Grace Community Church – Sarasota Florida
Tonight, I think, will be interesting. Next week should be the beginning of a real understanding of the book of Revelation. I’ve got to lay a predicate. I’ve got to give you background in order to understand how we’re approaching it. But you should find that the mysteries of both books, actually, begin to open to you. If that’s the case, then we’re being successful in this approach. One of the things I’ve found out is once I began to understand the book of Revelation, many mysteries in the Gospel of John began to unfold. I didn’t understand certain things about the Gospel of John. Once you begin to understand, to read the books together, there are mysteries in the Gospel of John that are opened up by Revelation. So, we’ll see some of that tonight. I’ll share some of that with you.
Last time, we looked at the vision of Nathanael that is promised. Our Lord promises to Nathanael, “You will see the heavens open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” That’s nowhere to be found within the Gospel of John. The commentaries on John are all confused. Where is that which was promised to Nathanael fulfilled? The same thing is true in the Gospel of John. You have a bridegroom, but no bride. The bridegroom is introduced at the beginning of the Gospel, but the bride is not introduced at all within the Gospel of John. It’s not until you come to the end of Revelation that you find the bride.
So, certain challenging questions about the Gospel of John begin to be revealed once you read these two books as companion pieces.
I’m getting a lot of feedback. Are you hearing that out there? I don’t know. Is that better now? Is it better? Maybe a little bit better. I don’t know if the monitor’s too close or what.
So, I want to do a little bit of review tonight, and then I want to show you some other mysteries, and some of the beauty of the literary structure that John has used to compose these two books. So, the first question, or the first PowerPoint I want to share with you. When we began, I said there are two questions you have to understand in order to know, with confidence, that you understand the book of Revelation. There are two identifications that have to be made. One is, what is the great city in Revelation that’s called Babylon? What’s the target city? That’s how the commentators talk about it. What is the target city behind the great city that John talks about, which he calls Babylon? What city is that? I mentioned to you that that’s going to be fairly easy to answer. We’ll answer that tonight. I think I can answer that pretty confidently tonight. That one is clear. The more challenging question is who is the whore of Babylon? We’re going to pick up clues with these different approaches to Revelation, but those are the two questions.
If you misunderstand the answer to these two questions, you will completely misunderstand the book. I don’t believe you can understand the answer to these two questions unless you read these two books together, which is what John intended. So, that’s our challenge. Tonight, we’re going to answer the question, “What is the great city?” Then, by next week, we should have enough evidence to be able to answer the question, although we’ve hinted at it, “Who is the great whore of Babylon?”
Now, our approach is very different from the commentaries because — and it’s quite an interesting story, but I believe these two books are really written to be read together. They speak to each other. So, this gives an illustration of that. If they are intended to be read together, then they interpret one another. We can interpret the book of Revelation. It needs a context to it. What happens in most American evangelicalism is the context of the book of Revelation becomes the newspaper. That’s not the way that we need to read the Bible.
Every generation, pretty much, has assumed that they are a part of the last generation. That may be the case, but it certainly hasn’t been so far. If you interpret the Revelation in light of the current news, you may be correct, but the likelihood is that you are not. If we interpret the book of Revelation within the context of the Scripture, especially John, we are more likely to find solid ground upon which to build our faith.
So, I’ve identified three kinds of parallelism that show us that the two books are intended to be read together. This isn’t something imposed upon the text, it’s derived from the text. The parallel correspondence we went through in elaborate detail where I showed you that they track one another like railroad tracks, these two books. That gives you certain clues in interpreting Revelation. I used the illustration — well, I will define that, but that is that the two books track one another. Mirror correspondence we’ll look at tonight. What is that? If you look at a mirror, it’s reversed. So, it’s given different names, but I like the name mirror correspondence. The two books can be read in tandem, but they are also read backwards to one another.
Then typological correspondence, that is that there is a story within the story — and that story that’s within the story comes right out of the Old Testament. We’re going to look at that elaborately next week, although we looked at a part of that two weeks ago when I was here. I tried to show you that John writes his Gospel retelling the story of Jacob’s betrothal to Rachel in answering the question of the Samaritan woman, “Are you greater than our father Jacob?” The answer to that is a clue to the identity of Babylon’s whore. The answer to the Samaritan woman’s question is, “How is he greater?”
John poses the question, but he doesn’t answer it. He lets you infer the answer to that. The answer is yes, Jesus is greater than Jacob. How? Because Jacob could only love the virginal and beautiful. He could never find it in his heart to love Leah, who was unlovely. But Jesus is capable of loving the unlovely into loveliness. That is a massive, massive clue. John is telling us, particularly through the women of ill repute in the Gospel — he’s telling us, and giving massive clues, to the identity of the whore of Babylon. We’ll see that as we go through. The typological corresponded next week, however, will help us almost definitively to identify who whore Babylon is.
Now, considering parallel correspondence, this is the railroad tracks where they track together, as I said. The idea that they are related, I think, becomes very clear in a couple of illustrations. There are many of them. If you were here and you saw that, you saw that, my goodness, these are so specific, and positioned so precisely, they have to be interpreting one another. Revelation is written from the perspective of heaven, and it’s commenting on the ministry of Jesus that is going on on earth below. There’s a lot of correspondence between heaven and earth. Angels in both books are ascending and descending between heaven and earth to accomplish God’s purposes in the earth.
But John reserves two specific descriptions of Judas that have significance in the book of Revelation. One is with respect to Judas, of course, who is the traitor to the Lord. He says that Judas wants to control buying and selling. He wants to control selling when he charges Mary of Bethany with folly for breaking the vile and anointing Jesus for His burial before He’s even dead. That’s significant because, as far as I can tell, Mary of Bethany is the only one of Jesus’ disciples who understood that He would be dead, buried and resurrected. Based on that, if she’s going to anoint the body, she has to do it when He’s yet living.
So, Mary of Bethany is given tremendous favor in the Gospel of John. The disciples didn’t understand that, but Mary, who listened with her heart at the feet of the Savior, she did understand. That explains her behavior. But Judas and the rest of the disciples charge her with folly when she anoints the Savior with oil that Judas says could’ve been sold for 300 pieces of silver. He wants to control the selling of that silver. Then, at the supper, Judas leaves unexpectedly. It’s not the time to leave that supper when Jesus tells him, “What you do, do quickly.”
He’s commanding him to leave and be about his traitorous business. So, he arises from the Seder Supper at an inappropriate time and leaves. Well, what does that mean? And the question the disciples are wondering: Where is he going? And they knew that he was the treasurer, the most trusted of the disciples, and gifts that were given to him, we are told by John, he would steal. So, they make two assumptions. He has left to purchase something for this supper because it’s so meagerly appointed, or he is left at the command of the Savior, which was his habit to give something to the poor.
But John tells you that to let you know he’s been sent to buy something for the supper. So, in both contexts, here is Judas who wants to control selling and buying. That’s significant because that describes a character in the book of Revelation.
The other thing that’s told of him, John says Judas is the one who went to perdition. That word, he reserves. He only uses that of the same character in Revelation. We’re describing the beast. So, the beast in the Gospel — the one who is the beast in Revelation who wants to control buying and selling, the beast who is going to perdition. The chief descriptions of the beast in Revelation are the precise descriptions of Judas’ role in the Gospel. That does not mean that Judas is the beast, but he is bestial in his character. Do you understand? John reserves those two descriptions that are very specific to explain that that’s Judas. So, we understand from that that the best in Revelation is going to be someone with the character of Judas who pretends — a fidelity and a loyalty, who pretends to be one of us, but harbors a heart that is at enmity with God.
So, by parallel correspondence, we see these things are aligned up. There was another parallel correspondence that’s very significant, and that is the Lord in the Gospel, when they’re mocking His Kingdom, they dress Him in scarlet, a royal color. Purple or scarlet, the word means the same. He’s wearing royal colors, and they mock His Kingdom. Then God appoints a cup of loathsomeness that He must drink, which He says to the disciples in Gethsemane when He is arrested, “The cup which my Father has given, shall I not drink it.”
