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A quick overview of The Revelation
(as I see it)
The Revelation is divided into two distinct parts:
the first eleven chapters deal with the political situations of the earth (civil matters, nations, history etc.) as they affected the church of God, and the last eleven with religious aspects (spiritual matters, churches, prophecies etc.) that the believers found themselves in. Of course, overtones of each section can be found in the other, but generally that is the pattern.
But, BEFORE you attempt to understand this book, you need to have read the Old Testament book of Daniel, which also is divided into two distinct parts: the first six chapters are historical and the second six prophetic. Both books deal with the same events from slightly different angles, with Daniel starting from his time
(c. 606BC) and John from his (c. 31AD). A great help is that in Daniel’s revelation the nations and the cartoon figures are often named.
If you have done that, let’s look at The Revelation.
Section One: How nations come to their end
How The Revelation came to be given:
As the query indicates, God the Father was so interested in our welfare that He officially (in a public gathering of the inhabitants of the universe) gave much information regarding the future of the controversy to His Son (our Saviour) so that He could explain it to the angels (and in particular the head angel, Gabriel), who in turn were to pass it on to those who wanted to know and share it (the prophets), that they could tell us (those of us who want to know), all about what was going to happen in the years after the crucifixion.
A good point to remember is that the prophetic part of The Revelation has two meanings – one for the generation that lived immediately after crucifixion – and another for those who were to live through the 2,000 years or more before the second coming could take place. Then, for those who are spiritual, a third meaning emerges – information for the generation of the last days who will live through all the experiences mentioned in them in a very short space of time.
So “the time is at hand”, and the admonition to “keep those things which are written therein”, was always pertinent.
What’s in the book:
John was told to write letters to seven churches which were grouped reasonably close together in an area which we would now call Turkey, but which the Romans called Asia (Minor). It was a very important part of their Empire, and eventually housed the new capital (Constantinople) when the western division of the Empire fell apart as the centuries went by. As we read the letters we are given a complete picture of what God’s visible church on earth looked like spiritually in that first century, for they were the representatives of it.
A second reading, the 2,000 year look, shows a progression from being very good under the apostles, to being lukewarm in the days just preceding the second advent.
Then of course, we can even take the individual blessings and condemnations and apply them to a range of people or organisations at various times.
What about AFTER the advent?
Then John was taken in a vision right into heaven: – the first interpretation of this is heaven as it was in his time – about the year 100AD – just after the first advent.
A special Book was being opened in seven sections, and this revealed to those who were watching what was going to happen from then on until the second coming. So we could call it The Book of Future History.
In the view taken over the 2,000 year period between the advents, we should see it today as The Book of Past History because we live near the end of the unrolling.
(It was actually a scroll, so it was unrolled rather than having the pages turned.)
However, it will be unrolled again AFTER the second advent so that all of God’s redeemed from all ages will be able to see the controversy as it really happened and not as our earthly historians have written it.
After that God gave us a chapter in which He described the last generation of Christians who will be gathered from “every nation, tongue and people” for this is a group of spiritually minded people, not a body of literal Jews. Because the nature of the people of heaven is divided into twelve character groupings, so these folk as mentioned of coming from twelve different “tribes”.
The seven warnings:
Then, because history had been relatively peaceful for many centuries under the Roman Empire, the Son of God tried to gently warn the watchers in heaven about its fall, by breaking the next vision into seven sections again, each introduced by a warning trumpet.
For the 2,000 year readers they were warnings of the political systems which would operate in and around Europe where Satan had his main religious force based for 1260 years. The last trumpet (trump) was to sound at the second advent.
This brings us into the last generation scenario when ALL the events which transpired under all the trumpets will be repeated, with modern participants.
This ends the eleven chapters.
Section Two: How the church comes to its end
The first advent:
The twelfth chapter begins the second section by showing us very briefly the drama behind the birth of Christ and His ascension to heaven thirty-three years later. After a brief period of taking the good news to all the world, the Christians were proscribed by the ruling powers of the nations and were led by the Spirit of God away from Roman Europe into relatively uninhabited portions of the earth – the developing countries of the far east, as well as the Americas. (We will have to wait for the great film session after the second coming to see how that really happened.
The “war” in heaven:
But the war of words (God doesn’t fight like men do), which began in heaven with Lucifer’s rebellion before the modification of the earth planet (sometimes called “the creation”), and which had only been settled in the minds of the people of the universe when they saw the events of Calvary, was renewed with even greater vigour in the world of the New Testament. The battle was directly aimed at the minds of men and women from that moment on, and intensified, with religions taking a more prominent part!
The 2,000 year view leads on with various amalgamations of the “beast” (there is really only one for it represents unregenerate human nature, with different “heads” controlling it at times), and many attempts by the LORD to get His people into revivals and reformations, all of which failed to complete their task. Mercifully, much of that detail is not mentioned in The Revelation, or the last generation might get discouraged.
But we ARE told that the end result will be another run “into the wilderness”!
For the Bible student, the religious last day events which must lived through by God’s people are set out in astonishing detail from the thirteenth chapter through to the nineteenth. These have a 2,000 year version, and a last generation one!
To fully comprehend this, as mentioned above, we need to have read the book of Daniel and seen there the same two-fold division – the civil history in the first six chapters and the religious version in the last six, for only by knowing the past can we see clearly the future.
The second advent:
Chapters twenty through to twenty-two show us the events which will take place after the second coming, through the 1,000 year period, and onto the third coming with its final world events.
The Revelation finishes with the re-establishment of the new world.
This book is meant to be understood as applying today, but only as the events are either very near or even past, and then only under the immediate guidance of the Holy Spirit, who will make all things regarding Jesus very clear.
The words of the Bible are often written without emotion – you must supply it – either anger or pain, depending on whether you follow Baal or the LORD.
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