The Revelation of Jesus Christ

The Book of Revelation is one of the most misunderstood, misinterpreted and to many, most mysterious books of the Bible. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As we will see in the introduction the term “Revelation” implies just the opposite of something unknown or unknowable. “Revelation” means bringing something to light, an unveiling, an opening up to understanding, a disclosure not an enclosure.

As we study verse by verse through this great book we will see that if we follow God’s inspired outline of the book (1:19) it opens up our understanding of the book so that instead of mystery we find clarity, instead of something shut up it is opened up and instead of something concealed we find God’s truth revealed.

My heart’s desire and prayer for this study is that the those who study this book receive the full revelation God intended. This book is first and foremost a revelation of Jesus given by Jesus. This is a book with a unique promise of blessing to those who dig into its pages and pictures. Revelation is a book of hope as we see God’s powerful and just victory over His enemies as well as the ultimate deliverance of His people. This is a book that shows us the glorified Christ, the history of the Church, the terrible Tribulation period, the return and reign of Christ on earth and the culmination of all things. God bless us and may His Spirit guide us as we study The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

The Bible is a compilation of 66 books the last of which is Revelation. The volume of this Book the Bible, in truth, is all about Jesus. In Hebrews it states, “In the volume of the book it is written of Me” meaning the Bible as a whole speaks of Jesus (Hebrews 10:7). In the Old Testament we see Jesus presented prophetically. In the Gospels we see Jesus enter history. In the Book of Acts, we see Jesus proclaimed by the church. In the Epistles we see Jesus practical influence in life. And in Revelation we see Jesus coming in glory in the culmination of God’s prophetic redemptive plan. Revelation is a culmination. It ties all the parts of God’s redemptive plan together in Christ. Just like a text book, in the Bible, the answers are in the back of the book.

The Person to whom Jesus Delivers Revelation

John is the Apostle of Jesus through whom God inspired a Gospel, three epistles (letters) and the Book of Revelation. He was born in Bethsaida to Zebedee and Salome. He was a fisherman in Galilee. He was partners with Peter and Andrew who also were called by Jesus to be Apostles. John was an early disciple of John the Baptist. He knew people in prominent religious circles such as the High Priest (John 18:15).

John was one of the inner circle of three Apostles of Jesus (James and Peter). He was at the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17), the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Matthew 9:18), the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24), with Jesus in Gethsemane the night Jesus was arrested (Matthew 26:37). Jesus thought highly enough of John to entrust His mother to him even above His own family members (John 19:26). It is believed John retired to serve as pastor in Ephesus after his exile to Patmos.

The Place of Receiving Revelation – Patmos

Today the Isle of Patmos is a beautiful tourist attraction off the coast of Turkey. It is a small island the measures 6 miles by ten miles. It is 40 miles from the Island of Miletus and 24 miles off the coast of Turkey. John was exiled to Patmos under the reign fo Roman Caesar Domitian. Domitian’s successor Titus would later destroy Jerusalem and its Temple.

Patmos was a place where prisoners were sent to die. In John’s day it was a lonely, barren, hot wasteland of a place. It was a place of hard torturous daily labor. Yet we know John survived it by God’s grace.

According to the early church father Irenaeus (2nd Century A.D.) John received Revelation during the reign of Domitian. The early church fathers Irenaeus, Clement, and Eusebius wrote that after Domitian died, John was released from Patmos and returned to Ephesus where he served as pastor and traveled a circuit to the surrounding churches, appointing leaders and putting the church in order.

The Time of Persecution during Revelation

The Revelation of Jesus Christ was delivered to John during a time of intense persecution under the Romans. This persecution was fierce. Christians lost jobs and homes and were severely discriminated against simply because they were Christians. They were social scapegoats blamed for every problem in society. As the persecution became more intense and pervasive, Christians crucified in evil mimickery of Jesus crucifixion, they were burned alive as human candlesticks at times. They were dressed in lamb’s skins and thrown to the lions in response to being referred to as the sheep of God’s pasture. They were murdered in many diabolical ways in arenas for entertainment and to fill public blood lust. Many other terrible acts of persecution were being perpetrated upon the Christian community during this time in history. We need to keep that in mind when we read this book.

