Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation
(The Revelation of Jesus Christ) (Jesus Christ’s Love Letter to His Bride)
Dr. Mary Sue Davis
The word Revelation:
An apocalypse (Ancient Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apocálypsis, from ἀπό andκαλύπτω meaning “uncovering”), translated literally from Greek, is a disclosure of knowledge, i.e., a lifting of the veil or revelation. In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden.
Lesson 1: Introduction
(Rev 1:3) Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.
Revelation is the only book that promises a blessing to those who will read, study, understand and apply the things that are written in it to their lives. There are seven blessings in Revelation including Rev. 1:3.
(Rev.1:3) Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.
(Rev 14:13) And I heard a voice from Heaven saying to me, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they shall rest from their labors, and their works follow them.
(Rev 16:15) Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is the one who watches and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.
(Rev 19:9) And he said to me, Write, Blessed are those who have been called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God.
(Rev 20:6) Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. The second death has no authority over these, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him a thousand years.
(Rev 22:7) Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he who keeps the Words of the prophecy of this Book.
(Rev 22:14) Blessed are they who do His commandments, that their authority will be over the Tree of Life, and they may enter in by the gates into the city.
In saying that, there are many who believe the Book of Revelation is too complicated or difficult. Some are fearful and intimidated with the rhetoric and flood of misinformation that has come from some of the scholars of this book. This overflow of propaganda has kept the human family fearful of reading the Book of Revelation.
Again the fact is it is the Scripture’s only book that declares a built in blessing to those who read it and understand it. The Hebrew understanding of blessing is empowerment to prosper, succeed, obtain objectives and goals, to have more than enough, to enjoy protection, and to enjoy length of days and life.
I do not claim to have all the answers, nor am I an authority on Revelation. I am still learning and open. I approach this with much fear (awe) of the Lord and guidance by His Spirit. In doing this teaching I hope to give you keys and insights to unlock the doorways to understanding the book.
There are two book of the Bible that satan hates. One is the book of Genesis since it exposes him for who he is and the other is the book of Revelation which exposes his finish and his just punishment for rebellion. Revelation is consistent with the rest of the Bible. It is an ongoing revelation of Jesus Christ. It reveals the fullness of God’s redemptive plan. This book provides a panoramic overview of the entire Bible and the culmination of God’s covenant with humanity. It is a historical book as well as present day and futuristic, prophetic. It tells us what has been going on since the fall of Adam and Eve through present day and days to come.
The good news is that God knows the end from the beginning (Is. 46:10) and He is in control and in charge.
In the study of Revelation there are those who:
cannot get into the book (for fear),
those who are fanatical in their approach and cannot get out of the book,
and those who seek balance and move with the book.
In this study we will glean from all the views and voices and many ideas about Revelation. Hopefully, it will bring us greater clarity. None of us have all the answers, but in “the multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Prov. 11:14)
Do not let what you don’t understand, keep you from what you do understand or know. If you do what you know, then more will be given. There is great deception when you give up and say. ”I don’t get this.” Examples, many have given up on teaching on divine healing because they experienced someone/s who didn’t get healed. Many have quit evangelizing because some didn’t get saved. Instead we press on. We press on to the high mark in Christ Jesus.
(Php 3:14 KJV) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
During this study as yourself these questions about the different views of Escathology:
1) Does it glorify Christ and Exalt Him as Lord?
2) Does it produce a bold new freedom in Christ or Fear?
3) Does it reestablish what Christ has abolished?
4) Does it interpret the Book of Revelation Literally, only?
5) Does it have you afraid to face your future?
6) Does it magnify the devil and his scheme of things?
7) Does it places the Kingdom in the future only?
8) Does it edify the Body of Christ & Advances His Kingdom?
9) What’s the core belief systems concerning one’s eschatology?
10) What is it Producing, What are we Becoming and Where is it taking us?
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.3 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.
