Categories
End Times and the Bible

GOD AND MAGOG AND SCRIPTURE: FOCUS ON EVANGELIZATION RATHER THAN ON SPECULATION

Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj

Of late, after Russia invaded Ukraine, there has been a lot of focus on Bible Passages like Ezekiel 38 and 39. There is a talk that Gog and Magog mentioned in these chapters concerns Russia and Putin and so on and so forth. But I want issue a word of caution here. This word of warning comes straight from Scripture. Revelation 11:8 goes this way: “Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city – which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt – where also their Lord was crucified” (NIV). We know that the city where our Lord was crucified to be historically Jerusalem. But historic Jerusalem is symbolically called Sodom and Egypt in the book of Revelation. Why should this be so. The answer is obvious: Jerusalem committed the very same sins of Sodom (sexual immorality) and Egypt (Idol Worship).

Don’t get super-excited about names of places and their physical locations as the Lord’s return nears!

So as the coming of the Lord nears, we must not get super-excited about names of places and their physical locations! You excitedly blurt out, “Gog and Magog – that is about Russia! This is about Putin!” Don’t be so quick! Just above we saw proof that when the Bible talks about literal Jerusalem it may not be literal Jerusalem! We need to open to the possibility that Gog and Magog can signify another place spiritually speaking and not Russia. I am not saying this because of a personal bias. But I am saying this from the method of interpretation laid out in Revelation 11:8. Similarly, the ‘Babylon’ mentioned in I Peter 5:13, could have been used instead of Rome as there is no record in any other Bible passage which mentions that Apostle Peter and his spiritual son Mark ever ministered in geographical Babylon. Peter was using Babylon as a codeword for Rome, where he ministered. The phrase ‘She who is in Babylon together with you, sends you her greetings’ can be taken to mean the church in Rome sends you greetings. Peter uses this phrase just to be on the safer side when persecution was being stepped up. Babylon was a cryptogram for Rome. That’s all. If a Roman officer who was against the church get go to read I Peter, he would have got fooled when he read I Peter 5:13’s reference in Babylon, but believers of that time would instinctively know that Peter was talking about the church in Rome, and not the church in Babylon there.

Very often the physical location of Bible Places just don’t mean that place alone as Revelation 11:8 clearly shows!
Bible Scholars tell us that the Babylon of I Peter 5:13 does not mean geographical Babylon but geographical Rome. This verse has crypto description of the church in Rome to fool the enemies of the church in Rome.

Let’s read another passage from the book of Revelation: Revelation 20:7-8. It goes this way: ‘When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth – Gog and Magog – and to gather them for battle.’ Here Satan-deceived nations from the four corners of the Earth are called Gog and Magog. So, there is a real possibility that Gog and Magog is not indicative of one place in the end-times. As the coming of the Lord nears, you would be biblically wise, if you don’t be focus on physical locations like Russia, Jerusalem, Israel, etc. Instead your spiritual senses alert and you will see that people from all four directions of the globe are being deceived by Satan as the end draws near.

Jesus had told his disciples in no uncertain terms that the time of his return could not be guessed as the Father only knows this (Matt. 24:36; Mk. 13:32). Knowing they could not get an answer if they asked him a question, ‘When will you return Lord?’, I believe, they asked him a smartly-worded question which was a lot similar. They asked Jesus this question concerning the last days, the end times: ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?’ I believe this question is not much different from the questions we spend all our time speculating about these days: “Is Gog and Magog about Russia? Is Putin the anti-Christ? Will not Jesus surely return before one generation of people pass away after the formation of national Israel?” I believe Jesus’ answer to these questions is the same as his answer to the question of his disciples concerning geographical Israel’s future recorded by Luke in Acts: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Did you notice that Jesus indirectly mentions Gog and Magog, here? When speaks about the ‘ends of the earth’, I believe, Gog and Magog are also included in the list of places we must share the Goodnews with, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Rather than do unfruitful speculation about lesser important details about eschatology(end-times), we must focus our attention on gospel proclamation – that is the clear message of Acts 1:6-8. Ofcourse, the most important things concerning eschatology are these: the physical return of Jesus, the day of judgement where Jesus would be the judge, the eternal conscious torment of the stubborn Christ-rejectors, the reality of eternal heaven.

Acts 1:6-8 tells us this: do not waste your time in mere speculation about non-important aspects of eschatology. But be busy about passionate evangelization of all nations, peoples, tribes, languages.

