After the thousands of pages that have been written and the years of experience that have gone into the complete deciphering of the book of Revelation, one might ask: how did the Bible foretell this, and why were the answers to the mysteries of the last days revealed not to any of the well-known prophets of today or to the many churches that are looking for the coming of the Lord? How could a little, unknown company of believers have received all this?
When Daniel received his vision concerning the 2300 evenings and mornings, he did not immediately understand it:
And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. (Daniel 8:14–15)
A key point is that because Daniel did not fully understand, he sought the meaning of the vision he had been given. One might well ask of the Christian churches today, have they understood the prophecies that have been in their hands for nearly two thousand years? Have Christians found the meaning of the Revelation, which is the prophecy of their Lord’s return?
It was because of Daniel’s yearning to understand the vision that God sent His angel Gabriel to him:
And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. (Daniel 8:16–17)
And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days. And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it. (Daniel 8:26–27)
Still, Daniel did not understand, but he kept studying the prophecies until he understood that the time of Israel’s deliverance from captivity was drawing nigh:
In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. (Daniel 9:2)
The preachers and prophets and dreamers of today might ask themselves whether they have studied the “books” (or websites) of other prophets enough to understand the times God has determined. Some look here a little and there a little to find confirmation for what God has shown them directly, but it is all too easy to take what one receives from the Lord and trust that it is sufficient and that God, who sometimes gives visions and dreams, does not require anything more of His people.
But Daniel studied to understand. He studied other prophets and found in the prophecies of Jeremiah that the time of deliverance was approaching. This caused him to humble himself and intercede for his people.
And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. (Daniel 9:4–6)
This is one of the great “chapter 9” prayers in the Bible that deserves to be re-read in its entirety. In it, Daniel pleads for the Lord to fulfill His promise to Israel, not for Israel’s merits, but for His own sake:
O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. (Daniel 9:18–19)
It was in this spirit of intercession and of humbling himself before God that Gabriel was sent again to Daniel to give him understanding:
Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. (Daniel 9:21–23)
The very next verse with which Gabriel begins to teach Daniel the meaning of the prophecies is the “70 weeks” that pointed to the years of the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the time of His first advent. This appearance of Gabriel to give Daniel understanding—i.e. to teach him how to study the Bible—in advance of the first advent of our Lord was a type for what would be needed in the last days before His second advent.
Today, the churches have scarcely a clue what the book of Revelation means. Many eschew it as something that is not relevant to them, putting it in the future beyond the rapture, which many believe will come before the tribulations mentioned in the book. Those who do understand some things have only bits and pieces here and there (often incorrect) with no cohesive or harmonious understanding of the entire Revelation as a whole.
For example, do you understand the mystery of the seven stars? Can you explain the meaning of the throne room of chapters 4 and 5? When do the seven trumpets sound, and why are there interludes between them? Prophets everywhere are speaking about the “birth pangs” or woes, but where is the “mountain cast into the sea” and all the warnings of the other trumpets that come before the woes? You believe that Jesus is coming, and you see warning signs all around as the troubles of the world press in; can you explain how these things were foretold in the book of Revelation?
One needs understanding. One needs the help of Gabriel—who delivered the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John—to teach them how to study the Word of God so they can learn to understand His voice—not in the same way as before. One needs to learn how to understand the heavenly signs as the key that has unlocked the mysteries of the Revelation.
To ignore the prophecies that God has given is to despise their Author. The book of Revelation was given by Jesus Christ! And He gives a blessing for those who keep the prophecy:
Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. (Revelation 22:7)
How does one “keep” the sayings of the book of Revelation?
According to Thayer’s, this word “keepeth” means “to attend to carefully,” and Strong’s says “to note (a prophecy; figuratively, to fulfil a command)” or to “watch.” This implies a study of the prophecies and an effort to “note” how they fulfill, to “watch” for the fulfillment, and to “attend to carefully” to ensure nothing goes missing. And how can one do that if one does not understand the prophecies? And how can one be blessed to “keep” these sayings, if one is raptured before the prophecies come to pass? Why should one heed the sayings of Revelation at all, if the rapture will take them away beforehand?
Ask around you—there is no other church in the world that can explain the book of Revelation in its entirety, cohesively and harmoniously, showing how all the pieces fit together and why they are structured and ordered as they are. No other church comes close! There is not a single other prophet or dreamer or preacher who can put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
Therefore, one was sent from heaven who had to put forth a lot of effort to listen to the voice of God and bring understanding of the prophecies. It was Gabriel who came down as in the experience of Daniel—this time to live as a man.
It took time and perseverance, studying and re-studying to develop a complete understanding—and along the way, to be transformed in character. Many point the finger and say, “But Jesus didn’t come when you said!” Or “Nothing happened on the dates you warned of!” But these are not the words of ones who seek understanding; the pages of time overwhelmingly prove that every warning was real and every date prophesied was accompanied by events foretold in God’s Word.
Things did not always happen as expected, nevertheless each step of the way led to further understanding of the revelations of God and a closer communion with Him, and in the end, God’s leading is perfect.
Gabriel came down to earth as a second witness from heaven—sharing the temptations, weaknesses, and perplexities of man—to teach man how to hear God’s voice. Those who despise his work are despising heaven itself.
God is the source of life and light and joy to the universe. Like rays of light from the sun, blessings flow out from him to all the creatures he has made. In his infinite love he has granted men the privilege of becoming partakers of the divine nature, and, in their turn, of diffusing blessings to their fellow-men. This is the highest honor, the greatest joy, that it is possible for God to bestow upon men. Those are brought nearest to their Creator who thus become participants in labors of love. He who refuses to become a “laborer together with God,”—the man who for the sake of selfish indulgence ignores the wants of his fellowmen, the miser who heaps up his treasures here,—is withholding from himself the richest blessing that God can give him.
It is our hope and expectation that you also become laborers together with God, teaching others from the vast bounty of light that has been brought to the world as prophesied in Revelation 18.
And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. (Revelation 18:1)
May you be counted among those who “keep the sayings of this book,” as it is written.
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. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. (Revelation 22:8–9)
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