The Full Text of The “Revelation Revealed” DVD
By Dr. David Reagan, www.lamblion.com
Greetings in the name of Jesus, our blessed hope! I’m Dave Reagan, Senior Evangelist for Lamb & Lion Ministries and I want to welcome you to this visual overview of the amazing book of Revelation.
When studying the book of revelation, most people seem to get bogged down in the details. Tragically, they often focus on the antichrist rather than Jesus Christ. In the process they miss the big picture and the fundamental message. So, let’s go for the big picture, and let’s seek the central Biblical message. Let’s engage in a sweeping overview of the book, chapter by chapter.
As we begin with chapter 1, let’s consider the name of the book. It is not the “Book of Revelations” (plural). There are many revelations in it, but that’s not its name. If you have a copy of the Authorized King James Version, you will note that the title is stated as “The Revelation of John.” Well that title is also incorrect. The proper title is the one contained in modern translations: “The Revelation to John.” It is not John’s revelation. It is the revelation or unveiling of Jesus Christ that was given to John by God the Father through Jesus.
John refers to it in chapter one, verse nine as “The testimony of Jesus.” Now, who was this John? He does not clearly identify himself, but the testimony of all the early church fathers is that this was the Apostle John. All he says about himself is that he is a “brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus.”
It is interesting that John says he was a prisoner on the Island of Patmos. His imprisonment there is one of the clues to the dating of the book around 95 A.D. because that was when the Roman Empire turned against the church. This happened because the empire declared Caesar to be God, and every person in the empire was required once a year to go before a Roman magistrate and declare, “Caesar is Lord!” Well, no Christian could do that, and therefore Christians were considered enemies of the empire. The result is that they became the target of terrible persecution.
John tells us something very important in verse 10 here. He states that he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” Now folks, I don’t think John is referring to Sunday here. I think he is referring to what the Hebrew prophets called “the Day of the Lord,” which was a term for the end times. So, I believe John is telling us that “in the spirit” he was catapulted forward to “the Day of the Lord,” to the end times and given a preview of what will happen when the church age comes to a close.
John was about 95 years old when this book was written. He was the only apostle left alive. The thing that you need to keep in mind is that by the time that this book was written, the persecution of Christians had become so terrible that it is evident from the book of Revelation that many were wondering if the church would really continue to exist. They were beginning to have second thoughts, wondering if Jesus really was who He said He was, wondering if Jesus really cared for them, wondering if He really meant it when He said, “Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
The church needed encouragement, and that’s really one of the main purposes of the book. It is designed to give encouragement and comfort to those who are suffering terribly. For that reason, the book of Revelation has always been a book that has given tremendous comfort to anyone going through persecution or suffering, whether it be individual, family or national in nature.
The book begins, therefore, with a tremendous vision of Jesus Christ, the Glorified One. He is victorious over death, and the heavenly glory which He surrendered when He came to Earth has been restored. John sees Jesus resurrected and glorified. Keep in mind that this is 65 years after the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. Jesus has returned to give the church a second touch, a touch of encouragement. He has returned to say, “Yes, I care. Yes, I love you. I know what’s going on. I’m walking among you.”
John proceeds to describe Jesus in His glorified form. He sees Jesus dressed as a priest because that’s what Jesus is now. He is our High Priest before the throne of God, our mediator before God. John sees Jesus with white hair, which indicates His purity and wisdom. His eyes, feet, and voice are all presented as symbols of judgment because all judgment has been given to Him by the Father. He has stars in His right hand which are “the angels” or messengers of the churches, showing that He cares for those churches and their pastors.
He’s walking among seven golden candlesticks, which we’re told in verse 20 represent churches. They represent all of the churches, and through this image, the Lord is trying to give to John and the church the message that He is walking among them, that He cares about them, and that He loves them. He is not some distant and impersonal God who is aloof and uncaring.
John is so overcome by this glorious vision of his resurrected and glorified Lord that he falls at Jesus’ feet as if dead. Jesus responds with one of the most comforting statements in all the Word of God: “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, I am the living one; I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” Jesus is saying, “I am the beginning of history, the end of history, and the meaning of history. I am in control of history. And I have power over life and death.” Again, Jesus’ appearance and words are intended to reassure a church that’s under severe persecution. The hearts of First Century Christians, including John’s, must have been greatly encouraged, even as Christians today are encouraged by these words.
As we move to chapters 2 and 3, the focus shifts from Jesus the glorified one to Jesus the overcomer who is encouraging His church to persevere and overcome with Him. Chapters 2 and 3 present us with seven letters written by Jesus to seven churches. These are very interesting letters because, first of all, they are letters to seven real churches located in the area we know today as Turkey. But these churches were selected for a reason, and that’s because they are representative of all churches existing at that time and today. Let’s just look at the types of churches that are represented in the seven letters.
The first church addressed is Ephesus, which was a legalistic church. It was a church that dotted the “i’s” and crossed the “t’s” but it had lost its love. In verse 8 we are introduced to the church of Smyrna, which is representative of persecuted churches. In verse 12 we have the church of Pergamum, which is the liberal church. It’s the church that doesn’t care anything about doctrine. It’s the opposite of Ephesus. It embraces anyone. Then in verse 18 we have the church of Thyatira, which is the pagan church, the church that is full of cultic practices.
Chapter 3 begins with the church of Sardis, which is representative of dead churches. It has a reputation of being alive, but in reality it is dead. The next church mentioned, the church of Philadelphia, is the church that we would all like to be a member of because it is the alive church for which Jesus has no criticism whatsoever. And then, finally we have in verse 14 the church of Laodicea. In many respects it is the most pathetic of all the churches because it’s the worldly and apathetic church. The church that is neither hot nor cold because it could just simply care less.
Now, as I said, these seven churches are representatives of every kind of church that exists today. You will find your church in one of these seven or in a combination of them. I think they are also representative of seven different kinds of Christians. So I want to ask you something, are you a legalistic Christian? A persecuted Christian? Liberal? Worldly? Are you dead? Are you alive? Are you apathetic?
I believe these seven churches are also representative of seven periods of church history. All seven types of churches have always existed, and exist today, but one type has dominated each period of church history. The church at Ephesus is representative of the apostolic period from 30 A.D. to 95 A.D., when the church was concerned about organization and doctrine to the point that it became legalistic.
