“This is the revelation which God gave to Yeshua the Messiah, so that he could show his servants what must happen very soon. He communicated it by sending his angel to his servant Yochanan [John], who bore witness to the Word of God and to the testimony of Yeshua the Messiah, as much as he saw. Blessed are the reader and hearers of the words of this prophecy, provided they obey the things written in it! For the time is near!” (Revelation 1:1-3).
The word ‘revelation’ in this passage means something hidden is being revealed. I like to think of the revelation in this book as the ‘unveiling of Yeshua’ at the end of days. Yochanan (John) had the privilege of seeing this unveiling, and writing it down with his unique understanding of the days, times, and seasons, along with the history of his own people, Isra’el.
The book of Revelation begins with Yochanan on an island called Patmos. He had been exiled from the Roman-controlled area known as Palestine because of his testimony to the Word of Elohim and his faith in Yeshua of Nazareth. As he prepares to leave this world, he has an encounter with Yeshua. With the Messiah, he is escorted into the last days of this present world, the Millennial Kingdom, and the new heavens and earth. It must have been comforting to see the words of the ancient prophets being fulfilled. It must have been an honor to write down the ‘unveiling of Yeshua’ for those who would live in the last days, ushering in the Day of the LORD (Adonai).
Revelation often instills fear because it has some disturbing and confusing imagery. Yet, Yeshua does not want anyone to be afraid of Yochanan’s vision. A blessing is promised for reading, hearing, and obeying the words of this prophecy. Imagine the blessing that comes from actually understanding the prophetic words in their cultural context and original language! Because I want to be as authentic as possible, I will use Hebrew words and names throughout my study. This helps me keep the Scriptures in their original perspective; I pray it adds a new dimension to your study, too. I also find fascinating the meanings behind the original Hebrew letters that form a Hebrew Word Picture. Each word picture gives a little different perspective of the word.
The Hebrew word for ‘blessing’ is barak and means ‘to kneel.’ There is another meaning of barak that means ‘to bring a gift.’ When we read and obey the words of this prophecy, we kneel and receive a gift from Yeshua, the Messiah of Isra’el.
Hebrew Word Pictures
Blessing – baruch – ברך
ב Bet – A House and means ‘house’ or ‘family.’
ר Resh – A Head and means ‘highest authority.’
כ Kaf – Open Hand and means ‘allow’ or ‘open.’
The Hebrew Word Picture for baruch: house to highest authority opens.
The Hebrew word ashrei is actually used in this passage for ‘blessed’ and means ‘happy, blessed, praiseworthy.’ This is the root for one of the names of the Tribes of Isra’el: Asher. With this knowledge, why wouldn’t everyone desire to read and obey the words of ‘the unveiling’ of Yeshua and be worthy of praise?
Happy – ashrei – אשרי
א Alef – An Ox and means ‘first’ or ‘strong.’
ש Shin – A Tooth and means ‘consume’ or ‘destroy.’
ר Resh – A Head means ‘highest authority.’
י Yod – Closed Hand means ‘finished work.’
The Hebrew Word Picture for ashrei : the first strength consumes the highest authority finished work.
The greeting of this letter is from Yochanan, who is writing to the seven Messianic communities in Asia. With specific descriptions and numerous Scriptural witnesses, he makes clear the revelation is not from him, but from Messiah Yeshua and his Father.
Yochanan only bears witness to the Word of God, and he has a testimony of Yeshua. These two witnesses describe those who are holy or set-apart by Elohim. These are the two characteristics that describe God’s holy ones in Revelation 12:17 and 14:12: “Those who obey the Word of God and have a testimony of Yeshua.”
The Hebrew for ‘Word of God’ is D’var Elohim. D’var can refer to a written word, a spoken word, or even a thing. In the beginning, Elohim ‘spoke’ a d’var and the heavens and earth came into existence. Moshe wrote down God’s D’varim (Deuteronomy) and we know them as the commandments. The essence of Elohim in the beginning, the d’var that was with Elohim, took on flesh in the person of Yeshua –– who fully lived out the d’var of his Father (John 1:1-2, 14, Colossians 1:15).
