Posted by: Michael Stevenson on Sun, Dec 12, 2010
Understanding the Book of Revelation
Michael W. Stevenson,
MYSTERY book of all books ever written! If the Bible as a whole is the book that no one really understands, except the very people of God—those that are always called the “elect”—then certainly the Book of Revelation is the one book within the whole of the Bible that is least understood of all the books within the Bible.
Yet, this book is the very key that helps to unlock all the many prophecies within the Bible! You need to under-stand what this book holds so that you can understand the prophecies found elsewhere in the Bible! For soon, you are going to be caught up in the most prophetic time of all!
Can this book, then, be understood? It can—but, you must have the key which will open this vital book!
We are going to give you the very key in this article to understanding the Book of Revelation—merely an outline which will briefly give you the most important key which will greatly increase your understanding and knowledge!
It’s interesting and thrilling, it is packed with information which you need to know. You need this information so that you can understand what is going to take place! But, to understand this truth, you are going to have to study this, carefully, reading each text that we quote as well as the entire book in your own Bible—for yes, you need to follow along in your own Bible so that you can understand for yourself what is being said!
Just what is going to be taking place from now? No man can foretell the events. But, we can know what will be taking place as long as we are able to understand prophecies found within the pages of the Bible!
Understanding these prophecies can only happen if we are given the keys to the Book of Revelation—for in it alone are we able to come to understand the events of the various prophecies which correspond in order of time sequence!
In the Book of Revelation there is a story flow that relates one event to another in order of time, with occasional insets that are included. This fact is the first key that will help you to understand this eye-opening book!
It Reveals—NOT Conceals!
There are some who believe that Revelation is a book which is closed—not to be understood. But, the very first verse within this book tells us that “The Revelation of Jesus Christ…TO SHOW unto His servants (the Church) things which must shortly COME to pass.”—Rev. 1:1 It does not hide anything to us—but, rather, it reveals, it brings out things which God’s people need to know and to understand—to show to them those things which will take place. Therefore, it is a revealing from Jesus Christ which shows to us what is going to happen! And in the last chapter, it tells us “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy”—Rev. 22:10. Therefore, this book was NOT to be sealed, was not be hidden, but to show us and to reveal to us what is going to come to pass in the very near future—the time which is just ahead for most of us now alive!
Look at what we find! God gave this information to Jesus Christ, not John, and thus, Jesus Christ is the REVELATOR—revealing it to us and it is Jesus Christ who opens our minds (Rev. 1;1, 2).
John is the one who is bearing record—writing it down for us—thus, John recorded three important things which we need to understand and watch for: 1) God’s Word; 2) the testimony which is directly from Jesus Christ, and 3) the things which John saw, was in vision or in spirit.
When we first look into this book, we find that the first three verses are the opening introduction; the remainder of the first chapter is the salutation. The dominate keynote of the book—the theme, is revealed to us in verse 10 and that subject concerns the “Day of the Lord”—not a particular day of worship as some want to say—but, reveals what is going to happen in the near future!
John was taken in vision into the future to the time of when God’s judgments and plagues upon sin would be poured out—the time of which we are living—and John is then shown symbols in vision, these age-end events which will lead up to and climax with the very Second Coming of Jesus Christ—that time when Jesus Christ will return!
Thus, the very theme of this book needs to be realized—that the true “Day of the Lord” is not referring to anything to do with when we worship God, but rather, has everything to do with when all those events are to take place. Most people do not understand this concept because they are in the dark about the very theme of the Book of Revelation!
The Book’s Theme
Not having a clear understanding of this has brought about a great deal of confusion and argument as to whether the message was revealed to John and written on a particular day of the week. But, what misunderstanding this is—for if we will look, we will see clearly what it refers to! We find scholars such as a. Deismann who has stated that the “Day of the Lord” really refers to the day of judgment. When we look elsewhere in the Bible, we will also see that this is backed up by evidence!
In spirit—vision—John is sent forward 1900 years into the future, to the “Day of the Lord” where he see what judgments and plagues are going to be poured out upon mankind as a result of sin and wickedness. In the Rotherham’s translation, we find it says that “I came to be, in spirit, in the Lord’s Day.”
John was exiled to the island of Patmos and appears to be in vision during the time of the end, now beginning to be fulfilled in our day. Just as Ezekiel (Ezekiel 8:3) had said that “The Spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem.” And so here the theme of Revelation is concerning those days which are ahead and which are already upon us—those days of which we have now began to enter into!
