem that is metaphorically (i.e., “prophetically”) referred to as Sodom and Egypt.  Sodom and Egypt are themselves metaphors for wickedness and tyranny (enslavement), respectively.  But Jerusalem is the holy city (Revelation 21:2).  So what does it mean to say that the most part of it (all save the immediate temple grounds) will be known for wickedness and tyranny?  There are three divisions of place used here as symbols:  1) The immediate area of the temple, 2) the outer court of the temple and Jerusalem itself, and 3) the rest of the earth, i.e., “the nations.”  The immediate area of the temple (as well as those that worship there) is the true kingdom of God.  The nations are the faithless.  But the outer court of the temple and Jerusalem itself seem to be a hybrid of these other two.  Some part of it must be associated with the kingdom of God because it is Jerusalem, and some part of it must refer to those who are faithless, because it is called Sodom and Egypt and because it is “given over to the nations,” who will trample it for 3 ½ years.  Perhaps the 3 ½ years during which Jerusalem itself (minus the immediate area of the temple) can be called Sodom and Egypt represent a period of time when the majority of those who call themselves Christians will be indistinguishable from those who are the overt enemies of Christ.  Such false Christians would be Christian in name only, as Jerusalem is the holy city in name only in this analogy.  In actuality, it is the very city “where also their Lord was crucified,” making it a fit emblem of the most wicked city in history.

v. 15: This is the last trumpet.  It is fascinating to me that Paul, speaking of Christ’s return, says, “We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1st Corinthians 15:51-52).  I am not saying that Paul’s last trumpet is the seventh trumpet here, but it is tempting.[5]

 

[5] There are problems with this.  See notes on the 1,000 year reign in Revelation 20.

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Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 11, Part 2

Posted by lehunt on March 30, 2017

TWO OLIVE TREES // Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

Two Olive Trees (Thassos Greece)

v. 4: Who or what are the two olive trees?  Zechariah asks an angel a similar question in Zechariah 4:11:  “What are these two olive trees?”  I have no doubt that the two olive trees here and in Zechariah are linked somehow.  In Zechariah they seem to represent Joshua, the high priest (Zechariah 3:9) and Zerubbabel, the Jewish leader who rebuilt the temple after the Babylonian Captivity.  But in Zechariah, there is one lampstand between the two olive trees, and the lampstand is God.  Here, the trees themselves are also the lampstands.[2] I suspect the immediate people whom these two trees in Revelation represent are Elijah and Moses.  Here are my reasons:

1) Moses and Elijah are frequently treated as a pair.[3]

2) These two trees “pour fire from their mouth and consume their foes” (v.5), which might be a reference to Elijah in 1st Kings 18:36-40.

3) They “have authority to shut the sky, so that no rain may fall” (v.6), which seems like a reference to Elijah in 1st Kings 17:1.  Notice also that Christ says Elijah shut the heavens for 3 ½ years (Luke 4:25), which is the amount of time these two trees have power to do such things.

4)  They “have authority over the waters to turn them into blood” (v.6), which could very easily be a reference to Moses in Exodus 7:20-21.

5) They have authority “to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire” (v.6), which could easily be a reference to Moses and the plagues he unleashed upon Egypt.

Note how John continues to emphasize the number two here by referring to two actions associated with Elijah and two actions associated with Moses.  Now, whether or not Moses and Elijah themselves are meant to symbolize another pair of people (as Elijah was a type for John the Baptist[4]) I am not sure, but I suspect so.

 

[2] At least it seems so.  There are definitely only two witnesses.  I think the two witnesses are symbolized by two pairs of symbols: two olive trees and two lampstands.  Thus, if Moses and Elijah are the witnesses, then Moses and Elijah are in some ways like two olive trees and in some ways like two lampstands.

[3] See, for instance, John 1:25, and Matthew 17:3.

[4] See Matthew 17:10-13.

[5] There are problems with this.  See notes on the 1,000 year reign in Revelation 20.

 

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Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 11, Part 1

Posted by lehunt on March 23, 2017

The Two Witnesses, Bamberg Apocalypse // Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

The Two Witnesses, Bamberg Apocalypse

vs. 2-3: 3 ½ (years), 42 (months), and 1,260 (days) all refer to the same length of time.[1] I will use 3 ½ for purposes of uniformity.  3 ½ is such a weird number; its main significance must be that it is half of 7.  Daniel makes use of similar numerology to describe two divisions of a week in Daniel 9:27, and I think John is alluding to that section of Daniel here, but I do not believe that he intends to say that Daniel’s week and his week symbolize the same events because the middle of Daniel’s week seems to fall between the years 26 A.D. and 46 A.D. (see notes there) whereas the middle of John’s week falls sometime after 81 A.D.  (see Order of Events supplement).  John, I think, is only making use of Daniel’s numerology and symbols.  Nevertheless, I think the two periods of 3 ½ years in Daniel 12:7 and 11 do describe the same period of time that John is speaking of here (see notes there).

