OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION
The book of Revelation primarily concerns the Second Coming of Christ. His Second Coming will be as judge of the world, unlike the first time when He came to die for mankind's sin. Several hundred years before the Lord came to earth to die on the cross, He communicated through an angelic messenger to Daniel, the prophet, essential information about the end times. The Lord, Himself, as recorded in the Olivet Discourse in the New Testament, taught His disciples more truth about the sequence of events that would lead to the end times and His return. Fifty plus years after the teaching of the Olivet Discourse, Christ, through an angelic messenger, revealed yet more end-time truth to John, information vital for the understanding of the last days. Ultimately, the prophetic truths contained in the book of Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and the Revelation can be traced to our Lord. It is the Revelation about Jesus Christ as ultimate Judge, which gives us a synthetic view of both Daniel and the Olivet Discourse.
In the first verse of Revelation, chapter one, we are told that the contents of the book are written for the bondservants of Christ, i.e. the living elect of God who, by definition, must be the true church. In addition, Christ tells John that it is imperative that believers read and heed the message of the book because what will occur in the future is critically important for every child of God going into the last days. John is also instructed to record warnings to seven local churches existing at the time the book of Revelation was written. The warnings have both immediate consequences as well as consequences at Christ's Second Coming. Thus, in the last days described in the book of Revelation, Christ weaves together three different programs for three different groups of people representing the entirety of mankind in the last days. Obedient and disobedient members of the church, unbelieving Israel, and the world in general compose these three groups.
Five of the warnings to the seven churches have direct, end-time consequences. It is possible that one of the questions on the mind of John, in light of these warnings, concerned what would happen in the last days to those who continued in disobedience or unbelief. Beginning in chapter four, John is taken up into heaven where we, the reader, as is John, are given a marvelous view of the throne of God and the activities that will occur in the last days of human history as we know it. Other than the incredible glory of heaven itself, the focal point is an unopened scroll in the hand of Him who sits on a throne, sealed with seven seals. The question then arises as to who is able to break the seals, and thus permit the conditions necessary to effect the contents of the scroll. Pointing to the Lamb of God, one of the twenty-four elders told John that only the "Lion that is from the tribe of Judah" is worthy to open the scroll. This fact is supported earlier in the New Testament (cf. Acts 17:31). Only Christ has the right to judge the world in the last days because of His death and resurrection as the perfect Lamb of God at His first coming.
Revelation then begins to chronicle the events that will occur, beginning with the breaking of the seven seals. The seals represent conditions that must first occur before God brings His final judgment upon the world. Christ had already taught His disciples and Daniel that this final time of judgment would transpire within the context of the Seventieth Week. When all the prior conditions are met, He will then remove His faithful saints before He pours out His wrath on those who remain during the most prophesied event in all Scripture, the Day of the Lord. This judgment is described by Christ Himself as a judgment that will parallel the judgment of God during the days of Noah, but this last time, as Peter teaches, it will be a judgment by fire, not water!
The first six seals are opened by the Lion of Judah, setting the stage for the final judgment of Christ. The fourth seal is broken and the wrath of Satan, through Antichrist, tests mankind in a final attempt to control all that dwell on the earth. The sixth seal is opened and the sign of the Day of the Lord, foretold again and again in the Scriptures, is given. The sun, moon, and stars go dark, which is the sign warning the earth that the wrath of God is about to commence. The faithful within the church that have withstood the attack of Satan and his Antichrist are removed from earth to heaven. Special protection is given to a remnant of Israel that must go through Christ's wrath that is soon to follow. The seventh seal is opened initiating the Day of the Lord, the awesome and oft-predicted wrath of God. At the end of the sixth trumpet judgment, the final seven-year period of end-time events, prophesied by Christ in the book of Daniel, is brought to an end. Only seventy-five days remain before the actual rule of Christ begins on earth over the nation Israel, who, after the completion of the seven-year period, will soon come back into a proper relationship with their Messiah.
Revelation now depicts a strong angel coming down out of heaven with a small scroll. The small scroll outlines the critical events that will occur during the final seventy-five day period at the end of the seven-year period after the events of the large scroll have been completed. Exactly as prophesied in Daniel, after the completion of the final seven-year period, the entire nation of Israel is saved--all who survive the beginning wrath of God meted out during the first six trumpet judgments. Then, Revelation shows the authority to rule over the earth being taken back from Satan and returned to Almighty God who will then begin to rule, again, exactly as described in Daniel. Then, the seventh trumpet judgment releases the final seven bowl judgments of God, the final wrath of God. At the end of the first thirty days of the seventy-five days that follow the seven-year period, the final wrath of God will be completed and concluded with the battle of Armageddon. At this final battle, Antichrist and his armies will be quickly defeated by Christ and the angelic host of God. Antichrist and his false prophet are then thrown directly into the lake of fire.
In the last chapters of Revelation, Christ then shows John the events that occur on earth, following the Lord's return. Revelation 19 ends with the assigning of Antichrist and the false prophet to the lake of fire. The armies of Antichrist are killed by the Lord's word and eaten by birds. Following Armageddon, chapter 20 opens with the description of God's final program for Satan. He will be rendered immobile and isolated in a bottomless pit for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3). Then the raptured saints of the ages are seen seated on thrones. Then the beheaded saints who refused to worship Antichrist or take his mark will be resurrected to reign with Christ for a thousand years (Rev. 20:4-6). Satan is released after the thousand years is completed to deceive the nations one last time to fight against Christ, but is again defeated as before the thousand years began (Rev. 20:7-10). The wicked dead and all of those who died during the thousand-year reign of Christ are resurrected and judged (Rev. 20:11-15). Revelation 21 opens with the creation of a new heaven and a new earth with the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven (Rev. 21:1-8). The New Jerusalem, described in some detail, is seen coming down to earth from heaven (Rev. 21:9-27). The book finishes with a call for all to obey the message of the book and a warning to those who reject what is taught.
Three times, each at a critical break in the sequence of events described in the book of Revelation, Christ gives more detail to John for clarification. The first interlude deals with the rescue of God's faithful who do not succumb to Antichrist (Rev. 7:1-17). The second deals with an explanation of the actual work of Satan and his Antichrist during the great hour of testing where he will demand a choice of allegiance from mankind on earth before the wrath of God begins (Rev. 12-14). The third and final interlude describes the destruction, in some detail, of the false religious system and the city that supports it (Rev. 17-18).
To arrive at this simple sequence of events outlined in the book of Revelation, one must be willing to take God's Word at face value. This is where the trouble begins with so many and why there is so much confusion concerning the last days. Many do not accept what the Scriptures clearly teach so they interpret prophetic Scripture according to some man-made system or preference and not as the scriptural authors intended. To help you, the reader, get a better understanding of what we call a "face-value" interpretation of Scripture, the next section that follows is a simple guideline that makes the word, "hermeneutic" (how one studies Scripture) easy to understand and use.
© Sola Scriptura
Produced and Developed by Sola Scriptura