The Book of Revelation
- Prologue: 1:1-3
- Various exhortations to the Seven Asian Churches: 1:4-3:22
- The Revelation of Things to Come 4:1-22:5
- Epilogue 22:6-22:21
Some Things to Know
Revelation– word that is a translation of the Greek word that actually comes out “Apocalypse.”
- It is in the genre of “apocalyptic literature.” What is this?
- A story of intense struggle between good and evil.
- Concern for final days/end times
- Symbols of animals representing people and numbers having great meaning.
- Overwhelming, cataclysmic events
- Angels and demons
- Revelation is also called a book of prophecy meaning it has to do with God’s message being told.
- Are the events past or future or both?
- Does the book talk about our day?
- Join us as we travel through this book!
- Last book written in the Bible- 90s AD.
- Used to inspire and encourage early Christians.
- John, the author. Disciple or other Church leader?
3 Reasons for Rome’s Fall
- Natural Disasters
- War and invasions
- Inner rot and decay
Think about it! In the Roman Empire the ancient city of Antioch itself suffered 1 natural and social disasters during Romans rule- that’s one every 15 years!
Plaques claimed 30-40 percent of any given city’s citizens.
Some Strange End of the World Facts
Some who believe in a Pre-Tribulation rapture warn that the rapture is imminent, saying that all of the prophecies concerning the latter days have been fulfilled to the extent that the rapture could take place at any moment. Others suggest that certain requirements must first be met before a rapture can occur, such as these:
- The nations of the world must unify their currency onto a universal standard.
- There will be peace in Israel (Ezekiel 38).
- There will be a one-world government, to correspond to the 7th beast of Revelation, prior to the Antichrist’s 8th beast government.
- The Jewish temple in Jerusalem must be rebuilt in its original place.
- Observance of Old Testament commandments concerning animal sacrifices must be reinstated.
- There will be a great falling away and the Anti-Christ will be revealed. Thessalonians 2
- 1792 – Shakers calculated this date
- 1844 – William Miller, founder of the Millerites, predicted the return of Christ to occur on October 22, 1844 revised after an initial prediction for the 1843/1844 Hebrew Year. The failure of Jesus to appear on this date after his followers had sold all their possessions was referred to as The Great Disappointment.
- 1981 – Chuck Smith undogmatically predicted that Jesus would likely return by 1981.
- 1988 – Publication of 88 Reasons why the Rapture is in 1988, by Edgar C. Whisenant.
- 1989 – Publication of The final shout: Rapture report 1989, by Edgar Whisenant. More predictions by this author appeared for 1992, 1995, and other years.
- 1992 – Korean group “Mission for the Coming Days” predicted October 28, 1992 as the date for the rapture.
- 1993 – Seven years before the year 2000. The rapture would have to start to allow for seven years of the Tribulation before the Return in 2000. Multiple predictions.
- 1994 – Pastor John Hinkle of Christ Church in Los Angeles predicted June 9, 1994. Radio evangelist Harold Camping predicted September 27, 1994.
- 1997 – Stan Johnson of the Prophecy Club predicted September 12, 1997.
- 1998 – Marilyn Agee, in The End of the Age, predicted May 31, 1998.
- 2060 – Sir Isaac Newton undogmatically proposed, based upon his calculations using figures from the book of Daniel, that the rapture could happen no earlier than 2060.
*Many have said ‘the days are worse now than ever before!”
-Billy Graham in the 1950s, “We may have another year, maybe two years to work for Jesus Christ. And then Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe it is all going to be over.”
-The United States has deaparted awhoring after strange God. The greed of the labor unions, the lust of Hollywood, the debauchery of the masses cry to high Heaven for judgment.” Donald Grey Barnhouse, immediately after WW2.
-“Godless, Bibless, Christless” “Clearing the path for the Anti Christ” -1949.
-the end is coming because “women leaving their homes and children to enter factories and shops and offices”- The Days of Noah, 1963.
*The end has been decried every generation!
The Danger is all this!
*Hal Lindsey—“The Late Great Planet Earth” written in 1970
-20 million copies and a best selling author in the 1970s
-Paved way for “LEFT BEHIND”
-Predicted the Rapture would happen in 1981.
-Rewrote his work changed the date.
-Wrote “The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon (1980) but when the USSR fell and the end didn’t come as he thought (he felt the USSR and China were a part of it) he changed and wrote “Planet Earth: 2000 AD (1994) and now saw Islamic Fundamentalism as the new enemy and yet still believes Communism is not dead and the fall of USSR was a trick by Mickhail Gorbachev and the Soviet KGB.
There has also been as recent as the last could of years people who were predicting the end of the world.
Overview of Revelation
A little background:
The kingdom of Judea was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC and most of the Jewish people were taken into exile in Babylonia. The Temple was destroyed, and the land destroyed. The prophets started talking about a return to the homeland, and a re-establishment of their kingdom. Persia conquered Babylonia in 539 BC and let the Jewish people return to Judea, but wasn’t about to let them have their own independent state.
Hebrew theology (called “Deuteronomic” theology) said that is someone kept God’s laws, they were rewarded. If not, then evil would take over the person and the community. So, if people were being punished, then they must have sinned against God. The people had sinned against God, Israel and Judah had been destroyed. After the Hebrews returned, they were behaving, so why was there still suffering?
The people needed an answer, and two movements developed to deal with the question the Wisdom movement and the Apocalyptic movement. The Wisdom movement was like the book of JOB, a good man who suffered. The Apocalyptic movement was influenced by the Persians, who were in control for about 200 years.
