The book of Revelation has both fascinated and intimidated its readers for centuries and rightfully so, yet the name itself would indicate that God wants us to have an understanding of it; for you see the word revelation means “an unveiling”.
“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 1:3.
The phrase “hear the words of this prophecy” is important, for many people hear Scripture or a sermon without really hearing it.
This is why the Lord Jesus would often call out to his listeners:
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 11:15.
Or as He said in all seven letters to the churches in Revelation chapters 2-3:
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Revelation is a pre-written history of the world, beginning with the church age, which began at Pentecost nearly two thousand years ago and will continue until the Lord Jesus removes all Christians from the earth; this is known as the rapture.
After the church is removed from the earth, the nation of Israel will sign a seven year treaty with a person who is called the beast in Scripture. It is the signing of this treaty that begins the seven year period of time known as the tribulation.
Half way through the tribulation (3 ½ years) the beast will break the treaty and intend to annihilate all of Israel. Then at the end of the seven years Christ will return and destroy the beast and his armies in what is commonly known as the battle of Armageddon.
After putting down man’s last rebellion Christ will reign on earth.
Jesus Christ’s thousand year reign of peace is best known as the millennium. During this period Satan and his fallen angels will be chained and kept from influencing people.
At the end of the thousand years Satan and his demons will be released to raise yet another rebellion on earth against Christ. This will be put down quickly and then will come the dreaded Judgment Day for all who have rejected God throughout time.
After Judgment Day and all the godless have been cast into the lake of fire the eternal state of a new heaven and a new earth begins. Reads like a book; well a very mysterious book.
So there are some rules, the simplest of which is that much of the symbolism in the Revelation is used in the Old Testament and by understanding that, one can understand the newer references.
For instance the restless sea is symbolic of the Gentile nations since they are in a constant turmoil or unrest like the sea. The book of Daniel has a good example of this.
“Daniel spoke, saying, ‘I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea.” Daniel 7:2.
The Great Sea is the Mediterranean, which because of its constant motion it pictures the restless Gentile nations.
“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” Isaiah 48:22.
“And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.” Daniel 7:3.
These four great beasts are four historical Gentile empires that ruled the entire known earth in their times.
“The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’ After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” Daniel 7:4-7.
The first beast, a lion, represented the Babylonian Empire led by Nebuchadnezzar. This empire lasted only a short period before it was overcome by the bear which represents the Medes and the Persians.
The Medes and the Persians were, in time conquered by the Leopard, Alexander the Great and the Greeks. Alexander’s Empire was divided between his four generals at his death, hence, the four heads on the leopard.
Finally the great and terrible beast with the ten horns represents the Roman Empire, cruel, and tough as nails, they reigned for about a thousand years before they fell apart. The ten horns represent the ten kingdoms of the revived Roman Empire which is coming together right now.
These are examples of how some symbolisms are understood in Scripture, now here are some rules to help in further understanding them.
One of the most important rules, and the most ignored, was put forth by Dr. David L. Cooper.
“When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate text, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, clearly indicate otherwise.”
The condensed version is, “keep it simple”. However if anyone comes at you sideways in prophecy, or if you have doubts, go back to Dr. Cooper’s entire formula.
Other important rules are as follows.
The Law of DOUBLE REFERENCE, a verse or block of Scripture may mention two different individuals or events together without indicating a gap of time between them. The fact that this gap exists is evidenced by other Scriptures.
A good example is Zechariah 9:9-10, verse 9 is a reference to the First Advent of Christ and verse 10 is a reference to Christ’s Second Advent.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9.
“I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; the battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be from ‘sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.’” Zechariah 9:10.
The Law of RECURRENCE notes that a certain event may be described in chronological order in a Scripture, and then another block of Scripture may describe the same event in more detail.
If you have found the record of creation in Genesis 1 through 2:25 a bit confusing, this is why; Genesis 1:1 through 2:3 describes the six days of creation and ends on the seventh day of rest.
Genesis 2:4-25, then goes back to give more details on the creation of Adam and Eve.
Likewise Revelation chapter 17 describes the first half of the tribulation in more detail and Revelation 18 describes events that take place in the second half of the tribulation.
The Law of the CONTEXT, “a text taken out of context is a pretext”; you cannot take a verse out of the context of the passage; if you do, you destroy the meaning of the verse.
