In order to provide the reader with a basic understanding of Revelation, the following is being presented here as an overview or summary of that most essential and final book of Scripture. It should also be noted that certain other books of Scripture must also be studied in conjunction with Revelation - revealing additional details for a full understanding of the Revelation events.
First of all, it is not "Revelations" as some people erroneously refer to it. It's called "Revelation" - the unveiling of events leading to the second coming and revealing of Jesus Christ. It is the culmination of prophecy - the point at which all the prophecies of the ages converge and find their ultimate fulfillment.
Approximately 60 years after Jesus ascended into heaven, He appeared suddenly to the apostle John on the island of Patmos in circa 95 A.D., where John had been exiled for his faith. Jesus commissioned John to write the things he had seen (the past), the things which are (during John’s time), and the things which will take place after this (the future). The “things which will take place” are exactly that...future, and are not to be allegorized or spiritualized in any way, nor are they a recording of any past history. All of the final future events will happen just as our Omniscient God had planned from ages past.
Chapter 1 briefly describes those "things John had seen" - the past.
Chapters 2 and 3 detail "those things which are" - existing in John's time, and many continue today.
Chapters 4 through 22 reveal the "things which will take place" - the future.
In a vision John was allowed to look down through the corridor of time to chronologically record the final future events of prophecy that must take place. At the present time, we are living out the last few verses of Revelation chapter 3.
Chapter 4 pictures the rapture of the redeemed, blood bought, Bible believing people of the church age, and the worshipful gathering in the magnificent throne room of heaven.
The rapture of the church is specifically illustrated in Revelation 4:1, the rapture is imminent, and could very well be the next major prophetic event on God’s end-time schedule. Its purpose is to quickly and suddenly remove all born again believers (Bride of Christ) from the earth to safety in heaven, while the end-time judgments fall on mankind. Scriptures promise that His Bride, the body of true believers, will not be here to suffer through His tribulation judgments.
It is important to note that immediately following the rapture, there will not be a Bible believing Christian anywhere on the planet. However, along with the obvious unbelievers, there will be many others here who thought they were Christians, but were ensnared in a non-biblical “faith plus good works”, or, an entirely “works based” denomination or religious system – in a futile attempt to earn their salvation and gain favor with God. Their hope had been in the church with its traditions and rituals, and not by faith alone in Jesus, Who died in their stead - paying the full penalty for all sin if they only had believed and confessed Him as Lord of their life. Sadly, because of their unbelief, those folks will face the horrible tribulation years.
Chapter 5 declares that the Lamb (Jesus Christ) is the only One who can be found worthy to open the seals of judgment that are about to occur on the unbelieving world.
Chapters 6 through 18 detail the 21 judgments (7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls – each progressively more severe) that will take place during seven years of tribulation, or more precisely, during Daniel’s Seventieth Week.
Also within those chapters, the supernatural ministry of the two witnesses is presented. The God-anointed 144,000 Jews called to preach the saving gospel to the world are announced. The rise to power of the antichrist and the false prophet will take place – bringing total control of world economic, religious, and government systems. The mark of the beast is introduced – bringing death (beheading) to those who refuse to submit. A great multitude of new believers is pictured in heaven – all martyred for their faith.
Chapter 19 pictures the awesome scene of Christ's second coming to earth in great power and glory to destroy the armies formed against Him – and bringing His own armies (angels and His previously raptured bride) with Him.
Chapter 20 describes satan being bound for 1000 years, Christ's millennial reign on earth, satan being cast into the lake of fire, and finally, the great white throne judgment – reserved for all the unbelievers of all time. You would not want to be at that judgment.
Chapters 21 and 22 picture a new heaven and new earth, and beautifully detail the New Jerusalem descending down out of heaven, as well as the River of Life flowing out from the throne of God. Chapter 22 ends with words of comfort, words of warning, and finally, the closing benediction.
Soon after the rapture, the final seven years of time as we know it will begin. Those final years during Daniel’s Seventieth Week are when God will turn His full attention toward Israel and the Jewish people. A Jewish remnant will ultimately fall on their knees in true repentance - finally realizing and believing that Jesus is their true Messiah. One third of the Jewish people alive at the mid-point of those years will believe and will be spared to enter the millennial kingdom. Remember that the raptured church had been taken to heaven earlier, and is not mentioned anywhere in Scripture during the tribulation judgment years of Revelation 6 through 18.
