The Book of Revelation – Part 1 of 10



Preface

Without a doubt, the book of Revelation is the most misunderstood of all the Holy Scriptures. Many people throughout the ages have tried to understand its meaning and failed. Many have not even attempted to understand the book, choosing instead to ignore it. Others have become so discouraged and confused by the vast array of interpretations that they have given up on trying to comprehend it for themselves.

Are these actions and attitudes in keeping with Yahweh’s will for the readers of Revelation? His will is clearly evident in the first three verses of chapter one. The word “revelation” is a translation of the Greek word “apokalupsis” meaning; unveiling, uncovering, to expose to open view what was once hidden. From the day this book was written its prophecies were to be understood. Rev 22:10 confirms this by commanding that these prophesies not be sealed. They are to be read and understood by Yahweh’s servants. In fact, readers, hearers, and keepers of these prophesies are to be blessed. The word “keep” in Rev 1:3 means to observe attentively or keep an eye on. Watching Revelation being fulfilled increases our faith and hope in Yahweh. However, it is difficult to discern its fulfillment if we don’t know in advance what is to occur. That is one reason this book was written; “to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass” (Rev 1:1).

The purpose of this study is to understand escatology in light of the book of Revelation. It is not my intention to give a detailed analysis of all the symbols and events of Revelation but to bring to light the time sequence of events which will, in turn, help to clarify other beliefs such as when Messiah will return; will there be living saints caught up into the air before they die a physical death; will the saints go to heaven for any length of time; etc.

It is my hope that the reader will not discard this study when confronted by a belief they are unfamiliar with or don’t agree with. Read it through entirely before drawing your conclusions and base those conclusions on the preponderance of scriptural evidence.

This study is in no way “the final word” on escatology. New light is constantly being provided by Yahweh through various means and one should always be aware of its shining. This study does, however, provide a firm foundation on which to build our escatology as far as when, and in what order, certain events are to occur in time.

Introduction

Before we can begin building on our understanding of Revelation we must first lay a firm foundation. New Jerusalem has twelve foundations, however, we will only need three to begin our study.

Foundation # 1 – The book of Revelation reads as any novel would. It has a definite time sequence that must not be altered by rearranging chapters to suit ones needs, particularly those that result from seals being opened, trumpets being blown, and vials being poured out. There are also a few parenthetical or insert chapters that do not change the time sequence of the story flow. For example, Rev 17 is a description of Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots. Her destruction begins in Rev 16:19 and is pictured in Rev 18. It is not that Babylon comes into being after Rev 16:19.

Foundation # 2 – The seven seals are the main events of the book and must take place in succession. The seventh seal, for example, cannot precede the fourth seal and the second seal cannot occur after the sixth seal, etc. Otherwise the purpose of numbering each seal would be meaningless. The seventh seal contains all seven trumpets which means no trumpet can take place before the opening of the seventh seal. The seventh trumpet contains the seven last plagues which means none of the plagues can occur before the seventh trumpet or before the seventh seal.

Have you ever received a gift box and, upon opening it, found another box inside, and another inside that box, etc.? Try to understand the seven seals in that sense. You are given six gifts, one after the other (the first six seals). Then you are given a seventh gift (seventh seal) that you open and, inside, find seven more boxes (seven trumpets). After you open the first six and then the seventh, you find seven more boxes inside (seven last plagues). After you finish opening the seventh and last box (seventh plague) you have finished opening all your gifts. There were fourteen boxes altogether in that seventh gift box you received. There are seven trumpets and seven last plagues contained in the seventh seal that cannot occur before the seventh seal is opened.

Foundation # 3 – Let the scriptures interpret themselves.
2 Peter 1:20 says, “no prophesy of scripture is of any private interpretation.” We are not to give our own understanding of what we think the prophesy is saying.

The Vision of the Heavenly Sanctuary

Chapters 1-3 are not part of the vision about future events, which is our main concern. Chapter 1 is the introduction to the book of Revelation and it includes a vision of the glorified Messiah. In verse 19 John is commanded to write three things; that which he has seen (Rev 1:10-20); things which are (Rev 2:1 – 3:22); and things which shall be hereafter (Rev 4:2-22:21). Chapters 2 and 3 contain letters to the seven literal assemblies that existed in Asia Minor at the time Revelation was written. Although these assemblies no longer exist their characteristics are strikingly similar to those exhibited by assemblies, churches, and individuals that today. The letters contain prophetic warnings to all who read them throughout the centuries in the hope that those who have ears to hear will emulate the positive characteristics and repent of the negative characteristics described therein.

The prophetic narrative begins in Rev 4:1 where the Apostle John is told to enter heaven (via a vision) to behold “things which must be hereafter.” Therefore, all that John is shown from Rev 4-Rev 22 must occur after John received the vision in approximately 96 C.E.. That means Rev.12 occurs after 96 C.E. and not before, as we will see later.

In Rev 4:1 we read about a voice, sounding similar to a trumpet, calling to John. Some theologians have interpreted this to be the fulfillment of 1 Thess 4:16,17 where Yeshua returns at the sound of the trumpet to resurrect the dead. It is a foundational belief to the secret rapture doctrine. This is erroneous, however, based on 1 Cor 15:52 which states that the resurrection trumpet is the “last” trumpet. The last trumpet in all scripture is the seventh trumpet of Rev 11:15. As we shall see later, it is that trumpet that heralds Messiah’s return. Verse 1 does not say a trumpet sounded. It says a voice sounded like a trumpet.

The scene taking place in Rev 4 is that of Yahweh’s throne room in heaven. Notice verse 6, which shows a “sea of glass” directly in front of Yahweh’s throne. It is the same sea of glass that victorious saints will stand upon, in heaven, after their resurrection (Rev 15:2-4).

In verse 4, 24 elders are sitting around the throne of Yahweh. They are clothed in white raiment with crowns of gold on their heads. Who are they? They are the saints that resurrected shortly after Yeshua in Mt 27:52,53. They did not simply die again after their resurrection. They were taken to heaven at the same time Yeshua ascended to the throne of Yahweh to be accepted as the wave sheaf. Yeshua returned to earth for forty days; they remained in heaven to begin their anti-typical work in the heavenly sanctuary. The type is found in 1 Chr 24:1-19, especially vs.19. They are dressed in white to represent their righteousness (Rev 19:8) and their crowns were given to them just as the Apostle Paul, James, and Peter had said (2 Tim 4:8; Ja 1:12; 1 Pe 5:4). Proof that some saints will go to heaven for a period of time is given later in this study.

The scene continues in Rev 5:1 with a book (scroll) sealed with seven seals. This scroll contains the events to occur during the great “Day of Yahweh.” That day will begin once the seventh seal is removed allowing the scroll to be opened. Only the Messiah, the Lamb of Yahweh, has the power to open the seals and the scroll (vs.5). Since this is true, we should look to Messiah to tell us what these seals mean.

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