The second and third chapters contain messages that speak to seven churches. Through careful examination of history and of the various conditions of the Church of God which has existed since the apostles, these represent the seven stages of the Church of God through the ages and the seven characteristics—the Ephesian condition which ends with the Philadelphian and Laodicean eras. You need to study this apply this to yourself with these messages so you can examine your life and see where you are!
It is when we come to chapters four and five, that we find the main revelation being outlined for us. John, in vision, sees what events are going to take place on earth—for these events are revealed here! He sees God the Father sitting on the throne and the Book of this prophecy is found in His right hand, sealed with seven seals—thus, completely closed to understanding. Seven is the number for completeness—thus, we have to understand that seven dealing with prophecy shows that prophetic events are done in completeness.
Before God are the four “beasts” or the living creatures and the twenty-four elders, and in their midst stands Christ, the “Lamb of God” who alone is worthy to open those very seals and to show to God’s people the true meaning of the prophecy!
I want you to also understand that those seven seals cover the whole of he book. In the vision, John sees Christ taking the Book from the Father and one by one, He opens the seals—showing to us, His people, the things which will take place—not events after they have taken place, but showing to us what is going to take place in the future—long before they ever happen!
We need to remember that God is able to tell us long in advance what WILL happen and then He further provides us the meaning to any symbols used so that we can understand. This is how prophecy works—there is no need for guessing and making up our own thoughts concerning what is going to happen.
Understanding the Seven Seals of Revelation
Within the sixth chapter, we find six seals which are opened. This is where the first six of seven seals are revealed—opened up for our knowledge. John records what he sees—which in reality are symbols. These symbols represent those things which are literal and real that are going to take place upon the earth in our near future!
So then, how are we able to understand the correct meaning of each of these symbols? What is the key to their meaning? For the answer, we will need to look at the Bible itself.
Remember that Jesus spoke in parables to those “without”—thus showing the truth to those who were of the true believers. Jesus’ followers could understand what Jesus was saying (Mark 4:10-12; Matt. 13:10-15), so here the symbols are so that those who are not followers cannot understand—but which Jesus will show to His people in plainness so that they can understand. His followers are those who keep the commandment of God (Ps. 111:10) and they have the Holy Spirit (John 16:13; Acts 5:32). Because of rebellion of mankind against God’s ways, it is not given to everyone to be able to understand the truth (Daniel 12:10) and so those who break and teach against God’s laws and commandments are not going to understand the Book of Revelation.
But, just as Jesus did with His followers, explaining the meaning of His parables, so He who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8) also explains the symbols in Revelation. Did Jesus, then, in plain language ever explain these events of the end, those things which would lead up to His very Second Coming and the end of this age?
Yes, Jesus very much did! On Mount Olivet, His own disciples asked Him “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the age?”—Matt. 24:3. Jesus then gave a very startling, yet eye-opening prophecy concerning what was going to take place at the end of this present age.
Here then is what those symbols clearly mean! This is the key which will unlock the very meaning of which you need to understand!
In His Olivet prophecy, Jesus told us of six events that will take place (Matthew 24). 1) false prophets or anti-Christs (v. 5); 2) wars (v. 6) which will culminate with the final world war (v.7); 3) famines; 4) pestilences (v.7). Then Jesus told us of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.) compared with Luke 21:12 because this was a forerunner of the coming siege of Jerusalem and Armageddon (Luke 17:30-36; Matt. 24:17-28). Matthew 24:9-28 and Luke 21;12-24 thus apply to the period of 70 A.D. only as a type or forerunner of the end of the age time to which therefore it refers to literally!
Then Jesus speaks of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21, 22) followed by the heavenly signs of the sun and moon turning dark with the stars falling (v.29) together with the sign of the very return of Jesus Christ (seen in heaven in v.30); and then this was later followed by the coming of Jesus Christ (v.30).
Just What Do the Seals Mean?
Prepare yourself now to be shocked by just how accurate the seals are explained! When John see the first seal opened up (Rev. 6:1), he sees a white horse (v.2)—this is a false Christ who is imitating Jesus’ Second Coming (Rev. 19:11-16). These false Christ’s are false preachers who deceive and cause people to think that they are ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15) and they preach a false Christ (2 Cor. 11:4) that is represented to be the true Christ who died for us on the cross. The world is full of them. In Matt. 24, Christ warns us of these false ministers as well. People do not understand this truth about what this seal means because they have been blinded.
