The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 21:1–4)

Passage Summary

John saw what seems to be a new (not renewed) heaven and earth (Rev 21:1; cf. 20:11). The sea and the principle of chaos it represented were no more (Rev 21:1; 13:1). A new and holy Jerusalem descended, personified to speak of the perfection of its inhabitants (Rev 21:2). A voice came from the throne of God but not from Him, loud for emphasis, to announce the coming of God’s tabernacle to permanently be among the redeemed (Rev 22:3). Tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain would be no more and have no place in a new and perfect creation (Rev 22:4).

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
21:1 Isa 65:17; 66:22 Both the OT and NT promise a new heavens and earth.
21:2 Isa 52:1 Jerusalem is called the holy city.
21:3 Lev 26:11-12; Ezek 37:27; 43:7 God will dwell among His people who will be His people, and He will be their God.
21:4 Isa 25:8; 35:10; 51:11; 65:17, 19 Death, tears, mourning, and the former things will be no more.

A Parting Thought 

All things news, old things gone, and perfect fellowship with God—place your hope in better things to come!


The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 20:11–15)

Passage Summary

John saw (in some limited fashion) God Himself sitting upon a great white throne in a time suspended between creations (Rev 20:11). However they may have died, all of the unbelieving dead stood before Him to answer for their deeds written in books opened before them, deeds that made it clear why their names were not written in the book of life (Rev 20:11–13; cf. 3:5). In this final judgment, neither death nor Hades were anymore necessary and therefore cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:14). Likewise, the unbelieving dead were thrown into the lake of fire, not having their names written in the book of life (Rev 20:15).

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
20:11 Dan 7:9 The Father sits on the throne among thrones.
20:12 Exod 32:32–33; Ps 69:28; Dan 12:1 Names in the OT book of life could be removed in judgment. The NT book of life contains only believers.
20:12 Ps 62:12; Dan 7:10 God judges according to men’s deeds, recorded in books opened at the judgment.
20:15 Exod 32:32-33; Dan 12:1 Those whose names are absent from the book of life, OT or NT, are eternally unrighteous.

A Parting Thought 

We should desire that every man would have his name written in the book of life (Exod 32:32–33). For ourselves, what a thought it is to know that our name will be one day read and commended by Christ before the Father and the angels!

In Christ, Like Christ

Galatians 3:27 states, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (ESV). In the context of Galatians 3:26–29 and 3:7–29 as a whole, Paul’s point is to stress that everyone who believes (including Gentiles) is in Christ and thus an heir to God’s promise of blessing to Abraham. By taking a moment to focus on the metaphors of this verse (baptism and clothing) and comparing their similarities to other passages, we can also see a simple thought and a good reminder—being in Christ means we should be like Christ.

The first metaphor involves baptism—when we believe, we are baptized into Christ. To be baptized into Him means that the Spirit of God has placed the believer in Christ and thus His body, the church (1 Cor 12:13). The second metaphor involves clothing—to “put on” something could also be translated to “clothe.” Thus, those baptized into Christ have also been clothed with Christ (so says Galatians 3:27).

Using the same verb, Paul commands elsewhere, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14 ESV). Putting on Christ is matched by not just putting off but also making no provision for fleshly, self-gratifying desires. Taking it a step further, we could say that to have “learned Christ” (Eph 4:20) is to have learned “to put off your old self” and “to put on the new self” (Eph 4:22, 24 ESV). Negatively, we are to shed and strip ourselves of all that we were when we were once mastered by sin. Positively, we are to be clothed with all that adorns someone who is now in Christ—our clothing should match who we are in Christ.

Making it very practical, when Paul speaks in this way, he also lists out various ways that we should abstain from sin and live like Christ. From passages that surround the verses mentioned above and others like it (Ephesians 4:25–32; see also Romans 13:11–14; Colossians 3:5–17), we could make a helpful couple of lists to see what should not and should adorn who we are as those who have been baptized into Christ. Negatively, we should cease from lying, stealing, corrupt talk, engaging in any kind of unrighteous anger towards others, any form of sexual immorality, and covetousness. Positively, we should love one another, speak the truth, work heartily and honestly in order to share with others, speak grace to our hearers, bear with their faults, and be kind, forgiving, compassionate, humble, meek, and patient. We could easily expand both lists, and Paul did not intend to be exhaustive.

