The Book of Revelation: A Summary

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So with everything that’s going on in the world and in Israel, most Christians are asking the question, ‘Are we in the end times?’ ‘Is this the Apocalypse that John wrote about in the Book of Revelation?’ Well, I don’t know the answer to that question, but I have read the Bible and listened to a few teachers and preachers. One of my favorites, Dr. Randall Smith, said that in the Book of Revelation, ‘John explained in order what the prophets Isaiah and Joel only explained in bits and pieces’.

Instead of looking for a black and white answer, it’s better to read the Book of the Apocalypse yourself and try to figure out where we are. I’m not certain where we are; it’s a bit too complicated for me to understand yet. But I did end up making a chapter by chapter summary of that book at the end of the Bible. If you can’t make time to read this book of John or find it too complicated, here are my notes. Let me know what you think.

Chapter 1: John Sees the Exalted Jesus

John is exiled on the island of Patmos when he saw this vision and although he’s writing the book to the seven churches of Asia, he’s actually only performing the act of a scribe writing the words that the Savior tells him. When John sees Jesus in this vision, he sees him in the middle of seven golden candlesticks wearing a robe with a golden girdle. His hair was white as wool and eyes like a flame of fire; and His voice sounded like rushing waters. Jesus’ mouth was a two-edged sword, His countenance shone like the sun, and in His right hand He held seven stars. (Rev 1:12-16)

The seven candlesticks are the seven churches and the seven stars are the angels assigned to the churches. It’s important to note here that although John wrote to these ancient churches in Asia Minor, but the context also refers to modern churches.

Chapter 2: Letters to the First 4 Churches

Apart from being real churches that existed 2000 years ago, the seven churches in Asia are also representative of the Christian churches in the modern age. He praises them for some things and chastises them for other. Ephesus is praised for their works, but they need to come back to their first love, which is Abba. To the persecuted in Smryna, He reminds them of what will come in the hereafter. Pergamos, the Lord commends for standing strong but rebukes for allowing false teachers and false doctrine into their midst. Thyatira is commended for their works and faith, but is condemned for allowing Jezebelic agents to enter the church and turn people to idolatry and sexual immorality.

Chapter 3: Letters to the Other 3 Churches

Sardis is chastised for backsliding and for being spiritually dead. Philadelphia is encouraged because it has faithful despite not being strong enough. This is also the part that contains the oft quoted verse (Rev 3:8) where the Lord says in “I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” Abba opens doors for us that no earthly power can.

Laodicea on the other hand is lukewarm and asked to repent so that it might be “as gold tried in the furnace” that is cleansed and true. (Rev 3:18)

Chapter 3 is also important because in verse 10, Jesus tells those who are saved that they will be kept from the hour of temptation aka the tribulation that is soon to come. The verse states, “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”

How will they not have to go through the tribulation? They will go up in the rapture. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul says that all believers will meet the Lord Jesus in the air and will be with Him forever. In 1 Thessalonians 5:9, he also said, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” What wrath? The wrath of God that will be poured out during the tribulation period, which occurs during the seventieth seven year period that Daniel talks about in Chapter 9. It’s during this period that believers will still be persecuted by unbelievers, but the focal part of this tribulation is where God pours out His wrath on the unbelievers. (Matthew 24:21)

Chapter 4: John is taken to Heaven in the Vision

The age of the church has ended and John is taken to heaven in the Spirit and sees how glorious Our God is and the 7 spirits of God. He also sees the 24 elders worshipping him and casting their crowns before him, and four beasts surrounding the throne that praise Abba day and night.

Rev 4:1 is also important because of the hidden meaning in the verse. When the heavens open and John is called up, he hears the sound of a trumpet. This is symbolic of the rapture of the church that will happen before the tribulation. More details on why the rapture will be pre-tribulation can be found here in this post by Iain Gordon and Brett Wilton.

Chapter 5: The Scroll

On the right hand side of the Father, was a scroll with seven seals that no man in heaven or earth was worthy to open. But then the Lamb that was Slain, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David (Rev 4:6) was found worthy to open the scroll. This lamb had “seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” All of Heaven rejoices and worships Jesus, the Lamb.

