Since we are about to embark on an adventurous journey into the mysterious and difficult to discern Book of Revelation, I thought it proper to make needed comments.

First, I do not believe that anyone understands every verse in this Book. It is loaded with symbolism. Sometimes the Book itself tells us the interpretations of the symbolism, but often it does not. When it does not, we need to be careful not to jump to the conclusions belonging to some author who may “paint their own picture” of what they think Revelation says. Sometimes Christians will say a verse is symbolic when it fits their preconceived ideas, then suddenly switch to literal interpretations again when it is convenient for them. I don’t think this is a proper way to interpret Revelation.

I believe the Book is largely symbolic. In fact, Chapter One starts out by describing Jesus in symbolic terms which should clue us to the Book’s nature. Therefore, in order to more fully understand Revelation, I believe we need to take this symbolic approach. When we do, I believe we can see that this Book is showing us how Jesus planned to take His Church and change the world over the centuries using His children. Governments and nations would be changed by the prayers and blood of the saints. Reading this Book with these “eyes,” you will be very much encouraged to be alive now because Revelation is not all about future terrors to come that will affect a small portion of people. I think it is God showing the whole Church what He would accomplish throughout all of Christian history to the end of time, and I believe most of the chapters have already been fulfilled, which goes contrary to our popular,  present-day dispensational paradigm.

We also must understand how God spoke in the Old Testament to properly decipher His prophetic symbolism in the New Testament. God is consistent and therefore is also consistent with His symbolic language. For example, the following Scriptures all contain prophecies about the sun and moon not shining: Is.5:3,30; 13:9-21; 34:4-10; 59:9-10; Amos 5:18-20 and 8:2-9; Ezek.30:6-18 and 32:2-15; Zeph.1:4,15; Jer.4:3,23,28; 13:9,10,16-19; and Micah 3:6,12. All these prophecies had obvious fulfillments in history and not once did these orbs in space cease emitting or reflecting light. So when Jesus speaks in Mt.24:29 about the sun and moon not giving light, are we to suddenly take this literally? One dispensationalist said that Jesus cannot come back tomorrow because the sunlight has not yet gone out. He was serious. I contend that he’s missing a major part of understanding what Revelation is saying. Darkened sun and moon represents God’s judgment, usually against groups of people or governments (kingdoms) and when God overthrows governments on earth, something first occurs in the “heavens.” For example, before the Berlin Wall came down, there were prayers by Christians for decades. Those prayers reached Heaven, then something occurred in Heaven (possibly spiritual hosts were taken out), then finally it manifested on earth.

Second, when studying the Book of Revelation, we must also include verses in Daniel, Isaiah, Psalms, Jeremiah, 2 Thessalonians 2, and a few other references to end-times and/or the Second Coming of Christ. These all must agree with each other to help us properly interpret meanings.

Third, sometimes authors make the mistake of saying that the Bible says something when it does not. For example, many have claimed that the Bible predicts that Russia will attack Israel in the End-Times. No It does not. It does mention that Gog and Magog are powers to the north of Israel and will attack, but we do not know that Gog/Magog = modern-day Russia. Is it possible? I suppose. The bottom line, however, is that it is more credible to separate an opinion from Absolute Truth.

Years ago, I read “The Late Great Planet Earth” by dispensationalist Hal Lindsey. I respect and love Mr. Lindsey as a Christian brother, and he has many good teachings, but I have disagreed with some of his statements. For example, he comments about 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2 where Paul is talking about when “the man of lawlessness” is revealed. Paul does not use the phrase “THE Anti-Christ,” although that’s what Lindsay does. Surprisingly, the word Anti-Christ is never mentioned in the entire Book of Revelation! It’s only mentioned 5 times in the Bible. John, in his second epistle mentions the word, but adds that there are many of them. He says this in 1 John 2:18 as well. In fact, some interpret that there is no single person who will be THE Anti-Christ, but Anti-Christ will rather be many who play a certain role in position of worldly power that comes from Satan. Often Bible teachers will equate verses from Daniel as being the Anti-Christ who is to come, while these verses are most likely referring to people with evil power who lived nearer to Daniel’s time. While Mr. Lindsay is probably correct about Paul’s description being THE or an Anti-Christ, he pays special attention to verse 6: “And you know what restrains him (Anti-Christ) now, so that in his time he may be revealed.” Lindsey jumps to the conclusion that “the restrainer” is the Holy Spirit. Therefore he further speculates that since the Holy Spirit resides in all believers worldwide, the rapture (sweeping up and away from earth of all believers) must occur before the Anti-Christ is revealed because the Holy Spirit embodies Christians, so when He goes away, all the Christians must go as well. Lindsay assumes that the Holy Spirit resides ONLY in believers and that He cannot exist on earth unless there are Christians here. True to his dispensational paradigm, he believes that there will be more earthly history following this rapture. The Bible actually does not say any of this, but he leads us to believe that It does. I believe in a rapture of believers, but I also believe that when it happens, it is the End. I realize the dispensationalists will insist there will be a literal 1,000 year reign after Jesus returns, but there are other credible views about this that I will outline later.

When we search history, we discover that the early church fathers thought that “the restrainer” was the civil government of Rome, not the Holy Spirit (although I do believe the Holy Spirit does restrain evil). They further reasoned that a religious leader, such as an Anti-Christ (meaning “in place of Christ” and therefore would be a religious leader), could never rise to power as long as a secular government had power over people. While it is true that the Holy Spirit resides in believers worldwide, He is not limited to that residence. In others words, when believers are caught up in the clouds at that End-Time, the Holy Spirit can still be on earth.

I use Mr. Lindsay’s book as an example because thousands of Christians read and liked it. Then they told people that the Bible says the “Church” will be taken off the planet before the Anti-Christ is revealed. The Bible does not say this. These statements are interpretations from a certain viewpoint of End-Time prophecy called dispensationalism. This view emerged in the early 1800s and has dominated Christian thought from the 1970s to now. Its origin, however, came from an extremely evil source further back in history which will be explained later. This approach to interpretation is only one of four major ones that have existed for years. In my opinion, dispensationalists tend to distort Bible verses by means of preconceived theological notions. But can’t we all do this? Yes, so our preventative guard must always be up to minimize this. One way to accomplish this is to use a consistent template or procedure when interpreting Scripture, and rule number one is to let the Bible interpret the Bible. In other words, look into the Bible itself first to find precedents and clues to find answers. In any case, we all need to perceive bias and not swallow everything hook, line, and sinker. I am careful to use phrases such as “I believe” or “I contend” rather than stating things as if the Bible definitely says something when it does not.

Those other approaches of interpreting End-Time prophecies are known by few Christians today. This is unfortunate, so I’d like to briefly describe these and comment about them throughout the study of this Book. We also need to keep in mind that believers who have different beliefs about End-Times are all brothers and sisters in Christ and we are commanded by Jesus to love one another. Sometimes agreeing to disagree on issues can be a good spirit at work.

Dispensationalism (Futuristic) – God has related to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants in a series of “dispensations,” or periods in history and that God deals with Jews differently than with Gentiles. It asserts that most of Revelation is yet to be fulfilled. It also tends to interpret End-Time verses literally, but not always. It claims that an Anti-Christ (one man) is yet to come and will take over the whole literal world and literally place a 666 (possibly a hi-tech chip that can be scanned) on foreheads or right hands of his followers and will sit in a rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and claim to be God (they get this from 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). It asserts that just before Christ returns, many Jews will get saved thus fulfilling God’s promises to Abraham. They further claim that the sun and moon will literally stop giving off light, and many other literal signs from Scripture will come true. With dispensationalism, Jesus cannot return tomorrow because “the Anti-Christ” has not yet ruled the entire world (literally every country). Perhaps surprisingly to some, the origin of this belief of a future world leader came from a Jesuit priest named Ribera in the later 1500s. Due to the Protestant Reformation restoring truth about salvation and encouraging Bible reading which were being suppressed by Roman Catholicism, Ribera asserted that Anti-Christ is not the seat of the papacy but rather a single man coming in the distant future. In addition, he claimed that the “restrainer” in 2 Thessalonians was the Holy Spirit, not pagan Rome (just what dispensationalists teach today). In other words, his proclamation was an attempt to gain back Roman Catholic power over the people they were losing. Luther and many others saw the pope as the position of anti-Christ foretold in Daniel and Revelation.

In my opinion, dispensational interpretations would be too obvious for people to be deceived. Strong deception, and this is what Revelation is talking about, is never obvious until after it takes hold of people. I believe this approach lacks credibility and gives many people the wrong idea about End-Times. An opposing view claims that the Church has replaced the Jewish religion as being God’s people. This is called “replacement theology.” Some Christians feel this is a demonic doctrine while others embrace it as the understanding that God always had ONE Plan from the get-go, not two or more. One danger within “replacement theology” is that it can lead some to be anti-semitic. Whether or not this belief is true, Christians should never be anti-anybody. We certainly can disagree with people, but not hate them.

Historicism – It asserts that the Book of Revelation charts events in church history from the time of John to the end of the world all in symbolic language. Why symbolic? Perhaps to protect the Church (God’s enemies could not follow what His plan was). This “camouflage approach” would prevent fallible humans doing stupid and harmful things in order to bring about what they think God’s Plan is (remember Peter slicing off a Roman soldier’s ear when Jesus was being arrested? Jesus had to stop him). Often God’s prophecies are not fully understood until after they are fulfilled. The Messianic prophecies of the First Coming were like that. The historical approach tends to see most of Revelation fulfilled. For example, “great tribulation” occurred during the 3-year siege and eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The Scriptures never put the word “the” in front of “great tribulation.” But when dispensationalist Cyrus Scofield translated Revelation 7:14, he inserted the word “the” because it fit his notions. This is not acceptable scholarship.  Jesus described this event in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. The “abomination of desolation standing in the Holy place” clue that Jesus gave as the chief warning sign to flee Jerusalem probably referred to the pagan Roman army (abomination) surrounding Jerusalem (the Holy place) in 67 AD. The army suddenly retreated for no apparent reason many say, but returned shortly with vengeance. This temporary retreat gave the believers time to flee before the siege resumed and destroyed everything and everybody (with the exception of a few who were captured and exiled). After studying many facts, I believe this connection to “great tribulation” has credibility. Furthermore, thousands of Christians throughout the current church age have experienced “great tribulation” and they, I assert, will also have that special blessing that Revelation talks about rather than only one group of people in the near future. More on this later. In other words, the “tribulation” that Matthew mentions is not the same “event” in Revelation.

Few people are aware of the horrors faced by those Jews who did not flee to the hills as Jesus warned. By the way, the Christian Jews did heed Jesus’ warning and escaped with their lives to a town called Pella and then spread the Gospel far and wide. The credible Jewish historian Flavius Josephus gave a detailed account of that period of time. It’s an emotionally difficult read but quite amazing. Historicists believe this event marked the beginning of the transfer of the Kingdom of God from the Jews to the Gentiles, something that Jesus said would happen due to the nation of Israel rejecting God (Matthew 21:43). So, in my opinion, the Old Covenant ended with Christ’s death and resurrection (Daniel’s 70th week fulfilled by Jesus), and was physically expressed in 70 A.D. It is interesting to note that Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple were literally wiped off the map in 70 A.D., and the OT practice of animal sacrificing ceased and has never been re-instituted. The Book of Hebrews explains why. Some feel if these elements of the ancient Jewish faith are brought back into practice it would be a direct affront to God who has abolished such things because of Jesus Christ’s accomplishments. The Jewish nation was not restored until 1948. Many feel this is a significant sign about the end of the world, some do not.

The following well-respected Christian leaders believed in this Historical approach:  Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Athanasius, John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, John Knox, Theodore Beza, John Calvin, Martin Bucer, Huldrych Zwingli, Philip Melancthon, Heinrich Bullinger,  Thomas Cranmer, John Cotton, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Larger Catechism, John Owen, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather, Matthew Henry, Jonathan Edwards, John Gill, most of the Puritans, J.H. Bavinck, J. Marcellis Kik, Herman Hoeksema, Francis Nigel Lee, and many others. In other words, Historicism is the view of many of the early church fathers and most of the Protestant Reformers.

Preterism (Full and Partial) – “Full” contends that all end-time prophecies are fulfilled by 70 A.D. including Jesus’ Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead, and that Nero was the Beast. “Partial” asserts that most of Revelation was fulfilled by 70 A.D., looks for a future 2nd coming and resurrection, and also identifies the Roman Emperor Nero as the Beast. This approach does contain some good points to consider. To have so many prophecies fulfilled by 70 A.D. is shocking to many Christians, but when one takes the time to explore their further explanations, it brings different insights to the debate table.

Preterism’s origin is bothersome to Protestants. The Protestant Reformation was becoming successful in freeing up souls to be able to read the Bible, thus freeing folks from the horrible bondage of Roman Catholicism which was brutal during the Middle Ages. Jesuit Priest Luis de Alcazar, during the Catholic Counter Reformation, attempted to take off the heat against the papacy, being labeled Antichrist by Protestants, by identifying the Antichrist as Nero. In other words, by the time Roman Catholicism came into power, the Antichrist had already come.

Idealism – This believes that Revelation is a non-historical and non-prophetic drama about spiritual realities. Everything is treated as an allegory. For example, Babylon is mentioned in the Bible in order to reveal that a variety of political and religious forms of opposition to Christian Truth will occur throughout history. It is reluctant to link specific events or people to any End-Time prophecy. While I believe this way of thinking has some merit, I do not think it accurately reveals all the truth contained in End-Time prophecies.

Now for some off-shoots of the above Approaches:

Premillennialism is the belief that Jesus will be visibly on the earth for a literal 1,000 year reign (the millennium). It contends that Jesus’ physical return to earth will occur before the start of the millennium. It is largely based upon a literal interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6 which describes Jesus’ coming to the earth and subsequent reign at the end of the Tribulation (Anti-Christ’s rule and persecution of the saints). It views this future age as a time of fulfillment for the prophetic hope of God’s people as given in the OT. Others, such as the Eastern Orthodox, claim that this passage of Revelation describes the present time, when Christ reigns in Heaven with the departed saints. Such an interpretation views the symbolism of Revelation as referring to an invisible spiritual battle rather than a visible battle on earth. This mode of allegorizing Biblical prophecies is also popular among the proponents of amillennialism which is described below. Premillennialism is often used to refer specifically to those who adhere to the beliefs in a millennial reign of Christ visibly on earth as well as a rapture of the faithful coming before (dispensational) or after (historic) the tribulation that precedes the millennium. Post-millennialism, for example, agrees with premillennialism about the future earthly reign of Christ, but disagrees on the concept of a rapture and tribulation before the millennium begins.

Postmillennialists hold to the view that the second coming will happen after the Millennium. It is an interpretation of Revelation 20 which sees Christ’s Second Coming as occurring after the 1,000 year reign of Christ.

Amillennialism is a view in Christian end-time theology named for its rejection of the theory that Jesus will have a literal 1,000-year long, physical reign on the earth. This view contends that the 1,000 years is a symbolic number and it has already begun and represents the current Church Age. It asserts that the millennium began when Jesus ascended to God’s throne and His enemies were beginning to be put under His feet. This chronicles the entire Church Age rather than a mere 1,000 years. At any time now Christ will return in final judgment and establish a permanent and visible reign. So amillennialism does not assert that there is no millennium, but rather it rejects the notion that it is only 1,000 years long and that earth people will see Jesus here during that time.

While there are strengths and weaknesses in all of the above approaches, I like the historical and amillennial approaches best. This does not mean I am right, however. It also does not mean I agree with every interpretation from this angle either. So I will try to include thoughts from different views once in a while. Most Christian books today do not do this. We have been inundated with “futuristic” (dispensational) interpretations without realizing there are other views with credibility. Claiming that the Anti-Christ is coming soon or by asserting that Jesus was going to return in 1988, as Hal Lindsay strongly implied, sells many books. The “Left Behind” DVD became a big hit with many believers, but I am afraid the line of thinking is quite off the mark and is misleading many. I certainly love and respect the Christians who put that all together, but I am afraid they have not thoroughly looked into the issues that they have presented. It is my hope that these commentaries on the Book of Revelation will cause you to love Jesus more, appreciate the depth and accuracy of His Word, and look forward to His Coming…and He will come!

In Him,
Dave Scheer

The Book of Revelation Introduction – The traditional belief of authorship is the Apostle John. While exiled to the island of Patmos, he had an angel appear to him showing him human history yet to come. The angel simply told him to write down what he saw. Most scholars believe it was written around 90 A.D., but preterists contend it was just prior to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD.

It begins with a highly symbolic vision of Jesus Christ. I believe this sets the tone as to how to read the entire Book – symbolic, not literal. For example, when we see Jesus, I do not believe He will have a metallic sword coming out of His mouth, and I don’t think a metal chain could hold Satan bound.

I also believe the numbers in Revelation could very well be symbolic and not literal:

144,000 in Chapter 7 = complete Church of God from all ages who went through great tribulations (at the hands of Rome, Popes, Islam, Communism); perhaps they are given a Jewish ID to reflect its character. Therefore, I don’t think this number is a special small group of people of only 144,000. This number is based on 12×12 which can represent perfect government (see below).

Day = year. Daniel spoke of 70 weeks in a prophetic context regarding when the Messiah would come. Now that we can look back in time, we can see that those weeks (490 days) were 490 years, not literal days because it accurately pinpointed the time of Jesus and when He would be “cut off” (killed). In addition, Ezekiel 4:5 and Numbers 14:34 mention this concept of days symbolizing years. Therefore, in Revelation, 42 months (1260 days) most likely means 1260 years as well. This fits the history of Papal rule which killed and suppressed true believers from 538-1798 AD.

12= perfect government.

10 = Order of imperfect government. Examples = 10 toes on the beast; 10 toes on foot of statue, 10 horns are governments. So 1,000 years, in prophetic contexts means 10 X 10 X 10 and refers to God governing, that is, ruling for a long time, but not perfectly because sinful humans are still alive on earth. So this millennium becomes discerned as the Church Age which has been going on since Christ ascended and took over rule from the throne of God. Obvious, not all of Jesus’ enemies have been put under His feet. This is being accomplished slowly but surely during this period of undisclosed time – “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death” (1 Cor. 15:25-26; see also Psalms 110:1; Matthew 22:24). The other two verses say that this reigning of Jesus Christ began when Jesus ascended and sat on the right side of God’s throne in heaven. Therefore, it makes more sense to me to contend that the millennium actually started at this point in our history rather than at some future time from now.

1,000 years (millennium) = to be consistent, we should not take this literally either; it simply stands for a long time when Jesus has sway via imperfect humans and governments upon the earth from the time of His ascension to His Second Coming. Look at this as equaling 10 X 10 X 10 (possibly a tri-unity of government).

Revelation 1:

v1: This states directly that what follows is a revelation of Jesus Christ and shows things that would shortly take place. Some think that most of Revelation was fulfilled in the first century, especially considering the phrase “shortly take place” used here. It implies a quick succession of historical events. I think it is safe to assume that Jesus knew that His early church was in for a rough time of persecution so He appeared to John and gave him revelations to encourage the believers of that time period. The Book states that if someone reads it to others, there will be a blessing (1:3). So if most of the Book pertained to today, how could it be a blessing to the first century church? Still others say many of the prophecies were to be fulfilled over the centuries, while still others say most are about to be fulfilled today. Since the NT teaches that the Last Days or End Times actually began with Christ (Hebrews 1:2 and Acts 2:16-17), I believe it is safe to argue that the Book of Revelation was super relevant to the early church and relevant today since all has not yet happened.

v2: This identifies John as one who witnessed the word of God and the testimony of Jesus lending much credibility to the traditional belief that this is indeed the Apostle John.

v3: Promises a blessing to those who read this Book, hear the words, and heed the contents. So we know that this Book is not only important to us, but to those first believers as well. The phrase “hear the words” speaks to me of being able to discern the meaning or symbolism used throughout the prophetic Book.

v4-6: John begins addressing seven churches in Asia.

v7: This reveals that Jesus will come again in the clouds and every eye shall see Him, even those who pierced Him and all the tribes of earth will mourn over Him. This is strange. If all see Him when He comes, including those who crucified Him, then all the dead as well as the alive will see this event. This, of course ASSUMES it refers to the Second Coming at the end of the Church Age. Maybe it doesn’t. The phrase “coming in the clouds” was used several times in the Old Testament and it was not a literal event, but rather a coming judgment of God. I think this verse may well be describing God’s judgment upon the Jewish nation and Jerusalem from 67-70 AD when that city and Temple was wiped off the earth (which sent a strong message that the Old Covenant was indeed dead). Jesus warned the Jews that this would happen and He was probably involved in that judgment though no one would literally see Him in the sky when it happened, but those who crucified Him were most likely still alive and a part of that horrible judgment. If a literal interpretation is correct, I cannot imagine how every human on earth would see Jesus return. There are many groups of people around the world that have no access to satellite TV or any advanced technology. So rather than speculating that this refers to satellite dishes and TV screens so that every human alive would be able to see Jesus at His Second Coming, we can at least perceive that there is another possible, and perhaps even a more plausible, interpretation.

v8: Jesus is identified as the Alpha and the Omega (the beginning and the end) “who is“ (always was in existence) and “who was” (came in the flesh, died and rose and is no longer in that same form) and “who is to come” (He will not leave us as orphans). Note for deity of Christ support: Here Jesus makes the claim that He is the Alpha and Omega and in Isaiah 41:4 Jehovah says the same thing about Himself.

v9: John says he was in exile on Patmos and that he was sharing in the persecution because of the Kingdom of God and perseverance which go along with following Jesus.

v10: On the Lord’s day John was in the spirit (either worshiping putting him into a good spiritual state of mind, or he was taken up in spirit to a different realm). He then hears a loud voice behind him like a trumpet sound.

v11: John was commanded to write write down in a scroll (book) what he sees and send it to these seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

v12-16: He describes the spiritual being that was standing behind him as the Son of Man surrounded by 7 golden lamp stands, robed to His feet, girded across His breast with a golden girdle, hair was very white, eyes were as a flame, feet were like glowing hot bronze, voice was like the sound of many waters, held 7 stars in His right hand, out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and His face was like the sun shining in its strongest state. It is obvious that this description of Jesus is symbolic. This is not an opinion because later the Book describes what things represent.

v17-18: Predictably, John fell to his feet like a dead man, but Jesus touched him and said to not be afraid…(even though He held the keys to death and Hades). Not sure if those words would have eased my fear.

v19: Interesting point – Jesus tells John to record the things “that are” and “will take place.” So we know that some parts of this Book of Revelation were picturing things that were going on in John’s day rather than all future events.

v20: All right…finally some direct explanations of the symbolism: 7 stars = angels over each of the 7 churches, 7 lamp stands = the 7 churches mentioned above. Does this mean that every church has an angel as a supernatural overseer? Could be, especially if these 7 churches are not only real physical churches of the first century, but also general categories of types of churches that were beginning to emerge historically and would be on earth until He comes. This verse also reveals that what John sees is heavily symbolic (Jesus does not have a literal metallic sword coming out of His mouth, for example). So I believe the best way to gain insight from Revelation is to not take too much literally but rather apply similar symbolic language that may have been used by God in the Old Testament as well as the NT. This approach is allowing the Bible to interpret the Bible which, I contend, is always the best starting point before going beyond that.

