Thursday, February 04, 2010
A Summary of the Sequence of Revelations Shown to John on the Isle of Patmos
Very often I think our concepts about the Book of Revelation come as much from what we have heard about the book as from what we are actually reading.
Therefore a good place to start in order to properly understand the meaning of the Book of Revelation, might be to take another look at what the text itself actually says (or doesn't say)!
So I decided to read the Book of Revelation in reverse order - starting at the last chapter, and working my way back towards the first chapter - carefully noting the events of each chapter and the sequences in which they are said to occur. I conducted this experiment in order to minimize the preconceptions with which I might approach the text.
Some unexpected and interesting observations came to light! The following is a summary of the main events of the Book of Revelation as I saw them unfold in their stated sequences - written in my own words, together with some observations (which are included in bold in the parentheses).
John was on the island of Patmos, and he was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and he heard a great voice behind him like a trumpet. The voice instructed him to write what he saw on a scroll, and post it to a very specific group of readers - to seven specific churches which existed in seven specific locations during the first century AD.
[NB: It is important to remember that the Book of Revelation was written with an original audience in mind. When interpreting the book, it is therefore important to consider what the content might have meant to the original intended readers - ahead of anything it might have meant to subsequent generations.]
John was shown both "things which are" as well as "things which shall be hereafter".
[NB: There appear to have been two categories of events which were revealed to John: firstly, events which "are", i.e., events which had already taken place or which were currently taking place at the time of writing; and secondly, events which "shall be hereafter", i.e., events which were "at hand" or which would come to pass "shortly". So apparently, not everything that was written is still to come in the future - some of the events shown to John may have already happened or may have already been unfolding at the time of writing. Therefore any interpretation of the Book of Revelation which does not take account of the past-fulfilment of some of the details, may mistakenly forecast certain events to happen in the future which may in fact have already happened.]
[Also note: John wasn't sent to give the churches an exact sequence or timeline of future events. Not even Jesus Himself was willing to give that to the Apostles when they asked Him, before His ascension, "Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" And He answered them, "It is not for you to know the times nor the seasons which the Father has placed in His own hands". It seems many people are seeking to find in the Book of Revelation an exact sequence of future events - but why would the Book show us something that Jesus had already said was not for us to know? The main purpose, it seems, of the Book of Revelation, was to strengthen believers by helping them make sense of their present sufferings. The Book gave just enough explanation of current and then-future events to be able to provide that encouragement. It provided just enough information to console first-century believers whose imminent tribulations might otherwise have caused them to wonder what on earth had happened to the promised Kingdom. The Revelation showed them how all was well with the promised Kingdom. But the Book wasn't designed to answer every question we may have in regard to sequences of events. Its purpose was to provide just enough explanation to be able to help us make sense of present sufferings, and to confirm what had already been spoken by our Lord in the Four Gospels, and taught elsewhere by the Epistles. So make sure you don't lost the main purpose of the Book by looking for answers which it probably wasn't designed to give.]
John explained that an angel was sent to him for the purpose of signifying these events.
[NB: The angel didn't speak plainly - but used signs, i.e., he used imagery which was largely representative rather than intended to be taken literally. We may risk formulating mistaken applications of some of John's topics, if we fail to understand that some of his imagery was intended as "signs" rather than as literal descriptions.]
[Also note: the Book of Revelation consists of a series of visions. Some of the visions appear to be connected to each other in a definite sequence, citing definite time-frames, while some of the visions appear to go back in time to describe events which were already past, or to describe events which were currently unfolding even in John's day in the first century AD. Some of the visions may touch on some of the same information as a way of givinig further clarification to events described in a previous vision. Not every vision appears to describe a completely separate event in chronological order. In order to know whether a vision describes a subsequent event in chronological order after the previous vision, or otherwise, the text itself needs to be consulted. Time-indicating texts need to be noted.]
John begins by describing himself as a "companion in tribulation" to his readers.
