|Table of Contents|
|Some Early Important Bible Events|
|How to Study Daniel|
|How to Study Zechariah|
|How to Study Revelation|
|What Prophecy Means to Us|
THE BIBLE uses many symbols. In that way even things not yet invented could be described. Three books of the Bible explain many symbols each book introduces: Daniel, Zechariah and Revelation. The book of Revelation draws types and prophecies from the rest of the Bible to weave them into a great prophecy of the world’s self-destruction and then the restoration to the life lost in the garden of Eden.
The Hebrew word sheba (pronounced ‘shě´ vä’, similar to the English ‘seven’) means both the number ‘7’ and ‘oath.’ (E.g., see Genesis 21:22-34, where Abraham uses seven ewe lambs to confirm his oath to the Philistine king.) Hence, when we see seven used in the types and prophecies, we should try to connect it with the promise God swore to Abraham that all the nations of the earth will be blessed, and will bless one another. The connection is usually to the Gospel Age, but sometimes may refer to the preceding Jewish Age (Law covenant) or to the subsequent Millennial Age (New covenant).
Joseph, by God’s supervision, was the savior of the post-Flood world, and specially of his own people, Israel. Ranking second only to Pharaoh himself, Joseph stored up sufficient food during seven years of plentiful crops to feed that world during seven years of famine (depicting the Gospel and Millennial Ages, during which the world first feels independent but then comes to recognize their full dependence upon God and Christ). Genesis 39-47; 1 Timothy 4:10.
Israel’s Exodus from Egypt is often referred to in succeeding prophecies and is specifically identified as a type in 1 Corinthians 10:1-11. Moses comes to Egypt, requests of Pharaoh that Israel be permitted to go three days in the wilderness to sacrifice to Jehovah their God, is refused; and so there follow ten plagues until all the firstborn of Egypt die in the last plague. After that, Israel leaves Egypt and is out from under the influence of Pharaoh for three days, until he pursues after them and is drowned with his army in the Red Sea; then Israel goes three days in the wilderness to serve Jehovah their God. In the reality, Jesus’ first advent began the Gospel Age, which ends with the deliverance – resurrection – of the church of the firstborn but the mutual destruction of the heirs of this present evil world. Then the Millennial Age will release the people from death to learn righteousness, followed by a final exam when Satan is loosed for a little season (short time), and following the Lord’s destruction of Satan and any who follow him, the world will be forever delivered from all the enemies – Satan, sin, sickness and death. (Exodus 7:14 – 15:22a; Revelation 20-22.)
At the siege of Jericho, Joshua rose early on the first day, the priests picked up the ark (of God’s covenant); and with the army of Israel, seven priests marched around the city of Jericho seven days, blowing the seven trumpets. On the seventh day they rose up early, marched seven times around the city blowing the trumpets, Joshua cried to the people to shout, they shouted and the wall in front of them fell down into the trench, suddenly making for easy access into the city. (Joshua 6) The city was not rebuilt for another six or seven centuries. In the great reality, Jesus’ resurrection at his first advent began the Gospel Age (represented by the seven days). The last day was also divided into seven parts, which represents “the last day” of the Gospel Age. When the faithful church, the bride of Christ, is complete, this world will be taken over by the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ (his anointed, his church). Then will follow the thousand-year Kingdom of Christ, and then Satan’s little season (represented by the rebuilding of Jericho, with the corresponding death of Satan’s “firstborn” and “lastborn”). The theme of the seven priests blowing the seven trumpets foreshadows Revelation: the seven messengers blowing the seven trumpets spans the Gospel Age, as do therefore the seven messengers’ letters to the seven churches; while the seven times around on Jericho’s last day show us that “the last day” of the Gospel Age is also divided into seven periods of time – the seven last plagues. (The seven last plagues in Egypt fell only upon the Egyptians, as the Lord had now made a separation between them and the Israelites.)
Solomon’s Temple was built within seven years. The Temple was dedicated in the 7th month, although it was not completed until the 8th month. On the day of dedication smoke filled the Temple so that the priests could not stand to minister (the blessings). Evidently the significance is that at Christ’s return the resurrection of those saints who had previously fallen asleep in death is not sufficient to begin the blessings to the world, which must await the completion of the faithful church. We encounter this theme again in Revelation 15-16.
A stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and break them in pieces.
A kingdom which … shall break in pieces and shall consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
Daniel 2:34, 44
Although modern Judaism prefers to consider Daniel as history, there are nearly a dozen types and prophecies in the book. In chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar (Nabu-kudurri-uzur) has been king perhaps two years when he has a frightening dream. He apparently had the loyalty of his army but doubted the loyalty of the intelligencia. Thus, he demanded the intelligencia tell him his dream and then interpret it, or he would have them killed. God gave Daniel the dream and the interpretation: There was a great image with head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of copper, legs of iron, and feet and toes of iron mixed with miry clay (perhaps something like cast iron, strong and brittle). There were to be successive kingdoms of Babylon (gold = greatest in glory), Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome (Pagan, and then Papal). The last of these will come to a violent end and be replaced by the Kingdom of Christ.
In chapter 3 the king sets up a huge image (90 feet high by 9 feet wide) and demands everyone worship it. Three faithful Hebrews refuse to worship it and are thrown into a fire heated with seven times the fuel it was designed for. The soldiers who bound them and threw them in were burned to death, yet the three Hebrews were unhurt but had their bonds burned off them, having been protected by “a son of the gods.” Then these three were promoted in the kingdom. This is evidently a type, or picture, of the deliverance of the faithful church (by resurrection), which occurs in the last day of this present world.
In chapter 4 a great tree is cut down, but its roots and stump remain in order to regrow after “seven times.” The seven times are commonly taken to mean 7×360 = 2,520 years; and interpreted to begin with the new Babylonian Empire around B.C. 610-603 so as to end around A.D. 1911-1918 (World War I era).
Chapter 5 relates the drunken feast when Belshazzar used the vessels from the Temple at Jerusalem, and the handwriting on the wall which Daniel alone could interpret: Babylon’s kingdom is numbered, it weighs short, and it is divided between the Medes and Persians (who had divided from the Medes). It depicts the end of this present world in the last day, but Daniel (representing the Lord’s people) continues.
Daniel was a ruler of integrity. He had been made third ruler in authority in the Babylonian Kingdom under King Nabunaid (who was warring in the West) and his co-regent son Belshazzar, when the Medes and Persians conquered the kingdom. In chapter 6 Darius, king of the Medes, was preparing to make Daniel the chief public servant in his kingdom, when the other governors conspired and trapped Darius into putting Daniel into the lion’s den. But God kept the lions away from Daniel all night; so Darius fed his enemies to the lions instead. This incident shows God’s will to protect His people and that He will vanquish their enemies.
Chapter 7 shows the same four successive dominant kingdoms as in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, not with the glory viewed by the great men of this world, but with the viciousness seen by the God of the universe. The Grecian leopard beast had four heads (Macedonia, Ptolemy’s Egypt, Seleucus’ Syria, and Thrace), while the Babylonian lion, Medo-Persian bear, and the Roman indescribable beast had no extra heads; the Roman beast at first had ten horns, while the others had none. Collectively, the four beasts had 7 heads and 10 horns. We meet this theme again in three chapters of Revelation. (In this chapter the little horn comes out of the Roman beast; then the number of horns is eleven, but when three horns are plucked up before it the number reduces to eight. Thus “ten horns” pertains to the early part of that kingdom.)
