Studies in Revelation
Part 1 - Matthew 1:17
This is Part One of a new series titled “Studies in Revelation,” and though it may seem unusual, today’s lesson begins with Matthew 1:17. Let’s get started.
No doubt about it, the Book of the Revelation is the most mysterious book in the Bible, and, rightfully so. The content of Revelation is in parabolic form from beginning to end, presented in parables through the entire book. For this reason, there’s a large number of interpretations that have been advanced by just about everyone. Perhaps you’re familiar with some of these, perhaps not, nonetheless, what I’ll be sharing with you in this series is simply my own understanding based on my own studies and research over the past many years. And to be perfectly honest, much of what you’ll hear will be contradictory to the traditional vein of thought which is so popular today.
There’s a great number of things to consider within the book of the Revelation, so it goes without saying that a video series such as this will become quite lengthy. This being the case, I will present these studies in parts and keep each part as short as I can, usually about twenty to thirty minutes. I would encourage you to view these videos with an open mind and challenge you to consider them apart from any preconceived ideas that you might now have.
As we get into this series, you will find that I do my best to interpret scripture with scripture, and also seek to bring these studies into the light of our present reality in order to show how the visions and prophecies of Revelation are relevant to His people today.
As mentioned, our topic today is Matthew 1:17. Before we consider this passage, let’s go to the very first verse of the book of the Revelation.
Revelation 1:1 (NKJV)
1The 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…
Look at our word “revelation.” This is the Greek transliteration apokalypsis which simply means, “Disclosure.” The root of this word is apokalyptō, a compound word which means, “To take off the cover, i.e. disclose.” Google defines “disclose” as, “Allow to be seen, especially by uncovering it,” so the revelation of Jesus Christ is just that; a disclosure where we seek to take off the cover and reveal the spiritual reality hidden beneath the surface. Not surprisingly, this is also the purpose of a parable, which is a story within a story, a narrative wherein we find a spiritual parallel and understanding.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants.” This statement defines the purpose of this book and its visions, which is to “show His servants.” This is very important to understand because this separates those who are simply curious from those whom God knows are His servants. To put it bluntly, this book and its contents is not meant for those who have no heart toward God or His kingdom.
Our word “servants” is the Greek transliteration doulos, defined by the Strong’s Concordance as, “A slave (literal or figurative, involuntary or voluntary).” When I read “involuntary or voluntary,” I cannot help but think of John 6:44.
John 6:44 (NKJV)
44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
See our word “draws”? Strong’s defines this as, “To drag.” Might this agree with the idea of an “involuntary” servant? I believe so, and this, my friends, is true of everyone who is brought to the Lord. Yes, all of us might begin somewhat willingly, but once His living Word begins to really challenge our former conduct, He often has to drag us due to our resistance and rebellion. The reality is, none of us are transformed or changed overnight. It is a divine process which must be walked out day by day. Beloved, when we first come to the Lord we bring all of our “baggage” with us, so it is a necessary thing for us to be tested and tried in order to remove this “baggage” from our lives.
Now, having established to whom this book is written, allow me to bring in the following passages from Matthew, Chapter One, for there we find a pattern and a key to the book of the Revelation. Here’s what we read.
Matthew 1:1, 17 (NKJV)
1 The book of the genealogy (generation) of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham…
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.
Here we find “the book of the generation of Jesus Christ,” followed by a lengthy list of “begats.” Our word “book” is the transliteration biblos, which is the root of the word “book” in Revelation 1:11. Now, after listing our “begats” in verses 2 through 16, Matthew summarizes this generation in verse 17, stating that there are 14 generations “from Abraham to David,” “from David until the captivity in Babylon,” and “from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ.” So, we have three sets of fourteen generations which make up the one generation of Jesus Christ.
At first glance, one might say that this genealogy merely speaks of those who make up the physical lineage that led to the birth of Jesus Christ, and this would be true. However, as mentioned, there is also a pattern here that connects with the book of the Revelation.