Intro to Studying the Seven Churches – The messages that Jesus gives John to send to the 7 churches may not only be messages to those current churches in John’s day, but also could be relevant to all future churches until His Second Coming. In other words, these 7 descriptions may be a look into 7 types of churches that carried on for centuries and are even in existence today, or seven types of churches that evolved one after another throughout the church age. Another possibility is that these churches represent groups of individual Christians who may not belong to the same church, but over the centuries have these traits or experiences. Perhaps more than one of these theories are true. No one knows for sure but we can still glean from Christ’s “report card” to each church.

Revelation 2: 1-7: Message to the Church at Ephesus:

v2-3: Good perseverance, no tolerance for evil people, discernment with false apostles, endured for Christ’s name sake, and had not grown weary.

v4: BUT, they had lost their first love. This is a common experience for individual believers as well as certain church congregations. They still defend Biblical principles and keep sound doctrine, but have lost passion for Jesus – that one-on-one precious relationship that He wants from us. When we lose this, our actions seem to lack the former supernatural power when we try to witness or to pray or do anything that the Bible tells us to do. When we lose this love for Him, we tend toward legalism and self-righteousness. Watch out for this deceit. It usually happens too slowly for us to notice it in its early stages. If this church represents the first church on 7 in successive history, the dates covered were most likely 30-1900 A.D. It featured the false Christians that tried to influence the early church. This group, however, did stand firm in doctrinal beliefs and moral conduct, even to the point of hating the deeds of the Nicolaitians (see mention on verse 6 below).

v5: The Solution – Remember what we used to be like and repent, or Jesus will “remove the lampstand out of its place.” I’m not sure what this last phrase means. It could be referring to the anointing of God. If we have lost that love, simply repent and admit to God that we have fallen short and ask Him to “stoke that fire” of love and He will. He is faithful. He will answer our prayers if we believe in Him, realize that He is a rewarder to those who seek Him, and we pray according to His will (Hebrews 11:6; 1 John 5:14-15). This prayer, to re-establish that first love, will always be in His will.

v6: This church totally rejects the “deeds of the Nicolaitans” which was a great asset. Some scholars think that rather than referring to a particular group of people, it may refer to a form of teaching opposing the truth of God’s Word. It has also been reported, however, that the Nicolaitans were a sect or party of evil influence in early Christianity, especially in the seven churches of Asia Minor. Their doctrine was similar to that of Balaam, “who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication” (Rev 2:14,15). Their practices were strongly condemned by John, who praised the church in Ephesus for “hating their works” (verse 6). It seems that the gist of this influence was self-indulgence or lust (doing what feels good and showing no respect for God’s Word). If tolerated, it presents a strong stumbling block to Christians. “Stumbling block” means “something that entices a believer to sin.” Some churches today are far too tolerant of sin. They may not preach against it. Sometimes they may even endorse certain immoral lifestyles. Fortunately this church at Ephesus (or this type of church or individual believer) does not tolerate this evil.

Some believe that this church represents the Apostolic Church of 130 AD. Salvation by faith ceased to be the main emphasis. Knowing creed and doctrines became more important than a zealous testimony of being born-again. This was most likely the beginning of the “great apostasy” that had to occur before Jesus comes again. An abundance of false believers, lacking of Scriptures, grew over the next couple of hundred years as formalism and ritualism gradually replaced passion for Jesus along with the solid Gospel message of being saved by grace and not works. This was the prelude to the Dark Ages where Bibles were suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church. The “report card” to Ephesus is relevant to us today, no matter what interpretive viewpoint from which one may come.

Revelation 2: 8-11: Message to the Church in Smyrna:

This group seemed to have little worldly wealth along with much tribulation, including persecution from people who claim to be Jews. There were a group of Jews who followed Paul’s ministry and harassed him continually. Whoever this refers to are from the “synagogue of Satan.” This would probably mean that unsaved people were (are) constantly driven by a satanic spirit to destroy the believer’s faith and unity. Throughout history we find groups trying to destroy the Bible and Christians. Today we find individuals who are constantly trying to make Christians and Christianity look bad or ridiculous. Over the years, there is no doubt that some believers have gone through much more tribulation than others. I believe this describes that plight and that it is all part of the Lord’s Grand Plan for reasons we may not see or understand at the present time.

Despite being poor, Jesus says this church is rich. I think they are rich in God’s eyes because they accomplish much with little and have been faithful throughout the persecution. They are not to fear Satan’s plan of throwing some into prison in order to be tested for a limited time. They are to be “faithful until death” and would then be given the crown of life. This probably is a reference to martyrdom.

Some believe this represents the 10 major persecutions the Church would experience from 6-313 A.D. Interestingly, the worst of the 10 persecutions was 303-313 A.D and verse 10 states that tribulation would last “10 days.” The “year-for-a-day” code is prevalent in prophetic verses throughout Scripture. Others think it refers to martyred and persecuted believers throughout the Church Age.

Revelation 2:12-17: Message to the Church in Pergamum:

v13: These believers dwelt where “Satan’s throne” was. The Bible does not describe or define this. A good guess is, since the 1st century city of Pergamum had many false (pagan) religions, Satan certainly had a foothold there. Despite this evil power and deception, the believers held true to the name of Jesus. There was an anointed man named Antipas that the city had martyred. This may represent all the martyrs for Jesus over the centuries who remained faithful to His Word at the expense of their soul-lives, or only to those who opposed the papacy and were murdered.

v14-15: The problem within these believers was they were allowing the teaching of Balaam, who put stumbling blocks in front of the children of Israel causing them to sin (Numbers 22-24). In addition, some held to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Scholars are not sure what this entailed. The leading theories are: 1) teaching opposition to Christianity, and/or 2) allowing sexual immorality (sometimes this is a metaphor for “spiritual adultery” – not holding true to Jesus; entertaining “other voices” in life; having other things be more important that the true God).

v16: The solution was to repent. If not, Jesus comes quickly and makes war with “the sword of his mouth” (probably means the Word of God). Certainly over the centuries, people who returned to the Bible have purged churches of junk practices and beliefs. The most remarkable historical change because of God’s Word was via the Protestant Reformation where over four centuries more and more people were being saved and set free because the Bible became available for them to read. The Bible actually delivered people from the Dark Ages. Verse 12, which is the intro to Pergamum’s message, Jesus is described as having the “sharp two-edged sword” and the message ends with Him making war with this same thing. I think it is safe to say that there has been, and continues to this day, a great war occurring in a “parallel universe” (the spirit world) between the Truth of God and the lies of Satan, and it is the Holy Spirit via the Bible that fights for truth. People alive on earth get caught up in so many other concerns (distractions) that they miss the whole point of our existence. Furthermore, I dare say, that if I am not using God’s Word in this life, I am part of the problem (opposition). There is no such thing as fence-sitting in this war because fence-sitting is joining the wrong side. Satan loves fence-sitters because they accomplish nothing for God. Great questions to allow the Holy Spirit to ask us are: “How much are we letting God do through us to support Jesus Christ and His cause?” And: “Are we willing to make a public stand for His name’s sake?” All of us will be given opportunities to do this in various ways. See Matthew 10:32.

v17: The reward for those who overcome these problems will be given “hidden manna, a white stone, and a new name on the stone” which no one knows except the one who receives it. “Hidden manna” may refer to the spiritual food by which God gives life to his people since the original manna was physical food supernaturally given to the wandering Jews keeping them alive. It may be, like the fruit of the tree of life, a symbol of salvation and eternal life. It may also refer to Kingdom insights that this world cannot perceive. The “white stone” may refer to an ancient custom where a person who was acquitted during a trial would be given a white stone which symbolized their innocence, so this may represent the sinless condition the redeemed will enjoy forever. Sometimes a white stone was an admissions ticket to a special feast, and, Jesus is giving His kids a big feast in the Kingdom. The “new name” may simply reflect the new stature redeemed souls have in Heaven, much like God changing names of Abram, Saul, etc. The personal nature of this name strikes me as being very cool. Jesus really knows us individually!

If this is the third historically successive church then the date range would be about 313-606 A.D. which marked the rise of ritualized, brutally authoritarian, false Christianity of Roman Catholicism. Satan failed with his first attempt to wipe out the church. This, of course, was murdering believers by pagan Rome. “Christian Rome” (The Holy Roman Empire) would use fear and power to deceive believers. “Satan’s seat” would be the papacy. Over 1260 years, popes would murder more millions that Hitler and Stalin combined!

The following information comes from a CBN article written by Gordon Robertson ( and perhaps sheds a little different light on the above interpretations: “Pergamum had a unique status that was different than any other city because it was the political center, says Rick Renner, the author of A Light in the Darkness, a study of the seven churches of Asia Minor. “It was from there that all the rulings were made that affected the whole of Asia Minor. On one side, it was a very beautiful city, but on the flip side, it was one of the darkest, eeriest cities in the whole Roman Empire.” The people of Pergamum were known as the “Temple-keepers of Asia.” The city had three temples dedicated to the worship of the Roman emperor, another for the goddess Athena, and the Great Altar of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. Many scholars believe this altar is the “Throne of Satan” mentioned in the book of Revelation.

The city also had a healing center called the Asklepion, built in honor of Asklepios, the Greek serpent-god. In the first century, this was a cross between a hospital and a health spa, where patients could get everything from a mud bath to a major surgery. Even the emperors came all the way from Rome to be treated here, but this was no ordinary doctor’s visit. Patients entered through an underground tunnel. Then they drank a sedative, and spent the night in the dormitories of the Asklepion, while non-poisonous snakes crawled around them all night. They were told that the serpent-god Asklepios would speak to them in their dreams and give them a diagnosis.

“It was believed that the snakes carried the healing power of Asklepios,” and if a snake slithered across you while you were sleeping at night, that was a divine sign that healing power was coming to you.”

The next morning, the patients told their “dreams” to the priests, who prescribed their treatments. Finally, the patients made clay sculptures of the body parts that needed healing and offered them to Asklepios.

The people of Pergamum worshipped a myriad of Greek and Roman gods, but when Christianity arrived with the belief in just one God, the city’s pagan priests went on the attack and their most famous victim – Antipas. “He had cast out so many devils that the demons had been complaining to pagans, saying, ‘You’ve got to do something about this Antipas’,” says Renner.

The pagan priests went to the Roman governor and complained that the prayers of Antipas were driving their spirits out of the city and hindering the worship of their gods. As punishment, the governor ordered Antipas to offer a sacrifice of wine and incense to a statue of the Roman emperor and declare that the emperor was “lord and god.” Antipas refused. “If you reject the divinity of the emperor, then that is the equivalent of rejecting the city of Rome,” says Renner, “and believers were killed for this.” Antipas was sentenced to death on the Altar of Zeus. Even in the midst of the flames, the elderly bishop Antipas died praying for his church. The year was AD 92. In the 19th century, German engineers dismantled the altar and took it to Berlin. The so-called “Throne of Satan” went on display in the city’s Pergamon Museum in 1930, just in time to inspire one of the most brutal dictators the world has ever seen.

Overall, this church seems to be one of the best. They keep God’s plan amidst tribulation. I believe that tremendous reward awaits those in this church or category or type.

Revelation 2:18-29: Message to the Church at Thyratira:

v18: Jesus is described as having flaming eyes and feet like brightly polished bronze. Any reasons given for this description would be speculative, although there probably are some good ones and the description most likely means something.

v19: Praise = their works are getting better over time; characterized by love, faith, service, and perseverance.

v20: Problem = tolerance of Jezebel, a false prophetess that leads many into immoral acts and eating things sacrificed to idols with her teachings. Jezebel was the wife of an evil king of Israel named Ahab. She dominated Ahab, was arrogant, evil, and hated God and His people. She insisted that Ahab erect a Temple of Baal (satanic fertility god that stimulated immoral sexual acts) in Samaria and a grove consecrated to Astarte (sexual lust). Today, if a Christian says someone has a “Jezebel spirit,” it means there will be an opposition to the things of God, including male leadership. Besides dominating a husband in marriage, it will oppose anything godly such as repentance and will seek to destroy people of God. This church possibly allowed women to usurp men’s God-given authority and ruled the church. In some churches today, men sit back and let all the women do all the planning and work. Is this a connection to the message to Thyratira? Not sure. It’s just speculation. Most likely the Jezebel reference speaks to tolerating immoral sexual acts within a church group and worshipping idols (false gods).

Back 2,000 years ago, the city Thyratira had much commerce, trade, and guilds. You had to be a guild member to do business. As a member, however, you were required to attend certain feasts that involved immoral activities. So maybe the “teaching of Jezebel” was saying to these men that “business is business” and God would “look the other way.” It was just another scheme of the Enemy of God’s people to get them into sin (idolatry). If these verses also relate to church types today, they probably are describing groups that do not condemn immoral practices and do not try to get people to abstain from them.

v21: Ironically, this is a church that does good things, and those things are getting better than the first! But God sees our insides and gives all a chance to repent.

v22-23: No repentance came after God’s grace period, so He punished with sickness. I can’t help but to think of all the sexually transmitted diseases that have flourished in these Last Days and how people, instead of repenting from the acts that transmitted the disease to them, cry out for more government help and more money for AIDS research. Some of these diseases most likely go back thousands of years and, as they may have mutated over time, they create more problems for mankind. I know the vast majority of researchers believe that the AIDS virus is new in human history, and they may be correct. It is still possible, however, that it is very old and has gone undetected for centuries. They believe that syphilis goes back at least hundreds of years. Sadly, even innocent people who are not involved with sin can be negatively affected by the consequences of someone else’s sin. Bottom line is that all disease is ultimately caused by sin in the human race. There was no death or disease before Adam sinned.

v24-25: Some good news – for the believers in this church, Jesus places no other burden upon them but just to hold on to what they have until He comes. Sometimes I’ve wondered about some of my close relatives. They all believe in Jesus and attended fairly dead churches back in the 1950s and 1960s. They did many good things because they knew that God would be pleased. I tried to get them to go deeper into Christ but failed miserably. They had their “religious rut” and no one was going to change that. After some time, I made a decision just to love them and honor them until they pass. Perhaps this message written to this church 2,000 years ago also refers to some of my dear relatives. “Satan’s deep secrets” in verse 24 may mean that Jezebel, like the later Gnostics, taught that only by descending into the depths of evil could one appreciate the heights of God’s grace. Paul had also been forced to refute a similar idea in the church at Rome in Romans 6:1. (Source: Paul Kroll, 2002; site:

v26-28: The overcomers will be put in charge of nations and will be given “the morning star.” Jesus refers to Himself as the Morning Star in Revelation 22:16. The Bible rarely describes what we will do in Heaven. When It does, I have a hard time understanding what it really involves and it causes me to have more questions than answers.

v29: Each message to a church ends with this quote from Jesus: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” To me, this means that there is symbolism used and spiritual maturity (humility) and wisdom are needed to understand what the Spirit is saying. It’s an intriguing challenge. I wish I had more wisdom and maturity! I get the feeling there is a lot more substance to these verses than what has been stated here.

If this church is the fourth successive church in history, then the date range would be 606-1517 A.D. This featured the height of papal power through the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Jezebel may represent a church that encourages false worship. During this time period, the concept of a “Queen of Heaven” emerged with “Maryolatry” (using her as a mediator between God and man which sharply contradicts God’s Word in 1 Timothy 2:5 – “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and man, the man Christ Jesus”) and claiming she was sinless which violates Luke 1:47 where she confesses that God is her Savior. Sinless souls do not need a Savior. Verses 22-23 mention great tribulation and death because people did not repent of their sinful practices. The Black Death began in 1247 A.D. and it was estimated that over 23 million people died (which may have represented a third of the world).

Contained in these descriptive verses of this church, there are strong hints that Roman Catholic people are not all doomed. Some are true believers that have not agreed to the “fornications” of the false church.

Revelation 3:1-6: Message to the church at Sardis:

v1-5: They were both alive and dead. This could refer to an early Protestant Church during the first 100 years of the Reformation. Many Protestant denominations started strong but faded in faith and power over the centuries. Commanded to wake up and strengthen what remains because they were about to die; yet to be completed. Commanded to remember what was heard and received and keep it, and repent. If not, Jesus would come like a thief unexpectedly. The few people in this group who were faithful to Jesus were promised to walk in white with Him. For those who overcome, their names will not be erased from the Book of Life and Jesus will confess them before His Father and His angels.

Theologians believe this church was alive only on the outside but dead on the inside. There seemed to be no persecution or heresy. They were outwardly prosperous but inwardly without supernatural power. Paul described this type in 2 Timothy 3:5. This seems to describe the protestant church that I was raised in. There were a few people that really had Christ in the hearts and wanted to serve Him, but the rest were just playing a religious game of attendance and pride in their “good works.” The necessity of being born-again was never preached and I did not know that Jesus was returning to earth until I read the Scriptures for myself. Nor was I told there was a spiritual war going on for my soul and other souls. As a youngster, I remember my mom and dad wanting a Bible Study at our house because they were hungry to know more about God, but the pastor discouraged it and was more consumed with how to raise money for the church. The group deteriorated into a social club. Sardis was Christian in name only and may represent the typical nominal Christian church throughout the centuries.

This type of church is more concerned with format and liturgy rather than life on a spiritual level. Social ills become more important than salvation. Why wasn’t it persecuted? The spirit in this fallen world is not going to persecute itself.

To add credibility to the belief that these 7 churches also represent churches today, I searched the web for “Sardis” and found a church named after it in Atlanta. I read all of its comments about the church and found only historical boasts about itself and friendly people who know everyone. They even liked being linked in name to the ancient Sardis Church and they explain why! Nothing about Jesus, salvation, or the Bible. Why any modern-day church would want to call themselves “Sardis” is remarkably revealing.

If this is the fifth church in historic succession, then the time period would be 1517-1739 A.D. (from Luther to the rise of John Wesley). While great revelation and salvations occurred, in a short time many began to be spiritually lazy from 1600 to 1730 A.D.

Revelation 3:7-13: Message to the Church at Philadelphia:

v7: To this group Jesus is described as having the power to make things happen and to prevent things from happening.

v8: Because they have a little power and have kept His Word without denying His name, Jesus will open a door which no one can shut. This is a great church. I have prayed several times throughout the years that God would open doors for me and others that no one could shut in order to take back Satan’s territory and strongholds for Jesus’ sake. Especially good to pray for missionaries in this way. May they all be “of the church in Philadelphia.”

This church is a live church that impacts a community for the Gospel’s sake, not just man’s programs. They are not bogged down with liturgy and tradition, but have at their core the very Word of God. They are not into religion but are into relationship with God. Souls will get saved. These Christians are not nominal Christians. They live for Jesus, not themselves. They are different than anyone else on earth. Their church will see good growth. The door to God is opened by Jesus Christ; Satan and all of his angels can’t shut it. When God opens the door of a church by causing it to grow, Satan can’t stop Him. Jesus said, “… I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). When Christ opens doors, they stay open. If we give Christ the preeminence, all this will happen (Colossians 1:18). This may refer to the explosion of evangelism following the Puritan Era. From the 17th Century (Whitefield, Wesley) on there has been an open door given to the church. To this day, this emphasis on getting people saved is with us. This also may refer to the fast growth of non-denominational churches around the world. Many protestant churches have been suffering a steady decline among young people.

v9: People who think they are right with God but are not, will know that these believers from Philadelphia are loved by Jesus. The evil ones will bow down before the true believers in a way to show how wrong they were on earth (they will not be worshiping them).

v10: Reward for persevering = spared from the “hour of testing.” This most likely refers to “a tribulation” since there have been many tribulations for Christians throughout history.

v11: Command = hold fast to what you have so no one can take away their crown.

v12: Overcomers will dwell in God’s new Temple in the new Jerusalem and will have God’s new name written upon them. I guess everything is going to be NEW.

If this is the sixth church in historic succession, then the time period would be from 1793-present and would include “The Great Awakening.” There actually were three “awakenings” – 1730s-1740s, mid-1790s-1840, and 1857-1859.

Revelation 3:14-22: Message to the church at Laodicea:

v4: Jesus is described as the faithful and true Witness and the origin of God’s creation.

v15-17: This church was neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. It was so detestable to Jesus that He spit them out of His mouth. Now 2,000 years ago there were hot springs near Laodicea, and the city had an aqueduct to carry the hot water to them. By the time the water arrived, however, it was tepid. So there is a literal connection to this church. This church, however, claims that it is rich and in need of nothing having no idea how poor, blind, and naked they are. This quickly moves us beyond just a literal meaning. Jesus says He wishes that they were either hot or cold. Why? Maybe they would have a better chance of being affected by the Holy Spirit. Or, if totally cold, outsiders would know that they are not really representing Jesus Christ on earth. But when lukewarm, they have the outer appearance of being truly Christian and can fool, or worse, draw people into their deadness. Lukewarm people just don’t give a hoot and do not want to change because they do not see the need. Some viewpoints label this as the End-Times Church. It certainly seems to describe dead protestant churches of today. They have moved away from sound Biblical teaching and have embraced a “P.C.” compromising message with social sermons. Certainly in the western part of the world there are many lukewarm churches, but in parts of Africa, South Korea, and China, things are blazing.

v18: Advice = buy from Jesus “gold refined by fire” and “white garments” to clothe themselves so the shame of their nakedness would not be revealed, and ointment to make blind eyes see. Moral of this story = do not take these words literally and do not equate wealth, increase church attendance, or popularity with spiritual blessing. “Gold refined by fire” may mean that the treasure (faith) within these believers needs to be refined by trials (fire). Trials seem to work as an effective antidote to being lukewarm.

v19: Encouragement – because Jesus loves these people He reproves them, so this fact should motivate them to repent.

v20: Great Promise = “Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to Him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.” This shows how Jesus will give people chances to embrace the Gospel. It also demonstrates that He is the initiator, not us. What a wonderful God we have. What does this “knock” sound like? Well, perhaps different experiences for different people. What may be a “knock” for some may not be heard by others. My “knock” was in 1970 when I listened to the Jesus Christ Superstar Album. During the part where Jesus says, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” I fell in love with Him at that moment because He said that in the midst of His intense pain and agony. That moment motivated me to read the New Testament to find out all I could about what Jesus said. I was on my (His) way. Despite that album not portraying the Jesus of the Bible, it contained enough of God’s Word to draw me.

v21: The overcomer will sit on the same throne as Jesus, who sits on the same throne of the Heavenly Father. Jesus is going to share His throne with us?! All rule and authority and power will be abolished, although He must rule UNTIL He has put all of His enemies under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:24-25). Does “until” mean there will be an end to His ruling?! That is difficult to imagine. But once evil is gone forever, everyone will be in perfect love submission to one another. Will there be a need for authority at this point? Just wondering.