Again, these things are simple in one sense, but they are sometimes difficult to do. Don’t let a good reminder pass you by. As we go into a new year and at any time, may we clothe ourselves with Christ and live out who we are in Him.


The Puzzle of the Pedagogue in Galatians 3:24–25

The Greek term paidagōs, from which we get our English pedagogue, has been given an array of translations and suggested translations: guardian, tutor, schoolmaster, disciplinarian, child-conductor, child-attendant, baby-sitter, custodian, and others. Sometimes it is translated as a verb, such as “put in charge.”

What makes this word interesting to translate is that it does not really have an English equivalent. It refers to someone who was usually a servant who was given the charge of overseeing a child to school and back until the child was of age to assume his responsibilities without supervision. This oversight could extend to discipline when the child disobeyed and reinforce the child’s education by reviewing his day’s lessons.

What makes it difficult to choose from the translations above is that this term is a metaphor for the Mosaic Law, which shapes how we perceive a large portion of Scripture, and what is yet more difficult to discern is just what point or points of similarity Paul intended between a paidagōs and the Law by using this metaphor.

“Context is king,” as one my professors used to say, and that maxim may be the key to determining the meaning of paidagōs in this passage.

In context, Paul has already been describing the Mosaic Law along the lines of its negative functions. It cannot justify (Gal 2:16), it curses those who do not obey it perfectly (Gal 3:10), and it gives no eternal inheritance to its adherents (Gal 3:18). If the law leaves its adherents in such shambles, the natural question is, “Why then the law?” (Gal 3:19). Paul vaguely answered his own question with the brief phrase “because of transgressions” (Gal 3:19; or, “for the sake of transgressions”), and his vagueness has led to a number of suggestions as to this phrase’s meaning. We at least know that the phrase uses the term “transgressions,” and a transgression is a specific kind of sin in which the sinner knowingly violates the Law.

Moving further along in the context, Paul relates the Law to sin by referring to the Law as “Scripture” which has “imprisoned everything under sin” (Gal 3:22). For all that we could include in “everything,” we can at least include ourselves as sinners, and we see that we, too, are imprisoned by the Law in Paul’s statement, “we were held under custody by the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed” (Gal 3:23). If the Law was added for the sake of defining sin and showing sinners how they transgress the commands of God, and if man is incapable of perfectly obeying the law, then the Law imprisons and holds us in custody by promising life for doing it but never giving life because we can never live up to its demands.

Insomuch as the Law was meant to teach these very truths, the Law corresponds to the teaching function of a paidagōs. And, because the Law was meant to last until Christ, its temporality corresponds to a paidagōs as well. If the penalty of the Law is in view (i.e., imprisonment, custody), then maybe there is a notion of severity that could correspond to a paidagōs as well.


The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 20:7–10)

Passage Summary

Satan is released from imprisonment in the abyss after 1,000 years (Rev 20:7), only to deceive the nations and amass from them an army from all those born into this time who rejected Christ (Rev 20:8). This army attempts to overcome Jerusalem, only to be quickly vanquished by heaven’s fire (Rev 20:9). Satan is then eternally judged by being thrown into the lake of fire, joining the Antichrist and his false prophet (Rev 20:10).

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
20:8 Ezek 38:2; 39:1, 6 God opposes and judges the Gog and Magog, whether literally or symbolically named.
20:9 Gen 19:24; 2 Kgs 1:9–12; Ezek 38:22; 39:6 Fire from heaven is God’s severe judgment for His enemies on multiple occasions.

A Parting Thought 

What a sad thing it will be for much of the world to have Jesus as King in Jerusalem and yet reject Him in the end. Apart from the grace of God, man will reject Him and worsen in his sin. Also, whatever the size of the army may be, and even if it be headed by Satan himself, no creatures can ever overcome their Creator.


The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 20:4–6)

Passage Summary

John saw thrones, occupied perhaps by the all of the saints who joined Christ in His descent (Rev 20:4; cf. 19:7–8, 14; 1 Cor 6:2–3). Distinct from this group, John then saw beheaded martyrs who were resurrected to reign with Christ for 1,000 years (Rev 20:4). This “first resurrection” would be followed by the dead’s coming to life after the 1,000 years for the “second death” (Rev 20:5, 6, 14). The first resurrection brings to its participants blessing, perfected holiness, victory over the second death, eternal access to God as priests, and royalty by sharing Christ’s 1,000-year rule (Rev 20:6; cf. 3:21).