The Promise of Revelation

This book is unique in that it comes with a particular promise that should motivate us to study it. The wise King Solomon was inspired to say:  

  • 1 Kings 8:56 - “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.”

That was true in Solomon’s time. It is just as true at the end of the Bible and in our time. Therefore, when we read of God’s promises in Scripture we can be confident He will deliver on them.

In the opening words of the Book of Revelation we find this promise:

  • Revelation 1:3 - “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”

There is a blessing promised to those who “hear” the words of this prophecy and “keep” or apply practically in life those things written therein. “Blessed” (Greek makarios) means to be supremely blest, fortunate, well off, happy. That’s a promise we can all appreciate in the often troubling times we are living in. We can divide this verse into three parts:

  • “Blessed is he” = the pastor or one who reads the book publicly.
  • “those who hear” = the recipients who hear the reading.
  • “who hear . . . and keep” - Not just hearers but doers of the Word. There are valuable truth to be heard and applied to life in this book.

Right from the start we are given an incentive to study this book. There is something special about the Book of Revelation.

The Purposes of Revelation

The apostle John was the last of Jesus’ apostles left living as he wrote this book. He was at the end of his life and had narrowly escaped death at the hands of Domitian who tried to boil him in oil. God miraculously saved John who was then exiled to the Isle of Patmos, a rocky desolate place.

John wrote this book around 95-96 A.D.

John authored five books altogether The Gospel of John, three shorter epistles of John, and Revelation. He stated specific purposes for each of his first four writings:  

  • Gospel of John = That you may believe in Jesus (Jn. 20:31)
  • Epistles of John = That you may be sure of your salvation in Jesus (1 Jn. 5:13)

Revelation is no different. John states two purposes for this inspired portion of scripture.

First, that you would receive a revelation of Jesus by Jesus. The opening verse states:

 

  • Revelation 1:1 - “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,”

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ” – The word “revelation” (Greek apokalypsis) means disclosure, appearing, manifestation, reveal, enlighten, laying bear, making naked, a disclosure of truth, instruction. And this book is particularly a revelation “of Jesus Christ.” If you want to learn more about Jesus and therefore go deeper in your relationship with Him, Revelation is a book worth your time and study.

There are more names/titles given to Jesus in the Book of Revelation than in the entire New Testament combined. Of the titles given to Jesus the one most frequently used and the one Jesus chooses to most often use in regards to Himself is “Lamb of God.” “Lamb of God” occurs 28 times in 21 chapters of Revelation. Other titles or names used in reference to Jesus in this book are:

  1. Almighty - 2 (1:8; 15:3)
  2. Amen - 1 (3:14)
  3. Beginning of the Creation of God - 1 (3:14)
  4. The Faithful Witness - 1 (1:5)
  5. The First Begotten of the Dead - 1 (1:5)
  6. The Ruler of the Kings of the Earth - 1 (1:5)
  7. Alpha and Omega - 4 (1:8, 11; 21:6; 22:13)
  8. The Beginning and the Ending - 2 (1:8; 22:13)
  9. The First and the Last - 3 (1:11; 22:13)
    1. Head - 1 (19:12)
    2. One like unto the Son of Man - 2 (1:13)
    3. He that lives and Was Dead and Is Alive Forevermore - 1 (1:18)
    4. He that has the Keys of Hell and of Death - 1 (1:18)
    5. He that Holds the Seven Stars in His right Hand and That Walks in the Midst of the Seven Golden Candlesticks - 1 (2:1)
      1. He That has a Sharp Sword with Two Edges - 1
      2. The Son of God Who Has His Eyes Like unto a Flame of Fire and His Feet Like Fine Brass - 1 (1:14-15)
      3. He Which Searches the Minds and Hearts - 1 (2:23)
      4. The Morning Star - 1 (22:16)
      5. He That has the Seven Spirits of God and the Seven Stars - 1 (1:20)
      6. He that is Holy, He That is True, he That Has the Key of David. He That Opens and No Man Can Shut, and Shuts and No Man Opens - 1 (3:7-8)
        1. The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the Creation of God - 1 (1:5; 3:14)
        2. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah - 1 (5:5)
        3. The Root of David - 1 (5:5)
        4. The Root and Offspring of David - 1 (22:16)
        5. A Lamb / Lamb of God - 28 (5:,8,12,13; 6:1,16;7:9,10,14,17; 12:11; 13:8,11; 14:1,4(2),10; 15:3; 17:14(2); 19:7,9; 21:9,14,22,23,27; 22:1,3)
        6. Lion - 1 (5:5)
        7. God’s Christ - 2 (11:15; 12:10)
        8. He That is True - 1 (1:5)
        9. Faithful and True - 1 (19:11)
        10. Word of God - 1 (19:13)
        11. King of Kings - 1 (19:16)
        12. I Am the Root and Offspring of David - 1 (22:16)
        13. The Bright and Morning Star - 1 (22:16)
        14. Lord - (1:8; 11:8)
        15. Lord Jesus - (22:20,21)
        16. Lord of lords and King of kings - (17:14)
        17. KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS - (19:16)
        18. The Word of God- 1 (19:13)

