REVELATION EXPLAINED: CHAPTERS 1-5
This article is my faithful attempt to explain the most important book ever written in the history of mankind, the book of Revelation will always remain a mystery to those who dismiss the Bible as the word of God, or those seeking to understand its message without complete faith in Christ. However understanding and knowledge of the book of Revelation can be obtained, by those who have been born again through faith in the Son of God, Christ Jesus. Before reading the book of Revelation, it is important to know that a complete understanding of the book is difficult to obtain without referencing the Old Testament book of Daniel. Many parts of Revelation are symbolic, and the meanings of these symbols are found in the book of Daniel. The scripture written by the prophet Daniel acts as a key to decoding much of the symbolism found throughout the book of Revelation. Not only does the book of Daniel play a major role in decoding the symbolism of Revelation, it provides us with an exact timeline for the events described in Revelation.
DANIEL'S 70TH WEEK
To be more specific about this timeline, I must point out that the major events of the book of Revelation take place over a seven year period, this is confirmed through the study of (Daniel 9:24-27). In short these verses tell of a final seven year period before the return of Jesus Christ, known as Daniel’s 70th week. A specific event in (Daniel 9:27) signals the beginning of Daniels 70th week, and another event described in (Daniel 9:27) signals the last three and a half year period, known as the time of great tribulation, and God’s wrath. To help you fully understand this time period and the events detailed in the book of Revelation, please refer to my REVELATION TIMELINE. This timeline details the final seven year period, and shows which events take place at certain times during the seven years. I have underlined all the events described in Revelation that signal the beginning of the seven year period, and the final three and a half years of Daniel’s 70th week.
A STORY TOLD TWICE
One thing that is essential to understand about the book of Revelation, is that the story, and events detailed within the book are actually told twice. As you read Revelation it would seem that the story is over at the end of Chapter 11, but there is still another eleven chapters left to read. This has become a major stumbling block for many people who study Bible prophecy. The best way to view the book of Revelation, is to look at it as two books that are telling the same story twice, once this is understood, the Revelation of Jesus Christ becomes much clearer. The book of Revelation consists of twenty two chapters, the first eleven chapters give a detailed overview of the end of the world, and the events that occur. Chapter one to the end of chapter five is an introduction to the book of Revelation, chapter six through to the end of chapter eleven, deals exclusively with the events that take place during Daniel's 70th week. The story then starts over again in chapter twelve to give a more detailed account of events that take place during this seven year period.
THE REVELATION BEGINS
The Book of Revelation also known as the revelation of Jesus Christ, was written by the Apostle John while imprisoned on the Island of Patmos, which is located off the coast of modern day Turkey. The book of Revelation is believed to have been written in A.D. 95, the book is a record of visions of the end times, shown to John by Jesus Christ Himself. The book begins with Jesus giving instructions to John to write seven letters to seven churches of that era. In these letters Jesus expresses condemnation, criticism and encouragement, according to the conduct of these seven churches. Then comes a long series of visions that describe catastrophic events that will take place in the time leading up to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Revelation then finishes with visions of a new heaven and a new earth, where God Himself will reign with man forever. The Book of Revelation and the visions described within, are written in highly symbolic language, although some may seem difficult to understand to a person who is unfamiliar to the Bible, the truth is that the key to understanding the language in Revelation, is found within other books of the Bible. These books, such as the book of Daniel, act as a type of code key to unlocking the meanings of certain symbols and phrases found in Revelation. The purpose of this article is to explain the book of Revelation to any believer, and help them better understand the Revelation of Jesus Christ. so lets begin with John's letters to the seven churches.
LETTERS TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES
The first, second and third chapters of Revelation, describe Jesus telling John, to write letters to the seven churches at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Laodicea and Philadelphia, These churches were actual churches that existed in Asia in 95 A.D. In theses letters, Jesus tells the churches that He knows their works and passes His judgment on them accordingly. To the church of Ephesus, Jesus commends them on their endurance, good works and rejection of evil, but He rebukes them because they had lost the desire to preach the gospel, like they did when they first became Christians (Revelation 2:1-7). To the church of Smyrna, Jesus tells them that He knows that they are being persecuted because of their faith, and He warns them that the devil is going to have some of them put in prison. Jesus encourages the church at Smyrna to remain strong and faithful even if it means their death (Revelation 2:8-11). To the church in Pergamos, Jesus commends them for keeping their faith while living in an evil environment, while under the threat of death. However Jesus rebukes the church, because some of the members are still practicing pagan and occult religions, He warns them that if they did not repent and stop these practices, Jesus will make them His enemies (Revelation 2:12-17).