If I get a chance to meet Putin, I will not ask him, ‘Are you the anti-Christ?’. Rather, I would look to share the Gospel with him! Rather than speculate on the role of nations in the endtimes, we must seek to spread the goodnews there! It is God’s job to harden their heart after having given them enough opportunities to repent like he did in Pharoah’s case. Once their heart is hardened they would go about fulfilling all what is written in the Bible about them in God’s calender. Till that happens, frankly, is none of our business. But it is our business to proclaim the Gospel to all in all nations – including Russia and Israel. God’s Word says so.

(A version of this article by Dr. Duke Jeyaraj appeared in the June 2022 edition of Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Aim magazine. Duke Jeyaraj, the author, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. This is a reader-supported, inter-denominational Indian ministry to presentday people. Find out more by emailing Duke via emailduke@gmail.com or whatsapping him at +91-8886040605).

Categories
Bible on Contemporary Issues End Times and the Bible

Take the Vaccine and You Take the Mark of the Beast?

Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj answers

You take the vaccine and you take the mark of the beast, the anti-christ? Is this true? Duke Jeyaraj examines this question in this article.

Three Scriptures connect receiving the mark of the Beast which the book of Revelation talks about with receiving something you receive on your forehead and hands (Rev. 14:9; Rev. 13:11,16,17; Rev. 20:4). Since, the corona vaccine done is sent into one’s hands, the speculation has been rife that receiving the vaccine shot equals to receiving the mark of the beast/the antichrist. These well-meaning folks passionately argue this way: ‘If C equals 3, being the third letter in the English alphabet, O equals to 15, R equals to 18, O equals to 15, N equals to 14, and A equals to 1, the total comes to 66. And there are 6 letters in the English word, Corona. So, there you have it – Corona has something to do with 666, the mark of the Antichrist!’ Does this interpretation of Revelation hold water? Let’s see. 

The SETTING to the Book of Revelation 

There is a background, a setting, a context to every New Testament letter. For example, we know that Apostle Paul wrote to the believers at the church in Corinth to instruct them on how to handle a believer who was sleeping with own mother (I Cor. 5). This was one of the different reasons. In the same way, Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation to seven specific church believers in Asia Minor who faced the specific problem being sucked into and swept away from what was called the ‘imperial cult’. The Book of Revelation mentions that John wrote to an actual bunch of Asian churches, very clearly (see Rev. 1:4,11). So, as we see the book of Corinthians in its context, we must see the book of Revelation in its context.  

If someone says, ‘Sunny’, we immediately ask, ‘Sunny Gavaskar, the cricketer or Sunny the weather, or Sunny Leone, the porn star or Nissan Sunny, the car?’, don’t we? In the same way, we must look at everything mentioned in the Bible keeping in mind the context. Or else, the meaning of that text will get assassinated!  

When the book of Revelation was being written the believers were faced with the temptation of joining what was called the Roman Imperial Cult. The Caesars of those days wanted the people to worship them or face trouble for not doing so. Bible Scholars of repute assert the book of Revelation was written during the rule of one these two emperors – Nero and Domitian. One killed his own mother and the Christians. The other praised a palace steward, showered with him with courtesies before killing him, the next day. Because of this kind of erratic, eccentric, emotional behavior, these emperors were popularly called ‘beasts’ (of course in whispers).  

So, when Apostle John wrote about the beast and his mark, the early church believers instantly knew who he was talking about. They knew he was talking about the ‘beast’ who was also the Caesar of the land, the emperor of the land, the same way, a cricket fan instantly knows Rahul Dravid is being talked about when someone mentions ‘The Wall’ or an action movie addict knows Jean-Claude Van Damme is being spoken of when someone quips, ‘Muscles from Brussels’! 

So, when the book of Revelation talks about the mark of the beast being received in the hand, it cannot be talking about the Corona Vaccine, I believe! When you keep the context of the book in mind, you simply cannot come to that conclusion! 

The SYMBOLISM of the Beast’s Number 

Both the Hebrew people and Greek people assigned numeric to their language’s alphabets. If one spelt “Nero Caesar” in Hebrew letters (like assigning A equals to 1… Z equals 26 in English alphabets), the total came to 666 (you just have to Google this and you will know).  

