CHAPTER 13

Prophetic Masterpiece
(The Book of Revelation)

 

We have already considered 26 of the New Testament books and we are now ready to study the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. In the Old Testament there are many prophetic books such as Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, etc. The great prophetic masterpiece of the New Testament is the book of Revelation.

On the night before He died on the cross, Jesus spoke to His disciples and told them that He had many things that He wanted to say to them, but they were not yet ready for this important information (John 16:12). Then in John 16:13 Jesus gave a promise: "when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you T______________ T_____ C_________."

The book of Revelation is about things to come (future things). Sometimes you will hear people say, "What is this world coming to?" or "What is going to take place in the future?" The last book in the Bible helps to answer these questions!

The Author

Who is the human author of this book (Revelation 1:4,9; 22:8)?____________ . What other New Testament books did he write?   [These books all bear his name.] 

_________________
_________________
_________________
_________________

In the previous chapter we learned that during the last years of his life John served the Lord in the city of Ephesus. Was John still in Ephesus when he wrote the book of Revelation (see Revelation 1:9)? ______ John was on the small island of P_______________ which is located in the Aegean Sea, not too far from Ephesus. Because of persecution John had been exiled to this island.  The reason he was sent there was not because he was some wicked criminal, but because he preached God's Word and was an excellent witness for Christ ("for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ"--Revelation 1:9). Those who love the Bible and who love the Christ of the Bible are sometimes called upon to suffer for their faith.

The book of Revelation was written at the end of the first century, probably around 95 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Domitian who fiercely persecuted believers. This is the last book of the Bible to have been written. As John wrote down the final verses of this book (see Revelation 22:18-21), it was as if God were putting His final "period" at the end. A period means that a sentence has come to an end. A final period means that there are no more sentences! When John put down the final "AMEN" (Revelation 22:21) the Bible was completed! All 66 books had now been finished!

Today we have something that Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul never had! We have a completed Bible! We must never add to or subtract from God's Word (Revelation 22:18-19)! Our job is to read it, understand it, believe it, obey it and live it!
 

God's Revelation

In the King James Version, the title of this book is "The Revelation of St. John the Divine."  This is not really the correct title. John was merely the one whom God used to write this revelation down. The correct title is found in Revelation 1:1: "The R_________________ of Jesus Christ." We call this book "Revelation" because it is the REVELATION of Jesus Christ.

What does the word "revelation" mean? The word "revelation" means an unveiling or an uncovering of something. For example, if someone were wearing a veil over the face, the veil must be uncovered or removed so that the face might be revealed! Otherwise you would never know what the person looks like!

Very often when a great work of art is first put on display (a famous painting or sculpture) it is first covered up.  Then, there is the unveiling ceremony when the work of art is revealed and seen for the first time.

God has a masterpiece which He wants to reveal! God has a great purpose and plan for mankind which He wants to make known! In the book of Revelation God uncovers the future and shows us things to come. He reveals His purpose and program. He reveals the awful judgments that will come down upon unbelievers.  He reveals the eternal joys of the new heaven and new earth which will be shared by believers. Most of all, He reveals His blessed Son whose name is __________________________________________________ (Revelation 19:16). It is the revelation of Jesus Christ!
 

A Book For Slaves!

The first verse of this book (1:1) tells us that God wants to show this revelation unto His servants. This word "servants" actually means "slaves." This book is for slaves, and only they can really understand the book of Revelation. Are you a slave of Jesus Christ (see Jude 1:1)? Does He own you (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)? What a wonderful slavery it is to belong to such a Master and Lord!

A slave is not free to do his own thing. A slave must listen to his master and must carry out his master's will. The book of Revelation is for those who are love-slaves of Jesus Christ. It is for those who can say, "S________________, LORD; for Thy S___________________ H___________________" (1 Samuel 3:9). Not only the book of Revelation, but all the Bible is really only for those who want to hear and to do what the Lord says! And when this book is read, a very special blessing is promised (see Revelation 1:3) to those who H____________ and K___________ (obey) the things that are written in this book!

