Psalm 110: The Lord (Adonai) rules in the midst of His enemies

POST OVERVIEW. A second post on Psalm 110, this time considering verses 2-7 where we see the Lord bringing His judgment on the unrighteous on the last day.


In a previous post (#629, 3/4/2023), we began our study of the eschatology of Psalm 110 by carefully examining just the first verse of the psalm. There we had discovered that, as the psalm opens, the Lord (Adonai) is welcomed back into heaven by the LORD (Yahweh). We saw that this first scene of the psalm took place when Jesus returned to heaven as the victorious Lamb after accomplishing His work of redemption on the cross. This first verse of Psalm 110 is therefore approximately parallel with Acts 2:33-36, with Revelation 5:6ff, and with Revelation 12:5b.

But we also saw that the focus of this psalm is not on the work that Jesus accomplished on the cross but is instead anticipating a future work that He will do when “His enemies are made a footstool for His feet.” Therefore, our orientation for reading the rest of the psalm is one of anticipation, asking the question, “What work will the Lord Jesus perform when He comes again?” That will be our question as we read the rest of the psalm.

I will again be using the New American Standard Bible (1995) for the text.


PSALM 110:2. Once again, it is important to see who is acting in this verse. In verse 1 the LORD (Yahweh) had said to the Lord (Adonai) that He should sit at His right hand UNTIL His enemies are made a footstool. Now in verse 2, the time anticipated by verse 1 has arrived and we now see that it is Adonai who is going to “rule in the midst of Your enemies.”

INTERPRETATION. God the Father speaks to God the Son, saying, “Jesus, now is the appointed time. The end of the age has come. There will be no more delay and no more suspension of judgment. Rise from Your seat at My right hand and take up Your double-edged sword. Take Your seat upon the white horse (Rev. 19:11-21) and begin Your awesome work of final judgment.”

PSALM 110:3. Before Adonai comes to reap the earth, He gathers His army around Him. These are His adoring subjects, and so “Your people will volunteer freely in holy array” as they prepare to follow their King into the battle.

INTERPRETATION. The Lord Jesus, the victorious Lamb, will gather His resurrected and glorified saints to Himself (this gathering of saints is pictured in Ezek. 37:1-14, in 1 Thess. 4:15-17, in Rev. 11:11-12 and in Rev. 14:1-5), and then these will immediately return with Him as His army (1 Thess. 3:13; 4:14; Rev. 19:14). In this context, “Your people” is all the elect of all time.

PSALM 110:4. This statement was made in eternity past from Yahweh to Adonai. In it, Yahweh established the eternal divine priesthood of the Lord Jesus, the priesthood of Melchizedek. The author of Hebrews teaches about this priesthood of Melchizedek and about Jesus’ place in it in Hebrews 7. Refer to this passage in Hebrews for an understanding of this verse. (I have written about Hebrews 7 and Melchizedek in a separate series of blogs.)


The final three verses describe the work of judgment on the last day. This is THAT day, the day of the Lord, the day of the wrath of God. This portion of the psalm reveals why the unregenerate are terrified when the Lord returns (see Rev. 6:12-17).

PSALM 110:5. Now, as the war of the last day begins and the final rendering of judgment is poured out on the reprobate, we see that it is Adonai (Jesus) who is still at the right hand of Yahweh (God the Father). “He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.”

INTERPRETATION. We have already made clear that these verses in Psalm 110 are describing the same events that take place in Rev. 19:11-21. Jesus Christ, accompanied by all His glorified saints, is coming to judge the earth and to tread the wine press of the wrath of God the Almighty. Here “kings” are mentioned specifically (“shatter kings”) to direct us to the passages in Revelation 16:13-16 and 19:17-19 (see obvious allusions in Rev. 20:8-9) that tell of Armageddon and the kings who gather their armies together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty (16:14). Jesus will “shatter” all opposing kings. All worldly authority will crumble before Him.

PSALM 110:6. Adonai (Jesus) “will judge among the nations and fill them with corpses. He will shatter the chief men over a broad country.”

INTERPRETATION. The verse’s meaning could not be clearer. In the day of His wrath, Jesus will come upon all the unrighteous with absolute justice and will slaughter all the unregenerate such that the earth will be filled with corpses. This same scene appears in Rev. 14:20 when blood flows from the wine press of God’s wrath up to a horse’s bridle for two hundred miles and in Rev. 19:21 where the Rider on the white horse (Jesus Christ) kills all the armies who had gathered against Him. The carnage will be unimaginable and none will escape.

PSALM 110:7. In a peaceful scene we see Adonai drinking from a brook.

INTERPRETATION. After the violence and destruction of the previous two verses in which the Lord judges all the inhabitants of the earth, the picture turns to a peaceful scene of the Lord drinking beside a brook. The message is so obvious that it can easily be missed: the Lord drinks from the brook just like a Man! To the Hebrew mind, both in David’s time and in Christ’s day a thousand years later, there was never any question that Adonai, the Lord, was God. But now in this verse we find a mystery, because here we find the Lord drinking from a brook. This means that Adonai, the one who comes to judge the earth, the one who shatters kings and who by Himself fills the nations with corpses, is also a Man. The psalm is teaching that the Lord is both God and Man. But how can this be?

