The Book of Revelation is the most exquisitely fascinating yet frustratingly elusive book ever written. By today’s standards it would hardly be considered a book, with just 10,300 words, but despite the fact that it is small and written with simple vocabulary, its meaning is still largely a mystery. It is the only book of the Bible in which there is no consensus as to its general theme, organization, time frame or target audience, and if you have read other commentaries about Revelation you have probably come away feeling frustrated and unsatisfied.
A major problem of most interpretations of Revelation is the reference material that has been used. Some theologians have compared Revelation with other ancient secular and Christian documents. Others have arbitrarily assigned its meaning to a particular era and then have compared it with the history of that time. Many have guessed and speculated about the meaning of its symbols or have tried to “plug in” the current international trends and headline news. But the source material that God inspired the apostle John to use was the Bible itself. Revelation is packed with references and allusions to verses, themes and stories from the Bible, primarily the Old Testament, and it is only by praying for insight and then comparing the themes and symbols of Revelation with the inspired scriptures that we can hope to understand this book that is so vital now.
The Book of Revelation uses Symbols to portray the Great Controversy between Good and Evil. In Revelation 1 the story begins in Apostolic Times and continues through the Book until Evil has been Eradicated.
Revelation 2 presents the First Four of the Seven Churches, which symbolize the history of the Christian Church: Ephesus (Apostolic Church), Smyrna (Persecuted Church), Pergamos (Imperial church), and Thyatira (Church of Dark Ages).
Revelation 3 Continues the Messages to the Seven Churches, Giving a Prophetic Overview of the History of the Christian Church from Sardis (the dead church) through Philadelphia (with the Key of David) to the Present Period of Laodicea (the Lukewarm church).
Revelation 4 Depicts the Throne of God Surrounded by the 24 elders and the Four Living Creatures in the Heavenly Courtroom as the Investigative Judgment Begins, which Corresponds to the Old Testament Day of Atonement.
Revelation 5 Depicts the Opening of the Investigative Judgment as a “Strong Angel” (Satan) Challenges the Opening of the Sealed Scroll (the Book of Life). The Challenge is met by Jesus, who Appears as a Lamb as though it had been Slain.
Revelation 6 depicts the judgment of humanity with the Four Horsemen of Revelation (the White horse, the Red horse, the Black horse and the Pale horse). Martyrs are pictured as Souls under the altar crying out for justice.
Revelation 7 shows the “four winds” about to bring destruction upon the earth, but they are held back by four angels until the one hundred forty four thousand receive the seal of God on their foreheads. The sealing of the 144,000 is the equivalent of the Old Testament “Latter Rain” and will result in the salvation of the Great Multitude.
Revelation 8 begins with Silence in Heaven as the Seven Trumpets are about to sound. An angel with a Golden Censer has been protecting the earth, but when He throws down the censer and the 7 trumpets begin to sound the whole world is plunged into unimaginable chaos and grief.
Revelation 9 describes a war in which the Bottomless Pit is opened and “Locusts” pour out. The war of the Locust Army is the same as the war between the King of the North and the King of the South described in Daniel 11. God’s people will be protected by the Seal of God, not the Secret Rapture.
The Seven Thunders of Revelation 10, like the prophecies of Daniel and Matthew 24, give information about what will happen at the end of time. God’s special messengers will understand the Bible prophecies (symbolized by eating a “little book”) and will complete the Mystery of God by sharing the message with the world.
In Revelation 11 John measures the temple in heaven in preparation for the end-time ministry of the Two Witnesses. These witnesses who carry the gospel to the whole world but are attacked and “killed” by the Beast from the Bottomless Pit (the Antichrist) but God raises them up in victory.
In Revelation 12 there is “war in heaven” as Michael casts Satan out of Heaven. He persecutes the Woman (the Church) for 1260 days (Years) but even after great persecution a faithful Remnant remains.
Revelation 13 shows how Satan used the medieval papacy to persecute God’s People, but she received a “Deadly Wound” and lost her power. In the Last Days a renewed “Image of the Beast” will revive Persecution with the Mark of the Beast and 666.
Revelation 15 pictures the “Close of Probation” when everyone on earth will have decided for or against the Gospel. The Faithful on the Sea of Glass Worship God while 7 Angels come out of the Temple to pour out the Wrath of God on those who have rejected the Gospel and are Persecuting the Faithful.
In Revelation 16 God protects His people by pouring out the Seven Last Plagues, which dry up the “River Euphrates” and prepare the way for the “Kings from the East. The Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet prepare for the Battle of Armageddon but they are defeated in the Fall of Babylon.
Revelation 17 portrays the Great Harlot, Babylon the Great, sitting on a Scarlet Beast. Babylon religion began in Ancient Times, moved to pagan Rome and introduced paganism into the Christian Church. The last of eighth kings will be the Beast.
In Revelation chapter 18 an angel announces, “Babylon is Fallen”. The fall of “Christian” Babylon happened when Pagan Practices entered the Roman Catholic Church, resulting in False Doctrines and Practices. Many Denominations are uniting with Babylon today.
Revelation chapter 19 describes the Second Coming of Christ when Babylon, the Beast and the False Prophet will be destroyed. After the Marriage of the Lamb the Redeemed will attend His Marriage Supper.
Revelation 20 the Millennium begins when Satan is chained in the Bottomless Pit and the Righteous Dead are raised in the First Resurrection. At the end of the Millennium the Rest of the Dead are raised (Gog and Magog)and will face the Great White Throne judgment and the Lake of Fire (Hell).
In Revelation chapter 21 John saw the New Jerusalem descending to the New Earth. Those who have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enjoy the Beautiful City and drink of the Water of Life.
In Revelation chapter 22 Jesus says that He is coming quickly, and urges us to come to Him so that we will be ready.
The appendix gives deeper study of the Revelation Chiasm, the Judgment, the King of the North, the Secret Rapture, the Prophecy of 2,300 days, the Sabbath and Sunday Controversy, the Seven heads of Revelation 17, the Book of Job and the Everlasting Covenant.