"Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Rev 22:7

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Revelation Bible Study Guide

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Revelation 1:1-3Revelation 1:4-6
Revelation 1:7-8Revelation 1:9-11Revelation 1:12-16
Revelation 1:17-18Revelation 1:19-20

Revelation 2-3 IntroRevelation 2:1-7Revelation 2:8-11
Revelation 2:12-17Revelation 2:18-29

Revelation 3:1-6Revelation 3:7-13

Revelation 4:1-4Revelation 4:5-8Revelation 4:9-11

Revelation 5:1-5Revelation 5:6-10Revelation 5:11-14

Zechariah 1:8-21Zechariah 6:1-8Introduction to the Seals
Revelation 6:1-8Revelation 6:9-11Revelation 6:12-17

Revelation 7:1-3Revelation 7:4-8Revelation 7:9-12Revelation 7:13-17

Revelation 8:1-6Revelation 8:7-13

Revelation 9:1-6Revelation 9:7-12Revelation 9:13-15Revelation 9:16-21

Revelation 10:1-3Revelation 10:4-7Revelation 10:8-11

Revelation 11:1-2Revelation 11:3-6Revelation 11:7-13Revelation 11:14-19

Revelation 12:1-4Revelation 12:5-6Revelation 12:7-12Revelation 12:13-17

Revelation 13:1-4Revelation 13:5-8Revelation 13:9-10
Revelation 13:11-15Revelation 13:16-18

Revelation 14:1-5Revelation 14:6-11Revelation 14:12-13
Revelation 14:14-16Revelation 14:17-20

Revelation Flow Chart

Revelation 1:1-3

1a) The Revelation of Jesus Christ

  • Apocalypsis" means to reveal something not known or hidden - to make known a mystery.
  • The Revelation of Jesus is to reveal things previously unknown or not understood about Christ.

1b) which God gave Him to show His servants

  • The Revelation of Jesus Christ is for believers � not unbelievers

1c) things which must shortly take place.

  • The word translated "shortly" is from the Greek word "tachos," which means to happen in rapid succession, or when things are revving up like "birth pangs."

1d) And He sent and signified it by His angel

  • Jesus reveals things to us through "signs" and "symbols" in a message through His angel.

1e) to His servant John

  • The angel gives the Revelation to the apostle John whom Jesus suggested would live to see the Lord's return in John 21:20-23 which John does see in his vision of the Revelation.

2a) who bore witness to the word of God

  • John testified that the Word of God is true in John 21:24.

2b) and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.

  • The testimony of Jesus Christ is the "spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10). "This means that prophecy at its very heart is designed to unfold the beauty and loveliness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the present age, therefore, the Spirit of God is not only to glorify Christ but to show believers things to come as they relate to His person and majesty. Christ is not only the major theme of the Scriptures but also the central theme of prophecy." � John F. Walvoord

3a) Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it

  • Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises a special blessing to those who read and keep it.

  • To understand it, you must search the rest of the Scriptures.

  • Those who keep the things written in it usually seek to live holy lives as they watch for the Lord's return.

3b) for the time is near.

  • The time for the fulfillment of these prophecies is imminent.

Revelation 1:4-6

4a) John, to the seven churches which are in Asia:

  • These seven churches were in modern day Turkey in Asia Minor � not the Orient

4b) Grace to you and peace

  • This was a customary Hebrew greeting. This greeting leads into the introduction of the triune Godhead.

4c) from Him who is and who was and who is to come

  • This title describes the eternal nature of God the Father.

4d) and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne

  • The "seven Spirits" before the throne of God is the Holy Spirit who has 7 attributes in (Isaiah 11:1-2).

5a) and from Jesus Christ

  • Jesus is the third person of the Godhead introduced to us in the greeting.

  • The name Jesus means salvation and Christ means the anointed one or messiah.

5b) the faithful witness

5c) the firstborn from the dead

  • Jesus is the "first fruits" of our resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:16-23), as He was the first to rise from the dead among the "soul harvest" of men and receive a glorified body.

5d) and the ruler over the kings of the earth.

  • The Lord still has sovereignty over the earth as "King of kings," though He has granted temporary authority to Satan over the kingdoms of this world.

5e) To Him who loved us

  • The Father manifested His love to us by sacrificing His Son.

  • The Son offered Himself up in sacrifice because of His love for us.

5f) and washed us from our sins in His own blood

  • The Lord blood atones for our sin, covering it, and purifying us.

6a) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father

  • We are royal heirs as the spouse of the King of kings who will rule and reign with Him.

  • The New Covenant makes us priests, as our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit.

6b) to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

  • God does not share His glory and His sovereignty is everlasting.

Revelation 1:7-8

7a) Behold, He is coming with clouds,

  • "Behold" means to "perceive" or "look" � Jesus is returning visibly.

  • Jesus will return "with" clouds (the heavenly host), but also in a literal cloud, the same way He ascended to Heaven after He rose from the dead.

  • The glory of the Lord also appears as a cloud.

7b) and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him.

  • The inhabitants of the Earth and possibly Hell will witness the return of Jesus visibly.

  • Those who will witness the return of Jesus include the Jews who rejected their Messiah sending Him to the Romans to be crucified.

7c) And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.

  • The Jews will mourn out of humbleness when they realize that Jesus the Messiah they rejected.

  • Unbelievers will mourn out of guilt when they realize judgment is upon them because they rejected the Lord.

7d) Even so, Amen.

  • "Amen" means "so be it" and is a Hebrew declaration used at the end of benedictions throughout the Old Testament.

8a) "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord

  • The Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.

  • This is another way to say "the beginning and the end" or "the first and the last."

  • This title denotes the Lord's eternal existence and omnipresence.

8b) "who is and who was and who is to come,

  • This title describes the eternal nature of Jesus.

8c) the Almighty."

  • This title shows describes God's sovereignty or omnipotence - He exercises dominion with unrestricted power.

Revelation 1:9-11

9a) I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ

  • John relates to other believers as both a brother and companion, showing he is a humble servant of Christ.

  • God gives evidence to the world that you belong to His kingdom when you acquire patience through tribulation.

9b) was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

  • John tells us he was on Patmos for the "Word of God" and the "testimony of Jesus," so he was probably persecuted and exiled to the Greek island for his faith.

  • The "testimony of Jesus" bears witness that the "Word of God" is true and that we have eternal life through Jesus.

10a) I was in the Spirit

  • Another way to say this is that John "came to be in the Spirit" which alludes to something beyond the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at salvation and our daily walk in the Spirit. John "in the Spirit" might be something more like when Ezekiel was spiritually transported to the valley of dry bones.

10b) on the Lord's Day

  • The "Lord's Day" could refer to the Sabbath, or seventh day of the week.

  • Or, the "Lord's Day" could refer to the first day of the week, which is the day the Lord was resurrected and when the Church began to meet.

  • Or, the "Lord's Day" could refer to the seventh millennium on the earth that begins at the rapture and ends after the thousand year reign of Christ on the earth. In this case, John would have been spiritually transported in time by the Holy Spirit to the eschatological "Day of the Lord."

10c) and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet

  • The loud voice like a trumpet is the Lord's voice.

11a) saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last"

  • Jesus introduced Himself in Revelation 1:8 as the "Alpha and Omega" which are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.

  • This is another way to say "the beginning and the end" or "the first and the last," the prototype, or firstborn of the dead, and paramount of all that there is.

  • This title denotes the Lord's eternal existence and omnipresence.

11b) and, "What you see, write in a book

  • Books during John's time were written on scrolls or tablets.

11c) and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."

  • When John finished recording the events revealed to him, he was to send his account to seven churches in Turkey.

  • The order listed would have been the most efficient route for someone to hand deliver the message.

Revelation 1:12-16

12) Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,

  • John turns to see who was speaking with the loud trumpet voice and he sees seven golden lampstands.

  • These lampstands represent the seven-fold Holy Spirit working through the seven churches, who feed into one lampstand, or menorah represented by Jesus.

13a) and in the midst of the seven lampstands

  • Jesus is the base of the menorah with the candlesticks, or churches feeding into it - He is the middle base being in the midst of the seven lampstands.

  • This is the same picture in John 15:5, where Jesus is the vine and the branches represent the body of believers.

  • The Holy Spirit is the source or fuel of the fire (often pictured as oil), but Christ is the Light and gives light to believers.

  • The 10 menorahs in the earthy temple may allude to the ten descriptions John gives of Christ's appearance.

13b) One like the Son of Man

  • This title speaks of Jesus' humanity.

  • Only a sinless human could fulfill the Law and free humanity from the penalty of sin and death.

  • As both the "Son of Man" and "Son of God," Jesus is the only mediator between God the Father and men, and the Father has given the Son authority to judge men.

13c) clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.

  • The priests in the Old Testament wore corresponding garments and bands/sashes.

  • Being "girded" is a sign of strength.

  • The band symbolizes Israel's dependence on the Lord.

  • Gold represents holiness, purity, and kingship.

14a) His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow

  • The hair like wool identifies the Son of Man as also being the "Ancient of Days" in Daniel.

  • Jesus as the Son of Man looked like a normal human, but the Ancient of Days is the Lord in His glorified form.

  • Hair white as snow represents Christ's power to cleanse us from our sin.

14b) and His eyes like a flame of fire

  • The Lord's piercing gaze relates to judgment and His displeasure with sin.

15a) His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace

  • Daniel describes the Lord's feet as "burnished bronze."

  • Bronze is strengthened when it is purified in fire and pictures judgement and restitution.

  • The utensils and laver used in the earthly temple were used for the atoning sacrifices for sin.

  • The Lord will trodden down His enemies in judgment with his bronze feet.

15b) and His voice as the sound of many waters

  • The Lord's voice is like a trumpet, but also like the deafening sound of many waters like a powerful waterfall.

16a) He had in His right hand seven stars

  • The seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches in Turkey (Revelation 1:20).

  • The "right hand" shows favor and symbolizes strength: protection, and salvation.

16b) out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword

  • The Word of God is a sharp two-edged sword that has the power to kill in judgment.

  • Jesus is the personified Word of God who will kill His enemies by the Word of His mouth at the end of the Tribulation.

16c) and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

  • This describes the physical manifestation of the Lord's glory, and like the sun is too bright to behold with our physical eyes.

Revelation 1:17-18

17a) And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.

  • John could not behold the Lord in His glory.

  • Falling on one's face is due to human sin that is self-evident before a Holy God.

17b) But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid

  • The right hand signifies favor, strength, protection, and salvation. All these things provided by our Savior should give us comfort instead of fear.

  • Our sin nature comes between us and the Holy God. In our sinful state, fear is the natural emotion felt by those who experience the glory of God.

  • Believers should have reverent fear of the Lord, not terror like unbelievers.

17c) I am the First and the Last.

  • We should not have fear because the Lord is eternal.

  • The Lord is also the prototype of our resurrection, being the firstborn of the dead and is omnipresent or paramount of everything finite.

18a) I am He who lives, and was dead

  • We should not have fear because through His death, Jesus claimed victory over death, and over Satan, who once had the power over death.

18b) and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.

  • We should not have fear because Jesus conquered death, rising from the dead as the firstfruits of our resurrection.

18c) And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

  • We should not have fear because Jesus paid the ransom and penalty for our death through His own death.

  • After Jesus rose from the dead He had the power to release the souls from Hades and raise them from the dead.

Revelation 1:19-20

19) Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.

  • John gives us the "table of contents" for the rest of Revelation:

  • Chapter 1: Things which you [John] have seen

  • Chapters 2-3: Things which are [counsel to the churches]

  • Chapters 4-22: Things which will take place after this [in the future]

20a) The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands

  • God reveals mysteries through the Spirit.

  • The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches (20b).

  • The seven golden lampstands are the seven churches in Turkey (Revelation 1:11).

  • The number "seven" denotes complete perfection.

20b) The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches

  • An angel is a messenger either supernatural or human.

  • A star can depict a supernatural being, but it can also represent someone of prestige or nobility.

  • In this case, stars being human make the most sense, both as guardians and respected leaders over the flock, and logistically in delivering the messages.

20c) and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

  • While Jesus addressed seven literal first century churches, the application of His message to these churches extends to the Church body at large and there is a spiritual interpretation that encompasses the entire Church history.

Introduction to Revelation 2-3

  • Address - Jesus addressed the message to the angel or messenger of each church. There are some interesting tie-ins between the history of the city, the meaning of the name of each church, and the message of each letter.

  • Description of Christ - In every message to each church, Jesus cites a different description of Himself that give us clues to the central theme of the letter. In most cases, these are the same descriptions given of the Lord in Revelation 1.

  • What is known - Jesus opens each message assessing the current condition of each church.

  • Praise - Most of the churches received commendation from the Lord for the works they did for Him.

  • Rebuke - While most of the churches received praise, most were also lacking in their works, or rebelling in what they tolerated or allowed. For those churches that received rebuke, the Lord preached repentance in His counsel. Otherwise, the Lord said He would personally intervene in the affairs of that church judicially. Rather than administering punishment immediately, the Lord in His longsuffering and mercy (Numbers 14:18), gave these churches a chance to repent first.

  • Counsel - For most of the churches, the Lord gave instruction for what needed correction, warning that He would personally intervene if repentance did not occur. For the few churches that receive no rebuke, He admonished them to stay on track.

  • Call to Hear - The Lord gives the same call to every church: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The Lord directs the call in the messages to the churches to each believer within each congregation, who have spiritual ears attuned to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach about the "mysteries of the kingdom."

  • Promise to Overcomers � Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Believers will receive all the promises given in the letters to all the churches.

  • Summary and Theme - Every word spoken by the Lord to each church pertains to the condition and behavior of each church.

  • Prophetic Church Age Type - The character of each church has curiously appeared to manifest in the major divisions of the history of the Church, but it is important to stress that this view should not overshadow the clear literal meaning directed toward the first century churches and the Church body at large.

Summary of the Letters to the Churches

Click on phrase to link to relevant commentary.

Church Ephesus Smyrna Pergamos Thyatira Sardis Philadelphia Laodicea
Name meaning "Overseer" or "Guardian" "Myrrh" "All encompassing marriage" Possibly "censor to burn incense" Type of gemstone "Brotherly love" "Rule by the people"
of Christ
Holds the 7 stars and 7 lampstands First and Last, who was dead, came to life Has a sharp two-edged sword Eyes like flame of fire, feet like brass Has the 7 Spirits of God and the 7 stars Holy and true, has the key of David The Amen, Faithful True Witness, at creation
What is known Works, labor and patience Works, tribulation and poverty Works and dwells near Satan's throne Works, love, service, faith and patience Works, have a name, dead Works, have and open door Works not hot or cold
Praise Cannot bear evil, lying apostles Spiritually rich Did not deny the Lord Motives right, except for works Few names do not have defiled garments Kept the Word, did not deny Christ, persevered No praise
Rebuke Left their first love No rebuke Tolerate the doctrines of Balaam and Nicolaitans Allow Jezebel to teach and seduce Be watchful, strengthen things that remain No rebuke Lukewarm and spiritually bankrupt
Counsel Repent and do first works Do not fear and be faithful to death Repent from endorsing false doctrines Hold fast to what you have Hold fast, repent and watch Hold fast to what you have "Buy" remedies to become spiritually rich
Call to Hear ...what the Spirit says to the churches ...what the Spirit says to the churches ...what the Spirit says to the churches ...what the Spirit says to the churches ...what the Spirit says to the churches ...what the Spirit says to the churches ...what the Spirit says to the churches
Promise to overcomers Eat from the Tree of Life in Paradise Not hurt by second death Receive hidden manna and white stone with a new name Power over the nations and given the morning star Clothed in white, not blotted out of Book of Life Be a pillar, have the new name of God and New Jerusalem Sit with the Lord on His throne
Theme God desires unbroken fellowship No need to fear death Study of the Word produces sound doctrine Neglect of "first works" leads to sin Only works done through the Spirit will endure as a gemstone God opens doors despite instability and our weakness Spiritual bankruptcy leads people's heart away from the Lord
Prophetic Church Type Apostolic Church (Penecost-100AD) Persecuted Church (100-313AD) Compromised Church (313-606AD) The Pagan Church (606AD-rapture) The Spiritually Dead Church (1500s-rapture) The Missionary Church
The Lukewarm Church

Ephesus - Revelation 2:1-7


1a) "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write"

  • The name Ephesus means: "Overseer" or "guardian," possibly derived from the Greek word "ephoros."

  • Paul lived in Ephesus for a few years during his ministry. He became embroiled in a dispute with artisans, whose livelihood depended on selling the statuettes of Artemis in the Temple of Artemis (Acts 19:23-41). Paul wrote 1 Corinthians while he lived in Ephesus and wrote his epistle to the Ephesians while he was in prison in Rome.

Description of Christ

1b) 'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand'

  • Jesus is the guardian over the angels of the churches.

1c) who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands

  • Jesus first appeared in Revelation 1:13 & 20, in the midst of the lamp stands, or churches, as the "Son of Man."

  • As in the menorah, Jesus is the supporting base to the branches that hold the lamps, which represent the churches, or the assembled believers of Christ.

What is known

2a) "I know your works, your labor, your patience"

  • The Church should labor and do good works as a testimony of their faith.

  • God gives evidence to the world that you belong in the Kingdom, by enduring trial and tribulation, which cultivate patience, or perseverance, and character.


2b) and that you cannot bear those who are evil.

  • Paul admonished the church of Ephesus to avoid fellowship with those who show the "works of darkness" and "expose them" (Ephesians 5:8-11). In other words, the church was not to put up with open sin within the congregation.

2c) And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars

  • The Greek word "apostolos" translated "apostles," means "one who is commissioned." The use of the word "apostle" in this context extends beyond the scope of the original twelve chosen by Jesus.

3a) and you have persevered and have patience

  • The Ephesians "persevered," enduring an apparent bombardment of false teachers trying to infiltrate the church.

  • God gives evidence to the world that you belong to His Kingdom when you acquire patience through tribulations (Revelation 1:9).

3b) and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary.

  • Laboring for the Lord's "name sake" is to minister to other believers (Hebrews 6:10-15).


4) Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

  • The Ephesians had apparently became so busy in their works, that their heart turned from serving the Lord, to serving men; they left their "first love" � the sacrificial love for the Lord.

  • Sacrificial love is that which is essential to strengthen a marriage between a husband and wife. This is also the same type of love Christ has given to the Church through His sacrifice on the cross.

  • Paul taught the Ephesians about the love between Christ and the Church, comparing it to the marriage relationship (Ephesians 5).


5a) Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works

  • Making the Lord first in priority, by loving Him with all one's "heart, soul and mind" are the "first works."

  • The Lord urged them to repent of their motives and return to serve with "sincerity of heart, as to Christ... and not to men" (Ephesians 6:5, 7) to restore their relationship with the Lord.

5b) or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place - unless you repent.

  • The lamp stand being moved "from its place" means that the church of Ephesus would no longer be used by the Lord.

  • The Greek word "kineo" translated as "remove" can also mean to provoke, or stir. The Lord's counsel would have created quite a "stir" that would hopefully have led the congregation to repentance.

6) But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

  • "Nicolaitan" comes from the Greek words "nikao," a verb which means to conquer, or lord over, and "laos," a noun which means people. Therefore, a "Nicolaitan" would be clergy who rule over the "laity," or body of believers.

  • The "Nicolaitan" movement would have been the beginning of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which has its roots in the Babylonian pagan priesthood.

Call to hear

7a) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

  • The Lord directs the call in the messages to the churches to each believer within each congregation, who have spiritual ears attuned to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach about the "mysteries of the kingdom."

Promise to overcomers

7b)"To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."

  • Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).

  • After the fall, God prevented man from eating of the tree of life, so that he would not live in sin forever (Genesis 3:22-24).

  • To eat freely of the tree of life is symbolic of eternal life without sin and the regained access to God through Christ (Romans 5:1-2).

  • The "Paradise of God" was initially in the Garden of Eden. After the fall of man, God moved "Paradise" to the center of the earth. After the cross, when Jesus restored man to God, Jesus took "Paradise" to Heaven.

Summary and Theme

  • God desires unbroken fellowship

Prophetic Church Age Type

  • Apostolic Church (Penecost-100AD)

Smyrna - Revelation 2:8-11


8a) "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write

  • The name Smyrna means: "Myrrh," from the Greek "smurna." Myrrh is a bitter spice that releases a fragrant aroma when crushed. Myrrh was a spice used in embalming the dead.

Description of Christ

8b) 'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life

  • Jesus is eternal the prototype of resurrection of the dead ( Revelation 1:11, 17-18)

What is known / Praise

9a) "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich)

  • The works of the church at Smyrna relate to enduring persecution, because the Lord promises a reward to them for being faithful to Him even unto death (Revelation 2:10).

  • The "tribulation" that Smyrna was going through led to physical poverty.

  • The guild, or union structure, of Smyrna's economy may have led to persecution of the Christians there.

  • Smyrna was physically poor, but the Lord says they were spiritually rich.

9b) and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

  • It is a blasphemy against God for people to call themselves Jews, merely by ancestry, or by trying to keep the Mosaic Law, which has been an impossible task for all but Christ.

  • God only considers those circumcised in the heart that do not resist the Holy Spirit as true Jews.

  • The religious leaders in Jerusalem mandated that anyone that confessed that Jesus was the Messiah were not allowed in the synagogues � their rejection of Christ was satanic in nature (John 8:42-44), thus they were of the "synagogue of Satan."


10a) Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer.

  • We should not fear what might happen to us because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin through His death, claimed victory over death and Satan, and rose from the dead to live eternally as the firstfruits of our resurrection.

10b) Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested

  • The Christ rejecting Jews, who were of their "father the devil" (John 8:44), were going to throw some of the Christians in Smyrna into prison.

  • God sometimes uses Satan to test us.

  • Testing is a refining process, as in precious metals.

  • The testing of our faith, through trial and tribulation, builds character and produces patience.

10c) and you will have tribulation ten days.