A testimony can be defined as a ‘formal written or spoken statement, especially in a court of law.’ Yochanan wants those who read, hear, and obey what is in his vision to understand that this is his testimony ‘in a court of law’ of Yeshua and his d’varim.
“Grace and shalom to you from the One who is, who was and who is coming; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; and from Yeshua the Messiah, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the earth’s kings” (Revelation 1:4-5).
The greeting begins with the Hebrew word chesed usually translated as ‘lovingkindness’ or ‘grace.’ Chesed signifies a relationship between two individuals or two groups of people. When referring to Elohim’s relationship with Isra’el, the word takes on different meaning. It includes His heart for Isra’el: His loyalty, steadfastness, and persistent love for His covenant people. The chesed of Elohim is eternal; He will never let Isra’el go. Even with the faithlessness of Isra’el throughout the generations, Elohim remains faithful to His promises to them. In this manner, chesed means loving-kindness, mercy, and goodness –– all of it undeserved. However, even with His chesed, He still desires righteousness in the lives of His people.
Shalom is an interesting Hebrew word that means more than just ‘peace.’ In Hebrew, shalom means ‘completeness, wholeness, health, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, and harmony.’ As a greeting, this is how one person blesses another. In its Hebrew Word Picture, shalom means ‘the destruction of the One who causes chaos.’
From the beginning, there has been the promise of the ‘Seed of woman’ destroying the ‘seed of the one’ who deceives the world (Genesis 3:14-15). The entire book of Revelation reveals Elohim’s judgment on the world and His final reckoning with the Adversary –– the one who has caused all of the chaos throughout the history of the world.
Hebrew Word Pictures
Peace – shalom – שלום
ש Shin – A Tooth means ‘consume’ or ‘destroy.’
ל Lamed – A Shepherd’s Staff means ‘urge forward.’
ו Vav – A Nail means ‘binding.’
ם Mem – Water means ‘chaos’ or ‘mighty.’
The Hebrew Word Picture for shalom: consume, destroy, urging forward the binding of chaos.
The Seven-fold Spirit of Elohim
“The Spirit of Adonai will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and fearing Adonai— he will be inspired by fearing Adonai” (Isaiah 11:2).
The Hebrew word for ‘spirit’ is ruach and means ‘wind’ or ‘breath.’ Ruach is first found in Genesis 1:2 when the ruach elohim –– ‘breath of Elohim‘ –– hovered over the waters (Genesis 1:2). The word ‘hovered’ actually uses the Hebrew word for ‘brooded’ as one would see a hen brooding or incubating her eggs before they are born.
“They heard the voice of Adonai, God, walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, so the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Adonai, God, among the trees in the garden” (Genesis 3:8).
In Gan Eden (Garden of Eden), Adam and Havah (Eve) walked in the “cool of the evening.” When translated from the Hebrew, the phrase is: “They walked in the wind of the day.” In other words, they walked in the ‘breath of Elohim’ enveloped by His presence. Most Bibles, even the Complete Jewish Bible mistranslate ha’yom which means ‘the day’ not evening. Ha’erev would be ‘evening.’
When Elohim created the animals, He put a ‘spirit’ within them. This animal ‘spirit’ called a nefesh lives by instinct and the desires of its flesh. It is not a ‘spirit’ that seeks its Creator. It doesn’t have personal awareness nor does it have the ability to reason. It just exists in the physical realm.
When Elohim breathed the ‘breath of life’ into Adam, it was His ‘breath,’ His ‘holy wind’ or the Ruach haKodesh. This ‘breath of life’ spirit is called the neshama and it seeks a relationship with its Creator. The neshama is self-aware and desires spiritual nourishment “like the deer pants for living water” (Psalm 42:1). The neshama gains wisdom from listening to the voice of Elohim. Sadly, for Adam and Havah, they listened to their fleshly desires deafening their ability to ‘hear’ the voice of Elohim carried on the ‘wind.’