 

Second, that you may be ready for His coming. In Revelation it states this purpose in numerous places:

  • Revelation 1:1 and 3 - “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”

 

  • Revelation 2:5,16 - “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.16 ‘Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”  

  • Revelation 3:11 - “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”

  • Revelation 22:6 - “Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.”

  • Revelation 22:7,10,12,20 - “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”10 And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. 12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

That in Revelation we are constantly reminded that Jesus’ return is imminent and that time is short implies an urgency for the reader to prepare for His return and the culmination of what Jesus inspires John to record in its pages. The purpose of The Revelation of Jesus Christ is to forewarn His Bride the church so that they can be ready for what lays ahead in the future.

The Picture of Revelation

Many pastors and their congregations shy away from studying this last book of God’s word. They may have given it a cursory read or skim and deduced that its confusing and they just can’t make sense of it. But the title of the book, “Revelation” should be our first tip that its contents is in some way an unveiling. The word “revelation” (Greek apokalypsis) means “an uncovering.” It is translated 12 times “revelation,” “be revealed” twice, “to lighten”1519 times, once as “manifestation,” once as “coming,” and once as “appearing.” The idea of “revelation” is to remove the covers from something thereby laying them bear. It is used to express a disclosure of truth and instruction about things that had previously been unknown. It is a word that is used to describe something that had previously been out of view to visibility. Revelation is a manifestation, an appearance. [1]

When we look at the usages of apokalypsis in the New Testament we see it used to paint the following pictures:

1.) A light dispelling darkness - Luke 2:32 (Isaiah 25:7)

2.) Bringing to light the “mystery” of God - Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:3

3.) Communicating knowledge of God to our soul - Ephesians 1:17

4.) God communicating to the Church - 1 Cor. 14:6,26

5.) How God spoke to and through apostle Paul - 2 Cor. 12:1, 7; Gal. 1:12; 2:2 

6.) Presentation of Jesus at His 2nd Coming - 1 Cor. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:7, 13; 4:13; 2 Thess. 1:7

7.) Of humans to nature in their glorified bodies - Rom. 8:19

8.) Of Jesus -  Rev. 1:1   [2]

It’s interesting that in the Old Testament Book of Daniel it states:

  • Daniel 12:9 - “And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for thewords are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.”

Though God revealed some incredible futuristic prophetic material to the prophet Daniel, there was some information that were “closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” In Revelation is states:

  • Revelation 22:10 - “And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.”

Therefore, we see that what was “closed up” to Daniel and his times is being unsealed in the Book of Revelation. And indeed we will find that after the section on Jesus’ letters to the seven churches, there are seven seals opened to reveal events on the earth in the future (Revelation 6-8).

The purpose of this book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ is to:

  • Reveal not conceal.
  • Clarify not mystify.
  • Open up not shut up.