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Chapter 6: Six Seals are Opened

Six seals of judgement are opened, and each of them unleash different calamities and disasters on the earth – war, famine, earthquakes, stars falling from the skies (maybe asteroids). Over 1/3rd of the earth is destroyed and over 1/3rd of the people are killed. The souls of the martyrs and slain cried out from under God’s altar for vengeance. (Rev 6:9-10)

Chapter 7: Sealed Chosen ones of Israel

There is a pause before the seventh seal is opened. 12,000 from each tribe of Israel are marked by Abba to do his work in the end times. These 144,000 of the Children of Israel are sealed on their foreheads to protect them from earthly governments or earthly judgement. In verses 9 to 17, John also sees the multitudes who were saved from the tribulation dressed in robes made white with the blood of the Lamb and worshipping God.

Chapter 8: the Seventh Seal is Opened and the first Four Trumpets Sound

When the Seventh Seal is opened, Heaven goes silent for half an hour. This seal brings forth the 7 Trumpets of Judgement. The first trumpet released hail and fire on the earth, a third of the trees that were left were destroyed, and all of the grass was burnt up.

The second trumpet turned the sea to blood and destroyed a third of the sealife and ships. The third trumpet led to a star called Wormwood destroying the rivers. A third part of the sun, moon and stars were also darkened.

Chapter 9: the Fifth and Sixth Trumpets Sound

The fifth trumpet releases locust-like creatures from the bottomless pit. These torment anyone who has not been sealed by God for 5 months. People now try to kill themselves, but they cannot die. And yet people did not repent of stealing, murder and drugs – the depravity of man continues.

Chapter 10: John does not want to see the Rest

John doesn’t want to see any more, but he has to. An angel makes him eat a scroll that is sweet in his mouth and bitter in his belly, and tells him that he has to prophecy everything he saw ‘again’.

Chapter 11: The Two Witnesses (Most Probably Elijah and Moses/Enoch)

Two old testament prophets come back to prophesy for 1260 days to the (Jewish) people and no one can harm them. Dr. Randall Smith and Tim LaHaye says that it’s most probably Moses and Elijah because those are the only two who the children of Israel will believe, and they’re the two who were present at Jesus’s transfiguration. Dr. David Reagan however believes that it will be Enoch and Elijah. Many others agree with this because in Revelation 11:4 they’re the two who are the olive trees and the candlesticks standing before God, and are also the only two prophets who didn’t die but were translated to Heaven.

After this time, the beast is released from the pit and kills them. Their bodies lie in the street on display and the ones who still sin are rejoicing. But after 3 days, God sends His Spirit (Ruach Ha’Kodesh) and they come back to life and are taken into heaven. All those that they had converted give God glory. And the seventh trumpet sounds proclaiming the reign of Christ, and all of Heaven falls on their faces and worship God.

Chapter 12: The Vision of the Woman and her Seed

In Revelation 10:7, John is told to ‘prophesy again’ everything that he saw. So he does that in Chapter 12, but starts at the beginning.

12:1 describes a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet and the crown of 12 stars on her head. (This woman is not Mary as some of the Catholic church claims, but rather Israel). Refer to Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:9–10 where he saw the sun (Jacob/Israel), moon (his mother), and 11 stars bow down to him.

Israel, the woman is pregnant with the Messiah, and the dragon (Satan) is waiting to devour him as soon as he’s born. That’s why when Herod heard from the Magi that the Saviour had been born, he ordered the killing of the Jewish children under 2 years of age in Bethlehem (matthew 2:18, Jeremiah 31:15).

Why was this event not recorded by Josephus when some scholars claim that 14,000 or 64,000 babies were killed? Or Medievals like Boccaccio say 144,000 were killed? Because there weren’t that many babies in Bethlehem at the time. According to Professor William F. Albright, with a population of around 300, the number of male children under 2 might have been only 6 or 7, so although it was tragic, it was not noteworthy enough given the other events of the time.

