Tag Archives: book of Revelation

Ranko Stefanovic on the Editorial Changes to His Lesson Manuscript on Rev 19-22

This is the last posting of the quarter. It has been a joy to share the insights of my friend, Ranko Stefanovic, on the revisions to his lesson on Revelation in the Adult Bible Study Guide series. Below you will find his analysis of this week’s revisions, followed by his original manuscript. All the words that follow are his:

This is the final lesson of this year’s SS Quarterly on the Book of Revelation. For me, this quarterly has been a great educational experience. I received numerous emails, phone calls, and text and FB messages with different comments. About 95% of the messages were highly positive. It appears that both the standard and teachers editions have impacted both the minds and lives of many Adventists across the globe. All the glory to God for that. I want to express thanks to my friend Jon Paulien for his significant contribution to this SS Quarterly.

This final lesson has undergone some unnecessary alterations, although my original intention in the original manuscript has been retained in most cases.

The first half of the Sunday lesson was significantly altered. The following paragraphs have been replaced by a long quotation from Ellen White’s writings:

“As John described Christ’s return and his subsequent union with his people, he had ancient Jewish weddings in mind. The prospective bridegroom would go to the house of the bride-to-be for the betrothal. Upon payment of the dowry, the couple was considered married, but they could not live together. The groom would return to his father’s house to prepare a place for them. The bride remained at her father’s house to prepare herself. When the preparations had been made, the groom would return to take his bride to his father’s house, where the wedding would take place.

Two thousand years ago, Christ left His heavenly home to be betrothed to his bride on earth. After paying the dowry with His life at Calvary, He returned to His Father’s house to “prepare a place” for His bride (see John 14:2-3), while His bride remained on earth preparing herself. At the end of time, He will come back and take her to His Father’s house.”

The rest of the Sunday lesson has been edited, and in some cases, the edits improved the text.

The Monday lesson, except for the questions that begin and conclude that day’s content, has been completely altered, as the exegetical analysis of the biblical text was mostly replaced with a long quote from Ellen White.

The edits in the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday lessons did not change my intention in the original manuscript, but rather improved the quality of the text, except that the following sentences were removed from the middle part of the Thursday lesson:
“The New Jerusalem thus functions not only as the temple but also as the Most Holy place. In the earthly temple, only the high priest could enter the Most Holy place. In the New Jerusalem, this is a privilege granted to all the redeemed.”

Lesson 13 * March 23-29

“I Make All Things New”

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Rev. 19:6-9; 20:1-15; 21:1-8; 22:6-21; John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 6:2-3; 1 Pet. 3:10-13.
Memory Text: “Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful’” (Revelation 21:5, NKJV).
The destruction of end-time Babylon is bad news for those who collaborated with this apostate religious system for personal benefit and gain because Babylon’s downfall means their own loss. For God’s people, however, it is good news (Rev. 19:1-6). Babylon was responsible for inducing the secular political powers to persecute and harm them (Rev. 18:24). The destruction of this great adversary means deliverance and salvation. This salvation is possible only after the total annihilation of this opponent of God and enemy of God’s people.
With the destruction of Babylon, the prayer of God’s people in the scene of the fifth seal is ultimately answered. Their cry: “How long, O Lord?” represents the cry of God’s oppressed and suffering people from Abel to the time when God will finally vindicate His people (Ps. 79:5; Hab. 1:2; Dan. 12:6-7). The Book of Revelation assures God’s people that the evil, oppression, and suffering will come to an end.
With the downfall of end-time Babylon, it is now time for Christ to come and usher in His everlasting kingdom. The remaining chapters of the book describe the conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon to explain how the destruction of end-time Babylon will actually occur (see Rev. 19:11-21). This is followed by the destruction of Satan as the great archenemy of God at the end of the millennium and of those who sided with him (Rev. 20). The end of evil means a new beginning with the establishment of God’s everlasting kingdom, which will be free of pain and suffering.
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, December 29.

Sunday March 24
The Wedding Supper of the Lamb
The vision begins with a jubilant rejoicing in heaven celebrating what God has done for His people and an announcement that the long awaited union between Christ and his people is about to take place.
Read Revelation 19:6-9 along with John 14:1-3. How does a wedding appropriately illustrate the long awaited union between Christ and His people?
As John described Christ’s return and his subsequent union with his people, he had ancient Jewish weddings in mind. The prospective bridegroom would go to the house of the bride-to-be for the betrothal. Upon payment of the dowry, the couple was considered married, but they could not live together. The groom would return to his father’s house to prepare a place for them. The bride remained at her father’s house to prepare herself. When the preparations had been made, the groom would return to take his bride to his father’s house, where the wedding would take place.
Two thousand years ago, Christ left His heavenly home to be betrothed to his bride on earth. After paying the dowry with His life at Calvary, He returned to His Father’s house to “prepare a place” for His bride (see John 14:2-3), while His bride remained on earth preparing herself. At the end of time, He will come back and take her to His Father’s house.
How does the symbol of the bride appropriately describe God’s people as they await Christ’s return? What does the statement that the bride was “granted” to be arrayed in fine and clean dress suggest about salvation (see Isa. 61:10; Phil. 2:12-13)?
Revelation 19:8 states that the fine and clean linen were given to the bride by Christ. This shows that God’s people do not claim any merit for their deeds. The robes of God’s people represent “the righteous acts of the saints.” They are supplied to them by Christ, not made by them, and are washed in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14). Jesus told a parable about a wedding. However, one of the guests preferred to wear his own attire instead of the wedding garment provided by the king, and was expelled from the wedding (Matt. 22:8-14).
Revelation 3:18 shows that the robes provided by Christ is the greatest need of God’s people living at the time of the end. That Jesus offers the Laodiceans to “buy” from him that robe shows that he asks for something in exchange: our self-sufficiency and trust in ourselves and our good works.
Revelation portrays God’s end-time people both as the bride preparing for the wedding and the invited guests? What truth do these two symbols convey to you personally?

Monday March 25
The Conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon
In Revelation 5, John watched as Christ was bestowed with authority to rule. However, His rule has been constantly defied by Satan’s usurping claims. The time has come for Christ to fight the decisive battle against Satan and his forces and assume His rightful rule.
Read Revelation 19:11-16 along with 16:12-14. What does Christ’s name as “the Word of God” and the fact that the sword comes from His mouth suggest about the nature of the final battle?
Christ is accompanied by “the armies in heaven” who are pictured as riding on white horses and “clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” This is the robe of the end-time saints signifying their righteous deeds (see Rev. 19:8). Revelation 17:14 shows that the end-time saints will accompany Christ in the final battle. In Revelation 7, they are portrayed as the militant 144,000 ready to enter the final battle. While in reality on the earth waiting for translation (1 Thess. 4:16-17), God’s people are spiritually already in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). They are portrayed as joining Christ in defeating the enemy’s forces.
Read Revelation 19:17-21 along with 6:15-17. The link between the two texts shows that the destruction of the wicked occurs in the context of the Second Coming. The scene here reflects ancient battlefields following a decisive battle. Compare the gruesome language here with the vision in Ezekiel 39:17-21, which describes the judgment of the pagan nation Gog.
In the sixth plague, the satanic triad entices the world leaders to engage in the battle against God’s end-time people. A worldwide confederacy is formed (Rev. 16:13-16). At that point, Christ appears on the scene (Dan. 12:1) and overthrows the satanic confederacy. Revelation 6:15-17 pictures the mighty men running in panic to hide from the Lamb’s wrath. The two members of the satanic triad—the beast and the false prophet—are cast into the lake of fire. The lake of fire here refers to the earth destroyed by fire, denoting the ultimate end of all rebellion against God.
The rest of the people are killed by the sword proceeding from Christ’s mouth. Paul explains that they are destroyed by the glory of Christ’s appearance (2 Thess. 1:8-10). The whole earth now resembles a battlefield filled with dead bodies. The defeat of the evil confederacy is total and complete.
Chapter 19 describes two suppers. Readers have a choice either to eat at the wedding supper of the Lamb or to be on the menu of the scavengers at the great supper of God. All have to make a choice.

Tuesday March 26
The Millennium
The Battle of Armageddon ends with the complete defeat of the satanic confederacy. Satan’s two allies are thrown into the lake of fire while the rest of the people are slain, awaiting the final judgment. The only person left is Satan.
Read Revelation 20:1-3 along with Jeremiah 4:23-26. During the millennium, how does the desolated and depopulated earth resemble Palestine during the exile? In what way is Satan bound by chains?
The 1,000 years (or millennium) begin with the return of Christ. At this time, Satan and his fallen angels are chained. The chaining of Satan is symbolic because spiritual beings cannot be physically bound. Satan is bound by circumstances. The plagues have desolated and depopulated the earth, bringing it into a chaotic condition resembling the earth before creation (Gen 1:2). In such a state, the earth functions as Satan’s prison during the millennium. Since there are no human beings to tempt and harm, all Satan and his demonic associates can do is contemplate the consequences of their rebellion against God.
Read Revelation 20:4-15. Where are the saints during the millennium? What happens at the end of the millennium? How is Satan unchained? In what way will Satan’s ultimate defeat occur? How will the final judgment take place?
Revelation shows that God’s people will spend the millennium in the heavenly places Christ prepared for them. John sees them sitting on thrones as kings and priests, judging the world. Jesus promised the disciples that they would “sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28). Paul stated that the saints would judge the world (1 Cor. 6:2-3).
This judgment concerns the fairness of God’s actions towards His creation. Throughout history Satan has raised many doubts concerning God’s character and His dealings with the beings He created. During the millennium, God allows the redeemed to access the records of history in order to find answers to all questions concerning the fairness of His decisions regarding those who were lost as well as questions dealing with His leading in their own lives. At the conclusion of the millennium, all questions regarding God’s justice are forever settled. God’s people are able to see beyond a shadow of doubt that Satan’s accusations were unfounded. They are now ready to witness the administration of God’s justice at the final judgment.
Do you have some questions regarding the farness of God’s dealing in your personal life as well as in the lives of others? Does it help to know that one day we will get answers to those questions?

Wednesday March 27
“No More Sea”
With the eradication of sin, eternity begins. This earth is to be transformed into the home of the redeemed. In portraying the new earth and life on it, John draws much of the language from Genesis 1-3.
Read Revelation 21:1. In your view, why is the first thing that catches John’s attention the absence of the sea on the new earth?
The Jewish people knew three heavens: the sky, the universe, and where God dwells (see 2 Cor. 12:2). In Revelation 21:1, the earth’s atmosphere is in view. The contaminated earth and the sky cannot endure God’s presence (Rev. 20:11). The word “new” in Greek (kainos) refers to something new in quality, not in origin and time. This planet will be purged by fire and restored to its original state (2 Pet. 3:10-13).
Particularly interesting is that the first thing John observes on the new earth is that there is no longer any sea. While the oceans will undeniably cease???? to exist, the fact that John refers to “the sea” (with the definite article) shows that he had in mind the sea by which he was surrounded on Patmos, which became for him a symbol of separation and suffering. The absence of that sea on the new earth for him meant the absence of pain and suffering.
Read Revelation 21:2-8 and 7:15-17. What parallels do you see between the descriptions of the new earth and the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2? Why do you think life on the new earth is described in terms of what it will not be?
A life free of suffering and death on the restored earth is guaranteed by God’s presence among His people. This presence is realized with the New Jerusalem, “the tabernacle of God” where God will dwell among His people. The presence of God makes the city the temple of the restored earth.
God’s presence guarantees freedom from suffering: no tears, death, sorrow, crying, or pain, which are all the consequences of sin. With the eradication of sin “the former things have passed away (NKJV).” This idea was well articulated by Mary and Martha at the death of their brother Lazarus: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, NKJV). The sisters knew that death could not exist in the presence of Christ. In the same way, the abiding presence of God on the new earth will secure freedom from the pain and suffering that we now experience in this life.
What does it mean for you personally that God will on the new earth dwell among His people?

