The Masterpiece: the Book of Revelation
The Masterpiece of Literature
Without the Book of Revelation, the other sixty-five books – Genesis to Jude – do not present a clear outline of End Time prophecy. Each writer gives us a beautiful part of the whole, but these parts were never meant to finish the story. The Bible must be rightly divided, with every book and every writer set together in harmony to finish the whole. The glorified Son of God chose John the apostle to be His writer and then gave John the revelation in precise order to put the whole of End Time truth in an exact outline just as it will occur. This book is God’s model of perfect fulfillment as the Lord Himself has ordered. Any Bible student that ignores this book and its order will be helpless to teach or preach prophecy.
There is a masterpiece of order in this Book of Revelation. The flow of each chapter follows a design that makes the book easy to understand, but only if you follow the pattern. To move at random in the reading or studying will confuse you completely. Our God is an orderly Creator and His revelations are pure and precise. It is evident that His Holy Spirit and His angels that assisted in this great revelation were acting at His command. The whole twenty-two chapters give us a masterpiece of literature unparalleled. The text itself sets the perfect moment when future revelations begin. He said to John, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (Revelation 4:1). From this point forward, nothing can be interpreted as historic or occurring prior to the church in Heaven at the Rapture.
The order of the names ascribed to His saints truly documents the flow of the story. Also, the description of the Son of God and the names given in each revelation follow a beautiful pattern. We will look at these two facts after we view a model of the entire book. First, let’s look at that model of the entire book and set the outline for us to follow. I believe this model will clear up a lot of confusion and help you get a broad picture to be used in your study time. (See model on opposite page.) Let’s review each of the ten sections in this pattern and build a plan to illustrate this great book of the Bible. Remember it is a story that Jesus is conveying to us.
Revelation One: This is the introduction to the whole book and gives us a breathtaking description of the Son of God. There are forty-two different titles or descriptive word pictures of Him in this first chapter. The different descriptions of Him in His glory are repeated in the seven letters to the churches. Each church letter only included a part of that vision so that all seven letters become a complete repeat of Him as seen in chapter one. More will be said about this in the forthcoming articles on chapters one, two and three.
Revelation Two and Three: Seven letters to the seven churches in Asia were never meant to be limited to those seven churches. These are letters for the churches universal and until the church is caught up to the throne. The seven churches all existed in John’s day and models of each exist today. The seven historical time periods will be described in chapters two and three and in contents of each of the seven churches and periods.
These letters are the last love letters and warnings from Jesus Christ to the body of Christ. They should be read, studied, and preached with vigor and joy. The church was commended because they did not tolerate false teachers and exposed them with great dedication. The call to holiness and separation was dynamic. The church, true to the meaning of the Word, is a called-out company, set in authority to conduct the business of the Lord of His church. These two chapters of Revelation (two and three), are the beautiful story of the church, both its strength and promises and its weaknesses and failure. His love for the church is in itself a divine story.
Revelation Four and Five: The church is never called “the church” after Revelation four and verse one but once. That was a warning intended to speak to us before the actual beginning of events after chapter four or as we read and study this great revelation. The saints are immediately given a new title as this chapter is presented. We will be His elders and are called elders every instance from Revelation four to Revelation nineteen and verse fourteen. This is absolute proof that the saints will be caught up in fulfillment of this vision of chapters four and five and before chapter six opens.
We are called elders because we will be His elders in the transactions of the succeeding chapters. We will not just be His saints watching the opening of His seals and the transaction of His judgments; we will be a part of the scene. “Elder” is a marvelous title to describe our activities with the Lord of the church. Adding to that the fact that we are seated on thrones while this vision is unveiled multiplies our involvement with the coming events of the Great Tribulation. The opening of the seven-sealed book in chapter five is preparation for the Tribulation to begin in chapter six. This book is the title deed of the earth and is the document that will determine the past of rest of this “Masterpiece” of God’s full redemption story.