The Grand Consummation

A race is not consummated until the runner crosses the finish line. Only then can the runner say, "I've completed the race!" Without the book of Revelation, the Bible would be very incomplete, like a story without an ending. It is the great concluding and finishing book of the Bible. That which is begun in Genesis is finished in Revelation. Genesis tells us how everything began; Revelation tells us how everything will end. The following chart brings this out:

Genesis 

Revelation

First Book Last Book
Answers the question,
Where did I come from?
(man’s origin)
Answers the question:
Where am I going?
(man’s destiny)
Paradise lost (Genesis 3) Paradise regained
(Revelation 21-22)
The original heaven and earth
(universe) (Genesis 1:1)
The new heaven and earth
(universe) (Revelation 21:1)
Curse pronounced
(Genesis 3:14,17)
No more curse
(Revelation 22:3)
Death entered
(Genesis 2:17; 3:19)
No more death
(Revelation 21:4)
Sorrow (Genesis 3:17) No more sorrow (Revelation 21:4)
"In the beginning" (Genesis 1:1) "Finished" (Revelation 10:7)


Satan's Career

Satan, who appears as a serpent in the first book of the Bible (Genesis 3), is a central character in the affairs of men.  In the last book of the Bible his final destiny is unfolded.  The downward falls of Satan are described in the book of Revelation:

WARNING:

Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall!

Proverbs 16:18
1Timothy 3:6

  1. A FALL TO THE EARTH (Revelation 12:9,12)
    This will take place in the middle of the tribulation. No longer will Satan have access to heaven as he did in Job chapters 1 and 2.
     
  2. A FALL TO THE ABYSS OR BOTTOMLESS PIT (Revelation 20:1-3) This takes place at the second coming of Christ.
     
  3. A FALL TO THE LAKE OF FIRE (Revelation 20:10).
    This takes place after the 1000 year kingdom.


Why Prophecy?

Why has God taken the time to tell us about things to come? Why has He revealed to us things about the future? Is the book of Revelation given merely to satisfy man's curiosity about what lies ahead?

God gives us information about the future so that we might know how to live in the present! A right and correct understanding of prophecy should help us to live today!

The book of Revelation was originally sent to believers who lived in Asia Minor (notice the seven churches that John sent the book of Revelation to--Revelation 1:4). These believers were going through very difficult times. The Roman emperor Domitian was demanding that everyone bow down and worship him. The Christians who refused to do this were fiercely persecuted and many were put to death. Does the book of Revelation give any hope or encouragement to these people?

The book of Revelation describes a time of persecution far greater than any of the Roman persecutions. If God can help believers who are living during the great time of tribulation, then He is the same God who could help the early Christians! The book of Revelation shows that even though things will get very difficult on this earth, in the end there is victory for those who belong to Christ! No matter how things look, God is in control, and those who are on God's side cannot lose! God is never a loser, and neither are those who put their trust in Him!
 

Sign Language

The book of Revelation is filled with symbols, and for this reason many find it very hard to understand. Many of these symbols are explained right in the book. For example, what are the seven stars and the seven candlesticks or lampstands (Revelation 1:12,16)? The answer is found in Revelation 1:20: ____________________________________________________________________________ What are the "waters" mentioned in Revelation 17:1? The answer is given in Revelation 17:15! We do not need to guess about these things because God has told us what the symbols mean!

Many of the symbols used are found in the Old Testament. To correctly understand the book of Revelation, we need to have a good understanding of the Old Testament, especially the book of Daniel. A person cannot understand the last book of the Bible apart from the other 65 books! God wants us to compare Scripture with Scripture. Here are just a few examples of how the Old Testament helps us to understand the book of Revelation:

1)_____ Revelation 11:14--two olive trees A. Genesis 3:1,4,13-15

B. Genesis 37:9-10

C. Isaiah 65:17

D. Zechariah 4:3

2)_____ Revelation 12:1--twelve stars
3)_____ Revelation 12:9--the serpent
4)_____ Revelation 21:1--new heavens and new earth

The Bible often explains itself!
 