Thursday March 28
The New Jerusalem
John now describes the new-earth’s capital. While a real place inhabited by real people, the New Jerusalem and life therein are beyond any earthly description (see 1 Cor. 2:9). The city is portrayed in terms of ancient fortified cities, the Old Testament temple, and a restored Eden.
Read Revelation 21:9-21a. What are the exterior features of the New Jerusalem? Why do you think the city is pictured as surrounded by colossal walls even though there is nothing on the new earth to harm it?
The New Jerusalem is referred to as the bride, the Lamb’s wife. In Revelation 19:7-8 this metaphor is applied to God’s people. The New Jerusalem is the place where Christ will ultimately be united with His people.
The city is surrounded by a high wall with twelve gates—three gates on each of the four sides allowing entry from any direction. This points to the universal scope of the city. In the New Jerusalem, everybody has unlimited access to God’s presence.
The city is further pictured as a perfect cube; it is 12,000 furlongs or stadia in length, width, and height. The cube consists of twelve edges. Thus, the city totals 144,000 stadia, which is the number of the totality of God’s people (Rev. 7:4). In the Old Testament temple, the Most Holy place was a perfect cube (1 Kings 6:20). The New Jerusalem thus functions not only as the temple but also as the Most Holy place. In the earthly temple, only the high priest could enter the Most Holy place. In the New Jerusalem, this is a privilege granted to all the redeemed.

Read Revelation 21:21b-22:5. What interior features of the city remind you of the Garden of Eden? What is the significance of the statement that there will be no more curse in the city (Rev. 22:3)?
The most prominent feature of the New Jerusalem is the river of water of life flowing from God’s throne (see Gen. 2:10). In contrast to the river in Babylon at which God’s people were sitting as captives longing for Jerusalem (Ps. 137), on the banks of the river of life in the New Jerusalem, God’s wandering people of all ages have found their home.
On both sides of the river is the tree life with leaves for “the healing of the nations.” This healing does not refer to disease, as on the new earth there will be no disease. It refers to healing all the wounds caused by the barriers that have torn people apart throughout history. The redeemed of all ages and from all nations now belong to one family of God.

Friday March 29
Further Thought: Read Ellen G. White, “Desolation of the Earth” and “The Controversy Ended,” pp. 653-678, in The Great Controversy, pp. 653-678.
The Book of Revelation concludes with what was introduced at the very beginning: the Second Coming of Christ in power and glory and the establishment of God’s everlasting kingdom. The return of Christ, when He will finally be united with His bride, is the climactic point in the book.
However, the book does not want to put these events in an unrealistic context. That Jesus is coming soon is the first reality. The second reality is that we are still here waiting for His return. While waiting, we must have a clear understanding of the messages of Revelation by reading it again and again until the end of all things comes. The messages of the Book of Revelation constantly remind us while waiting not to look to the things of the world but to fix our eyes on Him who is our only hope. The Christ of Revelation is the answer to all human hopes and longings amidst the enigmas and uncertainties of life. He holds the future of this world and our own future in His hands.
The book also reminds us that, before the end comes, we are entrusted with the task of proclaiming the message of His soon return, first to the members of our own family who do not have a relationship with Him, then to our neighbors, to people where we work, or as missionaries throughout the world. Our waiting for His return is not passive, but active. Both the Spirit and the church call: “Come!” (Rev. 22:17). We must join that call. It is the good news, and as such, it must be proclaimed to the people of the world.
Discussion Question:
What lessons do the description of the new earth in Revelation speak to you? How does it impact your life and your preferences in life?
Many times Christians are accused of talking much about the future and spending little time focusing on the present. How has your study of Revelation helped you understand that, while looking forward to the fulfillment of the blessed hope, you can have a fulfilling and content life today?
Revelation 1:3 promises blessings to those who listen, read, heed, and keep the words of the prophecies of Revelation. As we conclude our study of this book, what are the things you have discovered that you need to heed and keep?

Revelation Teacher’s Quarterly, Week 13, March 23-30 Analysis of Changes Made in the Editorial Process for the Teacher’s Edition

Basic theme: Revelation 19-22

The changes to the Teacher’s Edition of the Adult Sabbath School Study Guide (known popularly as the Sabbath School Quarterly) for January to March 2019 were fairly minimal except for one major omission. I will review the changes that were interesting or substantive.

In the Lesson Themes part of the Overview, there are six themes, only one of which had any elaboration beyond the title. That is probably why my one elaboration (“The meaning of the “’new’ earth” for Lesson Theme I) was removed.

Under Main Themes I of the Commentary section, the second paragraph was removed. I include it here for your consideration. “Related to this, it is interesting that Genesis 1 describes the creation of the original earth as a recycling project rather than something built from nothing (Gen. 1:2-3). In conclusion, the total evidence related to the new earth falls short of certainty on this matter. What we do know is that God is not indebted to pre-existing matter, yet He seems rather fond of recycling.” I don’t know whether this was simply removed to save space or whether some part of it was offensive in some way. Let me know what you think.

In Main Themes II the word “metaphorical” was added to “souls under the altar.” I think that addition was a good idea. Minor edits in Main Themes III through VI were either OK or improved my original.

In Life Application 1 I wrote “While there will be no conversions in heaven, there will be an ongoing need for personal and relational growth.” This was changed to “There will be a need for coming to terms with the fact that some are there and some are not.” I think that is true, but I suspect there is even more. People will not only have to deal with who is missing, they will also likely have to deal with who is there. Imagine a concentration camp guard at Auschwitz is converted afterward and meets one or more of his Jewish victims in heaven. Do you think there might need to be some relational processing going on between them before either is fully ready to enjoy eternity? The leaves of the Tree of Life will be for the healing of the nations. Physical healing? I suspect not. More likely emotional and relational healing is in view. I can understand that such considerations may be considered too speculative for an “official” study guide, but I suspect there may be some healthy discussion about anyway that this week, so I thought I should share this perspective.

I think you can see that editing the Sabbath School lessons and their Teacher’s Editions is a challenging task. One cannot simply utilize editorial skills and Bible knowledge, there is a whole world of expectations to satisfy, both from central leadership and from the wider field of pastors and lay people. Today anyone can have a “bully pulpit” and attract a small or large segment of followers from around the church. Such groups exert pressure and sometimes affect editorial decisions. Although the results are sometimes (some would say often) disappointing from a scholarly perspective, I respect the process. As regards my own Teacher’s Edition, the outcome is probably the best that could have been expected.

Again, for those who don’t have access to the standard printed edition of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide or the Teacher’s Edition for this quarter, you can access them online week by week at https://www.absg.adventist.org/. My original pre-edited Teacher’s Edition manuscript for this week is provided in the previous blog. You can also download audio of me teaching the lesson ahead of time each week at http://pineknoll.org/sabbath-school-lessons.

Original Teachers Notes for Rev 19-22

I share here in blog form my original manuscript of this week’s (March 24-30) Sabbath School Adult Teacher’s Edition for people to compare with the edited version. The changes were not massive or disruptive in most cases. I share my analysis of the changes in the next blog. These comments are related to the standard quarterly edition written primarily by my friend Ranko Stefanovic.

LESSON 13
“I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW”

Part I: Overview

Key Text: Rev. 21:5.

Study Focus: Revelation nineteen through twenty-two begins with final events just before and during the Second Coming of Jesus (Rev. 19) and then gives readers a glimpse of the future beyond that event; through the millennium (Rev. 20) and into eternity (Rev. 21 and 22).

Introduction: The last four chapters of the book of Revelation offer the clearest and most detailed account in the Bible of events just before, during and after the Second Coming. While there are hints of a millennium elsewhere in the Bible (1 Cor. 15:20-22; Isa. 26:19-22), this is the only place where such a time period is clearly laid out. The account of the thousand years comes between the Second Coming of Jesus and his third and permanent return to this earth.

Lesson Themes: The lesson and the Focus passage introduce the following themes:

1. Will God Transform the Old Earth or Make a New One? The meaning of the term “new” earth.
2. Relation of Babylon’s Fall to the Fifth Seal.
3. Three Views of the Millennium.
4. Will Eternity End Up Boring? What Will God’s People Be Doing With All That Time?
5. The Backgrounds That Explain the New Jerusalem.
6. The Shape of the New Jerusalem, Pyramid or Cube?

Life Application. The Life Application section explores God’s purpose for both the thousand years of Rev. 20 and for biblical prophecy. The final Life Application explores how to respond to the teachings of Revelation.

Part II. Commentary

See Introduction of Part I for brief summaries of Rev. 19-22.

Main Themes of Lesson 13 Elaborated:
1. Will God Transform the Old Earth or Make a New One?
Rev. 20:11 states that the old earth and sky “fled away” from the presence of the one seated on the great white throne (ESV, RSV). Good synonyms for “fled away” (Greek: ephugen) are “vanish” and “disappear.” Since “no place was found for them” after they vanished, it could imply that when God makes “all things new” (Rev. 21:5, NKJV) He will build a brand, new earth rather than “recycle” the materials of the old earth into the new one. On the other hand, Wednesday’s lesson points out that “new” in Greek (kainos) means something new in quality rather than in origin or time (see 2 Cor. 5:17, but notice also Mark 2:21, where new in time is also implied).
Related to this, it is interesting that Genesis 1 describes the creation of the original earth as a recycling project rather than something built from nothing (Gen. 1:2-3). In conclusion, the total evidence related to the new earth falls short of certainty on this matter. What we do know is that God is not indebted to pre-existing matter, yet He seems rather fond of recycling.

2. Relation of Babylon’s Fall to the Fifth Seal. Sabbath afternoon’s lesson states: “With the destruction of Babylon, the prayer of God’s people, in the scene of the fifth seal, is ultimately answered.” How so? Rev. 19:1-2 makes a strong allusion to Rev. 6:10. In that verse, the souls under the altar cry out to God: “How long will it be before you “judge” and “avenge” our blood. . .” (Rev. 6:10, NRSV)? What the Greek literally says is “How long. . . not judging (Greek: krineis) and not avenging (Greek: ekdikeis)?” The verb “is” or “will be” is understood in the original and can be appropriately inserted into a translation. From the perspective of the souls under the altar, there is no evidence that God is judging or avenging their cases.
It is striking, therefore, that Rev. 19 uses the same two judgment words (“judging” and “avenging”) in the past tense to describe the fall of Babylon. The great multitude in heaven celebrate the fact that God has “judged (Greek: ekrinen) the great prostitute. . . and has avenged (Greek: exedikêsan) on her the blood of his servants” (Rev. 19:2, ESV). There is a clear relationship between the prayer of the fifth seal and the fall of Babylon.

3. Three Views of the Millennium. 1) Pre-millenialism: the Second Coming of Jesus is before the thousand years. 2) Post-millennialism: The Second Coming of Jesus is at the end of the thousand years. 3) Amillennialism: The thousand years are simply a metaphor for the entire Christian age, there is no literal thousand years. The latter view requires that the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-5) at the beginning of the millennium be a spiritual one, the new creation that comes with the gospel (John 5:22-25; 2 Cor. 5:17).
What is the biblical evidence for pre-millennialism, the Seventh-day Adventist position on the thousand years of Rev. 20? 1) The structure of Revelation. The dragon (chapter 12), beast (13), false prophet (13) and Babylon enter the end-time picture in that order. They then exit in reverse order: Babylon (18), false prophet (19), beast (19) and dragon (20). If the beast, the false prophet and Babylon have passed off the scene by Rev. 20:3, the millennium must be after the second coming. (2) The normal meaning of “came to life” (Greek: ezêsan, Rev. 20:4) and “resurrection” (Greek: anastasis, Rev. 20:5) is bodily resurrection not a spiritual one (John 11:25; Rom 14:9; Rev 2:8; 13:14). (3) The resurrection of people who have been “beheaded” (Rev. 20:4) must be more than just a spiritual one. 4) The “beheaded souls” suffered the beheading because they had accepted the gospel, their resurrection is not when they received the gospel, it is after their beheading. There is no spiritual meaning for the word “beheading” (Greek: pepelekismenôn).

