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Timothy Hoelscher

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                    READING REVELATION


               Grace Notes by Timothy Hoelscher

               August-September 1998

     A teaching ministry of First Baptist Church Royal City, WA.

          Reading Revelation

     While the book of Revelation is fascinating, even read and 
studied by unsaved people, for most Christians it is a cryptic book. 
We can understand various events in the book but also find ourselves 
lost in a maze of prophecies. We sometimes even ask ourselves or God 
the question, "Why do I need to know these things?" Much of this book 
reveals God's plan for the future. Since Christ calls us friends, he 
tells us what He is doing (John 15:25-26). The book of Revelation 
explains to us many of the things God is doing now and will do in the 

     Revelation has a simple three part outline described in 1:19, 
"Write (1) the things which you saw and (2) the things which are and 
(3) the things which shall come to be after these things." Chapter 
1 is the things which John had seen -- the vision of Christ. Chapters 
2 and 3 then address seven literal Churches as to their relationship 
to the character of Christ, their works and their faults. These are 
the things that are! Then in chapters 4-22 we find the things which 
necessarily come to be after these things (4:1). After the Church's 
time on earth is complete we find the unfolding of events in God's 
plan, many which have not been or not as clearly revealed as in this 

     In chapter one we not only are introduced to the writer but to 
a vision of Jesus Christ which communicates aspects of His character 
and present work which we need to know. 
     As is seen in the letters to the seven Churches, a deficiency in 
understanding any aspect of our Lord's character can have disastrous 

  1) The Church needs to know that the messengers [A.V. "angels" i.e. 
"bishop/pastor-teacher] are accountable to Christ and Christ is to be 
manifest among them (2:1). 
  2) The Church needs to know of Christ's authority over death so that 
they will not fear death itself (2:8, 10). 
  3) We need to know that Christ is also judge, who will judge by His 
word the unsaved with whom we often entangle ourselves (2:12). 
  4) We need to know that Christ has eyes which can look in judgment 
and possesses the ability [feet] to carry out that judgment upon those 
who would seek to religiously adulterate His slaves (2:18, 20-22). 
  5) We need to know that Christ as Lord of the Church has sent the 
Holy Spirit Who empowers Grace believers for service rather than mere 
ritual (3:1). 
  6) The Church needs to know that Christ is the One Who has the keys 
of David (3:7). 
  He provides the opportunities or closes them off and no amount of 
earthly strength or the lack there of on the part of the church will 
change what He desires to be accomplished. 
  7) Finally, the Church needs to know that God the Son is exactly Who 
He claims to be (3:14). 
  We find in this last Church an assembly of people operating in their 
own sufficiency rather than His, people who are a Church in name only!

     The revelation concerning these seven churches helps us understand 
what is taking place now. These seven churches serve two purposes. 
     First, they give us a general outline of the history of the 
Church by describing the predominant characteristics of the Church 
whether good or bad in seven / stages.
     Second, they provide a divine description and analysis of the 
Churches we will find. 
     In whatever church we may be we can measure that church by God's 
standard, discover of what type of church we are a part. With that 
knowledge, we can see Christ's appraisal of that church and His 
instruction to those within that church:
  1. what characteristic of Christ they need to understand most or have 
failed to consider, 
  2. what they should do, 
  3. how they should respond.

     To the true believers ["overcomer" cp 1 John 5:4, 5] in each of 
these Churches Christ gives unconditional promises intended to 
encourage them to do God's will. These promises are not conditioned 
upon obedience. Believers who understand God's future plans for them 
have a greater encouragement for obedience. Many Christians, through 
ignorance of God's plan for this world and for them, fail to do God's 
will. They often operate with an entirely different agenda than God's, 
even though it may seem "righteous". Each promise has special import 
and encouragement for the believer in the circumstances of that 

