The three cycles of judgment in the book of Revelation

Revelation of inestimable value from the Old and New Testaments, especially the testimony of Jesus.

The three cycles of judgment in the book of Revelation

Postby Eugene Shubert » Mon Apr 22, 2002 8:08 pm

The historicist scholar George Eldon Ladd says that the three cycles of judgment—seven seals, seven trumpets and seven last plagues—is the greatest mystery in the book of Revelation.

Scripture says, “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” Proverbs 25:2.

If you read the book of Revelation straight through, you should notice two seemingly mysterious things:

(1) The world keeps coming to an end.
(2) As time progresses, the severity in each set of seven ‘final’ end-time judgments keeps escalating.

Here is a basic outline of the Apocalypse:

1. A Call To Overcome (Rev 1-3).
2. The Court Assembled (Rev 4-5).

3. The First Scenario (Rev 6).
4. The Second Scenario (Rev 7-11).
5. The Third Scenario (Rev 12-18
).

6. The Court’s Final Judgment (Rev 19-20).
7. The Reward Of Those Who Overcome (Rev 21-22).


Here is my question. What do these three scenarios refer to?

Before I answer, let’s hastily display the literary structure of the vision of Amos 7:1-6, notice the “canceled conclusions” and mention, for emphasis, that Amos has three scenarios.

This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king’s share had been harvested and just as the second crop was coming up. When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, Forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!”

So the Lord relented.
“This will not happen,” the Lord said.
This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me:

The Sovereign Lord was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land. Then I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!”

So the Lord relented.
“This will not happen either,” the Sovereign Lord said.

This is what He showed me: .... [a third scenario.]


The interpretation I am suggesting for the book of Revelation is this. The first scenario expresses the thought that an imminent return was possible for the Apostolic church. That conclusion was canceled and the prophetic drama shifts to a second scenario. The second scenario was the possible end of the world during the Millerite Movement in 1844. That possibility was also canceled as foretold in Scripture. We are now in the third and final scenario.

Any questions?
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Postby jshugart » Mon Apr 22, 2002 9:52 pm

I have a couple of questions.

From my understanding (and I'm not saying I'm not wrong), Should the 3 scenario's be linked?

Linking scriptures:

First Linkage - the 3 Woes

(Second Scenario) 1st Woe starts in Rev. 8:13 through Rev. 9:11
(Second Scenario) 2nd Woe starts in Rev. 9:12 through Rev. 11:14
(Thrid Scenario) 3rd Woe starts in Rev. 12:12 through Rev.12:17

Second Linkage - Thunderings and lightings (same event?)

(Second Scenario) Rev. 8:5
(Second Scenario) Rev. 11:19
(Thrid Scenario) Rev. 16:18

Just asking your insight how this would fit.

In the love of Christ,
JShugart
1Thes 5:21 "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."
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Postby Eugene Shubert » Tue Apr 23, 2002 12:03 pm

jshugart asked a terrific question:

Should the 3 scenario's be linked?

A better question would be “how are all three scenarios linked?”

Let’s first consider all the links between the three scenarios.

Each scenario is a complete unit of prophecy, i.e., each scenario tells a story and reaches to an end of time.

The three scenarios emphasize one especially important feature: The gospel commission is fulfilled in each of them. The white horse of the first seal, the two ascending witnesses, and the three angels of Rev 14 all refer to the gospel being proclaimed with power and great glory just before the end of the world.

In each scenario, a percentage of the earth’s population is killed before the return of Christ. In the first scenario: 1/4 of the earth are killed with "sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth" (6:8). In the second scenario, a third of mankind is killed, by three plagues: fire, smoke & brimstone (9:17,18). In the third scenario, the great river Euphrates, symbolizing all the wicked that support Babylon, is dried up (16:12 cf. 17:1,15).

There are remarkable parallels between the seven trumpet judgments and the seven last plagues.
There are remarkable parallels between the first scenario and the Olivet discourse.

Regarding the second and third scenario:
  • Both scenarios refer to the cessation of Christ’s priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary (8:5 /15:8).
  • Both allude to the fact that none are lead to repent because His intercessory work is finished (9:20,21 /16:9,11).
  • There are parallels in thunderings and lightning (more on that later).
My interpretation:

“Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). The longer God delays in pouring out His final judgments, the worse those judgments will be.

We’re seeing possible ends of the world in different periods of time. As God revises His threats with greater and more severe judgments, the previous scenarios are canceled.

I see the second and third scenarios as comparatively close to each other in time. This naturally accounts for the similarity in the trumpets and vials. Their dissimilarity with the judgments that were to fall in the first century suggests that the end of the world was delayed far beyond that time.

The many links between the three scenarios are all comprehended by the term “multiple scenarios.” If the world were scheduled to end in 1844 but for whatever reason God delayed the end for another 30, 60 or 160 years, wouldn’t you expect the final judgments to be similar?

Conclusion: The three scenarios are linked by their separation in time.
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Postby jshugart » Tue Apr 23, 2002 1:00 pm

I'm sorry, I must not have made my point clear. I will try to be more to the point.

Each scenario is a complete unit of prophecy, i.e., each scenario tells a story and reaches to an end of time.


This is how I viewed your first post to be saying.

But if this is true, then you wouldn't have the 3 woes from the Second Scenario bleeding over into your third scenario. It doesn't work if they are seperate scenarios.

You have the First Woe in the middle of the Second Scenario.

You have the Sencond Woe at the end of the Second Scenario.

And you have the Third Woe at the START of the Third Scenario???????

How could it be a Third scenario, If the Second hasn't finished yet?


On a another note, under my current understanding of the Revelation.

The 7 Seals are a grand view of time, (shortly after the 1st century though the Day of the Lord)

The 7 Trumpets are a much shorter time, (roughly the last 100 years before the Day of the Lord)

And the 7 Vial(Bowl) Judgements are within a few years of the Day of the Lord.

Thats why you have the "Linkage" of all three with the "Thunderings and lightings".

Again, I'm not saying I'm not wrong. I'm just saying that this is my understanding now.

In his Love,
JShugart
1Thes 5:21 "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."
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Let’s map out all the woes

Postby Eugene Shubert » Tue Apr 23, 2002 2:54 pm

Please forgive me jshugart. I was so excited about sharing all the links that I forgot about all your woes.

Let’s look at these woes carefully. In 8:12 the fourth angel sounds his trumpet and the fourth trumpet judgment ensues.

Then verse 13 says:

And I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe, to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”

Please consider this commentary. There are seven angels and seven trumpets (8:2). The fourth angel just finished blasting his trumpet (8:12). “The remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound” therefore, are from angel number 5, 6 and 7. Those three woes are 9:1—9:12, 9:13—9:21 and 11:15—11:19.
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