CHAPTER 1 – 末世預言 PROPHECY OF THE END TIMES ( REVELATION 1:1-3)


聖經是一本奇特的書,它有很多末日的預言已經應驗,所以我們也可以肯定,其餘部份的預言,也必定要應驗。

The Bible is an amazing book, many of its prophecies about the end times have already been fulfilled, so we can be sure that the remaining part of the prophecies will certainly be fulfilled.

預言描寫未來事物的方式,常是用象徵性的語言。啟示錄像一個拼圖遊戲的母板,如果對人類歷史有不清楚的地方,我們只要把啟示錄的圖拼出來,就會看見神的整個大計劃出現。

Prophecies about the future are often written in symbolic language. Revelation is like a jigsaw puzzle, if some parts of the human history are unclear, we just have to look for the missing pieces and put them together, that way we will be able to see God’s perfect plan. We just need patience to put the puzzle together.

有人以為,只要好好用心做基督徒、努力見證主,至於預言,可以不必研究。其實如果真要做好主的門徒,或要作好主的見證人,就要用心去讀聖經的預言。為什麼呢?

Some people think that as long as they are good Christians and witness for the Lord, they do not need to study the prophecies in the Bible. In reality, if you really want to be a good disciple of the Lord, or be a witness for Him, you need to study the prophecies in the bible very carefully. Why?

因為這是神的啟示

BECAUSE IT IS THE REVELATION OF GOD

1耶穌基督的啟示,就是神賜給祂。

1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him.

這是神的啟示,也是基督的啟示。啟示的原意是「揭開」。表示有很多奧秘的事,藏在主的寶庫裡。神要打開讓人知道。所有的預言都是出於神,因為只有神才知道未來發生的事。只有祂才能將百年、千年以後的事預先告訴人。以賽亞46:10說:「我從起初指明末後的事,古時言明未成之事。」未來的事,人無從知道,但神想把它向人預告。因為神的心意不是隱藏的心意。

It is the revelation of God and the revelation of Christ. To reveal means “to uncover”. There are many mysteries hidden in God’s treasure-house. God wants to uncover them so that people may know what they are. Only God knows what will happen in the future. Only He can tell people what will happen in 100 years or 1,000 years from now. Isaiah 46:10 says, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.” Nobody knows the future, but God wants us to know what will happen beforehand. God does not intend to hide things from us.

聖經其他的書卷,很多聖經學者在讀的時候,都會注意他的神學思想,保羅有保羅的神學,約翰有約翰神學。他們寫書的時候,總帶著他們自己的特色,自己的眼光,自己的看法。他們也會針對不同的對象,講適合他們靈性光景的話。看路加寫的福音與約翰寫的福音,風格上有很大的距離,就可以明白。

When Bible scholars study the Bible, they pay attention to the theological thoughts of each book. Paul and John each have their own theological thoughts. Their writings bring up their own distinguished features, their own vision and their own view. Their message was directed towards a specific group of people and their spiritual needs. When you look at the writings of the Gospel of Luke versus the Gospel of John you will find that their styles are very different.

很多學者研究每一卷書的時候,總要想當時他寫給什麼人?那些讀者有些什麼需要?應當給他們怎樣的信息。所以有許多學者對本書的解釋是這樣,它是寫給當時在苦難當中、在動亂中,在羅馬統治下的基督徒。有不容易明白的地方,是因為怕羅馬政府的對付,所以用隱閉的言語。所以只要找出對當時信徒的安慰與鼓勵的信息就夠了。

Many scholars, when they study each book, they have to think about to whom the book was directed to at that time. What were the needs of the readers? What kind of message was given to them? Therefore, some scholars believe that Revelation was written for those Christians who were suffering and going through tumultuous times under the rule of the Roman Empire. The parts in Revelation that were difficult to understand were due to the fact that Christians were afraid of the Roman government so they used hidden language in their writings . Therefore, as long as they could find the message of comfort and encouragement for the believers at that time, then that was enough.

但啟示錄是非常獨特的書。猶太人寫書信習慣,不寫自己名字,唯獨這本啟示錄他寫上自己名字,指明是基督給他的啟示。

But the book of Revelation is an amazingly unique book. When Jewish people write letters, they do not mention their own names, but in this book of Revelation the author writes his name, specifying that it was the Revelation of Christ to him.

這本書,我們不需要研究約翰的神學觀,因為這本書從頭到尾,都不是他自己的話,他說得明白清楚,這書是基督自己告訴他的話,或基督差派天使給他看見的各種異象。所以我們不需要知道他對未來事件的意見是什麼,我們只要知道他看見了什麼。

For this book, we do not have to study the theology of John because from beginning to end, this book does not contain John’s own words. He said it clearly that this book is Christ’s own words to him, or visions shown to him by an angel sent by Christ. So we do not have to know what his views of future events are, we just need to know what he saw.

