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A Brief Summary of Revelation


Adapted from our book The Apocalypse of Revelation

A Bible Study by Fred Kenison, Edited and Revised by Merrill Douglass

 

 

Prologue (1:1 Ė 1:9)

Vision One (1:10 Ė 3:22)

Vision Two (4:1 Ė 8:1)

Vision Three (8:2 Ė 11:18)

Vision Four (11:19 Ė 15:4)

Vision Five (15:5 Ė 16:21)

Vision Six (17:1 Ė 20:3)

Vision Seven (20:4 Ė 22:5)

Epilogue (22:6 Ė 22:21)

 

 

This is a very brief, much-abbreviated, bare-bones commentary on Revelation.  Much of the background context and the substantiating cross-referenced scriptures have necessarily been omitted.  For a detailed, in-depth, verse-by-verse commentary, please see our book, The Apocalypse of Revelation. Read the full text of our book free at biblestudybooksfree.com.

Revelation consists of seven visions, each of which corresponds to its matching day of creation in Genesis. In other words, Vision One corresponds to the first day of creation, and so on for all seven visions and days. Each vision also consists of seven parts, and the seventh part of each vision acts as a continuum, or springboard, to the next vision. This method of using creation as a vehicle for the judgment of God effectively ties the beginning to the end.

There are several guidelines which will help bring clarity and understanding to Revelations.  First, to interpret it literally is to miss the meaning, since Revelation is a vision, filled with symbolism, similes, metaphor, figures of speech, and word pictures.  Second, most of the action is occurring simultaneously, although it is necessarily being reported sequentially.  Third, the author often used a prolepsis to jump ahead and report on things out of sequence.  To understand the chronological order of events in Revelation, it is vital to discern Johnís use of the prolepsis.

The nature of a prolepsis is to describe events out of sequential order.  John did not always relate things in a chronological manner, but skipped around, sometimes going too far forward, and then returning to the beginning of events. We must be carefulóthe action described by a prolepsis is not actually taking place when John tells about it. 

 

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Prologue (1:1 Ė 1:9)

1:1       The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

God gave a revelation, or apocalypse, to Jesus Christ. This revelation was not about Jesus Christ, but about something which was given to him.  Jesus is not the thing, or person, being revealed.  This revelation was also given in a specific order. God spoke to Jesus, Jesus spoke to his angel, the angel spoke to John, and John wrote to the church.

This column will be used to identify prolepses, timing, sequence, and other logistical issues to help readers understand the flow of the book.

1:2       who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

John testified, or witnessed, to three things: the word of God, the testimony of Jesus, and all the things he saw. In a Jewish court, anything was assumed to be true if affirmed by two or three witnesses.

 

1:3       Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

First, there is a blessing given to those who read this letterSecond, there is a blessing on those who hear.  Third, there is a blessing on those who keep those things which are written.  We may deduce that by hearing and keeping the word told to them, believers themselves become a revelation of the prophecy to unbelievers.

 

1:4       John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before his throne;

The number seven indicates a sense of perfection and completeness; it is a central theme in the outline of this letter. There are seven visions, and seven parts to each vision.  These seven letters to seven churches represent the totality of all churches.  The one "who was" refers to the manifestation of God as Jehovah in the Old Testament. The manifestation of God "who is to come" will be Jesus, the messiah.

 

1:5       and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.  Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

This refers to attributes of Jesus, the Christ, the faithful witness. His life on earth as a man, his birth, his ministry, his death, his resurrection, and his ascension to God, were all done to witness to the love of God for humanity.  Jesus was the first of all humanity to receive a glorified body.  When he returns at the beginning of the next age, Jesus will rule over all the kings of the earth. 

 

Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

The latter part of verse 1:5 and all of verse 1:6 contain a doxology in which John listed three things men should be thankful for. The first three things mentioned were about the characteristics and power of Jesus, the Christ; the next three were about his ministry to mankind. Love for us was the motive for all Jesus did.  All mankind was washed, or cleansed, of all their sins by the death of Jesus.

 

1:6       and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.  Amen.

We are our own priests. Every person has been given a portion of holy spirit which is the anointing to the priesthood.  We do not need a priesthood to stand between us and God as in the Old Testament days.   Jesus is our high priest.

 

1:7       Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.  Even so, Amen.

No one will miss the return of Jesus, the Messiah!  Every person who ever committed a sin that needed forgiveness is to blame for ďpiercing him.Ē Therefore, all are guilty, not just the Jews!  But only Israel will feel sorrow for their part in the crucifixion of the one they now recognize as their messiah.  The house of David will repent of its part in the crucifixion of Jesus, the Christ.

 

1:8       I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

By adding the words ďthe almighty,Ē that made it definite that this refers to The God. The same phrase, without that modifying phrase, were used in verse 22:13 to refer to Jesus.

 

1:9       I, John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

All three of these things belong to Jesus Christ. It is his tribulation; it is his kingdom; it is his patience, or endurance.  John was experiencing the same troubles as others who had testified about the word of God, and had given testimony that Jesus was the christ.

 

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Vision One (1:10 Ė 3:22)

1:10     I was in the spirit on the Lord=s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

This "in spirit" state enabled John to see visions of things that God wanted him to see, and which he then shared with other believers.  The word heard may mean to actually hear something audible with the ears, or to hear only in the mind.  It is not clear which is meant here.

 

1:11     saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and last: and, What thou seest, write in a book and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

This is a repetition from an earlier verse where it referred to The God. Here, though, it refers to Jesus, the Christ, not to The God.  First and last refers to the two Adams.  The seven assemblies represent the complete church age, from the beginning until the return of the messiah.  The seven assemblies named represent the completeness, or fulfillment, of the time of the assemblies in the plan of God.

 

1:12     And I turned to see the voice that spake with me.  And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

Golden indicates that these candlesticks were precious to God.  These seven candlesticks represent the seven assemblies, which were to be bearers of the light.

 

1:13     and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

Up until this time no apostle had ever described what our body, or the body of Jesus, the Christ, would be like.  He wore a garment reaching to the feet, and wrapped about the chest with a golden girdle. The girdle was a kind of sash for gathering in long, flowing garments.

 

1:14     His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

John was describing the body of the risen Jesus.  White indicates purity and righteousness.  White head and white hair indicates purity of thought.  Eyes are the perceptive organs of the body which send symbols to the brain for translation into knowledge.  Flame of fire indicates righteous judgment.

 

1:15     and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

Since fire indicates cleansing, if his feet glowed as if in a furnace, this would indicate a cleansed walk. His path would be one of righteousness, with nothing to be criticized.  Water is usually associated with large crowds of people.  Whether like that of a trumpet, as described earlier, or as the roar of a multitude of voices, the voice was loud enough to draw attention to what was being said.

 

1:16     And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

The right hand indicates power. Being held in the right hand means that these seven stars are under the powerful guidance of the one who is the guardian and light of the assemblies.  The two-edged sword means that the word is constantly going forth from the mouth of Jesus to the angels of the churches.  The great light going forth from his countenance was the light to be reflected by the seven candlesticks.

 The first part of verse 1:20 refers back to verse 1:16.

1:17     And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.  And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

This was a picture of Jesus, the Christ, when he returns.  The right hand indicates power, and it was the power of God flowing out through Jesus which brought comfort to John.

 

1:18     I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Jesus stated the fact of his resurrection from among the dead ones, and also his ascension to the right hand of God. Even though he was alive, and then died, he said that he is alive again.  Jesus stated that he could open hell and death because he has the key. Death will yield to the shout of an archangel (the shout is the key) and the graves (hades) will be opened.

 

1:19     Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

John was to write about the things which apply both to this age of grace and to the next age, the kingdom of God.

 

1:20     the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks.  The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

These seven angels are the seven elders of the seven churches.  The candlesticks, the seven churches, reflect most of the light, which they get from the one who is walking among themóJesus, the Christ. He is the real light reflecting the glory and truth of God in all its splendor. This is the light which the candlesticks reflect.

 

2:1       Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

This refers to his guardianship and power over the stars, or elders, and his headship of the seven lampstands, or churches.

 

2:2       I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil:

Labor means intense labor combined with hardships.  Patience means steadfastness, and constancy.  Evil means malignity, malice, ill-will, vicious disposition, a desire to injure.

 

2:3       and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name=s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

They were proud of the name of Jesus, the Christ. They labored with patience to uphold the honor of Jesus and all he had accomplished. They did not wish to bring shame upon him, for his nameís sake.

 

2:4       Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Their love was greatófor awhile. The works pleasing to God must be predicated upon the first love. Those seeking to serve God sometimes forget this first principle of pleasing service, and works become the motivation in their lives instead of love. God is warning us not to leave our first love.

 

2:5       Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place except thou repent.

Periodically, we should pause and reflect upon whether or not we are walking in total obedience to God.  If their works are not based upon love of God, their candlestick will be removed, which means that the church would no longer reflect the truth of God to those around them.

 

2:6       But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

According to tradition, some of their practices included unrestrained indulgences, communal wives, and not distinguishing between ordinary meats and those offered to idols.  Some believe that this was a reference to the notion of a priestly order, which lead to dividing the church into priests, or clergy, and laity.

 

2:7       He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

This means that the person must be continually overcoming in their life.  When Jesus died on the cross, or tree, that cross became a symbol of the tree of life to believers.  Access to the tree of life is determined by proper works, based upon proper faith and love of God.  Even though the cross became a tree of life for everyone when Jesus died upon it, what he purchased and bestowed upon every person can be wasted.

 

2:8       And unto the angel of the church of Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

Please refer back to the comments on verse 1:11 and verse 1:18.

 

2:9       I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of satan.

Those in the church who endure tribulation and poverty are rich in faith; they will inherit the kingdom of God at the return of the christ.  Because only recognized religions were respected by the Romans, people claimed to be Jews to avoid persecution. At the beginning of this age, the early church was accepted as a new branch of Judaism. Later, the Jews no longer considered it to be part of the Jewish faith. Since the Roman government had granted Jews the right to peaceful existence, denying that believers were part of Judaism meant the church was operating outside the Roman law, and subject to persecution.  Those opposing God are sometimes called satan, sometimes the beast, sometimes the antichrist, and sometimes the serpent. None of these terms should be taken literally óthey all apply to some form of opposition to God.

 

2:10     Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

This warning is different because it did not convey a sense of repentance needed, but an early warning of trials which were about to occur.  The devil is not a person, but a personification, a noun used to indicate anyone who opposes the will of God in some specific cause.  Those who witnessed for God were being persecuted by others.  Crown means the wreath which was given to winners of games or other endeavors. Here, it symbolizes those who were "winners," so to speak, of eternal life. In other words, they did not waste what God had given them by grace.

 

2:11     He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

At the judgment seat of Christ, a personís works will be judged to determine whether or not that person will be allowed to enter the next age in a place of blessing or a place of judgment and discipline, referred to in other scriptures as "outer darkness."  Many people mistakenly confuse outer darkness with hell. Outer darkness is simply any place outside the kingdom of God. This is the second death.

 

2:12     And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

This indicates the word which guides the churches.

 

2:13     I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where satan=s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where satan dwelleth.

Those who opposed God and his christ were attempting to impose their rule over the small group of believers. However, such attempts will ultimately fail as long as believers remain faithful.  They absolutely did not deny my faith. Why my faith? Because faith is a gift to every person. It never arises because of any personís activity. It is a gift from God, through Jesus Christ, and attested to by holy spirit. The holy spirit acknowledges Jesus and all his deeds accomplished for the salvation of mankind. All of this comprises what is here called "my faith."

 

2:14     But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

The church has often tolerated those who hold to false doctrines.  The early church was expected to distinguish between right and wrong doctrine.  The teachings of Balaam were those of the earth goddess religion. Sex was not limited to marriage, but practiced with temple prostitutes. They also ate food sacrificed to idols.  Fornication means to prostitute your body to the lust of another.

 

2:15     So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

Review the comments for verse 2:6. No matter what the false doctrine is, the result is the same. People who follow after false doctrines leave the straight way, and become apostate, useless to God.

 

2:16     Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Fight means not only to fight, but to make war. Earlier, he said he hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes; now he says he will make war against them.  The two-edged sword out of the lordís mouth shows that it is his word which sets the real judgment and executes that judgment.

 

2:17     He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Jesus said he was the real manna from heaven, and now he has returned there. Therefore, he is the hidden manna which the overcomers will eat. Simply put, Jesus is still the manna, or spiritual food, for believers.  Jurors gave a white stone to the person they acquitted of a crime. A white stone was also given as an admittance ticket to royal benefits.  The new name is generally assumed to be that of the person bearing the stone. However, it may also be the new name of the one who gives the authority indicated by the stone.

 

2:18     And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

Whenever the term "the son of the God" is used, it always means messiah, or king of kings.  "Feet like fine brass" could represent the earthly walk of Jesus.

 

2:19     I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

Charity means love based upon the will, enabled by God, and wishing the best for everyone, including enemies.  Service refers to those who promote the welfare of the church, at least by helping the poor and suffering.  Faith refers more to fidelity than believing.  Patience, or endurance, indicates they were steadfast and constant in their faith and love.  Works are those acts of service motivated by their love of God.

 

2:20     Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

Jezebel was a followeróprobably a priestessóof the earth-goddess religion which was still prevalent in Johnís day.

 

2:21     And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

Rather than repentance, the false teachings continued. Many people were ignorant about the god to whom they now claimed allegiance, and they knowingly or unknowingly brought over certain elements from their former idol worship which were unfitted for the worship of God.

 

2:22     Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

Adultery means unlawful intercourse with anotherís wife. The Hebrew word also meant, "those who at a womanís solicitation are drawn away to idolatry, to the eating of things sacrificed to idols."  Tribulation means tightly compressed, in dire straits. 

 

2:23     And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

This phrase is a Hebrew expression used to express emphasis. It is similar to the English expression, "I will kill you dead!"  Her children would be anyone who followed her false teachings.  Reins means kidneys, or loins, which people thought were the seat of feelings or emotions.

 

2:24     But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of satan, as they speak; I will put upon you non other burden.

While some had been deceived and had followed the teachings of Jezebel, others had not done so.  God was saying simply that nothing more would be expected but to remain steadfast in the faith until the end. This should be a great comfort to those who think they must be constantly "doing something" for God.

 

2:25     But after that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

Remain steadfast and faithful.

 

2:26     And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

Power means authority. The overcomer will have great authority over the nations, or Gentiles.   As far as God is concerned, there is no such thing as Jew or Gentile. He broke down the middle wall of partition, did away with the enmity, made the two into one, and reconciled them both to himself through the sacrifice of his son.  Any Gentile of this age who believes that Jesus is the christ will be considered to be an Israelite, and will come under the covenant God gave Abraham. Those who do not believe, even if they are Jews ethnically, will be considered to be a Gentile, or an unbeliever, in the next age.

