Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy,
and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near."
When I came into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, nearly six decades ago, I rushed right home from my pastor's office and read the Book of the Revelation straight through. As one might expect, the Apocalypse made little sense to me at the time, though it certainly intrigued me. I have since read Revelation many times. Each read proves to be new and fresh. Revelation has 800+ verses with 400 allusions to the Old Testament. The Greek title is Apokalupsis, "unveiling," "revealing." The revelation of God concerning Who He is, and His universe--is progressive in time. We are now near the time of the end when we will experience "full disclosure."
Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,'
even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen. (1:7)
The Bible is an integrated document--in order to understand the individual books of the Bible, one must understand the whole--and vice versa. One by one the great themes of Scripture emerge in Genesis and are woven together throughout the Old and New Testaments. In Revelation these themes are all brought back together in a grand consummation of earth history requiring just over 800 verses to document.
Almost weekly some Bible prophecy enthusiast emails me his new interpretation of the Revelation. Or events in the news may trigger someone else writing to insist that a marvelous prediction in the last book of the Bible is right now being fulfilled before our very eyes. I was once in this class of Bible enthusiasts--excited and eager to jump to conclusions--so I don't mind reading far out ideas in the field of prophecy.
But also, a good many sincere and dedicated Bible scholars differ in their presuppositions about how the Book of the Revelation is to be interpreted. I am comfortable with what is called the "futurist" interpretation. My brief notes below follow that position. Preterists believe the prophetic events in revelation have all been fulfilled. Obviously I am not in that camp.
The Apostle John, while imprisoned on the island of Patmos late in the First Century received this book by divine revelation. The original author--God the Father--addressed this letter to Jesus Christ, His Son--asking that it be passed along to John and to us. The Apocalypse is a unique book of the Bible in many ways.
In Chapter One we are given a grand picture of Jesus Christ as He is now in eternity. Especially emphasized is His role as Great High priest and Lord over the church.
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea." Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death" (1:7-18)
Revelation Chapter One is to be compared with John One and Hebrews One which are also about Jesus Christ. John One describes the Eternal Son of God, and His involvement in creation. Hebrews One shows that Jesus is our Priest and King. In Revelation Chapter One we have a splendid picture of what Jesus looks like now. The world last viewed Him bloody and dying on a Roman Cross on a main road in Jerusalem.
Chapters 2 and 3 (widely neglected today) contain the direct words of Jesus to seven representative local churches. Jesus is Lord of every congregation from the First Century until now. The Seven Churches each existed in the First Century; each has had its day of preeminence. The diagram on the right is a crude guess at how many people have entered into a relationship with Jesus since the First Century through one of these churches.
From these letters we see the commendations and corrective admonitions from Jesus Himself which are perfectly applicable to churches today. A progression of church life down through the past 2000 years is evident in these letters. We are very likely now near the end of the age--in the final stage of church before the Lord returns:
"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked--I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne..." (3:15-21)
The church of Jesus Christ is not mentioned after Revelation 4:1 until the end of the letter. The silent unannounced return of Jesus FOR His church is described by the Greek word parousia (presence). Parousia which carries the meaning of an exiled monarch returning and remaining with His subjects, but staying behind the scenes until the appointed time of his public appearing, His epiphaneia.
The true church is called in the Bible “the Bride of Christ, a feminine term, but the same church is also known as the Body of Christ, a masculine symbol. But the Rapture, the catching away of the Church, is referenced in 4:1 by the words meta tauta, "after these things." The events just preceding in Chapters 2, 3 are the letters to seven representative churches of the age just now ending. Jesus has been quietly building His Church for two thousand years! There is also a great false church in the world. She is part of the one world religion depicted in Revelation.
Israel and the Church - My Body: The Church - Chuck Missler, The Church in the End Times - Chuck Missler,
The Once And Future Church - Chuck Missler
Chapter 4: An abrupt transition occurs at the end of these seven letters. The Greek text begins with the words meta tauta --"after this." John is caught up out of time and invited into the throne room of God. He sees events which for us are yet future and haven't happened yet. But there is no further mention of the church for the next 16 chapters, suggesting that John's experience of being caught up into heaven in 4:1 points to the future Rapture of the church.
John, the Beloved Apostle wrote the Book of Revelation as an old man in exile on the Island of Patmos off the coast of Greece. All the other Apostles had long since died: John was about 90 years old when He had this great vision.
Important Note: An observer on the earth reading Revelation will see the events described unfolding in "earth-time" that is, literal, days, months an years. For "heaven dwellers" (men and women who have been born again," time will be fully multidimensional, especially after they have been given their new resurrection bodies. The true church will live in heaven from the Rapture and onward. Please keep in mind this disconnection of time after 4:1. Time itself was created by God. He is the "high and lofty One who inhabits eternity." See "It's About Time."
The principal activity of heaven is said to be worship, and this is what one sees in Chapter 4. Innumerable angels are gathered in constant worship, singing and praying around the throne of God the Father. The Father is holding a mysterious seven-sealed scroll. A search is made of heaven and earth for a person who is qualified and worthy to receive this scroll and to execute its divine commands. Jesus--the slain Lamb--the Lion of the Tribe of Judah--is the only qualified recipient.
When Jesus takes the scroll from the hand of the Father the center of worship in heaven shifts from God the Father to Jesus. The time has come for Jesus to invade earth's long dark history and to bring in God's kingdom on earth among men. This is a major junction in space and time: God the Father has transferred responsibility and Power to Jesus. In the time we live in on earth now, it seems likely that Jesus will soon actively intervene in history as He opens the scroll.
Revelation, as it is written, describes events occurring in the heavenly realm and then jumps to consider events happening on earth. However, earth clocks and heavenly clocks are not usually running in lock-step! There are many symbols in the book of the Revelation, but most of the book is quite literal and real at the same time. Revelation is easier to understand if one can keep these discontinuities in time in mind--and the transitions back and forth between events in heaven and events taking place on earth. One must stop frequently and ask if something is symbolic or literal--or both. Often "both" is the best answer.
Revelation lays before us three sets of seven great judgments of God which will come upon our earth at the close of the present age. In between each of these sets of judgments we are given several "interludes" in which other important end-time events take place in heaven or on earth. Again, these other events are not necessarily in time-sync with the material just presented. The first such interlude, for instance, is actually a flashback of the type commonly used by an author who stops his story and backtracks to fill us in with events that have already taken place.
We are seeing here, then, not chronology but degrees of intensity. It is as though God keeps probing deeper and deeper into the events of the last days. The judgments of the seven seals give us a quick trip through this seven-year period that Daniel identifies as the last days. The trumpets, however, return as it were to a section of the last week and give us a different facet of judgment. That is what we are looking at in Chapters 8 and 9. When we come to the bowls of the wrath of God we will see still greater depths of earth's agony, but just how to fit it all into a time sequence is difficult. This is made still more confusing by the fact that certain break-off periods -- intermissions I have called them -- which focus on events of special interest, are occurring during this time. (Ray Stedman, Commentary in Revelation)
The great judgments of the end-time: the seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls of wrath all cascade together and each series if judgments brings us to the very verge of the Second Coming of Jesus to earth. Horrific though they are these judgments are, they are intended to bring as many as possible into a saving knowledge of Jesus. The opening of the Seven Seals by the Lamb unleashes terrible hardship on our planet. God is actually exercising great patience and mercy. As the record progresses, the intractable resistance of sinners to God's mercy is startling. The Book of the Revelation is about the maximum mercy of God who desires that none should perish.
The index marker that points to this climax of history is a great earthquake:
Chapter 6 closes,
"When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and there came a great earthquake; the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree drops its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll rolling itself up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the magnates and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’"
And Chapter 9 closes,
"The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts."