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
20:4 Dan 7:9, 22, 27 Both John and Daniel see a scene with many thrones after which saints rule with Christ.
20:4 Dan 12:2 Some awake to everlasting life. Later, others wake to never-ending death.
20:6 Exod 19:6 Priests have access to God—a blessing limited to some in the OT but to all after Christ.

 A Parting Thought

Blessing, holiness, victory over death, access to God, and reigning with Christ—these are the blessings of those who overcome!


The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 20:1–3)

Passage Summary

After seeing Christ deal with the Antichrist and his forces, John then saw an angel come to earth with a key and a great chain (Rev 20:1). The angel bound Satan with the chain (Rev 20:2) and then used the key to open, shut, and seal the abyss where Satan would remain imprisoned for 1,000 years (Rev 20:3). Satan will be unable to deceive the nations for this time but for a mysterious necessity will be released for a little while thereafter (Rev 20:3).

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
20:1–3 Gen 3:1, 13–14; Isa 24:21–22 Satan is the ancient serpent who will be shut up for a time in prison and punished again thereafter.

A Parting Thought

If God has an angel stronger than Satan, and if God is obviously infinitely stronger than that angel, Satan’s schemes today are certainly not out of God’s domain. It is a mystery to us that God allows evil today and would loose Satan after a time of being bound. Nonetheless, God is sovereign, wise, and good, and will bring all these things together for the good of His people. Ultimately, Satan is judged, and God’s people enjoy eternity without him.


The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 19:17–21)

Passage Summary

After the descent of Christ and His army, anticipation of divine victory is intensified by an angel who noticeably stands in the sun and invites all the birds to eat of both man and horse that will be left for dead after battle (Rev 19:17–18). The Antichrist and his followers gathered to challenge Christ (Rev 19:19). The Antichrist and the false prophet are captured and thrown alive into the lake of fire (Rev 19:20). The rest of their army then fall in battle and are left to the vultures (Rev 19:21).

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
19:17–18 Isa 34:6–7; Ezek 39:17–18 In God’s day of vengeance, blood is shed, and the birds are invited to eat.
19:19 Ps 2:2; Joel 3:9–11 The kings of the earth align themselves against God and Christ.  
19:20 Isa 30:33: Dan 7:11 The end of a godless king and especially the antichrist is to be burned with fire.  
19:21 Ezek 39:19–20 The birds are filled and gorge with the flesh of fallen warriors.  

A Parting Thought

There is no nobility in rejecting Christ or facing His judgment at the end of time. Most do not receive a burial, and the leaders of His rejection are cast alive into eternal punishment. Let us beware of what befalls the enemies of Christ!


A Christmas Promise: Light and Life to All He Brings

From “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” the first two verses of the third stanza read as follows:

Hail, the heav’nborn Prince of Peace! Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings, Ris’n with healing in His wings.

“The heav’nborn Prince of Peace” is obviously the Messiah (see Isaiah 9:6), but our understanding of the rest of these verses is not so immediate. Malachi 4:2 states, “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings” (ESV). How is it that Christ is Malachi’s “Sun of Righteousness” who is “Ris’n with healing in His wings”?

Roughly 400 years before Christ, Malachi called Israel to faithfulness in light of her sins after returning to her land from exile. Malachi 3:13–4:3 gives an instance of these sins, recording Israel’s “hard words” against God claiming service to Him was profitless because the arrogant and evildoers lived in prosperity (Malachi 3:13–15). God responded that the unrighteous would indeed be judged and that the righteous would be protected (Malachi 3:16–4:3). The righteous would also experience the blessings of global righteousness and healing (Malachi 4:2).

Scripture often uses light as a metaphor for righteousness, and a king’s rule could shine righteousness over his land. As David once said, “When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning” (2 Samuel 23:3–4). Likewise, Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah’s rule, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Isaiah 9:2; cf. 9:6–7). The fullest light of Christ’s rule comes at the end of the ages. John saw of the New Jerusalem that “the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23; cf. 22:5).

Malachi then pictures the sun’s rays as wings taking healing to all. Wherever this sun shines righteousness, it also gives healing through its rays. David once spoke of the sun’s dawning rays as the “wings of the morning” that reach to “the uttermost parts of the sea” (Psalm 139:9). Wherever God’s righteous rule would be, so also would be His healing. The suffering of the Great Physician on the cross conquers not only sin but also its effects (Isaiah 53:4; cf. 35:5–6).

