This tract is intended to be a simple statement and outline on the Book of Revelation. It’s purpose is not to examine details, nor provide Bible verses for every affirmation. These may be explored in the online publication Nazarene Apocalypse 2000©. The theme of Revelation is stated in both the introduction and conclusion of the Bible’s last book.
The very introduction of Revelation explains it’s purpose: “A revelation of Jesus Christ given to him by The God in order to show his slaves what will occur suddenly in the future. … Blessed is anyone reading these prophetic words, as well as those who hear them. [Blessed] is anyone who observes the things written here because the due season approaches. … Write down everything you see - both things present and things future.” [Revelation 1:1, 3, 10]
The conclusion of the book says something similar, explaining the purpose of the book: “And the angel told me: ‘All of these words are loyal and trustworthy. Yes, the LORD God who inspired the prophets sent His angel to show His servants those things that will occur suddenly. ‘Behold, I am arriving suddenly. Blessed is everyone who is obedient to this prophecy’s message.’ … The angel told me: ‘Seal not this Book and these prophetic words, for the season is drawing near.’” [Revelation 22:6, 7, 10; for details on these verses see the Nazarene Commentary 2000© Nazarene Apocalypse 2000©] What follows is a brief overview of the book of Revelation. It should be understood that there are a variety of opinions on the Apocalypse and this is presented as one of many.
Chapter one serves as an introduction. It introduces the main persons and elements of the entire book. The two most important persons in Revelation are God Almighty [“the One who is”] and Jesus Christ the Lamb. Jesus is identified as the “Son of Humankind” as well as already ruling as a King. [Daniel 7:13; Ephesians 1:20-23; 1 Corinthians 15:24]
By the spirit John finds himself “on a Day belonging to the Lord.” He is told to write down what he sees. These are divided into two categories: a) those things that are present and have already occurred; and, b) those things still future. [Revelation 1:19]
Chapters two and three are seven inspired epistles sent to the “angels” of seven real churches in Asia Minor. These are letters from the Risen Christ penned by his beloved apostle John. They deal with real churches with real problems. Though some make a future application to these letters, it is clear they were first written to the presiding elder of each of these congregations as the Greek is the singular “you.”
Of the seven churches only two get a complete bill of health. The other five have serious problems and are reproved by the Lord Jesus. Most of the contents of these letters deal directly with the presiding officer of the church, or the angel of the ecclesia.
Though these letters are among what Jesus had called “the things that are” there is much benefit in the counsel given by our Lord himself. These letters are also insights into the character of the Risen Christ.
Chapters four, five, and six also belong generally to what Jesus had called “the things that are.” Chapter four is a transcendent description of God Almighty’s Throne room. Chapter five introduces two important features of what will follow in Revelation: a Lamb and a Book. Describing the scene in the year 33 upon the Lord’s triumphant return to the celestial realm, a freshly slaughtered Lamb is seen approaching the Throne to receive a sealed Book from God Almighty. Only the Lamb can open these seals so as to read the Book. This Book turns out to be Revelation chapters 7-22. That is, this Book is Revelation itself.
The Lamb begins to open the Book one seal at a time. Chapter six begins with the time the Messiah began his victorious reign in 33 CE when he returned to heaven to take up his Kingdom. [Daniel 7:13; Acts 1:9-11; Hebrews 9:24] Compare the ride of this white horse with Psalm 45:3-6 and his yet future ride to “complete his conquest” at Revelation 19:11.
Would the beginning of the reign of the Messiah bring world peace and prosperity? The opening of the next four seals prove this is not the case. History can expect war, famine, and pestilence. The reign of the King covers a process of his enemies being subdued beneath his feet until complete victory is attained. [1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Hebrews 2:8, 9; 10:12, 13] This will not completely occur until the end of the Thousand Years described in Revelation chapter 20.
What about Christians themselves? Could they expect instant deliverance and heavenly salvation upon the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom? The sixth seal reveals this is not to be the case. Parallel with the wars, famines and pestilence Christians can expect to endure martyrdom with their blood crying out for vengeance. The millions of faithful Christians throughout the Dark Ages must await the Return of the King. [1 Corinthians 15:23; Matthew 24:30, 31] Only then will they experience a resurrection to heavenly glory.
The sixth seal continues on into chapter seven and includes the sealing of the final members of the Church, the new Israel of God. [Romans 9:6, 7; Galatians 6:16] The “great day of their wrath” is restrained by four angels until the sealing of the 144,000 end-time Saints. First John hears their number and then he actually sees this Large Crowd who finally survives “the great oppression.” This Large Crowd of end-time Saints is seen victorious in heaven, serving before God and the Lamb in the Celestial Throne-room.
Beginning with the close of this sixth seal in chapter seven one of the main features of Revelation is the experience of the end-time Saints (144,000) during the Great Oppression. They have much to endure in the worst Holocaust to ever befall the People of God.
Chapters 8 and 9 see the seventh seal turn into seven trumpets. They describe conditions during this period of the Great Oppression while the end-time Saints experience their sealing. These seven trumpets continue sequentially until near the end of chapter eleven and the blowing of the “last trumpet.”
Chapter eleven concentrates on the 42-month long period of the Great Oppression on the end-time Saints. In passing two important identities are introduced almost in passing. These will be examined in detail in later chapters. They are a Beast ascending out of the abyss and then persecuting the Church; and, a Great City later designated Babylon the Great. Also, another city is mentioned which will also be described in detail in following chapters - the Holy City, or New Jerusalem.