  1) To those believers who have left their first love [Christ] and 
fail to see Christ's authority over the messenger, they are told of 
the promise to sustain them even in death, eating of the Tree of life 
  2) To those believers experiencing persecution, needing to remember 
Christ's eternality and victory over death, He promises that nothing 
coming out of the second death will hurt them. We know they 
will not experience this death but nothing associated with this death 
will haunt them or do any harm (2:11). 
  3) Believers, who tolerated false teaching neglected the fact that 
Christ is a righteous judge with a two edged sword. They married the 
Church to the world and its religions. But genuine believers are 
promised to partake of the hidden manna, Christ Himself in an intimate 
relationship, receiving the white stone a token of Christ's love for 
His bride. Simply, we will have a better marriage to Christ than we 
could ever have with the world (2:17). 
  4) The tolerant Church married to the world produced children, not 
remembering that God the Son is coming in judgment. The believers 
are promised to have authority over the nations and be given the 
Morning Star, Christ in His glory (2:26-28). Rather than experiencing 
judgment they will be involved in meting out judgment. 
  5) Eventually the Church reached the point of having the reputation 
of life but was dead in orthodoxy (3:1). They had neglected the 
ministry of the Holy Spirit and Christ's authority over the 
  6) But to the true believers, Christ promises a garment of glory the 
security of his future and the confession of the believer's name 
(3:10-12). This is far from dead orthodoxy The Philadelphian Church 
lacked strength due to its smallness but are promised to be pillars in 
God's temple, a structure of people not stone from which God will 
never depart (3:12). They are promised to have the name of God, the 
name of the Heavenly city and the new name of God the Son written upon 
them (3:12). What prominence in contrast to their insignificant 
earthly status. 
  7) Finally, to the Church that has failed to realize the full deity 
of Christ, assured in their own works, the true believers are promised 
a seat on Christ's own throne (3:21).

     Immediately in chapter four, John is called up to heaven to 
witness the things which necessarily come to be after the seven 
Churches (4:1). From this point, the Church is absent on earth, 
present in heaven, represented by twenty-four priestly elders around 
the throne of God (4:4). John first sees a vision of God the Father 
(4:2-3, 5). Since this is a vision, we are probably seeing a 
manifestation of God's character and not His actually physical 
manifestation. The elders are joined by four cherubs in worship to God 
and observation of the events about to unfold (4:8-11). The worship is 
also directed at the Son of God, the Lamb, with angels and all 
creatures joining the cherubs and elders (5:12-13).

     Chapters 6-20 describe God's wrath and judgment in the world. 

     Chapters 6-19 describe that judgment during Daniel's 70th week a 
period of time specifically designed to bring an end to sin and 
transgression in the nation Israel (Daniel 9:24). The 70th week is 
also described as Jacob in labor-pains, a part of which Christ called 
the beginning of sorrows (Jeremiah 30:6-7; Matthew 24:8). John is 
shown these judgments in three groups. 

     Chapters 6-11 show God's judgment as it relates to Israel, first 
in the Seals [the beginning of Sorrows] during the first three and a 
half years and ending in the Trumpets the last three and a half years. 

     Chapters 12-16 reveal God's judgment on Satan and his men who 
have opposed God and His people. These judgments are seen in the vials 
of plagues. 

     Chapters 17-18 reveal God's judgment of Babylon, the system which 
has opposed God and His people through religion, commerce and 

     The benefit for us in knowing these judgments is that we in the 
Church today, face these same forces today, though not in the 
magnified form they will be during Daniel's' 70th week. Israel has 
resisted God and persecuted the Church (Acts 28:25-28). Satan has been 
the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). Organized religion has 
also been a major force of opposition to true Christianity (Revelation 

     The seals form the beginning of sorrows, a milder form of the 
Lamb's wrath (6:16). In the Trumpets and Vials, God's wrath is seen 
supernaturally causing great judgments. But the wrath in the seals, is 
the removal of His restraint upon Satan. Paul explains in 2 
Thessalonians 2:7-8 that Satan is ready to bring his man on the seen 
but the Holy Spirit restrains him. God the Holy Spirit departs and the 
restraint ceases. We therefore observe judgments by this unrestrained 
state. The Lamb allows the world to unite under one government (6:1-2) 
which is quickly robbed of peace and sustenance resulting in death 
(6:3-8). Believers upon the earth will be killed, but their cry for vengeance rises to heaven (6:9-11). Then 
the physical light of the world is dimmed and the world itself shaken 
(6:12-14). But rather than repent, the people seek to hide from the 

     The seals conclude with a half hour of silence at the mid-point 
of the seven years. Chronologically the seventh seal is the silent 
battle of chapter twelve between Satan and his angels and Michael and 
his angels (12:6-17). The unrestrained state culminates in Satan 
attempting His "I wills" of Isaiah 14 again. The result of that battle 
is Satan's wrath targeted especially at Israel. But God supernaturally 
protects her resulting in Satan's attack against that part of her seed 
known as the 144,000 sealed for protection outside the land (12:14-17;
7:1-8). The result of the 144,000 is the salvation of a great 
multitude by the end of the Great Tribulation (7:9-17).