[NB: "Tribulation" was regarded by John as a present reality in the first century AD. "Tribulation" was something which John and his first-century readers were already experiencing. One of the churches was about to undergo a ten-day period of "great tribulation"; another church was warned about being thrown into "great tribulation"; others of the churches were already experiencing tribulations to varying degree. The term "The Great Tribulation" appears to be missing from the Book of Revelation, in the King James Version at least. We find mention of "...great tribulation" but never of "The Great Tribulation".]
John describes any individual who reads, hears and keeps the things that are written, as "blessed".
It is declared that Jesus is coming with clouds, and that every eye will see Him, and that those who had pierced Him [some of whom may have been still alive at the time of writing] would wail because of Him.
Then John begins to address the seven churches individually, on Jesus' behalf.
Severe warnings were given to any church-attendee who didn't recover his first love; who didn't do the first works; who didn't remember from where he had fallen; who didn't remember the original values of the Gospel which he had learned when he first came to the Lord; who had become lukewarm; whose reputation was better than his true state; who thought he was doing okay when actually he was deceived as to his true, wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked spiritual state; who was tolerant of false teachers, prophets and church-members who practised, taught or allowed immoral and idolatrous practices; and who didn't repent of any of the above.
John passed-on the Lord's warning that any such unrepentant church-attendee risked having his candlestick removed out of its place; he risked having Jesus come and fight against him with the sword of His mouth; he risked being thrown into "great tribulation", or being killed with death, or risked experiencing Jesus coming to him like a thief.
Equally clear were the promises given to any church-member who would be zealous and repent, who would keep working, serving and labouring even more patiently, lovingly and abundantly than he did when he first got saved; who endured all things without fainting; who discerned and refused to tolerate false apostles; who hated the compromising deeds of certain sects; who feared none of the things which he was about to suffer; who held fast His Name and did not deny Jesus' faith despite the martyrdoms that were occurring; who was spiritually cautious and whose doings were perfect - someone who was an overcomer.
To such a repentant overcomer it was promised that he will be given to eat of the tree of life in Paradise; he will be given a crown of life; he will not be hurt by the second death; he will be given power over the nations, to rule them with a rod of iron and to break them to shivers like the pots of a potter; he will be given the morning star; given to eat of the hidden manna; given a white stone engraved with a new, personal, privately known name; he will be clothed in white and will walk with Jesus; his name will not be blotted out of the scroll of life, but his name will be confessed by Jesus before the Father and before the angels; he will be made a pillar in the Temple of God, and will no longer exit the Temple; the name of God will be written on him, and the name of God's city - new Jerusalem - which shall come down out of heaven from God; Jesus' new Name will be written on him; and he will be given to sit with Jesus in His throne, just as Jesus overcame and sat with His Father in His throne.
After writing specific messages to individual churches, John then sees an open door in heaven, and he hears a voice inviting him to come up and see things which were to happen afterwards. Many of the visions are intermitted with heavenly praise and worship.
He sees a Throne in heaven, four animals, 24 elders, and seats. He sees a seven-sealed scroll in God's right hand. He sees a Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes - which are said to represent the seven Spirits of God. He sees 100 million people before the throne worshipping the Lamb.
The Lamb opens the first seal: John sees a white horse going out to conquer.
[NB: The Book of Revelation mentions many conflicts, such as the wars which broke-out as a consequence of the actions of this white horse; the wars which broke-out as a consequence of the actions of the black horse; the war after which the blood flowed as deep as a horse's bridle for a distance of 322km; the battle at Armageddon; and the battle of Gog and Magog. Perhaps we've thought that each of these battles describe the one last great battle in the Middle East at the end of "The Great Tribulation" immediately prior to the Second Coming. However, each of these battles are listed separately, and at least two of them are said to be separated by at least one thousand years.]
Then the Lamb opens the second seal: a red horse takes peace from the earth, and brings the sword.
The third seal is opened: a black horse goes forth affecting the price of wheat and barley but not hurting the oil and wine.