That cup, of course, is what He has been praying would be taken away. That cup is the wrath of God against our sin. So, those two descriptions of Jesus in the Gospel are employed by John to describe the whore of Babylon. It’s very striking. She, too, is a mockery of a queen. She wears a scarlet robe and she holds in her hand a cup of loathsomeness, which is an anti-communion. It’s the blood of the saints. So, why is John directing us to understand those two, to draw those comparisons between our blessed Savior and the whore of Babylon? What is the connection that is implied in that? Does that make sense? It’s striking.
So, these correspondences are very significant as we go through. The parallel correspondence we’ve seen has offered a number of cues to us. Alright? The mirror correspondence is really pretty striking. We’ve seen some illustrations of it already. That is that the beginning of John focuses on the end of Revelation. The beginning of Revelation anticipates the ending of the Gospel. We saw that, for example, at the very beginning of John in John 1:51. Jesus promises to Nathanael, “You’ll see the heavens open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” But where is that promise fulfilled? It’s not fulfilled until we come to the end of Revelation and the vision of the seven last angels that centered upon Christ. John says, “I saw heaven opened and angels of God are ascending and descending,” from Revelation 17-22.
Angels of God are ascending and descending not upon a ladder of stairs, like with Jesus, but upon the Savior Himself. But they’re scheduled two in heaven, two in mid-heaven, and two on earth. So, the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to Nathanael that he’ll see the heavens open and the angels of God ascending and descending is found at the end of Revelation. That was the clue to me to realize they’re mirrored. We’re going to look at that, specifically, tonight. I’m going to be comparing the beginning of the Gospel with the end of Revelation; the beginning of John with the end of the Gospel. You’ll see that they’re really written this way.
Very sophisticated writing, these patterns that are tying these two books together, stitching them together, and interweaving these two great books of John. Well, we saw another illustration, not only in John 1 is the promise to Nathanael explained at the end of Revelation and given to us, but we saw something else. One of the immoral women of the Gospel appears in John 4. That is the woman at the well of Sychar. Some of you that were with us on the trip, we went to that well. It’s the one place we know with absolute certainty that Jesus was right here. It’s amazing. You can still drink, as we did, from that well. Four thousand-year-old well. As the woman says, Jacob dug it and drank from it himself, along with the patriarchs of Israel. It’s still there.
Jesus is sitting on the well and weary in John 4, which corresponds to Revelation 17 where Lady Babylon is sitting on many waters.
Now, the striking thing about that is in Revelation 17, John tells us that Whore Babylon has a relationship with seven men. Five are fallen, one is, and one is yet to come, John says. It’s a very specific pattern. Five, one, one. Seven. When we come to the woman at the well, she asks Jesus for living water. She has a horrible history, a horrible reputation. She’s not a Rachel by any means. She is not lovely. She is not pure. But Jesus gives her all His heart. So, it’s ironic when she says, “Are You greater than our father Jacob?”
Jacob could never have loved this kind of a woman. But Jesus gives her all His heart. He promises her restoration and living water. She asks Him, “Can You give me this living water?” Misunderstanding it totally, thinking it’s water you drink once and you never drink again. So, Jesus responds to her by saying, “Go, call your husband,” which tells us He knows she’s not pure. She says, “I have no husband.” She lies about her marital state, and then what does Jesus do? He commends her for one aspect of that. He doesn’t challenge her with her lie. He says, “You’ve said well that you have no husband because you’ve had five husbands. And the one you have now, the sixth, is not your husband.”
And John is presenting Jesus as her true spiritual husband. He is the seventh. Do you follow? Do you see the logic of that? Jesus is the true husband. He is offering His salvation, which is a betrothal promise — our salvation is a betrothal promise, which makes us the bride of Christ. The hope that we derive from that story is that Jesus can love us when we are unlovely in our sin. His love will then restore our beauty and our purity.
I think the message of that story is incredibly powerful. If any of us have had a history of impurity, what that story is telling us is that in Christ, Christ’s own purity becomes ours. He restores our purity. It’s amazing what salvation is being portrayed as. Does that make sense? We live in a generation that’s been very scarred and marred by impurity. But the promise of the Bible is that whatever our pass, the Lord’s love is such that He can love the unlovely and change us from a Leah to a Rachel.
He can change us from that which is unlovely to that which is beautiful and that which is pure. That’s the message John is telling you about this encounter with the woman of Samaria. A very unlikely picture of the bride of Christ, she is. Although, she is actually a perfect picture. The bride of Christ, the community of the faithful of all the ages, is made up of a remnant of Israel and remnant of the nations. Isn’t that true? The Samaritan woman is a perfect example of that because what are the Samaritans? The Jews despise them because they were half-breeds. They had intermarried with Gentiles. So, she’s a perfect illustration of the Church. Does that make sense?
It’s beautiful. This is your salvation, but John is preparing you for the great question. The great question of John, when you come to the Whore Babylon, he gives you the great clue to who she is. She’s had a relationship with seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other is yet to come. Who is her seventh husband? Who is he? He ties it directly to the woman of Samaria. We read this account of the Whore Babylon and we see all of her hideous picture. The question is raised: Is Jesus greater than Jacob? Jacob could never have loved Whore Babylon, could he? He could not love that which is unlovely and impure. But Jesus is greater. Is it possible that that’s giving us some hope? Could that possibly be the case?
We’re seeing, however, my point is that as we’re reading forward in John, we’re reading backwards in Revelation. I’ll show you how that works. I’ll give you an illustration of that in a moment. And then topological correspondence, which we will do next time, there is a story that’s being told to you in the book of Revelation. It would be easily recognizable to the Jews. It amazes me that Protestants miss it entirely. I’ll give you the thesis of it if you want to read it.
The major book that informs the story — Revelation tells a story. It’s easily recognizable once you recognize what the story is. Revelation is telling a story from the Bible. It’s not primarily from Daniel or Ezekiel and some Isaiah, which evangelicals typically turn to. In the Hebrew Bible, the first book of the prophets is the book of Joshua. In Joshua, you have the rescue of the Whore of Jericho. Her story is in her repentance, she leaves her whoredom, marries into the people of God, marries Salmon, we’re told by Matthew, who is of the tribe of Judah, and through him becomes one of the ancestral mothers of David, and ultimately of Christ. So, the story of Rahab is a whore who becomes a royal bride. Joshua is encountering a city that must fall, and it falls at the sounding of the seventh trumpet. The only time that occurs in the Bible. In the book of Joshua, which is understood by the Hebrews to be a book of prophecy. So, we’re going to look at that. That’s elaborate. We’ll see that next week. The story that’s being told in the book of Revelation is a retelling of Joshua’s victory at Jericho.
So, if you have time during the week, read it for yourself. Read the account of the fall of Jericho, Joshua 1-7, and see if you see any correspondences. When I worked on this for my dissertation, what surprised me is as I read the translation of Joshua in Greek in the Septuagint, John is lifting language out of that book to describe the City of Babylon, the new Jericho, and the famous whore. So, we’ll take a look at that, the correspondences there. They’re typological, we call it. They will astound you, I think. You will see. That will give you tremendous confidence in narrowing in on these questions. What is Babylon and who is the whore?
This one typical logical correspondence, we saw how masterfully John uses typology in the story of the Old Testament and the new story when we looked elaborately at the account of Jacob encountering Rachel and Leah in the Old Testament. So, he’s a master of typological correspondence. Typology, by the way, is the method that’s used by the apostles to show that Christ is the culmination of the Old Testament.
Now, I want to give you an illustration of mirror correspondence. That’s what we’re going to look at tonight. Just like we looked at the parallel correspondence, I went through the whole book and showed you the correspondence between John and Revelation, I want to show you that it works this way, as well. Now, these are common methods of composing documents in the Old Testament and in the Hellenistic world and the New Testament.