所預言的事是必定要發生的.

ALL THE PROPHECIES WILL DEFINITELY BE FULFILLED

1 叫祂將必要快成的事。

1 to show his servants what must soon take place.

這本書,全部都是預言。很多解經人士想叫我們忽略這個事實,要對待它像對待其他的書卷一樣,只要找出屬靈的教訓,不必管事情將怎樣發生,何時發生。他們錯了,因為這書一開頭就表明,它是一本預言的書。既是預言,就要知道它怎樣應驗。

All the events in this book are prophecies. Many Bible commentators tell us to ignore this fact, and to treat this book as the other books of the Bible. They tell us to look only for spiritual lessons, and not to worry about how things will happen or when they will happen. They are wrong, because this book clearly states at the beginning of it that it is a prophecy. Since is it is a prophecy, we need to know how it will be fulfilled. A prophecy is different than a prediction. When the Olympic Games are held somewhere in the world next year, people might be able to predict that the prices of hotels will increase. Will this definitely happen? Not really. If the country where the games are to be held gets into a civil war, is boycotted by other countries, or suddenly faces a natural disaster, the Olympic Games might be canceled, and the hotels might have to have big price cuts. So what was predicted might not happen. The prophecies of the Lord will definitely take place soon, they will not change.

預言不同於預測。當奧運明年在某地舉行之時,人能預測旅館將會大漲價,那是按情況推測。是否一定這樣發生?不一定。如果該國發生內戰,受國際盃葛,或遇大災難,使大會不能如期舉行,就會大降價。所以那不是必定發生的事。主的預言卻是必要快成的事,不會改變。

This does not mean that God predestined those things to happen. It is a prophecy because God has already seen the future; He is just letting us know beforehand what will happen. It is something that mankind cannot understand. Because we live inside time, we have to follow a timeline. God lives outside time; He can see the whole entire history as it unfolds in front of Him. Of course He can tell us what will happen in the future.

有人說,這書的內容太多像徵的話,不容易讀。什麼七頭的獸、污鬼、蝗蟲、巴比倫、大淫婦。也有很多災難,很多可怕的描寫,所以不敢讀。但我們要記得,我們的主把將要發生的事告知我們,目的是安慰我們,不是恐嚇我們。叫我們知道祂是掌控萬事的神。

Some people say that this book contains too many symbols; it is too difficult to study. What does it mean when it mentions a Beast with seven heads, unclean spirits and locusts, Babylon or the Great Harlot? Also there are too many catastrophic and horrifying events; therefore they are too afraid to study it. But we have to remember, the reason why our Lord wants us to know about these events  before they happen is to comfort us, not to terrify us and to show us  that He is God and that He is in control of everything.

當我們預先知道未來的結局都是圓滿的,中間雖然有驚險的事,也不用擔心。世界上雖然有很多叫人氣憤的事,但我們知道結局的真相,就能以心平氣和的態度來看待。它提醒我們,眼光要看得遠,現今所遇到的並非結局,產難之後那新生的嬰孩就出來了,那才是圓滿的結局。

When we know in advance that the future outcome will have a perfect ending, though the midst of it might seem alarmingly dangerous, we should not worry. Many things that are happening in the world might make people angry, but we know the truth of how it will end, therefore we can face things calmly. He reminds us, look further away; whatever we encounter today is not the end. After suffering the pains of childbirth, the newborn baby will come into the world, and then it will be a happy ending.

所以我們的心要得安慰鼓勵,無論遇到什麼事,無論有多大痛苦,總要對主忠心。啟示錄的七印、七號、七碗,都是在描寫地上的災禍,只有到第七號的時候,才稱為佳音(10:7) 。那必定是指到信徒被提的時候,是災難中的喜訊.

So our hearts are comforted and encouraged, no matter what happens, no matter how great the pain and suffering, we have to be loyal to our Lord. The seven seals , seven trumpets, and seven bowls, depict the scourges on earth; only at the sound of the seventh trumpet will the mystery of God be accomplished, good tidings (10:7). That for sure will be the time of the rapture when the believers are caught up to be with the Lord in heaven, the joy among the tribulation.

這書的對像是給我們眾信徒的

THE PROPHECIES OF THIS BOOK ARE WRITTEN FOR US, THE BELIEVERS

1 指示祂的眾僕人。

1 To show his servants.

神將未來的事啟示給約翰,目的不是只叫他一人知道,祂要求約翰指示祂的眾僕人,就是要我們眾信徒都知道。所以本書的對象,是給我們的,要我們好作準備。如果講明是給我們讀的,我們怎可以不讀呢?

