Survey of Revelation
I. Requirements of any theory about a book of the Bible.
A. The theory cannot contradict other parts of the Bible. Compare to Gal. 1: 8, 9
B. The theory cannot show disrespect to any member of the Godhead or revile things that are supposed to be holy. Compare to Exodus 20: 7.
C. The theory should have some element of verifiability . See Deut. 18: 21, 22
D. The theory should be consonant with other parts of the Bible and require little if any departure from the themes and information otherwise depicted in other parts of the Bible. see II Peter 1: 16-21.II. Tools for interpretation of apocalyptic writings.
A. Some passages are symbolic. When symbolic language begins, little if any of the passage is to be taken literally, but rather as an impression of something. For an example that is not in the context of an apocalyptic book, see the hyperbole in Matthew 5: 29, 30.
B. The exposition of new doctrine is not usually done in apocalyptic books. There are many other books of the Bible besides, Ezekiel, Revelation, and the latter half of Daniel that set forth in practical terms what man is to do to respond properly and respectfully to God. Jesus said that God's word was revealed to the simple--to babes (Matthew 11: 25-30). Paul said that the gospel was most readily received by the simple of life (I Cor. 1: 18-31).
C. Numbers are a major key for interpreting these writings.
1. Seven and twelve signify completeness, fullness, or correctness.
2. A thousand or ten thousand or thousand times ten thousand is not a literal computation, but signifies that there are very many of something. Tens can also denote power.
3. Six is a bad number. Six is one step short of seven, and to be short of perfection is still to be totally in the wrong.
4. "Seven times" is the total existence of something. A time, another time, and a time and a half is half of all time. Seven is perfection. To do something seven times is to do it a perfect number of times--see the expectation about forgiveness in Matthew 18: 21-22.
5. Four is sometimes not a good number, or can be an omen of bad things to come. Note that in the legal procedures of the old Testament God did not require the word of four witnesses, but that of two or three.
D. Little chronology is implied in Eastern writing. Sometimes the same event is described over and over, but it does not mean that the same event was repeated. It is like hearing about the same car wreck from four different people. There weren't four car wrecks, rather there were four descriptions of the same wreck.
E. A "man" can be an angel (compare to Genesis 19: 1, 5; 32: 24-30)
F. If anything is repeated at all in Eastern writing, it denotes a lot of emphasis. The emphasis in Gal. 1: 8, 9 is as strong as possible. The emphasis in II Corinthians 6: 14-7:1 is an unbelievable amount of emphasis given to the command "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." The repetition that we tolerate in Western culture would be insulting in mid-Eastern and far Eastern cultures even to this day.
III. Introduction of the revelation
A. The source of the revelation. Time frame: near. Message: This was written to be understood by those immediately receiving the letter. The "soon" and "near" of verses 1 and 3 are the same words that Paul used when he wanted his cloak and parchments before winter (II Tim. 4: 13, 21). Winter was almost at hand. He wanted his cloak "shortly."
B. The salutation tells us that this is an apocalyptic writing (v. 10).
C. See sevens: seven stars, seven golden lampstands, seven angels, seven churches.
IV. The messages to the seven churches. Quite possibly this complete number of churches represented not only a complete number of churches in AD 70, but also the status of all churches in all of time while the earth stands.
A. Letter to Ephesus. Don't abandon your first love.
B. Smyrna. Don't be fearful, but be faithful until death.
C. Pergamum. The church has to be more than just a name.
D. Thyatira. Take disciplinary action against the evil one among that congregation. Do not tolerate evil. Compare to I Corinthians 5.