 

2:27     and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

The overcomers will rule over these unbelievers in a very strict manner.

 

2:28     And I will give him the morning star.

The "morning star," is considered to be the brightest star in the heavens. The word star indicates someone who is outstanding in what they do. This star signifies someone outstanding in spiritual matters.

 

2:29     He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches.

Pay attention, understand, and heed my words..

 

3:1       And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know they works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

This refers to his command of the holy spirit and the seven elders.  For other comments, please refer back to the comments on verse 1:4 and the comments for verse 1:20.

 

3:2       Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

 

The danger was that unless these works were strengthened, even those few correct things would die. If that happened, the church would no longer have any reason for existence.  Perfect, or complete, works are those which receive the approval of Jesus, the head of the body of christ. Works will be counted as righteousness, or perfect, to the person doing them if those works are based on faith and love of God.

 

3:3       Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.  If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Some heard as this was read to them; others read it for themselves. Either way, they were to keep what they received and heard, which was the instruction back in verse 1:3.  Keep means to have it as a personal possession, and to guard it against being polluted. They were also admonished to hold fast and repent. In other words, they were to change their ways, and strengthen their remaining good works.  However Jesus will come,  to the watchful group, his coming is expected; to the others, it is a surprise.

 

3:4       Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

Each set of trials that the overcomers have to endure qualifies each judgment made that they are overcomers. Walking in white means that their works have been judged as righteous.

 

3:5       He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name, and before his angels.

 

White garments refers to the righteousness of the saints.; or, it can also refer to the glorified body of the overcomers, which will be like the glorified body of Jesus. Jesus reconciled all men to God at the cross. Therefore, all are saved when they enter the world (their names are in the book of life). What people do with their salvation, whether they believe in Jesus or not, whether they obey God and serve him through loveóall this will determine whether or not they keep their salvation (keeping their names in the book), or have their names blotted out of the book.

 

3:6       He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches.

Pay attention, understand, and heed my words..

 

3:7       And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

Holy means separation. Jesus was completely separated to God.  He was without sin while living on earth and therefore separate. He was resurrected and ascended to the Father, and thereby departed completely from us sinners who were left.  Jesus was completely true to his calling to reveal the Father to men.  Jesus will be given the key of David, which signifies his power to rule.

 

3:8       I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

Jesus, the head of the church, recognizes they still have a ministry, albeit a diminished one. Strength refers to the power of God directed to people through holy spirit.  Deny means to renounce something, or forsake it, or show an estrangement from a thing or person.

 

3:9       Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

When a person approaches someone who has power over them, proskuneo, worship, indicates the form of the body rather than the attitude of the heart.  Those who lied about being Jews, to avoid persecution, probably thought those who did not lie were foolish, that a little lie did not matter.  But it matters to God, who says he will deal with the liars so they will know that "God loved the overcomers" who were persecuted.

 

3:10     Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon  the earth.

Many consider this a promise that all the believers will be raptured out of the great tribulation. However, believers will most likely be here on earth, but under the loving care of God.  When Godís last judgmentóthe floodócame upon the earth, Noah and his family were saved from drowning. However, they went through the flood in the ark, under Godís protection. The same will probably be true for believers during the tribulation period.  This test, or trial, will be done to sift the wheat from the chaff, or the believers from the unbelievers.  If people remain faithful through persecution, their faith is well grounded upon the knowledge of Godís grace and truth.

 

3:11     Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

Quickly is not a description of how soon he will return, but describes the method of his return. When he does return, it will not be a long, drawn out process; he will come quickly. Therefore, we must constantly be on the alert for his coming. When the signs begin to multiply, once he starts his return, he will come quickly.

 

3:12     Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

What is the significance of writing these names upon the overcomer? Earlier, the new name Lord was written on a stone which entitled the person holding it to enter royal functions. Now, after the overcomers have been allowed to enter the holy place and the holy of holies, they will no longer need the stone for entrance. They will be admitted to, and will remain in, the presence of God because the new name of God, the name of New Jerusalem, and the new name of Jesus, the Christ, will all be written on them.

 

3:13     He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches.

Pay attention, understand, and heed my words..

 

3:14     And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

Jesus was judged faithful because he did exactly what God told him to do. He was true because he spoke nothing or did nothing except what God told him. Whatever he did revealed the Father; whatever he spoke was true of the Father. Therefore, he was the only one faithful and true witness of God.  Jehovah was the first creation of God, and he became the man, Jesus.

 

3:15     I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

Some works were performed in a perfunctory manner. The people doing them were apathetic, and did not seem to care whether they were accomplished or not.

 

3:16     So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

This attitude was anathema to God. He expressed disdain, and told them it made him want to vomit!

 

3:17     Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Many worldly churches believe that wealth is a symbol of Godís blessingóthey do not even realize they are spiritually bankrupt.  Miserable means in need of being pitied.  They were poor spiritually, not materially.  They were mentally blind. They could not understand spiritual things because they habitually obscured the truth by raising a smoke screen.  Naked means they were openly exposed in a spiritual sense.

 

3:18     I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.

This means to return to the true faith again so they may be rich spiritually. They will then have white garmentsóthe clothing of righteousnessóand the shame of their nakedness would not be manifest.  Buy eye-salve that they might see means to open their eyes to what has happened to them.

 

3:19     As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Rebuke means to correct misguided people  Even with all their faults, the Lord still considers these people part of his close family.   Chasten refers to training or educating . Essentially, this means to instruct in Godís ways. He will instruct and guide us when we make a wrong turn, or lose our way.

 

3:20     Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Read in context, Jesus is speaking of the church door, not the door of someoneís heart.  In this age, the Lord is knocking at the doors of the churches. But at the end of this age, those who refused to answer the knock will be knocking at the Lordís dooróthe entrance into the kingdom of Godóand they will not be heard. 

 

3:21     To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

The throne is symbolic of the power which will be granted to the overcomers.  They will receive power from Jesus just as he received power from the Father.

 

3:22     He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches.

Pay attention, understand, and heed my words.

 

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Vision Two (4:1 Ė 8:1)

4:1       After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

Just a reminder, as far as we know heaven does not have any doors. What John saw was not reality, but a representation of something.  Heaven is a metaphor for the place where God supposedly dwells.  In the vision, God simply transferred John mentally into this new dimension called heaven. God did this to enlighten him about what he was going to bring forth on the earth in his day of wrath, or judgment.

 

4:2       And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

The throne in heaven indicated the seat of power.  Sitting indicates repose and absolute power, and shows that Godís power may be used at his discretion, without great exertion on his part.

 

4:3       And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like an emerald.

Jasper and sardine are precious gemstones.  The rainbow probably refers to glory of the Lord, just as did the shekinah cloud.

 

4:4       and round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

God was sitting upon a throne surrounded with a rainbow which looked like precious gems. It was this throne which was surrounded by 24 other seats, although the word used is actually the same word that was translated as the  throne upon which God sat.  These elders were not identified, but they are righteous, since white raiment indicates righteousness.  The gold crowns symbolizes their great spiritual worth.

 

4:5       And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God.

Lightning symbolizes the presence of God.  Thunder symbolizes the voice of God.  The number seven denotes completeness or fulfillment. Thus, the seven spirits indicated the holy spirit, represented here as seven lamps of fire.  Fire signifies cleansing. In this case, it is the absolute judgment of God upon those who have resisted, and are still resisting, his purposes for his creation.

 

4:6       And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.

The sea of glass indicates the remoteness, or separation, of God from his creation.  Four beasts, better translated as living creatures, represent the totality of the world, or earth.  The eyes before and behind indicate the fullness of knowledge.

 

4:7       And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.

The lion represents the wild animals of nature. The calf represents all the domesticated animals.  Man represents all humanity.  The eagle  represents all the birds. The number four indicates the totality of all the living creatures of nature.

 

4:8       And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

The four living creatures have the duty, or perhaps the privilege, of continually worshiping God, who is eternal in the true sense of the word. He was, and is, and is to come.

 

4:9       And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,

The living creatures are there day and night, but they are speaking only occasionally. Giving glory means recognizing, and repeating to God, how magnificent, excellent, dignified, and pre-eminent he is.  Giving honour means recognizing the great worth of God and his priceless gifts to humanity and all creation.  Thanksgiving is the recognition of his grace with heartfelt thanks.

 

4:10     the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

Nature, the four living creatures, lead the 24 elders, representing humanity, in worshiping God.  Crowns refers to the wreaths given to winners of contests.  Golden crowns, signifying great worth, indicate that the ones receiving these crowns had run a difficult race, and they had won.

 

4:11     Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

All the things people erroneously seek after in this life actually belong to The God, and he did not want anyone to misunderstand that all the glory, and the honor, and the power belong to him.  It was God who created everything, so that everything he created should give him the glory, the honor, and the power.

 

5:1       And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

This was not a large scroll, but a small one.  The throne indicates royalty and power, and the book refers to Godís purposes which have not been fully revealed before.  One seal was usually sufficient to seal a document.  Seven indicates the completeness, fullness of secrecy, and deep obscurity of the information contained in this small scroll.

 

5:2       And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

This scroll of God could be opened only by someone whose deeds and worth are equal to the weight of Godís words contained in the scroll.

 

5:3       And no man in heaven, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

No one, living or dead, was worthy to open the book; no one could be found to even look at it, indicating that no one will ever be justified by works. Justification is by the grace of God, and we can claim nothing from him no matter how much work we have done.

 

5:4       And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

Here was a book containing Godís secret intent for mankind, and as far as John knew it had to remain closed. Little wonder that he wept.  To be worthy was to have enough power of the holy spirit to open the book and read it.

 

5:5       And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

The lion illustrated the great strength needed to open the book.  Jesus, as the lion of Judah, the root of David, shall open the book, and loose the seven seals.  He was worthy because he had lived without sin under the guidance of holy spirit, which he had without measure, and his power was not diminished, or wasted, by sin in his life. He was wholly committed to the service of God.

 

5:6       And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

The four living creatures symbolize nature. The 24 elders represent mankind. The lamb being in their midst represents a close association of some kind.  Previously, Jesus was referred to as a lion, referring to his power to bring retribution and judgment upon the people who oppose Godís purposes.  It is as the lamb that he was killed for our salvation.  When called a lamb, it indicates that Jesus was bringing salvation, not judgment, to the world. It is as the lamb that he stands amidst the living creatures and the elders who represent redeemed mankind and nature.  Horns indicate power, and seven means perfection, completeness, or totality.  The seven eyes and seven spirits indicate that Jesus has been given the fullness of the holy spirit, with full knowledge of the things he must deal with. The seven eyes are the holy spirit which was sent into all the earth. Nothing is hidden from the christ because the holy spirit reveals everything to him.

 

5:7       And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne.

Jesus took the book out of Godís hand.

 

5:8       And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

To fall down means to recognize the lambís status as lord, or master.  The saints are the separated ones. Judicially, everyone is now a saint. By the death of Jesus, the Christ, every person was separated to God and baptized into one body by the gift of holy spirit. Experientially, however, only those who are committed to God are hagioi, or separated ones.

 

5:9       And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

They have been singing the holiness of God, but now they sing a new song.  It is not a song that has just come into existence, but an old song of praise that has been changed, improved, and added to. It is a new song in terms of its quality.  Being slain made him worthy to open the scroll because he was also the first-born from the dead, and because his life was lived without sin.  This also qualified him to be the messiah, or christ.  His life, death, resurrection, and ascension to God were also an affirmation of another part of the new song they sing.   We belong to God because we were purchased by the blood of Jesus, his son.  God will create another group of people of every tongue, and every tribe, and every people (ethnic group), and every nation.

 

5:10     and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

The message of the "new song" is that the saints will be made a nation of priests to God.  These are the overcomers, who will have a body like that of Jesus. They will no longer be influenced by the pull of human nature, or by the world and its religions. They will be totally committed to the cause of God.

 

5:11     And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;

These angels are the spirits of the dead, clothed in interim bodies, who are awaiting the return of Jesus.  The white raiment of righteousness, which clothes our spirits at death, is a gift of grace brought about by the life and death of Jesus. Every person is granted this status until the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. After that, some will enter into the next age in a place of blessing and others will enter into outer darkness. 

 

5:12     saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

The lamb is the worthy one here, not the lion. The focus is on salvation, not judgment.  Jesus is not just receivingóhe has the authority and power to take all of these things. Wisdom, a proper application and use of knowledge; strength which is reserve power; honor, and glory, and blessing from all nature and humanity.

 

5:13     And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

Creature includes all of nature and mankind. There is a distinction between him that sits upon the throne, and the lamb. The lamb, Jesus, does not sit upon the throne in heaven, only The God sits there.

 

5:14     And the four beasts said, Amen.  And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshiped him that liveth for ever and ever.

The four living creatures are saying they believe that the lamb is really worthy of the song that the whole universe had just finished singing.  The elders worship God, not the lamb!  God is the one John refers to as living into the ages of ages, not Jesus, the Christ.

 

6:1       And I saw when the lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

All seven seals were most likely opened all at one time, but John described them one at a time, in sequence.

 

6:2       And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

The great and terrible day of the lord occurs before Jesus returns to rule and reign. Therefore, this rider must be somebody else.  The bow was an instrument of war.  This person on the white horse was chosen to absolutely assure a victory, to conquer or overcome certain people.  The first overcoming was done in order that he might overcome others.

 

6:3       And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

All seven seals were most likely opened all at one time, but John described them one at a time, in sequence.  The four living creatures are taking turns calling John to come take a look at what was happening.

 

6:4       And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

This person on the red horse, representing war, was given the power to take peace from the entire earth.  This war includes every kingdom and class of people existing on earth.  How better to conquer the world than to turn people against one another and thus destroy themselves? A great sword indicates massive destruction and death. 

 

6:5       And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see.  And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

As a result of war, a black horse, famine, also follows.  The balance signified that food would be in short supply and would be weighed, or rationed out.

 

6:6       And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

A measure would be enough to support a person of moderate appetite for one day.  This measure would cost the equivalent of a full dayís wages, just to keep one person fed.  The oil and wine will not be rationed, but only the wealthy will be able to afford them.  The poor will receive none of the oil and wine as they will not have the resources to purchase them.

 

6:7       And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

All seven seals were most likely opened all at one time, but John described them one at a time, in sequence.  The four living creatures are taking turns calling John to come take a look at what was happening.

 

6:8       And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and hell followed with him.  And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

Please keep in mind, there are really no horses, and there is no one actually sitting on any horse. These are symbols to help John understand Godís purposes for the earth in the last days, including the return of Jesus.  This horse was probably the greenish color of a deathly sickness, indicating the deaths from both war and disease.  Over is a spatial term, not a mathematical one, and refers to the area of the killing, not the number of people killed.  The riders will be allowed to take over one-fourth of the earthís area, and to kill over, or within, that area.  Beasts describes mean, brutal people who make up the army which will be waging war over one-fourth of the earth.

