Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
From Leigh An: Today, we come to the end of our journey through the Bible. I, for one, have learned so much and can honestly say that this is the best thing I have ever done. I have a much better grasp of who I am and what this life is all about. One year to study the whole Bible is not enough for me. I understand most of the big picture points of the Bible, but I want to understand more of even the little stuff. The Bible-in-a-year project is done today, but there are more ideas culminating, so be on the lookout. Our time-frame is uncertain. Only God will tell us that. Just check back in periodically to see what we are up to. But, we will take a pretty long break to rest, regroup, plan and study. Thanks for joining us. Happy New Year!
From Rob: I am greatly pleased by how well this project has turned out, so thanks a lot for being a part of the journey. I hope that my answers were helpful, and that God was able to speak into your life as we walked through the Bible together. He certainly has spoken into mine. This is the first time I have read the Bible cover to cover. I had read probably 95% of it at some point, mostly in seminary, but to tackle it bit by bit, day by day, was a worthy challenge, and I am glad that we were able to complete it as a joint project. To me, there is no more worthwhile investment then learning about and consuming what God’s Word has for us. It bears the words of Truth and salvation that cannot be found anywhere else, and I praise God for His blessing to His people in all times and places. I pray that you will keep reading, and that by doing so you can walk the path that leads to life eternal. May God bless your journey!
New Living Translation, Biblegateway.com
Songs of Victory in Heaven
19 After this, I heard what sounded like a vast crowd in heaven shouting,
“Praise the Lord![a]
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.
2 His judgments are true and just.
He has punished the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality.
He has avenged the murder of his servants.”
3 And again their voices rang out:
“Praise the Lord!
The smoke from that city ascends forever and ever!”
4 Then the twenty-four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshiped God, who was sitting on the throne. They cried out, “Amen! Praise the Lord!”
5 And from the throne came a voice that said,
“Praise our God,
all his servants,
all who fear him,
from the least to the greatest.”
6 Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder:
“Praise the Lord!
For the Lord our God,[b] the Almighty, reigns.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice,
and let us give honor to him.
For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb,
and his bride has prepared herself.
8 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.”
For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.
9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”
10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters[c] who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.[d]”
The Rider on the White Horse
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. 15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. 16 On his robe at his thigh[e] was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky: “Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared. 18 Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great.”
19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies.
The Thousand Years
20 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit[f] and a heavy chain in his hand. 2 He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. 3 The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while.
4 Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5 This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.
The Defeat of Satan
7 When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. 8 He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. 9 And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them.
10 Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
The Final Judgment
11 And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. 12 I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave[g] gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. 14 Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. 15 And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.
The New Jerusalem
21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.[h] 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
8 “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
9 Then one of the seven angels who held the seven bowls containing the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come with me! I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
10 So he took me in the Spirit[i] to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone—like jasper as clear as crystal. 12 The city wall was broad and high, with twelve gates guarded by twelve angels. And the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates. 13 There were three gates on each side—east, north, south, and west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 The angel who talked to me held in his hand a gold measuring stick to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 When he measured it, he found it was a square, as wide as it was long. In fact, its length and width and height were each 1,400 miles.[j] 17 Then he measured the walls and found them to be 216 feet thick[k] (according to the human standard used by the angel).
18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. 19 The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones:[l] the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.
21 The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.
22 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. 24 The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. 25 Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. 26 And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city. 27 Nothing evil[m] will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
22 Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit,[n] with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.
3 No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. 4 And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.
6 Then the angel said to me, “Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires his prophets,[o] has sent his angel to tell his servants what will happen soon.[p]”
Jesus Is Coming
7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.[q]”
8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. 9 But he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!”
10 Then he instructed me, “Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.”
12 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. 15 Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne.[r] I am the bright morning star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. 18 And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.
20 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
21 May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.[s]
Questions & Observations
Q. I should have asked this already, but I didn’t. Why is John having a vision about Babylon when the end of days is yet to come and Babylon is not around anymore? (Go to Wikipedia.com and search Babylon for a nice bit of history and a modern photo of her remnants.)
A. There are two assumptions that you are making here that need to be corrected: as we discussed, the woman is Rome, not Babylon, which does still exist, and is now the center of the Christian world, at least for the billion or so Roman Catholics. But the larger issue is that we must understand that what John has been doing is casting a vision to give comfort to those who are followers of God. Even if Rome did not exist today, there is no less comfort in the message of Revelation, and that message is that God is victorious because of what He has done through Jesus Christ. The message is meant to be encouragement to the faithful, not to say “where” such events will take place. I simply wouldn’t read this section of the book like that.
Q. (Revelation 19:9-10): This passage puts believers on an even playing field with angels. I would say these believers are holy.