  • In Scripture "ten days" relates to testing, tribulation, or waiting

10d) Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

  • The Lord calls us to be faithful to Him through persecution, even to the death

  • The "crown of life" is a reward for faithfulness through trial (James 1:12-15).

Call to hear

11a) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

  • The Lord directs the call in the messages to the churches to each believer within each congregation, who have spiritual ears attuned to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach about the "mysteries of the kingdom."

Promise to overcomers

11b) He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."

  • Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).

  • There will be two types of resurrections. The "first resurrection" is to eternal life, the second is to eternal death, or the "second death" (Revelation 20:5-6, 10-14).

  • The second death is permanent separation from God and eternal suffering for all those who do not "overcome" (Revelation 21:7-8).

Summary and Theme

  • No need to fear death

Prophetic Church Age Type

  • Persecuted Church - 100 to 313AD

Pergamos - Revelation 2:12-17


12a) "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write

  • The name Pergamos means: "All-encompassing marriage" from the Greek roots, "peri" and "gamos."

  • The name is similar to the Greek word for parchment "pergamene."

  • When the Ptolemies stopped exporting papyrus, the Pergamenes invented a new substance to use in codices, called pergaminus or pergamena (parchment) after the city.

Description of Christ

12b) 'These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword

  • The church of Pergamos allowed doctrinal errors to seep in. Correct doctrine comes through the reading of the Word of God.

What is known

13a) "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is.

  • "Satan's throne" is the center of pagan worship that originated in Babylon.

  • Satan will give this throne to the beast in the Tribulation (Revelation 13:2).


13b) And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith

  • The Lord commended the church of Pergamos for their good works of being able to stay true to the Lord and His faith despite the fact they resided near Satan's throne, where polytheism was rampant.

13c) even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

  • According to tradition, Antipas was a bishop of Pergamos, ordained by the apostle John. Many believe the pagans martyred Antipas, by burning him to death in a bull shaped bronze altar.

  • The name "Antipas" means "in place of all." Antipas did not live life for himself, but for Christ. He held fast to the name of Christ and did not deny the faith, because Jesus died for all, in our place (2 Corinthians 5:15).


14) But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.

  • Balak, the king of Moab, summoned a Midianite prophet by the name of Balaam to curse Israel.

  • After God did not allow Balaam to curse Israel, he devised a plan to corrupt Israel, to try to get God to curse them instead. Balaam had Balak send Moabite women to seduce some of the men of Israel into sexual immorality and idol worship (Numbers 22-25 & 31).

  • While the Church is not under the Mosaic Law (Romans 6:14), we are not to use our liberty to become a stumbling block to others. That is why the early Church leaders warned the flock to stay away from having any part in these pagan practices.

  • The "doctrine of Balaam" in the Church would be that of compromising morals and testimony after the ways of the world. Friendship with the world in God's eyes is a form of adultery (James 4:4).

15) Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

  • The Nicolaitans are likely a movement that initiated the ecclesiastical hierarchy into the Church. This model has roots in the Babylonian pagan priesthood (Revelation 2:6).

  • The Ephesians hated the "deeds of the Nicolaitans," who vied for positions as clergy for dishonest gain, but the church of Pergamos apparently embraced this unscriptural doctrine (1 Peter 5:2-3).

  • Adopting the Babylonian priesthood model goes hand in hand with giving into the doctrine of Balaam; compromise with the ways of the world that lead to sin.


16) Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

  • Permitting the "doctrine of Balaam," and embracing the "doctrine of the Nicolaitans" within the Church, led to doctrinal errors.

  • Jesus warned the church of Pergamos that if they didn't turn away from their tolerance of such doctrines, that He would "fight against them with the sword of [His] mouth," which is the Word of God.

Call to hear

17a) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

  • The Lord directs the call in the messages to the churches to each believer within each congregation, who have spiritual ears attuned to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach about the "mysteries of the kingdom."

Promise to overcomers

17b) To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.

  • Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).

  • Pergamos tolerated the "doctrine of Balaam," which included eating of food sacrificed to idols, which spiritually compromised their Christian witness.

  • Conversely, Christ offers manna to the overcomers.

  • When the miracle of manna ceased, as Israel entered the Promised Land, Moses commissioned Aaron to take some manna and place it in the Ark of the Covenant hidden" behind the veil, where the high priest entered only once a year.

  • The veil that hid the manna tore in two (Mark 15:38) when Jesus, our High Priest (Hebrews 2:17), died on the cross.

  • He has revealed Himself as the manna that was hidden, the "living bread" that is now available to us. Those who eat of the "bread of life" will never die (John 6:48-51).

17c) And I will give him a white stone

  • When the Israelites crossed over the Jordan into the Promised Land, they set up an altar of whitewashed stones, with the words of the Law written on them (Deuteronomy 27:2-3).

  • The Law written on whitewashed stone is the first covenant. Under the new covenant, God will write His Law on the hearts and minds of believers (Hebrews 8:6-7, 10 & 9:15).

  • The white stone then, symbolizes the promised inheritance of the overcomers, bought with the cleansing blood of Christ, who writes His Law on their hearts and minds.

17d) and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.

  • Names in Scripture are rich with meaning. Jerusalem will receive a new name that will describe its restoration to the Lord, in contrast to being forsaken and desolate.

  • Like Jerusalem, overcomers will be remade and receive a new name. The new name will be a secret between the overcomer and God. This is possibly speaking of the special intimate relationship the Lord has with each believer.

  • Part of the enticement behind the Babylonian priesthood was to learn what was "forbidden knowledge" to others, so the reference to "hidden manna" and a "secret name" might be a counter to the hidden and secret practices of those who held to the pagan practices that originated in Babylon.

Summary and Theme

  • Study of the Word produces sound doctrine.

Prophetic Church Age Type

  • Compromised Church - 313 to 606AD

Thyatira - Revelation 2:18-29


18a) And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write

  • Church tradition says that Thyatira means "odor of affliction," possibly originating from "thymiaterion," which is a censor used to burn incense, and the Greek root word "thuo," which means sacrifice.

Description of Christ

18b) These things says the Son of God

  • The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

  • Thyatira is under the burden of the "works of the devil."

18c) who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass

  • The Lord's piercing gaze relates to judgment and His displeasure with sin (Revelation 1:14).

  • Bronze is also associated with judgment and purification from sin and shows that the Lord is not pleased with the congregation at Thyatira (Revelation 1:15).

What is known / Praise

19) I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.

  • The "first work" is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength (Revelation 2:4-5).

  • Apparently the congregation at Thyatira had put more emphasis on their love and works toward others, allowing it to encroach on their devotion to the Lord, but they were not rebuked for leaving their "first love" like the church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:4).


20a) Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel

  • Jezebel was a woman in the church working in the "spirit of Jezebel."

  • Jezebel led the northern kingdom of Israel into sin through Baal worship, a cult involving sexual immorality and idol worship, which is harlotry and witchcraft (2 Kings 9:22).

20b) who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

  • Those called a "prophetess" in Scripture were godly women, who were given messages from the Lord in the same way as the men called prophets.

  • It appears that this woman Jezebel had come into the Church under the guise of a prophetess, but used witchcraft to lead astray some of the Lord's servants, or believers (Revelation 1:1), into sexual sin and idolatry, which was the "doctrine of Balaam" (Revelation 2:14).

21) And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.

  • The woman Jezebel remained rebellious and unrepentant in her sexual immorality which was a physical manifestation of spiritual harlotry.

22a) Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed

  • This phrase in the Greek was a figure of speech commonly used that meant "to make one sick."

22b) and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation

  • This period of "great tribulation" is not speaking of the last half of the Tribulation described in Matthew 24:21 and Revelation 7:14, but was a time of punishment through sickness for Jezebel and those that committed adultery with her.

22c) unless they repent of their deeds.

  • Sexual immoral believers at Thyatira could have also been spared "great tribulation" and suffering if they had repented of their sin with Jezebel, like King Ahab (1 Kings 21:25-29).

23a) I will kill her children with death

  • Any children conceived in sin by Jezebel at Thyatira, were going to die because of her sin.

  • Though not every child born out of a sexually immoral relationship dies, God may choose to take the life of the child to punish the parent's sin like King David who lost the child born out of his adulterous relationship.

23b) and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts.

  • The Lord would punish as an example and warning to all the churches of what would happen if they lived in unrepentant sin.

  • The Lord addressed Himself to the church at Thyatira as "the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire." (Revelation 2:18), which relate to His judgment and displeasure with sin (Revelation 1:14).

  • Searching the minds and hearts of men is to look at their motive (Jeremiah 17:10).

23c) And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

  • God will judge the works of everyone, both good and bad (Romans 2:4-11).

  • Believers in the Tribulation will be rewarded when Jesus returns to set up His Kingdom on Earth (Matthew 16:24-27).


24a) Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira

  • The Lord gives counsel to both the angel and "the rest" of the congregation in Thyatira. This may support the argument that the angels of the churches are men (Revelation 1:20).

24b) as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan

  • The opposite of the "depths of Satan" would be the "deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:7).

  • The Holy Spirit reveals the "deep things of God." Conversely, the "depths of Satan" would be revealed through his demonic devices, in the same way he gives "forbidden knowledge" to those in the Babylonian pagan worship (Revelation 2:17).

  • Jezebel taught the false doctrine of Balaam (Revelation 2:14), which encouraged the sinful activities of sexual immorality and eating food sacrificed to idols. Her rebellion and refusal to repent, was a form of witchcraft, powerful enough to entice believers at Thyatira to follow her false doctrine.

24c) as they say, I will put on you no other burden.

  • A "burden" is the expectation to follow certain items from the Law of Moses.

  • The Law of Moses was a "burden" that was impossible to follow completely. However, that does not mean that there are not items from the Law that Christians would do well to take heed to, as indicated by the apostles (Acts 15:29).

  • If we follow the Lord's commandments to love Him and our neighbor (Mark 12:30-31), staying away from idolatry and sexual immorality is not a "burden" anyway (1 John 5:1-3).

25) But hold fast what you have till I come.

  • While most of the letter to Thyatira was a rebuke from the Lord, Jesus did praise the church encouraging them to "hold fast," or work to maintain the positives things they had - their works, love, service, faith and patience (Revelation 2:19).

Promise to overcomers

26) And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations

  • Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).

  • As the Lord is faithful in His promises, we should strive to be faithful and diligent in doing His works, until death, or the rapture (Ephesians 2:10).

  • Those who overcome will receive the promise to reign with Christ over the nations in the Millennium, as "kings and priests" (Revelation 1:6).

27) 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'- as I also have received from My Father

  • The Father bestows power to the Son to rule over the nations with a rod of iron (Psalms 2:7-9).

  • To rule with a rod of iron means that the Lord's rule will be just and punishment will be swift and harsh. Iron symbolizes strength that has the power to destroy (Daniel 2:40).

  • Archeology has shown us that a guild of potters also established a trade in Thyatira.

  • A potter can mold a pot while it is still clay, but when the clay has hardened, the potter has the prerogative to destroy it if not pleased with it (Isaiah 45:9).

  • Those who live in the Millennium will either be molded by the Lord willingly, or be "dashed to pieces," if their hearts are against Him.

28) and I will give him the morning star.

  • The morning star appears during the darkest hour of the night, before the day dawns (2 Peter 1:17-19).

  • Overcomers can have confidence in the promises given by the Lord. They are to watch for Him as they would the morning star in the dark of the night (Psalms 130:6).

  • As the morning star appears in the darkest hour of the night, the Lord will return in the darkest moment of human history, at the end of the Tribulation (Mark 13:24-26).

Call to hear

29) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

  • The Lord directs the call in the messages to the churches to each believer within each congregation, who have spiritual ears attuned to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach about the "mysteries of the kingdom."

Summary and Theme

  • Neglect of "first works" leads to sin.

Prophetic Church Age Type

  • The Pagan Church - 606AD to the rapture

Sardis - Revelation 3:1-6


1a) "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write

  • The name Sardis is the plural form of the Greek word "sard," which is an orange, red, or brown variety of chalcedony, used as a gemstone.

  • Sardis was advanced in industrial arts, including the manufacture and dyeing of delicate woolen stuffs and carpet, and gold extraction, all of which were sources of great wealth.

Description of Christ

1b) 'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars

  • The Lord administers the seven-fold Spirit of God, who is the Holy Spirit (Revelation 1:4).

  • Jesus is the guardian of the seven stars, who are the angels, or messengers of the churches (Revelation 1:16).

What is known

1c) I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead

  • A reputation, usually based on fame, honor, or notoriety, is to "have a name."

  • Sardis had a reputation for the works that made them appear "alive," but because they relied on the flesh instead of the Holy Spirit Jesus said they were spiritually dead.


2a) Be watchful

  • Being watchful and praying "in the Spirit," can help prevent the trap of temptation that the flesh is easily subject to (Matthew 26:41, Ephesians 6:18).

2b) and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.

  • Fruit can only grow on branches, if the branch abides in the life-giving vine (John 15:4-6).

  • Only through the Holy Spirit are believers able to produce fruitful works, and not dead works that are not perfect.

  • Works done by Sardis were not perfect because they did them in the flesh and not through the Spirit.


3a) Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.

  • Not holding fast to the things we have heard through the Word and the Holy Spirit will cause us to "drift away" in our walk with the Lord (Hebrews 2:1).

  • Jesus called out Sardis for their dying, imperfect works done in the power of their flesh, instead of relying on the power of the Holy Spirit and told them to repent.

3b) Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.

  • Jesus coming as a thief portrays destruction and judgment particularly on unbelievers, but even to believers if they are not watching for the Lord in the Spirit, and rely on the flesh and drift away, not heeding what they heard from the Word (Hebrews 2:1).


4) You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.

  • The "few names" in Sardis were true believers who did not have defiled garments.

Promise to overcomers

5a) He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments

  • Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).

  • True believers lose their defiled garments upon salvation, as illustrated by Joshua the high priest in the last section (Zechariah 3:1-4).

5b) and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

  • God will not blot out the names of overcomers, or believers from the "Book of Life."

Call to hear

6) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

  • The Lord directs the call in the messages to the churches to each believer within each congregation, who have spiritual ears attuned to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach about the "mysteries of the kingdom."

Summary and Theme

  • Only the works done through the Spirit will endure as a gemstone

Prophetic Church Age Type

  • The spiritual dead church � 1500s to the rapture

Philadelphia - Revelation 3:7-13


7a) "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write

  • The name Philadelphia: comes from the Greek roots "phileo," which means "I love," and "adelphos," which means "a brother"; together known as "brotherly love."

  • Philadelphia was in the administrative district of Sardis. In AD 17, the city suffered badly in an earthquake, and the emperor Tiberius relieved it of having to pay taxes. In response, the city granted honors to Tiberius.

Description of Christ

7b) 'These things says He who is holy, He who is true

  • The Church should strive for holiness because God is holy. He has called us to separate from our "former lusts" (1 Peter 1:13-16).

7c) "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens"

  • As a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, Eliakim was given authority over the house of David, given the "key" that opens and closes access to the king. Likewise, Jesus is the way to the Father, who is also a secure "peg" that the "glory of His Father" has been hung on. (Isaiah 22:15-25).

What is known

8a) "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it

  • Philadelphia's works are further described in the next section.


8b) for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

  • Like the disciples, those who receive and keep the Word of God are those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior. Sanctification, or holiness, comes by the truth of the Word (John 17:6-8, 17).

  • Like the promise to the overcomers of the church of Sardis, those who confess the Lord before men, He will not deny before the Father (Revelation 3:5).

9) Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie - indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.

  • Those of the "synagogue of Satan" are those who call themselves Jews, yet deny that Jesus is the Messiah (Revelation 2:9).

  • It is a "lie" for people to call themselves Jews, merely by ancestry, or by trying to keep the Mosaic Law, which has been an impossible task for all but Christ (Acts 15:10).

  • Only those circumcised in the heart, who do not resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51), God considers true Jews (Romans 2:17-29).

  • Someday those of the "synagogue of Satan," who afflicted believers in Christ, will "come and worship before [their] feet."

  • Worship of the Lord "before" the Philadelphia believers is acknowledgment of the Lord's work through them and the love that He has for them.

10) Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

  • Perseverance, or patience comes through trial and tribulation (Revelation 1:9).

  • Whether by trial, or tribulation, which builds character, or chastening, intended to correct sin, these are evidence to the world that you are a Christian. Consequently, God will not judge or condemn you with the world (1 Corinthians 11:31-32).

  • The hour of trial coming to the "whole earth" is the Tribulation period.


11a) Behold, I am coming quickly!

  • The Greek word translated "quickly" means swift, speedily, or without delay (Revelation 1:1).

  • When the prophecies begin to happen, they will occur rapidly.

  • The Lord's return described as being quickly, instead of "soon" in this passage, does not negate its imminence.

11b) Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.

  • The Lord rewards believers with crowns at the "Judgment Seat of Christ," based on their works.

  • The crown that seems to best fit Philadelphia is the "crown of life," as they kept the Lord's command to persevere (Revelation 3:10).

  • The Lord promised the church of Smyrna the same crown, as they persevered, but were also "faithful unto death" (Revelation 2:10).

  • Believers should constantly be on guard, as to not allow others to deceive them. Being deceived will result in the loss of rewards (2 John 1:7-8).

Promise to overcomers

12a) He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.

  • Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).

  • Pillars are the supporting beams, or poles that help support a structure, such as a temple (Judges 16:26).

  • The two pillars in the temple of God in the Old Testament were given names that fit their purpose. "Jachin" means "he establishes" and "Boaz" means "strength" (2 Chronicles 3:1, 17).

  • While the two pillars in the temple of God were bronze, some pillars in the Old Testament were also made of stone. Peter depicts believers as "living stones" that make up the spiritual house, or temple of God (1 Peter 2:4-5).

  • Hannah's prayer likens the saints as "pillars of the earth," who will inherit the heavenly throne (1 Samuel 2:7-9).

  • While there will still be a temple during the Millennium (Ezekiel 40-48), there will be no physical temple in eternity (Revelation 21:22). The spiritual temple made up of believers will continue into eternity. The Lord "shall go out no more" from the spiritual temple (Revelation 21:3).

12b) I will write on him the name of My God

  • Since God put His name on the earthly temple (1 Kings 9:3), it makes sense that He will put His name on the spiritual temple, made of believers (Revelation 22:3-4).

  • Putting or writing a name on someone, or something, denotes ownership. God blesses those He has chosen to put His name on (Numbers 6:23-27).

12c) and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God.

  • God will also write the name of the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, on believers.

12d) And I will write on him My new name.

  • Just as overcomers will receive a "new name" (Revelation 2:17), the Lord will also have a "new name."

  • Many believe the Lord's "new name" is the one that will still be concealed when He returns (Revelation 19:11-12).

Call to hear

13) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

  • The Lord directs the call in the messages to the churches to each believer within each congregation, who have spiritual ears attuned to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach about the "mysteries of the kingdom."

Summary and Theme

  • God opens door despite instability and our weakness

Prophetic Church Age Type

  • The missionary church � 1800s to the rapture

Laodicea - Revelation 3:14-22


14a) "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write"

  • The name Laodicea: is derived from the Greek roots "laos," which means "the people," and "dike," which means "justice," or "judicial verdict"; together means "rule by the people."

  • Laodicea, benefiting from its advantageous position on a trade route, became one of the most important and flourishing commercial cities of Asia Minor, in which large money transactions and an extensive trade in black wool were carried on.

  • The place often suffered from earthquakes, especially from the great shock in the reign of Nero (60 AD), in which it was completely destroyed. But the inhabitants declined imperial assistance to rebuild the city and restored it from their own means.

Description of Christ

14b) 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God'

  • The Lord immediately confronts the proclaimed self-sufficient church of Laodicea, appropriately named "rule by the people," with an address that establishes that He is the one in charge.

  • "Amen" means "so be it" (Revelation 1:7). Calling Himself "the Amen" indicates that the Lord and His Word are certain.

  • Jesus is not only a "Faithful and True Witness," but it is impossible for God to lie; His Word is true. (Revelation 1:5).

  • Jesus is the "Beginning and the End" being God, He was present at the beginning of creation (Revelation 1:8).

What is known

15) "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot."

  • The Greek word "psychros" translated as "cold" can also mean cold-hearted.

  • The Greek word "zestos" translated as "hot" can also mean to have fervent zeal.

  • Jesus desires that people are not indifferent about following Him. Indifference, being neither hot nor cold, is hypocrisy (Matthew 15:7-9, Ezekiel 20:39).


16) So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

  • The church was "lukewarm," being hypocritical like the Pharisees. The Pharisees outwardly followed tradition and ritual, thinking they were righteous through their religious acts, while their hearts proved otherwise (Matthew 23:25-28).

  • With similar imagery, God warned Israel they would be "vomited" out of the land, if they did not follow the Lord (Leviticus 18:25-28). The Israelites did not follow the Lord with their hearts, as they had promised. Therefore, God forced them out of the land into exile (Jeremiah 42:20-22).

  • The city channeled water in through an aqueduct from nearby hot springs. By the time the water arrived to the city, the temperature had cooled to a lukewarm temperature, making an interesting play on words in the Lord's rebuke.

17) Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked

  • After an earthquake destroyed the city around 60AD, the people in Laodicea rebuilt the city without help from Rome. The church of Laodicea had a sense of self-sufficiency and pride because of their wealth and independence, being a "free imperial city" from Rome.

  • The church in Laodicea may have been physically rich and in need of nothing material wise, but spiritually the Lord called them "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked." Material wealth has a tendency to cause many to deny the Lord and rely on themselves (Proverbs 30:7-9, Deuteronomy 8:10-17).


18a) I counsel you to buy from Me

  • The Lord counsels the church to "buy" spiritual remedies from Him. Spiritual riches are "bought" by accepting the invitation to come into a covenant relationship with the Lord (Isaiah 55:1-3).

