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Understanding the Book of Revelation

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Understanding the Book of Revelation

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Unrest grows daily around the world. Terrorism mounts. Bad news increases, while good news is increasingly scarce. Conditions worsen daily!

Man has tapped the power of the atom. Science and technology have seemingly run amok, producing more horrific new inventions. Now, more and more countries possess weapons of mass destruction. This danger is compounded because mistrust and strife between nations has never been greater.

Also, human decadence and immorality, famine, disease, racism and competition among ethnic rivals, and crime and violence are exploding. Where are these downward trends leading? Will human life survive?

What does the future hold? All want to know. Many have opinions, but few recognize where to find the answers. Others think they understand the prophecies of the Bible—and this is probably most true of the book of Revelation.

Yet all popular human interpretations of this book, at best, border on ridiculous. They are a complete jumble of ideas where a little truth is mixed with much error! They are almost painful to read—yet major magazines report that great numbers do believe these dangerous, counterfeit scenarios.

What is the truth about prophecy? What does the Bible really say about events preceding Christ’s Return? His disciples wanted to know. They asked Him, “What shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world [age]?”

Sobering world conditions make this question loom larger than ever before. Nothing that has occurred over the past 6,000 years even remotely compares to what is yet to come upon this world!

The Bible foretells a time of world peace, happiness, abundance and universal prosperity. Many may think there is no hope for this world—but there is! Wonderful good news lies beyond today’s bad news. The great Creator God will soon intervene and save humanity from itself.

But before this occurs, world trouble will greatly increase—intensifying to staggering proportions. This will be followed by unexpected and cataclysmic events that will shake the whole world! Civilization as we know it will forever change.

But God has not left mankind without a source of answers that reveals in detail what lies ahead. Tragically, believing things will eventually “turn out alright,” many hide their eyes, choosing to pursue pleasure and the accumulation of material goods. But for the short term, things will not turn out alright. World conditions are—and will become—far more serious than most realize.

God understands human nature and where it always leads when left to its own devices. This allows Him to know, and to guide, the awesome future events that will occur from now on!

It has become God’s time to reveal what lies ahead. The stage is set and He has lifted the curtain on the future. This world must be warned while there is still time! And so must you be warned. Revelation describes soon-coming terrible plagues and world-shattering—truly earth-shaking—events! Take heed. If you do, you can escape them (Luke 21:36).

Mystery Book

Signs, seals, symbols, vials, visions, trumpets, thrones, plagues, angels, beasts, heads, horns, witnesses, woes, wars, numbers, multitudes, messages and mystery! Revelation contains all of these terms. But what do they mean?

Most believe that the book of Revelation is sealed, closed from understanding. It is called a mystery book without meaning. Yet it is an entire book of important—vital—meaning. It is filled with answers. The above terms can be unlocked! They can be understood—and my eye-opening booklet Revelation Explained at Last! contains the necessary keys!

You will be intrigued—even fascinated—by the clarity of what can be known from the book of Revelation. Events are building to a final culmination—a tremendous CLIMAX! You can know them.

One-third of the Bible is prophecy—the future written in advance! The Bible is approximately 750,000 words, with about 250,000 devoted to many, many prophecies. Almost half the books of the Old Testament are included in either the so-called “major” (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) or “minor” prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Micah, etc.).

The apostle Paul explained that the New Testament Church was “…built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20). Recognize that, since the Church stands on the words of the prophets, Christians must understand prophecy. If God commands men to “live by every word of God” (Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4; Deut. 8:3), He would not exclude the full third that is prophecy!

The prophet Daniel spoke of a time when “…many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (12:4). Then, speaking of the end time, he said, “…the wise shall understand (vs. 10).

Christ directly paraphrased Daniel in the New Testament Olivet prophecy. This is where He answered the disciples’ question about the sequence of events to occur at “the end of the age.” He reinforced Daniel’s statements about those events by saying, “Whoso reads, let him understand” (Matt. 24:15).

God has opened up—revealed! —to His servants what lies ahead. He wants you to understand. He does not want you confused, ignorant or fearful of the future.

Then what are the wise to understand? Important keys exist, which open up Bible prophecies. But the world knows nothing of them! No wonder so many claim that the meaning of Revelation cannot be explained. How could they understand without the keys?

Imagine. Forty-two percent of Americans actually believe that they can consult the dead about matters involving the future. But mankind refuses to seek and consult GOD. Only He can reveal the future. Mankind cannot, through intelligence, human reasoning or scientific discovery, know or discern events to come. And many “religious” people believe that the book of Revelation offers no help anyway, because it cannot be understood.

But God is working out a supreme Master Plan, involving every human being. However, Daniel 12:10 adds, “…but none of the wicked shall understand,” because God will not reveal His plans to those who do not obey Him!