God is not One to play hide and seek with people. He does withhold information until we are ready to receive it. God’s revelation has a progressive quality to it. He unveils information when it is needed. Like a parent who keeps their explanations to a toddler or adolescent age appropriate, God explains His plan to humanity in an age appropriate way.

The Exciting Power of Revelation

It’s exciting when things are revealed or unveiled. Once a year children wait with fidgety anticipation to see what “Santa” or their parents have given them at Christmas. Parents who choose not to learn the identity of their newborn ahead of time wait with great anticipation to discover the gender of their newly birthed child, (although nowadays there is a trend to minimize gender identity to the consternation of creation.) Once a year football fans wait with great anticipation to see the disclosure of who their favorite team picks at the National Football League annual college player draft. Those involved with gaming wait with great anticipation for the new versions of their favorite games that are unveiled. Maybe you get excited for the unveiling of the new Spring clothes styles. To the degree you care about whatever you are waiting for to be unveiled, you will explode with excitement when it is revealed.

We find revelation in more important things of life. We may await a disclosure about whether or not we have secured a promotion or position at work. In the United States every four years we vote and then wait with great concern and anticipation to discover who wins the presidential election. In some countries change comes about by revolution not election and when that happens, the blood of opponents flows and the unveiling conclusion of who will be in power can cause a great deal of anxiety and fear. Whatever it is you are waiting for to be revealed, it is usually accompanied with some degree of excitement, expectation, anxiety, or even trepidation.

The Book of Revelation was written during a time of great persecution against the Church. Under the withering and severe persecution of the Romans, many in churches must have wondered if the Church would even survive. They were probably concerned with whether or not they could hold out under the intense pressure of vicious attacks against them.

The opening lines of Revelation state, “And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.” The term “signified” (Greek semiano) means, to give a sign, indicate, to make known in word pictures. Anyone who reads the book of Revelation can see that its written differently than the Gospels or the epistles of the New Testament. There’s a reason for this this.  

 

The Revelation of Jesus Christ is written in what we might refer to as code. Why is this? There are three reasons for this different code way of writing.

First, symbols, apocalyptical code was used to paint prophetic pictures in order to protect the persecuted recipients from further persecution. If Revelation was written in plain language if intercepted by authorities, it might be seen as rebellion against the State. Therefore, Revelation was written in Biblical language that God’s people would readily understand but that secular investigators probably would not.

Second, symbols are used to convey information timelessly. When the Book of Revelation was first received there had been no industrial revolution and the advances of combustion engines and advanced mechanics of such things as cars, trains, planes, military weaponry. In the early times of Revelation there weren’t the technological advances we find today in computers, media, medicine, and military. How could an Omniscient God reveal future events of wars between highly advanced people’s and their militaries? How could God convey revelation of an ever shrinking global world of interconnectedness? The Revelation of Jesus Christ overcomes the differences between its first recipients and its last recipients with the use of symbol images that the generation of the Last Days would be able to decipher and interpret given the advances in technology that would come about. Language changes, but symbols are more stable over time.

Third, symbols are used to meet the emotional needs of the recipients through a poetic style. When you speak of someone who would be the incarnation of Satan its more powerful and effective to refer to them as a “Beast” than merely a world leader. “Beast” conveys more of the nature of such a figure.

The written form of Revelation presents 44 different visions in word pictures to express the deeper emotional aspect of events. John says, “I saw” (60 times) and “behold” (30 times) to convey the idea of a need to stop and consider what was being revealed. The words “like, likeness” (22 times), and “as” (65 times) are used to define and express the nature of things by way of using comparisons to things people would be familiar with. Seventeen times the scene switches from heaven to earth in order to use contrasts to communicate a hopeful prospect to those who would go through persecution on earth. The word “great” is used 84 times to communicate the immensity of what was happening. There are over 300 references to things in Old Testament terms. The word “seven” is used 54 times in Revelation to communicate completeness.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ is a revelation “which God gave Him to show His servants.” And that revelation was, ““signified by His angel.” To convey the heavenly source of this Revelation 74 times angels referred to in Revelation. We are not to worship angels (22:8-9). But angels as servants of God are a sign of His signature being on what is revealed.

