The final Word (D’var) in Revelation is Salvation (Yeshua).
An examination of Revelation 22.
Rev 22:1 And he (Angelic messenger) showed me a pure river of mayim chayim (living waters), clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of G-d and of the Lamb.
The, “he” here refers to the angelic messenger of the previous chapter. The river is described as pure so as to emphasize the fact that it is pure at its source (G-d) and flows in a city that is pure at its source (G-d). The river is not only faultless and without blemish at its source, it also remains faultless, clear and pure wherever it flows in the new earth. Hence it is clear as crystal.
These mayim chayim (living waters) have been fruitful from the very beginning:
“Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden:” –Genesis 2:10
The psalmist sees the river of living waters and prophecies saying:
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city (Jerusalem) of G-d, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. G-d is in the midst of her (Jerusalem), she will not be moved; G-d will surround her (Jerusalem) when morning dawns (New Creation).” –Psalm 46:4-5
The prophet Joel also alludes to the living waters:
“And in that day the mountains will drip with new wine,
And the hills will flow with milk,
And all the brooks of Judah (Praise) will flow with water;
And a spring will go out from the house of HaShem
To water the valley of Shittim.” –Joel 3:18
The prophet Zechariah also prophecies concerning the mayim chayim (living waters):
“And in that day mayim chayim (living waters) will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea;” –Zechariah 14:8
With the crystal clear purity of the river, the fruit of mayim chayim (living waters) in the Tanakh, and the identifying of its source as being the two persons of the unity of G-d, we can conclude that the river is itself a metaphor for the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (The Holy Spirit).
“Now on the last day of Sukkot (Feast of Booths), Hoshana Rabbah (The great save us now), Yeshua stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to Me and drinking! He who believes in Me, as the Scripture says (Isaiah 58:11), ‘From his core being will flow mayim chayim (rivers of living waters).’” And this He spoke of the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified.” –Yochanan/John 7:37-39
Rev 22:2 In the midst of the city between the main street and the river, was the Aytz Chayim (tree of living), which produced twelve varieties of fruit, yielding her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the health and wholeness of the nations.
Some English translations, like the NIV read, “Down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life”. The reason for this seems to be misplaced desire to connect the trees of Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 47:12) to the Aytz Chayim, tree of life. The trees of Ezekiel’s vision are present, however the tree of life is a singular symbolic spiritual entity and should not be confused with the other trees present in the Olam Haba (World to come). We should note that the Greek xulon (tree) is singular.
The Aytz Chayim (tree of life) was in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9), then, following the sin of Adam and Eve, humanity was kept from eating of its fruit (Genesis 3:22) and both the tree and the garden itself were guarded by Cherubim (plural: angelic beings/guardians).
“So He drove humanity out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the Aytz Chayim (tree of life).”
Here in the new creation the Aytz Chayim is restored to redeemed humanity and is accessible to all of G-d’s people. It is noteworthy that the trees of the knowledge of good and evil are not present. There is no longer knowledge of evil because that knowledge is confined to the lake of fire. In the Olam Haba (World to come) we will know only the good. By accepting Messiah we have agreed to a future filled with good alone.
Rabbinical Judaism teaches that the Aytz Chayim (tree of life) is in the midst of paradise, and its body covers all of the garden; and that in its fruit are five hundred thousand different tastes; and that there are no varieties or fragrances like it (on the present earth). –Yalkut Simeoni, par. 1. fol. 7. 1
The Greek word, “therapiah”, from which we get the English word, “Therapy”, is almost universally translated as, “Healing” in the English Bible. However, the Greek word can also mean, “Attendance”, and is interpreted by some to mean, “Health” and “Wholeness”. Due to the fact that at this point in the chronology of the Revelation there is no longer any sin, suffering, illness or death, it seems redundant to have leaves for healing. Therefore I believe the better translation is, “the leaves of the tree were for the health and wholeness of the nations.” In other words, the leaves are health sustaining rather than healing.
In modern Rabbinical Judaism, Aytz Chayim (tree of life eternal) is used as a title for the Torah.
“It is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it (Torah),
and all who cling to it find happiness.
Its ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all its paths are peace.
Help us and guide us, inspire us and provide us
With the wisdom only Your Torah can reveal.
Cause us to learn, return us to You Oh L-rd
And renew us just as in days of old.” –Siddur (Jewish Prayer Book)
In fact, while many of our people have yet to see and understand this prayer’s deeper meaning, we continue to chant it each Shabbat following the Torah service. May the day come speedily and soon when every Jew will understand that Yeshua is the goal of the Torah (Romans 10:4), that He is the Word essence of G-d.
We are in fact praying:
“Yeshua is the tree of life to those who hold fast to Him (The goal of the Torah),
And all who cling to Yeshua find happiness. His ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all His paths are peace (Sar Shalom: Prince of Peace).
Help us and guide us, inspire us and provide us with the wisdom only
Your (G-d the Father) Yeshua (Living Word: Torah) can reveal.
Cause us to learn, return us to You Oh L-rd
And renew us just as in days of old.”
Rev 22:3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of G-d and of the Lamb shall be in the city; and His servants shall serve Him:
“People will live in it (Jerusalem), and there will no longer be a curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security.” –Zechariah 14:11
While the Greek reads, “there shall no longer be any accursed thing”, the root is clear, all cursed things are born of the curse that came upon creation at the inception of sin. Sin and death are no more: Messiah made this possible by becoming a curse for us on the cross, defeating the hold that sin and death had previously had on our lives (Galatians 3:13). Now, having judged creation, G-d has permanently imprisoned sin and death outside of His new creation. Therefore the better reading is, “there shall be no more curse”.
“The name of the city from that day shall be, HaShem Shamah (The L-rd is there).’” –Ezekiel 48:35
It stands to reason that we His servants will serve Him. This service is worship and worship is the nature of action (Romans 12:1). In this world we are always worshipping: in any given moment we’re either worshipping G-d or something/someone else, whereas in the Olam Haba (World to come) we will worship G-d alone.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of G-d’s rachami (mercy), to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to G-d—this is your true temple act of worship.” –Romans 12:1
Rev 22:4 And they shall see His face; and His name shall be on their foreheads.
In the present fallen world no human being may see G-d’s face (unveiled person) and live, but in the Olam Haba (World to come) all the redeemed will have this privilege.
“But He (G-d) said, “You cannot see My face, for no human being can see Me and live!” –Exodus 33:20
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see G-d.” –Matthew 5:8
The Name of G-d on the foreheads of every believer indicates His authority over the entire being. The desire of every believer’s core being is that G-d would reign on the throne of our existence, this finds its ultimate fulfilment in the New Jerusalem. His Name on the head (rosh: beginning) of our being is a seal of eternal belonging, security, safety and peace.
The Name of G-d upon the forehead is also an allusion to the priesthood of all believers:
“You shall also make a plate of pure gold and shall engrave on it, like the engravings of a seal, ‘Kadosh l’cha HaShem (Holy to the L-rd).’ You shall fasten it on a blue cord, and it shall be on the turban; it shall be at the front of the turban.” –Exodus 28:35-37
“’And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of ethnic Israel.” –Exodus 19:6
“But you are a chosen race, a royal Priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to G-d, so that you may proclaim the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light;” –1 Peter 2:9
Additionally, the Name of G-d on the forehead of the redeemed reminds us of the nature of this mark as it appears in the chronological progression from a symbol of protection, governance and prayer (tefilin: prayer boxes) (Rev. 9:4), to a symbol denoting ethnic Israel’s unique calling and position (Rev.14:1), and finally to combine all these aspects together with the exception of protection, which is no longer needed and is therefore renewed with security when the, “Mark” of Yeshua is translated into the “Name” of G-d (Father, Son and Spirit) (Revelation 22:4).
Rev 22:5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for Hashem G-d gives them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
“No longer night” is a metaphor for the absence of all evil. Once again, in the light of HaShem there is no need for sun and moon (that doesn’t mean the sun and moon will not exist).
The redeemed will reign over the universe with G-d, as part of a royal family of priests.
Rev 22:6 And he (Angelic messenger) said unto me, “These sayings are faithful and true”: and Hashem G-d of the holy prophets sent His messenger (angel) to reveal to His servants the things which must shortly be done.
The phrase, “trustworthy and true” is also seen in Revelation 3:14 and 19:11 and applies to both that which has preceded and that which is about to be said.
HaShem’s “servant” may well refer to Yeshua Himself, Who is the one who appeared to Yochanan at the beginning of the book (Rev. 1:1) in order to unveil Himself to His servants.
“Shortly take place”, is obviously written to represent time as G-d measures it outside of time and space. While many of the things in Revelation had begun to take place soon after its writing, many are yet to come. After two thousand years we can hardly read, “shortly” in human terms.
Rev 22:7 “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keeps the D’varim (Words) of the prophecy of this book.”
These are of course the words of Yeshua Himself. Yeshua, Whose testimony is the spirit of prophecy, reminds the faithful to keep hold of both the essence (D’var) of His word and the prophecy of the book of Revelation. Surely this is because He is aware that when persecution and suffering come upon the believer, the words of His unveiling will comfort them in both a practical and transcendent way.
Rev 22:8 And I Yochanan (John) saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the messenger (angel) which showed me these things.
What would cause Yochanan to fall down at the feet of this messenger, given that he had recently made the same mistake?
In order to understand this properly we must understand the first century CE Jewish understanding of the existence of personal guardian angels and what each person’s angel/messenger might look like, remembering that this messenger is Yeshua’s angel (Rev. 22:16), as testified to by the first person quote, “Behold, I come quickly”.
The Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) affirms the Jewish notion that every person is assigned a guardian angel/messenger that resembles the person to such a degree that both its appearance and voice are identical to the person the angel is guarding, or representing. Yeshua, “G-d with us”, is fully G-d and fully human, therefore, as a human He is assigned an angel: it is Yeshua’s angel (who resembles Him in appearance and voice) whom Yeshua sends to Yochanan (John). One can understand the conundrum Yochanan is faced with and the natural mistake he makes based on what he is seeing and hearing from this messenger of Yeshua.
“When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel.” But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed.” –Acts 12:14-16
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels (messengers) in the heavens are always looking upon the face of my Father in the heavens.”
Rev 22:9 Then he said to me, “Perceive and understand, don’t worship me: for I am your fellow servant, and one of your brothers the prophets, and of those who keep the D’varim (Words) of this book: worship G-d.
This messenger appeared to be the humanoid form of Messiah but was in fact Yeshua’s, angel (as explained in the previous notes and confirmed in Rev. 22:16). Simply put, he is saying, “take a closer look, I’m Yeshua’s messenger, not Yeshua Himself, don’t worship me, worship G-d”.
The prophets here refer to both the prophets of the Tanakh (OT) and the prophets of the Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT). The messenger also claims to be the fellow servant of all who believe, “and of those who keep the D’varim (Words) of this book:”
Rev 22:10 And he (Angelic messenger) said to me, “Do not seal up the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is near.”
Where Daniel was told to seal up the prophetic message given to him until the latter days, Yochanan is told to make known the message given to him in the latter days.
“But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” –Daniel 12:4a
Rev 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is unclean, let him be unclean still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
These words are a drash on the words that follow G-d’s command to Daniel to seal up the book.
“Many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” –Daniel 12:4b
G-d knows who will repent and act in righteousness and who will not, to those who would repent this reads as a warning whereas to those who resist G-d it reads as a statement of their temporal freedom to choose to go back and forth doing what is evil.
Simply put, those who continue to wilfully resist G-d will be given over to their own choices to perform evil acts while those who repent and are redeemed in Messiah will, through Messiah, continue to be sanctified, set apart and inspired to act in righteousness.
Reflecting on Leviticus 11:43 the Rabbis’ say:
"if a man defiles himself a little (with unclean creeping things), they (unclean creeping things) defile him much; the result is, that they let, or suffer him to be more defiled; if below (on earth), they defile him above (in preparation for the judgement); if in this world, they defile him in the Olam Haba (world to come); if a man sanctifies himself a little, they (Right actions, clean things) sanctify him much; if below (on earth), they sanctify him above (For redemption); if in this world, they sanctify him in the Olam Haba (world to come).'' –T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 39. 1.