The church at Smyrna represents the persecuted church or the martyr church that existed from 95 A.D. to about 312. It’s the church that existed at the time that the Book of Revelation was written. Then we have the liberal church of Pergamum representing the apostate church that existed from 312 A.D. to 590. This period developed after the emperor Constantine was converted and the church and the state were wedded together. As is always the case in such unions, the state began to corrupt the church. The church at Thyatira represents the dark, pagan period from 590 A.D. to 1517 when the papacy developed and the church became full of Babylonian cultic practices. When we come to the Reformation in 1517, we think of it as a time of life. But you know it was really only partially so. The Reformation produced the Protestant State Churches of Europe. Churches that had a reputation for being alive but were really dead because of their union with the state. So, the church of Sardis, the dead church, with the reputation for being alive, represents the post-reformation period from 1517 to about 1750.
The opposite of Sardis is the church at Philadelphia, the alive church. It represents the period of church history from about 1750, when the church began to send missionaries out all over the world, until about 1925, when the German school of higher criticism invaded seminaries worldwide and destroyed many people’s faith in the Word of God. The church of today is represented by the church of Laodicea, a church that says to the world, “I am rich, I have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” But Jesus says to that church, “you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” It is a worldly, apathetic, apostate church that will not even let Jesus in the front door.
You know, the best summary of these letters I have ever encountered is the one penned by John Stott in his book, Basic Christianity. He sees the message of Jesus as threefold in nature. To a sinful church, He is saying, “I know of your sin, repent!” To a doubtful church, He is saying, “I know of your doubt, believe!” To a fearful church, He is saying, “I know of your fear, endure.” Repent, believe, and endure. That’s a very relevant message for the church today.
One final thing about these letters, please note that each of these seven letters end with promises to overcomers. I would exhort you to go through and make a list of them. And you know what? You will find a total of 13 promises. Look, for example, at Revelation chapter 2 verse 26. It says, “He who overcomes, and he who keeps my deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron.” That’s just one of the 13 promises. This promise is that the redeemed will rule over the nations of earth. That, of course, is speaking about the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. There are twelve other marvelous promises, and all of them are made to “overcomers.” Are you an overcomer? Are you an heir of these thirteen wonderful promises? An overcomer is defined in 1 John 5:5 as “He who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” Such a one, John says, “overcomes the world.”
With chapter 4 the focus shifts from the church to God the Almighty One. A door opens in the heavens and John is suddenly transported “in the spirit” from earth to heaven where he is ushered into the throne room of God. I believe John’s “catching up” to heaven is a symbolic type of the rapture of the church. Notice verse 1: “After these things, I looked and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.'” A door opens in heaven, and John is taken up to heaven from earth. That door opens again in Revelation 19:11 and through it comes Jesus on a white horse returning to earth and behind Him comes His bride, the Church.
The clear implication is that the church will be in heaven with Jesus during the Tribulation. In this regard, I think it is significant that the church, which is the focus of chapters 2 and 3, is not mentioned again by name in the book until Revelation 22:16. There is mention of “Saints,” but I believe these are the people who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior during the Tribulation.
The blessing John was given of seeing the throne room of God is a very special one that few other people have enjoyed. In fact, only five other persons are reported in the scriptures as having seen God’s throne. They are the oral prophet Micah; the Major Prophets, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; and of course the Apostle Paul. What John saw was similar to the reports given by these other men.
He sees blazing light emanating from the throne. There is a rainbow encircling the throne, testifying to the faithfulness of God in keeping His promises. He sees seven lamps of fire before the throne which he says represents the seven-fold nature of the Holy Spirit. He also sees 24 mysterious “elders” kneeling before the throne, clothed in white garments. They have golden crowns which they are presenting to the Lord. They could very well be representatives of the redeemed, 12 representing the Old Testament saints, perhaps the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 representing New Testament saints, perhaps the 12 apostles. He also sees “four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.” Each has a different face, one is a like a lion, another like a calf, the third like a man, the fourth like an eagle.
These are probably the Seraphim which Isaiah saw in his vision of the heavenly throne room. These appear to be representative of God’s creation, and their role appears to be guardians of the throne and they appear to be worship leaders. Everyone John sees around God’s throne appears to be caught up in worshiping the Father. They are singing praises to God. Consider the song recorded in verse 8: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and is and who is to come.” Notice the three attributes of God that are emphasized in this song — His holiness, His power, and His eternal nature. The purpose is to encourage the church during any time it is caught up in suffering and persecution. It is intended to remind the church that God is on His throne, still hears prayers, still answers prayers, and that He still performs miracles. In short, God is in control, and He has the wisdom and the power to orchestrate all the evil of man and Satan to the triumph of Jesus Christ. What a comforting thought.
As chapter 5 opens, the focus shifts back to Jesus. He appears as the Worthy Lamb. In the midst of the glorious scene of worship, which John describes in chapter 4, he suddenly notices a little scroll in the right hand of God, a scroll that is sealed with seven seals.
A mighty angel asks, “Who is worthy to open it?” John is very concerned about that scroll because he knows what it is. It is the title deed of the earth. That title deed is very important because this earth was created for man. God gave man dominion over it. But mankind lost that dominion to Satan when Adam and Eve sinned against God. One of the reasons Jesus died on the cross was to restore the earth to the children of God.
That’s what He meant in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “the meek shall inherit the earth.” He was quoting a promise made in the Old Testament in Psalm 37. Jesus paid the price on the cross to redeem this promise. It will be fulfilled when He returns. So John is concerned about the earth’s title deed, especially because no one in heaven seems worthy to open the scroll. But he is suddenly told that his concern is unfounded because there is one who is worthy.
“He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” John turns to look at the Lion, and what does he see? A little bloody Lamb! Of course what he sees is Jesus Christ who is both the Lamb and the Lion. He came the first time as the Lamb to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. He is going to return as the Lion of Judah to pour out the wrath of God upon those who have rejected the grace, mercy and love of God. When Jesus steps up to the throne and He takes the scroll, all of heaven breaks forth in a mighty song: “Worthy are You to take the book, and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
Notice the promise that the redeemed “will reign upon the earth.” Those who deny a future reign of Jesus try to argue that he is reigning now through His saints, and the Church. But if that is true, then He is doing a very poor job, because all the nations of the world are in revolt against Him, and the Church is caught up in apostasy. Furthermore, the word says that when Jesus reigns, “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea,” and no such condition exists today.
