A major roadblock to understanding the Book of Revelation is putting the events described in it on a timeline.
The narrative of the history of humanity in the background of the Great Controversy between God and Satan is presented in the Bible as linear history that begins in the garden of Eden, skims over many centuries until the worldwide flood, and begins to seriously focus on the establishment of God’s chosen representatives with the stories of Abraham, the patriarchs, the children of Israel and their migration to Egypt.
Their history as a nation begins with Moses and continues through the judges and the kings, who alternatively represent and misrepresent God until they finally slide into semi-permanent apostasy and are defeated by other kingdoms.
Throughout all those periods of time, there is always the promise of a messiah who will save God’s people. However, when God Himself is born in Bethlehem He is so far from their expectations that Israel as a nation will not accept Him.
Regardless of the rejection by the chosen nation Jesus lives a life that shows what a human created in the image of God really is.
Then He takes upon Himself the guilt, shame, and pain that keep us imprisoned and ineffective. Finally, He defeats the power of death, rising from the grave to create a new kind of life that He gives freely to His new representative society, the church.
The history of the challenges and victories that the church faced is recorded through the mid-1st century in the book of Acts.
Timeline after the 1st century
With the above narrative in mind, we would expect that the book of Revelation would take up the story where the book of Acts left off in the late first century and continue it through the resolution of the sin controversy.
And that is exactly what we have been seeing in the messages to the seven churches.
Although they were relevant messages to real 1st-century churches, their prime purpose was to prophesy in advance the experience God’s church would have through the ages from the time John wrote Revelation in the late 1st century until just before the final crisis that is described in the rest of Revelation.
But keep in mind that the Bible narrative is not just about what is happening on earth. Interspersed in the earthly drama are scenes in which we see what God is doing behind the scenes visible to us.
This video uses the entire Bible narrative as a model for the Revelation timeline.
You can read the full transcript of this video here.
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