Since the time period is a week, there are two of these 3 ½ periods: one during which the two witnesses prophesy with power over the unbelievers, and one during which these two witnesses are dead, having been killed by Beast I.  Here in verse 2, John says that  the court outside the temple will be given over to “the nations,” i.e., the unbelievers, for 3 ½ years.  I believe this period of time is the second of the two 3 ½ periods and corresponds to the 3 ½ days that follow the murder of the two witnesses by Beast I (11:7-10).  One might be inclined to interpret the 3 ½ days of vs. 9-11 as denoting a separate period of time since it says “days” rather than “years,” but I believe the days there symbolize years and that they represent the same period John refers to in v. 2, the period when the holy city “is given over to the nations.”

Notice that God tells John “[T]hey [the nations] will trample over the holy city,” and “I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophecy….”  Since God uses the future tense, I assume that these two periods of time fall in the future, relative to John.  In other words, I assume that they happen after John receives the Revelation, which would be after the mid-nineties A.D.  Of course, 11:6 uses the present tense and says that the two witnesses “have authority,” so I could also believe that the 3 ½ years in which they prophesy is taking place even as John receives the Revelation.

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Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 10

Posted by lehunt on March 21, 2017

St John the Theologian writing the Book of Revelation (Byzantine museum) // Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

St John the Theologian writing the Book of Revelation

v. 4: Since John writes, “I was about to write” I wonder if he recorded these visions in his dream state, as he was having the visions?  Was the paper he wrote on while in heaven physical paper?  Was he writing only in the dream or was he having a waking vision where he thought he was writing in the dream but really writing on Patmos at the same time, like when sounds from the physical world enter our dreams as we sleep (except in this case something from his dreams entered his active, physical life while he was awake).

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Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 9

Posted by lehunt on March 16, 2017

The Angel with the Key to the Bottomless Pit by Albrecht Dürer // Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

The Angel with the Key to the Bottomless Pit by Albrecht Dürer

v. 1: I believe this star is Satan.  My primary reason for believing this is that it “had fallen from heaven to earth,” an action which seems to parallel what happens to Satan in 12:9.[1] Another reason for believing that this is Satan is the fact that he was given the key to the bottomless pit, without which he would not have been able to raise Beast I from the dead (13:1,3; 11:7, and 17:8).

Notice that Satan had fallen before the blowing of this 5th trumpet; therefore, if the falling of this star parallels the events of 12:9, then the events of 12:9 must happen before the blowing of the 5th trumpet.[2] According to my chronology, they happen before the blowing of any of the trumpets.

v. 12: This type of statement makes me think that perhaps the historical events that the trumpet visions signify should be understood to follow one another in time.[3] If the trumpet visions parallel the bowl visions, then I suppose the same is true of the events signified by them.


[1] See also note on 20:1

[2] The verse would make a neater fit with my chronological theory if John had written that the star “had been given the key…” rather than it “was given the key” because then the grammar would indicate that the star was in possession of the key before the blowing of the fifth trumpet.  As it is, since the tense is simple past rather than past perfect, one could interpret the verse to mean that the star was given the key after the blowing of the fifth trumpet, which would mess up my chronology.

[3] See also note on 7:1.

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Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 8, Part 3

Posted by lehunt on March 13, 2017

144,000 Sealed and Trumpets Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 // Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

144,000 Sealed and Trumpets 

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860

 

v. 6: While some of the events symbolized by the visions of the seven seals may be arranged chronologically in the order that the seals are opened, I do not believe that all of the events symbolized by the seals can be thus arranged.  In other words, I do not believe that the events symbolized by the visions of one seal necessarily precede those symbolized by the visions of the next.[6] My reasons for this are in chapter seven.  For example, 7:3 describes the visions of the 6th seal.  In that verse, an angel tells four other angels that they are not to damage the earth until the 144,000 have been marked with the seal of God on their foreheads.  However, since these four angels are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (whose damaging effects are described in the first four seals) then this event (the marking of the 144,000) in the sixth seal must have happened before the events of the first four seals.  See also notes on 7:9-17, which describe how another vision in the sixth seal seems to symbolize events after those symbolized in the seventh seal.   Thus, although the seven trumpets (and seven bowls) appear with the opening of the seventh seal, I believe that the events of these trumpets and bowls are described in earlier seals.

