The culmination and fulfilment of all prophecy
I. Message to the church.
1. The revelation begins with an apostolic salutation directed towards a ecclesiastic jurisdiction. In other words, its official correspondence that is recieved, adopted and will later be distributed throughout the the church once the canon is established. This also follows a well established phenomenon within prophecy, a given message or ministry begins on a small scale and grows into a global entity.
2. The description given to Jesus follows a practice that persists to this day of aclaiming every attribute and title of a monarch at the beginning of an official funtion. In the case of Jesus, each attribute is grounded in prophecy.
3. The individual messages are parables, not pertaining to the spread of the gospel, but rather that of the church over the ages. The descriptions are those of the survival of the church in times of crisis.
A. Each message evaluates a churches situation, whether good or bad, finishing with a challenge and the necessary inspiration in order for the church to succeed.
II. The first vision(Ch 4)
1. Chapter 4 begins as an introduction to the series of revelations that follow. Celestial worship is the first aspect of what is revealed about heaven. The descriptions recall the many texts that reveal how God's view is that which trascends time, namely; 1,000 years as one day. God calling things as if they were already present. Jesus seeing Satan cast from the heavens.
2. Chapter 5 describes the redemptive role of the lamb.
The question of who is worthy of opening the seals is based on who has the authority to make the process happen, that is, God sends the roll with his seals to Jesus, one statement that comes to mind is that of no one knows the hour.... except the father. Being that the revelation continues with each seal being opened, the only way for this to happen would be to have them both stacked and concentric. Stacking would make all seals visible and having them arranged concentrically means that they have to be opened one at a time.
III. The seven seals.(Ch 6)
The use of seals is that of official and classified correspondence. The messenger is armed and protects his roll at all costs. The manner in which to know whether the contents have been revealed is a matter of looking to see if the seal has been broken. The design of a ring's impression is unique to the official, copies are not made so that they cannot be distributed. They are custom made for the official.
The only event that sets the judgement in motion is that God gives Jesus the roll at a time of his choosing. The rolls are sent through angels to those that will execute each phase of the coming judgement.
1. The first 4 seals.(Ch 6;1-7)
Following the example given in Zechariah, the horses are identified as being sent by God. Contrary to what is commented on the meaning of the scales, the scenario is not descriptive of an economic collapse within the countries that will attack Israel, the denarius is described by Jesus as being a worker's daily wage. In today's terms, even at minimal wage, one can buy plenty of grain. Being that there is no collapse, this text dismisses the notion of an economic collapse as being exclusive to the end of days.
What is descriptive are the examples of Ancient Egypt where prosperous harvests make it necessary for grainaries to be built, and that of Nazi Germany where economic recovery finances the military build up prior to WWII. This is why the scripture states that when they decribe peace and prosperity, sudden judgement will come.
2. The fifth seal.(Ch 6;9-11)
A. The second vision.
The first multitude. It begins with a view of the dead that rest, their prayers recorded and present. This is present in the text that states, " within the roll that is written about me". God sees them in their character as martyrs and innocents.
B. The threshhold for judgement.
Another aspect that is revealed is that of God's viewing the process of judgement as being triggered by the reaching of a threshold and the lack of the just makes possible the ensuing wrath:
1. The first example is the dialog with Abraham before the judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah, the attack on the angels and the rescue of Lot's family.
2. The example set by Manassah who in spite of having repented, God had proclaimed judgement on Jerusalem which would happen after the revival under Josiah.
3. It can also be seen where Jesus states that the pharisees were to reach the measure of their fathers.
4. The last example is that of the sons of Eli who by sleeping with the women that guarded the sanctuary, causes God to destroy Shiloh, which later appears in prophecy.
3. The sixth seal.(Ch 6;12)
The process behind the judgement over all the earth's inhabitants. This is the first manifestation to be witnessed by the earth's habitants. This imagery is present in Isaiah.
A. The third vision.
The second multitude.(Ch 7;1-8)
The 144,000. According to the precedents set by Moses, Josuah and Ezekiel, every recipient of divine grace is to be identified and marked before the judgement can begin. Oher precedents are those of Enoch and Elijah. This same group is described as not passing through the tribulation. Being that both passing through and being spared are mentioned in scripture means that both scenarios are possible.
B. The fourth vision.(Ch 7;9-17)
The third multitude.
This group is identified as being of all the nations and as having come out of the great tribulation.
4. The seventh seal.(Ch 8)
A. The fifth vision.(Ch 8;1-5)
The angel through his actions introduces the next phase. Continuing the use of priestly imagery, the prayers of the just are considered by God as a factor within his judgement.