[NB: The system of measurement mentioned was the Grecian measure, approximately equal to one quart; the currency mentioned was the Roman penny; and the price mentioned was exactly one penny. The literal meaning of the text therefore necessitates that this must have been fulfilled while the Grecian measure and the Roman money were still in use; as also where that measure was the common measure, and this money the current coin"; i.e., probably soon after the time of writing, and somewhere in the Roman Empire.]
The Lamb opens the fourth seal: a pale horse named "death and hell" goes forth, resulting in one-quarter of the earth's [or, the land's] population being killed by the sword, by hunger, by animals and by death.
The fifth seal is opened: John sees the souls of martyred saints under an altar in heaven, clamouring for their blood to be avenged on those who still live on the earth. They are told to rest until their fellow-servants are killed as they were.
The Lamb opens the sixth seal: there is a great earthquake, the sun becomes black, the moon becomes red, the stars fall to the earth, the heaven departs like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island is moved out of its place - to the extent that everyone wishes to be hidden from the face of Him who sits upon the Throne. The great day of His wrath is come.
[NB: The above event is often understood as describing the Second Coming of Christ - however, at this point in the Revelation, there still follows a number of events which according to the text of the Book of Revelation would take up to four more years to be fulfilled.]
John then sees four angels who intend to withold the four winds from blowing on the earth, on the sea, and on any tree.
But another angel comes from the Temple in heaven and cries with a loud voice to the four angels, urging them not to hurt the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, until the 144,000 servants of God - twelve thousand from each of the tribes of Israel - have been sealed. So the 144,000 servants of God get sealed.
John then sees great multitudes in heaven who have come from great tribulation.
[NB: These great multitudes were said to have already come from "great tribulation" - even though many of the events traditionally associated with the "Great Tribulation" (events such as the rising of the beast; 666; the plagues; the wars; and the fall of Babylon, etc - have not even been mentioned yet. What the Bible calls "great tribulation" appeared to be already happening before many of the events traditionally associated with "The Great Tribulation" had even been granted a mention yet.]
The Lamb then opens the seventh seal: John sees seven angels and seven trumpets, and the prayers of all the saints ascending before God.
The first angel sounds the first trumpet: one-third of all vegetation is destroyed by hail, by fire and by blood.
The second angel sounds the second trumpet: a burning mountain is thrown into the sea, resulting in one-third of the sea becoming blood. One-third of all marine-life dies, and one-third of all ships are destroyed.
The third angel sounds the third trumpet: a falling-star named 'Wormwood' causes one-third of all rivers, fountains and waters to become bitter - resulting in many deaths.
The fourth angel sounds the fourth trumpet: the sun, moon and stars emit one-third less light than normal, during both day and night.
[NB: The above event occurs to the sun, moon and stars even though the sun and moon were already said to have turned black and red and the stars of heaven were already said to have fallen to the earth and the heavens were already said to have departed like a scroll being rolled-up, back when the Lamb opened the sixth seal. It wouldn't be possible for this to be happening again to the sun and stars if the cosmos had already departed in a literal manner.]
Three more woes are then announced, i.e., the three remaining trumpets.
The first woe - the fifth angel sounds the fifth trumpet: stars fall.
[NB: Stars again fall, even though the stars were twice already said to have fallen or to have lost a third of their light-emitting ability, during the sounding of earlier trumpets].
A bottomless pit is opened, releasing locusts which are ruled by the angel of the bottomless pit, and which torment men for five months.
The second woe - the sixth angel sounds the sixth trumpet: four angels are loosed from the river Euphrates; and through an army of 200 million, one-third of men are killed.
An angel holding a little scroll then descends to the earth and stands with one foot in the sea and one foot on the earth [that is, on the land] - and he cries with a loud voice, prompting seven claps of thunder. But John is instructed not to write what was uttered by the seven thunder-claps.
Instead John eats the scroll, which tastes sweet as honey in his mouth but bitter in his stomach - and he is told that he must yet prophesy before many nations.
It is announced that there should be time no longer, and that "the Mystery" should be finished during the days when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet. .
