The Revelation

(continued from Jesus' prophecy in Matthew 24)


Late in the first century AD the apostle John received a vision, which he introduced with these words:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.  (Revelation 1:1-3)

 The Revelation was given by God to Christ, who gave it to John via an angel. It shows Christ's servants the future using a mixture of symbols and literal statements. The Revelation is the most comprehensive and detailed prophecy in the Bible. It covers events from John's time through the return of Christ, then into the kingdom of God and into the distant future. There are many similarities - parallels - between Jesus' prophecy as recorded in Matthew 24 and the prophecies in Revelation.

The First Five Seals

In the Revelation a "Lamb" symbolizes Christ. In John's vision the Lamb is seen opening seven seals on a symbolic scroll or book of prophecy. As each seal is opened, the scroll can be unrolled a little more and we see farther into the future. The seals help organize the events prophesied in Revelation in sequential order, leading to the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God at the end of the seventh seal.

John described the opening of the first seal in Revelation 6:1:

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts [living creatures] saying, come and see.

John describes what he sees as each seal is opened. In each of the first four seals he sees a horseman unique to that seal. These are the so-called "four horsemen of the Apocalypse," figuratively bringing various troubles to the earth: false religion, war, famine and disease... much the same as Jesus (in Matthew 24) warned would happen before the "great tribulation."

The fifth seal warns of martyrdom, much as Jesus warned in Matthew 24:9:

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

The Sixth Seal

In the sixth seal we see the darkening of the sun and moon, and the "stars of heaven" falling - just as we saw in Matthew 24:

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.  (Revelation 6:12-14)

In Matthew 24:29 Jesus said the darkening of the sun and moon, etc., would occur "immediately after the tribulation of those days." So we know, now, that events in this sixth seal (and the following, seventh seal) must all occur after the "great tribulation." This is important to understand and keep in mind, as there are many events to occur in the sixth and seventh seals, over a period of years after the "great tribulation," before Jesus' return at the end of the seventh seal.

In the next few verses John describes what he sees next:

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Revelation 6:15-17)

All over the world people of every sort are terrified and want to hide "from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." Why? Why do they suddenly have belief in and respect for the Lamb, regardless of their religion (or lack of it)? Take note again of what they say: "hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." This is not some sort of euphemistic expression. They say this because they are seeing it: they are seeing the "sign of the Son of man" that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24, just after He described the darkening of the sun and moon:

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30)

What is the sign of the Son of man? Here is Jesus' description in Matthew 26:64:

... Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

People all over the world say "hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne" because of what they are seeing: "the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."

Revelation chapter seven continues with additional events to occur as part of the sixth seal. In the first few verses we see four angels "holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree." They are told to wait, to let no harm fall, until another angel "sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." With the "seal" those servants would have protection. The seal is figurative, not literal; it means they have received God's spirit. The apostle Paul used the same expression, "sealed," to describe those who had received God's spirit; some examples are in Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30.

Who are the servants? There are two groups. Verses four through eight depict 144,000 individuals - apparently descendants of the twelve original tribes of Israel - being "sealed... on their foreheads" (Rev. 7:3).

Verses nine through seventeen go on to describe "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues... which came out of great tribulation, and washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." They stood "before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them."

The "great multitude" are Gentiles (non-Israelites) who have figuratively "washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb": they have repented and have had their sins cleaned from them through Jesus' death on their behalf. They are now figuratively "before the throne of God": they have been redeemed to God and have decided to live as if they are in the presence of God. They are "in his temple" - they are in the true church, among those in whom God dwells - and "serve him day and night": they are doing the will of God. The apostle Paul used the same symbolism, reminding the Corinthians that "ye are the temple of the living God, as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them" (2 Corinthians 6:16).

Why have so many repented and turned to God? Seeing "the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" convinced them that God is real and that the era of godless living is at an end.

The 144,000 and the great multitude are not literally in heaven: they are mortals right here on earth, just like the Corinthians Paul wrote to. As we have seen in What does God promise us it is not until the end of the seventh seal - when Jesus returns - that any of the living (and resurrected dead) receive eternal life, and even then they do not literally go to heaven.

