The objective of this post is to provide a road map so that everyone can have confidence that they can understand the book of Revelation.
Revelation is unique in being the only book in the Bible in which God promises a special blessing to anyone who reads or hears it (Rev. 1:3) as well as a curse to anyone who adds to or takes away from it.
Rev 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Revelation reveals Jesus in His fullness. We see Jesus’ splendour as a King, Warrior and Priest (Rev. 1), and hear His counsel to prepare His wife the body of Christ the Church (Rev. 2-3). Then we see the resource that Jesus has (Rev. 4-5) as He cleanses the earth, replaces governments, purifies the Church and wins the harvest (Rev. 6-19). We are shown His plans to rule the earth with us (Rev. 20). Then finally, to dwell with us forever in the New Jerusalem. God’s eternal plan has always been to dwell with His people in paradise on earth and this will happen when the New Jerusalem descends and Jesus restores the conditions of the garden of Eden paradise to the earth (Rev. 21-22).
Like any book in the bible Revelation needs to be read multiple times and studied with the Old Testament prophetic books like Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah.
If anyone reads the text as is and covers the major events in the book with an open heart it is not difficult. The Holy Spirit is a good teacher.
Please do take time and do your own research in order to develop your understanding on this important subject. The information below is presented after the authors own research and study. It is hoped it will save time and effort by giving a sound foundation. As we draw nearer to King Jesus return more revelation will brought forward by the Holy Spirit as we spend more time thinking and talking about His return. We are all looking forward to an earth with no sin and all that it births.
2. The Book of Revelation is God’s Plan to Transition to the Age To Come
The Book of Revelation is Jesus’ transition plan to shift history to the age to come. He will not do this without the involvement of His people which are the Jews and the Gentile believers in Messiah. It is worth making the effort to understand it as it will anchor all who go through this dramatic time of testing, persecution and possibly martyrdom. Events of our day point to the Second Coming being closer than ever and the author believes that it will occur in his lifetime.
The Book of Revelation is not hard to understand when we look at it logically using a few basic rules. It was written for the people of biblical the times and they were not always well educated.
Two important points to note: first, Jesus does not go away with us but comes to stay. There is no such thing as the end of the world. Second, the heavenly and earthly realms come together (Ephesians 1:10). The natural realm is not suspended but enhanced by the power of the resurrection.
9 Having made known to us the mystery of His will…10 that He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth in Him. (Ephesians 1:9–10)
3. Jesus’ End-Time Battle Plan for The Church
The main theme of Revelation is Jesus’ return to earth to rule all the nations, but evil governments will resist this. His end-time battle plan is to physically destroy all the evil governments on earth by releasing His judgments on them during the Tribulation (Rev. 6-19).
- The main reason that people do not read the book of Revelation is that they have a wrong perspective of both the book and the Tribulation and often do not understand its structure or symbols used.
- As Moses released God’s judgements on Pharaoh by prayer (Exodus 7–12), so the Church will release the Tribulation judgements on the Antichrist through prayer.
- These judgment events do not happen to us as helpless victims of Satan but are released through us as participants with Jesus.
- The main focus in Revelation is God’s judgement against the Antichrist’s empire. The secondary theme is tribulation against the saints from the Antichrist. Out of 403 verses, there are only twelve (3%) that speak directly about persecution.
4. Symbols In Revelation
Revelation is to be interpreted in its plain meaning. The events and numbers are to be understood literally unless the Scripture specifically indicates that they are symbolic (Rev. 1:20; 5:6; 11:8; 12:1, 3, 9; 17:7, 9, 15-18, etc). We know a passage is symbolic when the text indicates it. For example, the seven lampstands are symbolic of seven churches (Rev. 1:20).
The Seven main symbols of Revelation:
- Dragon: always symbolic of Satan (Rev. 12:3, 4, 7, 9, 13, 16, 17; 13:2, 4; 16:13; 20:2)
- First Beast: symbolic of the Antichrist (Rev. 13; 14:9–11; 17:3-17; 19:19–21; 20:4, 10)
- Another Beast: symbolic of the false prophet; called another beast just once (Rev. 13:11)
- Harlot Babylon: a global, demonically-inspired religious and economic system (Rev. 17–18)
- Seven heads: represent 7 empires that persecuted Israel (possibly Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Mohammad’s Islamic armies of Daniel 2:41-42; 7:7; Rev. 12:3; 13:1; 17:3–16)
- Ten Horns: represent a ten-nation confederation that serves the Antichrist (Rev. 17:12–13)
- Woman with a Male-child (Jesus): is the faithful remnant of Israel through history (Rev. 12)
5. Structure of The Book Of Revelation: Four Main Parts
There are four parts in the structure of Revelation. The fourth part has five chronological sections in which most of the events occur in sequential order.