So, it’s not the way that we normally read things. When you read forward in Revelation, starting in Revelation 1 and reading to Revelation 22, you imagine that you are reading forward in time. That’s true in one sense, but in a very fundamental sense, as you read forward in the book of Revelation, you are returning to the very beginning of the Bible. It’s mirrored. Does that make sense? I’m going to illustrate that with you.
Mirror correspondence is sometimes called chiastic correspondence. I’ll define that in a minute. It’s a figure of speech that involves inverted parallelism. If you look in a mirror, you’re seeing a reverse of your true image. So, I call it mirror correspondence. I think that works better. To illustrate this on another level, I want to show you how, in Revelation, when you read forward, you’re going back in time, not forward in one sense. In another sense, you are going forward. That seems very confusing, but I think if you know these books, and I’m presuming that you know them well — so it’s setting a high bar. You’ll see that this is the case.
How is it that when we go forward, we’re going backwards? Well, that’s what redemption really is, isn’t it? It’s a reset. We start over. When you read the Gospels, the evangelists and the apostles are showing us that after Jesus is raised from the dead, all the judgments in Genesis begin to go in reverse. Isn’t that something? When Jesus is talking about the last things, what does He do? He goes to the first things to describe them. When He’s talking about the last things, He says, “It will be like it was in the days of Noah.” So, He goes backward in time when He’s thinking about future things. Jesus says, “I am the beginning and the end,” at the beginning of Revelation and at the end of Revelation.
That’s not without meaning. He is the sovereign one who rules all time. He can reverse time. We learned that, didn’t we? In the Old Testament, He makes the Sun — He’s the Creator — to rule the day. The typical progression of time as we know. That sequence of evening and morning. That’s the way we experience time. But when we come to the book of Joshua, in order to extend the day of battle, He stops the Sun and the Moon. He can stop time and extend the day to give victory to His people. When you come to the account of King Hezekiah, who is told he’s going to die and not live, when he prays, God gives him an expansive life. To give him a sign that He has added 15 years to his life, He takes the sundial backwards. Remember that?
So, God is the One who is the sovereign over time. He plays with time. He’s not locked into this ineluctable sequence of evening and morning like we are. That’s the way we experience life. It’s a very rigorous past, present and future, isn’t it? That’s the way we experience it, but God can turn it backwards if He will, or He can make it stand still. He is the sovereign over time. To illustrate that, one of the things John does is to show you how, as you’re reading forward in Revelation, you’re actually going backward in time, biblically. Like I said, Jesus spoke of future events. He reached back to the beginning. As it was in the day of Noah, so it will be.
Now, time in Revelation. The thesis is that as we read forward in the book, we’re going backward in time. How does that work? Reversals of time in Revelation. At the beginning of Revelation, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is greater than Solomon, expands His temple to Western Asia Minor. The seven churches in Revelation are like the temple’s seven lampstands. That recalls the temple of Solomon. Because Jesus is doing something that Solomon never could do. You see, in the Old Testament, the temple had to be in Jerusalem. That was the place where God had caused His name to dwell. In the New Testament, Jesus comes and changes all of that. He universalizes the temple. He says that to the woman at the well, who asks Him, “Do we worship on this mountain, Gerizim? You Jews say we worship in Jerusalem.” Jesus says, “The hour is coming, and now is, when those who worship the Father will worship in Spirit and truth.”
It’s not defined or restricted geographically. He’s universalizing the temple. So, at the end of Revelation, the temple is cosmic. It encompasses both heaven and earth. It’s universal. So, in Revelation 1, we see that the menorah, the seven-branched lampstand, is not in Jerusalem, it’s in Western Asia Minor. The seven churches have become the lampstand, which recalls 1 Kings 7-8. Solomon’s building of the temple. And that’s the start because it was David and Solomon and their sin that destroyed the kingdom.
Matthew says there are 14 generations from Abraham to David, and then the sin of David and Solomon, and 14 generations to the Babylonian captivity, the undoing of everything. So, Jesus is starting at the high point in redeeming everything that was lost with David and Solomon. How does He do that? He comes as a better David. What was David’s great sin that destroyed the kingdom? He took another man’s wife and then he killed the man. That was the sin that destroyed the kingdom of David. You can take the sin of the patriarchs and turn it inside out like a sock, and you’ll find the Savior. When Jesus comes, what does He do? He suffers death Himself in order to restore purity to His bride. So, He comes to lift up the fallen tabernacle of David, to use the language of Luke. He comes to restore.
So, in Chapter 1, it’s like we are the place where Solomon is building His temple. Jesus comes not as the wisest man who ever lived, but Jesus comes as the very wisdom of God. He’s building a far better temple. When Solomon had finished his temple, he said, “Who is God to dwell in this little house that I’ve made? This little house can’t encompass God in His magnificence.”
Remember that? He was wise enough to see the limitations of his own great building. So, when Jesus comes as the very wisdom of God, He’s going to build a house where God can dwell together with man, that’s cosmic, that encompasses heaven and earth. That’s what Jesus is doing with a far greater wisdom. We are part of that edifice. He was the stone rejected who has become the cornerstone on the resurrection morning. That’s the founding of the third and the eternal temple, the resurrection, and we are living stones being incorporated into that great edifice that Paul talks about in Ephesians, the living temple of God.
So, my thesis is that we’re moving backwards as you read forward in. In Revelation 1, we land at 1 Kings 7-8, the building of the temple. In Revelation 4-5, the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, is enthroned in heaven, which recalls the enthronement scene of David when he is made king over all Israel, not just Judah. When David is crowned the king of all of Israel. But that takes us backward to 2 Samuel 5. In Revelation 9-11, we hear seven trumpets sounding. A great city, which is home to a whore, falls. Well, what story is that? We’re going backwards in the Bible because now we’re in Joshua 6. Do you see how you’re reading forward in Revelation, but you’re going backwards in time?
This is very sophisticated literature. And it continues. When you come to Revelation 15, you read that the people of God have escaped the beast of the sea, and the people of God sing the song of Moses, standing on the crystal sea. What does that make you think of? That’s the Exodus. They’ve escaped the beast of the sea like Israel had escaped Pharaoh, who is called a beast, and they sing the song of Moses on the shore of safety, having cross the Red Sea. So, as we read forward, now we’re going back to the book of Exodus. We’re at the middle of the book of Exodus. In Revelation 20, as we read forward, again, in the book of Revelation, we read that fire is poured out from heaven against the wicked of all the earth, which recalls the narrative of the flood. Jesus said it will be like it was in the days of Noah. Remember that? Which corresponds to Genesis 7.
We come to Revelation 21-22 and we’ve returned to the pleasant garden. And there’s the tree of life. That takes us back to Genesis 2 and answers a question that we’ve had since Genesis 3. When Adam and Eve are driven out of the garden, it’s so that they might not partake of the tree of life, and eat and life forever. But unless they find the tree of life, we understand, they will perish, and we with them. The whole Bible is the quest for the tree of life. It’s barred to man in Genesis 3, but Jesus says, in Revelation, “To him who overcomes, I will give to eat of the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God.”
So, He’s taking us back and bringing us back into the garden where we can partake of the tree of life. Beautiful rounding-out of the story of Scripture. Then, finally, when we come to the end of Revelation, we see a new heavens and a new earth with John. That, of course, takes us back to Genesis 1 when God makes the original heavens and earth. Now, this is an illustration merely of the fact that the evangelists understand that time with Jesus is at the service of His sovereignty. It’s not we are prepped in our own minds, through our own human experience of only thinking forward. But the Lord is fully capable of redeeming us, which means what? It’s glorious. The intention of this is to show you that He can take you back and restore everything that has been taken away.