Of course, we now know that the Lord Jesus, the one who will fulfill this psalm and the one who will render recompense to the nations, is both God and Man. He is the one who will fill the nations with corpses and He is the one who will drink from the brook when He is thirsty, just like any other man. This psalm is definitely prophetic and Messianic.


What we see in Psalm 110 is a picture of the end of the age when the Lord Jesus will gather all His elect to Himself via the Resurrection and then will render recompense to all the unrighteous in the Judgment at the last day.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 3/9/2023                     #631

Psalm 110:1 – “The LORD said to my Lord”

POST OVERVIEW. A detailed study of Psalm 110:1 focused on the eschatology contained in this verse and in the psalm.

The psalms serve the church of the Lord Jesus by giving us praises and prayers, by modeling for us how we can cry out to the Lord when we are afraid or in pain or lonely or threatened by others. The psalms show us how raw and honest we can be with our God as we seek Him with our whole heart. The psalms are well-known for all these things. But we should also keep in mind that the psalms provide us with rich theology, pouring out doctrinal teaching in the form of laments and praises and cries for mercy. As the book of Job uses the context of suffering to debate the nature of God and His righteousness, so the book of Psalms uses the form of Hebrew poetry to reveal profound truths about God and man.


For the next couple of articles, we will be studying Psalm 110. There may be no better example of a psalm that teaches theology and Bible doctrine than this psalm. Contained in its seven verses are truths about the nature of the Trinity, the deity of Jesus, Jesus’ priesthood of Melchizedek, and the humanity of Christ, as well as much teaching about Christ and the end of the age (eschatology). I plan to write two articles on this psalm, the first one being a careful study of just the first verse and the second article going carefully but more quickly through the remaining six verses.

TARGET OF OUR STUDY. Although there are many things that we could learn from Psalm 110, we will be seeking to learn what this psalm teaches us about last things, particularly about the coming of the Lord at the end of the age.

METHOD. The pace of our study will be slow, moving carefully and deliberately through all the verses of Psalm 110, and especially moving deliberately through the first verse. We will spend a lot of time on verse 1 for two reasons. First, this verse is packed with powerful theology and we want to go carefully to be sure that our exegesis does not go beyond what is actually contained in the text. But second, by carefully studying verse 1, we effectively position ourselves to see how the rest of the psalm flows. In other words, if we properly understand verse 1, then we should be lined up to understand the entire psalm.

I will be using the New American Standard Bible (1995) for my text.

The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
Psalm 110:1

WHO. Simple observation tells us that there are two persons here in this scene, but who are these persons? One is “the LORD” and the other is “the Lord.” Both of these are names for God, but the names appear differently in English because the names are different in the original Hebrew. “The LORD” is “Yahweh” in Hebrew and is the first Person of the Trinity, whom we know as God the Father. “The Lord” is “Adonai” and is the second Person of the Trinity, whom we know as God the Son, Jesus Christ. So, this verse shows us God the Father speaking to Jesus. Much like Jesus’ so-called high-priestly prayer in John 17, in which God the Son prays to God the Father, so here we are allowed into the heavenly throne room to hear God the Father speak to Jesus, who is God the Son. We have now discerned who is speaking in Psalm 110:1.

WHAT. What is this event that prompts God the Father to speak to Jesus in this way? Again, observation of the details of the scene coupled with a basic knowledge of the flow of biblical history will make the answer plain. It appears that Adonai (Jesus) has been absent from His seat at the Father’s right hand for some reason and is now returning to His place. But when was there ever a time when God the Son was not seated at the Father’s right hand? Of course, the only time in all of eternity when Son was not at the Father’s right hand was when He had been sent into the world to accomplish His work of atonement by His death on the cross. For those thirty-three years of the Incarnation, Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) and during those years, the seat at the Father’s right hand was empty.

But now, in Psalm 110:1, Jesus has perfectly accomplished His work of atonement on the cross (John 17:4; 19:30; etc.) and is returning to His place, seated at the Father’s right hand (Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12-13; Col. 3:1; Acts 2:33; 5:31). Thus, in Psalm 110:1, the Father (“the LORD”) welcomes Jesus back to heaven and back to His seat at His right hand.

WHEN. Since we now know what is happening here, we can know for certain when this occurred. The Father said this to the Son at ~ AD 30 in human history when Jesus ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9). [NOTE: For reference to other end-times passages, this scene is roughly simultaneous with the events of Rev. 5:6-14 and Rev. 12:5b.]


Having determined the participants in this scene and when the scene takes place, we now will examine the contents of the Father’s address to the Son.

“Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” This sentence from the Father to the Son looks out into the distant future and hints at events which will close the gospel age. Jesus, as the victorious Lamb (Rev. 5:6ff), has finished His atoning work and has sat down (Heb. 1:3), but the Father’s statement forces us to think about what will happen “then.” The LORD’s words create an anticipation about that future event when the Father makes Jesus’ enemies “a footstool for His feet.” This first verse, then, establishes that this psalm is prophetic and its theme is eschatological. The message is that, when His enemies are made a footstool, Adonai (“the Lord”) will arise from His seat to perform another work. The nature of that final work is what the rest of the psalm is about.

