These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!
Revelation is like eating comfort food for me… I love it every time and always learn new things!
If it helps, here’s how I see the broader outline of Revelation:
- Ch. 1 – Starts with vision of Jesus
- Ch. 2-3 – Messages to individual churches for that time period (but lessons we can learn today)…each church gets a picture of Jesus, and only when held altogether can you see the fuller vision of Jesus
- Ch. 4-5 – Introduces the opening of the sealed scroll (which shows the “things that must take place after this”, Rev. 4:1). This seems a clear allusion to Daniel 12 and the sealing of that prophecy. Here we see that the prophecy is unsealed and so it is continuing on (in my estimation) from where Daniel left off.
- Ch. 6-19 – Shows seals that open to trumpets that open to plagues. I believe this is a series of depictions of world events that will directly impact the church and its witness (the “lampstand”). You can see this witness begins with 7 lampstands in Rev. 1 but diminishes to 2 lampstands in Rev. 11. I believe that shows that the witness of the church would be much less than it was at the beginning. And the events described in Rev. are all things that impact that witness: primarily the secular world, the false Christianity (think Antichrist), and Islam. Though judgment begins on the church (by these different elements), it eventually is turned to these things themselves (and other related things) and so the church will persevere.
- Ch. 20 – Millennium. I favor an a-millenial viewpoint, which believes we are living in the millennium right now (1,000 being a symbolic number of all the years of the church before Christ returns). Thus, ch. 20 acts as a sort of recap from a different angle of ch. 6-19 in this viewpoint.
- Ch. 21-22 – Show the final consummation and joining of Jesus and His bride (the church) where his glory is in full splendor, and all his enemies vanquished. Hallelujah may it be Lord – “the Spirit and the bride say ‘Come'”
No offense taken if you differ on this broad viewpoint. I think it can be fairly defended (and actually made a video series on this if interested), but it has its problems, too. I’d LOVE to do a weekend together with all interested and re-record the Revelation teachings (with longer discussions) with others. But that may be a pipe dream for now with so much busy-ness in life.
There are different takes on Revelation (and we all could learn from each other more on this, truly). The take I find myself most drawn to is that Revelation encompasses the entire church age (from John’s time until Christ returns). In this sense, the church (and her relationship with Christ and the world) is the primary focal point.
In this view, Revelation walks through a sequence of events that are symbolically foretelling what will happen in this time between Christ’s first coming and 2nd coming.
If this be the case, I see the breakdown like this:
- Rev. 2-3: The events of the church in John’s day
- The 7 seals: The events of the church as they are impacted by Rome’s fall and the new “Holy Roman Empire”
- The 7 trumpets: The events of the church and how they are impacted by the “Holy Roman Empire” and Islam
- The 7 plagues: I think (emphasis on “think”, not “know”) that these plagues represent things like WW1 and WW2 and present day events. I actually find it interesting how plagues were somewhere thrown in the mix of some of these things (for instance, the Spanish Flu precipitated WW1 events). Makes me wonder if Covid (but more so it’s aftermath which is just beginning worldwide) won’t play into 1 of these plagues???
Jews & Church
Observation from Rev 1-3~
I see at least 3 different places where there is some allusion to the church being spoken of in Jewish terms:
- Rev. 1:20 – where the lampstand (a Jewish tabernacle symbol) represents the church
- Rev. 3:12 – where overcoming Christians are called “the new Jerusalem” (this is expanded even more when Rev. 21 calls Christ’s bride the new Jerusalem)
- Rev. 2:9 and 3:9 where it references the synagogue of Satan, saying that people claim they are Jews but are not (meaning, I take it, that they don’t truly follow Jesus–which is what true Jews are now)
This matches other places in the Bible (Rom. 2; Gal. 6; Heb. 12) where the church is now called the true Jews / Israel.
But I think it also sets the way for later descriptors in Revelation where we’ll see mention of Jewish things, but it applies to the church. Some of this, I think, might be showing how the church now has become the new Israel (and even Rev. is outlining this).
I was touched today thinking about the place of prayer in Revelation:
Ch. 4-5 show worship and songs to the Lord, and then you have the opening of the scroll which is accompanied by the prayers of the saints (which I think is a beautiful picture of how our prayers really impact and shape the unfolding of future events)
Ch. 6:10 – shows the martyred saints praying for God’s judgments against their persecutors
Ch. 8:3ff – shows God taking the prayers of his saints and it turns into judgment on the world
It’s such a powerful picture to me of how God hears our prayers and we really do impact world events.
Jesus Returns as King and Judge
It’s interesting for me because we are going through Genesis right now with the kids and as a family to see and be reminded of God’s original design for the earth and seeing how far we as people have strayed in comparison with the end as we read so much about the sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, etc… (21:8, 22:15).
I am not sure how anyone can walk away from reading Revelation and not believe in hell first of all. Also, to not just be in awe of God and his holiness and excited to be with Him.
Another theme (especially at the end) is how God’s justice prevails. The whole book sees a persecuted church amidst multiple enemies. They are down and look like they are almost extinct (e.g. the 7 lampstands of Rev. 1 becoming 2 lampstands in Rev. 11, or we see at the end the entire world surrounding the church). But in the end they are victorious because God the Judge intervenes. His people are rescued to an amazing new life with him (where there is no more curse!), and all who reject Him are judged in eternal punishment.
22:17 “the Spirit and the Bride say “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”
Come Lord Jesus!
God and His Bride
I’ll add 2 observations this time of reading Revelation:
- the focus is on the church being persecuted — and a lot of this book is God’s vengeance taken on those who have mistreated his people in this life.
- it’s intriguing to me that the Babylon-whore plays such a major part later in the book. I believe she represents counterfeit Christianity. She’s a whore dwelling in the earth, from Babylon. Whereas the church is a bride, dwelling in heaven, from Jerusalem. So to see her play a major part in the church’s history later on (and being at tension with the real church) makes a lot of sense. There has always been false Christianity (even in times of New Testament — thus all the sharp words we read about “false brothers”). But this false Christianity grows over time. Antichrist being the fullest climax of it (which I take to be the office of the Pope when it was in full sway over “Christendom”). But just like the N.T. sees a church that starts pure (Acts 2) but increasingly has problems later on–see 2 Peter, Jude, 1-3 John (all the books at the end really harping on this), so Revelation pictures this over the course of history. Truly, I believe this is a major fight of every true Christian and will only continue to rage until Christ returns: how to faithfully confront false Christianity, even though it will cost us much in this lifetime (think of not being able to buy and sell–like we read in Revelation)