The first set of judgments of God upon human evil is brought about largely by God's releasing the usual restraints of evil that are now in place in society. The subsequent sets of judgments invoke cosmic disturbances in sun, moon and stars, and quite possibly one or more collisions of asteroids or comets with the earth. Nature is disrupted catastrophically--ruining the environment. Increasing demonic deception and oppression are unloosed on an unrepentant mankind. Nuclear exchanges, near and far, and the release of biological and chemical weapons can easily be fitted into the imagery of the book. The present world (over) population of 8000 million people will be reversed in huge increments as Revelation unfolds. Globalists have suggested that the optimum population of earth should be perhaps 500 million. So far they have not found a way to implement this.
...all through the Bible you see that God's love is manifest to men everywhere in urging them to escape this judgment. God in love pleads with people, "Do not go on to this end!" But ultimately he must judge those who refuse his offer of grace. He says, in effect, "I love you and I can provide all you need. Therefore, love me, and you will find the fulfillment your heart is looking for." But many men and women say, "No, I do not want that. I will take your gifts, I will take all the good things you provide, but I do not want you! Let me run my own life. Let me serve my own ends. Let me have my own kingdom." To such, God ultimately says, "All right, have it your way!" God has three choices: First, he can let rebellion go on forever and never judge it. In this case the terrible things that are happening on earth, all these distressing injustices, the cruelty, the anger, the hate, the malice, the sorrow, the hurt, the pain, the death that now prevails will go on forever. God does not want that, and neither does man. Second, God can force men to obey him and control them as robots. But he will never do that because that means they cannot love him. Love cannot be forced. Therefore, third, the only choice God really has is that he must withdraw ultimately from those who refuse his love. He must let them have their own way forever. That results in terrible torment of godlessness. If God is necessary to us, then to take him out of our lives is to plunge us into the most terrible sense of loneliness and abandonment that mankind can know. (Ray Stedman, Commentary on Revelation)
Early in Revelation (Chapter 7) we are made aware that millions of people will come to know the Lord Jesus Christ during the seven-year end-time tribulation period. 144,000 Jewish evangelists trained and led by Jesus Himself will undertake this bold, final campaign of world-wide evangelism. Most of the converts will be quickly hunted down and executed by the united world government of that day--a government fully controlled by Satan. See: The 144k. The Antichrist is not merely a man opposed to the real Jesus, He will be a great imitator of the real Christ.
Most every reader and commentary misses the flow of time through the Book. I suppose John might have worked on the original manuscript for some months? But right away when reading Revelation today, the reader steps out of time into eternity in Chapter One. (There are time zones in heaven!) On earth we live imprisoned in one-dimensional time. We can only experience “now” (the present) but we can remember the past and anticipate the future.
Most commentators read the entire book of Revelation as if the reference level was on earth in linear time. Time itself was created by God and is far from being one-dimensional. It is your present unredeemed body that is dead and not yet redeemed. Your spirit and soul are free to soar into the heavenly places now. If you know Jesus, your new body, like that of Jesus, is ready for you to step into when you die, or when you are caught up at the Rapture.
Similarly with respect to space, we relate to things tangible and to things unseen. Science has given us good reason to expect the universe actually has more than four dimensions—perhaps ten or twenty. Our limited reality of everyday life is embedded in a vast unseen realm which is as yet mostly unexplored by man. There are portals, gates and doors, even stargates, in the heavenly places.
God created the whole ensemble of time and space, and He has chosen to record history in linear time. History is moving inexorably forward in time--from creation down the ages into our present. By revelation from outside the system, we can know what lies ahead for mankind and about our place in the cosmos. The Creator has chosen not to stay hidden but to make Himself known to us as time marches on. The present universe is broken and damaged. Man the original Superintendent and Lord is fallen, and has placed the whole cosmos in jeopardy. But God has intervened and He has been silently building a whole new creation to replace the old. The Book of the Revelations shows us the end of the old and the coming in of the new. It is much more dramatic and grand than most readers suppose. See "What is Revelation from God?"
One example: The Judgment of the Great White throne in Chapter 20 is said to occur at the end of the thousand year reign of Jesus on earth. This is from the perspective of earth-dwellers. But the church in heaven will perceive the Last Judgment as one "room" in the heavenlies. The Great White Throne Room exists now outside of earth time: John visited it 2000 years ago while being given a tour of "heaven." A non-believing person living on earth who dies today will time-travel to this room in an instant, just as all believers arrive in heaven at the same time when they die.
"Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire."
Three levels of heaven are mentioned in the Bible. The First Heaven in Hebrew cosmology is the earth’s atmosphere where winds blow and birds fly. The Second Heaven is inhabited by the sun, moon and stars. The Third Heaven is the abode of God and the angels. There is no temple in New Jerusalem (located in the Second Heaven), but the eternal temple now in heaven shows up in Chapter 16 as residing in the Third Heaven. Elsewhere I suggest that New Jerusalem as a prepared place for us might be an orbiting earth satellite. Jesus made it ready, I believe, as He said He would.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:1-3)
The flow of the text in the Book of the Revelation is interrupted by vignettes such as the Pillar of Fire vision in Chapter 10.
“I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud.
And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.
He had a little book open in his hand.
And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars.
When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices.
Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices,
I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me,
“Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.”
The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven
and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it,
and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer,
but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound,
the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.
Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said,
“Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.”
So I went to the angel and said to him, “Give me the little book.”
And he said to me, “Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.”
Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.
But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter.
And he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”
While time is linear for earth-dwellers, time in the heavenly places evidently encompasses ten or even twenty dimensions. The general flow of time in heaven is somewhat linear, that is there is a forward progression of events in heaven from past to present to future, much as we experience the flow of time on earth in our present fallen bodies. (Time travel is not yet possible for us under the current administration, probably is a built-in feature of our new bodies). In heaven there is evidently an overarching realm we might label as “eternity.” Eternity is not “timeless” but “timefull.” This top level of time is occupied only by God. Below this there are other levels of time connected with threads. Different users travel in different time lines which need not be connected to other threads or time travels.
There are three great sets of judgments in Revelation: The Seven Seals, The Seven Trumpets, and the Seven Bowls of Wrath. These do not exactly occur one after another in succession in linear time as Ray noted. The opening of the Sixth Seal unfolds the Seven trumpets. The blowing of the Sixth trumpet introduces the Seven Bowls of wrath. There is apparently a time warp here. All the judgments end up at the same place.
From Ray Stedman: Some of you may also be having trouble with the timing of these various events of Revelation. I have been asked, "Are these seals and trumpets and bowls of wrath chronologically sequential, or do they occur simultaneously?" I must admit that that is difficult to determine. As we have seen all along, the Apostle John is given this vision of what is to take place in the last days, from the vantage point of heaven. Thus he is looking at these events from the standpoint of eternity... Everything is present -- now! That is why it is so difficult in this book to tell exactly when events occur when they are brought into time. We are seeing here, then, not chronology but degrees of intensity. It is as though God keeps probing deeper and deeper into the events of the last days. The judgments of the seven seals give us a quick trip through this seven-year period that Daniel identifies as the last days. The trumpets, however, return as it were to a section of the last week and give us a different facet of judgment. That is what we are looking at in Chapters 8 and 9. When we come to the bowls of the wrath of God we will see still greater depths of earth's agony, but just how to fit it all into a time sequence is difficult. This is made still more confusing by the fact that certain break-off periods -- intermissions I have called them -- which focus on events of special interest, are occurring during this time. We have already seen one of these in Chapter 7 and we will find others as we go on in this book. We could liken the events of Revelation to a missile launching at Cape Canaveral. The countdown proceeds normally and seems to be nearing the end, when suddenly there is a break. The countdown ceases while something is checked out or repaired, and then it resumes right where it left off. (All Hell Breaks Loose).