  • It is possible for people to get saved, but lack spiritual riches, if they live carnal, instead of Spirit-led lives, not maturing in their faith (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

18b) gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich

  • Gold can represent holiness and purity, as it retains all of its qualities when refined, or tested in fire (Revelation 1:13).

  • To "buy" gold refined in fire, may mean that believers in the church of Laodicea would have to go through testing, like Smyrna (Revelation 2:9-10), to produce spiritual riches.

18c) and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed

  • God killed an animal to cover Adam and Eve's nakedness, which symbolized the atonement, or covering for their sin (Genesis 3:21).

  • Trying to cover our nakedness on our own, as Adam and Eve tried to do, will leave us still ashamed in God's presence. Only by accepting and believing that Jesus paid the price to cover our sin, will we escape the shame of our nakedness before the Lord (Revelation 3:5).

  • Laodicea was known for their trade of rich black wool, which they used to make garments. In stark contrast, the Lord admonishes the church to "buy" white garments. White represents cleansing from sin (Revelation 1:14).

  • The Lord only promises that the overcomers, the true believers (1 John 5:4-5), will wear white garments (Revelation 3:5). Therefore, members of Laodicea that still needed to "buy" their white garments were not true believers.

18d) and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

  • Laodicea was also known for an eye ointment, used to treat astigmatism, made with a local rock ground to a powder. The Lord continues his play on words, to show the spiritual blindness that was prevalent in the church of Laodicea.

  • In the story about a man blind from birth that Jesus healed, the Pharisees remained spiritually blind to the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. On the other hand, the blind man, whose eyes Jesus anointed, not only gained his physical sight, but he also received salvation and spiritual vision (John 9:6-7, 35-41).

19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

  • The Lord chastens "every son whom He receives"; these are believers (Hebrews 12:5-8).

  • The Lord does not chasten unbelievers. They will however, suffer the natural consequences of their sin in this age. But ultimately, those who reject Christ He will condemned with the world at the last judgment (1 Corinthians 11:32).

  • The Lord admonishes the believers from Laodicea to repent, which means to turn back from, or change one's mind or attitude.

  • Instead of being lukewarm toward the Lord, He wants believers to instead be zealous, or burn with zeal in their relationship with Him (Deuteronomy 6:5).

20) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

  • Hearing the Lord's voice is connected with belief and an open heart (Hebrews 3:12-19).

  • Sheep that hear the voice of the Shepherd, open the "door" of their heart, and enter the fold through the "door" of salvation, which is the Lord (John 10:7-9, 26-28).

  • Jesus dined with those who heard His voice to follow Him; even sinners (Matthew 9:9-13).

  • Those who have opened the door of their heart to the Lord, and let Him come in, will dine with Him in the Millennium (Revelation 19:9).

Promise to overcomers

21) To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

  • Overcomers are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).

  • A throne is a seat of power (Colossians 1:16). The Lord will sit on His throne, exercising His power and glory given by the Father, when He returns after the Tribulation to set up His Kingdom (Matthew 25:31).

  • The Lord will share His authority with overcomers. The Lord has promised "power over the nations" to those who overcome (Revelation 2:26).

Call to hear

22) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

  • Spirit-led believers can understand the "mysteries of the kingdom of God" (Luke 8:8-10), some of which the Lord includes as promises to the "overcomers" in the letters to the churches in Revelation.

Summary and Theme

  • Spiritual bankruptcy leads people's hearts away from the Lord.

Prophetic Church Age Type

  • The lukewarm church � 1900s to the rapture

Revelation 4:1-4

1a) After these things

  • In Revelation 1:19, John gave us the "table of contents" for the rest of Revelation, so "after these things" refers to future events after the Church Age:

    Chapter 1: Things which you [John] have seen

    Chapters 2-3: Things which are [counsel to the churches]

    Chapters 4-22: Things which will take place after this [in the future]

  • This phrase indicates a transition between the "dispensation of grace" and the "dispensation of judgment."

1b) I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven.

  • An open door on earth is the ability to spread the Gospel unhindered (Revelation 3:8), but the open door in heaven is the physical entrance to the Kingdom of God.

  • The door in Heaven is only open to those who are saved through Jesus (John 10:7-9) and closed to those who are not (Luke 13:23-28).

1c) And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here"

  • The Lord calls John to Heaven in the same fashion that the Lord calls the Church to Heaven in the rapture. This typology supports the pre-Tribulation rapture:

JohnThe Church
John heard a voice like a trumpet (Revelation 1:10, Revelation 4:1)The Lord will shout... with the trumpet of God
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) ...the trumpet will sound (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
John enters through the door to Heaven (Revelation 4:1)The Church will meet the Lord in the air and go with Him to the Father's house in Heaven
(John 14:2-3)
John is a member of the ChurchThe Church is "in Christ"
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

1d) "and I will show you things which must take place after this."

  • The Lord transported John "in the Spirit" to see prophecies of the future, from the vantage point of Heaven, "after these things" (Revelation 4:1) that were just shown to him.

2a) Immediately I was in the Spirit

  • "In the Spirit" is different from being in-dwelt by the Spirit, where the Holy Spirit resides within the believer, guiding and directing them until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30, Revelation 1:10).

  • God transported prophets like John and Ezekiel "in the Spirit," to show them future events.

  • Paul also had a similar experience to John, where he was "caught up" to the "third Heaven," or "Paradise" (2 Corinthians 12:1-4) where the Lord sits on His throne.

2b) and behold, a throne set in heaven

  • A throne is a seat of authority. The throne in Heaven is the throne of God, from which He maintains sovereignty over all (Psalms 103:19).

  • God not only delivers judgment from His throne, He also extends grace (Hebrews 4:16).

2c) and One sat on the throne.

  • Jesus is the "One" on the throne because He is the only physical manifestation of the Godhead (Revelation 1:14).

3a) And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance

  • The stones on the breastplate of judgment worn by the high priest represent the twelve tribes of Israel.

  • The "sardius" and "jasper" stones are the last and the first stones on the breastplate of judgment worn by the high priest.

  • The last and the first sons of Israel were Benjamin, which means "Son of the right hand" (Genesis 35:18), and Reuben, which means "The Lord has looked upon my affliction" (Genesis 29:32).

  • Therefore, the last and first stones on the breastplate of judgment show that the occupant that sits on the throne in Heaven is the "Son of the Right Hand, who was afflicted," or Jesus who called Himself the "First and the Last" (Revelation 1:11).

  • The jasper stone reflects light, appearing as varying colors, in brilliance and sparkle. The sardius stone, also known as the carnelian, is a blood-red color. The sardius and jasper stones together would fit Daniel's description of the throne of God, being a "fiery flame" (Daniel 7:9-10).

3b) and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

  • The rainbow is a sign of the covenant that God made with the earth, that He would never destroy all flesh with a flood again (Genesis 9:13-17).

  • Unlike the earthly rainbow, which includes an array of colors, the rainbow in Heaven appears as hues of an emerald, which is the third stone on the breastplate of judgment of the high priest (Exodus 28:17), representing the tribe of Levi, which means "My husband will be joined unto me" (Genesis 29:34), alluding to the relationship of spiritual oneness between God and His people.

  • The throne of God is a sapphire stone (Ezekiel 1:26-28), which is the fifth stone on the breastplate of judgment of the high priest, representing the tribe of Dan, which means "God has judged" (Genesis 30:6), alluding to the judgment God is about to mete out on the world, in preparation for His Kingdom on Earth.

4) Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.

  • The elders represent the Church:

Sit on thrones (Revelation 4:4)Sit with Christ on His throne
(Revelation 3:21)
Kings and Priests (Revelation 5:10)Kings and Priests (Revelation 1:6)
Will reign on the earth with Christ
(Revelation 5:10)
Will reign with Christ (2 Timothy 2:11-12)
Clothed in white robes (Revelation 4:4)Clothed in white (Revelation 3:5)
Wearing crowns (Revelation 4:4)Rewarded Crowns (See "Bema")
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 5:9)Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
(1 Peter 1:18-19)
Judgment committed to occupants
of the thrones (Revelation 20:4)
Will judge the world and angels
(1 Corinthians 6:2-3) and the Apostles will judge Israel (Matthew 19:28)

Revelation 4:5-8

5a) And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.

  • The "lightnings, thunderings and voices," depict the awesome power God has over His creation (Psalms 18:7-14, 77:16-20), and are evidence that God is about to reveal Himself to His chosen people again in the same way that He first revealed Himself to them at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16-19).

5b) Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

  • The "seven Spirits of God" are the attributes of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 1:4).

  • The Holy Spirit appeared as cloven tongues of fire at Pentecost, as a sign that the power of the Spirit came upon men (Acts 1:8, 2:1-4).

  • The seven lamps represent the churches, lit though the power of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 1:20).

  • This lit menorah is located "before the throne," but not on the throne, because the Holy Spirit does not have the executive authority that the Father owns and has given to the Son (John 5:26-27). Instead, the Holy Spirit's position is that of "the Helper" (John 14:26), who gives instruction through the "seven spirits," which are the attributes of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 1:4).

6a) Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal.

  • The purpose of the "Sea" in the earthly temple was for the priests to ritually wash before making offerings (2 Chronicles 4:1-6).

  • The "Sea" in the earthly tabernacle was made of bronze, which signifies purification, strength, judgment and restitution (Revelation 1:15). But in Heaven the sea will be clear as crystal, as there will no longer be a need for purification, or restitution, because Jesus has paid the price on the cross.

  • John describes the crystal sea as being like "glass," which portrays a sign of calmness and stability.

  • The martyred Tribulation saints will stand on the sea of glass and it will appear mingled with fire (Revelation 15:2) which are the colors of the jasper and sardius stones - the first and the last stones on the breastplate of judgment worn by the high priest - that point to Christ who is the "first and the last," and the "Son of the Right Hand, who was afflicted" (Revelation 4:3).

6b) And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.

  • The Greek word "zoa" translated as "living creatures" is where we derive our English word zoo from. These living creatures in Heaven take on characteristics like that of earthly creatures (Revelation 4:7), but are of an angelic order (Revelation 4:8).

  • The number four is tied to the earth.

7) The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.

  • The four living creatures are of the same genre of creatures that Adam named:

Type of creatureLikeness of living creature
Wild beasts (Genesis 2:19)Lion
Domesticated (Genesis 2:19)Calf
Human (Genesis 2:23, 3:20)Man
Birds (Genesis 2:19)Eagle

  • The camp of Israel in the wilderness was divided into four camps, with the Levites camping in the middle. Four tribes: Dan, Judah, Reuben and Ephraim, represented three tribes each (Numbers 2).

  • Each of the four camps had a "standard," or flag, which bore an emblem associated with their "father's house" (Numbers 2:1-2), and according to Midrashic sources, the standards, or flags of each camps bore the images of a man for Reuben, a lion for Judah, an ox for Ephraim, and an eagle for Dan, although other sources say it was a snake:

Numbers 2 Camp of Israel

  • Moses was to pattern the tabernacle on Earth after that in Heaven (Hebrews 8:5) and the layout of the camp of Israel appears to be patterned after the four living creatures in Heaven:

Camp of Israel vs Throne in Heaven

8a) The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within.

  • Ezekiel saw four similar, but different living creatures from the "seraphim," called "cherubim":

Four living creatures stationed around the throne of God (Revelation 4:6) or fly above the throne (Isaiah 6:1)Four living creatures located below the throne of God (Ezekiel 1:25-26, 10:1)
Each has one face (Isaiah 6:2, Revelation 4:7)Each has four faces (Ezekiel 1:6, 10, 10:4)
The lion, calf, man, and eagle are their faces (Revelation 4:7)The lion, calf, man, and eagle are their faces (Ezekiel 1:10)
Each has six wings (Isaiah 6:2, Revelation 4:8)Each has four wings (Ezekiel 1:6, 10:21)
Covered with "eyes" (Revelation 4:6, 8)Followed by "wheels" covered with "eyes" (Ezekiel 1:18, 10:12)
The "fiery" or "burning ones" (see commentary above)Appearance like burning coals and lamps, moving like lightning (Ezekiel 1:13-14)
Used coals from the altar of God to purge sin (Isaiah 6:6-7) Took coals to scatter on Jerusalem in judgment (Ezekiel 10:2)
Living creatures in the "midst" and around the throne of God (Revelation 4:6). Seven-fold Spirit located before the throne in Heaven (Revelation 4:5)Holy Spirit dwelt beneath the golden cherubim on top of the "Ark of the Covenant" (Isaiah 37:16) and directed movement of the cherubim below the throne (Ezekiel 1:20)

  • The seraphim are guardians around the throne of God, and the cherubim are guardians on Earth below the throne.

  • We are not told why the seraphim are full of eyes. Some believe that the seraphim have spiritual insight into the past, present, and future, with the eyes looking "front and in back" (Revelation 4:6), "around and within" (Revelation 4:8).

  • The four living creatures represent Israel:

The four living creaturesIsrael
Located around the throne
(Revelation 4:6)
Camped around the tabernacle
(Numbers 2)
Have faces of lion, calf, man, eagle (Revelation 4:7)Camps of Israel bore the images of a lion, ox, man and eagle (see above)
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 5:9)Looked forward to redemption of the Messiah, accomplished through His shed blood (Romans 3:20-26)
"Fiery" or "burning ones" (see above)Will be glorified by the light of Christ (Luke 2:30-32)
Has eyes on their "front and back" and "within and around" their wings (Revelation 4:6, 8)Men of Israel were moved by the Holy Spirit to compose the prophetic Word of God (2 Peter 1:19-21)
Has six wings (Revelation 4:8, Isaiah 6:2) Six is the number of man and Israel is God's chosen people of the human race (Deuteronomy 7:6)

8b) And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty"

  • The phrase "holy, holy, holy" is only found in one other passage, again proclaimed by seraphim (Isaiah 6:1-4).

  • The seraphim, who represent Israel, call out praises both day and night around the throne of God, just as the Psalmist pictures Israel doing: Psalms 22:2-3 - O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent. But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.

  • The seraphim cry "holy" three times. The number "three" speaks of God's divine nature:

God's nature Attributes Godhead Member Eternal
One Omnipotence Father Past
Two Omniscience Son Present
Three Omnipresent Holy Spirit Future

8c) "who was and is and is to come!"

  • "Who was and is and is to come" denotes the eternal nature of God, being outside of time and is a title used by both the Father and the Son (Revelation 1:4, 1:8).

Revelation 4:9-11

9) Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever

  • The "One" on the throne is Jesus, who is "alive forevermore" (Revelation 1:18).

  • To give glory, comes with the idea of acknowledging magnificence and splendor, and giving credit where credit is due. Giving honor means to pay respect, or verbally recognize worth. Giving thanks, is to express gratitude to someone for something they did.

  • In Psalms 96, David portrays Israel as giving glory, honor and thanks to the everlasting God, as did the four living creatures around the throne in Heaven.

10) the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying

  • The Greek word translated as "worship" literally means "to kiss towards." It comes with the meaning to pay homage, show devotion, or reverent adoration.

  • Worship is much more than prostrating ones' self on the ground. Other types of worship may include prayer, or music, sacrifice, or giving something to the one receiving the worship like the "firstfruits of the land" (Deuteronomy 26:8-10).

  • Just as Israel gave the Lord back the "firstfruits of the land," the twenty-four elders, representing the Church, will cast their reward, their crown, back to the Lord, in homage for what He did for them and through them.

11) "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created."

  • The twenty-four elders proclaim that the Lord is worthy to receive "glory, honor and power" because He is the Creator of all. Not only did He create all things, but all things were created for Him. He created all things so that He might have "preeminence," or absolute dominion over all, made possible through His work on the cross (Colossians 1:16-20).

Revelation 5:1-5

1) And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.

  • The right hand, or being at the right side, is a favored position and symbolizes strength, protection and salvation. The scroll being in the right hand shows that it is very significant. (Revelation 1:16).

  • The scroll in has writing on the "inside and on the back." In other words, there is writing on both sides of the parchment. A similar scroll given to Ezekiel was a warning to Israel of impending judgment, if they did not repent. (Ezekiel 2-3).

  • "Sealed" in the Greek means having been closed, or made secure. A sealed document conceals the contents within, until someone breaks the seals. Ezekiel's scroll was not sealed; thus, its contents contained a conditional warning. In contrast, the scroll in Revelation is a sealed document; its contents cannot be revoked, similar to the way the seal of a king's signet ring made pronouncements irreversible (Esther 8:8, Daniel 6:17). When the seals are physically broken on the scroll in Revelation 6, the scroll's contents will take place in real-time.

  • Jeremiah's "purchase deed" is the only other document in Scripture sealed, with writing on both sides. (Jeremiah 32). This "purchase deed" was a document that detailed the ownership of the land. Witnesses signed the deed after sealing it. Therefore, the witnesses' signatures were on the outside of the deed. According to the Mosaic Law, a next of kin was able to redeem the land (Leviticus 25:24-25).

  • Similarly, Adam was given the whole earth to rule over. But after the fall, Adam's dominion and hence the "purchase deed" to the earth was forfeited (Hebrews 2:5-18), but the second Adam � the kinsman redeemer - the Lamb of God has redeemed the world with His blood (Revelation 5:9-10).

2) Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?"

  • Some speculate that Gabriel is the first strong angel because of his instruction to Daniel to seal up the prophecy given to him (Daniel 8). Gabriel also prophesied of the birth of the Kinsman Redeemer of the sealed scroll (Luke 1:26-38).

  • The strong angel here in Revelation is looking for someone qualified to unseal this prophetic scroll. Identifying who is worthy to open the scroll goes back to the kinsman redeemer - a close relative who can redeem the land (Leviticus 25, Jeremiah 32, Ruth 4).

  • Only a worthy relative of Adam, the original landlord of the earth, can loosen or break the seals of the "purchase deed," and redeem the earth.

3) And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.

  • The wording in suggests that no "created" being is worthy to open the scroll. Because man forfeited the "purchase deed" to the earth after sin entered the world, only a sinless relative to Adam can redeem it. All humans are Adam's relatives, but disqualified as kinsmen redeemers because all humans have sinned (Romans 5:12).

4) So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.

  • John was weeping because it appeared that there was no one worthy to open the scroll, let alone read it. He understood what was at stake for the earth and the creation.

  • Without a worthy kinsman redeemer, there is no hope.

  • If the creation is not reconciled and restored, God's creation was in vain, and God's sovereignty (preeminence) would be forfeited. (Isaiah 45:18, Colossians 1:16-20).

5) But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals."

  • One of the elders comforts John, reminding him that there is someone who is worthy to open the scroll.

  • The Messiah, Jesus Christ is the "Lion of the tribe of Judah." Just as a lion is the king of the beasts, Jesus Christ is the "King of kings" from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8-10, Micah 5:2).

  • A "root" is the source of something. In this case, the "root" of Jesus' genealogy is in the line of David. Jesse was David's father. Therefore, Jesus was also the "Root of Jesse" (Isaiah 11:1-5, 10).

  • Being the sinless kinsman redeemer to Adam, Jesus has "prevailed to open the scroll." The Greek word translated "prevailed" means "to conquer or overcome." By sinning, one can succumb to the world. Jesus did not sin, therefore He overcame the world (John 16:33, Romans 5:19, 1 John 5:3-4).

  • After opening the scroll by breaking the seven seals, Jesus will deliver the earthly kingdom to the Father. This will take place after all the contents of the scroll are revealed (Revelation 19-20).

Revelation 5:6-10

6a) And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain

  • Though the elder announced Jesus as the "Lion of the tribe of Judah," John sees a Lamb in the midst of the throne, instead of a lion.

  • The Lamb appears "as though it had been slain." He is alive and standing, yet the scars are still visible.

  • Peter tells us "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Peter 3:8)." The Israelites chose the Passover lamb "four" days before they killed it. Jesus was chosen as the Lamb slain "4,000" years before the crucifixion (1 Peter 1:18-20, Revelation 13:8).

  • Christ covered the cost of the "purchase deed" to the earth with His blood, which He shed on the cross. When Jesus takes back possession of the earth, He will be able to gather all things to Himself, from both Heaven and Earth (Ephesians 1:7-10).

6b) having seven horns

  • "Seven" is the number for perfection, or fullness. This number is replete throughout Revelation.

  • It was through the blowing of seven trumpets of rams' horns, at the leadership of Joshua, that Israel began to take their inheritance (Joshua 6:13-16).

  • In Hebrew, the name "Joshua" is "Yeshua." The Greek for "Yeshua" transliterates to "Jesus" in English. The name "Yeshua" means "He delivers" or "the Lord Is Salvation." Jesus is our "horn of salvation," having redeemed us by His blood (Luke 1:68-69).

  • Jesus is the ultimate "Horn," with both the power of salvation and the power to rule over the world. Having "seven" horns shows that He has perfect and complete power.

6c) and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

  • The seven eyes on the Lamb represent the seven Spirits of God, or the Holy Spirit who has seven attributes (Revelation 1:4).

  • The seven eyes on the Lamb of God show that He has the fullness of the Spirit, as pictured in the baptism of Jesus (John 1:29, 32).

  • The physical eyes of Jesus looked like a flame of fire in Revelation 1:14, representing His displeasure with sin. The "eyes of the Lord," or the Holy Spirit, seek out intent of the heart of man. The Lord deals with sin, in the interest of those who have a heart for Him (2 Chronicles 16:9).

  • The seven Spirits of God being "sent out," is literally "having been sent out" in the Greek. They went out in the past, as we will see in a moment, and they will also go out in the future, as shown here in Revelation. This demonstrates God's omniscience; nothing is hidden from Him (Hebrews 4:13).

  • The Holy Spirit appears as fire to the Church and as "eyes" in the Old Testament. During the Church Age, the Holy Spirit works through believers, represented by the lamp stand in Revelation 1:20. A lamp stand bears light, but it is not the source of the light. The "fire" of the Holy Spirit makes the Church "lights in the world" (Philippians 2:13-15). When the light of the Church leaves the world at the rapture, the Holy Spirit will again function in the world as "eyes which scan to and fro" throughout the earth.

7) Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

  • The Greek word "ek," translated "out of," can also mean "out from." The word "hand" is not in the Greek in this verse, or in Revelation 5:1. Therefore, this verse could be translated: "Then He came and took the scroll out from the right (side) of Him who sat on the throne."

  • The original language gives a little different picture than the translation, in that God is not necessarily holding the scroll out for the taking. Rather the scroll is available for any worthy to take it. Jesus takes the scroll, being the only one worthy to take it.

  • Some object to the thought of Jesus both giving and taking the scroll, and why many assume that the Father is the "One" on the throne (Revelation 4:2) with the scroll. However, the Father is invisible and Jesus is the only physical form of God that there is (Hebrews 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15 & 2:9). The Lord is omnipresent and may be exhibiting this attribute in this passage.

8) Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

  • Harps in the Bible were widely used in worship and in a few instances when men prophesied (1 Samuel 10:5, 1 Chronicles 25:3). David had the power to drive away distressing spirits from Saul when he played his harp (1 Samuel 16:16, 23). It is clear from these examples that music transcends from the physical realm into the spiritual realm.

  • The musically talented Levites who served in the temple were priests who prophesied and worshiped through music (1 Chronicles 25). They were a pattern of the twenty-four elders in Heaven who have harps.

  • Priests the earthly temple were commissioned to burn incense in worship to the Lord (1 Chronicles 23:13).

  • The bowls used in the earthly temple were pure gold (Exodus 25:29). Zechariah saw a similar bowl in his vision (Zechariah 4:2-3, 11-14). In Zechariah's vision, the bowl is the source of the oil feeding the lamps on the lamp stand through the pipes. The bowl is God the Father, the lamp stand with golden pipes and receptacles are Jesus, and the golden oil is the Holy Spirit. The seven lamps or candlesticks represent the Church (Revelation 1:20). The Father gives the Holy Spirit to the Church through His Son, Jesus Christ.

  • The golden bowls are full of incense, which represents the "prayers of the saints." The Holy Spirit makes intercession for us in our prayers, carrying them to the Father (Romans 8:26-27).

  • The prayers of incense are prayers for justice and judgment on the wicked (Psalms 141:1-5, Revelation 8:2-6). The elders and living creatures worship the Lord with praise and prayer because someone was found worthy to open the "purchase deed" of the earth. Since the Kinsmen Redeemer came to claim the "purchase deed," He will be able to rule and reign in justice and righteousness over it.

9) And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation

  • The elders and living creatures together represent redeemed man from the beginning of time to the rapture (Revelation 4).

  • The saints sing a song about man's redemption, in worship to the Lord. The song is new, because before this moment it had not been sung and could not be sung, since the Redeemer had not yet taken the scroll.

  • This song of redemption sung by the elders and living creatures, explains why the Lord is worthy to take the "purchase deed" and break its seals. The Lord's sacrifice paid the price.

  • The saints, represented by the elders and living creatures come from "every tribe and tongue and people and nation." The divisions of family, language, race, and country, show that the Lord's redemption price is for all humans.

10) and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth."

  • The elders and living creatures who represent Israel and the Church (Revelation 4) continue singing their "new song."

  • God said Israel would be a kingdom of priests, if they followed the Lord (Exodus 19:5-6). God has made the Church kings and priests (Revelation 1:6).

  • Being a priest in the new covenant means that we minister to God by offering spiritual sacrifices (2 Corinthians 3:6), not blood sacrifices as required in the old covenant (1 Peter 2:4-5, 9).

  • As the Bride of Christ, the Church is royal heir of the Lord's earthly kingdom. The Old Testament saints "are exalted" and will join the Church on the throne (Job 36:7, 1 Samuel 2:8-9) and reign with Christ over His earthly kingdom.

  • Through the redemption process (Leviticus 25), the Lord will restore man's dominion over the earth that Adam forfeited at the fall. Those who survive the Tribulation will live on into the Kingdom in their mortal bodies under the dominion of the resurrected saints.

Revelation 5:11-14

11) Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands

  • After the elders and living creatures finish their song of redemption, John hears the voice of angels. The angels encompass the throne of God, around the living creatures and the elders.

  • There are too many angels to number. The Greek word "murias," translated as "ten thousand," generally has the meaning of a myriad or an innumerable count (Luke 12:1, Acts 21:20, Hebrews 12:22).

12) saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!"

  • The angels join the elders and living creatures in worship of the Lord. It appears that they are shouting out to the Lord in praise, but not in song. In fact, there is little evidence in Scripture that indicates angels sing at all. If angels don't sing, perhaps the ability to sing is a special gift God gives to the redeemed and their celestial representatives.

  • Like the elders and living creatures, the angels acknowledge that Jesus is worthy because of His sacrifice as the "Lamb who was slain." He is also worthy to receive seven things:

Jesus is worthy to receive... Greek Definition
1 Power Dunamis Ability, possession of command
2 Riches Ploutos Wealth, abundance
3 Wisdom Sophia Intelligence, insight
4 Strength Ischus Might, force
5 Honor Timé Give worth or pay respect to
6 Glory Doxa Splendor, renown
7 Blessing Eulogia Praise, give a good word

  • This is the only passage that lists these seven items together. The passages below, each containing several of these things, further explain why the Lord is worthy to receive them.
    • - The Lord is worthy to receive these things because He created all things (Revelation 4:11).
      - All things come from the Lord, therefore they are rightfully His (1 Chronicles 29:10-13).
      - The "Lamb that was slain" is worthy of these things because He made salvation possible through His sacrifice (Revelation 7:10-12).

13) And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!"

  • John hears praises to the Lord from beyond the throne, coming from Heaven and Earth. The concluding verse of the following Psalm encapsulates this radiating praise: Psalms 150:6 - Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

  • Ultimately there will come a day when every created being will worship the Lord (Philippians 2:5-11).

  • The phrase "every creature" in the Greek can mean "all," "the whole," or "every kind of." With this in mind, it may make more sense to translate verse 13 this way: "And every kind of creature," instead of "every creature."

  • It is generally thought that "every knee will bow" and "every tongue confess" that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11) will ultimately be fulfilled at the "Great White Throne Judgment" (Revelation 20:11-15). Those who reject Christ will have to acknowledge Him as Lord, when they bow down in worship before Him on judgment day. But because of their rejection, those "under the earth" are not included among those who the Lord will redeem and reconcile (Colossians 1:16-20). That said, men on earth will acknowledge "the Lamb," at the beginning of the Tribulation (Revelation 6:16).

  • I believe that the purpose for this moment of worship is for the creation to pay homage to the Creator, as it should (Psalms 148:1-14).

  • We are again shown two aspects of Christ: "Him who sits on the throne," exhibiting His sovereign power, and the sacrificial "Lamb." Jesus is the only visible form of God there is (Hebrews 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15, 2:9). Therefore, the two forms seen by John are both Jesus, which demonstrates God's omnipresence, while showing us two characteristics of Him.

14) Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.

  • The elders fall down in worship in response to the verbal praise by the living creatures as they did in Revelation 4:9-10.

  • In conclusion to this chapter, it is important to understand where we are in the order of prophetic events. The Church Age is over. The redeemed Old Testament saints and the Church are in Heaven around the throne. The Lord, as Kinsman Redeemer, has just taken the "purchase deed" to the earth. In Revelation 6, the Lord breaks the Seals to open the "purchase deed." When all the events contained within the "purchase deed" transpire on the earth, the Lord will come to reclaim what is His.

  • In preparation for the Kingdom, the judgments enclosed in the "purchase deed" must come to pass before Christ returns. In the process, God will evict the rebellious inhabitants and destroy them. The Jewish people will play an important role in this earthly kingdom (Zechariah 8). However, God must deal with Israel's rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. Through the Tribulation, Israel as a nation will come to accept Jesus as their Messiah. God will turn back to His people and they will turn back to Him (Zechariah 13:9).

Zechariah 1:8-21

8) I saw by night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse, and it stood among the myrtle trees in the hollow; and behind him were horses: red, sorrel, and white.

  • Zechariah sees several horses, divided into three colors.
  • Sitting on one of the red horses, is a man identified in Zechariah 1:11 as the "Angel of the Lord," who is the pre-incarnate Christ.
  • The man and the horses are "among the myrtle trees in the hollow."
  • A myrtle tree is an evergreen shrub that grows in moist, but not too humid areas near the Mediterranean Sea in low places like a ravine near a stream.
  • Israel has been at the bottom of the "ravine" since the exile, when the "times of the Gentiles" began, where other nations would have dominion over Jerusalem.
  • The Gentile dominion will end when Jesus returns (Luke 21:24-27). The picture of Christ among the myrtle trees in the hollow is the hope of the future restoration of Israel when the Messiah comes.
  • The myrtle tree is a very fragrant and desirable tree, and the Lord likens Israel's future to the myrtle tree and other desirable trees (Isaiah 41:19, Isaiah 55:13).
  • Queen Esther's Hebrew name was "Hadassah," which means "myrtle tree." At one of Israel's lowest points in history, Esther gave hope to the Jewish people, by risking her life to save them (Esther 4:13-16).

9-11) - Then I said, "My lord, what are these?" So the angel who talked with me said to me, "I will show you what they are." And the man who stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, "These are the ones whom the LORD has sent to walk to and fro throughout the earth. So they answered the Angel of the LORD, who stood among the myrtle trees, and said, "We have walked to and fro throughout the earth, and behold, all the earth is resting quietly."

  • The man standing with the horses tells Zechariah God sent the horses to "walk to and fro throughout the earth," which is similar wording to how the "eyes" of the Holy Spirit scan the world (2 Chronicles 16:9, Zechariah 4:10), and how Satan's moves around the world (Job 1:7).
  • The spirit horses are from the army of the Lord (Joel 2:4-11, Zechariah 6:5).
  • The spirits horses report to the Lord what they see happening on Earth, and like other angelic spirits they apparently gain some benefit, or learn from what they see, and are possibly judged based on they did with what they learned (1 Peter 1:12, Job 1:6-11, 1 Corinthians 6:3).

12-15) - Then the Angel of the LORD answered and said, "O LORD of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?" And the LORD answered the angel who talked to me, with good and comforting words. So the angel who spoke with me said to me, "Proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "I am zealous for Jerusalem And for Zion with great zeal. I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease; For I was a little angry, And they helped - but with evil intent."

  • The "earth is resting quietly" (Zechariah 1:11), apparently because the nations are at ease.
  • God is very angry with the nations, because they went beyond what the Lord directed in judging Judah during the 70-year exile; they had "evil intent" in their motives.
  • The Angel of the Lord, who is Christ acts as intercessor before God for Israel like He does the Church (Romans 8:34).

16-17) - "Therefore this is what the Lord says: 'I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,' declares the Lord Almighty. "Proclaim further: This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.'"

  • The Lord tells Zechariah that restoration to Jerusalem is coming.
  • Isaiah describes this restoration as a myrtle tree that comes up instead of a brier (Isaiah 55:13).

18-21) - Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were four horns. And I said to the angel who talked with me, "What are these?" So he answered me, "These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem." Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen. And I said, "What are these coming to do?" So he said, "These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one could lift up his head; but the craftsmen are coming to terrify them, to cast out the horns of the nations that lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it."

  • The four horns are the nations that scattered Judah.
  • Horns generally represent kings or kingdoms (Revelation 5:6).
  • The four horns, or nations that scattered Judah appear as "beasts" in Daniel 7 and Hosea 13.
  • History has shown these four horns, or kingdoms, are: Babylon (lion), Medo-Persian (bear), Greece (leopard), and Rome (wild, terrible beast), which "scattered" the Jews into exile.
  • Four "craftsmen" cast out the horns of these nations as punishment for their "evil intent" (Zechariah 1:15).
  • Each subsequent horn becomes the craftsman that cast out the horn that was in power at the time.
  • The Medes and Persians were the craftsman that cast out the horn of Babylon, Greece the craftsman that cast out the horn of the Medes and Persians, and Rome the craftsman that cast out the horn of Greece.
  • The Roman Empire has not been cast out yet. It will revive in the last days and be cast out by the Lord and His saints (Daniel 7:23-27).

Zechariah 6:1-8

1) - Then I turned and raised my eyes and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming from between two mountains, and the mountains were mountains of bronze.

  • In Zechariah's second vision of horses he sees four different chariots coming between two mountains of bronze.
  • Horses and chariots are vehicles of war (Proverbs 21:31, Job 39:19-25, Jeremiah 46:9-10).
  • Bronze signifies judgment (Revelation 1:15).
  • God used "four horns" to judge Israel, which is reminiscent of the four horns on the altar that was overlaid with bronze and used to make atonement for sin (Exodus 27:1-2, 29:36).
  • Mountains represent kingdoms and show dominion (Jeremiah 51:24-25, Daniel 2:34-45).
  • God used mountains, or kingdoms to judge other kingdoms. Scripture shows a connection between the imagery of mountains and judgment (Psalm 36:6, Psalm 72:1-4, Revelation 16:19-20).
  • The two bronze pillars in the earthly temple represent the bronze mountains in Heaven (1 Kings 7:15, 21), as Moses patterned the tabernacle after heavenly things (Hebrews 8:4-5).
  • The two bronze pillar in the earthly temple were named "Jachin," which means "he establishes," and "Boaz," which means "strength." The pillars were appropriately named for the mountains they represent in Heaven: Psalm 65:6 - Who established the mountains by His strength, being clothed with power.

2-5) - With the first chariot were red horses, with the second chariot black horses, with the third chariot white horses, and with the fourth chariot dappled horses - strong steeds. Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?" And the angel answered and said to me, "These are four spirits of heaven, who go out from their station before the Lord of all the earth."

  • The "chariots" assigned to the four groups of horses may be cherubim who ride the horses like the spiritual riders on the horses in Revelation (1 Chronicles 28:18, 2 Kings 6:17, Ezekiel 10:6-10).
  • The Lord sends the horses and chariots from the bronze mountains to mete out judgment (Isaiah 66:15-16).
  • The colors or patterns of the four groups of horses match that of the four horses in Revelation 6. John seems to focus on the color, while Zechariah seems to focus on the pattern of the horses, so the different perspectives of the horse descriptions look different, but they can be shown to be the same.

6-7) - "The one with the black horses is going to the north country, the white are going after them, and the dappled are going toward the south country." Then the strong steeds went out, eager to go, that they might walk to and fro throughout the earth. And He said, "Go, walk to and fro throughout the earth." So they walked to and fro throughout the earth.

  • God warned Israel that if they didn't follow Him and His statutes, they would die from the wild beasts, the sword, pestilence, and famine - these are the same judgments the come when the pale horse rides in Revelation:

Revelation 6 Ezekiel 14 Ezekiel 5 Ezekiel 33 Jeremiah 15
Sword Sword Sword Sword Sword
Hunger Famine Famine Desolate land Famine
Death Pestilence Pestilence & blood Pestilence Death
Beasts Wild Beasts Wild Beasts Beasts Beasts

  • God sends out the horses in Zechariah in specific directions.
  • The horse-drawn chariots originate in Heaven, but the point of reference for their movement on the earth is Israel, since this is where Zechariah was given his visions.
  • The white and black horses go north, the dappled horses go south. The red horses are not sent in a specific direction, but go out with the other horses throughout the earth, after the other horses first go in the direction the Lord sends them:

Strong Steeds

  • All the horses in both Revelation and Zechariah have a global scope, as they "walked to and fro throughout the earth."
  • Zechariah saw the conquest and desolation in the white and black horses, death in the dappled horses, and expanding war in the red horses, just like John in Revelation. But the global conquest never found fruition because another empire came up stronger, restarting the cycle of conquest, desolation, and death through war.
  • The empire conquered by each horn is north of Israel. Each subsequent horn took over both Egypt and Israel. The severe judgments of God: the sword, famine, pestilence and wild beasts naturally follow war and conquest. The horses' movement in Zechariah's vision fit the conquest of all the empires:
White and Black Horse - North Dappled Horse - South Red Horse - Global
Babylon conquers Assyria Egypt taken in conquest by Babylon Global conquest in war continued until Medo-Persia defeated Babylon
Medo-Persia conquers Babylon Egypt taken in conquest by Persia Global conquest in war continued until Greece defeated Medo-Persia
Greece conquers Medo-Persia Egypt taken in conquest by Greece Global conquest in war continued until Rome defeated Greece
Rome conquers Greece Egypt taken in conquest by Rome Global conquest ended when the society collapsed in Rome. Once revived, global conquest in war will continue until the Lord destroys the global empire.

  • In Revelation, there will only be one empire, and the conquest of the antichrist will stretch to the farthest parts of earth. This last empire, or the revived Roman Empire, will come in the wake of war, desolation, and death, after conquest (Revelation 6).

8) - And He called to me, and spoke to me, saying, "See, those who go toward the north country have given rest to My Spirit in the north country."

  • The horses' mission is to give rest to, or quiet the Spirit of the Lord, or the Holy Spirit.
  • The earth was "resting" (Zechariah 1:11) after the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon (Isaiah 14:3-7).
  • But God was angry because the nations He used to judge other nations had "evil intent" (Zechariah 1:15). God later judged these nations for their motives.
  • Judgment quieted the Lord's "fury," or wrath (Job 20:23) toward Jerusalem (Ezekiel 16:42-43).
  • The same four types of horses arrive at the beginning of the Tribulation in Revelation because the Lord's fury will be against "all nations" (Isaiah 34:2-4, 8), and their mission is to quiet the Spirit of the Lord through judgment.
  • The judgment will be complete and the Spirit will rest when the Lord returns (Isaiah 59:16-21, 62:1).

Revelation 6 - Introduction to the Seal Judgments

  • Jesus is the Kinsman Redeemer, being the only one worthy to open the sealed scroll and reclaim the Earth.

  • The contents within the "purchase deed" are judgments which must come to pass on Earth before the Lord returns.

  • The judgments are to prepare for the Lord's earthly reign in two ways: To evict the rebellious inhabitants from the earth, and turn the Jewish people back to God.

  • God will turn back to Israel. However, God will punish Israel along with His enemies through the judgments recorded in the "purchase deed" of the earth.

  • The sealed "purchase deed" to the earth includes all twenty-one judgments, divided into three groups: Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls.

  • God gave Israel 70 "weeks," or 490 years in which He would punish their transgressing of the Law before the Messiah would come to rule (Daniel 9:24).

  • In the first 483 years, God punished Israel under the yoke of Gentile rule. After the cross, God turned away from Israel because they rejected His Son (Romans 11).

  • In the last seven years, God will turn back to Israel, but He will punish Israel along with His enemies through the judgments recorded in the "purchase deed" of the earth.

  • Just as spiritual horses came with God's judgment against the nations during the first 483 years of "Daniel's 70 Weeks," (Zechariah 6), they will come again with God's judgment against the nations during the final seven years.

Revelation 6:1-8

1a) Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals...

  • The Lamb is the only one worthy to open the seals on the "purchase deed," because only His sacrifice was able to pay the redemption price (Revelation 5:9).

  • The Lamb not only opens the first seal, but He opens ALL the seals, administering all twenty-one judgments.

1b) ...and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, "Come and see."

  • One of the four living creatures beckons John to witness what happens on Earth in response to the breaking of the seal; to "come and see" how God is going to deal with man (Psalms 66:5-7).

  • Seraphim and cherubim both have thunderous voices like the Lord's voice, which shows greatness.

2a) And I looked, and behold, a white horse.

  • The four living creatures announce the arrival of four horses in the first four seals. Each horse has a rider, but the attention is initially drawn to the horse.

  • The Tribulation begins with the arrival of a white horse with a conquering rider, and ends with the arrival of a white horse with a conquering rider (Revelation 19:11-15).

  • The rider of the last white horse is clearly the Lord Jesus Christ, the "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). The rider of the first white horse is different, as noted below:

White horse at the
beginning of the Tribulation
(Revelation 6)
White Horse at the
end of the Tribulation
(Revelation 19)
Rider has a bow Rider has a sword
Rider has a victor's crown (stephanos) Rider has royal crowns (diadems)
Followed by different
colored horses of judgment
Followed by the armies
in Heaven on white horses
Peace taken from the earth
by the red horse that follows
Peace brought to the earth
by the rider on the white horse

2b) He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

  • The rider on the first white horse wears a "stephanos," a victor's crown, which signifies victory in his conquest.

  • The first white horse and his rider represent the spirit of lawlessness, who operates through the antichrist in victorious conquest, first by diplomacy, and later by military force.

  • The reason the antichrist will be successful in conquest through the Tribulation period, is because of the unrestrained spirit of lawlessness working through him until the Lord returns (2 Thessalonians 2:7-9).

3) When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come and see."

  • When the Lamb of God opens the second seal, the second living creature calls John to see what happens on Earth in response, just as the first living creature did after the Lord broke the first seal.

4a) Another horse, fiery red, went out.

4b) And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.

  • Peace being taken from the earth shows the global nature of this judgment.

  • When the rider on the red horse takes peace from the earth, people kill each other. The Greek word translated as "kill," means to slay, slaughter, or butcher.

  • The significance in Christ breaking the second seal, is that any semblance of peace that was on the earth will end, resulting in anarchy and unrestrained violence.

5) When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come and see." So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.

  • After the third living creature announces the third seal, John sees a black horse with a rider holding a pair of scales which is a device with two scales hung and balanced on a center beam. Pre-measured stones act as counter weights to measure items such as food or currency.

6a) And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius..."

  • The voice John heard is presumably that of the Lord, as He is the one in the midst of the four living creatures in Heaven (Revelation 5:6).

  • A denarius was a fair day's wages in the first century (Matthew 20:2), and a quart of wheat or barley is enough to feed one person for a day.

  • A person working might make enough wages to eat, but not enough to cover any other necessities of life, therefore, the picture painted here is of famine, which causes rampant inflation, which typically follow after war, but here it will be on a global scale after peace is taken from the earth.

6b) ...and do not harm the oil and the wine."

  • Olive trees and grape vines have deep roots, which make them more drought resistant than other plants, so the famine brought by the black horse will not become severe enough to harm the olive trees and grape vines.