To reiterate in verse three, we see the promise of a blessing to those who read, study, understand and apply this book. In Greek terms the word means to read and hear, to be read aloud and heard aloud. We hear through the ear gate. Scientists tell us that we have an outer ear and an inner ear. We hear and listen or hear and understand.
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Now some of the keys to understanding Revelation.
We must understand that the 1st Century world understood the book. Although we may see terrifying pictures, competing symbols, tragedy and hidden beasts, we must understand that most of this book seems to be written in code. It is hard to understand the book of Revelation without understanding the word itself. The Greek word for revelation is apokalupsis (ap-ok-al’-oop-sis). The word at its root is made of two words which literally mean the removing of the veil. So this is really a revelation about the removing of the veil that has hidden Christ. Thus this book will enable us to have the veil removed and allow Christ to be seen in us.
We will discuss fully apocalyptic literature later.
The book of Revelation is written in Biblical language or apocalyptic language which we will discuss later. We can take 2 approaches looking at everything symbolically or looking at it simply and with straight forwardness.
It is more important to understand what is going to happen instead of when something will happen. It is not a timeline of end-time events.
Accept the meaning of Scripture in its most normal, natural, and customary sense.
However, the book of Revelation, the Book of Ultimates has at least 130 symbols. Without understanding them, it is virtually impossible to interpret this book.
In this regard one can come to the point where one ‘spiritualizes’ everything in the Bible, thinking it is ALL a ‘type and shadow’. When you do this, yes we will see deeper meanings behind scripture, however, if you are not careful you will deny the physical/form all together . Some get so ‘spiritual’ that they question Jesus’ actual death and His return. He gives us both earthly and heavenly , a convergence of the two. He gives us earthly things to represent Spiritual. If everything is strictly ‘spiritual’ then Jesus could have come as a ‘spiritual’ Being, but no, He came in the FLESH. Paul warns us of not denying the physical in 1 Cor 15….
My warning is: Keep a balance.
We must understand God’s sense of time.
GOD OPERATES OUTSIDE OF THE DIMENSION OF TIME. GOD IS THE INVENTOR OF TIME. TIME IS IN HIM. OUR TIME IS BASED ON ROTATION OF THE EARTH (24 HOUR DAY) AND MONTHS AND YEARS (REVOLUTION OF THE SUN). THIS WAS NOT ESTABLISHED UNTIL THE 4TH DAY OF CREATION.
THE WORD DECLARES A DAY WITH THE LORD IS AS A 1,000 YEARS.
2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Time indicators in the Word may not be the actual physical timing, but God’s timing. Many conclude that the time indicators suddenly, quickly and immediately are not the same as we think. All the apostles thought Jesus would return in their lifetime. Although everything God does is based on timing. When the universe was recreated, each part was made on a certain day, a certain time.
Genesis 1:1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
God in His perfect timing created man/mankind. But in Genesis 3, man’s timing began with the Fall. When man fell, he lost his ability to hear and follow God without a special endowment from heaven. Man no longer had the ability to operate in God’ timing on his own.
One of the things that Jesus came and produced for us at Calvary was the ability to perceive and regain the correct timings of God.
Even in the 1st Century there were skeptics as there are today:
(2Pe 3:3-4 KJV) Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
We must understand that what is seemingly God’s slowness is not slothfulness. There are many examples in Scripture where events were prophesied for many years, but seemed to happen suddenly. Noah prophesied the flood for about 935 years before it happened. It seemed as if it happened suddenly. There are more than 400 prophecies concerning the 1st coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The angels announced the Presence of Jesus as a suddenly. (Luke 2.13-14) The 120 tarried many days in the Upper Room, but the Scripture says suddenly.
(Acts 2:1-2 KJV) And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
DISCERNING TIMES AND SEASONS
Luke 12:54-56 Then He also said to the multitudes, “Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is.55 “And when you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and there is.56 “Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?
God is a God of the now, today. The greatest results you will have in ministry and life will come when you walk in the spiritual time in which you are living now, when you walk in the present anointing.