If this is the seventh church in historical succession, the date range would be from 1850-present and, compared to the Philadelphia church, may play the role of tares while the wheat are the latter church.

Historical Note: From 150-300 AD the plurality of leadership declined. So-called Christian church leaders who were straying from the Word and Christ Himself became “Bishops of Rome” and they began to compete for power (not good). As time passed through the 4th and 5th centuries, the Gospel was compromised and replaced with ritualism and ceremony. Even some pagan practices were introduced. Following the fall of Rome in 476 AD, the resulting power vacuum allowed these bishops to gain in power aided by Byzantine Emperor Justinian who worked to return Rome to its glory years. Priests also arose and presumed the role of mediator between God and man despite Christ dealing this a death blow as the Book of Hebrews reveals. Rather than the Church being alive with the passion of Jesus and unified by the true Gospel of salvation by faith and grace, it became an institution dominated by a hierarchy of bishops and elders. Bishops were fighting each other to gain power. By 538 AD, one Bishop was singled out by Justinian to represent Christ on earth. This led to the power of the Papal State.

As Roman Catholicism emerged as a power that suppressed the Gospel via threat of death or torture and forbidding the Bible to be read, God still had His true followers albeit underground. They were the Vaudois, the Albigenesies, the Waldenses, the Paulicians, and some others. These carried the “torch of truth” throughout the Dark Ages and would eventually helped cause the Protestant Reformation that freed millions of people from a Satanic yoke. From the 1500s on, more and more truth was restored via various protestant movements. Then in 1798 AD, papal power was destroyed when Pope Pius VI was arrested by French General Louis-Alexandre Berthier along with Swiss Calvinist General Haller on orders from Napoleon. The papacy power was not totally dead as it seemed, however. In 1929, the Lateran Concordat, signed by Mussolini, re-established the political power and diplomatic standing of the Catholic Church, and The Papacy became a sovereign state again. Was this the seemingly fatal head wound against the Anti-Christ being healed described in Revelation 13:3? Probably not. Most likely it was Pagan Rome being destroyed then rising as “False Christian Rome.” Although the papacy cannot order other sovereign governments to kill “heretics” anymore or demand that the Bible not be read by people, it does rule over millions of people worldwide, and is still worshiped by them. Catholics may deny this, but any mere human accepting the title of “Holy Father” is also accepting worship. Do popes stop this like the angels and the leaders in the Bible did when they were begun to be worshiped? No. Jesus said to be a leader, one must serve rather than rule and lord it over people. Jesus is the only Head of His Church, not a mere man born of this earth. According to 2 Thessalonians 2:8, the Anti-Christ Seat (or power) will exist until Jesus returns, and he will utterly destroy its power when He comes. Hence the Papacy is still in existence.

Revelation 4:

v1: God used symbolic descriptions that we can recognize. So the first voice John hears sounded like a trumpet. When similes are used, we should not interpret the words literally. This implies that in the spiritual realm, there are many sights and sounds that are quite above and beyond what we know from our narrow experience on earth, and when John heard this sound, it was important and got his attention.

When Revelation describes an event beginning with a trumpet sound, I do not believe that people on earth hear it when that event is about to unfold on earth. Revelation is full of “veiled symbolism.” This means that the actual meaning is withheld until He desires it to be known. At one point, Daniel wanted to understand his visions, but God prevented it. Why? Perhaps God does not want people to fully understand prophecy of future events until they’ve passed. If so, perhaps this ensures no chance of human interference?? I recall when Peter took out his sword and cut off the ear of the Roman soldier in order to “protect” Jesus, but Jesus rebuked his interference knowing that He had to die soon. In addition, it is not like God to make Himself so obvious that people are FORCED to believe in Him. This way, people who are willing to follow God will look back on prophecies and events and see the connections. This is exactly what happened with the disciples regarding the prophecies of the Messiah’s first coming. Not all prophecy is veiled by symbolism, however. Jesus is literally coming back to earth some day, for example.

v2: John is taken out of this world’s realm and brought to the heavenly realm, and sees the magnificent throne of God.

v3: Again, John can use only earthly terms such as precious, beautiful stones to describe what the Lord looked like. Therefore, these jewels may not be literal gems from earth, especially considering how Holy God’s realm is compared to earth. I really don’t think God values diamonds like people of earth do. John also saw a colorful halo surrounding the Lord. I have heard from people who have died and have been revived say that there are many more colors in heaven than on earth, and they are quite clear and pure. They have a difficult time describing things in earthly terms.

v4: 24 thrones with 24 elders surrounding the Lord worshiping Him. Theologians have guessed at the significance of the number 24 as being “heavenly government and worship” of which the earthly form in Israel was only a copy. Certainly the number 24 has significance. During the Old Covenant there were 24 divisions of priests (1 Chronicles 24).

v5: Lots of dramatic action going on from the throne – lightening flashes and peals of thunder sounds. There were 7 burning lamps which were the 7 spirits of God (here, the symbolism is explained clearly). Seven is a number signifying completion. The 7 spirits of God may represent the completeness of the Holy Spirit or the tri-une Godhead.

v6: In front of the throne was something like a sea of glass like crystal, and in the center were 4 living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.

v7: John describes these 4 creatures as: 1) a lion, 2) an ox, 3, a man, and 4) an eagle. I think it is safe to say these are representations of something extremely important. Many scholars believe they represent the four Gospels. Matthew, for example, presents Jesus as the King of the Jews (lion) with His lineage from Abraham. Mark presents Jesus as a lowly servant (ox) with no lineage given. Luke portrays Jesus as the son of man (man) with His lineage from Adam. John portrays Jesus as the son of God (eagle) with His lineage from eternity. We already know that there is a very strong spirit behind each Gospel because they have changed millions of lives and have influenced the history of mankind like no other writings. So it would not come as a surprise to me that they would be connected to heaven in some way. Old Testament support: Similar glimpses into this frighteningly wonderful realm comes from Ezekiel 1:10 and 10:14 along with Isaiah Chapter 6. It gives credibility to the account in Revelation because of this similarity. When trying to understand Revelation, it is good to incorporate Old Testament revelation since God is consistent with His messages to mankind.

v8-11: These creatures have six wings and never cease praising God. This causes the 24 elders to fall down to worship Jesus and cast all their crowns before the throne. Their praise consists of stating that He willed all things into existence and this is the only reason that they are here. Throwing the crowns back to Jesus demonstrates the total absence of pride. For us way down here, stuck in time, space, and sin, it may be difficult to understand the intensity of this scene of worship. But keep in mind who Jesus is and what He has accomplished. The extent to what He went through to gain us back from Satan is quite breath-taking and difficult to do justice in mere human words (all of what Frodo the Hobbit went through to finally get that ring of evil power thrown into the molten lava within Mount Doom in Mordor kind of helps) but those spirits in this chapter really know and got that worship right.

Revelation 5:

v1-4: John saw a sealed book (scroll) in the hand of Jesus and began weeping when he thought there was no one worthy enough to open it. Considering this strong reaction, he must have somehow known the importance of this book that was sealed with 7 seals. Historicists believe that this scroll contained the coming events during the Church’s history on earth, most of which have since passed. Futurists see it as event descriptions that have not yet occurred.

v5: Then one of the elders explained that Jesus was the only overcomer (of sin, death and the devil) and therefore could open the book.

v6: In the midst of the elders and the throne, John sees a Lamb, as if slain, having 7 horns and 7 eyes (which are the 7 spirits of God) sent out into all the earth. Again this description of Jesus is symbolic. It was a vision presented to John pregnant with meaning. When we see Jesus in His Kingdom, I do not think He will be a lamb with 7 eyes and 7 horns, but He is portrayed this way symbolically here.

v7-8: The Lamb took the book, and the elders and four creatures worshiped Him with harps and “golden bowls full of incense” (which were the prayers of the saints). The word “saints” in Scripture always means “true believers.” This number, therefore, would encompass millions of people. Also note the consistent and continuous use of symbolism.

v9-10: They sang a new song about how worthy Jesus is to redeem humans from all nations and tribes throughout the entire earth because He did not seek to save His life but gave it up freely for others. Furthermore, they sang that Jesus made the saints to be a kingdom and priests unto God and they will reign upon the earth.

v11-12: John heard many thousands of angels saying how worthy Jesus is. This verse, along with Daniel 7:9-10, reveals that there are over 100 million holy angels. Also, we will see how connected the Book of Daniel is to Revelation.

v13-14: The four creatures, the elders, and all created things in heaven, on earth, in the sea, and under the earth began to praise Jesus. What a scene! It may be giving us a glimpse into what goes on in heaven just before something occurs on earth. Certainly the fact that the book could be opened, and that this was good news, seems to suggest that the Holy Spirit could then unleash the spirit of God among living men on earth (John 14:12, 28) and further strengthen The Church (Jesus’ Bride).

An interesting commentary on this chapter by Don Koenig (a Baptist Bible teacher):

Under the Mosaic law, land cannot be taken from God’s people permanently. In ancient Israel, under the law when land was sold, the losses were written down in a scroll and then it was sealed. The conditions for getting the property back were written on the outside for anyone to read. If the person died, a relative who could meet the conditions on the outside of the scroll, could purchase the property back. This chapter is talking about a kinsman redeemer from Adam, rightfully taking back possession of Adam’s right to rule on earth. God gave that right to Adam but he apparently lost this stewardship to angels by allowing sin and death to come into the world. The conditions on the outside require a sinless person to open the scroll. This chapter tells us that Jesus paid the kinsman price of redemption and will open the scroll and start the transfer of the administration of the earth from the prince of angels (Satan) back to man.

Overall, this chapter seems to be revealing what happened when Jesus ascended triumphantly to the “right hand of the Father” when all authority was handed over to Him. This means that His reign began at this time. Some believe this was a picture of the beginning of the millennium which is not literally 1,000 years long while others think a literal 1,000 year long reign will occur after He returns. The former interpretation carries much optimism for believers as the Holy Spirit will be overcoming demonic kingdoms through us! In any case, John got a good look into that spiritual realm and recorded it for us.

Reminder: I do not wish to explain all the interpretations of all the verses in the Book of Revelation. The two dominate viewpoints are: historic and futuristic. “Historic” believes most verses have been already fulfilled several years ago, while the “futuristic” believes that most have yet to be fulfilled. I will state these views to some extent and try to limit myself to making basic statements that can help us appreciate the Lord more and more.

Revelation 6: The Dreadful Seals! This chapter gives us an accurate picture of pagan Rome, the fall of the pagan Roman Empire, rise of Christianity, rise of the false church, and Christian martyrdom.

The Lamb controls history. He opens the seals. Jesus breaks 6 seals of the book with each one having a result on earth:

1st Seal (96-180 A.D.?) = A white horse rider went out conquering. Some view this as the Antichrist, but historicists say it is Jesus conquering by the Gospel through His Church. Others think it represented Roman imperialism at its height. The four living creatures pictured in verse 1 may be the same four as seen in Ezekiel 1:1-14 where they represented the four gospels. There was peace during the rapid spread of the Gospel from 33 AD to 64 AD, then Nero’s persecution of Christians began. If this time frame is correct, however, John’s recording of this Book would have had to been earlier than 90 AD, a date most scholars believe it was recorded. Based on Revelation 1:1 and 1:19, all that is shown to John are things present and things that would soon take place. However, if the Book was recorded around 60 AD, as Preterists believe, then the fore-mentioned interpretation is more feasible.

2nd Seal (185-284 A.D.?) = A red horse rider took peace away from earth making men kill each other. The red horse may have been a representation of Nero, the evil Roman Emperor. Others think this time frame was later when civil war broke out for 92 years (192-284 A.D.) in the Pagan Roman Empire. Verse 4 mentions “the earth” but it does not mean the entire planet, but rather “a region” which I think gets lost in translation.

3rd Seal (200-250 A.D.?) = A black horse rider with a pair of scales in his hand and a quote saying, “A quart of wheat for 18 cents and 3 quarts of barley for 18 cents; and do not harm the oil and the wine.” The black horse may represent the spiritual weakening of the church as faith began to waiver around 200 AD. This verse is most likely not so much about physical food famine. The “oil and wine” could refer to the spiritual anointing since oil represented this in the Old Testament, and wine may mean the “new wine” or New Covenant. In those days, 18 cents equaled a day’s wage which was quite a high price for only 3 quarts of barley. So it all may be pointing to leanness of soul for the church because once persecution was stopped by Constantine in 313 AD, the church lost its passion for Jesus and gradually became more ritualized eventually culminating into the Roman Catholic Church where popes ruled nations with an iron fist. The true Church, however, continued to survive and grow underground (“oil & wine” not harmed). Others believe this period was when Rome had very high taxes on its people. These folks point out that the word “hurt” in verse 6 is better translated “be not unjust” thus claiming taxation should be fair.

4th Seal (250-300 A.D.?) = An ashen (pale) horse rider named Death with Hades following him. Together they were given authority over 1/4 of the “earth” (region) to kill with sword and famine and pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. The historic plague killed 5,000 daily in Rome and more than half the people in Alexandria perished. This seal may also represent the worst time for the church 235 AD (Maximus) – 310 AD (Diocletian). In thirty days Diocletian killed 17,000 believers, and in Egypt 144,000 Christians were slain, and thousands more in other places. This Roman Emperor vowed to stamp out Christianity. Ironically, in the exact place where he made this announcement stands the huge Christian library today. God has His statements to mankind.

5th Seal (303-313 A.D.?) = Revealed the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and their testimony they maintained. They cried out with a loud voice wondering how long would God refrain from judging and avenging their blood on those who dwelt on earth. They were then each given a white robe and told to wait a little while longer until the number of martyrs would be completed. This probably represented the souls that were martyred during this black “hour” of history, or perhaps it refers to all martyrs from many nations throughout church history. The Church has been built upon the blood of these saints. This “hour” was to continue a bit more, but better things are on the horizon. The worst persecution in church history was a 10 year period ruled by Diocletion who attempted to wipe out all of Christianity. All persecution ceased in 313 when Constantine legalized Christianity.

6th Seal (313-390 A.D.?) = Caused a great earthquake making the sun dark and the moon like blood and the” stars to fall to earth” as a shaken fig tree casts down its unripe figs. The sky split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up and every mountain and island were moved out of their place. Kings, great men, commanders, rich, slave, freemen, all hid themselves in caves and rocks of the mountains, wishing that the rocks would cave in on them thus hiding them from the wrath of the Lamb of God. Futurists (dispensationalists) view this to mean literal happenings and the sky splitting like a scroll could mean a nuclear bomb exploding. They assert that a literal earthquake will darken the sun and change the color of the moon to red. I’m not sure if they also believe stars will fall to earth, but if they do, I would think that would destroy all life! Therefore, I think it is safe to assume that these words represent something else.

Historicists do see this seal as an answer to the prayers of those saints who called for God’s judgment to fall upon those who murdered them. Any time God previously spoke of earthquakes and the darkening of the sun it meant judgment was coming (Joel 2:10; Ez.32:7-8). The sun has never darkened and the earth did not quake when judgment fell on those people of the Old Testament. Mountains symbolize governments (see Isaiah 2:2-3), stars = rulers (spiritual and/or earthly), sun/moon = people in places of authority. God uses consistent symbolic language throughout His Word that must be respected and used to discern what He is saying in Revelation. Historically, Rome began to crumble as punishment for its pride, sin, and treatment of God’s people. What would follow was the takeover of Constantine (governmental upheaval – perhaps the most extreme in history). In fact, verse 16 may be referring to opposers of Christians now running in fear of Constantine when he legalized Christianity and claimed to be a believer himself. Many Roman rulers also died ugly deaths at this time. I believe all this “shaking up” was described symbolically in this chapter. In the meantime, the “government” of Christianity had gained a strong foothold upon the earth. Now pagan Rome had time to repent (but it did not, hence its final destruction in 476 A.D.).

Question: Was Constantine a real Christian? He refused to be baptized until near death, but the baptizer was of the Arian persuasion (cult that denies the deity of Christ) and the fact that he picked up the sword to kill non-believers makes me doubt his salvation. He may have seen a vision of a shining cross and saw the words “By this win,” but if that was God, He certainly did not mean to put cross symbols on shields and kill people for Christ. Because Constantine won battles with the crosses on the shields, he “converted.” I ask, converted to what? Jesus said we are not to live by the sword. To be fair, Constantine did have some good impact on the world. He got Bibles made and distributed, and he stopped crucifixions (answer to millions of prayers). A time of peace helped believers obtain some semblance of order and security. Legalizing the religion, via the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, gave Christians a credible name for the first time in history. That Edict, however, was one of several factors that lead to a backslidden church. Other causes included no teaching, few/no Scriptures, and a mixture of Greek philosophy with the Gospel. Many teachers in the primitive church were educated slaves who taught in the houses and schools of aristocrats and government workers, who themselves were educated in Greek culture. A couple of hundred years later, the Papacy came into power which lead to more persecution of the true Church over 1260 years through the Middle (Dark) Ages.

This chapter certainly gives us the idea that God is powerfully in control of history, not man. Hollywood always gets it backwards with such movies as “Oh God” for example. God, played by George Burns, tells a guy played by John Denver that once He created everything it was now up to man to make things good. The “Hollywood god” has a “hands-off” policy. The God of the Bible, however, is continually intervening on man’s behalf. Consider these examples:

1) Covering Adam & Eve with animal skins after they sinned,
2) Noah’s Flood,
3) Deliverance from worldly and oppressive Egypt via Moses,
4) Red Sea splitting,
5) Prophet after prophet during Old Testament times,
6) Jonah’s whale ride and preaching repentance to Nineveh,
7) Israel winning wars when outnumbered,
8) The destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah,
9) John the Baptist,
10) Jesus,
11) The Baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost,
12) A stunned Saul on the road to Damascus,
13) Chains falling off Peter while in prison.

I see a hands-on God. This chapter also reveals that God has specific timing for certain events to occur. I personally believe that this timing throughout all of history maximizes the number of souls saved in the shortest amount of our time (2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:6).

Revelation 7: Some believe this chapter is an overview of the entire Church Age. It seems to be a prophetic revelation about the impending evils that will come upon the Church.

v1-8: Four angels each standing at the four corners of the earth holding back wind (judgment) from the whole earth so that true believers can be sealed (protected). They were told to not harm anything on the earth until God’s bond-servants were sealed on their foreheads. I do not think these seals were visible to humans. In Ezekiel 9:4 and Revelation 3:12 & 14:1 God sealed people but only He and angels could see it. God is consistent when using His symbolic language. I believe the protection was not from tribulation (Christians have suffered for centuries) but rather apostasy. God has promised that the gates of Hades will not prevail against His Church (Matt.16:18 & 24:24).

What do the numbers mean? Many scholars believe 12 represents God’s completed government. Some also believe that the True Israel of God is the Church (based on Gal.6:15-16; Rom. 9:6-8; 2:28-29). Each tribe’s name reflects the character of the people in them. What about 144,000? Since it is a multiple of 12, it may represent God’s eventual complete government over and in the earth, and indicates that His Plan will be done no matter what His enemy does, and not one soul will be missing because they were sealed. Historicists believe 144,000 is not literal but represents completion. Others think that the 144,000 was the literal number of Jewish Christians who escaped the Roman siege of Jerusalem where most Jews who stayed behind were slaughtered in 70 AD. Dispensationalists believe it is a literal number of special Jewish converts who work in the very Last Days (yet to come). However, according to historicist author of Robert Caringola (The Present Reign of Jesus Christ), this phase of past history had to have occurred just after the 6th seal which marked the radical change of government in Rome from anti-Christian to pro-Christian under Constantine, but before the first 4 trumpets in Chapter 8 which describe the Gothic invasions that completed Rome’s demise.

Revelation Chapter 14 gives us more specific details about the mysterious 144,000.

So, at this moment God was going to judge the earth with heavy destruction but was not going to harm these believers. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have mistakenly interpreted this number as being the number of truly saved people who will go to heaven (all from their little group, of course). They changed their tune when their own sect reached well over 144,000. They have also made many errors with End-Time prophecy. I think that Satan has got people to “cry wolf” many times concerning the end of this world so that when the end in finally upon us, few will believe it.

v9-10: Then a different group appears on the scene. These are souls of people who went through great tribulation (not THE great tribulation – KJV is the only version that leaves out the word “the” and gets it right in my opinion). The multitude before God’s throne was so large that no one could count the numbers! Furthermore, as is indicated in verse 14, this number that was so large no one could count only represented those coming out of great tribulation from every nation, tongue, and tribe and were clothed in white robes signifying that they were redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. They even carried palm branches in their hands just like the people did when Jesus entered Jerusalem on that first “Palm Sunday.” Does this apply only to one futuristic tribulation in history as the dispensationalists assert? Well, it makes more sense to me that this is describing the history of martyrdom from the entire Church Age. In other words, this does not apply ONLY to Christians from some horrible persecution in the future. If it does apply to those only, it greatly disses all those people over the centuries that went through torture and torment dying for Jesus. Who are we to say that those people will not be part of this group! (see further note on verses 13-14 below).

v11-12: During this scene where all the redeemed were praising God for their salvation, all the angels chimed in with their worship as well.

v13-14: The phrase “great tribulation” should NOT be preceded with the word “the.” The King James Version does not have it, but later translations do because it supports the dominant dispensational viewpoint. I believe Cryus Scofield, a strong dispensationalist, may have been the first to add that word. Without that “the,” its meaning becomes clearer. I think it is referring to all the profoundly tough tribulations that some believers experience. Some dispensationalists assert that there will be this one big tribulation and believers will be raptured away before it occurs. But verse 14 says they “came out of it” which clearly says they were in it (or experienced it). I know that for hundreds of years through the Dark Ages, many Christians were arrested, tortured, and murdered by Roman Catholic popes. So whether it be from the horror of the Roman Empire, Anti-Christ, extreme Islamists, communist leaders, or whatever, history is replete with great tribulation for the saints, and they ALL have a special reward in heaven because of it. To think that one group of people in the future will alone enjoy this special blessings is sad and insulting, considering what thousands of believers have already experienced over the centuries.

