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The Inexplicable Joy of the Believer

26 Mar
Great Joy

from Google Images

According to Revelation 19:2, the Lord had judged the great harlot and vindicated his people who lived in fear of persecution at her hand. The fact is: Jerusalem had so corrupted the world through her influence that she intimidated Pilate into crucifying Jesus, and, no doubt, was the influence behind Nero’s blaming Christians for the fire that nearly destroyed all of Rome.[1]

We need to understand that at the time of Nero, all who might be called Christian were considered Jews. Judaism was composed of many sects, just as Christianity, today, is composed of many denominations. Judaism was made up in part by Sadducees and Pharisees and many other factions, and such groups were considered Jewish sects (Acts 5:17; 15:5). Moreover, the Jewish authorities looked upon the disciples of Jesus as a notorious sect of Judaism (Acts 24:5). Folks in Thessalonica viewed believers in Christ, as “these who have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Moreover, even as far away as Rome, followers of Jesus were understood as a sect of Judaism, but not a very respectable sect (Acts 28:22). The fact is, Rome would never have permitted Paul or any of the other Apostles to evangelize the Empire under the guise of a new religion. New religions were forbidden in the Empire. Only those ancient religions were respectable and legal.

The disciples of Jesus evangelized the world under the protection of the Jewish umbrella. In other words, Rome considered Jesus’ disciples to be part of the religion or superstition (G1175) of the Jews (cp. Acts 25:13-19). It wasn’t until late in the first century AD or perhaps even into the early years of the second century AD that Christians and Jews were understood by the world as separate entities. Once this occurred, Christians had to develop some legal means in order to meet to worship the Lord, because, if they were not a part of Judaism, the state would have considered them an illegal religion.

This is important to understand in order to show that, when Nero began to blame Christians for the fire in Rome, he was calling into question a sect of the Jews, not a new religion, because a new religion wouldn’t have been permitted to exist in the first place. Therefore, Nero understood believers not only as Jews, but he identified them as a sect of Judaism, which is almost “inside” knowledge. After all, how many Christians, today, would be able to distinguish between the different sects of modern Judaism, or even the different sects of Islam? So, too, it would have been difficult for someone like Nero to identify and single out a particular sect of the Jews without help from other Jews! Remember, Claudius, banished all Jews from Rome. He didn’t know, nor did he try to identify the troublesome sects that had been fighting among themselves over “christo” i.e. Christ (See Suetonius: Life of Claudius 25.4; also cp. Acts 18:1-2). All Jews were banished from Rome at that time, because it was not expected for someone like Claudius to readily distinguish Jews from Jews. With this in mind, the fact that Nero **did** distinguish Jews from Jews, in order to identify the sect of Christ, tells us that he must have had help from other Jews, whom he respected, and this fits well into the context of the great harlot, having “corrupted the world through her fornication” (Revelation 19:2).

Therefore, it is in this context that we must place all four hallelujahs that are found in the New Covenant Scriptures (Revelation 19:1, 3-4, 6). Great joy was expressed by believers at the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. This joy was not so much vindictive as it was relief. The Lord had vindicated his servants by destroying their archenemy, and inexplicable joy followed.

It is interesting that the text says “the smoke of her ruin rose up forever and ever” (Revelation 19:3; cp. Revelation 14:11; 18:8, 18). In contrast, it is the smoke of incense or the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:4) that proved to be more powerful than their great persecutor (cf. Revelation 6:6-9),[2] and in the end their prayers brought down that great city, Babylon (Revelation 18:21), and the great harlot was burned with fire (Leviticus 21:9).

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[1] See my earlier study: They Called Us Christian at Antioch.

[2] See my earlier study: The Fifth Seal – Persecution.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2020 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation

 

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