  • Some see also believe this phrase figuratively shows that the rich will prosper in this time of rampant inflation, where they profit from buying up food and other commodities forcing the poor into slavery like the time of the drought during the time of Joseph (Genesis 47).

7) When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come and see."

  • The fourth living creature beckons John come and see what judgment the Lord is sending on the earth with the breaking of the fourth seal.

8a) So I looked, and behold, a pale horse.

  • John describes the last horse as "chloros," which is the Greek word for green.

  • A pale green would best fit the context of the horse associated with "Death," which is why most translators just call it a "pale horse."

  • The pale horse is described by Zechariah as sorrel, spotted, speckled, dappled, mottled, or grisled. John's focus is on the color of the horse, while Zechariah's focus is on the pattern of the horses.

8b) And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him.

  • The rider on the pale horse is given the name "Death," and is often pictured as the "Grim Reaper," a skeleton figure cloaked in black, carrying a large sickle.

  • "Death" appears as a real entity, as John describes him as the rider on the pale horse and Zechariah describes the riders of the horses as "spirits of Heaven" (Zechariah 6:5).

  • This judgment of death is on unbelievers because Hades is following Death, which is where lost souls go to await final judgment, before the second death in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:13-14).

  • Jesus has the keys of Death and Hades, which represents His power to release believers from their bondage because He paid the penalty for our death (Revelation 1:18).

8c) And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.

  • The scope of the white, red, and black horse is global. The pale horse is only given power to judge a fourth of the earth with the four severe judgments of God. These four judgments are found elsewhere in Scripture as follows:

Revelation 6 Ezekiel 14 Ezekiel 5 Ezekiel 33 Jeremiah 15
Sword Sword Sword Sword Sword
Hunger Famine Famine Desolate land Famine
Death Pestilence Pestilence & blood Pestilence Death
Beasts Wild Beasts Wild Beasts Beasts Beasts

  • The solid colored horses only bear one type of judgment, but the variegated colored horse delivers multiples types of judgment. These judgments will exacerbate those same judgments brought by the previous horses to a fourth of the earth.

  • Consider the following parallels between the Seal judgments and the "Gog and Magog War" that suggest these are one in the same judgments:

Seal Judgments Gog and Magog War
False peace under diplomatic conquest (Revelation 6:2) Israel believes they are living in "peace and safety" (Ezekiel 38:8)
Death by sword
(Revelation 6:8)
Every man's sword will be against his brother (Ezekiel 38:21, Haggai 2:22)
Death by pestilence
(Revelation 6:8)
Judgment by pestilence
(Ezekiel 38:22)
Death by the beasts of the earth
(Revelation 6:8)
Devoured by beasts of the field
(Ezekiel 39:4)
Great earthquake
(Revelation 6:12 )
Great earthquake
(Ezekiel 38:19-20)
Earthquake and cosmic disturbances
(Revelation 6:12-14 )
God will shake Heaven and Earth
(Haggai 2:21)
Sun black as sackcloth and
moon like blood (Revelation 6:12)
Sun turned into darkness, and the moon into blood (Joel 2:31)
God's wrath has come
(Revelation 6:17)
God's wrath comes with fire
(Ezekiel 38:18-19, Zechariah 2:4-6)

  • The fourth horse will ride out bringing destruction by sword, hunger, pestilence, and beasts. These four severe judgments of God naturally follow war (Zechariah 6:6-7). War causes scarcity of resources and breeds pestilence. When natural resources dwindle, wild beasts begin to attack humans for food.

Revelation 6:9-11

9) When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.

  • The breaking of the fifth seal is the point at which God allows Satan and the powers of darkness to persecute and kill believers without restraint, until the Lord brings in the last of the harvest of the souls of believers (Revelation 14:13-16).

  • The harlot religion "Babylon the Great" will slaughter the saints in the first half of the Tribulation, and Satan and the antichrist will slaughter them in the second half of the Tribulation (Revelation 12:11-17, 13:10-15, 17:5-6).

10) And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"

  • The fifth Seal judgment is not on the martyrs, but is a curse announced by the martyrs on the earth dwellers; particularly on those who murdered them.

  • The earth dwellers are God's enemies who reject Christ and murder His saints.

  • The Hebrew translated "avenger" is "gaal," which is the same word used for "kinsman redeemer." Jesus is the "Kinsman Redeemer" to man, therefore He is also the "Avenger of Blood" for His redeemed murdered for their faith (Revelation 5:5).

  • The Lord avenges the blood of His saints when He judges the harlot religion, and Babylon, the capital city of the antichrist's global government (Revelation 18:10, 18:20, 19:1-3).

11a) Then a white robe was given to each of them...

  • The Lord promises a white garment to all those who overcome, which include all saints from all dispensations (Revelation 3:5). The Tribulation saints receive their white robes after they die and enter Heaven during the Tribulation (Revelation 7:9, 13-14).

11b) ...and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer...

  • The martyred saints are overcomers, who will rest from their labors after they die (Revelation 14:12-13).

  • Their labors are undoubtedly the work they did spreading the Gospel, which is what they died for.

11c) ...until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

  • The martyrs are to rest until the number destined to die is complete. This is pictured in a soul harvest in Revelation 14:12-16, where Jesus is the reaper.

  • The differentiation between "brethren" and "servants," is that brethren refers to kin, and servants are typically slaves or hired help. Being a brethren or servant is not necessarily mutually exclusive. The martyrs are all fellow servants, but they are not all brethren or kin with each other, being both Jew and Gentile.

Revelation 6:12-17

12) I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.

  • John looks back toward Earth when the Lord breaks the sixth seal. The earth experiences a great earthquake. At the same time, there is an eclipse of both the sun and the moon.

  • In the sixth Seal judgment, something never seen before by man will occur. This judgment will affect even the cosmos. Even God's enemies acknowledge He is the source of this terrible judgment (Revelation 6:16).

  • Isaiah describes the earth moving like a drunkard, being moved out-of-place. This suggests something alters Earth's gravitational field, moving it out of its normal orbit. (Isaiah 13:9-13, 24:18-23).

  • It is possible a foreign body like a comet or large asteroid passing between the sun and earth could cause both a solar and lunar eclipse, darkening both the sun and moon, if the moon is at or near its full phase and affect the gravitational field of the earth which could cause massive tectonic upheaval.

  • The sun will look like black sackcloth, which is a dark course material people wore as a sign of mourning or repentance. A blood moon describes the reddish-brownish hue seen during a lunar eclipse. The massive global seismic activity described by the prophets may set off volcanoes around the world, spewing ash and blotting out the sun and making the moon look red.

13) And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.

  • John is probably describing what we refer to as meteors, or "shooting stars," which is space debris that falls to the earth, glowing as a result of the heat, as it enters the atmosphere.

  • If a large heavenly body passes by the earth, these falling "stars" could be part of the debris field that typically follows a foreign body like a comet or large asteroid.

  • John describes the stars falling like "late figs" shaken off the tree by a "mighty wind," which is probably describing a large meteor shower.

14) Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.

  • A magnetic polar reverse may make the sky physically appear as a rolled scroll moving across the sky. During a magnetic polar reverse, there would be numerous "poles" on which the Aurora Borealis would manifest and appear all over the world as scrolls in the sky.

  • Polar reversals tied to massive tectonic activity may explain how the earth was rapidly transformed during the flood, and again during the Tribulation (Revelation 16:18-20).

15) And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains...

  • Every class of people will seek refuge underground from the terror of the sixth Seal judgment.

  • The "great men" are men who have great influence on people, but do not have an official ruling position (2 Kings 10:6).

  • The "rich men" are the global elite, and the ones really in charge, as the whole world has become indebted to them (Proverbs 22:7, James 5:1-5).

  • "Mighty men" are men of valor, or men of renown in battle.

16) ...and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!

  • The people at the beginning of the Tribulation will be so fearful of God's wrath that death is contemplated as a means of escape, like it was for Israel during the Assyrian conquest, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, during the Roman siege in 70AD (Hosea 10:8-10, Luke 23:28-30).

  • The people that seek refuge underground are not only afraid of the cosmic disturbances, but also of the "face of Him who sits on the throne." Jesus is the "One" who sits on the throne in Heaven (Revelation 4:2), and He is the Lamb (Revelation 5:6).

  • God hides His face from those whose sin has not been reconciled through Jesus, being made righteous and sets His face against those He judges in wrath. People foolishly believe if God hides His face from them, they will not be held accountable for what they do. In reality, God gives them over to their sin and judges them.

17) For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

  • The Lamb's "day of wrath" encompasses the seven year Tribulation, or "Daniel's 70th Week." The wrath of the Lamb begins with the breaking of the first Seal, and ends when He returns to Earth.

  • The Greek word translated "has come" is in the aorist tense, which generally depicts a past tense. In other words, when Jesus breaks the sixth seal, unbelievers recognize that all that has befallen them has been God's wrath.

  • The Lord breaking each seal is like an incremental removal of Himself from a world that hates Him. The Lord removes that which the world has taken for granted and reveals His wrath by turning them over to their sinful desires, allowing them to reap what they sow (Romans 1):

Seal Judgment Names of God Meaning
1 Conquest by unrestrained lawlessness Tzaddik Righteous One (Psalm 7:9)
2 Peace taken from Earth Sar Shalom Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
3 Global famine and hyperinflation Yahweh Yireh Provider (Genesis 22:14)
4 Death by sword, famine, pestilence, and beasts Raphah
El Ch'ay
Healer (Psalm 103:3-4)
God of Life (Jeremiah 10:10)
5 Vengeance against those who overcome the saints Rach'um
Mercy (Deuteronomy 4:31)
Refuge (Psalm 46:1)
6 Cosmic disturbances
Tectonic instability
Rock (Psalm 18:2)
Stronghold (Psalm 43:2)
7 Silence in Heaven
No Judgments for a "half hour"
Arek Aph
Slow to anger (Nehemiah 9:17)
Gracious (Joel 2:13)

Revelation 7:1-3

1a) After these things...

  • John shows us a transition, or interlude in the things he sees.

  • An interlude is a parenthesis in the main dialogue, where we are given more information, or a different perspective to the main storyline. In other words, an interlude is a background story to the narrative, with clear indications that each interlude reaches back or forward in time, and generally returns to where the primary narrative left off.

1b) ...I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.

2) Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea....

  • Malachi calls the Lord "The Sun of Righteousness," showing He will arise like the sun, which travels from east to west (Malach 4:1-2). Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, also alluded to Jesus coming to the earth like the rising sun, calling Him the "Dayspring" (Luke 1:67-68, 77-79).

  • The angel from the east is coming from the same direction the Lord will return from, indicating that the Lord sent him.

  • The angel from the east holds a marking device to seal the 144,000 servants with the "seal of the living God," unlike the inanimate idols and the evil spirits posing as "gods" who will perish (Jeremiah 10:3-5, 8, 10-11, 1 Thessalonians 1:9).

  • The "seal of the living God" is the name of the Father, in a visible mark placed on the foreheads of the 144,000 servants (Revelation 14:1).

3) ...saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads."

  • God had given the four angels the power to harm the "earth, the sea, or the trees" through the "four winds," just as God gave angels the power to cause destruction in Egypt (Psalms 78:43, 49).

  • The harm is coming from the "four winds," which are the "four spirits," or the four horses in the first four Seal judgments. Therefore, since the four horses do not harm the physical earth, the sea, and the trees, we can see that they are metaphors for kingdoms, nations, and people, which are targeted in the first four Seal judgments (Revelation 6:1-8, Haggai 2:6-7, 22).

  • The angel from the east tells the four restraining angels that him and other angels need to mark God's servants before they allow the "four winds" to "harm the earth, the sea, or the trees."

  • Before the judgment on Judah came at the hands of the Babylonians, God sent a man clothed in linen, possibly Jesus incarnate (Daniel 10:5, 12:6-7), to mark those who mourned over the idolatry and abominations done in Jerusalem similar to the angel marking the 144,000 servants (Ezekiel 8:16-18, Ezekiel 9:1-6).

  • The Hebrew for "mark" is the Hebrew letter "tav." The only other use of the "tav" alone is found in Job, which shows a sign of exemption from judgment (Job 31:35).

  • The ancient "tav" was in the form of a cross. How fitting that the "seal of the living God" (Revelation 7:2) is a cross signifying exemption from judgment.

  • Similarly, the Hebrew people were exempt from the judgment on the firstborn of Egypt if they marked their doors with blood, tracing the sign of a cross as they first dipped the blood in the basin, striking the lintel, and then the two doorposts (Exodus 12:22-23).

  • The Greek word for "servant" is "doulos," and can also be translated "slave" or "bondservant," which means they belong to someone else. In this case the 144,000 servants are slaves of God. The seal shows God's ownership of those He marks, like the branding of a slave by their master (John 6:27, 2 Timothy 2:19).

  • Scripture shows similar branding on the forehead of harlots, who are sex slaves, or spiritual slaves to idolatry, and those who follow after the beast in the Tribulation (Jeremiah 3:3, Revelation 13:16-17, 17:5).

  • Those who bear the seal of God on their forehead are protected from the fifth Trumpet judgment (Revelation 9:1-4).

  • The mark shows protection, but the sealing shows indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This suggests that the Holy Spirit will work similar to the way He did during the "dispensation of the Law," in that He will dwell in a select few for a specific purpose.

  • God will also put His name on His servants (Revelation 3:12, 22:3-4). Being a servant of God involves sharing the Gospel and keeping the Word of God.

Revelation 7:4-8

4) And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed...

  • The number of servants sealed by the angel is 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel.

  • The biblical meaning of 144,000 is "government of divine order" or "appointed persons of divine order," based on the roots of ten and twelve.

  • Since the tribes of Israel are still largely dispersed around the world, it is likely the Lord will call them from all nations and they will minister in all these nations, producing a great harvest of believers from around the world (Revelation 7:9).

  • These servants are "firstfruits" of the Tribulation harvest, which means they are the first ones redeemed to Heaven before the rest of the harvest of souls (Revelation 14:1-4).

  • These Jewish servants will pick up where the Church leaves off after the rapture, being a light to the Gentiles and spreading the Gospel, which is what the Lord commissioned the Jews to do (Isaiah 42:6, Romans 3:1-2).

  • The 144,000 Jewish servants have a lot in common with the Apostle Paul:

The Apostle Paul 144,000 Jewish Servants
A Jewish Servant of God (Romans 11:1). Jewish Servants of God (Revelation 7:4-8).
Saved on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Saved after Damascus is destroyed, before the Tribulation begins (See below).
Sealed by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22). Sealed and marked with the Father's name (Revelation 7:3, 14:1).
Brought the Gospel to the Gentiles (Romans 15:16). A multitude of all nations saved after being sealed (Revelation 7:9).
Preached the Gospel to the whole world (Colossians 1:23). The Gospel is preached to the whole world again before Jesus returns (Matthew 24:14).
Not married (1 Corinthians 7:8) Virgins (Revelation 14:4).
Preached in distressing times under the Roman emperor Nero (1 Corinthians 7:28). Servants in the Tribulation during the rise of the antichrist (Revelation 7 & 14).
Will be resurrected and raptured with the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17). Will be taken to Heaven rapture-style to the throne in Heaven (Revelation 14:1-4).

  • With 144,000 "Apostle Pauls" preaching around the world, it is no wonder a multitude will be saved (Revelation 7:9) and the Gospel will be "preached to all the world" (Matthew 24:14) in the short span of the seven-year Tribulation.

5-8) ...of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.

  • The names of the tribes of Israel tell the redemptive story of Christ:

    I will praise the Lord. The Lord has looked upon my affliction. Good fortune has come [and] happy and blessed am I. I have struggled [but] God has made me forget my toil. The Lord has heard I was unloved, [but now] my husband will be joined unto me. God has given me my reward. Now my husband will dwell with me, [because] God has taken away my reproach [by the] Son of [His] right hand.

  • In the tribes sealed among the 144,000, we find Dan and Ephraim missing, and Joseph and Levi included. The epitome of idolatry in the Old Testament centered in Dan and in Bethel, which was in Ephraim (1 Kings 12:26-29, 1 Kings 12:30-33, Judges 17-18).

  • God warned that the tribes that went after idolatry would be cursed and set apart for adversity (Deuteronomy 29:14-21).

  • Hosea shows that God held Ephraim responsible for the idolatry in Israel. Hosea prophesied about Ephraim's destruction because of their spiritual harlotry that defiled Israel (Hosea 4:17, 5:3-4, 9, 6:10).

  • You cannot serve God and go after idols, like the false prophet. You can only serve God alone and be called His servant.

  • Going after idols is spiritual harlotry (Exodus 34:13-17). The 144,000 servants are called virgins. There is no doubt these servants are spiritual virgins, as they serve only God (Revelation 14:1, 3-4).

  • The Greek word translated in this passage as "virgins" is in the feminine form. The only other place this word is found in Scripture where it is not speaking of a woman is in the following passage about the spiritual virginity of the Bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2).

Revelation 7:9-12

9a) After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb....

  • After the angels seal the 144,000 servants, John sees a multitude arrive in Heaven that no one could number from all "nations, tribes, people, and tongues." These divisions of country, family, race, and language covers all people groups (Revelation 5:9).

  • The multitude stands "before the throne and before the Lamb," who is in the midst of the throne of God in Heaven (Revelation 5:6).

  • The Tribulation saints will stand on the sea of glass before the throne (Revelation 15:2).

9b) ...clothed with white robes...

  • Soiled garments get removed upon salvation and replaced with white garments (Revelation 3:5).

9c) ...with palm branches in their hands...

  • The only other time we see a great multitude with palm branches, is in the "Triumphal Entry" of Jesus a few days before His crucifixion (John 12:12-15).

  • Palm trees and branches are widely seen as a symbol for victory, triumph, and peace and is tied to the Feast of Tabernacles, which will be fulfilled when all the saints will assemble for the Kingdom, after the Jewish leaders accept Jesus as Messiah and King.

10) ...and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"

  • John the Baptist's father recognized the saving power of the Messiah (Luke 1:68-69).

  • The Greek word translated "salvation" comes with the meaning of rescue or deliverance.

  • Christ is both: "Him who sits on the throne," exhibiting His sovereign power, and the sacrificial "Lamb," which shows two aspects of Christ (Revelation 5:13).

  • Peter affirms that Jesus is the only one with the power to save, thus Salvation belongs to Him (Acts 4:8-12).

11) All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God....

  • The elders fall prostrate in worship to God before the throne, in response to the verbal worship of the four living creatures (Revelation 4:9-11, 5:11-14).

  • The Greek word translated as "worship" literally means "to kiss towards." It comes with the meaning to pay homage, show devotion, or reverent adoration.

  • The angels who are around the throne and around the living creatures and elders, they fall down and worship the Lord because of the saved multitude that arrives in Heaven.

12) ...saying: "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen."

  • The angels give praise and rejoice over repentant sinners who seek the Lord for salvation (Luke 15:7, 10).

  • "Amen" is a Hebrew declaration used at the end of benedictions throughout the New Testament (Revelation 1:7). "Amen" is also the standard ending to prayer which means "so be it" (Numbers 5:22). The angels are in agreement that Jesus deserves all the praise and that He is the God who lives forever.

Revelation 7:13-17

13) Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?"

  • The Greek word translated "answered" means to strike up a conversation, which shows that the elder was seeking a response from John.

14a) And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation...

  • The Greek "erchomenoi," translated as "come" is in the present participle form, which indicates it is a continuing action, or an incomplete action. This means the saints in the multitude are continually arriving in Heaven as they die in the Tribulation.

  • The "great tribulation" mentioned by the elder is the seven-year "hour of trial" (Revelation 3:10).

  • "Great tribulation" speaks of a period in history characterized by tribulation greater than other times, comparatively (Revelation 2:22). The elder designates the entire Tribulation as "the great tribulation," while Christ specifies that the second half is "great tribulation," being worse than anything ever experienced on earth (Matthew 24:15-21).

14b) ...and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

  • The washing of clothes is a work of sanctification. Sanctification means to consecrate or set apart. The Tribulation saints have trusted in the blood of the Lamb for salvation, and by washing their robes in that blood have set themselves apart to serve the Lord.

  • In the Old Testament, the Hebrews washed their clothes to get ready to meet the Lord (Exodus 19:10-14) and the priests washed their clothes as part of a ritual that made them ceremonially clean to serve the Lord in the tabernacle (Numbers 8:6-7, 21-22), but Christ washes the robes of His Bride for her (Ephesians 5:25-27, 1 Corinthians 6:8-11), showing a dispensational difference between Law and grace.

  • All saints will take part in the "first resurrection" and become priests of God. As priests they go through the sanctification process and ceremonial cleansing in the washing of robes through the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 20:6).

  • Those who take part in the "first resurrection" are also overcomers, those who believe Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5), and will wear white garments, made white by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 3:5, 4:4, 6:11, 7:9, 19:14).

15a) Therefore they are before the throne of God...

  • Because the multitude trusted in the blood of the Lamb for their salvation in the Tribulation, they are able to stand before the throne of God in Heaven on the sea of glass (Revelation 4:6, 15:2), near the Holy Spirit (Revelation 4:5).

  • The martyrs under the altar are a subset of the multitude of saints who arrive in Heaven through the Tribulation as saints will also die in the Tribulation judgments or naturally and not just for their faith.

  • The reason the martyred saints are under the altar, is because their sacrifice is a fragrant aroma to the Lord (2 Corinthians 2:14-16), and thus have a special place in Heaven among the multitude before the throne (Revelation 6:9).

15b) ...and serve Him day and night in His temple.

  • The multitude will serve him day and night in the heavenly temple before the throne, never-ceasing (Genesis 8:22), like the four living creatures who continuously give praise to God (Revelation 4:8).

  • It is not clear what the temple service in Heaven will be, as all saints are priests (Revelation 20:6), but their role will certainly be special as it was for the Levites in their ministry.

