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Revelation 1:1-3 (NKJV) 1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
I suppose one cannot write quarantine devotions without dealing at least in part with the common question being asked around the world. ‘Is this the Apocalypse’? My answer is yes, but not the one you may be thinking about.
Due to the length of my devotion today, I’m going to call it a sermon instead. But very briefly I would like to address the question that many people are asking during this worldwide event. ‘Is this the end’?
More importantly I would like to point you in a new direction about what GOD is saying both now, and even in the future whenever we experience trials great and small. (I use the term ‘trial’ loosely. Think tribulations, or even ‘The Great Tribulation’.) This devotion is a key to prophetic insight and interpretation. I know that sounds deep but let me tell you on the outset that this is all about Jesus Christ!
First things first. What is the apocalypse? According to M-W dictionary it is:
1) one of the Jewish and Christian writings, marked by pseudonyms, symbolic imagery, and the expectation of an imminent cosmic cataclysm
The dictionary defines the Apocalypse as the last book in the Holy Bible that we call Revelation. You might not know this but in some versions of bible canon, that book’s title is ‘The Apocalypse of St. John the Divine’, or simply ‘Revelations’. Websters next definition (sense 3), is actually ‘revelation’. . Then ‘a prophetic revelation’. And then ‘Armageddon or a great disaster’. So Apocalypse is a book, and it is also a word, which today basically means a disaster.
It is important to note though that this is NOT what John meant when he wrote his book on the island Patmos. This is the modern interpretation of the word. Let me digress for a moment and talk about another reason we get the book of Revelation wrong sometimes.
Literal Biblical Interpretation
One cannot properly interpret scripture both literally and prophetically at the same time. At least that is as a basis for presenting a foundation.
As an example, in Mt. 18:8, Jesus told the people to cut their arms off if their arms were causing problems with their spiritual walk. Obviously, He didn’t want people to literally cut their arms off. He was making the point that your soul is more important than your body in the grand scheme of things. So, as you can plainly see it is very important to determine how to interpret scripture before you apply it to your situation.
There are many preachers who ALWAYS take the literal route when it come to biblical interpretation. This is a very dangerous posture especially when it come to prophetic and symbolic books like Revelations. This simple error of interpretation can produce cataclysmic doctrines, (pun intended) if they are not corrected. This is one reason why we have so many issues with the book of Revelation even after thousands of years.
In modern culture the word ‘apocalypse’ has become synonymous with a world ending disaster. Some disaster films and books end with a few people starting over. Some end with the world being completely destroyed.
We are not conspiracy theorists, we are bible believers. So let’s stick with the bible shall we? If we look at John’s book, along with other prophetic books in the bible, we will see many warnings of cataclysmic proportions, but we also find many words of warning that should serve as a wake up call for us before we catapult ourselves into REAL disaster.
Revelation 2:5 (NKJV) 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
This is the real blessing of Revelations and other prophetic books in the bible. If we heed the words of warning in the book we can avoid many of the perils in it. If we repent, (change our minds and actions), we can be saved. LITERALLY and SPIRITUALLY. The interesting thing is it doesn’t matter what century we read it in, the same spirit of the word rings true. For example could it be, (I am just wondering), that the black horse of Rev. 6: 5-6 could actually be caused by a global recession like the one caused by covid-19? In the first century commerce was done by ships. Wheat and barley were the commodities of that day.
Today it’s information, bitcoins, Amazon, etc. But the truth still remains. There are always those who have, and those who don’t. The rich always tip the balances of the scales in their favor so that there is no justice. There are always commodities that are protected even during global disasters. Some people are actually using this crisis as a way to get richer even at the expense of the deaths of innocent people.
The rider on the white horse who was given power to control other people could be anybody, in any age. I have some ideas about who he (or they) might be today, but I will keep that to myself. The point is once you apply the correct interpretation and application of prophetic scriptures the revelation becomes clear.
This is the key to the whole book. Rev. 1:1
Simply put John said the book is; ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place’.
Apocalypse derives from the Greek word, apo-ka-lyp-sis. The word means
“unveiling” or “revelation.” So the book of revelation is not a so much a book about the end as much as it is about something, (or someone), being revealed.