What a Savior we have. Every hurt, every scar is going to be healed in His hurt and His scars. He’s going to restore us to be everything that God intended us to be. That’s what this is showing. He is capable of doing that. None of us need to despair of whatever has happened to us. And all of us are wounded, aren’t we? All of us have been scarred by the enemy and by our own sin. The ratification of Adam and Eve’s sin. We’re born in sin. But Jesus is able to take us back before. It’s interesting. I think that some of our imaginative poets have had this idea. If you remember Superman in that story — Superman, you realize, is the story of Christ. His father, Joe-El, sends him to a new world and he has powers that he has to disguise. He comes in a human form, but he has supernatural powers. He uses it always redemptively to intervene, to save. But there’s one sequence in that where his beloved — it’s a love story, too — Lois, if I remember this correctly, dies. So, what does Superman do? Do you remember that in the movie? Yes. He goes back and reverses the axis of the earth so that time is moving backwards. He goes back to restore life to his beloved.
So, our poets are able to imagine a Christ-like figure. There are reasons for that. All the stories are telling the Gospel. All of them. So, anyway, the reversal of time in Revelation. Now, I don’t mean, by saying that, that time moves backwards entirely. It also moves forward. When you’re reading Revelation, you are moving forward in one sense, but you’ve got to be aware of the fact that time with God is a plaything. When Jesus says, “I am the beginning and the end,” that’s significant. Why is that significant? I know you love the Savior. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t love His Word. When Jesus comes back from the dead, He always meets His people, His faithful, with one word: Fear not.
That’s His word to you. Why is that significant? He knows our beginning and our ending, does He not? We all understand that. If He who knows our beginning and our ending and has come back from the dead with the keys of death and Hades knows our ending, and He says to us, “Fear not,” what does that do? There is nothing in this world that can separate us from His love because whatever could separate us from His love, He knows and has overcome it. Do you see how your confidence in and your love for Him only magnifies? It’s fantastic.
Now, this mirrored correspondence has been recognized — what did I do? There. Okay. I’m going forward now. It’s called chiasm. It’s named of true Greek letter chi. Which you would recognize. This is a stylized chi, but it’s really and X. All ancient literature is written chiastically. It’s organic. It ends at the beginning and it goes back. It’s a complete circle. That’s the way ancient literature is written. I’m showing you three kinds of parallelism in my researches, which, you know, I’ve seen many different kinds of correspondence. I’m sharing three with you. But these books are magnificently interwoven. They’re fantastic. Well, one of them is the letter chi, which is a variation of this inverted parallelism. You see, what you have is you’ve got — let’s see if I got this right. You have inverted parallelism when you have A, B, B-prime, A-prime. That’s the way that it’s expressing itself in the Bible. A very common figure of speech.
It’s really captured the literature now. No commentaries are written without dealing with chiastic structure. I did my master’s thesis on Plutarch. As I was working through Plutarch, I realized — I did it on the Life of Lycurgus — his whole life is chiastic. So, I wrote that and it was, really, pretty amazing. It just false into place. Plutarch is writing in 120 A.D., so roughly the time of the New Testament, and I realized, “My goodness, he’s using typology, he’s using chiasm.” It made me begin to think, “Maybe books are written chiastically.” At first, if you go to the older literature, they only saw it in segments, in little phrases, or in stories. But now it’s captured the whole academic world. They realize it’s written chiastically.
So, what is an illustration of that? A, B, B-prime, A-prime. There’s a reversal in that. Instead of A, B, A, B, it’s A, B — then you reverse it — B, A. So, here’s an illustration of it. 2 Corinthians 8-9. What is Paul doing by using this chiastic structure in this verse? For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor. And we all understand that. He was at the right hand of the Father in heaven, but in the incarnation He was born into poverty. The poverty of this sinful world. Why did He do that? That you, through His poverty, might become right.
Now, think about that for a minute. Jesus was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor. Heaven is rich, earth is poor. Jesus was rich, for our sakes He became poor that we, in our poverty, might be made rich. Do you see that? Do you see how that works? Now, what John has done, he’s told us what we know. We understand, “Why would Jesus [inaudible] leave the treasures of heaven, empty Himself, take on human flesh and go through this world of suffering?”
It magnifies the love of God, which we will never fully understand. We have no idea how much God loves us. We will not understand that until we see heaven and imagine, “This is what He left in order to come to our broken world, in order to save us.” You won’t understand the love of God until you see the holiness of God. Remember the seraphim? “Holy, holy, holy.” When you see the absolute holiness of God, the you will take a different measure of the extent of our depravity and our sin. That’s fundamental to understanding the glory of heaven. When we talk about heaven, which we will, we’ll see that.
So, Jesus was rich. For our sakes, He became poor because that’s the only way He could save us. That we, through His poverty, might become rich. Now, why does Paul use a chiastic structure to describe that great exchange? Because he’s telling you, in the way that he states it, where that exchange takes place. Because the Greek letter chi is what? It’s a cross. So, in the way that he formulates that statement, he is pointing you to the cross by the way he uses inverted parallelism. Do you follow me? There’s a utility in that kind of a structure.
He was rich, He became poor. Where? On the cross. That was His greatest poverty. But He took that poverty upon Himself so that we, in our poverty, might be given the riches of heaven. The way that he frames it, in the ancient world, in the Hellenistic world, they would’ve understood that by using that particular figure of speech, he is pointing us to the cross where that great exchange takes place. We read about this in our own century and we understand what he’s talking about in terms of what the Lord suffered in the incarnation, but we miss the idea that in the way that he is structuring it, he is pointing us to the cross.
I think that’s important to know. It’s a device, a literary device, that the apostle is using. So, where does that take place? That’s one use of chiasm. It’s to show you where. Let’s take another look at a chiastic structure that the Lord uses. I’m just giving you the display of it. Though He was rich, He became poor that you, through His poverty, might become rich. That’s showing you that He is doing this with respect to the cross.
Now, here is a use of chiastic structure by the Lord that has a different intention behind it. There are reasons you use figures of speech in the Bible. There are massive books written about this, but we don’t read them, sadly, anymore. Jesus said — do you remember the Sabbath controversies? They’re always accusing Jesus of violating the law. They’re trying to disqualify His messiahship. Well, He is the lawgiver. Good luck with that one. But what Jesus says is interesting. He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Do you see that? A, B, B-prime, A-prime. What is Jesus doing? This doesn’t particularly relate to the cross. It has another intention, another utility that is appropriate for this particular kind of a chiastic figure. Jesus is saying the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. That is, He’s delivering you from bondage to the Sabbath. That’s part of His role as the new Moses.
But why does He use a chiastic form? Chiasm, as I already illustrated, in some ways is like taking a sock and turning it right side out. You know, you reverse it. I think all of us have had that experience, haven’t we? I have it, usually, when I’m wearing my sock inside out. But anyway, that’s just the way it goes. You take a sock and you turn it inside out. Jesus uses this figure because He wants to take the way that we think about the Sabbath as an obligation and turn it inside out so that we would think about it as the grace it was intended. He is delivering us from a slavish obedience to the Sabbath.
Does that make sense? That reversal, the figure of speech that He’s using, serves that purpose. He’s wanting you to change your thinking entirely about the Sabbath. So, a chiastic form accomplishes that purpose. There are different purposes for the way this works. So, here, you can see it displayed chiastically. The Sabbath was made for man. It was intended for God’s grace to us. The word “Sabbath” in Hebrew means to cease. When the authorized version translated it, they translated it, “God rested from the work which He had created and made.”
Remember that? It’s not the rest of exhaustion. He is ceasing and celebrating the work that He has accomplished, but He’s not exhausted like we are exhausted. He stops. That’s all that is. He stops. But He does it deliberately because that’s His gift to us. So, what do we do? We take His gift to us and make it legalistically binding upon us. The opposite of what was originally intended.
