The Book of Revelation
By Irvin Baxter
Revelation is the dramatization of the unveiling of Jesus Christ at His second coming. The second coming is described in chapter 6, chapter 11, chapter 14 and chapter 19. The book of Revelation is in “an order,” but is not in chronological order from front to back.
Three Event Categories
The Apostle John wrote Revelation while he was exiled on the Isle of Patmos. There are three categories of events in the Book of Revelation according to Revelation 1:19—the things which John had already seen; the things “which are” (situations already existing in John’s world); and future events–the things “which shall be hereafter.” These future events are described in four major categories: seven seals, seven trumpets, seven thunders and seven vials.
The seals are the long story, ending with Jesus’ return to earth. The trumpets are the shorter story ending at the same place. The vials are the very short story also ending at the second coming. These categories, like the four gospels, tell the same story from four different perspectives. The sixth and seventh seal, the seventh trumpet and the seventh vial all describe voices, lightning, thunders, an earthquake and great hail. These all describe the same event because they are the same event. Each of them describes the second coming of Jesus Christ to this earth.
The skeletal structure of Revelation is contained in the seals, the trumpets and the vials. Revelation also contains what we call parenthetical chapters. These chapters are similar to color commentary. They give us additional information not contained in the seals, trumpets and vials. For example, Revelation 12 describes a war that will take place in heaven three and one-half years before the second coming. Revelation 13 foretells the coming one-world government, one-world religion and the global economic system. Revelation 17-18 contains a detailed account of the coming destruction of the false religious systems that will be in alliance with the Antichrist.
Blessing and Curse
Revelation is the only book in the Bible that comes with a blessing and a curse:
“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 1:3
“…If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19
You and I are part of the generation that will see the unveiling of Jesus Christ. The Bible has given us reliable signs that we are in the endtimes. Jesus said, “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:33-34) Which generation will not pass until all these things are fulfilled? The generation that shall see the things prophesied by Jesus in Matthew 24. We are witnessing the fulfillment of these things right now!
Revelation 1:7 reveals the entire theme of the Book of Revelation, the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him…”
Chapters 2 and 3 contain special messages written to the seven churches of Asia. After John was released from exile, he became the overseer of these churches and was able to personally deliver the messages from God to them.
We get a glimpse of heaven and see the worship of the One “who sits on the throne.” The cry goes out, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” No one in all of heaven and earth was found worthy to open the scroll until the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, stood in the midst of the throne.
In chapter 6 the Lamb looses the seals, revealing the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the souls under the altar and the heavens departing like a scroll.
Chapter seven describes the sealing of the 144,000 to protect them from the calamities to come.
The later part of the chapter describes those that have come out of great tribulation. “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).
Five of the first six trumpets reveal great catastrophes upon the nations, but the people still do not repent.
The sounding of the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11:15 signals the time when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of Jesus Christ. This includes the Battle of Armageddon and the second coming of Christ. The Bible states that at this time men will finally repent and give glory to God. This seventh trumpet is the “last trump” referred to in 1 Corinthians 15:52.
Revelation 12 describes a woman with twelve stars about her head. The woman is depicted in the throes of childbirth. The dragon, Satan, stands before the woman to devour the child as soon as he is born. The woman is Israel, and the twelve stars symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel. The child is Jesus. Herod the Great did attempt to kill Jesus just as soon as He was born; however, he failed.
The narrative of Revelation 12 then jumps 2,000 years. Satan wages war against the forces of God in heaven but is defeated. Satan is cast out of heaven with his angels and confined to the earth. The dragon then wages war against Israel, but Israel is protected by the wings of a great eagle. A beast rises from the sea, a confederation of world empires led by the Antichrist. Another beast comes out of the earth, appearing as a lamb, but speaking like the devil. This second beast, the False Prophet, deceives the people of the earth influencing them to worship the Antichrist.
This chapter depicts the Antichrist and his one-world government. It also describes the religious partner of the Antichrist—the False Prophet. In the latter part of the chapter, the economic system of the endtime called the mark of the beast is described.
The 144,000 of Revelation 14 are redeemed, undefiled, blameless and protected by God. Revelation 14:8 announces that Babylon the Great has fallen because it made all the world commit spiritual adultery. Chapter 14 tells of the reaping of the harvest of the earth—the rapture of the church. Then there is another harvest, the “reaping of the vine of the earth,” to be thrown into the winepress of the wrath of God. This speaks of the Battle of Armageddon.
Revelation 15 introduces the seven angels having the seven last plagues. It states that in these plagues “is filled up the wrath of God.”
This chapter records the pouring out of the final seven plagues (the vials). Verses 12-16 record the preparations for the Battle of Armageddon. The seventh vial is the same as the sixth and seventh seal and the seventh trumpet.
Revelation 16:16-19 introduces Armageddon and the judgment of the false religious system called Mystery Babylon. God so hates false religion that He spends chapters 17 and 18 on the judgment “the great whore.” God always uses a woman to symbolize a church. He uses a virgin to symbolize His true church and a harlot to symbolize the false compromised church of the endtime.
After spending two chapters on the judgment against the false church, God proceeds to describe His marriage to the true church. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” After the marriage, Jesus proceeds to the earth to fight the Battle of Armageddon and to set up His kingdom.
After Armageddon, Satan is bound for the next 1,000 years. After the thousand-year period has ended, Satan will be released to deceive the nations again. Satan is finally cast into the lake of fire, to be tormented forever. The books are opened for the final judgment, and all are judged according to their deeds. (Revelation 20:12) Those whose names are not found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life are cast into the lake of fire, where Satan and his angels are in eternal torment. The only way to get your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life is to be born again, as depicted in Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
John states that there will be a new heaven and a new earth. He is told that the New Jerusalem is the bride, the Lamb’s wife. The New Jerusalem is then described in great detail.
This final chapter of Revelation summarizes the goal of the entire book. It describes the river of life and the tree of life that will be in the New Jerusalem. It also states that those who hear the sayings of the book of Revelation will be blessed. A dual warning is given. If any person adds to the things written in the book of Revelation, God will add to that person the plagues that are written in the book. If anyone takes away from the book of Revelation, God will take away his name from the book of life. Finally, in this concluding chapter, God emphasizes the central message of the book by saying three times, “Behold, I come quickly.”