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Anyway, Christ was born, conquered death and was caught up to Heaven. After that is when Satan was cast down to earth by Archangel Michael, the guardian of Israel. (Although he still gets audience in the courts of heaven to bring accusations against the righteous.) But when he’s cast down to earth, Satan persecutes the woman/Israel (Rev 12:13) and makes war with remnant of her seed/Christians (Rev 12:17).

John talks about the second half of the tribulation period (1260 days or 3.5 years) when the children of Israel flee to the wilderness to hide and how the Jews and Christians who resist evil will remain victorious by the blood of the Lamb. This chapter also talks about how Satan attacks God’s chosen, the children of Israel and the Christians who have been grafted in.

Chapter 13: The mark of the Beast and the World Against Israel

Remember in Revelation 10:7, where John is told to ‘prophesy again’. This is another version of what he saw.

The dragon (Satan) gave power to the beast with seven heads and ten horns. The beast is the governments of this world who persecute the Jewish people with the anti-Christ as it’s head. The people of the earth who aren’t written in the Book of Life, those are the ones who worship the beast (live evil, do evil).

The beast reigns (evil governments have power) for 42 months (the same 1260 days in the other chapter aka the first half of the tribulation), even Israel accepts this beast (a government leader who is the anti-Christ) thinking he’s bringing peace. There is lots of speculation about which current government leader it is, but the only thing that’s certain is that he will have Jewish heritage. He needs to be at least 1/4th or 1/8th Jewish to be accepted as a peacemaker/mediator by the Jews. He is fatally wounded and comes back to life, and the world starts to worship him, at which point he blasphemes Abba and the tabernacle of God (in Jerusalem) is desecrated.

After 42 months (first half of tribulation), another beast comes up (the false prophet) and makes more of the people of the earth worship the first beast (anti-Christ). The number of the second beast’s name is ווו (The Hebrew letters Vav Vav Vav) or 666. Speculation is that this is the Pope, the head of the Catholic Church, but it could be anyone who does not serve the One True God.

He does signs, wonders and miracles to deceive the people into accepting the mark of the beast in their right hands or in their foreheads so that you can’t buy or sell without it. It’s not far-fetched, embedded chips for cashless payments by swiping your wrist are already being trialled in some countries.

Chapter 14: The Seal of Protection removed from the 144,000 Jews

John sees the Lamb of God standing on Mount Zion surrounded by the 144,000 sealed Jewish Martyrs. These are the Jewish believers that were converted by Elijah and Moses/Enoch after the tribulation has begun and sealed for protection by God. They completed their work of evangelising the Jewish community around the world during the first three and a half years of the Tribulation and then the seal of protection is removed from them. While the newer Jewish believers find shelter in the desert to escape the anti-Christ, these 144,000 cannot. They are martyred and redeemed from the earth (Rev 14:3). They sing a song to God that no other man can ever sing.

The angel in Rev 14:14 to 16 talks to Jesus of the harvest of the wheat, aka the Christians and Jews who are saved. The angel in Rev 14:17 to 19 asks Jesus to reap the ungodly into the wine press of the wrath of God, this is the judgement on all the unrighteous who are damned. Rev 14:20 describes the scene after the armies of Christ have destroyed the armies that come against Jerusalem. The blood flows to the horses bridle for 1600 furlongs, that’s from Edom to Megiddo. (Refer Isaiah 63:1).

Chapter 15: The Saved in Heaven

Those who had been harvested by Christ in Rev 14:14 to 16 are now in Heaven singing the Moses song of freedom and the song of the Lamb. And the angels in Heaven are preparing for the third round of judgements on the earth, which is the vials or bowls of plagues.

Chapter 16: The Seven Bowls/Vials of Judgement

Chapters 16 through 19 are a more detailed version of the ending half of Chapter 14, or the third round of judgements on the world. Seven angels pour out the vials/bowls of the wrath of God on the earth, each containing a plague like in Moses’ time.