1. The first five trumpets.(Ch 8;6-Ch 9;12)
a. The first woe: Locusts
Joel describes an invasion by locusts as an illustration of impending divine judgement, not as something that will ruin crops, but as something that will punish all of those not marked by God. Five months is used in Genesis to describe the time the earth was covered by water before receding.
B. The sixth trumpet.(Ch 9;13-21)
1. The second woe:
The four angels are set free, each representing a kingdom for the mobilization of the kings of the east, which later kill a third of all men. Three plagues; fire, smoke and sulphur.
2. The angel with the book.(Ch 10-11;1-2)
A new phase is about to begin. Here is where God's mystery "my purpose, my strange purpose" is put into effect within the following judgements. The context of this revelation is paralelled in today's handling of classified information, namely long term revelations are on a need-to-know basis e.g. prophetic events are readily revealed, how every internal prophetic theme is tied together in the end times is only revealed in Revelations.
Measuring is part of what is revealed in Ezekiel. It also happens where Achaz measures the altar in Damascus and has it built in front of the temple. Both situations mirror the examples of both Moses and David where each of them is shown a small-scale model of what they are supposed to build.
3. John and the book.
4. The two witnesses.
The law requires the witness of two people in order to proceed with a trial. The images of candlesticks and olive trees are part of what is revealed in Zekariah about the priesthood under Zerubabel. Three and a half days is related to the figure of three and a half years to be revealed. It also mirrors the time that Jesus was entombed. This is supposed to represent how long it takes for the dead to reach Sheol. The reason they are not buried is a sacriledge, a curse, and an affront to the dead.
The plagues are to represent the ministries of Moses, Elijah and Elisha. The idea that these represent Moses and Elijah runs counter to what is written, in this case, it is given for a man to die but once and then the judgement.
The death of these two witnesses results in a brief respite being that they had the power to judge the earth. The brief period of peace is misleading, the judgement is about to resume. The practice of sending of gifts is between monarchs celebrating their apparent reversal of fortune, is represented in Josephus.
C. The seventh trumpet.(Ch 11;15)
This last phase marks the end of Judgement. From this point on, the images are of different prophetic themes throughout the Bible.
1. The woman and the dragon.(Ch 12)
The first example of this type of vision is revealed in Joseph's first dreams. The giving of birth comes from Isaiah. Birth pains are described within Kings and in prophecy where continued apostasy results in reigns and dynasties that are ever shorter until they are finally wiped out.
It needs to be stated that this is a non-chronological event. It only represents what God sees through the ages. As in the case of Joash, the son is taken and later rules.
Three and a half years is mentioned as the time Elijah was nowhere to be seen during the drought. 1,260 months is equal to three and a half years.
The dragon represents Satan and the beast that came from the sea. This due to Satan's expulsion from heaven. They represent those that oppose us before God and those that oppose us here on earth. The narrative comes from Job where for the believer there will come a day when the accuser will no longer be there.
2. Satan is cast from heaven.
Jesus' words in the gospel state that he saw Satan cast from heaven. The idea of a leader cast away with his followers comes from the law where Koreh recieves his punishment along with his followers. Here again is where from a prophetic point of view, events are presented in a timeless fashion.
a. There is a big difference between what we see and what God sees. For example, when God tells Moses to place himself within the cleft in the rock, its something that both God and Moses see, but is not visible from the plain. If you take this into account one realizes that what can be seen on the earth during the judgement is not that much, the imagery revealed actually represents God's vision and what he wants us to understand.
3. The voice from heaven.(Ch 12;10-12)
Once again a vision introduces a new phase in judgement. This time the perspective shown is that of believers that have suffered from their accuser.
4. The third woe.(Ch 12;12)
The dragon persues the woman that just gave birth. The wings of an eagle are mentioned in the law where Moses states that the hebrews were carried as by the wings of an eagle. In the psalms it also shows an image of one who takes refuge in the wings of the almighty.
a. Here again is the number of three years and a half. The dragon rages against the woman and her child, and having her out of his reach, he persecutes the rest of her decendents. According to what happened to Hannah, Joash, and Mary, a child is removed, and in the case of Hannah and Mary, they have more children.
B. The two beasts.(Ch 13)
1. One that arises from the sea.(Ch 13;1-10)
According to Daniel there is a beast, this time with seven heads and ten diadems, that is, six with one diadem and one with four. DT 7;1 establishes the number of hostile nations they will encounter as seven, and following the description from Gen 10, these hostile nations will surround Israel. The idea of a king/kingdom with four horns comes from Daniel where it describes the death of Alexander the Great causing the division of his empire into four parts.