“The Lord” will remain seated at “the LORD’s” right hand for a long time (see Heb. 10:12-13 for this proof), but when His enemies are made a footstool, the Lord will arise to carry out His work of final judgment (see Rev. 19:11-21).


Our first study of Psalm 110 has focused on only the first verse, but that verse has established this psalm as both Messianic and eschatological, and the psalm is about events surrounding the coming of the Lord Jesus at the end of the age. The next article will study the rest of the psalm.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 3/4/2023                     #629

Two riders on white horses (Rev. 6:2 and Rev. 19:11)

POST OVERVIEW. This post compares the rider on the white horse of Rev. 6:2 with the Rider on the white horse of Rev. 19:11 to reveal how to interpret these two passages.


In Revelation 5, the victorious Lamb is given a scroll sealed with seven seals, and the Lamb is the only one worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals. He breaks the first seal and a rider on a white horse rides out “conquering and to conquer” (Rev. 6:2). Then later, in Rev. 19:11, we encounter another Rider on a white horse who “judges and wages war.” In this post, by comparing these two riders, we will show what these two symbols represent and how beautifully they relate to one another.

As is evident from this chart, the parallels between the riders are both profound and intentional. The first rider of Rev. 6:2 represents the commissioned church as it rides out at the very start of the gospel age conquering the nations with the bow of the gospel.  Then on the last day, at the very end of the gospel age the Lord Jesus comes from heaven to judge the rebellious nations and to pour out God’s wrath on all those who oppose Him. The first rider (6:2) goes out to proclaim the gospel message, a message which is able to bring the dead to life, but the second rider (19:11-21) goes out with a sharp sword, a sword which will put the living to death.

“Behold, a white horse!” But the appearance of the different horses produces very different responses. The white horse in Rev. 6:2 carries a rider who is proclaiming the good news of the gospel, so when the shout “Behold!” is heard for this white horse and rider, joy begins to spread. Armed with the bow of the gospel, this rider is conquering the nations to bring many into the King’s army. This rider is welcome because he brings good news. This is the proclamation of the favorable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19), the announcement of “the acceptable time” and “the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:1-2). This is the opening of the gospel age, the time of the great ingathering of the elect as the Gentiles are called from every tribe and tongue to repent and believe in Jesus.

By contrast, when the nations hear “Behold, a white horse!” for this second Rider (Rev. 19:11), it will be a time of horror and despair. The Rider on this white horse “judges and wages war.” “From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations” (Rev. 19:15). The second sounding of “Behold!” announces the end of the gospel age and declares that the time for mercy is forever past. Now there is only “a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES” (Heb. 10:27). When the shout “Behold!” is heard to warn of this Rider’s approach, it is only a notice that all hope is to be abandoned, for “there will be delay no longer” (Rev. 10:6).


We have shown that there is an obvious parallel between the two riders on white horses who are located at the beginning and the end of the gospel age. The rider sent out at the breaking of the first seal in Rev. 6:1-2 represents the commissioned church going out to proclaim the gospel message to the nations. The Rider who rides out in Rev. 19:11-21 is the Lord Jesus coming “to judge the living and the dead” (2 Tim. 4:1) on the last day as He “strikes down the nations” (Rev. 19:15).

The interpretation that we have proposed emerges entirely from these two texts, but there are other passages in Revelation which connect with these riders and which strengthen and clarify other points of interpretation. A future post will explore those connections.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 2/25/2023                   #628

Two “last day” doctrinal truths – implications for Revelation

POST OVERVIEW. Exploring the implications of the two doctrinal truth we discovered in Post #626 (2/22/2023). Doctrinal Truth 1: The Resurrection of the saints occurs on the last day. Doctrinal Truth 2: The coming of the Lord Jesus occurs on the last day. This post will explore the implications for Revelation.

In a recent post (#626, 2/22/2023), our exegesis of verses from John 6 along with careful study of 1 Thess. 4:15-17 (and other verses) had revealed two significant doctrinal truths. First, the Resurrection of the saints occurs on the last day and second, the coming of the Lord Jesus also occurs on the last day. These two truths have profound implications for our understanding of many of the eschatological passages in the Bible, because now when we see a passage involving the coming of the Lord, we know that this occurs on the last day. Likewise for passages displaying the resurrection of the saints, we know that these events are occurring on the last day. This post will examine passages from the book of Revelation in light of these “last day” truths and will demonstrate how being able to identify when these events occur helps us better interpret Revelation.


REVELATION 20:1-7 AND THE THOUSAND YEARS. The first passage we will consider is Revelation 20:1-7 and the matter of the thousand years. Our OBJECTIVE in this mini-study of these verses is to determine when the thousand years occurs or at least when the thousand years definitely does not occur in light of one or both of these two doctrinal truths.

By way of background, there are many believers who hold to a view of the end of the age which places the thousand years of Revelation 20 after the coming of Christ. But we have discovered the doctrinal truth that the coming of Jesus is on the last day. Therefore, it is impossible for the thousand years to occur after the coming of Jesus.

