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READING REVELATION A REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST 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 future. 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 book. 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 repercussions. 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 church. 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 (2:7). 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 messengers. 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 politics. 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 18:20). 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 Lamb. 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 , a Time  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 offended. 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 (19:20). 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 God! 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 judged, [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.