A future ruler of Israel will desecrate the altar, according to the example set by Manassah. Whereas a pagan prince desecrated the altar in the second century BC, there was no desolation. The desecration by Manassah resulted in Jerusalem being desolated by God. As mentioned before, the second precedent is that of the two sons of Eli which results in the destruction of Shiloh. The example given for a king that struggles for three years, takes captives and curses God is found in the text relating to Sennacherib.
2. One that comes from the earth.(Ch 13;11-18)
The idea of temporal and spiritual power appears after the exile. Competing descriptions of the messiah gave most scholars the idea that there would be two messiahs, an idea that persisted even in the case of the Essenes.
During the middle ages there was a struggle between the papacy and secular rulers. Any ruler that would oppose the pope could find himself excommunicated, making him a target of church-sanctioned asassination, through the use of a papal dispensation. The only monarch that was able to find a solution to this problem was Henry VIII who declared himself the head of the church of england.
Being in good standing with the pope made it possible to have the power of the church in imposing his authority as in the Spanish Inquisition. Here is the example of a disguised beast backing up another beast.
Consumers don't sell, merchants do. These same merchants will lament the fall of babylon. The precedent for not being able to by without the mark comes from history. European empires such as England, Spain, and France forbade trade with anyone except with their respective home country, the idea being that the colonies were only to provide resources and that all consumers were forced to buy consumer products only from their home country. This is also seen in revelations' description of what will happen in this empire.
Having a mark on the forehead and on one hand is based on the law where it states that they were to have the word on their forehead and their hand, a practice where a small portion of encased scripture is attached to both areas, the meaning that the word of God is to be present in mind and in action. The mark on the hand and forehead denotes authority over the individual.
The holy grail of prophecy, 666;
Three sixes, God states an item three times to emphasize the importance of a message. Seven nations x the number of man(6) = forty two months of tribulation.
C. The sixth vision.
As in the case of each phase, these are all preceded by a vision.
1. The song of the 144,000.
The second multitude.
Here the example is taken from the celebration after the red sea was crossed. The song is based on what they experienced and witnessed. In other words, a testimony. An example is also cited, the two sons of Eli, who contaminated themselves with the women that kept watch at the entrance to the sanctuary at Shiloh. The illustration also confirms the role of the believer as a member of a royal priesthood. The destruction of Shiloh would come later, being mentioned in prophecy. The destruction of Shiloh is yet another example of an abomination that causes desolation. The firstfruits of the wheat harvest, as in other crops, being that they represent the best of the harvest and also that they supply the largest demand of the season, they are sold at the highest price. You can see this also when a given product is introduced into the market, the price is high, yet with time the commodity's price will gradually decrease. The figure also is represented as those that are at Mt Zion that are about to cross the Jordan. They are the firstfruits, the rest of the harvest comes from the nations to be subjected. This multitude is not described as coming from the tribulation
a. The firstfruits are a joyful occasion. In the book of Ruth, the end of the harvest is 24/7 affair, they have to reap, thresh, winnow, and store the grain before the coming of winter. They also have to be ready for the harvesting of other crops as their given times approach.
b. The second harvest is anything but joyful. This example is that of the grape harvest, where blood-like stains are common. This why the figure appears within prophecy as sinonymous with judgement. The figure appears where the Lord appears stained, coming from Edom.
2. The mount of Zion.(Ch 14;1)
According to DT 3 & 4, this is MT Hermon, part of already captured territory. Before they can cross the river the law must be established before they can enter into the next phase. In other words, The kingdom is established, first with the firstfruits and then over the nations subjected under the new empire.
D. The message of the three angels.(Ch 14;6)
The proclamation is not chronological, it only represents prophetic themes through the ages that will be dealt with.
1. The next phase is announced.(Ch 14;6-7)
2. The fall of Babylon is announced where, as in CH 17 is represented by a woman drunk with the blood of martyrs.(Ch 14;8)
3. Judgement against the followers of the beast. The adoration of a figure that represents a monarch is first shown in Daniel(Ch 14;9-11). The idea being that Nebuchadnezzar wanted to perpetuate his dynasty as the only one throughout history.
E. The earth is harvested.(Ch 14;14-20)
1. The first harvest is based on the last revival by Josiah, which was witnessed by a child by the name of Jeremiah. This is where the idea of a last revival and subsequent apostacy before the judgement is established. The words of Jesus also help to illustrate the harvest when he mentioned angels that separate, reap, thresh, winnow, and store the wheat before burning the stubble.
2. The second harvest described is that of grapes where these are cut from the vine and then trampled. The mention of these grapes being trampled outside the city is a question of trampling the grapes as close to the harvest as possible, the trampling and blood being synonomous with judgement. Having the blood reach the bridles of the horses for a distance of 1,600 stadia is reportedly that of the size of Israel. As the text refers to horses, these are associated with those horses mentioned in the judgement.