To the church in Thyatira, Jesus commends them for their love, faith, and good deeds, but Jesus is angry with them for allowing false teachings, causing church members to be sexually immoral, and to practice idol worship. Jesus warns the members who follow these false teachers to repent, or they will not be protected from coming tribulations. (Revelation 2:18-29). To the church of Sardis, Jesus expresses His anger towards them, because they claim to be Christians and to be alive in faith, but according to Jesus their faith is dead. They proclaim to follow Christ, but are not living as Christians. Jesus warns them that He has not found their works complete before God, and just proclaiming to be a Christian is not enough. He warns them to repent, to remember His teachings and keep His laws, otherwise He warns them their names may not be found written in the book of life (Revelation 3:1-6). To the Church of Laodicea, Jesus expresses His anger and disappointment, He says they are neither hot nor cold, meaning they refuse to either acknowledge, or deny their belief in Jesus. He warns them that He will reject them for being neither hot nor cold. However Jesus tells the church that He is knocking at their door and whoever among them opens themselves up to Jesus, He will reward with eternal life (Revelation 3:14-22). To the church of Philadelphia, Jesus expresses His approval of them because they have kept His word and refused to accept false gospel or tolerated immorality. These people followed the laws of God and would not deny the name of Jesus Christ. The Lord says that as a reward for their faith and willingness to obey the laws of God that they will be protected during times of great tribulation (Revelation 3:7-13).
WHAT DO THESE LETTERS MEAN?
The letters written to the seven churches were obviously meant to reprove, rebuke and encourage the churches of that era, but these letters are also a prophecy representing seven attitudes that will be found among individual Christians, as well as the condition of Christian churches during the end times. These letters were written not only to the seven churches in 95 A.D, but also as a warning to us about the condition of the Church in the end times. Jesus is stating the consequences for the attitude His people choose to display in the latter days. For example, Jesus explains in the letter to the church in Smyrna, that in the end times certain Christians will be imprisoned for their faith, and He encourages them to remain faithful. Where as in the letter to the church in Laodicea, Jesus is describing that many people will be unwilling to acknowledge Him. In the letter to the church of Ephesus, Jesus is describing Christians losing the desire to preach the gospel due to the of the hardships of the end time conditions. In the letter to the church of Pergamos, Jesus is describing Christians being surrounded by evil influences, and false teachers during in end times. This is a warning from Jesus to turn away from false doctrines and those who teach them. In the letter to the church of Thyatira, Jesus is describing Christians who will not only practice, but promote sexual immorality in the end times, Jesus warns that this behavior, and these people will not be tolerated. In the letter to the church of Sardis, Jesus is describing people who will believe that He exists but refuse to follow His ways, or obey God’s law. In the letter to the church of Philadelphia, Jesus reveals that there will be a small flock of Christians who will be strong in Christ and remain faithful to their Ministries to the very end. The scripture teaches that because of their faithful conduct these Christians will be spared the hour of temptation. (Revelation 3:10) Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
The letters to the seven churches reveal what Christians, and the church will be like in the end times, these letters where written to help us understand the condition of the church, and the consequences for specific behaviors during the last days. These letters are a guide to Christians, as our actions will determine which letter applies to us as individuals.
THE SCROLL AND THE LAMB
After Jesus had finished telling John what to write to the seven churches, John begins to see an open door leading to heaven and a voice sounding like a trumpet telling him to come up into heaven. John is then given an amazing vision of the throne of the Almighty God, the vision describes the appearance of God and His heavenly company.
(Revelation 4:1-11) 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. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
The vision of heaven continues in chapter five, it describes God holding a scroll that is sealed with seven seals. John then hears the voice of a mighty angel say, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof ? John becomes upset because no one in heaven or on earth is found worthy to open the scroll and break its seals. Then an angel tells John, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. (Revelation 5:1-5). John then sees a Lamb who has appeared to have been killed approaching the throne of God, the Lamb then proceeds to take the scroll from the hand of God in preparation to open the seals (Revelation 5:6-7).
THE END OF CHAPTER FIVE
Chapter 5 goes on to explain that the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb who receives the scroll are one in the same. The Lion and the Lamb are a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. The chapter continues on to describe the angels of heaven bowing down in worship of Jesus, they then explain that because Jesus was killed for all mankind, He is the only one worthy to open the seals of the scroll (Revelation 5:8-14). This is the end of chapter five, chapter six of the book of Revelation details the opening of the seals and the mystery of the scroll.
TO BE CONTINUED