The heavenly host is clearly singing about a time yet future when the redeemed will reign with Jesus upon the earth. Again, this is the reiteration of an Old Testament promise found in Daniel 7. In that chapter Daniel tells us that he saw a night vision in which the Son of Man was presented to God the Father and was given dominion over “all the peoples, nations, and men of every language.” He then adds that “the saints of the highest one will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever.”
Chapter 6 begins with the Lamb opening the first seal of the little scroll. This action launches the first series of judgments from God’s throne, the seal judgments. And from this point to chapter 19, the book is dedicated to describing a seven-year period of time called the Tribulation. Throughout these 13 chapters, Jesus is the wrathful one, pouring out the wrath of God on those who have rejected God’s love, grace and mercy.
As chapter 6 opens, the Tribulation period begins, and we get a foretaste of what it’s going to be like, a period of absolutely unparalleled horror. Four horsemen go forth. The one on the white horse is the antichrist who appears as an imitator of Jesus who will return at the end of the Tribulation, also riding on a white horse. The antichrist goes forth to conquer the world. The other three horses represent war, famine, death. One-fourth of the earth dies in this initial pouring out of the seal judgments. That’s one and a half billion people in today’s terms. Many of those who die are those who are converted to Jesus during this Tribulation period. They are martyred for Jesus Christ, and these spirits are portrayed as being in heaven under an altar crying out to God, “How long O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
With the opening of the sixth seal, we come across our first flash-forward to the end of the Tribulation. It’s as if God is answering these martyrs by assuring them that He is going to pour out His wrath and that the evil people of this earth will ultimately be destroyed. And so we get a flash-forward to the end of the Tribulation, and we begin to see how terrible that day of the Lord will be when Jesus returns. The stars fall from the sky; the sky is split apart like a scroll; and the greatest earthquake in all of history occurs. The political leaders of the earth crawl into caves and cry out for the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them because the wrath of the Lamb of God is so terribly great.
Chapter 6 ends with a question: “Who is able to stand” before the wrath of the Lamb? Chapter 7 begins by answering that question. Before we get to the answer, let me note that chapter 7 is the first of several parenthetical passages. These are passages that interrupt the action in order to insert a word of encouragement to the reader.
Chapter 7 assures the reader that there are two groups, a group of Jews and a group of Gentiles, who will be able to endure the wrath of the Lamb. The first is a group of 144,000 born again Jewish servants who are sealed of God. They are probably going to be converted at the very beginning of the Tribulation by the Lord’s supernatural destruction of the Russian army upon the hills of Israel – an event that is described in Ezekiel 38 and 39. It says here in verse 3 that they will be “bond-servants” of God. I think that means they will go forth as messengers of God and will preach the entire period of the Tribulation as God’s missionaries to the world.
You see, the purpose of the Tribulation is not primarily punishment. The purpose is to bring people to repentance. According to 2 Peter 3:9, God does not wish that any should perish, but that all should be brought to repentance. There is going to be a great harvest of souls during the Tribulation.
Some people will undoubtedly come to the Lord in response to the rapture. Others will repent and accept the Lord in response to the terror of the Tribulation judgments. Others will be brought to the Lord by the preaching of the 144,000. Others will respond to the message of two special witnesses of God that we will read about in chapter 11.
And finally in chapter 14 we are told there’s going to be an angel who will be sent out to preach the Gospel at the end of the Tribulation to every creature on the face of the earth. Most men will reject the Gospel, but many will be saved, and most of those will be martyred. So the second group we see in chapter 7, beginning with verse 9, is a great host of people from every nation, all tribes, all people, all tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes. John asks who they are, and he is told in verse 14, “These are the ones who come out of the great Tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” I believe these are the ones who are converted by the preaching of the 144,000. They are murdered by the antichrist and by his agents.
As we come to chapter 8 we’re still in the first half of the Tribulation, and God’s judgments resume. It says there is silence in heaven for half an hour. It’s as if all of heaven is holding its breath before the pouring out of another series of terrible judgments. In chapter 8 verse 7, the new series of judgments, the trumpet judgments, begin to fall very quickly. They begin with hail and fire mixed with blood being thrown down to the earth. Incredibly, one-third of the earth is burned up and one-third of the earth’s waters are polluted.
Until recently, most commentators interpreted these trumpet judgments to be supernatural acts of God. And you know they could be right. However, when God pours out His wrath, He often does so by relaxing His restraints on human behavior, unleashing people to destroy themselves. This process is clearly outlined in Romans chapter 1, where we are told that when a society rebels against God and refuses to repent, the Lord will step back, lower His hedge of protection, and allow evil to take its course.
I believe God’s restraining hand is the only reason nuclear weapons have not been used since World War II. And speaking of nuclear weapons, I think it is significant that we are the only generation that has ever lived that has the capacity to bring upon ourselves the enormous destruction described in Revelation. This is due to the development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The power of these weapons is absolutely breathtaking. For example, one nuclear submarine today carries more firepower than all the bombs dropped during World War II. I believe chapter 8 is a first century man’s description of a nuclear holocaust.
Verse 12 says that one-third of the light of the sun, moon and stars is blocked out. And you know, that is exactly what would happen in a nuclear holocaust because so much debris would be sucked up into the atmosphere by the explosions. The dense cloud that would be produced would cause temperatures to plummet below freezing all over the world, causing many people to freeze to death. And that same cloud would be carrying nuclear radiation, which is probably the reason we are told in Revelation 16:2 that by the end of the Tribulation, people’s bodies will be covered with sores that will not heal. In short, after the nuclear holocaust described in chapter 8, the living will envy the dead. Jesus Himself may have been referring to the age of nuclear weapons when He declared that one of the characteristics of the end times would be “men fainting from fear over the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
The trumpet judgments continue in chapter 9 with a plague of demonic locusts. They inflict a sting that causes people to suffer so terribly that they long for death, but they cannot die. Their torment continues for five months. The locusts are empowered to inflict their suffering upon all people except the 144,000 Jews who have been sealed by God.