Part. 1: John’s CALLING to prophesy about the End Times Rev. 1.
John gives 18 truths about Jesus’ majesty that form the way he prophesied about the End Times; these are meant to equip us.
Part 2: Jesus gave 7 LETTERS to 7 churches Rev. 2-3.
The instructions Jesus gave to these 7 churches about overcoming sin give us practical insight into what we must also overcome today as the same problems plague the church.
Part 3: Jesus takes the SCROLL Rev. 4-5 containing the earth’s title deed and Jesus’ plan to cleanse it.
Part 4: Jesus’ BATTLE PLAN Rev. 6-22. Jesus reveals His main story line of love—His plan to cleanse the earth of evil, including the Great Tribulation judgments against the Antichrist.
His plan is laid out in 5 chronological sections describingevents that unfold in sequential order. Each section is followed by an angelic explanation to help us understand that section.
The 5 Chronological Sections tell us what happens to the Antichrist’s followers in 21 judgment events (7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls). These intensify in severity as they unfold. The five chronological sections are all events against the kingdom of darkness, released by the praying Church. Revelations begins with the Antichrist coming to power 7 years before Jesus returns.
The 5 Angelic Explanations function as a parenthesis, putting the story line “on pause”.
An angel explains why the judgment events are necessary and tells John what happens to God’s people, including what Jesus will do to help us, and what the Antichrist will do to persecute us. We will be persecuted for standing with Israel and the Jewish people as Israel is attacked by the Antichrist’s armies.
6. Explanation of Revelation Chapters 6-22
Chronological Section #1: Seal Judgements Rev. 6
It must be noted that it is Jesus the Lamb of God that releases the seal judgements.
The seal judgements target the kingdom of darkness like the Harlot Babylon. God lifts His restraining hand off evil men so that they attack one another with great hatred and destroy one another’s resources. The restraints of man’s sin are lifted so that the truth of his wickedness and lawlessness is seen.
First seal (White Horse): Antichrist’s political aggression (Rev. 6:1–2)
Second seal (Red Horse): bloodshed and world war (Rev. 6:3–4)
Third seal (Black Horse): famine and economic crisis (Rev. 6:5–6)
Fourth seal (Pale Horse): disease and death affecting one-fourth of the earth (Rev. 6:7–8)
Fifth seal (Prayer Movement): prayer movement strengthened by the martyrs (Rev. 6:9–11)
Sixth seal (Cosmic Disturbances): cosmic crisis (Rev. 6:12–17)
Seventh seal (Anointed Prayer): prayer movement strengthened
Angelic Explanation #1: Who Can Stand? Rev. 7:1–17
This angelic explanation answers the question: who can stand in the midst of so much pressure? John sees a divine sealing on people that gives them physical and spiritual protection (Rev. 7:1– 17). There will be 144,000 Jewish believers who will stand in victory (Rev. 7:1–8). The saints will not receive God’s judgments but will be impacted by them depending where they are living. Gentile believers (7:9–17) from every different background and from every nation are seen as standing without wavering under persecution. Many saints will also be physically protected in the End Times (Rev. 9:4; Zephaniah 2:3; Micah 7:14–19; Isaiah 11:15-16).
At the time of the exodus from Egypt, Israel received a protective mark on their doors that saved their firstborn from death(Exodus 11:4–12:30). Israel was also protected from other plagues that affected the Egyptians (Exodus 8:22–23; 9:4, 6, 26; 10:22–23). This is often called the Goshen principle.
Chronological Section #2: Trumpet Judgements Rev. 8:2-9:21
The trumpet judgments are supernatural acts of God to destroy the Antichrist’s resources.
First trumpet (Food supply): burning 1/3 of the earth’s vegetation (Rev. 8:7)
Second trumpet (Food supply): destroying 1/3 of the sea (Rev. 8:8–9)
Third trumpet (Water Supply): poisoning 1/3 of the earth’s fresh water (Rev. 8:10–11)
Fourth trumpet (Light, energy): darkening 1/3 of the earth’s light (Rev. 8:12)
Fifth trumpet (Torment): releasing demonic locusts that torment for 5 months (Rev. 9:1–12)
Sixth trumpet (Death): releasing demonic horsemen that kill 1/3 of the earth (Rev. 9:13–21)
The ten plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7–12) are prophetic types foreshadowing end-time plagues seen in the trumpets and bowls of wrath, escalated to the whole world instead of just Egypt. In other words, the judgements in Revelation is an eschatological application of the Egyptian plagues to prepare the saints for a final exodus from this present evil age to the new kingdom ruled by King Jesus from Jerusalem. God warned Israel that He would judge their rebellion with the Egyptian plagues (Deuteronomy 28:27–60).