Alright. Mirrored correspondence. I want to give some thought to this. I want to show how it works between these two great books. We looked at the parallel correspondence, which is like railroad tracks. As you read forward in John, you’re reading forward in Revelation. But this was the first discovery that I made that showed me that these two books were related at all. The parallel correspondence was secondary. The primary way these two books are related is chiastic. So, the very beginning of John is looking to the end of Revelation. We’ve seen some illustrations of that already.
At the beginning of John, you have the bridegroom. But there’s no bride in the Gospel. Tell me, what does that say about the Gospel? John is telling you that if there’s no bride and Jesus is the bridegroom, that book is not complete. In Revelation, at the end of Revelation, you see the bride but no bridegroom. John has married these two books. You have to read them together to understand his complete vision of things. Does that make sense?
So, the beginning of John anticipates the end of Revelation. The beginning of Revelation anticipates the end of John. Now, we will see that when I conclude, but I want to show you how that works in the books themselves. So, the beginning of John, the evangelist is looking back to the old creation. “In the beginning was the Word.” He says, “All things were made by Him.” He’s thinking in the beginning. He begins it just like the Greek translation of the Hebrew Genesis. Genesis 1. In the beginning. By “the Word,” he speaks in Genesis 1 ten times. Ten words that create the world. John is telling us that the one who spoke was Jesus. He is the Word of God.
So, the old world and the old creation, he looks back to the beginning of time at the beginning of the Gospel. At the end of Revelation, he looks forward to the new creation, the new heavens and earth. So, it’s a complete vision of all of time. Now, how does this work specifically? Watch how this works.
“In the beginning was the Word.” That’s John. “All things were made by Him,” we’re told by the evangelist at the beginning of the Gospel. The light shines in darkness, and He, Jesus, is the true light which gives light to every man. But remember, the darkness tries to overcome the light.
At the end of Revelation, Jesus says, “I am the beginning and the end.” At the end of Revelation, Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new.” And then, we’re told, there’s no night there, no need of a lamp or of a light, for the Lord God gives light and the light has overcome the darkness. Do you see how that’s connected? Very specifically. The quarrel at the beginning of the Gospel between light and darkness is not resolved within the Gospel until we come to the end of Revelation where, there, we’re told the darkness that tried to overcome the light is utterly defeated, and the light finally overcomes the darkness. So, it looks back to the beginning, “In the beginning was the Word.” Jesus is the beginning and the end. All things were made by Him. If He made all things in the beginning, can He not make all things new? Of course, He can.
So, it seems to me that those are very clearly connected in the larger context of this book. Okay? So then, we go forward. “The Word became flesh and tabernacled,” John says, “among us.” That’s speaking of the incarnation. In Revelation, the Tabernacle of God is among men. And He will tabernacle among them. So, what John is telling you is the intimacy that the disciples had with Jesus when He walked in the tabernacle of His flesh on the earth is the same intimacy that we will have with Jesus forever. Beautiful if you read it that way. Grace and truth, John tells us, came by Jesus Christ. At the end of Revelation, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. At the beginning of John, we’re told about a river and a tree. These things took place beyond the Jordan. ‘“When you were under the fig tree,” Jesus says to Nathanael, “I saw you.”
So, the fig tree becomes the tree, for him, of salvation. And at the end of Revelation, “He showed me…” — that’s John — “…the river of the water of life.” And he partakes of the tree of life. Then John tells us in John 1:29, Jesus is identified by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. At the end of Revelation, there is no more curse. That is, the sin of the world has been taken away, and the throne of God and the Lamb is there.
So, he’s framing this entire enterprise, the Gospel and the book of Revelation, with these massive reflections about God identifying who Jesus is. John says, “I beheld the Spirit descending out of heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him,” the one whom John identifies as the bridegroom. Then, at the end of the Revelation, “I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”
This is really, truly remarkable to me. Most of us are familiar, at the end of Revelation, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come, and let him who hears say, ‘Come.’”
Twofold invitations to come to the wedding. But that same thing is heard at the beginning of the Gospel. Jesus says, “Come and see.” They’re asking, “Master, where are You staying?” He says, “Come and see.” That’s an invitation to a betrothal salvation. Then Philip, who hears, says to Nathanael, “Come and see.” Very precisely, beautifully framing the whole of these books of John and Revelation.
This begins to take on meaning, too. Remember, to Peter, who is one of the apostles, Jesus says, “Peter is given a new name, Cephas, meaning ‘stone.’” That separates him out as being the chief apostle, which he is. So, we have a point of division with the Catholic Church because they make him the chief apostle over all the rest. Jesus promises Cephas, uniquely, he will be the stone. And they say that this is the rock upon which the Church is built. Matthew 16. No. That’s not the case. Cephas is promised that he will be given a new name, meaning stone, here. But in the end of Revelation, the new Jerusalem has 12 foundation stones inscribed with the names of the apostles. So, this tells you a number of things. First of all, Jesus is promised that He will be made a stone. But the word that’s used there, Cephas, is really just a regular old stone. At the end of Revelation, he’s a precious jewel.
God’s fulfillment of His promises is always far greater than our imagination. You will be precious jewels. Not just Peter only, but all the disciples. All the 12 apostles. The church is built upon the rock of the apostolic teaching of Christ as the stone. But He is the stone that makes them all precious stones that reflect the beauty of His light in different ways. It’s magnificent, the artistry of this. This one, we looked at the chiastic pattern between the promise to Nathanael. Jesus says to Nathanael, “He’s a true Israelite in whom there is no guile.” That’s remarkable because Jacob, who was Israel, was filled with guile. He says, “A true Israelite has no guile.” Jesus said of him, specifically, there was no guile in his mouth. He is the true Israel.
Nathanael then confesses, “You are the King of Israel.” Then, at the end of Revelation, “Behold one Jesus called faithful and true, the King of kings.” He is greater than just the King of Israel. He’s the King of the kings of all the earth. Then we looked at this elaborately, remember, when we discussed Nathanael? “You shall see the heavens open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
That unique language occurs in Revelation 19:11. “Now I saw heaven opened, and He who is called faithful and true.” The first angel shows the beast ascending. The last angel shows the holy city descending. So, the vision promised to Nathanael is not unique to Nathanael because Jesus says, “You will see,” and the “you” is plural, which means that we, too, can see that great ladder. But where is it? It’s not in the Gospel. It’s at the end of Revelation.
So, we’re seeing that there are correspondences between the beginning of the Gospel and the ending of Revelation. So, the next thing we come to is the wedding in Cana, which corresponds to the wedding of the Lamb in Revelation. In John 2:2, Jesus said His disciples were invited to the wedding that took place in Cana where Jesus makes the water into wine. Do you remember that? At the end of Revelation, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding.” What’s that saying? You, too, were invited to a wedding. Will you come? In fact, you’re invited to be the bride of Christ.
Unbelievable that we should be betrothed to the Lord of glory. What does that mean? We’re going to talk about that when we talk about heaven. What does that mean? You are the bride of Christ. Do you realize what the apostles are saying when they tell you who you are? You have been chosen by the Father to be the bride, the eternal companion, of the Son of Glory who speaks galaxies into existence. That is your everlasting and eternal companion. That’s who you are. Truly blessed are those who are invited to the wedding.
Now, at the wedding in John 2, Jesus makes wine. When they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”
Now, I want to talk about this one a little bit because this reveals one of the mysteries of the Gospel of John that the commentators are all confused about. So, let me read it to you. It’s a short passage.
“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’”
It’s something that’s not supposed to happen at a wedding, so they had not planned appropriately.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman,’”
That’s important. Not “mother,” but “woman.”
“‘What does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.’”
What does that mean? All the way through the Gospel of John, His hour had not yet come. Then, finally, in John 13, “Jesus, knowing that His hour had come.”