JESUS CAME TO PREACH THE ACCEPTABLE TIME OF THE LORD.
Luke 4:18-191“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year (TIME) of the LORD.”
JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS ALSO A PROCLAIMER OF THE TIMING OF GOD IN THAT DAY. HE SAID:
Matthew 3:2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
THE SET TIME, THE APPOINTED TIME
This is known as a moed or kairos moment or due season.
1) appointed place, appointed time, meeting
Genesis 18:13-14 And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’14 “Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”
a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for ; opportune or seasonable time; the right time; a limited period of time
Mark 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Col.1:5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.
There are many instances in Scripture where God does things at the appointed time, the set time. Habakkuk 2:2-3
God changes the times and the seasons.
Daniel 2:21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.
Jesus also said to the disciples it is not yours to know to exact time of the coming of the Lord:
(Mat 24:36 ) But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
God is merciful giving mankind time to repent. It is the mercy of God that delays His coming.
The Book of Revelation is not a book of chronology, it’s not when things are going to happen but what and why things are happening.
The study of the last things or end times is called eschatology from two Greek words eschatos meaning “last “ and logos meaning “subject matter.” Therefore eschatology would be the study that deals with the last events of sacred history, including all that is beyond life and this age, as well as the final events of this present age. We have been in the last days or end times since Jesus was resurrected. This term is frequently applied to this entire age:
Peter on the Day of Pentecost, declared that the Spirit’s outpouring fulfilled Joel’s prophecy concerning the “ last days” ( Acts 2:16-21)
The Church already enjoys certain powers if the kingdom age and the world
(age) to come. ( Luke 17:21, Matt. 16:19, Heb. 6:5)
Since the Church expects the Coming of the Lord, every moment is eschatological (Rom. 8:23, 1 Cor. 1:7, Luke 12:35-36, 1 Thess. 1:10)
Since Christ the Son of God is the “end” or “goal” of all things in God’s plan of redemption, the coming of the Son incarnate introduced the “ last days.”
Hebrews 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
Since the spirit of antichrist is already working in anticipation of the final conflict. John said: “ Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.” 1 John 2:18
There is a story about some seminary students who had just finished a course on eschatology and were contemplating among themselves. They were somewhat confused when they came upon a janitor reading the book of Revelation. They asked him did he understand what he was reading.
He said sure, “ it is about Jesus the Son of God who is worthy; He is The Fairest of 10,000, the Bridegroom. He has a Bride. The Bride has opposition from the enemy and the enemy wants to take her out. Revelation is the story of Jesus rescuing His Bride and they live together happily ever after.
That about sums it up.
Revelation is written for the everyday person and it is written to be understood.
Authorship and Date:
The author identifies himself as John (1:4, 9; 21:2; 22:8), a prophet (1:1–4; 22:6–7). He was familiar enough with his readers to call himself their “brother and companion in tribulation” (1:9). He indicates that he was exiled to the island of Patmos (1:9) off the west coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and that on the “Lord’s Day”. This literally means the Lordly Day when all the Roman Empire declared the emperor as god. Some interpret this as meaning Sunday, the day we celebrate His resurrection. “John is an exile on Patmos, an island ten miles by six miles, located sixty miles southwest of Ephesus in the Aegean Sea. Volcanic and mostly treeless, the Romans used it as a penal colony, forcing prisoners to work in the granite quarries. John’s banishment was the result of his faithful witness to the gospel.” He was caught up “in the Spirit” (1:10) and saw the visions recorded in his book. An examination of the Greek language of the book of Revelation reveals that it has some strong similarities with the Gospel and Epistles of John, but also some striking stylistic differences. The author seems to think in Hebrew and write in Greek.