Angelic Explanation #2 Increase of the Prophetic Rev. 10:1–11:13
Rev. 10:1–11:13 is an angelic explanation after the crisis of the six trumpet judgments. This section is focused on the welfare of the saints; God promises to provide prophetic direction and power by releasing an unprecedented outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17–21).
God has concealed key prophetic information that will be vital in the End Times. He will reveal it to the Church (Rev. 10:4). He will raise up the two witnesses (prophets) who will help God’s people with great power during the last 3½ years of the tribulation. Jesus will also raise up Christians who will be prophetic.
Chronological Section #3: Second Coming and the Rapture Rev. 11:14–19
Rev. 11:15-17 The seventh angel sounded…voices…saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord…” 17 You have taken Your power and reigned.
1 Cor. 15:51-52 We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.. 52 in a moment…at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible…
The rapture and the total removal of all governmental leaders on earth who agree with the Antichrist. The seventh and last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:52; Rev. 10:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). Jesus replaces all governmental leaders on earth in a hostile takeover.
In His procession, Jesus first travels across the sky to rapture the saints (every eye sees Him; Rev. 1:7), then through the land of Edom and onto Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives.
The Second Coming procession battle occurs from Mount Sinai to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem over a thirty-day period which can be seen by comparing the 1,260-day (3½ year) time frame (Rev. 11:2–3; 12:6, 14; 13:5; Daniel 7:25; 9:27; 12:7) with the 1,290 days of Daniel 12:11.
The Antichrist will operate his worldwide worship system, the abomination of desolation, for 1,290 days or 43 months. However, the time frame for the saints prophesying, being supernaturally provided for and being persecuted is 1,260 days or 42 months (Rev. 11:3; 12:6; 13:5–7).
From the time that the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. (Daniel 12:11)
I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy 1,260 days… (Rev. 11:3)
Then the woman fled into the wilderness… here 1,260 days. (Rev. 12:6)
And he was given authority to continue for 42 months.
Rev. 13:6-7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. 7 Authority was given him over every tribe…and nation.
Angelic Explanation #3: Violent Confrontation Rev. 12:1–14:20
This angelic explanation occurs after the seventh trumpet and the rapture (Rev. 11:15). It gives us insight into the magnitude of Satan’s attack against the Church and explains why God’s wrath is so severe. Namely, Satan makes war through his two evil vessels—the Antichrist and the false prophet. The Antichrist violently confronts God’s purpose and His people.
This angelic explanation occurs just after the announcement about Jesus replacing all the governments on earth (Rev. 11:15) and gives insight into why God’s wrath is so severe as to require that all the governments of earth be replaced. The reason is that the Antichrist and those in agreement with his leadership violently confront all that is dear to God on earth.
In Revelation 13:1–10, the Antichrist will wage war against God and His people with a political, military and economic alliance of a ten-nation confederation. The false prophet will be devoted to causing all nations to worship Satan and the Antichrist (Rev. 13:4, 8).
Chronological Section #4: BOWL JUDGMENTS Rev. 15.1-16.21
The seven bowls of wrath are the third and final numbered series of judgments (Rev. 16). They will destroy evil infrastructures in society. Jesus will release the seven bowls in a way that parallels Moses releasing the ten plagues of Egypt against Pharaoh (Exodus 12). Jesus will destroy the infrastructure of the Antichrist’s empire.
8 I (Father) will give You (Jesus) the nations for Your inheritance…9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Psalm 2:8–9)
All the bowls will be poured out over a thirty-day period as Jesus marches up through Jordan to fight the final battle of the Armageddon campaign in Jerusalem, and to rescue the unsaved remnant of Israel (Zech. 12:1–9; 14:1–5; Isa. 63:1–6; Hab. 3:3–16).