 

6:9       And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

John saw the altar of burnt sacrifice in the heavenly tabernacle of God.  The blood of the sacrifices was poured out at the bottom, or under, the altar.  This represents the people who were slain because of their testimony for God, pictured as though they were sacrifices to God upon his altar.

 

6:10     and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

They wanted God to judge, and then avenge, or punish, the ones who killed them.

 

6:11     And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

The white robes here indicate royal stature; the overcomers will be both priests and kings.  They had to wait until others were also killed.

 

6:12     And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

Earthquakes are often used in the scriptures to symbolize the shaking of manís systems.  The sun, the light of God, has been obscured by the blackness of lies, deceit, and utter depravity of those opposing God.  Therefore, the moon will not reflect the light of God, but the true purpose of the rider on the white horse, which is bloodshed.

 

6:13     and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs when she is shaken of a might wind.

The stars, the leaders of the churches, have fallen. They no longer reflect the light of God, but are cooperating with the rider of the white horse. Therefore, they are no longer useful to God.  Figs that fall too soon are good for nothing. Even so, the stars are shaken loose. Just as figs can be destroyed when shaken by a great wind, so the stars are fallen from heaven in the shaking, or earthquake.

 

6:14     And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

The stars were to reflect Godís glory to men. They were no longer fulfilling that mission.  It does not say that God rolled up the heaven; it is men who no longer discern it as the glory of The God. Like a scroll when it is rolled up, nothing of its meaning can be discerned in that condition.  The mountains refer to the high power of great governments, and the hills represent the lesser powers.

 

6:15     And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

These are the influential people who make up the mountains. Throughout the Bible, men fled to the mountains in times of war and great distress. Here, all menórich, powerful, strong, kings, bondmen, pooróare reacting in fear.

Prolepsis.  John skipped right over the return of the Christ, which must occur before the great wrath, and described something which will occur later.

Verses 6:15-17 contain a proleptic statement which fits in with verse 15:8.  When the seven plagues begin, then the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, and everyone else will hide and cry for the mountains and rocks to fall on them to hide them from the wrath of God.

6:16     and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

Their fear is so great that they want the rocks to fall immediately; they want to be hidden immediately.  Face indicates the presence of God.  The wrath people fear is a sustained anger which will continue until its purpose is fulfilled. This is the wrath of the lamb who is now showing the attributes of a lion.

6:17     for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

This wrath will surpass anything which the world has ever seen. And this wrath will endure until it brings about Godís rule over the entire earth.

As Chapter 6 ended, events were almost at the brink of the coming of Jesus...but not quite yet.

7:1       And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

The four corners symbolize the four cardinal directions of the compass, which would include the entire planet. The angels are messengers who are holding the holy spirit of God to prevent it from blowing, or acting, upon those on the earth. Trees are often used as symbols of strong men, and seas represent the mass of people. With the removal of the holy spirit, there will no longer be anything to restrict the evil of men.

 

7:2     And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

The seal of the living God is holy spirit.  The four angels on the four corners of the earth were not allowing the holy spirit to blow upon men, earth, or sea, and the ascending angel was returning it to God.

 

7:3       saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

The four angels were restricted from injuring the earth, sea, and trees until Godís servants were sealed.  The seal on their foreheads probably means that these people are given the power of holy spirit to be wholly, mentally dedicated to God.  They received enough of holy spirit as a seal to perform the duties for which they were called.

 

7:4       And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

The number 144,000 is not meant literally, nor is it meant to limit the number of people sealed.  This number indicates all of the overcomers, those who will rule and reign with the lord upon his return to earth.  Israel includes both Jews and Gentiles, since both were reconciled to God.  In the common vernacular of today, we say that believers become Christians; but according to Paul, believers become Israelites.

 

7:5       Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Rueben were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.

The scriptures offer no reason for why Dan was omitted from being marked as one of Godís servants.  Again, the numbers are not to be taken literally.  They simply indicate that a great multitude of people will be sealed.

 

7:6       Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.

See the commentary for verse 7:5.

 

7:7       Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.

See the commentary for verse 7:5.

 

7:8       Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand.  of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand.  of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

See the commentary for verse 7:5.

 

7:9       After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palms in their hands;

This is a figure of speech indicating that there were a huge number of people.  Nation means both Jews and Gentiles.  John showed emphatically that the people in this great multitude included all nations and peoples and languages of the earth.  Standing before the throne signifies judgment.  These people have passed Godís judgment as they wore white robes, indicating righteousness.

 

7:10     and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

The salvation, or the 1,000 year reign, is the ultimate revelation to mankind that God has honored his commitment to the fathers. This is his righteousness, or the salvation.  The lamb was the one God used to fulfill the law; he was the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world; he reconciled the world to God. Therefore, the lamb is honored along with God. But, only God is sitting on the throne, not Jesus. 

 

7:11     And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God,

The multitude of people is now referred to as angels.  The elders and the four living creatures are the inner circle of those in the service of God. The angels, or people, are further away yet still in the vicinity of Godís throne. 

 

7:12     saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever, Amen.

The Greek language derives the words for truth, faith, and righteousness from amen. When people say amen, it should mean that they agree that what is said is true, or faithful, or righteous. Therefore, the list of things they attributed to The God are assumed to be absolutely true.

 

7: 13    And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, what are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

The key words in this verse are "who" and "where." 

 

7:14     And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest.  And he said unto me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

These are they who came out of the tribulation, the great (one).   This is the rest of the fellow-servants killed during the great tribulation.  These people have already received the white raiment of the first group. While still upon the earth, during the great tribulation, they paid with their lives for continuing to witness for God. They washed their robes and made them white by shedding their own blood.

 

7:15     Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

They are now being rewarded, given a place close to God to serve as his priests in the heavenly temple.  To dwell, or tabernacle, over them literally means God will spread his tent over them and protect them.

 

7:16     They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

God will guard and provide for them. 

 

7:17     For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

The lamb, the good shepherd in his earthly life, will still be doing the same in the next age, providing both the food of God and the water of life.

 

8:1       And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

The silence in heaven must have been because all those present were holding their breaths, wondering what was going to happen next. This book had been sealed throughout the ages, with only portions revealed to the prophets. This book provides all the final answers!  No wonder they were silent while awaiting further developments.  A half hour means it was only a short interval.

 

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Vision Three (8:2 Ė 11:18)

8:2       And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

In Vision One, there were seven angels to the seven churches. Here, seven angels stand ready to carry out the will of God by blowing seven trumpets.  The number seven indicates spiritual completion, fulfillment, or totality.  The sounding of the trumpet meant that God was fighting on the side of Israel, and the blowing of the trumpets here means the same thing.

 

8:3       And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense. that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

Tthere are now eight angels. Eight is the number for a new beginning.  This "another angel" is definitely acting as high priest.  Since the only high priest in heaven is Jesus, then this "another angel" is Jesus.  The prayers here are all those prayers for vengeance asking God to do what he had promised.

 

8:4       And the smoke of the incense, which came from the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel=s hand.

Smoke indicates the fire of judgment which is contained in the golden censer.  This fire, or coals, heats the incense which rises with the prayers of the saints. 

 

8:5       And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it unto the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

The filling of the censer in this verse was for the inhabitants of the world. Because they did not recognize God, there were no prayers to act as incense. Therefore, the fire from the altar became not a blessing to them, but a judgment.  Fire in the scriptures often represents the judgment of God.  These voices, thunders, lightnings, and earthquakes will be heard and felt throughout the world as they shake all the systems of government.

 

8:6       And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

There are seven angels and seven trumpets, signifying completeness, or totality. These signify the different elements of the complete judgment which will fall upon the earth.

 

8:7       The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

Hail and fire, mingled with blood, signifies a great war, as God brings his judgment upon the people of earth.  Losing one third of the trees, along with all green grass indicates a major blow to the food supply on earth.

 

8:8       And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;

This great mountain, or army, or government, was burning with fire. It was not only burning everything in its path, but was itself being burned.  The sea represents multitudes of people. This great mountain, or powerful army, will come down upon the people who dare to defy the false christ and the anti-christ government. They will crush all opposition.  The sea turning to blood indicates that a third of the people on earth died with much bloodshed.

 

8:9       and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

War kills animals as well as people.  This war will have a "scorched earth" policy, and the army will destroy anything which might provide support to their opponents. In addition, this war will be fought everywhere, on the oceans as well as the land, and one-third of all shipping will be destroyed.

 

8:10     And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon fountains of waters;

The great star was burning like a lamp, which indicates that this great star, or person, was, or was pretending to be, a bearer of great religious light. However, he was not a revealer of God. This great star was either the false christ, or one of his servants.  This war was meant to physically conquer the people, and also to mentally conquer their minds. The false christ wanted to convert all men to the anti-God, anti-christ religion he was promoting.

 

8:11     and the name of the star is Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

Wormwood indicates the bitter poison of false religious doctrines. It will poison a third of the rivers and streams, which were those truths sustaining a healthy belief in The God. This great star causes the spiritual death of many people with its false teaching. This star was the man on the white horse, or the false christ of the anti-christ government, who was promoting war, both physically and spiritually, upon the population of earth.

 

8:12     And the fourth angel sounded, and the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

The knowledge of God declared by the sun, moon, and stars will be reduced by a third. The likely result of this reduction of knowledge about God is that the people who have turned their backs on God will be further deluded by the false christ.

All of this will be a precursor to the return of Jesus, the Christ.

8:13     And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels which are yet to sound!

These woes will happen to those who dwell on the earth.  Each remaining trumpet to be blown signifies Godís denunciation of those who dwell upon the earth. God is angry, and finally fed up with the rebellion by those he created to glorify him.  Woes indicates a deeper category of suffering than previously.

 

9:1       And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key to the bottomless pit.

The star was Wormwood, the false religious teacher who poisoned the minds of one-third of mankind against God. The key was a symbol of authority; in this case, the key was for opening the "bottomless pit," or abyss.

 

9:2       And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

The star Wormwood opened the bottomless pit.  A volcano, or a large furnace, produces acrid smoke which obscures the vision.  Obscuring the air with smoke makes it difficult to see the sun, which is a reference to the knowledge of God.  Therefore, this darkening of the sun and air refers to obscuring the knowledge of the true God. 

 

9:3       And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

These locusts are people who had no power of their own, but were given limited, specific power by a higher authority.

 

9:4       And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

Earlier, the army of the anti-christ government used a scorched earth policy and destroyed the food supply.  God commanded this army of locusts not to use such methods (they were not to hurt the grass, nor any green thing, nor any tree).  These locusts, or people, only have the authority to injure anyone without Godís seal.

 

9:5       And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

They were not allowed to kill, but they were allowed to torment for five months.  Both the abyss and the smoke refer to the devilish character of these locusts, or men, which are part of the anti-christ government. 

 

9:6       And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

Those days refers to the time of the first woe.  The sting of the "locusts" will be so painful and debilitating that men shall seek "the death," the total destruction of body, soul, and spirit.  However, these men cannot even kill themselves. Death simply is not an option.

 

9:7       And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared for battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.

These locusts represented not the image of a horse, but the purpose of a horse.  Horses were war machines, and these locusts were also instruments of war; hence, the comparison.   The faces were similar to, or equal to, the faces of men. In other words, men were at the head of these awesome war machines.

 

9:8       And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.

The horse-like images had hair like womenís hair.  A lion has very strong teeth, used to choke prey, and then tear it apart.  These were fearsome things.

 

9:9       And they had breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

These war machines were evidently armored in some manner, and quite noisy when operating.

 

9:10     And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

Whatever they were, they were going to sting people, to disable them and make them painfully ill, but not to kill them.  God limited the power of the men running these war machines, and set a limit on how long they could operate.

 

9:11     And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

Real locusts have no king; they go where the wind blows them, wherever food is found.  Having a king over them symbolizes that this army now despoiling mankind has leadership, organization, and purpose.  Their king is the angel of the bottomless pit, the star named Wormwood, the leader of a false religion which poisoned the minds of many people, thereby destroying them for any usefulness to God. Both the Hebrew and Greek names mean destroyer.

 

9:12     One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.

The star Wormwood fell from heaven, opened the bottomless pit, and released a living hell upon the inhabitants of the world with his warfare.

 

9:13     And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

The number four signifies the completeness of all four directions. Horns symbolize strength. The golden altar is the altar of incense.   The altar of incense, or the golden altar, signified the prayers of the people. When the smoke of the incense rose, it represented the prayers rising up to God.

 

9:14     saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates,

The phrase "bound in the great river Euphrates" limits them to the Middle East region.  If the four angels are the leaders of this army to be released, then this army consists of all the armies of the Middle East.

 

9:15     And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

This clearly shows that God does not act on impulse, but by divine design.  The angels, or the messengers, had been prepared long ago for this exact hour.  This is not just any hour. This is the hour, which is a specific hour designated by God long ago, definite to a day, a month, and a year. 

 

9:16     And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.

The four angels which were loosed have turned into an army of 200,000,000 cavalrymen. 

 

9:17     And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

How could fire be contained as a breastplate? The answer is found in the grammar. The words used for fire, jacinth, and brimstone are adjectives, not nouns.  Therefore, the breastplates are fire-like, jacinth-like, and brimstone-like.  Both fire and brimstone are regarded in scripture as means of purification, or purging.

 

9:18     By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.

God brought in this great army from the north to punish the errant people who opposed him.  Keep in mind that Godís judgments are not only to punish, but also to purge his people from wrong doing, that they might abide in his blessing.

 

9:19     For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.

The power to kill one-third of the people on earth came not only from the mouths of these war horses in the form of fire, smoke and brimstone, but also from their tails.

 

9:20     And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:

God wanted people to repent, or change their minds, about which god they would serve.  However, none repented, or changed their minds about whom or what they would worship.

 

9:21     neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

These are four characteristics of their life-style and religion, things they will not repent of, or change their minds about. 

 

10:1     And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:

This "another mighty angel" was Jesus, the Christ.  "Clothed with a cloud" refers to Jesus. He ascended in a cloud, and the disciples were informed he would return in like manner.  There are two necessary conditions for a rainbow: a bright light and a cloud. This angel was clothed with a cloud, his face was described as being bright as the sun, and his feet were as pillars of fire. He brought his own brightness which could provide enough light to cause the rainbow.

 

10:2     and he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,

Jesus was the only one worthy to take the little book from the open hand of God, and break the seven seals to reveal Godís plan for the end of this age and the beginning of the next.  Having his feet on the sea and earth shows his authority over them, and indicates that his power and dominion will be without limit during the next age.

 

10:3     and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.

The number seven means completeness, or fullness. Therefore, these seven thunders, or vocal messages from God, signify a complete revelation of things to John.

 

10:4     And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

Whatever the seven thunders said was only for John and was not to be shared with others.