When the sixth trumpet is blown, an army of 200 million is let loose. This terrible scourge proceeds to kill one-third of those left alive after the seal judgments. Combined with the one-fourth of humanity that died in the war of the seal judgments, this means that one-half of the world’s population will be killed in the first half of the Tribulation. Folks, that’s three billion people in today’s terms! I believe this army of 200 million is the same as the one mentioned in the book of Daniel where it states that an army will march against the antichrist from the east. Daniel says that when the antichrist hears of this army, the news will greatly disturb him, and he will retreat to a place “between the seas” where he will prepare to confront the army.
That place, between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea would be, of course, the Valley of Jezreel, or the “Valley of Armageddon,” as it is called in Revelation 16:16. I believe this passage in Daniel indicates that the nations of Asia will revolt against the antichrist. As they march across Asia, they’re going to slaughter one-third of humanity. And when they reach the Euphrates River at the end of the Tribulation, it will be dried up to allow them to cross into the Valley of Armageddon where they will attack the armies of the antichrist. That’s when the Lord will return.
Chapter 9 ends on a very sad note. We are told that despite the unparalleled carnage of
the trumpet judgments, “the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of their works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.” At this point in the Tribulation, it’s as if man is shaking his fist at God. As Billy Graham has often said, “The same sun that melts the butter hardens the clay.” The Gospel sometimes melts hearts and sometimes hardens hearts depending upon whether or not the person is willing to receive the message. The same is true of the judgments of God.
As we arrive at chapter 10 the chronological action stops once again. This is what I call “the rhythm” of the book of Revelation. The action builds, the terror mounts, it gets worse and worse and worse, and then, all of a sudden, it comes to a screaming halt, and a parenthetical passage is inserted to assure us that everything is going to work out all right. After all, by the time you get to the end of chapter 9 the world situation looks pretty grim.
So, chapter 10 is a parenthesis that presents another flash-forward so that the reader can be assured that everything is going to turn out okay in the end. John suddenly sees a very unusual angel. What the Bible calls a “strong angel.” The angel is clothed with a cloud, he has a rainbow upon his head, his face is like the sun, and his feet are like pillars of fire. I don’t think there’s much doubt about who this is. This mighty angel is Jesus.
The point is not that Jesus is an angel, because we know from the Bible that He is God in the flesh. He is therefore greater than all the angels, and that’s the reason we are told in Hebrews 1 that the angels worship Him. He’s existed forever, whereas the angels were created.
The imagery here is based upon the Old Testament passages that present Jesus in His pre-incarnate state as “the angel of the Lord,” which is a term of endearment. We know this is Jesus because He is clothed with a cloud, which is a representation of the Shekinah glory of God. Further, He has a rainbow upon His head, and we saw in chapter 4 that’s the symbol of faithfulness that crowns the throne of God. His face is like the sun. That’s right out of the description of Jesus in chapter 1, as is the reference to His feet being like pillars of fire.
The clue that clinches the angel’s identity is in verse 2 where we are told that He has a little scroll in His right hand, which He holds up as He claims possession of the earth. In chapter 5 we learned that Jesus was the only one in all the universe who was qualified to take that scroll from the hand of God the Father. What we have here is another flash-forward to the end of the Tribulation to assure us that everything is going to turn out all right. Jesus is going to return in triumph to claim the earth for the children of God.
In chapter 11 the Tribulation action resumes in the city of Jerusalem. In verse 3 we are introduced to two witnesses of God who are referred to symbolically as olive trees and lamp stands because they proclaim the light of God’s word in the power of God’s spirit.
No one knows for sure who these men are, but based upon the miracles they perform, they could be Elijah and Moses. But, I think it is more likely that they will be Elijah and Enoch. I say that because they are the only two men that were raptured to heaven and thus did not experience death. And further, they are representatives of all of mankind, because Elijah prophesied to the Jews whereas Enoch was a prophet to the Gentiles. Whoever they may be, they will preach the word with great power during the first half of the Tribulation.
And then, in the middle of the Tribulation when the antichrist reveals himself, he will kill these two great witnesses, and their bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for three and a half days as the whole earth rejoices. Think of it, the earth will be so evil that people will rejoice over the death of these two righteous men. But after three and a half days, they will suddenly be resurrected and caught up to heaven before the eyes of all mankind as the world watches on television. At that point, God shakes Jerusalem with a terrible earthquake in retribution, and some of the inhabitants are so terrified that they turn their hearts to God.
We come now to chapter 12, one of the most crucial chapters in the book because it explains what Revelation is all about. The first six verses of chapter 12 constitute another one of those parenthetical passages. But unlike the previous ones we have run across, this one is a flashback rather than a flash-forward. It is designed to help us better understand what the Tribulation is all about.
What the chapter in effect says is that the Tribulation is the consummation of a cosmic battle between God and Satan that has been going on in the supernatural world since the revolt of man in the Garden of Eden. It reminds us that Satan tried to stop the first coming of the Messiah, just as he is now trying to prevent His second coming.
The chapter is full of symbols. Let’s take a look at them. The first symbol in chapter 12 is “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars over her head.” Now many different interpretations have been given of this imagery. Some commentators claim that this woman represents the Church. Catholics claim she is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Here is a classic example of why it is important to let the Bible interpret itself, wherever that is possible.
The point is that this imagery comes right out of Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37, where the sun stood for Jacob, the moon for Rachel, and the stars for Joseph’s brothers. So, we can conclude that this woman represents the nation of Israel, the descendants of Jacob. The woman is pregnant and is about to give birth. This refers to Israel providing the messiah to the world. In verse 3 “a great red dragon” which is Satan, tries to devour “a male child” when he is born, which is, of course, exactly what Satan tried to do when he motivated king Herod to send his army to Bethlehem to kill all the babies at the time of Jesus’ birth. But the male child, Jesus, is “caught up to God and to His throne,” a reference to the ascension of Jesus. And then the passage says He is in heaven waiting “to rule over all the nations with a rod of iron.” These verses remind us that there is a great cosmic battle going on over the dominion of planet earth.
You see, God originally gave that dominion to man, but it was stolen by Satan when Adam and Eve gave in to his temptation and rebelled against God. Consequently, Satan is now “the ruler of this world,” and “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” But one of the reasons Jesus died on the cross was to make it possible for man to reassert his rightful dominion over the earth. This is one of the many delayed benefits of the cross (our glorified bodies being another one). Jesus will reclaim dominion over the earth when He returns at the end of the Tribulation.