Much confusion arises because people don’t realize that Matthew 24:5-14 is a brief overview of the entire Age of the Church, while verses 15-28 is a specific warning to the Jewish Christians of that day. What happened during the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD is well documented by Flavius Josephus, a credible Jewish historian who lived and wrote in that time period. What he describes fits perfectly with what Jesus warned about in verses 15-28 from Matthew 24. The “abomination of desolation” that Daniel spoke about is not Antichrist but rather the heathen Roman army (the abomination) surrounding Jerusalem (the holy place). Prior to the actual Roman attack, Jewish zealots who hated Rome murdered thousands of Jews who wanted to surrender. They also erected a false idol in the Temple. When the army first appeared around Jerusalem, it retreated back to Rome, but they returned three weeks later and destroyed everything (not one Temple stone was on top of another because fires melted gold between those stones, so the soldiers pried the stones apart to get the gold). In the meantime, when the Jewish Christians saw them surrounded by armies, as Jesus warned in Luke 21:20, they got ready to flee. When the army retreated, those believers took off to the town of Pella and were all spared a gruesome death.

They spread the Gospel quickly to other areas and it wasn’t that long after that others brought the Gospel to England and Scotland. “The origins of the Church in Scotland go back to the dawn of Christianity. The first known historical reference to Christians in Scotland comes from Tertullian of Carthage around the year 200: with evident reference to the territories of the Picts, he wrote that areas of the Britons inaccessible to the Romans had received the Word of Christ.” (Suite101: The Early Church in Scotland | Bill Hamon’s book “The Eternal Church,” p.79 which states: “The grandchildren of Peter and John could have been active ministers in the Church by the close of the first century…some scholars believe it (the Gospel) extended as far west as Spain and Britain.”

What we can be sure of is that things on earth for the true believer will become very difficult at times. We will be tested and refined by the Holy Spirit, and those who are called to martyrdom will have a great eternal reward. Those who suffer greatly because of Jesus will receive great eternal reward.

v15-17: This is a great description of heaven for ALL believers – no more hunger nor thirst, nor scorching heat from the sun. The Lamb will guide them to springs of the “water of Life” and He will wipe away every tear. AWESOME!

Revelation 8: This features the opening of the 7th seal which contains 7 trumpets that symbolize various wars and takeovers of the old Roman Empire by the Goths, Vandals, Huns, Heruli, Arabs, Turks, and finally communists. Just like the 7 trumpets were signaling the destruction of  Jericho, these trumpets were signaling the destruction of the Roman Empire (both pagan Rome and eventually Papal Rome). Time frame being from about 400 A.D. – early 1900s.

Different Perspectives – The Futurists see the trumpets as describing the events of “The” Great Tribulation in the Last Days which has not yet happened. The Historicists view them as stages of church history, perhaps from 400 AD to 1400s or to present. This is the view I prefer and will comment more about. So while the previous chapter is most likely an overview involving all believers during the Church Age, this chapter may be dealing with a specific time.

v1: After breaking 6 seals, Jesus finally breaks the 7th and everything fell silent for about a half-hour. I think that would be “John’s time” because he is writing things down from his perspective. God’s time is different than ours. The word “silence” probably means “peace” or the calm before the storm, and may have represented the time between 317 AD and 339 AD when Constantine was Emperor. In 313 AD, his Edict of Milan made Christianity legal so all persecution stopped. The believers did indeed have a period of peace. Lurking in the background, however, is God’s judgment against those who made war against His Church (Rome). As history shows, that great empire fell in 476 AD, and I believe it was God’s judgment that did it. He used different armies, but He orchestrated it. The early church fathers, a few hundred years earlier, saw Rome’s power as something that restrained or prevented an Antichrist take over. These men viewed 2 Thessalonians 2:7 as Rome’s civil power, not the Holy Spirit as dispensationalists believe. A religious leader could not have world power with civil (secular) governments in power. With Rome’s demise, an Antichrist (“anti” means “in place of”) power could now arise and it would be responsible for millions of Christians being tortured and slain in the name of God for over many years.

v2-3: Seven angels were given seven trumpets. Another angel was given much incense so he could add it to the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

v4: The smoke of this incense went out of the angel’s hand up to God. These were the prayers of the saints probably for this 300 year persecution period where there were no visible answers to those prayers.

Application for Today: Any prayers we pray are never wasted though we may not see their fulfillment.

v5: The angel then took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it down to earth causing peals of thunder, flashes of lightening, and an earthquake. Again, these were not literal effects on earth, but rather major upheavals. Here we get a glimpse of how activity in Heaven will influence our realm on earth. God is not a “hands-off” Creator.

v6-7: The 1st trumpet sounds (400-410 A.D.) causing hail and fire mixed with blood and they were thrown to earth resulting in 1/3 of earth and trees being burnt up and all the grass burnt. Historically, this is probably describing the next 100 years of war against Rome from 376 to 476 AD, when it finally fell. During this time, three invasions of Rome occurred. The first was from the Goths led by Alaric (Visigoths and Ostrogoths – “visa” = west and “ostro” = east). They were German tribes and they literally burned everything in their path. The prayers of those deceased saints were now being answered!

v8-9: The 2nd trumpet (425-470 A.D.) sounded like a great mountain burning with fire. When thrown to earth, 1/3 of the sea became blood killing 1/3 of the sea creatures as well as 1/3 of the ships that were unlucky enough to be there at this time. “Mountain” can represent earthly government and Rome was a great government so this may refer to the Vandal invasion of Rome, led by Genseric, that followed the Goth invasion. They invaded by land and sea taking France, Spain, and Africa. They were great seaman, hence, the reference to 1/3 of the sea.

v10-11: The 3rd trumpet (451 A.D.) sounded and a great star fell from heaven burning like a torch falling on 1/3 of the rivers and springs. Its name was Wormwood and caused the waters to become bitter killing many men. This could represent the most bitter oppression against the Roman Empire brought about by Attila the Hun, known as “the scourge of God,” and his hordes. So much blood got into the main rivers that many died from drinking from those streams. Historians estimate that up to 300,000 men lay slaughtered in those rivers. Just after Attila’s death in 453, the Vandals took Rome in 455.

v12: The 4th trumpet (476 A.D.) sounded and 1/3 of the sun, moon, and stars were smitten so that they no longer radiated light. This “darkening” reflects the magnitude of the next woe against the pagan Roman Empire. The Heruli, led by Odoacer, ended its imperial rule.

Important perspective – Keep in mind that since 313 AD, Rome was becoming “Christianized.” This means there was no repentance concerning its treatment of God’s people and many were baptized with unrepentant hearts. They “converted” because it was the thing to do (influence of Emperor Constantine). Therefore, so-called Christianity was becoming religious and ritualized, and therefore false and dead. Many pagan practices were camouflaged with Christian names and practices. So God kept judgment coming against the old Roman Empire and for the false religion that was emerging. Following Rome’s fall, there was no king left. Constantine moved to Constantinople. This power vacuum, the restrainer mentioned in 2 Thess.2:7 being gone now, created the formation of what was then called “The Bishops of Rome.” Bitter power struggles ensued with these bishops. By 533 A.D., Emperor Justinian, who had reconquered Italy and Rome from the Goths. His formal decree in 538 A.D. gave all power to only one Bishop of Rome. It proclaimed that anyone not subjecting themselves to this Bishop shall be put to death! It was in this context that the first Pope came into existence. This had no historical or spiritual connection with Peter or the early church. In the meantime, God’s true Church survived and real Christians spread out and eventually influenced those tribes who took Rome.

v13: John hears an eagle flying in “mid-heaven” proclaiming woe to those on earth because the next three trumpets were about to be blown. This most likely describes the emergence of Islam and its strong armies. Between 622 AD and 632 AD Christianity was wiped out in Arabia.

Futurists (dispensationalists) interpret these kinds of verses literally. In other words, they assert that 1/3 of earth will burn and be destroyed. The Book of Revelation, as I contend, is steeped in symbolism and it is therefore risky and misleading to make literal interpretations. Still, this Book is not easy to discern. It’s kind of like the Apostles trying to understand Jesus’ parables. Now we know how they felt. In any case, this piece of Scripture may be describing the awful wars throughout Europe.

The bottom line point is that God is interactive with mankind and has all things under His control, and no one gets away with anything. All will be “leveled out” via His judgments. Finally, it is chapters such as this one that causes me to believe that John is telling the truth about what he saw and heard because no one in their right mind could or would just make this all up resulting in millions of people reading it throughout the ages.

Historical Perspective and Summary Interlude: I thought this might help readers understand more about what the Book of Revelation is actually describing. There are close parallels throughout church history that can easily fit into these verses, so I will present a brief history lesson.

The Church went from the glory of Jesus at Pentecost to a man-made, organized world religion (the Roman Emperor Constantine appointed himself to be the ruler of the church as well). During this time, world government authority was being shifted from the secular to the religious.

Please note: Any time I mention Roman Catholicism I do not hate or judge Roman Catholic people. All my comments pertain ONLY to the institution and the claims of popes.

In its beginning the church at Rome was guided by a plurality of elders rather than by a single bishop. Over time, there was much deceit with many claiming to be the successor of Peter. What in fact these bishops demonstrated was that they were descendants of Adam and his sin. The lust for power corrupted many. The concept of the bishop of Rome as a successor of Peter was not seriously held until the fourth century. It was first devised by Damasus, bishop of Rome (366-384), then Innocent I (401-417). It was more fully formulated in the teaching of Bishop Leo I (440-461) in the fifth century. It took many centuries of intrigue, power struggles, and massive forgeries before the concept became dogma in the Roman Church. The Hibernian Christians never accepted the teaching until the Norman Conquest in 1172. The Eastern Orthodox Churches have never accepted it. (Source: Richard Bennett, ex-Roman Catholic priest)

After Constantine, successive religious men (bishops) ruled with more power and this emerging system of power lasted longer than any other governing power in history. Consider the following number of years in power for certain regimes: Egypt-400 years; Assyria-300 years; Babylon-70 years; Rome-600 years; Papal Rome-1260 years. Even the Chinese dynasties never ruled this long. According to Richard Bennett, it has been estimated that popes during this time murdered 30-50 million Christians (“heretics”). Heretics in those days were people who believed that only Jesus, not the Pope, was the Head of the Church and that the Bible was the infallible Word of God. These beliefs made one a candidate for death.

In order to really identify Papal Rome as being a significant fulfillment of End-Time prophecy, we must understand the revelation God gave to the Old Testament prophet Daniel. In chapters 2 and 7, he is given visions of four ruling kingdoms on earth. Daniel gave a description of each: 1) Babylonian, 2) Medes-Persian, 3) Greece (Alexander the Great), and 4) the Roman Empire. Daniel was on the scene when the Medes conquered Babylon, but was not alive for the Greece and Roman Empires. The emergence of the Papal State after the Roman Empire parallels Daniel 7:8 and 21. For more info, read my commentary on Daniel.

This Papal Kingdom was also described by Daniel 7:20,21,25. These verses speak of a power with 10 horns on its head, 3 fell, and one came up. This coincides with the structure within Catholicism in that day as we will see later. This power would wage war against true believers and wear them down, overpower them, and change laws (re-institute a priest system of mediation between God and man despite the Book of Hebrews revealing that Christ abolished this, practice of praying to dead “saints,” allowing statues to be a point of focus, veneration of Mary, indulgences, justifying the torture and murder of real Christians to mention some of these changes). People were tortured, disembodied, strangled, impaled upon stakes, burnt alive, children were dashed against rocks or put to the sword – some of the most gruesome implements invented were made to kill “heretics” during The Spanish Inquisition. When our great brother in Christ John Huss was present at his mock trial, the Roman Catholic in charge would rail against him with charges to which John always responded by saying, “If you can show me by the Scriptures that I am wrong, I will recant.” His accusers interpreted that as blasphemy, NEVER quoted the Scriptures, and then condemned him to the stake of fire. Now the Catholic Church is not like this today, but many do not know the reason why. It was the power of God’s Word being freed up to the public via the Protestant Reformation (see Daniel 7:22).

The clincher is found in Daniel 7:26 (only the King James Version makes it clear): “…and they (the saints) shall take away his (the one powerful horn) dominion….” In other words, what brings down this Antichrist world power was the true believers armed with God’s Word! This is symbolically pictured in heaven as a sword coming out of Jesus’ mouth in Revelation 1:16; 19:13-15. This is exactly what happened during the years of the Reformation. The approaching return of Jesus begins this sweeping change and it has been going on for centuries. When He does come, however, He will rid the world of all evil power forever. In 1798 AD, the Papacy finally lost control over the nations when Napoleon triumphed and Pope Pius VI was taken away from Rome and died shortly later. It wasn’t until 1929 that some sort of world Papal power returned when Mussolini signed the Lateran Concordat. This made the Vatican a sovereign state politically. This may be the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Anti-Christ recovering from what seemed to be a fatal wound in Revelation 13:3. Although the Papacy had regained sovereign state status and continues to deceive millions of people, it has never returned to its former political power over other nations. Others think that the seemingly fatal wound healing was when the destroyed pagan Roman Empire became the Antichrist Papal Empire (this makes more sense to me).

While most early church fathers and later Protestant reformers viewed the Papacy as the foretold Antichrist, a new interpretation emerged in order to take off the heat against Roman Catholicism. The view of Futurism, a product of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, was advanced beginning in the 16th century by Jesuit Priest Francisco Ribera in 1585 in his treatise on the Apocalypse of John called “In Sacrum Beati Ioannis Apostoli, & Evangelistiae Apocalypsin Commentarij.” Later, in the 1800s, John Darby catapulted this notion further and added his theory called dispensationalism which disregards church history and ignores consistently used symbolic phrases from both Testaments. Adding to this momentum was Bible translator Cyrus Scofield who allowed this bias to change some key wording in significant verses in order to promote Darby’s ideas. Most notably was in Revelation 7:14 where he placed the word “the” in front of the words “great tribulation.” His reason was to promote the futuristic view that a certain brief time in history will be horrible persecution and Jesus will give these people a special place in heaven as a result. According to proper translation, however, that word “the” should not be included. This supports the historicist view that the Book of Revelation chronicles the history of the church, and most prophecies have been fulfilled. Hence, Christians from many different eras who experienced horrible hardships and martyrdom will be a part of that special blessing rather than only those that lived just prior to Christ’s Second Coming. To me, the dispensational view insults all those who have suffered great loss due to persecution.

Contrary to what many Christians believe, the Bible never uses the phrase THE great tribulation. Again, I believe that dispensationalist Bible translator Cyrus Scofield had Revelation 7:14 dead wrong by inserting the word “the” in front of “great tribulation.” Jesus did speak of great tribulation when prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Some scholars believe this marked the taking away of the Kingdom of God and giving it to the Gentiles which Jesus said would happen (Matthew 21:43). But there have been many great tribulations for believers over the centuries in various parts of the world and I believe they will be just as much a part of this great honor that Revelation talks about. Finally, if you read my commentary on Daniel Chapter 9:24, you will see that there is no future 7-year (missing week) period where “the” tribulation will occur. The so-called “missing weekers” have missed the week because Daniel plainly reveals that Jesus fulfilled all 6 of those events at his first coming, hence all “70 weeks” have been fulfilled. Jesus has fulfilled the “70th week.” This absolutely destroys any notion of a future 7-year tribulation.

Revelation 9: I believe that God has judged the western Roman Empire and now He will judge the eastern part for their sins and destruction of His people. The eastern church practiced relic worship as the false church gained momentum. So God allowed the rise of Islam from the Arabian or Saracen Empire. They would attack and destroy many.

v1: The 5th trumpet sounded (612-762 A.D.?) and a star fell from heaven to earth, and the key to the bottomless pit was given to him. “Star” may symbolize Mohammed, especially considering how his invasions seem to be accurately described in this chapter. The bottomless pit is probably a spiritual place not something physical in our realm, or possibly just figurative language. For example, this event may symbolize Mohammed creating his beliefs into religious doctrines in 606 A.D. that would rule (and destroy) millions. When he saw the statues in Catholic churches and the veneration of Mary and the “saints,” he was furious and regarded all Christians as idol worshipers and infidels that must be converted by force, or subjected to his way of living, or killed. Alas, Mohammed thought the false church was real Christianity.

v2: He opened it and great smoke came out darkening the air and sun. This could simply signify the effect of the spiritual world on our natural world without literally darkening anything on our side of things. Smoke and darkening most likely represents judgment. For example, the “sun” or “light” from Constantinople was not totally wiped out but only “darkened” by “smoke” via the Moslems.

v3-6: From the smoke came locusts upon the earth and they had power like the scorpions. They could not hurt earth or any green thing, but only men who were not sealed by God. They also could not kill anyone but only painfully torment for 5 months. Men will seek death but not find it. Mohammed’s plan was to not necessarily kill “infidels” but to convert them to Islam by force or they would have to pay tribute. This had to be tormenting. Keep in mind that “smoke” means “judgment” and “darkening.” Back in Rev.7:2 & 3, God had angels put a seal on true people of God, not idol worshipers. I believe this seal was spiritual thus invisible to humans. I also think that God was telling us that true Christians were not killed in these attacks. This most likely describes the emergence of Islamic armies who contained a creed from the Koran of not hurting land vegetation but were to kill those who did not convert to Islam. There is a good fit here. Their goal was to hurt apostate churches and corrupt Christians. Specifically, Mohammed’s instructions were to go against those who worship Mary as the Queen of Heaven and the saint worshipers of the Holy Roman Empire. So here we see what a grip Roman Catholicism had on so-called Christianity. This makes sense since Justinian made the decree in 538 A.D. to kill anyone who does not swear allegiance to the pope.

What about the “five months” mention? If we apply the “day = year” code established in the Daniel 9 prophecy of the time of Jesus on earth, Numbers 14:33-34, and Ezekiel 4:4-6, then 5 months (30-days/month) equals 150 days or years. In 612 A.D., Mohammed proclaimed he would promote his religion by the sword and the Moslems threatened, killed, and conquered the Holy Land, North Africa, and Spain, but was halted, some say miraculously, in 732 by Charles Martel in Tours, France. The Muslims stopped their aggression and moved their capital back to Bagdad in 762 A.D. Here is a nice 150 year fit for the historicist interpretation. Or, we can consider the commentary below on verses 7-10.

v7-10: The locust description = like horses prepared for battle, golden crowns on their heads, faces like men, hair like women, teeth like lions, breastplates of iron, wings made sounds like many horses and chariots running into battle, stinging tails like scorpions (it was these that tormented men for 5 months (150 days) which actually may have been 150 years on earth. Arabia was known as the “land of the locust.” Arabs wore golden turbans, were fierce fighting horsemen, wore iron “coats of mail” (a jacket covered with or composed of metal rings or plates, serving as armor), had long, flowing hair, and were skilled at turning around and fighting over their horses tails. The Saracens, who were an Arabian tribe, tormented Europe with raids from 830-980 AD (150 years).

Dispensationalists have speculated that John was describing helicopters with words limited by his native language of 2,000 years ago. I’m not sure if it all fits perfectly, but I have always been intrigued by what John heard. If he heard motors/engines for the first time, he might describe them as wings sounding like many horses and chariots running into battle. Although this theory can make some sense, I do not believe it in light of strong historical connections.

v11: These locusts have a powerful evil angel leading them. He is called “The Destroyer.” he probably wasn’t Satan himself but rather his “commander-in-chief” so to speak. Therefore, Scripture and historical evidence may indicate that the locusts were extreme Muslims being empowered by a very strong demon. During this time Islamic armies conquered Persia, India, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, North Africa, and Spain. They were finally stopped in Tours, France by Charles Martel in 732 AD. John probably saw a representation of all this in heaven, but it is implemented via natural humans on earth. I think this belief is the core to what the Book of Revelation is all about and needs to be viewed as such to gain insight.

At this point, the 150 year woe has passed, but the next woe seems to indicate the activities of the Turkish Empire. Hence the introduction in Scripture to the next two woes.

v12-16: The 6th trumpet sounded (1062-1453 A.D.?) and a voice told the 6th angel to release four demons bound at the Euphrates River. For two generations the western advancement of the Tatars (Turks) was blocked by the Euphrates River. These 4 powerful demons were prepared for this very hour, day, month, and year to kill 1/3 of mankind. The Turks crossed the river in 1062 and attacked the eastern part of the Holy Roman (Papacy) Byzantine Empire. The number of “horsemen” was 200 million John heard this specific number (was this number literal? I discuss this a bit later). Perhaps the cause of this judgment was the fact that the corrupt church was growing in power. On the history time-line, these verses are probably covering 1057 (beginning of Turkish Empire) -1453 AD (the fall of Constantinople). Millions of people were killed during this time. The physical area involved was about 1/3 of the Roman Empire that the Goths and Arabs did not touch, hence the phrase “1/3 of mankind killed” probably refers to the Turks finishing off what past invaders did not do. Shortly after this, the Church would change in a big way (via the Reformation and the Renaissance). So what about the four angels (demons) released? The Turks were divided into four major groups each having a leader.

These verses are most likely describing Islam vs. the corrupt institution of Roman Catholicism. God may have been using the Muslims to execute his judgment here. A stated earlier, Arabia was known as the “Land of the Locusts” back in that day. Mohammed’s command was to kill only “idol worshipers” and not hurt the land. They won every war against Roman Catholics for 100 years but were finally stopped by the Franks (Charles Martel) in 732 AD. The Arabs then retreated back to Spain. Mohammad was turned off greatly by Roman Catholicism because of their worship of idols (statues, etc.) therefore all Christians were idol worshipers in his mind. So the Muslim religion may have been started because the False Christian Church was so badly corrupted.

Note on v15: it says these four angels would have effect for an “hour and day and month and year.” This equals 396 days. If days=years, then 396 years are described here. Bagdad fell to the Turks in 1057 and Constantinople in 1453. Exactly a 396 year span of history.

Dispensationalists have speculated that these demons with all their “locust riders” would possess a huge Chinese army sometime in the future and they will carry out this horrible destruction. Of course, this interpretive approach assumes this big number is literal. Perhaps China could amass an army of this size, especially considering their national abortion policy of one child per family which has led many families to abandon or abort female children in favor of having a male for their only child resulting in a skewed number of males alive in that country now. China’s army, however, currently does not have 200 million trained and armed soldiers. Furthermore, I cannot imagine trying to move 200 million soldiers over any long distance. The maintenance and sustenance needs would be overwhelming. Even with all our technology, it took a lot of effort for the U.S. to move just 500,000 troops in the Persian-Gulf attack. Historicists believe this Arabian attack occurred in 1300 AD when four Turkish sultans, who were all much closer in proximity, organized a huge, fierce attack from the Euphrates River. The Turks destroyed what was left of the Roman Empire in 1453 AD when Constantinople fell. Many intellectuals were able to flee from this slaughter into France, Germany, etc. Due to the increasing fear and resentment against these two religions, the foundation for the Renaissance and the Reformation was laid and would bring about huge changes to the “civilized world.”