The goat had a notable horn between his eyes. The rough he-goat is the king of Javan (Ionians, Greece). Daniel 8:5, 21
There was no power in the ram to stand before him. Daniel 8:5-7
In chapter 8 is shown the two-horned ram, the symbol used by the Medo-Persian kingdom, being defeated and destroyed by the Grecian goat1 with the great horn in the forehead (modern Greeks call him Alexander the Great; modern Persians call him Alexander the Terrible). But the great horn was broken suddenly. At the peak of his power, Alexander died of disease, at only thirty-three years of age. In his place arose four of his generals soon after: Cassander in Macedonia, Ptolemy in Egypt, Seleucus in Syria, and Lysimachus in Thrace. Thrace (Tiras in Genesis 10) colonized both Tyre and Rome (upstream of the Tyrrhenian Sea); so that Rome may be viewed as coming out of the Thracian horn. Yet when that horn is destroyed it will not be replaced by another earthly oppressor. [The 2,300 “evenings and mornings” are variously understood:2 Some begin them at B.C. 455 and end them with A.D. 1846, when the Evangelical Alliance excluded non-trinitarians and soul-sleep Christians from their definition of Christianity. Or it may be noted that the rise of Rome began in B.C. 387, when the Gauls (a Celtic tribe, Tarshish in Genesis 10) withdrew their siege of Rome, and therefore ended in 1914 with the beginning of World War I.]
1 The Macedonians used the goat for their symbol, as Aegean Sea means “Goat Sea.”
2 The expression “evenings and mornings” expresses complete cycles and therefore cannot reasonably be explained as lunar years, rather than solar years.
In chapter 9 Daniel confesses that the evils which came upon Israel were a result of their sins, and he recognizes the seventy years of serving Babylon are ending. Israel began to return to their land in the first year of King Cyrus the Persian. The same angel Gabriel, who later would herald the births of John and Jesus, showed that from the command to restore Jerusalem there would be 7+62+1 = 70 weeks (of years), or 490 years. The first 49 years may take us to the writing of the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi. The last week of seven years evidently includes the 3½ years of Jesus’ ministry and sacrificial death, A.D. 29-33.
After the struggle in heaven between Satan and the Lord’s angels, the future was revealed: The Daniel 11:2 – 12:3 prophecy begins in the first (and likely only) year of Darius the Mede, who was followed by Persian Kings Cyrus, Cambyses, and Darius I; then Xerxes (Khsh varsha; Hebrew Ahash verosh) became the richest of them all. But Xerxes’ war against Greece was a disaster. Judea would be conquered a century later by Grecian King Alexander; after his death two of his generals, Ptolemy in Egypt and Seleucus in Syria, established dynasties which later fought back and forth over Judea until Antiochus IV Epiphanes of Syria finally wrested it away. (Antiochus’ sacrilegious rule sparked Judea’s Maccabean revolt, ignored in Daniel 11.) Then in B.C. 64 Pompeii conquered Judea and its neighbors for Rome. Rome would later destroy the Temple and Jerusalem, negate Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice, and set up a counterfeit of Christ’s Kingdom. Christians shall witness to Christ and His coming Kingdom, although many shall be slain. Rome will be threatened by the Saracens and Turks from the South, and especially by Great Britain, but the British Empire will come to an end. In this latter time Christ returns to bring the children of Israel back to their land, to oversee modern world calamities, and to complete His faithful church for a heavenly resurrection. Then shall come the resurrection of all the rest of the world’s dead: those who reform will live on earth forever, and whoever still refuses will die without being lamented. Christ and His church will be the light of the world; while Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel and the other ancient faithful ones down to John the Baptist, will shine individually as the benevolent earthly rulers.
Chapter 12 gives three prophetic time periods, evidently beginning with the establishment of the civil power of Papal Rome (between the summer solstice of A.D. 538 and spring equinox of 540): 3½ times (3½ × 360 = 1260 “days”) to begin the time of its end, 1290 days to help understand it, and 1335 days to a blessing. If the “day” is understood to be the circuit of the Sun in the heavens (rather than just around the earth) then each “day” is to be understood as a year. Thus, the beginning of the end would be in the period 1798-1800 (French Revolution and Napoleon; Pope Pius VI was imprisoned 1798 Feb. 20, died 1799 Aug. 29; no successor could be elected until 1800 March 14); the blessing would begin in the period 1873-1875.
The symbols which are both used and explained in the book of Daniel are collected below:
|Daniel||2:38||head of gold||king(dom) of Babylon|
|2:39||breast/arms of silver||another lesser kingdom|
|2:39||belly/thighs of copper||third kingdom|
|2:40||legs of iron||fourth strong kingdom|
|2:41-43||feet/toes of iron/clay||divided kingdom with royal/ecclesiastical domains|
|2:44-45||stone||kingdom of heaven|
|4:22||great tree||King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon|
|4:26||stump and roots||kingdom to be regained|
|5:25-28||handwriting on wall||Babylonia divided between Medes and Persians|
|7:17||4 beasts||4 king(dom)s|
|7:23||4th beast||4th diverse kingdom|
|7:24||10 horns||10 king(dom)s arising out of 4th kingdom|
|7:24||little horn||diverse, blasphemous king(dom)|
|8:20||2-horned ram||king(dom) of Media and Persia|
|8:21||he-goat||king(dom) of Greece (Javan = Ionia)|
|8:21||great horn||first king of Greece|
|8:22||4 horns||4 kingdoms arising out of the nation (Greece)|
|8:23-25||little horn||fierce, corrupt king|
|(9:24-27||end of 70 years||70 weeks prophecy)|
The theme of Zechariah is the building of the post-exile Temple, symbolic of the building of Christ’s faithful church during the Gospel Age. There are nine types, or prophetic visions, given in the first six chapters, and several more symbolic prophecies in the last four chapters.
Horses (1:7-11): The goal of the horses walking “to and fro through the earth” is to bring peace to the earth. The next eight visions show how this is to be progressively accomplished:
4 Horns vs. 4 Smiths (1:18-21): The four horns who scattered all Israel are evidently Babylon, Medo-Persia, and probably Greece and Rome (though a case could be made for Assyria and Egypt). The four smiths may represent the Lord’s revealment of progressive military technologies, which have already sent three of these powerful empires into history.
The Measuring Line (2:1-13): The measuring line signifies the Lord’s intent to rebuild Israel in the land which He had promised. The call to come out of then-fallen Babylon foreshadowed the last-day call for spiritual Israel to come out of Babylon (Rev. 18:1-5). After the kingdom of this world falls, multitudes will learn righteousness (Rev. 21:3-5).
The High Priest in Filthy Garments (3:1-10): Joshua the high priest is serving in filthy garments, which is wrong for any priest to do. Satan accuses Joshua (signifying consecrated Christians), who cannot – and does not try to – justify himself, but he is saved by the angel of the Lord (signifying Jesus Christ). (Jude 9 picks up this theme to show us that we are not to bring railing accusations against others.)
Lampstand (4:1-14): Rev. 1:20 identifies the seven-branched lampstand as the church (in its seven periods of development). The olive tree on the left might be the Old Testament and the olive tree on the right might be the New Testament, which furnish the olive oil, or holy spirit, to the church. Zerubabel, descended from the last living king of Judah (Jehoiachin, descended from David), evidently pictures the Messiah (Jesus Christ), who has the plummet for building the true Temple. The Gospel Age is a day of “small things,” which develops the Anointed class to bring about the day of great things in the thousand-year kingdom of Christ.
The Flying Roll (5:1-4): This roll is 10×20 cubits, the same dimension as the porch on the front of Solomon’s Temple house, where the Lord’s judgment was rendered (1 Kings 6:3; cf. 7:7). Ezek. 2:8 – 3:3 says the roll is written on the inside and on the outside, with lamentations (plural) and mourning and woe on the inside – “a curse over all the land.” We see this theme again in Rev. 5:1-9 and 6:1 – 8:1, where the scroll is unsealed so that the inside may also be seen.
Woman in an Ephah (5:5-10): The woman named Wickedness sounds similar to Jezebel; she is taken away from the holy land to Babylon, where she belongs. Lead, when first polished, looks like silver, but it tarnishes (corrupts) much faster; a talent is about 80 pounds (36 kg), sufficient to keep her in the ephah (bushel basket).