Rev 22:12 “For behold, I come suddenly; and my reward (wages) is with Me, to give every person according to what each one has done.
Yeshua will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2), He will arrive suddenly like the flood of Noah. Like Noah (Luke 17:26-30; Matthew 24:37-39), those who belong to Him will be redeemed, while those who have rejected Him will perish. His reward is with Him, the Greek misthos meaning, “what is due”. This is a warning to be heeded by those who hear it. “The wages of sin is death but the gift of G-d is eternal life” (Romans 6:23).
Rev 22:13 I am Aleph and the Tav, the source and the goal, the first and the last.”
In both Hebrew and Greek thought the first and last letters of the alphabet quoted together indicate the complete nature of all things, therefore all things exist and have their being in G-d.
Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have free access to the Aytz Chayim (tree of living), and may enter through the gates into the city.
Those who wash their robes are those who have received the free gift of G-d, the gift of salvation through the redeeming blood of the Lamb (Yeshua). G-d has provided the water that cleanses us from all sin, but He will not force anyone to wash in it, that is a decision we must make for ourselves. The Groom proposes to the bride but unless she accepts His proposal there will be no wedding.
The Aytz Chayim (Tree of life eternal) is just that, the symbol of the sustaining eternal life of G-d. The Hebrew Chayim is in its plural form denoting intensity and longevity. Where our sin separated us from life, G-d’s redemptive love reconciled us to life.
The redeemed will inhabit the entire new earth, however intimate relationship to G-d is symbolized by the act of entering into the city (New Jerusalem).
Rev 22:15 For outside and away, are dogs (euphemism), and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever continues to love and construct lies.
“Outside”, means outside of the new creation, consigned to the lake of fire and eternal punishment. Outside of the new creation does not mean outside of G-d. The sacrificial love of G-d continues in that He must seal eternal punishment within Himself because, “In Him all things exist and have their being” (John 1:3; Romans 11:36; Acts 17:28; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16-17 ).
In Jewish thought the term, “dogs (kevel)” is synonymous with those who don’t follow the G-d of Israel, Homosexuals (Deuteronomy 23:18-19), and enemies of Israel. It is never used, as some have foolishly suggested, to refer to pets. In centuries past dogs were a symbol of defilement, darkness and uncleanness. They would roam the streets of Middle Eastern villages at night like rabid wolves, scavenging for food among the refuse (Matthew 15:26; Luke 16:21).
“For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;" –Psalm 22:16
"Deliver my soul from the sword,
My only life from the paw of the dog.” –Psalm 22:20
Speaking of this same psalm the Zohar says:
"When a man dies, if he be worthy (or righteous) he descends in the likeness of a lion to receive his soul, but if not, in the likeness of a dog. –Raya Mchimna in Zohar in Numb. fol. 95. 2.
“Yeshua replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” –Matthew 15:26
The term, “dogs” is first in the list of evil doers because it encompasses all of the subsequent titles.
Rev 22:16 “I Yeshua (Jesus) have sent My messenger (angel) to testify to you regarding these things that are before the churches. I am the root (source) and the offspring (goal) of David, and the bright and morning star.
“The Revelation of Yeshua Mashiyach (Jesus Christ), which G-d gave Him to show to His servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His messenger/angel to His servant Yochanan (John).” Revelation 1:1-2
This is once again an indication of the close correlation between Messiah and His angel/messenger, who was sent to Yochanan. In the present verse Yeshua’s servants are further explained as the members of the churches (Ecclesia).
Yeshua is the root of David because He existed before David was born (Micah 5:2; John 8:58) and through Yeshua everything was made (John 1:1-14). Yeshua is also David’s offspring, the promised son of David Who would be the Messiah and King of Israel (Matthew 1:1).
“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Yishai,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.” –Isaiah 11:1
The phrase, “Bright morning star” infers that Yeshua’s light shines more brightly than any other. He shone at the dawn of creation and as the creative Word of G-d His light is uncreated.
“A star shall come forth from Jacob, A sceptre shall rise from Israel,” –Numbers 24:17
Some Jewish scholars interpret the title of psalm 22:1 as, “Morning Star”, rather than, “Doe of the morning”. The Psalm itself is considered by the same scholars to refer to the Messiah (Apud Kimchi in loc.).
Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let each one that hears say, “Come”. And let each one who is thirsty come. And whosoever will, let him take the mayim chayim (living waters) freely.
Illuminating the words of the prophet Yishaiyahu (Isaiah: the prophet Yeshua quoted most often during his earthly ministry), the final paragraph of Revelation 22 extends the ancient invitation of the G-d of redemption and love:
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to ha-mayim (the waters);
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 55:1
The Holy Spirit and the Bride (redeemed humanity) say, “Come”. Some say that they are inviting those who don’t yet believe, to come to faith in Yeshua. Others say they are inviting Yeshua to return. I believe they are saying both these things.
In turn, “let each one that hears say, ‘come’” means that each one who, “hears (Heb. Root Shema: hear, receive, understand, comprehend, and accept)” will also say, “Come” to both the lost and the Messiah.
“Each one who is thirsty” are those who have realized their spiritual need for the mayim chayim (living waters) of Yeshua, these too are invited to, “Come”.
The gift of life eternal is offered here at the end of the book as a type of altar call. The readers and hearers of the book will be in each of the categories of people called upon, therefore this is their opportunity to respond.
The mayim chayim (living waters) are free, but G-d will not force us to drink, life eternal is offered and in Messiah we must forsake death in order to receive it. These waters are not free because they have no cost, rather they are free because G-d has paid the ultimate price through the death and resurrection of His Son, so that He could provide us with access to something no human being could ever afford.
To put it concisely: The gift of eternal life is free, not because it has no cost but because G-d has paid its price at the cost of His Son’s blood, so that we who have no means of payment might receive that which we don’t deserve. This is the sum of chesed (Loving kindness, grace) and rachum (mercy), it is born of G-d, Who is Ahavah (Love).
G-d did not create us as robots preprogramed to love Him, He is no narcissist; love cannot exist without freewill. Rather He made freewill possible so that those who choose to respond to His love might experience the ultimate true love relationship. Every human being is faced with the choice to accept or refuse G-d’s love. The accepting of it is eternal life but the refusal of it is eternal death.
Rev 22:18 For I testify unto every person that hears the words of the prophecy of this book,
Messiah Yeshua has testified to sending His messenger (v.16), now Yochanan testifies to the truth of what he has recorded at Yeshua’s instruction. By two witnesses every matter is established. In fact the words of the Revelation have been established by G-d the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, by the messenger of Yeshua and Yochanan.
If anyone shall add to these things, G-d shall add unto him the plagues that are katuv (written) in this book: Rev 22:19 And if anyone should take away from the D’varim (words) of the book of this prophecy, G-d shall take away his part out of the sefer chayim (book of living), and out of the holy city, and from the things which are katuv (written) in this book.
Yochanan identifies the book of Revelation as being part of the wider living Torah of HaShem by quoting from the Torah itself to support the weightiness of these words of Yeshua which Yochanan has recorded.
“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the instructions of HaShem your G-d which I command you.” –Deuteronomy 4:2
Yochanan’s warning refers to the book of Revelation, however the same principle should be applied to the entirety of Scripture, the complete Bible, from Bereshit to Revelation. From beginning to unveiling, from source to goal.
Notice that both the Hebrew, “katuv (written)” and the Hebrew, “D’varim (Word essence)” are used. This is a warning not only against tampering with the physical written words but also against tampering with the ethos (core principle) and pathos (passion, emotion) of the Word (D’var Ha-emet), Yeshua. We are not to undermine the character of the Messiah Who holds the universe together in His role as the living Word of G-d (John 1).
As explained previously, those who are being blotted out of the book of life are those who are continually refusing G-d’s grace. It is they who will seek to claim that certain parts of the Scripture are mistakes or invalid or no longer relevant or myth or fabrication. This warning should serve to remind us that our Scriptures as a whole are sacred and binding. They bind us in freedom but they are unbound by others at their peril.
“To the Yehudim (Jews) who had believed Him, Yeshua (Jesus) said, “If you abide in my d’var (Word), you are truly my talmidim (disciples). Then you will know ha-emet (the truth), and ha-emet (the truth: D’var Ha-emet is a name for both the Torah, and the Messiah) will set you free.”
Rev 22:20 He which testifies these things says,
Ultimately it is G-d’s testimony that holds the most weight. Yeshua alluded to this when He explained:
“I have testimony weightier than that of Yochanan (John the Immerser). For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does His word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one He sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. “I do not receive glory from human beings,” –John 5:36-41
“Surely I come quickly”. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Yeshua (Jesus).
Again Yeshua reminds us to be alert and prepared for His coming. In response together with Yochanan and the entire Ecclesia we say, “Amen (So be it, agreed)! Come Lord Yeshua!”
Rev 22:21 The chesed (love, charity and grace) of our Lord Yeshua Mashiyach (Jesus Christ) be with you all. Amen.
It seems fitting that the Scriptures should end with the message that binds each book to the other, the universal message of G-d’s saving chesed (love, charity and grace), offered to all humanity through His Son Yeshua.
The Hebrew Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) translates the Greek charis as chesed (love, kindness). I read this last line of the unveiling of Yeshua this way:
“The Loving kindness, charity and grace of our Merciful Lord Salvation Himself, Yeshua, be with you all. So be it!”
Speaking of Himself Yeshua says, “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” (Rev. 3:14). He is the agreement to G-d’s work of redemption.
The final Word (D’var) in Revelation is Salvation (Yeshua). The goal (end) of Revelation is Yeshua.
© Alastair Brown 2015
Revelation 21: New Heavens and a New Earth
“The holy blessed G-d will renew His world a thousand years, and in the seventh millennium there will be new heavens and a new earth.” –Zohar in Gen. fol. 35. 3
An examination of Revelation 21.
21:1 Then I saw new heavens and a new earth; for the first heavens and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer sea.
This chapter begins with waters, the waters of the sky. The Hebrew, “Shamayim Chadashah (waters of the sky that are new)”, translates as, “heavens”. This is significant in the sense that it shows the origin of the life giving waters offered to all that are thirsty.
At the time of Yochanan’s recording of the Revelation of Yeshua, the Jewish people had been awaiting new heavens and a new earth for hundreds of years. In approximately 740 BCE, the prophet Isaiah recorded these words of HaShem:
“Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 65:17
This ancient Hebrew prophecy also promises the redemption of ethnic Israel and her perpetual standing before G-d.
“’For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me,’ declares HaShem, ‘So your offspring and your name will endure.’” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 66:22
The apostle Shimon-Kefa/Peter, reminds us of the ancient hope of the Jewish people when he writes:
“But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” –2 Peter 3:13
The Greek kaheenos, “new”, means new in kind as opposed to just another heaven and earth.
“And there is no longer sea”
The Greek thalassah can be translated sea or lake (body of water), however the English reader must remember that the gospels frequently use this same Greek word to name the Sea of Galilee (Lake Keneret).
While most English translations insert the word, “any” so that the text reads, “there is no longer any sea”, this is not an accurate reading of the Greek text. Therefore, what may seem to infer that the new earth has no oceans whatsoever must be more closely examined.
Yochanan, a Jew and a prophet with a strong connection to the land of Israel, may well be writing “sea” in relation to the land of Israel, meaning that the sea or seas (although the Greek is not plural) in question refer to the lake waters of Israel. In particular, the largest body of water, that being the Dead Sea (Also a lake, and the only salt water lake in Israel). Given its salt content, the Dead Sea is a good match for the Greek thalassah, which is a prolonged form of the primary Greek word, “halce (salt)”. This in turn lends itself well to the metaphorical use of the noun, “sea” as representing death and sheol.
The sea then is seen as both literally missing from the new land of Israel and at the same time it is used as a metaphor for the fact that death no longer exists. As explained in previous chapters, the sea is a Biblical metaphor for sheol and death, both of which no longer exist. Hence, “there is no longer sea.”
In my opinion the text is not saying that there will be no oceans on the new earth but rather that there will be no lake or lakes in the new land of Israel, and that metaphorically speaking, there will be no death on the new earth, as affirmed later in this same chapter of Revelation.