     With the sealing of the 144,000 accomplished, the second half of 
Daniel's 70th week commences with the 7 trumpets extending past the 
Great Tribulation (chapters 8-9, 11:15). These trumpets are 
contemporaneous with the vials, some following and others preceding 
their numerical counterparts. However, the trumpets target first a 
smaller area "a third" (8:7-9,10-12; 9:15, 18) being the revived Roman 
empire of which the land of Israel is a part. Therefore the trumpets 
target those at the center of the persecution of believers and 
especially the land of Israel, the people themselves being divinely 
protected. During the final days of the trumpets, John witnesses 7 
thunders, which God has chosen not to explain to us (chapter 10). The 
content of those thunders were initially sweet but soured John's 
stomach. Had God fully explained those 7 thunders, in our present 
unglorified state we like John may only end up with sour stomachs. We 
see God's two witnesses prophesying for 42 months, killed, 
resurrected, caught-up to heaven and avenged. With their removal the 
seventh trumpet sounds and the kingdoms of this organized kosmos 
system become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Revelation 
11:15-18). Verses 17 and 18 view the resurrection of believers at the 
end of Daniel's 70th Week and the destruction of the unsaved at the 
end of the 1,000 year kingdom (18b). This large view is intended to 
sum up the result of the Seven trumpets, results which extend over 
1,000 years.

     Chapter 12 begins a section of God's judgment against Satan, his 
ruler, his prophet and those who worship his ruler (chapters 12-16). 
It begins with a review of Satan's opposition to the nation Israel, 
pictured by the sign of the woman (v 1). Verses 3-4 explain Satan's 
position, pictured as a ruling dragon. When he fell, a third of the 
spirit beings fell with him (v 4). Satan's opposition was directed in 
the past at Jesus Christ during His earthly life (vv 4b-5). After 
Christ ascended, Satan turned his attack on the nation Israel (v 6). 
But God divinely protects her for the last three and a half years of 
Daniel's 70th Week. The reason for Satan's persecution of the woman is 
explained by his failure to defeat Michael and his army (v 7). This 
battle takes place at the middle of Daniel's 70th week followed by 
Israel's protection for the last half of the week (Times [2], a Time 
[1] and half a time [1/2] v 14). 

     In connection with Satan's opposition he employs a man and his 
kingdom viewed as a beast and a man and his religious system also 
viewed as a beast (chapter 13). The first beast is worshipped by the 
people of the earth who also worship the dragon himself (vv 3, 4). 
The arrogance of Satan, who claimed he would be like God is now 
mirrored by the beast blaspheming God, His tabernacle, the Lamb and 
those who have died or been killed. But those who carry out the 
instructions of the beast, taking captives and putting believers to 
death will experience the same (13:10). An understanding of this 
provides the basis for patience, the ability to bear up under an 
adverse circumstance without changing one's character. Therefore, 
Tribulation saints will not compromise but endure the persecution 
knowing that the time for their persecutors is short. 

     Chapter 14 bears out God's vengeance on the beast worshipers as 
well as the victory of those who would not compromise though under 
persecution. The worshipers of the beast are tormented without rest, 
this again is the basis of the patience of the saints (14:11-12).

     Chapters 15-16 describe the seven vials, seven judgments 
contemporaneous to the trumpets. Whereas the trumpets affect a smaller 
portion of the world, the vials affect the whole of the beast's 
kingdom (16:2, 10). The vials also complete God's wrath (15:2). When 
the last vial is poured out, God's wrath is done and we will only see 
God's righteous judgment. God ironically changes the fresh water to 
blood in judgment which an angel describes as "righteous" (16:4-5). 
The irony of this judgment is due to the fact that they have shed the 
blood of saints and prophets (16:6). Again, God has avenged their 
blood. The word "avenge" [ekdikeo] (6:10; 19:2) is a form of the word 
"righteous" [dikia]. When God avenges, He is acting righteously. This 
is important to understand, lest our "humane" sensibilities should be 