This leads to the following conclusion:

Any view of the end times that sees the thousand years of Revelation 20 as occurring after the coming (παρουσία) of Christ is incorrect, because that view is in conflict with an established doctrinal truth.

REVELATION 6:12-17. This is the great day of the wrath of the Lamb, which, of course, is a picture of the coming of Jesus on the last day. So, this occurs on the last day.

REVELATION 11:11-13. In a scene reminiscent of Ezekiel 37, we see the saints rising to their feet and ascending heavenward. This is a figurative picture of the Resurrection, which occurs on the last day.

REVELATION 14:19-20. Although this text does not explicitly mention the coming of Jesus, we know from Rev. 19:15 that, in His coming, Jesus is the One who “treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty,” and here in Rev. 14 we see the same “great wine press of the wrath of God” (14:19). It is certain that these two texts (Rev. 14:19 and Rev. 19:15) describe the same event and that, although not mentioned in Rev. 14:19, Jesus is the one who produces the blood from the wine press. This event occurs on the last day.

REVELATION 19:11-21. The Rider on the white horse! This is the climactic scene in the book of Revelation as Jesus comes to strike down the nations that oppose Him and to throw the beast and the false prophet (and Satan, 20:10) into the lake of fire. Again, the last day.


Before we leave Revelation to see other last-day passages in the Scriptures, we should consider the significance of what we have discovered. Answering the “when does this occur?” question is one of the most challenging features of a study of Revelation, but by establishing doctrinal truths and then interpreting the text on the basis of those truths, we have been able to answer the “when” question for some very important passages and thus to develop two foundational principles for interpreting Revelation.

  1. The period of time called THE THOUSAND YEARS in Revelation 20 does not occur AFTER the coming of the Lord (as proven above). and
  2. Because events of the last day appear in at least four different chapters throughout the book, we know that Revelation is not to be interpreted in chronological order. Instead of reading these visions as sequentially arranged, the student must examine the content and the context of each vision to determine when it occurs and where it fits with the other visions.

In the next post, we will continue to explore the implications of these two “last-day” doctrinal truths in other eschatological passages of Scripture.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 2/24/2023                   #627

Studies from John 6 – When is Jesus coming?

POST OVERVIEW. A Bible study based on the teaching of John 6 intended to determine when the coming of the Lord occurs.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study in the Scriptures is to determine when the coming of the Lord occurs. This could also be the question, “When will Jesus be revealed?” or “When will the appearing of the Lord occur?”

FROM JOHN 6. We will begin with Jesus’ teaching in John 6 and asking the question,

“According to Jesus, when does the Resurrection occur?”

39  “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing but raise it up on the last day.” Jesus is speaking about those who will be saved. He will raise them up on the last day.

40 ”For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” Jesus Himself will resurrect all believers on the last day.

44 ”No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” Jesus will raise up on the last day all whom the Father draws.

 54 ”He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Once again, Jesus will raise them up on the last day.

A final reference will be from John 11:24.

24 Martha *said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” In this conversation between the Lord and Martha about Lazarus, Martha knows that Lazarus will rise on the last day.

Based on five unambiguous verses from the gospel of John, we can say with complete confidence that:

The Bible teaches that the Resurrection occurs on the last day.

This now becomes a doctrinal truth for all other Bible study.

(NOTE: “The Resurrection” is defined as the event when God’s people receive their glorified, resurrection bodies. Thus, the Resurrection is the believer’s glorification.)

But our OBJECTIVE as stated above was to discover when the coming of the Lord occurs according to the Scriptures. Why start with when the Resurrection occurs? It is because the timing of the Resurrection and the timing of the coming of the Lord are related.

The Bible also teaches that the coming (παρουσία) of Jesus occurs at the same time as the Resurrection of the saints.


FROM COLOSSIANS 3:4. “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”

The verse tells of the future time when “Christ is revealed,” which certainly speaks of the coming of the Lord in glory. Note that, at that time, “(we) also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Christ is revealed in glory at the same time that we are revealed with Him in glory. The coming of the Lord and the Resurrection occur at the same time.

FROM PHIL. 3:21.  Christ “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.” Jesus will transform us into glorified saints. Our bodies will be conformed to His glory. When will this occur? When He is revealed in glory, of course. Thus this verse teaches that we will be transformed at the time when Jesus is revealed.

FROM 1 JOHN 3:2. “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him.” In this verse, John says what Paul has said in Colossians and Philippians. When Christ appears, He will be coming in blazing glory. And John says, “We will be like Him.” This must mean that we are going to be glorified (resurrected) when Christ comes. In other words, His coming and our Resurrection occur at the same time.

FROM 1 THESS. 4:15-17. This section of 1 Thess. is explicitly about the timing of the Resurrection. In these three verses, Paul unambiguously teaches how the coming of Christ relates to the Resurrection of the saints. We will quote the whole passage.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

The apostle gives the details of the “coming of the Lord,” and he also supplies the order of the Resurrection. At “the coming of the Lord” or when “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven,” the Resurrection of the saints will occur. Saints who have “fallen asleep” (“the dead in Christ”) will be resurrected first, then saints who are still alive will be resurrected next. Then the resurrected saints will meet the descending Lord Jesus in the air. In the clearest possible words, Paul says that the coming of the Lord happens at the same time as the Resurrection of the saints.