2 And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of the heavens from G-d, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
The New Jerusalem (City flooded with peace) has been the Jewish hope from ancient days. It is noteworthy that the city is seen coming down from the heavens. This is not said of the temple which Yochanan is commanded to measure in Revelation 11:1. The differences are important because the former measurement took place on earth and uses a measure to record accurate literal dimensions, whereas the present city will be measured by an angelic messenger (not Yochanan) who will communicate the measurements in human terms, as metaphorical representations of the heavenly perfection of the New Jerusalem.
The earthly Jerusalem and its temple (Rev.11) are the work of human hands but the heavenly New Jerusalem is the work of G-d alone. This is the city that Avraham looked forward to in faith:
“By faith he (Avraham) lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is G-d.” –Hebrews 11:9-10
The prophet Isaiah speaks of the New Jerusalem saying:
“Afflicted city, tossed in the storm and not comforted,
I will set your stones in antimony (brittle silvery-white semimetal)
your foundations will be laid in Lapis lazuli
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 54:11-12
The prophet Ezekiel dreams of the rebuilt Jerusalem describing it as having twelve gates named for the tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 48:30-35).
The observant Jew recites 19 benedictions each day called Shemoneh Esreh (eighteen). These statements of faith remain central to Judaism and act as essential tenants of Jewish belief. The 14th of these tephillot (prayers) reads as follows:
“Return in compassion and mercy to Jerusalem Your city and dwell therein as You have promised; speedily establish therein the throne of David Your servant, and rebuild it, speedily in our days, as an everlasting edifice. Blessed are You HaShem, who rebuilds Jerusalem…”
The Zohar says that the third rebuilding of Jerusalem will happen, “in the days of the King Messiah” (Zohar in Gen. fol. 126. 4)
The Jewish writers of Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) continued in this hope:
“This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.” –Galatians 4:24-26
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living G-d, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,” –Hebrews 12:22
“For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”—Hebrews 13:14
The bride imagery here is an allusion to the fact that the bride of Messiah, both Jew and Gentile, will dwell within the walls of the New Jerusalem. A city is the sum of its inhabitants.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the Mishkhan (Tent of Meeting, dwelling: from shakhan, to dwell) of G-d is among humanity, and He will (shakhan) dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and G-d Himself will be among them and be their G-d,
This is the last of twenty occasions where Yochanan hears a loud voice speaking, in this case as in several others the voice is coming from the throne itself and is therefore the voice of G-d’s Spirit, proclaiming the wonderful consummation of G-d’s promise to dwell with redeemed humanity. The voice is loud because its sound waves reach every corner of creation.
The text says, “G-d Himself” because while in the past both Yeshua and the Ruach (Holy Spirit) have been among the people of G-d and G-d the Father has been seen to temporarily manifest His K’vod (glory) among His people, now He is causing His K’vod (glory) to shakhan (dwell) with redeemed humanity permanently, hence, “G-d (the father) Himself”. This is a picture of a renewed Eden, a place where the footsteps of G-d will once again be heard (Genesis 3:8).
This verse is best understood by making a connection to its foreshadowing in Numbers 2, where the tribes of Israel are encamped around the dwelling place of G-d’s presence, His K’vod, glory; that is the tent of meeting or Mishkhan. The Hebrew word Mishkhan comes from the root shakhan, meaning, “to dwell”. Hence the majority English translation, “Behold, the dwelling place of G-d is among men.” The text follows a Hebrew literary formula, making a play on words by
Using the noun Mishkhan followed by the root shakhan. We can read, “The dwelling tent of G-d is among humanity, and He will dwell among them.”
This entire verse is essentially a requoted composite of numerous passages from the Tanakh (OT) which reiterate one of the most frequent promises of G-d to His covenant people ethnic Israel. G-d’s promise to dwell with us and be our G-d, is first stated in Genesis 17:7 and is a common theme throughout the Biblical narrative (Exodus 6:7, 29:45; Leviticus 26:11-12; Numbers 15:41; Deuteronomy 29:13; 2 Samuel 7:24; Jeremiah 7:23, 11:4, 24:7, 30:22, 31:34, 32:38; Ezekiel 11:20, 34:24, 36:28, 37:23, 27: Zechariah 8:8).
“I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their Elohim (G-d).” –Exodus 29:45
“And I set my Mishkhan (dwelling place) among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your Elohim (G-d), and you shall be my people.” –Leviticus 26:11-12
The Jewish New Testament writer of Hebrews records the following:
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says HaShem; I will put my instructions into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a Elohim (G-d), and they shall be to me a people:” –Hebrews 8:10
Due to variation in Greek manuscripts there has been an argument over whether the text should read, “They shall be His people” or, “they shall be His peoples”. I see no reason to argue. Both are correct. Redeemed ethnic Israel is intended according to the Tanakh texts, therefore, “His people”, and the redeemed of the nations are also intended, that is, they have become part of the commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12), hence, “His peoples”.
This is our first taste of a new Eden. Chapter 22 will expound upon this idea but it is seeded here as a redemption of that which was lost to humanity. G-d walked (dwelled) in the first Eden in the person of the reincarnate Yeshua the Word/Voice/Sound:
“They heard the voice (Kol) of HaShem Elohim walking in the garden.” –Genesis 3:8
In the centre of earth’s history Yeshua (G-d with us) was born into the world of the womb of a woman and walked the earth for 33 years. G-d was with us as the Word again.
Finally, at the end of the age and following the renewing of all things, G-d will dwell with us, Father, Son and Spirit and we will once more hear the footsteps of the Messiah Yeshua in the new Garden of Eden.
“For I know my redeemer lives, and at the latter day He will stand upon the earth:”
4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
G-d is the wonderful counsellor and consoler of His people. With sin, death and sheol banished to eternal fire, He now illuminates the new reality of an eternal dwelling devoid of the by-products of sin. All mourning, sorrow and pain are stripped away. The phrasing, “wipe away every tear… no more… crying” is a metaphor for the elimination of all sorrow. If our transformed bodies have the capacity to weep we will only weep tears of joy.
Rabbinical Judaism says:
"There is no death in the Olam Habah (world to come); good is laid up for the righteous in the world to come, and with them is no death.” –Maimon. Teshuva, c. 8. sect. 1.
“After the resurrection the body is perfect, and shall never after taste the taste of death.” –Midrash Hanneelam in Zohar in Gen. fol. 70. 1.
5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
He Who sits on the throne is the Father G-d. This is one of the few times in Revelation where G-d is said to speak (1:8 7 possibly 16:1, 17). Usually it is a messenger or an unnamed voice who speaks on G-d’s behalf. We should take special note of the importance of the subsequent verses. This is further emphasized by the familiar phrase, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing;” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 43:18-19
“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 65:17
“Therefore if any person be in Messiah, that person is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” –2 Corinthians 5:17
Rabbinical tradition teaches:
“The holy blessed G-d will make ten things new in the Olam Habah (world to come); the first is, He will enlighten the world; (See Rev 21:11) the second is, He will bring living water out of Jerusalem; (see Rev. 21:6) the third is, He will make trees to bring forth their fruit every month; (see Rev 22:2) and the fourth is, all the waste places shall be built, even Sodom and Gomorrah; the fifth is, Jerusalem shall be built with sapphire stone; (see Rev 21:19) the sixth is, the cow and the bear shall feed; the seventh is, a covenant shall be made between Israel, and the beasts, fowls, and creeping things; the eighth is, there shall be no more weeping and howling in the world (See Rev 21:4); the ninth is, there shall be no more death in the world(See Rev 21:4); the tenth is, there shall no more be sighing, and groaning, and sorrow in the world; (see Rev 21:4).” –Shemot Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 101. 3.
6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Aleph and the Tav, the source and the goal. I will give water without cost to the one who thirsts, from the spring of the water of life (Mayim Chayim).
The phrase, “It is done” is plural in the Greek, “They are done”: in other words all the events that were to lead up to this consummation have been completed.
The Greek text reads, “I am the Alpha and the Omega” the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet. This is an allusion to the Word of G-d Yeshua, Who, as the D’var/logos of the universe, holds all things together. This metaphor is explained in most English translations by the phrase, “the beginning and the end”. However, G-d has no beginning or end, He is the uncreated Creator, therefore the Greek text affords us a better translation, “the source and the goal”.
“Water without cost” is a familiar Hebrew idiom. We began the chapter with the revelation of the source of this living water, the heavens, “Shamayim” and are now show that the source has come to earth and is offered to the thirsty as, “Mayim Chayim” (waters of life eternal). Our present Jewish Shabbat practise reminds us of our spiritual thirst, when we chant on the eve of Shabbat:
“Ushavtem mayim b'sason mimainei ha-yeshua”
“Joyfully shall you draw water from the fountains of salvation”
This water we sing about is of course HaShem’s, “Mayim chayim” water of life eternal. We draw it as a result of yeshua (salvation). We drink without cost, not because the water has no value but because we are unable to afford the price necessary to purchase it. Instead G-d has purchased this living water on our behalf through the sacrifice of His Son Yeshua (Salvation).
We note that only those who thirst for this water will drink of it. This is an expression of humility, we recognize our need and humbly acknowledge our spiritual thirst. In return G-d invites us to drink from His abundant supply of living water.
It is through the Lamb (Yeshua: Salvation) that our names have been sealed in the Sefer Chayim (Scroll of Life eternal) and it is also through Yeshua that we are able to drink the Mayim Chayim (Waters of life eternal).
“For with You (G-d) is the Mayim Chayim (fountain of life): in Your light shall we see light.” –Psalm 36:9
“The fear of HaShem is a Mayim Chayim (fountain of life), enabling us to depart from the snares of death.” –Proverbs 14:27
7 He who conquers will inherit all things, and I will be his G-d and he will be My son.
The phrase, “He who conquers” occurs seven times in Chapters 2-3. It refers to every individual who, in Messiah, overcomes sin, death and Satan.
“They defeated him (the dragon) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony (the testimony of Yeshua) and witness (of Yeshua).” –Revelation 12:11
8 But for the cowardly and unbelieving and detestable and murderers and sexually immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”
We must be careful here to properly understand the terms used. I’ve often heard believers foolishly misuse these terms, the result being condemnation and defeat.
“Cowardly”, doesn’t (as some English translations foolishly state) mean, fearful. Nor does it apply to those who are frozen with fear in any given situation pertaining to faith. A soldier who hides in a trench, too afraid to climb the trench wall under a barrage of cannon fire is not a coward, he is a man with a G-d given sense of danger that ignites a G-dly resistance to death. To the contrary, a coward is a man who gets into a car and intentionally drives into civilians in order to murder them. A coward is a woman who hides a knife in her handbag waiting for an opportunity to stab an unarmed civilian in order to murder them. Cowardice is seeded by evil intention, fear is a response to perceived danger. The fear of G-d delivers us from cowardice.
“Unbelieving”, is the choice not to believe. “Detestable”, is the choice to continually commit vile acts without any remorse or repentance. “Murderers”, are not those who kill but rather those who kill unjustly. “Sexual immoral persons”, are those who continually commit sexual sin without any remorse or repentance. “Sorcerers”, are those who practise witchcraft in rebellion toward G-d, without remorse or repentance. “Idolaters”, are those who perpetually worship anyone or thing other than G-d without remorse or repentance. “Liars”, are not people who lie, or it would include you and I, rather, liars are those who intentionally and perpetually live a lifestyle of lying without remorse or repentance. All of these titles reflect individuals who have chosen to allow their consciousness to be seared and have perpetually resisted G-d’s offer of loving redemption. If you are a follower of Messiah, you may sin in these areas but the Spirit of G-d in you will convict you of that sin and return you to G-d in Messiah so that while you may have lied, you do not become a liar, though you may have committed sexual sin, you do not become a serial sexual sinner etc.
As seen in the previous chapter, those who in resisting G-d have become the epitome of evil, will suffer eternal death and torment.
Rabbinical Judaism once held the belief that there are several distinct places in Gehinom, each reserved for specific sorts of sinners, in particular, for Sabbath breakers, adulterers, and liars. –Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Lev. fol. 7. 2.