As a whole, this evidence points to John the Apostle, who spent his latter years in Ephesus or on the island of Patmos. The earliest church tradition was unanimous in attributing the Book of Revelation to John. Although later voices have found problems with this identification, the apostle John remains the strongest candidate for authorship. The Book was probably written during the latter years of the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81–96). Evidence within Revelation indicates that it was written during a period of extreme persecution of Christians, which possibly was that begun by Nero after the great fire that nearly destroyed Rome in July of A.D. 64 and continued until his suicide in June of A.D. 68. In this view, the book was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in September of A.D. 70 and is an authentic prophecy concerning the continuing suffering and persecution of Christians, which would become even more intense and severe in the years ahead. On the basis of isolated statements by the early church fathers, some interpreters date the book near the end of the reign of Domitian (A.D. 81–96), after John had fled to Ephesus.
John tells us, “The seven heads [of the beast] are seven mountains” (17:9), undoubtedly a reference to the famed seven hills of Rome. Chapter 13 tells us that the dragon (Satan) gave authority to the beast (Rome) to exact worship from its inhabitants (v. 4). The first Roman emperor to demand that his subjects address him as “lord and god” on an empire-wide basis was Domitian. It was under Domitian that the apostle John was banished to Patmos. Christians, of course, were forbidden by the First Commandment (Ex. 20:3) to worship anyone other than God. In the Book of Revelation, John sounded the trumpet alert to Domitian’s challenge.
To prepare a people to overcome (be victorious and a conqueror of situations or circumstances) and who are ready for His coming. To the 1stCcentury reader Jesus is trying to get the 7 churches ready. We will discuss the 7 churches in detail later.
An overcomer is one who is called to overcome whatever comes our way that would challenge our submission, our obedience and our faith to God.
Scripture admonishes us to overcome as He (Christ Jesus) overcame.
John 16:33“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
1 John 5:4For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Romans 12:21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 John 2:13-14 I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father.14 I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.
1 John 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
The enemy that you decide to defeat will decide the quality of your life
All the promises are to overcomers.
7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’
11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ’
17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” ’
Paul admonished, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). Believers have been gifted with the mind of the Holy Spirit, who makes “intercession for the saints according to the will of God” Rom. 8:27). Paul declared that “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). The overcomers who stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion have “His Father’s name” (the same kind of relationship that Jesus had with the Father) in their forehead. (Rev. 14:1-5; 22:4; 1 Cor. 1:10)
The new name is His name /His nature.
(Jer 15:16) Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
26 “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—
NEW REALM OF AUTHORITY
5 “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
RIGHTEOUSNESS, HOLINESS, FULFILLING DESTINY, AFFIRMINING YOU
12 “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
IMMOVABLE, NEW NAME, BRIDE OF CHRIST
21 “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.
Revelation 3:21, KJV To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My THRONE (thronos – place or stately throne seat of authority, with a footstool), even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His THRONE.
A THRONE – a royal position and authority (Matt. 28:19-20).
Romans 14:17, KJV For the KINGDOM of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Ephesians 1:20-23, KJV Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places,
21 FAR ABOVE ALL (rulership) principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:22 And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church,23 Which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.
RULING AND REIGNING
7 “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD
Another purpose of this book is a constant call to holiness. Holiness is internal, it’s a heart that wants to be who Jesus is.
Another important key to understanding the book is to know that this book is written to the persecuted ones. It is written to the overcomers. There is much encouragement in times of persecution throughout the book.
Key # 5 Understanding the Different Interpretive Approaches
The purposes for which Revelation was written depend to some extent on how the book as a whole is interpreted.
(1) The symbolic /idealist or spiritual view maintains that Revelation is not a predictive prophecy, but a symbolic portrait of the cosmic conflict of spiritual principles. The specific facts or truths are for every generation. Everything in the book is spiritualized or allegorized.
(2) The preterist view (the Latin word praeter means “past”) maintains that it is a symbolic description of the Roman persecution of the church, emperor worship, and the divine judgment of Rome. It says that all of Revelation was fulfilled before 70 AD, the destruction of Jerusalem.