4 Chariots3 (6:1-8): Up to the time prophesied, the north country (signifying the heavenly phase of God’s Kingdom4) alone will have been conformed to God’s spirit. To conform the south country (signifying the earthly phase of God’s Kingdom) will require fulfillment of the next vision.
3 The four kinds of horses are attached to the chariots, not sitting in the chariots.
4 About 90% of the world’s population live north of the equator and can see the nighttime sky rotating around the north pole. Hence, north is often used to signify heaven, or the realm of God and the angels.
Crowns put on the High Priest (6:9-15): Joshua, son of Jehozadak, literally means Jesus, son of the righteousness of Jehovah. Jesus grew up in Nazareth (literally, city of netzer, Branch city); he is building the faithful church, the temple of God, during the Gospel Age, which temple includes many from all the nations of the earth – even far off; He shall be both priest (for blessing) and king (for benevolent governing) for all the nations of the earth, while other kings shall rule under him.
Chapter 7 begins with a question from Bethel (meaning, house of God), whether they should continue to mourn for the destruction of Solomon’s Temple now that the Temple is being rebuilt. The answer was that they had not mourned for the Lord but for themselves; so why should they have been fasting at all? (The lesson for us is that we should not mourn for loss of previous better spiritual conditions around us but make the best of our circumstances today.)
Babylon commenced the siege of Jerusalem in the tenth month of king Zedekiah’s reign. A year and a half later, in the fourth month the walls were breached, in the fifth month the Temple was destroyed, and in the seventh month the new governor Gedaliah was assassinated; these four months had been observed with fasts. But in spite of their fathers’ sins, Judea will be restored, and those fasts will be replaced with joy. Nations will come to Israel from afar to join with Israel in receiving God’s blessings.
In chapters 9-10 the Lord promises the destruction of Israel’s enemies, while Jews are to return from east and west. The one making it possible, Jesus, would come to Jerusalem riding on a colt (9:9; fulfilled in Matt. 21:1-11).
Evil Shepherds (11:1-17): The lesson of the evil shepherds is for Christians of the Gospel Age. That it is not speaking of literal sheep is evident from verse 11, where the poor of the flock that gave heed unto the word of the Lord then recognize “that it was the word of the Lord;” literal sheep could hardly learn that. Verses 4-5, telling of shepherds who feed themselves at the expense of the flock, suggest there is something wrong with telling the poor with large families they must tithe (from which clergy are paid), and the Lord will make them rich. The staff of Beauty (or Graciousness) is first broken, then the staff of Bands (or Unions): it suggests that when Christian groups fail to practice grace, that divisions follow. But in verses 12-14, the thirty pieces of silver cast unto the potter in the Temple of the Lord prophesies the price the priests paid Judas for betraying Jesus; thereafter there could be no more union between Judaism and Christianity.
Rise of Judah & Jerusalem (12:1-14): The Lord introduces Himself as the creator of the universe, earth and man – quite all-encompassing! The nations of the earth will oppose Israel (as is happening already), but those who do so are signing their own death warrant; Israel’s defender is the Lord. The tents of Judah are first saved (the faithful church are redeemed from the earth); so that fleshly Israelites do not exalt themselves above Christ and His church. Afterwards the Lord will pour out his spirit upon Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the rest of Israel, even those resurrected priests who had demanded the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; then shall they mourn for Christ as for an only son, and they shall be forgiven. The rulers, those who teach the laws of the New Covenant, the formerly rebellious, and all of the people will mourn for Him, as they then will look unto Jesus Christ, whom they had caused to be slain.
A Fountain Opened (13:1-6): After the enemies of Israel have been destroyed (or destroyed one another) the Kingdom of Christ will open the way to bring back the world’s dead and provide a re-education for them to do away with sinfulness of all kinds. They will do away with the idols (including great doers, thinkers, actors, as well as possessions). Those who have prophesied that the Lord will not bless ALL the nations of the earth (as He has sworn), but that all must join their group(s) to be saved (counterfeiting the role of Jesus Christ as Savior of the world), will be ashamed before their fellow men.
A Sword against My Shepherd (13:7-9): A prophecy of the slaying of Messiah (in Matt. 26:31, by crucifixion) is followed by the development of a faithful called-out class, the faithful church. Those who are only nominally Christian will not be accepted by Christ. But the faithful are developed through fiery trials during the Gospel Age, and they will grow up into Christ.
Nations Battle against Judah (14:1-8): Israel will collect a great spoil at the end of the Gospel Age (in which we now live). Nations will bring what become the spoils when they conquer Jerusalem and take many prisoners, but then the Lord will confound them (as in Ezekiel 38-39, especially 39:6). If the splitting of the Mount of Olives were literal, it would enable sunrise to be seen immediately at sunup in Jerusalem; symbolically, it suggests Israel will be able to quickly recognize the Sun of Righteousness (Christ) rising with healing in His beams.
The earthquake cited in verse 5 likely persuaded newly-leprous King Uzziah (Azariah) to flee the Temple (2 Chron. 26:16-20); this earthquake likely foreshadows this age’s closing war – Armageddon – by which this world will destroy itself. The opening up of this valley to Azal (meaning ‘noble’), facing the sunrising, is like the opening of the highway of holiness for the unclean to clean up as they pass over it (Isaiah 35:8-9). This refuge results from the Lord sending Christ and His church to be their rescuer. Christ’s Kingdom will not begin all good or all evil, but by the end of that ‘day’ all will understand – will be in the full light, bringing to pass what was conspicuously absent in Genesis 1, The evening and the morning were the seventh day. And in Christ’s Kingdom the living waters (waters of life) will flow to all and will not be seasonally variable.
Jehovah will be King (14:9-11): Ultimately, the Lord (Jehovah, Yahveh) will be King of the whole earth: The Lord will be one, not a multiple number of Gods. The rough places will be made plain for the people, easy to progress. Israel’s capital will be exalted under Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel and the others. And then shall there be no more curse, as also in the last chapter of the Bible.
The Last War (14:12-15): Those peoples that war against Israel will be destroyed. (Whether “their eyes shall consume away in their sockets” depicts nuclear bursts is here left for academic discussion.) These peoples will destroy each other, rather than Israel; thus one may also identify as types of the end of this present evil world the mutual destruction of three allies in Gideon vs. Midian, Amalek and Arabia (Judges 7:22) and Jehoshaphat vs. Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir (2 Chron. 20:22-23). “The plague” calls also to mind the related types of Egypt’s last plague at the Exodus (Ex. 12), and Sennecherib’s sudden loss of his army (2 Chron. 32:21, probably by mice bringing bubonic plague). The wealth of these peoples will be left as booty for Christ’s Kingdom as it begins.
Feast of Tabernacles (14:16-21): Here we find that the Feast of Tabernacles foreshadows Christ’s thousand-year kingdom on earth (Lev. 23:33-36). From those who refuse to honor the Lord, rain (blessing) will be withheld. For those who care little for blessings, there will further be plagues until their hearts are tenderized. Even the least of the Lord’s people shall become holy. In that day there shall be no more money-grubbing merchant posing as a man of God.
The symbols which are both used and explained in the book of Zechariah are collected below:
|Zechariah||1:19, 21||4 horns||horns that scattered Judah|
|1:19-21||4 smiths||instruments to terrify/destroy the horns|
|4:6||2 olive trees/lampstand||…by the spirit of the Lord (holy spirit)|
|4:10||7 eyes (or pipes, lamps?)||eyes of the Lord|
|4:14||2 olive trees||2 anointed ones|
|5:3||flying roll||curse over all the land|
|5:11||travelling ephah||…to build a house in Babylonia|
|6:5||4 horses||4 winds (or spirits) of heaven|
Foreword (1:1-3): God gave the Revelation to Jesus Christ, who sent it and told it in symbols by way of his messenger to his servant John, and John transcribed it for us. A blessing is promised to those who read and hear, if they keep the things written in this prophecy. The time to understand the gist of Revelation has come.