“When the wicked man is condemned he shall take his part in Gehinom.” –T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 15. 1.
9 Then one of the seven messengers (angels) who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
The opening phrase is identical to that of Revelation 17:1. It seems that the same angel is intended here and that a comparison is being made between the fallen city, the whore Babylon and the New Jerusalem, the bride of Messiah. This same angel (whose title is unknown), once an angel of judgement, is now ministering as an angel of revelation. His former role was to expose the harlot Babylon, his present role is to direct Yochanan to view the pure bride and wife of the Lamb.
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from G-d,11 having the k’vod (glory) of G-d.
Yochanan is carried away in the Spirit (not physically). He shares this experience with the prophet Ezekiel:
“In the visions of G-d he brought me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain.”—Ezekiel 40:2
Jerusalem is seen coming down from the heavens, an affirmation of the origin of the New Jerusalem, which has already been described in verse 2. This description is repeated in order to make clear the distinction between the New Jerusalem whose architect and builder is G-d alone and the present Jerusalem built by human hands.
The city is said to have the, “K’vod” rather than the “Shekhinah” of G-d. Both Hebrew words convey the feminine presence of G-d’s glory but the former is a Biblical word whereas the latter is a rabbinical word derived from the root Shakhan (to dwell). While both are technically correct, the former reflects the ancient glory, whereas the latter conveys a developed understanding that is more difficult to connect to the Tanakh. One rarely hears the Shekhinah spoken of in traditional Jewish circles or in synagogue services, in fact it is more widely used by Christian scholars than it is by rabbis and Jewish scholars. The more familiar term for the Jew is, “K’vod”, glory. Having said this, K’vod and Shekhinah are synonymous terms.
Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper (red). 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve messengers (angels); and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.
The description of the city’s brilliance is a reflection of the light of G-d and the clear jasper (red) is an allusion to the price of its purity.
The wall, while usually a symbol of protection as in Revelation 11, is to be understood here as conveying a sense of the secure nature of the city. There is no longer a need for defensive walls because all the enemies of G-d and His people have been defeated.
The twelve gates symbolize the placement of the twelve tribes of Israel as they surround the Mishkhan (Tent of Meeting), which was a foreshadowing of the New Jerusalem. The city itself has become the holy of holies, the dwelling place (Mishkhan) of G-d’s presence. Over each gate is a messenger with the name of the appropriate tribe written (katuv, engraved) upon him. It may be that each of these messengers has been a guardian of a specific tribe of ethnic Israel from time immemorial.
Rabbinical Judaism speaks of princes being appointed over the gates of heaven, east, west, north, and south, with the keys in their hands. –Raziel, fol. 35. 2.
The Zohar describes the New Jerusalem this way:
"which has twelve gates, according to the computation of the tribes of Israel; on one gate is written Reuben, on another is written Simeon; and so all the tribes of Israel are written on those gates; in the time they go up to appear before the Lord of the world, whoever goes up to this gate, (on which the tribe of Reuben is written,) if he is of the tribe of Reuben they open to him, (and receive him,) if not they cast him without; and so of all whom they do not receive; they open to none but to him who is of that tribe, or whose name is written on the gate.'' –Zohar in Numb. fol. 70. 4.
13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
We notice the unusual order of the gate description, “East, North, West and South” (Ezekiel 48:31-34). While we can only conjecture as to the meaning, if we acknowledge the encampment of Israel around the city as seen in the foundation stones named with the Shiliachim (Apostles of the Lamb); we’re able to make a correlation with the breastplate of the high priest where the tribes at the east side make up the top row of stones, the tribes from the north make up the bottom row of stones and the tribes from the south and west make up the centre rows, top and bottom respectively.
The twelve Shiliachim (Apostles) are representatives of the twelve tribes, in the same way that the seventy sent out by Yeshua during His earthly ministry were representatives of Israel, acting in the calling of a redeemed Sanhedrin. We note that the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb are on the foundations, meaning that the foundations themselves are the tribes of Israel redeemed through the witness of the Apostles. Thus they are the firm root of the city through Messiah.
15 The one who spoke with me (one of the seven messengers who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues) had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, 12,000 stadia (2415 kilometres); its length and width and height are equal. 17 And he measured its wall, 144 cubits (66 meters), according to human measurements, which are measurements the messenger (angel) used.
While Yochanan was given the job of measuring the earthly temple in Revelation 11, the heavenly city is to be measured by an angelic messenger. This shows the origin of each subject. The temple made by human hands was measured by a human being whereas the heavenly city of Jerusalem whose architect and builder are G-d, is measured by a heavenly being. This is also an indication of the fact that the measurements of Revelation 11 are essentially literal whereas the measurements of the New Jerusalem are intended to be understood as metaphor.
The city is in the shape of a cube. This is a common Biblical shape that relates directly to Holiness: the altar of burnt offering, the altar of incense (Exodus 27:1; 30:2; 28:16) and the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:20) were all cubes. Ezekiel’s vision of the New Jerusalem repeatedly refers to cubes (Ezekiel 41:21; 43:16; 45:2; 48:20). The symbolism could not be clearer: the correlation between the Holy of Holies (Solomon’s temple) and the New Jerusalem is affirmed by the manifest presence of G-d dwelling in the city.
The 12,000 stadia speaks of the complete redemption of the 12 tribes of Israel (12 x 1000) and the 144 cubits speak of the 12 tribes multiplied by the ministry of the twelve Apostles.
The phrase, “Human measurements” is used to remind the reader that these are metaphorical numbers, written in human measurements to convey a heavenly measurement beyond the reader’s understanding. Therefore the measurements are to be understood as metaphor.
Rabbinical Judaism says of Jerusalem, “In the Olam Habah (world to come) it (Jerusalem) shall be so enlarged, as to reach to the gates of Damascus, yea, to the throne of glory.” --Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 24. 1.
18 The material of the wall was jasper (red); and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper (purple: Gad); the second, sapphire (blue: Simeon); the third, Carnelian (translucent multi-coloured: Reuben); the fourth, emerald (deep green: Zebulun); 20 the fifth, sardonyx (red laced black: Issachar); the sixth, sardius (red: Judah); the seventh, chrysolite (yellow: Dan); the eighth, beryl (light green multi-coloured: Asher); the ninth, topaz (greyish blue: Naphtali); the tenth, chrysoprase (greenish yellow: Ephraim); the eleventh, jacinth (deep blue: Manasseh); the twelfth, amethyst (violet: Benjamin).
Each of the jewels listed here represent the jewels embedded on the High Priests breastplate. They each represent a tribe of Israel but are listed in an unusual way.
The traditional birth order of the tribes of Israel is:
Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher,Ephraim and
The order of the tribes as they appear on the priestly breastplate is:
Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, Dan, Asher, Naphtali.
We’re told that the foundation stones have the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb on them. In other words the foundations of the apostolic ministry, the tribes of Israel, have the apostles’ names written on them in the same way that the messengers of the twelve gates have the names of the twelve tribes written on them.
The purpose of these patterns is to illuminate the meaning of G-d’s dwelling with humanity based on the premise that He gave a pattern of foreshadowing in the encampment of Israel during her desert wandering.
Shiliyachim (Apostles) Shevetim (Tribes)
So why are the jewels representing the tribes listed contrary to the birth order? The answer is in the connection between the priesthood (breastplate), the encampment (tribes/jewels) and the Mishkan, dwelling of G-d with His people (Rev. 21:3).
The order of the jewels corresponds to the order of the tribes as per their encampment around the Mishkan (Tent of meeting) in the desert, beginning with Gad at the south west corner of the camp, followed by the remaining tribes in an anti-clockwise direction, circling the tent of meeting and ending with Benjamin alongside Gad on the opposite side of the south west corner.
All of this is a beautiful and elaborate way of connecting G-d’s temporal dwelling with Israel in the desert to His eternal dwelling (New Jerusalem, new heavens and new earth) with humanity in the Olam Habah (world to come). The names of the apostles combine with the tribes of Israel to unite the people of G-d in an eternal priesthood born of the redemptive work of G-d through His Son, our Messiah Yeshua.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. 22 I saw no Sanctuary in it, for HaShem (Merciful) G-d (Judge) the Almighty (Shaddai) and the Lamb are its temple.
The Rabbis agree with Yochanan’s vision of a New Jerusalem with gates made from pearls:
“The Holy One, Blessed is He, will in the Olam Habah (World to come), bring prescious stones and pearls which are 30 cubits by 30 cubits and will cut out from them openings which are 10 cubits by 20 cubits, and will set them up in the gates of Jerusalem.” –Baba Bathra 75a
The transparent gold/glass streets emphasize the flawless state of the city.
The reason for there being no Sanctuary (holy place) in the city is that the city itself is the Holy of Holies (cube, foreshadowed by the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s temple). G-d Himself and the Lamb are its temple, and the redeemed are the bricks of the temple:
“Don’t you realize that all of you together are G-d’s temple and that the Spirit of G-d lives in you (both corporately and individually)?” –1 Corinthians 3:16
The trifold title of G-d, “HaShem (Merciful) G-d (Judge) the Almighty (Shaddai)” emphasizes His primary attributes: He is merciful, just and all powerful.
23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the k’vod (glory) of G-d has illuminated it, and its light is the Lamb.
The city has no need of other light sources (keeping in mind that the sun and moon have G-d as their source). The fact that the city has no need of the light of the sun, moon or stars, doesn’t mean that those entities will not exist (Isaiah 60:20), it simply means that G-d’s light is all in all. The glory of G-d and the illumination of His Son the Lamb is all sufficient.
This is yet another great hope of the Jewish people, a cry from ancient times. The present passage recalls the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see.
For the glory of HaShem rises to shine on you.
2 Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth,
but the glory of Hashem rises and appears over you.
3 All nations will come to your light;
mighty kings will come to see your radiance.
4 “Look and see, for everyone is coming home!
Your sons are coming from distant lands;
your little daughters will be carried home.
5 Your eyes will shine,
and your heart will thrill with joy,” –Isaiah 60:1-5
The Rabbinical writings regarding the Maor (Great lights) of the heavens in the Olam Habah (world to come) is very similar to that of Revelation:
“The orb of the sun is in this world; and the gloss adds, but not in the Olam Habah (world to come), for the lights shall be renewed.” –T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 101. 1.
"In the Olam Habah (world to come), Israel will have no need of the light of the sun, nor of the light of the moon, neither by day nor by night,'' --Raziel, fol. 17. 2.
"Thy days shall cease, but thy light shall not cease; for thou shall have no need for ever of the light of the sun, nor of the light of the moon, and of the stars.'' –Petirat Moseh, fol. 23. 2.
24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their riches and honour into it.
All who inhabit the new earth are redeemed. This section of the text tells us that whole nations, redeemed and prosperous will inhabit the wider earth and will bring up to Jerusalem the prosperity, honour, wealth and glory that G-d has given to them. This means that in the Olam habah there will be positions of honour (Kings) for those who have built on the foundation of salvation with right action, service, faithfulness and devotion.
“Your eyes will shine,
and your heart will thrill with joy,
for merchants from around the world will come to you.
They will bring you the wealth of many lands…
16 Powerful kings and mighty nations
will satisfy your every need,
as though you were a child
nursing at the breast of a queen.
You will know at last that I, HaShem,
am your Saviour and your Redeemer,
the Mighty One of Israel…
19 “No longer will you need the sun to shine by day,
nor the moon to give its light by night,
for HaShem your G-d will be your everlasting light,
and your G-d will be your k’vod (glory).
20 Your sun will never set;
your moon will not go down.
For Hashem will be your everlasting light.
Your days of mourning will come to an end.” –Isaiah 60:5, 16, 19-20
25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;
This is a literary device denoting eternal light. Darkness, which is often seen as a metaphor for evil, will no longer exist.
The Rabbis teach that:
“Jerusalem, in the Olam Habah (world to come), will be made a lamp to the nations of the world, and they shall walk in its light." --Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 56. 3.
26 and they will bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s (sefer chayim) book of life.