Does China actually have 200 million soldiers? Perhaps the answer is “yes and no.” Good Internet sources state that their army is 2.3 million but if you add militia forces, that number increases to a little over 4 million. But this is certainly not close to the 200 million number that the Associated Press apparently claimed in 1964. Perhaps the larger number includes many of the males who are not married (due to the female shortage from the horrible abortions law there) making this disgruntled, untrained, horde ready to fight if need be. I wonder, however, if we are missing a deeper truth from these verses in Revelation 9 about the 200 million soldiers. Perhaps these beings are not human but rather demons acting through humans. After all, many demons can exist in one person. We learn that from Jesus confrontation with “Legion.” Many demons in each soldier would cause them to be fierce killers. On the other hand, perhaps 200,000,000 is simply symbolic for “a vast number” but I don’t think so. If the word “gazillions” was used rather than such a large, specific number, then I would conclude the number is not literal. Furthermore, the fact that John claimed he actually heard that number during this vision seems to lend credibility to it being literal.

Note: The second woe in this chapter is not completed until Revelation 11:4. The Turks went on fighting for 200 more years but did not expand their territory during the famous Crusades.

v17-19: Further description of the horses and those who sat on them by John – riders had breastplates, horse heads were like lion heads with their mouths spewing fire, smoke, and brimstone (or sulphur). These three are called “plagues” and 1/3 of mankind was killed by them. Since John says the power of the horses was in their “mouths,” he could have seen modern tanks according to dispensationalists. History, of course, paints a different interpretation. A German man invented the first cannon at this time in history, and no one paid any attention to him except the Turks! These cannons were so huge that it took 80 yoke of oxen to pull them and 2,000 men to turn them into position. If John saw these cannons being pulled, then the barrels would resemble tails. Then when the cannons were turned around, the “tails” would inflict hurt. The strong walls of Constantinople were battered down. For the first time in history, warfare had the explosive power of a cannon, which may be the description in verse 17. One major positive result of Constantinople’s demise was that scholars escaped before the fall with manuscripts of Scripture that included copies translated from Latin to Greek. They made their way to Europe and England eventually which paved the way for the great Protestant Reformation!

v20-21: The earth’s survivors did not repent of their works or murders nor their immoralities and thefts. They continued to worship demons, money, idols of stone & wood. The Roman Catholic survivors in western Roman Catholic Europe continued bowing to statues and praying to dead people. So, I believe all this was a judgment against false Christianity. Catholic leaders at that time did not see it that way, so they organized 3 military attacks against the Turks to regain the Holy Land. The Crusaders were not godly men. They raped, murdered, and pillaged towns as they traveled. To say they knew the Lord Jesus Christ is insulting to Him. So by this time in history, the Church of Rome had killed thousands of Waldenses and Albigenses and any other human they regarded as a heretic. The Spanish Inquisition was part of this. The church also continued milking the public with the practice of paying the church indulgences to “help dead relatives get out of purgatory (a fictitious place because it negates the power and authority of the Blood of Christ to forgive ALL sin). So, perhaps the “third woe” would later come against this false church via vials.

WHAT WE DO KNOW = In the midst of all this horror and destruction, God still gives people a chance to get saved and is in control.

Revelation 10: “The Era of the Little Book” (The Reformation)

Note: Since the Byzantine Empire fell in 1453, what follows is after that. The Roman Church kept the Bible away from the common people and exerted their own authority on the masses. People actually thought that eternal life came ONLY via obeying the Church, partaking of their man-made rituals, and devotion to the pope. Jesus Christ, our ONLY mediator between us and God (1 Timothy 2:5), was displaced by false mediators – pope, priests, Mary, and so-called saints. According to books of Ephesians and Hebrews, there are no popes or priests in the true church. So something drastic needed to occur to shake the power of this anti (in place of) Christ rouge. The next two chapters chronicle this amazing segment of our history.

v1: Coupled with several other verses in Revelation and Daniel, this “strong angel” was probably Jesus. A new work would take place on the earth.

v2: It would seem that the contents of this “little book” would be relevant to a vast part of the world. History yields strong evidence that this book was the Bible being made available to the public.

v3-6: The voices were very powerful (“thunder”) and they revealed information that was not to be recorded. This could mean that what is about to take place has the outer appearance of God’s judgment, but it is not. Historically, at this time, the Roman Catholic Church, being in full control of religious people and civil governments, would issue many official decrees which were anti-biblical, many of which lead to the torture and murder of Christians. The phrase “there should be time no longer” may refer to God not allowing any more time for the false church to repent. As historicist author Robert Caringola puts it, “Rome treated the offer just as the Jews treated God’s last offer to their nation; she did her utmost to destroy the messengers of the gospel.” (The Present Reign of Jesus Christ, p.154).

7-11: The eating of the little book, containing the Word of God, caused a great taste at first, then soured later. Maybe this represents how beautiful the Word of God is because it is Truth, but when Truth has to be prophesied to sinful, rebellious humans, and acted upon, it’s not so fun. Perhaps it signified the good start of the Church but it turned sour later. John may represent all the servants of God. When the Word of God went out initially, it was great, but it led to persecution and death via the Roman Empire and then the Holy Roman Empire (Roman Catholic Church). The true Church survived and became a light to all the nations via the Reformation Era (v11). Several things helped the quick spread of the gospel: 1) Roman roads for quick travel, 2) printing press making many Bibles, common language in many territories and countries. All God’s timing in history is perfect!

Revelation 11:

v1-2: Remember that this is a Book of symbolism, and often the Bible itself gives clues as to what symbols represent. In this case, the holy city is not a physical Jerusalem but rather the Bride of Christ (all believers in glory according to Revelation 21:2, 9-11). This “city” actually descends from God. So verse 2 is probably saying that non-believers (outer court of the temple) will trample the real church for 42 months (1260 days) which most likely means 1260 years. The “outer court” represents the visible, and the inner the invisible. The inner court can only be entered by those covered with the Blood of Jesus, and the Gentiles (unsaved) cannot touch it, they cannot take the saved away from God. So for 1260 years the church would be run by unsaved people (the Papal State is a good fit). Now the “rod” in verse 1 means the same as it did in Ezekiel 40:3 which is to separate truth from lies. So as this vision is presented to John, he can perceive that there is a false church and a real church coinciding for a time because of this rod. It seems to be saying that there will be a limited time when outsiders (non-believers) will trample down (dominate?) spiritual Jerusalem (God’s true people). These verses may also mean that truth will no longer be judged by man-made beliefs (popes) but rather the Bible itself. This was Luther’s cornerstone of contention in 1517. In addition, all mentions of temple refer to a spiritual  not a physical one. The Greek word for spiritual temple is “naos” and it is used in these verses. The “unmeasured court” probably refers to the Roman Catholic system that “tread under foot” (persecuted) true believers for 1260 years (538-1798 A.D.). One further speculation is that the false system wasn’t measured but was exposed and condemned. The reformers made sure to reject Roman Catholic dogma (perhaps fulfilling verse 2) and viewed themselves as exposing Antichrist and bringing the True Church into the light publicly.

v3-4: God grants authority to two witnesses represented by “two olive trees and two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.” Revelation 1:20 tells us the lampstands are symbolic of churches. The two olive trees in Zechariah 4:3 represented two anointed ones to perform God’s plan – King Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua in Zech 3:1 (not the Joshua of Moses’ day). So the government of God is still alive on earth and He has two churches speaking truth despite sadness, mourning, and destitution. So at this time in church history, the outer appearance of Christianity is powerful and domineering while the inner court (true church) is suffering (in sackcloth) and reduced to a small number, but it is enduring. It is this enduring that reflects them speaking the Truth about the Scriptures (prophesying) and the outer court people hate it!

The dispensational (futuristic) view is that Enoch and Elijah will return to earth and fulfill the role of these two witnesses They assert that these men will preach, be hated, killed, resurrected in front of everybody – something bizarre and too obvious to deceive in my view.

The symbolic interpretation claims that the “witnesses clothed in sackcloth” is the Word of God permeating through the Antichrist’s system of suppression of the Truth and the persecution of the saints over 1,260 years, which included the times through the Dark Ages when the Bible was suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church. Anyone reading and sharing God’s Word during those days (years) were “poor in spirit” (suffered hardship and were not prominent people). Rome had authority beyond Italy for 1,260 years. It ended in 1798 when Napoleon’s armies finally defeated the Papal reign. During this dreaded time, millions of Bible-believers were executed by many popes. However, despite this being historically correct, no one knows for sure if the Book of Revelation is describing it, but I think it is a good possibility, as do many others today.

I also think a good case can be made that the two witnesses are the Old and New Testaments as the Word of God was spreading fast once the Roman Catholic Church (papacy) lost its world power and the Reformation got under way. The word “testament” derives its meaning from “to bear witness” or “testify.” In the aftermath of the French Revolution, however, in the 1790s France officially pronounced God was dead and that they were an atheistic nation. This was their response to the horrible satanic oppression of the Catholic Church over many generations. As part of their celebration, they tied and Old Testament and a New Testament onto a donkey’s tail and mocked the Word of God publicly. However, in just 3 1/2 years, this decree was overturned and, as the Reformation continued, the Word of God made a nice comeback. So the “breath of life” came back into God’s Word and had a good effect on many people. Verse 13 states there was an earthquake. I have said before that this consistently represents government upheavals, and the French Revolution was one of the biggest upheavals in history. The 7,000 who were killed were perhaps people of nobility because the new government did not want nobility to rule ever again. This all parallels Revelation Chapter 11 closely. Another possibility about the identity of the two witnesses is they were the Word of God and the True Church. To believe they were human beings is short-sighted in light of history.

Historical Note: I can certainly see what Satan has been doing over the centuries to snuff out God’s truth of His Word. First, there was physical persecution as many were killed for the Faith. Then when Christianity began a legal religion via the Edict of Milan in 313 AD by Constantine, the church began to become ritualized and controlled by the emerging Roman Catholic Church belief system. The real church was persecuted by popes for 1260 years. So the highly visible church was a false church while the true church went underground to survive. As Papal power and abuse grew, so did the resentment against Christianity. Via the French Revolution, the Age of Reason (Renaissance) took over the hearts and minds of millions in Europe and beyond. Here, Christianity was viewed as ignorant superstition rather than truth. To be honest, some of the practices of the false church did demonstrate this very thing, but people threw the baby out with the bath water. What they thought was true Christianity was not. Shortly after human intelligence was deified (Christian books were burned and the “Goddess of Reason” was enthroned), Charles Darwin came along. So Satan certainly had a game plan throughout history. He was not just going to sit back and allow Jesus to take over everybody. These attacks against Jesus and His true church are still going strong today throughout the world, but the Gospel continues to grow.

v5-6: “Fire” may represent authority that was given to the true believers. These verses may be describing the answers to the prayers of the saints. God gradually answered those prayers and overthrew the saints’ enemies (often after a generation or so later, however). The persecutors of true Christians were killed later. During the Dark Ages there were wars, plagues, and famine. In fact bloodshed would sometimes pollute rivers of Europe during this time. Nations had wars in response to the prayers of the saints. In other words, nations and governments were overthrown because of the influence of true Christianity. Furthermore, as nation and governments fell over the years, Jesus Christ’s reign from heaven continued (which was prophesied in Daniel 2:28-35).

v7-12: Daniel 9 established that a day = a year regarding End Time prophecy because a literal day interpretation would not put the Messiah in Jerusalem at the time of Christ, but the “year interpretation” does. So 3-and-a-half days would mean 3-and-a-half-years. On May 5, 1514, the Lateran Council convened and for the first time in church history there was no dissent against the Roman Catholic Church throughout the Empire. The English Lollards had been struck down and went underground. The Waldensians in the Alps were almost annihilated. The only problem for the Roman Church came from the Bohemians (Hussites) so they were commanded to appear and plead for their life. At this council a cardinal stood up and said, “No one cries out, not one objects. Now all Christendom will see that it is subjected to one head that is Pope Leo X.” The false Church that ruled the Holy Roman Empire, which included England, rejoiced! BUT exactly 3-and-a-half years later on October 31, 1517 a priest named Martin Luther walked up to the church gates at Wittenberg, Germany and nailed his 95 Theses to the door! These condemned the wrong doctrines and ungodliness of the Papacy and Church. This caused a spiritual explosion throughout nations and changed the face of the earth. This is what I believe God was saying in these verses, that the true Church and its people would rise up “from the dead” and great fear would come upon many.

What about verse 8? Luther stated that “Rome was not the New Jerusalem from Heaven (this is what he was taught), but rather was Sodom, Egypt, it is murderous Jerusalem, who by decrees and acts have crucified the Lord.”

Extraordinary Note: These events were also a fulfillment of John Huss’ prophecy as he was being burned at the stake by the Catholic Church. Huss actually means “goose,” so he said to those leaders of the false church, “You have cooked this goose, but a swan is going to arise, and him you shall not be able to touch.” The Catholic Church never killed Martin Luther who began the Reformation that eventually restored truth concerning Jesus and His true Church.

v13: As a result of v12 (Reformation success), there was an earthquake (political upheaval). England, Germany, and other nations were changed. Catholicism began to quake (crumble). Religious wars were fought. Only one nation (“a tenth of the city”), however, totally broke off from Rome, and that was England (via King Henry VIII’s marriage & divorce issue). The pope was no longer the Head of the Church of England! What about the phrase , “and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand”? Historicists assert that “thousands” means “chiliads” which means provinces or counties. The reformation caused these seven provinces to fall away from the papacy: Holland, Zealand, Utrecht, Freiseland, Groningen, Overyssel, and Guiderland.

v14-19: A major transformation – this world comes under the reign of Jesus Christ via the Reformation. Also most likely described in Revelation 3:7 regarding the Church of Philadelphia which had an “open door which no one could shut.” Nations began hearing and believing in Jesus – Holland, Switzerland, half of Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, America, and parts of France. This was the beginning of the Gospel being set free. The nations became infuriated about these changes. Notice that although Christ begins His reign, there are still non-believers alive on earth. The believers are rewarded and the non-believers on earth would be eventually destroyed. The Temple in Heaven was opened (which probably means the actual presence of God came) with much fanfare effecting an earthquake and a great hailstorm on earth. Bottom Line = The True Church became visible now through the Reformation. It was no longer hidden in the inner court (underground world-wide Since this time period). Now vast numbers of souls would gain eternal life at a pace that history had never seen before (and it continues to this day). The “Era of the Little Book” from Chapter 10 had and has graced the apostate world.

This chapter reveals that God has a plan for earth and its people. It is a plan to save and judge (no one gets away with anything). It is a plan that moves in stages with specific purposes. It reveals how much God is in control. When Jesus ascended into Heaven, His reign began and He works through “people who volunteer in those days” (Daniel 7:13-14, Psalms 110:1-3). Since this time period millions of Christians have volunteered their time and work to change the hearts of sinners. This NEVER happened before this time period!

Revelation 12: This chapter does not follow the previous chapter chronologically. I believe this describes an overview of early church history from the time of Christ’s birth to the fall of Rome. Jesus comes and defeats Satan via the cross and sets up His Church. Satan tried to destroy Jesus as soon as He was born via Herod who derived power from Rome, then Satan turned on God’s people soon after Jesus’ ascension working through the Roman Empire (secular government) and then the Papal State (religious government).

The dispensational view is that the “woman” represents Israel and Satan is behind the future Antichrist who will strike the world through a revived Roman Empire.

The historicist view asserts that the “woman” is Israel (then later the true Church) under persecution by Satan working through the Roman Empire and may cover history during and following the Protestant Reformation.

Preterists believe that the escape and protection of the church was describing the fleeing of true believers from the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The hills to which these believers fled represents “the prepared place” mentioned in verse 6.

v1-2: Controversy between Catholics and Protestants. Who is this woman, Mary or Israel or The Church? In reality, with all due respect to Mary, this verse goes far beyond her. Verse 17 mentions that this woman had other “offspring,” which the Catholic church denies, so there exists a major contradiction within their own beliefs. In addition, later verses, as you will see, make no sense if Mary is “the woman.” The Protestant view is that “offspring” refers to the true believers from Christ on, and Satan did and does come against them.

God uses consistent symbolic language throughout the entire Bible. For example, in Genesis 37:9, He gives Joseph a dream involving “the sun and moon and 11 stars.” Joseph’s 11 brothers and himself were the original 12 tribes of Israel (or God’s people). God uses the exact same words in verse 1 in Revelation 12. Therefore, I believe that the Bible, in this case, helps us interpret what God is saying, namely, that this “woman” represents Israel and eventually the True Church of God that brought forth the world’s Messiah. Everyone agrees that the Child is Jesus Christ.

As far as a literal Mary is concerned, God’s promise of coming forth to mankind in human form was prophesied throughout the entire Old Testament. Several other human beings, over the years, carried that Promise in their genetic make-ups that led to Mary’s physical formation. These other people in the promised lineage are also very important because without them, Mary could have never existed. Therefore, to suppose that the “woman” in this passage is singling out Mary alone is not only in serious error, but it does not respect the precedence laid down thorough the whole Bible regarding God’s consistent use of symbolic language, the anointed lineage, and the utmost importance of His Church, which is not Catholic or Protestant or Jewish.

The following comments are from Bible teacher Don Koenig:

“Catholics claim that the woman in this passage is Mary the ‘queen of heaven.’ There simply is no foundation for such an assumption in Scripture. This belief simply comes by interpretation of scripture through prejudiced suppression theology and the idolization of Mary. The ‘queen of heaven’ was always a pagan god in the Scriptures and she is not the real Mary of Scripture. The worship of the Madonna and child actually goes back to the time of Nimrod and Babylon. Nimrod and his wife Semiramis supposedly had a supernatural child called Tammuz. Tammuz allegedly was gored to death by a wild boar and came back to life. He and his mother were actively worshiped in ancient times in many cultures. The Romans called them Venus and Cupid and the Greeks called them Aphrodite and Eros. These two demonic gods are still popular names with some today. Scripture says that John the Baptist was the greatest born of women, not Mary, and Jesus chose twelve male apostles to lay the foundation of the Church, not Mary. When Jesus was crucified, Jesus put Mary under John’s care and not the other way around. The adoption of this Babylonian practice has obviously led to serious heresy but in addition it has led to the incorrect interpretation of this passage in Revelation. The Bible speaks of the ‘queen of heaven’ but she is always a demon.

There is no hint in Scripture that the apostles sought out Mary for advice or prayer. Neither did she do anything to determine what the early church should believe. Just as Peter did not act as a Pope in Scripture, neither did Mary’s role play out like Roman Catholicism believes about her today.

v3: The great red dragon is Satan working through the Roman Empire to destroy. Remember that as soon as Christ was born, Satan, working through a government that was opposed to the Jewish Scriptures, went after the Christ child via King Herod. This dragon had 7 heads, 10 horns, and 7 diadems on the heads. Rev.17:9 provides further insight when describing “Babylon the Great” which was horrible and responsible for the blood of the martyrs. Here the verse states that the seven heads are 7 mountains. Rome is known to have 7 hills. It also had 7 forms of government which “mountain” consistently represents, according to historicists. They were: kings, decemvirs (ruling by tens), consuls, tribunes, dictators, emperors pagan, emperors Christian. The 10 horns may refer to August Caesar choosing to have tight control over 10 of his 20 provinces. He allowed other leaders to rule the other 10 that were causing no problems. These 10 horns would be expanded in about 500 years as they would then represent many nations that succumb to Roman power.

v4: “The dragon swept away 1/3 of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.” The most common interpretation on this is that the devil either persuaded or influenced 1/3 of the angels in heaven to join his rebellion against God. The dragon tries to destroy the Messiah Child immediately after His birth. Another thought asserts that it refers to Rome displacing the rulers of one-third of the remaining territories to conquer which happened in 63 B.C.

v5: This Messiah Child was protected by God. This verse describes His birth, His ministry, His ascension, and His future eternal rule over all. (See Acts 1:9-11, Psalms 110:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

v6: Further comment on Mary – This verse makes no sense if “the woman” refers to Mary. The “woman” (now the true Church rather than Old Covenant Israel) fled (or went “underground”) for 1,260 days (most likely years rather than days because this number equaled the time in years of world-wide Papal tyranny). This protection does not prevent harm because many millions were tortured and killed by the Papal State. It does mean, however, that it would not be extinguished. This reinforces Jesus’ promise that the gates of Hades would not prevail against His Church (Mt. 16:18). Why interpret “days” for “years” here? Daniel Chapter 9:25-26 predicts in terms of “weeks” when the Messiah will be “cut off” (killed). Literal weeks do not come even close to when Jesus died, but convert days to years and it pinpoints the time of Christ on earth. Total world authority was first given to a pope in 538 AD by Justinian’s 533 AD Decree and that power was stripped from the papacy in 1798 AD, exactly 1,260 years. There is no Scriptural or historical indication that Mary ever fled anywhere after the crucifixion.

v7-8: War in Heaven: Michael + angels vs. Satan + demons. Michael won and the “bad guys” got kicked out of Heaven for there was no place for them there now.

v9: The devil and his demons were “thrown down.” I assume this means thrown down to earth. If so, maybe this is why God’s Word does not reveal much to humans about Satan and his demons during the four thousand years of Old Testament history. We get some ideas from early Genesis and some from Isaiah 14, and maybe Ezekiel 28:13-17 as well. I’ve always wondered why He wasn’t telling the Jews much about this great enemy of ours. Perhaps they were not on earth like when the Messiah came, or perhaps more restrained by God in OT times. Then God allowed more to come to earth to demonstrate His power over them. Certainly there is much more revelation on the spiritual realm in New Testament writings.

v10: Satan is identified as the continual accuser of the brethren. (Note to all true believers – know Romans 8:1).

v11: Reveals our testimony of overcoming Satan by the power of the Blood of the Lamb and our confession of faith, even if it meant our deaths for we do not love our soul-lives more than our abode in Heaven with Jesus. Furthermore, it is the prayers and lives of the true believers that eventually wrought change in nations and governments. Faith destroyed the Roman Empire, the Iron Curtain in Berlin, and conquered many souls in all nations. Before these changes, however, there was war in heaven that we see symbolized in this chapter and in Daniel when the angel had to break through demonic strongholds to get to him. Dictators are always brought down throughout history as a testimony to God’s sovereignty and judgment.

v12: Earth is in trouble because Satan is mad and knows he has little time to vent his wrath and hatred for God’s people.

v13: The dragon (Satan) persecutes “the woman who gave birth to the male Child.” This lends credibility to the Protestant interpretation of “the woman.” I don’t see Mary being pursued and persecuted by the devil while she was on earth. She certainly had her “soul pierced by a sword” at the crucifixion scene as was prophesied during Gabriel’s visit to her, but not really persecuted like the early church was (and still is in many countries). Satan would continue to go after Christians via Rome. This verse may also include the persecution of the Jews and the nation of Israel since that group did bring in the Messiah. Interesting note: The Muslim religion has singled out Jews and Christians as targets for elimination. This, I believe reveals what spirit is the driving force of that group.

v14-16: “The woman” was swept away from the face of the serpent and was “nourished” for a fixed time period. This may refer to God protecting the church from further persecution so that it would not die off completely. There are testimonies about how the earth and weather helped true believers escape death from the Catholic authorities – timely fog, excessive rain causing mud slides, etc. Again, this verse makes no sense if “the woman” is Mary.

v17: So enraged at his failure to stop The Church, Satan (Roman Power) went after “her offspring” (later true believers). One rather famous event supports this interpretation. On St. Bartholomew’s Day in 1572, Catholics slaughtered 10,000 French Protestant Huguenots.

