Overview of Revelation
The first five words of the book of Revelation state its purpose and the purpose of the whole Bible. They are “The revelation of Jesus Christ”. It is not the revelation of John. He is not “John the Revelator” as some call him. He is the writer of the revelation that the Lord gave to him. It is the Lord’s testimony (Rev 1:2 & 9, 12:17, 19:10 - spirit of prophecy). The deity, authority, and victory of Jesus Christ are on full display throughout the book.
Revelation 1:3 says we should read, hear, and keep what is written in this book. Some people shy away from the study of prophecy and the book of Revelation especially. They think it is too hard to understand and that it is too symbolic and therefore subject to too much interpretation. That is not the right approach. Challenging passages of the Bible should not be ignored. That is the approach of the casual and lazy student of the scriptures. The Bible is not a secret code book of mysteries. The word mystery appears 22 times in the KJV, and only in the New Testament. It does not refer to something that cannot be understood, but rather something that was not previously revealed but now is. Almost every reference refers to the new covenant of the gospel of Jesus Christ as previously unknown by those who lived under the old covenant of the law of Moses. So, symbolic prophetic passages should not be ignored but studied with more diligence (Acts 17:10-12, 2Tim 2:15). The Old Testament prophets did not understand the full meaning or timing of what God showed them, but they did not let that stop them from speaking and writing what God gave them. They searched diligently for the understanding (1Pet 1:10-12). Daniel did not understand everything that was revealed to him, but he sought for and received much understanding:
1. 2:17-19 - he and 3 prayed, got revelation
2. 5:24-28 - mene, mene, tekel, upharsin
3. 7:16 - I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
4. 7:19 - Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast
5. 7:28 - As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance
changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.
6. 8:13 - How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice…
7. 8:15 - when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning
8. 8:19 - Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation
9. 8:27 - And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the
king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.
10. 9:2 - I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the
LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet
11. 9:21-25 - whiles I was speaking in prayer…I am now come forth to give thee skill and
understanding… therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision…Know
therefore and understand
12. 10:1 - he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision
13. 10:11 - understand the words that I speak unto thee
14. 10:12 - from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten
thyself before thy God, thy words were heard
15. 10:14 - I am come to make thee understand
16. 10:20 - Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee?
17. 10:21 - I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth
18. 11:2 - now will I shew thee the truth
19. 12:8 - And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end
of these things?
Daniel is the companion book to Revelation. John also sought and received understanding of what was being revealed to him:
1. 1:11 - What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches (vs 19, 14:3, 19:9, 22:7). What would be the point of John writing what he saw if we were not to read it?
2. He that hath an ear (to all 7 churches)
3. 7:13-14 - What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest.
4. 10:7 - the mystery of God should be finished
5. 10:8-11 - take the little book…and eat it up…thou must prophesy
6. 13:9 - If any man have an ear, let him hear.
7. 13:18 - Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast
8. 17:1 - Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore
9. 17:7 - Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her
10. 17:9 - And here is the mind which hath wisdom
11. 22:6 - the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the
things which must shortly be done
12. 22:10 - Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book
However, we must not succumb to private interpretations of scriptural prophecy, or get dogmatic about personal opinions, especially if they are not about essential issues (2Pet 1:19-21). We should use the principles of sound hermeneutics especially that of context. We should do exegesis which is drawing out the real meaning of scripture, and not eisegesis which is inserting meaning into the scripture.
Revelation 1:4 shows us John is writing not only the first 3 chapters but the whole book to seven churches which were located in Asia Minor which is now Turkey and Greece. He was not writing about seven time periods of the era of the church, but seven actual churches in seven actual cities. There are major problems with the teaching that chapters 2-3 were written about seven time periods which are too lengthy to go into in an overview. Also, we can find application from the messages to the seven churches to every time period including our own.
Revelation 1:5-6 says the saints will be kings and priests. This as well as being washed in His blood are references to the law of Moses (Ex 19:5-6, Lev 17:11). Revelation has 77 references to the Levitical law in the writings of Moses. Revelation 1:7-20 describe Jesus Christ in His glory (Dan 7:9).
Revelation chapters 2-3 are the letters to the seven specific churches. Each starts with a portion of the description of Jesus from chapter 1:12-20 which describes a particular attribute that He wanted to emphasize to that church. Each continues with a commendation except for the ones to Sardis and Laodicea. Then each continues with correction except for the one to Philadelphia. Each finishes with a promise to overcomers and the admonition “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches”.