To the early Church the unveiling of the Revelation of Jesus Christ must have been powerfully comforting. Yes, there would continue to be hard times ahead, but through it all there was hope in Jesus. In the end, Jesus wins, and therefore they were on the winning team. They could take comfort in the hope that they would spend eternity in heaven in the presence of God where there are no more sorrows and no more tears. Justice was promised to prevail over injustice. God in Christ would prevail over Antichrist and the devil. There would be peace. That is a powerful prospect and must have buoyed early Christians in the stormy seas of persecution.

The Pertinence or Relevance of Revelation

Some have sought to discount the importance and relevance of Revelation by interpreting it in a way that claims its fulfillment came in ancient history shortly after it was received by the apostle John. These Preterists claim that Revelation was for the most part fulfilled around 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and defeated the Jewish “Great Revolt.” This however doesn’t jive with what Jesus said about the Latter Days.

Jesus said of the Latter Days, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). The Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and defeat of “The Great Revolt” was decimating to the Jews. There have been horrific subsequent times in history. There have been terrible plagues, pograms, inquisitions, great depressions, the Nazi led holocaust and a host of wars and rumors of wars as well as natural disasters, BUT, there has not been the time that we could call “has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no nor ever shall be.

The Preterist view often hinges on the word, “shortly.” “Shortly” is a translation of the Greek phrase en tachei which is translated from the Greek word tachos. Tachos is not a yummy Mexican treat. Tachos is a Greek term that means shortly, quickly, speedily. The idea of the word can be deduced from how it is the basis of another English word “Tachometer.” A tachometer measures the revolutions per minute of an engine. In your car the tachometer arrow goes up and down based on you putting your foot on the gas and then removing it. There is a red line on your tachometer which indicates where, if you rev the engine beyond that point, that you will damage the engine. If you rev the engine by putting your foot on the gas to the floor, its likely it will explode. Similarly, just as a tachometer measures the increase in revolutions per minute of your engine leading up to the red line where damage or destruction will occur, the events depicted in Revelation will occur in ever increasing rapidity and intensity until there is damage and destruction to the world as we know it. “Shortly” therefore shouldn’t make us think that the time duration between when Revelation was received and the fulfillment of the events revealed take place, it should make us think of these revealed events rising up and occurring with greater and greater frequency and intensity leading up to the culmination of God’s prophetic plan.

Thomas Ice in an article entitled, Has Bible Prophecy Already Been Fulfilled? Writes about the various interpretive views of Revelation stating:

“The preterist (Latin for "past") believes that most, if not all prophecy has already been fulfilled, usually in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The historicist (present) sees much of the current church age as equal to the tribulation period. Thus, prophecy has been and will be fulfilled during the current church age. Futurists (future) usually believe that almost no prophetic events are occurring in the current church age, but will take place in the following future events: the tribulation of seven years, the second coming, the 1,000-year millennium, and the eternal state. This is the view that I and Midnight Call magazine hold to. The idealist (timeless) does not believe either that the Bible indicates the timing of events or that we can determine their timing in advance. Therefore, idealists see prophetic passages as a teacher of great truths about God to be applied to our present lives.”

As we study through The Revelation of Jesus Christ we will see that current world developments make the fulfillment of what is revealed in Revelation more possible and likely than ever before in history. That’s powerfully exciting!

The Presuppositions for this Study of Revelation

This study will proceed with the following presuppositions based on a study fo the Bible as a whole.

First, the Bible is to be literally interpreted wherever it speaks literally. The Bible does include poetry, metaphor, allegory, but for the most part it is a literal record of God’s words to humanity; His involvement and influence in His created human history. God means what He says and says what He means. If we reduce the Bible to mere symbols or allegory, then the human interpreter becomes the sovereign and not God. God has inspired His word to clearly communicate His revelation. This word of God is meant to give us hope (Romans 15:4) and to provide us with what we need to know God and live a life pleasing to Him (Psalm 119; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). God’s word is inspired in every detail. God’s word will not pass away (Matthew 5:17-18). God exalts His word above His own name (Psalm 138:2). Those seeking God therefore, need to search the scriptures (Acts 17:11).