First bowl (Sores): painful sores on those who worship the Antichrist (Rev. 16:1–2)
Second bowl (Food supply): destroying the sea with blood and killing all in it (Rev. 16:3)
Third bowl (Water supply): poisoning the earth’s fresh water with blood (Rev. 16:4–7)
Fourth bowl (Torment): scorching heat and fire from the sun (Rev. 16:8–9)
Fifth bowl (Destruction): darkness on the Antichrist’s global empire (Rev. 16:10–11)
Sixth bowl (Global guilt): deceiving the nations to come to Armageddon (Rev. 16:12–16)
Seventh Bowl (Annihilation): shaking by earthquakes and hail stones (Rev. 16:17–21)
How do the Judgements Play Out?
We now need to address the differing opinions on the actual sequence when related to seals, trumpets and bowls. Are they strictly sequential which is the traditional stance? There is a case for 7th seal, trumpet and bowl occurring at the same time which has merit (my choice). Also they could happen in parallel as well or a combination of the above.
Angelic Explanation #4: Seduction by Babylon Rev. 17:1–19:10
Babylon’s evil religion will permeate and infiltrate all the structures of society, requiring that Babylon be totally destroyed.
8 I (Father) will give You (Jesus) the nations for Your inheritance…9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Psalm 2:8–9)
Surprisingly, neither the timing of the rapture (gathering together in the clouds) nor the marriage supper is described in the book of Revelation. Why? Because they are not events that happens in one moment, but instead are a process occurring over days (possibly weeks). The marriage supper occurs in a parenthetical section (Rev. 17:1–19:10); the saints are rewarded with garments that reflect their righteous choices during their time on earth (Rev. 19:7–8; 11:18; 22:12; 2 Timothy 4:1, 8; Isaiah 40:10; 62:11).
Chronological Section #5: Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem Rev. 19:11–21:8
Relates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the King to end the Armageddon campaign by destroying the armies of the Antichrist. Jesus will sit on an earthly throne as King over all kings. He will cast the Antichrist and false prophet into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20). Jesus will cast Satan into prison (Rev. 20:1–3) and establish the Millennium Kingdom from Jerusalem (Rev. 20:4–10).
The Millennium is a literal 1,000-year period in which Jesus will rule the whole world from Jerusalem in righteousness and peace. At this time the Kingdom of God will be openly manifest worldwide affecting every sphere of life (political, social, agricultural, economic, spiritual, educational, law enforcement, family, media, arts, technology, environment, social institutions).
The result will be a 1,000-year period of unprecedented blessing for the whole earth as Jesus establishes righteousness and prosperity and restores the agriculture, atmosphere, and animal life to some of the conditions that were seen in the garden of Eden (Rev. 20:1–6; Isaiah 2:1–4; 9:6-9; 11:1–16; 51:1–8; 60–62; 65:17–25; Psalm 2:6–12; 110:1–7; Deuteronomy 8; 28; Matthew 5:5; 6:10; 17:11; 19:28; 28:19; Acts 1:6; 3:21).
After the Millennium, all unbelievers will be judged before the great white throne (Rev. 20:11–15). The earth will be cleansed by fire (2 Peter 3:10–13) but will continue forever (Psalm 37:29; 78:69; 104:5; 105:10–11; 125:1–2; 1 Chronicles 23:25; 28:8; Isaiah 60:21; Ezekiel 37:25; Joel 3:20).
Angelic Explanation #5: RESTORATION of all things Rev. 21:9–22:5
This angelic explanation shows the victory of the King of Kings and describes the New Jerusalem’s relationship to the millennial earth (Rev. 21:9–22:5). God shows how He will fully vindicate and reward the saints for remaining faithful throughout the tribulation. This gives hope and stability.
The New Jerusalem descends during the Millennium (Rev. 21:10) revealing heaven coming down to earth. Jesus brings the heavenly and earthly realms together. (Ephesians 1:9-10). When the New Jerusalem comes to earth, then heaven is literally on earth. New Jerusalem is the place where resurrected saints will live.
The New Jerusalem will descend with the Father’s throne (Rev. 21:1–8). The New Jerusalem will descend to the earth (Rev. 3:12) in two stages. First, it descends when Jesus comes to begin the Millennium (Rev. 21:10). At this time it is not actually on the earth but just above millennial Jerusalem. Second, it will descend onto the new earth after the Millennium (Rev. 21:2).
In the first stage, the New Jerusalem will descend to a place above millennial Jerusalem where the temple stands on Mt. Zion.
All the above five parts take place over 7 years with the majority taking place in the last 3.5 years. Jesus is in control the whole time.
It is hoped that this post will help with understanding God’s plan for the end of this age and the beginning of the Millennium.
Grace and peace