4. Will Eternity End Up Boring? What Will God’s People Be Doing With All That Time? The Bible indicates three significant roles which redeemed sinners will play throughout eternity. They will be kings, priests, and scholars. 1) Revelation indicates that redeemed sinners will join God in rulership over the universe (Rev. 3:21; 7:15-17). Sitting with Jesus on His throne means that they will be part of the government of the universe.
2) They serve not only as kings but as priests. In the ancient world there were two kinds of high status people. The highest status in the political realm was the king. And the highest status in the religious realm was the priest. Power corrupts, but those who have been humbled by suffering can be trusted with power. To be a priest in eternity includes taking an active lead in worship (Rev 5:9-13) and bearing a unique testimony based on earthly experience with sin and its consequences (Rev. 14:3). He who is faithful in little things will be put in charge of big things (Matt 25:21).
3) While school can sometimes be a chore, real learning is never a chore. God has ingrained curiosity into the core of our being, and there are few joys as meaningful as discovery. When we learn at our own pace, when we learn in our areas of interest, when our curiosity peaks our attention, learning is the most joyous possible experience. And there are so many things in the universe to learn. We will spend an eternity learning and growing, and it will be truly a delight.

5. The Backgrounds That Explain the New Jerusalem. The vision of the New Jerusalem is grounded in the rest of the Bible. The waters flowing from the throne (Rev. 22:1) and the tree of life (Rev. 22:2) recall the Garden of Eden. The radiance of the city and its cubical shape (Rev. 21:11,16) recall the tabernacle and the temple (Exod. 40:34-35; 1 Kings 6:20; 8:11). There are only two cubes in the Bible, the Most Holy Place in the sanctuary and the New Jerusalem. The very name “New Jerusalem” brings to mind the capital city of David’s kingdom. Many parts of the design of the city also recall Ezekiel’s visionary temple (Ezek. 40-48). And many details of the New Jerusalem recall the promises to the overcomers in the seven churches portion of Revelation (for example, the tree of life– Rev. 2:7; 22:2). So the vision of the New Jerusalem doesn’t arise from nothing, it is a blending of many allusions to the history of God’s leading throughout the Bible.

6. The Shape of the New Jerusalem, Pyramid or Cube? The length, width and height of the New Jerusalem are all the same, suggesting a perfect cube (Rev. 21:16). But there is another shape whose length, width and height are the same, and that is the pyramid. Should we envision the New Jerusalem as a cube or as a pyramid? Most people envision it as a cube and this is probably correct. The description of the New Jerusalem makes abundant use of the number twelve: twelve gates, twelve foundations, walls 144 cubits high, dimensions measuring 12,000 stadia (Rev. 21;12-21). A cube has twelve edges, but a pyramid has only eight. While the text does not specify the shape, a cube would be consistent with the symbolism and recall the Most Holy Place.

Part III: Life Application

1. Why is the millennium necessary when the Second Coming seems to have brought all things to an end? 1) Recovery time for the righteous. While there will be no conversions in heaven, there will be an ongoing need for personal and relational growth. Rev. 22:2 speaks of the leaves of the tree of life being for the healing of the nations. There may be people there you didn’t like or didn’t expect to see in heaven. Others you expected to see are missing. The thousand years will provide a safe space to learn and grow and transition into eternity. 2) Examination time for the righteous. The redeemed will be free to explore the “books of heaven” getting answers to questions about God, about those we loved who are not there, about issues in the Great Controversy. There will be many questions to answer. 3) Demonstration time for Satan and his followers. At the close of the millennium, Satan and his followers will demonstrate one final time the destructive nature of their characters. This final demonstration will secure the redeemed in loyalty to God throughout eternity.

2. What ultimately is the purpose of the Book of Revelation? The purpose of prophecy is not to satisfy our curiosity about the future, it is to teach us how to live today. Revelation was designed to prepare people for the challenges of the end and in the process has brought hope, meaning and purpose to millions throughout the Christian era (Rev. 1:3).

Ranko Stefanovic on the Editorial Changes to His Lesson Manuscript on Rev 17-18

Ranko Stefanovic just checked in from Sao Paulo Brazil. He has been traveling and unable to send before, please accept his apologies. Better late than never. From here on is his brief analysis of the editorial changes followed by the original lesson as it came from his own hand:

Except here and there some minor editorial changes, the Sabbath School Quarterly week 12 has retained the intention of the pre-edited version.

In the Monday lesson, the last paragraph was removed: “Both groups are equally deceived and have put themselves into the service of Babylon: the world leaders serve Babylon for personal benefit while the general populace serves Babylon as a result of seduction. Revelation tells us that, at the time of the end, the world will once again be dominated by a religious system similar to the one of the Middle Ages. Yet, the time will come when the people will realize the impotence of Babylon and will turn against it, however, too late (see Rev. 17:12-16). This concept is depicted as the drying up of the Euphrates River, when the disillusioned supporters of Babylon withdraw their support from this apostate religious system.”

Lesson 12 * March 16-22

Judgment on Babylon

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Rev. chaps. 17-18; 2:20-23; 13:5-8.
Memory Text: “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities” (Revelation 18:4-5, NKJV).
We saw that the sixth plague causes the symbolic drying up of the Euphrates, as the disillusioned people of the world withdraw their popular support from end-time Babylon. However, its fall will be followed by extensive demonic activities counterfeiting the work of God, doing miraculous signs, the most evident of which is bringing fire down from heaven (Rev. 13:13). The demonic activity is successful in uniting the whole world in preparation for the Battle of Armageddon against God’s faithful remnant.
At the outset of the final battle, a great earthquake occurs as part of the seventh plague. The earthquake shatters the unity of Babylon and splits it into three parts (Rev. 16:18-19). End-time Babylon is portrayed as a city, signifying the short-term union of the satanic trinity—the dragon, the sea beast, and the earth beast—in its alliance with the religious powers of the world in opposition to God’s people. This unity is shattered, causing the breakup of end-time Babylon.
We must keep in mind that Revelation 16:19 only pronounces the collapse of end-time Babylon. Chapters 17-18 tell us how this collapse will actually happen. Before describing the demise of end-time Babylon and the reasons for its fall (Rev. 17:12-18:24), Revelation 17 describes this end-time apostate religious system, this time in terms of a prostitute riding the beast who, in association with her daughters, seduces the world against God (vs. 1-11).
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, December 22.

Sunday March 17
The Prostitute Babylon
Read Revelation 17:1. Jeremiah 51:13 shows that the “many waters” upon which Babylon sits is the river Euphrates. According to Revelation 17:15, what do many waters symbolize?
A woman in the Bible is a symbol for God’s people. In Revelation, God’s faithful people are portrayed as a chaste woman (Rev. 12:1; 22:17). A harlot thus represents apostate and unfaithful people. In Revelation 17:5, this prostitute is identified as Babylon the Great. Just as ancient Babylon depended on the Euphrates River for its existence, so will end-time Babylon rely on the support of the governing world powers to enforce its plans.
Read Revelation 17:2 along with 14:8 and 18:2-3. What two groups of people are specified as involved in an illicit relationship with and being seduced by end-time Babylon?
The first group is the kings of the earth—these are the governing political powers. They are portrayed as being engaged in an adulterous relationship with the prostitute Babylon. In the Old Testament, the language of fornication is used frequently to describe how apostate Israel turned away from God to idolatry (Isa. 1:21; Jer. 3:1-10). The adulterous relationship between the kings of the earth and the harlot symbolizes an illicit union between end-time Babylon and the governing political powers in the final crisis.
The second group in an illicit relationship with the prostitute Babylon is the inhabitants of the earth. These are made spiritually drunk with the wine of Babylon’s fornication. In contrast to the governing political powers, the general populace is intoxicated by Babylon’s deceptive teachings and activities. When people are drunk, they do not think soberly, and are easily controlled (see Isa. 28:7). Only when they are sober will they come to realize their bad decisions and actions.
Both groups are equally deceived and have put themselves into the service of Babylon: the world leaders serve Babylon for personal benefit while the general populace serves Babylon as a result of seduction. Revelation tells us that, at the time of the end, the world will once again be dominated by a religious system similar to the one of the Middle Ages. Yet, the time will come when the people will realize the impotence of Babylon and will turn against it, however, too late (see Rev. 17:12-16). This concept is depicted as the drying up of the Euphrates River, when the disillusioned supporters of Babylon withdraw their support from this apostate religious system.
How does someone drink of the wine of Babylon? Must a person be in Babylon to drink of Babylon’s wine?

Monday March 18
The Prostitute Riding on the Beast
Read Revelation 17:3. While John was told that the prostitute sited on many waters, he sees her actually riding the beast. In what ways do the symbols water and beast suitably describe the supporters of Babylon?
As John is carried in vision into the wilderness, he sees a woman on a scarlet beast, not on waters. While the prostitute represents a religious entity, the beast symbolizes a political power. The picture of religion riding the secular and political powers points to two separate entities, something that was not the case in the past, when religion and politics were integrated. The prophecy shows, however, that these two will join together at the end-time. The concept of riding a beast denotes dominance; this shows that this end-time religious system will dominate the secular and political powers.
Which characteristics of the prostitute point to the sea beast of Revelation 13? Make a list of their common features.
The prostitute is pictured as extravagantly arrayed in purple and scarlet and adorned with ornaments of gold and precious stones and pearls; this was a practice of prostitutes in antiquity to enhance their power of seduction (Jer. 4:30). As the color of blood, scarlet corresponds to the oppressive character of this religious system.
The harlot’s dress also reminds one of the attire of the High Priest in the Old Testament, which included the colors purple, scarlet, and gold (Exod. 28:5-6). The inscription on her forehead also resembles the priestly inscription, “Holiness to the Lord” on the miter of the high priest (Exod. 28:36-38). The cup in her hand replicates the drink offering in the sanctuary (Exod. 30:9). With its historic religious appearance, this end-time religious system becomes Satan’s powerful tool in seducing the world away from God. However, regardless of its appearance, this religious system is a harlot and the mother of harlots. Babylon’s daughters are the world religious powers that will unite with the satanic trinity, forming an end-time religious confederacy.
The harlot Babylon is further described as drunk with the blood of the saints and the martyrs of Jesus who died due to their witness to Christ. This links end-time Babylon to the medieval apostate Christianity of western Europe, which was led by the papacy and responsible for the deaths of millions of Christians who remained faithful to the gospel.
The description of the prostitute Babylon reflects the image of Jezebel in the church of Thyatira (see Rev. 2:20-23). How do the parallels between these two women elucidate the character of end-time Babylon?

Tuesday March 19
The Identification of the Beast
Read Revelation 17:6b-7. Why is John so astonished when he sees the prostitute? The angel promised to explain to him the mystery of the prostitute. Yet, he instead places all the focus on the scarlet beast. Why?
The likely reason for John’s astonishment at seeing the prostitute was that he recognized in her the woman that had fled into the wilderness in order to escape the persecution of the dragon during the prophetic 1260-day period of the Middle Ages (Rev. 12:13-14). This suggests that this end-time apostate religious system was once faithful to Christ. The church that in the past was faithful to God will, at the end time, turn into the opponent of God’s people and lead people away from God.
In response to John’s amazement, the angel explains to him the mystery of the woman and the beast that carries her.
Read Revelation 17:8. Compare the wording of this verse with 13:8. How does Revelation 13:3 clarify the three phases of the existence and activities of the beast?
The scarlet beast is identified as the one that was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. This tripartite phrase is, first of all, a parody of the divine name Yahweh —“who is and who was, and who is to come” (Rev. 1:4; 4:8). It also further points to the three phases of existence through which the beast has passed:
(1) The beast “was,” as it existed in the past. This refers to the activities of the beast during the period of the prophetic 1260-days (see Rev. 13:5).
(2) “Is not.” With its deadly wound (see Rev. 13:3), the beast came into its non-existence phase; it vanished for some time from the world scene, yet it survived.
(3) Finally, with the healing of the deadly wound, the beast will come back to life again in full satanic rage against God’s faithful people.
Revelation 17 describes the beast of Revelation 13:1-8 at the time of the healing of its deadly wound. It is upon this resurrected beast that prostitute Babylon sits. Revelation thus tells us that once again there will be a short-lived union of religion and politics, as it existed during the Middle Ages. The revival of the medieval religious system will arouse the admiration of the inhabitants of the earth, all those whose names are not written in the Book of Life. This reiterates verbatim Revelation 13:8, which clearly links the scarlet beast that carries the prostitute Babylon with the medieval apostate religious system.