F. The last seven plagues.(Ch 15)
a. The seventh vision.
The third multitude.Once again there is a multitude, this time the group is described as having achieved victory over the beast and his image. As in the case of Daniel, they were cast into the fire but are saved.
The cups of wrath. Within Jeremiah the cup of wrath to be consumed by the nations is first described. It is part of the description of the two cities and the nations that are drunk with the blood of martyrs. Included within prophecy is the mixing of drinks, that is, as in the case of the crucifiction, wine is mixed with other ingredients.
a. The sixth angel.
The sixth cup dries the Euphrates river making it possible for the kings of the east to advance westward toward Israel. As in the case of the three plagues, out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet come three unclean spirits.
5. The great harlot
Following the narrative in Jeremiah, not only the nations but the great whore is drunk with the blood of martyrs. Here it is made clear that the great whore is a city and that once again the beast appears with seven heads and ten heads/diadems/horns. The first appearance of a beast is in Daniel. If you take into account that the ruler of Jerusalem is suported by the populace, as in the case of Manassah, Jerusalem becomes the whore. The great harlot is despised by the 7 nations and is later sacked by the armies.
6. The fall of Babylon.
The idea of a city being represented as a woman is well established within prophecy. In this case there are details the distinguishes it from the other city mentioned. This city is the capitol of an empire with four kingdoms that are subjected to it, the description of many delicacies and products is that of many regions of an empire. The lamentation by the merchants is because not only do they not have access to the products, the entire economic system based on international trade collapses. One more key detail is that an army is not mentioned as the cause of its sudden destruction.
IV. The eighth vision.
With the end of judgements against the nations and all human institutions, the triumph is celebrated and the next phase is introduced.
1. Praises in heaven.
2. The feast of the wedding of the lamb.
3. The rider on the white horse.
The army that has climbed from Armageddon has sacked Jerusalem. This helps to explain the narrative in Ezekiel that states that judgement strikes the army in the mountains of Israel. As in the case of the Assyrians that attacked Hezekiah, the entire army perishes but the ruler escapes, only to die when he returns home. In this case, the beast and the false prophet are cast into the lake of fire before the army ascends to Jerusalem. The example of nations that fight for spoils is taken from the invasion of Moab by Israel, Judah and Edom, the 2 beasts are the ones that cause the nations to assemble at Armaggedon.
Armageddon is a meeting place for armies to approach from both north and south. The image of armies that approach from the north is a military concept, that of the established invasion route. Examples of this are those of the low countries during world war I & II, the eastern coast of Korea, and the Fulda gap during the cold war. An invasion route is terrain that allows an enemy to quickly send an army to where they can easily invade territory. In scripture, Egypt approaches from the south, the traditional enemies from mesopotamia approach following the fertile crescent eastward and then southward to Israel. The concept also applies to Jerusalem because the northern wall lies on level ground, making it possible for ancient armies to breach the walls with war machines.
Gog and Magog
The narrative in Ezekiel fits both before and after the 1,000 year reign. The application before the 1,000 year reign explains the chronology of the nations that gather at Armageddon. The narrative of Gog and Magog after the 1,000 year reign is textually established. The greater part of Ezekiel just doesn't fit into a post 1,000 year scenario. So, you have a situation that is fulfilled both before and after the 1,000 year reign.
V. The thousand year reign.
1. Satan is imprisoned for one thousand years. The example of the use of chains is used in the case of Nabuchadnezzar.
a. The use of thrones for judging cases appears in the rebellion of Absalom where he gains the support of the people by promising to bring justice to those who approach the throne of David. The law establishes the practice of appointing judges among the people, leaving the difficult cases to be sent to those judges above them.
Keep in mind that the number of thrones is not mentioned, excluding the angels and the apostles as being those that are sitting on the thrones. What makes possible the idea of princes that judge is found in the words of Jesus where he states that we shall rule with him. These words confirm the role of the priest as those that teach the people and judge cases of leprosy, further establishing, with the words of paul, the role of believers as a priesthood.
VI. The final judgement.
1. Satan is set free.
2. Satan gathers the nations to attack the camp and city of God.
3. Once again the entire army is destroyed, leaving Satan to be cast into the lake of fire.
4. The judgement before the great white throne.
The personification of regions is based on Genesis where many of the early descendents of Noah are the first inhabitants of many areas which in turn adopted the name of their ancestor. In the case of Hades and Death, Hades is the prince over the place of the dead, Death is the angel of death.
VII. New heaven and earth.
1. The new Jerusalem.
Once again The practice of measuring, that is, anticipating something to be revealed happens. As in the case of Ezekiel, a river is described.
2. Last words.