[FURTHER NOTES: There can be some confusion about what happens after the glorified saints “meet the Lord in the air” (4:17), but the Bible is not unclear about this. See my teaching on this in Post #625 from February 22, 2023.]

Now, since the Bible teaches that the Resurrection occurs on the last day, and since we have shown that coming of the Lord occurs on the same day as the Resurrection of the saints, we can state as a doctrinal truth that the coming of the Lord occurs on the last day.

The Bible teaches that the coming of the Lord occurs on the last day.

IMPLICATIONS: In the course of this study, we have established two doctrinal truths. First, the Resurrection of the saints occurs on the last day, and second, the coming of the Lord occurs on the last day. Our next post will consider some of the implications of these truths.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 2/22/2023                   #626

What happens after we ‘meet the Lord in the air’? 1 Thess. 4:17

POST OVERVIEW. A brief exegesis of 1 Thess. 4:17 and the phrase “meet the Lord in the air.” What does the Scripture teach about this phrase? What happens after we “meet the Lord in the air?”

Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. – 1 Thess. 4:17


The fourth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians contains some of the apostle’s clearest teaching about the coming of the Lord and the Resurrection of the saints, but Bible students can still have questions about these events. One of the points of confusion can be about what happens after the glorified saints “meet the Lord in the air” (4:17), but the Bible is not unclear about this. The saints meet the descending Lord Jesus in the air and then we come with Him to earth as “He judges and wages war” (Rev. 19:11). Let’s explore what the Scripture says about this event.


First, the nature of Jesus’ mission at His coming requires that He come to earth after the saints meet Him in the air. When Jesus comes, He is coming to “strike down the nations and to rule them with a rod of iron and to tread out the wine press of the fierce wrath of God the Almighty” (Rev. 19:15). “There will be delay no longer” (Rev. 10:6). At His first advent, Jesus came to be a Savior and to be a sacrifice for sin, but when He comes at the end of the age, He will come as a judge to punish all sin. The time for mercy and grace will be over. Then Jesus “judges and wages war.” His mission will be to render recompense, and so we see Him throwing the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20) and then we see Him rendering punishment on all unredeemed mankind. “And the rest (‘of the kings of the earth and their armies’ 19:19) were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of Him who sat on the horse” (Rev. 19:21). At the end of Revelation 19, Jesus has killed all those who oppose Him. (See also Rev. 14:19-20.) Therefore, because of the nature of His mission, Jesus must continue to earth after the saints meet Him in the air.


But second, we also have the clear teaching of the Scriptures that tells us that the saints meet the Lord in the air and then come with Him back to earth. In 1 Thess. 3:13, Paul says that “we will be without blame in holiness at the coming of our Lord Jesus WITH all His saints.” In 4:14, again Paul says, “God will bring WITH Him (with Jesus) those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” In Rev. 19:14, a verse that describes the Lord Jesus as He descends from heaven to judge the nations, we read, “The armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him (Jesus) on white horses.” The glorified saints, by their resurrection, have joined their King’s army and now come with their King as He judges the nations.


Thus, from Scripture’s clear teaching, after the saints “meet the Lord in the air,” they proceed to come to earth with the descending Lord Jesus as He comes to judge and wage war.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 2/22/2023                   #625

Investigating the “42 months” of Revelation 12:6 and 12:14

POST OVERVIEW. (4th post)A continuation of post #617 (1/31/2023) investigating specific occurrences of the “42 months” in Revelation 11-13 (also in Daniel 7:25 and 12:7). This post looks specifically at Rev. 12:6 and Rev. 12:14.


In our last post (#617, 1/30/2023), we had begun carefully examining several occurrences of the “42 months” to get a clearer picture of these events near the end of the age, and now we will continue that work by looking at Rev. 12:6 and 12:14.

Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. – Revelation 12:6

But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she *was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. – Revelation 12:14


Since these two verses evidently describe the same event, we will interpret them simultaneously. That is, we will consider information in either verse as being useful for interpreting both verses. We see that both verses tell of a woman who flees into the wilderness to a place where she is nourished for “42 months.” How do we interpret what this means?

THE WOMAN. We will begin by identifying the woman. She is introduced in Rev. 12:1 wearing a crown of twelve stars. The woman then gives birth to a male child (12:5). This is obviously the Incarnation. Jesus completes His work and then “was caught up to God and to His throne” (12:5), which describes His ascension, so that by the end of 12:5, we are at basically the same place as we are in 5:6, when the Lamb arrives back in heaven. But who is “the woman?” The woman is a symbol for true Israel or the elect. Here in Rev. 12:1-5, the woman represents the Old Testament people of God. Thus, the twelve stars (12:1) represent the twelve tribes.

But “the woman” also appears during the “42 months” (12:6, 14) in the time shortly before the coming of Jesus at the end of the age. The woman is persecuted by the dragon (12:13) after the dragon (the serpent, Satan) is thrown down to the earth, “having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time” (Rev. 12:12). In other words, here in 12:6 and 12:13-17, “the woman” represents the church. Therefore, throughout this chapter, the woman is a symbol for true Israel or the elect, representing as she does the entire people of God.