Wednesday March 20
The Seven Heads of the Beast
Throughout history, the beast existed and functioned by its heads—one head at a time. The angel proceeds to explain the meaning of the beast’s heads.
Read Revelation 17:9-11 along with 13:18. The requirement for understanding the seven heads is a mind of wisdom. What kind of wisdom is in view here? How does one obtain this divinely imparted wisdom (see James 1:5)?
The angel explains that the seven heads are seven mountains. Some translators think that these are the seven hills upon which the city of Rome is situated, and this is why they translate the Greek word oroi [“mountains”) as “hills.” However, the angel makes clear that Rome was not meant because he immediately explains that these mountains symbolize seven kings. Also, these mountains are successive, not synchronic.
These mountains are not individual kings because Revelation does not deal with individual persons but systems. In the Bible, mountains often symbolize world powers or empires (Jer. 51:25; Ezek. 35:2-3). In biblical prophecy, “kings,” mean kingdoms (see Dan. 2:37-39; 7:17). Thus, the seven mountains represent seven great successive empires that dominated the world throughout history, through which Satan opposed God and harmed God’s people.
As the angel now identifies these seven kingdoms, he does it from John’s time perspective, rather than from the perspective of the future.
Five of these empires have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. The five that have fallen are the great kingdoms that in the Old Testament times dominated and harmed God’s people: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. The “one is” kingdom was the Roman Empire of John’s time. The seventh kingdom that “has not yet come” is the beast of Revelation 13—the medieval church led by the papacy that dominated and harmed God’s people—that was to come after the time of John and after the fall of the Roman Empire.
John is further told that the scarlet beast is in the phase of the eighth head, although it is one of the seven. Which of the seven? Most likely the seventh head that received the deadly wound. It is at the time of this eighth head that the scarlet beast carries the prostitute Babylon. Today, we live at the time of the healing of the deadly wound. The eighth head will appear on the scene right before the end, and will go to perdition.
John was told that the seventh power “must continue a short time.” How does Revelation 12:12 explain that this “short time” does not refer to a length of time?

Thursday March 21
The Fall of Babylon
Read Revelation 17:12-15 along with 16:12-16. What do you learn from the text about the “ten kings”?
Different interpretations have been offered regarding the identity of the ten kings. However, Revelation does not tell us who they are; like any unfulfilled prophecy, only the future will reveal their full identity. All we can derive from the text is that they are a short-lived political confederacy appearing right before the end. Their number denotes the totality of the world powers that will render their allegiance to the beast. The beast will use them to enforce its plans and purposes, which will last only for a short time.
Now, Revelation 17:13-14 reiterates in a nutshell the Battle of Armageddon—introduced in Revelation 12:12-17. Induced by the satanic trinity, the worldwide political confederacy will make war with the Lamb. This shows that the final battle is not a military battle in the Middle East, but a battle between Satan and his confederacy and Christ and His faithful people. Babylon’s aim is to destroy God’s people. The battle will conclude with the triumph of Christ and the destruction of the worldwide confederacy that loyally supported Babylon (see Rev. 19:11-21).
Read Revelation 17:16-18. From what we saw in Revelation 16:2-12, what lies behind the ten kings’ change of attitude towards Babylon? Who is behind what happens to Babylon?
This whole scenario is another description of the drying up of the Euphrates River (Rev. 16:12). The ten horns, filled with hatred, suddenly turn against the harlot Babylon, making her desolate and naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. In describing this scene, John employs Old Testament language that depicts His judgments against adulterous Jerusalem (Jer. 4:30). Burning by fire was the punishment for a daughter of the high priest who was involved in prostitution (Lev. 21:9), which is a further indication that the prostitute Babylon denotes a religious system that was once true to God. As Revelation 16:10-12 indicates, the deceived political powers have become disillusioned because of the impotence of Babylon to protect them from the plagues. They feel deceived and in hostility attack her, bringing her to ruin. This end-time apostate religious system experiences the fullness of divine judgment together with all those who chose to identify themselves with it.
Read Revelation 18:1-3 and 7-19. Revelation states that Babylon is judged and charged on three grounds: religious, political, and economic. How do those who cooperated with Babylon and caused its destruction lament, realizing that Babylon’s destruction means their own loss of power and wealth?

Friday March 22
Further Thought: Right before the demise of Babylon, a voice from heaven urges God’s people still in Babylon to, “Come out of her, My people” (Rev. 18:4). There are many worshippers of God who are in Babylon for various reasons. To them, God sends His final appeal to disentangle themselves from this apostate religious system and not participate in its sins. They must come out of it in order to escape its fate. God does not want anyone in Babylon to perish. Revelation 19:1-10 shows that many God-fearing people in Babylon will respond to the call.
Discussion Questions:
As Revelation 18:4 shows, there are many God-fearing people in Babylon who God calls, “My people.” Reflect on the following statement: “This message must be given, but while it must be given, we should be careful not to thrust and crowd and condemn those who have not the light that we have. We should not go out of our way to make hard thrusts at the Catholics. Among the Catholics there are many who are most conscientious Christians, and who walk in all the light that shines upon them, and God will work in their behalf. Those who have had great privileges and opportunities, and who have failed to improve their physical, mental, and moral powers, . . . are in greater danger and in greater condemnation before God than those who are in error upon doctrinal points, yet who seek to live to do good to others”—Ellen G. White, Evangelism, p. 575.
At the time of Daniel, Babylon was an evil power opposing God (see Isa. 14:12-14) and the enemy of God’s people. However, there were many sincere people in Babylon, who God wanted through Daniel to win for Himself. Do you see God-fearing people in Babylon today? While Babylon is an evil apostate religious system, God still loves the Babylonians and wants to save them. The question that deserves serious consideration is: where are God’s Daniels of today?
Some spend much time in making detailed timetables and prophetic charts regarding the final events. Should our time be better used in analyzing geographical maps for the purpose of reaching others for Christ?
Revelation 17 describes a prostitute sitting on a scarlet beast. While the woman in chapter 12 symbolizes God’s faithful church, the one in 17 refers to an apostate church seducing the world away from God. In your view, are these two women related?

Revelation Teacher’s Quarterly, Week 12, March 16-23 Analysis of Changes Made in the Editorial Process for the Teacher’s Edition

Basic theme: Revelation 17-18

The changes to the Teacher’s Edition of the Adult Sabbath School Study Guide (known popularly as the Sabbath School Quarterly) for January to March 2019 were probably the most substantial of the whole quarter, so this blog will be longer than most.

In the Introduction to the Overview (and elsewhere in this week’s lesson) the word “prostitute” was changed to “harlot” in reference to Rev 17:18. This at first made no sense to me as the word “harlot” is no longer in common use, at least with the younger generation. But in light of my discovery that the editor(s) are working with the New King James Version, it made sense. There is a strong lobby in the SDA Church to retain the King James Version or its updated equivalent, the NKJV, as the Bible of choice for the English-speaking church. Such a move is not helpful for the younger generation and it is not supported by solid scholarship. There is nothing wrong with either version but to compel others to limit themselves to dated language and an inferior source text is not appropriate. I am not suggesting that the editors are compelling anyone, but their preference is no doubt grounded in the backlash that would come if they showed a preference for other versions of the Bible.

In Lesson Theme I a substantial editorial change improved the outcome.

In Main Theme I of the Commentary section the concept of a worldwide alliance of secular, political power was retained, but the Euphrates River (Rev 16:12) and “many waters” (Rev 17:1) were removed as examples. I can live with that.

There was a major revision in Main Theme III. I had written “The seventh ‘king’ would be the medieval papacy and the ‘eighth’ (Rev. 17:11) king, who is one of the seven, would be the revived Babylon of chapter 17, an entity that in its fullness is still in our future.” The editors removed that sentence and added the following: “The seventh kingdom is the medieval Roman papacy, and the “eighth” kingdom (Rev. 17:11), which is one of the seven, would be the revived Roman papacy—the Babylon of Revelation 17, which includes the other two members of the satanic triad (the “dragon” of paganism/spiritualism and the “false prophet” of apostate Protestantism). This globalized form of Babylon riding on the scarlet beast of secular political power is still in the future.” The latter is based more on what Ellen White says in The Great Controversy than on direct exegesis of the text. From a scholarly perspective, that would be appropriate to a lesson on SDA Eschatology or Ellen White’s use of Revelation. In a lesson on the Book of Revelation, the text itself should be the primary source, in my view. But I’m not the one tasked to make that editorial decision.

Even larger changes occurred in Main Themes IV. I will share them in full, so the lesson teacher can be aware of the changes and their significance. I wrote about an alliance of “religious institutions in opposition to God, an alliance of secular political power, and an alliance of the saints. All three are precipitated by the final worldwide proclamation of the gospel (Rev. 14:6-7) and its evil counterpart (16:13-14). Through the counterfeit gospel of demonic angels (16:13-14), Babylon (demonic trinity—16:19). . .” This was removed and the following was added in its place: “the saints composed of an enlarged remnant church that includes those who have come out of Babylon to join them, an alliance of religious institutions, and an alliance of secular political powers. The last two alliances are precipitated by the final, worldwide proclamation of the gospel by the remnant (Rev. 14:6, 7; Rev. 18:1–4). Through the counterfeit gospel “inspired” by the demonic angels (Rev. 16:13, 14), Babylon (the satanic triad [Rev. 16:19]). . .” Again, this is a shift from exegetical language to language more familiar to traditional Adventists, which has a place in a diverse church. I am glad that at least my direct textual references were retained.

Later on in the same paragraph my statement “But when God intervenes (Rev 17:17), drying up Babylon’s support system (secular/political powers (Rev. 16:12), it turns. . .” was replaced with “But the drying up of the Euphrates (Rev. 16:12) symbolically portrays the time when the secular/political powers that supported the harlot Babylon turn. . .” This changes the wording but not the basic meaning of what I wrote. I will have a concluding comment on the challenges of editing in a theologically charged environment in the next and last blog in this series.

Editing the Sabbath School lessons and their Teacher’s Editions is a challenging task. One cannot simply utilize editorial skills and Bible knowledge, there is a whole world of expectations to satisfy both from central leadership and from the wider field of pastors and lay people. Today anyone can have a “bully pulpit” and attract a small or large segment of followers from around the church. Such groups exert pressure and sometimes affect editorial decisions. Although the results are sometimes (some would say often) disappointing from a scholarly perspective, I respect the process. As regards my own Teacher’s Edition, the outcome is probably the best that could have been expected.

Again, for those who don’t have access to the standard printed edition of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide or the Teacher’s Edition for this quarter, you can access them online week by week at https://www.absg.adventist.org/. My original pre-edited Teacher’s Edition manuscript for this week is provided in the previous blog. You can also download audio of me teaching the lesson ahead of time each week at http://pineknoll.org/sabbath-school-lessons.

Original Teachers’ Notes for Rev 17-18 (Week 12)

I share here in blog form my original manuscript of this week’s (March 17-23) Sabbath School Adult Teacher’s Edition for people to compare with the edited version. The changes were not massive or disruptive in most cases. I share my analysis of the changes in the next blog. These comments are not a comprehensive overview of these chapters, they are elaborations of the standard quarterly edition written primarily by my friend Ranko Stefanovic.

LESSON 12
JUDGMENT ON BABYLON

Part I: Overview

Key Text: Rev. 17:14.

Study Focus: Revelation seventeen and eighteen focus on the fall of end-time Babylon in the closing days of earth’s history.

Introduction: Rev. 17 describes the rise and fall of end-time Babylon as symbolized by a woman, the great prostitute (Rev. 17:18). Rev. 18 also describes the fall of Babylon, but this time in the image of the great city (Rev. 18:10, 16, 18, 19).

Lesson Themes: The lesson and the focus passage introduce the following themes:

1. Three Worldwide End-Time Alliances. The multiple symbols of Revelation’s end-time coalesce into three great worldwide alliances: 1) religion, 2) secular/political power and 3) the “saints.”
2. The Difference Between Visions and Their Explanations. In a vision the prophet can be taken any time and any place, but explanations of the vision to the prophet, in order to make sense, must come in the time and place of the prophet.
3. The Identity of the Seven Kings of Rev. 17:10. In order to understand the identity of the seven kings of Rev. 17:10 one must determine the time of the sixth king.
4. The Narrative of Rev. 17. Summary of end-time events in light of Theme 1.