So, the number 666 mentioned in the book of Revelation was speaking about Nero Caesar using a code language which was familiar to the original readers of the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation was clearly understood by its original readers as Romans and Corinthians was by its original readers! The writer of Revelation did not want the church believers he wrote to, to get into trouble for possessing a letter with direct references to an evil emperor like Nero Caesar who was out to capture them and throw them to the lions. So, he used code language like ‘666’, ‘the beast’, etc. to refer to the evil rulers of their time who persecuted them for their faith in Christ and their rejection of him as their Lord! 

The SHOPPING-SELLING ban which Revelation talks about 

Revelation 13:17 which reads this way has intrigued a lot of people: ‘so that could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name’ (NIV). What was this shopping-selling ban on those who refuse the beast’s mark all about? The Caesars of those days had their images conformed to the images of the popular deities in the coins people used for daily business transactions, day-to-day shopping and selling in the markets. In the public square, a gigantic image of the Caesar was placed so that people would worship him as god. The very helpful NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible observes this: In AD 89/90, maybe five or six years before the book of Revelation arrived in the churches of Asia, Ephesus issued a coin that conformed Domitian to the image of the chief deity Zeus. Domitian also dedicated an imperial statue of nearly 25 feet (eight meters) high in the imperial temple in Ephesus. Individuals faced social pressure to participate in public cults, but unless they were accused of disloyalty, no one would hunt down nonparticipants to ensure their participation’ (page 2247). If you did not worship Caesar you would not be easily granted access to the market he controlled symbolized by the coins that bore his god-like image. You would be accused of sedition. You would be accused of hating your land. So, the book of Revelation was calling the believers to ‘endure’ and not participate in the emperor cult. Revelation 2:10 called for endurance directly: ‘Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life’ (NKJV). And passages like Revelation 14:9-10 (burning sulfur for recipients of beast’s mark) called for the very same thing indirectly: using the ‘mark of the beast’/666 imagery! So, the writer of the book of Revelation was not talking about receiving a literal mark on the forehead or hands, but warning his congregation against possible Caesar-worship – thanks to social pressure! ‘Be ready to lose your business, or a prominent spot for your shop in the Caesar-controlled market because you will rub Caesar the wrong way by not worshipping him. But if you do, and do so stubbornly, you will lose a lot more. You will land up in ever-burning hell!’ – that was the message of the writer of the book of Revelation. There is nothing in the book of Revelation that is not clearly taught in the first 65 books of the Bible – this I believe. In the letter to the Hebrews, the writer challenges the readers to even accept prison terms and property confiscation by the State, joyfully, for refusing to compromise their faith amidst of a similar-to-the-Book-of-Revelation situation of political persecution because of their faith in Jesus who alone was the Lord (Heb. 10:34). 

The SEALING of the Saved, which the book of Revelation Speaks About 

The book of Revelation talks about 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel who were ‘sealed on the forehead’ by the living God (Rev. 7:2-8). Just like the beast imagery, the 666 imagery, the numbers in the book of Revelation, I believe, have a symbolic meaning. What Revelation 5:9  (‘persons from every tribe and language and people and nation’ will be saved by the blood of Jesus) teaches directly, Revelation 7:2-8 teaches using indirectly, using symbols! 12 x 12 x 1000 (a large number) is one way we can write 144,000. So, the message of Revelation 7:2-8 is this: “people from Old Testament (symbolized by the first 12) and people from the New Testament (symbolized by second 12) will be saved in large numbers (symbolized by the 1000) in the final day by the blood of Jesus! They will be saved if they have a mark of the blood of Jesus! Since Revelation 5:9 and Revelation 7:2-8 seems to be talking about the same thing (how the blood of Jesus ‘seals’ believers from various background across the globe, across various time periods), the sealing of Revelation 7:2-8 can be seen as symbolic. So, the sealing of the mark of the beast mentioned elsewhere in Revelation (Rev. 13:11,16,17; 14:9; 20:4) can also be logically seen as symbolic. Through symbols these passages teach this: “If you allow the evil anti-Biblical, anti-Jesus policies of your political ruler or even your work-place boss to impact your head, you are receiving the mark of the beast on your head. If you allow the evil anti-Biblical policies of your political ruler or work-place boss to impact your actions, you are receiving the mark of the beast on your hands!” 