The Lord revealed the future to John, not only for him to know about it, but for him to show us, His servants, what must soon take place. Therefore, the purpose of this book is for us to read it so we can know how to be prepared. If it clearly states that we must read it, how could we not read it?

但我們要問:「為什麼這麼難明白呢?」有好些原因使我們不容易明白啟示錄:

But we have to ask: “Why is it so hard to understand?” There are many reasons why we do not understand this book:

( 一) 這是二千年前的辭匯,而且是用不同的文字,就是古希臘文寫成的,古希臘文是已經停用多年的文字,這就有一定的困難。就像讀中國古文、甲骨文,當然不容易了解。

1) It was written 2000 years ago in another language, which was ancient Greek. Ancient Greek has not been used for many years and that is one of the reasons why it is so hard to understand. Even if it would have been written in ancient Chinese or in oracle bone inscriptions, it would have been very difficult to understand.

( 二) 想像二千年前的約翰看到21 世紀的電影,恐怕很多他所看見事物,都不明白,他也沒有現代的文字可以描寫。他看見飛機在天空,他能怎樣形容呢?大概是碩大的蝗蟲包著鐵甲,尾巴像蝎子,聲音像許多車馬奔跑上.

2) Imagine John from 2,000 years ago watching a 21st century movie. I am sure that he would not have been able to recognize any of the things that he was seeing; he would not even know how to describe those objects. If he saw airplanes flying in the sky, how would he describe them? He would probably say that they were like locust with breastplates of iron, with a tail with stingers like a scorpion and the sound of their wings were like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. In those times people did not even know what gunpowder was, how could they describe the weapons of war that we use today?

( 三) 啟示錄有多種異象。有描寫地上的事,有描寫天上的事,有描靈界的事。像人看畫,有寫實派,有抽象派,也有寫意派,都要用不同的欣賞法。啟示錄各段都有不同的解釋方法,不能一概而論。有些憑字面解,有用靈意解。

3) There are a variety of visions in Revelation: Visions of things on earth, in heaven and in the spiritual realm. Like people looking at different styles of paintings, some are realistic paintings, some are abstract, others are impressionistic paintings, and each style must be appreciated in its own way. Likewise, different parts of the book of Revelation might need different ways of interpretation, some parts have to be explained literally and other parts spiritually.

神用了最多的啟示方法

GOD USED MANY DIFFERENT WAYS OF REVELATION

1-2 祂就差遣使者曉諭( 顯示make known) 祂的僕人約翰,約翰便將神的道,和耶穌基督的見證,凡自己所看見的,都證明( 見證) 出來。

1-2 He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

神的顯示包括(1) 神的話,(2) 基督的見證,(3) 自己所看見的事。約

翰好像看見有聲的電影,神把第一世紀以後的事,像放電影一樣,給約翰看見。

God’s revelation includes (1) the Word of God, (2) The testimony of Jesus Christ, (3) and everything that John saw. God showed John the things that were going to happen in the 21st century as if he was watching a movie .

啟示錄裡面共有44 次約翰說「我看見」。沒有別的書像它一樣,完全是啟示。神在整個人類歷史裡面,唯有這本書,祂用了最多種的方法,啟示給人知道祂國度怎樣完成的事。歷史中有多種啟示方法:

John said the words “I saw” forty four times in the book of Revelation. There is no other book in the Bible like the book of Revelation that contains so many prophecies. God used many ways to reveal Himself to humans throughout history:

第一種,是像摩西面對面聽神說話。雖然他並不能看見神,因為神用光雲把祂自己遮蓋。

1) God spoke to Moses face to face. Moses could not see God because God used clouds and fire to cover His own glory.

第二種,被提到三重天去。保羅與多位使徒們,魂遊像外,能聽到隱秘的言語,能知道世人不知道的事.

2) God took Paul to the third heaven. Paul and a few disciples had an out-of-body experience and they were able to hear inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

第三種,看見異象、異夢或看見天使報訊。像但以理、約翰、彼得等人所見。耶穌降生的時候,約瑟也多次夢見天使的指示。以上幾種,都是特別的情形,神要讓人很清楚聽明白所說的話。

3) God used visions, dreams and angels to relate messages. Like what Daniel, John, Peter and others saw. Joseph received instructions from an angel of what to do in his dreams many times. The ways of revelation mentioned above are very special cases which God used to give a clear message to certain people.