Remember I mentioned above that I believe this chapter is a general overview of many years of church history. The next chapter, however, seems to give a more specific account.

Revelation 13: This chapter parallels Daniel 7. The nice thing about Daniel is that he is given some of the interpretations. For example, we know that these 4 beasts are world powers that arise, and the most outstanding one was the fourth which had to be the Roman Empire.

v1-2: The devil (dragon) gives supernatural power to this beast. The dates involved here are probably around 476-537 AD. Rome had fallen and Goth and Vandal kings ruled Europe (the broken up Roman Empire). This new beast was not described as the dragon but rather as a leopard so it wasn’t quite as bad. Arian kings, all deniers of the deity of Christ, now ruled. They also persecuted Christians although not as bad as the previous pagan kings. Thus in Dan 7:2-7, the lion is introduced as the symbol of the Babylonian power; the bear as the symbol of the Medo-Persian; the leopard as the symbol of the Macedonian; and a nondescript animal, fierce, cruel, and mighty, with two horns as the symbol of Rome. (This is taken from Barnes Notes). This beast is a compilation of all the other empires that existed before and is greater and more powerful that others that preceded it. All points to the Roman Empire.

v3: One “head of this beast” (Roman Empire) seemed to be slain but was brought back to power. At this time in history, the old Roman Empire was governed by ten kings but there was no real Roman Army since Rome’s fall in 476 AD. But in 537 AD, Emperor Justinian garnered troops and marched from Constantinople to Rome and freed Rome from the Goths against all odds. Now there was no king except several “bishops of Rome.” Over a number of years of self-promotion and committing various forgeries to gain power in this power vacuum, Justinian finally gave all power to one bishop, and this was the first Pope. This was 500 years past the Apostle Peter. To be fair to Catholicism, they do claim pope successors following Peter – Linus, Anacletus, Clement I, and Evaristus to name the first four out of 56 from Peter to 533 AD. From what I’ve gathered, however, those men were rather obscure historically and without much power or influence on Christians. The real power gradually increased over the five centuries and culminated with Justinian’s authority.

v4: People worshiped this beast because they think he is invincible. As Roman power returned via the Bishop in Rome, the people weren’t necessarily bowing down to him (yet) but were in subjection to him in a civil sense. Justinian eventually ordered all to obey the Bishop of Rome or they would be killed. So Rome authority appeared to have been “slain” but is now making an unbelievable comeback. This parallels the description here of the fatal wound being healed.

As an additional boost to the beast’s comeback, Mussolini’s signing of the Lateran Concordat in 1929 gave “sovereign state” status to Vatican City in Rome. This gave the Catholic Church the power of sovereignty and privacy (secrecy). Papal world power was destroyed in 1798, so it does not rule other nations as before, but it still demands the devotion of Roman Catholics worldwide and still wields some political clout.

v5: The beast (Bishop of Rome or Satan in him) speaks arrogant things and blasphemes against God. He becomes the 8th king or the 8th form of government mentioned in Rev.17:11. Here, the context is set from verse 9 referring to Rome and says there are 7 kings, in John’s time 5 positions of authority had fallen (kings, consuls, decemvirs, tribunes, dictators), but one still is (in John’s time it was emperors who were pagan – Nero to Marcus Aurelius to Diocletian). Next it says one is yet to come. That would be Christian Emperors (Christian in name only). These were the 7th type of rulers. Rev 17:11 says the 8th ruler is of the seventh, meaning he would arise from the group of Christian emperors. We find out later that he is a religious ruler.

This is what happened when Justinian revived Rome and put that One Bishop in power! So this “beast” described in Rev.13 & 17 is the arrival of an authoritarian position that will eventually “wear down the saints” for 1260 years. He will make war with the true believers and will overcome them for that limited time period. This slaughter of the saints would permeate into many nations. So far in history, there has been only one organized governmental power that has done such a thing to Christians. Bible teacher John Edward Clarke relates this account:

“From the first institution of the Jesuits to the year 1580, that is, in little more than thirty years, nine hundred thousand orthodox Christians were slain, and these all by the common executioner. In the space of scarce thirty years the inquisition destroyed, by various kinds of torture, a hundred and fifty thousand Christians. Sanders himself confesses that an innumerable multitude of Lollards and Sacramentarians were burnt throughout all Europe, who yet, he says, were not put to death by the pope and bishops, but by the civil magistrates.”

The dragon in a new shape, or Roman Empire of Germany, acted a very conspicuous part in this nefarious warfare against the remnant of the woman’s seed, who kept the commandments of God, and had the testimony of Jesus Christ. – See the imperial edict of Frederic II against heretics, in Limborch’s History of the Inquisition. (John Edward Clark,

Clark and others believe that the Roman Catholic Church from the Dark Ages to 1798 A.D., often but not always, used civil governments to carry out the killing of “heretics” much like the Jewish Pharisees used the government of Rome to kill Jesus. I would say that if this interpretation is in error, then the alternative is to believe that this slaughter will take place in the future by an Antichrist ruler. I don’t think so. The historicist approach perceives great gains by the True Church worldwide until Jesus returns.

v6: This blasphemy is different from the blasphemy in verse 1 (Arians). This is a different beast. First let’s search the Scriptures to learn what constituted blasphemy:

1) Mt.9:2-3 – A man (Jesus) claimed He could forgive sins,
2) Mt. 26:64-65 – A man (Jesus) claimed to have the authority of God, and
3) John 5:15 – A man (Jesus) made Himself to be equal with God.

This beast (Bishop of Rome) claims all three of these. He claims to be Christ in the flesh, to have all authority over everyone to change seasons and laws (rules), and to rule as God on earth. All popes claim these things. They blaspheme God when popes have given divine adoration to images. They have blasphemed God’s tabernacle by the means of transubstantiation – turning Jesus’ body and blood into wine and bread, and telling people salvation only comes by taking these elements and by being baptized into the “true church” (99% of the time that baptism takes place when the person is an infant without any knowledge of God, Satan or Sin). They blaspheme those who dwell in heaven by putting the glorification of saints in the place of pagan demons (calling upon names other than Jesus as mediators). They’ve made judgments about past believers that elevated them far above other people (saints) – only God is to do this. Finally, and most importantly, they blaspheme by addressing any pope as The Holy Father!

As for speaking arrogant blasphemies mentioned in verses 5 & 6, here are some provocative quotes concerning papal power:

“The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ, Himself, hidden under the veil of human flesh.” — Catholic National, July 1895.

The Pope and God are the same, so he has all power in Heaven and earth.” — Pope Pius V, quoted in Barclay, Chapter XXVII, p. 218, “Cities Petrus Bertanous.”

“We hold upon this earth the place of God almighty.” — Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter, June 20, 1894.

Once the Protestant Reformation took hold before the Papal State lost world power in 1798, people started reading the Bible and perceived that the Papacy was indeed Antichrist. Remember that “anti” means “in place of” as well as “against.” The Fifth Lateran Council convened in 1512-17 A.D. and prohibited anyone from preaching about an Antichrist, and the Counter Reformation by the Catholic Church was underway. Perhaps the most significant deception from this movement was when a Jesuit Priest named Francisco Ribera in 1580 came up with the idea that Antichrist is one person coming in the far future. Does this sound familiar? It should, because it is the historical origin of the centerpiece in the dispensational movement that started in America in the 1800s. This influential Jesuit Priest may be looked upon as the father of our current Futuristic System of End-Time Prophetic interpretation. This has served to hide the historical truth concerning the Roman Catholic Church. This is not to say that all Catholic people are not Christians. I do contend, however, that they should look into what thousands of Christians have been saying about that religious system over the centuries. Many web sites provide ample historical evidences for these claims.

v7-10: All who are doomed will worship this Antichrist. “Worship” could mean devotion. God says that some believers will be destined to be martyred or jailed or led off into captivity. By stating this ahead of time, it can give some comfort to those who experience it.

v11-15: Another power arises that controls the false church. A specific man will look like a lamb (vestments, holy mitre, a shepherd’s crook and a cross in hand). But this man will speak like a dragon! The dragon is always Satan. So we have Satan speaking through this man of authority despite him having the outer appearance of something good (see 2 Cor.11:13-14).

This new power: 1) Has all the authority as the first beast, 2) Makes people worship the healed one, 3) Performs miraculous signs and wonders and deceives many by this, 4) Demands people to make an image to the beast, 5) Power given to him to make the image speak (the Papacy was the power behind the Holy Roman Empire, it gave power to the whole church & state system), 6) Kills those who do not worship it, 7) Makes the doomed receive a mark (either the name of the beast or the number of his name) on their right hand or forehead so they can buy and sell. Without this mark, they cannot buy or sell.

This beast also had two horns (v11) and horn means power. The office of the priesthood was the civil power of the beast. This is not so today, but back in this time, the Papacy ruled over civil authorities as well and the church. The other “horn” or power may have been the religious orders that were founded such as the monasteries, the Dominicans, the Friars, and the Jesuits (who held much of the power of the church many times). Many of these played major roles in the horrible Inquisition. Where do the “miraculous signs and wonders” come in? For many years Roman Catholicism has claimed supernatural confirmations concerning its authority – stigmatas, statues of Mary shedding tears, healings at Lourdes, appearances of Mary in visions, etc. The whole satanic purpose of this was to get people to worship the first beast (pagan Rome) via devotion to the second beast that had a “soft, lamb-like voice.” But inside it is still Satan being worshiped, something that he has craved since his pride took him over.

v16-17: Anytime there was ordained “sealing” or “marking” in the Bible, it was never literal. In other words, no human could see the mark. Why should this one example be different? So the mark of the beast is a spiritual mark of ownership. This is what the Pope said about an invisible mark: “The administration of every Sacrament leaves an imprint and a certain character of a mark on the soul of him that receives that Sacrament.” What about the “buying/selling ban?” There were several papal orders given that prevented “heretics” to trade. In his book, “The Present Reign of Jesus Christ,” p.221, Robert Caringola sites the following examples: in 1178 Pope Alexander issued various bans via the Third Lateran Council and banned all trading with the Waldenses (a sect of people who rejected papal authority and were early Protestants persecuted by Papal Rome). Pope Martin V after the Council of Constance burned Jon Huss at the stake decreed several examples of banning heretics’ economical statuses. Also Barnes (notes on the Bible) states this: The manifest aim of the papacy, in all its history, has been to control the world, and to get dominion over its wealth, in order that it might accomplish its own purposes. But, besides this, there have been numerous specified acts more particularly designed to control the business of “buying and selling.” It has been common in Rome to prohibit, by express law, all traffic with heretics. Thus a canon of the Lateran council, under Pope Alexander III., commanded that no man should entertain or cherish them in his house or land, or traffic with them (Hard. vi., 2:1684). The synod of Tours, under the same Pope Alexander, passed the law that no man should presume to receive or assist the heretics, no, not so much as to exercise commerce with them in selling or buying. And so, too, the Constance council as expressed in Pope Martin’s bull (Elliott, vol. 3, pp. 220, 221).

v18: The number of the beast is a calculation equaling 666 and it is a man. There have been far too many attempts and interpretations on this one to give fair space to here. One interesting theory as to its derivation – “6” is the number of man (1 short of God) and “7” is God’s perfection and completion, therefore “777” would represent His perfect tri-une nature. Therefore “666” is Satan’s attempt to usurp or become God but falls short as it represents a false Trinity…just a guess. The pope’s conical hat (mitre) has three bands with statements referring to the position of the papacy: Lord of Heaven, Lord of Earth, and Lord of Under the Earth. The Pope is also crowned with these words, and they are inscribed on his mitre: “Vicar of the Son of God.” This phrase IN LATIN equals 666 using gematria (a method of assigning a numerical value to letters of the alphabet): V=5, I=1, C=100, A=0, R=0,   I= 1, U=5, S=0, F=0, I=1 L=50 I=1, I=1, D=500, E=0, I=1   Total = 666. The word “vicar” literally means “substitute” not “against.”

Conclusion: What this chapter seems to be saying is that there has been various systems of power seeking to control people, and that in the End Times (which we have been into since Jesus walked the earth according to Scripture), there has already arisen an antichrist system of government that will contain a position of world power for a time. Since that time would last for 1260 years, several men would fulfill that role or seat. That position would have more satanic power to overcome Christians than anyone else in history.

The most important thing we can do today, however, is to love Jesus with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength….and love others (including Catholics!) as we love ourselves, and do not allow various End-Time interpretations divide believers. God is in control and He writes the final chapter for all things.

Revelation 14: Another Overview Chapter

v1-5: As theorized earlier, the number 144,000 represents completion. This group obtained a special blessing in heaven and was able to learn a new song of praise to the Lamb on Mount Zion, and they would follow Him wherever He went. No one else was allowed to learn this new song. Perhaps the song was one of redemption. No angel could sing that. God wrote His name on their forehead (v1) and this is also stated in Rev.3:12. Maybe this group is about all saved souls, not just 144,000. The “144,000” were “purchased from among men as the first fruits to God and the Lamb.” The phrase “first fruits” is also used in James 1:18 and is describing saved souls starting from James’ time. If these souls were first fruits, it does not make sense to me that they were only people who lived so late in church history. Again, when seeking interpretation, we need to search all of God’s Word in order to see patterns of language and then contemplate their contexts.

Verse 4’s mention of celibacy is symbolic of purity, loyalty, and staying in a love relationship with God, not literal virginity. Remember that in the OT, adultery was linked with idolatry. Jesus called the Jewish generation of His day adulterous, meaning far from God as they had other interests and priorities which is idolatry. James 4:4 states, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?” See also 2 Corinthians 11:2. These souls also were blameless. This probably refers to their redemption and the fact that God does not remember sins of the forgiven.

Another theory regarding the identity of the 144,000 is that they were the Jewish Christians that escaped the destruction of Jerusalem by fleeing to the hills at the right time. These anointed believers went far beyond Israel and proclaimed the Gospel throughout Europe. Perhaps within a generation or so, even England, Scotland, and many other areas were reached. The following verse 6 lends credibility to this idea.

From all the research I’ve done to identify the 144,000, I conclude that there is no conclusion.

v6-7: An angel anointed to get the Gospel spreading on earth was given to every nation and tribe and tongue. Yet another example of how God continuously intervenes on man’s behalf. This is something that Hollywood’s movie “Oh God” starring George Burns did not get correct (surprise?). It also directly refutes the general agnostic position of “God (IF He exists) is irrelevant to mankind.” What an insult to our loving, ever-nurturing, intervening God.

v8: Continuing with an overview of history, another angel pronounces that Babylon has fallen. It seems this symbolizes some worldly empire that collapses. Babylon may represent the Papal State because the mark of the beast is included here.

v9-11: Another angel proclaims that anyone worshiping the beast and gets the mark will face God’s wrath and be tormented.

v12: A brief word of encouragement to the true believers of this time period to hang on to the Truth.

v13: At this time it will be a blessed thing to die in the Lord and their deeds will follow their deaths. It is a great thing for us to realize that all we’ve allowed God to do through us is never forgotten. Those deeds also have the potential power to influence people and history after we’re called Home. I believe that the Church grew because of the blood of these true believers (saints) during the Roman Catholic war against them from around 538 AD to 1798 AD. It seems that rapid Church growth was always during times of severe persecution. The one time in Church history when there was a let up of persecution was from the Edict of Milan in 313 AD by Constantine legalizing Christianity, through 339 AD). The Church, however, became ritualized and therefore lifeless, which eventually lead to Roman Catholicism ruling the world via The Holy Roman Empire.

v14-16: Another angel speaks to Jesus who has a sickle to sweep the earth and reap a harvest. I think this depicts a tremendous worldwide harvest of souls who were being saved at a rapid rate due to the release of God’s Word via the Reformation and is still going on today. There are more missionaries world wide than ever before. Countries such as China, South and North Korea, and the African continent are experiencing mass conversions to Christ over the last 50 years.

v17-20: Another angel swept earth with a sickle and took out the evil people and threw them into the wrath of God. Their blood was mentioned to be so much that it came up high as a horse’s bridle for a distanced of 200 miles. Is this literal or symbolic? I say symbolic. Why? Because of precedence set in Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation 1-15. In addition, there is no literal “wine press of the wrath of God” anywhere on earth and no one has seen or ever will see a giant cycle coming down from heaven killing people. Literal blood does not come out of pressed grapes either. John was simply recording what he saw in his own terms. What does all this symbolize? This is difficult to discern. Perhaps it is a picture of the separation of the sheep from the goats that Jesus talked about.

Revelation 15:

v1: Finally comes the last sign in heaven representing seven plagues fulfilling God’s wrath.

v2-4: Those who were victorious over Antichrist were gathered holding harps of God as they sang the song of Moses as praise unto God. This describes a wonderful song from the saints praising God with a tremendous sense of victory over Antichrist as they stand before Him totally redeemed. John described this as being great and marvelous. This must have been a huge oasis for John! He had seen much evil powers at work deceiving and destroying people, but suddenly he sees “the apple of God’s eye” – the redeemed glorifying God.

v5-8: The 7 angels with the 7 plagues emerged out of the Temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven readying themselves to unleash the plagues on earth. Why no man could enter the Temple until all plagues were fulfilled? Perhaps it means the timing was set and would never be allowed to change (as suggested by Robert Caringola).

Revelation 16: Here come the VIALS!  Judgment against the Roman Catholic Church and Antichrist. The French Revolution began in 1793 and many sought to destroy what they thought was Christianity. They had little notion that the Roman Catholic Church was the false church depicted accurately in symbolic terms in this Book.

v1: God sends 7 angels out to bring judgment to the earth. Keep in mind that the Greek for word for “earth” meant “region” not the whole world.

v2: Angel #1 – Historicists believe that this was God’s wrath poured out upon those who murdered His people, so many Roman Catholics now were killed, especially those involved in St. Bartholomew’s Massacre where thousands of French Huguenots (Protestants) were killed. Remember in Rev.11:13 it states that only 1/10 of the city fell. Of the 10 kingdoms of the Holy Roman Empire, only England withdrew and renounced the Papacy. This is one reason why France aligned with Spain against England for many years. Now those other nations began fighting and killing each other. France had an outbreak of atheism. Men began revolting against the Catholic Church and aristocracy. It was these two powers that worked together to execute millions of believers, so now it was their turn to go. France, as a nation, rebelled and defied any belief in God. The French Revolution was under way. Two million people perished. This verse reveals that those killed had the “mark of the beast.” France then raised up their new god – “Reason.” Intellectual people such as Voltaire (1694-1778) attacked Christianity with so-called “reason” (much like evolutionists do today). The “new order” for society was now science, reason, and tolerance. Does this sound familiar? Known as the Father of Enlightenment, Voltaire said that chance, not God, rules the world (a pre-Darwin spirit. Most of the “facts” he used against the Bible were proven untrue within the next century). This spirit spread to early America through Thomas Paine. Although he was on the patriot’s side, he also produced a famous pamphlet in 1793 called the “Age of Reason.” He attacked the Biblical account of creation (as does evolution), the deity of Christ (as do cults), the Trinity concept, and the belief in a God who listens and responds to prayer. Raised by a Quaker father, Paine’s last words before his death were, “I would give the worlds if I had them, if the ‘Age of Reason’ had never been published. O Lord help me, Christ help me, stay with me, it’s hell to be left alone.”

Regarding this verse’s mention of bad sores on men with the mark of the beast, some Christians think this may allude to the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases STDs. I believe this to be in error because all who have caught STDs cannot be linked to an Antichrist’s rule – literally or figuratively. I do not doubt that diseases can sometimes result from reaping what we have sown, but bear in mind that many people commit the same sin of fornication and never catch an STD – now called “STIs” (sexually transmitted infections, because it sounds less judgmental…just another addition to the all-important PC List). Diseases exist because humankind has fallen into the curse of iniquity and we must be careful not to judge people who have them, i.e., thinking they are a worse sinner than people who do not have them.

v3: Angel #2 -Historicists interpret this as the French Revolution as well. Vandal sea power destroyed Rome’s navies. Napoleon struck British colonies in Holland in 1792 using ships by sea. England is brought into the war. Naval warfare breaks out. Several nations involved now. Rome lost so much power between 1793-1805 that the symbolic phrase “every living soul died in the sea” was most likely described here.

v4-7: Angel #3 – The French Revolution continues. Napoleon has multiple victories over nations. All Europe, which had the mark of the beast for many years via the Holy Roman Empire, was now fighting against each other. Major rivers became saturated with human blood literally. Every nation was “scorched” (v8). Napoleon also wanted to break the yoke of Catholicism. When he finally did, he put all churches in Europe under government control which is largely still in effect today. Not good.

V8-9: Angel #4 – They swore at God and refused to repent. This must mean that they still had a chance at eternal life. Historicists believe that “sun” represents a ruling power and Bonaparte fits this well. His armies have been labeled “the scourge of Europe.” In spite of Napolean’s capture of Pope Pius VI and taking him into captivity where he later died, the Catholics did not repent of their pagan beliefs and murderous sins against Jesus Christ’s people such as the Lutherans, Moravians, Hussites, Albeginses, Walddenses, Vaudois, and Huguenots.

v10-11: Angel #5 – The throne (seat) of the beast (main power source) was darkened and the evil ones swore at God in their pain, and refused to repent. God’s judgment reaches to Anti-Christ himself. This is what the saints had prayed for over the many years of Papal power. In 1798 AD, French General Louis-Alexandre Berthier a of Napoleon’s army, busted into the Sistine Chapel unopposed and proclaimed to Pope Pius VI, “This day has your kingdom ended.” This is what historicists believe is being described in verse 10 – God pouring out His bowl of wrath upon the throne of the beast. The Papacy began with Justinian returning to Rome and defeating 3 tribes like Daniel 7:20 describes. He then presented a Code in 538 AD giving the “Bishop of Rome” total religious AND CIVIL authority. If you subtract 538 from 1798 you get exactly 1,260. This number is repeated several times in Bible End-Time Antichrist prophecy as days. But a close read of Daniel Chapter 9 reveals that days = years in these contexts because he pinpointed the years in history when the Messiah would first come to earth, and if we use “days” for those “weeks” it does not point to Jesus. Years do. This is quite a remarkable fit in history. So in 1798, the entire Holy Roman Empire was whittled down to just the Roman Catholic Church. Popes could no longer order armies of other nations to execute real Christians (“heretics”).