The first vial caused sores on those who had the mark of the beast or worshipped his image. The second vial turned the sea to dead blood, the third vial turned the rivers and fountains to blood, and the fourth vial allowed the sun to scorch the earth. The fifth vial was poured on the seat of the beast and his kingdom fell into darkness, the sixth vial was poured on the Euphrates so that it dried up.

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Then three spirits came out of the mouths of the dragon (Satan), beast and false prophet and went to the world to gather people to fight against Israel (they start to gather in Armageddon/Megiddo). This is because they don’t believe that these things are caused by God, but by Israel, and killing the Jewish people will solve their problems. Yes, humans are crazy.

The angel pours out the seventh vial and the greatest earthquake ever hits the earth and the ‘great city’ is divided in three parts (Some say it’s Rome, some say it’s Jerusalem; some say it’s a physical divide, some say it’s three different warring factions). Babylon is destroyed, islands and mountains disappear, and hail the size of talents fell, but men still continued to blaspheme God. (a talent may have been 30 kg or 60 kg depending on the measurements at the time.)

Chapter 17: The Fall of the Spiritual Babylon

In Rev 16:19, John says Babylon falls, but in this chapter he describes the destruction of both the physical and the spiritual Babylon.

He describes a woman clothed in scarlet and purple, decked with gold and precious stones with a golden cup of abominations in her hand. (Rev 17:3) The woman rides the beast (world systems) and is drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs. (Think of crusades, think of WWII, think of the 144,000, think of the Inqusition, think of those Christians and Jews who will die for their faith in God in the end times.)

If you pay attention to the colors the woman is dressed with in Rev 17:4, you can see the colors she uses in her rituals, and easily identify who this woman is. She still rules from her seat on the seven mountains (Rome). But after everything, the ten kings who were once part of the beast’s empire will turn on the woman (spiritual Babylon) and destroy her.

Chapter 18: World Economic Systems Collapse

After the fall of spiritual Babylon, the world economic systems start to fail and all collapse. As that great kingdom based in the city of Rome burns, the world mourns.

Chapter 19: The Wedding Feast and the Judgement

Heaven is rejoicing and preparing for the marriage supper of the Lamb with the His glorious bride dressed in white, the redeemed and righteous that clung to Abba. The second half of this chapter describes how the Word of God comes with the armies of Heaven on white horses and casts the beast and the dragon and all that had taken the mark into the Lake of Fire, and slays the remnant that had gathered with them in the valley of Megiddo.

Chapter 20: Thousand Year Reign

Satan is bound and cast into the bottomless pit for a thousand years, and the martyrs reign with Christ in peace. But after those thousand years, he’s released and given a chance to test those that are still alive. People will have longer lives at this time, but there are those that weren’t martyred that are still alive on earth. Satan deceives them again and they gather to fight against the saints of God in Jerusalem, but fire comes down from Heaven and devours them. Satan is cast back into the lake of fire with the beast (anti-Christ) and false prophet, permanently this time.

Now the Book of Life is opened and the final judgement takes place. Anyone who’s name is not found in the book is cast into the fire with Satan. Death and hell are also cast into the fire, and ‘there shall be no more death’.

Chapter 21: New Jerusalem

A new heaven and earth now exists where there is no sea. And a new Jerusalem comes down from Heaven and shines with the glory of God. And unlike the old days, there is no temple needed here, because the presence of God himself dwells here with the Lamb. The city does not need the sun or moon because God’s Shekinah glory is the light in it. John describes the golden walls of the city and precious stones adorning it.

Chapter 22: He is Coming Soon

John continues to describe the New Jerusalem, with the river of life flowing out of the throne of God and the trees of life on the sides of the river that are for the healing of the nations. He describes how all of us who are sealed with God’s seal shall minister to him and the Lamb and live forever.

Jesus reminds John to not keep these prophesies hidden but to make them known because He is coming soon.

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Text image reading 'Summary of the Biblical book of Revelation'.
Text image reading 'Summary of the book of Revelation'.

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