The Worldwide Plagues

Our world has rejected God, rejected Christ, rejected the Bible and rejected truth.  Because of this, our world is headed for judgment.  The Lord Jesus spoke of a future day of trouble which would be the most difficult period in all of human history:  "For then shall be great _______________________ (trouble), such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."   One of the reasons this will be such a difficult time on earth is because men will face plagues and judgments sent from God.

The book of Revelation describes three series of judgments:  1)  The Seven Seal Judgments (Revelation chapter 6), 2) The Seven Trumpet Judgments (Revelation chapters 8-9),  3) The Seven Vial or Bowl Judgments (Revelation chapters 15-16). 

In the book of Exodus we learn about ten plagues or judgments that fell upon the land of Egypt.  In the first plague, all the waters (including the waters of the Nile River) were turned to __________________ (Exodus 7:20).  The second plague involved an invasion of frogs as described in Exodus chapter 8:

 1: And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.

2: And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs:

3: And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs:

4: And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.

5: And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt.

[Illustration from Bible Visuals, Exodus Part 2]

This plague of frogs happened exactly as the Bible describes it.   The Egyptians were plagued by frogs in enormous numbers, to the point where these amphibians were found in their bedrooms, in their ovens, etc.  Why do we believe this?   Because the text of the Bible says so!  The text of Scripture is very clear about this plague and we take these statements literally.  This plague really happened, just as described in the book of Exodus.

There were eight other plagues that happened in Egypt as described in Exodus 8-10.  The last Egyptian plague was the killing of every firstborn son, including Pharaoh's son (Exodus 12:29-30).  This final plague convinced Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go away from his land.

Let us compare the plagues of Egypt with the plagues described in Revelation:

The Plagues
of Egypt
The Plagues
During the Tribulation
Ten Plagues Twenty-one Plagues  (Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets, Seven Vials or Bowls)
Described in Exodus Described in Revelation
Area Covered:  the land of Egypt Area Covered:  the entire world
They happened just as described (history). They will happen just as described (prophecy).
Judgment upon a stubborn ruler who refused to obey God. Judgment upon an entire world who refused to believe and honor the living God.

The spectacular nature of the plagues described in Revelation can be seen by considering four of the plagues:

1.  The Fourth Seal Plague (Revelation 6:8): "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."   This passage indicates that one-fourth of the world's population will die.

2.  The Sixth Trumpet Plague (Revelation: 9:18):  "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."  See also verse 15.  This passage indicates that one-third of the world's population will die.

The implications from the Fourth Seal Plague and the Sixth Trumpet Plague are astounding when compared together.  If one fourth of the world's population will die, and later one third will die, this means that the original population of the world will be reduced by one half, just by these two plagues alone!

This can be illustrated as follows:

Suppose you have an original population of eight blocks:

               

Reduce this population by one-fourth and six blocks will remain:

           

Reduce this population by one-third and four blocks will remain:

       

Therefore, your final population (four blocks) is only half of what you started with.  The study of just these two terrible plagues helps us to understand why the Lord Jesus described the great tribulation as the most difficult time the earth will ever experience (Matthew 24:21). 

3. The Second Trumpet Plague (Revelation 8):

8: 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;
9: 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.

Based on God's Word, we believe that one-third of the sea will become blood, one-third of the sea-creatures will die and one-third of the ships will be destroyed.  We believe this because the text says so.  A normal reading of this text leads to no other conclusion.  We accept the text of the Bible at face value.

4.  The Fourth Bowl Plague (Revelation 16):

8: And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
9: And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.