[6] As it turns out, I do actually believe that the events of the first four seals are a unit and  follow one another, but those of the last three do not.

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Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 8, Part 2

Posted by lehunt on March 11, 2017

GodfreyKneller-IsaacNewton-1689 // Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

Sir Isaac Newton was a devout believer in God and spent a considerable amount of time writing a commentary on the book of Revelation. (See below.)

 

Note the parallels between the 7 trumpets and the 7 bowls:

1st Trumpet: “[T]here came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were hurled to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up” (8:7).

1st Bowl:  The angel “poured his bowl on the earth, and a foul and painful sore came on those who had the mark of the beast…” (16:2).

2nd Trumpet: “[S]omething like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea.  A third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed” (8:8).

2nd Bowl: The angel “poured his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing in the sea died” (16:3).

3rd Trumpet: “[A] great star fell from heaven…and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.  A third of the waters became wormwood, and many died from the water, because it was made bitter” (8:10).

3rd Bowl:  The angel “poured his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood” (16:4).

4th Trumpet:  “[A] third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light was darkened; a third of the day was kept from shining, and likewise the night”  (8:12).

4th Bowl: The angel “poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire…but they cursed the name of God…and they did not repent…” (16:8).

5th Trumpet:  John sees “a star that had fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit; he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke…and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke.  Then from the smoke came locusts….  They were told not to damage the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (9:1-4).

5th Bowl: The angel “poured his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness; people gnawed their tongues in agony, and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and they did not repent…” (16:10-11).

6th Trumpet: John heard “a voice from the four horns of the golden altar…saying, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’  So the four angels were released, who had been held ready…to kill a third of humankind” (9:13-15).

6th Bowl:  The angel “poured his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east.  And I saw three foul spirits like frogs coming from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet.  These are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.  And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Harmagedon” (16:12-14,16).

7th Trumpet: “[T]here were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord….The nations raged, but your wrath has come, and the time for Judging the dead, for rewarding your servants…and for destroying those who destroy the earth [has come].’  Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple, and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and heavy hail” (11:15, 18-19).

7th Bowl:  The angel “poured his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’  And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a violent earthquake, such as had not occurred since people were upon the earth….  The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell.  God remembered great Babylon and gave her the wine cup of the fury of his wrath.  And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found; and huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, dropped from heaven on people, until they cursed God…” (16:17-21).

I have wondered if these parallels mean that the seven bowls and the seven trumpets signify the same things.  I am not sure.  One thing that makes me pause is the fact that the events designated by the trumpets only affect 1/3 of the objects concerned, whereas those events designated by the equivalent bowls often affect all of the objects concerned.  Apparently, Isaac Newton also noted the parallels between the trumpets and the bowls, although his comments do little to settle my opinion one way or another.  In his notes on Revelation he too presented the seven bowls and seven trumpets side by side to illuminate their similarities, but he seems to have been conflicted as to their interpretation.  I got the following quotes from  his manuscript on display online from the Jewish National and University Library: “Yet it is to be noted that notwithstanding this external resemblance of this [the first] trumpet and vial, their interpretation is something different.”  Compare that quotation with this: “The seven Vials of wrath described in Chapter 15 and 16 are the same with the Plagues or woes of the seven Trumpets in Chapter 8,9,10,11” (Newton).

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Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 8, Part 1

Posted by lehunt on March 9, 2017

Albrecht Dürer The Battle of the Angels // Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

Albrecht Dürer The Battle of the Angels

v. 1: I believe the silence of heaven communicates the weightiness of the events that follow by mingling tension and expectation with reverent awe.  However, I do not understand the symbolism behind the length of time (half an hour) that this silence lasts.

v. 2: I believe only one group of seven angels has been cropping up throughout the Revelation: that group is in 1:4, 1:20, and 4:5.

v. 3: The altar here is the bronze altar, the same as the altar of 6:9.  While at this altar, the angel “was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints.”  The angel takes the incense and prayers and burns these before God on the golden altar.  This golden altar is different from the bronze altar where the angel gathered the incense and prayers.  It is the golden altar of incense, which belonged (along with the ark of the covenant) to the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle and temple.[1] The image of the angel offering incense and prayers on this heavenly golden altar, therefore, alludes to the image of a high priest doing the same on the earthly golden altar in the presence of the ark of the covenant.  By analogy, then, the ark of the covenant (also called The Mercy Seat of God) is the earthly representation of God’s heavenly throne.

v. 5: I believe a chronological narrative could be put together at this point.[2]