Life Application. The Life Application section explores how the presence of faithful people within “Babylon” to the very end should impact the way we treat Christians of other faiths. It also explores the similarities and differences between the women of Rev. 12 and 17, and readiness for the Second Coming.

Part II. Commentary

In Rev. 17 and 18 Babylon gains the support of the secular/political powers of the world for its war against the saints (Rev. 17:6), but eventually they turn on Babylon and destroy her (Rev. 17:16). Rev. 18 expresses their three-fold regret for having done so (Rev 18:9-19). While the fall of Babylon is mourned by the world, it brings rejoicing to the saints (Rev 18:20).

Main Themes of Lesson 12 Elaborated:
1. Three Worldwide End-Time Alliances. Rev. 16-18 contains a bewildering variety of images describing end-time powers and groupings. But upon careful analysis it becomes evident that many of these images are different ways of describing the same thing. For example, the seven heads of the beast are also described as seven mountains and seven kings (Rev. 17:9-10). Likewise, the great prostitute (Rev. 17:1) is clearly the same as the woman who rides the beast (17:3) and Babylon the Great (17:5). We have noticed earlier, in Lesson 11 (Theme 1), that God’s people are also named by many names in the book of Revelation.
The variety of images in these chapters can all be linked to three great, worldwide alliances that develop in the final period of earth’s history. 1) There is a great worldwide alliance of religious institutions that join together in opposition to God and His faithful people. This alliance is named by many names: Babylon, the great prostitute, the great city, and the woman that rides the beast.
2) There is a great worldwide alliance of secular, political and military power. This alliance is also named by many names in Revelation: the Euphrates River (Rev. 16:12), the kings of the whole inhabited world (16:14), the cities of the nations (16:19), the many waters (17:1), the kings of the earth, the earth dwellers (17:2), the beast (17:3), the seven heads, the seven mountains, the seven kings (17:9-10) and the ten horns (17:12-13). These secular powers are also represented by the kings (18:9), merchants (18:11) and sea-farers (18:17) of chapter eighteen.
3) There is also a worldwide, end-time alliance of the saints, which is named by many names: the sealed (Rev. 7:1-3), the 144,000 (7:4-8), the great multitude (7:9-12), the remnant (12:17), the saints (14:12; 17:6), the kings of the east (16:12), those who keep their garments (16:15) and the called, chosen and faithful followers of the Lamb (17:14). In Theme 4 we will briefly explore the narrative of these three alliances in the final days of earth’s history.

2. The Difference Between Visions and Their Explanations. In apocalyptic prophecy, there is an important distinction between visions and explanations. In a vision, the prophet can travel anywhere in the universe and to any point of time. The events of the vision are not necessarily located in the prophet’s time and place. But when the vision is explained to the prophet afterward, the explanation always comes in the time, place and circumstances of the visionary.
For example, in Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar is taken down to the end of time in his vision of the great image and the stone that became a great mountain that filled the whole earth (Dan. 2:31-36). The explanation of the vision by Daniel, however, is firmly grounded in the time and place of Nebuchadnezzar. It begins with a straightforward, unambiguous assertion, “You are that head of gold (Dan 2:38).” Nebuchadnezzar is then told that the series of kingdoms that follow are “after you” (2:39) in point of time.
As was the case with Daniel 2, the apocalyptic prophecy of Dan 7 is also divided into two parts; the vision (Dan 7:2-14 and 21-22), and explanations of the vision (Dan 7:15-20, 23-27). Even though Daniel experienced all elements of the vision, including the final events, the explanation clarifies that the vision is essentially about the future experience of Daniel’s people (Dan 7:17-18, 23-27). The same pattern can be seen in Daniel 8 and Zech 4:1-14.
Prophets don’t usually seem to understand a revelation from visions alone. An explanation is necessary for the revelation to be understood. Since that explanation is given for the benefit of the prophet, it is based on the time, place and circumstances in which the seer lives. This principle has profound implications for the interpretation of difficult apocalyptic texts like Rev 17:7-11, as we will see in Theme 3.

3. The Identity of the Seven Kings of Rev. 17:10. Theme 2 helps us solve one of the most vexing problems in the whole book of Revelation. Who are the seven kings of Rev. 17:10? They are clearly sequential, but where do they begin and when is the “one is” of the angel’s description? Is it a power in John’s day, one at the very end of time, or is it located somewhere else in the course of history? Various Seventh-day Adventist scholars have drawn each of these three conclusions.
One popular option is to see the seven kings as seven consecutive popes. The sequence usually begins with the year 1929, when Mussolini restored Vatican City to the sovereignty of the church, and ends with the very last pope of earth’s history. This view has frequently suggested that a current pope is either the last or the next to last. So this view has led people into date-setting.
A second view is quite popular among SDA scholars. It suggests that the time of the sixth king (the “one is” of 17:10) is the time from 1798 to 1929, when the papacy had no temporal power. The five fallen kings would then be Babylon Persia, Greece, Rome, and the medieval papacy. The “one that is” would be the time when the church has no temporal power. The seventh king would be today, the restored Vatican power.
But Theme 2 above would rule out both options if applied here. The passage about the seven kings is not in the vision (Rev. 17:3-6), it is in the explanation of the vision (17:7-18). So the “one is” king would have to be present at the time when John himself received the vision in order to make sense. If the “one is” kingdom is the pagan Rome of John’s day, the five who are “fallen” would be the super powers of the Old Testament world; Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia and Greece. The seventh “king” would be the medieval papacy and the “eighth” (Rev. 17:11) king, who is one of the seven, would be the revived Babylon of chapter 17, an entity that in its fullness is still in our future.

4. The Narrative of Rev. 17. As we saw in Theme 1, there are three worldwide alliances that develop in the end-time; an alliance of religious institutions in opposition to God, an alliance of secular political power, and an alliance of the saints. All three are precipitated by the final worldwide proclamation of the gospel (Rev. 14:6-7) and its evil counterpart (16:13-14). Through the counterfeit gospel of demonic angels (16:13-14), Babylon (demonic trinity—16:19) gathers the secular/political powers of the world to its cause (16:14, 16). She “rides” the beast (17:2-7). For a short time, united institutions of religion dominate the world’s governments, turning their fury against the saints (17:6; 13:15-17). But when God intervenes (17:17), drying up Babylon’s support system (secular/political powers—16:12), it turns on her and destroys her (17:16). By this means God saves His end-time remnant from destruction (17:14). After the fall of Babylon, the secular powers of the world meet their end at the Second coming (19:17-21).

Part III: Life Application

In a passage completely focused on the events of the end-time, life applications can be difficult to find. The following suggestions may be helpful.

1. What are the implications for today in the fact that God has His people in the midst of Babylon almost to the very end (Rev. 18:4)? The realization that end-time Babylon has a Christian face should not lead us to harsh and disparaging statements aimed at Catholics or others (see statement from Ellen White, Evangelism, 575, in Friday’s lesson). While the religious leaders and the Zealots both opposed the mission of Jesus, He nevertheless dealt graciously with individual representatives of those groups (Luke 6:15; Mark 12:28-24).

2. What can we learn from the connections between the women of Rev. 12 and 17? There are startling similarities between the women of Rev. 12 and 17. Both women are located in the wilderness (Rev. 12:6,14; 17:3). Both are religious in nature (prostitute Babylon is dressed like the High Priest in 17:4). But the woman of 12 is the church as seen in the middle period of Christian history, the 1260 day/years (see Teacher’s Edition for Lesson 8). What causes John amazement (Rev. 17:6) is that the end-time opponent of God and His people wears a Christian face! This should sober all who follow Jesus. Our pride and stubbornness can lead us to destruction even when we think we are following God (John 16:2).

Ranko Stefanovic on Editorial Changes to His Lesson Manuscript on Rev 15-16

Except the Wednesday lesson that was completely rewritten and the meaning changed, the Sabbath School Quarterly week 11 has retained the intention of the pre-edited version, except some minor edits.

The Wednesday lesson has been completely altered. Here is the second paragraph of the original manuscript:

“The kings from the east in Revelation 16:12 are Christ and His army of saints. While Jesus will return accompanied by heavenly angels, Revelation 17:14 shows that the final battle will involve Christ and His faithful remnant against satanic forces. In Revelation 19:14, Jesus leads the armies of heaven “clothed in fine linen, white and clean (NKJV),” which is the dress of the bride of the Lamb in Revelation 19:8. In Revelation 7, the 144,000 are pictured as an army about to enter the final battle.”
This is the altered paragraph that appear in the current Quarterly:
“The kings from the east in Revelation 16:12 are Christ and His army of heavenly angels. At His second coming, Jesus will appear with His angelic host, “clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Rev. 19:14, NKJV), which is the dress of sinless angels (Rev. 15:6). Accompanied by the host of heaven, Christ will, as Revelation 17:14 shows, over¬come the satanic forces that oppress His people (compare Matt. 24:30, 31). This final conflict against Christ and His people leading up to the Second Coming is known as the battle of Armageddon.”
Then, the sentence: “The three demon spirits proceeding from ‘the mouth’ of the satanic trinity are the very breath of Satan in the final deception” is changed into: “The dragon (paganism and spiritualism), the sea beast (Roman Catholicism), and the false prophet (apostate Protestantism) unite under Satan’s command (see Rev. 13:11, 12).”
The following sentence: “Satan enables them to perform miraculous signs, which point to the activities of the lamblike beast (see Rev. 13:13-14)” has been changed into: “Satan enables the lamb¬like beast to perform miraculous signs (see Rev. 13:13–17) that include spiritualistic manifestations.”
The last paragraph of the lesson has been completely altered.
The Thursday lesson has also been edited without altering the intention of the original manuscript. The last paragraph, however, has been removed: “Revelation 16:12-16 portrays only the great gathering for Armageddon. The actual battle follows the sixth plague, (see Rev. 16:17-19:21) which will conclude with the total defeat of the beast and his forces (Rev. 19:20-21).”

Lesson 11 * March 9-15
The Seven Last Plagues

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Rev. 7:1-3, 13-17; chaps. 15-16.
Memory Text: “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify your name? For You alone are holy, for all nations shall come and worship before You, for your judgments have been manifested” (Revelation 15:4, NKJV).
Revelation 11:18 summarizes in a nutshell the preparation for the final war against the remnant in the statement: “the nations were angry.” In responding to this situation, God sends the three angel’s messages to warn people of the consequences of the decision they will have to make. The time has now come for God to respond to the anger of the nations by pouring out His wrath upon the unrepentant in terms of the seven last plagues (Rev. 15:1).
Revelation 15 opens with the picture of seven angels with seven bowls filled with God’s wrath to pour on those who have rejected God’s message. Before this event is delineated, a picture of God’s faithful people is inserted (Rev. 15:1-4). They are described as victorious over the beast and its image, and standing on something resembling a sea of glass, and singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. This brings to mind the Israelites standing on the shores of the Red Sea and celebrating God’s victory over Pharaoh and the Egyptians (Exod. 15).
These victorious saints are the same ones referred to as the 144,000 in Revelation 14:1-5. They are securely protected from the destroying effects of the seven last plagues. They are about to undergo the transformation of their mortal bodies (1 Cor. 15:51-54), and join the resurrected saints to be taken up to meet Jesus coming in power and glory (1 Thess. 4:17).
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, December 15.