In verse 7 of chapter 12 the action resumes once again. We are in the middle of the Tribulation, and Satan tries one last time to take the throne of God. The result is a war in heaven. The archangel Michael and the angels under his command fight against Satan and his demonic angels. Satan loses the battle and is cast down to earth. His access to heaven is cut off. Verse 12 tells us something absolutely remarkable. It says that Satan realizes at this point that his time is short. Folks, that means Satan knows Bible prophecy! But despite his knowledge, he continues to struggle because he has deceived himself into believing that he can obstruct God’s plans and emerge victorious.
At this point it appears that Satan actually possesses the Antichrist, even as he possessed Judas. We are told in Revelation 13:2 that Satan gives the Antichrist “his power, his throne and great authority.” Daniel also says that the Antichrist’s power will be mighty, “but not by his own power.” The first thing that Satan does is to motivate the Antichrist to launch a great persecution of “the woman who gave birth to the male child.” In other words, he picks up where Hitler left off with a maniacal campaign to destroy the Jewish people. According to Daniel, the Antichrist will launch this holocaust by marching into the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and stopping the sacrifices. He will set up an “abomination of desolation,” probably a statue of himself. And he will blaspheme God and declare himself to be God.
The Jews, of course, will be horrified by these actions, and they will revolt. This will prompt the Antichrist to launch an all-out attack on the Jews worldwide. His purpose will be to annihilate every last one of them so that God cannot keep His promise to save a great remnant at the end of the Tribulation. Keep in mind that Satan hates the Jews with a passion. He hates them because they gave the world the Bible and the Messiah. He also hates them because they are God’s chosen people — chosen to be a witness of what it means to have a relationship with God. Another reason he hates them is because God has promised to save a great remnant of the Jews at the end of the Tribulation, and Satan does not want to see God fulfill that promise.
The Antichrist’s extermination campaign in the middle of the Tribulation prompts many Jews to flee “into the wilderness” to a special place where they will be protected and nourished by God for “a time and times and half a time” — a Jewish colloquialism for three and a half years.
Daniel indicates the location of the wilderness safe place where the Jews will flee. He states that the Antichrist will conquer all the Middle East except Edom, Moab, and Ammon. These areas are all included in modern day Jordan. The wilderness hideaway in Jordan is likely to be the remarkable box-canyon city of Petra. It is a city whose buildings are carved out of the walls of the surrounding canyon. In its heyday, about 400 years before Christ, it contained a population of tens of thousands.
Chapter 12 concludes by telling us that Satan is so enraged by God’s protection of the Jewish remnant that he decides to “make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” — a reference to Messianic Jews in other parts of the world.
Chapter 13 tells us how Satan will go about persecuting believers — both Jews and Christians. His agent is the Antichrist who is introduced to us as “a beast” who “comes up out of the sea.” Now that latter phrase is a symbolic reference to the Gentile nations, indicating the Antichrist will be a Gentile. Daniel also infers the Antichrist will be a Gentile when he says that he will come from the people who will destroy the temple. And the temple was destroyed by the Romans, so the Antichrist must be a person of Roman descent.
The beast is empowered by Satan, and he immediately begins to blaspheme God, just as Daniel prophesies that he will. Satan also gives him his authority. The beast proceeds to use his power and authority to “make war with the Saints.” In the process, dominion is granted to him “over every tribe and every people and every tongue and nation.” In other words, he becomes history’s first true worldwide dictator. He very quickly accomplishes something that Alexander the Great, Napoleon and Hitler dreamed of and died trying to achieve. Even more important, from Satan’s viewpoint, the Antichrist becomes the object of worldwide worship. At this point we are introduced to another “beast” who rises up “out of the earth” [literally, “the Land”].
Just as the sea is a prophetic symbol for the Gentile nations, the land is a symbol of Israel. Thus, the implication here is that this beast will be a Jew. This beast is later referred to as “the false prophet.” This nefarious character serves as the Antichrist’s right-hand man. He exercises the authority of the Antichrist in carrying out both political and religious duties. Spiritually, the false prophet serves as the head of a one-world religion, seeing to it that everyone worships the Antichrist. He will dazzle and deceive people with great signs, including giving life to a statue of the Antichrist. His demonic religious system will consist of people drawn from all the world’s religions. The false prophet will argue in the name of tolerance that there are many roads to God — that God has revealed Himself in religions like Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Animism, and the New Age movement, to name only a few. He will tell people they can pray to whatever God they please as long as they accept the Antichrist as the messiah of their God.
Politically, the false prophet is the one responsible for administering the Antichrist’s enforcement system. It is based on the requirement for all of mankind to take the name or the number of the beast, which is “666.” And no one can buy and no one can sell without the mark or the name of the beast on the right hand or on their forehead. And since no faithful Christian or observant Jew will take this mark, at this point all Christians and Jews will become outlaws. They will have to hide out in the countryside and live off the land. They will be hunted down like animals, and most of them will be killed — not all, but most. It will be a horrible period of unparalleled persecution of believers in the true God.
As we move into the second half of the Tribulation, the earth is cursed with the presence of a satanic trinity. The false god is Satan who has been cast down to earth and cut off from heaven. The false messiah is the Antichrist who demands the world’s worship. The false counterpart of the Holy Spirit is the false prophet whose responsibility is to persuade people to give their allegiance to the Antichrist. It is no wonder that Isaiah says the earth will “reel to and fro like a drunkard” and “totter like a shack.” During the last half of the Tribulation the havoc that will be wrought by this satanic trio will be so great that “the earth will be completely laid waste and completely despoiled.” Jesus emphasized the horrendous nature of this period by stating that if it were not cut short by the Lord, no one would be left alive.
Because the situation is so terrible at the end of chapter 13, chapter 14 presents another parenthetical pause designed to encourage the reader. What happens in this chapter is that we are given another flash-forward to the end of the Tribulation to assure us that we are going to be victorious in the end.
Chapter 14 presents a panoramic preview of what is going to happen during the rest of the Tribulation. We are told that an angel will go forth and preach the Gospel to every person on the face of the earth. Isn’t that amazing? God is so good! Even while men are shaking their fists at Him, the Lord, in His patience and longsuffering and kindness and mercy, sends forth an angel to preach the Gospel to every man on the face of the earth. Do you remember what Jesus said in Matthew 24? He said: “The Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.” Well, this is the fulfillment of that prophecy right at the end of the Tribulation.
