As a Chaplain and Pastor of 16 years I, at times, was ask questions about the Book of Revelation. At first, I was eager to share the many things that Got has revealed for Christians in this book; however, I soon learned that many questions were being ask… amiss. For so many it was not for the desire to learn, but the desire to sensationalize. Society as a whole is drawn to things that are bright, shiny and scary; Christians… can be the same. The scriptures warn of these times:
2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
There are some who truly desire to know what the Book of Revelation means, and, would mean for them. It is in this light that I present some guidelines to properly discern the book of Revelation.
1. Make sure you have accepted Christ.
In many ways trying to absorb the fantastic visuals and truths of this book without the saving knowledge and conversion of the Lord Jesus Christ is an exercise in vanity. To tackle the doctrines of this book without guidance from the Holy Spirit would be… foolish.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Simply put… if you want to fully understand the Bible… you need to be saved.
2. Have a firm foundation.
There is a reason the Book of Revelation is last… To jump and read the end of the book will show you, yes… how it all comes out; but you loose the context that will help you understand what you are reading… and how to read it. (yes… how to read it)
Note these verses:
Luke 10:26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The Bible is a supernatural book written by holy men as they were moved by the Holy Ghost… it was created to be read, studied and rightly divided. Done so… you will receive truth. Done incorrectly and you will come away with misplaced doctrine; because you did not consider the whole counsel of God… just the parts and pieces that made you feel good or smarter. (Acts 20:27)
2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Now that it has been expressed the foundations needed, let’s look at some study guidelines:
Read the Book of Revelation…
Note: read… not necessarily study.
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
It is important to note that if you are a Christian… MOST of the book of revelation has nothing to do with you. It should, if nothing else, make you want to see others saved so they they will not suffer the wrath of God.
The Book of Revelation is Chronological… to the extent of how the information is presented.
Most of the book is laid out quite simply in order; however, the account is being given as he sees it. (Revelation 1:11) Imagine you are standing on a football field during a play, you are explaining everything you see… 360 degrees around you.. to someone on the phone.. who knows nothing about football.
John is seeing images that have never been seen before… he is putting into words what he is seeing as it happens.. as he keeps looking around he sees more and more that he is describing… so while the events of the book are in order the elements he is describing can flow over into different chapters.
Write the things which thou hast seen
Chapter 1:1-8 – Title Salutation
Chapter 1:9-20 – The Vision
EVENT – Chapter 2 thru 3 – The Seven Churches – Time periods to span the age of the Church
Ephesus – Revelation 2:1-7
a Backslidden Church – It lost its first love
AD 70 – AD 170
Smyrna – Revelation 2:8-11
a persecuted Church
AD 170 – AD 312
Pergamos – Revelation 2:12-17
A Licentiopus Church
The Union of the Church and State under Constantine
AD – 312 – AD 606
Thyatiran – Revelation 2:18-29
False Doctrine and the formation/exercise of the Papal
The Entrance of the Dark Ages where the scripture was locked away.
AD 606 – AD 1520
Sardis – Revelation 3:1-6
A Dead Church
AD 1520 – AD 1750
Philadelphian – Revelation 3:7-13
“Age of Brotherly Love”
Religious freedoms and expansion
AD 1750 – AD 1920
Laodicean Period – Revelation 3:14-22
A lukewarm Church
“The Rights of the People”
AD 1920 – ??
EVENT – Chapter 4 – The Rapture of the Church
Revelation 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
Here we see the event described in 1st Thessalonians coming to pass.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
EVENT – Chapter 5 – Opening of the sealed book
The opening of this book and the information within is the prophecy that was given to Daniel, but then was sealed until this day. Look at the account:
Daniel 12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
EVENT – Chapter 6 – The beginning of the time of trouble
In Jeremiah we see this event prophicied and called the time of Jacob’s trouble, Jesus calls it the great tribulation.
Jeremiah 30:7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
This time was reserved to pour out God’s wrath over the nation that refused to accept His son, that of Israel. The other nations of the world are, in many ways, collateral damage.
Over Revelation 6 through Revelation 16:14 we see the pouring our God’s wrath in many different forms, we see in this up to this great and terrible day (Joel 2:31), the opening of the seals, the trumpets, the personages, the messengers and the pouring out of the vials. At the end of these nearly 7 years of torment the nations are gathered together to battle against the Lord called the battle of Armegeddon. See below:
Meanwhile, up in Heaven…
Now while the tribulation period is taking place on earth there is much going on in Heaven. After the taking up (Rapture) of the church there 2 main events that are taking place called the Judgement Seat of Christ and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
EVENT – The Judgement Seat of Christ
Romans 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
The common understanding is that this event will be for those saved during the Church age and will deal with those thoughts and intents of the heart. To cleanse the bride prior to the wedding.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Now this will not be a joyful time, Paul calls it the “terror of the Lord”… when those thoughts and intentions, unconfessed sin and those unresolved issues… are dealth with.
EVENT – The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
Just prior to the second coming of Christ there is a marriage of the bride (the Church) to Christ that is followed by the marriage supper. This event is not spoken of in detail but does bring together the parable that Christ spoke of in Matthew 22: 1-14.
Revelation 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
EVENT – The Second Coming of Christ Revelation 16:14 – 20:3
The Battle of Armageddon
Revelation 16:16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
This event has been, perhaps the most improperly used and misunderstood word in the Bible. Perverted by society and Hollywood it has come to known as the end of the world; in reality… it is just an event. This event is where Jesus comes back to set up His earthly Kingdom that He spoke of in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
It starts out with the nations being gathered together for battle followed by the pouring out of the 7th vial bringing in massive atmosperic events that produce hail that weighed around 75lbs to 120lbs, that would crush a man and destroy buildings.
It is important to note that despite all of the wrath in the form of seals, trumpets, personages and vials that is laid out on humanity over these 6+ years… people are not repenting but rather blaspheming God. This clearly shows the ultimate depravity of man that we are quickly headed for.
As the return of Christ is imminent there is a series of judgements taking place where God is making a specific point to identify and destroy.
Revelation 17:1 – 19:6 – The Great Whore
Revelation 17:1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
The identification of the Great Whore is pretty clear… especially if you look back through the Church age identifications and what was taking place. Kings and religion combined for control. As a unit they control commerce, kings and kept the world in poverty and need to maintain power.
Revelation 19:11 – 19:21 The Return of Christ
These verses identify what happens when Christ returns. Now it is important to note what is identified from Revelation 16:14 through now takes place very quickly.
Revelation 20 – aftermath and clean-up
EVENT – Revelation 20:4 – 20:6 – The Millennial Kingdom
The curse of sin is lifted and Satan is bound for 1,000 years. The Millennial Kingdom serves many purposes:
- The fulfillment of an earthly kingdom set up with Christ as the King
- The fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant of a land and seed
EVENT – Battle of Gog and Magog
Revelation 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
EVENT – Great White Throne Judgement
Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
Here all those over the 7,000 years of recorded that died in disobedience to God are judged and cast into hell… for all eternity.
EVENT – Revelation 21:1 – New Heavens and New Earth
Isaiah 65:17, Isiah 66:22, 2 Peter 3:13
EVENT – Revelation 21:2 – 22:9 – New Jerusalem
New Jerusalem is a central city where God will organize the population of the new heavens and the new earth. The old purged by fire, this new earth will be much like it was in the beginning in the garden.
Revelation 22:18 – The Warning
Revelation 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.