Jesus’ First and Second Advents (1:4-7): Grace is first from God Himself. We are introduced to the seven spirits of God, which are seen again in the next two chapters. Jesus Christ was first the faithful witness of God, then firstborn of the dead when he was resurrected, and afterwards is to be ruler of kings under him in his Kingdom; Jesus’ first advent loosed us from our sins by his blood. In the work of the Gospel Age, he prepares the faithful Christians “to be priests unto his God and Father,” for ruling and blessing all the families of the earth in the age to come. His second advent also is necessary to deliver the world from sin and death. He returns with clouds – unseen, just as at his departure “a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Christ will establish his Kingdom. Then “every eye shall see him,” whether physically or with the mind’s eye. “They that pierced him” harks back to Zechariah 12:10-14 ASV (see above), “they shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son.” When they look unto Christ, they will mourn not for themselves but for Him. Thus, even those who cried out for Christ’s crucifixion will repent. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn with them, but for Him.
Alpha and Omega (1:8): God declares, “I am Alpha and Omega” three times in Revelation,5 adding “the beginning and the end” in 21:6, and further inserting “the first and the last” in 22:13. He is the Creator of all else, and the ultimate perfector of all that continues forever.
5 “I am Alpha and Omega” in Rev. 1:11 is bogus: In the KJV (King James Version) it derives from the so-called Received Text of the Greek New Testament. It is supported by a majority of the Andreas-text-type manuscripts, totaling 38 in the Hoskier collation, and by the 9th-century Arabic version alone. There is no evidence of this clause prior to Andreas (ca. 600 A.D.), and the earliest manuscripts containing it are P  of the 9th century and 2074 of the 10th century. 2023 of the 15th century includes the clause but marks it as of doubtful authenticity. Even the so-called church fathers do not mention it here. “I am Alpha… and the end” is omitted by 155 manuscripts in the Hoskier collation (80% of the total), headed by Sinaiticus of the 4th century, two top-quality manuscripts of the early 5th century, and all the other high-quality manuscripts, plus the Latin, Syriac (Aramaic), Coptic (Egyptian-Christian) and the other versions prior to the 9th century. If the clause in 1:11 had been genuine it would have applied Alpha and Omega to Jesus Christ, which would have allowed that 22:13 might also.
Symbolic Description of Christ’s Character (1:9-20): John likely represents the faithful church being developed during the Gospel Age. The voice behind him suggests Isaiah 30:21, “Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it; when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” That he was “in the spirit on the Lord’s day” may suggest that the time frame of this vision is in the seventh and last “day” of the Gospel Age. A garment of the righteousness of saints (19:8) covers down to the feet members of the Anointed, shown as burnished copper having begun the refining process. A golden girdle suggests the incorruptible (divine) nature, while the head and hair of bright white would represent the purity. Eyes of flaming fire are both powerful and penetrating – what can any man put over on him? The voice of many waters shows that Christ speaks to his people through many languages throughout the Gospel Age. The two-edged sword going out of his mouth would be the Bible and its message. His countenance as the Sun is taken from Daniel 12:3, “They that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the sky,” and Matt. 13:43, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Christ is with the seven golden lampstands, representing the church developed during the seven periods of time into which the Gospel Age is divided, and Christ sends a prominent messenger (star, the light at the spout of each lamp) to each period. While Peter was given the keys to unlock the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:19, the first key used at Pentecost; and the second used for the Gentiles, when he was privileged to open the way for Cornelius), Jesus has the keys to unlock the conditions of dying and death for the church and the whole world.
Seven Churches (2:1 – 3:22): In Hebrew, seven is the number of an oath, and to us this means God’s oath-bound covenant to Abraham, “By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, because thou hast… not withheld thy son, thine only son, …in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth 6bless themselves; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Gen. 22:16-18). The Gospel Age is necessary to develop the seed of Abraham to thence bless all the nations of the earth (Gal. 3:29). The seven-branched lampstand in the Tabernacle was beaten from one piece of pure gold (Ex. 37:17-24); so the seven lamps together represent the complete faithful church – those who have an ear to hear, covering the entire Gospel Age.
6 Reflexive tense, as in Gen. 26:4, but not in Gen. 12:3.
The Gospel-Age history logically divides itself into seven stages, which are here suggested to be: (1) under the Jews (33-70), (2) under pagan Rome (70-312), (3) under pseudo-Christian Rome (313-539; beginning with Constantine), (4) under papal Rome (539-1517), (5) Reformation (1517ca. 1725), (6) Protestant global expansion (ca. 1725-1874), and (7) the Last Day, or Harvest of the Gospel Age (1874). The first period rejected Ebionite doctrine (that Jesus was the natural son of Joseph) and the Gnostic doctrine (that salvation is by knowledge), but began to forget that love is the principal thing. Under the persecutions of Rome, nothing ill is spoken of the second period, but “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.” In the third period were many who, like Balaam, taught for profit, even though it stumbled many others. Jezebel, wife of king Ahab, had been the head of an ecclesiastical system, vicious and erroneous; so was the ecclesiastical system of the Dark Ages; to the faithful of the fourth period it is promised, “As many as have not this teaching… I cast upon you none other burden.” (Beginning with this period, the call “let him hear what the spirit saith” comes after the promise to him that overcometh. It suggests that the holy spirit now calls from outside the professed body of Christians.) To the fifth period, “Be thou watchful, and establish the things that remain, which were ready to die: for I have found no works of thine perfected before my God;” some went to war, and Calvin had Servetus burned at the stake (ostensibly for heresy). The sixth period ends when “the hour of trial” begins; but during this period the faithful do not close the door to the heavenly calling prematurely; their Lord urges them to hold fast what they have, and he has no ill to say about them. In the last day it is different: there is much to be ashamed of: self-sufficiency, ignorance and apathy; we are neither refreshing nor healing. He acknowledges that there are false witnesses of him, and that others deny he is the beginning of the creation of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ is present, standing at the door and knocking; do we open our hearts as well as our minds? Will we be zealous as well as repent?
From Eternity Past to Eternity Future (4:1 – 5:14): Chapter 4 precedes the first advent of Jesus Christ (5:5-6). The symbolic description of God, with the gemstones and rainbow (a covenant of peace for man; Gen. 9:13), is drawn from a wider description in Ezek. 1:26-28. The twenty-four elders are to be connected with either the twenty-four courses of the priesthood (typifying the Gospel-Age church) or the twenty-four courses of the musicians (1 Chron. 24-25); here it is suggested the latter, the elders of Heb. 11:2-40, from righteous Abel to John the Baptist. From Psalm 89:14 – where righteous power and justice are portrayed as the back corners of God’s throne, and lovingkindness and truth are out in front to lead the way – is drawn God’s four attributes of Ezek. 1:10, 10:14 and Rev. 4:6-7. The seven spirits of God are the holy spirit speaking once each to the seven periods of developing the church in chapters 2 and 3. The huge scroll measures 15×30 feet in Zech. 5:2 (which see above) and contains lamentations, and mourning, and woe. Perhaps it was Moses who from the Law asked, Who is worthy? While John the Baptist answered, Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Behold the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ). Jesus was holy, harmless, and undefiled but went as a lamb to the slaughter to pay Adam’s penalty; thus is he worthy. (The lamb here has one head (Jesus) and seven horns (his church), in contrast to the seven heads and ten horns in later chapters.) The seven spirits of God (the holy spirit), which had been dormant before the throne (4:5), after Jesus’ ascension are sent forth into all the earth to develop his church (chapters 2-3).
The five praises are also noteworthy: (4:8) Praise God Almighty from eternity to eternity; (4:11) Creation; (5:9-10) Redemption; (5:12) Christ’s Kingdom; and (5:13) Kingdom of God and Christ for ever and ever. Those praising Christ in 5:11 are ten thousand times ten thousand, which is a hundred million, the approximate population of the whole world when John transcribed Revelation.