Even when the book speaks about the end, it is more about ‘an’ end. Afterall John said there would be a ‘New Heaven, Earth, and a New Jerusalem’. So even when we see the end, we see a new beginning.
Revelation 21:1 (NKJV) 1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.
If we consider that apocalypse is a revelation or unveiling we can then ask the right question. What (or Whom) is being unveiled by the corona crisis? Let me theorize what that might be.
- We need to see Jesus Christ revealed in a new way.
- Our world systems (economic, political, etc.) are triggering events that are causing our planet, and it’s atmosphere, (the heavens) to become ripe for demonic control, and this will doom us unless we repent.
John the Revelator
Consider this. John the Revelator was reportedly the last Apostle left alive who was actually hand picked by Jesus Christ Himself. He wrote the book of Revelation, and the Epistles while he was exiled there, or imprisoned elsewhere.
Historical accounts tell us that he spent his last days in Ephesus, and died a natural death at age of around 100 years. This after being boiled in hot oil, and miraculously escaping without harm, after being exiled, he was the only original apostle who did not die a martyr. I would like to surmise, that even though John saw a lot of what would happen even centuries after he died, his simple message was something that should give us hope today.
In every calamity, or test that we as believers go through, God wants to reveal something to us. So yes, this is the apocalypse, (one of sorts anyway). The question for us is what does God want revealed as we go through it?
God allowed John to be exiled, this was not good for him. But the end result of the trial was the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and a prophetic look at the end times. So, in a sense, God gave John the playbook for every major trial of the church, (churches), and for us individually. Look for God to be revealed during this covid crisis in a way you have not seen before. So you will have to LOOK for revelation in times of crisis.
I believe that John saw a lot of things that can end the world as we know it. I believe he saw global warming, abortions, wars, and other calamities. (A third of the trees burned). He saw global economic systems collapse, (Whore of Babylon)? In fact John saw the world being ‘destroyed’ century after century by the same demons. Demons who are right now posturing themselves to guide us right into the next end. Whether is climate change, capitalism, (or any other system that rewards greed), pestilence, (like covid-19), or any other major calamity. The question is; ‘What did we not learn from history?
I’m going to go on record again as I did last year saying that I am not too optimistic about the future. I can say this prophetically. Not because I have seen everything, but because of what I am not seeing from the church. Mark my words, the church seems to be following something other than Christ right now. And what many pastors see as revival, (people coming back to church), I see as a missed opportunity to get clarity from God about what is really happening. I am not in a hurry to get back to church as usual. I want to see God revealed.
Revelation 1:17-19 (NIV) 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. 19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.
(The emphasis are mine).
John’s vision spanned centuries, but the key is simple. Jesus said I went through death and hell because something needed to be revealed, (Myself). I had to go through it, but now I hold the keys. I am being revealed again, by your exile. Because you are going through, you will reveal what was, what is, and what will be.
Jesus started the revelation with his messages to the churches in Rev. 3 and 4.
‘Keep your eyes on me. Repent…’. After his messages to the seven churches the scene changes. The Lord shows John a vision of what is happening in Heaven. Then the seals begin to be broken. Then sounding of the trumpets.
What’s next? More of the same if we don’t repent and keep our eyes on Jesus!
After all the calamity that the world saw, (1/3 of the people died), no great revival followed. Instead John writes the following:
Revelation 9:20-21 (NKJV) 20 But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Is this what happens to us (to our world)? We will see.
This week we will be praying against the spirit of suicide and depression, for all responders in this crisis, medical workers and administrators, store workers, funeral directors, EMS, National Guard and military, postal workers, pastors, church workers, elected officials, and all those who are assisting with help during covid-19. We are also praying especially for those who have lost loved ones, and friends.
A special thank you to everyone attending our worship@home services and for all those who are giving during this crisis. Thanks for your prayers, comments, suggestions and praise reports. We love you!
Blessings and Be Well;
Bishop H. and Pastor Dorese Ransom
Bishop Horace Ransom Jr. is the Senior Pastor and Founder of New Covenant Church International in Detroit, Michigan. He is a Jurisdictional Bishop and serves on the Board of Presbytery for the Jabula International Network, North America. Bishop Ransom is an outstanding teacher of the Word of God with a passion for challenging believers to become the best that they can be. Faith, Purpose and the Kingdom of God are frequently the subject matter of his dissertation.