THE OTHER SYMBOLS. So, if in 12:6 and 12:13-17, “the woman” represents the church, what do the other symbols mean? Let me begin this exploration with an observation. We know that the “42 months” appears seven times in Scripture. In all the other passages which mention the “42 months,” the people of God are persecuted and must endure suffering. In Dan. 7:25, the little horn wears down the saints. In Dan. 12:7, the holy people will be shattered. In Rev. 11:2, “the holy city” (the church) is tread underfoot. In Rev. 11:7, the beast overcomes and kills “the two witnesses” (the church). And in Rev. 13:7, again, the beast overcomes the saints. But in Rev. 12:6 and 12:14, even though “the woman” must flee into “the wilderness,” she does not suffer and is not killed in this “place,” but instead is “nourished.” The woman is just as faithful as “the saints” and “the holy people” and “the holy city” and “the two witnesses,” but in God’s sovereignty, one portion of the church suffers greater and more dangerous persecution while another portion suffers less. Paul wrote, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12), and Jesus sends His whole church out “as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matt. 10:16). So, all disciples are willing to suffer and die for Jesus, but, according to God’s divine sovereignty, not all will. Some will flee into the wilderness to their place to be nourished, away from the presence of the serpent (Rev. 12:14).


Now we should consider Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. Among these seven churches, only two, Smyrna and Philadelphia, were faithful and received no rebuke and no call for repentance from the Lord. Smyrna represents the suffering church, the church that is imprisoned and tested and has tribulation. Jesus commands them, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (2:10). By contrast, the church at Philadelphia is presented with an open door and to them Jesus promises, “I will keep you from the hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world” (3:10). In this context, “the hour of testing” refers to the great tribulation of the church (Rev. 7:14). The point is that one faithful church goes through tribulation and testing, while another faithful church is kept from that same testing. One faithful church goes through the fire while another flees into the wilderness to be nourished. As Philadelphia displays the church that the Lord, in His sovereignty, delivers from testing, so some of the church will be allowed to flee into the wilderness to be nourished during the 42 months.

Thus, the general meaning of Rev. 12:6 and 12:14 reveals that, during the 42 months, not all the church will be subject to deadly persecution. In Matthew 24:22, our Lord declares that the days of the great tribulation will be cut short “for the sake of the elect.” Clearly implied here is that some of the church will be spared and will remain alive until the coming of the Lord. We know that is the case because Paul tells us in 1 Thess. 4:17 that there are some “who are alive and remain” and in 1 Cor. 15:51, the apostle tells us that “we will not all sleep.” Some, therefore, will be able to flee to a place of safety in the wilderness. The “place” here may not be a physical place but may be speaking of a place of spiritual safety. The “wilderness” suggests that the church must seek refuge away from the land of abundance and fruitfulness. There in the wilderness the church finds nourishment and she is sustained by the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. The physical comforts are few but there is safety in the barren place where no one wants to go. And so the church stays under the radar and is nourished during the “42 months” as she awaits her King’s coming.

Having investigated the seven occurrences of the “42 months,” we now want to consider all these passages together and see what they teach us about the end times. That will be the purpose of our next blog post in this series.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 2/18/2023                   #624

Interpreting Revelation: Symbolic or literal? – Part 2

POST OVERVIEW. The second of a two-post series discussing whether our default approach to Revelation 4-20 should be to interpret the text literally or symbolically.

These two articles together attempt to answer one very simple question:

When interpreting the book of Revelation, should our default be to understand the book literally or symbolically?


In our previous post, we laid a foundation for interpreting the difficult section of Scripture between Revelation chapter 4 and chapter 20, but we left unanswered one of the most important questions for interpreting these texts, namely, “Do we approach these visions that John saw from a literal or a symbolic perspective?”

One of the most obvious features of these chapters is a continuous pouring forth of strange and powerful visions of angels and dragons and earthquakes and hailstones. Just speaking for me personally, I cannot imagine what a literal interpretation of these visions could possibly mean, so I have always thought that most of these were intended to be symbolic of other biblical realities. After all, Revelation is the extreme example of the genre called biblical prophecy, and in this genre, the symbolic and the figurative are common. So, while there are certainly parts of this section of Revelation that should be understood literally, the overwhelming majority of these chapters presents events and characters which only make sense if they are symbolic and figurative. In fact, the great challenge of interpreting Revelation 4-20 is determining the symbolic meanings of the many images that John records.

The following give evidence of the need for a symbolic or figurative interpretation. It is difficult to conceive of these being interpreted literally.