Sunday March 10
The Meaning of the Seven Last Plagues
At the conclusion of the preaching of the gospel, people have knowingly and willingly made their choice either for God or Babylon. Christ is now ready to come. Before He comes, however, the destructive winds that have been restrained from blowing (Rev. 7:1-3) are now to be unleashed upon rebellious humanity.
Read Revelation 15:1 along with 7:1-3 and 14:9-10a. The plagues that were inflicted upon Egypt during the Exodus are the backdrop for the seven last plagues. How are the Egyptian plagues instructive regarding their purpose and meaning?
The seven last plagues are referred to as the “last” plagues because they come after the plagues of the seven trumpets. The trumpets cover the time period that includes the entire Christian age and are restricted in their scope. They are executed while the gospel is still being preached (Rev. 10:8-11:14) and intercession is taking place (Rev. 8:2-5). They are mixed with mercy and their purpose is to bring the enemies of God’s people to repentance.
On the other hand, the seven last plagues are poured out prior to the Second Coming and they obviously embrace the whole earth. They express the fullness of God’s wrath upon the worshippers of the beast—undiluted, without mercy (see Rev 14:10). Divine wrath is God’s reaction to the choices people make (see Rom 1:26-28). Until now, God’s wrath has always been mixed with mercy. However, the time has come for all those who have spurned God’s grace and the call to worship the true Creator God to experience the consequences of the choice they have made.
Read Revelation 15:5-8 along with Exodus 40:34-35 and 1 Kings 8:10-11. In light of these two Old Testament texts, what does the statement that “no man was able to enter the temple” suggest of the timing of the seven last plagues?
The expression “no one was able to enter the temple” (Rev. 15:8, NKJV) points to the close of probation. As Christ’s mediatory ministry in heaven comes to an end, the door of opportunity to repent ultimately closes. This shows that the last plagues are not intended to bring anyone to repentance, but rather to disclose the hardness of the hearts of those who chose to side with Babylon, prompting them to hate God even more.
On the basis of Revelation 7:1, do the seven last plagues represent God’s direct activities by which he torments people? How does the pouring of the seven last plagues express the fairness and justice of the divine judgments?

Monday March 11
The Outpouring of the Last Plagues
With the cessation of the intercession in the heavenly sanctuary, the destiny of each individual is irreversible. The time has come for those who have spurned the gospel to experience God’s wrath in its fullness.
The seven last plagues mirror the plagues poured out upon Egypt (Exodus 7-11). As the Egyptian plagues affected the Egyptians while the Israelites were spared, so the first four last plagues affect primarily the worshippers of the beast but pass over the worshippers of God. The plagues on Egypt disclosed the hardness of the heart of Pharaoh and showed the Egyptians the impotence of their gods to protect them. Similarly, the last plagues increasingly harden the hearts of the worshippers of the beast and reveal the powerlessness of Babylon to protect them from the divine judgments.
Read Revelation 16:1-9. Do the Egyptian plagues help determine whether the last plagues are literal or symbolic? How do people react as they are afflicted by the plagues?
The first four plagues strike the population on earth in general. The first inflicts painful and loathsome sores exclusively on the worshippers of the beast. The second and third plagues affect the sea and the rivers and the springs of water, which turn into blood. Without water to drink, rebellious humanity will not survive. The fourth plague affects the sun so that it scorches people, causing unbearable pain. God’s people are, to a certain degree, also affected by this plague (see Rev. 7:16).
The unbearable pain inflicted by the plagues does not soften peoples’ hearts so as to change their rebellious attitude. They have hardened their heart to such an extent that they cannot repent. Instead, they curse and blaspheme God, who executes these plagues.
Read Revelation 16:10-11 along with Exodus 10:21-23. What is the significance of the fifth plague, which strikes the throne of the beast?
The fifth plague strikes the very throne of the beast. It was Satan who delegated the throne of the beast (Rev. 13:2). Now, even the very seat of Satan’s authority cannot withstand the force of these plagues. As people suffer in pain, they begin to realize the impotence of Babylon to protect them. However, they have set their minds against God, and even the terror of the plagues cannot change their hearts, but rather increasingly hardens them.
How does the hardness of the rebellious at the time of the last plagues show the inadequacy of the popular concept known as “the second chance” given to sinners to repent before the Second Coming?

Tuesday March 12
Drying Up the Euphrates River
The sixth angel pours out his bowl upon the great river Euphrates, resulting in the drying up of its waters. In describing the sixth plague, John uses the Old Testament language as it describes the fall of ancient Babylon.
Read Revelation 16:12 along with Revelation 17:1 and 15. What does the symbol of the Euphrates stand for? What is the significance of the drying up of the Euphrates in the context of the seven last plagues?
In the Old Testament, the Euphrates marked the border between Israel and their enemies Babylon and Assyria (Isa. 7:20; Jer. 46:10). The river flowed through Babylon; it was important to the city as it nourished crops and provided water for people. Babylon could not survive without the Euphrates.
Revelation 17:1 describes end-time Babylon as dwelling upon many waters, namely the Euphrates (see Jer. 51:13). Revelation 17:15 explains that the waters upon which end-time Babylon dwells represent worldwide civil, secular, and political powers that will support this religious system. Just as ancient Babylon was sustained by the Euphrates, so end-time Babylon exists by the support of the worldwide powers. However, these powers will eventually retract their support for this religious system.
The scene of the sixth plague reflects the capture of ancient Babylon by Cyrus the Persian (see Dan. 5). On the night King Belshazzar and his officials had a feast, according to the ancient historian Herodotus, the Persians diverted the Euphrates and entered the city along the riverbed and took the city by surprise (History 1.191).
The symbolic drying up of the Euphrates in Revelation 16:12 results in the collapse of end-time Babylon as the enemy of God and His people. Since the Euphrates in Revelation represents the world civil, secular, and political powers giving their support to Babylon, the drying up of the Euphrates symbolizes the withdrawal of their support and subsequent attack against Babylon, thereby causing its downfall.
Reflect again on Revelation 16:10-11. What will cause a sudden change in the world’s attitude toward Babylon?
As the people of the world witness the upheaval in nature, they turn to Babylon for protection. However, as the fifth plague strikes the very seat of Babylon’s authority, the disillusioned people realize the impotence of Babylon to protect them. Feeling deceived, they turn against Babylon causing its downfall (see Rev. 17:16). Yet, their hearts are hardened in their hostility against God and his people. As such, they become fertile soil for the final deception by which Satan will draw the world to the great battle against God.

Wednesday March 13
Satan’s Last Great Deception
Revelation 16:12 tells us that the purpose of drying up the Euphrates is to prepare the way for “the kings from the east.” Who are these kings from the east?
In the Old Testament, “the kings from the east” were Cyrus and his forces coming from the east against Babylon (Isa 41:25). Their conquest of Babylon made the return of God’s people to their homeland possible (Isa. 44:27-28). In the same way, the symbolic drying up of the Euphrates prepares the way for the coming of the kings from the east to provide deliverance to God’s end-time people.
The kings from the east in Revelation 16:12 are Christ and His army of saints. While Jesus will return accompanied by heavenly angels, Revelation 17:14 shows that the final battle will involve Christ and His faithful remnant against satanic forces. In Revelation 19:14, Jesus leads the armies of heaven “clothed in fine linen, white and clean (NKJV),” which is the dress of the bride of the Lamb in Revelation 19:8. In Revelation 7, the 144,000 are pictured as an army about to enter the final battle.
Read Revelation 16:13-14. What is the role of the three froglike demons in the preparation for the final battle? How do they counterpart the three angels’ messages in Revelation 14?
The drying up of the Euphrates shakes the satanic triad. At this point, John sees coming out of their mouths three demonic spirits resembling frogs. In the Egyptian plagues, frogs were the last plague that Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate (Exod. 8:1-15). The three froglike demons are Satan’s last attempt to counterfeit the work of God.
The three demon spirits proceeding from “the mouth” of the satanic trinity are the very breath of the satanic trinity in the final deception. Satan enables them to perform miraculous signs, which point to the activities of the lamblike beast (see Rev. 13:13-14). Miraculous signs are Satan’s end-time strategy to persuade the world to follow him rather than the true God (2 Thess. 2:9-12).
The froglike demonic spirits are sent with a false gospel to entice the world to join them for the battle against God’s people. Their activities result in great success. Although disillusioned, the leaders of the world are enticed again and they submit themselves to Satan against God’s people. At this point, the stage is now set for the final battle.
Read Revelation 22:18-19. In your view, could all of the varied, speculative, and fanciful ideas about the Battle of Armageddon be a part of Satan’s end-time deceptive strategy?

Thursday March 14
Gathering for the Final Battle
Although the governing leaders turn against Babylon, their hearts do not soften. They continue to curse God and are now ready to turn their anger against His people. In such a way, they become the susceptible to intense demonic activity, by which the entire world is drawn into the Battle of Armageddon.
Read Revelation 16:16. How successful will be Satan’s final deception in gathering the people of the world to the Battle of Armageddon?
The deceptive demonic miracles will achieve worldwide success. In spurning the true gospel, people will believe a lie that will be accompanied by deceptive miracles (see 2 Thess. 2:9-12). They will gather together to a symbolic place, which is in Hebrew called Armageddon, meaning “the Mountain of Megiddo.” Megiddo was a fortress-city located in the Valley of Jezreel (or the Plain of Esdraelon) at the foot of the Mount Carmel ridge, and was an important strategic site. The Plain of Esdraelon was known for many decisive battles in the history of Israel (see Judg. 5:19-21; 6:33; 2 Kings 9:27; 2 Kings 23:29-30).
Revelation uses this motif from Israel’s history to depict the final great conflict between God and the forces of evil. The people of the world are portrayed as a unified army under the leadership of the satanic league. Revelation 9 states their number is 200 million (Rev. 9:16), in contrast to the 144,000 saints.
The mount of Megiddo was Mount Carmel, which is near the city. It was the site of one of the most significant battles in Israel’s history, involving the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). The issue revolved around the question of who was the true God. The fire that came from heaven demonstrated that the Lord was the only true God to be worshipped. Revelation 13:13-14 portrays the earth beast bringing fire down from heaven to counterfeit the work of God and deceive the whole world.
Armageddon is not a military battle to be fought somewhere in the Middle East, but rather a spiritual battle between Christ and the forces of darkness (see 2 Cor. 10:4). The issue to be resolved once and for all in the final battle is regarding who is the legitimate ruler of the universe. The outcome of the final battle will be like that at Carmel—God’s ultimate triumph over the forces of darkness.
Revelation 16:12-16 portrays only the great gathering for Armageddon. The actual battle follows the sixth plague, (see Rev. 16:17-19:21) which will conclude with the total defeat of the beast and his forces (Rev. 19:20-21).

Friday December 15
Further Thought: “Fearful sights of a supernatural character will soon be revealed in the heavens, in token of the power of miracle-working demons. The spirits of devils will go forth to the kings of the earth and to the whole world, to fasten them in deception, and urge them on to unite with Satan in his last struggle against the government of heaven. By these agencies, rulers and subjects will be alike deceived. . . .
As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation (Rev. 1:13-15). The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: “Christ has come! Christ has come!” The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him. . . . In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion.”—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 624.
Discussion Questions:
Read Jesus’ admonition in Revelation 16:15 inserted into the description of the preparation for the Battle of Armageddon. Note the similar wording in Christ’s earlier appeal to the church of Laodicea (Rev 3:18). How does this show the significance of the message to Laodicea to God’s people living at the time of the preparation for the final battle? In what way does this message apply to you personally?
White garments in Revelation symbolize uncompromising loyalty and faithfulness to Christ (Rev. 3:4-5; 19:7-9). Only those who clothe themselves with the robe of Christ’s righteousness will be able to stand firm in the final crisis. How does one make his/her robes white and clean in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14)?

Revelation Teacher’s Quarterly, Week 11, March 9-16 Analysis of Changes Made in the Editorial Process for the Teacher’s Edition

Basic theme: The Seven Last Plagues (Rev 15-16)

The changes to this week’s Teacher’s Edition of the Adult Sabbath School Study Guide (known popularly as the Sabbath School Quarterly) for January to March 2019 were generally small and improved on my work. I will review the changes that were interesting or substantive.

There were several small changes in the Introduction paragraph of the Overview. These improved on my original.

The editors added a sentence and removed a clause in Main Themes I. Once again, the final product was improved.

In Main Themes IV, the word trinity was replaced with “triad.” Interesting idea, I still think “trinity” has a nice impact, but triad isn’t bad. Later I had the three angels presenting the true gospel, it was modified to three angels “working through God’s remnant church” to present the gospel. I agree that the three angels represent the going forth of the gospel at the end of time through God’s people. But Revelation speaks of the remnant, never the “remnant church.” I prefer using biblical language wherever possible.

Several small changes in the first paragraph of Main Themes V improved on my original. In the next paragraph I had it that the end-time Cyrus (the “kings from the east”) “dries up the end-time River Euphrates.” That clause was removed. I agree that my comment goes beyond the text, but I was following the analogy that Cyrus actively dried up the river. Revelation doesn’t say that with regard to the kings from the east, but doesn’t rule it out either. If the end-time Cyrus is Jesus Christ, He would be quite capable of drying up the Euphrates, whatever that means (I tie it to Rev 17:15-16).