“My hour has not yet come.” At His hour, He will provide the wine for His wedding. So, this illustration of what happens in Cana of Galilee at this wedding of some unknown couple anticipates — He’s thinking about His own wedding. “What does this have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”
“His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He say to you, do it.’ Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the waterpots with water.’”
He’s going to make wine for this wedding. He’s going to provide the wine. It’s not His wedding, but He, in grace, is going to give an ulceration of what He’s going to do.
He says, “‘Fill the waterpots with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, ‘Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.’ And they took it.”
Jesus makes wine in the Gospel.
“When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, ‘Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests are drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!’”
And that’s the beginning of His signs. Why does John tell us that? Why is that important to know that the steward of the wedding, the master of the feast, when he tasted the water that Jesus had made into wine, he commended it? He called the bridegroom and rebukes him because he’s violated the custom of the wedding. “You’ve served the best wine last, not first. Every man, at the beginning, sets out the good wine, and when the guests have drunk, then the inferior. But you’ve kept the good wine until now.”
For years, I read that as simply a commending of the wine that Jesus makes. And we know that the wine He really makes is what we celebrate as His supper, isn’t it? “This is my blood that is shed for many for the remission of sins. Drink ye all of it.” He gives them the cup. So, we know what that wine intends, but why does John pause to tell us what this steward said at the wedding of Cana? Why do we need to know that? Every man at the beginning, sets out the good wine, and when the guests are well drunk — that is, they are drunk — then the inferior. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
That’s the custom. And we need to know that Jesus keeps true to the customs, don’t we? Because we are the bride. So, how do we explain this? Why is John telling us about that particular custom? Because, in the Gospel, it seems like Jesus is reversing the custom of the wedding. Jesus makes wine two times. Did you know that? Twice, Jesus makes wine. Once at the beginning of the Gospel and once at the end of Revelation. At the end of Revelation, Jesus makes wine. In the Gospel, at Cana with the good wine. At the end of Revelation, He treads the wine press of the wine of the rage of the wrath of Almighty God. In Revelation 19, He makes the inferior wine. But that wine is only served in Revelation 19 after Revelation 17. What happens in Revelation 17? Babylon is drunk with the blood of the saints. So, when you read the two books together, Jesus has respected the customs of the wedding. He makes the good wine of the Gospel, the invitation of the Gospel in John 2, but for those who refuse the good wine, there remains the wine of the wrath of God after they are drunk in their hostility to the Gospel.
Does that make sense? You see, if you read the two books together, it makes sense. Jesus is perfectly obeying the customs of the law, and we need to know that He does that. Jesus says, “My hour has not yet come,” and that will be said of Babylon when God brings judgment. For in one day, her plagues will come. In one hour, your judgment has come. So, the judgment of Babylon will be like the crucifixion, the suffering, the passion of Christ.
Jesus says, “Woman, what have I to do with you? Fill the waterpots with water, and they have become drunk with a worse wine.” And the woman who sat on the many waters had in her hand a golden cup filled with abominations. They have drunk the wine of her fornication. The woman’s as drunk with the blood of the saints. So, after they are drunk, He serves the wine of wrath.
That’s really John’s vision of the Gospel. Jesus comes offering freely the good wine of the grace of the Lord. That good wine is the wine of grace. But if we refuse the wine of grace, there remains the wine of the wrath of God that we must drink ourselves. Either He will drink the cup or we will drink the cup. That’s the way that John is presenting the Gospel here.
In John 3:29, very unique language. John the Baptist rejoices. He says, “I’ve heard the voice of the bridegroom, and the bridegroom has the bride.” In Revelation 18, we’re told about the judgment of great Babylon. We’ll identify what Babylon is tonight. But in Babylon, the voice of the bridegroom and the bride is heard no longer. He says, “Let us rejoice, for the wedding of the Lamb has come.”
What happened to the bride and the bridegroom in the great city when their voice is heard no more? They send away the grace of God. Okay? Now, the center of John corresponds to the center of Revelation. I’m not showing this chart in its entirety, but it goes right through. I just showed you the beginning of the Gospel and the end of Revelation. Now we’ll look at the center. This is interesting. The accusers are cast out of the earthly temple, and then the accuser is cast out of the heavenly temple. This is chiastic pattern. You can see that the eighth chapter of John — we’re eight chapters in — to twenty-one, and then the center of Revelation.
“The dragon stood before the woman so that he might devour her seed. The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery and stood her in the midst, and said to him, ‘Moses commanded us to stone such a woman.’”
This is a challenging passage. It is authentically Scripture, and it is precisely where it ought to be, whatever your texts say. Some of them actually put it in brackets. Some take it out entirely. It is exactly where it ought to be. It’s so offensive to a lot of the scribes and things that they actually took it out. But this is the account of a woman caught in adultery. I want to look at that, again, to show you how this really opens up what’s going on in that very significant passage.
The woman caught in adultery is John 8. Let me just read it to you and make some comments.
“Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery.”
So, she’s been caught in the very act. There’s no question that she is under condemnation, and the law of Moses commanded such a one to be killed. And they bring her to Jesus because they know He’s compassionate. They want to trap Him because if He is merciful, as He typically is, to this woman who Moses commanded to be killed, what does that mean? He doesn’t uphold the law of Moses. And if He doesn’t uphold the law of Moses, He certainly cannot be the Messiah. Does that make sense? Do you see where this is coming?
“They said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.’”
So, there’s no question that she’s guilty. There’s no question what the law of Moses requires.
“‘Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such a one should be stoned. But what do You say?’”
They’re trying to catch Him, always, on the horns of a dilemma. Any way He answers, He’s gone. He’s either not the Messiah or He’s not merciful.
John says, “They said this, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.”
They want to accuse Him. Keyword. The religious leaders want to accuse Him. “Katégoreó” in Greek. They want to find an accusation against Jesus. But Jesus stoops down and writes on the floor of the temple. He writes on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. He heard exactly what they said. But He doesn’t respond to them. He reaches down to the floor of the temple and writes with His finger. What did He write with His finger? John wants you to understand.
“So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’”
These are the religious leaders, the Pharisees. They’re all self-righteous, but they’re the religious leaders of Jerusalem, the scribes, those who claim they keep the law. He says to them, “Let the one that is sinless among you cast the first stone.” Now, they’ve all got their stones ready to hurl at this poor woman. Imagine her humiliation. She was taken, caught in the very act. They let the guy go. They bring her to the temple and then throw her at the feet of Jesus. They demand that He uphold the law. She probably imagines that He will, and she’s about to perish in the presence of a rabbi in the temple of God, having no hope in this world or the world to come.
So, Jesus stoops down and writes with His finger. That’s significant. Then He stands up and says, “Let the one among you who is sinless cast the first stone.” The problem with that is what? He stoops down again, by the way.
“And again He stoops down and wrote on the ground.”
Once again, He’s writing. So, twice He writes. I think what He does is He stoops down in front of her so that the stones that are thrown, His body will intercept them, so that she is covered. But He’s writing. She’s seeing Him write again.
“Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience,”
They dropped their stones and go out of the temple.
“Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”
So, there we are.
“When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her…”
He has to say this because He’s the only one that legally could have cast the stones. Right?
He says, “‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’”
Now, I think what that means is He’s creating in her the capacity to walk in faithfulness with respect to her particular proclivity of sin. It’s not that she’s sinless. But He sends her forth. Now, what do we learn from that? Think about it for a minute. When John presents the whore in Revelation 17, her portrait is hideous. She’s a blasphemer. She commits fornication with the kings of the earth. She has in her hand a cup. With it, she’s drunk from the blood of the saints. So, she persecuted the church. Now, I want to ask you a question. Moses in the law commanded such a woman to be stoned. In your imagination, I’m presenting to you the woman from Revelation 17. The whore of Babylon. “Anyone sinless among you,” John is telling you, “is invited to cast stones.”