Then John is told to measure the Temple. He is told that the Holy City shall be trodden under feet for 42 months. Two witnesses (who are identified as the "two olive trees", the "two candlesticks") prophesy for 1,260 days. Then an animal from the bottomless pit kills them. Their bodies lie dead for three-and-half days in "the great city" - the city which is spiritually named "Sodom and Egypt" - the same city where our Lord was crucified [i.e., in Jerusalem]. After three-and-half days the two witnesses are resurrected, then ascend to heaven. 7,000 people are killed, and 10% of the city [of Jerusalem] is destroyed by an earthquake.
The third woe quickly follows the second - the seventh angel sounds the seventh trumpet: it is announced that the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of Christ; and that His wrath is come; and that it is now time for the dead to be judged and for His servants to be rewarded; and for those who destroyed the land to be destroyed.
[After this, John sees a sign in heaven which doesn't appear to be intended as a revelation of further events only - but also, as further explanation, in picture-form, of some of the same events which had already been revealed so far, some of which appear to have been already unfolding in the first century AD, as the subject-matter will make clear.]
He sees a heavily pregnant woman in heaven - clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and crowned with twelve stars - and she travails with birth pangs.
A great red dragon with seven heads, ten horns and seven crowns on its heads, draws one-third of the stars of heaven with a sweep of its tail and throws them to the earth. Then the dragon waits to devour the woman's baby as soon as it is born.
She gives birth to a baby-boy who is destined to rule all nations with a rod of iron. The baby gets caught up to God and to His throne. The woman flees into a wilderness, to a place prepared for her by God, where God sustains her for 1,260 days.
Meanwhile there is war in heaven: Michael and his angels fight against the dragon and his angels. The dragon is defeated, and loses his place in heaven. The result is that the dragon (that old snake, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world) and his angels, are thrown down to the earth.
Those in heaven are told to rejoice that the devil, which accused them day and night, has been thrown out of heaven. But for those who still live on the earth, things were to become extremely difficult.
The devil, ferociously angry and full of rage, knowing that he has but a short time left, targets the woman who had given birth to the baby-boy. She is given two wings with which she can fly into the wilderness to the place prepared for her by God, where she is nourished for three-and-a-half times [or, for three-and-a-half years].
The dragon tries everything to get the woman. He even tries to flood her out of the land - but the earth [or, the land] helps the woman by opening her mouth to absorb the water which the dragon spewed out of his mouth.
The dragon sets about to make war with the remnant of her descendants, i.e., with the Christians. But they, the saints, overcome him through the blood of the Lamb and through the Word of their testimony - and they loved not their lives even unto death.
As part of the dragon's continuing campaign against the remnant of the woman's seed - i.e., against the Christians - the dragon grants governmental authority to an animal which rises out of the sea, who then holds office for a term of 42 months [i.e., for the duration of the woman's sojourn in the wilderness]. During his 42-month term in public office, it is granted to this animal to succeed at persecuting the Christians.
The animal looks like a leopard, with feet like a bear's, and has seven heads and a mouth which looks like a lion's, and has ten horns. John notices that one of the animal's heads appears to have sustained a fatal wound by a sword - then John observes that the apparently fatal wound is healed, which causes all the world to be in awe at the animal. Everyone begins to think that there must be no-one else in all the world who could successfully wage war against the animal.
The result is that everyone in the world, except for the Christians, begins worshipping the dragon and the animal to whom the dragon had given this opportunity to be in government.
Then John sees another animal, which has two horns like a lamb's but a mouth like the dragon's. He performs miracles in order to deceive everyone. He commissions the sculpting of a statue of the animal, and demands that everyone worships it. He is even able to cause the statue to come to life, so that the whole world [or, everyone in the land], except for the Christians, worships the idol and the animal.
Then the two-horned animal demands that everyone receive the mark, or name or number of the animal, and to worship him - or else be killed. The alpha-numerical value of the animal's name [perhaps, using the Hebrew gamatron] amounts to six-hundred-and-sixty-six.