 

10:5     And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted his hand to heaven,

This shows the extent of Jesusí authority when he returns to earth.  "Lifting up his hand to heaven" indicated taking an oath. In other words, the "another mighty angel" was promising, or swearing an oath.

 

10:6     and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:

In other words, the "another mighty angel" was promising, or swearing an oath to him that lives forever and forever. Only one is immortal from himself, and that is The God.  Therefore, the "another mighty angel" was swearing an oath to The God.  What the "another mighty angel" swore when he lifted up his hand to heaven was that there should be no more time. When Jesus returns, time as we know it (chronos, or measured time) will cease to exist. 

 

10:7     but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

Whenever he shall begin to sound the trumpet, the mystery of God shall be finished.  This refers to what will happen when we get to the sounding of the seventh trumpet in verse 11:15.  Remember, that the soundings of all seven trumpets are included in the opening of the seventh seal by Jesus. The seventh seal signified completion of Godís actions in bringing about the beginning of a new age, the kingdom of God.  The "mystery of God" is the complete history of mankind. This history will be finished when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet.

 

10:8     And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.

John is commanded to go take the book.  The word for book indicates it is a small book.

 

10:9     And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book.  And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up= and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.

To approach such an awesome person as this ďanother angelĒ must have taken a great deal of courage.  The mighty angel commanded John to take the book and eat it.  This command was not meant in a literal sense.  It meant that John was to understand what was written, to digest it with his mind and emotions, and to believe what it taught him about the future actions of God.

 

10:10   And I took the little book out of the angels= hand, and ate it up= and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.

This means that first John would rejoice at the good news which this little book revealed, but he would be greatly distressed as he contemplated the horrors of Godís wrath to those on the earth.

 

10:11   And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

Instead of "prophesy again before" a more accurate translation would be "prophesy again as to" or "prophesy again in regard to" many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.  John was not to prophesy "to" many peoples, and nations, and tongues, but "in regard to" what has been revealed to him in the little book about  the future of many peoples, and nations, and tongues.

 

11:1     And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.

This reed may have been one of the large canes, which grew 12 to 20 feet in length, and was sometimes used as a surveyorís rod.  Measure can refer to space, or to worth, or value. Here, it probably refers to space. First, John was to measure the part of the temple, naos, used by the priests, although the purpose is not clear.  Second John must measure the altar used for burnt offerings, although the reason is also not clear.  Third, John was to measure the people who worshiped in the temple. Here, the word measure would necessarily indicate the worth, or value, of those worshiping.  This measurement was to determine whether or not the priests within this space were priests of God. 

 

11:2     But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

This area was omitted because the rest of the temple area would be given to the Gentiles.  The 42 months refers to how long the Gentiles will control all of Jerusalem.

 

11:3     And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

Since the word "power" does not actually appear in the Greek manuscript, this should be translated as "I shall give and they shall prophesy"  The angel will not give power, but he will give the content of their prophesy. He will be in charge of these two witnesses, and they will speak what they are told to speak.  The two prophets will be prophesying during the 42 months Jerusalem is being trod under foot.   The dark color of the sack cloth refers to the dark nature of their prophesies.

 

11:4     These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

It is not clear who these two olive trees are.  Whoever they are, they have been given a great ministry.

 

11:5     And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.

They will not wait until someone hurts them, but will act against anyone who even thinks about hurting them. Just to approach them with the intent of harming them is enough to signal them to protect themselves.  Fire signifies judgment and purging.  Whether this is real fire or simply the word of God, it is destructive to their enemies. 

 

11:6     These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophesy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

Their power is great enough to stop the rain.  The plagues may represent the action (fire from the mouth) of these two witnesses against those who oppose them. Whether literal or symbolic, they may take action against their oppressors as often as they will. 

 

11:7     And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

The bottomless pit symbolized people sinking into the depths of evil. The very lowest part of the bottomless pit was considered the home of the most evil people who died. This beast is such a totally evil man that there is no compassion for other people in his soul, only evil.   He was the leader of the great army of locusts, and now he brings his army against the two witnesses who are vulnerable since their mission is finished. The beast shall make war against them, and kill them.

 

11:8     And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

He does not bury the bodies, but displays them in the street of the city.  During this time, Jerusalem and its religion will be so far from the truth that God regards them no better than he did Sodom.

 

11:9     And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

This indicates some, perhaps most, but definitely not all people of the earth.  Out of all these different groups, some would see the bodies.  This was not just a few of the worldís nations, but included representatives from all of them.  Preventing burial was a heinous deed; but almost as bad was the curiosity of the crowd gathered to look at the dead, bloated bodies of the two messengers of God.

 

11:10   And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

The entire earth will participate in the rejoicing over the death of the two witnesses.  The victors considered this a major celebration.  The people of the earth actually felt tortured because of what the prophets said.

 

11:11   And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

When the two witnesses are resurrected from the dead, the people are stunned! The celebration is over, and rejoicing was replaced by paralyzing fear.

 

11:12   And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither.  And they ascended to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

These two witnesses heard a great voice from heaven, and then they ascended in a cloud.

 

11:13   And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

When the two witnesses ascended, a great earthquake occurred which will leveled one-tenth of Jerusalem and killed 7,000 men.  The people clearly knew that this was God at work, and they were terrified.

 

11:14   The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

The second woe included the trumpet of the sixth angel which loosed the four angels, who unleashed the army of 200 million upon the earth. Then, the "another mighty angel" came and gave John the little book to eat. John was also given a reed to measure several items. Then the two olive trees, messengers of God, came and witnessed for 42 months as Jerusalem was trodden under foot by the Gentiles. After the two witnesses were killed, they were raised to life and ascended to heaven. Then a huge earthquake destroyed one-tenth of Jerusalem and killed 7,000 people.

 

11:15   And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

The seven angels, with the seven trumpets, were a continuation of opening the seven seals which was the beginning of the third vision given to John.  All those left on the earth without a body like the resurrected Jesus will now become subject to the power of God. Nothing could be worse than having to submit themselves to the God whom they have constantly resisted.  There will be many kingdoms on earth, with kings ruling over them, but as far as God is concerned there will only be one kingdom: his. This marks the end of mankindís history and their freedom under grace. From now on, the earth will be subject to the rule of Jesus, the Christ.

Prolepsis describing the kingdom.  However, the actual coming of Jesus is not related until verses 19:11-17.

11:16   And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God,

When the great announcement about the kingdom of God is made, it is no longer the four living creatures who represent nature that lead the worship of God.  When the next age occurs, the son of The God will be manifesting God in all his glory, and the four creatures who represent nature will not be as prominent as before.

 

11:17   saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

This formula, commonly believed to refer to Jesus, actually refers to The God.  The power which God had poured out upon all humanity to be used for good was contained within that portion of holy spirit given to each person. Now, that power has been taken back unto God, and in all future time this power will be Godís.

 

11:18   And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

It is the season for the dead to be judged.   From this time forward whatever happens on the earth will be the result of Godís wrath.  The resistance of the people to the rule and reign of God through his son will endure until the end of the 1,000 year reign. Anyone who thinks that the overcomers who reign with Jesus will just sit around and strum on their harps should read Psalm 2 carefully. The kings of this earth will not give up easily, and the reign of Jesus will be focused on bringing them into submission. 

 

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Vision Four (11:19 Ė 15:4)

11:19   And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

Temple indicates only the holy of holies.  Ark of testament means the ark of covenant, indicating Godís presence of God, and his faithfulness to his covenant.  Lightnings, thunderings, earthquakes, and hail indicate that God has complete control of nature. 

 Prolepsis. 

12:1     And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

This woman is the New Israel, which includes both the Jews and the Gentiles reconciled to God.  The sun, moon, and stars are ornaments for the woman.  Twelve is the number of completion, referring to everyone who is part of the New Israel.

Prolepsis: This is a reference to the New Jerusalem which has not yet come about, and will not be described until verse 21:9.

12:2     and she being with child cried,  travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

She represents the nation of Israel, which struggled with evil forces tormenting her, trying to prevent the birth of Jesus, who would become the christ of God. 

Prolepsis: John has now returned to an earlier time in the history of Israel, the birth of Jesus.

12:3     And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

The woman is Israel, and the dragon is the powers arrayed against God and his Christ.  Seven is the number for completeness.  Heads indicates oversight, direction, or the power to determine and accomplish goals. This dragon, a figure of speech indicating menís resistance to God, has complete control over the matter in progress. Ten horns indicates he has the power to accomplish his aims.

 

12:4     And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth:  and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

The stars represent those who were killed for being faithful to God.  In this case, the dragon was Herod, who sought to destroy the new-born Jesus.  The dragon, Herod, intended to kill the child.

 

12:5     And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

The man child is Jesus, who will rule in the next age.  He was killed, resurrected, and ascended to God.

Prolepsis: John skipped over the complete life of Jesusóhis preaching, teaching, crucifixion, and resurrectionóand goes directly to his ascension.

12:6     And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

There is a similarity between the fleeing of this woman and the fleeing of Israel from Egypt.  God has never allowed Israel to be totally destroyed, and he will not do so now.  Prepared shows that these events do not just happen, but they are planned by God.  In context, this 42 months time period covers the time from the birth of Jesus until his return.

 

12:7     And there was war in heaven:  Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

This is still describing the situation of the woman and the dragon, only the characters have changed.   Michael and his angels represent Israel; the dragon represents those who oppose God, and his angels are the people who follow the leaders of the opposition.  Throughout Revelation, the dragonís enemy is Israel, and although the characters representing Israel may vary, it is still the dragon against Israel, or the witnesses of God on this earth.

 

12:8     and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

The dragon and his angels were not strong enough to win the battle.  They were utterly defeated, and cast out of heaven, which means they no longer had any access to God.

 

12:9     And the great dragon was cast out, the old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world:  he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

The devil or satan or the dragon (actually the personified sins of mankind), was done away with by the sacrifice of Jesus.  There was now nothing in heaven to accuse men before God.  The only power the accumulated sins now had was to deceive those on the earth.

 

12:10   And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ:  for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

salvation, or victory, refers to the time when Jesus begins his rule over this earth to administer the affairs of men in conformity with the law of God. That time will be called the kingdom of God, and the power of his christ.  The sacrifice of Jesus cleared the way so anyone could approach God.  All the sins of mankind, which had been standing between God and men, accusing them day and night before God, were cast out.

 

12:11   And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

The devil was not overcome by what any man did, but by what Jesus did. Therefore, the manner of the devilís defeat was based upon the sacrifice of Jesus, and their testimony was to that fact, even if it meant their death.

 

12:12   Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.  Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

There was great rejoicing when Jesusí sacrifice erased all menís sins (or the old dragon, or satan, or the devil) which had been accusing them before God.    Although all men now have holy spirit, many will  still suffer from the accusations and deceit of the ďdevil,Ē and follow after the flesh, continuing to rebel against God and ignoring the guidance of his spirit.

 

12:13   And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.

The dragon was surprised and shocked to discover that by crucifying Jesus, he had sealed his own doom.  After the old dragonís defeat in heaven, he switched all his opposition to those seeking to be obedient to God.  During this age the woman, Israel, also includes the Gentiles. Although each person has received a portion of holy spirit, not all have come to faith. Those who do not believe, persecute those who do.

 

12:14   And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times and half a time from the face of the serpent.

God has always protected Israel from total destruction; he will provide a place for her protection.  From the face indicates that the woman was hidden from the sight of those who sought to destroy her.  After the dragon was cast out of heaven, he was referred to only as a puny snake, not a dragon. It was now the snake, not the dragon, pursuing the woman, Israel, as she fled into the wilderness for a sanctuary provided by God.

 

12:15   And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

Waters, floods, rivers, oceans, and seas are often synonyms for people.  This means that, over time, a great many people have persecuted true believers and desired to destroy them.  This is not the desire of some old fallen angel, but the desire of people who want to take over the earth.

 

12:16   And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

The earth swallowed up the people who were pursuing Israel. There was simply too much territory for the persecutors to cover. His followers were not enough to root out all the Israelites.

 

12:17   And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The dragon, or the anti-christ government, in frustration, targets Godís faithful followers and slaughters them.  To keep the commandments of God means to love God and to love mankind. To have the testimony of Jesus Christ means to tell others that Jesus is the christ of God, and that he will reign over this earth in Godís own time.

 

13:1     And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns the crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

A grain of sand indicates individual people, and the sea represents groups of people.  This little beast rose up out of the sea, which indicates a political power above all the other governments on earth. It came out of the chaotic affairs of men on this planet.  Horns indicate strength, and crowns indicate the right to rule; they both refer to political power.  The seven heads bore the ten horns both in this beast and in the first beast (verse 12:3). Here, however, the seven heads no longer wear crowns, but the name of blasphemy.  The beast with ten crowned horns has inherited the power structure prepared by the first beast. The heads of the first beast have been deified and given names which belong only to God.  These were powerful men, symbolized as beasts, which represent satan, or the devil, or the anti-christ government, or the false christ.

 

13:2     And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

The beast represents the visible manifestation of the festering rebellion against God.  The animals indicate that this beast is powerful and quick to act, focused on its own survival.  The dragon gave his power to the second beast.  Seat symbolizes the transfer of power. The dragon, or satan, or devil, was the first beast with seven heads, with seven crowns on its heads, and ten horns. The second beast was similar, except the crowns were not on the heads, but on the horns. As the first seven political units passed away, their program of resisting God was inherited by the succeeding ten political powers, or horns.  Although the beast will appear to be in charge, it is really the dragon, or the anti-christ government, who delegates any power the beast may demonstrate.  The dragon, the anti-christ government, controls the beast, or ten kingdoms, as though they were puppets.

 

13:3     And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

Whether ďwounded to deathĒ is an actual physical death is not clear, especially since this incident is intended to deceive masses of people.  Wondered means to marvel, or stare in awe at something. People will perceive it as a supernatural event, just as important as the resurrection of Jesus.  It is intended to deceive people into following a false christ.

John described some of the same events he spoke of earlier, but he approached it from a different viewpoint this time.  Earlier, he said the false christ would be the leader of the anti-christ government forces. Now, he is describing a delusion foisted upon the people by this leader. 

13:4     And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

While the people worshiped they apparently sang a song to the dragon and the beast, just as the people in heaven sang to God and the lamb.  The word him, written in the masculine singular, indicates that all ten of the former kings and their power are now subject to the false christ.  He gets his power from the dragon, the anti-christ government.

 

13:5     And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

This person claims to be God.  The 42 months at the very end of this age, shortly before Jesus returns.  This could be literal, although it most likely refers to an indeterminate length of time.

 

13:6     And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name; and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

He will ridicule, or slander things of God, and speak great things against God.  Everything God has done and everything the name stands for will be ridiculed and slandered.  To blaspheme his tabernacle means to speak against anything which was considered heavenly.  Them that dwell in heaven are the believers.