The redeemed among the nations will return to HaShem the glory and honour He has given to them. The motivations and practices of sin that had resulted from rebellion and idolatry in the first heavens and earth will never come in to the New Jerusalem because they have already met their eternal fate and are no longer present. The New creation is devoid of all evil.
Those whose names have been secured by the Lambs blood in the Lamb’s Sefer Chayim (Scroll of life eternal) may come and go as they please because all of the new creation has been made known to them. In Messiah they have become eternal sons and daughters of life in G-d.
The Rabbis understood that only those who are prepared and appointed for it may go up into the New Jerusalem in the Olam Habah (world to come):
"the Jerusalem of the Olam Habah (world to come) is not as the Jerusalem of this world; In the case of the Jerusalem of this world, whoever would go up to it (or enter into it) might; but in the case of the Olam Habah (world to come), none may go up to it (or enter into it) but those who are prepared and appointed for it.''
This chapter began with, “Shamayim” (sky waters) and progressed to “Mayim Chayim” (Waters of Life eternal), finishing with “Sefer Chayim” (Scroll of life eternal). From the heavens, Messiah came to give us life eternal, life which has been recorded in His book of life since before the foundation of the world.
“Our Father who is in the sky waters,
May Your name be kept holy.
‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done,
On earth as it is in the sky waters.” –Matthew 6:9-10
“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” –John 4:13
“Written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.” –Revelation 13:8; 17:18
© 2015 Yaakov Brown
“Happy are those left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter into the Shabbat.” –Zohar 1:119a
An examination of Revelation 20.
While there are a number of Christian theological views on this chapter, my interest is in conveying a Messianic Jewish view based on the Hebrew Scriptures (The Bible) and positive Jewish Tradition (Teachings of the Rabbis conducive to Yeshua’s Gospel).
One of the first things we notice about the last three chapters of the Revelation is the way they reflect the subject matter and themes of the first three chapters of Genesis. It seems clear that the G-d Who inspired the writer of Genesis (Moshe: Drawn Forth) also inspired the writer of the Revelation (Yochanan: HaShem is Gracious). In the beginning G-d created all things, drawing them forth (Moshe) from that which did not exist, and in the end G-d gifted Grace (Yochanan) through His Son Yeshua in order to redeem humanity and birth a new creation.
The first two chapters of Genesis describe G-d’s creation. The creation is described in its sinless state and the conditions of Eden are incomparably beautiful. At the beginning of chapter three of Genesis the ancient serpent entices Eve and Adam into sin and as a result of Satan’s act and the actions of Adam and Eve, both humanity and creation itself are defiled by sin (Romans 8:19-22). However, G-d’s plan of salvation was already at work to remedy the damage that had been done (Rev. 13:8). Through the death and resurrection of Yeshua, the Lamb Who was slain (Rev. 5:6, 9; Ephesians 1:4-7; John 1:29) all creation would one day be cleansed of sin and a new creation would be established.
“The heavens and the earth will pass away but my words will never end.” –Yeshua
(Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33)
In reverse order to that of Genesis 1-3, which begins with creation and ends in sin and death, the final chapters of Revelation count down to a new creation and eternal life. Here in the third to last chapter of Revelation, sin is judged and both Satan (v10) and wicked humanity (v15) are cast into the lake of fire (eternal punishment). The last two chapters of Revelation deal mainly with the new creation and the sinless state of what will be a type of new Eden, the new Jerusalem and Olam Habah.
G-d says, “I AM the Aleph (A) and the Beit (Z), the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:6). In the beginning, following creation, Satan seeded Eve’s mind with a lie and she conceived and gave birth to sin, a pattern that the first man Adam adopted willingly in his role as the head of humanity, their combined sin resulted in death; while at the end, G-d the Father seeded Myriam with righteousness Himself, the second Adam, Yeshua, Who, in His role as head of humanity, brought Salvation to all of creation; and as a result of Yeshua’s willingness to sacrifice himself, death has been swallowed up in victory. The outcome being Life eternal (1 Corinthians 15:45-49; Romans 5:12-21).
20:1 Then I saw a messenger coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain upon his hand.
The Messenger and the key:
This messenger is holding the key he was given in Revelation 9:1. What is clear is that the star-messenger of Revelation 9:1 and this messenger are one in the same. He has no independent authority, he receives his authority from G-d. The key he holds opens the lock to the shaft of the great abyss in Revelation 9 but here it’s used to lock Satan in the Abyss for a temporary period (the deep Gen 1:2, 6, 7; 7:11; Proverbs 8:28). This abyss is thought to have a narrow shaft-like opening that widens in to a great bottomless chasm beneath both the earth and Sheol.
The abyss (deep unfathomable prison) is often confusing to the reader and even more regularly misunderstood due to its similarity to Gehenom (the temporal place of torment in Sheol, set apart for the enemies of G-d).
The Abyss is not Sheol:
It’s important to note that the abyss is the intermediate place of punishment for fallen angels, demons, the beast, the false prophet and Satan (Rev. 9:1, 2, 11; 11:7; 20:1, 3). The place of final punishment, is the lake of fire mentioned in Revelation 20:10, 14, and 15.
“And Yeshua (Jesus) asked him, “What is your name?” And the demon said, “I am Legion”; for many demons had entered the man. The demons were imploring Yeshua (Him) not to command them to go away into the abyss.” –Luke 8:30-31
The apocryphal writings of Enoch support the idea that the abyss of Hebrew eschatology is seen as an entirely separate holding place set apart for the fallen angels and demonic beings (Enoch 18:12-16; 21:1-10).
The chain is a symbol of bondage. Satan is bound as a counterpoint to his binding of others. This also accentuates the fact that he has been made temporarily and completely powerless, being both imprisoned and chained.
2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.
The Dragon, Serpent, Devil, Satan:
This is a good opportunity to reiterate the details regarding Satan and his role in creation. Before he is anything at all, he is created. This means he is subject to the Creator whether he likes it or not. Revelation 12:9 uses the same terms to describe Satan, each of these names describing an aspect of the perfect evil that makes up his being.
REV 12:9 And the great Dragon (Taniym, tormentor) was thrown down, the serpent (Nachash/tempter, deceiver) of old (Genesis 3) who is called the Devil (Slanderer) and Satan (Accuser), who deceives (Tempter) the whole earth; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
This verse describes the Dragon from beginning to end, the various names used convey aspects of the Devil’s character, and each attribute is reflected in the evil actions of the Adversary of G-d’s people.
The Greek is correctly translated, “earth” here because the context denotes a counterpoint to the heavens.
Yeshua reflects on this event (and perhaps the original casting out of Satan) in Luke 10:18.
On earth Satan continues his temporary role as devourer, deceiver, accuser, tempter and adversary:
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” –1 Peter 5:8
Bound and sealed for a thousand years:
The messenger with the key and chain binds Satan (Making this messenger more powerful than Satan) and seals him in the abyss for a thousand years. The seal is similar to that used to seal Yeshua’s tomb. However, while Yeshua had the power to lay down His life and take it up again (John 10:17), thus breaking the seal of His tomb and bringing resurrected life and salvation to humanity, Satan is unable to break free, in fact, in the end he is freed by G-d and then only for a short time.
There is much unnecessary debate over the thousand years. Whether we take it literally or figuratively, the thousand years is representative of a long period of time as we measure it within time and space but remains just a brief part of eternity.
What is important in the present verse, is the reason for Satan’s imprisonment:
“So that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed;”
G-d has intended a time of reprieve for the nations while His Son Yeshua reigns with His elect ones.
4 Then I saw thrones, and those who sat on them, and judgment was given to them.
“I kept looking
Until thrones were set up,
And the Ancient of Days took His seat;” –Daniel 7:9
“And Yeshua (Jesus) said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’” –Matthew 19:28
Here Yeshua is simply stating an accepted rabbinical teaching.
"In the Olam Habah, (world to come,) the holy blessed G-d will sit, and kings will place thrones for the great men of Israel, and they shall sit and judge the nations of the world with the holy blessed G-d:''
–Yalkut Simconi, par. 2. fol. 41. 4.
Rav Shaul/Paul the apostle also understood and passed on this teaching, applying it not only to Jewish believers but to all believers.
“Do you not know that the set apart ones shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by
you (plural), are you (plural) unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you (plural) not know that
we shall judge angels (messengers)? How much more things that pertain to this life?
–1 Corinthians 6:2-3
This judgement is one that acknowledges those who have aided the Jewish people and the set apart ones of G-d who are Messiah followers. This is not a judgement that decides salvation.
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a navi (prophet) will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a tzadik (righteous person) because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” –Matthew 10:40-42
We can conclude that those seated on the thrones will be:
“But each person must be careful how he builds on it (The Salvation of Yeshua). For no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Yeshua ha-Mashiyach. Now if any person builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each person’s work will become evident; for the day (Judgement) will show it because it is to be revealed with fire (refining judgement), and the fire itself will test the quality of each person’s work. If any one’s work which has been built on the foundation remains, that person will receive a reward. If any one’s work is burned up, that person will suffer loss; but the same person will be saved, as one escaping the flames.” –1 Corinthians 3:10-15
We should note that part of the purpose of this judgement is to reward the believer. Those who have only the foundation (Salvation in Yeshua) to stand on after being judged will be saved but will not have reward added to their salvation during the millennial reign.
And I saw the souls (nefesh: inclusive of spirit and body) of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Yeshua and because of the word of G-d, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Messiah for a thousand years.
We know that the millennial reign is yet future because the text presumes an end to all who will be beheaded for the sake of Yeshua’s testimony.
Both the martyrs of Yeshua and the adherents of His Gospel are resurrected here. Those who have not worshipped the beast or received its mark are those from every generation who have refused the consciousness (Mark on the forehead) and the sinful actions (Mark on the hand) of the enemy and the empires (beast) that have perpetuated evil; instead they have allowed their souls to be governed (Mark on the forehead) and their actions (Mark on the hand) to be ruled by Yeshua, rather than the evil one (beast consciousness of Satan).
Reigned with Messiah for a thousand years:
These thousand years, be they literal or figurative, are powerfully symbolic to the Jewish reader. We should also note that the predominant Jewish view is that of a literal earthly Messianic reign. In fact, some Christian scholars view the Jewish belief in a literal Messianic reign as one of the primary reasons to reject a literal millennial rule (utter folly).
So what do the rabbis teach concerning the reign of the Messiah?
The Babylonian Talmud’s tractate Sanhedrin says:
“Rav Katina said, ‘The world will exist for six thousand years, then for one thousand years it will lie desolate…’” –Sanhedrin 97a
The Zohar expounds upon this idea:
“Happy are those left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter into the Shabbat.” –Zohar 1:119a (We find a similar idea in Hebrews 4:1-11).
The idea of a day being as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day to G-d (2 Peter 3:8), is also a rabbinical one. The rabbis say that the day of Genesis 2:17 is, “the day of the blessed G-d”, meaning that it’s a thousand year day. They say therefore, that Adam didn’t fill his day because he lived 130 years, 870 years short of 1000 years (a day of the L-rd). Ref. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 5. fol. 185. 4. vid. Jacchiad. in Dan. vii. 25.
From a Messianic Jewish perspective this is an acknowledgement of the failure of the first Adam and the need for the second Adam, Yeshua the Messiah (1 Corinthians 15:45).
One rabbinical teaching explains that the reign of the Messiah will be a thousand years. Midrash Tillim, fol. 4. 2.
The Babylonian Talmud expounds upon this by saying that during these thousand years G-d will renew His creation, and that then, “the righteous will be raised, and no more return to dust”. T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 93. 1, 2. & Gloss. in ib. Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 42. 1. & 49. 3. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 150. 2.
The believers who reign with Messiah during this thousand year earthly reign will never see death again, they’ve been transformed into their eternal bodies as part of the first resurrection. In other words, while the remainder of humanity continues to suffer death, those who have accepted Messiah’s reign prior to the coming of His kingdom, will encamp around the city and go up for the feast of Sukkot. Also, those who remain among the nations who had fought against Jerusalem and the Messiah will be given an opportunity to honour the kingdom of the Messiah by going up to the feast of sukkot. Those that do not go up will suffer drought and death:
“Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, HaShem of heavens armies, and to celebrate the Feast of Sukkot (Booths). And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, HaShem of heavens armies, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which HaShem smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Sukkot (Booths). This will be the sin (missing the mark) of Egypt, and the sin of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Sukkot (Booths).” –Zechariah 14:16-19
5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of G-d and of Messiah and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
The fact that the remaining dead (unredeemed humanity) don’t come to life until the thousand years are complete shows a period that is distinct from the second resurrection which will then be followed by, “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21-22). A similar distinction is made in Ezekiel 36-48.