Revelation chapter 4 describes a vision of the throne of God in heaven. Around the throne are four “beasts” which could also be translated living creature as in Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10. There were also twenty-four elders which had seats. Revelation chapter 5 describes a book or scroll with seven seals which no one was worthy to open but the Lamb. Jesus is the Lamb (Jn 1:29 & 36, 1Cor 5:7, 1Pet 1:19). Jesus is called the Lamb 27 times in Revelation. Revelation chapter 6 describes the opening of six of the seven seals. The first four seals release the four horsemen. The first is possibly the antichrist followed by war, famine, and death. When the fifth seal is opened, martyrs will call for judgment. The sixth seal releases an earthquake. Chapter 6 to chapter 19 is a detailed description of the seven-year period called the great tribulation. It will be divided into two 3 and ½ year periods (Dan 7:25, Dan 9:27, Rev 11:2-3, Rev 12:6 & 14, Rev 13:5).
Revelation 7:1-8 describes the sealing of 144,000 with 12,000 from each tribe of Israel. Verses 9:1-7 describe an innumerable multitude of people from all over the world in heaven. Revelation chapter 8 describes the opening of the seventh seal bringing forth seven angels with seven trumpets and what judgment is released on the earth with the sounding of the first four trumpets. The first sends hail and fire with blood. The second sends a mountain burning into the sea and 1/3 of all in the sea dying. The third releases Wormwood which makes 1/3 of the water bitter, and the fourth causes 1/3 of the sun, moon, and stars to be darkened. Revelation chapter 9 describes the sounding of the next two trumpets. The fifth sends locusts and torment, and the sixth releases an army of 200 million that kill 1/3 of men, yet the people of earth still refuse to repent. In Revelation 6:8 ¼ of the world will die. Since 1/3 of who is left die in this verse, in just these two verses ½ of the population of the world will die.
Revelation 10:1-7 speaks of an angelic declaration, and verses 8-11 describe John eating a book and being sent to prophesy. Revelation 11:1-12 speak of two witnesses, verses 13-14 describe an earthquake, and verses 15-19 say the sounding of the seventh trumpet will release a declaration, the opening of the temple, and an earthquake and hail.
Revelation chapter 12 describes a woman who gives birth and is attacked by the serpent. There is war in heaven and Satan and his angels are cast out. The devil is cast to the earth and persecutes the woman who flees to the wilderness. Revelation 13:1-10 describes a beast coming up out of the sea which is a composite of the four beasts described in Daniel 7. Verses 11-18 speak of another beast coming up out of the earth which is like a lamb. This beast introduces an image to which universal worship is required, and he causes all to receive a mark on their right hand or forehead which is required to buy and sell. The number of the beast is 666.
Revelation 14:1-5 speak of the 144,000, and verses 6-13 speak of the judgment of Babylon and those who take the mark of the beast as well as two harvests. Revelation 15 speaks of seven angels who have seven vials with the seven final plagues of the seven-year period. Verses 2-4 shows people in heaven who overcame the beast, and they have the song of Moses and the Lamb. Chapter 16 describes the pouring out of these vials on the earth. The first vial gives the people with the mark a sore. The second one turns the sea to blood. The third turns the rivers and fountains to blood. The fourth sends scorching heat upon men. The fifth sends darkness. The sixth dries up the Euphrates River. Three unclean spirits are released who gather the armies for the battle of Armageddon. The seventh vial releases an earthquake, they city is divided into three parts, and great hailstones fall.
There are similarities to the trumpets and vials and six of the ten plagues that God sent upon Egypt before the exodus of the Israelites in Exodus 7-12:
1. Water to blood (2nd and 3rd vials)
2. Frogs (6th vial)
5. Murrain on animals - pestilence, disease
6. Boils and blisters on men (1st vial)
7. Hail and fire (1st trumpet, 7th trumpet)
8. Locusts (5th trumpet)
9. Darkness (4th trumpet)
10. Death of firstborn
Revelation chapter 17 describes the great whore. A whore can represent a spiritually unfaithful religious group. Israel was a spiritually adulterous bride of God in the Old Testament (Is 54:6, Jer 2:2, Eze 16, Jer 3:1-9, Jer 5:7, Hos 1:2). Israel committed spiritual and literal whoredom with idols (Eze 16, Eze 23, Hos 1:2, Hos 2:2-4, Hos 4:12, Hos 5:4, Nah 3:4). The New Testament church is the bride of Christ (Mt 9:15, Mt 25:1, Jn 3:29, Rom 7:4, 1Cor 6:16-17, 2Cor 11:2, Eph 5:22-32, Rev 19:7-9, Rev 21:1-2 & 9-10 (Mt 5:14, Heb 12:22-23). Therefore, the harlot can be considered a false religion which poses as the bride of Christ. This chapter gives us twelve pieces of information the help us determine who the whore is:
1. Vs 1 - she sits on many waters (many nations - Num 24:7, Is 8:7, Is 17:12-13, Jer 47:2, Jer 51:13, Eze 17:5-8, Eze 31); vs 15 - The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues
2. Vs 2 - the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her (political involvement);
vs 3 - she sat upon the beast of Rev 13
3. Vs 3 - the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine (worldwide)
4. Vs 4 - arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand (physical description)
5. Vs 4 - full of abominations and formication (vs 5 - mother of abominations)
6. Vs 5 - MYSTERY (religious secret, hidden purpose, for this verse in Thayer - hidden or
mystic meaning of a name)
7. Vs 5 - BABYLON (Gen 11:1-9)
a. Babylon Mystery Religion by Ralph Woodrow
b. Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop
c. Three Persons by Thomas Weisser
8. Vs 5 - MOTHER OF HARLOTS
a. is there a religion that calls itself mother?