 

13:7     And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

The saints being hunted down and killed are those who remain faithful to God.  All kindred, tongues, and nations means that his power extends to the entire world.

 

13:8     And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Godís grace added everyoneís name to the book, but the rebellion of many caused their names to be erased. The phrase, "from the foundation of the world," modifies book, not lamb, and indicates when the book came into existence.

 

13:9     If any man have an ear, let him hear.

John was telling people to "listen up!"  Since everyone has ears and can hear, therefore none are excused for ignorance.

 

13:10   He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity; he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.  Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

Followers of God could see this as a warning to not retract their faith and join the anti-christ forces. Followers of the anti-christ movement could see this as a warning foretelling their own fate.  Faith is belief and trust in God which enables one to be steadfast, constant, enduring, and patient under the tremendous trials which will surely come.

 

13:11   And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.

This is another little beast coming up out of the earth, which refers to all the moral evil symbolized by this person.  This beast gave the impression of a harmless lamb, but he had a great deal of power. This is the kind of beast, or person, needed by the anti-christ government, and the rider of the white horse, or false christ, to promote their cause and provide the aura of religion.  This new beast spoke as the dragon, indicating great power. He was actually against the things of God, but this was hidden from the people through cleverly devised subterfuge.

 

13:12   And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

This new beast, the false prophet, required that people worship the beast whose deadly wound was healed (verse 13:3).  The religious system promoted by this man requires worship of the god-state, the anti-christ government, and its false christ.  With this manís help, the anti-christ government is now recognized, and worshiped, as the government representing God. Not only has the government been deified, but its visible head, the false christ, has also been deified. 

 

13:13   And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

These wonders, or signs, will not be easily explained. They are intended to deceive, so that people will say, "God did it."  The false prophet will have an organization of false prophets, or a priesthood, proclaiming the false gospel to the whole earth.

 

13:14   and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

Most, but not all, will be deceived, which means to mislead, to cause one to go astray, or to become out of the way, or lost.  Miracles are something which normal people cannot explain.  Power indicates that this beast was granted permission, to do these signs, but they were to be done in the sight of the first beast.  He told the people they were to build an image of the beast.

 

13:15   And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

This image of the beast will somehow be used to separate those who will submit and those who will not.  This image could speak, and it could cause death to those who did not worship it. 

 

13:16   And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark on their right hand or in the foreheads:

The groupings here are all inclusive; no one will be excluded.  The grammar shows that people were not forced to receive this mark, or engraving, but they were actually marking themselves!  This shows either how completely they were deceived, or how desperately afraid they were.

 

13:17   and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Anyone who could not participate in the legal process of buying and selling would possibly starve to death.  This mark is equivalent to either the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  The beast represents the anti-christ government, a dictatorial, religious one, with a false christ as its visible head. All pretense and deception has now been dropped. The choice for people is simple: bow down to the statue of the beast and receive his mark, or be killed.

 

13:18   Here is wisdom.  Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

Many assume that this is the name of a person. But, the false christ, or the first beast whose image has been made, represents a government. This is not the number of ďaĒ man, but the number of man (no ďaĒ on the Greek manuscript), representing the totality of all mankind.   The number of man is 6, repeating it, 66, would emphasize it, and 666 would emphasize it even more.  And, that is what John did, indicating that man had now reached the zenith of his rule on earth. 

Verse 13:18 ends Johnís description of the terrible things he saw which were in the little book he ate (verses 10:9-10).  He again used a prolepsis to skip ahead and describe a future event as though it were now happening.

14:1     And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him a hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.

When Jesus returns, his headquarters will be at Mt. Zion, the place of rule or judgment.   Standing indicates that he was established, firm, and unmovable.  The 144,000 refers to the overcomers who will rule and reign with Christ.  Having the Fatherís name written in their foreheads indicates the ownership of God and the obedience of those so marked.

Jesus was described in a proleptic way in verse 14:1. That allowed John to give a preview of the seven bowls and the seven accompanying plagues which will occur at the beginning of the next age.  The prolepsis, which began in verse 14:1, ends with verse 16:12.

The prolepsis covers verses 14:1 through 16:12, and includes a parenthetical insert (verses 16:13-16) in the middle, and continues in verses 16:17-21. That this is correct is shown by the words "that great day of God Almighty," which refers to when Jesus returns to earth.

14:2     And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:

This was probably Godís voice, often equated with waters and thunder.  The harpers were the four beasts and 24 elders.

 

14:3     and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders:  and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

The singers were the redeemed ones purchased by the death of Jesus. 

 

14:4     These are they which were not defiled with women; and they are virgins.  These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.  These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

The meaning attached to intercourse is symbolic.  Intercourse often referred to deserting the worship and service of the one true God.  All idolatrous worship (intercourse) does defile a man.  This is also another reference to the devotion and obedience of those who make up the group of 144,000.

 

14:5     And in their mouth was found no guile:  for they are without fault before the throne of God.

The remnant God has chosen have the stamp of God, which guarantees they will no longer be harmed by anyone. They will not speak with guile to deceive anyone; they will speak truth.

 

14:6     And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,

This everlasting gospel is not one of redemption and salvation, but of Godís judgment upon all who will not commit themselves to him in faith and obedience.  ďEvery nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" indicates that Godís judgment will affect everyone dwelling upon the earth.

 

14:7     saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

Fear means to reverence, or to stand in awe of someone.  Glory means to consider God to be above all other things. Grace is now gone, and judgment is Godís next action.  Since men dwell on the earth, which was created by God; and sail in ships upon the seas, which were created by God; and gaze at the luminaries of the heaven, which were created by God; and drink water from the fountains of waters, which were created by God; then men should worship him that made all these wonderful things and gave them to men as a blessing?

 

14:8     And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

Babylon is most likely the world-wide economic system and infra-structure of the organized resistance to God.  This refers to the destruction of this great structure built by mankind, which had provided the supply from which all nations willingly partook.  In context, this verse indicates that Babylon had fostered religious fornication, which brought about the wrath, or steady, sustained anger of God. 

Prolepsis.  This ties in with the destruction described in verse 17:1. 

14:9     And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,

God objects to even the outward act of bowing down in homage to the beast and his image, whether or not done sincerely.  As far as God is concerned, accepting the mark means deserting him in unbelief to pay homage to a false god.

 

14:10   the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

If anyone drinks of the cup of Babylonís wine, then it is a certainty they shall drink of the wine of Godís wrath, which means a raging, tempestuous, type of anger with no mercy or grace to mellow it.  Both fire and brimstone indicate purification and cleansing. God may be in a fury, but he is still concerned about cleansing those who oppose him. 

 

14:11   and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

Smoke indicates the result of emotional distress.  There is never any respite from this torment.

 

14:12   Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

Here refers the previous statements about the punishment of those who worship the beast and his image, and have received his mark.  The patience of the saints refers to the knowledge that those who oppose God will not escape punishment, which encourages those who suffer because of their stand for God.  The saints are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

 

14:13   And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

This is a beatitude to strengthen those who undergo persecution by the anti-christ government.  The persecution has become so dreadful by this time that God pronounced a special blessing for those who faithfully endured.  Rest means to have relief from something.  Their activities, or works, or labors, for God which were begun on earth will follow them.

 

14:14   And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.

A white cloud indicates someone of importance to God.  Only Jesus could wear a golden diadem.  The overcomers, who will also become kings and priests, would wear a golden stephanos (the word used here).  As the next verse indicates, this person represents all the overcomers who make up the body of christ. 

 

14:15   And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.

God is ready to harvest the crop he planted in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve and their progeny have finally come to fruition for either good or bad. Mankind has ripened, and there is no need for further delay.  Start the harvest at once!

 

14:16   And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.

This is a metaphorical way of saying that he was reaping the population.  The angel sitting on a cloud harvested the good grain from the earth. He was separating the good grain from the tares, as recorded in Matthew 13.

 

14:17   And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.

Why is there a need for another angel with a sharp sickle? The answer is in the next verse.

 

14:18   And another angel came out from the altar, which had the power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.

This is an avenging angel.  The altar which refers to sacrifice and spilling of blood.  Fire is often a metaphor for judgment.  This angel was concerned with the tares of Matthew 13, although here they were pictured as grapes in need of quick harvest. They had already ripened, as had the grain, and nothing further could be expected from them.

 

14:19   And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of God.

Vine refers to the collective enemies of God  The age of grace has ceased; it is now time for judgment. The enemies of God, the anti-christ government and its followers were ripe and at the peak of their power. They had reached their zenith; they could go no further in demonstrating their hatred toward God. Therefore, they were gathered and cast into the great winepress, which refers to the wrath of God. 

 

14:20   And the winepress was trodden without the city, and the blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

The winepress beimg outside the city is like the law of Moses about the disposition of the bodies of animals which were sacrificed for sin.  The description means there was a lot of blood.  This is symbolic, not to be taken literally.  The distance is not a literal distance, but indicates that all the people of the world will be involved

 

15:1     And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

Seven, the number of perfection, or completeness, means that this will complete the process of Godís wrath.  These seven angels have the seven last plagues, which contain Godís wrath. When the seven angels finish, there will be no more wrath of God.

 

15:2     And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

The sea of glass indicates peace and tranquility. Fire refers to a judgment which occurred in the past which was successfully passed.  The victors are the overcomers.  Those on the sea of glass have won the victory.  They did not fall for all the temptations offered by the world.   They did not bow down and honor the image of the beast.  They did not take the mark of the beast.  were not deceived.  Although mankind had apparently reached its zenith, indicated by the number 666, the faithful understood what was really happening.

Prolepsis.  In verses 15:2-4, John leaped forward to the New Jerusalem to give us a picture of that blessed time.  John was describing activities which will take place in the New Jerusalem.

15:3     And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

The song of Moses and the song of the lamb are both songs of praise.  The song of Moses, praised God as the source of all good things; and the of the lamb, praised God for bringing about the final disposition to the affairs of rebellious men.  The term king of saints refers to Jesus as being the christ, the head of the body which is composed of the overcoming saints. Jesus will order and guide the activities carried out by the saints in the next age.

 

15:4     Who shall not fear thee, o Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

Applied to man, fear means dread or terror.   When applied to God, fear also means reverence or respect.  Who would not glorify the nature of God, his goodness and mercy, and his love for us?  The arrogance of all nations will not be indulged any longer; they will come and bow down before God.

 

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Vision Five (15:5 Ė 16:21) 

15:5     And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:

The temple included only the holy place and the holy of holies.  The tabernacle of the testimony was the ark of the covenant.

 

15:6     and the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.

These angels were acting as priests, because only priests were allowed into the two holy places of the temple.  Pure and white linen represents the righteousness of the saints. Gold signifies royalty, and the girdles show that those wearing them are there to do service unto God.

 

15:7     And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.

The seven angels were previously given the seven plagues, and now they also have seven golden vials which contain the wrath of God. 

 

15:8     And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

Smoke indicates both the anger of God and the presence of God.  One glory of God is his power of judgment,  and this glory will be demonstrated in the acts of judgment to follow, as well as the power he will delegate to bring it about.  Absolutely no one will now be able to enter the temple, which means no intercession will be allowed when God brings this judgment.  Since Jesus is still a man, even he will not be allowed into the temple while this judgment is continuing.  Seven plagues indicates fulfillment, and this has been accomplished there will be no more.

It is now clear that verses 6:15-17 contain a proleptic statement which fits in here.  When these seven plagues begin, then the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, and everyone else will hide and cry for the mountains and rocks to fall on them to hide them from the wrath of God.

16:1     And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.

The seven angels were to start going immediately and continue going, each on their separate way.  The wrath of God being poured out upon the earth is not one of the plagues. Although the plagues and the wrath appear to occur simultaneously, they are still two separate things. Perhaps the wrath of God in the vials activated the plagues or intensified the plagues.

 

16:2     And the first went and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshiped his image.

Noisome means a trying event, and grievous means something that causes pain and trouble.  These were terrible, ulcerating sores which brought pain and trouble to the people of earth.  Even those who simply bowed down to the image of the beast suffered the same punishment as did those who received the mark of the beast.

 

16:3     And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.

This sea represents all the people of earth. Water turning to blood symbolizes judgment and warfare, so all the seas turning to blood would indicate the worldwide bloodshed which will occur as the judgment of God begins.

 

16:4     And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

The rivers were smaller groups of people.  Fountains of waters were the tiny settlements of people.  All peoples of the earth will be affected by this judgment.

 

16:5     And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, o Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.

The righteousness of God refers to his faithfulness in keeping the covenant relationship and his promises.  Righteousness concerned whether or not Godís actions promote his promise to bring this age to an end with the return of the messiah and the rule of God on this earth.

 

16:6     For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

This includes all the saints and prophets who were killed, whether in the Old or New Testament.  The present inhabitants of the world at the time of this judgment were not guilty of killing all the saints, nor all the prophets. But, God chose them to bear the final penalty of the conglomerate sins committed by all those who preceded them.  Giving them blood to drink means they were given the same treatment as the saints and prophets which they had killed. 

Keep in mind that Jesus returned to earth before the wrath of God was poured out.  This was described in a proleptic way in verse 14:1. That allowed John to give a preview of the seven bowls and the seven accompanying plagues which will occur at the beginning of the next age.

16:7     And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.

Almighty is a combination of pantos, all, and kratos, which is the power only God wields. 

 

16:8     And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.

These people had followed the anti-christ government and believed in the false christ and his promises.  When Jesus returned, the light of God which he and his saints reflected scorched, or burned, them.  The plague here was not the sun, but the scorching. Fire, judgment, is the element which brings about the scorching, not the sun.

 

16:9     And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.

This is a further explanation of the time described earlier when men wanted the mountains and the rocks to fall on them to hide them from the face of Godís son.  Those who blaspheme the name of God will incur the scorching as a judgment.  To them, God will be a consuming fire, signifying the extreme judgment they will undergo.  That they repented not indicates that they did not change their mind about God.

 

16:10   And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,

The seat indicates the throne or location of the beastís power.  Darkness denotes ignorance, or walking in a manner opposite to the will of God.  Pain means distresses, or very trying circumstances.  It was the pain which caused the gnawing, and it was the darkness which caused the pain, or distress. It was because they found themselves in the spiritual darkness revealed by Jesus, the Christ, and his saints. 

All the judgments of God are a result of the coming of Jesus, the Christ, and they occur simultaneously, not sequentially.

16:11   and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

Their deeds were wrong because they followed the false christ.  They will not accept the blame for their own actions which bring on their distresses, or pains. Instead they blamed God for their situation. God was revealing their true condition to them, but they were not listening.

This refers back to the first plague. By its use here, John indicated the continuation of these plagues. This also supports the argument that the plagues occur simultaneously, not in the chronological order in which they were listed.

16:12   And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.