From Ray Stedman: If you have read ahead a little in Revelation you will have noticed three series of events that occupy this last week of years. The first series is the seven seals, six of which we will look at today. Included in the seals are seven trumpets that must yet sound, and seven bowls of wrath which are to be poured out upon the earth. Each of these series divides into four things and then three things: Four events that are outward, visible and easy to recognize, and then three revelations of what is going on behind the scenes, as it were, by the activity of angelic agencies, both for good and evil...Now we come to the sixth seal.
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (Revelation 6:12-14)
It is a vivid description of chaos in nature! The whole natural world goes on a rampage. Again, in Matthew 24 Jesus describes this same event, in Verses 29-30:
"Immediately after the distress of those days [He is talking about the great tribulation],
'the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'
"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory." (Matthew 24:29-30)
These six seals have carried us almost to the very end of the whole seven-year period. We have been swiftly moving through this dramatic period. After the great tribulation, nature will be upset by some cosmic phenomenon. Perhaps it is the approach of an undetected heavenly body that will upset the gravity of the earth. Volcanoes will begin to spout lava; great earthquakes, much larger than the one we just experienced, will rumble through the earth; the stars will appear to be falling from the sky; the darkening of the sun and the moon will result from the ashes and dust caused by these phenomena. Listen also to Luke, in Chapter 21 of his Gospel, as he describes this same event:
"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." (Luke 21:25-27)
It will be a time of terror and anguish throughout the earth. What will be the effect of this on the people? John now sees the final scene under the sixth seal.
Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:15-17)
Who can stand? That is the question left hanging in the air. Of course, no one can stand. It is the end of civilization as we know it. All people who have not yet believed in Christ, who have refused his offer of grace, are the subjects of this terrible catastrophe and cry out in desperate fear. It is clearly the scene described in Isaiah 2, when "men shall go into the clefts of the rocks and cry for them to fall upon them," (Isaiah 2:21). Also, in Isaiah 26:10, the prophet says,
Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the Lord. (Isaiah 26:10)
In that day, those who refuse to believe have reached a stage where they cannot believe. They do not repent and pray to the Lord for salvation. Rather, they feel a terrible fear and pray to the rocks to destroy them. They will manifest openly and publicly what they feel privately and secretly today. It is a strange phenomenon, but it is easily confirmed, that every unbeliever is convinced in his own heart that death is somehow an escape into oblivion! Somehow they think they can escape the terrible consequences of their evil by dying. That is why people commit suicide. They believe they are escaping their problems, that there will be no consequences beyond death. But the Word of God assures us this is not true: "It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment," (Hebrews 9:27). Why are we told these terrible truths? If we belong to the Lord now and are members of his body, the true church, we will not be a part of this scene. This is the great promise we have heard several times in Revelation up to this point. This whole terrible scene is specifically sent to the seven churches of Asia to read and understand. Why? It is not only to make us earnest in our witness; it is also intended to show us where the forces and movements which surround us at the moment are going to end up. We are told this so we can recognize evil while it still looks good, and thus be able to judge what to give ourselves to and what to reject. (Four Terrible Horsemen).
Two "great" end-time world leaders are presented to us in Chapter 13. These men may seem to earth-dwellers to be great and charismatic leaders ready to save the world, but God refers to them as wild beasts. (This imagery is drawn from the prophet Daniel). The secular, military and political seat of world-power of earth's final governmental system will arise out of the now-developing European Union of nations. But a global one-world government will happen as God draws in the Eastern Half of the Old Roman Empire.
Religious inspiration (ultimately, the worship of man), and a temporary Middle-East peace treaty, will be promoted by a false Messiah, (the second beast) who comes to power in Israel.
"...But you [Jews] do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you---Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (John 5:38-47)
In Revelation Chapter 12, the long history of believing, (true) Israel is portrayed as a woman wearing a crown of twelve stars, clothed with the sun and with the moon under her feet. We also see Satan exiled from heaven and cast down to earth by the archangel Michael. Satan is now furious, "knowing that his time is short." He wages war vigorously against the remnant of believing Jews who are exiled in Bozrah and Petra (Southern Jordan)--and he seeks out and kills anyone, anywhere, who would dare to name the name of Jesus. See Israel's Birth Pangs.
Jesus Himself leads two great judgments described in Chapter 14. The long promised separation of the wheat and tares (announced by Jesus during his First Advent, Matthew 13) takes place.
Jesus also judges unbelieving Israel as one of their own kinsman who now has the role of the Avenger of Blood. Demonic forces unloosed by God have drawn together the armies of the world, numbering 200 million men--and the battleground of this terrible last war is within the tiny nation of Israel. Much of the blood shed will be Jewish blood. Jerusalem will be plundered and pillaged one more time by foreign armies (Zechariah 14).
"...the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city [Jerusalem], and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses' bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs [200 miles]." (14:19-20)
Revelation describes the final overthrow of what the Bible calls "the present world system." This occurs in two phases. The seven-year tribulation period begins soon after the removal of the true church at an event called the rapture. Left behind is a counterfeit ("harlot") church whose influence in world affairs grows very strong for the next several years. The coming world religion will embrace all existing world religions, not merely Roman Catholicism. Then the world-ruler--beast number one--insists on being worshipped as God and stops tolerating even that false church which previously worked in his favor. The judgment of all false religion--the great harlot--is portrayed for us in Revelation 17. The image of a prostitute is used throughout the entire Bible to symbolize false religion. The Beast will insist that He alone is the sole object of worship. ALL world religious have their roots in the Babylonian Mystery Religion. The post-exilic prophet Zechariah gave us a series of powerful visions of the end of the age.
The Woman and the Ephah
Since the wellspring of Babylon's evil religious system can be traced back to Semiramis, we ought not to be surprised that the Hebrew prophet Zechariah foresaw this great vision.
“Then, in Scene Four, Zechariah sees a woman in an ephah. An ephah is like a big bushel basket, and while the prophet and the angel watched, wings were given to this basket and it flew away to the land of Babylon. What does this strange thing mean? If you had a vision like that you would wonder what you had been eating the night before! But the prophet knows that a meaningful vision has been given to him. As he meditates upon it, he can understand it because it contains terms that are used elsewhere in the Scripture. Whenever a woman appears symbolically in Scripture, there is always reference to something wrong in the realm of religion. (I did not invent that, the Scriptures did.) Here, then, is the picture of the judgment of the false faith, the false church, very much as we find in the book of Revelation where a woman who is the false church is called Babylon the great. Zechariah sees the same thing: God's judgment upon hypocritical religion, false faith.” --Ray Stedman.
Removing Wickedness from the World All At Once
Removing Wickedness from Israel (Zechariah 5:5-11): The seventh vision depicts the removal of wickedness from the land of Judah to Babylon. Sin, symbolized as a woman, since wickedness is a feminine word, is thrust into an ephah, sealed with a lead disc, and carried by two women to the ancient land of Shinar (modern day Babylon/Iraq). This time the prophet is shown "a basket that is going forth." The weight and measurements of this "basket," or "ephah," like most from that time, are difficult to describe. The ephah held somewhere between 3/8 to 2/3 of a U.S. bushel. By any estimate, it was too small for any woman to fit into. But that fact is not all that significant for apocalyptic literature where it is not necessary for the images, especially those that occur in dreams or visions, to conform in all aspects to reality.