Scroll with Seven Seals (6:1 – 8:1): As when Joshua was at Jericho, the view from the outside was mixed, but the inside view is all bad news. Loosing of each seal enables one to stepwise see more of what is written on the outside of the scroll. But not until the seventh seal is loosed can the scroll open up so that the inside may be seen. The inside view is the seven trumpets. The first five seals and trumpets coincide with each other and with the first five letters of chapters 2-3. Because the opening of the seventh seal opens the scroll, the sixth seal must cover the time period of both the sixth and seventh trumpets, and both the sixth and seventh letters, until the church is complete.
The colors of the horses in the first four seals appear to go from good to bad to worse to worst. The first seal shows as white the pure message of Christ’s coming kingdom conquering the oppressive practices of Satan’s two-thousand-year old polytheistic religion. After the fall of Judea (70-73), Roman emperors ordered ten gruesome persecutions of Christians; the last, instituted by Diocletian, lasted ten years (303-313). A measure of wheat (1.2 quart, or 1.3 liter) for a day’s wages suggests scarcity, implying faithful Christians were becoming scarce among professing Christians during this third period. Perhaps only Papal Rome could have claimed prolonged rule over a quarter of the world’s population during the fourth period. In the Reformation many vilified martyrs were publicly recognized as having been righteous men. In this last period ecclesiasticism and government are being shaken.
Chapter 7 looks at the faithful during “the last day.” Christ at his return, before world wars begin, begins wrapping up the heavenly calling (which some refer to as a close of the general call, with replacements later needed only for the recalcitrant). The 144,000 fully-faithful are not limited to fleshly Israelites, as the tribe of Dan is omitted (of whom Samson was one). The great multitude is also a heavenly class, as may be seen in Rev. 19:1; yet they have not kept their justification robes clean, but in the end they must wash them (7:14).
Seven Trumpets (8:2 – 11:19): When the seventh seal is loosed and the scroll opens up, there is silence, not war. If we understand the period of a day to represent the period of a year, then “about half an hour” would represent 7½ days (8 days for a Jewish leap year). Between Jesus’ ascension and Pentecost were 9 days when no one on earth was speaking for the Lord (or, “about half an hour”).
The seven priests blowing the seven trumpets on seven successive days at Jericho typifies the whole Gospel Age. Thus, the seven angels blowing the seven trumpets also spans the Gospel Age.
On the Day of Atonement, in connection with the sacrifice of the bullock (but before the second sacrifice begins), the high priest “shall take a censer full of coals of fire from off the altar before Jehovah, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil: and he shall put the incense upon the fire before Jehovah” (Lev. 16:12-13). Similarly here, filling the censer with fire of the altar is in connection with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice at the beginning of the Gospel Age for the church. The result has been controversy ever after: (1) There was much bloodshed when Jerusalem was destroyed and Judea came to its end. (2) Blood was shed and commerce was damaged when heathen Rome fell to Constantine. (3) When people fled the worship of Satan (under the names of Marduk, Zeus, Jupiter, and Wotan), Satan joined the church. (4) Many spiritual leaders (lights) were corrupted during the Dark Ages. (The “Woe, woe, woe” of 8:13 hints that the seven trumpets are: Lamentation, Mourning, Mourning, Lamentation, Woe, Woe, and Woe.) (5) Papacy became odiously regarded during the Reformation; Pope Paul III responded with an Inquisition (1543). The 5 months = 150 days might possibly mean from 1648, when the end of the thirty-years War established Protestantism, to 1798, when the pope was taken prisoner by the French Revolution. The messenger of the abyss is Abaddon, or Apollyon (both meaning Destroyer; i.e., Satan). (6) That the population of Europe did not reach 200 million (9:16) until after 1800, suggests that the sixth trumpet includes much of the nineteenth century. The carnage may suggest the French Revolution and the consequent replacement of absolute monarchies with limited monarchies.
Chapter 10 begins with one of three verses (10:1, 18:1, 20:1) announcing Christ’s return for his church (though not yet with his church, as in Jude 14). In verse 7 we should more accurately read, “in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, whenever he is about to sound, then is finished the mystery of God…” That is, not that the voice somehow precedes the sounding – they are the same – but the voice (message) of the seventh messenger will continue to be heard until the faithful church is complete. (That message describes “the last day,” as well as the coming kingdom of Christ for mankind.)
In chapter 11, the faithful church is the temple of the living God; they alone are to be measured by the word of God in the Gospel Age (the world will be measured in the next age). The 42 months = 1260 days = 3½ times (1 time = 360 days) fits the time 538-540, when the pope became a civil ruler, to 1798-1800, when that civil rulership was suspended, as Pius VI was taken prisoner (1798 Feb. 28), died (1799 Aug. 29), and a successor was finally elected (1800 March 14). The two lampstands call to mind the lampstand in the tabernacle, which suggests the two could represent the light(s) of the world, Jesus and his faithful church (John 8:12; Matt. 5:14), fed by the “olive oil” of the holy spirit. Verses 5-6 call to mind Elijah and Moses, who were united in the vision on the mount of transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-9). The earthquake that caused a tenth part of the city to fall might well mean the Franks – one of the ten horns in Daniel 7 – and the French Revolution.
The 7th trumpet derives from Joshua at the seven-day siege of Jericho (Joshua 6:15-20), where on the last day: first “they rose early;” then “the priests blew the trumpets” seven times around; then “Joshua said unto the people, “Shout;” then “the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat.” That is, “the last day” ends with the fall of the kingdom of this world (and its king, Satan): “there followed great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ.” [Another type of this fall is identified when Gideon’s men shouted, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon” (Judges 7:20), meaning the victory is for God and Christ.] Then begins the resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and the other ancient worthies; so the twenty-four elders will be there to give thanks, and to help the small and great to revere the name of God. Verse 19 summarizes the three highlights of the last day: the dedication of the temple (the resurrection of the faithful saints who had already fallen asleep in death), the ark of the covenant is seen (the church complete and ready to minister the blessings of the new covenant), and Armageddon (this world’s self-destruction).
Dragon, Beasts and Second Advent (12:1 – 14:20): The emphasis in chapters 12, 13, and 14 is first on the true church until Christ’s second advent, then on the false church/kingdom until the second advent, and then on both the true and the false during the second advent.
7 Heads and 10 Horns
A great red dragon.
The woman who stands on the moon is identified by Isaiah 66:7-8 as “Zion;” so appropriately she represents the promise covenant, or grace covenant, of God for the church (Gal. 4:21-26, Rom. 6:14). The seven heads and ten horns are taken from the four beasts collectively in Daniel 7, which identifies the dragon with the god of this world, Satan. This identification is confirmed in verse 9, the great dragon, the old serpent, the Devil, and Satan; these four are counterfeits of God’s four attributes of righteous power, truth/wisdom, love, and justice (4:7, and Psalm 89:14). The firstborn of God’s promise covenant was Jesus Christ at his resurrection, and on the fortieth day thereafter he ascended to heaven as a cloud received him out of their sight – he “was caught up unto God, and unto his throne.” Michael/Jesus Christ and the dragon/Satan struggled for three centuries, good news vs. military arms, but Satan lost out in the religious world and was no longer worshipped under such names as Zeus, Jupiter and Wotan; but he was still head of the political world. The promise/grace covenant operated outside the ecclesiastical system for the same 1260 years (= 3½ times) mentioned above, 538-540 to 1798-1800. In the end of these years, Satan sent the French Revolution to destroy the faithful church by a flood of anti-Christians, but rulers incorporated the people into partially-democratic governments, or limited monarchies.