b. is there a religion that has spawned many daughters?
9. Vs 6 - drunken with the blood of saints and martyrs - a religion that has murdered many
10. Vs 9 - the woman sits on 7 mountains (Rome sits on seven hills - Aventine, Caelian,
Capitoline, Esquiline, Palatine, Quirinal, and Viminal)
11. Vs 16-17 - the 10 horns will hate her because God put it in their hearts (true political
agenda over religious veneer one)
12. Vs 18 - the woman is the city which reigned over the world in 90 A.D
Revelation chapter 18 describes the fall of Babylon. In verse 7, she said, “I sit a queen”. What institution prominently features a female figure called the queen? Verses 10-19 describe her vast material wealth being destroyed. Is there a religion which fits all of the above information which also has billions of dollars of wealth? Verse 23 says her sorceries deceived the nations, and verse 24 says she murdered prophets, saints, and all on the earth.
Revelation 19:1-6 describes worship in heaven. This passage is the only place in the KJV that the word “Alleluiah” appears, where it does so four times. Verses 7-10 speak of the marriage supper of the Lamb. Verses 11-21 describe the return of the Lord to the earth on a white horse. In this passage He has four names: a name only He knew, Faithful and True, the Word of God, and KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. His armies followed Him in white linen, which symbolizes righteousness (Rev 3:4-5 & 18, Rev 4:4, Rev 6:11, Rev 7:9 & 13-14, 19:8). Note He will not be riding a donkey like He did when He entered Jerusalem the week before He died for our sins (Zech 9:9, Mt 21:1-9). He will rule with a rod of iron, or with absolute authority. Verses 17-21 describe the battle of Armageddon. This will take place in a valley north of Jerusalem which is mentioned twelve times in the Bible. It is about six miles from Mt. Carmel and 11 miles from Nazareth. Its name means “place of crowds”. This battle is spoken of in several other passages (Ps 2, Zech 14, 2Thes 2:8, Rev 14:20?, Rev 16:16). Carnivorous birds will gather to eat the bodies of the dead, and the beast and the false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire. This will be a quick and decisive victory for the Lord.
Revelation 20:1-6 describe the 1,000-year or millennial reign of the Lord and His people which will follow His return. Satan will be bound this whole time, but verses 7-9 say that after that he will be loosed one more time to gather the world for one final attempt to attack the Lord. It is called the battle of God and Magog and is also prophesied about in Ezekiel 38-39 where it addresses Gog and Magog the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. This is the last battle in the Bible. Here are some definitions of these words which will help us understand what is being spoken of:
a. Gesenius: also of the Rossi, Moschi, and Tibareni who is to come with great forces
from the extreme north after the exile to invade the holy land and to perish there
b. Gesenius: equal with Magog seems to be the name of a region not a prince
2. Magog - the land of Gog (Gen 10:2. 1Chr 1:5)
3. Rosh: the uppermost or chief
a. Gesenius: “Rosh was a designation for the tribes then north of the Taurus Mountains,
dwelling in the neighbourhood of the Volga”; also that Rosh in Ezekiel 38-39 is a:
“northern nation, mentioned with Meshech and Tubal; undoubtedly the Russians, who are mentioned by the Byzantine writers of the tenth century, under the name the Ros, dwelling to the north of Taurus, as dwelling on the river Rha (Wolga).”