A second angel is sent forth to proclaim that Babylon, the end-time empire of the Antichrist, will be destroyed and then a third angel is sent out to warn people that they are not to worship the Antichrist or receive his mark, because if they do, they will suffer the wrath of God.
The chapter concludes with another preview of the second coming of Jesus. As He comes on the clouds, He swings His sickle and reaps the earth, separating the chaff from the good wheat. Sinners are cast into “the great wine press of the wrath of God.”
Having been reassured that Jesus and His saints will triumph, we are now ready to proceed with the final pouring out of God’s wrath. Chapter 15 introduces us to this final stage of the Tribulation, stating that with this last series of Judgments “The wrath of God is finished.” This statement is a clear indication that the entire Tribulation is a period of the pouring out of God’s wrath.
And what are we told in Romans 5:9? We are told that those of us who are redeemed are guaranteed protection from the wrath of God. Similarly, in I Thessalonians 1:10 we are told that Jesus is coming to save us from the wrath of God. These are indications that we, the Church, are going to be taken out of this world before the Tribulation begins.
Chapter 16 records the final release of God’s wrath. The bowl judgments wrath are poured out in rapid succession. It probably takes no more than a month’s time for all of these judgments to occur. We are told that the first judgment results in “loathsome and malignant sores.” And these, of course, could be a result of radiation from the previous nuclear war. The second and third bowls of judgment pollute all the water on the planet, both seawater and fresh water. And then, just as there’s no longer any decent water to drink, a horrible thing happens. The fourth judgment results in the sun being multiplied in its power, and people are scorched with heat. You can imagine the suffering and agony this would produce. The fifth bowl of judgment produces a thick darkness in the area of the Antichrist’s throne, which, of course, would be Europe. And the sixth bowl dries up the Euphrates River and enables the great Asian army to march into the Valley of Armageddon.
The rest of the chapter provides a detailed description of the destruction of the Antichrist’s kingdom. It is a flash-forward to the end of the Tribulation when the great earthquake occurs. The Antichrist’s capital city is destroyed as people are pummeled with “huge hailstones” that weigh 100 pounds each. The tragedy is that, once again, we are told that most people refuse to repent. Their hearts have become so hardened that they focus their energy on blaspheming God.
Chapter 17 introduces us to a vile scene of a “great harlot” riding “a scarlet beast.” You know, women are often used in the scriptures to symbolize religious systems, and that is the case here. This harlot represents the apostate and corrupt church which will dominate the religious scene during the first half of the Tribulation. The Church will rally apostate Catholics and Protestants, as well as practitioners of other religions, to support the Antichrist and worship him as messiah.
The harlot is described as being drunk “with the blood of the saints” and with “the blood of the witnesses of Jesus” because she will persecute all true believers who refuse to cooperate with her. Notice that the harlot is portrayed as riding on the back of the Antichrist. This symbolism indicates that the church has become a nuisance. The Antichrist has used her to help consolidate his world kingdom, but now she has become enamored with power, and so the Antichrist turns on her and destroys her. He replaces her with his new one-world religion that is headed up by the false prophet.
Chapter 18 depicts the destruction of the political, economic and social systems of the Antichrist’s kingdom. The destruction is swift, total, occurring in one hour of one day.
But again, before the destruction falls, God, in His tender mercy, sends another angel to warn. The angel announces the impending doom of the kingdom and then implores people to “come out.” We are told that the sins of the kingdom “have piled up as high as heaven,” and God is ready to remember her iniquities.
As the Antichrist’s capital city and kingdom are quickly destroyed by God with pestilence, famine and fire, the political leaders, merchants, cargo handlers of the world weep and mourn in despair because of the wealth that is laid to waste.
Meanwhile, the scene in heaven is radically different from the one on earth at the end of the Tribulation. While all hell is breaking loose on earth and people are weeping and wailing in agony, all of heaven is rejoicing! That’s right, all the heavenly host is shouting “Hallelujah!” as chapter 19 begins. It’s the only time this Old Testament term of praise is recorded in the New Testament. And the Hallelujahs continue for the first six verses of chapter 19.
Now, why is everyone in heaven rejoicing? There are several reasons. Verse 2 tells us that they are rejoicing because God has avenged the blood of Christian martyrs by destroying the Antichrist’s kingdom. The second reason they are shouting “Hallelujah” is because the judgment of the saints in heaven has been completed, and they are about to celebrate their union with Jesus as the bride of Christ at the greatest banquet the cosmos has ever experienced. Notice carefully how the bride is dressed: “The marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean.” The third reason they are celebrating is because the time has come for Jesus to return to earth in glory and in power. The description of the Lord’s return begins in verse 11, immediately following the celebration of the marriage feast of the Lamb in heaven.
John sees that door in heaven open again, and out comes Jesus riding on a white horse. And He does not return alone. Look at verse 14: “And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.” Now folks, these are not angels. These are the very same people described earlier in verse 8. They are the bride of Christ, His Church. This is one of the strongest evidences for a pre-Tribulation rapture, for the Church is clearly depicted here as being in heaven with Jesus at the end of the Tribulation, and the Church returns with Him.
Jesus is portrayed and returning as “the King of kings, and the Lord of lords,” and His initial purpose is spelled out in verse 11 where we are told that He is coming to “judge and wage war” against the enemies of God. Verse 15 says that He is going to “strike down the nations” with the word of His mouth, and He is going to rule over them with a “rod of iron.”
Chapter 19 concludes with what people often refer to as the “battle of Armageddon.” Verses 17-21 describe the Lord’s defeat of the Antichrist and his forces, which, according to Daniel 11 and Revelation 16, are camped in the Valley of Armageddon. But you know, there really is no battle. Jesus does not send forth an army to fight. Zechariah 14 makes it clear that the Lord simply speaks a word which results in the Antichrist and his forces being instantly destroyed by a supernatural plague. Paul affirms this in 2 Thessalonians where he states that the Antichrist will be slain by the Lord “with the breath of his mouth.” Zechariah adds that the eyeballs of the soldiers will melt in their sockets, their tongues will melt in their mouths and their skin will drop from their bodies. All that will remain will be their bones and blood, which will be as deep as a horse’s bridle for a distance of 200 miles. This terrible carnage is called “the Supper of God.” What a contrast we have here between the beautiful marriage feast in heaven and the ghastly Supper of God on earth when the army of the Antichrist will become food for the vultures.