There are times when traditional Judaism also makes a distinction between the days of the Messiah and the Olam Haba (World to come).
“Rabbi Chiyya ben Abba said in Rabbi Yochanan’s name: ‘All the prophets prophesied only for the days of the Messiah; but as for the Olam Haba, “No eye but Yours, G-d, has seen what He has prepared for the one who waits for Him” (Yishaiyahu 64:4).’” –Sanhedrin 99a (Brakhot 34b)
The second death has no power over the believer. Those who belong to Messiah, both Jew (Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 61:6) and Gentile (1 Peter 2:9) will reign alongside Him as a kingdom of Cohanim (priests), a holy nation.
7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they came up on the breadth of the land (Eretz Israel) and surrounded the encampment of the set apart ones and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
The set apart ones are redeemed ethnic Israel and those redeemed from among the nations. The beloved city is without doubt Jerusalem (Flood of Peace).
The titles, “Gog and Magog” alert us to the relevance of Ezekiel 36-48. Ezekiel 36-37 speaks of ethnic Israel’s salvation and the greater Son of David’s (Yeshua) rule over ethnic Israel and the land: this corresponds to Rev. 20:1-6. In Chapters 38-39 of Ezekiel, Gog, the king from Magog seeks to disrupt this rule with an eschatological battle, in which the nations of the earth come against Israel and Jerusalem: this is fulfilled in Rev. 20:7-10. Finally, Ezekiel 40-48 with the rebuilt temple and a renewed Jerusalem, sees its ultimate fulfilment in Revelation 21-22. In both Ezekiel and Revelation a temporary kingdom is followed by an eternal kingdom after a gathering of the nations for war.
Ezekiel explains that the king Gog from the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshekh and Tuval, will amass armies from numerous other places to come against the Jewish people who have regathered in the land of Israel. These same nations are spoken of in Ezekiel 27 in the lament against the king of Tyre who is a type for Satan (Ezekiel 28:11-19).
As time and Jewish history progressed, the rabbis came to understand the titles Gog and Magog as being synonymous terms for all that sets itself up against G-d.
One rabbinical source describes a conversation between the Messiah and Gog and Magog. The Messiah asks them why they have come and they respond, “We have come against HaShem and against His Messiah”. Ref. Barclay’s commentary on Revelation
The Jewish Virtual Library records details of the numerous rabbinical writings that allude to this final battle (that is, an attempted battle only because fire comes from heaven to destroy the enemies of G-d and His people. In fact those gathered against G-d, Israel, Messiah followers from the nations and Jerusalem, don’t get a chance to fight):
“In the aggadah, the names Gog and Magog were reserved for the enemy of Israel in the end of days.” –Jewish Virtual Library
It’s unlikely that this gathering for war is the same gathering of armies in the previous chapter because the armies of the previous chapter were defeated and their bodies eaten by the birds (meaning that a battle was fought) whereas these verses describe defeat without a battle. The armies of the earth who are metaphorically named Gog and Magog, approach the encampment of G-d’s people who inhabit the holy city Jerusalem, but before they’re able to fight they’re devoured by fire from heaven (Ezekiel 28:11-19).
10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
This is the end of Satan. From this point on chronologically speaking, Satan is assigned to eternal punishment. This happens prior to the judgement of Humanity.
The demise of Satan has been prophesied from the very beginning:
“And I will put enmity between you (Serpent) and the woman (Eve), And between your seed (Ephesians 6:10-13; Romans 1:32) and her seed (Both humanity and the Messiah, Galatians 3:16). He (singular: denoting the Messiah) shall crush your head (Satan’s rule), And you shall bruise them (plural: humanity) on the heel.” –Genesis 3:15
The defeat of Satan happens in two stages. First Messiah defeats Satan on the cross: “Now is the time for this world to be judged and the prince of this world will be expelled.” (John 12:31). This is explained in detail in the sign of Revelation 12. Second, at the end of days Satan is defeated in his last desperate attempt to usurp the Messiah and is thrown into the lake of fire (eternal punishment).
The word order, “day and night” denotes a rhythm of death, anti-creation, whereas the word order, “evening and morning” (Genesis 1) denotes the rhythm of creation and life.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from before His face earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
“But the day of HaShem will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” –2 Peter 3:10
“The heavens and the earth will pass away but my words will never end.” –Yeshua
(Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33)
This is the beginning of the renewing of all things. At the revelation of the great white throne of G-d and upon beholding His face, all that was temporary and sinful, even the earth and the heavens, flee from before Him (Romans 8:19-22). G-d’s purity, symbolized in the white throne banishes all that is impure because His holiness will not abide that which is corrupted by sin (Matthew 9:20). This will be remedied by, “a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth have passed away.” Revelation 21:1.
We’re not told if the One seated on the throne personifies G-d the Father or Yeshua. Elsewhere in the Revelation it is the Father Who is seated on the throne (5:1, 7, 13), however, HaShem, Who is Himself the Merciful Elohim (Judge) has entrusted judgement to Yeshua (John 5:22, 27-29) and in Revelation 3:21 Yeshua explains that the Father shares His throne with the Son. In fact Messiah is to be the judge of all (Matthew 25:31-46). On the other hand, Rav Shaul/Paul speaks of both the judgement seat of Messiah (2 Corinthians 5:10) and the judgement seat of G-d the Father (Romans 14:10). Therefore G-d the Father is the merciful Judge Who has entrusted judgement to the Son Yeshua. Suffice to say, “HaShem Elohaynu, HaShem echad”, G-d is One.
12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened;
“The dead,” are distinguished from the great and the small because all will stand before the judgement seat of G-d/Yeshua. “The dead” is a designation for those who were not part of the first resurrection, “The Living”.
“For we will all stand before the judgment seat of G-d.” –Romans 14:10
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah, so that each one may be recompensed for the actions performed in the body, according to what each one has done, whether good or bad.” –2 Corinthians
“On the day when, according to my gospel, G-d will judge the secrets of human beings through Messiah Yeshua.” –Romans 2:16
By the books opened here (Daniel7:9-10), G-d judges the deeds of human beings (Romans 2:6) both public and secret. For the redeemed this judgement determines reward (1 Corinthians 3:8-15).
This judgement determines justice according to the scrolls that are opened, reward and punishment are the result. Therefore, all humanity both believers and non-believers will be judged with equity. However, salvation is a separate issue, recorded in a separate scroll. In fact, the fate of those recorded in the scroll of life that follows has already been alluded to in verse 5.
and another scroll was opened, which is the sefer chayim (scroll of life); and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the scrolls, according to their deeds.
The phrase sefer chayim (scroll of life-eternal: plural), appears in the Tanakh only in Psalm 69:
“Add iniquity to their iniquity, and may they not come into Your righteousness. May they be blotted out of the sefer chayim (scroll of life) and may they not be written with the righteous.” –Psalm 69:27-28
However, it is first referred to in the Tanakh in Exodus 33:
“But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your sefer (scroll) which You have written!” HaShem said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My sefer (scroll).” –Exodus 32:32-33
The Rav Shaul/Paul says something similar in his letter to the Roman ecclesia:
“For I would be willing to allow myself to be accursed, separated from Messiah for the sake of my brothers and sisters, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and daughters, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Torah and the temple service and the promises,” –Romans 9:3-4
Both these men are echoing the heart of the Messiah Yeshua, Who forsaking is very life, died and rose again for our sake.
In the New Testament the phrase, “Book of life” appears at Philippians 4:3; Hebrews 12:23 and six times in the Revelation. It is also alluded to by Yeshua at Luke 10:20:
“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
The book of life always denotes redemption and eternal salvation.
We notice that in the Tanakh passages quoted above, names are blotted out rather than written into the sefer chayim. From these Scriptures (Psalm 69:27-28; Exodus 32:32-33) traditional Judaism gleans the understanding that prior to birth the names of every human being is recorded in the sefer chayim and cannot be blotted out from conception until the age of understanding (which in reality varies with the individual), 12 years of age for girls and 13 years of age for boys traditionally. At the age of understanding, when boys become men in the community of Israel and when girls become women in the community of Israel, it is incumbent upon each one to act in accordance with the Torah, seeking the goal of the Torah in order to remain written in the sefer chayim.
From a Messianic perspective this means that once a human being gains understanding each one must accept the goal of the Torah Himself (Romans 10:4), Yeshua the Messiah and His sacrificial death on our behalf in order to remain in the sefer chayim. Hence, not blotted out. Once we have accepted Messiah’s death and resurrection on our behalf our names are immovably written in the sefer chayim for life eternal.
Some ask, “What is the purpose of this judgement?” We should notice that the phrase, “the dead were judged from the things which were written in the scrolls, according to their deeds.” refers specifically to those who are not part of the first resurrection. They’re judged according to the deeds written in the scrolls, whereas those who are in Messiah will be acquitted according to the fact that their names have not been blotted out of the sefer chayim (Book of life).
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and sheol (Hades) gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
This verse explains that all of the dead are resurrected, all will face judgement (Hebrews 9:27). There were superstitions in Yochanan’s time regarding the spirits of those who died at sea or were left unburied, that might have lead his readers to misunderstand this text. Therefore all aspects of death and burial are covered by the listing of the sea, death and sheol.
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone was not found written in the sefer Chayim, scroll of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire.
This passage reflects the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46). Regardless of whether the lake of fire is meant literally or figuratively the reality is that it is a place of eternal (not temporary) torment.
There is no longer a need for sheol, the holding place for those who will face judgement, because judgement has come, likewise there is no longer any need for death, the punishment for sin, because sin is now being removed from the universe forever. They are cast into eternal punishment in the lake of fire where they will add their torment to that of Satan, the beast and the false prophet and those whose names are not found written or have been blotted out of the sefer chayim.
The sea isn’t thrown into the lake of fire because the sea is a metaphor for death and sheol rather than being the entities themselves.
Those whose names are not found in the sefer chayim are those who by their own sinful actions and their refusal of G-d’s offer of mercy and redemption through His Son Yeshua have rejected G-d’s mercy. Therefore it is not G-d Who sends a person to eternal punishment, rather by refusing G-d’s help the rebellious choose their own fate.
“’Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,’ declares HaShem (Merciful) Elohim (Judge). ‘Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares HaShem (Merciful) Elohim (Judge). ‘Therefore, repent and live.’” –Ezekiel 18:30-32
“For G-d so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For G-d did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of G-d.” –Yochanan 3:16-18
© Alastair Brown 2015
Revelation 19: The Messiah Makes War
Righteous actions are not the means by which the wife has prepared herself, rather they are the fruit of her having been justified by the shed blood of the Lamb. In other words, her preparation was given to her and she acted accordingly in anticipation of her wedding. This is how we are to live as Messiah followers clothed in His right action and gifted with the strength to act rightly. How do we prepare ourselves? By allowing Him to prepare us.
An examination of Revelation 19.
Revelation 19 begins with a universal rejoicing among the heavenly host and the set apart ones at the destruction of the great harlot Babylon, the resurrected ancient city at the centre of the beast’s empire (19:1-10). Next comes the description of the white horse and its rider Who is Faithful and True (19:11-13). Then the hostile powers (enemies of G-d and His people) gather to fight against the conquering Messiah (19:19). Finally comes the defeat of the opposing forces, the casting of the beast (Seat of power of the evil empire) and its false prophet (Anti-Messiah) into the lake of fire (eternal punishment) and the slaughter of those who remain (19:20-21).
Rev 19:1 After these things, I heard a great voice (singular: Heb. Equivalent - Kol) in heaven, a multitude (plural) were shouting, Hallelujah (Shine out Praise to the L-rd) Salvation and k’vod (glory), and honour and power be unto HaShem (YHVH: Merciful) our G-d (Elohim: Judge).