[NB: John apparently wrote this in order to enable his first-century readers to be able to discover the identity of the animal].
Then John sees a Lamb standing on Mt Zion - with 144,00 people who, in contrast to those who had received the animal's mark, have the Name of the Lamb's Father written on their foreheads.
[NB: These may be the same 144,000 who had been sealed immediately before the four angels hurt the earth, the sea, and the trees].
These 144,000 are singing a song which is not known to anyone else except exclusively to themselves.
[NB: This implies that this group of 144,000 cannot be taken as a symbol of the entire worldwide body of believers at that particular point in history, regardless of what eschatological system one adheres to - or else their song should have been one that was known by all of the redeemed - not exclusively by the 144,000].
John then sees another angel fly, having the Gospel to preach to every nationality of people on the earth, and to prepare people for the hour of God's judgment which is now said to have come.
[NB: So at this point, we are still at a phase in history where the Gospel is still being preached].
A second angel then follows, announcing that Babylon has fallen.
A third angel then follows, warning of eternal torment for all those who worship the animal, or his idolatrous statue, or who receive his mark.
At this time the saints are urged to endure patiently in their faith.
[NB: This indicates that the saints are still present in the world during the animal's term in public office. Jesus also implied, in His parable about the wheat and tares, that the children of the Kingdom (the wheat) would exist alongside the children of the wicked one (the tares) right up until the time of harvest which is the end of the world].
It is also announced at this time that any believer who died from that point onwards was in a sense better-off - because they can rest from their hard work.
John then sees the Son of Man wearing a golden crown, sitting on a white cloud, holding a sharp sickle in His hand.
A fourth angel comes out of the Temple and tells the Son of Man in a loud voice that He should now thrust His sickle into the harvest and begin reaping - because the harvest was now ready and ripe. So the Son of Man thrusts in His sickle, and the earth is reaped. Judgment is executed.
A fifth angel then follows from the Temple in heaven, also holding a sharp sickle in his hand.
And a sixth angel (who is described as the angel having jurisdiction over fire) comes out of the altar and yells at the fifth angel, telling him to thrust in his sickle.
So the fifth angel thrusts in his sickle - then throws the grapes into an enormous winepress - which represents the wrath of God. The quantity of blood which flows out of the winepress reaches as high as a horse's bridle for a distance of 1,600 furlongs [almost 322km].
John then sees one of the four [good] animals in front of the Throne, handing seven small medicine-glasses full of the wrath of God (the seven last plagues) to seven angels.
John sees the Christians who overcame the animal standing on a sea of glass mixed with fire, singing the song of Moses. He sees the Temple filling with smoke - which lasts until after the seven last plagues are over. He hears a booming voice from inside the Temple commissioning the seven angels to go and pour out their small medicine-glasses of God's wrath onto the earth.
The first angel goes and pours out his small medicine-glass onto the earth [i.e., onto the land]: a terrible sore falls on everyone who has the mark of the animal and who worships his statue.
The second angel pours out his small medicine-glass onto the ocean: the ocean turns into congealed blood, resulting in the death of every living soul in the sea.
The third angel pours out his medicine-glass onto the rivers and fountains of water: which promptly turn into blood. This is said to be a judgment on those who had shed the blood of saints and prophets. They had shed the blood of the saints - now they were being given nothing but blood to drink!
Then the fourth angel pours out his small medicine-glass onto the sun: men become scorched with fire and great heat - but still they don't repent.
The fifth angel pours out his little medicine-glass onto the animal's seat [of Government]: darkness, pain and sores spread all over his kingdom. Men blaspheme, and still do not repent.
The sixth angel pours out his small medicine-glass onto the large river Euphrates: it dries up, to make a passage-way for the kings of the East.
Here is how the kings of the East become involved: three unclean spirits, looking like frogs, hop out of the mouths of the dragon, the animal, and the false prophet. [NB: the false prophet may be that two-horned animal who spoke with a mouth like a dragon]. These frogs are said to represent the spirits of demons which perform miracles, and go to incite the kings of the whole earth to come and participate in what is called, "the battle of that great day of God Almighty".