     Chapters 17-18 briefly trace the nature of the Great Harlot, a 
political and commercial entity knit to religion (17:1-5). Note in 
verse 1 that the angel still has the vial, therefore, we have jumped 
back prior to the vials for this view. She is responsible for the 
deaths of many saints to the point that she is described as drunken 
(17:6). The beast is the last of a series of kings and kingdoms. He 
was killed and has come back to life and is worshipped by the unsaved 
of the world (17:8). The woman sits upon seven mountains identified as 
kings (17:9-10). According to Daniel there would be five kingdoms: the 
Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Grecian, the Roman and the revived 
Roman. Here we find three additional forms: the Beast with 10 kings (
Daniel 7:8), the Beast with 7 kings following a revolt by three, the 
Beast alone. The result is a total of eight kingdoms. The beast and 
kings make war against the Lamb (Jesus Christ) and are defeated by Him 
(17:14). The woman also sits on many waters, a picture of people, 
tribes, nations and tongues (17:15).

     The woman is identified as a specific great city (17:18). In 17:5 
she is called mystery Babylon. By the biblical definition of "mystery" 
this is not the Babylon of old, but a Babylon not previously revealed 
(cp Ephesians 3:9). This city is described as a woman living in sin 
and luxury, a harlot who claims she is queen and not a widow (18:1-8). 
As a harlot she is a religious entity which has adulterated herself 
with the world (cp James 4:4). Christ described this state as a 
mystery form of both the kingdom from the heavens and the kingdom of 
God, growing great and giving shelter or shade to Satan and his host 
(Mark 4:4, 13, 30-32; Matthew 13:31-32). While the true Church becomes 
Christ's bride at the rapture (Ephesians 5:31-32), Christ warned some 
of the Churches of the woman who entices them to commit fornication 
and the church who claims to have need of nothing (2:20-22; 3:17). 
Following the Rapture of the Church these churches with no restraint 
become united in this blasphemous religious entity. This organized 
religious system is responsible for the deaths of apostles, prophets 
and saints (17:6; 18:20, 24). Therefore, this harlot doesn't exist 
only during Daniel's 70th week. This harlot has existed at least from 
the earliest years of the Church and will continue through Daniel's 
70th week. But her form, which we find in these chapters, is one which 
will not be seen until such a time as the Holy Spirit's restraint of 
Satan is removed and Satan's man is brought on the seen (2 
Thessalonians 2:6-8).

     Regardless of her great religious power, at the mid point of 
Daniel's 70th week, the kings hate the harlot and strip her and feast 
upon her (17:16). Babylon ceases to be this perverted "Christian" 
religious system and in chapter 18 becomes the refuge and prison of 
demons retaining her political-commercial face. Religion in a 
"Christian" form ceases and the Beast sets himself as the god! It is 
this form that will be in existence during the last half of the 
Tribulation period. 

     Chapter 18 describes God's final judgment of this system. Rather 
than stripping her and feasting upon her, the people mourn at God's 
judgment of her.

     We have just witnessed the destruction of the woman Babylon! 
She is a city, yet a system operated by people. In contrast to this 
woman, we meet Christ's bride! She too is associated with a city 
(21:9ft). Chapter 19 views the return of Christ and the wedding feast. 
The marriage has taken place and Christ is ready to present His bride 
at the wedding feast (vv 7-9). The guests at the wedding feast seen in 
the Gospels are always first Israel and then the Gentiles. Neither are 
the Bride. The Bride is the Church, an entity which God does not view 
as either Jewish or Gentile (Ephesians 5:30-32; Colossians 3:10). In 
this event the believers of the Church are unveiled as sons of God 
(Romans 8:19). Christ comes out of heaven to destroy the armies of the 
earth with a word, pictured as a sword going out of His mouth (19:15). 
The Beast and False prophet are cast alive into the Lake of Fire 