Outside of Gan Eden, they lived by the nephesh and listened to the voices of men. This nephesh is what drives men to sin: “the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and pride of life” (1 John 2:16). This is the ‘old man’ Sha’ul (Paul) refers to, the ‘carnal man’ who is hostile to Elohim and His Torah, and whose life ends in death (Romans 8:7).
“Adam, the first man, became a living human being; but the last “Adam” [Yeshua] has become a life-giving Spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).
The ‘last Adam’ or the Son of Elohim is the ‘life-giving Spirit.’ He was conceived through the ‘breath of Elohim‘ and born into this physical world. Because of the ‘holy breath’ in his neshama, he listened to His Father’s voice. He had the Ruach haKodesh live in him in its fullness of wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and reverence for Elohim (Isaiah 11:1-2, Philippians 2:6-11).
This ‘last Adam,’ Yeshua, left his heavenly position and became a human being. He humbled himself and died like a criminal. But now he is risen, exalted, and given a name above every name. Because of his faithfulness to Elohim, he became the promised ‘Seed of woman’ bringing redemption to the world.
“How dreadful that day will be! — there has never been one like it: a time of trouble for Ya’akov [Jacob], but out of it he will be saved” (Jeremiah 30:7).
In Jeremiah 42:5, the children of Isra’el claim that whatever Elohim tells them to do, they will do. If they don’t, He will be the ‘faithful witness’ against them. This time of judgment is also known as the ‘time of Jacob’s Trouble.’ It is during this ‘trouble’ that the ‘faithful witness’, Yeshua, will judge his people for their disobedience and deliver them through it.
Firstborn from the Dead
This is an allusion to the Feast of Firstfruits and the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23). As Sha’ul told the Corinthians, Yeshua was the firstfruits of those raised from the dead. There will be two other resurrections: the first harvest of the redeemed and the second resurrection of all the dead (Daniel 12:2, Revelation 20:5,12).
Ruler Over Kings
At his death, Yeshua was given the title ‘King of the Jews,’ but at his second coming, he will set up his eternal Kingdom. He will be known as King of Kings and Ruler over all the earth (1 Corinthians 15:24). In that day, every knee will bow and every tongue will swear that Yeshua is Messiah (Isaiah 45:23-24).
“To him, the one who loves us, who has freed us from our sins at the cost of his blood, who has caused us to be a kingdom, that is, cohanim [priesthood] for God, his Father — to him be the glory and the rulership forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:4-6).
The gospel message of Yeshua is of repentance and being freed from the bondage of sin by putting faith in his righteous life and sacrificial blood. He has called each of us to be born again into his Kingdom as part of a priesthood for his Father. As part of his royal priesthood, we will give glory to the one who rules forever (1 Peter 2:9).
“In turn Adonai is agreeing today that you are his own unique treasure, as he promised you; that you are to observe all his mitzvot [commandments]; and that he will raise you high above all the nations he has made, in praise, reputation and glory; and that, as he said, you will be a holy people for Adonai your God” (Deuteronomy 26:18-19).
Hebrew Word Pictures
Priests – cohanim – כהנים
כ Kaf – Open Hand means ‘open’ or ‘allow.’
ה Hey – A Window means ‘reveal’ or ‘behold.’
נ Nun – A Fish means ‘life.’
י Yod – Closed Hand means ‘finished work.’
ם Mem – Water means ‘chaos’ or ‘mighty.’
The Hebrew Word Picture for cohanim: open revelation of life’s finished work.
A Vision of Return
“Look! He is coming with the clouds! Every eye will see him including those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the Land will mourn him” (Revelation 1:7).
Yochanan quotes both Daniel and Zechariah who describe the return of Messiah to Isra’el. (Daniel 7:13, Zechariah 12:10). He puts them into the context of the end-times vision of the ‘unveiling’ of Yeshua. The prophecy in Zechariah is an allusion to Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. It is on this ‘appointed time’ in the future when Yeshua returns in the clouds and all of Isra’el will mourn for the one they pierced. At that time, all Isra’el will be saved and it will be evident (Romans 11:26).