The Euphrates was a wide river, about 1700 miles long, which formed the eastern boundary of the land that God had promised Abraham and his descendants.  The kings of the east are not coming to make war, but to pay obeisance to Jesus and his resurrected saints who rule over the Gentiles.  The Euphrates being dried up means that there was no longer any need for a safe boundary, since the lord was the protection. 

Prolepsis. This may be confusing. Verse 14:1 apparently indicated that Jesus returned to earth before the wrath of God was poured out of the bowls. However, the text between verses 14:1 and 16:12 is a prolepsis. John could not wait any longer to tell about future events. Hence, he wrote as though these future events were already occurring even though that was not the actual case.  The prolepsis, which began in verse 14:1, ends with verse 16:12.

16:13   And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

The unclean spirits were the messages spoken by either the dragon, the beast (false christ), or the false prophet.  The anti-christ government, or satan, had transformed itself into an insidious false religion. God warned that if the very elect are not watchful, they, too, would be fooled into following the false christ, and the false prophet.

John inserted a parenthetical insert (verses 16:13-16) in the middle of the prolepsis begun in verse 14:1.  John returns to that prolepsis in verse 16:17. 

 

16:14   For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

Devil means divider, and the purpose of the anti-christ government is to divide people from God.  These three, themselves, do not go forth, but their signs, miracles, go forth.  These signs go forth to even the most remote parts inhabited by people.  The anti-christ government, or the dragon, the false christ, and the false prophet were preparing for the battle against God.

This gathering took place prior to the coming of Jesus, indicated by the fact that the anti-christ government, or the dragon, the false christ, and the false prophet were described as preparing for that great day of the lord, which had not yet occurred. John must have deserted his prolepsis to describe this.

16:15   Behold, I come as a thief, Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

Jesus only comes as a thief upon those who are not watchful, not upon those who are awake and awaiting his coming.  This blessed is for the constant, vigilant, hopeful watcher.  Keepeth his garments was a comparison to temple soldiers who were found sleeping.  Their garments were burned and they were left naked.  This comparison refers to the spiritual condition of those not found watching when Jesus returns.

 

16:16   And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

He is the dragon, or the devil, since the false christ and the false prophet were cast into the lake of fire.  This jumps ahead to when satan is loosed from the pit at the end of the 1,000 years (a prolepsis).  Armageddon is an ďindefinable proper name of an imaginary place,Ē and refers to when God finally destroys all rebellion.

Verse 16:16 does not refer to the first gathering accomplished by the three in verses 16:13-14, but to the gathering done after satan was let out of the bottomless pit. Therefore, this refers to the battle of Armageddon, which occurs at the end of the kingdom age.

16:17   And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven from the throne, saying, It is done.

Godís wrath has been poured out upon the air, considered the home of demons, and the air has been cleansed of all evil influence.  The plagues are over, but their effects will continue. 

A prolepsis covers verses 14:1 through 16:12, includes a parenthetical insert (verses 16:13-16) in the middle, and continues in verses 16:17-21. That this is correct is shown by the words "that great day of God Almighty," which refers to when Jesus returns to earth.

Verse 16:17 returns to the prolepsis begun in 14:1, which was the same formula as in the six previous judgments. Each of the angels poured out his vial of the wrath of God which was then followed by whatever plague, or judgment, God had designed for each angel to dispense.

16:18   And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.

This was not a literal earthquake, but a shaking to bring down the anti-christ government.  This is a worldwide shaking which involves the entire anti-christ government and all the governments of the world which capitulated to it.  

 

16:19   And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

Dividing the great city, Babylon, into three parts is the first sign of weakness, in the great anti-christ government. These plagues, or judgments, have caused such a shake-up that the once solid anti-christ government is beginning to fall apart. And the insurrection spread to all parts of the world once governed by the anti-christ government.

 

16:20   And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

Mountains meant the large anti-christ government, and islands designated all other subordinate governments of the world. 

 

16:21   And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.

A talent weighed 60-120 pounds.  The hail fell only upon men, which makes it a very unusual hailstorm.  This hail symbolizes Godís terrible judgment, or pounding, upon the false religion and the anti-christ government.  The reaction to the hail was the same as with the previous plagues. Instead of repenting, which was Godís desire, they blasphemed.

 

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Vision Six (17:1 Ė 20:3)

17:1     And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:

This destruction was foretold earlier by a prolepsis in verse 14:8.  John was fully enlightened when he ate the little book. At that time, he saw everything that will happen to the earth and its inhabitants, although in later verses it sounds as though he were only then being enlightened by one of the angels.  John was shown the sentence (judgment) which God had pronounced upon the great whore.  Sitting upon many waters means that this whore, or city, was master of many people.

This destruction was foretold earlier by a prolepsis in verse 14:8.  Here John caught up with his former proleptic verse. Please do not forget, John was fully enlightened when he ate the little book. At that time, he saw everything that will happen to the earth and its inhabitants, although in later verses it sounds as though he were only then being enlightened by one of the angels.  Although John had previously read of this judgment, he will now see it in a vision.

17:2     with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.

The great whore (Babylon) supplied the means for the nations to commit fornication with her. Although kings have been substituted for nations (14:8), the meaning remains the same since kings rule nations.  Fornication was often used by the prophets to indicate nations, or people, who had turned their backs upon God to worship other gods.  All the kings of the earth participated in this spiritual fornication.  The inhabitants of the earth were not resisting, but willingly accepted the wine of her fornication.

Verse 17:2 is similar to verse 14:8. 

17:3     So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

Wilderness means desert.  Sit means she was controlling and guiding the beast.  This beast the woman is riding is the false christ, or the religious arm of the anti-christ government (the dragon is the political side of the anti-christ government).  The beast was continually claiming the names, or characteristics, of God as its own. 

From this point, John drew extensively on Jeremiah, and some of Isaiah, to describe the destruction of Babylon at the end of this age.  These heads and horns are the same terminology as verses 12:3 and 13:1. In verse 12:3, it was a sign seen in heaven. In verse 13:1, it rose up out of the sea, or the people.

17:4     And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

The woman was both wealthy and regal, since purple signifies royalty, and scarlet indicates great wealth.  A gold cup with gem stones was expensive.  Abominations means something that stinks, normally referring to immorality or ceremonial uncleanness.  Filthiness means something unclean, or impure.  Her cup was full of something greatly desired by those under her control.

 

17:5     and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

Mystery means the interpretation will be mystical, one that would not be immediately clear to the casual reader.  The Babylon of Jeremiahís day was the trade center of the known world and was the richest metropolis of its day.  Rome, in Johnís day, was the trade center of the known world and also its richest metropolis.  This great metropolis of the last days, rich and evil, spiritually called Babylon, spawned all the evils of the earth.  Harlots and abominations refer to false, idol worshiping, heathen religions.  The entire earth is infected with the religion of the anti-christ government.

 

17:6     And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

Drunk means being constantly drunk.  The Jewish people, the saints, were anti-christ enough to join the religious anti-christ government and help persecute true believers, the martyrs of Jesus. However, they, too, received a death sentence after the anti-christ government gained sufficient power that it could turn on them. Thus, the woman was drunk on their blood as well as the blood of believers.  Even John marveled and admired the woman.

 

17:7     And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel?  I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.

The angel chastised John for marveling at the woman with great wealth and power.  The angel was showing John the dissolution of the anti-christ government which began with the seven plagues, or judgments of God.

The dissolution began with the seven plagues described in Vision Five. Verse 16:19 revealed the first break in the solid front presented by the anti-christ government.

17:8     The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

This beast which John had been seeing, the great dragon, the anti-christ government, now absolutely is not because it had disappeared into the bottomless pit.  The beast was composed of those who joined together in rebellion against God and his christ.  Perdition indicates the final end of the old dragon, in the lake of fire and brimstone.  The ones who wonder are those whose names were  blotted out of the book. 

The angel, like John, used a prolepsis. The answer requires looking ahead to verses 20:1-3, where it says that an angel chained the dragon and cast him into the bottomless pit, which is where the old dragon spends most of the l,000 year reign.  The last part of verse 17:8 about the book of life is another prolepsis, as the angel skips to the end of the next age.

17:9     And here is the mind which hath wisdom.  The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.

The seven heads and seven mountains are political entities, not actual mountains.  This indicates the power which provides the foundation for the anti-christ government.  The seven heads symbolize the complete strength and wisdom of those leading this government.  The seven mountains represent strong governmental entities.  The seven heads of the seven mountains, or governments, support the wealth of this great woman, Babylon, a great trade center and metropolis which will arise at the end of this age.

 

17:10   And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

The five fallen, killed kings was the result of in-fighting among the three political units that came into existence at the shaking by God.  The "one is" defeated the other five kings.  The power of the "other not yet come"  will last for only a short time. 

 

17:11   And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and goeth into perdition.

This beast is the "other not yet come" of verse 17:10.  This beast could be the ďone who is notĒ because he was in the bottomless pit and could no longer be considered as a viable force opposing God. But when he is released at the end of the l,000 year reign, then he is the eighth.  Perdition indicates the final end of the old dragon, in the lake of fire and brimstone. 

Back in verse 17:8, a beast was defeated by the forces of Jesus Christ and his saints, and was shut up in the bottomless pit for the duration of the thousand years. This is the same beast.

17:12   And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.

These ten kings, represented by the ten horns which symbolize power, have been quietly waiting for the proper time.  They are an outgrowth of the seven heads of the beast, and they receive authority from the beast who is in charge of what these ten king do.  One hour means their power as kings will last for only a short time.

 

17:13   These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.

Mind means purpose, judgment or will.  They knew what they were told to do and they did it with one mind, or one common purpose.  The beast gave the ten kings authority, and in return they gave the beast loyalty and power.

 

17:14   These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

These ten kings shall make war with the lamb, or Jesus.  There will be a war, and the lamb will win.  The saints that "are called" make up the army of Jesus Christ. The call, which went to all humanity, was the pouring out of holy spirit upon all flesh which equipped each person with everything needed to retain the inheritance provided through the death of Jesus.  The chosen are the overcomers, chosen because they committed themselves to God and remained faithful.  They have not wasted that great gift of graceóthe salvationófreely bestowed on them.

Skipping back and forth, as far as time is concerned, creates much of the difficulty in understanding Revelation. For instance, in verse 14:1, Jesus had already returned. Yet, here in verse 17:14, the angel reverts to a previous time by stating that the time when the ten kings shall make war with the lamb is yet in the future.

17:15   And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

Water included the entire population of the world.  No one was exempt from this woman sitting on the waters; she controlled everyone. In verse 17:3, the woman was sitting upon the beast, signifying that she guided the affairs of the dragon, or satan. In verse 17:9, the woman was sitting upon seven mountains, indicating that she controlled the governments from which the dragon got his power. 

 

17:16   And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.

This insurrection of the ten kings follows the shaking of Babylon, the great city, into three political units.  The whore, Babylon, will be destroyed in bits and pieces, and burned completely to the ground. Nothing will be left!

Verse 17:16 refers back to verse 17:3.

17:17   For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree and give their kingdoms unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

They conquered the great whore, that great metropolis, the center of idolatry and commerce. God put in it in their minds, and they did it. 

To understand the chronological order of events in Revelation, it is vital to discern Johnís use of the prolepsis. The destruction of the whore, or Babylon, takes place after the coming of Jesus, even though it is related later in the text. This places the destruction of the great city of the latter days immediately after the coming of Jesus.

17:18   And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

The woman is Babylon, the whore, the governmental center of the great anti-christ movement.  From her went the orders to the kings of the consortium which has controlled and persecuted the population of the entire world, and caused most of them to worship false gods.

 

18:1     And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

This "another angel," with great power and authority,  had glory such that by reason of that glory, all the peoples of the earth are enlightened about God. Jesus was the only one called to manifest God in the flesh. What angel would there be that could do the same to the whole world?  This "another angel" is Jesus, except that now he is in a glorified body.

 

18:2     And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

This describes the condition of a city wasted by war, or destruction.  This will be the condition of Babylon, that great idolatrous center at the end of the history of mankind.

 

18:3     For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

The fornication in the cup which brings forth the wrath of God is one common to most of the world todayóit is the love of money, which the Bible says is the root of all evil.  The Babylon of the latter days will be the commercial center of the world, as well as the governmental center. Any kingdom or merchant which wishes to prosper will cater to her.  At the coming of Jesus, this economic power structure is being dismantled, which is why the angel said that "Babylon is fallen, is fallen."

 

18:4     And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

"Come out of her" was not a request, but an imperative, or command.  "My people" are commanded to leave, but not required to leave.  However, if they continue to fellowship in the sins brought about by the love of money, then they will also receive her plagues.

 

18:5     For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

Sins means missing the mark, the kingdom of God.  Even as her sins followed her as far as the heaven, so will the sins of those who partake with her.  This is a warning that peopleís evil deeds , as well as their good deeds, will follow them. 

 

18:6     Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.

The stench of mankindís rebellion even reached into heaven and God is finally arranging for the saints to repay Babylon, the anti-christ government, according to her works.  They were to pay her back double. 

 

18:7     How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

The torment and sorrow were part of the double repayment.  The word "sit" means that she believes she is solidly established in an unmovable manner. Babylon believed that her domain would exist forever.

Verse 18:7 refers back to the cup full of abominations which the whore held in her hand (verse 17:4).

18:8     Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

Her plagues are not the same plagues of the seven angels listed earlier. The plagues hereódeath, mourning, and famineówill be the result of the insurrection by the ten kings.  Utterly burned means this will be a complete destruction of the city.  Babylon chose poorly in ignoring Godís strength.

While Chapter 17 provided a birdís eye view of Babylonís fall, John was now being shown the details.

18:9     And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,

The kings are those who have been vassals, willingly or unwillingly, of the dragon, false christ, and false prophet.  They profited from their association with the whore, and lived in luxury.  They are in agony over what they have lost.

 

18:10   standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

Standing there crying alas, alas, will not help Babylon at all.  One hour indicates a short time period.

 

18:11   And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:

The merchants are also weeping and mourning because no one will buy their merchandise.  They are left holding the bag, so to speak.

 

18:12   the merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner of vessels of ivory, and all manner of vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,

All of the things listed would be for the wealthy, indicating their excesses and their insatiable appetite to amass luxurious items demonstrating their power and importance.

 

18:13   and cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

These things were not so much for displaying wealth, but more for personal use, again by the wealthy.  People were regarded as nothing more than chattel to be sold and used the same as livestock.

 

18:14   And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.

They no longer had the ability to purchase desirable and luxurious items.  The economy of Babylon, along with the city itself, had been destroyed. 

 

18:15   The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,

The merchantís once valuable merchandise was now worthless.   Notice that only Babylon, the economic system, will be destroyed, not the merchants personally. Godís purpose in the return of the messiah is not to destroy people, but to destroy their systems.

 

18:16   and saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

This verse is a funeral dirge for an economic system that no longer exists.  These things will no longer have any commercial value in the kingdom of God.  Godís judgment will destroy that system, burn it to the ground.

