Greetings! This is our final post in our four-part series on things you should know before you study the book of Revelation. In this post, we will study the ability God has to know the beginning and end of all things. In fact, in the book of Isaiah, He says that proves that He is God. We’re going to examine how the fact that God knows the beginning and end of all things shapes the way He shares information. Are you intrigued? Keep reading.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU STUDY REVELATION
Fourth in a Four-Part Series
by Karen Thompson
God Knows the Beginning and End of All Things
The other thing you need to have an understanding of when studying Revelation is the knowledge that God knows the beginning and end of all things. This knowledge about God is tied in with the unique style in which the information in Revelation is communicated. As I studied Revelation, I often wondered why the Lord presented the information about the last days’ events in the way in which it is presented. Eventually, I would begin to understand that His style of communication is a reflection of His identity. It reveals to us an aspect of His nature as God.
That nature is that, as God, He is all-knowing—He knows the beginning and end of all things. In fact, He says that His ability to know the beginning and end of all things is unique to Him and Him alone. It is a facet of His God identity. In Isaiah chapter 46, the Lord describes Himself in this way. He is speaking to the wayward northern kingdom of Israel, chastising them for worshiping false idols. He mocked their false gods of Bel and Nebo, saying they were just hunks of wood that had to be hauled around, wearing out the backs of poor donkeys. He pointed out that their gods were worthless and could do nothing for them. He pleaded with them to remember their rich and long history together, how He was and is the only God they’ve ever had. Then in verses 9–10, He stated what qualifies and sets Him apart from all their false gods and idols: “for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure…”(Isa. 46:9–10).
In these verses, God declares that as God, He knows the end from the beginning, from ancient times to what is still to come in the future. Simply put, He knows the beginning and end of all things. No one else can do that, only Him. That’s part of His God identity. It makes Him unique.
When you study the prophets, you will see this facet of God all throughout the prophetic books. Through the prophets, God often told the beginning and end of people, places, and nations. That’s how He communicates, by telling the beginning from the end. One example of this is Isaiah’s prophetic word for the area called Moab. The location for ancient Moab is in present-day Jordan. In the fifteenth chapter of Isaiah, God said the Assyrians would bring desolation to Moab, which was fulfilled around the fourth year of King Hezekiah’s reign (715–686 BC). Then in Isaiah 16:1–5, God jumped forward a couple of millennia into the future end times and speaks to Moab saying, “Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land” (v. 4). These verses are speaking of the future Antichrist referred to here as the “spoiler.” God speaks to Moab to let His people dwell with them, to be a cover for them against Antichrist. The book of Daniel confirms that the inhabitants of Jerusalem will flee into what is present-day Jordan when Antichrist invades the city. There, God will protect them for the last 3 ½ years of Daniel’s 70th week. In that way, Moab will be a cover for them from the spoiler. This is just one of many such examples of the Lord communicating the beginning and end of a thing: in this case, Moab.
God’s manner of communicating the beginning and the end of a thing is consistent in the way He conveys information in the book of Revelation. All the information in Revelation is given in chronological order; however, each of the elements (the two witnesses, the sun-clothed woman, the beast and false prophet, the whore of Babylon, etc.) is pulled out and focused on individually, revealing its beginning and its end. Throughout Revelation, we are told about each of the elements that take place during Daniel’s 70th week.
I’ll give you an example of how the information in Revelation is relayed by telling the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood in the same manner. First, I’ll give you a quick review of Little Red Riding Hood in case you don’t remember it.
There was a young girl called Little Red Riding Hood who was on her way through the woods to visit her sick grandmother. The big bad wolf saw her and wanted to eat her but was afraid to do it in the open. So he approached her and quizzed her about what she was doing. She innocently told the big bad wolf she was going to visit her sick grandmother. He suggested that she pick some flowers to give to her. This gave the big bad wolf time to run to grandmother’s home ahead of Little Red Riding Hood where he could eat her in private. The wolf tricked the ailing grandmother into letting him into her home by pretending to be her granddaughter. Once he gained entrance into the home, he swallowed grandmother whole. He then disguised himself as grandmother, hopped into bed, and waited for Little Red Riding Hood.
Little Red Riding Hood arrived at grandmother’s house and noticed grandmother didn’t look right. She began to question her “grandmother” about her appearance, how her big eyes and big nose didn’t look right. Then she said “My, what big teeth you have.” The wolf replied, “All the better to eat you with, my dear” and jumped out of bed and ate her whole.
A hunter had been following the tracks of the big bad wolf the whole day which led him to the grandmother’s house. He burst through the door and saw the wolf had already eaten the grandmother and Little Rid Riding Hood. The hunter saved the day when he took his ax and cut open the wolf. Little Red Riding Hood and grandmother were freed and emerged unharmed. They filled the wolf’s carcass with stones and then threw it down into a well. The end.
Now if I were to tell the tale of Little Red Riding Hood in the same style as Revelation, it would read something like this.
Little Red Riding Hood was on her way through the woods. She stopped to pick flowers. When she arrived at her destination, she noticed something didn’t look right. She was eaten by an animal, yet still lived.
A wolf was looking for someone to eat. He used trickery and deceit on his prey. He ate two people. He was killed with an ax.
An elderly woman was home, sick in bed. She heard a knock on the door. An invitation was given to “Come in.” She was eaten by a beast, yet still lived.
A hunter tracked his prey in the woods. The hunter cut open his prey and out sprang two people. He filled the prey’s carcass with stones and then cast it into a well. He became a hero. The end.
It’s not a perfect example of how the information in Revelation is communicated, but it’s the closest example I could come up with. In the same way that I presented the beginning and end of each element of the story of Little Red Riding Hood separately, the book of Revelation also presents the beginning and end of each element separately yet in chronological order.
Let’s take the element of the two witnesses as an example. In Revelation chapter 11, we read about the two witnesses. We are told they are prophets and will minister the last half of Daniel’s 70th week, 3 ½ years. They prevent Antichrist from entering the temple the entire length of their ministry. We are also told of the power they will have to defend themselves against anyone that wants to kill them. We are told how they will be able to torment anyone at any time with various plagues. Then we are told that at the end of their ministry, the beast will be able to kill them. Their bodies will lie out in the open for 3 ½ days and then the life of God comes back into their bodies. When they stand up, a voice from heaven says, “Come up hither,” and they ascend to heaven in a cloud. Then a great earthquake takes place.
We are told of the beginning and end of the two witnesses in chapter 11. Nowhere else in the book of Revelation do we read about the two witnesses, yet we know they will have a significant role in the events of the last 3 ½ years of Daniel’s 70th week. We know they will have interactions with the kings in alignment with Antichrist, because when they are finally killed, everyone is so happy that they celebrate and give gifts to each other. We are told of only one instance when the two witnesses interact with the Antichrist beast—the last instance, when he successfully kills them.
Basically, that’s how all the different elements in Revelation are presented, separately from beginning to end. God tells the beginning and end of each element. When you understand how the information in Revelation is presented, it gives you a head start in understanding how to interpret its contents.
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