As mentioned, we have three sets of fourteen generations. In his book, The Biblical Meaning of Numbers from One to Forty, Dr. Stephen Jones tells us, quote, “The number three is the number of divine fullness, completeness, or perfection. Whereas it takes two lines to fix a position by an x-y axis, it takes three to give shape and to enclose a geometric area—in this case, a triangle.
“Because the law establishes truth on the basis of two or three witnesses, the number three may be considered to be a complete witness. Two witnesses are enough to establish truth, but three brings completeness, clarity, and shape to it” – end quote.
In three we have “a complete witness,” so it should not surprise us that it also reflects the principle of resurrection, that is, death (1), burial (2), and resurrection (3), which is the core of the gospel of Christ; for understanding, see 1st Corinthians, Chapter 15 and John 12:24.
And what is the spiritual meaning of fourteen? Again, from Stephen Jones, quote – “To write fourteen in Hebrew, they wrote two Hebrew letters: yod-daleth. These signify the hand (outworking) of the door. It pictures a release or deliverance from the prison with the opening of the door.
“Fourteen is the number of deliverance or release. Israel was delivered from Egypt by the Passover lamb that was killed on the fourteenth day of the first month (Passover). When the ship that was carrying Paul to Rome was caught in the storm, they were delivered on the fourteenth day” – end quote.
It is not without significance that we have three fourteens, for the literal genealogy of Jesus Christ reveals a pattern that connects to the book of the Revelation. Since there are three evident divisions of fourteen, we see the “completeness, clarity, and shape” or “complete witness” of the “resurrection” of Christ which pertains to every believer’s “deliverance or release.” This agrees with our word “servants,” both voluntary and involuntary, to whom the book of the Revelation is written. Now, when we add all of the fourteens together, we have 42. Let’s bring this number to the following from Revelation 11.
Revelation 11:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. 2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.
We’ll get more into these passages later in this series, but for now, we need to understand that the “temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there” along with “the court which is outside the temple” symbolize the entire body of Christ as it stands at this present time. For confirmation, see 1st Corinthians 3:11-17 regarding the “temple of God,” and Revelation 6:9-11 and 8:3-5 in regard to the “altar.”
Notice how John first says “court,” stating “it has been given to the Gentiles” or nations, but then states, “And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.” If I’m not mistaken, John is changing “court” to “holy city,” is he not? In agreement with our understanding of the “body of Christ,” the “holy city” is a symbolic reference to “Jerusalem,” the “city of the living God,” which embodies all who are called of God; see Hebrews 12:22-24.
What does John say? That His people will be tread underfoot for “forty-two months.” Strong’s defines our word “tread” as, “To trample (literal or figurative).” It’s derived from a root word which means, “To hit (as if by a single blow)… especially to sting (as a scorpion).” When I consider the word “sting” and “scorpion,” I cannot help but think of Luke 10:19 and the description of the fifth trumpet in Revelation, Chapter Nine. There’s another passage in Revelation which confirms what we are considering found in Revelation 13:5.
Revelation 13:5 (NKJV)
5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months.
This passage refers to the beast which rises out of the sea in Revelation 13:1. Compared to Revelation 11:2, we find that John says that the “court” “has been given to the Gentiles,” while here, we see a “beast” with “seven heads and ten horns” “given authority to continue for forty-two months.” Is the “beast” then, symbolic of the “Gentiles” or nations? Yes, and later in this series, we will get more into this.
Now, when we bring our “forty-two months” to Matthew 1:17, here is what we have.
1. Abraham to David [14 Generations]
2. David until the captivity in Babylon [14 Generations]
3. The captivity in Babylon until the Christ [14 Generations]
So why is our “forty-two months” divided into three phases? Consider the following from Revelation 17:14.