While Malachi did not speak directly of the Messiah as the sun with healing in His wings, this righteousness and healing obviously do not come apart from Him. As He will one day be the Lamp of the New Jerusalem, we can gladly permit the hymnist the poetic license to call Christ the Sun of Righteousness whose rising day brings Healing as far as His rays will fly.

Merry Christmas to all, and may we be the all to whom light and life He brings.

Christmas, the Face of Jesus, and the Story of the Gospel

It was a significant moment for some individuals when they saw the face of the infant Jesus. The Magi “saw the Child…and worshiped Him” (Matt 2:11). The shepherds “found…the baby.…When they had seen this…the shepherds returned, glorifying and praise God for all they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:16, 17, 20). Likewise, Simeon was promised “that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26) and would later say with the infant Jesus in his arms, “My eyes have seen Your salvation” (Luke 2:30). A proper perception of Jesus can only lead to worship because we see salvation in Him.

In the Scriptures as a whole, the story of looking on the face of God is one just one way to see the story of the gospel.

From an Innocent Look

In the beginning, man regularly saw the face of God. After Adam and Eve sinned, “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and…hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God” (Gen 3:8). (“Presence,” pānêh, could be translated “face” or at least assumes its visibility in this setting.) Apparently, Adam and Eve were accustomed to walking with the pre-incarnate Son of God in the garden before the fall of man into sin. He likely appeared to them as a man, showing His face to them.

To an Occasional Glimpse

As a consequence of sin, man lost the privilege of regularly being in God’s presence  and seeing His face (cf. Gen 3:22–24). In fact, man’s sinfulness led to fearing the presence and face of God. Just as Adam and Eve hid in the garden, so also men such as Moses, Elijah, and Manoah feared to look upon God (Exod 3:6; Judg 13:22; 1 Kgs 19:13). The rarity of seeing His face shifted language about the matter to become figurative for blessing and not to be understood in a literal manner (e.g., Num 6:24–26; Ps 11:7; 17:15; 31:16; 67:1; 80:3, 7, 19, 119:135). If anyone was to look upon the face of God, it was typically a prophet, and even then, to look upon God’s face was rare. Moses illustrates this fact. As he himself recounted, “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Exod 33:11), something so rare that it would later be said at his death, “Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deut 34:10).

But Look Again

But then, God sent His Son, and in seeing the Son, man also saw the Father. As Jesus said, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him” (John 14:7). His person, face included, had “no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to him” (Isa 53:2). At the same time, in showing us the Father, He was and “is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb 1:3).

So, though God had once banished man from being able to regularly see His face, He showed it on occasion and spoke regularly to Moses. Then, God the Son walked among man, and all who saw Him could see that God was now graciously speaking to man through His Son. How would they react?

Though some believed, the greater number eventually marred the face of Jesus, showing what he thought of Him as a whole. With words spoken on His behalf before His time, Jesus could have said, “I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting” (Isa 50:6). Told by Mark, “Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, ‘Prophesy!’ And the officers received Him with slaps in the face” (Mark 14:65).

Then, the Son of God was put on the cross, and as darkness overtook Golgotha, so also the Father forsook His Son. Perhaps we could say that He looked away from His face so that His Son who knew no sin could become sin for you and me so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (Mark 15:33–34; 2 Cor 5:21).

And See Him Now

And now, to our advantage (cf. John 16:7), we no longer physically see our Savior’s face. Rather, we see His face through the gospel. God makes our Savior’s face clear to us by pouring His light into our hearts and revealing to us the knowledge of His glory concerning our salvation through His Son (2 Cor 4:6). And while not seeing our Savior with the eyes of our heads, we see Him with the eyes of our hearts, believe in Him, love Him, and are eternally blessed for doing so (John 20:29; 1 Pet 1:8; cf. Eph 1:18). As we keep our eyes fixed upon Him, we run our Christian race until we one day join Him in heaven (Heb 12:1–2).

And See Him Fully in Time to Come

When we get there, we will be “face to face” with Jesus, knowing Him fully as we shall be fully known (1 Cor 13:12). We will be glorified and thus be “like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). And for us at that time, “They shall see His face” (Rev 22:4). What Adam lost long ago, we shall have in perfection and with no potential to lose it again.

May we see Jesus as the Magi, shepherds, and Simeon saw Him long ago—not only with our eyes, but also with our hearts, worshiping Him because we truly see Him for who He is, the Savior of the world. And may we thereby see His face one day when it shines on us forevermore.