Specific details of events taking place during the tribulation (chapters 6 through 18) are far too numerous and extensive to discuss in this writing. However, it will be a terrible time - designed to bring the earth and its inhabitants under submission. Our Lord warned that the world will see a time of tribulation as was not since the beginning, nor ever shall be again (Matt. 24:21).
As an example, just two of the 21 judgments will result in the death of one half of the world’s population. Based on today’s world population estimates, the dead from those two judgments will number over 3 billion people! However, that is only part of the horror unbelievers must face. In addition, untold numbers will die worldwide from the wars, famine, disease, plagues, violence and killing, environmental and other supernatural disasters, and from Christ’s destruction of the world’s armies that are poised to destroy Him, Israel, and the Jewish people during the stages of the Armageddon campaign.
Scripture teaches that huge numbers of people will come to salvation during the tribulation years. They will be those who prior to that time had never heard, nor understood the gospel message, and had never been convicted of their spiritually lost condition. All those who had previously heard and understood, but had never committed their life to the Lord, will receive a strong delusion to believe the lie of the antichrist – causing them to be lost forever.
However, most of the new tribulation believers, if not all of them, will be sought out and killed (beheaded) for their new faith, and for refusing to receive the mark of the beast and bow down to him. Just imagine yourself facing that situation. If your only choice was either to denounce your faith or die immediately, would your faith stand up to that test? During the tribulation untold numbers of people will have the faith strength to stand firm, and receive their heavenly reward.
Jesus also said there would be signs warning that the time of His return is very near. Scripture (Matt. 24:8) calls them birth pangs that must happen before the main event. So many things are unfolding today exactly as foretold, and they are increasing in frequency and intensity - just as with the pains of labor.
Every day we hear about chaotic weather, natural disasters, earthquakes in diverse places, violence, wars, apostasy, disease, immorality, rejection of God's Word, hatred toward the Jewish people, persecution of Christians, corruption, financial collapse, Israel’s existence threatened, planning for a New World Order...just to name a few of the events and conditions spoken of in Scripture.
Today, there are increasing numbers of “Christians” who deny that we are anywhere close to the end-times, or, that any such a time period could even exist. However, such thinking is in itself a fulfillment of end-time prophecy, and is a denial of Scripture Truth. Many of those “Christians” may be claiming Christianity in name only – without a true repentant faith. They are likely pleased with their secular world-view existence, and Jesus is not Lord of their life. Sadly, they are not spiritually ready for their upcoming face to face meeting with Almighty God.
2 Peter 3:3-4 NASB
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."
Jesus warned that when we see ALL these things happening, then know His return is very near (Matt. 24:33). It is true that some of those things spoken of have been happening throughout all of past history. However, at no time in history have ALL of them happened together as seen today, nor have they ever existed with such frequency and intensity – just as Scripture foretold would happen in the last days. We are certainly living in a most unique and exciting time.
The first seal judgment of Revelation 5 could be opened tomorrow – beginning Daniel’s Seventieth Week. As outlined here, the rapture must occur first, and that could happen today. Are you prepared for that exciting moment? Are you ready to meet Him face to face? Will He return to find you expectantly watching and waiting for Him? If Jesus is truly the Savior, Lord and Master of your life...then, you will be ready.
A final invitation to receive eternal salvation is given in the Scripture as recorded in Revelation 22:17. It is an urgent plea from the Holy Spirit and the bride of Christ to a hurting, lost, and dying world.
Revelation 22:17 KJV
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
In that Scripture, God compassionately declares, “Your spiritual thirst is crying out, ‘I want to be satisfied.’ Believe in Me; come to Me and drink freely of the Living Water. Whosoever will...please come!”
I would urge you to reach out to receive Him into your life today. Tomorrow might be too late. Confess that Jesus is Lord of all, believe with your heart that He died and rose again – for you, and reach out by faith alone to receive the gift of eternal life He has promised!
Make no mistake about it. We are living in the final seconds of the final hour before His return. When He comes I know I will be ready to go. My way has been paid in full, my ticket is in order, my bags are packed, and I am waiting to hear that glorious trumpet sound!
Don, thank you for putting the Book of Revelation into a nice simple format. One that I can share with many. God Bless your soul for telling it like it is. I am afraid too many don't want to hear it . . . but we both know they must, lest they shall perish.