  • The temple service for the multitude in Heaven will likely continue through the Millennium, but end in eternity, as there will be no temple in the new Heaven or the new Earth (Revelation 21:22).

15c) And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.

  • The Greek word for "dwell" means to pitch a tent or tabernacle. Someday the Lord will tabernacle with the multitude and all the saints (Revelation 21:3).

  • Some believe a partial fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles was the birth of Jesus during this feast, because God came in the flesh to tabernacle with men (John 1:14).

  • The complete fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles is when the Lord returns to tabernacle with all His people, both Jew and Gentile (Zechariah 2:10-13).

16) They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat...

  • On the earth, the multitude experiences hunger, thirst, and heat. This is what befalls those who live on earth during the Tribulation in several of the judgments:

Hunger 3rd Seal - Famine (Revelation 6:5-6)
4th Seal - Hunger (Revelation 6:7-8)
2nd Trumpet - Third of sea life dies (Revelation 8:8-9)
2nd Bowl - All of sea life dies (Revelation 16:3)
Thirst 3rd Trumpet - Third of rivers and streams turn bitter (Revelation 8:10-11)
3rd Bowl - All of the rivers and streams turn to blood (Revelation 16:4-6)
Sun 4th Bowl - Men scorched by the sun (Revelation 16:8-9)
Heat 6th Trumpet - death by fire and brimstone (Revelation 9:14-21)
4th Bowl - Men scorched with heat (Revelation 16:8-9)

  • The Church is promised to be spared the wrath of the Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 1:10, 5:9), but there is nothing in Scripture that shows Tribulation saints having any supernatural protection like the 144,000 servants and the two witnesses except for the judgments directed toward the inhabitants of the earth or the "earth dwellers" (Revelation 8:13). The Jewish remnant that flees to the wilderness is only protected in the second half of the Tribulation.

  • The Millennial Kingdom will be a time where no one will suffer from hunger, thirst, heat, or the sun (Isaiah 49:6-13).

17) ...for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

  • In a paradox, the elder tells John that the Lamb is the shepherd over the multitude. The Lord is the shepherd for all believers, but for those who suffer through hard times, the provision and protection by the "Chief Shepherd" (1 Peter 4:5) is especially comforting (Psalms 23:1-4).

  • Wiping of tears also seems to indicate that God will wipe away our recollection or change our perspective of certain things that would take away our joy (Isaiah 65:17-19).

  • After the Millennium, God will wipe away the tears for all His people and tabernacle with them in the new heaven and on the new earth in eternity (Revelation 21:1-4).

Revelation 8:1-6

1) When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

  • Silence in Heaven shows a reverence toward God due to impending judgment.

  • When God is silent He refrains from judgment or vengeance.

  • Silence in Heaven lasts for a "half-hour," or half the hour of trial (Revelation 3:10), or the first 3 ½ years of the 7-year Tribulation (Daniel 9:27):

Half Hour of Silence

  • This means the Seal judgments occur in rapid-fire succession at the beginning of the Tribulation, and the Lord withholds His judgment for the rest of the first half of the Tribulation after He breaks the seventh Seal. The Trumpet and Bowl judgments then occur in the second half of the Tribulation as shown below:

Sealed Scroll

  • 3 ½ years with no judgment directly from God will not bring peace on earth. When God withdraws, He turns people over to their reprobate or "debased" minds and they self-destruct (Romans 1). God will be silent in judgment for 3 ½ years, as He gives the world over to their reprobate minds and over to the harlot religion "Babylon the great."

2) And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.

  • All angels, or sons of God, both holy and fallen, can present themselves before God (Job 1:6), until the fallen angels are cast out of Heaven with Satan (Revelation 12:7-9).

  • There is a hierarchy in the angelic realm, both holy and fallen, so these seven angels may have a higher status than other holy angels in Heaven. (Daniel 10:13, 20-21).

  • Another group of seven angels that come from the temple of God with the Bowls of the wrath of God (Revelation 15:5-7). The temple houses God's throne. Therefore, these angels would have higher rank than those who stand before the Lord on His throne because they have access to the holiest place in Heaven.

  • The seven angels in this chapter are given seven trumpets to announce coming judgment.

  • The last Trumpet judgment is the last of the three "woes" (Revelation 8:13), and is comprised of all the Bowl judgments, thus the last Trumpet judgment is also sounding the alarm for the worst of the judgments yet to come.

  • After the sounding of the last Trumpet, Heaven erupts in praise, worship, and celebration in the coronation of Jesus Christ as King, just before He returns to defeat the kingdom on Earth and begin His millennial reign (Revelation 11:15-18).

3a) Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar.

  • Another angel, apart from the seven angels given trumpets, has a golden censer to offer incense on a golden altar before the throne. We see these same elements in the earthly tabernacle (Hebrews 9:2-5, Exodus 39:33, 35-39):

Earthly Tabernacle
Source: Wikipedia

Heavenly Tabernacle

Note the parallels in the graphics above, between the earthly tabernacle and the heavenly tabernacle:

Earthly Tabernacle Heavenly Tabernacle
Ark of the Covenant Throne of God
Altar of Incense Altar of Incense
7-Branched Menorah 7 Spirits of God
Sea of Bronze and Altar of Burnt Offerings Sea of Glass and Altar

  • The table of showbread bearing the twelve cakes, or loaves of bread, is not physically represented in the heavenly tabernacle, because in the earthly tabernacle it is a symbol of the covenant made between God and the twelve tribes of Israel (Leviticus 24:4-9). Also, Jesus is the "bread of life" (John 6:33-51), who offered the "new covenant" to both Israel and Judah, which include all twelve tribes (Jeremiah 31:31-34). So, the table of showbread is no longer needed and is not represented in Heaven, because the "new covenant" has replaced the old covenant.

3b) He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

  • The angel with the golden censor acts as a priestly minister by offering the incense with prayers on the altar.

  • The elders had golden bowls that contained the prayers of the saints that are prayers for justice and judgment on the wicked (Revelation 5:8, Psalms 141:1-5).

4) And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand.

  • Offering incense and taking fire from the altar of incense in the earthly tabernacle was a symbol of atonement for sin.

  • The angel gathers the prayers of the saints from the golden bowls of the elders into his golden censer to offer on the golden altar, but intercession does not come through the angel, but through the prayers of the saints offered up to the Lord (2 Chronicles 30:18-22, 27).

  • The prayers of the saints survive the fire of the golden altar, as they ascend with the smoke before God. This shows that God has accepted the offerings and prayers of the saints, because rejection in the offering results in destruction, like impurities in gold refined in fire.

5a) Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth.

  • The act of the angel throwing the fire from the heavenly altar of incense to the earth shows that the wicked will perish in the coming judgments that follow, which answers the prayers of the saints for justice (Revelation 8:3), while the righteous will be refined, both Jew and Gentile.

5b) And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.

  • God revealed Himself in these same audible and visual displays when He first revealed Himself to Israel (Exodus 19:16-19). The "lightnings, thunderings and voices" are evidence that God is about to reveal Himself to His chosen people again.

  • Note in the parallels below, "voices" and "noises" come from the same Greek word. Also, after the first time the "lightnings, thunderings and voices" appear in Heaven, catastrophes hit the earth in the form of an earthquake and/or hail which intensify each time. Indeed we see all of these elements when the Lord metes out judgment (Isaiah 29:6 & 30:27-30, Psalms 18:7-15):

Lightnings, Thunderings, Noises When
Revelation 4:5 - And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the Seal judgments
Revelation 8:5 - Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. Between the Seal and Trumpet judgments
Revelation 11:19 - Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. Between the Trumpet and Bowl judgments
Revelation 16:18, 21 - And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.... And great hail.... After the Bowl judgments before Jesus returns

  • The cherubim below God's throne in Ezekiel's vision, when God commissioned Ezekiel to warn the people of God's judgment, looked like lightning and made loud thunderous noises when they moved and may be the source of the thunderings, lightnings and some of the voices or noises (Ezekiel 1:13-14, 3:13).

6) So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

  • The noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake from the throne seem to signal the seven angels to blow their trumpets, announcing the next set of judgments.

  • Note the parallels between the Trumpet and Bowl judgments and the increasing severity of each successive judgment:

Scope Trumpet Judgments Bowl Judgments
Earth 1st Trumpet - Hail and fire, mingled
with blood thrown to the earth
(Revelation 8:7).
1st Bowl - Disease of loathsome sores poured out on the earth and those who took the mark of the beast
(Revelation 16:2).
Sea 2nd Trumpet - Third of the sea becomes blood, which kills a third of the sea creatures (Revelation 8:8-9). 2nd Bowl - All of the sea becomes blood, which kills all of the sea creatures (Revelation 16:3).
Rivers and Springs 3rd Trumpet - A third of the rivers and springs become bitter to drink
(Revelation 8:10-11).
3rd Bowl - All the rivers and springs turn to blood (Revelation 16:4).
Sun 4th Trumpet - The sun and luminaries darkened by a third (Revelation 8:12). 4th Bowl - The sun scorches men with fire (Revelation 16:8-9).
Humans Tortured and Darkness 5th Trumpet - Men are tortured for five months by demonic locusts that come from the bottomless pit, from which smoke comes out and darkens the sun and the air (Revelation 9:1-11). 5th Bowl - Inhabitants of the beast's kingdom tortured by darkness that causes sores and pain (Revelation 16:10-11).
Humans Killed
and the Euphrates River
6th Trumpet - Fallen angels bound at the Euphrates River released to lead a demonic army of horses and horsemen to kill a third of the humans on Earth (Revelation 9:13-21). 6th Bowl - Euphrates River dries up and demonic frogs gather the kingdoms of the world to battle Christ in Armageddon (Revelation 16:12-16).
Earthquake and Hail on the Nations 7th Trumpet - Heaven proclaims the Lord is about to return to begin His Kingdom and put an end to the kingdoms on Earth. God responds with lightnings, noises, thundering, an earthquake, and great hail (Revelation 11:15-19). 7th Bowl - God announces "It is done!" followed by noises, thundering, a great earthquake that destroys the cities of the nations, and exceedingly great hail (Revelation 16:17-21).

  • There is no need to spiritualize away any of these judgments to symbolism, as we find that many of them literally came on Egypt before the Exodus:

Plagues on Egypt Tribulation Judgment(s)
Nile turned to blood (Exodus 7:14-25) Sea, rivers, and streams turn to blood.
2nd Trumpet (Revelation 8:8-9) and
2nd & 3rd Bowls (Revelation 16:3-7)
Frogs (Exodus 8:1-15) Demonic frogs gather the kingdoms of
the world to battle Christ in Armageddon.
6th Bowl (Revelation 16:12-16)
Gnats (Exodus 8:16-19) Two witnesses have power to strike
the earth with all plagues, as
often as they desire (Revelation 11:6).
Flies (Exodus 8:20-32) Two witnesses have power to strike
the earth with all plagues, as
often as they desire (Revelation 11:6).
Death of Livestock (Exodus 9:1-7) Two witnesses have power to strike
the earth with all plagues, as
often as they desire (Revelation 11:6).
Boils (Exodus 9:8-12) Sores on those who take the mark of the beast
and the inhabitants of his kingdoms.
1st & 5th Bowls (Revelation 16:2, 10-11)
Hail (Exodus 9:14-35) Hail on the earth and the nations.
1st & 7th Trumpet (Revelation 8:7, 11:19)
7th Bowl (Revelation 16:17-21)
Locusts (Exodus 10:1-20) Men tortured by demonic locusts.
5th Trumpet (Revelation 9:1-11)
Darkness (Exodus 10:21-29) Darkness on the beast's kingdom.
5th Bowl (Revelation 16:10-11)
Death of the firstborn (Exodus 11-12) -

  • Like Moses and Aaron, the Trumpet judgments may come at the word of the two witnesses like the plagues on Egypt, as they have "power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire" (Revelation 11:3, 6), which aligns with the Trumpet judgments.

Revelation 8:7-13

7) The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

  • The Trumpet judgments begin in the second half of the Tribulation. This is the time that Jesus characterizes as "great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be," (Matthew 24:21) and begins when the antichrist, or the beast, breaks the covenant he brokers with Israel causing the "abomination of desolation" (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, 21, Mark 13:14).

  • God destroys a large part of the creation in the Tribulation judgments, starting with hail and fire. Those who do not stop worshiping the creation instead of the Creator in idolatry, will themselves later become subject to being "stoned" with large hail at the end of the Tribulation, reminiscent of the punishment under the Law for idolatry and blasphemy (Deuteronomy 13:6-10, Leviticus 24:16, Revelation 16:21).

  • God uses these judgments to systematically take away what many have taken for granted or worshiped instead of God, giving no thought of dependence on God for the needs He provides through the creation. God is a jealous God and consumes in His wrath those who reject their Creator and worship the creation as their god (Deuteronomy 6:13-15, Zephaniah 1:17-18).

  • It is primarily idolatry and forsaking God in pride that brings forth His wrath, as shown throughout the Scriptures. The Tribulation judgments will permanently take care of this issue (Isaiah 2:12, 18-21).

8) Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.

  • A mountain in Scripture may symbolize governments or nations. However, there is nothing in Scripture that suggests a nation thrown into the sea will figuratively turn it to blood.

  • Debris from a heavenly body such as a comet can contain iron oxide. Iron is what gives blood its red color. Iron oxide mixed with water is chemically similar to human blood. A sizable piece of debris from a heavenly body that consists of iron oxide could make a large body of water become as blood.

9) And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

  • The death of the sea creatures will not only affect the food supply, but will also affect commerce when the burning mountain destroys a third of the ships.

10) Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.

  • The star looks like a flame or a shooting star, which could be a meteoroid or a comet fragment falling to earth and it will poison a third of the drinkable water on the Earth.

  • The Greek word for "springs" is the same word used in the last chapter for "fountains." Living fountains of water are a picture of eternal life found in the Lord (Revelation 7:16-17), which is fitting, as water is a vital necessity for life. The lost will have eternal spiritual thirst, but the Tribulation saints that die will never thirst again (John 4:13-14).

11) The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.

  • Wormwood is a shrub that grows in the Mediterranean, used as an herbal medicine for its antiseptic and anti-parasitic properties, and also for intestinal issues. In Scripture it is known for its bitter taste and used to describe bitterness in idolatry and immoral women (Deuteronomy 29:14-18, Proverbs 5:3-4).

  • The third Trumpet judgment of bitter waters will physically poison the waters, but it is also a picture of the spiritual death that most will face if they continue to reject the Lord.

12) Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.

  • The number "four" relates to the earth and creation. The first four trumpet judgments are on the creation, while the last three are judgment on man, through interaction between the physical and spiritual realms (Revelation 6).

  • God striking the luminaries in this judgment serves as a sign to those on Earth that Jesus is going to return soon. These signs will terrorize those not saved, but give comfort to believers (Luke 21:25-28).

  • This is not an obscuration in earth's atmosphere dimming the light, like volcano ash, or smoke from the fires that destroy the vegetation, but something that physically darkens the luminaries themselves. The reflected light of the moon and planets are dependent on the sun. Therefore, if the sun darkens by a third, then the moon will also be darkened proportionally.

  • The fourth Bowl judgment makes the sun scorch men with fire (Revelation 16:8-9). Sunspots harbor energy and can produce solar flares. If the sun becomes covered in sunspots, an assault of massive solar flares on the earth and the rest of the solar system are likely to occur.

  • Day and night shortens by a third on the earth. Previous judgments, where heavenly bodies interact or hit the earth could affect rotation of the earth. Reduction by a third would bring the hours in a day, or rotation of the earth to sixteen hours, instead of twenty-four. This would also explain what Jesus said about the days being shortened in the second half of the Tribulation (Matthew 24:22, Mark 13:20).

  • Most of what God destroys in the Trumpet judgments He does so by a third. The number "three" speaks of God's divine nature. "Three" also shows perfection or completion in God's plan. Only striking parts of the creation by a third, shows that God is not complete in His judgment. In other words, three shows perfect completion, while a fraction in thirds shows less than complete. The Lord will continue to show restraint until the very end of the Tribulation in the Bowl judgments, right before He returns, which will complete His wrath (Revelation 15:1).

13) And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!"

  • The flying angel warns of three "woes" coming on Earth. These three "woes" will complete God's wrath, which fits with the meaning of completion in the number "three."

  • The prophets frequently used the word "woe," while they were denunciating someone or something, showing grief, affliction, anguish, deep distress, and lament over coming judgment, instead of protection and well-being from the Lord (Lamentations 3:38, Jeremiah 45:3-5).

  • The three woes announced by the angel are not just cries of distress of the last three Trumpet judgments, but define and characterize the enormity of what will befall the inhabitants of the earth in these coming judgments. In other words, these three woes are specific judgments that are increasingly severe, compared to other judgments already come.

  • The "woes" are given for the remaining blasts of the trumpet, which are the fifth, sixth, and seventh Trumpet judgments:

First Woe Fifth Trumpet Revelation 9:1-12 Demonic locusts torture men for five months
Second Woe Sixth Trumpet Revelation 9:13-21, 11:14 Demonic army kills a third of mankind
Third Woe Seventh Trumpet
& Bowl Judgments
Revelation 11:15-19, 15 Coronation of the King and the Wrath of God complete right before the Lord returns

  • Confusion on where the three woes fall typically stems from a misunderstanding of the interludes interjected in the main narrative of the judgments, as shown below:

Revelation 8-16 Interludes

Revelation 9:1-6

1) Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit.

  • An angel announced the fifth, sixth, and seventh Trumpet judgments as three "woes" in Revelation 8:13, showing that the last three Trumpet judgments increase in severity compared to the previous judgments, and will certainly bring more lamentations, mourning, and woe than ever seen before on the earth.
  • "Stars" can refer to angels in Scripture, both holy and fallen (Job 38:4, 7, Daniel 8:9-11, Amos 5:26).
  • Satan being the "fallen star" who unlocks the bottomless pit, as he is cast out of Heaven near the middle of the Tribulation, before the tormenting locusts are released from the abyss:
  • fallen star unlocks abyss order of events

  • The one with the authority to delegate power over the key to the bottomless pit is Jesus (Revelation 1:18), and He later gives the key to a holy angel from Heaven to seal Satan into the bottomless pit after the Tribulation (Revelation 20:1-3).
  • The key to the bottomless pit is one of the keys to Hades. The bottomless pit is literally: the "pit of the abyss." This pit is in the inner part of the earth (Ezekiel 26:19, 32:18, 24), in the lowest parts of "Hades," the holding place of souls inside the earth. The center of the Earth is in fact "bottomless," as every direction from the center is "up."
  • The compartments of Hades are: "Abraham's bosom (or Paradise)," "a great gulf," and "torments" (Luke 16:23-26, Luke 23:39-43). The fallen angels have their own compartment called "Tartarus" (2 Peter 2:4), which many believe is the deepest part of Hades, known as the abyss, or the pit in the center of the Earth. Jesus was in the heart of the earth during the three days His body was in the grave (Romans 10:6-7, Ephesians 4:8-10), which means He was in the bottomless pit, where He preached to all those imprisoned in all the compartments of Hades (1 Peter 3:18-19, Matthew 12:40).
  • hades

  • Paradise is now in the "third Heaven," which is where God dwells today. Therefore, today Hades is an abode only for spirits that are not saved (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).
  • Death and Hades, or Sheol, has "gates" (Matthew 16:18, Job 17:16, 38:17, Psalms 9:13-14, 107:13-19, Isaiah 38:10). Therefore, Jesus' possession of "the keys of Death and Hades" (Revelation 1:18) represents His power and authority over them and it able to delegate that authority to the "fallen star" Satan to release those restrained behind the "gates" of Hades.

2) And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit.

  • After the fallen star uses the key to open the bottomless pit, a thick dark smoke pours out of the pit, "like the smoke of a great furnace" enough to darken the sun and the air.
  • There are only two other times in Scripture where we see the phrase "smoke of a furnace." The first time is after God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24-28). The second time is when Israel met with God at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16-18). In both cases, fire from God created smoke like the smoke of a furnace.
  • A furnace in Scripture was generally used to refine and purify or smelt metal in a kiln, like the furnace Nebuchadnezzar cast Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego into (Daniel 3). Believers' good works will survive God's refining fire as precious metals and stones, but the rest of the works will burn as refuse and be lost like smoke in a regular fire (1 Corinthians 3:9-15). For unbelievers, and those who take the mark of the beast in the Tribulation, only the smoke from their torment comes out of God's refining fire (Revelation 14:9-11). The smoke coming out of the bottomless pit is the byproduct of those aflame there in torment (Revelation 18:9-10).
  • Smoke is also a characteristic of God's glory, as displayed at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19). This physical manifestation of God's glory depicts His holiness (Isaiah 6:3-5, Revelation 15:8).

3) Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

  • Supernatural locusts come out of the smoke from the bottomless pit and fly out over the earth. These locusts are given power like that of an earthly scorpion, which is the sting in their tail (Revelation 9:10) that can torment humans (Revelation 9:5).
  • These tormenting locusts may be the source of the "sting of death" (1 Corinthians 15:54-56), where unbelievers in Hades pay the wages of their sin by enduring torment in the fire of God (Luke 16). In the 5th Trumpet judgment these locusts are given power to inflict torment on living humans on the earth (Revelation 9:5).
  • When the worst ever natural locust invasion overtook Egypt in the Exodus, their swarms were so thick that they darkened the land, much like smoke would (Exodus 10:12-15). The locusts from the bottomless pit will add to the darkness that characterizes the Tribulation (Joel 2:1-2, Amos 5:18-20, Zephaniah 1:14-15)

4) They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

  • Scripture depicts locusts as judgment from God in the form of a plague on the produce of the field (Exodus 10:14-15, Deuteronomy 28:15, 38, 42, 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, Joel 1:4-7, Amos 4:9, Amos 7:1-2).
  • In contrast to natural locusts, the locusts that come out of the bottomless pit do not harm any vegetation in judgment, but are given authority to torment people with a sting of a scorpion (Revelation 9:3)
  • Only the sealed servants of God are exempt from the locust judgment. It is not clear in Scripture if this includes all believers, as only the 144,000 Jewish witnesses are said to be sealed to be protected from Tribulation judgments. That said, all believers will have the name of God placed on their foreheads, but the timing of that is not specified, nor is it for the purpose of protection from Tribulation judgments. In fact, the Tribulation saints are clearly subject to many of the Tribulation judgments (Revelation 7:16). However, the last three Trumpet judgments, which include all the Bowl judgments, are against the "inhabitants of the earth," which may be only on the unregenerate earth dwellers (Revelation 6:10), and not believers.
  • The Lord will protect His sealed servants from the judgments in the 7-years Tribulation like He did Daniel's friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the fiery furnace that was 7 times hotter than normal (Daniel 3:10-26, Zechariah 13:9).