     The remaining chapters provide a picture of the Millennial 
kingdom. Satan is bound for those thousand years so that he can not 
deceive the nations (20:1-3). Literally interpreted, this can not be 
true of our present state for Satan is blinding the eyes of those who 
don't believe the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:1-6). For this reason we 
understand that the six times we are told this kingdom lasts for 1,000 
years speak of a literal thousand year reign of Christ (20:2, 3, 5, 6, 
7). The martyred Tribulation saints are resurrected to reign in a 
loose association [Greek meta] with Christ (vv 4, 6). the Church which 
is His bride reigns in a close association [Greek sun] with Christ (2 
Timothy 2:12). At the end of the thousand years, Satan is loosed and 
by deception rallies an army to surround the earthly Jerusalem 
(20:7-9). Christ ends the rebellion with a judgment of fire and Satan 
is finally cast into the lake of fire where the Beast and False 
prophet have already been (20:10).

     At this point there is only one group of humans who have not been 
resurrected, the unsaved dead. They are the end group in a series of 
resurrections (cp 1 Corinthians 15:22-24). They stand in judgment, 
judged by their works as proof that they deserve the Lake of fire for 
everyone in this resurrection goes into the Lake of Fire (20:11-15). 
The present heavens and earth cease to exist and death and Hades are 
also cast away. 

     Chapters 21-22 picture the New Jerusalem a heavenly city under 
which the earth will enjoy the blessings of the Millennium. This city 
is the temporary home of Christ and His church along with many angels 
and the Old Testament saints who existed from Adam to Abraham (Hebrews 
12:22-24). Access to this city is limited to believers (21:25-27). The 
unglorified Millennial saints will find fruit and leaves for the 
healing of their unglorified bodies (22:2). The earth shall enjoy 
productivity apart from the curse (22:3-5).

     How do we respond to this book? With praise and worship for our 
God's righteousness and power! With patience, for we can endure the 
pressures of this life knowing what a great future is in store for us. 
We are encouraged not to become entangled in the religious, political 
and commercial interests of this world which under Satan's lead, 
amounts to nothing and ultimately opposes God and will be judged by 

     The book of Revelation is not strictly chronological. It contains 
chronology, but that chronology does not begin at 1:1 and continue to 
22:21. The chronology of this book covers various lines of thought. 
For example, The chronology of the Seals. The chronology of Satan's 
opposition to God and His saints.

          Chapters  --  Chronology or Events

1 -- The Vision of Christ

2-5 -- The Church here and in heaven

6 -- The Seals -- The beginning of the Lamb's Wrath and Judgment. 1st 3
1/2 years of the Tribulation

7:1-8 -- Middle of the Tribulation

7:9-17 -- Remainder of the Tribulation for the believers (v 14).

8:1-11:18 -- Trumpets -- Jewish judgment -- ending in Christ's return 
11:15. (With 2 witness interval 11:1-14 -- witnesses for Israel

12 -- Satan's program of opposition to God culminating with a heavenly 
attack at Mid-Trib and His heavenly defeat.

vv 1-5 -- look at his opposition prior to the cross.

13 -- Satan's men which he has been using and will continue to use. 
General overview of the career of the:

1st Beast -- man of sin -- 2 Thess. 2:3 and 

2nd Beast -- false prophet.

14:1-5 -- Satan's failure to wipe out Israel.

14:6-20 -- The punishment of those who worship the Beast.

15-16 -- The martyrs of the Beast, False prophet and harlot resulting in 
part in God's wrath on the nations.

17-18 -- The History and Judgment of Babylon the Harlot

v 1 -- The angel is still holding the vial therefore, prior to its pouring out.

The Mystery -- something different about this Babylon -- unreveal-ed.

v 1 -- over many nations (v 15).

V 3 -- controls government

V 8 -- rides the beast.

V 9 -- 7 mountains (lit. or fig.).

V 18 -- a literal city - with great power. She has been a problem even 
to the apostles and prophets 
  (18:20) -- We have to deal with her.

19 -- The Lord's return and marriage feast. Triumph over Nations -- 
2 Beasts thrown into Hell.

20 The slanderous deceiver -- SATAN -- Bound -- released -- finally 
  [chapters 17-20 -- the dealings with the end of these earthly empires]

21:1-8 -- Our future home in eternity -- the New Jerusalem

21:9-22:17 -- The Millenial Kingdom and the New Jerusalem's 
relationship during:
  those 1,000 years. 
  The relationship to it, of the unglorified Millenial saints.

22:18-21 -- Closing words.