Now comes the second seal which represents war (vs. 3-4) and the taking of peace from earth—hence war!
The third seal (vs. 5-6) is the black horse which brings about famine.
The fourth seal (vs. 7-8) is the pale horse bringing about pestilence.
The fifth seal (vs. 9-11) shows to us the Great Tribulation—the killing of the saints of God. This shows to us the Tribulation that occurred in the Middle Ages only as a type or forerunner, for the end of the age killing of the saints.
Then the sixth seal (vs. 12-13) shows to us the heavenly signs—sun and moon darkening and the stars falling to earth. Some have claimed that this has already taken place, but the events here are mere local events that were only seen to a small number of people in New England and is a forerunner to a much larger scale that will be seen worldwide.
This even occurs after the Tribulation (Matt. 24:29) and further, it is followed up by the sign of the coming of Jesus Christ (Matt. 24:29-30—which Rev. 6:14-17 shows to us the heavens departing and scrolling back together as a scroll—men hiding themselves in terror in the mountains and crying for rocks to fall on them and hide them from the face of God (Rev. 4:2 and Zeph. 1:14-17) which tells us of the “Day of the Lord.”
The TRIBULATION and the DAY OF THE LORD
It is vitally important for you to understand the very distinction between the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. The heavenly signs do not at all occur until after the Tribulation (Matt. 24:29). But, they come before the “Day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31). The two are very different ad are very separate. First we have the Tribulation followed by the heavenly signs then third, we have the Day of the Lord which as we will see clearly is the seventh seal.
But just as we come to the time for the Day of the Lord to take place, an angel appears to be as if he is holding back the four winds (Rev. 7:1-3), which are the first four Trumpet plagues that will come about during this Day of the Lord (Rev. 8:7-12) and it will be the Trumpet plagues as we are going to show that will be something else to also pay close attention to.
These first four are held back until the 144,000 are sealed and the great innumerable multitude of all the nations of earth are turned to God and His protection.
These 144,000 are 12,000 from each of the literal tribes of Israel and are sealed by the Holy Spirit, in their foreheads and it is the literal name of the Father that is sealed there (Rev. 14:1). The time of this sealing, then, is yet future—after the very Tribulation, after the heavenly signs and after the very sign of the coming of Jesus Christ.
The multitude will come out of the Great Tribulation (Rev. 7:14, margin) and God will not send His plagues without warning of such signs that all who are willing shall heed. These signs are those heavenly signs and the sign of the Son of Man. Preaching and warning now only falls upon deaf ears. But, when God sends these signs, men will heed them and will turn to Jesus Christ!
Now comes about the opening of the seventh seal which is in chapter 8.
Remember as mentioned earlier that the seven seals being revealed are found in the whole book, so this seal goes for the remainder of this prophecy. Under each seal, John records what he sees. What does he see, as the last seal is opened up? (Rev. 8:1-2) He sees the seven TRUMPETS being handed to the seven angels!
Here is the third important key that you need to understand this book. The seven Trumpets are NOT, as many have taught, contemporaneous with the seven seals. Neither, do they follow the closing of the seventh seal! They are, and constitute, the seventh seal!
The seventh seal comes in seven stages—each being called a trumpet! These are plagues (Rev. 9:20). A trumpet is blown with each. The first four are describes as winds that blow on the earth, trees, rivers, sea (Rev. 8:1-12). I do not, here, seek to interpret the nature of these plagues—whether this language is to be taken literally or as symbols. But, remember, if you attempt to interpret these things as symbols, you will find that the Bible interprets each one. A trumpet is also a symbol of war, and the 5th and 6th do picture war—the TWO PHASES of the coming WWIII. This is the last and final world war. The last three trumpets, 5th, 6th, and 7th are called woes (Rev. 8:13).
The Three Woes
We have three woes or trumpets that are described. These are the final three of the seven trumpets. The first of the three woes which is the fifth trumpet is found in Rev. 9:1-11. The power that causes the destruction, this time to men, will come out of the “bottomless pit.” We know this is a symbol. The only place in the Bible where we find it interpreted is Rev. 17:8-14. There, we find that the rebirth of the old Roman Empire is the power that emerges out of the “the bottomless pit.” It is a power that makes war (v.14). Mussolini had restored the pitifully weak, insignificant sixth “head” of the “Beast”—the Roman Empire. A seventh and last revival is already in the making now. The European Union and the Roman Catholic Church are now, as we speak, working on creating this final revival of the Roman Empire.