In the beginning of Revelation, Christ is pictured as having a sharp two-edged sword coming out of His mouth, and 2 Thessalonians 2:8 reveals that Antichrist would be slain by the “breath of His mouth.” It was the Word of God permeating throughout the Reformation that brought this change to the world. Jesus does not have a literal sword flowing from his mouth. This is symbolic language that God consistently uses (see Is.49:2, Eph.6:17, Heb.4:12, Is.11:4). So the Papal world power and domination ended, but the pope operates as a false prophet to this day. Perhaps Jesus took care of the beast (spirit) in the Papacy which prevented him to control nations and will eventually bring a total end to that system because 2 Thessalonians 2:8 says that Christ will bring a total end to him (it) at His Second Coming. This of course has yet to occur and that means Antichrist is still among us, stripped of much, but not all, power. As the Papacy lost more power as years passed from 1798, it did not repent of idolatry and introduced more false doctrines described in 1 Timothy 3:1-3. Also in 1854, Pope Pius IX brought in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception that asserts that Mary, like Jesus, was born without sin (even though in Holy Scripture she addresses Jesus as her Savior in Luke 1:47; sinless souls do not need a Savior). Mary has been deified here. Then in 1870 the infallibility of the Pope doctrine emerged that claims it is God speaking through the Pope at certain times (“ex cathedra”). This refers to when a Pope makes up doctrine or moral beliefs to be held by “the One True Church” – Roman Catholic of course.”

v12-14: Angel #6 – The river Euphrates was dried up so that the kings from the east could have a pathway. In 1820, the Turkish Empire, which ruled half the world and started from the Euphrates River, lost all of its power due to diminishing population. During World War I, British General Allenby freed Palestine from Turkish rule and by the end of the war the once powerful Turkish empire was “dried up.” Three demons are released who performed signs to kings in order to gather them together to fight against God. This may reflect Satan (dragon) inspiring the rise of communism which fights against Christianity, the Greeks gave birth to humanism, and the false prophet (pope) brought deception and witchcraft (false signs). This could be one reason why the Catholic Church has tolerated voodoo ceremonies in Haiti, Mexico and other places. Many RC practices have pagan origins – rosary beads, making the sign of the cross when passing a church (superstition and fear takes hold). My former pastor who has learned Spanish and now lives and ministers in Mexico, has seen all these things first hand. Fear, superstition, and pagan practices are all part of Catholicism. Communism, humanism, socialism, and witchcraft were gathered together to oppose God, and there is a current battle between these two sides going on spiritually, and we are caught in the middle of it TODAY! I think New Age is a combination of humanism and witchcraft because it is intellectual but spiritual as well. It goes beyond the Age of Reason (Note: I do not claim that everything the Age of Reason birthed on earth was bad, only some things). Robert Caringola mentions another relevant fact regarding this phase of history. Previously the Greek word for “earth” meant “region,” but now the Greek for “whole earth” is used.

v15: God interjects a warning and a bit of encouragement – He will come like a thief (not referring to His Second Coming but rather judgment of the wicked), and blessed is the one who stays in a righteous state before Him.

v16: A plain called Armageddon is chosen to be the site of the great battle between good and evil. Near Israel today there is the Plain of Esdraelon which is strongly believed to be the physical Armageddon. It has played strategic roles in the history of Israel. Whether or not this place is symbolic or literal remains to be seen. I lean toward symbolic due to the nature of this conflict and the context that describes it. In fact, I think there is a good chance that we are in the middle of the Battle of Armageddon right now (real Christianity vs. the rest of the world and its many different philosophies and religions). It’s difficult to imagine a literal interpretation to this battle. All the armies of the world could not fit into the area where dispensationalists claim it will take place. The Book of Revelation is deeper than this superficial thought dominated by literalism. There is a good possibility that the literal Hebrew word which is “Har-Magedon” (meaning Mount Megiddo) could simply be a metaphor for “defeat” since so many groups throughout history were beat there. Another surprise is that this battle cannot be the final conflict in human history as it is so often described. There is another vial coming, the 7th and it’s not pretty.

v17-18: Angel #7 – poured out his bowl contents upon the air prompting God to say, “It is done.” It also caused great noise and flashes of lightning and the greatest earthquake in the history of man. If “earthquake” is not literal, it probably means a spiritual shake-up that has huge earthly consequences, whether it would affect nations, governments, battles or whatever.

v19: The “great city” was split into 3 parts. Scholars disagree on the identity of this city. Some believe it is Jerusalem in 70 AD when it was destroyed. Others see the demise of Roman Papal Power. Splitting into 3 parts may mean that it was broken in pieces so that it was reduced to a ruinous state. The cities of the Gentiles fell also, strongly implying that this “great city” had power over many cities. The bottom line is that God remembers “Babylon’s” sin.

v20-21: Huge political upheavals here. Remember, several verses throughout Scripture claim that Jesus Christ’s Kingdom (government) is the last one standing and will be the ONLY ONE to continue forever. Every island fled away and no more mountains existed. Huge hailstones weighing 200 pounds each came down on the evil men of earth and they kept on blaspheming God. I think it is safe to say that at no time in our history has this huge hailstorm literally taken place. So, if literal, it will occur in the future. If symbolic, it will be a major shake-up on earth. “Mountains” symbolize man-made governments, so this may be revealing that those powers would be swept away and would not return to their previous state (source of power that emanated from the Papacy). Another thought is that “great hail out of heaven” could refer to aerial bombardment since we are now reading in our time of history and warfare weaponry.

Revelation 17: Commentators claim that this is one of the most difficult chapters in the Bible to understand. Therefore, I will describe examples of each of the four approaches to interpret Revelation regarding the main character presented – the woman or prostitute sitting on a scarlet beast.

Futurist (Dispensational) – The woman represents a false religious system, a new order coming in the future having political and religious influence tied to the Antichrist (Beast) who will be the head of a European alliance comprised of 10 nations (10 horns).

Historicist – The woman most likely represents the corrupt Roman Catholic Church, including some false Protestant churches that came out of it, during the Middle or Dark Ages. Her political and religious power came from the authority of the Papacy.

Idealist – The woman represents all of the false and corrupt religion that has aligned itself with political power in order to dominate people all of which will be eventually destroyed by God’s judgment.

Preterist – The woman prostitute is Jerusalem. Her corruption was carried over to the Roman Empire which is the Beast. The 7 heads are Rome and the first 7 emperors. Nero was the 6th and was the Antichrist. The 10 horns are the 10 imperial provinces that Rome set up.

From all these above perspectives, I like the fact that they all agree that God is warning His people that there will be a corrupt, powerful religion that will do much damage but will be eventually judged and destroyed. Beyond this basic agreement, I feel that the futuristic view is the weakest interpretation. Based on Daniel Chapters 2 and 7, I think Rome’s involvement is certain. While the Idealist view could be generally true, but I like the way historicists nail down specifics. The Preterist view is too narrow for me, and, although Nero fits many of Antichrist descriptions in Scripture and is certainly an Antichrist type, I believe the position of the Papacy fits better. One reason is that the Antichrist is predicted to wear down the saints for 1260 days (but should be viewed as years), and the Papal tyranny lasted between 538 AD to 1798 AD – exactly 1260 years. Nero’s terror was very brief starting in 64 AD by blaming Christians for the big fire in Rome to his death in 68 AD. So there was about 3 1/2 years of him persecuting believers which lends some credibility to the Preterist claim.

v1: An angel is about to show John God’s judgment against “the great harlot who sits on many waters.” This “harlot” is most likely a figurative term referring to “a demonic force having the ability to lure people away from the True God” rather than containing a literal sexual connotation. To “play the harlot” means to lure someone away from God in the Biblical contexts. “Sitting on many waters” probably means “in control of many nations worldwide.”

v2: Many kings of the earth (nations) have come under “her” spell and have partaken of immoral things.

v3-4: John gets whisked away to a wilderness where he sees the actual vision of this woman (harlot) sitting on a scarlet beast full of blasphemous names having 7 heads and 10 horns. She also is extremely rich in worldly wealth. I think this describes the true Church being spared total annihilation by the Roman Catholic Church who persecuted it for 1260 years. This false church gained much worldly wealth as it gained political power. It also was full of blasphemy because it claimed that the Pope was Christ on earth and at certain times he was infallible in what he spoke at certain special times. The popes also changed laws of the church to include things about Mary, the saints that only they recognized, and erecting statues of certain people that were elevated far beyond what Scripture allows. These things that were never practiced in the early church, including the account of the early church in the Book of Acts. I believe these changes were mentioned in Daniel 7:25 regarding what Antichrist would do. Peter was never treated as a Pope in Scripture despite Papal Rome insisting that he was the first Pope. History is not on the side of Roman Catholic teachings. The very idea of a Pope did not begin until 200-300 years after Christ left, and the power of the Pope could not start until the civil government of Rome vanished, and that did not happen until 476 AD. At that time, several “bishops of Rome” began to emerge, but it wasn’t until Emperor Justinian made ONE of them the Supreme leader of the church and the civilized world in 533-538 AD. All this had nothing to do with Peter. Jesus never made him the leader of His Church. The “rock of His Church” that Jesus mentioned was not Peter but rather the faith to which he just spoke – that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Bible even teaches “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor.3:11). Furthermore, the “keys of the Kingdom” given to Peter by Jesus in Matthew 16 were also given to all the disciples in Matthew 18. The whole foundation upon which the Roman Catholic Church was built is in extreme error. For this reason, the Roman Church did not want their flock to ever read the Bible. Satan knew it had the power to free them from this powerful, controlling system of religion.


v6: Reveals that this “force” shed the blood of many true believers who testified the truth about Jesus. The phrase “blood of the saints” refers to a great period of time when Christians were persecuted and killed. There have been several time periods when this has occurred and in parts of the world today it’s happening now. However, the largest and longest slaughter of God’s people was caused by the Papacy, so I tend to think that the Roman Papacy is the evil force symbolized in these chapters.

v7-8: John deeply wonders about this vision of the woman. An angel explains that this “force” was in action, then is not, and is about to come out of the abyss and go to destruction. The beast that “was” is pagan Rome. The beast that “is not” is the fall of pagan Rome. The beast that “yet is” refers to Papal Rome.

v9: Some interpretation is given – 7 heads = 7 mountains on which the woman sits. Many have said that Rome was known to be set upon 7 hills and that is what this Scripture is referring to. This is no longer true for modern Rome, plus I should not advocate a literal meaning suddenly if it conveniently fits my way of thinking. I feel a better interpretation is that “mountain” refers to government or power (see Rev. 6:14; 16:20; Isaiah 2:2, 2:14; Jer. 51:25; Daniel 2:35). Rome did have 7 forms of government – kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, tribunes, emperors (Caesars), and despotic emperors.

v10: The 7 mountains = 7 kings, but 5 have already fallen (kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, and tribunals); one is (6th or Caesars); and one is to come (7th or emperors). All this symbolism I believe perfectly portrays the evolution of Antichrist. The seat of power began with pagan Rome and transitioned to a world religious leader claiming to be God on earth and the head of the true Christian Church.

v11: The beast which was and is not = an 8th (Bishop of Rome; see commentary on Revelation 13:5) and is one of the 7 who goes to destruction.

v12: The 10 horns = 10 kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority from the beast for “one hour.” The Greek word used for “one hour” means “one season.”

v13: All these powers have one purpose – to give power and authority to the beast.

v4: And they will all wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them.

Remember when Jesus said if “you do this to the least of these, you do it unto Me?” And when Saul (who later became Paul) was persecuting Christians Jesus said that he was persecuting Him! Maybe this segment of Revelation is documenting the long war against the true church throughout the centuries (including OT times), and as this beast, via demons and evil men fight, they fight against Jesus by going after His children on earth.

v15: Another interpretation provided – the “waters” in verse 1 does indeed represent people from all over the earth. (Hey, at least I got one thing right here!).

v16: The 10 horns and beast will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked (stripped of power?). It seems like God causes mutual enemies of His Kingdom to turn against each other. He caused this to happen a few times in the Old Testament when enemies outnumbered the Jewish soldiers. This could represent the Napoleonic wars throughout Europe against Papal Rome.

v17: God puts this “treason” in their minds to accomplish His purposes until His words are fulfilled. The French Revolution certainly “burned Catholicism with fire” but there may be some future governmental power that finishes the job of God’s judgment against Papal Rome.

v18: More interpretation provided – “the Woman” = the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth (that city is known for 7 hills, or mountains mentioned in verse 9). This seems to be speaking about the Vatican in Rome during those years it killed Christians. Remember that this organization had control over more nations than any other government in world history. If, however, some other world power executes thousands, perhaps millions of true believers, then that power is probably spoken of here. Anytime there is an ungodly lust for power over people, there also will be lots of corruption, hence the mention of many immoralities connected with this power.

For a closing commentary, I quote Don Koenig (I do not necessarily agree with all he says, but he gives an interesting historical view here):

“The woman is drunk with the blood of the saints and with the martyrs of Jesus. The saints are Old Testament people who were put to death by the religious whore. They include all the prophets and Old Testament believers who were persecuted and killed by the religions system (Judaism) that fornicated with Babylonian demonic gods. Most members of the leadership of Israel’s religious system were controlled by “their father the Devil” according to Jesus (John 8:44). This proves that the harlot was in existence and was well established in Judaism even at that time. These satanic leaders of Israel killed the husbandmen of the vineyard (the prophets) and even the Son of the owner of the vineyard (Jesus) so that God would get nothing out of His field” (Luke 20:13).

“The martyrs of Jesus are the followers of Jesus who died for their faith in Him. Martyrdom of the true followers of Jesus will continue to take place under the hand of the whore until the day the great whore is devoured by the Beast she rides. After Judaism, most of martyrdom was by the hands of satanic leaders that rose to the top of the Christian and later the Islamic religion. In the future, martyrdom will be by the hands of the World Church. Finally, the whore herself will be devoured and burned with fire by the Babylonian pagan Beast she prostituted herself with.”

Don also says that the current Roman Catholic Church may have nothing to do with the actual End Time Antichrist, although its history did tie in with that demonic attack on believers. He pictures a world religion of paganism ruling the world just before its end. He also says, and I whole heartily agree on this one, that all Roman Catholic people are not “harlots” because some are true believers and have eternal life with Christ.

Comment about salvation: Whether a person is Protestant or Catholic they are not saved because they belong to a church. Rituals and church attendance do not have the power to save one soul from the Lake of Fire. This includes attending Mass and taking in the Eucharist as well as communion in a non-Catholic church. What gets us saved is true repentance (not wanting to keep doing wrong) and humbly asking Jesus to forgive us and to come into our soul-life to be our Lord (Boss). It is a personal act on our part to surrender our total lives to Him with the attitude of allowing Him to do with us whatever He wants…knowing it will be the best thing for us. Committing to a church is good if it is Jesus-Centered and Bible-Centered (meaning that the Bible is the final authority rather than man’s religious traditions or additions). Churches should feed us with the spiritual food we all need to be strong in the Lord as well as provide opportunities for us to use our various giftings to help others within the church and beyond.

Revelation 18: The Fall of Babylon

  1. Dispensational/Futuristic – This chapter describes the destruction of the future world religious, political, and economic system under control of the Antichrist.
  2.  Historical – This is the complete destruction of Papal Rome for preaching a false Gospel and persecuting true believers.
  3. Idealistic – This refers to all powers that disobey God being eventually destroyed.
  4. Preterist – This is the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 AD.

v1: Yet another angel comes from heaven and is extremely anointed with authority.

v2-3: This angel pronounces judgment against “Babylon” (Roman Catholicism) for its evil influence on the nations of the world and all its gained wealth and luxury.

v4: A voice calls out God’s people from this influence so they would not receive her plagues. In my lifetime thousands and thousands of people raised Roman Catholic have left that church in favor of non-denominational churches. It also shows “God’s love for Catholic people, which we all should have while maintaining no tolerance for its blasphemous teachings. There are some dead protestant churches where many folks have left in favor of more alive churches. They are hearing God’s Voice calling them out.

v5-8: Pay back time for “Babylon’s” sins that are quite extensive. It exuded arrogance that claimed shielding from mourning (because of her wealth). Fire will destroy her after pestilence, mourning, and famine hit.

v9: Her participants (the kings of the earth) will weep over the loss.

v10: The change is swift and the once strong “city” is no longer operating – in “one hour” of “Bible time.”

v11-14: Dispensationalist believe this refers to a future economic crash affecting the whole world. Historicists believe it refers to the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire. World business is destroyed. Some people think this is describing the ultimate destruction of the United States. Many in the U.S. will be mourning “her” losses if all this refers to our time period. One can easily see this potential with the shaky stock market and bank failures we have seen, and the Roman Catholic Church is deeply involved in this economic system. The potential for sudden collapse (judgment) can now be perceived. Moral? Get out of debt and keep your eyes on Jesus.

v15-19: Now not only the kings are fearing and mourning, but the merchants are as well.

v20: Finally some good news – God tells us to rejoice at this because His judgment is FOR us and against “her.”

v21-22: The angel said Babylon would be brought down with violence and be no more.

v23: “The voice of the Bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you (Babylon) any longer.” Fair interpretation says that the Bridegroom is Jesus and the Bride is the Church. This seems to be saying that all true Christian influence (salt; preservative) will be gone from this worldly system of power and anti-Biblical philosophy. Could this be a hint of the rapture of the Church? Or is this simply a picture of ”Babylon” during Judgment Day devoid of anything righteous?

v24: In “Babylon” was found the blood of the prophets and of the true believers and all who have been slain on the earth. That covers quite a lot of history! Perhaps this “Babylon” started in Genesis Chapter 11, when Nimrod (probably the first humanist) led many into rebellion against what God had said. God said to scatter throughout the earth, but he allegedly convinced people to converge and stay united and, through human effort, they could reach heaven (or be protected from another big flood!). God intervened once again in human history by scattering people and scrambling language – probably to prevent premature destruction of the human race. Maybe because technology would have increased too fast too early, thus preventing the Messiah to do His great work at the perfect time.

Revelation 19: Because the world false religion had been exposed and power to intimidate and deceive gone away, the true believers could now accomplish what Christ wanted, namely to evangelize the world. I believe all the saved are pictured here (The Bride of Christ) rejoicing with Jesus (The Bridegroom).

v1-6: Lots of rejoicing in heaven over the defeat of the great harlot.

v7: More rejoicing because the Bride of Christ (the Church – comprised of true believers worldwide) was finally ready to marry the Lamb (Jesus). I think this was the heart of God’s plan when He made human beings. He wanted a bride for His Son. Furthermore, He brought it about by giving, not taking and by mercy triumphing over judgment. What a story! Too bad it never makes world headlines.

v8: The Bride was clothed in bright and clean linen because of her righteous deeds (of all the saints combined in history, including Old Testament believers!). What a moment! However, this does not mean that the Second Coming of Christ had already taken place. This is just a picture from the spiritual realm and point of view. Later in verse 19 it reveals that a big battle is about to occur on earth between God’s forces and Satan’s people.

v9: States how blessed these souls are.

v10: John mistakenly begins to worship the angel, but the angel stops him immediately saying that he too is only a fellow servant of Jesus. Throughout the Bible there are other similar instances where this occurs, and the worship was ALWAYS stopped by the person or angel. When Jesus was worshiped, however, He never stopped it. This is one of the best defenses of the deity of Christ that we can use. Also “The spirit of prophecy” is the testimony of Jesus. In other words, believing and proclaiming that Jesus is the Christ is the heart of prophecy. Prophecy is the Word of God and in order for it to be true, the messenger must believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Everything stems from that truth (the Rock of His Church).

v11-14: A beautiful description of Jesus in glory and His armies were following Him.

v15: From His mouth came a “sharp sword” that smote the nations and He will rule them with an “iron rod.” This “sword” is figurative meaning “the Word of God,” the Bible. I think it’s a symbolic picture of how effective the spread of the Gospel would be throughout the Church Age.

v17-18: An angel readies “birds” to come for a “great supper.” They will “eat the flesh of kings of earth and many men.” I’m not sure what this refers to other than we know there will be great destruction and loss of life.

v19: The beast (yes, it is still alive) joined the kings of earth and all their armies to fight against Jesus and His army. This could refer to the long war against God and His people throughout history. If so, the “kings of the earth” may be comprised of demonic spirits behind humanism, false religion, communism, witchcraft, evolution, and new age philosophy. The beast is a strong demon that inspires people in darkness to do its bidding on earth.

v20-21: The beast and the false prophet were seized and thrown alive into the Lake of Fire, but those humans who received the mark of the beast were killed with “the sword” which came out of the mouth of Jesus. Again, the “sword” from the mouth of Jesus represents His Word going forth after the Roman Catholic Church lost its world power in 1798 AD. Here, John sees the end result of this war and its victims in the heavenlies.

There are some basic ideas from the historical symbolic approach to interpret the Book of Revelation that need to be addressed before we finish our journey through this Book.

The Temple – The new Testament revelation regarding God’s Temple is that it is not a physical structure any more. God will never again dwell in a physical place hidden behind a veil (Acts 17:24). The Book of Hebrews emphasizes that the physical things of the OT have past, they are no longer valid due to the superiority of the New Covenant. Even the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel describes the New Covenant Temple (47:3-12). There he talks about waters that reach many and heals them. It is describing what the NT Church would do throughout the Church Age. I strongly believe it has nothing to do with the OT Temple or some future physical rebuilt temple. It will expand and get deeper and deeper affecting many peoples from many nations, yet there will still be “marshes” where the Gospel would not be accepted. These “marshes” most likely represent nations that are extremely hostile toward Jesus. This water sounds like “living waters” to me. Jesus said as He quoted in part from Isaiah 58:11, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water'” (John 7:38). Revelation 21:1-3 reveals that the holy city (new Jerusalem) has been made ready as a bride for her husband. In this context, I certainly do not think this is describing a walled fortress of some physical city. Why would physical walls be needed in a spiritual kingdom? Jesus also referred to His body as a temple and 1 Corinthians 3:16 states, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Revelation 21:10-24 is not describing a physical building despite stating specific measurements of length, width, and height. The context of all that is John being carried away in the Spirit (v10). So all that he saw and measured was spirit (symbolic). The NT is clear about what the Temple of God is all about.

Ephesians 2:19-22 states that the holy temple is comprised of true believers and it is growing (expanding). These “true believers” come from all denominations. When Revelation 11:1-3 mentions measuring the temple, John does not measure a physical building. When verse 3 mentions the holy city, it is talking about the True Church, not Jerusalem. For it was the True Church that was “tread under foot” by the Roman Catholic Church for 1260 years (42 months).

