CHRONOLOGICAL ORGANIZATION (TIMELINE)
One of the controversial aspects of the Book of Revelation is its chronological context and organization. Some of the confusion stems from the fact that certain events, such as the plagues, the judgment and the second coming of Christ seem to appear in a number of scattered passages. However, these difficulties can be resolved with the understanding that there are two parallel timelines which give two perspectives on the same events, one on earth and the other in heaven.
Both the “on earth” and the “in heaven” timelines give a basically linear progression that starts at the time of the apostle John and continues until the final eradication of sin and establishment of God's people in the eternal kingdom. The “on earth” timeline is quite detailed and tied to specific dates and events. It is interrupted by the fairly extensive, parallel, “meanwhile in heaven” sections that explain what is happening in heaven while events unfold on earth.
There are also two extensive elaborations that depart from the chronological timelines in order to explain vital background information. The first, found in chapters 12-14, elaborates on the history of the great controversy between good and evil from its beginning when there was “war in heaven” through its conclusion with “the two harvests.” The second elaboration in 17:1-19:4 details the characteristics, fall and judgment of Babylon.
The following diagram presents a chronological timeline for the Book of Revelation. This chart will probably not make much sense without reading the detailed explanations in the chapters that follow, so please reserve judgment until you have read the supporting material. Please note that the timeline has two lines, one “on earth” and the other “in heaven.” In order to fit it all on a single page it was necessary to break them, so there are four lines on the chart, but the lower two are a continuation of the upper two.