The Seventh Seal: the first four trumpets

Revelation 8 verses 1 and 2 introduce the seventh, final seal and the seven trumpet soundings that comprise it:

And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

The seven angels will each sound their trumpets, one after the other. John describes what he sees as each sounds. Here are the first four:

And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!

What is John describing? Here is some speculation: the first trumpet apparently brings wildfires destroying about a third of the world's forests and grasslands. The second appears to be a supervolcano, "a great mountain burning with fire," erupting in an ocean, destroying a third of all sea life (by pollution?) and a third of all ships, perhaps by tsunami. The third trumpet sounding seems to bring worldwide pollution of water, possibly due to formation of sulfuric acid as sulfur dioxide gas (from the volcano) reacts with atmospheric moisture. This has happened before: all over Europe during 1783, for example, many died from pollution and lung disease following the eruption of Laki, in Iceland. The fourth trumpet - the sun, moon and stars being darkened by a third - may be due to volcanic dust in the atmosphere. A similar event occurred in 1816, "the year without a summer." A "dry fog" or dust from the eruption of Tambura in Indonesia dimmed the sun and caused cold temperatures, crop failures, and food shortages in various parts of the world. Malnutrition, famine and disease followed.

The Fifth Trumpet of the Seventh Seal

Four angels have sounded their trumpets. The fifth, sixth and seventh angels have yet to sound. John's description of the fifth trumpet's events is one of the most unusual in the Bible:

And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment [was] as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts [were] like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads [were] as it were crowns like gold, and their faces [were] as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as [the teeth] of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings [was] as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power [was] to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, [which is] the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue [is] Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath [his] name Apollyon. One woe is past; [and], behold, there come two woes more hereafter. (Revelation 9:1-12)

Speculating, it appears the "locusts" are literal, not figurative. They are instructed to hurt "only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads"... so they have the ability to discern who has God's spirit. There is no man-made way to do this, so it seems the locusts are not man-made and not under man's control. They are under spiritual control, evidently by their "king," the "angel of the bottomless pit."

Why? Why have these locusts? There is no explanation given, but consider this: no doubt those being attacked will realize that other people are completely immune from the locusts. Wouldn't they ask the others to find why they were not getting stung? This will be an opportunity for those who have God's spirit to explain that they are protected because they have repented and received God's spirit, and it is through God's spirit that they are protected from the locusts. Thus the "144,000" and the "great multitude" will have a unique opportunity to encourage the rest of mankind to repent. Even the very existence of the locusts - under apparent supernatural control - will be a testimony to the reality of the supernatural.

The last verse in the passage above stated "One woe is past; [and], behold, there come two woes more hereafter." The two woes to follow are the sixth and seventh trumpets of the seventh seal, completing the seventh seal. The fifth trumpet (the "first woe") must be complete, ended and over, before the second woe - the sixth trumpet - can begin. We will see the same at the end of the sixth trumpet or second woe: it must end before the seventh trumpet or third woe begins. No such statement was made about the first, second, third, and fourth trumpets. This suggests that the first four may overlap one another: each will begin in order but continue after the next begins. For example, the fires of the first trumpet would continue into the events of the second,  and maybe the third, fourth trumpets and beyond. Likewise the problems of the second trumpet would continue into the third, and maybe the fourth trumpet and beyond, and so on. But events specific to the fifth trumpet would be done, finished, before the events of the sixth trumpet would begin.

The Sixth Trumpet of the Seventh Seal

Within the sixth trumpet of the seventh seal John describes three things. First we see a great army - a horde - killing a third of mankind. Then John describes a mysterious "little book" whose contents are not revealed. Third, John tells of the "two witnesses" who preach for 1260 days or three and a half years (42 months of 30 days per month).

The sixth trumpet is introduced in Revelation 9:13. John describes an army of two hundred million armed with "tails" - perhaps gun barrels - with which "they do hurt":

And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen [were] two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses [were] as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails [were] like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. (Revelation 9:13-21)

Chapter ten of Revelation describes a "little book" - opened, in the hand of an angel. John receives instructions about the book:

And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go [and] take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take [it], and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.  (Revelation 10:8-11)

So, what is the little book? Note that it tastes sweet in the mouth when John "eats" it, but that it makes him sick after he swallows it. Taken figuratively, what's in the book is easy and tempting to believe... but when swallowed or believed it makes one figuratively sick: deceived and confused. Figuratively the book is tempting and easy to believe but not without the undesirable consequences of error. The book symbolizes a pack of lies that will be foisted on the whole world. Why?