(3) The historicist view says the each of the 7 Churches represents a certain eon or age, 1st century, 2nd century etc. This view approaches Revelation as an allegorical panorama of the history of the (Western) church from the first century to the Second Advent.
(4) The futurist view acknowledges the obvious influence that the first-century conflict between Roman power and the church had upon the themes of this book. It also accepts the bulk of Revelation (chaps.4—22) as an inspired look into the time immediately preceding the Second Advent (the Tribulation, usually seen as seven years; chaps.6—18), and extending from the return of Christ to the creation of the new cosmos (chaps.19—22).
(5) The dispensational view is the most popular in America.
The rise to prominence of dispensationalism was in the late nineteenth century (about the same time as the arising of Mormonism), interpretive principles have become a major focus of eschatological discussion. One of the classic dispensationalist’s leading arguments is the claim to consistent interpretive literalism.
Charles C. Ryrie sets forth interpretive literalism as a sine qua non of this leading branch of dispensationalism: “Dispensationalists claim that their principle of hermeneutics is that of literal interpretation. . . . The dispensationalist claims to use the normal principle of interpretation consistently in all his study of the Bible” (Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 80, 82). Thomas D. Ice declares: “Futurism . . . is the only approach that can consistently apply literal interpretation” (Thomas Ice in Prophecy Study Bible, 1312). Paul N. Benware calls it a “face value” form of interpretation (Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy, 20.).
Ryrie gives three arguments for the literalistic hermeneutic.
“Philosophically, the purpose of language itself seems to require literal interpretation. . . . If God be the originator of language and if the chief purpose of originating it was to convey His message to man, then it must follow that He, being all-wise and all-loving, originated sufficient language to convey all that was in His heart to tell man. Furthermore, it must also follow that He would use language and expect man to use it in its literal, normal, and plain sense.”
“Prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the first coming of Christ — His birth, His rearing, His ministry, His death, His resurrection — were all fulfilled literally. There is no non-literal fulfillment of these prophecies in the New Testament.”
“If one does not use the plain, normal, or literal method of interpretation, all objectivity is lost.”
Advocates of all interpretive approaches to Revelation agree that it was written to assure the recipients of the ultimate triumph of Christ over all who rise up against Him and His saints. The believers of the 1st century were facing dark times of persecution, and even worse times would follow. Therefore they needed to be encouraged to persevere by standing firm in Christ in view of God’s plan for the righteous and the wicked.
In no case are we all perfect in our theology. In some cases we must agree to disagree. We never disfellowship with anyone because of their views of this book.
Other Interpretive Schemes (Views of the Rapture and Millennium)
post- tribulation rapture
mid- tribulation rapture
I would advise you to hold to your convictions, but be open to further study. Say this. “I don’t understand this, but this I do understand.” All of us as Believers are one because we agree that Jesus Christ is Lord.
According to the dispensationalist there are 7 dispensations.
Innocence- Adam and Eve
Self Determination- Cain to Flood
Government of Man- Noah- Abraham
Patriarch- Abraham – Moses
Law- Old Covenant
Grace- New Covenant
Reign of Christ
However, sometimes these do not fit and are not seen in Scripture. Grace and mercy is seen in the Old Testament. According to Scripture there are only 2 dispensations Old and New Covenant. The Sacrifice, High Priest and Offerings are all summed up in Jesus Christ.
Dispensationalist interpretation proposes that the Rapture of the church is referred to in v. 1, at which time the redeemed in Christ are translated into heaven at His coming “in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17). Rev. 6-18 are perceived as the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21) or the wrath of God (1 Thess. 5:9) from which believers are kept (Rev. 3:10). This approach sees national Israel as God’s people on Earth at this time (the church having been raptured), restored to Jerusalem, protected by divine seal (7:1-8), worshiping in a rebuilt temple (11:1-3), and suffering at the hand of the Antichrist.