Antichrist – Historical evidence, prophetic Bible statements, and documentation (events, times, statements), strongly indicate that Antichrist would reign and wear down (torture, persecute, hunt down, and kill) the saints for 1260 years. Therefore, he cannot be a single person because no person has lived that long. Antichrist literally means “in place of Christ.” So Antichrist is fulfilled by a position of authority (an office) unparalleled in the history of mankind that claims to be Christ on earth. The Antichrist must have the outer appearance of being a Christian because of 2 Thessalonians 2:4 that prophesies that he will sit in the temple of God displaying himself as God. Remember, the NT temple is not a physical building but rather God’s Church. Every Pope has claimed to be the Vicar of Christ (Christ incarnate), God in the flesh, Christ veiled in flesh, and the leader of God’s true church. This deception and fear of his authority must be so strong that millions of people would be caught up and believe in his power and be thus devoted to him. Daniel predicted that this power would emerge from the fourth kingdom which was Rome (7-8). The Roman Empire persecuted the true believers but for a brief time. By 313 AD it ended due to Constantine’s Edict of Milan making Christianity legal and therefore tolerated. The Holy Roman Empire that followed the Roman (Pagan) Empire was headed by popes and lasted 1260 years from 538-1798 AD. The Papacy still exists but popes do not have power over nations like they used to have. Popes cannot order worldly forces to go after Christians like they did throughout the Dark Ages. In those horrible days, the Pope literally was the king of kings in the sense that he had authority over them. Millions of Christians were put to death by popes. Often popes would use other governments to carry out his decrees much like the Pharisees used Rome to kill Jesus. Pockets of believers would form and grow only to be hunted down and killed by Papal orders. This happened repeatedly for centuries, but each time God made sure some believers survived. Papal power was eventually toppled by the Protestant Reformation mainly because people started getting hold of Bibles to read. This part of history is catalogued in symbolic language in Daniel Chapters 2:31-45 and 7:25-27, the Book of Revelation, and briefly in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 (“the breath of His mouth” meaning the Word of God). Hebrews 4:12 describes God’s Word as a “sharp two-edged sword.” Revelation 19:13-15 and 2:16 support this concept. Daniel 7:26 (KJV only) makes it clear that the saints (true believers) will take the Antichrist’s kingdom away from him and God’s Kingdom will be given back to the saints! (See Luke 12:32). This is what the Reformation did. We can freely read the Bible and proclaim salvation to others and to other nations because the Reformation succeeded. The Papacy remains but only as a false prophet much like Satan still remains despite Jesus conquering him. The Papacy will eventually be totally destroyed “by the brightness of His (Jesus’) coming” (2 Thess. 2:8).

For us today, it is difficult to appreciate the miracle of the Reformation and its power to change the earth forever. It is hard for us to grasp the former power of the Popes and the fear they put in the people. For some Catholics today, however, some of that fear remains in them and keeps them in bondage. One middle-aged Catholic lady recently told me that her church made her fear hell but not love God. She is now in the process of trying to recover and discover the true God.

So what was the Antichrist’s message of deception? Satan had deceived the whole world as to what Christianity is. Rituals replaced true repentance (inner change and desire to stop doing wrong) and love of God, and these practices convince people that they are saved when they are not. Missionaries have told me that when Catholics hear the true Gospel today, few respond. They assume they are okay. The deception is still alive on the planet.

The true Gospel proclaims that we are saved by faith in Jesus alone, we must be born-again, and that God loves us so much that “He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8) – nothing about devotion to a human on earth in place of Jesus. The office of priests was canceled by Calvary according to the Book of Hebrews. There is no mention of using other people’s names other than Jesus to get answers to prayer in the Word of God. There is no mention of transubstantiation (a literal interpretation of eating/drinking literal flesh/blood of Jesus being necessary for salvation). Jesus was clearly using figurative language in the Gospel of John when He said we must drink His blood and eat His flesh to be saved. He also claimed to be the Light of the world and the bread of life. I don’t think He is a bulb or a rye loaf. If He was speaking literally about communion, then no one is saved except Roman Catholics, including protestant missionaries that were killed for Christ. I find this impossible to believe, and I think most Catholic people would agree with me on this point. Then they should look hard at their doctrines they’ve been taught over the years. There is nothing about paying indulgences to get souls out of Purgatory. There is no purgatory! There is no mention of addressing some man on earth as The Holy Father (the capital letters are blasphemy against God, by the way – I’ve read the Catholic defense on this one and they miss the point of the context), and, with all due respect to Mary, she was an obscure character once the church was birthed. She was barely mentioned and she never made church rules during this time. Peter was not the first Pope. Jesus commented on Peter’s faith in Christ as being the Rock of the Church, not the man Peter. Scripture plainly teaches that the foundation of the true Church was not any man except Jesus Himself (1 Cor.3:11). Peter was never treated as the head of the Church in the New Testament. He was a leader, but so were several other men. Paul wrote more NT inspired Scripture Books than Peter. Peter was never addressed in such a way that put his authority above John or Paul or any other leader. In fact, Peter was put down in public by Paul at one point when Peter feared what Jews thought of him hanging with Gentiles (Galatians 2:11). I just don’t see Peter acting like a Pope in the Bible. He certainly would never accept the title of “Holy Father’! Lastly, the reason Mohammad started a campaign against what he thought was Christianity was when he entered a Catholic Church and saw all the statues. He concluded that Christians idol worshipers. His anger was kindled and that same spirit is in Muslims to this day. The Roman Catholic Church has done its best to give people the wrong idea about what true Christianity is all about. It has prevented millions of souls to be truly born-again in Christ. It is the biggest deception that has hit our planet aside from the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

Understanding Key Terms within Biblical Language:

“We Reign” = this does not mean we can do anything we want. Romans 5:17 – “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” This is not talking about us after we die. It is while we are still alive on earth from salvation on. Ephesians 2:6 says, “(at salvation)…and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.” This means we have authority over demons (Mark 16:17). Demons do not go away because I tell them to, they leave because my sin and debt have been canceled and Jesus struck down my adversary. Nothing can separate us from the love of God now (Romans 8:39). This is reigning for the believer. The more we believe this, the more we will act in faith on it. The more we act on it, the more results will occur. Romans 6:18 says we are free from sin. This does not mean I am perfect. The difference is that sin will not destroy me and take me to the Lake of Fire because all my sin has been nailed to the Cross of Christ. Christ is now reigning from Heaven and fighting on my behalf in all my endeavors to serve Him. I will survive (still saved) because of Christ reigning in Heaven and me with Him (in spirit). For us to reign means we are patient through tribulation knowing that everything now works together for our good (Romans 8:28). Lastly, to reign means we can sacrifice our individualism (soul-life) for the unity of the Spirit (Luke 17:33) so that darkness can be overcome on earth while we are still here – Ephesians Chapters 4 & 5 are about this. This is what is means when the Scriptures say that believers reign with Christ for 1,000 years (the millennium), which historicists believe to be a figurative number that represents the Church Age we are now in.

Satan is Bound” – This does not mean helpless and inactive. Satan is the “strong man” in the demonic kingdom and Jesus has bound him in order that believers can cast out demons. 1 John 3:8 says, “…The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” Since we still see evil everywhere, what does it mean to destroy the works of the devil? It means that Jesus has dealt Satan a mortal death blow via the Cross and Resurrection to every work of Satan and Jesus has given to His Church that same spirit of authority so that in every age the works of Satan can be thwarted and destroyed by true believers who make up His Church. We are willing to live sacrificially, even if we do not see all our prayers answered in our lifetime, because we know that His Spirit will eventually rule all as the waters cover the sea! (Habakkuk 2:14).

Now, when the Gospel is preached, things happen that could never happen otherwise. Hearts are changed, deception is removed, bondages and habits are broken, people are healed physically and emotionally. This could not happen unless Satan was bound. If he was NOT bound, not one missionary would accomplish anything their whole life. In other words, if Jesus just saved us from sin only but did not bind Satan, we could not accomplish anything beyond that one thing. Revelation Chapter 20 first shows Satan bound then the Church reigning. If Satan were not bound, we could not share the Gospel in other nations. Consider the typical cycle in Old Testament times when Satan was not bound: God shows mercy, Jews sin, they become unrepentant, now they are in bondage, God brings judgment, they repent, God shows mercy, they later sin again, become unrepentant, bondage, God brings judgment, they repent, God shows mercy. This went on for about 4,000 years! How then could Jesus tell 12 men to go into the world and preach the Gospel and within a span of 100 years, nations are converted? Because Satan was bound SO THAT HE COULD NO LONGER DECEIVE THE NATIONS. This does not mean he is totally inactive. He still uses trickery to deceive people. If people have no faith in Jesus, they are easy marks for Satan and demons. If, however, a person is in Christ and knows what the spiritual reality is, Satan becomes disarmed (Colossians 2:15). Ephesians 4:8 says, “When He (Jesus) ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives and gave gifts to men.” This is quoting Psalms 68:18. It means that Jesus claimed back people held in captivity by sin and Satan, then gave these captives (saved souls) gifts in order to fight the fight remaining on earth until He returns. It’s about the Church Age (millennium). However, make no mistake, Satan is no wimp! He cast nations into hell for centuries and gave our Lord and Savior a very rough time when He was on earth. Today, we are not ignorant of his schemes (2 Cor. 2:11). This means he still is scheming! He and his demons still set traps for us to fall into, so all the more reason for us to walk humbly in Christ relying upon His grace for our safety, discernment, and service to Him.

In Matthew 12:29 Jesus said, “Or how can anyone entering the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” I believe that Jesus was referring to what He was soon going to do to Satan and that would usher in the Church Age when Christ’s sons and daughters would plunder Satan’s house which is this world.

Furthermore, because of our sin, we once were property of Satan. He had us in his snare, but Jesus was able to “carry us out” because He was able to bind Satan, the strong man of this world. During our time, Jesus is still using us to plunder Satan’s house. What an awesome thing to be able to do to use frail flesh and blood creatures to overthrow high supernatural powers! The Church is indeed a David against Goliath, and the fact that we win, testifies to the existence and awesome majesty of the One and Only True Creator of Heaven and earth.

Some theologians have compared Satan’s binding and downfall after Christ’s victory over death to the Allied forces landing on Normandy Beach in France during WWII. It was a huge death blow to the Nazi Regime, therefore it was just a matter of time for the final victory to occur. That time between the Allied landing and Nazi unconditional surrender represents the Church Age in which we find ourselves. Christ has all authority, we are seated with Him in the spirit places, Satan has been defeated (stripped of power and cannot trick nations any longer), we have power over Satan through Christ, but all Christ’s enemies are not under His feet yet (1 Corinthians 15:25). This is why Paul wrote to the believers in Rome that God would soon crush Satan under their feet (Romans 16:20). Rome was cruel to Christians, but God would judge that power, and in 476 AD it was destroyed. This is just one peek we get today about the Church Age and Christians reigning with Christ. God and His Bride (The Church) will win in the end when all His enemies are put under His feet.

Revelation 20: The Millennium – Literal or Symbolic?

This seems to be symbolic of the Church Age and how believers reign in Christ. Many well-respected Christian leaders such as Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley, Whitfield, and Finney did not believe verses 1-7 are describing 1,000 literal years (surprised?). The Bible is replete with examples of the words “a thousand” to not mean a literal number (Ps.50:10, Deut.7:9, Ps.105:8). It is also worth mentioning that whenever Jesus spoke about His coming again, he never said anything about a literal 1,000 year time period where He would visibly reign on earth while unsaved people still existed on the earth, a scenario I just cannot envision.

v1-3: An angel grabs the dragon (the devil), opens the abyss (a spiritual bottomless pit), binds him up, and throws him into the abyss, seals it up for “1,000 years.” Certainly “chain” is symbolic because a physical chain would have no holding power on a spirit. During this time, Satan can no longer deceive the nations. So at this time in history, Satan has only one restriction put on him. I believe that he and demons still deceive people during this time period. I think this is what is going on in our current time. Ever since Jesus bound Satan during His time on earth, the His Word (Gospel) began to spread quickly to other nations. According to these 3 verses, this could not have happened if Satan was “totally on the loose.”

v4-6: John sees thrones upon which sit the resurrected souls of those who had been beheaded for being a Christian and those who had not worshiped the beast nor his image, nor received his mark. These souls will judge and reign with Christ for that “1,000 years” or long time period. This is the first resurrection and there is a special blessing that goes with it. (Was this the mysterious 144,00?)

I do not interpret this to be a result of a secret rapture that spares believers of a tribulation followed by a 7 or 1,000 year interval as dispensationalists claim. Their notion never came about until about 1900. The Church never taught this until then. There is only one second coming of Christ, and He will not leave His Throne at the right hand of the Father “until His enemies are put under His feet.” A rapture of believers from earth will take place at His Second Coming. But that’s THE END. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). I do not perceive any room for a literal 1,000 year time period on the present earth containing unsaved people after Jesus returns according to this Scripture.

Jesus did teach about two “resurrections.” But they are different types. In John 5:24-27, He speaks of a spiritual resurrection. In other words, as soon as people “hear His voice” (get witnessed to) and respond, they pass from death to life at that moment. Perhaps this is what this Chapter in Revelation is talking about. It happens FIRST. Have they been literally resurrected at that moment? Of course not, but they do BEGIN to REIGN with Christ at that moment. When we are born-again and saved, we are still alive on earth in our sinful, fleshly bodies, but we are plugged in to the One with all authority and are fighting for His side. This is also why Jesus describes unsaved people as “dead” when He said “Let the dead bury the dead” (Mt.8:22). Although their physical bodies were alive, they were dead because they were not a part of Life and were not fighting on God’s side. The ONE, literal resurrection is described in John 5:28-29 and occurs perhaps at the exact same time as the rapture, which, I believe occurs at the Second Coming of Christ. In other words, when Jesus returns, it is The End and He immediately established His Eternal Kingdom with a new heavens and a new earth.

So during the millennium, which I view as the time between His Comings while He reigns from Heaven through His believers alive on earth, the devil and his demons can still torment, accuse, and deceive individuals, but not nations as a whole as with previous history.

v7-8: Satan is released whenever this millennium (Church Age) ends, and he comes out to deceive the nations again for a brief time. His vehicle” is “Gog and Magog” located in the four corners of the earth. Their number is so great that it’s like the sand on the seashore. These are gathered for battle against God. Since their location is world-wide, they may represent the three major world deceptions of atheism, humanism (birthed evolution), and false signs/wonders (witchcraft or spiritism) aligning themselves against the True Church around the world. Many demons would be garnering themselves for war via these beliefs. I think this is going on now, so perhaps the “millennium” is over! I’ve noticed during my lifetime a sharp increase against people sharing any belief in Jesus. Court rulings and ACLU activities have certainly hampered the spreading of God’s Word to people in darkness. Keep in mind that God is still in charge and if there is to be another world war, His hand of judgment will be behind it. We need not fear.

v9: The evil forces came up to a “broad plain” and surrounded the true believers and “the beloved city” (The Church), but fire came down from heaven and destroyed them. I think this symbolizes the forces of this world trying to make Christianity look foolish and dead. But over time, God’s people will have victory. I believe this is the ultimate spiritual war and it won’t be fought with modern worldly weapons. Revelation 16:12-21 is describing this battle of Armageddon from a spiritual viewpoint. If it includes a physical war, it may symbolize the demise of anti-Christian activities.

What about literal Jews in the End-Times? It seems as though God’s promise to them is fulfilled in Romans Chapter 11. This may mean that many will come to understand that the Christian Church is backed by God so many may join the “fight” and be saved doing it. No one knows for sure how the “Jewish factor” will play out. Some believe there is no Jewish factor because there was a complete transfer of the promises of the OT to “spiritual Israel” (The Church). While this doctrine can be well supported by several Scriptures, dispensationalists maintain it does not explain Romans 11 adequately. The church has believed for centuries up till the early 1900’s that Romans 11 may be speaking of a coming revival in Israel that then leads to the last world-wide revival which then could bring the nations against the church. But does Romans 11 claim all Jews will be saved at this time near the end? No. Verse 26 can be misleading when it says “all Israel will be saved” because Paul writes in verse 5 that only a remnant of Jews will be saved which is supported throughout several Old Testament verses. So what does verse 26 mean? I think it means that all true believers in the Jewish lineage will be saved, which will be some, not all. I think God was telling Jews that even though their nation was destroyed because they broke the covenant they could still find salvation despite the Kingdom being transferred to Gentiles.

v10: Then the devil was thrown into the Lake of Fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are to be tormented day and night forever. Yes! Finally!

v11: Jesus’ great white throne appeared, causing the earth and heaven to flee away, and no place was found for them. The Word does say that He will create a new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17 and 2 Peter 3:13). In 2 Peter 3:10 it says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” I believe this passage in Revelation may be describing what Peter said.

v12-13: Judgment Day – all the dead, great and small were judged according to their deeds. There seems to be two Books: one, the Book of Life containing the names of all the saved people. Two, the Book containing all the deeds people have done. Both Books were opened and used on this Judgment Day.

v14: “Death” and “Hades” were thrown into the lake of fire which is the second death. If a person’s name was not found in the Book of Life, they were thrown into the lake of fire. When “death” is thrown into the Lake of Fire, I guess that means that there will be no more death. Similarly, with Hades gone, there will be no more spiritual waiting place. At his point it sounds like either souls are alive forever or perished forever. Jesus did say we perish if not born-again (John 3:16). So after judgment and punishment for human souls, they perish. That Lake is the second DEATH as revealed in the next chapter verse 8. The “smoke” from this event rises forever, but does the torment? (BTW – the Bible never says “torture” when describing hell or this Lake of Fire, there’s a big difference). The judgment against the unsaved lasts forever (i.e., it will never be reversed), but is the torment forever? Mainstream Christian teaching claims the torment is forever, but some believers do not agree.

Revelation 21: Finally great news! This chapter serves to encourage our hearts that something tremendous awaits and all evil will be done away with forever.

v1: John sees the new heavens and new earth! The first thing he notices is that there is no sea. Not sure what “no sea” means here. It sometimes represent people, but here it simply may mean that the new earth will have more space available for all the saved souls.

v2: He sees Jerusalem, the Holy City, coming down from heaven like a bride adorned for her husband. I do not perceive that this Holy City is a physical building. If those dimensions (verses 15-17) are literal, it becomes difficult for me to perceive why the walls would be so high (no evil to be kept out anymore – see note on verses 9-21). For me, it is the Bride of Christ, His Church (the New Covenant Temple) comprised of saved souls from all time. It is descending to change earth and heal the nations.

v3: A loud voice announces that God is now among men and He will live with them.

v4: God will wipe away every tear and there will no longer be death, mourning, crying, or pain.

v5: Jesus says He is making all things new (our new bodies will be awesome!).

v6-8: Jesus identifies Himself as the Alpha and Omega and says the overcomers will inherit the above things, but unsaved will experience the second death in the Lake of Fire.

Food for thought – what does the word “death” mean here if torment lasts forever? The word says God can destroy both body and soul in hell. So if a human soul (not Satan and demons) is destroyed and dead, how can it be tormented forever?

v9-21: An angel shows John the Bride of Christ in the form of a new Jerusalem that came down from heaven in verse 2. These verses go into detail concerning its composition that included measured walls and precious stones and the gold streets were so pure that they were clear. Since the Bride of Christ is all saved souls, I believe this picture of the Holy City is symbolic. It’s difficult to imagine a literal cube measuring 1500 miles and why would spiritual beings need physical walls? Verse 10 mentions a “great and high mountain” which fulfills the prophecy in Daniel 2:35. The symbolic interpretation of the measuring is that the number 12 represents completion, especially in terms of governing and everything else relates to eternal perfection. This is also showing the fulfillment of Daniel 7:18 where the believers receive and possess the Kingdom forever.

v22: No need for a Temple in the new Jerusalem because God and the Lamb are the Temple.

v23: The city has no need for the sun or moon because God’s glory illumines all through the Lamb.

v24: All nations will benefit from the light. Nations and their kings still exist.

v25: No need for night time, only daytime and the gates will always be opened.

v26: The glory of the nations will be brought in to the City which will never host evil souls but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

SOUNDS GOOD TO ME! Just to have life with no evil or sin will be an amazing feeling.

Revelation 22: God Restores What was Lost in the Garden of Eden

v1-2: John sees the river of the water of life coming from the throne. It was so pure that it was clear as crystal. The tree of life was on both sides of the river and they had 12 kinds of fruits and its leaves healed the nations. I think this is a picture of the true Church positively affecting the world, before and after Jesus’ Second Coming.

v3-4: No more curse (death, suffering, misery, hard labor). We will see His face and His name will be on our foreheads. This may be highlighting that we will always have a close, personal connection with Jesus.

v5: No more nights and all light comes from God so there is no need for a sun or lamps (and no computers!).

v6-7: Emphasizes that these visions in the Book of Revelation will occur shortly (strongly indicating most occurred in early church history) and that Jesus will come back to earth quickly. A special blessing to those who heed the words in this Book. I would especially say those words to the 7 churches in Turkey.

v8-9: John verifies that it is he who saw and wrote the Book and that he is not allowed to worship angels, but only God.

v10: Unlike in the Book of Daniel, written hundreds of years prior to Revelation, these words are NOT to be “sealed up” because the time of fulfillment is too near. So it is understandable that we now have more commentaries and interpretations on these visions than ever before in history. The truth is becoming more evident.

v11: Describes polarity within the souls of End-Time people – the evil become more evil and the righteous become more righteous.

v12-13: Underscores the identity of the Lord and the quickness of His return.

v14: Underscores how blessed are the saved souls.

v15: Underscores the horror surrounding those who reject God.

v16: Again identifies that Jesus sent this special angel to give John the visions and calls Himself “the bright morning star” and of the lineage of David.

v17: Final invite to “taste” the living waters that Jesus offers mankind.

v18-19: A stern warning to NOT add or subtract anything from this Book. Violators will not like the punishment. Some Christians interpret this as referring to the entire Bible, but I do not think so. The context seems to be referring only to the Book of Revelation (but don’t go out and change other books, okay?).

v20-21: The final words of God to earth: Total affirmation of credibility to everything recorded by John. A last reminder about the quickness of the Lord’s return and the desire of God to have all people receive the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dispensationalism has dominated the American church since the early 1800s. John Darby (1800-1882) started this viewpoint and was strongly opposed by contemporary Charles Spurgeon. Over time Darby, and the Plymouth Brethren as they were called, became separatists from the rest of the Christian Church with a touch of arrogance. Later, Cyrus Scofield, who abandoned his wife and two daughters and was of dubious character, interpreted the whole Bible from this errant viewpoint and, in my view, has done great damage to the credibility and integrity of the Christian mindset today ( I thought it prudent to allow you to see the other view, namely historicism, which I believe makes more sense and is consistent with God’s Word in the OT.

I have a deep love for you all and hope that you will continue to find Truth and divine guidance in His Holy Word, the Bible.

In Jesus,

Dave Scheer