And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent … he was cast down to the earth. Rev. 12:9
In chapter 13, the beast coming up out of the sea is like unto a leopard, a bear, and a lion, the reverse order of the first three beasts in Daniel 7; thus, this beast is to be associated with the indescribable fourth beast of Daniel 7, the Roman beast. But whereas the diadems in chapter 12 were on the seven heads, here they are on the ten horns, indicating that the horns come after the heads. From Daniel 7 we may infer that the seven heads were: Babylon; Medo-Persia; Greece: Pella in Macedonia, Alexandria in Egypt, Antioch in Syria, and Byzantium in Thrace; and Rome. From ancient coins we can find the ten horns wearing the diadems were ten Germanic tribes: Heruli, Ostrogoths, Lombards (all three later swallowed up into the 9th-century kingdom of Italy), Vandals (Sicily and North Africa), Visigoths (Spain), Sueves (Portugal), Franks and Burgundians (both in France), Allemans (Germany), and Anglo-Saxons (England). While the Heruli deposed the last Roman emperor in A.D. 476, Rome revived under the papacy in 538-540. Again, the 42 months (= 1260 days) would stretch to 1798-1800, when the papacy was (temporarily) terminated. England supported the papacy for nearly a thousand years before King Henry VIII in 1531 formed the Anglican church-state similar to the papal church-state (but with the head of state becoming head of both) – an image of the beast; then many English Protestants and Catholics both were slain, and Protestants were excluded from the professions. While the mark of the Lord (holy spirit) was to be always in the forehead, the counterfeit mark of the beast (unholy spirit) could be either in the forehead (in full sympathy) or in the hand (going along with it). Irenaeus (ca. A.D. 180) suggested 666 might be ‘Lateinos’ (30+1+300+5+10+50+70+200 = 666), the ancient Greek word for Rome.
And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on its horns ten diadems. Rev. 13:1
Although chapters 12 and 13 do not mention Christ’s return, chapter 14 all takes place during His second “parousia” (presence). From Obadiah 21 ASV, “Saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be Jehovah’s,” we learn that Jesus and the 144,000 are to be “saviours” when the faithful church is finally complete. [It is not to be inferred that the faithful priests of the coming age will have been only unmarried men with great musical abilities (Gal. 3:28; Heb. 13:4); rather, that they were not unfaithful, and they will ‘speak’ with one voice as Jesus Christ and they together will bring salvation (universal opportunity) to all the families of the earth that have ever lived.] The faithful Christian message in the last day is the “everlasting gospel,” or good news that will last forever. Judgment is now due the mount of Esau (brother of Israel/Jacob), or religious institutions that teach people to obey for fear of what is threatened if they don’t, rather than to want to obey because they love the loving God of eternity (verses 6-7). (In verse 8, a note in the Roman Catholic Confraternity version says, “In Jewish and Christian circles, Babylon was a synonym for Rome.” Compare 18:2.) In a third message, church-state institutions are not spared the wrath of God during the last day. In more precise translation, and less interpretive, each man tolerating an unholy spirit “shall be put to the test7 with fire and brimstone in the sight of the holy angels, and in the sight of the Lamb: and the smoke of their testing goeth up for ever and ever;” it is not the torment but the smoke that goes up eternally, which is to say, the horrible example will endure as a lesson for all eternity. Verse 13 tells us that, unlike the preceding six periods of the Gospel Age, the faithful who die in “the last day” will be raised right away. Our returned Lord Jesus Christ is shown symbolically sitting on a cloud (hidden from view), but one of the faithful still on earth prays to him for the harvest of the earth – completing the faithful church – the bride of Christ (verse 15). The vine of the earth would be a counterfeit. 1600 furlongs (stadia) is 184 miles, which is about the extent of Jesus’ travels on earth, from birth to crucifixion; so perhaps by implication it will encompass Jesus’ entire realm in his kingdom on earth. (But other explanations could reasonably be sought.)
7 The Greek word, basanizo, means to rub on a touchstone (test for genuineness, as gold; basanos is the touchstone), and had to be translated ‘tossed’ for the boat in Matt. 14:24.
Seven Last Plagues (15:1 – 16:21): Chapters 15-16 draw from both Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6-8) and Joshua’s siege of Jericho (Joshua 6). The fiery glassy sea would literally mean it is made of highly-polished shiny copper; in Solomon’s Temple there was a large sea for the priests to wash in.8 Connecting these victors and their song with 14:3, they are the 144,000 – the bride of Christ. They praise God as “King of the ages… for all the nations shall come and worship before thee” (15:3-4 ASV). Solomon’s Temple was dedicated (7th month, 1 Kings 8:2) a month before it was completed (8th month, 1 Kings 6:38). When Solomon’s Temple was opened, or dedicated, it was filled with smoke “so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud” (1 Kings 8:10-11). That is, the resurrection of the saints sleeping in death at the beginning of “the last day” is not sufficient for Christ and his church to minister the new covenant blessings to the world – not until the church is complete (when “It is done” in 16:17; corresponding to Jesus’ words on the cross, “It is finished.”).
8 The sea was 10 cubits (15 feet) in diameter. 1 Kings 7:23-26; Ex. 30:18. There is no need to think that Israel did not know the value of π (ratio of circumference to diameter); a lip of 0.225 cubit (4 inches) would account for it.
Just as Joshua’s seven-day siege of Jericho typifies the entire Gospel Age, so the seven times around Jericho on the last day shows that “the last day” is divided into seven periods of time; it shows how the seven last plagues span the last day of the Gospel Age. The seven last plagues are typified in more detail in the last seven plagues of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. These plagues may be conveniently compared, see below:
|Exodus Plague||Revelation Plague||Inferences|
Christ will replace this world
|2||Murrain killed cattle||Sea||Destruction. People weary of war?|
|3||Boils and blains||Rivers & Fountains|
|Economy is hurt?|
Religious hierarchies hurt
|4||Hail, fire on the ground||Sun||Destruction; from both sky and ground?|
|5||Locusts (East vs. West wind)||Throne of the beast||East vs. West conflict; “Babylon” damaged|
|6||Darkness||River Euphrates dried up||Depression? Babylon’s wealth dried up|
|7||Death of Egyptian firstborn||Air||Armageddon; present world self-destructs|
The dragon, beast, and false prophet of verse 13 may represent Satan as the tyrant of civil government, Rome, and Anglicanism after being shorn of civil power. Just as Exodus 12 reminds us (just before the last plague) that the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ’s first advent was necessary for the deliverance of the world from Satan, sin, sorrow and death, even so Rev. 16:15 reminds us (just before the last plague) that the work of Jesus Christ’s second advent is necessary for the deliverance of the world. The three divisions of Babylon the great may be further studied in the types of Gideon vs. Midian, Amalek and the Arabs (Judges 6-8); and Jehoshaphat vs. Ammon, Moab and mount Seir (2 Chron. 20). A hailstone weighing a talent would be about eighty pounds, deadly; so this plague agrees well with the death of the Egyptian firstborn. The firstborn of Israel were not delivered from death until the time the firstborn of Egypt were slain; so it is to be concluded that the church of the firstborn will not be complete until the war of Armageddon begins.
Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand that made all the earth drunken. Jer. 51:7
The woman… having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations. Rev. 17:4
Judgment of Babylon (17:1 – 18:24): Christ’s church does not reign now and does not exist for the pleasure of earthly governments; Babylon does, and is condemned for it. The seven heads and ten horns help to identify the scarlet-colored beast with the beast of Rev. 13 and (the latter stage of) the fourth beast of Daniel. The distinction between the woman and the beast is like the distinction between Jezebel and Ahab – ecclesiasticism vs. civil-government. When John was writing, five heads had fallen: Babylon; Medo-Persia; Macedonia, Egypt, Syria; (pagan) Rome then was; Thrace (Constantinople) was not yet come; and Rome would rebound under the papacy as an eighth head (which is geographically the same as the sixth); ten Germanic tribes will initially support papal Rome but will later turn against the Roman church (as in the Anglican church-state or the French Revolution). Chapter 17 has exposed the sins of Babylon, while chapter 18 gives the consequences in the last day.