A. Angels and men are both created beings so in that sense, they are on a level playing field.
Q. (19:11): Is Jesus the rider on the white horse?
A. He’s the One. Max Lucado makes an interesting observation about this description in his book, When Christ Comes — which I highly recommend for anyone interested in End Times studies, it is very approachable. Lucado walks us through the entire text of Revelation, and notes that everyone is wearing white…except Jesus. The Rider on this horse has a robe dipped in blood, and the reason for this is important to understand: He has switched clothes with all those who believe in Him. They are given the white robe that He rightly deserves, and He wears the robe of their sin and punishment. What an amazing image!
Q. (19:15): Maybe the “sharp sword” here is Scripture?
A. The sword represents divine judgment, which is spoken from His mouth.
Q. (19:19-21): The beast is the devil? There have been several beasts mentioned though. So, how about the false prophet? Who is he/she? And, what about the antichrist. Do we know any more particulars about him?
A. No, there are two beasts and one dragon. The first beast is the Antichrist (the one out of the sea), and the second beast is those who lead the worship of the first beast (basically representing the worship of men, especially Emperors as was common in the Roman world). The dragon is Satan. The word antichrist gets tossed around a lot related to this book, but I would point out that the word is not used a single time in this entire book. We have very limited knowledge about who this person is/will be, but we know that his actions will lead many to stray from God, so our world already has plenty of antichrists today. I can’t really say if there will be THE one true, Antichrist, but if there is one, he will be a powerful leader and ruler of many. But what motivates him will not be God, but God’s enemy.
Q. (20:1-6): So we can assume that these 1,000 years will really happen. Everything God says — and he’s speaking through John here — is true. Another question about the already dead: do their whole bodies die, even their Spirit? Do they just hang out? And, are they dead with no sense at all or are their spirits lingering? Is it wrong to hope that I’m already dead and don’t have to witness that wrath. I guess it’s not a big deal to witness it as long as I hold firm my beliefs.
A. 1,000 years is symbolic of the completion of a task or trial, so there is no reason to assume that we will be waiting around for a literal thousand-year period. It sounds boring, as you say. Having said that, there are various interpretations of the book (I frankly don’t put much stock in them, but they are out there), and several of the divisions between them focus in on how to interpret the thousand-year period.
Q. Other questions I missed asking in the same passage: This passage seems to be more believable, especially in comparison to the beasts, dragons, etc. That means the act of doing something is easier than doing it begrudgingly. My only guess is because it could erase the generations and generations of teaching kids bad things.
A. Chapter 20 as a whole is not about motivation, or begrudging action, but rather God symbolically setting things to rights. And while it contains less vivid imagery (though the dragon is still there), the actions are no less symbolic. How else could “death” and “the grave” be thrown into hell? This is symbolic language for saying that these things will be removed from the world to come — the Second Coming is the end of death, and there will no longer be a grave to hold the dead, for there will be no dead.
Q. (Revelation 20:7-10): Burning sulfur has been used a lot when referring to the fiery furnace, any significance to that? And, is the fiery lake for all unbelievers or just the devil, the beast and a false prophet?
A. 20:15 tells us plainly that those who do not belong to God — their names are not in His book — are cast into the lake of fire. We can go into lots of ideas about what this means, but the bottom line, for me, is that there is a reality that God will judge us according to our actions, and those who do not have the grace of Jesus to turn to could be in very serious trouble. Brimstone (the old word for sulfur) was frequently found among hot springs and volcanoes in that part of the world, so the idea of burning sulfur came to be associated with judgment. To add insult to injury, brimstone smells awful, which is part of the reason that it was so noticeable in hot places.
Q. (20:13): What is meant by “death” and “grave”?
A. The reality of death and the “holding place” of those who have died. Both of them will pass away in the world to come.
Q. (21:10): Jerusalem is the metaphorical city for heaven? Does it say anywhere in the Bible that these “metaphors” are intentional?
A. Heaven should be understood as the place where God dwells, as well as the place where those who serve Him live as well. So in this vision of the coming kingdom, the dead do not float up to the clouds and get their wings and harps as we so frequently see heaven depicted, but that there is a new union of heaven and earth not seen since…the Garden. It is not a coincidence that the Tree of Life makes its return in this story (22:2): the right relationship between God and man has been restored, and God can give man the privilege of living forever without worrying about the separation. The separation of death and sin is gone. So Revelation shows us that the end result of Jesus’ work is NOT us going to heaven, but rather heaving COMING TO US! Right relationship is restored by God’s actions in Jesus for those who believe. It is an amazing passage, one of my favorites.
Q. (22:21): The Bible usually mentions God’s grace not Jesus’s. Why is that?
A. God is the one word we can use for all three Persons of the Trinity. There is no need to refer to the grace of the Spirit or Jesus or the Father when one can simply refer to it as God’s grace.
And with that, I am signing off…