Here we have a horrifying description of global warming.  This worldwide warming will not be caused by man, and will not be caused by carbon emissions.  This plague will come from the hand of God. This plague will take place exactly as described, because we take the text of Scripture at face value.  We take God at His Word.

There are many people, even those who claim to believe the Bible, who do not believe that the plagues described in the book of Revelation will be literally fulfilled.  For example, preterists [those who believe that most prophecies have already been fulfilled] believe and teach that these plagues have already been fulfilled in or around 70 A.D.  They believe that the great tribulation has already taken place!  Of course, we know that these plagues have not been literally fulfilled in 70 A.D. or at any other time in past history.  We know that there has never been a time when one-third of the sea became blood, one-third of the sea creatures died and one-third of the ships were destroyed.  Since this has never happened, and since God cannot lie, then there must be a future fulfillment.  Dispensationalists [those who seek to consistently interpret the Bible literally, to understand Scripture in its normal sense] believe that these judgments will take place in the coming tribulation period, a time which Jesus said will be the greatest time of trouble the world has ever known (Matt. 24:21).

Why is it that non-dispensationalists understand the plagues of Egypt literally, as having happened exactly as described, and yet they deny that the plagues described in Revelation will ever be fulfilled literally?  Their position is very inconsistent.

An Open Scroll

The book of Daniel is the "Revelation of the Old Testament," the great prophetic book of the Old Testament. Many of its prophecies deal with the tribulation period and the second coming of Christ. Revelation speaks of these same subjects.

According to Daniel 12:9, the scroll which contained the book of Daniel was C____________ up and S_____________! The people in Daniel's day could not fully understand Daniel's prophecies because they would not be fulfilled until the distant future. The scroll was closed up and sealed until the time of the ________ (Daniel 12:9)!

Is the same thing true about the book of Revelation? Is the book of Revelation a closed scroll? Are the things described in the book of Revelation going to happen in the distant future or are they going to begin happening shortly (compare Revelation 1:1)?  _________________________

Read Revelation 22:10. Was John to seal the book or keep it open? ___________________________________   Why? "For the time is _____    __________" (Revelation 22:10). Today the books of Daniel and Revelation are open books and books that should be understood by believers. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said, "whosoever R___________________ (the book of Daniel), let him U____________________" (Matthew 24:15).
 

God's Outline of the Book

God has given us His own outline for the book of Revelation. It is found in Revelation 1:19 and it is made up of three parts:

JOHN WAS TO WRITE DOWN THREE THINGS:

  1. "The things WHICH THOU HAS SEEN"
    John's vision is described in Revelation 1.
  2. "The things WHICH ARE"
    This refers to the seven churches of Asia which were existing in John's day. These churches are described in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation.
  3. "The things WHICH SHALL BE HEREAFER"
    This refers to the future events which are described in the book of Revelation, chapters 4-22 including the following:
  1. The time of tribulation--Revelation 4-19
  2. The second coming of Christ-Revelation 19
  3. The 1000 year kingdom-Revelation 20
  4. The new heaven and earth-Revelation 21-22

The following chart will help you to see at a glance the contents of the book of Revelation:

The Book of Revelation--A Prophetic Masterpiece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(A clear hard copy of this chart can be obtained from the Middletown Bible Church. Please Contact Us.)

Here are the key events that we can expect in the future:

The numbers above correspond to the numbers below:

  1. THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT and the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2)
     
  2. THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH (Revelation 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; John 14:1-3) when He meets His believers in the air.
     
  3. THE TIME OF TRIBULATION and trouble, the last 3 years being known as the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21).
     
  4. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19) when Christ returns to the earth to judge the world and to rule as King.
     
  5. THE MILLENNIUM KINGDOM when Chris rules on earth for 1000 years (Revelation 20:1-6)
     
  6. THE FINAL REBELLION and THE FINAL JUDGMENT (Revelation 20:7-15)
     
  7. THE ETERNAL STATE (Revelation 21-22)

 

 


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