The Day of the Lord
“I came to be, in the Spirit, on the Day of the Lord; and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a trumpet …”(Revelation 1:10).
This verse stumbles some eschatological views because of the phrase, ‘Day of the Lord.’ Some interpret this phrase to mean that on the ‘first day of the week,’ Sunday, Yochanan was in the Spirit. However, this idea comes from catholic theology that changed the seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday and transformed the ‘first day of the week’ into ‘The Lord’s Day.’ If the ‘Day of the Lord’ was a specific day of the week, it would be the seventh-day Sabbath as Yeshua is ‘Lord of the Sabbath’ (Matthew 12:8).
Yochanan was an Jew and well-versed in Hebrew and Aramaic; in fact, he wrote his vision in Aramaic which was later translated into Greek. To him the phrase, en teé juriake´heem´ra, translated ‘the Lord’s Day,’ was a period of time spoken by the prophets; the time for Elohim’s judgment of the earth and the one-thousand-year Messianic reign of King Yeshua (2 Peter 3:8).
“Howl! for the Day of Adonai is at hand, destruction coming from Shaddai…. Here comes the Day of Adonai, full of cruelty, rage and hot fury, to desolate the earth and destroy the sinners in it” (Isaiah 13:6-9).
“Oh no! The Day! The Day of Adonai is upon us! As destruction from Shaddai it is coming!” (Joel 1:15).
“Woe to you who want the Day of Adonai! Why do you want it, this Day of Adonai? It is darkness, not light; as if someone were to run from a lion, just to be met by a bear; as if he entered a house, put his hand on the wall, just to be bitten by a snake.” (Amos 5:18).
The ‘Appointed Time’
The ‘appointed times’ or mo’edim were set in motion by Elohim on the fourth day when He created the sun, moon, and stars (Leviticus 23:23-24). The ‘appointed times’ are outlined in Leviticus 23. The spring mo’edim were fulfilled by Yeshua on the exact day and time as outlined in the Feasts. The next ‘appointed time’ to be fulfilled will be the Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah.
Yom Teruah is a holy gathering, a mikra, which means ‘rehearsal’. Yom Teruah is to be announced with blasts of the shofar. The voice-sound of the shofar implies the vision given to Yochanan begins on the Feast of Trumpets. This is Yeshua’s prophetic way to prepare his people for the coming Days of Awe, the ten days between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur. The ten days are a time of preparation for the final judgment when each person stands before the throne of Elohim and books are opened revealing every personal deed (Daniel 7:10, Revelation 20:12).
The Beginning and the End
“I am the ‘A’ [alef] and the ‘Z,’ [tav]” says Adonai, God of heaven’s armies, the One who is, who was and who is coming” (Revelation 1:8).
This is another verse translators changed from Aramaic/Hebrew into Greek. The two letters that begin and end the Hebrew alphabet are the alef and the tav – את. These two letters create the small word, ‘et,’ that is found before nouns throughout the entire Old Testament. Some give it a grammatical purpose as a noun modifier, but it has no specific Hebrew meaning. So what is this word? Why is it in the Scriptures?
Genesis 1:1 in the Hebrew (read right to left):
בראשית ברא אלהים את השמימ ואת הארץ
Transliterated: Beresheet bara elohim et hashamayim v’et haeretz.
Notice the two-letter word ‘et’ twice in this verse. These are the Hebrew letters alef and tav; the first and the last letters of the alphabet.
In Revelation 1:8, Yeshua says that he is the ‘alef and the tav’ found between those first words in Genesis and between thousands of other words throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. By revealing himself as the ‘alef and the tav,’ he is revealing himself on every page of the Torah and the Prophets. He is saying that he is the beginning and the end of everything from Creation in Genesis through the final restoration of the Kingdom in Revelation.
Hebrew Word Pictures
Et – את
א Alef – An Ox means ‘first’ or ‘strong.’
ת Tav – Crossed Sticks means ‘sign’ or ‘covenant.’
The Hebrew Word Picture for et: first strong sign of the covenant.
“I saw seven gold menorahs; and among the menorahs was someone like a Son of Man …” (Revelation 1:12).