A friend used to say, “And Judas went out and hung himself, go thou and do likewise!” He used fragments of two real verses to illustrate the type of out of context misuse which has gone on for centuries to twist the church.
These four laws were all formulated by Dr. David L. Cooper, late of the Biblical Research Society. As you consider them carefully you will agree that they are axiomatic in the study of Scripture.
Axiom; 1. A self-evident truth. 2. A universally accepted principle or rule. Axiomatic, 1. Pertaining to or of the nature of an axiom; self-evident. Sorry; I just had to look that one up.
While the length of the tribulation, 7 years, is not mentioned in the book of Revelation, the tribulation is plainly divided into two halves of 3 ½ years each these periods of time are often referred to as 42 months, 1260 days, or 3 ½ years, all are the same length of time.
The tribulation does not begin with the rapture of the church, but with the signing of a treaty between the world dictator called the beast and Israel, as described in Daniel nine.
“Then he [the beast] shall confirm a covenant with many [Israel] for one week [seven years]; but in the middle of the week [3 ½ years] he shall bring and end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.” Daniel 9:27.
While the word week or weeks is confusing in the modern world, it was not so in ancient Israel since so much of the Mosaic Law revolved around years in blocks of seven.
It is not unusual to find a group of seven referred to as a week; we do the same thing, you do not order twelve doughnuts or twelve eggs, rather you ask for a dozen and the number is understood, the same goes for 144 being a gross.
If you still have difficulty with a week being seven years, compare the entire passage Daniel 9:24-27 with a good commentary such as J. Vernon McGee’s “Delving through Daniel”, Thru The Bible Books; or Leon Woods’ “A Commentary On Daniel”, Zondervan Publications.
The main characters in this end times scenario are as follows: The Lord Jesus Christ:
“And when I [John] saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the Last [the Alpha and the Omega]. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’” Revelation 1:17-18.
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:11-16.
It is all about Jesus, first and last.
Satan also known as the Devil, he is further known as:
“…the great dragon [a great, fiery red dragon, verse 3] was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:9.
Satan means “adversary”, Devil means “slanderer or accuser”. The fact that he is described as a fiery red dragon indicates his bloodthirsty nature; the rivers of blood that have been shed throughout history do not just originate with man, but are goaded on by this malevolent person.
Jesus, while being verbally attacked by the Jews, said this to them.
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44.
The beast, 666, generally known as the Antichrist is not given the name Antichrist in Revelation, but rather is simply referred to as the beast.
“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.” 1 John 2:18.
It is here in the letters of John that the beast gets the name Antichrist; at the same time we see that there are many antichrists. These are unbelievers in the church who throughout the church age have distorted the doctrine of Jesus Christ and denied His deity.
“Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.” 1 John 2:22.
The spirit of Antichrist on the other hand has to do with the demonic forces behind antichristian activities. This is the spirit that is suffocating and ruining this country far more than all smog, oil spills and wildfire smoke combined.
“…every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” 1 John 4:3.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12.
It is time for Christians to stop wringing their hands in anguish and start praying that our Father will reign in these vile offenders and bring this country under the control of Jesus Christ once again.
It was the desire of the founders of this country that it would be a city set on a hill, a light to the world; this is not a lost cause if Christians will pray fervently and consistently. God desires faith not, “Gosh I hope this works!” prayers.
Back to the beast/Antichrist; it is best to avoid confusion while discussing Revelation by referring to him as the beast at all times if that is possible.
The false prophet, this is the reason that the beast should always be referred to as the beast because the false prophet is also antichrist. His job is to point everyone to the beast and convince them that he is the Christ.
“[Jesus said] I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another [the beast] comes in his own name, him you will receive.” John 5:43.
Scripture says this about the false prophet.
“Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” Revelation 13:11-12.
And so it is complete, just as we have the holy trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so we have Satan’s unholy trinity, Satan, the father, the beast, the son, the false prophet, the unholy spirit.
Satan’s intent in all of this deceptive delusion is:
“So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” Revelation 13:4.
Satan will finally get the worship he has always wanted.
As you see these things begin to take place remember this, “The task of the church and of believers today is to call out a people for Christ, not to bring in the kingdom for Him.” Theodore H. Epp.
“Unveiling Revelation” taken from godisrevealed.com updated on 9-10-16, reposted on 3-29-22.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.