Revelation 17:14 (NKJV)
14 These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful."
Here we find three classifications of “those who are with” Christ, defined as the “called, chosen, and faithful.” Would this exemplify “a complete witness” of His “servants” to whom the book of Revelation is written? I believe it would. Here’s how it applies to our list from Matthew 1:17.
1. Abraham to David – Called [14 Generations]
2. David until the captivity in Babylon – Chosen [14 Generations]
3. The captivity in Babylon until the Christ – Faithful [14 Generations]
As we see, our three classifications seem to suggest an ongoing spiritual process instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ. And, I believe it’s safe to say, one which is relevant to every believer who is drawn to Him. All “those who are with Him” at any given time are seen as either called, chosen, or faithful, and so it is that Jesus said in Matthew 24:13, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” You see, my friends, in order to be counted “faithful,” we must hold on until the end of our spiritual process. Isn’t this true of any important endeavor we undertake? It’s not the beginning which is of utmost importance, but our fortitude, our endurance to the end which speaks volumes to our heavenly Father and to one another.
In our list from Matthew 1:17, we have three specific persons; Abraham, David, and Christ, aligning with our three segments of fourteen and our called, chosen, and faithful. To establish our perspective, let’s go to Genesis 12 and look at Abram, who, as scripture shows, became Abraham, which Paul declared is “the (spiritual) father of us all” (Rom. 4:16-25).
Genesis 12:1-4 (NKJV)
1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." 4 So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
Here we find the Lord calling Abram out from his country, his family, and his father’s house, to a land that He would show him. We then read that “Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” In the King James, this is rendered as “seventy and five years old.”
In his book, Number in Scripture, E.W. Bullinger wrote, quote, “Seventy is another combination of two of the perfect numbers, seven and ten. We have seen something of the significance of their sum under the number seventeen; their product is no less significant.
“As compared with the sum of two numbers, the product exhibits the significance of each in an intensified form.
Hence 7 x 10 signifies perfect spiritual order carried out with all spiritual power and significance. Both spirit and order are greatly emphasized,” end quote.
Based on Bullinger’s explanation, we find that the calling of Abram “signifies perfect spiritual order carried out with all spiritual power and significance” by means of our Creator. Our seventy connects with the spiritual meaning of five, which is “grace,” so in Abram or Abraham, all those who are “called” by the Lord are symbolized by Abram’s calling, which is always an act of grace by the Lord Himself, agreeing with John 6:44.
As for David? It’s easy enough to consider both the Old and New Testament references to this man to know that he was clearly “chosen” of God to be a king over Israel and a priest to our heavenly Father; see 1st Samuel 16:1-13, 1st Chronicles 28:4, and Revelation 1:6. In keeping with our list, David denotes those who, once called, are then chosen by the Lord.
Last, but certainly not least, we have “Jesus who is called Christ.” Revelation 3:14 states that our Lord is “the faithful and true witness,” agreeing with the third element on our list, i.e. the faithful.
Before I conclude this study, there is one other aspect of the “forty-two months” which is a key to our understanding and quite important to realize. When we enter into the visions of John in this book, we find six very important “sevens.” First, the “seven stars” and “seven golden lampstands” in Revelation 1:20, where we read “the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.” This is followed by seven prophecies to the seven churches in Revelation, Chapters Two and Three. In Chapter Five, John is taken by the Spirit to the throne of God where he sees “a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.” In Revelation 8:2, we find “seven angels who stand before God, and to them was given seven trumpets” while in Revelation, Chapter 15, we see “seven angels having the seven last plagues,” defined by Revelation 16:1 as “the bowls of the wrath of God ,” so we have “seven bowls.” This is our sixth and final seven to consider.
Seven angels, churches, prophecies, seals, trumpets, and bowls. And what is six times seven? 42. Might this reveal that the “forty-two months” represents a divine and predetermined spiritual process through which His people pass in order to arrive at a true and genuine revelation of Jesus Christ? That being said, let me end this study with the following from Luke 17:20 and 21.
Luke 17:20-21 (NKJV)
20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."