The Hour of Temptation (continuing with the Sixth Trumpet of the Seventh Seal)

Here in the sixth trumpet of the seventh seal the world will apparently enter a time of testing - of sorting - of those who follow the truth from those who follow lies. Revelation 3:10 describes this time as "...the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."

The apostle Paul described a world leader that would rise to power at this time:

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10)

Jesus spoke of the same time saying:

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, [he is] in the secret chambers; believe [it] not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:23-27)

Revelation 13:5-9 goes into greater detail:

And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty [and] two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

Revelation 13 continues with a description of a false prophet working with the world figure described above, working deceptive miracles as Jesus foretold:

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men [as Elijah did in the Old Testament], And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number [is] Six hundred threescore [and] six. (Revelation 13:11-18)

The beast and the false prophet will work together to deceive and coerce the entire world into compliance and obedience. Figuratively, to have the mark of the beast in your forehead is follow and agree with the beast in your mind. To have the mark in your hand is to follow and agree with the beast in the things you do. Selling and buying are teaching and believing; teaching and believing outside of the prescribed dogma will be forbidden. The meaning of the "666" will be clear, to those who care to know, when the time comes.

The Two Witnesses (continuing with the Sixth Trumpet of the Seventh Seal)

Following his account of the "little book" John described the two witnesses. We'll see that these two are empowered for 1260 days - the same amount of time - 42 months - that the beast is in power. And we'll see that the beast, at the end of the witnesses' 1260 days, kills the two witnesses. This does not prove that the witnesses and the beast are active during the same 1260 day or 42 month period of time; there is no statement that this is the case, but it is a possibility. All we can say for sure is that the beast is active - killing the witnesses - at the end of the witnesses' 1260 days.

This would be a good opportunity to point out that the "little horn" world power described in Daniel 7 appears to be the same beast described in Revelation 13, speaking "great words against the most High" and making "war with the saints." That "little horn" rules for "a time and times and the dividing of time"... three and a half years, the same as 42 months, the same as 1260 days.

Here is John's account of the two witnesses:

And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty [and] two months. And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.  These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; [and], behold, the third woe cometh quickly. (Revelation 11:1-14)

It is not a coincidence that the two witnesses are active at the time the lies in the "little book" are circulating. The witnesses are provided for a testimony against the lies, and they have power to perform miracles to back up the validity of their testimony, much as the false prophet will be performing miracles to suggest to the world his lies are truth. (This is similar to what occurred when Moses and Aaron met Pharaoh: both parties had miracle-working power at the same time, Exodus 7:10-12.) Figuratively, anyone trying to "hurt" the two witnesses is trying to discredit the witnesses' testimony. And what is the witnesses' response? Figuratively, "fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies"... the witnesses respond with undeniable, irrefutable spoken truth - backed by miracles - that destroys the credibility of their enemies. This, again, is "the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." Everyone will have to consider the evidence and choose to either follow God and the truth, or, follow the beast and false prophet and their lies.

The Seventh Trumpet of the Seventh Seal

John continues in Revelation 11:15:

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

Now comes the climax of end time events: the literal return of Jesus to the earth, to rule in total authority. There are many prophecies about this in the Bible; here are a few of them:

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, [but] it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Daniel 2:44)

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13,14)

And it shall come to pass in the last days, [that] the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:2-4)

As Jesus returns there will be a desperate and pathetic attempt, led by the beast and false prophet, to fight Him and prevent Him from taking power. Armies will gather at a place called Armageddon (Revelation 16:16), near Jerusalem; they will march on Jerusalem and will be destroyed there as described in Revelation 19:19-21, Zechariah 14:12,13 and other scriptures.

Events after the return of Jesus are described in the God's Plan page of this website. Ultimately all evildoers will be disposed of permanently and mercifully. The just will live eternally in a recreated universe, in the company of the Father and the Son.

At the sounding of the seventh trumpet we have another event which should not go unmentioned: the resurrection of the faithful to eternal life. They will rise skyward to meet Him as He returns, and will return with Him to rule with Him right here on earth. The What Does God Promise Us page in the website describes this in detail.


picture of flowers


internal links