When Zechariah, true to his previous form, asks "What is it?", he is told that "This is Wickedness!" Wickedness stood for everything that was the opposite of righteousness--whether in the ethical, civil or religious realm. This was wickedness personified. (The possible connection between Babylon being the ancient center of mercantile commercialism and its current ascendancy to the center of the economic forces through the oil cartel should not be missed.) To make the image of the personified wickedness even more vivid, wickedness is depicted as "a woman sitting inside a basket." The picture is reminiscent of a kind of genie in a jar. This woman's influence would be capped by the "lead disc". Surely that would be God's concluding act of placing wickedness under wraps. Wickedness had grown to such proportions that it looked as if iniquity came by the bushel-fulls. But no longer would it prevail; in God's concluding acts of history He would remove the wicked (vision six) and, as this vision shows, wickedness itself.
Wickedness will be Exported to Babylon, Iraq: In the second half of this vision, the prophet suddenly sees "two women, coming with the wind in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork" The Hebrew word for "stork" is hasida, meaning "faithful one," and is similar to the Hebrew word for "grace," hesed. The faithful one--the stork--may symbolize God's gracious removal of sin and iniquity from His people, just as God had removed the sin of the dung-spattered High Priest Joshua by His "grace".
The woman in the ephah will be removed to "Shinar," the ancient name for that part of Babylon that contained such cities as Babel (Babylon), Erech, Accad, and Calneh. This was the area that from earliest times was opposed to the will of God (Genesis l1:1-9). In this land, which had also served most recently as the place of Judah's captivity, God would "build a house for [wickedness]." God would give wickedness a home far removed from His people. A home like the ancient ziggurats, exhibited first, perhaps, in the tower of Babel. "When it is ready, the basket will be set there on its base" Once located on its "base," or "pedestal," wickedness would be worshiped like the idol it was for those who had so consistently resisted God's will.
Given the part that Babylon plays in the eschatological drama of the closing days of this present age, the removal of wickedness to Babylon might have been in preparation for the final conflict between good and evil. Isaiah 13-14, and, especially, Jeremiah 50-51, place a revived Babylonian empire at the center of the final contest between God and "all the nations of the earth" that have been gathered into the Near East for history's finale. But God will triumph, for He has full control over evil. That can be seen in His ability to pack up evil and literally ship it to the center of wickedness where He is able to deal with it conclusively at the end of the age. The only successful way to deal with evil conclusively is to remove it completely. This God will do as He concludes the times of the Gentiles and moves in grace and love to restore His people Israel.
The Great Harlot is a theme running through the entire Bible. This symbolic prostitute describes fallen femininity in the world, exemplified by Jezebel and her daughter Athaliah. Chapters 17 and 18 in the book of the Revelation are important in understanding what is even now unfolding regarding the ultimate fate of Mystery Babylon.
"The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth." (17:15-18)
Revelation 18 describes the sudden and violent overthrow of the commercial, economic, political power structures of the world system, now clearly identified with a literal city in Iraq: Babylon. This seems to occur at the end in conjunction with the actual Second Advent of Christ:
"And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent [75 lbs.]. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great." (16:18-21)
When pondering Chapters 17 and 18, remember that horrific judgments have taken place before the judgment of all false religion in Revelation 17 and the judgment of earth's united one-world banking, commerce and trade in 18. The replacement all world religions by the Beast and the False prophet will be no small task.
"The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned." (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)
The judgments of Revelation 18 on world, commerce, trade and banking are so huge, they'll require the Beast to have amassed enormous power! John MacArthur and others pointed this out in a series of gripping messages:
Andy Woods Series on Revelation
Andy Woods on the Antichrist
Andy Woods: Back to Babylon
John MacArthur on Revelation 18, Part 1 (1994)
John MacArthur on Revelation 18, Part 2
Tony Garland: Babylon and the Harlot
For me, after reading all the references to Babylon in the Bible, I'm persuaded that a literal city is in view. Andy Woods argues this powerfully. My 'working papers" on Babylon are posted for students seeking extra credit. Please feel to disagree!
Chuck Missler often spoke of the departure of the true church to heaven (New Jerusalem), before the final seven years of earth history, before the second coming of Jesus to the planet to rule over all the nations. Chuck said we could watch the final seven years unfold--from the Mezzanine!
We can all compare notes from the Mezzanine in New Jerusalem after the Rapture. See also, Entitled.
In Chapter 20, Jesus steps out from behind the scenes of the invisible heavenly places and boldly assumes rule over the world. His return to the Mount of Olive in power and splendor initiates the last great world-wide earthquake, the destruction of the major cities of the world, and drastic topographic and geological changes over the face of the whole planet. The assembled armies of the world now turn to fight against God, but Jesus Himself overthrows them. The beast and the false prophet meet their appointed end. Jesus begins his thousand year rebuilding program for a devastated earth, establishing new world wide governments based on truth and righteousness.
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, "that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great." And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished." (19:11-20:3)
Revelation 20 also describes for us the great final judgment of the unbelievers of earth down through all of history. Every individual will receive a fair trial according to what was written "in the books"--but only those whose names are in the "Lamb's Book of Life" can move on into the kingdom of God.
The Apocalypse closes with brief description of the great heavenly city of New Jerusalem--apparently a satellite city almost the size of the moon--which perhaps orbits the earth. The magnificent city has plenty of room for the saints of all ages--God's people--to dwell in comfort and with great joy.
The final and total end of all evil is promised in Revelation 21-22--a "new heavens and a new earth." God's people can look forward to adventures beyond his present life which will be grander than anything we can now imagine. The good news is that the invitation to join in and be part of all this is still open to all of us today.
"Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star." And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely." (22:10-17)
The last two chapters of Revelation include several time jumps! Here are some notes from Ray Stedman:
Chapters 21 and 22 contain almost all the Bible records concerning the eternal state. Most of the prophetic passages of the Old Testament that picture a time of great blessing on earth refer to the thousand-year reign of our Lord which precedes this last great event. Very little is said in the Old Testament about heaven. But here it is in these chapters. Following the Great White Throne judgment, recorded in Chapter 20, John sees a whole new creation spring into being.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:1-4 NIV)
What beautiful words! They bring us full circle, to the beginning of the Bible again. Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." That creation is what is called here "the old heavens and the old earth." They shall pass away, as we are told, but a new heavens and a new earth are coming. It is the Apostle Peter who tells us what happens to the present heavens and earth. In Second Peter he says, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar. The elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare," (2 Peter 3:10). That ends the old heavens, but now a new heavens and earth appear where Jesus will continue his reign, not only upon earth, but throughout the entire reach of the vast universe of God.
There are four statements in this opening paragraph that tell us the purpose of the new heavens and the new earth: The first verse suggests strongly that the New Jerusalem, this great city that John describes, is to be the capital of the whole new universe. And it will be a universe greatly changed. It will not be like the one we have now. I do not believe that this means that God will eliminate the present heavens and earth but he changes it and cleanses it. When we become Christians we become new creatures in Christ, but we are still the same persons, but now changed and cleansed. So also the old heavens and the old earth will be cleansed -- by fire. We know today that the present universe in its farthest reaches (even farther than the new Hubble telescope can show us), is governed by the same laws. One of them is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the law of entropy, which says this present universe is running down. It is all decaying; losing its energy; it is growing cold. But in the new heavens and the new earth apparently that law is reversed. Instead of running down the universe begins to come together again. Instead of losing energy it will gain it and manifest a unity, stability, symmetry and beauty that the old heavens and earth never had. One aspect of this, pictured here, is that there will be no more sea. A man said to me last week, "I don't think I'm going to like the new heavens and the new earth, because I love the ocean." I understand that feeling. I love the ocean too. But the one reason we have a salt sea that covers more than half of this planet is because it is God's great antiseptic to cleanse the earth and make life possible on earth. Had it not been for the ocean, and the salt in it particularly, life on this planet would have ceased many centuries ago. It is the ocean that purges, cleanses, and preserves it. The sea is an antiseptic in which all the pollution and filth that man pours into it is absorbed, cleansed and changed. But there will be no more pollution, no more filth, no more need for cleansing in the new universe. Though we are not told this, I think there will be large bodies of fresh water, larger even perhaps than the Great Lakes, that we may enjoy in that new heavens and new earth.