E. Sardis. Live on the outside, totally dead on the inside. "Playing church."
F. Philadelphia. You are doing well, hold fast. I am coming soon.
G. Laodecia. Don't be lukewarm!
V. The things which shall be (4.:1 - 22: 5)
A. The heavenly worship. Chapter 4.
B. Prelude to the seven seals (chapter 5)
C. Four parallel visions of the life cycle of the church (6: 1- 18: 24):
|Seals--Revelation 6:1 - 8: 5||Trumpets--Revelation 8: 6 - 11: 19||Mystic Figures--Revelation 12: 1- 14: 20||Bowls of wrath--Revelation 16: 1 - 16: 21|
|1. White horse (cause of Christ) 6: 1 - 2||1. Hail, fire, blood (reaction to Christ) 8: 6 - 7||1. Woman with child. 12: 1-2.(spiritual Israel, cause of Christ which begets more Christians. 12: 17)||1. Sores on men. Revelation 16: 2. Note that the sores only came to them that weren't righteous.|
|2. Red horse (persecution)--6: 3,4--sword is the sword of sacrifice||2. Sea of blood (persecution)--8: 8, 9||2. Dragon (persecution). Revelation 12: 3-4 & continuing.||2. Sea of blood (persecution). 16: 3.|
|3. Black horse (economic persecution)--6: 5 - 6||3. Water bitter--8: 10-11; bitter water means finances are there but the common man can't reach them.||3. Male child. 12: 5-6. Obviously is the advent of Christ, concommitant with the economic persecution of heathens against Christians.||3. Rivers and fountains of blood. 16: 4-7. The giving of blood for unrighteous men to drink signifies that even while those with the mark of the beast are rendering economic persecution to Christians, they will experience no pleasure. See Phil. 4: 7|
|4. Pale horse (death)--6: 7-8--sword here is the long sword of warfare.||4. Darkness of sun, moon, stars. 8: 12, 13. This could be symbolic of the darkness of death, or could be describing some other concommitant event||4. War in heaven. 12: 7-17.||4. Heat of sun (Rev. 16: 8-9). Although the unhappiness of the unrighteous will afflict them even as they persecute the Church, the real retribution still remains (II Thess. 1: 6-10). There is no happiness for the heathen when he strikes the Christian's other cheek (Luke 6: 29; Romans 12: 19-21).|
|5. Martyrs.Rev. 6: 7, 8.||5. Opening of bottomless pit, signifying the release of Satan from his bondage. Rev. 9: 1-12. Rev. 20: 7 -10 is the same thing.||5. Beast from the sea. Rev. 13: 1-10. Satan unbridled. In contrast to I. Cor. 10: 12, 13, this time period may be very short.||5. Darkness. Rev. 16: 10-11. Interestingly, in spite of the tribulations, men do not repent. The world will become entirely evil (See II Timothy 3: 12, 13).|
|6. Signs in the heavens. Rev. 6: 12-17. No mention of repentence; most of mankind in hiding.||6. Release of spiritual creatures for killing. 9: 13-21. No repentence for most of mankind.||6. Beast from the earth. Rev. 13: 11- 18. Mark of the beast. The economic persecution continues even at this late stage of time.Counterfeit miracles--compare to Matt. 24: 21-28; II Thess. 2: 9-12. No repentance--most believe the lie.||6. Preparation for Armageddon. 16: 12-16. Warning against those who have not repented. Also compare to Rev. 20: 7-10. God finishes the battle of Armageddon. Man only has to remain faithful. Man is nowhere told to fight this battle nor instructed how to.|
Interlude- Rev. 7: 1- 8.
Sealing of God's servants.
Conclusion of all four interludes: the separation of God's people from Satan's becomes permanent.
Interlude- 10: 1- 11: 4.
The witnesses are those teachers who testify to the world that they have sin. Physically they are killed, and are dishonored by the world. They are resurrected in glory.
Interlude-Rev. 14: 6-13.
Symbolic Babylon is fallen. Judgment awaits those who have accepted the mark of the beast. The saints who have endured are blessed.
This interlude is 17: 1 - 18: 8 and means the same thing as the other three.
Fall of the great harlot; doom of spiritual Babylon; last call to come out of the world (spiritual Babylon); lament of the world over Babylon.
Seventh seal: end of time and of all things familiar. Rev. 8: 1-8: 5.
Beginning of eternity:
Revelation 7: 9-17
7. The heavenly kingdom. Rev. 11: 15-19.
7. Lamb on Mt. Zion: Sickle and harvest. Rev. 14: 14-20.(Compare to Matthew 13: 36-43).
Beginning of eternity: Rev. 14: 1-5.
|7. Marriage supper of the Lord and the end of this world: (Revelation 19: 11-21) . Compare the marriage analogy to Matthew 25: 1-13 and Ephesians 5: 22-33.|
It is evident from the language of Revelation 17: 1 that what follows is an extension of the judgement scene, the scene which has been the seventh in each series. It is only natural that the Christians of the first century would want to know what the judgment scene would look like--and only natural that we today should inquire about the same thing. Chapters 17, 18, and 19 provide an extension of the seventh bowl (figure, trumpet, seal) so that the reader could look at the destruction of the end time and the beginning of eternity in greater detail.
VI. The judgment scene.
A. Revelation 20: 11-15.
B. Verses parallel to Matthew 25: 31-46; Luke 19: 11-27.
VII. The new heaven and new earth.
A. Revelation 21: 1-end of the book.
B. The physical boundaries are unimportant since it is a spiritual city for spiritual beings. The measurements are given in 21: 15-21 to try to convey in human terms how perfect the city was.
C. This is the place Jesus went to prepare for his prepared people in John 14: 1-6.
D. The question must remain: are you prepared?
All who attempt to live Godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted--II Timothy 3: 12, 13--as men go from bad to worse.
When the parallelism of the four visions is placed as it is shown above it is not as difficult to see. When we read it like Westerners and try to impart a chronological sequence to four sets of seven symbols it becomes very unwieldy. The above visions are a picture of the battle of good and evil across all peoples and all times. This is not a prophecy about a specific country or specific heretic religion. This interpretation will work whether one believes that the Revelation was written before 70 A. D. or in 96 A. D. Either way, it had to be written about things that made sense to the people of that time (too).
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