5) And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man.

  • The locusts from the bottomless pit have a sting like a scorpion. The same Hebrew word for "scorpion" was also used figuratively to describe a scourge or knotted whip with points that would rip into the skin and sting like a strike from a scorpion (1 Kings 12:11-14, 2 Chronicles 10:11-14). This same type of cruel whip is what was likely used when Pilate had Jesus scourged and tortured (Matthew 27:24-26, Mark 15:15, John 19:1).
  • The time the locusts are on the earth will literally be five months of Hell on Earth, because the locusts have the power to torment, but not kill people like they torment the spirits in Hell.
  • Demons are unclean and locusts are clean, which suggests the locusts from the bottomless pit are not demons or unclean spirits, but clean spirits made for the purpose of tormenting the unregenerate, including demons and other fallen spiritual beings.
  • God's promise to "nourish" the Jewish remnant through the second half of the Tribulation and protect them from Satan suggests that God also protects them from the fifth Trumpet judgment, if Satan is the "fallen star" that releases the tormenting locusts (Revelation 12:14). That said, the clear reading of Revelation 9:5 tells us that only those who have the seal of God on their forehead are exempt, and only the 144,000 Jewish servants are said to be sealed (Revelation 7:3).

6) In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.

  • The locusts are restricted to tormenting people, but not killing them, and the those tormented are even prevented from killing themselves. Satan was similarly restricted when God allowed him to take away Job's possessions and torment Job with boils, but Satan was not allowed to take Job's life (Job 2:3-7).
  • Even a taste of Hell on Earth will not move most to repent and turn to God, but God in His mercy gives them five months to do so, making death impossible for them (Revelation 9:20-21). Many will die in the next judgment, only to find themselves in eternal torment with no means of the escape they sought while being tormented by the locusts on earth.

Revelation 9:7-12

7) The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men.

  • The shape of the tormenting locusts is like "horses prepared for battle," having "breastplates like breastplates of iron" (Revelation 9:9). Often horses were clad with a protective metal called "barding." Both the breastplate and head of the armored horse resembles that of a natural locust.
  • The tormenting locusts have a crown on their head that looks like gold. Gold represents holiness and purity, as it retains all of its qualities when tested in fire (Revelation 1:13). This supports the notion that the locusts are clean spirits created for the purpose of tormenting both lost souls of men and unclean spirits (Revelation 9:5).
  • The word translated crown is "stephanos," or a victor's crown, the same type of crown worn by the twenty-four elders in Revelation 4:4 and the rider of the white horse in Revelation 6:2. The locusts wearing the victor's crown shows they are victorious in their mission.
  • The faces of the tormenting locusts were like the faces of men, like the living creatures (Ezekiel 1:5, 10, Revelation 4:7). The locusts having human and non-human features show that these spirit beings are closer to the genre of the cherubim and seraphim than angels who are always described in Scripture as being in the likeness of men.

8) They had hair like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth.

  • The locust's hair like women's hair shows that they have authority over their heads (1 Corinthians 11:6-10). Indeed, the tormenting locusts are under authority of a king (Revelation 9:11).
  • The teeth of the locusts like that of a lion. Both have fangs and both devour (Joel 1:4-7). Natural locusts have mouths with destructive power that is able to strip all the vegetation bare. However, the tormenting locusts from the bottomless pit are not allowed to devour vegetation or their human victims, but only to torment them with their tail. Therefore, the locusts from the bottomless pit having teeth like a lion show that they are capable to devour like their earthly counterparts, but they refrain from doing because of the authority over their heads that prohibits them, symbolized by their hair like that of a woman.

9) And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle.

  • The Greek word translated "breastplates" is "thorax." In English, "thorax" is a term used to describe the chest area of animals, but is more widely used to refer to the midsection of certain kinds of insects called arthropods that have legs and wings like locusts.
  • Breastplates are typically used as armor in battle, but Scripture focuses on a different type of breastplate worn by the high priest called the "breastplate of judgment" (Exodus 28:29-30).
  • The locusts' breastplates are like those made of iron. Iron symbolizes strength that has the power to destroy (Revelation 2:27, Psalms 2:7-9, Daniel 2:40, 7:7, Deuteronomy 28:47-48).
  • The locust wings are loud like the sound of chariots and horses in battle similar to the loud sounds the heavenly cherubim make with their wings (Ezekiel 10:5). The heavenly chariots are likely cherubim who are also found riding the spirit horses of judgment (Zechariah 6, Revelation 6) as part of the heavenly army (2 Kings 6:17, 7:6).
  • The heavenly army appears as both horses going into battle and an army of locusts, much like the tormenting locusts from the bottomless pit (Joel 2:4-5, 8-9, 11, 25). Note the similarities and differences:

Locusts from bottomless pit Heavenly army of locusts
Torment those without the seal of God
(Revelation 9:4)
Removes the northern army coming against Israel (Joel 2:20)
Does not touch vegetation (Revelation 9:4) Devours vegetation with fire (Joel 2:3)
Sting like a scorpion, with the power to torment
but not kill (Revelation 9:10)
A destroying fire burns in front of and behind them (Joel 2:3)
Smoke causes darkness before the locusts emerge (Revelation 9:2) Clouds cause darkness (Joel 2:2) and smoke, blood, and fire come after the northern army's defeat (Joel 2:30-31)
Sun and air darkened (Revelation 9:2) Sun darkened (Joel 2:31)
No earth-shaking mentioned The earth trembles (Joel 2:10)
They have wings to fly (Revelation 9:9) They leap, run, and climb like horses and men (Joel 2:5-6)

10) They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months.

  • The locusts emerging from the smoke of the torment of those in the bottomless pit could be the source of the "sting of death," or the punishment for sin in Hades (1 Corinthians 15:54-56).
  • The Greek word for "stings" is also translated "goads" (Acts 9:4-5, 26:14). To "kick against the goads" is to engage in futile resistance. Goads are sticks with sharp ends used to prod or drive livestock such as cattle (1 Samuel 13:20-21, Ecclesiastes 12:11). The more an animal resists by kicking the goads the more they get inflicted with pain from the sharp object. Likewise, it will be futile to try to escape the sting from the scorpions from the bottomless pit.
  • For five months anyone not protected with the seal of God on their forehead will be subject to the torment inflicted by the locust's sting.

11) And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.

  • Natural locusts do not have a king over them (Proverbs 30:27). The king over the tormenting locusts is an angel called Abaddon in Hebrew, or Apollyon in Greek, which literally translates to "the destroyer." This king can only be a holy angel because the tormenting locusts are "clean" and not unclean spirits that would be ruled over Satan (Revelation 9:5).
  • The Hebrew equivalent "Abaddon" is used to describe Hell as a place of destruction (Psalms 88:9-11, Proverbs 15:11, Job 26:5-6, 31:11-12).
  • "Abaddon" or "Destruction" is also personified along with "Death" (Job 28:20-23). "Death" is a real spiritual entity given power to kill people on earth (Revelation 6:8).
  • The "angel of the Lord" was also called the "destroyer," who was undoubtedly the pre-incarnate Christ (Judges 13:21-22, Exodus 12:23, 29, 1 Corinthians 10:1-2, 5-10, 1 Chronicles 21:15-16, 2 Kings 19:32-35).
  • Jesus has authority to send unbelievers to destruction because He has paid the ransom and received power and authority over Death and Hades (Matthew 10:28, Revelation 1:18).
  • Jesus fits as being "the Destroyer" and King over the tormenting locusts, as He has the key to the bottomless pit, which is just one of the keys of Hades (Revelation 1:18), and has authority to delegate the use of these keys to other angelic beings (Revelation 9:1, 20:1). Jesus was also the destroying angel in the Old Testament. In addition, the name "Destroyer" reflects the Lord's just nature, in that He will "cut off" and destroy the wicked (Psalms 37:28).

12) One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things.

  • The Greek word translated "behold" means "perceive," or "look"(Revelation 1:7). In other words, we are to perceive or understand that the fifth Trumpet judgment is the first "woe," the next judgment is the second "woe," followed by a third "woe" (Revelation 8:13, 9:12-13, 11:14-15).
  • Woe can describe grief, affliction, anguish, deep distress, and lamentation (Revelation 8:13). We find these three woes are not just cries of distress like those expressed by the prophets in the Old Testament, but the use of this word characterizes enormity of what will befall the inhabitants of the earth in these coming judgments. In other words, these three woes are specific judgments that are increasingly severe, compared to other judgments already come.
  • The last Trumpet judgment, or the final "woe," includes all the Bowl judgments (Revelation 15:1). The calamity in the Bowl judgments is the worst "woe" ever experienced on Earth and completes the "coronation of the King" in the seventh Trumpet, when Jesus returns to earth to rule as King after God's wrath is complete (Revelation 19:11, 15-16).

Revelation 9:13-15

13) Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

  • Recall from Revelation 8:3-4, an angel offered the incense of the prayers of the saints on the golden altar before the sounding of the Trumpet judgments began. The priestly parallel on Earth reveals that the offering of incense on the golden altar acts as atonement for sin (Leviticus 16:11-13, 29-30, Numbers 16:44-48).
  • The four horns on the altar represent the power and authority of God to give mercy to those righteous, being covered by the blood of the Lamb, or mete out judgment on the wicked.
  • Recall from Revelation 6, the number "four" represents the Creator and the creation, and interaction between the physical and spiritual realms. Indeed, as shown in the next few sections, four angels are given authority to physically kill a large part of the human population with a supernatural army. In fact, the rest of the chapter is replete with the number four, which underscores the interaction between the physical and spiritual realms of God's creation in this judgment:

Revelation 9:13 4 horns on the altar of incense
4 spices used in the incense (Exodus 30:34-36)
Revelation 9:14-15 4 bound angels
Revelation 9:15 The Euphrates is the 4th river that flowed out of Eden
(Genesis 2:10-14)
Revelation 9:15 4 markings of time (year, month, day, hour)
Revelation 9:17-19 Horses harm or kill in 4 ways (fire, smoke, brimstone, serpent tails)
Revelation 9:20 4 idols made of enduring material (gold, silver, brass, stone)
Revelation 9:21 4 sins (murder, sorcery, sexual immorality, theft)

14) saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates."

  • God gives the angel who blew the sixth trumpet authority to release four angels who are bound at the Euphrates River. The Greek word translated as "bound" means to imprison. Bound angels are fallen angels imprisoned for particular sin (Revelation 9:5, 20:1-3, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 1:6-7).
  • The Euphrates has long symbolized the boundary between the eastern world and the western world, and God established that the river was the north boundary of the land He promised to Abraham (Revelation 16:12, Genesis 15:18). God also shows that His future dominion will reach beyond the Euphrates and Israel's border to the Gentile nations (Psalms 72:8, Zechariah 9:10).
  • The Euphrates River, also referred to in many places as simply "the River," is also a symbol of rebellion against God which caused a barrier between God and man. The first murder took place near Eden from which the Euphrates originated (Genesis 4:9-11, 16). Nimrod established Babylon, formerly Babel, by the Euphrates River, which is where the first global rebellion led by the first global ruler against God occurred (Genesis 10:9-10, 11:3-9). Idolatry was also born out of Babylon and spread to the region on the east side of the Euphrates, and then to the rest of the world (Joshua 24:2-3, 14-15). God told Jeremiah to travel all the way to the Euphrates River from Judah twice to bury and retrieve a sash that symbolized the coming judgment to Israel due to their idolatry that would result in their exile beyond the Euphrates River (Jeremiah 13:4-10, 14, 1 Kings 14:15).
  • All these associations with the Euphrates River show that judgment follows idolatry and rebellion against God. However, continued rebellion and idolatry will continue beyond the sixth Trumpet judgment.

15) So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.

  • God has reserved these four angels for their mission to kill a third of the people on the earth at the time of the sixth Trumpet judgment through a supernatural army of horsemen (Revelation 9:16).
  • Narrowing down the time of the sixth Trumpet judgment to an hour, day, month and year shows it is a precise point-in-time, not a general time like "in those days," or "back in the day." The time of the sixth Trumpet is specific like the "day and hour" the Lord will return after the Tribulation (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32).

Revelation 9:16-21

16) Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them.

  • After the sixth angel releases the four angels from the Euphrates River, John sees an army of 200 million horsemen. The number of horsemen in the Greek is literally twice "murias murias" The Greek word "murias" is the same word used to describe an innumerable count of something (Revelation 5:11), but it can also mean "ten thousand." So, two multiplied by ten thousand squared equals 200 million.
  • Some have tried to equate this vast army of horsemen with the kings from the east that come to fight against Christ in Armageddon at the end of the Tribulation because of Asia's massive population and military (Revelation 16:12-14, 16), but the kings from the east do not come until the end of the Tribulation, the horses and horsemen are supernatural, and the kings that come from the east come to fight the Lord - not to kill people, and lastly these horsemen and horses are under the authority of the four angels from the Euphrates River while the kings from the east are deceived by three unclean spirits to gather and travel west across the river. All these differences show these are two different events at two different times.

17) And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone.

  • The 200 million horses are barded with colorful breastplates described as fiery, hyacinth, and of sulfur or brimstone-like colors. The colors red, blue, and, yellow are not in the Greek, but put in by the translators to try to better describe what John saw. While "fiery" certainly includes hues of red, and sulfur or brimstone is definitely yellow (though it is blue when it burns), hyacinth can describe a range of colors including blue, purple, or jacinth, which is an amber or dark red color found on the breastplate of judgment described in Revelation 4:3.
  • The horses have heads like lions that eject the three plagues of fire, smoke, and brimstone from their mouths like the Leviathan (Job 41:1, 7, 15-21). Having the head or face of a lion shows power and might like the men of valor in David's military (1 Chronicles 12:8). A lion's head would also have lion's teeth that show its destructive power (Joel 1:6-7, Revelation 9:8).

18a) By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed...

  • The number three shows perfect completion, so a fraction in thirds shows less than completion. God shows restraint in the Trumpet judgments by destruction in thirds as shown below, but will complete judgment in the Bowls with unrestrained destruction in Revelation 16:
Third of the trees burned up Revelation 8:7
Third of the sea became blood Revelation 8:8
Third of the living creatures in the sea died Revelation 8:9
Third of the ships destroyed Revelation 8:9
Third of the rivers and springs became wormwood Revelation 8:10-11
Third of the sun struck Revelation 8:12
Third of the moon struck Revelation 8:12
Third of the stars struck Revelation 8:12
Third of the luminaries darkened Revelation 8:12
Third of the day did not shine Revelation 8:12
Third of mankind killed by fire, smoke and brimstone Revelation 9:15-18

18b) ...by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths.

  • The breastplate with the colors of the plagues symbolizes judgment. These three plagues found together in Scripture elsewhere reiterate that judgment is in view. Angels destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone, which caused smoke like a furnace (Genesis 19:1, 12-13, 24-25, 28). God will destroy Babylon by the same plagues at the end of the Tribulation (Isaiah 13:1-6, 19-22, Revelation 18:2, 8, 17-18).
  • God's "whirlwind" that comes upon the wicked and will come during the "time of Jacob's trouble," is a heavenly army with chariots of horses (Jeremiah 30:6-7, 23-24).
  • Fire, smoke, and brimstone are not weapons of the enemy, but clearly describe plagues that God pours out on the wicked in His wrath, but like Satan given authority to release the locusts from the bottomless pit, it appears that the four angels bound and released from the Euphrates River are given authority to use God's heavenly army to kill a third of mankind (Jeremiah 25:32-33).

19) For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.

  • The power to kill is in the plagues that proceed from the 200 million horses' mouths, but they have power to inflict harm with their tails that are like serpents. While a third of mankind is killed by the plagues out of the mouth of the horses, an untold amount may be harmed by the strike of their tail that is like a snake bite.
  • Serpents are often associated with Satan in Scripture, but God sent a serpent plague to judge the children of Israel (Numbers 21:5-6). God warned Judah that he would send horses to destroy the land and serpents to harm them because of their idolatry (Jeremiah 8:16-19).

20a) But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands...

  • God sent fiery serpents to judge Israel. Those who repented lived and God healed, but those who did not repent died (Numbers 21:6-9). Those who get struck in torment by the serpent-like tails of the 200 million horses continue to refuse to repent toward God like Israel. All the unrepentant people in the world will die at the end of the Tribulation because they will reject the "Great Physician" who can heal them of the plagues of judgment for their sin and give them eternal life, if only they would repent and turn toward Him (John 3:14-19).
  • Unrepentant hearts of those who reject Christ will become hardened like Pharaoh when he refused to let the Hebrews go even after he witnessed the miracle of the sorcerers' snakes being eaten by Aaron's snake (Exodus 7:11-13).
  • The people plagued by the horsemen and horses in the sixth Trumpet judgment will refuse to repent of idolatry. Similarly, God warned Judah that they would be judged by horsemen and horses for their idolatry like the northern kingdom (Ezekiel 23:23-31).
  • John refers to crafting of idols as the "work of their hands." People made idols out of precious metals like gold, silver or brass, but also of stone or wood. Jeremiah describes the crafting of idols made of wood decorated with precious metals (Jeremiah 10:3-5, 8-9, 14-15). God wants us to make things with our hands for His glory; not our glory, or the glory of a false god (Psalms 90:17).

20b) that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.

  • While some people invent false gods, demons have deceived many into believing they are gods (Deuteronomy 32:16-17, Psalms 106:35-40, 2 Chronicles 11:14-15, 1 Corinthians 10:18-21).
  • Idols made of metal, stone, or wood are inanimate objects that cannot see, hear, or walk. People who make idols with their hands, and then bow down to worship them are as blind, deaf, and disabled as the idol (Psalms 115:2-8).
  • Spiritual handicaps like blindness and deafness are the result of an unrepentant, rebellious, hardened heart (John 12:37-40, Jeremiah 5:20-23).
  • God will judge the spiritual harlots, or idolaters, in the Tribulation with the 200 million horsemen. Unlike the fifth Trumpet judgment that specifically excludes only the 144,000 Jewish servants (Revelation 9:4), the supernatural horsemen target idolaters who worship the image of the beast (Revelation 13).

21) And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Sins of the idolaters Greek Definition
Murder phonos Intentional killing of another person
Sorcery or Witchcraft phármakos Enchantments using drugs
Sexual Immorality porneia Fornication, harlotry
Theft klemma The act of stealing

  • Jezebel was the epitome of idol worship and spiritual harlotry in the Old Testament (Revelation 2:20-22). All four sins of the idolaters in the Tribulation were also found in Jezebel (1 Kings 18:4, 19, 21:7-16, 2 Kings 9:22).
  • God will cripple the spiritual perception of those who have hardened their hearts toward him. The drugs used in sorcery may play a role in not only dulling the physical senses but also the spiritual senses, as many drugs can alter the state of the mind, opening people up to demonic deception and perversion that leads people further away from God (Acts 13:8-10).
  • The purpose of God's judgment is to bring repentance. Rebellion and impenitence in the face of judgment is foolishness because of their hardened hearts. The reason God blinds them to truth and understanding is because they don't want it (Jeremiah 5:3-4, Proverbs 27:22, Romans 1:22-32). Continued defiance in the face of corrective punishment eventually turns to destruction (Amos 4:9-12) and eventually eternal destruction in the lake of fire, where they will suffer eternal death by the same plagues of the 200 million horsemen (Revelation 14:9-11, 21:8, 22:14-15).

Revelation 10:1-3

1) I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.

  • The Greek word for "mighty" is "ischuros," which can also be translated "strong." John uses this Greek word to describe three other angels in Revelation. The first mighty or strong angel appeared at the throne of God (Revelation 5:1-2). Two more mighty or strong angels appear when God judges Babylon (Revelation 18:1-2, 21). The archangel Michael is a "strong" angel.
  • Jesus is this mighty angel because the description shows that it is Him:
  • The mighty angel is clothed with a cloud which represents God's glory (Exodus 16:10). Clouds can also represent the armies of Heaven, which include the saints (Jude 1:14-15, Zechariah 14:4-5) and the holy angels (Matthew 25:31). So while angels appear as clouds, they are never said to be clothed in clouds like this mighty angel.
  • The rainbow shows that judgment from the throne of God cannot come by a global flood because of the covenant He made with Noah (Isaiah 54:9-10). God will keep His promise not to flood the earth in global judgment; instead He will pour out His Bowl judgments on the earth, which include loathsome sores, blood, fire, darkness, demonic deception, and tectonic upheaval (Revelation 16). This global judgment must come because the inhabitants of the earth broke the everlasting covenant (Isaiah 24:1-6).
  • There are only two other times Scripture describes a face shining "like the sun," and both describe the Lord (Matthew 17:1-3, Revelation 1:16). The bright countenance like the sun is also indicative of the Lord's glory like the cloud (Exodus 34:29-30, Luke 2:8-9, Matthew 28:2-3).
  • The mighty angel had feet like pillars of fire. The glory of the Lord appeared as a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day (Numbers 14:13-14). Pillars are the supporting beams or poles that help support a structure (Revelation 3:12), such as a temple (Judges 16:26). The two pillars in the temple of God were bronze (1 Kings 7:16) and John describes the Lord's feet as being bronze, which symbolizes purification, strength, and judgment (Revelation 1:15, Daniel 10:6). Bronze purified in a furnace glows red-hot like a fire. Ezekiel describes the Lord's legs and feet as fire, like mighty angel's feet (Ezekiel 1:27). The mighty angel's fiery, bronze feet show He will subject everything under His feet through judgment when He returns in glory, because fiery bronze symbolizes purification.

