A Revelation Bible Study
Overview from some meditations
The book of Revelation in our Holy Bible should be of interest today to the "bride of Christ" (the Church --called out company of God) as it reveals much of God's purposes for His people, the course of His testimony, warnings now, His judgments, and the glory of Christ. The righteous judgment of God against this rebellious and sinful world, and the coming of the Lord Jesus to establish His reign in righteousness and triumph over evil, is prominent. Israel as the covenant people of God by promise will yet be recovered as God's earthly people as foretold (Rev. 7:1-8); yet it will not be the religious Israelites today who continue to reject the Messiah ---who they killed when He came to them and to the whole world. That religious order which rejected their Prophets and set forth their own religion was disowned by God, and they have suffered much since. They can now only come to our Creator-God today by receiving the Lord Jesus: the Christ of God, as must the Gentiles. All true saints of God ought to be glad to see the triumph of God in a day yet to come; though Israelites in this age will have no part in that, for their hope now must be only in salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ as with all mankind.
Believers can gain a better understanding here of the purposes and plan of God by prophecy. It is really a record of past, present, and prophetic events whether anyone understands it, and it will be manifested to all in a day to come as the truth. The Church can be glad to learn of these things, though they will be translated out of this world by then as a heavenly people. Saints of God can rejoice to see our Lord's glory displayed.
It is important to see the divisions of this book ---past, present, and future. The Apostle John there is instructed to "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter" (Rev.1:19). The divisions, as noted by the Bible teacher: C.I. Scofield (note Scofield KJV Study Bible) are:
(1). Things past, as shown on the Patmos vision (Rev.1);
(2). Things present, that which is existing--- obviously the church. The temple had been destroyed, the Jews (Israel) dispersed; the testimony of God had been committed to the church (1 Tim.3:14-15). Accordingly we have seven messages to Seven representative churches---assemblies (Rev.2:1 & 3:22) showing the church age and their conditions (we are presently much now as was in Laodicea then).
(3). Things future are shown, after the church period ends (Rev.4:1 and Rev. 22:21).
There is blessing promised to one who reads, hears, and keeps those things (Rev.1:3). The Bible teacher: C. I. Scofield states: "While Christ is thus the central theme of the book, all of the events move toward one consummation, the bringing in of the covenanted kingdom". One must not read into the book things which are not given, and we should note the Old Testament prophets also gave a picture of the end times. Let us review the final Bible book:
Revelation One - We see here the apostle, John, receiving this revelation while exiled to the island of Patmos. In verse three a blessing is promised to the reader who hears and keeps these things. Verses 9-11 directs God's counsel to the seven churches (assemblies), which are chosen as representative of the universal church down through the ages, and thus is a historical account and prophetic view of the course of this collective testimony in the world. A close examination of the conditions of each will follow in chapter two. Verse 20 is significant as speaking of God's government in the assemblies in each place, and seems thus to speak also of God's counsel to the Church in all ages.
Revelation Two - shows messages to the seven churches (assemblies), and Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, and Thyatira are addressed. As stated above, God spoke of conditions in these gatherings to show forth conditions also affecting the universal church down through history. By careful examination one can see these seven assemblies are typical of what we know from history. A remarkable picture is given of conditions that actually existed. It might be compared with the parables in Matthew 13, and Paul's voyage in Acts 27, which also show church history in type. More detailed papers are available to show the comparisons, if one is interested in further study.
Revelation Three - The continued message to the seven Assemblies addresses conditions in Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, and gives us a picture up to the present from about 1500 A.D. Sardis is like unto the protestant Reformation time, and Philadelphia speaks more of the revival of church truth in the early 1800's. Laodicea (meaning "people's rights" or "people rule") is considered typical of the period from about 1900 to the present. God is ever calling for repentance and a return to His Word and faithfulness to Him, rather than religious ideas of men.