The sixth trumpet or the second woe, with its symbols of horses and horsemen (compare Ezek. 38:4, 15 and Joel 2:4), is found described in vs. 13-21, chapter 9. Could this be Russia which is found destroying the EU which is called “The Beast” and “Babylon” in Revelation 17-18; also described in Isaiah 47-48 and 13-14 and in Jeremiah 50-51.
And now notice that the two witnesses end their mission (Rev. 11) at the end of the second woe (vs. 12-14). They are put to death by the “Beast”—reborn Roman Empire which comes out of the bottomless pit under the first woe—which places the time of this still in the future, shattering some long held beliefs of many men!
Now we come to the third and final woe or the seventh trumpet. What is it? This is the 7th and last part of the seventh seal, and remember that the seals cover the entire prophecy!
Notice in Rev. 11:15-18 that when this seventh trumpet is sounded, the nations are angry—in world war, hence WWIII and they are raging—and we find proclaimed that “Thy wrath is come.” The only thing here described that possibly could be this horrible is “Thy wrath.”
We find that the only that this could possibly be is found in Revelation 15:1 and it is the seven last plagues—the time period that covers the last and final year of the Great Tribulation! Thus, these last seven plagues are also a part of the seventh seal. The second coming of Jesus Christ will occur at the precise time of the seven last plagues. Also, as this trumpet is blown, the kingdoms of this world will then become the kingdoms of Christ, who then reigns (Rev. 11:15). So Christ then comes at the last trumpet (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16).
Chapter 12 is an inset chapter which is placed into the main story. Just as any writer will stop his narrative at a certain place, go back and sketch a different scene involving different chapters and events that took place, bringing them up to, and connecting the story-thread together, this is what John is doing here. We find here that at this point, John is seeing the true Church of God, from the time before the birth of Christ (v.4) up through His birth, resurrection and ascension (v.5) and then 1260 years of persecution when the true Church is forced to go into the wilderness beyond the bounds of Roman dominion. The TRUE CHURCH has always therefore been in existence! This is contrary also to some who preach that there had to be a restoration in the last days of all things including priesthood authority and so forth.
Then in chapter 17 there is the false church. Revelation 12 brings the story of the true Church to the present, when Satan, knowing that he has a short time (v.12), persecutes the Church of God, pictured as a small church and keeping God’s laws and commandments (v.17), while the false church and her daughters (Roman Catholics and all those that keep the same teachings and Sunday observance) (Rev. 17:5) preach the Commandments are done away with!
Then in chapter 13, we find another inset that pictures the “beast” and the second two-horned “beast.” Chapter 14 then shows to us the three angel messages, proclaiming the fall or doom of Babylon through the seven last plagues and the warning against the Mark of the Beast, which those in Babylon are deceived into taking upon themselves.
Then we come now to chapters 15 and 16 which talk of the seven last plagues, which are the third woe or final trumpet. These are God’s judgments which are being poured out against the false religious system, “Babylon” (Rev. 18:2, 8, 10).
Now we come to chapters 17 and 18 which picture for us the revived Roman Empire and the great false church and her daughters (17:5) deceiving the nations (17:1, 2 and 18:3). We are told to come out of Babylon (18:4). This false religious system has changed times and seasons, has forced her will upon the nations, including forcing them to accept Sunday, pagan holidays and so-forth.
Israel is today in Babylon and is very much deceived! (Jer. 50:4-8, 13-15; 51:6-9; Isa. 47:1, 5, 7-9, 11; 48:1, 12, 17-20). We are God’s people, Israel—in Babylon today, as Israel was in Egypt when God’s plagues were sent out upon Egypt! God called ancient Israel out of Egypt and today He is calling us out of Babylon (Rev. 18:4) and tells us to keep His laws and commandments!
The 19th chapter shows to us the second coming of Jesus Christ while the 20th chapter shows to us Christ’s thousand-year reign upon the earth (Rev. 5:10); chapters 21 and 22 speak of the new heaven and the new earth through all eternity without end with the Father dwelling in person with His people forever!
To understand this article, we invite you to look up each and every scripture mentioned in your own Bible!
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