The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. Rev. 7:9
Chapter 18 begins with “another angel coming down out of heaven,” which in 10:1 and 20:1 also symbolizes Jesus Christ at his second advent. Babylon is proclaimed (morally) fallen, fallen, and doomed; so the faithful church members are called to come out of Babylon (as Lot was called to come out of Sodom, and Elijah was called to come out of a city three times; Gen. 19, 2 Kings 2:1-6). Babylon is to be cast down with violence in verse 20. The last verse says that this symbolic Babylon has slain many saints and prophets and of all other kinds (not necessarily implying that no one else had slain any), showing that 2 Kings 9:7 is also a type, “Thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of Jehovah, at the hand of Jezebel.”
Preparations for Christ’s Kingdom (19:1-21): Once again, “After these things” begins another vision. Verse 1 tells us the second class in chapter 7, “a great multitude,” is also to receive a heavenly resurrection. Again in verse 3, it is the smoke of Babylon’s destruction (not the destroying itself) that “goeth up for ever and ever,” meaning the object lesson will not ever be lost. After the bride of Christ and the great multitude are resurrected in heaven, the ancient worthies, “the twenty-four elders,” will be resurrected (on earth) to give praise. The promise of Rev. 3:21, “He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne,” suggests that in verse 5 Christ and His church may be praising God with one “voice”. The bride of Christ is the “wife that hath made herself ready,” and her “fine linen” is identified as “the righteous acts of saints.” Verse 10 tells us to worship God, and to not worship any of the messengers/angels who point the way to God. In verses 11-16, Jesus is named “The Word of God” and “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” The Bible is the “sharp (two-edged) sword” that He shall use to “smite the nations.” Comparing verses 8 and 14, it seems evident the completed faithful church – the bride of Christ – will be with Him at that time. Verses 17-21 give us an additional symbolic view of Armageddon. Verse 20 connects the false prophet with the two-horned beast of Rev. 13:11-14; the beast and false prophet are to be utterly destroyed at the end of this age (but the dragon – Satan – is later to be used for one more lesson, as seen in the next chapter).
Thousand-year Kingdom of Christ (20:1-15): The first three chapters of the Bible get humankind into trouble; it takes the last three chapters to get us back out again. Chapter 20 is the thousand-year chapter. It is divided into four paragraphs
|20:||1-3||The binding of Satan|
|20:||4-6||The first resurrection|
|20:||7-10||The loosing of Satan|
|20:||11-15||The general resurrection|
Throughout the thousand-year kingdom of Christ, Satan is to be bound in all four of his characteristics: tyrant, deceiver, accuser, and enemy (corruptions of God’s four attributes: power, wisdom, love, and justice). While Satan is bound “that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years should be finished,” then God’s sworn promise to Abraham will be fulfilled, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth 9bless themselves.” This blessing is evidently not to be limited to those in heaven (those who have already proven faithful could hardly be deceived anyway), nor to just the one nation of Israel, but evidently the previously-deceived nations will need to be resurrected for it. [For further study of the binding of Satan, consider the unfaithful Shebna in Isaiah 22, and the Exodus where Israel was out from under the influence of Pharaoh for three days until the encounter at the Red Sea.]
9 Reflexive tense, as in Gen. 26:4, but not in Gen. 12:3.
Verses 4, 5, 6 may at least equally well be translated, “4And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and condemnation was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, even such as worshipped not the beast, neither its image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no authority; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him the thousand years.” Political and religious rulers who compromised with the god of this world (and condemned many of the Lord’s faithful) will at the end of this age be condemned; the faithful did not compromise with the unholy spirit; so they will live and reign with Jesus Christ for a thousand years; theirs is the first resurrection, before the resurrection of the rest of the world. These faithful will be both kings to benevolently govern, and priests to bless, the whole rest of the world in Christ’s thousand-year kingdom.
[The sentence, “The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were finished,” is not accidentally omitted from verse 5 above. It is missing from about seventy manuscripts out of fewer than two hundred total. Comparing earlier texts with later, in no case has the later transcription lost the sentence: the two “majority texts” (MK , of the 4th century? vs. MA, of ca. A.D. 600); the two Aecumenius text types (where the earlier text omits the sentence but adds it in the commentary); the 4th-century Sinaitic omits while the 5th-century Alexandrian adds; and the commentary manuscripts of Victorinus (ca. A.D. 300) vs. Jerome’s reporting of them a century later. The sentence was probably added within a century after ca. 325. Much later than that, “And” or “But” was added at the beginning of the sentence, and still later a few manuscripts added the word “again” in various forms. Interpolation of this comment has unduly restricted the understanding of this chapter, as well as making the first resurrection the absence of a resurrection!]
At the end of the thousand years the still-crazed Satan will attempt to take charge of the world through those whose hearts are still secretly unreformed. The characteristics of this Gog-like conspiracy will likely be as those of a neo-Soviet Union/empire, which many anticipate will emerge in the next several years. The sworn promise to Abraham included, “I will multiply thy seed… as the sand which is upon the seashore;” so the vast number in verse 8 evidently refers to the then-reformed people of the nations, rather than to the unreformed “Gog and Magog.” After these unregenerate have revealed to the world their unworthiness, God will destroy them once and for all (like Pharaoh at the Red Sea, Exodus 14:8-28). It appears God will be highly successful, reclaiming the vast majority, while Satan will lure only a small minority.
Verses 11 to the end of the chapter begin with the civil and religious powers of this “present evil world” fleeing from the favor of God, but they will have no place in the Kingdom of Christ. However, the people of this present world will have an opportunity to repent and be judged accordingly in the thousand-year kingdom of Christ. The message to the next-to-last period of the church says even of liars, “I give some of the synagogue of Satan, of them that say they are Jews, and they are not, but do lie; behold, I will cause them 10to come and to 11worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee” (Rev. 3:9). Clearly, they cannot then be in a place of torture but must be resurrected first in order to make this worship possible. And once they are worshipping righteously, there will be no need for them to die again.
10 Greek, in order that they shall have come and shall worship
11 ASV margin says, The Greek word denotes an act of reverence whether paid to a creature, or to the Creator.
The books of the Bible will be opened – will be understood. The “book of life” will be opened to add the names of multitudes. The people of the world will be judged12 according to the deeds that they then do (just as the church now is judged by their intentions), as to whether these deeds will match up to the standard of the word of God. This opportunity will not be limited to those who are alive at the end of the last day, but “death and hell” (those in the dying condition and those who have previously died) will give up all mankind, and then all will have opportunity to be judged and pass the test. When death and hell are afterwards “cast into the lake of fire” (the same as Gehenna), then is fulfilled, “The last enemy that shall be abolished is death” (1 Cor. 15:26). Evidently from verse 15, there will still be some whom Satan will be able to recruit, but they will ultimately be annihilated in the symbolic “lake of fire.” This lake of fire is identified as “the second death” – oblivion – from which there will not be any resurrection.
12 The word “judged” (krino) here is different from the word “condemnation” (krima, cognate: crime; too often mistranslated “judgment”) in verse 4. The word applied to those currently sitting on thrones, krima, consistently means unfavorable judgment, as “I will show thee the condemnation of the great harlot…” (17:1). The word applied to individual people in the future age, krino, may result in either favorable or unfavorable judgment: favorable when Jesus spoke unto Peter, “Thou hast rightly judged” (Luke 7:43), or unfavorable when Jesus spoke of Satan, “The prince of this world hath been judged” (John 16:11).