In Life Application 2 the editors removed “the military language of Rev is not to be taken in a military way. The battle of Armageddon is a battle for the mind. In the final battle of earth’s history. . .” and replaced it with “now is the time to heed the warning so as not to be on the wrong side then. I think my statement is based on solid evidence in the text (Rev 16:15), so I’m not sure why my sentence is changed. The final version says essentially the same thing I was saying, but not as clearly, it seems to me. On the whole, I can’t complain about how this week’s teacher’s material was handled.

Again, for those who don’t have access to the standard printed edition of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide or the Teacher’s Edition for this quarter, you can access them online week by week at https://www.absg.adventist.org/. My original pre-edited Teacher’s Edition manuscript for this week is provided in the previous blog. You can also download audio of me teaching the lesson ahead of time each week at http://pineknoll.org/sabbath-school-lessons.

Original Teachers’ Notes for Rev 15-16 (Week 11)

I share here in blog form my original manuscript of this week’s (March 10-16) Sabbath School Adult Teacher’s Edition for people to compare with the edited version. The changes were not massive or disruptive in most cases. I share my analysis of the changes in the next blog. These comments are related to the standard quarterly edition written primarily by my friend Ranko Stefanovic.

LESSON 11
THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES

Part I: Overview

Key Text: Rev. 15:4.

Study Focus: Revelation sixteen describes the seven last plagues (Rev. 15:1) of earth’s history. Included in these plagues is the only mention of the exact title “Armageddon” in the Bible.

Introduction: This section begins with the end-time people of God standing by the sea of glass singing the song of Moses and the Lamb, an allusion to the Exodus (Rev. 15:1-4). Then the seven plagues are introduced with a vision of the heavenly temple emptied because of the glory of God, a reversal of the original inauguration of the Mosaic sanctuary (Rev. 15:5-8; Exod. 40:34-35). This is close of probation imagery. Seven angels were then told to pour out bowls of wrath upon the earth one by one (Rev. 16:1-21).

Lesson Themes: The lesson and the focus passage introduce the following themes:

1. God’s People Named by Many Names. Evidence of the text is that names like remnant, 144,000 and saints all refer to the same end-time group.
2. Why Plagues When No Repentance Will Result?
3. The Symbolic Meaning of the Euphrates River in Rev. 16:12.
4. Two Gospels in Revelation. The three angels (Rev. 14:6-12) and the three frogs (Rev. 16:13-14) are contrasting symbols of the gospel.
5. Cyrus the Persian and the Second Half of Revelation. A pagan king foreshadows the Messiah.
6. The Meaning of Armageddon.

Life Application. The Life Application section explores how the description of the Battle of Armageddon in Revelation promotes spiritual preparation for the End-Time.

Part II. Commentary

See Introduction of Part I for summary of Rev. 15-16.

Main Themes of Lesson 11 Elaborated:
1. God’s People Named by Many Names. We saw in the previous lesson’s TE that God’s faithful end-time ones are called remnant in 12:17 and 144,000 in 14:1. The allusion to Joel 2:32 in Rev. 14:1 made it clear that John sees the two groups as the same. There is further evidence in Rev. that the multiple names for God’s people all refer to the same end-time group rather than multiple end-time groups.
The 144,000 and the Great Multitude appear to be opposites. But we saw in the Teacher’s Edition for Lesson Six (Theme 4) that these are also two ways of describing the same end-time group. God’s end-time people are called 144,000 in Rev. 14:1 and “saints” in Rev. 14:12 and 17:6. So God’s one end-time people are called by many names in Revelation: 144,000, Great Multitude, Remnant, and Saints. They stand by the sea of glass (Rev. 15:2), they are the ones who keep their garments (16:15) and are the called, chosen and faithful followers of the Lamb (17:14).

2. Why Plagues When No Repentance Will Result?. What is the purpose of the seven bowl/plagues if no repentance will occur (after the close of probation)? First of all, Revelation makes clear that God is not the author of death, pain and destruction (Rev. 7:1-3), Satan is the destroyer (9:11). God allows Satan a certain freedom of action. Second, Satan’s actions can be used by God to fulfill His purposes (17:17). The deceptions and plagues of the final crisis expose the truth about Satan and those who follow him (2 Thess 10-12). It is not God’s fault that the wicked are unredeemed, neither the grace of God (Rom 2:4) nor the plagues of the End (Rev 16:9, 11, 21) bring about any repentance. They are hardened in the course they have chosen. Thus, even the destruction of the wicked glorifies the character of God in the end (Rev. 15:3-4). They have made themselves unsafe to save and God sadly lets them go (Hos 11:7-8). Even after the millennium and a clear perspective on God’s character, nothing in their character has changed (Rev. 20:7-10). The plagues expose their settled unfitness for eternity and vindicate God’s judgment in each case.

3. The Symbolic Meaning of the Euphrates River in Rev. 16:12. What is the meaning of the Euphrates River in Rev. 16:12? We need not remain in doubt when the text itself defines a symbol. Rev. 17:1 introduces an explanation of one of the bowl plagues, one that has something to do with water. It must be referring to the sixth plague, because the woman who sits on the water is called Babylon (Rev. 17:5) and the “many waters” of Babylon describe the Euphrates River (Jer 51:13). The meaning of the river is defined in Rev. 17:15. The waters of verse 1 represent “peoples and multitudes and nations and languages” (ESV), in other words, the civil and secular powers of the entire world. These powers give their allegiance to Babylon for a short time (Rev. 17:3, 12-13), creating a worldwide, end-time confederacy in opposition to God and His end-time people.

4. Two Gospels in Revelation. The three angels of Rev. 14:6-12 together proclaim the final gospel message to the world. What many readers of Revelation have missed is the counterfeit gospel also proclaimed to the world in Rev. 16:13-14. The dragon, the beast and the false prophet (the counterfeit trinity of Rev. 13) each produce an unclean spirit like a frog out of their mouths (16:13). According to verse 14 these frogs are the “spirits of demons” who go out to the kings of the whole inhabited world to gather them for the final battle of earth’s history, Armageddon (see also 16:16). Demons are evil angels, thus you have three angels presenting the gospel of God in chapter fourteen and three evil angels presenting a counterfeit gospel in chapter sixteen. Both “gospels” go out to the entire world (Rev. 14:6; 16:14). This counterfeit is described also in 1 Thess. 2:9-12 and Matt. 24:24-27. Those who do not rely on the words of Scripture will be deceived in the final crisis.

5. Cyrus the Persian and the Second Half of Revelation. In Rev. 16:12 it is kings from the east who dry up the Euphrates, Babylon’s political and military support system (Jer. 50:37-38; 51:35-36). This brief description recalls how the armies of Cyrus came from the east and camped north of Babylon. His engineers excavated a depression in the nearby landscape and diverted the flow of the Euphrates River into that depression, allowing Cyrus’ soldiers to march under the river gates into the city. Timing the diversion to take advantage of a feast day inside the city, Cyrus’ soldiers discovered that drunken guards had left open the gates along the river bank. They poured into the city, conquering it and killing its ruler, Belshazzar (as described in Daniel 5). In the months and years that followed Cyrus initiated a process in which the scattered remnant of Israel were encouraged to go back home and rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem.
Notice the total sequence once more: In Old Testament times, Cyrus, king of Persia, dried up the literal Euphrates River in order to conquer Babylon, to let Israel go free and to rebuild Jerusalem. This narrative clearly sets the foundation for the last portion of the Book of Revelation. In the Book of Revelation an end-time Cyrus (the “kings from the rising of the sun”) dries up the end-time River Euphrates, conquers end-time Babylon to deliver end-time Israel and build a New Jerusalem! The fundamental narrative substructure of the battle of Armageddon is grounded in the Old Testament story of Cyrus and Babylon’s fall.

6. The Meaning of Armageddon. The word “Armageddon” is really “Har-Magedon” in the Greek. Rev. 16:16 explains that the word is based on the Hebrew. In Hebrew “Har” means mountain. So the most natural meaning of Armageddon is “Mountain of Megiddo.” The problem is that there is no mountain in the whole world named Megiddo. There are waters of Megiddo (Jdg. 5:19), a valley of Megiddo (2 Chr. 35:22) and a city of Megiddo (1 Kgs. 9:15). Others suggest “mountain of slaughter” (based on Zech. 12:11) or Mount of Assembly (echoing Isa 14:12).
The Anchor Bible Dictionary concludes that the best explanation of “Har-Magedon” is to associate it with the mountain that looms over the waters, valley and city of Megiddo, Mount Carmel. Mount Carmel is the place where Elijah called fire down from heaven to earth to demonstrate who the true God is (Rev. 13:13-14). In the last days of earth’s history there will be a showdown between the true God (Rev. 4-5) and the counterfeit trio (Rev. 16:13-14), between the three angels (Rev. 14:6-12) and the three frogs. In that final contest, the fire will fall on the wrong altar (Rev. 13:13-14), but the true God will be vindicated in the end (Rev. 15:3-4).

Part III: Life Application

1. In the midst of the Battle of Armageddon account (Rev. 16:13-16) is a blessing on the one who keeps watch and hangs onto his clothes (16:15). In Lesson 3, Theme 5, we saw that this is a clear allusion to Rev. 3:18, the warning of Christ to Laodicea. There is, therefore, a clear connection between the Laodicean church and God’s final call to the world in the context of Armageddon. The church that will pass through the final crisis of earth’s history will be seriously flawed, but very much the object of Jesus’ solicitude. This should be a source of both warning and encouragement to God’s people today.

2. In one single verse (Rev. 16:15) John brings together a variety of New Testament appeals in light of the end. Both “I come like a thief” and “Blessed is he who stays awake” echo statements of Jesus which are further echoed by Paul (Matt. 24:42-44; Luke 12:37-39; 1 Thess. 5:1-6). All three of these texts are about readiness for the coming of Jesus. By echoing these concepts in the middle of the Battle of Armageddon, the Book of Revelation makes it clear that the military language of Revelation is not to be taken in a military way. The Battle of Armageddon is a battle for the mind. In the final battle of earth’s history, it is our spiritual task to keep watch over our attitudes, thoughts, and behavior, and to remain faithful no matter the deception or the coercion we may face. There is a need for both faithful endurance and discernment, fortified with the words of Jesus, of Paul and to Laodicea. When we choose to be faithful today in the midst of various temptations, we are being prepared for even greater battles at the end of time.

Ranko Stefanovic on Editorial Changes to His Lesson Manuscript on Rev 14

The Sabbath School Quarterly week 10 was heavily edited (except the Friday lesson). In many cases, the edits improved the text why retaining my intention in the pre-edited version.

I would point to the most significant changes that was made in rewriting the first paragraph in the Wednesday lesson and the removal of the sentence that define the end-time Babylon as: “The end-time Babylon in Revelation is the name for the satanic trinity in union with other false religions (Rev. 17:5).” Here is the original paragraph in its entirety:

“Babylon is here referred to as a great city. The reason for this is because the symbol of Babylon in Revelation is rooted in the historical Babylon as the ungodly power that opposed God and oppressed His people. Isaiah 14:12-15 equates Babylon with Satan and his attempt to make himself equal to God. The end-time Babylon in Revelation is the name for the satanic trinity in union with other false religions (Rev. 17:5). These will put themselves into the service to Satan against God’s people (see Rev. 13:11-18). This apostate religious union will manifest the arrogance of ancient Babylon in exalting itself above God and seek to take His place in this world. The message of the second angel assures God’s people that this wicked system will come to its end, just as did the Babylon of old.”

It is impossible for me to analyze all those numerous detailed edits, which were in many cases, in my view, unnecessary. Those who are interested may compare the original manuscript with the edited version.