At this time the Lord Jesus Christ points-out that He comes like a thief. He promises great blessings for everyone who keeps guard and who stays dressed-and-ready. He warns of dire consequences for those who fail to do as He commands.
The kings of the whole earth are then gathered together to a place which in the Hebrew language was called, "Armageddon".
The seventh angel pours out his little medicine-glass onto the air: John hears a great voice out of the Temple saying, "It is done". The world's worst-ever earthquake strikes, resulting in the city which is called "the great city" being divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fall. Every island flees away and the mountains are no longer seen. A ferocious hail-storm falls on men - each hailstone weighing a full talent [as heavy as 58.9kg]. "Great Babylon" receives full and ferocious retribution for all the blood she has shed.
Meanwhile one of the seven angels which had the seven small medicine-glasses, offers to show John a picture of "the great prostitute" who was said to be sitting on many oceans, with whom the kings of the earth were said to have committed so much fornication as to have become drunk with it.
John is carried away in the spirit to a wilderness where he sees a drunk woman - drunk with the blood of the martyred saints of Jesus.
She wears purple and red and is decked with gold and precious stones and pearls - and she holds a cup full of her disgusting, filthy fornication.
She has a title written on her forehead, which identifies her with Babylon. She sits on many oceans (which represents all of the nations of the world), sitting atop a red animal which is full of blasphemous titles and which has seven heads and ten horns.
John is told that the animal on which she is sitting had previously existed and then ceased to exist, and then came into existence again. The animal originated from the bottomless pit, and will ultimately go into ruin and damnation.
John then gives a hint about the identity of this hideous animal. Its seven heads are said to represent seven mountains on which the woman sits. And it is explained to John that there are seven kings - five of whom were said to have already fallen; the sixth was said to be currently in office or currently alive at the time of writing; and the seventh king had not yet risen to power - but he was to come, and would hold public office for a short term.
This animal (which was said to have existed previously, but had died) is then described as being an eighth king which will emanate from the previous seven kings - and he also shall ultimately go into ruin and damnation.
The ten horns which John saw are also said to represent ten kings. John was told that none of these ten kings had come into office yet, at the time of writing. But their time would come, and they were to be in the public arena for an hour.
Their term in public office would be done in cohorts with the animal - in fact, they will offer their governments to him. God puts it into their hearts to give their governments to the animal for as long as it takes for God's words to be fulfilled. These ten kings will make a futile attempt to fight the Lamb, only to be soundly defeated.
The ten horns on the animal (those ten kings) end-up hating the "prostitute" and rob her of everything she has, they strip her naked, cannibalise her body then burn her remains with fire. This woman [the prostitute] is identified for us: she is "that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth".
[NB: The ten kings do not remain permanently loyal to "that great city".]
After this John sees another angel coming down from heaven, announcing that Babylon the great is fallen.
Immediately he hears another voice urging God's people to come out of Babylon so they don't partake of her sins nor of her plagues.
[NB: This seems to imply that God's people were still present in the earth at the time of Babylon's judgment].
We are told that Babylon's plagues came in one day. Other kings of the earth apparently don't receive the full brunt of her plagues at this moment. They survive Babylon's judgment and stand afar off like shocked eyewitnesses.
Heaven and the holy apostles and prophets are told to rejoice that God has finally avenged them on her. Babylon, who was guilty of the blood of prophets and of saints and of all that had been murdered in the earth, was now punished.
After the judgment of Babylon, the wedding of the Lamb is announced.
[NB: the wedding of the Lamb is announced after the destruction of Babylon, not during nor before].
The Lamb's fiance has made herself ready. Those who are invited to the wedding-reception are described as blessed indeed.
John sees a white horse, and the rider on the horse is named, "Faithful and True". He judges and wages war righteously. His eyes are like a flame of fire and on His head are many crowns [far more than the number of crowns worn by the animals and elders or by any other entity mentioned in the scroll]. He is clothed in a vest dipped in blood, with a name written on his vest and also on His thigh called, "King of kings and Lord of lords" - and His Name is called "The Word of God".