Then the second thing said here is, the New Jerusalem is called a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Everyone loves that picture. We all love weddings. The climax is when the bride comes down the aisle, beautifully dressed for her husband! Everyone forgets that poor fellow waiting for her at the altar! Every eye is on the bride because she has prepared herself for weeks to meet her husband there. This new city is called both a city and a woman, just as the false bride, "Mystery Babylon the Great," was both a city (Rome), and a woman. We have seen how that one was destroyed for its evil. A bride speaks of intimacy, and a city speaks of community. So we have a picture here of the redeemed of God, each one given a body of glory empowered with limitless energy. When opportunity comes in that day you will not say, as we often say today, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," (Matthew 26:41 NIV). No, then you will be able to respond to every opportunity with a glorified, fresh and living body. We will live in close intimacy, not only with the Lord himself, but with each other as well. I often think of that phrase in John's letters where he says, "It does not yet appear what we shall be," (1 John 3:2 KJV). I keep looking in the mirror for signs of change in me. But what do I see? Wrinkles--and zits! But it won't be like that then. We will have bodies of glory and beauty that will be like his.
The third thing we are told here is that this will be the dwelling place of God. Isn't that marvelous? The home of God! The place where God lives, in his people. This is when the name "Immanuel" ("God with us"), will be fulfilled, and when the New Covenant will be fully worked out, "They shall be my people, and I will be their God," (Jeremiah 24:7 KJV). It is all in this beautiful setting. Heaven, someone has well said, is the place of "no more" -- no more death, no more sorrow, no more parting, no more pain, no more tears, no more evil! As a young Christian I learned a song which I often sing to myself even yet:
There's no disappointment in heaven,
No weariness, sorrow, no pain,
No hearts that are bleeding and broken,
No song with a minor refrain.
The clouds of our earthly horizon
Shall never appear in the sky.
But all will be sunshine and gladness,
With never a sob nor a sigh.
A wonderful hope, isn't it? It is so beautiful that it is even hard to believe. I think John felt that way for he is given at this point certain words of assurance to help him with his possible doubt.
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End." (Revelation 21:5-6a NIV)
He brackets all of time in the phrases, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End." Everything in between comes from him. These are words of truth that help us to believe. Remember on the cross our Lord uttered the words "It is finished," (John 19:30). After the gloom, the darkness, pain, sorrow and anguish of his separation from the Father, he cried out, "It is finished!" The basis of redemption was settled. The sacrifice was ended. The basis was fully laid. Now he says, "It is done!" Redemption is complete. The redeemed are safe home in glory. Everything that God wants done is done! Not one thing is left unfinished. The fourth thing the passage suggests as the purpose of the New Jerusalem is that it will be the home of the redeemed:
"To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son." (Revelation 21:6b-7 NIV)
What marvelous words! This city will be the home of the redeemed, and the only qualification for it is that you be thirsty. Nothing on earth satisfies. Wealth, fame, pleasures and treasures -- none will meet that deep thirst of the soul. That is why the rich, the wealthy, the beautiful people, all are looking for something more. They are not satisfied. But here is the promise to satisfy that thirst. People who want more -- who want God -- are promised that they shall drink of the water of the spring of life. These are also called "overcomers" who "inherit all this," all that God has created. Peter tells us in his first letter that there is waiting for us "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for us," (1 Peter 1:4 NIV). Those who are thus changed by God's grace are to be forever his sons. That includes all female believers as well! You godly women and girls have always had the right to call yourself a son of God because he is "bringing many sons to glory." So we shall all be sons of God in that day. Now, by contrast, in a reference back to what we have seen of the judgment there is in Verse 8 a description of those who are not admitted:
"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (Revelation 21:8 NIV)
As we have seen all through this book, God does not want that. He is very reluctant that anybody should be judged or condemned, but as the word points out, "they judge themselves." Here there are three attitudes of heart which result in five visible deeds that mark the lost. The three attitudes are the reasons why some will miss this beautiful city. First, the cowards, i.e. the fearful, those who are afraid to take on the yoke of Christ, who fear to confess Christ, who are unwilling to be unpopular for a little while. They shrug their shoulders and turn away from the offer of life. Then there are the unbelieving, those who know it is true, but don't want it and refuse the evidence, deliberately turning their backs on truth. Third, there are the vile. The word means "to become foul." You do not start out that way, but by feeding your mind with filthy things -- foul literature, filthy attitudes and actions, you become foul-minded. If any of these are your attitude, then out of it will flow murders, fornication, adultery, occult practices, and finally, hypocritical living. Jesus warned of that -- those who profess to be Christians but really there is no change in their lives. None who practice these activities will be in the city of God. In these eight verses we have looked at the purpose of the New Jerusalem. Now John is given another vision of it and describes it in wonderfully symbolic language as the great city of God: First, we are informed as to the structure of this city.
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:9-14 NIV)
I am sure someone is asking, "Is this literal or is it symbolic?" I hope, by now, as we have been going through this book, you have come to realize that you do not have to make that choice. God loves to use literal things that remain symbols. The cross behind me is literal (i.e., the cross mounted behind the pulpit at PBC), but it is also a symbol of the death of Jesus. It is both at the same time. So, all through this book, we find the blending of the literal and symbolic. I believe there will be a great, visible city of incredible brilliance and glory, located somewhere above or within the atmosphere of the earth, which also will picture activities and relationships that are going on within the community of the saints. Those will be characterized by stability, by symmetry, by light, by life and ministry. That is what is described here. The literal is very evident; the symbolic perhaps needs a bit of interpretation.
The high wall of the city speaks of separation and of intimacy. If you want to have an intimate garden party, you meet in the yard behind a wall. That wall shuts out other things and people. It speaks of intimate fellowship and separation from intrusion. The whole of Scripture with one voice speaks of God's desire to have what he calls "a people for my own possession." Everything in the universe is, in a sense, his possession. All animals, all creatures, are his. There are billions of angels and they all belong to him. But the saints are peculiarly God's own possession. That is because he has made them to correspond to himself. He can share with them the deepest things in his life and in his heart. They satisfy him and fulfill him just as a bride satisfies and fulfills her husband.
The gates describe means of access and egress from the city. There is an amazing verse in John 10 where Jesus says, "Whoever enters through me will be saved, and he will go in and out and find pasture," (John 10:9 NIV). That seems to be a portrayal of the widespread ministry of believers throughout the eternal ages. The new universe will surely be as big or bigger than it is now -- and it is mind-blowing in its immensity now! Billions of galaxies, far larger than our own galaxy of the Milky Way, fill the heavens as far as the eye can see by means of the greatest telescopes we have, and still we have not reached the end. That means that there will be new planets to develop, new principles to discover, new joys to experience. Every moment of eternity will be an adventure of discovery. Those gates are named for the tribes of Israel. It is a perpetual reminder that "salvation is of the Jews," (John 4:22 KJV). Access to the city is through Israel. I believe that pictures the truth that has come to us through the Old Testament prophets and the godly practices of the nation. Many of these brilliant passages that now entrance, but puzzle, us will come to life then as we have never known them before. They will lead us out to new adventures that we have never dreamed of in our wildest imaginations.