God puts his seal on the foreheads of his people who are still living on earth and destined to become martyrs under the reign of Beast I (7:1-3).  The symbolic number of those sealed is 144,000 (7:4-8).  The angel with the golden censor receives incense and prayers from the martyred saints under the bronze altar (8:3, 6:9-10[3]).  He takes these prayers and incense and offers them on the golden altar of incense before the throne of God (8:3).  The smoke of the incense rises before God, and he hears the prayers of his martyred saints (8:4).  In their prayers, the martyrs ask God when he will avenge their blood (6:10).  God comforts and honors the martyrs, telling them that their blood will be avenged (i.e., “the great day of God the Almighty”[4] will come) after the proper number of Christians destined for martyrdom has been reached (6:11). Then the cherubim unleash each of the four horsemen of the apocalypse (6:1-8), who have been held in check until now so that other angels could have enough time to place the seal of God on the Christians living on earth (7:1-3).     After this, the angel with the golden censor takes fire from the bronze altar where the martyrs are, fills his censor with it, and hurls it to the earth (8:5).  This act is an ominous prelude to the great day of God the Almighty, causing, among other things, a great earthquake (8:5).  Then “the great day of God the Almighty” (16:14)[5] itself begins.

[1] See note on Hebrews 9:4.

[2] See also 6:2 notes.

[3] I believe the saints in 8:3 are synonymous with the martyred saints of 6:9 because the prayers of the saints in 8:3 are mentioned in connection with “the [bronze] altar” where sacrifices were made and under which the martyred saints are in 6:9.

[4] For a discussion of this day, see notes at 20:4.

[5] For a discussion of this day, see notes at 20:4.

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Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 7, Part 2

Posted by lehunt on March 6, 2017

Third vision- with the opening of the fifth seal, the souls of the martyrs under the altar cry out and receive white robes; with the sixth seal, stars fall from the sky, and naked peoples of the earth // Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

(15th century manuscript)
Third vision- with the opening of the fifth seal, the souls of the martyrs under the altar cry out and receive white robes; with the sixth seal, stars fall from the sky, and naked peoples of the earth.

v. 9: Johnson believes this great multitude represents the Gentile Christians as opposed to the Jewish Christians, who he believes are represented by the 144,000.  This is a reasonable conclusion on one level since this great multitude is from “every nation” and the 144,000 were so overtly drawn from the tribes of Israel.  However, I do not think Johnson is correct.  I think this great multitude and the 144,000 represent the same thing: all the Christian martyrs (Jews and Gentiles) who “come out of the great ordeal” (7:14).  Here are my reasons:

1)  I believe the great multitude includes both Jews and Gentiles because its people are described by the elder as “they who have come out of the great ordeal,” not as “the Gentile Christians who have come out of the great ordeal.”  Besides, the 144,000 are described as “the servants of our God” (7:3) rather than “the Jewish servants of our God.”[5]

2) I believe the great multitude is made entirely of martyrs because the elder says that they have “come out of the great ordeal” and “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14).  An ordeal is a time of trial and suffering, a time that is likely to produce a number of martyrs.  This is called “the great ordeal,” and in the context of Revelation, this seems like a reference to the 3 ½ years during which Beast I “is allowed to make war on the saints” (13:7).  As for the white robes, it is true that all Christians (not just martyrs) are made pure by the blood of the Lamb (and could, therefore, be described metaphorically as wearing white robes), but I think that the white robes of these Christians in this great multitude allude to the white robe of 6:11, the robe given to the martyrs.

Thus, I believe the first vision (7:1-8) describes the sealing of all Christians (Jews and Gentiles) who will be martyred during the reign of Beast I.  This same group is represented in the next vision (7:9-17) to assure John (and us) that they would, in fact, be saved and honored.

One argument against this theory might point out that the group of 144,000 could be counted, whereas “no one could count” the great multitude, but this can be easily answered.  Saying that no one could count the multitude is merely a way of communicating the vastness of the multitude rather than a literal statement of fact.  The number, however large, must be finite since it represents a finite group (i.e., “those who come out of the great ordeal”)  of humanity, which is itself a finite group.  At the very least, God himself could count it, but I suspect others could too if they wanted to badly enough.

v. 13: I wonder why the elder asks John this.  Perhaps he is testing John or inviting him to ask the question himself.

v. 14: This great multitude does not depict all the redeemed humans who ever lived.  According to the elder, it only depicts those who will be martyred during the 3 ½ years of the reign of Beast I on earth, i.e., those who “come through the great ordeal.”

As I try to understand these visions, it is a little disconcerting to notice that John himself does not understand the vision until it is explained by the elder.  Oh well.…


 

[5] Remember Romans 2:28-29.

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