Elsewhere in Ezekiel 9, the word ‘mark on the foreheads’ seems to have been used symbolically as well. A man clothed in linen was assigned by the Lord to go throughout the city of Jerusalem putting a mark on those in the city of Jerusalem who mourn and grieve over the detestable things done there (Ezek. 9:3-4). Such people so marked were spared from the judgement of God, apparently (see Ezek. 9:10-11). So, the message is simple: those who turn from the popular-among-people sinful ways of the city they live in – be it porn-watching, be it pride, be it foul-language use, etc., enabled by the Grace of God, cleansed by the Blood of Jesus – they are ‘marked on the foreheads’ (spiritually speaking) and they will be saved from the soon-coming wrath of God and hell-punishment! 

So, when there are clear indications that the ‘mark’ in Revelation 7 and Ezekiel 9 are symbolic the mark of the beast can also be a symbolic thing. The message woven around this symbolism is what rest of the Bible has underlined all through: “Even if costs your life, do not compromise your faith in Christ, despite mounting political pressure or unbearable peer pressure!” (Hebrew 12:4; Acts 20:24; Acts 21:13). The mark of the beast has nothing to do with an injection, I believe! It has got everything to do rejection of the spirit of compromise with sin promoted by celebs and politically powerful, prevalent in our time and age (my opinion)! 

So, in CONCLUSION, I would like to say this: if you are standing in a vaccination queue and the nurse says, “You will agree to worship the Prime Minister/President/Chancellor/Chief Minister/the Mayor when you receive this vaccine and if you don’t agree these terms and conditions, then we can’t vaccinate you!’ then you DON’T have to get vaccinated. But to the best of my knowledge, that is not what is being done now anywhere in the world! So, we all get vaccinated against the corona pandemic! Let not a bizarre way of interpreting Revelation, violating self-evident sound Bible interpretation principles, prevent us from taking the corona vaccination! 

(This article written by Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj was published by Aim Magazine of Evangelical Fellowship of India in its July 2021 edition. Duke is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is an Indian ministry to presentday people which is reader-viewer supported. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Watch Duke’s messages at http://www.Youtube.com/VisitDuke. The video version of the same message is found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Yq3C7udfoU&ab_channel=DukeJeyaraj)

Categories
Bible Truth Around Contemporary Events

Locusts, Us and The Message of Joel!

Duke Jeyaraj

There is a locust attack in NorthWest India as I write these words in May 2020. It is a terrible attack. Mohammed Iqbal writes the following lines for The Hindu: “The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has given permission to the Rajasthan government’s Agriculture Department to use remotely piloted aircraft systems for anti-locust operations in the large areas where the insect swarms have landed. The locust attack has affected about 90,000 hectares in 20 districts of the State.” The Prophet Joel of the Bible talked about a locust plague during his time. Joel 1:4 reads this way: “We have been invaded! What the cutting locusts left, the swarming locusts consumed; What the swarming locusts left, the creeping locusts consumed;
What the creeping locusts left, the stripping locusts finished off” (Joel 1:4, The Voice). Before I attempted to learn the theology of Joel, I was wowed by his zoology! I did not know that so many different kinds of locusts even existed! For Joel, the locust plague were pointing to an event far more destructive! I read this online: “A Desert Locust adult can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food per day, that is about two grams every day. A very small part of an average swarm (or about one tonne of locustseats the same amount of food in one day as about 10 elephants or 25 camels or 2,500 people” (fao website). Can something be more destructive than the locust plague? Yes, says Joel. He goes onto talk about that event? What event? The Day of the Lord. He pens, “Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes!” (Joel 1:15, ESV). He writes, “Eternal One: Blow the trumpet in Zion; signal the alarm from My holy mountain! It is almost here. Let all who live in the land tremble because the day of the Eternal One is coming” (Joel 2:1, The Voice). The Day of the Lord prophecy has an immediate fulfillment, and an eschatological fulfillment. The immediate fulfillment was this: an enemy nation is going to invade Israel/Judah! The eschatological fulfillment will be this: the day of the return of the Lord Jesus is around the corner (Rev. 6:17)! So, what should we do? Joel replies: “Eternal One: Even now, turn back your heart and rededicate yourselves to Me; Show Me your repentance by fasting, weeping, and mourning” (Joel 2:12). So, let’s repent! Let’s do it ‘now’! Before it is too late! It will be ‘too late’ after the return of Jesus! It will be ‘too late’ after death! It will be ‘too late’ after the Holy Spirit stops speaking with our hardened heart!

(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Gen from Gehenna Mission, G4 Mission. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Watch Duke’s messages videos at http://www.Youtube.com/visitduke).