第四種,是默示 inspiration 。那是人心靈裡得到靈感,用自己的話寫出來。先知的信息與多本經卷,都是用這種方法。他們寫的東西,都有濃厚的個人風格.

4) Inspiration. After being moved by the Spirit, the writer would use his own words to record the message. The prophets and many books in the Bible are inspired by God this way. Their writings have a strong personal style.

第五種,是內心的感動,這是最基本神對人說話的方式。通常只有是與非,只有紅燈與綠燈,沒有清楚的信息,有點像舊約的烏陵土明。

5) Inner feeling or voice, which is God’s most basic way for speaking to people. Usually is right or wrong, red light or green light, no specific message, like the Urim and Thummim from the Old Testament.

這啟示錄用了最多的啟示方法:被提三重天、異象、天使報訊,他自己的意見最少,都是神要對我們說的話。所以這本書豈可不讀呢?

This book uses most of the ways of revelation: Being taken to the third heaven, visions, message from an angel. John’s own views are very few, they are all words spoken to us by God. How could we not read this book?

讀啟示錄又跟著行的人有福了

THOSE WHO READ THIS BOOK AND FOLLOW IT WILL BE BLESSED

3 念這書上預言的和那些聽見又遵守其中所記載的,都是有福的,因為日期近了。

3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

讀、聽又遵守的人,必然有福,因為他必定作好準備,過儆醒的生活,將要在大災難之前被提,是有福的人.

Those who read this book, those who hear it and those who take to heart what is written in it will definitely be blessed because they will be prepared for when these things will happen and will live a watchful life.

像突擊的考試,許多人通不過,因為沒有作好準備。常準備的人必能通過。主吩咐我們儆醒,「免得那日子如同網羅,忽然臨到我們。」( 路加21)

Like an unexpected exam, many will not pass it if they are not prepared for it. Those who are always prepared will for sure pass the exam. The Lord told us to be watchful, “Be careful, or…that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.” (Luke 21)

祂吩咐我們,不要效法世界人的生活方式,不要跟隨世界的引誘,因為祂來像夜間的賊,是不會預先通知的。聖經多處都勸告我們,要儆醒。啟示錄中有七個「有福了」,全都與儆醒有關。

The Lord commands us not to be conformed to the patterns of this worldly life or to the temptations of this world because He will come like a thief in the night and will not announce Himself beforehand. The Bible tells us over and over again to be alert , therefore we should be watchful. In Revelation there are seven “blessed” words and all of them are related to being watchful.

什麼叫作儆醒等候?不是叫我們辭掉工作,穿上白衣站在山上等。乃是要求我們像管賬的人,隨時隨地有人來查賬,都無愧于心,沒什麼需要收藏起來的。

What does it mean to watch and wait? It does not mean to quit our jobs, wear a white robe and stand on top of a mountain to wait. Let us be prepared like a bookkeeper who has nothing to hide when someone comes to audit his books.

「因為日期近了」,這句話像講了很久,已經二千年過去了,何時才是真的近?我們知道事情已開始發生了,只要等最後一位天使吹號,我們就被提到主的面前。

“Because the time is near”, these words have been spoken for more than 2,000 years, so when is the time really near? We know that the events have already started to happen, when the last angel sounds the trumpet, we will be caught up to be before the Lord.

「論到時候日期」( 帖前5:1) 保羅在這裡用了兩個辭描寫時間,一個指「次序」,像崇拜唱詩之後是禱告,到這程序就知道下一個程序是什麼。另一個辭,有的時候會翻譯作season ,可譯作「時機」。他所講的時候日期,都不是時鐘、日曆所指示的時間。

“About times and dates” (1 Thessalonians 5:1) Paul uses two words to describe the timing. One refers to a sequence of events like during worship time; prayer comes after singing the hymns. At that time we will know what event will take place next. The other word sometimes is translated into season, or timing. The times and dates does not refer to the hours or minutes of a day.

「這福音要傳遍天下,然後末期才來到。」( 太24:14) 這也是說出等候成熟的時間。就像禾田成熟,就是收割之時。不是釘著日曆看,乃是要看成熟的程度。

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14). This is the time to maturity. Like the harvest time when the grain becomes ripe. Not according to the calendar but according to the maturity of the grain.

聖經的預言不是為滿足人的好奇心的,乃是要使人知道應該怎樣生活。如果人知道明天強風要吹到,今天就會作好準備。啟示錄一開始的時候就應許我們,聽而遵守的人有福了。

The Bible prophecies were not written to satisfy the curiosity of the people but to show the people how to live. If people knew that a hurricane would be coming tomorrow, today you would do some preparations. Revelation begins with a promise: Blessed are those who hear it and take heart what is written in it.