And the crucial question is which of those feasts are you going to attend? Are you going to be invited to the glorious marriage feast of the Lamb in heaven, or are you going to be feasted upon by the vultures at the Supper of God here on earth? At one feast you are the honored guest; at the other, you are the meal. The choice is yours. Your fate depends entirely on whether or not you put your faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
As chapter 20 opens, Jesus is ready to begin His reign here on earth. But there’s one last piece of business He’s got to take care of. He has taken care of the Antichrist and the false prophet. He’s defeated them and their armies, and He has thrown them into “the lake of fire,” which is Hell, where they will be tormented forever and ever. But there’s still one last rebel left, and that’s Satan. So, the Lord’s first business in chapter 20 is to bind Satan and put him into a great abyss where he will be confined for the next thousand years. During that time Satan and his demonic hoards will not be allowed to roam upon the earth.
Then chapter 20 says that we, the redeemed, are going to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ for a thousand years. That reign is not described here in great detail. You will find the detailed description of it in the Old Testament, particularly in the book of Isaiah. We are told that Jesus will rule with “a rod of iron,” and we are told that some people will reign with Him specifically, those to whom judgment has been given.
Now who, specifically, will reign with Jesus? According to Daniel 7, Old Testament Saints will be included in this group: “The saints of the highest one will receive the kingdom . . . Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatest of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the highest one.” The apostles will also be included. In Matthew 19:28 Jesus promised His apostles that “in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Those of us who have become Saints during the church age will certainly be included. That promise is made in several places in the New Testament. For example, in Revelation 2 it states: “And he who overcomes . . . To him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron….” Finally, the Tribulation martyrs who die for Jesus will be included according to Revelation 20: “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus . . . And they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
What will we do? Some of us will be administrators, serving as mayors, governors and kings. Jesus made the point in one of his parables that degrees of reigning authority would be part of the rewards that believers would receive, based upon their faithfulness in this life. Others of us will serve as judges. Most of us will serve as teachers — that’s right, we’re going to provide the worldwide educational system, serving as “shepherds” and “priests of God.” It will be our responsibility to bring each person born during the millennium to salvation through a saving faith in Jesus. None of us will be legislators; none of us because the government of the world will be a theocracy in which Jesus will be both the spiritual and governmental leader. The offices of priest and king will be combined in Him. He will give the law and we will teach it and enforce it.
Who will the redeemed be ruling over? Where will the millennial population come from? The people who will be allowed to go into the millennium in the flesh will be the small number of Jews and Gentiles who live to the end of the Tribulation who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. When Jesus returns, we’re told that He will judge immediately all those left alive. The Jewish judgment is described in Ezekiel 20; the Gentile, in Matthew 25. Those who have not accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior at the end of that Tribulation period will be consigned to death.
You and I, the redeemed, will be in glorified bodies, like the body Jesus has now. And just as He mingled and interacted with His disciples after His resurrection while He was in a glorified body and they were in fleshly bodies, in like manner, we who will be in glorified bodies will live among and rule over those who are in fleshly bodies. Jesus will reign in His glorified body as the King of kings and Lord of lords from Jerusalem. We’re told in the Old Testament that David in his glorified body will rule as the king of Israel. And as I said before, some of us will be administrators and some of us will be judges, and most of us will be teachers.
We will be scattered all over the earth reigning over those who are in the flesh. We’re told in the book of Isaiah that life spans will be returned to what they were after the fall in the Garden of Eden, that is a thousand years. That means the people who enter the millennium in the flesh, and the children born to them during the millennium, will live the entire time. And because death will be curtailed and life spans will be extended, the earth will experience a great population explosion. Most likely, by the end of the millennium, there will be more people on the face of the earth than ever before in the history of mankind.
And it will be the responsibility of the redeemed to bring those born during that time to salvation in Jesus Christ. You may think, “Well, of course they will accept Jesus. After all, they will be able to see Him in His glorified body. And they will experience first hand the blessings of His rule.” But remember, Jesus was here once before, and all He did was love people and heal them and feed them and they responded by nailing Him to a cross. The heart of man is going to be no different during this millennial period. Sin will be less because Satan and his demonic hoards will be restrained, but there will still be sin and rebellion in people’s hearts because we are born with a sin nature. According to Jesus, the evil that is in the world comes from within man. All Satan does is multiply it through temptation.
In fact, that’s one of the purposes of the millennium. God is going to use the millennium to prove that Satan’s religion, humanism, is wrong when it says that the way to change the world is to change society. Humanists take that position because they believe that evil is rooted in society. But the word of God says that evil is rooted in the fallen nature of man and that the only way to change the world is to change people’s hearts. So God is going to put all of mankind into a perfect environment for a thousand years, and at the end of that time He’s going to let Satan loose.
Satan will then expose the seed of rebellion that is in people’s hearts. He will do this by convincing the nations to rebel against Jesus. At this point you are probably wondering, “Why would people rebel after experiencing one thousand years of peace, righteousness and justice?” Well, think for a moment. Think what it would be like to live under “the rule of the rod of iron” in the flesh. The flesh would want all the pleasures of the world — drugs, gambling, illicit sex, and pornography. But these things would not be allowed under Jesus’ rule of the rod of iron. Any attempt to indulge the flesh would be met with swift and sure justice. Violators would be tried before judges in glorified bodies, and there would be no appeal, because the judge’s decision would be perfect. And so people on the surface will say, “we praise you Jesus!” But there will be seething rebellion in their hearts. Satan is going to expose that rebellious spirit.
We’re told in Revelation 20:7 that Satan will be let loose to test mankind, and he will rally the nations of the earth against Jesus. This will be man’s last revolt against God, and through it God will prove conclusively that you do not change people by simply changing their environment. It is their hearts that must be changed, and that can be done only through the power of the Holy Spirit. The millennium will conclude with God pouring out His wrath on Satan and those who follow him. Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire to join the Antichrist and the false prophet.
And then, God will resurrect and judge all the unrighteous who have ever lived, whether in Old Testament times, the church age, or the millennium. This judgment is called “The Great White Throne Judgment.” It is the judgment of the damned. All those who ever lived and died outside a faith relationship with God will be judged of their works to determine their eternal destiny. And since no man can be justified before God by his works, all those who come before the great white throne, all of them, will be condemned to “the lake of fire” to experience what the Bible calls the “second death.”