Psalm 111:10 says, “A good understanding have all they that DO His commandments.” God only gives understanding to those who do what He says!

Revelation Means a Revealing

After Daniel finished recording the prophecy, he asked God to explain what it meant. Though Daniel was used to record the book, even he did not understand it (12:8): “I heard, but I understood not.” God answered, “Go your way…the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (vs. 9 – the Moffatt translation is even stronger by rendering this “till the crisis at the close”).

While Daniel was not allowed to understand it, those who live in the time of the end can! And we have seen that the wise DO!

This awesome revelation of future events was sealed with seven separate seals. It is crucial to understand another key point: The seven seals in God’s hand essentially span all but the last two chapters of the book! The seven seals are opened one by one, in sequence. Each reveals future events before they happen. Only Christ is qualified to remove the seven seals and open the book to understanding.

The Greek word apocalypse is translated “revelation.” This English word actually means to reveal—not conceal, hide, veil or close up. The dictionary definition of revelation is: “The act of revealing or disclosing; something revealed, especially a dramatic disclosure of something not previously known or realized.”

In the first verse of the book, the apostle John recorded Christ’s words, “The Revelation of Jesus Christto show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass.” Near the end of the book, Revelation 22:10 states, “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

Comprehend John’s words. The time for understanding the book of Revelation IS now at hand!

God reveals a basic framework for understanding future events. This framework is primarily laid out in Daniel and Revelation. Daniel, recorded over 600 years earlier, sets the stage for the larger and more detailed book of Revelation, which describes events found nowhere else in the Bible.

Revelation outlines a long series of events that relate to one another in a continuous flow—comprising an entire story. These occur in order of time sequence. (The center of the Revelation Explained at Last! booklet contains two overview graphs—an outline and a story flow—to which the reader may occasionally refer.) Also, Christ periodically insets certain events into the course of the Revelation. You now understand the first key to unlock the book!

Grasp this central, all-important point. While there are keys to understanding Revelation, the book itself is the single greatest key to understanding almost all other prophecies in the Bible!

The Signs of Christ’s Coming Parallel the Seven Seals

One of the basic rules of Bible study is to always let the Bible interpret itself. This is probably never truer than in the book of Revelation. This will be done as we progress through the opening of the seven seals.

Since John sees many symbols, we need to be able to understand the actual events that they represent. Otherwise, we will not know what is being described.

How do we do this?

Mark 4:10-12 and Matthew 13:10-15 hold another key to understanding how Christ teaches. In both places, He explained that He spoke in parables so that His true servants would understand Him—but others would not! Carefully read these verses: “And when He was alone, they that were about Him with the twelve asked of Him the parable. And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them” (Mark 4:10-12).

Note exactly what Christ said! Only His servants could understand His real meaning. Others might think they do—but they cannot!

Christ never leaves His servants in the dark about matters He wants them to understand. But He does record them in ways that keep them hidden from the view of all others. This will help you see why so few understand a book that has been read by so many.

We have already touched upon the principle that the “wicked” (the unrighteous) do not understand events at the close of the age. But those who have God’s Spirit (Acts 5:32; John 16:13) will understand. Only through God’s Spirit leading those that are obeying Him can they understand the truth. Recognizing and accepting these two verses is of vital importance to every reader of the book of Revelation. All who do not seek to obey God, while they may sincerely seek to understand the many truths of Bible prophecy, are wasting their time.

Jesus explained, in plain, clear language, the key events of the last days preceding and leading to the time of His Second Coming. Remember, Jesus’ disciples asked Him privately, “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world [age]?” (Matt. 24:3; Luke 21:7).

We must briefly examine the critical Matthew 24 chapter for vital clues, which explain the symbols that we will study in Revelation. Christ gave a list of six different events that are to happen before His Second Coming. They precisely parallel what we will read beginning in Revelation 6.

First—false prophets and false christs (vs. 5). Second—wars (vs. 6) throughout the age, culminating in the end time with world war (vs. 7). Third—famines (vs. 7). Fourth—pestilences (vs. 7). It is at this point that Christ inserted a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, in AD 70, because this was a forerunner, or type, of the yet future siege of Jerusalem and final “battle of Armageddon” (review Matthew 24:17-28 with Luke 17:30-37). Therefore, Matthew 24:9-28 (also Luke 21:12-24) applies to the period of AD 70—but only as a forerunning type of the final time of the end to which His warning refers literally!

Fifth, in Matthew 24:21-22, Christ explains that the Great Tribulation occurs. Sixth are the Heavenly Signs (vs. 29)—when the stars fall and the sun and moon are darkened. The sign of Christ’s coming (vs. 30) occurs at this same time. His actual coming is right on the heels of it.

(To learn more, read my booklet Revelation Explained at Last!)

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