The foundations speak of what is underneath which gives stability and permanence. They are named for the 12 apostles. Judas, of course, was replaced in the apostolic band by Matthias as we are told in the first chapter of Acts. These foundations speak of New Testament truth and practice. Things that we only faintly grasp now will be wonderfully understood and experienced then, especially the three things that abide forever: faith, hope, and love! "These three," says Paul, "and the greatest of these is love," (1 Corinthians 13:13). It beggars language to describe this. I find myself stumbling and unable to express fully the beauty that is portrayed here, but I hope that the inner eye of your imagination will make much of it. Now we are given the measurements of the city.
The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its wall. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and as high as it is long [that is about 1500 miles]. He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man's measurement, which the angel was using. (Revelation 21:15-17 NIV)
When God measures something it is a sign of his ownership. The number 12, which is everywhere in this account -- 12,000 stadia, 144 cubits (that is 12 times 12) wide -- is in Scripture the number of government. So this is a fulfillment of that wonderful word in Isaiah, "the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace," (Isaiah 9:6). It is a city of beauty and of symmetry, just as long as it is wide, just as tall as it is long. I do not think you need think of that as a cube; it is more probably a pyramid. It will be a city of perfect proportions. That is what it symbolizes -- perfectly proportioned wholeness!
Everybody wants that. Everyone wants to be a whole person. People say, "I want to be me. I want to fulfill myself. I want to get my act together." Many pick the wrong way to do it. They think that it is all up to them. The one message of the Word of God is that you cannot find your own way. Try to fulfill yourself and you will lose yourself. But if you let God fulfill you, then you will be fully filled -- a wholeness perfectly proportioned, containing nothing awkward, nothing out of balance, but all in harmony. Our friend, Eugene Peterson, whom I have quoted many times in this study, has put it well. He says,
The two symbolic cities of the Apocalypse, Babylon and Jerusalem, show [how a wall creates group consciousness and interrelatedness]. When evil reaches its highest density it forms a whore-city. That city is a concentrate of evil and is destroyed. Likewise, when God-consciousness and the interrelatedness of love reach their highest density, a bride-city is formed.
Not only is the size and shape of the city revealed, but the materials from which it is made are given to us.
The wall was made of jasper [imagine a great diamond shining in the sun], and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass. (Revelation 21:18-21 NIV)
Let your imagination picture that marvelous city -- gleaming transparent gold, with foundations sparkling with light in cascading colors, pouring forth from great jewels embedded in the sides -- a kaleidoscope of light and glory! What are those foundations? As we have already seen, they are the twelve apostles. This then portrays the truth that the apostolic revelation is filled with light. There is a verse in Ephesians 3 where the Apostle Paul speaks of "the manifold wisdom of God that is to be made known by the church to rulers and authorities in heavenly places," Ephesians 3:10). That is describing this same phenomena. The word "manifold" is literally "many-colored," -- the many-colored wisdom of God -- fresh wisdom flashing from old truth from the apostles.
The gates are made of single pearls. You have heard many jokes about St. Peter and the pearly gates, which we usually conceive of as a single great pair of gates. But there are twelve gates, each one is a gigantic pearl, and St. Peter is nowhere to be seen at any of them! God must have some huge oysters somewhere in this new universe for each gate is but a single pearl! Pearls speak of beauty out of pain. Beauty comes from pain in an oyster. I have a message I preached years ago on the parable of the Pearl of Great Price. I called it The Case of the Irritated Oyster, because a pearl is formed when a tiny grain of sand gets inside an oyster's shell and the oyster becomes very uncomfortable. It feels like crackers in bed. To relieve its pain it covers the irritant with a soft lustrous nacre that hardens into a beautiful, glowing pearl. It describes beautifully how the redeemed come from the pain of Jesus. He was the husbandman who came looking for a pearl of great price. He found one, a beautiful pearl which came out of the pain that he suffered as he went through the terrible anguish of the cross. Out of that pain came the church of Jesus Christ, the pearl of great price. He sold all that he had to buy it. This means that the redeemed will never forget for all eternity the pain and shame of the cross of Christ. They will sing forever,
In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o'er the wrecks of time.
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.
The transcendent light of this city is described next.
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 21:22-27 NIV)
All through Revelation we have seen a temple in heaven described. That temple remains throughout the millennium, as the original of which the earthly temple is a copy. But in the new heavens and earth there is no temple. Why? Because the true temple, of which the one in the old heavens is a picture, is the True Man, Jesus himself. God in man that is the temple! Thus Paul, in First Corinthians, says, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you?" (1 Corinthians 6:19a NIV). If God dwells in you, you are a part of this heavenly temple. You share the honor of being the home of God, the dwelling place of God. And from that comes radiant light. People can see all things by that truth. So glorious is it that there is no need for the sun or the moon. It does not say they are not there; it simply says there is no need for them in this city of God. There will never be night there because it is lit continually by the glory which is God in man. The gates will never be shut because there is no night there and therefore no need for protection. Cities close their gates at night because they are in danger. But there is nothing to destroy in this new world to come. The kings of the earth will bring their glory in, not to compete with the glory of God, but to have it revealed by the light of God. Nothing impure will enter because only the redeemed are admitted. Finally, the life of this city is described in the opening words of chapter 22:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the health [not healing, as translated in the NIV] of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5 NIV)
What a glorious picture of abounding fertility, of life on every side -- a river of life, a tree of life. Both of these are found in the Old Testament. Psalm 46 says, "There is a river that makes glad the city of God," (Psalm 46:4a). Ezekiel describes a river flowing out from the throne of God. It is a wonderful river to swim in, he said. The tree of life is found in the Garden of Eden. It is right there, along with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But here it is back again.
The river symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Jesus said on one occasion of those who believe in him, "out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water," (John 7:38 KJV). John comments, "This he said of the Spirit, which those who believe on him should receive," (John 7:39 KJV). The tree is a symbol of Jesus himself. He is the way, the truth and the life, the tree of life. When we obey the Word of God we are eating and feeding on Jesus and drawing life from that nourishment. That is what this signifies. It brings spiritual health. We flourish when we follow his word and obey and live by it. No wonder that from this magnificent scene of life there flow three wonderful ministries: First, empowered service. His servants will serve him. There is nothing they could ask for more than that; there is no greater pleasure or joy than the service of God. And they will be in intimate fellowship -- they will see his face, and bear his name, just as a bride bears her husband's name and sees his face. And they will have enlightened authority. They shall reign forever and ever. Do you think heaven is going to be boring? No, boredom is a sign of selfishness. When you are bored, it is because you are selfish. You want someone to do something for you; you want some excitement to minister to you. But all selfishness will be ended then, and therefore there will be no boredom in heaven. There is continual excitement, discovery, anticipation -- and constant gratitude and praise. The rest of the book is simply an epilogue. As the book began with a prologue, so it ends with an epilogue. It consists mostly of assurances. Many people neglect the book of Revelation. They distrust it and do not understand it. They need reassurance that it comes from God and speaks the truth. So the epilogue is made up of assurances, the first one from "the God of the spirits of the prophets."
The angel said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place." (Revelation 22:6 NIV)
There is a guarantee right from God himself that these words are to be believed. They are trustworthy and true. Then an assurance from Jesus himself.
"Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book." (Revelation 22:7 NIV)
Read it, study it, keep it, he says. You will be blessed and strengthened by it, and made ready to meet him when he comes. Then there follows a word from John:
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!" (Revelation 22:8-9 NIV)
We have an account like this in Chapter 19 where the same thing is recorded. Personally I do not believe that John made the same mistake twice. I think here he is referring back to what he did in Chapter 19. He is reminding us how he reacted when he heard all these things. He says, in effect, "When I had heard them and seen them I was so confused, so uncertain, and so overwhelmed that I fell down to worship at the angel's feet." He is recounting his most embarrassing moment, and reminding us that it was quite the wrong reaction. Let it lead you, rather, to worship God. When you read this book, open your heart and praise the God of glory who gives us such a fantastic future as that described here. Then there is another word from the angel:
Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy." (Revelation 22:10-11 NIV)
That is a reminder again that each day we are working out one of two separate destinies. Either we are on the right track, following the Lord, walking with him, doing right, or we have already made a choice for wrong and our lives are falling apart. If that is the course you are determined on, then evil is what will follow. There is no other escape than the way of faith in Christ. You will have to continue the way you are going. Then a reassuring word comes from Jesus again,
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." (Revelation 22:12-13 NIV)
That is a wonderful renewal of his promise that when he comes, all this shall become true. The next word is a reminder of the two destinies once again,
"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs [that is an ancient word for those who practice homosexuality], those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood [that is, those who pretend to be something they are not]". (Revelation 22:14-15 NIV)
That is a most solemn warning, a reminder that what we do and believe from day to day is leading us in one direction or the other. Then yet another word from Jesus:
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David [he is the root from which David came, and he is also David's son], and the bright Morning Star [the one who promises to come for his own before the Son of Righteousness arises]." (Revelation 22:16 NIV)
Notice the many times through this closing section we have the promise that Jesus is coming soon. Many people read that and say, "How can that be? This was said centuries ago." Some even say, "John and the other apostles were wrong. They said he was coming soon, but 2,000 years have gone by and he still hasn't come. It shows how wrong this book is." But if you read this book remembering that it is a book that links time and eternity together, you will understand that everything here, either the destiny of the lost or the destiny of the righteous, takes place the minute you die. It is never any further away than your own personal death. That could be very soon, couldn't it? It may yet be some time before it breaks into time, but it will not be long before each of us leaves time and enters eternity. The book then closes with an invitation and another brief warning:
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come! And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17 NIV)
That is the invitation. It comes from the Spirit of God himself, and from the redeemed of God (the Bride), and from each individual Christian. All voices join to exhort the reader: "Come!" Take the free gift of life. It is waiting for all who come to Christ. Then the warning:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19 NIV)
In other words, do not change a thing! This is the truth of God. Do not change it -- do not subtract from it or add to it. It is what God says. As a symbolic book, it requires interpretation, but be careful. Do not take away its meaning by emphasizing the symbolic at the expense of the literal. Do not destroy its intent by accepting only the literal without understanding what it symbolizes. Believe it, because the final word from Jesus is:
He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." (Revelation 22:20a NIV)
So let all God's people say:
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20b NIV)
And as we close the book, I join John the Apostle in saying to you:
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen. (Revelation 22:21 NIV)
(Ray Stedman, The City of Glory)
Should we read the Book of Revelation? Indeed, we should get to know it well. The age we live in is already an age of terrible deception and this will grow worse. Yet earth's long-awaited golden age may be a mere seven years away from us. Every day we live brings us one day close to the time on God's calendar when the great events of the last book of he Bible will unfold.
I am just now finishing teaching the Book of the Revelation (in 2005). Though I have read and taught this book many times before, there were many things that became clearer this time through. I hope these short notes will provoke many of you to study this book for yourselves and receive the blessing it promises. If you should be interested, our class notes and audio files are on my web site. Since I am still studying all this, you are welcome to read my "working papers" on Babylon.
God is not impressed by our bravado, by our assertions that we have what it takes, by our attempts to face into the wind alone. Heaven does not help those who help themselves; heaven helps the helpless. Heaven helps the man who is crushed in spirit, who is brokenhearted, who is not counting on himself; heaven helps the one who is willing to expose his fears and be what he is--a weak, fragile vessel greatly in need of the power of God in his life. --Ray C. Stedman
Comments: My long essays are mostly for my own benefit. Please feel to disagree or comment.
Bryce Self comments as follows:The creation even as it is in its currently fallen, cursed, and corrupted state is not innately or irredeemably evil (that idea veers uncomfortably close to docetic gnosticism). That also has implications (repercussions) regarding our own redeem-ability.
During recurrent phases of creation week, “God saw that it was good” and at the culmination of the process, He “saw everything that He had created and made, and behold! It was very good”. The Lord only cursed the ground due to Adam’s sin — as Paul notes, “subjecting it to futility” in which it continues to groan for “the revelation of the sons of God” (the completed [perfection and glorification of the elect in the Resurrection).
In direct connection with the cosmic changes at the end of the age, Peter draws an explicit parallel between the judgement of the Deluge in Noah’s day and the future state of what he terms the “heavens and earth in which righteousness dwells”. From speaking of the doom-deniers of the last days, the apostle continues...
2 Peter 3:5-7 (NKJV) "For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
The parallel is in the fact of creation-altering judgement for sin, though the means employed differ (water vs. fire). Even though he states that “the world that then was perished” we know factually that this did not entail an un-creation and re-creation — but rather changes that were so profound, thoroughgoing, intense, wide-ranging, and enduring that the entire ecosystem, biosphere, and perhaps even the manifestation of physical “laws” were all resettled on an entirely different operational footing. This was such a complete overhaul of the earth as it had been that it afterward became in every practical aspect a “new earth” — even though the material (and spiritual) substances of endured into an entirely different regime.
Peter environs a future second change of the same sort, only this time it is to be a cleansing by fire. Even though the wording here and in Revelation taken in isolation do say directly that the present heavens and earth “pass away” and that there will be a “new” cosmos — it seems to me that not only these few contextual verses from Peter, but a number of other Biblical passages also, would qualify that bald understanding into a perspective that the original “very good” state of the created cosmos will be restored, that all the Lord’s good intention will be absolutely and perfectly fulfilled, and it will be seen that the sense of neither men nor angels could permanently mar the work of the Creator or to hinder or toward His will in any way to the least degree.
That’s my view. In any case, we know that Jesus Christ wins and all will be well. That is what matters. How it comes about, we will all likely see soon enough! (3/18/2022).
Ray Stedman: Messages on the Book of Revelation (1989)
The Seven Churches in New Jerusalem
Hierarchy in New Jerusalem
The Philadelphia Church
City Living in New Jerusalem
Walled City: New Jerusalem
The Wife of Jehovah, The Bride of Christ
The Seven Churches in New Jerusalem
The Management of the Universe
The Glorious Church
The Near Future of Planet Earth
The Rapture and the Second Coming
Some Notes about Heaven
By What Authority?
Bird's Eye View
The Church at the End of the Age
What is Revelation from God?
Working Papers on Babylon
Forum Class on Prophecy (2004)
In the Cross
Pillars of Fire
The Names of God
THE Angel of the Lord
Six Hours in Eternity on The Cross
Real Life Now
How Jesus Saves
The Eightfold Way to Knowing God
The Wedding Psalm (45)
The Call of Heaven
Behold the Messiah
Jesus, Our Great High Priest
Jesus, our Trailblazer
Seek the Things that Are Above
Here is the complete text of the Book of Revelation so the whole sweep of this grand book is available for you.
I like to listen to David Suchet narrate the whole book. Listening time: About 90 minutes.
Revelation Chapter One
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near.
John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. |
‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, ‘Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.’
Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive for ever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades. Now write what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Revelation Chapters Two and Three
The Message to Ephesus
‘To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands:
‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance. I know that you cannot tolerate evildoers; you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false. I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and that you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this is to your credit: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.
The Message to Smyrna
‘And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life:
‘I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death.
The Message to Pergamum
‘And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword:
‘I know where you are living, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you are holding fast to my name, and you did not deny your faith in me even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan lives. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling-block before the people of Israel, so that they would eat food sacrificed to idols and practice fornication. So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.
