Apocalypse: We often think of end of the world things when we hear Revelation, but in fact Revelation in Greek is Apocalypsis (apocalypse). So, it’s more about revealing and disclosure of things previously unknown than it is about the end of the world.
Living in Anticipation of Christ: Instead of “calendarizing” through the book of Revelation, or trying to figure out when Christ is coming again, by matching world events with the text, what if we read it with a constant state of expectation? This is likely the core of what Jesus intended. – So Revelation . . . revealing what? Revealing Jesus and who he is on a more cosmic/spiritual level, like John gets into in his gospel. So, what we hear about Jesus in this book should be consistent with what we know of him in the gospels and all of the new testament.
Chapter 1 is an intro, salutation and praise of Christ. John is on the island of Patmos (about 95 CE) and has a vision of the Glorified Christ.
Chapters 2 and 3 are letters to 7 actual congregations in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). All of the letters are in basically the same form: 1) ID of the speaker/revealer 2) “I know your situation” 3) words of commendation or chastisement 4) The statement: “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” 5) a promise for the victors.
Chapter 4 John enters heaven and stands before God’s throne. Description of heaven: Throne with one seated on the throne, surrounded by a rainbow and 24 thrones of elders, 4 creatures on the 4 corners of the throne with eyes all around. Flashes of lightening and thunder come from the throne, in front are 7 flaming torches, 7 spirits and a sea of glass or crystal. Everyone in heaven praise God constantly.
Chapter 5 In the hand of God is a scroll – who is worthy of opening and reading it? The Lion will do it, but who appears is the Lamb (Christ). Everyone in heaven bowed down and worshiped the Lamb.
John goes through the End Times 4 times in Revelation:
1. End Times with the Scroll
2. End Times with Trumpets
3. Free Form – story of woman and beasts
4. End Times with Bowls – intensification before the END
End times with the Scroll & 7 Seals
Chapter 6: As the Lamb breaks seals on the scroll, destruction, suffering and death happen on the earth. #1 a conquering rider on a white horse with bow & arrow; #2 A rider with a red horse is permitted to take peace from the earth; #3 A rider with a black horse is allowed to destroy the wheat and barley harvest; #4 The rider with a pale green horse’s name is Death and is allowed to kill 1/4 of the earth. #5 Under the Altar of God appears those slaughtered for the Word of God – they cry out, ‘how long before you avenge our blood?’ #6 all of creation is changed – earthquake, sun is black, stars fall, islands moved, etc – at the coming of the Lamb’s wrath.
The destruction has to happen before work of Christ (reconciling and redeeming the world) can be done. The problems that present themselves are often not the underlying causes and humanity has to dig down and deal with the rotten stuff under there – the stuff we often want to sweep under the rug, but cause other presenting issues.
Chapter 7 Interlude between seals 6 & 7: Before allowing the earth’s destruction, 4 angels hold up the earth while marking the faithful on their foreheads – 144,000 in all. 144,000 refers to the 12 tribes of Israel multiplied by the 12 apostles (in total the fullness of God and God’s people) . . . and multiply that by A THOUSAND! It’s not literal, just means EVERYONE. Then a great multitude shows up in heaven, standing before the throne and the Lamb and everyone praises God.
Chapter 8 With #7 seal there is silence in heaven for 30 minutes. Imagine this silence. Then 7 angels stand before God and they are each given a trumpet and the destruction of the earth begins all over again.
End Times with 7 Trumpets
Ch 8 cont . . . #1 hail & fire 1/3 earth burned up; #2 burning mountain into sea 1/3 sea is blood and 1/3 sea creatures dead; #3 star fell from heaven and made 1/3 rivers bitter; #4 1/3 sun struck, 1/3 moon & 1/3 stars;
Chapter 9 #5 bottomless pit opens and locusts can torture those without a seal on forehead for 5 months; #6 angels released to the Euphrates to ready huge armies for battle.
Chapter 10 Interlude between trumpets 6 & 7: An angel brings a little scroll which John eats and must prophesy:
Chapter 11 John is to measure the temple of God and 2 witnesses will witness for 1,260 days (3.5 years = half of 7. 7 is holy, so 3.5 is broken), during which time they have all authority to kill anyone who tries to stop them. After they will be killed by a beast, after 3.5 days they will receive breath and go up to heaven. Trumpet #7 all in heaven worship God, the temple is opened and the Ark of the Covenant is seen.
End Times in Free Form
Chapter 12 A woman (Mother of Christ and Bride of Christ, the church – I know it’s strange, but it’s symbolic) appears in heaven who is pregnant and opposite her appears a dragon (Devil), who wants the child (Christ). The child is born and immediately swept up to God and the throne. Angel Michael defeats the dragon and throws him down to earth. Pursues those who keep God’s commandments and hold testimony of Jesus.
Chapter 13 A beast (Anti-Christ) with heads and horns comes out of the sea. One head receives a death blow and is healed. Allowed to make war on faithful and ruled every kingdom and tribe. All others will worship him. A second beast also with heads and horns exercises authority of the first beast on its behalf (like an Anti-Holy Spirit). Makes marks on heads – must have a mark to buy and sell at market.
Chapter 14 Interlude We return to the 144,000 who are singing a new song on Mt. Zion, for they have been faithful to Christ. The line between heaven and earth is dissolving and the church in heaven and on earth is coming together. (we realize these interludes are in fact an integral part of the sequence – John has been building up to this point) Three angels come with messages for the people left on earth, the last encourages everyone to repent for the wrath of God is coming. We are now no longer in the End Times, but in the END. There are 2 harvests: Christ harvests grain, followed by a grape harvest, producing an immense amount of blood. The first harvest is presumably of those who repented, the second is those who did not.
Chapter 15 Here we have an intensification and return to the End Times with the final 7 plagues, this time in bowls:
End Times in 7 Bowls
Chapter 16 #1 foul & painful sores on those marked with beast; #2 sea became blood and everything died; #3 springs and rivers became blood; #4 sun torched people with fire; #5 throne of beast destroyed; #6 The Euphrates dried up and prepared the way for the kings from the east. Short Interlude: the armies assemble at Harmagedon. #7 God says “It is done!” and lightening, thunder, earthquake and hail come and defeat the armies. Jerusalem is broken into 3 pieces and Babylon is defeated. We have returned to the END.
Chapter 17 One of the angels with a bowl takes John to see the fall of Babylon closer up. They find a woman riding a wild beast, she is Babylon and the focus of much attention. But the beast is the source of sin and destruction. (Much of this chapter is not original text and tries to connect the story of Revelation to a particular time in history – if you want to know about it, just ask me)
Chapter 18 . . . we’ll cover it, along with 19 and 20 on Monday, March 13.