Second, the eschatological view we will depend on is premillennial. Amillenialism views the Book of Revelation as allegorical. It approaches the contents as a series of symbols meant to be interpreted by the reader. The allegorical method is a very subjective way of interpretation and elevates the reader to a sovereign position of interpretation. Each person can come to their own individual conclusions about what they think is being revealed. This leads to eisegesis or reading into  the text. Amillenialism does not believe that Jesus will literally return to earth to establish His Kingdom.

Post Millennialism is a view of eschatology that believes we are presently living in the Kingdom of God. When we look around at the fallen world it is hard to accept that this world is in any way “the Kingdom of God.” World Wars, wars and rumors of wars, rampant and decline immorality, global pestilences and generally pervasive sinfulness has made this eschatological view obsolete.

The premillennial view of eschatology takes a more literal view of scripture believing that the Book of Revelation speaks prophetically about events leading up to the literal Second Coming of Jesus to earth and the establishment of His literal Kingdom on earth as well as God’s re-Creation of the earth and heavens in His culmination of all things.

Third, the return of Jesus Christ is pre-tribulation (before the Tribulation), not mid-tribulation or post-tribulation. Revelation 6-18 is a detailed description of events that will occur during the Seven (7) Year Tribulation also known as, The Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) or the Seventieth Week of Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27). The Rapture of the Church will be discussed in greater detail when we come to Revelation chapter 4.

Fourth, Revelation speaks primarily of the future. The Preterist position sees the contents of Revelation as having for the most part been fulfilled in the past around 70 A.D. and the destruction of Temple. The Historicist sees the contents of the Book of Revelation as being purely historical. The Idealist sees the contents of Revelation as being only allegorical. The Futurist recognizes that there is some historical material (i.e. Revelation 2-3) but for the most part the contents of Revelation speaks of future yet to be fulfilled prophetic events. This last view is the one Revelation itself supports (cf. Revelation 1:3; 22:7, 10, 18-19). 

The Prophetic Nature of Revelation

Bible teacher Chuck Missler makes the following observations:

  • Old Testament: 1,845 references to Christ’s rule on the earth; 17 OT books give prominence to the event.
  • New Testament: Of the 216 chapters, there are 318 references to the Second Coming; it is mentioned in 23 of the 27 books.
  • For every prophecy relating to His First Coming, there are eight treating His Second Coming.
  • Still, most people assume that the future is but a linear extrapolation of the present; life will just go on. But the Bible says otherwise.[3]

J. Barton Payne in The Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy states of the contents of the Bible:

  • 8,362 predictive verses;
  • 1,817 predictions;
  • 737 separate matters of prophecy.

Nearly one third (1/3) of the Bible is prophetic in nature or speaks of events future to when they were inspired by God to their earthly writers. The Book of Revelation is the climax and culmination of God’s prophetic plan.

The Prominence of the Number 7

In Biblical numerology the number “7” is the number of completion. Because Revelation is a book concerning the completing of God’s sovereign redemptive plan for humanity, it shouldn’t surprise us that we find the number “7” prominently used in this book.

Bible teacher Chuck Missler has recorded the following occurrences of “7” in Revelation”:

  1. Seven Churches    1:4,11,20; 2; 3
  2. Seven Seals           5; 6
  3. Seven Trumpets    8, 9
  4. Seven Bowls         15; 16; 17:1; 21:9
  5. Seven Lampstands            1:12, 13, 20; 2:1
  6. Seven Spirits        1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6
  7. Seven Stars           1:16, 20; 2:1; 3:1
  8. Seven Lamps        4; 5
  9. Seven “Title-pairs”          2; 3
  10. Seven Promises to the Overcomer           2;3
  11. Seven Horns         5:6
  12. Seven Eyes           5:6
  13. Seven Angels        8:2,6; 15:1,6,7,8;  16:1; 17:1;21:9
  14. Seven Thunders    10:3, 4
  15. Seven Thousand   11:13
  16. Seven Heads         12:3; 13:1; 17:3, 7, 9
  17. Seven Crowns       12:3
  18. Seven Plagues       15:1, 6, 8; 21:9
  19. Seven Mountains  17:9
  20. Seven Kings          17:10,11