“After these things” means after the events of the city of Babylon’s destruction recorded in chapter
“I heard a great voice” which is singular, conveys the sense of unity in the collective angelic voices of
heaven. The Hebrew equivalent Kol means, “voice or sound.”
“Hallelujah” is transliterated here as a contraction made up of the Hebrew words Halal (Shine,
Praise, Proclaim) and Yah (Part of the Divine Name YHVH). This is one of many instances in
Revelation where it appears that a Hebrew original text is being translated into Greek and having
come across a non-transferable word in the Hebrew the Greek translator has chosen simply to
transliterate the Hebrew using Greek characters. The phrase, “Hallelu Yah” is found 22 times in the
Psalms but not as a contraction. Psalms 113 to 118 are known as the great Hallel, “The great Praise,”
a title that points prophetically to this final great proclamation of G-d’s faithfulness and justice. The
contraction is found 4 times between verses 1 and 6 of the current passage of Revelation.
Judaism understands the phrase, “Hallelu Yah” to be the greatest of the defining phrases which begin each of the 10 styles of songs in the Psalms:
“The book of Psalms consists of ten sorts of songs, but HalleluYah is the greatest of them, because it comprehends the name (YHVH) and praise in one word.” –Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 89. 1. T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 117. 1.
Given that the Talmudic writings postdate Yochanan’s writing, it seems that the Biblical phrase, “Hallelu Yah” was later used by the rabbis’ in its contracted form following the Greek/Hellenistic usage. Hence the above quote sees it as a single word rather than a phrase.
The threefold attributes of G-d, Salvation (Yeshua), K’vod/glory (Ruach Ha-Kodesh) and Strength
(HaShem) are linked to the formula, “HaShem (Merciful) Elohim (Judge)” and provide a
Literary platform for expounding the merciful justice of G-d.
Rev 19:2 For true (emet: reliable) and righteous are His judgments: for He has judged the great
harlot, which did corrupt the earth with her adultery (idolatry), and has avenged the blood of His
servants which she has shed.
The first “for” acts as qualification for the cry of praise that begins this chapter. The phrase, “True and
righteous are His judgements” is heard slightly differently by the Hebrew ear. The Greek alethinos
(truth) corresponds to reality itself (as in Greek thought), however the Hebrew emet (truth) is qualified
by reliability, that is, it is founded on the premise that G-d exists and is absolutely trustworthy. The,
“G-d of truth” (Elohim emet: Deut. 32:4; Psalm 31:5; Isaiah 65:16) is not the G-d that verifies human
concepts of truth, but the G-d Who shows Himself trustworthy in relationship to covenant. Therefore,
to the Hebrew, truth, while absolute, is also relational and has more in common with the core being
than it does with the mind alone.
The second “for” offers further proof of G-d’s worthiness by giving an example of the righteous
judgement that has taken place. He has avenged the blood of His servants. He can be trusted.
Rev 19:3 And again they said, Hallelujah. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
“For Hashem has a day of vengeance,
A year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
9 Its streams will be turned into pitch,
And its loose earth into brimstone,
And its land will become burning pitch.
10 It will not be quenched night or day;
Its smoke will go up forever.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 34:8-10
Notice the cause in Isaiah’s prophecy and the fact that the smoke rises eternally, the result of fire that
burns eternally (19:20).
Rev 19:4 And the twenty four elders and the four cherubim fell down and worshipped G-d Who sat
on the throne, saying, “Amen; Hallelujah.”
The twenty-four elders, who may represent the 12 tribes and the 12 disciples as a collective
priesthood, along with the four cherubim of the heavenly holy of holies, fall down before the throne
of G-d and in agreement with the praise that has already been given they use the psalmists formula,
“Amen, Hallelu Yah”.
“Blessed be HaShem (Merciful), the G-d (Judge) of Israel,
From everlasting even to everlasting.
And let all the people say, “Amen, Hallelu Yah!” –Psalm 106:48
Rev 19:5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our G-d, all you His servants, and you
that fear (in holy awe of) Him, both small and great.
Numerous commentators claim that this voice cannot be that of the Messiah because of the words,
“Praise our G-d”. This seems at best a tenuous argument given that Yeshua identifies Himself as a
brother and son to those who keep the word of G-d.
“He answered and said to them, ‘My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of G-d and
do it.’” –Luke 8:21
In fact, given that the voice comes out of the throne, it must be a voice that is intrinsically linked to
the G-d head. The Holy Spirit doesn’t qualify because He is spirit and the Father doesn’t qualify
because He is the subject of the praise, therefore the voice must be that of Yeshua.
“All you His servants, and you that fear (in holy awe of) Him” seems to distinguish between the angelic
host and human believers.
Rev 19:6 And I heard a voice like a great multitude, and a voice like many waters, and a voice like
mighty thunders, saying, “Hallelujah: for HaShem (Merciful) G-d (Judge) Almighty (Shaddai:
Notice that the voice (Heb. kol: sound) is, like a great multitude, like many waters, and like mighty
The trifold Holy Name formula used here tells us three important things about G-d. He is merciful
(HaShem), He is Just (Elohim) and He is almighty (Shaddai).
Why are we saying Hallelujah? The text puts it succinctly, “for HaShem (Merciful) G-d (Judge) Almighty
(Shaddai: omnipotent) reigns.” It’s not that He has all of a sudden begun to reign, rather it is a simple
statement of eternal fact, that is, eternal past, present and forever. He reigns!
Yeshua illuminates this understanding with the words:
“Now having been questioned by the P’rushim as to when the kingdom of G-d was coming, He (Yeshua)
answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of G-d is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will people
say, “Look, here it is!” or, “There it is!” For behold, the kingdom of G-d is in your midst.’”
Brothers and sisters, the kingdom of G-d is in our midst.
Rev 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come,
and His wife (not bride) has made herself ready.
In contrast to the mourning of Babylon, the servants and children of HaShem will be glad and rejoice
and give honour to Him because the marriage of the Lamb has come and His wife (not bride) has made
Who is the wife and how has she made herself ready? Many scholars make a big deal out of the
distinction between Israel as G-d’s wife and the Church as Yeshua’s bride, as if G-d is somehow a
polygamist with a dissociative identity disorder. Yochanan is given the words of the present text to
illuminate the unity of the two distinct women (Metaphorical). We should remember that at this point
in the chronology of the Revelation all of the remnant of ethnic Israel had been redeemed, therefore
there is no longer a need to refer to ethnic Israel and the Church as separate entities. However, this
only becomes the case once ethnic Israel has been redeemed in its entirety (Revelation 11:13; Romans
11:26), prior to the judgement, and not before. With this in mind we’re able to take a fresh look at the
“The marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife (not bride) has made herself ready.”
The Greek gune can be translated as bride or wife but is more commonly translated as wife (a woman
who is married). The Hebrew betrothal and marriage terms are more ambiguous, but suffice to say,
within the ancient Jewish betrothal customs and law, an engaged (betrothed) woman (bride to be) is
considered a wife in every way with the exception of cohabitation.
Ethnic Israel is often called G-d’s wife in the Tanakh, an allusion to her betrothal to Him in eternal
perpetuity (Isaiah 54:1-8; 62:4-5; Jeremiah 31:32; Ezekiel 16; Hosea). The Messianic community
(Ecclesia: Church) is in turn known as a bride to the Messiah (Matthew 22:1-14; 25:1-13; Mark 2:18-
20; John 3:28-30; Romans 7:1-4; 1 Corinthians 6:13-20; 2 Corinthians 11:2 and Ephesians 5:25-33).
The reason the Greek gune, wife (ethnic Israel) is used here in conjunction with the phrase, “made
herself ready”, which denotes a bride (Ecclesia: Church), is that following the redemption of ethnic
Israel (but not before) in Messiah Yeshua, G-d the Father has (post ethnic Israel’s redemption) made
ethnic Israel and the Ecclesia a unity. Therefore the marriage has one bride/wife (redeemed humanity)
and one groom/husband (G-d the Lamb).
Rev 19:8 And she was given fine linen, clean and white to wear: for the fine linen is the
righteousness (right actions: the result of justification) of the set apart ones.
Notice that the wife of the Lamb is given the right actions to wear. These actions are not the means
by which the wife has prepared herself, rather they are the fruit of her having been justified by the
shed blood of the Lamb. In other words, her preparation was given to her and she acted accordingly
in anticipation of her wedding. This is how we are to live as Messiah followers clothed in His right
action and gifted with the strength to act rightly.
“I will rejoice greatly in HaShem (Merciful),
My soul will exult in my G-d (Judge);
For He has clothed me with garments of Yeshua (salvation),
He has wrapped me with a robe of right action,
As a bridegroom adorns himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 61:10
Who is the wife? All who accept Messiah. And how do we prepare ourselves? By allowing Him to
Rev 19:9 And he said to me, write (ketvi), “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage
supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “these are the true sayings of G-d.”
The he here is probably an angel of Yeshua, as qualified in the following verse. This makes sense given
that this is Yeshua’s revelation that Yochanan is writing. In the following verses Yeshua is referred to
as The Word (Heb. D’var) in correlation with John’s Gospel (John 1:1). What we are reading here is
The Living Word (d’var) Yeshua instructing Yochanan through His angel (messenger), to write (ketvi)
His revelation. By using the word, ketvi (write) Yeshua’s messenger affirms Yochanan’s role as a
recorder of ketvi (writing) that is part of the greater Ketuvim (writings) of HaShem.
When Yochanan is instructed by Yeshua to write (ketvi) it is for the purpose of emphasizing certain
points in the progression of the revelation in order to draw the reader’s attention to these key
elements. Up to this point in the text Yochanan has been specifically instructed to write what he is
seeing and hearing three times (Rev. 1:11, 19; chs. 2-3; 14:13) and not to write once (Rev. 10:4). Finally
in chapter 21:5 Yochanan is instructed by G-d to write the declaration of the new creation. In this
way the Bible as a whole ends with a beginning, all of us who are in Messiah will witness this new
The blessing of attending the Lamb’s wedding supper is the ultimate blessing of relationship in all its
perfection. Family, close friends and loyal servants are invited to weddings. The blessing is simply the
joy of being present with Yeshua in G-d.
Rev 19:10 And I fell at his feet, prostrating myself in reverence of him. And he said to me, “don’t
do that: I am your fellow servant, and of thy brothers and sisters that have the testimony of Yeshua
(Jesus): prostrate yourself in reverence of G-d: for the testimony of Yeshua is the spirit of prophecy.
“I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, “don’t do that: I am your fellow servant, and of
your brothers and sisters” denotes Yochanan’s respect and awe of someone more powerful than
himself. It is not as some suppose, a case of Yochanan considering the messenger to be deity. The
purpose of the admonition is to warn the community of believers of the danger of worshipping angels
but it is not an indictment against Yochanan. Peter the Apostle experienced something similar when he was sent as a messenger (angel) to Cornelius:
“When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and prostrated himself in reverence of
Peter. But Peter raised him up, saying, ‘Stand up; I too am just a man.’” –Acts 10:25-26
The testimony of Yeshua is both the testimony of Yeshua Himself and the testimony concerning Him,
which is proliferated by His followers. Like the garments of white linen representing the righteousness
of the set apart ones, the testimony of Yeshua is something we have freely received from Him and
freely give to others. It is the testimony of His eternal nature, His earthly ministry and His saving
sacrificial death and resurrection, a testimony of hope and of a certain eternal future for all who
Therefore, “the testimony of Yeshua is the spirit of prophecy” because the living Word Yeshua is the
essence that holds all of G-d’s prophetic word together; the Word is felt, known, spoken, lived and
In the context of the present chapter it is the testimony of Yeshua revealed by Yeshua to Yochanan,
that Yochanan is recording as a testimony to the Ecclesia.
Rev 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called
Faithful and True (emet: reliable), and in righteousness (Justification) He does judge and make war.
2 Timothy 2:13 teaches us that we ought to, “expect the blessed fulfilment of our certain hope, which
is the appearing of the k’vod (glory and honour) of our great G-d and the appearing of our Deliverer,
Yeshua the Messiah.”