Kingdom in Glory (21:1 – 22:5): New civil and spiritual powers (Jesus Christ and his church) will replace those of the present world. The completed bride of Christ will be called the New Jerusalem, the tabernacle of God, as they with Jesus Christ will bring good spiritual and civil rule to the whole world. After the last “little season,” when Satan and the other incorrigible will be manifested and destroyed, God will permanently wipe away every tear from their eyes. Pain, crying, death and mourning will be only history. “These words are faithful and true.” God Himself is the A to Z, the beginning and the end, everything for everyone; He will give life freely to all eternity. But the persistently wicked will not continue for ever but will be punished, will go into the “second death,” “twice dead, plucked up by the roots” (Jude 12).
In verse 9, mention of an angel/messenger with one of the seven last plagues may suggest that the vision is when the true church is complete and resurrected in heaven. The great high mountain would signify the heavenly
government of earth (Ezek. 40:2, Dan. 2:46, Obad. 21). For the bride of Christ to come down out of heaven in glory means that the church has a heavenly nature – the divine nature. (Compare Ps 82:6, John 10:34, “I said, Ye are gods.”) The description of “the holy city” is drawn from Ezekiel’s Temple (Ezek. 40-48), which to date has never been built, as it signifies Christ and His church. Founded upon the twelve apostles, the gates will be open to the twelve tribes of Israel (which will be expanded to the nations in verse 24). The several gemstones in verses 19-20 suggest that the church will not simply all be carbon copies of one another, but will complement each other for the blessing of the world. When this book of symbols says “there shall be no night there,” it does not imply a hot climate nor one in which no one can sleep, but rather there will be no darkness, no ignorance, “For they shall all know [the Lord], from the least of them unto the greatest of them” (Jer. 31:34).
Chapter 22 opens with a summary of the water of life from Ezekiel 47. The tree of life symbolically bears 12 kinds of fruit each month, for 12 months of the year, which in 1,000 years would be 144,000 fruits; and “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:19). Like some herbal teas, the leaves are to be symbolically “for the healing of the nations” (not their curse, nor eternal torture). While the church is to reign with Christ for a thousand years, after Satan’s little season and the end of evil, our Lord Jesus Christ “shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15), and now we are told in verse 5 that the members of the body of Christ also “shall reign [with Him] for ever and ever.”
Concluding Admonitions (22:6-21): With the prophetic visions completed, the Christian is given admonitions on how to apply Revelation. First is the assurance, “These words are faithful and true.” Many will not believe these words: Will we? Just as the first chapter says, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein;” so verse 7 reminds us, “Blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation is not a book of theory, but of practical application. We need the theory primarily for the purpose of applying it.
We are strongly admonished not to worship, or treat as inspired, even the best of our Christian brethren, but are to worship God (verses 8-9). In other words, “guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
Daniel was told three times that the words are shut up until the time of the end, but Revelation is not to be sealed, because in the Gospel Age “the time is at hand.” The Gospel Age does not make wrongdoing right, nor vice-versa. God says he will reward each man according as his work is (at that time, and not as his work had been at any previous time; compare Ezek. 18:21-23). From 1:8 and 21:6, we see that it is God the Almighty speaking, the Alpha and the Omega. The reformed people of the world in the Millennium are not the 144,000 nor the great multitude of Revelation 7, but they share some characteristics with each. They enter into the city by the gates: the church is the symbolic city, and the great multitude serve day and night before the throne of God (they live in the city); so neither of those groups need “enter in by the gates.” But these rehabilitated people have access to the symbolic tree of life (i.e., the cross of Christ) – just as the overcomers of Rev. 2:7, and they washed their robes – just as the great multitude in Rev. 7:14 RV. But people who continue to practice evil will become excluded from the coming world.
In verses 16-17, Jesus is the root and offspring of King David, and the rightful ruler of the age to come. The invitation will go out to all for eternal life.
To the Christian in the Gospel Age: If anyone accepts the Bible but adds more to it, he (or his later followers) in the last day will be hurt by some or all of the seven last plagues. Still more severe, those who contradict the message of Revelation will not reign with Christ but will be in danger of the second death. Our Lord Jesus promised he would return for the church and the world; we should rejoice in it.
The symbols which are both used and explained in the book of Revelation are collected below:
|Revelation||1:20||7 stars||the messengers of the 7 churches|
|1:20||7 lamp(stand)s||7 churches|
|4:5||7 lamps||7 spirits of God|
|5:6||7 eyes||7 spirits of God|
|5:8||(24) golden bowls/incense||prayers of the saints|
|7:14-17||great multitude||a group who (must) cleanse their robes|
|9:11||messenger of the abyss||Destroyer (Satan)|
|11:4||2 witnesses||2 olive trees = 2 lampstands|
|11:8||great city||symbolized by Sodom, Egypt|
|12:9||dragon||serpent, devil, Satan|
|13:18||number of the beast||number of a man, 666|
|14:4||144,000||=undefiled followers of the Lamb, firstfruits|
|17:9||7 heads||7 mountains|
|17:11||beast||an 8th (head), outgrowth of the 7|
|17:12||10 horns||10 later kings, joint with beast|
|17:14||Lamb||Lord of lords, King of kings|
|17:14||they with the Lamb||called and chosen and faithful|
|17:15||waters||peoples, multitudes, nations, tongues|
|19:8||fine linen||righteous acts of the saints|
|(19:10||testimony of Jesus||spirit of prophecy)|
|20:2||dragon||serpent, devil, Satan|
|20:14||lake of fire||second death|
|21:9-10||bride, wife of Lamb||holy city Jerusalem|
Prophecy is given, so that we may know what to do and of what to be wary. It is easier to follow our Lord when we know where he is going.
Above are given outlines of the prophecies in Daniel, Zechariah and Revelation, along with methods to explain them from context, cross-references or history. Interpreting many of the lesser details is left as an exercise to the reader.
In Revelation, advice especially for “the last day” is found in the letter to the seventh and last period of the church (3:14-22); the 144,000 and the great multitude (chapter 7); chapters 10 and 11, regarding the voice of the seventh messenger and the two witnesses; Christ’s second presence in chapter 14; the seven last plagues in chapter 16; and the instructions regarding Babylon in 18:1-5. The dragon, two beasts and Jezebel, are described to forewarn us of Satan’s devices and counterfeits. And the last three chapters refocus our attention on the goal of redemption of the church and the world from sin and death.
For cross-referencing, I.N. Johns’ “Reference Passage Bible New Testament” (originally published in 1913) is exceptionally convenient. The full text of most references is given. In Revelation, the most cited book is Revelation itself (592 times), with Matthew, John and Romans distantly behind (43, 32 and 25 times). The most cited in the Old Testament is Isaiah (109 times), with Psalms, Daniel, Jeremiah and Ezekiel next behind (71, 68, 48 and 47 times); per page, Daniel is most frequently cited, followed by Zechariah, Joel and Isaiah.
Other study Bibles with cross-references in the margin should be comparably good, but each individual cross-reference must be looked up. More exhaustive is, “The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge;” Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, with half a million cross-references.
As to the approach to the study of Bible prophecies, one could wish for all Bible students what one author has said, “We trust … that a wide distinction will be recognized between the earnest, sober, and reverent study of prophecy and other Scriptures, in the light of accomplished historic facts, to obtain conclusions which sanctified common sense can approve, and a too common practice of general speculation, which, when applied to divine prophecy, is too apt to give loose rein to wild theory and vague fancy.” The Divine Plan of the Ages, p. 13.
Artifacts taken from Edward Elliott, “Horae Apocalypticae; or, A Commentary on the Apocalypse,” 5th edn.; London, 1862. In turn, the dragon on a pole was taken from Bernard de Montfaucon, “Antiquity Explained and Represented in Diagrams,” vii (p. 403, 405); 1721-1725. The goat/ram was from a Florentine gem shown in Charles Taylor, [Augustin] “Calmet’s Dictionary of the Holy Bible,” 2nd edition, Vol. v; 1832; so also were the sketches of the coins of the goat and of Constantine. The coins sketched of Vespasian and of Theodatus were in the British Museum.