The commentaries always do. Many preachers do. What is John suggesting? You see, the religious leaders — this woman is clearly condemned. Moses did command that such a woman should be put to death. What happened to the religious leaders? Aren’t they the ones that should execute the law? They bring the woman to Jesus to humility her and to condemn Jesus. They’re trying to test Him. Jesus sees that, and He is going to show mercy, after all, to this woman. Which means that in order to uphold the law of Moses, He must take the penalty for her sin upon Himself, and He’s intending to die.
It’s only on that basis that He can extend mercy, but what does that tell us about the temple? The holiest men in Israel, the priests, the scribes, the Pharisees — none of them has the moral courage, the integrity, to execute the law, do they? So, if they are not able to condemn a whore caught in the very act, what does that mean about them? They’re convicted in their conscious because they are what? Harboring the sin within them.
So, what Jesus has done, it’s a reenactment of Solomon who judges between the two whores to show the wisdom of God. Remember that? He’s identified the whoredom of the religious leaders in Jerusalem. That is the true whore. But that raises some questions. The temple is the whore? Morally, that’s the case. They’re not competent to judge this woman caught in the act. They all flee because of their internal sin.
Two questions. Why does John tell you that He wrote twice? In the Old Testament — you should know this — the hand of God, the finger of God, writes twice. Remember that? He’s implying Jesus’ divinity. The first time the finger of God writes is the first part of the Bible written. It’s not Genesis 1. It’s Exodus 20. He writes the law of Moses on the tablets. So, they’re condemning Him on the basis of Moses, so Jesus stoops down to the ground and writes the law of Moses with the same finger that wrote the tablets on Sinai.
The second time, what does He write? The implication is we know God wrote twice in the Old Testament. The second time, it’s the Feast of Belshazzar in Babylon when that wicked king commanded the treasurers from the temple that had been plundered by Nebuchadnezzar to be brought out to service his orgiastic feast. The fingers of the hand begin to write on the wall. “You’ve been weighed in the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom is taken from you and given to others.”
He’s writing the condemnation of that temple. That temple is about to be destroyed and given to the Romans. Do you see? That’s what John is implying in all of this. But that still leaves us with a question. A massive question. Moses, in the law, did command — didn’t he? — that such a one should be destroyed. The woman is clearly guilty of adultery. Jesus can forgive her, but only at the price of His own death, which He’s about to make.
She never pleads for mercy. She never repents. Jesus simply, sovereignty, says, “Woman, where are your accusers? I don’t accuse you,” even though He could. He has to say that. He’s the only one who could’ve stoned her to uphold the law of Moses. He doesn’t uphold the law of Moses in her case because He’s going to suffer the consequences of the law of Moses on the cross, and He gives her the gift of salvation. But the question that John is raising is important, isn’t it? Because does Jesus come to abolish the law or to fulfill the law?
In order to fulfill the law, He has to execute the law of Moses, which is to stone the whore. Do you hear that? Does Jesus ever do that? Revelation 16. Look at the end of Revelation 16. This is what is said of the great city.
Revelation 16:19: “Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell.”
We’ll talk about that in a minute. That’s a clue to the identity of the city.
“And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”
And John tells us this: “And great hail…” — the word is “hailstone” — “…from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since the plague was exceedingly great.”
So God does stone the whore. Not the woman caught in adultery who receives mercy, but those scribes and Pharisees and priests in the temple who Jesus identified as the true whore — the ones that were in love with death, like the prostitute before Solomon who were seeking to have him severed and die.
So, here you have these correspondences that are pretty remarkable. “And the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, stood her in the midst and said to Him, ‘Moses commanded us to stone such women.’”
“The dragon stood before the woman so that they might devour…”
Now, these are part of a chiastic pattern. The dragon wants to destroy the seed of the woman. “They said this, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.” To accuse Him. Katégoreó. Jesus said, “‘Let him be the first to cast a stone that is sinless,’ and hearing this, they began to go out. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are your accusers?’”
Look at this: “And he, the dragon, might devour her child, and no place was found for them any longer. The great dragon was cast down. The accuser of the brethren who accused them before our God, night and day, has been cast down.”
So, the religious leaders want to have stones cast at the woman, and that anticipates the fact that the wicked one will be cast out of heaven, the one who is the accuser of the brethren. See, once you begin to read these, it changes things. Look at this.
In John 11:48, after Jesus has raised Lazarus, I believe, the triumphal entry, the religious leaders in the temple are saying, because everybody’s believing in Jesus because He’s raised a man from the dead across the Mount of Olives in Bethany, and all men are beginning — they say, “If all men believe in Him, they [the Romans] will come and take away our place.” The religious leaders of the temple. They’re concerned about their place because they have a place of privilege in the temple. They have a place, they have a position, they have authority. They have respect, they have money, they have everything that this world desires because of their honored place at the temple in Jerusalem. But John’s commentary on that — because they’re not following the land, they’re following the dragon — “No place was found for them in heaven.”
Isn’t that interesting? They wanted to secure their place on earth, so they had no place in heaven. Is there a lesson in that for us? You who believe in the Lord, who love the Lord, what does Jesus promise? “I go to prepare a place for you.” That’s the place you earnestly desire. The religious leaders were only concerned about their position in Jerusalem; first century Jerusalem. And very soon, that place would be taken away by the Romans.
“If all men believe in Him, they will take away our place.” They have to subvert His ministry and disabuse His claim of being a Messiah in order to protect their position in Jerusalem. But as they do that, no place is found for them in heaven. They’re being cast out of their heavenly inheritance.
Okay? Let me go back. I’m not sure. I think I might have had a sequence issue here. Let me see. No, this is right.
So, I want to identify the great city for you. That’s important and it will be important for what we’re going to do next week. You’ll begin to understand Revelation tremendously next week because all of these patterns of correspondence will begin to converge, and what might be confusing will become, I think, pretty evident. So, we have to answer two questions. I began this study with those two questions. What is the great city and who is the whore of Babylon? We’re picking up clues as we go along. I see that a number of you are taking pictures of this. I think they’re posted in the web if you are interested in seeing them. So, you can have time to study them, if you’re interested. I think they’re being posted, weekly, on the web.
What city is the great city of Revelation? That’s not hard to decide. You’ll find that the commentaries are all over the place. It’s Rome, it’s a rebuilt Babylon, it’s the enemies of the Church. The reformers said it was the whorish Catholic Church. Everybody finds their enemy and says that that’s the great city. But John tells us conclusively what the great city is. Revelation 11:8. The target city, Babylon, is a figure. The target city behind Babylon is Jerusalem that crucified Christ. The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 is primarily in view. Jesus Himself had foretold. Remember the Olivet discourse? Not one stone would be left upon another. We’ll see why He says that next week.
But Revelation 11:8 says this: “…the great city [Babylon] which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”
That’s definitive. It’s dispositive. The great city in Revelation, the target city, is Jerusalem that crucified Christ. There’s no way around that. It’s explicit. It’s clear. Why there’s such confusion in the commentaries I don’t know because it’s talking about the description of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. That’s why in the commentaries, you read that John was written in the 90s A.D. It wasn’t. It was written in the 60s. The Gospels were all written in the 60s. That means that Revelation is prophetic because it’s foreseeing the destruction of Jerusalem as Jesus Himself said. We’ll talk about that. But when we follow the liberals and say that it was written in the 90s, it’s not prophecy any longer unless it’s looking forward to the end of the age. And it is looking forward to the end of the age, but primarily what’s in view is the destruction coming upon Jerusalem.
Now, let’s look at that specifically. “Great city, which is spiritually called Sodom.” How in the world can we compare Jerusalem to Sodom? Evangelicals have far too romantic a view of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the most wicked city ever, in all the Bible. It’s important for you to understand because Jesus went into the very mouth of hell in order to redeem us. If you read the Gospels carefully, you will see that. It’s called Sodom. When Jesus tells the disciples in the Olivet discourse, “When you see the eagles gathered around the city, the birds of prey, then flee.” Well, the eagles are not literal eagles. They’re the stanchions, the standards of the four legions. The two legions, particularly, that were involved in the destruction of Jerusalem. They surrounded the city, and the standards of the legions were eagles. And what happened, historically, is when the Christians in Jerusalem saw that, they fled. So, the Christians in the first century understood that this was the time. The great hour of judgment against Jerusalem had come.