Persian beliefs-2 cosmic forces-good and evil- locked in a battle to the death for control of the universe. Everyone has to choose which side they will fight for, there was no middle ground. At any given time, either Good or Evil will have the upper hand. When evil prevails, good will suffer. The battles keep happening until the final conflict at the End, when the cosmos will be destroyed, and good will triumph. Good fighters will go to their reward, evil fighters will go to their “reward.” When Good has the upper hand, the good are protected and do well. When Good and Evil are even, the good do ok, evil are punished. But, when Evil prevails, the good will suffer, because they are good.
Hebrew adaptations-God created the world, and worked through history to relate to creation. There was no real idea of an End of the created order. “Forever”, and “everlasting” didn’t have the same meaning that they do today, but meant for a really long time or a certain period of time. So, instead of the End, the Hebrews came up with a concept of two ages: the present age of suffering, ruled by the forces of Evil, who got humans to do their dirty work; and a new age when the persecution and suffering was removed. When Evil had run its course, God or God’s agent would step in, destroy the Evil persecutor, and start the new age, as the next part of history. Later in time, Evil may again gain control, and the cycle would start again.
Apocalyptic literature characteristics:
In apocalyptic literature, the seer sees a vision, but doesn’t know what it means. God sends someone to interpret the vision. The vision is full of exaggerated symbolic images-beasts with horns or heads, numbers, colors, etc. Apocalyptic writings are a call for faithfulness in the middle of persecution.
A little background and context for the book of Revelation:
The book of Revelation is written as apocalyptic literature, which made sense to the people of the time (200BC- AD 100). Apocalyptic Literature is best understood by the people and culture for which it was written.
Revelation was most likely written in A.D. 90-95, to the Christian churches in Asia Minor (Turkey), which were being persecuted by the Roman emperor, Domition. We do know that someone named John wrote the book, there is much speculation over which John it was, many believe it to be John the apostle, we only know for sure that he identifies himself as John and has some authority or knowledge of the churches receiving these messages. The authorship may not be as important as his circumstance and the message revealed during that time. He was in exile on the island of Patmos. John, the author, considered himself a prophet. Not someone who foretells the future, but someone who is call by God to deliver God’s message and word to God’s people in a particular time and place.
Numbers, and multiples of Numbers:
3=Spirit World (either good or bad)
4=the Created World (the one we live in)
7=completeness-grown to the point of maturity or fulfillment
12=people of God
(144,000=12*12*10*10*10=people of God, inclusive,
inclusive=all the people of God)
3 ½= length of time God allows evil to run its course before God will intervene and stop the persecution
heads and horns=rulers of that nation
white=symbol of victory (not necessarily good)
red=strife, war, conflict
black=lack of something (food, health, etc.)
Greenish-gray (pale)=death (color of corpse)
Other symbols (more on these later):
angels=guardians of the churches
antithetical images (things that look the same, but are at opposite ends of the spectrum. One is a caricature of the other. Ex. Lamb in Ch. 5 vs. Ch 13)
Gematria= a way to count by the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
Apocalypse-is a Greek word meaning- a vision that reveals things normally hidden and unveils the future or deals with the present world order and the coming of the heavenly kingdom.
Eschatology– a Greek word meaning last discourse. Doctrine of the last things and end times, covering not only the destiny of the individual, but also creation, and is usually related to the second coming.
Prophecy-A message conveyed by a prophet acting on behalf of God in any given situation. Word or a message from God could be about the future but doesn’t have to be.
Introduction: Revelation 1:1-11
The prophet sometimes did predict the future, but it was the immediate future arising directly out of the present situation. The apocalyptic message was always a call for endurance in a period of persecution and promise that the persecution would end soon. This is in verse 3 “for the time is near.”
He also invokes the blessing from “the one who is and who was and is coming.”
John mentions the “seven spirits who are before [God’s] throne.”
Lastly he mentions “Jesus Christ the faithful witness.”
In spite of the very worst that the power and forces of evil could do, Jesus triumphed over them by the power of the resurrection, which exalted him to the right hand of God and thus as ruler over the kings of the earth.
In apocalyptic literature, the intervention of God or God’s agent to destroy the persecutor is usually depicted by someone “coming with the clouds,” a symbolic designation that when the persecution is ended God (or God’s agent) is the One who will judge and remove the agent (or agents) causing the people of God to suffer.
God is “Alpha and Omega.” The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, to point out that all created history is under God’s control.
He receives the vision on the “Lord’s Day” and the destination for this revelation was “the seven churches,” designated Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyratira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
Why are the churches mentioned in this order? Ephesus would be the place where someone arriving by ship would land. It was also the capital for the Roman province of Asia Minor. From Ephesus the Romans had built a road connecting other cities of the area, and this road was used by travelers and as a postal route.
Son of Man Vision (1:12-20)
Seven golden lampstands with “one like the Son of Man” in the middle–
Seven-pronged candelabra (menorah) represents Jewish people. Seven individual lampstands for seven churches. But not only just seven, but to all churches. Son of man in middle to show that the persecuted were not alone.
Vision of Son of Man-details to add brilliance, weight, and authority. IS A SYMBOLIC IMAGE, to be seen with spiritual eye, not physical. Intended to impress the spiritual dimension
17-20-explanation of what was seen. Is Christ, beginning and end, not held by death. Christ determines who lives or dies, not Caesar. Christ conquered evil and death.
Angels of the seven churches-guardian angel for nation, group of people, individuals.
Meaning=Christian communities in Asia Minor should remain faithful, b/c Christ is in their midst. Christ has true power, and has won battle of death vs. life, so don’t need to fear even the worst of what the powers and forces of evil have to offer.