Yeshua stands among seven gold menorahs. The Amplified Version and New International Version say “seven golden lampstands.” The King James Version says “seven golden candlesticks.” Though ‘lampstand’ could be an acceptable translation for menorah, ‘candlesticks’ is a stretch.
The Menorah created for the Tabernacle and eventually placed in the Temple was made of pure gold. It was filled with pure olive oil, not candles. It was designed from what is in heaven and shown to Moshe –– it was made through divine inspiration. The Menorah has become a symbol for Isra’el and the Jewish people. In the first century, Middle Eastern congregations would have been comprised of Jews and gentiles who knew exactly what the Menorah was. Translating the word ‘menorah’ into ‘candlestick’ is a subtle way to remove the Jewishness of the revelation message.
According to Yeshua, the seven gold menorahs represent the seven congregations that will receive a message from the angel or messenger to that congregation. Each of the seven congregation shines as a menorah into the darkness of the world and has a responsibility to that light. Seven is the number of completion symbolizing that the revelation given to Yochanan will happen as prophesied and is complete.
The Appearance of Yeshua
Yeshua was “wearing a robe down to his feet and a gold band around his chest. His head and hair were as white as snow-white wool, his eyes like a fiery flame, his feet like burnished brass refined in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, out of his mouth went a sharp double-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength” (Revelation 1:13-16).
Wool comes from lambs. How significant for the Lamb of God to have wool-like hair! Wool can also be symbolic of being cleansed from sin by the Lamb. Having a head of hair white as snow-white wool shows that Yeshua overcame sin and death so that our scarlet crimson garments could also turn white as snow and wool (Isaiah 1:18).
White represents purity, and righteous, and worthy (Proverbs 16:31). Only a pure and sinless person is considered righteous enough to lay down their life as an atonement for the corrupt and unholy. White represents being worthy, and only Yeshua is worthy of such a righteous act.
Yeshua has “eyes like a fiery flame.” In Hebrew, the word for fire is esh and means ‘flashing’ or ‘blazing.’ Yeshua’s eyes blaze and flash. ‘Fiery eyes’ suggest that in his glorified state, Yeshua refines the heart and minds of his people through just one look from his eyes.
“I have made you a refiner and tester of my people, to know and test how they behave” (Jeremiah 6:27).
“But who can endure the day when he comes? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, like the soapmaker’s lye” (Malachi 3:2).
Hebrew Word Pictures
Fire – אש – esh
א Alef – An Ox means ‘first strength.’
ש Shin – A Tooth means ‘consume’ or ‘destroy.’
The Hebrew Word Picture for esh: first strength consumes.
Yeshua’s feet are like “burnished brass refined in a furnace.” Yeshua, as a man, went through the refining furnace of suffering until he died on the cross. His suffering taught him obedience to God’s will (Hebrews 5:8).
Yeshua stood in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedigo in Babylon. Throughout the millennia, Yeshua has stood with the chosen people as they went through the ‘fiery furnace’ of suffering and persecution. His ‘burnished bronze feet’ should give us hope that as we walk through the fiery tests of our own lives.
His voice sounds like “rushing waters.” According to King David, the sound of rushing water is evidence of the power and splendor of El Elyon (God Most High) (Psalm 29:3-4). There was one time in my life when I was involved in intense spiritual warfare that I was silenced only to hear the sound of rushing water behind me. I felt a powerful wind fill my body until I felt I might explode. The voice of wind and rushing water spoke through me. After months of warfare, the battle was finally won by the rushing-water voice!
Out of Yeshua’s mouth comes a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). This is the living Word of Elohim being used to divide the soul and spirit. It is used to judge iniquity in the heart. During that same warfare event in my life, I could see individual letters from my mouth forming Words over my head that the rushing water had put together. I could see the people, both were in another state, being judged in their hearts by these words: one humbled himself at the presence of the Word; the other beat the Words with her fist.