They fled and were delivered because they were obedient to the Word of the Lord. They went across the Jordan to Pella and were saved. Jesus tells them, “When you see these things, flee.” He says, “Don’t look back. Remember Lot’s wife.” Remember that? Now, what did Lot’s wife do? She looked back to Sodom, and that was the evidence that her heart was still in Sodom. If Jesus says, “When you flee Jerusalem, don’t look back,” what is He saying? Remember Lot’s wife. Jerusalem has become Sodom, which is not shocking because the prophets said as much, that Jerusalem had become the whorish city. Ezekiel 16:48-50 is very clear. And it’s spiritually like Egypt, John is telling you. Well, in Luke 9:31, Moses and Elijah appear to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, and are speaking to Him of the exodus which is about to accomplish in Jerusalem. The true exodus was not the people of God being delivered out of Egypt. The true exodus was the people of God being delivered out of the bondage of Jerusalem. Paul says, “Christ is our Passover.”
The Passover Lamb was slain where? By type, in Egypt. But in truth, the Passover Lamb was slain in Jerusalem. From the very beginning the Gospels are laboring to show you that Israel has become Egypt. In Egypt, when Moses is born who will be the deliverer, what does Pharaoh do? He commands that all the male babies of Israel be destroyed. When Jesus is born, the true Moses, the King of Israel is Herod. And what does he do? He gives a command to destroy the male seed of Israel, hoping to kill the Messiah.
So, the true Pharaoh is ruling in Israel. That is elaborately developed in the New Testament. You see, that city was so wicked, Jesus said, “The King of Nineveh will rise up and condemn Jerusalem.” And Nineveh was the wickedest city in all the earth. So offensive to God’s holy prophet Jonah that he didn’t want to bring a message of salvation.
If Nineveh will condemn, and that king will condemn the generation of Jesus, what does that say about the spiritual state of Jerusalem, which is like Egypt, it’s like Sodom? We’ll see it’s like Jericho. It’s like all the cities of wickedness. It’s like the City of Enoch, descended from Cain who killed his brother. So, Jerusalem, in the New Testament, is not the holy city. It is the city that crucified her king, and it was the city that God judged. Jesus said, “If the light that’s been given to you…” — He said this of the cities of Galilee, but it’s all the same — “…had been given to Tyre and Sidon and Sodom, they would’ve repented and their repentance would’ve remained until today.”
They were given the greatest light, and what did they do? They extinguished the light. Two witnesses were given to the light, to Jerusalem. John the Baptist, whom Jesus said was a bright and shining light, and Jesus who is the light of the world. And what did Jerusalem do? They extinguished the light of John and they extinguished the light of Jesus. They killed God’s holiest prophets. What kind of condemnation will be brought upon them for that?
You see, we really have to get past our infatuation with the idea of the holy city. This is the most unholy city. The great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. And the judgments poured out in Revelation are like the plagues of Egypt and like the fire of Sodom. But all of that is going to be visited upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Now, why is Jerusalem called Babylon in Revelation? Why is it given that name of opprobrium? I’m sorry. I’m looking at the wrong side of this. I guess I didn’t turn it over.
Jerusalem is identified with Babylon in the New Testament. I read this passage from Revelation 16: “The great city is divided into three parts.” Remember that? The titulus, the title on the cross of Jesus, was written in three languages, which John tells you, for the three communities that constituted Jerusalem. That is Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Which is John’s way of telling you that in their disobedience against the Christ, they had become a confusion of tongues. That’s Babylon, confusion of tongues. Babylon is the Greek name for Babel. It’s identified with the tower, which is the judgment of tongues. Remember that in Genesis?
Pentecost is, in a sense, the reversal of the judgment of tongues at Babel. God comes down at Babel and confounds the languages of men and makes confusion. But on Pentecost, God comes down and reverses that judgment. I mentioned that to you. After the resurrection, all the judgments in Genesis go into reverse. There’s a counter dynamic of salvation. So, Pentecost is identifying Jerusalem as Babel because now everybody hears the Gospel in their own language, and that’s a miracle. It’s a reversal, but that makes, in Acts 2, we’re seeing that Jerusalem is being identified with Babel.
The prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Hosea charge Jerusalem with harlotry, a den of robbers. Jeremiah uses that language of the temple that’s about to be destroyed. He said it’s become a den of robbers. Jesus uses the same language. The temple has become a den of robbers. And when He says that, they know that He is saying that their temple is going to be destroyed, and Jerusalem will be destroyed. But the definitive argument, to me, is three.
Why is Jerusalem called Babylon? Jerusalem is called Babylon why? Why is that a name that is appropriate to give to the holy city? Well, Babylon is known in the Bible as the city of the kingdom that destroyed and defiled the temple of Solomon, which is under judgment for her sin. Babylon destroyed the temple of God, but God permitted that because of the temple’s wickedness. But Babylon, you see, destroys the temple of God.
What about Jerusalem? Jesus’ body, we’re told in John 2 — when Jesus says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” they misunderstand Him. They’re thinking He’s talking about the temple of Herod. John tells us they did not understand that He was speaking of the temple of His body. He was the true temple. He’s the tabernacle. He’s the temple. And Jerusalem is going to destroy His body, which means Jerusalem is what? Babylon destroys the temple of God. Jerusalem will destroy the temple of God. So, Jerusalem is justly called Babylon. But which is greater? The sin of Babylon of Mesopotamia or the sin of Babylon Jerusalem?
The temple was wicked and God had ordained that the Babylonians would be the implement of His judgment, the rod of His anger, the staff of His indignation because of the wickedness of the temple. But Jesus, unlike the temple, was holy, harmless and undefiled. So, when Jerusalem destroys that temple of God, it aggravates the sin of Babylon. It is greater than the sin of Babylon. So, they are justly called the great city.
Now, we’re beginning to get to the place where we can tell what these two books are telling: The great reversal. We’ll see this more next week and the week after. John, in Revelation, the story begins to unfold. I had to lay this groundwork for you to see how these books are written together, to have confidence that these identifications are authentic. The way it works in terms of the chiastic arrangement is that in Revelation 1 we see the bridegroom, the Son of Man. In Revelation 22, we see the bride. In Revelation 1, we see Jesus who is the Son of God and King. At the end of Revelation 21, we see Him coming for His Kingdom.
Does that make sense? In the very middle, when we see this convergence of both the parallel and the chiastic pattern, we have this. The Son is lifted up and Satan is cast down. Ironically, the lifting up of the Son is to be lifted up on the cross. That is when He wins His Kingdom. The great reversal. We will see how that structure that I gave in the previous slide will help us when we put this story together. What is the whole enterprise of John telling us when we read these two books together? He’s emphasizing Christ as the bridegroom and as the King. He’s showing us that the center is this great reversal of Christ being lifted up and Satan being cast down.
By the way, the very center of 1 John reinforces this because the very center, the central verse, is 1 John 3:8.
John tell us, “For this reason Jesus came into the world, that He would destroy the works of the devil.”
The centerpiece of John’s thinking about God is that the enemy is being cast down and Christ is being lifted up. It’s magnificent, really.
So, oh my goodness, I’ve gone way past. I am so sorry. I was losing track of time. So, we’ll pick it up. I want to end it immediately. I’m way past time. I’m so sorry.
Father, we thank You for Your Word. We thank You for the Living Word and the written Word that speaks of Him. I pray that You would bless us this week and bless our studies together as they magnify the Son in our own imagination. For Jesus’ sake, amen.