Lesson 10 *March 2-8

God’s Everlasting Gospel

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Rev. 14:1-20; Matt. 24:14; Rev. 10:8-11; Eccl. 12:13-14; Exod. 20:11.
Memory Text: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12, NKJV).
Revelation shows that Satan’s end-time deception will be so successful that the whole world will choose to worship the beast and receive the mark of the beast. A question arises: will anyone remain loyal to God? Revelation 14:1-5 tells us that God will have His faithful people, the remnant, who will take their stand for God and will have the seal of God as a sign that they belong to Him.
We have to keep in mind that the choice the people in the world will have to make will not be whether to worship or not, but, rather, whom to worship. The worshippers of the beast will receive the mark on their foreheads or their right hands. Right hands stand for action and foreheads for the mind. People who choose the beast serve this apostate system with their minds and deeds.
As this world nears its end, Satan’s activities will intensify on earth. At the same time, the world will witness a great proclamation of the gospel, such as has not been witnessed since the day of Pentecost. Before the judgments of God are poured out upon rebellious humanity, God will send to the world his warning message. Since Satan’s activities are worldwide, the proclamation of the end-time gospel is worldwide in scope. God does not want anyone to perish but all to be saved. The end-time gospel will divide the people into two groups, some will respond by turning to God while the majority will choose to follow and worship the beast.

*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, December 1.
Sunday March 3
The Three Angels’ Messages
Just before the end, God sends to the inhabitants of the earth His warning messages symbolically portrayed in terms of three vocal angels flying in the sky. The Greek word for angel (angelos) means “messenger.” In the Bible, angels often represent persons in God’s service (Mal. 2:7; Matt. 11:10). Evidence from Revelation suggest that the three angels stand for God’s people who are entrusted with the end-time message to share with the world.
Read Revelation 14:6 along with Matthew 24:14. The first angel’s message is referred to as the “everlasting gospel.” What does this tell us about the content and purpose of the first angel’s message? Why is this message urgent?
The end-time message is the gospel. The gospel is good news about God, who saves human beings on the basis of what Jesus Christ has done for them. The first angel’s message is the “everlasting” gospel because it is a part of God’s continual effort to win back fallen humanity. The gospel includes both salvation and judgment. It is the good news of salvation for those who accept it, but it is a judgment warning for those who reject it.
The three angels’ messages is God’s call to the people of the world to make their choice. It concerns every person on earth. The three angels are described as proclaiming the messages with “a loud voice” (Rev. 14:7, 9). The message is urgent and important and must be heard by all because it concerns the eternal destiny of every person on earth. As such, it must be proclaimed to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people. This is particularly significant in light of the fact that at the time of the end, the beast will exercise its Satan-delegated authority over “every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (Rev. 13:7). As Satan’s deceptive activities are worldwide in scope, so is the end-time proclamation of the gospel.
The three angels’ messages are proclaimed by God’s people to counter the three froglike demonic spirits coming out of the mouth of the satanic trinity (Rev. 16:13-14). Their messages counterfeit the three angels’ message. Thus, at the end of time, the world will be presented with two rival messages, each with the goal to win the allegiance of the people on earth.
The end-time gospel must be proclaimed to all the people of the world. How seriously does your church take the preaching of the gospel? What can you do to share the gospel with the people you come in contact every day?

Monday March 4
The First Angel’s Message (part 1)
Read Revelation 14:7 along with Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. What does it mean to fear God? How does the concept of fearing God relate to the gospel? What is the connection between fearing God and glorifying Him?
The first angel’s message is proclaimed with “a loud voice.” The call to “fear God and give glory to Him” is proclaimed in the context of the “everlasting gospel.” A realization of what Christ has done for our salvation results in a positive response to Him.
In Revelation, fearing God and giving glory to Him are conjoined (11:13; 15:4). While the former designates a right relationship with God (Job 1:8), the latter denotes obedience to Him.
To fear God does not mean be afraid of Him, but to take Him seriously and give Him His rightful place in our lives. God’s end-time people are the ones who fear God (see 11:18; 19:5). The person who fears God glorifies Him by his/her obedience to Him (Deut. 5:29; Eccl. 12:13) and by reflecting His character in his/her life (Gen. 22:12).
Read Revelation 14:7 along with Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. What is the reason that people are called to fear God and give glory to Him? What judgment is in view in the first angel’s message? In what way is the judgment a motivation for right living?
The motivation for fearing God and giving Him glory is that “the hour of His judgment has come.” The judgment in view here is the pre-advent judgment that takes place prior to the Second Coming. The purpose of the pre-advent judgment is to decide who is in a right relationship with God and who is not. Those decisions are made before Jesus comes. At the conclusion of this judgment, the destiny of every person is decided (Rev. 22:11) and Jesus will come to bring His reward to every person according to his or her deeds (Rev. 22:12).
Judgment in Revelation 14 is a part of the gospel. To those who are in a right relationship with God, judgment is good news; it means vindication, salvation, and freedom. However, it is bad news for the unfaithful. The message of the coming judgment is a call for them to turn to God and repent, for God does not want anyone to perish but all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).
Why is important for Christians to understand the concept of the pre-advent judgment? If the judgment is good news, what does it tell us about God and salvation?

Tuesday March 5
The First Angel’s Message (Part II)
Revelation shows that the central issues in the last crisis of earth’s history will be worship and obedience to God in keeping his commandments. The people of the world will fall into two groups: those who fear and worship God and those who fear and worship the beast. The true worshippers of God are obedient to God in keeping his commandments (Rev. 14:12).
Review the first four commandments of the Decalogue (Exod. 20:2-11). Then go through Revelation 13. How do the beast’s demand for worship (13:15), setting up an image to the beast to be worshiped (13:14-15), blasphemy of God and His name (13:5-6), and the receiving of the mark of the beast (13:16-17) point to Satan’s attacks on the first four commandments of the Decalogue in the final crisis?
The central concept of the first four commandments of the Decalogue is related to worship. Revelation indicates these commandments will become the standard of loyalty to God in the final crisis. The final conflict between Christ and Satan will plainly evolve around worship and the first four commandments.
Read Revelation 14:7b along with Exodus 20:11. Why are people called to worship God the Creator? How significant are the verbal parallels between Revelation 14:7b and Exodus 20:11?
The key issue in the final crisis is emphasized in the second exhortation of the first angel’s message. The call to “worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water” is a verbal allusion to the fourth of commandment of the Decalogue (Exod. 20:11). This shows that the call to worship God the Creator is given in the context of the Sabbath observance.
In the Decalogue, as in the rest of the Bible, true worship correlates with the correct day for worship. The seventh-day Sabbath is a special sign of our relationship with God (Exod. 31:13; Ezek. 20:12). The first angel’s message shows that at the time of the end, the people in the world will be called to return to worshipping the true Creator God and give Him His rightful place in their lives. This message counters Satan’s end-time deceptive activities to pull the world into false religion and to serve and worship the counterfeit god.
Read Exodus 20:11 and Deuteronomy 5:15. What two aspects of the Sabbath are expressed in these two versions of the Decalogue? What significance do these two aspects of the Sabbath have for today’s Christians?

Wednesday March 6
The Second Angels’ Message
While the first angel’s messages call people to fear and worship the true God, the second announces the doom of end-time Babylon as a false religious system.
Read Revelation 14:8 along with 18:2 and Isaiah 21:9. The twofold repetition of the word “fallen, fallen” points to the certainty of Babylon’s end. Why is Babylon described as already fallen although its fall will take place in the future?
Babylon is here referred to as a great city. The reason for this is because the symbol of Babylon in Revelation is rooted in the historical Babylon as the ungodly power that opposed God and oppressed His people. Isaiah 14:12-15 equates Babylon with Satan and his attempt to make himself equal to God. The end-time Babylon in Revelation is the name for the satanic trinity in union with other false religions (Rev. 17:5). These will put themselves into the service to Satan against God’s people (see Rev. 13:11-18). This apostate religious union will manifest the arrogance of ancient Babylon in exalting itself above God and seek to take His place in this world. The message of the second angel assures God’s people that this wicked system will come to its end, just as did the Babylon of old.
Read again Revelation 14:8 along with 17:2 and 18:3. How does Babylon make the world drink of the wine of her fornication? What is this wine about?
Babylon is charged for making all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Jeremiah talks of Babylon intoxicating the nations of the earth (Jer. 51:7). Revelation 17 pictures end-time Babylon as a prostitute making people on earth drunk with her wine of immorality (see Rev. 17:2). This points to Revelation 13 where the satanic trinity seduces the people of the earth to worship the beast and its image (vs. 11-18).
The wine of Babylon refers to the false teachings and false gospel offered by this apostate religious system. Intoxicated people cannot think soberly. As the people become spiritually intoxicated by Babylon’s wine, Babylon will take control of their conscience and entice them to worship the beast and receive the mark of the beast. When the effects of their drunkenness are over, they will come to a realization of their decisions and actions, however, it will be too late (Rev. 17:15-17).
Does one have to live in Babylon in order to drink of the wine of Babylon? In what a way can a person drink of Babylon’s wine?

Thursday March 7
The Third Angel’s Message
While the second angel announces the doom of end-time Babylon, the third angel gives a serious warning to those who choose to side with this apostate religious system and receive the mark of the beast (Rev. 14:9-11). This message contains very drastic language describing the dreadful consequences for worshiping the beast and receiving the mark of the beast.
Read Revelation 14:9-10a along with 13:16-17. What is the first consequence of receiving the mark of the beast?
In the Old Testament, the outpouring of God’s wrath is described symbolically as drinking wine from a cup (Jer. 25:15-16). The severity of the judgment upon the worshippers of the beast is expressed as drinking the wine of the wrath of God that is mixed undiluted into the cup. Ancient people often diluted wine with water to reduce its intoxicating strength. To increase its intoxicating strength, undiluted wine was mixed with herbs and spices. The mixed undiluted wine represents pouring God’s wrath in its full capacity, not mixed with mercy (see Ps. 75:8). The symbolic drinking of the cup of God’s wrathful wine in Revelation is other expression for the seven last plagues (Rev. 15:1).
Read Revelation 14:10b-11 along with 20:10-15. How do Isaiah 34:8-10 and Jude 7 shed light on the statement: “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever” (NKJV)?
The statement of the torment with fire and brimstone refers to total destruction. Fire and brimstone is a symbol of judgment (Gen 19:24; Isa. 34:8-10). The ascending smoke of destruction is a well-known image in the Bible. Isaiah prophesied of the destruction of Edom by fire and brimstone; it will become a burning pitch; “it shall not be quenched night and day; its smoke shall ascend forever” (34:10, NKJV). Jude describes the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah as suffering the punishment of “eternal fire” (v. 7). These texts do not talk about endless burning, for none of these cities are burning today. The consequences are eternal, not burning. The “eternal fire” in Revelation refers to total annihilation; the burning will be long enough to make the consumption complete until nothing is left to burn.
Compare the threat in the third angel’s message with Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 10:28. Fear is dispelled by greater fear. Because the beast uses fear to compel the people to receive the mark of the beast, the third angel’s message uses a stronger fear to urge God’s people to stand firm in the face of Satan’s end-time deception.

Friday March 8
Further Thought: Read Ellen G. White, “The Final Warning,” pp. 603-6012, in The Great Controversy.
Revelation shows that at the time of the end, God’s people are commissioned with the proclamation of the end-time gospel to world. At the present time, there are three groups of people in the world: those who are totally on God’s side, those who are totally on Satan’s side, and those who are undecided. God sends his end-time message to the last group to warn them and win them to Himself. The book of Revelation shows that many of these will respond to the call.
“The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. . . . The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. The seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit”—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pp. 611-612.
The conclusion of the proclamation of God’s final message will result in a great separation dividing people in the world into two camps: those who have a relationship with God and those who choose to follow the beast. This separation is portrayed in terms of two harvests: the gathering of the wheat into the storehouses (14:14-16) and the grapes to be trampled in the winepress (14:17-20). This is the subject of Revelation 17-18.
Discussion Questions:
How different would be our attitude toward the preaching of the gospel to the people around us if we really understood our prophetic identity and role in the world? How urgently is the end-time message to be proclaimed?
Why do you think judgment is an unpopular concept among many Christians today causing anxiety? What relevance does the concept of the pre-advent judgment have for Christians today? How would you help your fellow believers better understand the true meaning of the pre-advent judgment?
Many Protestant Christians believe that unrepentant people will have a second chance after the Second Coming of Christ to repent and be saved. In what way does the concept of the pre-advent judgment negate the concept of a second chance?