Prophets and Yeshua
Daniel had many dreams and visions while living in Babylon and he wrote them down for those living in the end times. One vision included seeing the Ancient of Days seated on His throne (Daniel 7:9). Ezekiel also had a vision of the throne of Elohim. Above the sapphire throne appeared a person (Ezekiel 1:27-28).
Yeshua takes Kefa (Peter), Ya’akov (James) and Yochanan to a mountain where he meets with Moshe and Elijah. He is transformed into glory for those few moments and “his face shone like the sun, and his clothing became as white as light” (Matthew 17:2).
This would be the second time Yochanan sees Yeshua in his glory with a shining face and white clothing. The first time he saw Yeshua’s glory, he believed the Messianic Era had arrived. This time, however, he falls down at Yeshua’s feet like a dead man.
The Living One
“Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, the Living One. I was dead, but look! — I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to Death and Sh’ol [Hades]”(Revelation 1:18-19).
Spiritual death came to mankind when Adam sinned and was forced out of Gan Eden. Physical death accompanied spiritual death though not immediately. Because of Adam, every human born into this world is spiritually dead and separated from Elohim. It is only through a kinsman-redeemer, Yeshua, that the relationship between mankind and his Creator is restored. It can only be restored because Yeshua died, conquered death, lives to give this revelation (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
Because he paid the wage of sin and overcame death, Yeshua holds the keys to Death and Sh’ol (Hades). Along with being a god of the underworld, Hades motive of operation is Death, and taking the dead to an eternal place of darkness. This place is described by Yeshua as the “outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13, Luke 13:28).
What or where is ‘outer darkness?’ In the beginning, Elohim said: “Let there be light.” There was light and the light was good. He also separated the light from ‘the darkness.’ There still remains a place of ‘outer darkness’ reserved for those who utterly reject the Creator and the way He provided to enter into and remain in His Light.
‘Weeping and gnashing of teeth’ is an phrase that suggests anger and severe pain brought on by regret. Regret will be the eternal consequence for those who heard the Truth and mocked it, heard the Word of Truth and rejected it, or were taught the commandments of Elohim and willingly disobeyed. The unrighteous, wicked, and lawless (without Torah) will weep in the lake of burning fire and gnash their teeth at the righteous who obtained eternal life.
“Should I ransom them from the power of Sh’ol? Should I redeem them from death? Where are your plagues, death; where is your destruction, Sh’ol?” (Hosea 13:14).
“He will guard the steps of his faithful, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness. For it is not by strength that a person prevails…” (1 Samuel 2:9).
“The wicked plots against the righteous and grinds his teeth at him…” (Psalm 37:12).
“With ungodly mocking and grimacing, they grind their teeth at me” (Psalm 35:16).
Death and Sh’ol
Yeshua holds the keys to Death and Hades. Keys are essential to opening and closing doors or gates and having the correct key is crucial to unlocking a specific door or gate.
Caesarea Phillipi was known for its immoral pagan practices. It was filled with shrines and idols erected to fertility gods and goddesses. Near the city was a cave known as the ‘Gates of Hades’ or the ‘Gates of Hell.’ It was believed that fertility gods and goddesses like Astarte (Easter) would go into this cave and sleep through the winter. In springtime, pagans would hold ceremonies to encourage the gods to come back to life or resurrect themselves.
It was near this cave that Yeshua asked his disciples who they believed he was. Kefa confesses that he believes Yeshua is the Messiah of Isra’el, the Son of Elohim. Kefa’s confession of faith includes the hope of resurrection since he knew about the pagan beliefs in this city. In order for there to be a resurrection, Death and Sh’ol would have to be defeated. Yeshua responded to Kefa:
“How blessed you are! For no human being revealed this to you, no, it was my Father in heaven. I also tell you this: you are Kefa,” [which means ‘Rock,’] “and on this rock [of faith] I will build my Community, and the gates of Sh’ol will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:16-18).
Write a Record
Yochanan is commanded to write down everything he sees in the present and in the future. Yeshua reveals the mystery of the seven stars and seven menorahs: the seven messengers to the congregations in Asia minor and the seven menorahs representing each of the Congregations –– Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.
Revelation 2 – Community of Ephesus
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