Revelation Six to Eleven: While chapters four and five are the transcending moments of the celebration of the church victorious and glorified, chapter six starts the eviction of Satan and his spirits and the forthcoming judgment of sin on this earth. Everything contrary to God and His righteousness, absolutely perfect righteousness, has to be fully judged and cleansed from this universe. Chapter six begins that process. While Jesus was seen in glorified splendor in chapters one, two, and three; He is now seen as a slain Lamb performing the judicial acts for the perfect redemption of the created universe. It will be returned to the likeness of the Garden of Eden without even one thorn infested bush or cloud in the sky.
The view in chapters six to eleven covers the whole of the seven years of the Great Tribulation from a Heavenly view. The saints were raptured in the beginning of chapters four and are viewing and participating in this scene from a Heavenly vantage point. First and Second Testament writers prophesied of many great truths that are seen in these chapters. Their chronological order is clearly set forth in the progression we view on the pages of the Holy Scripture in this book. These will be dealt with on a chapter-by-chapter basis.
Revelation Twelve to Sixteen: This covers the same seven years as chapters six to eleven, but from an earthly view. Now, the scene moves to cover the casting out of the devil from the second Heavens and the revealing of Satan as god, the first beast as Antichrist, and the second beast as the false prophet or false anointing. It’s important to see chapter twelve as a repeat of chapter four and following the same period but with an earthly picture of evil incarnate on the earth. The Tribulation Saints, saved after the Rapture, are seen caught up in the first picture while the Jewish converts are seen raptured in the second scene of the same seven years.
Also, in the first picture of the seven years of Tribulation we see the two prophets that could not be killed, but finally allowed by God to be killed and raptured up to Heaven before the watching eyes of the world. In the second picture, we see a remnant of Jews different from the 144,000 that had been sealed also caught up to God (Revelation 15:2-4). Prepare yourself to study each of these chapters one by one.
Revelation Seventeen: The events of this chapter and the next two all occur during the same seven years of Tribulation, but must be viewed separately to fully understand them. This is the picture of the One World Religion that will reign during the seven years. Led by the second beast or the false prophet, or we may call him “the false anointing”, it will be an apostate religion with a “Christian” imitation; totally false. We see this unity religion developing as I write. Doctrine is out, but political correct unity is in. Religion in preparation for this coming seven years must be a smorgasbord of ideas and theologies all equally held and tolerated.
The one idea that will be excluded is Biblical infallibility. The final authority of Scripture is too narrow, the rejection of pagan ideas is too restrictive, the idea of an eternal Lake of Fire is too unmerciful, and any strong standard of God’s commandments is plainly unacceptable. While this broad religion will give great support to the first beast and his One World Government, the two entities will become competitors. The first Beast will declare Babylon the eternal city, while the second beast will declare and defend Rome as the eternal city. The Antichrist will burn the city of Rome and the ecclesiastical system of the One World Religion. When the Antichrist has full worldwide control, he will not need the religious system any longer.
Revelation Chapter Eighteen: The city of Babylon will have finally returned to its great glory, even greater than the past. I believe the palace built by Saddam Hussein overlooking the city of Babylon will soon be the palace of the first beast. He will rule the world from this location. As an Assyrian, he will come to power by flatteries, but rule by the same vicious cruelty as the ancient Assyrians. Babylon has been the center of Satan’s activities since the beginning. The great prophets of the First Testament, especially Isaiah and Jeremiah, prophesied of this revival of Babylon’s mysticism and religious debauchery.
Since Babylon moved its dark religion to Rome as a deceptive action and faded off the radar, Satan has longed the recapture its original glory or his capital. The devil moved Saddam to start the process. The last tour and singing album by the Rolling Stones was entitled, “Back to Babylon.” Who better than a demon-possessed singing group to call for a return to Ancient Babylon? The defeat of Saddam Hussein and the present struggle to establish a democracy in Iraq shows the perfect timing of Biblical prophecy. The entire region of Babylon will be totally obliterated and become a desolate wasteland during the future Millennium of Jesus Christ. It will be the location of the Lake of Fire.
Revelation Chapter Nineteen: This chapter covers more than one subject, but the central theme is the Marriage Supper. The greatest event in Heaven and in the city of New Jerusalem during the seven years of the Great Tribulation is this wedding. The Son of God will be the Bridegroom and the firstfruits of the raptured saints will be His Bride.