  • Twenty-four elders, four living creatures Rev. 4, 5
  • The Lamb in Rev. 5:6ff
  • The seals of Rev. 5, 6
  • The four horsemen of Rev. 6:1-8
  • The 144,000 of Rev. 7:4-8; 14:1-5
  • The seven angels with the seven trumpets of Rev. 8-9
  • The star from heaven in Rev. 8:10; 9:1ff
  • The abyss (bottomless pit) and the smoke Rev. 9:2-10
  • Locusts and scorpions Rev. 9:3-10
  • Twice ten thousand time ten thousand horsemen Rev. 9:16
  • Kill a third of mankind Rev. 9:15 (2.5 Billion people??)
  • Two witnesses, fire flows out of their mouths Rev. 11:5
  • The woman Rev. 12
  • Red dragon Rev. 13
  • The beast Rev. 13:1-10
  • Another beast Rev. 13:11-17
  • The angel and the sickle Rev. 14:17-20
  • Seven angels with seven bowls Rev. 16:1-12
  • Armageddon Rev. 16:13-16
  • Scarlet beast and the woman Rev. 17:3-18
  • The destruction of Babylon Rev. 18
  • The Rider on the white horse Rev. 19:11-21
  • The angel from heaven Rev. 20:1-3
  • The dragon, the key, the chain, the abyss (bottomless pit) Rev. 20:1-2
  • Thousand years Rev. 20:2-7

In addition to these obviously symbolic images, we should also recognize that numbers in Revelation like 3, 7, 12, and 1000, are often to be understood symbolically rather than literally. Colors also often convey symbolic meaning. White is always associated with God or Christ or holiness, so, when we see white characters or objects, we can confidently interpret them as with Christ. By contrast, red means evil or Satan.

All of this means that the student of Revelation needs to approach his study prepared for the hard work of determining the meaning of the book’s complex figures and symbols.


The reader of Revelation, whether biblical scholar or new believer, must also be constrained by the warning of 2 Peter 1:20-21: “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but by men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” Thus, the meaning we determine must not only fit the immediate context, but it must also harmonize with the entirety of Scripture.

This challenge of careful interpretation is one of the reasons that studying Revelation is such a difficult undertaking. There is a price that must be paid. The “entrance fee” is much time spent going deep in the Scriptures to learn how to read the Bible. The student of Revelation must be patient and persistent, reading and re-reading passages until they yield their meaning and reveal how they fit into the beautiful tapestry of God’s word. Finally, the student of Revelation must have the humility to admit when their cherished ideas about a particular passage are shown to be incorrect and then to surrender the old idea and replace it with the new.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 2/16/2023                   #623

Interpreting Revelation: Symbolic or literal? – Part 1

POST OVERVIEW. The first of a two-post series discussing whether our default approach to Revelation 4-20 should be to interpret the text literally or symbolically.

These two articles attempt to answer one very simple question:

When interpreting the book of Revelation, should our default be to understand the book literally or symbolically?


But before we tackle this “one very simple question,” I wanted to make some general comments about interpreting Revelation. It is almost universally regarded that Chapters 4 through 20 of Revelation is the most difficult passage to interpret in the entire Bible, and this for several reasons.

The first reason is that the visions that John sees are dense with details requiring interpretation. In most of Scripture, we occasionally encounter something that requires us to interpret its meaning, but in Revelation it seems that almost everything must be interpreted and understood, and this is both daunting and intellectually demanding.

Second, interpreting Revelation requires a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the entire Bible. Chapters 4 through 20 are packed with allusions to Old Testament passages and, if you do not recognize those allusions or references, you may assume that these images or scenes have never occurred before. You thus interpret them as if they are brand new. This leads to interpretive errors.

Third, “small” interpretive errors in Revelation can produce big confusion. It is thus very easy to find yourself well off the interpretive path.

Fourth, because interpreting Revelation is so intimidating and demanding, there have sprung up three or four simplified schemes for understanding the book that attempt to remove the difficulties by telling the reader what things mean. The net result of this is that, when someone tells you they understand Revelation, they really mean they have learned one of the canned approaches to the book. Unfortunately, it turns out that most of these people have spent very little time wrestling with the text of Revelation and so remain largely ignorant of what the book actually says.

For these reasons and more, the Bible student is required to bring all their sharpest skills to bear when interpreting Revelation 4-20. Also, the student of Revelation should move forward slowly and thoughtfully, being ever-ready to acknowledge when a more biblically accurate idea has surfaced.

There are also several principles that can help keep us on the narrow path of interpretive accuracy.


First, we consider three skills that greatly aid the student of Revelation. I call these the “Sherlock Holmes skills of eschatology.” Using these skills, Holmes solved crimes and using these same skills, we can better understand Revelation.

  1. Keen observation of all the details. Here we are making note of all the potential clues in the text, so nothing escapes our gaze.
  2. Evaluate the details and assign meaning to them. Which details are useful clues? What is the meaning of each clue in this context?
  3. Fit the clues together into the proper order so that the clues yield a solution that gives understanding to the verse or passage. Note that, in the case of Revelation, our solution must not only fit the context of the immediate passage, but it must also agree with the rest of Revelation and it must be consistent with the entirety of Scripture. A solution that disagrees with other teaching in Scripture is in error and must be either abandoned or modified.

There are also three purposes of Revelation which establish boundaries for our interpretations. Keeping these in mind helps in evaluating clues (see Step 2 above).