b. Many scholars say the two Hebrew words translated chief prince should be considered the proper noun of a place and not a person
a. Gesenius - the barbarous people inhabiting the Moschian mountains, between
Armenia, Iberia, and Colchis, almost always joining with the Tibareni
b. Easton's Bible Dictionary: Drawing out, the sixth son of Japheth (Genesis 10:2), the
founder of a tribe (1 Chronicles 1:5; Ezek. 27:13; 38:2, 3). They were in all probability
the Moschi, a people inhabiting the Moschian Mountains, between the Black and the
Caspian Seas. In Psalm 120:5 the name occurs as simply a synonym for foreigners or barbarians. "During the ascendency of the Babylonians and Persians in Western Asia, the Moschi were subdued; but it seems probable that a large number of them crossed the Caucasus range and spread over the northern steppes, mingling with the Scythians. There they became known as Muscovs, and gave that name to the Russian nation and its ancient capital by which they are still generally known throughout the East"
5. Tubal: a region in east Asia Minor, perhaps nearly equal to Cappadocia
a. Gesenius: the Tibareni, a nation of Asia Minor, dwelling by the Euxine Sea, to the west of the Moschi
b. Scofield Study Bible: “That the primary reference is to the Northern powers headed by Russia, all agree. The reference to Meshech and Tubal (Moscow and Tobolsk) is a
clear mark of identification.” Thus the name Moscow derives from the tribal name
Meshech, and Tobolsk, the name of the principal state, from Tubal. This view is partly
based on the similarity of sound in these names and their close proximity to Rosh
(Russia). If this is so, the names Meshech and Tubal, point directly to Russia, being
identified with Moscow, the capital of modern Russia, and Tobolsk in Asiatic Russia.
Modern Tobolsk was founded in 1587 in western Siberia, and from there the Cossacks rode eastward to open up all of Siberia to Russian domination. Meshech and Tubal would then be names standing for Russia in Europe and Asia. L.Sale- Harrison corroborated this identification on linguistic grounds.
6. all above geographical references are north of Israel and in modern Russia (although
some say some are in Turkey)
7. Eze 39:2 - from the north parts; Moscow is directly north of Jerusalem
8. Russia has never invaded Israel yet
Revelation 20:10 shows us Satan being thrown into lake of fire. Then verses 11-15 describe the great white throne judgment. Only the unsaved dead will be judged there. They will be judged by three criteria:
1. the books (biblion- written document) were opened (the Bible)
2. the book of life (Ex 32:32, Ps 69:28, Is 4:3, Dan 12:1, Mal 3:16, Lk 10:20, Phil 4:3, Heb
12:23, Rev 3:5, Rev 13:8, Rev 17:8, Rev 21:27, Rev 22:19)
3. their works
Death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire. Some may wonder about the difference between hell and the lake of fire. Why would people come out of hell, face judgment, and then go to the lake of fire? It can be compared to someone being arrested, charged with a crime, and being held in jail until final disposition and sentencing. People do not serve the final sentence for serious crimes in jail. After final sentencing, they are taken to a prison. Hell can be compared to the jail, and the lake of fire can be compared to the prison. Circumstances between jail and prison may not be very different in some ways, but the parameters of their terms are different. Those whose names are not in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 21:1 says there will be a new heaven and a new earth (Is 65:17, Is 66:22, 2Pet 3:13); also Acts 3:19-21, Rom 8:19-23). Verses 2-8 describe the blessed eternal state of the saved and the lake of fire for the lost (vs 8). Verses 9-27 describe the new Jerusalem (Gal 4:25-26, Heb 12:22, Rev 3:12). Is this literal or figurative? Verses 2 and 9 say it is the Lamb’s wife. Verses 16-17 say it will be about 1363 miles cubed with a wall about 216 feet high. There will be no temple in it because the Lord is its temple. It will not need the sun or moon. There will be no night there because the glory of God will lighten it (Rev 22:5). There will be no sinners there (Rev 22:14-15).
Revelation 22 is the last chapter of the Bible. Verses 1-3 show that conditions of the garden of Eden will be restored. There will be living waters (Jer 2:13, Jer 17:13, Eze 47:1-12, Zech 14:8, Jn 4:10-11, Jn 7:37-39, Rev 21:6, Rev 22:16), the tree of life (Gen 2:9-17, Gen 3:22-24, Prov 11:30, Prov 13:12, Prov 15:4, Rev 2:7, Rev 22:14), and no more curse (Gen 3:14-19, Gen 8:21, Deut 11:26-28, Deut 30, Gal 3:3). The people of God will reign forever (vs 5). Verses 18-19 give a very strong warning against adding or taking away from the contents of the book, and verse 20 closes it with the promise that He will come quickly.