Revelation Four - After describing the existing conditions and the course of the church before, God begins here to speak of the things which shall occur thereafter. Some things are in symbolic language. The glory of the throne is shown to John, and he saw the 24 elders, which may show the representative leaders of Israel and the Apostles, as some believe. Verse 11 is most significant in telling forth what creation is all about.
Revelation Five - This chapter proceeds to the opening of the sealed book, and only the Lord Jesus is found worthy to open it and loosen the seals. He is exalted and praised as the only worthy One.
Revelation Six - This begins the judgment of the tribulation period, and the "seals" are opened. They are described as conquering power ---possibly a referral to the dominion of the ruthless political rulers, called the beasts; then removal of peace; famine is everywhere; death widespread diminishing the population; then the martyred saints; anarchy with a total breakdown of government on earth. This is understood as the first three and a half years of the seven year tribulation period, where incremental severity is shown on this world.
Revelation Seven - Chapter 7 is a parenthesis showing those who will be saved out of the tribulation period. Of Israel, 144,000 will be preserved to be God's earthly people forever by the promise of old. Then a "great multitude" of Gentiles will be preserved and will also worship God as an earthly people (v.15). This is not the church which has been removed from the earth earlier and are with the Christ
Revelation Eight - The opening of the seals is resumed, and when the seventh seal is opened it is awesome. It begins the seven trumpets of judgment, which is the last three and a half years of the seven years of the Tribulation. One should take note that the trumpets are believed by some scholars to be the same judgment as the vials poured out in chapter 15 and are concurrent with them, and one can see in more detail the increasing severity. Four trumpets are shown in chapter eight.
Revelation Nine - The fifth and sixth trumpets are sounded. The judgments are of increasing severity. The locust horde has been supposed to be the Moslem people on the earth, but it seems more likely to describe special creatures or perhaps Demons for torment. The reference to Apollyon is a Greek name for Satan. The sixth trumpet seems to speak of demons, and we see that men so afflicted still refuse to repent before God.
Revelation Ten - This chapter is seen as a parenthesis before the seventh trumpet sounds. The mighty angel appears and announces judgment, and declares that "there should be time (delay) no longer" (v.6). A book of prophecy is given, which is both sweet and bitter, and verse eleven seems to say John's witness will go forth to many people, which the Book of Revelation has done and is doing.
Revelation Eleven - Here we have references to the end of the Gentile rule. The government of God on the earth hereafter will be under God's covenant people--Israel. Two witnesses have been preserved by God to preach the Word for three and a half years and then will be killed, but will be raised by God. One might note that the wrath of God in judgments ends with chapter eleven, verse fourteen, and as mentioned previously the trumpets are the last three and a half years of the seven year Tribulation period. The final trumpet (v.15) announces the reign of Christ and the dominion of God over the world.
Revelation Twelve - An overview and summary is shown here. It shows how Israel (the woman with child) delivered Him---the Christ, and Satan who was cast down on the earth and sought to kill Him. God reveals the warfare against Israel and her preservation (v.13-14) and Satan's wrath.
Revelation Thirteen - From here on the last three and a half years of the Great Tribulation period are shown again in more detail than previous chapters. The political beast is described as rising up from the mass of people to rule the world by Satan's leading. He has seven heads (speaking of complete rule over all), and ten horns (telling of his authority over the ten kings with him); then his ten crowns refers to his rule over the ten-nation confederation which controls the world (see Rev.17). Power is given unto him to rule 3 1/2 years (v.5). A second beast (the religious beast) is energized by Satan to deceive and work great miracles and wonders (v.11). He is the Anti-Christ and False Prophet, and requires all to obey and serve the first beast, and receive the mark of the beast to buy or sell.
Revelation Fourteen - Another parenthesis is shown here while the background information is shared. The 144,000 are again spoken of as a pure and faithful people from among Israel who stand with the Lord (v.1-5). The final Word is to be preached as good news to the world. The fall of Babylon (worldly religion and corrupt government) is pronounced. People are warned against worshipping the beast and great wrath is pronounced.