  1. As the concluding book of the Bible, Revelation has the purpose of filling in some blanks. Many of the details of the end times have already been announced or described in the previous sixty-five books, but there are a few minor details that Revelation adds that make the picture of the end times more complete. Examples would be the time period of the “42 months” (Rev. 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5) and “another beast” (Rev. 13:11-17), who is also the false prophet of Rev. 16 and Rev. 19.
  2. As the final book of the Bible, Revelation supplies the final, most detailed picture of characters and events which have already appeared before. Examples are the final (seventh) appearance of the antichrist as the beast in Rev. 13, etc., and the final occurrence of Armageddon in Rev. 16, 19, and 20.
  3. With Revelation, we receive the last opportunity to discern the order of the events of the end times. Thus, Revelation allows us to connect the dots. For example, a careful reading of Revelation allows us to order the events of the Last Day, including how the coming of Jesus, the occurrence of the Resurrection, and the events of Armageddon fit together. Revelation also provides a general flow of the events of the “42 months” (see a) above) as they move toward the Last Day. So, Revelation has the purpose of connecting some dots.

Having these six basic principles in our interpretive tool-belt allows us to approach the text of Revelation 4-20 with a degree of confidence that, with work, we can find out the meaning and put the puzzle pieces together.


You may think that I have forgotten the “one very simple question” that we were going to answer, but that is not the case. We are now prepared to address our question: “When interpreting the book of Revelation, should our default be to understand the book literally or symbolically?” Our next post will answer that question.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 2/16/2023                   #622

Reading “Revelation” #5 – More principles and guidelines

POST OVERVIEW. One of a series of posts giving principles for reading and interpreting Revelation chapters 4-20, which is the most difficult section of the book. This fifth post of the series continues with the general principles and guidelines of interpretation begun in the previous post (#594). Previous posts in series: Post #590 (11/21), Post #592 (11/26), Post #593 (11/28), Post #594 (11/29).

SERIES DESCRIPTION. The book of Revelation is probably the most difficult book of the Bible to interpret correctly, and the main difficulties of the book are in chapters 4-20. Because of these interpretive difficulties and because many Bible teachers have offered conflicting and bewildering ideas about what the various passages of Revelation 4-20 mean, many earnest believers know just enough about the book of Revelation to be confused and intimidated by it. To clear up some of this confusion, in October 2021, I published my book, The Last Act of the Drama: a guide to the end times.

Now, a year later and before the 2nd edition of that book, I want to offer to readers of this beautiful prophecy a series of posts giving principles and guidelines for how to understand and interpret Revelation so that the book becomes a delight instead of a burden.

Interpreting the complex visions of Revelation 4-20 is made more manageable when the reader understands both the purposes for the book of Revelation and principles for navigating the text. In post #593 (11/28/2022), we had explored four purposes for Revelation, and in post #594 (11/29), we had considered some principles for approaching Revelation. In this post, we will continue our look at general principles for understanding the book.


PRINCIPLE. To understand the prophecy of Revelation, the reader should be quite familiar and comfortable with reading and understanding all biblical prophecy. One reason that many readers have difficulty with Revelation is that they are unfamiliar with the genre of biblical prophecy. While historical narratives (gospels and Acts) and the epistles (Romans through Jude) are understood literally, the book of Revelation is biblical prophecy and so is heavy on symbolism and figurative meanings and must be approached using a different lens. Because of the complexity of handling prophecy, I recommend that the student of Revelation should have read the Old Testament prophets Isaiah through Malachi several times before they study Revelation 4-20. If you have little knowledge of how to understand biblical prophecy, it is unlikely that you will successfully navigate the deep waters of Revelation.

Before we leave this point, I need to make a comment. It goes without saying that any believer can read Revelation at any time in their journey with the Lord. The beauty of the imagery and the power of the visions will edify any disciple. I am simply saying that, if you would study the book, you would be well-served to read and reread the Old Testament prophets and understand the genre of biblical prophecy.

PRINCIPLE. Biblical prophecy like Revelation typically presents events and characters figuratively and symbolically. Therefore, the default should be to interpret the text figuratively. For example, in Revelation, numbers are often symbolic. Symbolic numbers include 12, 7, 144,000, one thousand, and 666. Colors are symbolic, especially white, red, and black. Babylon is symbolic for all worldly and sensual wickedness. Other examples are the two witnesses (11:3ff), the woman of Revelation 12, the mark of the beast (13:16, 17; etc.),

Because so much of Revelation is marked by figurative and symbolic language, a key interpretive skill is discerning the meaning of these figures and symbols such that the interpretation makes sense in its context, is consistent with the rest of Scripture, and is consistent with the other passages in Revelation.

The principle here is that Revelation is to be interpreted figuratively.

GUIDELINE. Revelation is placed at the end of the canon because it is a summary of all that has gone before and is a tying together of any loose ends in the Scripture. As such, the student of Revelation will encounter a thorough test of biblical knowledge. This means that, before we interpret a passage or event in Revelation as new, we need to answer the question, “Haven’t we seen this (event or character) before?” Errors in interpreting Revelation can be avoided if the student remembers that there is little that is new in this final book of the Bible. Instead of new things, Revelation is usually presenting to us the final manifestations of things that we have seen before.

Soli Deo gloria                 rmb                 12/5/2022                   #596