I believe the banquet hall is in the city foursquare that John saw in chapters twenty-one and twenty-two. That city will not descend to the earth until after the Millennium or the one thousand year reign of Jesus Christ has concluded. Yet, the Bride at the marriage will meet her Bridegroom in the city and will be awarded their reward and mansion at some point before we descend to earth at the Battle of Armageddon.
The saints that return with Christ in glorified bodies will be fully capable to ascend and descend between the city and the earth. We will reign with Him over the earth from both our Heavenly mansion and our earthly dwelling. The seven years of the Great Tribulation will end when we return with Christ as His army to defeat the devil, his two beasts, and his army of the wicked marked with the “Mark of the Beast.” Jesus Christ has been called the “Lamb” or the “Lamb of God” from Revelation four and five to the point where He descends with His saints to defeat the Antichrist and establish His kingdom on earth. This is another great proof of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. The Lord of the church is wonderfully present in Revelation one, two, and three; and immediately becomes the Lamb of God revealed as a judicially victorious judge in chapter four to chapter nineteen. This chapter ends with the great Battle of Armageddon. The Son of God will return to this earth in all His glory to reign as King of Kings.
Revelation Twenty: This great chapter covers the judgment of the devil and his being cast bound into the bottomless pit. He will be out of commission for one thousand years, which is the great time of Christ’s Millennium on earth. That is a wonderful period where the faithful saints are given their geographical dominion over the earth. We will reign with Him over this universe and enjoy a glorious Millennium of purity, peace, and prosperity. But the focus event of this chapter will be the Great White Throne Judgment that follows the One Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ.
The wicked dead will know nothing of the Great Marriage Supper, our eldership with Christ during the Tribulation Period, or our reign with Him as kings and priests on earth. Their resurrection is a resurrection of damnation that occurs right before the New Heaven and New Earth is revealed to the saints. Bodies of damnation suggest that every evil, rebellion, or wickedness known in life will be manifest in their resurrection. These are bodies that live forever in the Lake of Fire and are filled with every appetite of the flesh and of the evil spirits they have followed. They will see the saints ready to enter into Heaven’s eternal joys, but they will be barred at the door. As they are judged, the Book of Life with all its promises will be there; but the search for their name will be filled with great consternation. Trembling and great emotional sobs will fill the air, but mercy will be absent. The two kingdoms – darkness and light – will have finished their campaigns of conversions. The die is cast and the eternal future for all souls is settled. It’s New Jerusalem and the New Heaven and New Earth, or it’s the Lake of Fire, an insane asylum for eternity.
Revelation Twenty-One and Twenty-Two: It’s over! Eternity has finally begun. Sin is history, the devil is in the Lake of Fire never to worry or bother another angel or soul again. His last hoorah was a failure. Everything he labored to accomplish, along with his false Christ and false prophet, is utterly destroyed. His kingdom of darkness is no more. The devil will have the darkest hole in the Lake of Fire for all eternity.
But, the saints have just begun to live. The New Heaven and the New Earth is a worldwide Garden. The entire cosmos is in perfect peace and there is no one to break the peace. Sickness and disease are forever removed, death is a forgotten dark dream, and all tears are washed away. The Father and His Son are the Light of the world, and they are present to enjoy and be enjoyed.
To crown this New Heaven and New Earth is a golden city fifteen hundred miles square and fifteen hundred miles high. It descends from God out of Heaven. Twelve foundations and twelve levels give us living space just in the city of 27,000,000 square miles. There will be no vast oceans on the New Earth, plus the great New Heaven will give us an enlarged world to enjoy. It will be space to spare as we live in an unspotted world full of saints and angels all enjoying the Father and His Son.
What a revelation fills the pages of this masterpiece. Its organization is unparalleled and its message is the hope of the ages. Some people read this book and only view the thorns of evil and judgment. But, every thorn has a rose beside it and every judgment has redemption in its finish. Sin must be forever vanquished and to do so cannot be all beauty. This book answers the question of the doubters and fills the bosom of the believers with unspoiled assurance. After we view the progression of the titles given to His saint and the progression of the names assigned to our Lord, we will take each chapter verse-by-verse to watch a New Heaven and a New Earth unfold in the end. What a story this masterpiece presents.