The Dispensationalist says that God works in different ways in each dispensation.
Not as widely published but at least equally widely believed is the Moderate Futurist view. This proposes the Book of Revelation as summarizing the conclusion of the church’s age long procession through tribulation and triumph, warfare, and victory, and consummating in the climactic return of Jesus Christ for His church. The tribulation is generally viewed as age long, but increasing in intensity, so that the church is understood as present through much of Earth’s turmoil until just prior to the outpouring of the “bowls full of the wrath of God” (15:7). This occurs during ch. 16 and culminates in the collapse of the present world order (chs. 17; 18).
Among other views are these: 1) The Historic position sees Revelation as a symbolic prophecy of the whole of church history, with the events of the book a picture of the events and movements that have shaped the conflict and progress of the Christian church. 2) The Preterist views Revelation as a message of hope and comfort to first century believers only, offering them an expectation of their deliverance from Roman persecution and oppression. 3) The Idealist formulates no particular historical focus or effort at interpreting specifics of the book, rather seeing it as a broad, poetic portrayal of the conflict between the kingdom of God and the powers of Satan.
Accept the meaning of Scripture in its most normal, natural, customary, and Biblical sense and then let Holy Spirit lead you to make that Scripture applicable to you life NOW.
There are 734 prophecies in the Bible. 597 have been fulfilled literally, not spiritually or metaphorically. 81% have been fulfilled literally. There were 8 prophecies about Jesus’ birth; all 8 were fulfilled literally.
Plural Meaning Principle: This is an interpretation principle that will keep you sober in handling scripture. This principle simply means that God provides multiple interpretations for one scripture. It is wise to first interpret a scripture in its strictest sense first. Then the Holy Spirit may lead you to make that scripture applicable in your life NOW.
The wheat and the tares should be interpreted in its strictest sense as a an end day event. However, you can apply the scripture to your own heart that has a mixture of bitter and sweet water. Some teachers interpret in the strictest sense and miss a picture of the dealing of God within our heart.
We must interpret the symbols as well as they apply to our lives and our hearts.
Symbolic Principle: God uses one thing to represent another. Discerning and discovering links between a biblical symbol and the target thing God wants us to understand enables us to interpret many scriptures that are currently a puzzle to us.
Symbols will be listed in this study*
Take the Scripture in context. We know that in Scripture Chapters and verse numbers were inserted later, even commas and punctuation. Keep with the flow of Scripture. Compare Scripture with Scripture. Of the 404 verses in Revelation 400 have Old Testament references. Most symbols are understood from an Old Testament perspective. The Old Testament and New Testament cannot be separated. You cannot understand Leviticus without Hebrews, or Daniel without Revelation.
One of the problems in this book is that if we do not understand the symbols, we try to allegorize or spiritualize them. All contradictions can be harmonized. What seem to be discrepancies can become harmonious. Is something doesn’t seem to fit or we do not understand. Say, “ I don’t know, it is still a mystery,” but always be searching and seeking.
While the Bible is a “revelation from God” it is not written in a superhuman or celestial language. If it were we could not understand it. The language of the Scripture is of three kinds: Figurative, Symbolic, and Literal. The Figurative is explained by context, the Symbolic either in context or somewhere else in the Scriptures, and the rest should be taken literally. That is, we should read the Bible as we would read any other book, letting it say what it wants to say, without allegorizing or spiritualizing its meaning.
Symbols will be listing for almost every verse throughout this study.
Watch for near and far prophecies, fulfillments and applications. There are partial fulfillments throughout Scripture. The Word is in a sense: it was, it is, it shall be. The preterist sees everything as near while the futuristic sees everything as far. The spiritualist sees neither near nor far. The historic sees neither. The dispensationalist sees near and far, but not all in between.
Some near and far prophecy examples:
The term is used only in the writings of John in the New Testament. It refers to one who stands in opposition to all that Jesus Christ represents (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7). John wrote that several antichrists existed already in his day—false teachers who denied the deity and the incarnation of Christ—but that the supreme Antichrist of history would appear at some future time.