The Message to Thyatira
‘And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze:
‘I know your works—your love, faith, service, and patient endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first. But I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication. Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings; and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call “the deep things of Satan”, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden; only hold fast to what you have until I come. To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end,
The Message to Sardis
‘And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars:
‘I know your works; you have a name for being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is at the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Yet you have still a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
The Message to Philadelphia
‘And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
‘I know your works. Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but are lying—I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon; hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. If you conquer, I will make you a pillar in the temple of my God; you will never go out of it. I will write on you the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem that comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
The Message to Laodicea
‘And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation:
‘I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.’
Revelation Chapters 4, 5
The Heavenly Worship
After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal.
Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,
The Scroll and the Lamb
Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’
Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song:
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice,
The Seven Seals
Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out, as with a voice of thunder, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there was a white horse! Its rider had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering and to conquer.
When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature call out, ‘Come!’ And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another; and he was given a great sword.
When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature call out, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there was a black horse! Its rider held a pair of scales in his hand, and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a day’s pay, and three quarts of barley for a day’s pay, but do not damage the olive oil and the wine!’
When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature call out, ‘Come!’ I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth.
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; they cried out with a loud voice, ‘Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?’ They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow-servants and of their brothers and sisters, who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed.
When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and there came a great earthquake; the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree drops its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll rolling itself up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the magnates and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’
The 144,000 of Israel Sealed
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on earth or sea or against any tree. I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to damage earth and sea, saying, ‘Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have marked the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads.’
And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel:
From the tribe of Judah twelve thousand sealed,
from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand,
The Multitude from Every Nation
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you are the one that knows.’ Then he said to me, ‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
The Seventh Seal and the Golden Censer
When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar; he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that is before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
The Seven Trumpets
Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets made ready to blow them.
The first angel blew his trumpet, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were hurled to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.
The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many died from the water, because it was made bitter.
The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light was darkened; a third of the day was kept from shining, and likewise the night.
Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew in mid-heaven, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!’
And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit; he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given authority like the authority of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to damage the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torture them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torture was like the torture of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them.
In appearance the locusts were like horses equipped for battle. On their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; they had scales like iron breastplates, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. They have tails like scorpions, with stings, and in their tails is their power to harm people for five months. They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.
The first woe has passed. There are still two woes to come.
Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ So the four angels were released, who had been held ready for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, to kill a third of humankind. The number of the troops of cavalry was two hundred million; I heard their number. And this was how I saw the horses in my vision: the riders wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur; the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. By these three plagues a third of humankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they inflict harm.
The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts.
The Angel with the Little Scroll
And I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. He held a little scroll open in his hand. Setting his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, he gave a great shout, like a lion roaring. And when he shouted, the seven thunders sounded. And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.’ Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and the land
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, ‘Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.’ So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, ‘Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.’ So I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.
Then they said to me, ‘You must prophesy again about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.’
The Two Witnesses
Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, ‘Come and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there,but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth.’
These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes; anyone who wants to harm them must be killed in this manner. They have authority to shut the sky, so that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.
When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that is prophetically called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days members of the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb; and the inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to the inhabitants of the earth.
But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and those who saw them were terrified. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here!’ And they went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies watched them. At that moment there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
The second woe has passed. The third woe is coming very soon.
The Seventh Trumpet
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
Then the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshipped God, singing,
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
The Woman and the Dragon
A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
Michael Defeats the Dragon
And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,
The Dragon Fights Again on Earth
So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. Then from his mouth the serpent poured water like a river after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman; it opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.
The First Beast
Then the dragon took his stand on the sand of the seashore.
And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads; and on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads were blasphemous names. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave it his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have received a death-blow, but its mortal wound had been healed. In amazement the whole earth followed the beast. They worshipped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?’
The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. It was given authority over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered.
Let anyone who has an ear listen:
The Second Beast
Then I saw another beast that rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and it makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of all; and by the signs that it is allowed to perform on behalf of the beast, it deceives the inhabitants of earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet lived; and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast could even speak and cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred and sixty-six.
The Lamb and the 144,000
14:1 Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless.
The Messages of the Three Angels
Then I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation and tribe and language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgement has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.’
Then another angel, a second, followed, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’
Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, ‘Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, they will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image and for anyone who receives the mark of its name.’
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.’
Reaping the Earth’s Harvest
Then I looked, and there was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like the Son of Man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand! Another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to the one who sat on the cloud, ‘Use your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.’So the one who sat on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.
Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Then another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over fire, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, ‘Use your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.’ So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and he threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse’s bridle, for a distance of about two hundred miles.
The Angels with the Seven Last Plagues
15:1 Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and amazing: seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended.
And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:
After this I looked, and the temple of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues, robed in pure bright linen, with golden sashes across their chests. Then one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever; and the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were ended.
The Bowls of God’s Wrath
16:1: Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.’
So the first angel went and poured his bowl on the earth, and a foul and painful sore came on those who had the mark of the beast and who worshipped its image.
The second angel poured his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing in the sea died.
The third angel poured his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say,
The fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire; they were scorched by the fierce heat, but they cursed the name of God, who had authority over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory.
The fifth angel poured his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness; people gnawed their tongues in agony, and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and they did not repent of their deeds.
The sixth angel poured his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw three foul spirits like frogs coming from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet. These are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (‘See, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and is clothed, not going about naked and exposed to shame.’) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Harmagedon.
The seventh angel poured his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’ And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a violent earthquake, such as had not occurred since people were upon the earth, so violent was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. God remembered great Babylon and gave her the wine-cup of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found; and huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, dropped from heaven on people, until they cursed God for the plague of the hail, so fearful was that plague.
17:1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgement of the great whore who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and with the wine of whose fornication the inhabitants of the earth have become drunk.’ So he carried me away in the spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication; and on her forehead was written a name, a mystery: ‘Babylon the great, mother of whores and of earth’s abominations.’ And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses to Jesus.
When I saw her, I was greatly amazed. But the angel said to me, ‘Why are you so amazed? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to ascend from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the inhabitants of the earth, whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will be amazed when they see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.
‘This calls for a mind that has wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; also, they are seven kings, of whom five have fallen, one is living, and the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain for only a little while. As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. These are united in yielding their power and authority to the beast; they will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.’
And he said to me, ‘The waters that you saw, where the whore is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the whore; they will make her desolate and naked; they will devour her flesh and burn her up with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by agreeing to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.’
The Fall of Babylon
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority; and the earth was made bright with his splendour. He called out with a mighty voice,
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,
And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning; they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,
And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo any more, cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves—and human lives.
And all shipmasters and seafarers, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,
Rejoice over her, O heaven, you saints and apostles and prophets! For God has given judgement for you against her.
Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,
The Rejoicing in Heaven
19:1. After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
And from the throne came a voice saying,
And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’
The Rider on the White Horse
Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’.
The Beast and Its Armies Defeated
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in mid-heaven, ‘Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and their riders—flesh of all, both free and slave, both small and great.’ Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against the rider on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur And the rest were killed by the sword of the rider on the horse, the sword that came from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
The Thousand Years
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and locked and sealed it over him, so that he would deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be let out for a little while.
Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
When the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, in order to gather them for battle; they are as numerous as the sands of the sea. They marched up over the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from heaven and consumed them. And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
The Dead Are Judged
Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
The New Heaven and the New Earth
21:1. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.’
Vision of the New Jerusalem
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
The angel who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width; and he measured the city with his rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, one hundred and forty-four cubits by human measurement, which the angel was using. The wall is built of jasper, while the city is pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, each of the gates is a single pearl, and the street of the city is pure gold, transparent as glass.
I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
22:1. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.
And he said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.’
‘See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.’
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!’
And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.’
‘See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
‘It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.
Because of so much Bible illiteracy and the need to read the whole book of Revelation straight through, the entire book is shown here.
March 17, 2022