Chapter twelve now rewinds the film as it were to provide more details on the elements of chapter eleven. The Holy City is portrayed as a celestial woman [Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22] with a remnant of her seed still on earth - the end-time Saints, the 144,000, or Large Crowd. Satan is described as a Dragon who has reigned over the great world powers of Biblical history.
Here the period of the Great Oppression is described as 1,260 days or three and a half years. This is a length of time borrowed from Daniel 7:21-25 and Daniel 12:1-9 where the Great Oppression is foretold.
The Devil and his angels have been at war with Michael and his angels since the enthronement of Messiah upon his return to heaven in 33 CE. [Ephesians 6:12] Now comes the moment when Satan and his demons are cast out of heaven knowing they have only three and a half years. Enraged the Dragon begins the Great Oppression on the end-time Saints.
Chapter thirteen again rewinds the film to provide a closer look at the Dragon’s political instrument in bring about the Great Oppression - the Wild Sea Beast. This political power gains global rule of the earth by gaining control of all commercial transactions. A type of enforced world peace and a religion that worships the Image of the Wild Sea Beast is brought about by the agent of the beast called the Earth Beast, or later, the False Prophet.
The real focus of these Beasts’ anger (as agents of the Dragon) is against the end-time Saints for the foretold period of 42 months. In the prophetic context the end-time Saints are in the Great Oppression, which begins with ouster of Satan from heaven and ends with the “last trumpet.”
The 144,000 Large Crowd is raptured to heaven in chapter eleven and seen as victorious conquerors as chapter thirteen ends and chapter fourteen begins.
Chapter fourteen and fifteen describe the triumphant Church with the focus on the end-time Saints who have just been rescued by Rapture from the Great Oppression. At that moment all genuine Christians have been removed from the earth to stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion. There in the Throne-room they are described as completely victorious over the Wild Sea Beast and its Image. They are seen joined with those martyrs who had been crying out since chapter six.
This is later described as the Marriage of the Lamb when the film is rewound again to add more details to this moment in prophetic history.
While the Lamb’s Wife is descending in the New Jerusalem and the Marriage festivities are taking place, the seventh trumpet introduces seven plagues to befall that Great City, Babylon e Great. These are described in chapters sixteen to eighteen. How God will destroy this Harlot is described in detail.
Once Babylon the Great has been completely burned with fire, the Lamb returns with his glorious Church to face off with the political powers of the earth. The time has come for what some call the Battle of Armageddon and this is described in chapter nineteen. This battle concludes with the abyssing of the Wild Sea Beast, the False Prophet, and the Dragon, Satan the Devil.
In chapters twenty-one and twenty-two the film is rewound again to detail the glorious Church, the Lamb’s Wife, the New Jerusalem. It has descended before the war of the great day of God Almighty and the winepress is trodden outside the city where all the wicked wail in grief-stricken hatred of the reigning Messiah.
With Babylon the Great destroyed, and the Dragon with his Beast and False Prophet all in the abyss, the peaceful reign of the Messiah may begin. It is a reign over the “kingdom of the world” with billions of survivors of the Great Day of God Almighty. [Revelation 9:15] Christ does not rule alone for his Church made up of Saints of the Gospel Age reign with him. These are described in chapter twenty as sharing in the “first resurrection.”
Earth will be blessed by the presence of the New Jerusalem. The glorious King and his tested and proven co-rulers will [Daniel 7:27; 1 Corinthians 6:2] insure a peaceful environment without any satanic influence. This period of one thousand years will demonstrate the superiority of Messiah’s reign compared to “the god of this world.” [2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19]
But, what about the “rest of the dead”? That is, what does the Bible say about those not of the Bride or Church, those not sharing in the “first resurrection”?
Chapter twenty says the “rest of the dead” - that is mankind in general still resting in Hades, Death, and the Sea - come to life (or resurrected) after the Thousand Years have ended. Indeed, after the Devil and those he deceives when he is released at the end of the thousand years are hurled into everlasting extinction. Then the billions of humanity since Adam will be raised to Judgment Day. Their life records like scrolls will be opened and from these of all humanity will be judged on their past life. Those who are pronounced righteous will inherit everlasting life on a New Earth. Those who are pronounced habitually vile will experience the same fate as the Dragon - eternal extinction. For the first time since Eden both heaven and earth will contain only those to whom God is everything. [1 Corinthians 15:28; Ephesians 1:10]
Essentially Revelation ends here, on the first day of “the Day of Eternity.” [2 Peter 3:13, 18] What lies before redeemed humanity is limited only by our imagination and the Grace of God.
How truly blessed we are to glimpse but “the fringes of His ways”? [Job 26:14] To behold that enigma through a “glass darkly.” [1 Corinthians 13:12]
Revelation began with the promise: “Blessed is everyone who reads and hears these prophetic words. [Blessed] are they who observe and obey everything written herein because the due season approaches.” [Revelation 1:3] And, happily, the Apocalypse ends with the words: “Behold, I am arriving suddenly. Blessed is everyone who observes the prophetic words of this Bible.” [Revelation 22:7]
No one who makes Revelation a life-long study will ever be disappointed by the blessed happiness such an endeavor fulfills! With John we raise our hopeful voices: “So let it be! Come, Lord Jesus!” [Revelation 22:20]
[NOTE: for details see the 250 page book with its 1,500 footnotes and running commentary Nazarene Apocalypse 2000©]
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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