The description of Babylon is nearly identical with the description of the woman, the whore, riding on the back of the beast, or the anti-christ government (17:4).

18:17   for in one hour so great riches is come to nought.  And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,

One hour means a short time period.  "And as many as trade by sea" was an ancient way of describing those whose work and livelihood was derived from the sea. In the vernacular of sea-going people, sailors were "those who work the sea," which was different from the merchants who "trade by sea."

 

18:18   and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!

Babylon of the last days had no peers; she stood alone in her magnificence and wealth. And now she was gone for good!

 

18:19   And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

For all practical purposes, this brings Godís great judgment to a close.  The process of destruction, or judgment, was begun when Jesus returned upon Zion and brought the seven plagues of the seven vials of Godís wrath. That wrath was poured out upon what was primarily a false religion of pursuing and worshiping wealth. The great anti-christ government and its army were decimated by rebellion in its ranks brought about by Godís judgment.  This all happened in a short amount of time.

 

18:20   Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

This is another viewpoint of the same destruction.  The people of God had experienced travail, trouble, persecution, and execution.  Those who had suffered now rejoiced at the destruction of what had caused their suffering. God had long promised that the persecution and martyrdom of the saints would be avenged, and he has been true to his word.

Prolepsis.  The details of Babylonís destruction which John described will come to pass in the future. At times, it was written as though it had already happened.

18:21   And a mighty angel took up a stone like a r=great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

Millstone indicates how great this event will be that overtakes Babylon.   The sea represents many people.  Casting with great violence indicates great force and finality.  This is the final blow to the Babylon of menís rebellion against God.

Verse 18:21 is another prolepsis, written in the prophetic tense; therefore, it will come to pass as stated.

18:22   And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;

This verse contains three categories of what many consider necessities for a satisfactory life, or part of the good life: music, goods, and food.  They are all gone. 

 

18:23   and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

It all began with a whimper, with Adam and Eve. Over the millennia it became a crescendo as almost everyone became enthralled with the pursuit of wealth. Now it has all ended; no one is pursuing wealth.  None of the things necessary for a comfortable lifestyle will be available. There will be no more happy times, only hard times and woe.  Sorceries, the use of drugs and sex, along with the love of money, had deceived all nations.

 

18:24   And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

The prophets and saints were slain because they were "in the world, but not of the world."  They stood for God and opposed the anti-christ dragon, which caused their persecution and death.  This verse ends the history of manís rebellion.

 

19:1     And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:

The scenario shifts to relate Godís final plans for the mankind he created.  "After these things" means after the destruction of Babylon, and the rejoicing that had begun in heaven.  Much people means a multitude.  All the salvation, all the glory, all the honor, and all the power belong to God. One of the primary purposes for worshiping God is to recognize his omnipotence and providence of every good and proper thing.

 

19:2     for true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.

True means no error, and whatever it modifies is considered to be perfect.  Righteous means to be rightly divided.  What Babylon received was exactly the judgment she deserved.  Godís judgment was taken out of Babylon.  Just as the blood of his servants was taken out of them, in exactly the same way, the life-blood of Babylon, her economic system, was bled out of her.  When the economic system of Babylon was destroyed, the monetary supply which had supported the antichrist government was also gone.

 

19:3     And again they said, Alleluia.  And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.

Smoke indicates that Babylonís destruction was complete. Forever and ever means that her smoke will never cease, or her destruction is without end.

 

19:4     And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshiped God that sat on the throne, saying Amen; Alleluia.

By saying amen, they indicated their agreement with what the multitude in heaven had just said, and they accepted it as truth.

 

19:5     And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.

From the context, it is not the voice of God.  Fear means to reverence and respect someone in authority.  Both small and great means that after the resurrection there will be no distinction in the reputation or status of people, regardless of what they may have been in their soulish lives on earth.

 

19:6     And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

This emphasize the magnitude of the sound of the multitude.  Alleluia means praise God.  These resurrected saints, with their glorified bodies, were praising God for what he had done.  Omnipotent means that God is all-power.  God is the original source of the power to reign, but he has deferred to his son during the next age.

 

19:7     Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

This means to rejoice exuberantly.  God is the king, Jesus is the son, and the bride is the kingdom.  The bride was to prepare herself for the betrothal ceremony.  An Eastern marriage had three different components: the betrothal, or espousal, ceremony; a great feast of rejoicing; the betrothal consummation. 

 

19:8     And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

The bride had received a gift from the bridegroom in which she was to be dressed for the betrothal ceremony. The bride, or the saints, were expected to do righteous deeds, represented by the fine, white linen. In other words, the bride, the saints, the kingdom of God, must commit themselves to obey God and follow the portion of holy spirit which God has given them as a guide.  This is the part the bride must play in making herself ready.

The parable in Matthew 22 has jumped ahead of Johnís comments so far in Revelation.

19:9     And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.  And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

This is the fourth beatitude, which separated the betrothal from the feast.  Being called, or invited, to the marriage was a great privilege.  Like the king of the parable in Matthew, God went into the highways and byways of the earth and invited everyone to the marriage supper.  God gave some of his holy spirit to every person, which enabled them to enter the kingdom of God if their lives were lived in commitment to him. Therefore, all those who were called were "blessed," or greatly privileged by this invitation.

 

19:10   And I fell at his feet to worship him.  And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

The kingdom of God had begun!  Every true Israelite would be overjoyed at this news, and John was no exception!  The angel recognized John's attitude and the error involved, and stopped him from making the error of worshiping him instead of God.  The testimony of Jesus was not given so Jesus would be worshiped, but so all worship would be directed to The God.

Verse 19:10 is a parenthetical insert.

19:11   And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

The first white horse (6:2) held the false christ.  This rider was not an imposter, but the authentic Christ.  Faithful and true means there is no falsehood, or deceit, associated with him.  The judging will be according to Godís righteousness, or faithfulness to his covenant, and it will be done fairly and impartially. When Jesus, the Christ,  makes war, it will be a different type of war than that of the false Christ.

 

19:12   His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

Flame of fire indicates that his eyes see all that is necessary to judge fairly.  Fire refers to the cleansing power of judgment.  When Jesus, the Christ, returns to earth, he will rule over all nations, indicated by the many crowns on his head.  Men will not know this name until the kingdom of God is established.

 

19:13   And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

This refers to the blood of his enemies whom he has overcome.  However, the battle will not be a physical one, but a spiritual one.  Jehovah was the word of God in the OT, and Jesus is Jehovah in the flesh.

 

19:14   And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

Riding white horses means that those who follow Jesus will be associated with his royalty.  This army is made up of the overcomer saints, and their white, clean garments signify righteousness.

Verse 19:14 is another parenthetical insert.

19:15   And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

The sword, the word of God, goes out of the mouth of Jesus in a continuous flow, which means that the word of God will always affect the affairs of men under the direction of his son.  Rule means to shepherd, which takes some of the harshness out.  He will shepherd the Gentiles, or nations.  The fierceness and wrath of God will not be expressed in killing people, but by instructing them through the reign of Jesus and the overcomers.  This will be an inflexible reign, which requires obedience to the ďswordĒ going forth out of his mouth.

 

19:16   And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

The writing was on his vesture, or outer garment.  This name emphasizes his royalty.

 

19:17   And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;

Standing in the sun means he was highly visible to all the birds.  His voice was like the high pitched scream emitted by birds of prey.  This invitation was to the scavenger birds, those who eat the flesh of dead animals and humans.   These birds were the guests invited to the great supper of God.  Remember, God was the king, Jesus was the son, who is marrying the bride, the kingdom.

 

19:18   that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

This describes the aftermath of a great battle.  The meal, the wedding feast, included every level of mankind, as well as the animals usually killed in battle.  The word pictures, however, represent a spiritual battle, not a physical one, although it was described in physical terms

 

19:19   And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.

This describes how the battle came about in which the beast, the kings and their armies were defeated (the vultures were invited to the supper of the great God).  This sounds absolutely horrible, but the purpose of this judgment is not to physically destroy the opposition, but to bring them into union with God.

Beginning with verse 14:1, John wrote of Jesusí return to this earth on Mt Sion. But do not take all this literally because, beginning with Chapter 19, John gave another version of the return which was additional but still complementary.  Chapter 19 provides a more detailed version of the defeat of the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies.

19:20   And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image.  These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

The beast is the false christ.  The armies that were defeated were the armies of the ten kings which God had used to destroy Babylon and its economic system.  They were defeated by the word of God, the two-edged sword from the lambís mouth. Like the defeat brought about by the seven plagues, this was a spiritual victory. It brought death to the aspirations of all those who would set up their own rule and reign over the earth without the consent of God.

Large bodies of waters, such as seas and lakes, are often metaphors for large masses of people. The lake is the multitude of overcomers. Fire refers to the judgment which will befall those who are deceived by the anti-christ government. The judgment is that they will be cast into the lake of overcomers where there will be no provision for carnal desires. 

Brimstone, or sulphur, was used as a fumigant to cleanse the house after an illness. The purpose of the brimstone in the lake of fire and brimstone is to cleanse those who need cleansing.  The false christ, the false prophet, and those they deceived (who receive the mark of the beast and bow down to its image and worship it) will all be cast into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.

This  provides the answer to verse 14:10 which stated that those cast into the lake of fire and brimstone would be tormented in the presence of the saints. The saints are the lake!  Those who desire carnal enjoyment will find no solace for their desires. This will be their torment.

 

19:21   And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

The remnant refers to those followers of the false christ and the false prophet.  They lost the spiritual battle waged against them. Their belief in the false christ and the false prophet crumbled under the onslaught of Jesus, the Christ, and his followers.  The fowls feasting on their flesh refers to their utter defeat. 

 

20:1     And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

The key symbolizes the authority over some place which that key will open and close; in this case, the bottomless pit of deep darkness, a place of dread. The great chain signifies the amount of power required to capture the one whom the angel was to take into custody.

 

20:2     And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

The angel with the key and the chain was after the dragon, that old serpent, the devil, satan.  Binding the devil, or satan, or the old Adamic nature, means that during the kingdom age, practiced sin will not be allowed. 

 

20:3     and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled:  and after that he must be loosed a little season.

The bottomless pit symbolizes the fact that mankindís rebellion against God will no longer be permitted; it will be shut up.  Even if they want to, people will not be allowed the liberty of practicing sin during the next age.  It is impossible to say for sure if the 1,000-year reign will actually be 1,000 years as we count time. But one thing is for sure: no matter how long the next age lasts, satan will be released at the end of the next age.  This means that the rule with a rod of iron will be relaxed for a short time. The purpose for relaxing the rule will be a test to discover whether living under the rule of iron has changed menís hearts.

 

 

This sixth vision shows Godís destination for mankind during the next age.  One point needs to be clarified about exactly who it is that Jesus and his saints will rule over. 

 

At the resurrection, when the bodies come out of the grave, Jesus will divide the people on the basis of whether they have done good or evil (often called the judgment seat of Christ).  If they have done evil, their spirit will be reunited with a body which is again subject to death. If they have done good, they will receive a glorified body like that of the resurrected Jesus, which will enable them to enter into the kingdom of God in a place of blessing. 

 

What about those who do not receive a body capable of rising to meet Jesus in the air? Those are the ones who will be resurrected to a judgment of guilt, and they will again live in a corruptible body.  Therefore, when Jesus returns on Mt. Zion to oversee Godís judgment of the seven plagues, it will be upon all those who had ever existed on this earth, whose works were judged to be evil. The kings will gather them all together to battle against Jesus and his company of glorified saints.

 

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Vision Seven (20:4 Ė 22:5)

20:4     And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them:  and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

The overcomer saints sat upon the thrones.  The saints will be judging matters of conduct, disputes, and other judicial matters which will be settled according to the law of God.  The souls, or people, were those who had been persecuted and killed for remaining faithful to God.  They became the overcomer saints who rule and reign with Jesus.

To determine who he saw, refer back to a previous prolepsis in verses 15:1-4.  Johnís comments here complemented verses 15:1-4, just as most of Chapter 19 was complementary to verse 14:1.

20:5     But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.  This is the first resurrection.

When Jesus returns to earth, all people will be resurrected and divided into two groups, those who have done good and those who have done evil. The good group is resurrected unto life, the evil group is resurrected to judgment.  Those who have done good will receive a glorified body like Jesus. Those who have done evil will receive a soulish body, not a spiritual one. Therefore, although they are resurrected, they live not, zoe (have a body fitted for the spirit), until the 1,000 years are finished. They will be in outer darkness being ministered to, rather than ministering.  First resurrection is written in the Greek emphatic and does not necessarily mean the first of a series, but more likely the most important resurrection.

 

20:6     Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection:  on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall  reign with him a thousand years.

This is the fifth beatitude, and like the other four, it is used to divide one thought from another.  The second death (which will be revealed later) has no power on the overcomers. It does not say they will not be present in the same location as the second death, but only that they will not be affected by it.  The priestís role was to reveal the will of God to the people, which is what the overcomers will do as they rule and reign with Jesus. 

The beatitude of verse 20:6 divided Johnís comments on what occurs at the beginning of the 1,000 year reign from what happens at the end. The context of verses 20:6-7 actually spans the entire next age.

20:7     And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

Jesus and his saints will stop ruling with a rod of iron.  Satan, or the rebellious nature of men, will be released from prison. The old Adamic nature will again be free to choose whether to serve God or to rebel against him.

 

20:8     and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle:  the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

Rebellious men will form another anti-God movement, which will deceive many.  Four quarters of the earth means the entire earth.  Gog and Magog represent all the nations of the earth who turned against the rule of Jesus.  There were so many people against God that John said the number of them was as the sand of the sea. 

 

20:9     And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city:  and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

The rebels come from the entire earth.  The camp most likely refers to the promised land, the headquarters of Jesus and his saints.  Fire from God refers to righteous judgment.  The fire devoured them, or defeated them.  But, here again, this was a spiritual battle, not a physical one.

 

20:10   And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

The devil, the perverse nature of natural man, finally joins the false christ and the false prophet in the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the saints.  They will be tormented into the ages of ages.

 

20:11   And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

Those who were resurrected in a soulish body will face this judgment.  White signifies the absolute purity of the judgment.  This great white throne judgment is the final judgment, and closes the book on the history of mankind. That the earth and heavens fled is a way of expressing the glory, grandeur, and majesty of a God who is completely beyond manís comprehension.

 

20:12   And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened:  and another book was opened, which is the book of life:  and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works.

These are the spiritually dead.  The "open books" indicate that this judgment is just, and without error.  The book of life contained the names of the overcomers, those who remained faithful to God.  The books will reveal a personís true condition, whether or not their works were based on faith and love of God.  Only those works which men allow God to do through them by holy spirit will be counted as righteous deeds

 

20:13   And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them:  and they were judged every man according to their works.