The work of Satan through the Antichrist is clearly rooted in the prophecies of Daniel. Daniel spoke of a dreadful beast with ten horns and one little horn (Dan. 7:7–8). The Ancient of Days will kill the beast and throw it in the fire (Dan. 7:11). Then, according to Daniel, one like the Son of Man will receive the everlasting kingdom (Dan. 7:13–14).
The Tower of Babel was a type of Babylon in Gen. 11. Most scholars agree that a prototype of Babylon was 1st Century Rome., and there will be complete fulfillment of Babylon at the close of the last days.
Christ Coming as the Messiah
Prophesied in Is. 11:
(Isa 11:1-2 KJV) And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
and Is. 61:1-2
(Isa 61:1 -2 KJV) The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
Fulfilled in Luke 4:
(Luke 4:18-21 KJV) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Near and Far prophecies are prophecies that are:
1.foretelling, speaking to you right now
2.forthtelling, predicting the future and
3.for-shortening, from mountain peak to mountain peak, never seeing the in between, the valleys
Another Major Example of Near and far Prophecy, Prophetic Prediction, Applications and Fulfillments
Daniel 9: Prophecy of Daniel’s 70 weeks
According to many interpreters, Daniel 9 contains a pivotal prophecy. It has come to be known as “Daniel’s Seventy Weeks of Years.” An understanding of these weeks is crucial to one school of interpretation of latter-day prophetic events. Understandably, the interpretation of this section is diverse among equally dedicated, committed Christians. These notes reflect the frequently accepted dispensational approach.
However, additional comments at the end of this section will address the more historic classical, conservative view. Both are valid considerations for dedicated students to examine, and the exercise occasions the healthy reminder that prophetic Scripture interpretation is not a place for committed Christians to part company, although differences exist.
As Daniel sought the Lord to find out how long the Babylonian captivity would last, God showed him that the original prophecy of Jeremiah, indicating that the captivity would last seventy years, would be extended to “seventy sevens,” or 490 years (Jeremiah 29). This revelation, in fact, covers the history of Jerusalem and the Jews from the time that Artaxerxes decreed they should rebuild the city of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:1–10) to the time of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:15–31).
This whole period is called “the Times of the Gentiles” because Gentile political authority will be the major force until the final destruction of all Israel’s enemies at the end of the Great Tribulation. This will culminate in the Battle of Armageddon and the Second Advent of the Messiah. He will at that time destroy all the armies that have come against Jerusalem.
The “seventy sevens” are divided into three sections: seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and one week. Each week represents seven years. The decree of Artaxerxes was in 446–445 B.C. (Neh. 2:1). The first two sections of weeks total 69 weeks or 483 years. This period ended in A.D. 32 when the Messiah was “cut off” (9:26), or when Jesus was crucified on Calvary.
The Abomination of Desolation, which Daniel prophesied would be part of the Seventieth Week, was clearly dated by Jesus as being part of the Great Tribulation or end-time period (Matt. 24:15). Nearly two thousand years have passed and the Seventieth Week has not happened. We are still living in the parenthetical time called the Times of the Gentiles, which precede that culminative prophetic “week.”
From this interpretive perspective, the Book of Daniel unveils a march of events in God’s relationship, not only with His people, but with the world political system. Basic facts distilled from this book seem to illuminate other difficult passages, presenting these apparent forthcoming events:
The Messiah will return before the millennial period (2:31–37; 44–45; 7:13–14).
God’s kingdom will literally be established on the earth with the Messiah-King as ruler (2:44–45; 7:26–27). (Rock cut from a mountain) Dan. 2:44-45
The four metals of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream image symbolize four empires: Babylonian, Nebuchadnezzar (head of gold), Medo-Persian (silver arms and chest) , Macedonian-Greek, (bronze)and Roman (iron) (2:37–40).