We are now reading about that very event, the second coming of Yeshua the Mashiyach.
“I saw heaven opened”. This is a cataclysmic event, hence the prequel, “write!” This is not the white
horse of previous chapters, rather it is the white (purity and righteousness) horse of the coming
Messiah. No one can be called Faithful and True but G-d Himself and G-d Himself can only ride a horse
in the person of Yeshua (G-d with us).
“In righteousness (Justification) He does judge and make war.” Apparently Yeshua is not, as some
foolishly teach, a pacifist. Or is the war metaphorical? Does He judge metaphorically? If my judgement
of you is a metaphor, what is it a metaphor for? If my war against you is a metaphor, what is it a
metaphor for? So many western Christians seem set on turning Yeshua into some sort of New Age
Guru, but the reality is that Yeshua is coming again, not as the suffering Messiah but as the
Warrior King Messiah. He is returning to judge and make war against evil and all who practice it.
The idea of G-d being a G-d of war should not surprise the student of the Scriptures. The Tanakh (OT)
describes HaShem (YHVH) as being victorious in war over His enemies numerous times (Isaiah 13; 31;
63:1-6; Ezekiel 38-39; Joel 3:9-21; Zechariah 14).
“Who is the King of glory? HaShem strong and mighty, HaShem mighty in battle!”—Psalm 24:8
When Yeshua returns He will both reward the righteous and conquer and judge the wicked (Matthew
13:41-42; 25:41-46; Romans 2:5-6, 8-9, 16; 1 Thessalonians 1: 7-9; 2:8).
“The Son of Man will send forth His messengers, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” –Matthew 13:41-42
The first time, G-d didn’t send His Son into the world to judge but to save (John 3:17). However G-d
has entrusted all judgement to Yeshua the Son (John 5:22), this will take place at Yeshua’s second
Rev 19:12 His eyes were as a flame of fire (1:14), and on His head were many crowns; and He had a
Name written (katuv), which no one knew, but He himself.
His eyes like flames of fire symbolize refining judgement, sacrifice, fore vision, penetrating vision. The
many crowns on His head symbolize His rule over all the kingdoms of the earth.
The name that is written, (katuv: engraved) is not known to anyone but Yeshua and of course G-d the
Father and the Spirit. The phrase, “no one knew” refers to created things. Some have suggested that
this name may be the unpronounceable name of HaShem YHVH, unknown in that its correct
pronunciation can’t be determined, however I find this doubtful. I believe it’s foolish to attempt to
know what is unknowable, it is a futile act of prideful rebellion, “a grasping at the wind.” I suggest
embracing the mystery of this unknown name (Deut. 29:29).
Rev 19:13 And He was clothed with a garment immersed in blood: and His name is called The Word
The garment immersed in blood is symbolic of the sacrificial blood shed by Messiah at Calvary. The
fact that the garment is immersed denotes baptism, death and resurrection. It can’t be the blood
of enemies because the sword of judgement has yet to be unleashed in the chronology of this passage.
Also, while G-d wars against evil, He does not wear the blood of His enemies like some gaudy prize.
Those who doubt Yochanan’s authorship are hard pressed to explain away the familiar title “The
Word of G-d” (John 1). This title is used a number of times in the Revelation (Rev. 1:2; 6:9; 20:4).
Rev 19:14 And the armies of heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white
These are the angelic heavenly armies alluded to in the title, “Adonai tz’vaot” (Rev. 1:8).
“Adonai my Elohim will come, and all the holy ones with Him.” –Zechariah 14:5
Yeshua initially returns with angels (Mk 8:38; Luke 9:26; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:7),
however believers too will accompany Him (but no from the heavens) as He overcomes His enemies
(Rev. 17:14; Matthew 24:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
Rev 19:15 And out of his mouth came a sharp sabre (rhomphaia), that with it He should smite the nations:
We should note that the sword issuing from Yeshua’s mouth is not the short blade of Hebrews 4:12
(machaira, long knife or short sword), but rather a long sword, rhomphaia, probably a sabre, denoted
by the fact that the Greek word rhomphaia is of foreign origin. The only use of the Greek word
rhomphaia (Sabre, long sword) outside of the scroll of Revelation is in Luke 2:35, where it refers to the
sword of judgement meant for humanity that is instead received by the Messiah in our place and thus
will pierce the breath (ruach) of Miriam (Mary), Yeshua’s mother and reveal the hearts of many.
Within the scroll of Revelation the same word is used 6 times and is seen as a weapon of judgement (Rev. 2:16; 6:8; 19:15, 21).
“Therefore, turn from these sins. Otherwise, I will come to you quickly and make war against them (those in the congregation committing wilful sin) with the sword (sabre, long sword) of my mouth.” –Revelation 2:16
The sword (sabre) coming out of the rider’s mouth is the same sabre referred to in Rev. 1:16; 2:12, 16;
6:8; 19:15, 21 and specifically as a sword of judgement (punishment) in Rev. 2:16; 6:8; 19:15, 21.
The sword is an aspect of the Word, whereas the rider is The Word in entirety. Therefore we should
see the sword of the present text as the aspect of the Word that brings judgement and righteous
punishment. The same sword G-d brought to bear on Miriam’s very breath, her Son Yeshua, Who
himself was born into time of the seeded ruach and the egg of a human woman. This sword of just
punishment was received by Yeshua on behalf of all those who would receive Him, now He wields it
against all those who have stubbornly and perpetually refused Him.
We can conclude that the short sword of Hebrews 4:12 is the surgical aspect of The Word (Yeshua)
that discerns and divides between intimate details of the human soul so as to perfect the believer,
whereas the sabre or long sword that issues from The Word’s mouth is the sword of war, of
punishment, vengeance and just judgement against those who resist G-d.
And He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty G-d.
“I will declare the decree: HaShem has said unto me, ‘You are my Son; this day have I begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I shall give you the nations for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. 10 Be wise now therefore, O you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth.
11 Serve HaShem with fear (Awe), and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.’” –Tehillim/Psalm 2:7-12
Notice that the Greek text quotes the Hebrew which says, “break them” rather than, “rule or
shepherd”. In this context, “rule” means, “Dominate” or, “Have authority over”.
See: Revelation 14:19
Rev 19:16 And He has on His vest (over His breast) and on His thigh (In Judaism the right thigh would
be presumed) a name written, Melakhay ha’melakhim KING OF KINGS, AND Adonai ha-adonay’im
L-RD OF LORDS.
The formula, “King of Kings and L-rd of lords” is a title given to G-d. This title denotes Yeshua’s G-d
given authority over all things and identifies Him as G-d with us. The phrase, “Mi Melekh Melakhay
ha’melakhim KING OF KINGS” is a familiar one for the observant Jew, who chants it each Shabbat eve
in a traditional song called Shalom Aleichim (Peace be with you). The Shabbat evening prayer vigil is
called Kabalat Shabbat (receiving the Sabbath/Rest): Those who have received Him find peace in the
title, “King of kings and L-rd of lords”.
Why is this name written over the breast (vest) and on the thigh? The answer may be in the wave and
contribution offerings practiced by Israel following the ram offering of ordination for the
priesthood, which is made at the instruction of G-d (Exodus 29:27; Lev. 7:34; 9:21; 10:14-15; Numbers
“Then you shall take the breast of Aaron’s ram of ordination, and wave it as a wave offering before
HaShem; and it shall be your portion. 27 You shall consecrate the breast of the wave offering and the
thigh of the contribution offering which was waved and which was offered from the ram of ordination,
from the one which was for Aaron and from the one which was for his sons.” –Exodus 29:26-28
This passage describes the practice regarding the ordination offering of the priesthood and the
contribution that the priests received from the peace offerings of the community of Israel. We know
that Yeshua unites both the Kingship and Priesthood of Israel and that He is the Ram of the Binding of
Isaac, known to have become the Pesach Lamb of G-d’s redemptive plan for Israel and the nations.
Therefore the title, “King of kings and L-rd of lords” appears over the breast and upon the thigh as a
symbol of the unity of Israel’s Priest and King. The location also indicates peace toward those who
belong to the Priest’s family (the priesthood of all believers). In addition to this the wave and
contribution offerings were to be consumed in a holy place, which stands in stark contrast to the
enemies of G-d who are about to be struck down by the rider and consumed by unclean birds in an
unclean place where bodies lay unburied above the ground and outside the camp of Israel.
Rev 19:17 And I saw a messenger standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all
the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the feast of
the great G-d;
The position of this messenger at the centre of the sun (being the brightest luminary in the mid
heaven) probably denotes the authority of this angel over the birds flying in mid heaven, which can
be interpreted both literally and metaphorically.
The imagery that follows is from is taken from Ezekiel 39:17-20, however, the use of the imagery from
the destruction of Gog and Magog doesn’t necessarily infer a direct correlation to those specific
entities. On the other hand, the battle of Har Megiddo and the destruction of the northern kingdoms
may be synonymous. Two accounts of two sets of armies approaching at the same time, in order to
attack Jerusalem from different positions with the purpose of overwhelming her. Keeping in mind that
Har Meggido is one of the mountains of Israel (Ezekiel 39:4).
“As for you, son of man, thus says HaShem G-d, ‘Speak to every kind of bird and to every beast of the field, “Assemble and come, gather from every side to My sacrifice which I am going to sacrifice for you, as a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood. 18 You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, as though they were rams, lambs, goats and bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. 19 So you will eat fat until you are glutted, and drink blood until you are drunk, from My sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. 20 You will be glutted at My table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all the men of war,” declares the Lord G-d.” –Ezekiel 39:17-20
This is a feast of the great G-d and not the marriage feast of the Lamb. This feast is for the birds of the
air who will feast greatly because the judgement of G-d will be universal (with the exception of
Those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb are blessed, but those who refused His invitation are
cursed. This is an extension of the blessing and cursing set before Israel in ancient times (Deut. 11:26).
The armies of the earth were gathered to the location of Har-Megiddo on their approach to Jerusalem,
now the birds are called to gather and feed on the aftermath caused by G-d’s sword of judgement.
Rev 19:18 That you may eat the flesh of rulers (kings), and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of
mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all humanity,
both free and slave, both small and great.
This judgement, which emulates that of Ezekiel, is universal, affecting every class of human being from
the greatest to the least (believers are not included).
Rev 19:19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to
make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army.
This is the gathering together spoken of in Revelation 16:16. They are gathered with the sole purpose
of making war against the Messiah Yeshua and His army.
Rev 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before
him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that
worshipped his image. These were both cast alive into a lake of fire burning with sulphur.
The beast, which is the seat of power of the evil empire, along with the anti-Messiah, the false prophet
are now thrown into the place of eternal punishment. They will later be joined by Satan when He is
cast into the same lake of fire and sulphur in Revelation 20:10. The fact that they’re cast alive into the
lake of fire denotes torment and reminds the reader that eternal punishment is a conscious torment.
The Bereshit Rabbah speaks of the torment of eternal punishment in the following way:
“When a man smells the smell of brimstone, why does his breath draw back at it? Because he knows
he shall be judged with it in the Olam Habah (world to come).” –Bereshit Rabbah, sect. 51. fol. 45. 4.
Rev 19:21 And the remnant were slain with the sabre of Him that sat upon the horse, the sabre
which proceeded out of His mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
The remainder of the armies of the beast are slain by the judgement of G-d’s Word. There is no
mention of the human participants of this battle being cast into the lake of fire. This would indicate
that their deaths were physical and that like the rest of humanity they must face the final judgement.
The fact that the birds are filled with flesh is another allusion to the universal nature of the battle and
the incomparable number of casualties.
Yeshua refers to this feasting of the birds at the coming of the Son of Man:
“It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed… And they asked Him, ‘Where,
Lord?’ And He said to them, ‘Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will be gathered.’”
–Luke 17:30, 37
“Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” –Matthew 24:28
Following Biblical practice Judaism buries her honoured dead, however to be left unburied is a disgrace
which brings a curse on the land (2 Kings 9:34). In addition, being torn apart by animals is the ultimate
“And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the
wicked.” –Isaiah 11:4
© Alastair Brown 2015
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,