Missler also finds Seven Beattitudes in Revelation:

  1. Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear and keep those things…  (Rev 1:3).
  2. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord (Rev 14:13).
  3. Blessed is he that watches and keeps his garments (Rev 16:15).
  4. Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9).
  5. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection (Rev 20:6).
  6. Blessed is he that keeps the words of the prophecy of this book
    1. (Rev 22:7)
    2. Blessed are they that wash their robes (Rev 22:14).[4]

There are even more occurrences of the number “7” in Revelation but suffice it to say that the use of this number provides an additional evidence that this book speaks about the culmination or conclusion of God’s prophetic plan and history.

The Pairing of Revelation with Genesis

Another interesting connection made by Chuck Missler is the pairing of the contents of Genesis with the book of Revelation. While Genesis is a book of beginnings, Revelation is a book of endings. The following connections are made between the two books:

Earth created – Genesis 1:1

Earth passes away – Revelation21:1

Sun governs day – Genesis 1:16

No need for the Sun – Revelation 21:23

Darkness called night – Genesis 1:5

No night there – Revelation 22:5

Entrance of sin – Genesis 3

End of sin – Revelation 21 and 22

Curse pronounced – Genesis 3:14-17

Curse ended – Revelation 22:3

Death enters – Genesis 3:19

Death ends – Revelation 21:4

Sorrow and suffering starts – Genesis 3:17

No more sorrow or suffering – Revelation 22:4

Man driven out of Eden – Genesis 3:24

Man restored - Revelation 22

Man’s dominion ended and Satan’s begun – Genesis 3:24

Satan’s dominion ended and Man’s restored – Revelation 22

Marriage of the first Adam – Genesis 2:18-23

Marriage of the Last Adam – Revelation 19

Tree of Life under guard – Genesis 3:24

Free access to Tree of Life – Revelation 22:14

There are many more connections that could be drawn between Genesis and Revelation. But suffice it to say that the Bible, Genesis to Revelation, is a uniform network and revelation of God’s redemptive prophetic plan. The Bible was received over a span of 1400 years through 40 different authors, over three continents and still it is uniform. That speaks to us about the singular supreme Author God who oversaw and revealed Himself and His plan for humanity.

The Practical Nature of Revelation

In the opening chapter of Revelation John states:

 

  • Revelation 1:9-10 - “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,”  

John referred to himself as “your brother and companion in the tribulation(1:9). John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos: an arid, rocky, desolate island with no vegetation. Those sent there were sent there to die.  John could have been bitter, but instead he chose to be “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day´ (1:10). There is a practical lesson for us to glean from John’s personal inspired words here:

Revelation comes during times of personal tribulation.

 

When we look in the Bible to see how God gave revelation to those He was interacting with, we see that He often uses times of personal tribulation as the context and environment to reveal. For instance, God revealed a deep definition and extent of love through requiring Abraham to offer in sacrifice his son of promise Isaac (Genesis 22:8). It is in that act that we are introduced to the prophetic picture of what God the Father would one day actually do in His Only Son Jesus Christ on Mount Moriah.

God revealed Himself and taught Jacob when he was searching for a wife (Genesis 28:10-22) and when Jacob feared for his life as he was caught between Esau and Laban (Genesis 32). Another example of God revealing through tribulation is how Jesus is shown to be with the three Jews in Babylonian exile, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego. These three were faithful to God even though threatened with being thrown into a fiery furnace. It was in the furnace that a “fourth. . . like the Son of God” was revealed (Daniel 3).

Yes, it is often through times of personal tribulation that God gives us revelation. But how can we practical receive revelation from God during our times of personal tribulation?