The fourth kingdom, Rome, will enjoy a last-day revival in the form of a united confederacy in Europe. Out of this system the Antichrist will emerge (7:8, 20–21; 8:23).
The False Prophet and the Antichrist are persons, not merely a system (7:7–8, 20–26; 9:27; 11:36–45).
God will continue to deal with the nation of Israel (9:20–27).
National Israel is the prophetic time clock for last-day events (9:24).
The False Prophet and the Antichrist will dominate the last portion of the last week of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks of Years. At the end of the “week,” after the Great Tribulation, Jesus the Messiah will return to establish the kingdom of God, which will resolve all the prophecies of Daniel (9:24, 27).
CLASSICAL INTERPRETATION: In contrast to the dispensational hermeneutical approach, many evangelicals interpret Daniel using classical (Covenant) hermeneutical principles. Classical interpreters do so, realizing that biblical prophecy may have multiple levels of fulfillment.
The classical view sees the initial fulfillment of Daniel’s prophetic sections in past historical events, such as the second-century B.C. invasion of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes and the events of the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Classical interpreters do, however, also see ultimate fulfillment of many of the prophecies at the end of this age. For an example, see the note on 9:26–27.
Furthermore, the classical approach does not always press for strict literalness, especially when the New Testament itself makes nonliteral application. For example, see James’s quote of Amos 9:11–12 in Acts 15:16–17.
To the mid-tribulation rapture interpretation Daniels’ 7 weeks speaks of 7 years or 84 months. Forty-two months would be 3 weeks. Forty-two is the number of his appearing. Jesus appeared to the world for 42 months in His natural body, and then He was glorified. Also it took 42 generations from Abraham until He appeared. In Revelation it would take forty-two before His (Parousia /Church) to the world according to this interpretation.
Apocalyptic Writing (refer back to key #1)
It is a certain type of Jewish and Christian literature written in Egypt and Palestine during the period from 200 B.C. to A.D. 200. The word apocalypsis is a Greek word meaning “revelation.” Therefore, apocalyptic literature is a special kind of writing that arose among the Jews and Christians to reveal certain mysteries about heaven and earth, humankind and God, angels and demons, the life of the world today, and the world to come. Apocalyptical writing is a particular was of explaining thins with symbols, numbers etc. It is a way of showing past, present and future, what is going on in heaven and on earth, both seen and unseen.
The apocalyptic books are rich in symbolism especially the book of Revelation. The reader’s imagination is stretched. Those who read the apocalyptic books just after they had been written knew the meaning of the symbols used by the author. The events of the time, evil rulers, and pagan nations are symbolized by distorted animals and beasts, horrible signs from heaven, or a chaotic flowing of waters. But the people who are faithful to God are portrayed as majestic animals, like a lion, or a well kept plant. The purpose of this symbolism was to make the contrast between good and evil obvious to the reader.
Psalm 78:1-4 Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, 3 Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us.4 We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.
Quote from J. Preston Eby
The book of Revelation is the Sixth Gospel of Jesus Christ. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote what they saw of Jesus Christ on the earth in the days of His flesh. Luke, in the book of Acts, wrote of the revelation of Jesus that came by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and throughout the in-part realm of the earnest of the Spirit during the church age. But John, in the book of Revelation, wrote what he witnessed of the full and complete revelation of Jesus Christ that comes to and through “him that overcometh.” It is the revelation of Jesus Christ in sons upon mount Zion, in the manchild on the throne, and in the New Jerusalem come down from God out of heaven. John the Revelator wrote what he saw of the ascended and glorified Christ manifesting out of the heavens of God’s Spirit. This book releases the mind of Christ out of celestial realms. We must by the Holy Ghost get on the horse, put our feet in the stirrups, take hold of the reins and ride through this book experientially in the anointing from on High. We must be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day to understand it, just as John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day to receive it. And when we do — we see Jesus! J. Preston Eby