This describes the different places from where the dead came.  The death means the state of being either physically or spiritually dead. The hell, or the grave, is the abode of the dead.  Regardless of where they came from, they were judged according to their works.

 

20:14   And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.

Death and hell, both caused by man, is not to be taken literally; this simply means that both have come to an end.  After this, there will be no need of death and, therefore, no need of an earthly grave. Whenever those who have opposed God are cast into the second death it is the end of the road for all their aspirations. The lake of fire, the second death, now becomes the abode of the wicked dead.

 

20:15   And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

This verse is a further disclosure, but from a different point of view, about the ones mentioned in verse 20:12. Godís judgment would certain for all those who opposed him.

 

21:1     And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

New, kainos, refers to quality.  The new heavens and new earth is simply an earth and heaven where nothing but righteousness dwells.  Amen!   There was a new creation when God put all humanity under the headship of Jesus instead of Adam. There was a new creation if even one person was found to be under this new headship of Jesus Christ. There was a new creation when God reconciled both Jew and Gentile. There was a new creation when Jesus returned to earth to rule and reign. And, here John introduced another new creation.  Sea symbolizes large groups of people, or, when described as stormy, to indicate the chaos caused by rebellious men. In this new heaven and earth, there will be no more large groups of natural people, but only glorified saints who will have no proclivity toward the lusts of the flesh. There will also be those in the second death, or lake of fire, as a place of torment. Therefore, there was no more chaotic sea, as there is no provision made to satisfy the lusts and desires of soulish men (who are in the lake of fire).

 

21:2     And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

The New Jerusalem symbolizes the army of saints, or glorified overcomers. They will dwell on the earth in righteousness.  The kingdom of God, once a new creation of its own, has now been turned into a new heaven and a new earth. The kingdom of God has now reached its final stage of fulfillment, seen by John as the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, prepared as a bride for her husband.

 

21:3     And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

The next age, the kingdom of God, is gone, and the ages of ages, what we call eternity, comes next.  God's presence was represented first in the tabernacle and then in the temple.  During the age of grace, Godís presence is represented by the portion of holy spirit he poured out upon everyone so that mankind, as a whole, is the dwelling place of God.  In the kingdom age, God will be represented in his son, Jesus, as king of kings.  But here John saw God, himself, tabernacling, or dwelling, with men. It is not clear whether he saw the actual presence of God, or the shekinah glory which was often spoken of as the presence of God.

 

21:4     And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Tear is singular, which indicates the extreme care God will take to ensure comfort for the overcomers.  Sorrow, crying, pain ended when death was destroyed. 

 

21:5     And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.  And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Since the one sitting upon the throne spoke directly to John, this must have been a message of supreme importance. Faithful and true means the words were authentic, they could be relied upon as absolute fact.

 

21:6     And he said unto me, It is done.  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

God said that everything had come to pass. There is nothing more to be added as the effects of his past acts will continue.  Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, used to signify the beginning and the end, or the first and the last.  This fountain symbolizes the fullness of spiritual life in the ages of ages. This life will be given freely, or gratuitously, as the fulfillment of Godís covenant with his people.

 

21:7     He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

The person who shall inherit all things is "he that overcometh," indicating someone who has won a victory. "I will be his God" means that God will provide everything necessary for that person to be what God wants him to be. "He shall be my son" signifies that the person will submit to God for guidance. 

 

21:8     But the fearful, and the unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

This is a motley group, and they will have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.  The hades that Jesus taught about before his death and resurrection is the outer darkness of the kingdom of God, or the 1,000 year reign. At the end of the 1,000 year reign, it is called the lake of fire and brimstone. Both the blessed and the tormented are in this lake of fire and brimstone, but in different conditions.  John has finally answered the puzzle presented by the different teachings about "heaven" and "hell," and closed out the history of mankind.

Verse 21:8 complements verses 20:2-3 and verse 20:15.

21:9     And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

Using bride and wife together means that the groom had gone into the bride as a husband to consummate the betrothal.  There were three parts of a marriage feast: the betrothal, the wedding feast, and the marriage consummation. At the beginning of the 1,000 year reign, or the kingdom of God, Jesus was pictured as betrothed. The wedding feast occurred when the ten kings who had destroyed Babylon came against Jesus and his army of saints. At the end, when all things are subdued, Jesus will be one with the overcomers. Finally, the marriage is consummated!  The heavenly Jerusalem is composed of the overcomers. John wrapped all this together and called it the New Jerusalem, the bride of the lamb. The bride is not a large city, or a building, but all the people who have overcome the world by the grace of God. The marriage is consummated when Jesus, in the midst of the church, sings praises to God.

 

21:10   And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

John saw the bride, or those who comprise the heavenly church. The lambís wife is not an actual city with buildings, but people, all the overcomers.  The New Jerusalem was a metaphor for the overcoming saints of God.

 

21:11   having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

The term, "glory of God," often means the reflected glory of God.  Her light was the glory of God, and no words can ever adequately describe it.  The jasper stone (we would say diamond today) indicated reflected brilliance and sparkle. The idea was that the light of the glory of God is concentrated in, and radiates from, the New Jerusalem.

 

21:12   and had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

Twelve often means the totality of something.  Although there were 13 tribes of Israel, John said 12 to signify that all the tribes of Israel were represented.

 

21:13   on the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

Gates indicated how the overcomers, who made up the New Jerusalem, had arrived at that place of blessedness.  Israel was the original bearer of Godís word to mankind, and it was through them that Godís providence and salvation was demonstrated to the Gentiles. 

 

21:14   And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Twelve means totality, and signified the total number of overcomers. Stones refers to people.  The foundation consists of Jesus as the chief corner stone, and the 12 apostles, who were considered the foundation of the New Jerusalem. Upon this foundation, or their teachings and examples, rested the followers of the lamb, who were pictured as the stones of the wall.

 

21:15   And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

One of the angels who had the seven vials measured the temple which was really the city of God.  Gold means that everything about the New Jerusalem was very precious.  The angel does not measure the people, but only the precincts of the city. to show that there was enough room to hold all who met the qualifications for being there. 

 

21:16   And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs.  The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

John used this description of a beautiful place as a metaphor to describe the blessedness of the overcomers in the ages of ages.  The ďcityĒ of 1,500 miles cubed was actually a tremendous crowd of resurrected, glorified saints.  God does not build an actual city with stones and precious metals, but with the overcoming saints.

 

21:17   And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is of the angel.

The walls were short (216 feet) compared to the height of the city (1,500 miles) because so few were available compared to what could be accommodated in the city, or the blessedness, which he has prepared.  God made preparations for everyone who has ever lived to be part of the New Jerusalem, but the wall that surrounds it cannot be built higher until other "stones" are available.  Indeed, many are called but few are chosen.

 

21:18   And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

John was not describing an actual building, or a real city, but the glorified saints and a "habitation" for Godís dwelling.  Gold and clear glass means that the overcomers will reflect the light of Godís glory in the ages of ages when they become a temple for God.

 

21:19   And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones.  The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;

These stones all reflect and radiate light, and that was exactly what the apostles did in their lifetime.  These stones consisted of four colors: blue, green, red, and yellow. Just as none of the apostles were exactly alike, neither are any of these stones exactly alike. Taken together, however, they would reflect a full spectrum of light.

 

21:20   the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, am amethyst.

To describe the incomparable value of the apostles in promoting the kingdom of God, John portrayed them as being the 12 foundation stones encrusted with precious stones.

 

21:21   And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

The gates were the tower gates through which all gained entry to the city. Entry into the next age was made through Israel. Pearls indicate the importance of the part Israel played in producing the messiah.  The Bible says that when someone believes that Jesus is the messiah, he is grafted into the good olive tree, Israel. During Old Testament days, Israel was the gateway to the promises of God, and they still are that gateway. They will be rewarded at the beginning of the ages of ages, indicated by the great pearl at each gate

Verse 21:21 is a further description of the gates mentioned in verse 20:12.

21:22   And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

Temple refers to the holy of holies, the dwelling place of God in the Old Testament, which was separate from all the people but the high priest.  There is no longer any need for the temple, because all the saints now have direct access to God.

 

21:23   And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

This is an attempt to explain how great and bright the glory of God really is!  John pictured God being the flame, while the lamb is the lamp which bears the flame and reflects it.

 

21:24   And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

The nations of the saved are those who have been spared during all the turmoil at the end of the 1,000 year reign.  Those nations which have been spared, will walk in the light, the glory of God and of the lamb, in the New Jerusalem.  And under this guidance they will bring their glory and honor into the city.  This is a fitting sentence for those who have put the acquisition of wealth before the service of God!  The many who were called and did not respond will now serve the few who did respond.

 

21:25   And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

This illustrates the peace that will abide in the New Jerusalem. All enemies have been nullified and there is no possibility of an attack, so there is no need to guard the city.  The gates would normally be closed at nightfall to guard against an enemy attack. But in the New Jerusalem such a need will not exist, since there is no night and no enemy.

 

21:26   And they shall bring glory and honour of the nations into it.

They refers to the nations which were saved.  Both the overcomers and the nations who were not overcomers will be gladly serving the will of God.

"They," in verse 21:26, refers back to verse 21:24.

21:27   And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Anything includes any person as well as any object.  Defileth means common, ordinary, or profane.  Worketh abomination means something which is detestable, or arouses an intense dislike.  Lie means something which is not what it seems to be.  Only those whose names are written in the lambís book of life will enter, or enjoy blissful joy in the presence of God. Those who chose not to serve God will not be allowed to enter, or enjoy blissful joy, because their names were erased from the lambís book of life.

 

22:1     And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

These metaphors symbolize the spiritual meaning of life in the ages of ages. Pure shows that there will be nothing that soils, corrupts, or adulterates.   The throne represents Godís desire, and without the sacrifice provided by the faithfulness of the lamb, there would be no spiritual life flowing out from the throne. 

 

22:2     In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

The tree of life on both sides of the river  refer to Godís sustenance for the overcomers.  The 12 tribes of Israel were required to give of their "fruit" once a month.  Two trees, each bearing 12 different fruits, make 24 "courses" which have now replaced the 24 courses of the priests and Levites. The 24 priestly courses have become the two trees of life and their fruits, which symbolize Godís continuing care of the spiritual needs for the overcomers.  Leaves were sources of medicine for healing, and here they symbolize Godís continuing concern for those who were not overcomers.

 

22:3     And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

There will be nothing which adversely affects that which is dedicated to God.  Throne symbolizes the presence and power of God and the lamb, which enables the overcomers to live in a blessed state of glory.  Serve conveys a sense of service which involves action.

 

22:4     and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

They shall see his face is a figure of speech meaning to come into the presence of the king.  The overcomers will see his face, or abide in Godís presence in a blessed condition.  His name signifies ownership, and is their ďadmission passĒ to the kingdom.

 

22:5     And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither  light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

This repeats the message of verse 21:23, that God is the source of all, while the lamb brings Godís desires to pass.  In addition, the overcomers will reign forever, a constant reign that never ceases.

Verse 22:5  summarizes the comments in verses 21:22-27.

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Epilogue (22:6 Ė 22:21)

22:6     And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

These words indicate that the God who empowered and instructed the prophets of old is the same God who instructed the angel, and is also the one revealing these things to John.  Shortly means how these things will come to pass. It may not be soon temporally, but when it does happen they will occur quickly.

 

22:7     Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

Quickly is the same word as shortly in verse 22:6.  Keeps means that the blessing goes to those who continually practice obeying the sayings.  

 

22:8     And I John saw these things and heard them.  And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.

John was so overwhelmed by what he had heard and seen that he fell down to worship before the feet of the angel.

 

22:9     Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

John made this same mistake before (19:10), and the angel at that time also told him not to do it.  Do not worship me, the angel said, but worship God.  Our worship belongs to God, and only to God.  Of them means that this angel was also expected to believe and obey the commands, or words, of this book. 

 

22:10   And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

In verse 10:4, John was told to seal the words; but now he knows everything he needs to write the complete story.  Now that the revelation was ending, the time is at hand, and John was told to leave it all open to anyone who wanted to read it.

 

22:11   He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

This is the hopeless condition of those that unjust, meaning unrighteous, or filthy, meaning those who display no sense of common decency.  Their behavior has become a habit, or a continual way of life.  The same thing applies to the righteous ones and the holy, or separated ones. Their behavior also has become a habit.  Both groups face an inevitable future, but their ends will be completely different.  The visions were ended, the history of mankind was closed, the door was closed, and peopleís courses are set.  This verse refers to the door being closed at the end of the 1,000 year reign.

 

22:12   And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

This verse reverts to the beginning of the 1,000 year reign.  The angel is Jesus, who will judge menís works and reward them accordingly.  The overcomers will share the glory of Jesus, while those in outer darkness will be ruled over and instructed in the way of God.

 

22:13   I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

As the representative of God, Jesus could claim the term alpha and omega for himself.  He will represent the glory of God during the 1,000 years reign, and he will also be the reflector of Godís glory in the New Jerusalem during the ages of ages.

Verse 22:13 reverted to the return of Jesus, the Christ, at the beginning of the 1,000 year reign.

22:14   Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates of the city.

This refers to the blessedness of those who do his commandments at the beginning of the ages of ages.  Those who keep the commandments will have the right to the tree of life, and the right to enter the kingdom. 

This verse jumps to the blessedness of those who obey and keep his commandments at the beginning of the ages of ages.

22:15   For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murders, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Those described here are the ones who do not keep the commandments , and they will be in outer darkness outside the kingdom.  Dogs refers to extremely loathsome and despicable people. 

 

22:16   I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.  I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

John was allowed to see and hear these things so he could testify about them in the churchesónot just the seven churches, but also all the churches in the future. These things are Godís promise of the glorious rewards awaiting those who faithfully serve him.

 

22:17   And the spirit and the bride say, Come.  And let him that heareth say, Come.  And let him that is athirst come.  And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

This is more of a plea than an invitation , urging the unbelievers to allow the salvation, given by the grace of God, to change their lives. All they need to do is come.  What God has provided is freely available to anyone.

 

22:18   For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

This book is not to be circumscribed by the ordinances of man. No requirements must be placed upon anyone who wishes to come to God.  The penalties for adding anything to the prophecies of this book are especially severe. 

Verse 22:18 refers to all the previous verses, the complete book of Revelation.

22:19   and if any man shall take away from the words of the prophecy of this book, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

The words of this prophecy includes all the promises made concerning the coming of Jesus, as well as the blessings which await the overcomers. If anyone detracts from these words, God shall take away his part of the book of life and the holy city.  This is indeed a severe penalty.

 

22:20   He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly.  Amen.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

This was Jesus, himself, who was testifying to these things.  Amen asserts that this is the truth.  After the amen, John spoke for himself, wishing for the return of Jesus.

 

22:21   The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.

Johnís final benediction and amen which ended the written record of his revelation.

 

       

 

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November 2009