The armies in heaven follow Him on white horses, clothed in fine, white, clean linen. Out of His mouth goes a sharp sword with which He smites the nations, then rules them with a rod of iron.
It is now time for the kings who survived Babylon's judgment to be judged. John hears another angel bidding all the scavenger-birds of the earth to come to the supper which the great God was preparing. The kings of the earth and the evil animal wage war against the Lord and against his heavenly army. The result is that the animal and the false prophet are captured, and both of them are thrown alive into a lake of fire. All other surviving kings and the masses of wicked men are killed by the sword of the Lord. All the scavenger-birds of the earth then have a satisfying feast of human flesh!
Then an angel comes down out of heaven and lays hold on the dragon - that old snake, called the Devil, and Satan - and the angel chains the dragon up, unlocks the bottomless pit and throws him in - and locks him in, never to deceive the nations again for a thousand years.
The souls of martyred witnesses for Jesus, live and sit on thrones, reigning with Christ for a thousand years. Other dead people don't experience their resurrection until after the one thousand years - it is only those who had been beheaded for their Christian faith and who had not worshipped the animal nor his idolatrous statue who will take part in this first resurrection. They are blessed and holy. The "second death" will have no jurisdiction over them.
[NB: Perhaps those faithful Christians who died a natural death without having been martyred by the animal may be included in this resurrection also.]
When the thousand years are expired, Satan is freed from his prison. He promptly goes out to deceive the nations of the world - Gog and Magog - and gathers them together for a final war. The number of troops that amasses around the camp of the saints is as innumerable as the sand of the sea - they lay siege against the beloved city. But fire comes down from God out of heaven and obliterates them.
The devil who deceived them is thrown into the lake of fire (where the animal and the false prophet had already been thrown). The devil will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Next, John sees a large, white throne, and he sees Him who sits on it - He from whose face the earth and heaven flee away - they cannot endure His presence. Every single dead person, without exception, stands in front of God at this moment. The sea yields-up the dead who are in it; even death and hell itself yield-up the dead who are in them.
The scrolls will be opened - scrolls in which every individual's deeds have been written. Every individual is judged in terms of what is written in the scrolls concerning their deeds. And whoever was not found included in the scroll of Life, was thrown into the lake of fire. This is called the "second death".
Finally, John sees a new heaven and a new earth, because by this juncture in history, the old heaven and old earth had passed away.
He sees the holy city - new Jerusalem - coming down from God out of heaven, like a bride adorned for her husband.
He hears a loud voice from heaven announcing that God is now living with mankind. God shall wipe away all tears; there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, nor pain - all these things have now passed away forever.
Sitting on His throne, God says to John, "Behold, I make all things new."
John is then given some concluding remarks: Eternal life is available to everyone who desires it. It is promised that any individual who overcomes will inherit absolutely everything. But those who are fearful, unbelieving, disgusting, murderers, who visit prostitutes, who practise witchcraft, who worship idols, and all liars, shall have their place in the lake of fire - which is the second death.
One of the seven angels which had the seven small medicine-glasses offers to show John a picture of the bride, the Lamb's wife. She has the glory of God, and is splendid. She is the new Jerusalem. Her gates are inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel; her foundations are inscribed with the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Only they which are included in the Lamb's scroll of life can enter into it. Everyone else is described as dogs.
John was also shown a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. The Lamb's servants shall reign with Him forever and ever. The qualification for inheriting eternal life is to do Christ's commandments.
Jesus then tells John that all these things will happen very soon.
It is the role of the Spirit and the bride to invite all who are thirsty to come.
A warning is given that any individual who either adds to or takes away from the words of the prophecy contained in this scroll, will have all of the plagues mentioned in this scroll added to him, and his name taken out of the scroll of Life.
Finally, Jesus says, "Surely I come quickly." And the bride responds, "Even so, come Lord Jesus!"
The reader is offered the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Posted by John at 5:39 pm