Chapter 21 introduces us to a vision of the eternal state. Something we’re not told a lot about. But what we’re told here is very interesting. John says, “I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth.” What happens is that God burns up the old earth. We’re told in 2 Peter 3, that He will burn away all the pollution of Satan’s last revolt. He will take this earth and reshape it like a hot ball of wax, and out of that fiery inferno will come the New Heavens and the New Earth, an earth that will be refreshed and beautified and perfected to what God originally created before it was polluted by sin and changed by the curse. It will probably be greatly enlarged because it is going to serve as the foundation for a gigantic city — the New Jerusalem.
Just think of it! As God creates that new earth, we will most likely be suspended in the heavens inside the New Jerusalem watching the greatest fireworks display in the history of the cosmos. And when it’s all over, and the earth is refreshed and renewed, then the Lord will lower us down to the New Earth inside the New Jerusalem. We are going to live eternally inside that glorious city located on the New Earth.
That’s right, the Bible never teaches that we will spend eternity in heaven. It teaches that we will spend eternity in new bodies in a New Jerusalem on a New Earth, and it further teaches that God will come down to that new earth and live among us: “I heard a loud voice” says John, “a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them.'” He’s going to wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there will no longer be any suffering, no pain, no death, no sorrow. He’s going to make all things new, and we’re going to live in perfect bliss in the New Jerusalem.
The rest of chapter 21 describes the incredible New Jerusalem that Jesus is preparing now. It will be shaped like a cube, 1,500 miles in every direction. It will be a city of incredible beauty. Its foundation will be made of precious stones, its gates will be giant pearls, and its streets will be made of gold. God the Father and His Son will live in the city with the redeemed, and the Shekinah glory of God will illumine the city.
In chapter 22 we move inside the New Jerusalem. We are told that “a river of the water of life” will flow from the throne of God. This river is most likely a symbolic manifestation of the Holy Spirit. This river will run down the middle of the city’s main street, and the tree of life that was in the Garden of Eden will grow on each side of the river, “bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.”
There will no longer be any curse, for when God recreates the earth, the curse will be abolished. All of creation will be restored to the perfection that God intended when He created the original earth. And so we get a great glimpse of that eternal state where we will live eternally with God in new bodies in the New Jerusalem on the New Earth.
It’s only a glimpse, but it’s enough to make us yearn for the glory that is to come, particularly when you consider what is said in chapter 22, verse 4. That verse says that we shall see God’s face. The Bible tells us that no one has ever seen the face of God. But one day we, the redeemed, will see His face! That means we are going to have intimate, personal, eternal fellowship with our Creator.
Revelation 22 says we are also going to serve the Lord eternally. The Bible does not get specific as to the nature of that service, but I know it will be meaningful and fulfilling. I can imagine, for example, that He will magnify and perfect our gifts. I can imagine that vocalists will sing as they have never sung before, and artists will paint with a majesty they never thought possible. And all will be done for the glory and honor of our Creator.
In verse 6 of chapter 22 the focus shifts very suddenly from the eternal state to the promise that Jesus will return again. Jesus says, “I am coming quickly,” and then He adds, “Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” Now notice, He says not only the one who hears the words, but the one who heeds them. He then begins to tell us some things that we’re to do as we wait for His return.
As I outline these for you, I want you to ask yourself: “Am I doing these things?” In verse 9 we are told to worship God. In verse 10 we are told “not to seal up the words of the prophecy.” That means we are to share it with as many people as possible. In verse 17 He exhorts us to yearn daily for the Lord’s return. And verse 18 commands us to protect the integrity of God’s word by not allowing anyone to add to it or take away from it.
In verse 12 Jesus repeats the wonderful promise that summarizes the book’s whole theme. He says, “Behold I am coming quickly.” He then adds a warning. He says He will reward every man “according to what he has done.” Folks, Jesus is coming back, and when He returns, there is going to be a judgment of works for both believers and unbelievers. But it will not be for the purpose of determining their eternal destinies. That is determined in this life by whether or not we place our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Believers will be judged at the time of the rapture to determine their degrees of rewards. Unbelievers will be judged at the end of the millennium, at the Great White Throne Judgment, to determine their degrees of punishment.
Yes, there are going to be degrees of rewards for believers, both during the millennium and during eternity. Jesus said we would have various degrees of reigning authority during the millennium. And the Bible says that special rewards are going to be given to soul winners, martyrs, elders, those who exercise self-control, and those who live looking for the coming of Jesus Christ.
Well, the final words of Jesus spoken on this earth are recorded in revelation 22:20. He says to John, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Jesus left us with a glorious promise, a promise to return soon. And notice John’s response. He cried out from the depth of his heart, “Amen, come Lord Jesus!” That’s the attitude we should have about the Lord’s return, one of hopeful expectancy any moment.
There are many indications that we are living in the period of the Lord’s return. One of those is found in Matthew 24 were Jesus told the people to watch the fig tree, which is a symbol of Israel. He said when that fig tree blossoms again we will know that He, Jesus, is at the very gates of heaven, ready to return.
Well, folks, for the past 450 years prophetic scholars have told people, “Watch Israel, watch Israel, watch Israel.” People have responded with laughter, scorn and ridicule. They have said, “Israel will never exist again.” Well, nobody is laughing now because Israel was re-established on May 14, 1948. We know Jesus is at the very gates of heaven because He said in Matthew 24 that the generation that sees the re-establishment of Israel is the generation that will see all these things come to pass. That means we are the terminal generation.
Another sign is found in Luke 21:24 where Jesus said He would return when Jerusalem is no longer under Gentile control. Well folks, Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 70 A.D. They were followed by the Byzantines. Then came the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Mamlukes, the Turks, the British, and finally, the Jordanians. But on June 7, 1967, praise God, the Jews re-conquered the city of Jerusalem for the first time in 1,897 years.
My friends, let me say it again: we are living on borrowed time! Jesus is coming soon! He said He would, and that promise of His means all, or it means nothing at all. If you have rejected Him, it means nothing to you; if you have accepted Him, it should mean everything.
Well, that’s it. I hope you are convinced by now that the Book of Revelation can be understood and is worthy of careful study. All I have to say in conclusion is “Maranatha!” That’s the prayer of the early church recorded in 1 Corinthians 16:22. It is an Aramaic expression that means, “Our Lord come!” Oh yes, come quickly Lord Jesus!