Receiving Revelation in Time of Personal Revelation

Jesus instruction to John is informative here. Jesus instructs John:

  • Revelation 1:19 - “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”

From these words we learn that to receive revelation in times of personal tribulation we should:

First, write out “the things which you have seen.”  Recollect how God worked when He saved you. Remember how He worked in a previous time of need. How has He revealed Himself to you in the past? What scriptures did He use to comfort and instruct you through the tribulation in the past? What helped you: God’s word? Prayer? Fellowship? Communion? Worship?

Second, write out “the things which are.” Write out the circumstances surrounding your present trial or situation. Write out your feelings, the scriptures God puts on your heart, what people do that is helpful or unhelpful. Write out how God speaks to you during your present tribulation.

Third, write out “the things which will take place.” Write out God’s promises from His word for those in situations similar to your own tribulation. What does God say in the Psalms, in the Gospels, in the Bible that help to comfort and guide you through.

Revelation gives us very practical instruction that we can use to get us through times of personal tribulation. It is a book written to those going through sever personal trials. How Jesus instructs John and others in this book can be a great asset to help us through inevitable tribulations in life.

The Plan of Revelation – How to Understand this Book

Revelation 1:19 - “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”

The Revelation of Jesus Christ provides us with a three-part outline for the Book. This outline is:  

  1. The Things Which You Have Seen – Revelation 1 – “The Person of Christ”
  1. The Things Which Are – Revelation 2-3 – “The People of Christ” - The Church Age:
  1. “7” is the number of completeness, e.g. 7 days of the week; 7 notes on the musical scale; 7 weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9)
  2. 7 Epochs of Church History – The Church Age ends when the last Gentile is saved (Romans 11:25). It is at this point that the Church is Raptured. We will discuss the Rapture when we get to Revelation 4:1. A clue to this is the Greek phrase meta tauta which means “after this” or “after these things” (Revelation 1:19; 4:1).
  1. The Things Which Will Take Place – Revelation 4-22 – “The Program of Christ”
  1. Seven Years Worshipping the LORD – Revelation 4-5
  2. Seven Years of Tribulation on Earth – Revelation 6-18
    1. To shake up unbelievers – to provide one last chance for salvation
    2. b.To wake up Israel (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9; Revelation 7)
    3. c.To make up the Kingdom – like a maid makes up a room for the next guest
    4. C.The Second Coming of Christ with His Bride the Church – Revelation 19
    5. D.The Millennial Reign of Christ on Earth – Revelation 20
    6. E.The Establishment of the New Earth and New Heaven – Revelation 21-22

 

This is the basic outline of Revelation we will follow. It is based primarily on the internal outline provided to John by Jesus in Revelation 1:19.

I conclude this introduction with the summary words of one commentary which state:

The true title of this book and the key to its message is "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." Each of the four Gospels presents a picture of Jesus, and His continued working through the Church is recorded in the Acts and the Epistles. He is still continuing that work through the Holy Spirit today. The Book of Revelation, however, gives us a new picture of Jesus. The first part of the book shows His concern over the churches at the time John was writing, about a.d. 95. The major part of the book gives a revelation or unveiling of some of the events of the end time which will lead to His coming in triumph as King of kings and Lord of lords.

As a fitting climax, the book ends by describing the glorious New Jerusalem and the new heavens and the new earth. All through the book, Jesus—not the Antichrist, not Satan—is the key Person. Thus the book is an unveiling of truths, many of which were hidden until this revelation or disclosure was given.

The book is addressed to the servants of Jesus (all true believers) and was sent by an angel who made known its truths to His servant John. It reveals things Jesus said must begin to take place quickly, without delay. It is, however, not a fortune-telling book. Those who use it as a means of trying to discover what is going to happen next have been disappointed again and again. Nevertheless, the book has been a blessing all through the Church Age. Its inspired vision of Jesus as the coming One, the triumphant One, still thrills the believer.[5]

 


[1]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[2]Vine, W. E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell) 1981.

[3] Chuck Missler - Supplemental Notes on Revelation

[4] Chuck Missler Ibid.

[5] Complete Biblical Library Commentary - The Complete Biblical Library – Revelation.