Revelation Fifteen - The vials are announced as the seven last plagues (actually more details of the seven trumpets). This speaks of the final judgment (the wrath of God) against the world, before Christ returns to destroy His enemies and establish the Kingdom of Heaven over the earth (v.4).
Revelation Sixteen - As the vials are poured out on the earth we see God's wrath to those who worshipped the beast and received his mark; many are killed; the angels praise the Lord for His righteous judgment; fire scorches many; men blaspheme God and repent not; the beast suffers and repents not; Satan-- as the dragon, together with the political beast and the false prophet, all gather the people to fight against God at Armageddon; hail falls and men continue to blaspheme God.
Revelation Seventeen - God speaks of Babylon as representative of Gentile world power opposing God. It is viewed as a political power and as a religious power. At the zenith of its influence and dominion of olden times, Babylon was hated by God for its idolatry, evils against Israel, and ruthless power in the world. She is viewed as a "great whore", and with her daughters commits abominations. This has been described also as the papacy of Rome (the seven-hilled city, verse 9) with its religious dominion since the church was formed (verses 15 and 18); and the daughters are mentioned (the prominent protestant religious systems, verse 5 and also Rev.2:23 --though not the saints therein). Some writers have tried to theorize Jerusalem as the "seven-hilled city", but it doesn't fit with all the judgments stated against prophetic Babylon.
Revelation Eighteen - The apostasy of Babylon continues to be judged, and warnings are given to flee her, who God calls "Jezebel" (Rev.2:20-23). One can see Babylon as a picture of such prominent religion today, since the historical Babylon has already been destroyed. She has continued to be against Christ (verse 24).
Revelation Nineteen - Here God is praised, the marriage supper is told; then the coming of the Lord Jesus in judgment and to establish His reign is told (note Mark 13:26-27). It is important to see from other scripture that the marriage is in Heaven before the Lord Jesus returns with His bride (the Church) to conquer and reign. The battle at Armageddon occurs, and the political beast and religious beast are cast into the Lake Of Fire by Christ (verse 20).
Revelation Twenty - Now, Satan is bound and cast into the abyss (called a bottomless pit by the translators). This is to remove him while the Lord Jesus Christ reigns supreme during the final dispensation---which will end after a thousand years (see paper on The Dispensations). The thousand years (called the Millennium) is a time of peace and blessing for the world. Satan will be loosed after this period for the final test and judgment of mankind. Many people, who steadfastly refused Christ, will then rally around Satan and fight against the Lord, and will with Satan be cast into hell-fire forever (verses 7-10). The judgment of The Great White Throne will be set to judge the dead who are in Hades (verses 11-15). It is important to see that no one is in Hell until the beasts are cast there (verse 10). Some mistranslations in the New Testament refers to Hades as Hell (e.g. Luke 16:23; Acts 2:31; 2 Pet.2:4; etc.). Hades is the present holding place of the lost souls (presumably adjacent to the fire - Luke 16:24).
Revelation Twenty-One - As the prophecy draws to a close, God speaks of "a new heaven and a new earth", which is for the heavenly people and the earthly people. We can also see something of the end at 1 Corinthians 15:22-28; and it is noteworthy there in verses 24-28 that the Lord Jesus returns the rule on earth to His Father after the Millennium, and thus takes His "Bride" and returns to Heaven. One can read ministry on this scene for profit. It is also noteworthy that some Bible teachers show that Chapter Twenty-One should properly begin at verse nine here, rather than as the translators show it. The heavenly city which during the Millennium reigns over the earth, now comes down onto the earth as the "New Jerusalem" and celestial city. It is described here quite beyond our comprehension.
Revelation Twenty-Two - Finally, God shows us the blessings of His dominion, and warns against adding to or taking away from the revelation.
ADDENDUM 10/2010: This brief summary of these Bible chapters is from numerous commentaries and writings of various Godly men, together with the understandings learned by this writer. It is not intended as a full and detailed study. Readers may also contact Bible Truth Publishers, Addison, IL for sound ministry. - RLD: GB07 --12/2006; add: 4/2021.