2a) He had a little book open in his hand.

  • The mighty angel holds an open book in his hand. An open book is an unsealed book in contrast to a sealed book (Daniel 12:4).
  • The book the mighty angel holds is a "biblaridion" or a little book in the Greek, compared to the "biblion" in Revelation 5:1 which is a book or scroll, but not a "little book," as it is about 30 feet by 15 feet, or 20 cubits by 10 cubits (Zechariah 5:1-3).

2b) And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land....

  • The mighty angel puts his feet on the earth and the sea. Putting something under one's feet shows subjection. This means the mighty angel puts the earth and sea under his dominion. This only makes sense if the mighty angel is Christ (1 Corinthians 15:24-28, Hebrews 2:8).
  • Christ's physical possession of the earth does not actually occur until God finishes His wrath in the Bowl judgments at the end of the Tribulation, but He proclaims His dominion at the sounding of the seventh Trumpet, before the Bowl judgments (Revelation 11:15).
  • The right hand can symbolize favor, strength, protection, or salvation (Revelation 1:16). God also favored the right side in consecrating priests - their right hands, feet, thighs, and ears (Leviticus 8:22-27). The mighty angel placing the right foot in the sea may show authority and strength over the Gentile nations represented by the sea, and defeat of Satan and the beast, ending their rule and dominion over the earth.

3) ...and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices.

  • Both angels and saints in Heaven cry out in a loud voice in Revelation 6:10, 7:2, 18:2, and 19:17. However, John doesn't say any of them roar like a lion.
  • The Lord is "the lion of the tribe of Judah" (Revelation 5:5). He will roar right before He returns to Earth to destroy His enemies and fight against those who are against Israel (Jeremiah 25:29-38, Joel 3:12-16, Isaiah 31:4-5).
  • In the Greek, the word translated thunder comes from the same root as the word for roar. In the Old Testament, thunder and roar are also translated from the same Hebrew word. Therefore, you could exchange "roar" for "thunder" in passages that speak of God's voice (1 Samuel 2:10, Job 37:2-5, Psalms 18:7-14, 77:16-20).
  • The Scriptures show that only the Lord and the living creatures have voices like thunder. After the mighty angel roars, John hears seven thunders. The Greek word "heautou" as a reflexive pronoun indicates that the seven thunders each uttered their own voice. Since there are seven distinct voices, this rules out the four living creatures as uttering the thunders and suggests that the seven thunders are from the Lord instead. The thunders and voices that come from God's throne in the heavenly temple strengthen this idea (Revelation 4:5, 8:5, 11:19, 16:18).
  • While we do not know what the thunders said, it is interesting the following Psalm describes the Lord's voice as thunder and gives seven descriptions of His voice:
    Psalms 29:1-11 - A Psalm of David. Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

    [1] The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders; the LORD is over many waters.
    [2] The voice of the LORD is powerful;
    [3] the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
    [4] The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon.
    He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox.
    [5] The voice of the LORD divides the flames of fire.
    [6] The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
    the LORD shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh.
    [7] The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth,
    and strips the forests bare; and in His temple everyone says, "Glory!"

    The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood, and the LORD sits as King forever. The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.
  • It should not surprise us that the Lord's voice is sevenfold. The Holy Spirit is sevenfold (Revelation 4:5, 5:6) and the Lamb of God has seven horns which show His perfect power and authority (Revelation 5:6). "Seven" is the number for perfection, or fullness. (See "Prophetic Patterns in Numbers"). This number is replete throughout Revelation and points to the Lord and His perfection.

Revelation 10:4-7

4) Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them."

  • John hears what the seven thunders say and apparently understood what they said, because he was about to write what he heard. However, a voice from Heaven tells John not to write what he heard, but to seal them up. To "seal" something in the Greek means to close or make it secure (Revelation 5:1).
  • Daniel wrote down prophecies he heard, but had to seal them up (Daniel 8:26, 12:4). In Daniel's case, sealing the book meant that it would not be understood until the time of the end. In contrast, John is not to even write what he heard the seven thunders say, yet the voice from Heaven commanded him to seal them up. This means John could not share with anyone what he had heard; he sealed them in his mind.
  • Some ask why God would seal what the seven thunders said when God's purpose for giving the Revelation to John was to reveal who Jesus Christ is and show what will take place in preparation for the Kingdom. The answer is that God reveals things that are useful to us, but it is His glory to conceal things (Deuteronomy 29:29, Proverbs 25:2).

5) The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven...

  • John reiterates that the mighty angel is standing on the sea and the land which symbolizes Christ's dominion over the earth (Revelation 10:2). Now the mighty angel raises his hand to Heaven to make an oath in God's name like Abraham (Genesis 14:22-23). In every other case in Scripture, it is God who raised His hand as a gesture when He made an oath.

6) ...and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer....

  • The mighty angel makes an oath and swears by "Him who lives forever and ever," who created all things. This is a title of Christ (Revelation 4:9-11).
  • Some challenge that the mighty angel could not be Christ because He cannot swear by Himself, but God does swear by Himself several times in Scripture (Hebrews 6:13, Genesis 22:15-17, Isaiah 45:22-23, Jeremiah 22:5, Jeremiah 44:26, Amos 6:8, Deuteronomy 32:39-42).
  • Listing all that God created in the heavens, the earth, and the sea reinforces the truth that He is the one and only God and He will prevail over all that He created, even though there is resistance from those in unbelief.
  • The mighty angel makes an oath that there would be no more "delay," which in the Greek literally says "no more time." This does not mean that time ceases to exist, but that an appointed or specific period of time is about to end like sand in an hour-glass that runs out. A man clothed in linen, which the appearance of Christ made an oath almost identical to the mighty angel; he showed Daniel this specific time period that the mighty angel announces is coming to an end, which is "time, times, and half a time," or 3 ½ years in length (Daniel 12:6-7).
  • Time times and half a time

  • The "time, times, and half a time" in Daniel 12:7 is the last 3 ½ year period leading up to the Kingdom Age, when Israel's power will be completely "shattered" in the middle of the Tribulation. This period of trouble, worse than anything ever experienced on earth, begins when Michael stands up to protect Israel and ends with deliverance of the Jewish believers who will enter the Kingdom and receive their inheritance (Daniel 12:1, 7-13).

7) ...but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.

  • The sounding of the seventh Trumpet ushers in the final act of the Tribulation before Jesus physically returns to the earth to establish the Kingdom. The last Trumpet judgment, which completes the wrath of God in the Bowl judgments (Revelation 15:1) finishes the "mystery of God." This mystery is God's plan to reconcile all creation in Christ (Ephesians 1:7-10).
  • Paul also tells us that part of this mystery is the blinding of the Jews. God brought salvation to the Gentiles to provoke the Jews to jealousy, and this will lead to their reconciliation. God will lift their blindness at the end of the Tribulation when Jesus the "Deliverer" returns ending the "times of the Gentiles," which is the Gentile rule over Israel that began when Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians conquered Judah (Romans 11:7, 11, 25-27).

Revelation 10:8-11

8) Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, "Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth."

  • The voice in Heaven that told John to seal up the seven thunders in Revelation 10:4 tells him to take the little book that the mighty angel is holding open in his hand. This voice from Heaven has great authority and commands John to take the little book from the hand of the mighty angel, who himself has great authority with the earth and sea under his feet (Revelation 10:2). Undoubtedly, the voice from Heaven with authority over the mighty angel is God the Father (2 Peter 1:17-18, John 12:28-32).
  • The mighty angel held the little book in his hand when he swore the oath that there would be no more delay to finish the 3 ½ year period shown to Daniel (Revelation 10:6). This suggests that the little book is the same prophecy the man in linen gave to Daniel.

9-10) So I went to the angel and said to him, "Give me the little book." And he said to me, "Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth." Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter.

  • John goes to the mighty angel in obedience to the voice from Heaven and asks for the little book. The mighty angel tells John to eat the scroll and goes on to tell John that the scroll will taste sweet, but make his stomach bitter. Ezekiel had a similar experience (Ezekiel 2:3-10, 3:1-14). Jeremiah and Daniel also describe a bitter feeling of pain and sickness after receiving God's prophetic Word (Jeremiah 15:15-18, Daniel 8:23-27).
  • Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel explain that they were bitter, pained, and sick because the prophecies given to them bore judgment on their brethren the Jewish people. It is like the idiom: "It is a bitter pill to swallow," which means it was hard for the prophets to accept that judgment was coming on their people, in addition to God giving them responsibility to warn their brethren that judgment was coming, even though they would reject the message (Lamentations 3:1, 5, 14-15, 18-24, 37-38).
  • While these judgments are bitter in John's stomach, they taste sweet as honey in his mouth, even His words of judgment (Psalms 19:9-11, 119:103). While physical food keeps us alive, God's Word sustains us spiritually, which is why it tastes so good (Psalms 34:8, Jeremiah 15:16, Deuteronomy 8:3). Those who rebel against God's sweet and good word will reap the curses and not the blessings in the Word.

11) And he said to me, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings."

  • The contents of the "little book" are clearly God's prophesied judgment. Ezekiel and Jeremiah ate prophetic messages about Israel (Ezekiel 2-3, Jeremiah 15). The mighty angel tells John that the prophetic message he ate is about many "peoples, nations, tongues, and kings" that he has already prophesied about.
  • The four-fold aspect of these divisions of people shows a relationship between humans and the earth. These divisions also show representation among all people groups, but also weakness that is still present since the tower of Babel, when God confounded the people's language and scattered them to stop them from building a global kingdom (Genesis 11:6-9).
  • In the Tribulation, God will allow the beast to have dominion over the four-fold division of people groups and form a global kingdom (Revelation 13:4-7). However, this global kingdom will not stand due to its weaknesses (Daniel 2:40-44). God will defeat this weak kingdom divided by peoples, nations, tribes and tongues, and replace it with a permanent kingdom, uniting the four-fold people groups with one language like before the Tower of Babel (Zephaniah 3:8-9).
  • God's judgments on these people groups continue in the Trumpet judgments into the second half of the Tribulation (Revelation 8-9). Now John is going to prophesy again about all these people groups, but only for the time period covered in the "little book" that he ate, which is the 3 ½ year period shown to Daniel (Revelation 10:6). In fact, in the next few chapters John will prophesy about this 3 ½-year period two more times in two interludes, as shown below:
3 perspectives on the last half of the Tribulation

Revelation 11:1-2

1) Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there."

  • The temple works to turn Israel back to God in repentance, and eventually will point them to Christ.
  • The "altar of incense" represents intercession, atonement, and judgment, which represents Christ, as He is both the Mediator who intercedes for the saints and the Judge of men.
  • A rod can be used to measure something and can also be used as a scepter or staff of someone in authority. Christ will rule with justice with a "rod of iron," or a rod of correction.
  • Measuring the temple, altar, and those who worship there show God's recognition and ownership of them.
  • The act of measuring the temple, altar, and those who worship with a rod also shows that they are under judgment by Christ, who is the foundation stone that will rule in the coming Kingdom with justice (Isaiah 28:16-17).
  • Two-thirds of Israel, those who rebel against the corrective rod of the Lord, will perish (Zechariah 13:8-9). But God will accept the repentant hearts of His people who look to this temple (2 Chronicles 6, Jonah 2:4-7) because they seek to return to Him (Jeremiah 24:6-7), which is the central purpose of the Tribulation - "To make reconciliation for iniquity" (Daniel 9:24).

2) But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.

  • God measuring the temple shows ownership and recognition, so not measuring the outer court and giving it to the Gentiles shows God's rejection of the outer court.
  • The Greek words translated "leave out" literally means to cast out, throw out, or expel something or someone, so the act of "casting out" the outer court of the temple to the Gentiles also shows that God has rejected it.
  • The Jews called the outer court of the temple the "Court of the Gentiles." Christ broke down this "wall of separation" (Ephesians 2:11-16) between the Jewish inner court and the Gentile outer court which, before the Cross, dictated that one had to become Jewish to gain access to God - now all become saved through Jesus.
  • In the Tribulation, God not only gives the outer court to the Gentiles showing His rejection of it, He gives the "holy city" Jerusalem over to the Gentiles as well.
  • The Gentiles will "tread the holy city for forty-two months," the last half of the Tribulation. To tread or trample underfoot means to trample with scorn or disgrace. The trampling of Jerusalem began in 70AD and will continue until the "times of the Gentiles," or a time of Gentile rule ends when Jesus returns (Luke 21:20-24).
  • The forty-two months that Jerusalem is trampled by the Gentiles is the same length of time the antichrist, or the beast is given authority to continue his conquest of the world (Revelation 13:4-5).

Revelation 11:3-6

3) "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."

  • The two witnesses belong to the mighty angel from Revelation 10, which supports the notion that the mighty angel is Jesus.
  • The Lord gives power to His two witnesses to prophesy, which means to share something God reveals that cannot be understood by the natural mind. A lot of revelation is about future events and coming judgment, usually accompanied with a plea for repentance.
  • A witness does more than prophesy. A witness gives testimony, which is evidence or proof for something. As a point of interest, "witness" and "testimony" come from the same Greek word "martus," which is also where we derive our English word "martyr." The process of bearing witness was not intended to lead to the death of the witness, although witnesses often did die for their testimonies.
  • While the two witnesses also die a martyr's death, as did most of the prophets in Scripture, they are primarily witnesses because of their testimony, not their death. However, dying as a martyr strengthens the witnesses' testimony and its impact on others.
  • Charging someone with a sin requires the testimony of two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15). Likewise, God has chosen His two witnesses to not only testify to the world that He is the one and only God, but to also accuse the world of their rebellion against God and His Word.
  • While these two witnesses are clearly human because they are later killed and resurrected (Revelation 11:7-12), Jesus shows that the Word of God itself acts as two witnesses: "the law and the prophets" which testify about God (Luke 16:16-31, Luke 24:44, Romans 3:21-26).
  • Since many associate Moses and Elijah with the "law and the prophets," the picture of the transfiguration strengthens the belief that Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses themselves, however, there is support for other candidates too. Regardless of who the two witnesses are, God will send them on an important mission: To testify about God, offer the Gospel message, and preach against the earth dwellers who continue to reject Him in their rebellion.
  • The two witnesses' ministry of 1,260 days best aligns with the 42 months of the antichrist's rule in the second half of the Tribulation for several reasons, including the fact that every antichrist type in Scripture had an opposing prophet. The antichrist has a sidekick called the false prophet, and both are "beasts" who stand against God (Revelation 13). So, it makes sense that God sends two prophets to stand up against the two beasts.
  • The two witnesses wear sackcloth, which is a dark coarse material made of hair from goats or camels used to make sacks (Revelation 6:12), but became the attire associated with people in mourning and repentance. Sackcloth made of coarse hair was also the attire of the prophets in the Old Testament; even the false prophets (Zechariah 13:4). Like a wolf in sheep's clothing, the false prophets wore sackcloth to deceive because sackcloth was the customary attire of the prophets. But true prophets wore the sackcloth as an outward show of their inward contrite and humble spirit toward the Lord.

4) These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.

  • The two olive trees were Joshua and Zerubbabel (Zechariah 3-4). Joshua was the high priest during the days of Zechariah the prophet. Zerubbabel was of the seed of David chosen by King Darius of Persia to rule over Judah as governor. Zechariah's prophecy looked forward to the coming Messiah, or the "Branch," who would be both a ruler of the seed of David and high priest. This prophecy found fulfillment in Jesus, but Zerubbabel and Joshua held those positions in their day, acting as types of the coming Messiah. Also, God anointed Zerubbabel and Joshua to lead the people in rebuilding the temple after the exile (Haggai 1:1-2, 14).
  • The anointing of Zerubbabel and Joshua speaks to the purpose of their mission. The word translated "anointed" literally means "oil." So it makes sense that the two olive trees in Zechariah were also called the two anointed ones, since the oil typically used in Scripture comes from olives. The usage of the word shows that some who are "anointed" are chosen for a specific purpose. As a formality, oil was typically poured over the head of the anointed one. People anointed their kings with oil to symbolize that they chose the king to rule and reign over them.
  • Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah that Israel was looking for. Incidentally, the Hebrew word translated "messiah" is the same word translated as "anointed." The only time we find this Hebrew word translated as "messiah" is in Daniel 9:25-26, otherwise, Jesus is always referred to as God's anointed in the Old Testament.
  • The two olive trees stand on either side of a lamp stand. The bowl is God the Father, the golden oil is the Holy Spirit, and the lamp stand is Christ (Zechariah 4:11-14, Revelation 5:8). Trees represent people throughout Scripture (Revelation 7:3). Olive trees are the source of the oil that represents the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Zerubbabel and Joshua represented as trees show that they were full of the Holy Spirit. The two witnesses are pictured as olive trees, but they are also lamp stands that share the light of the Word, or "the law and the prophets," with the world.

5) And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.

  • God protects His two witnesses during their ministry and gives them power to kill their enemies with literal fire that comes out of their mouths, but the fire may also symbolize the fire of God's word that has the power to destroy (Jeremiah 23:29).

6) These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.

  • God gives the two witnesses power to stop the rain like Elijah did, and it will not rain during the time of their ministry. Interestingly, it did not rain during Elijah's ministry for the same duration of the two witnesses' ministry of 3 ½ years. The Lord will restore the literal rain when He returns (Isaiah 30:19, 23-26) and also rain down righteousness (Hosea 10:12, Isaiah 45:8, 17).
  • In addition to preventing rainfall, God will give the two witnesses power to turn water into blood and strike the earth with plagues. The two witnesses likely arrive shortly before the Trumpet judgments begin, when they will witness against the beast and his kingdom and strike the earth with plagues. In fact, the Trumpet judgments parallel most of the plagues in Egypt, and might be part of the plagues called down by the word of the two witnesses that signal the angels to sound their trumpets:

  • Plagues on Egypt Tribulation Judgment(s)
    Nile turned to blood (Exodus 7:14-25) Sea, rivers, and streams turns to blood.
    2nd Trumpet (Revelation 8:8-9) and
    2nd & 3rd Bowls (Revelation 16:3-7)
    Frogs (Exodus 8:1-15) Demonic frogs gather the kingdoms of
    the world to battle Christ in Armageddon.
    6th Bowl (Revelation 16:12-16)
    Gnats (Exodus 8:16-19) -
    Flies (Exodus 8:20-32) -
    Death of Livestock (Exodus 9:1-7) -
    Boils (Exodus 9:8-12) Sores on those who take the mark of the beast
    and the inhabitants of his kingdoms.
    1st & 5th Bowls (Revelation 16:2, 10-11)
    Hail (Exodus 9:14-35) Hail on the earth and the nations.
    1st & 7th Trumpet (Revelation 8:7, 11:19)
    7th Bowl (Revelation 16:17-21)
    Locusts (Exodus 10:1-20) Men tortured by demonic locusts.
    5th Trumpet (Revelation 9:1-11)
    Darkness (Exodus 10:21-29) Darkness on the beast's kingdom.
    5th Bowl (Revelation 16:10-11)
    Death of the firstborn (Exodus 11-12) -

  • God withheld the rain and brought plagues to Israel during the days of Amos to persuade them to come back when they turned away from Him (Amos 4:7-12). Solomon prayed that his people would turn back toward God after times of drought and plague and look toward the temple as a first step in returning to God (2 Chronicles 6:26-31). Looking forward to the Tribulation, one-third of the Jews will survive the judgments and plagues (Zechariah 13:9), but they will have to look solely to God and not His temple after the antichrist defiles the temple, which prompts the Jewish remnant to flee to the wilderness where God will protect them (Matthew 24:15-21, Revelation 12:6, 13-17). The two witnesses' miraculous signs and plagues help authenticate their message and will help turn the Jews back to God and direct their path to safety.

Revelation 11:7-13

7)When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.

  • God will lift His hand of protection when the 1,260 days of the two witnesses' ministry end (Revelation 11:3). The beast, who is the antichrist will overcome the two witnesses and kill them.
  • The beast will die of a mortal wound, go to the bottomless pit (Revelation 9:1), and rise from the dead, returning from the bottomless pit with his wound healed (Revelation 13:3, 17:8).
  • The phrase "that ascends" is a present active participle, which in this case is a verb used as a noun. In other words, it is a title because it is not a continuing action.
  • The context of Revelation 11:2-3 shows that the two witnesses' ministry also occurs during the trampling of Jerusalem in the second half of the Tribulation. Therefore, there will be about 3 ½ years between the time the beast ascends out of the bottomless pit and the time that he overcomes the two witnesses.

8) And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

  • After the beast kills the two witnesses, their bodies will lie in the street of the "great city, where Jesus died on the cross, which was Jerusalem. John calls Jerusalem "Sodom and Egypt," which shows the spiritual state of the city at the end of the two witnesses' ministry. Sodom was a city destroyed in the days of Abraham for their abominable sexual immorality (Genesis 19, Jude 1:7). Egypt is the nation associated with bondage and idolatry (Deuteronomy 13:5-7, 10).
  • God compared Israel to both Egypt and Sodom when they turned away from Him (Amos 4:10-11, Isaiah 1:9-11) When Israel turned from God, they committed spiritual harlotry or idolatry like Sodom and Egypt (Jeremiah 23:14, Ezekiel 16:2-50, 23:2-27).
  • Jerusalem is utterly depraved right before the last Tribulation judgments fall on Earth with immorality, idolatry, and sorcery (enchantments using drugs) are rampant on the earth (Revelation 9:20-21). Paul shows us that idolatry and sexual immorality, particularly homosexuality, characterize a society given over to a depraved mind before God's righteous judgment falls (Romans 1:18-32).

9) Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves.

  • Four types of people groups show that all people of the earth are in view (Revelation 10:11). That means that all people groups of the earth will gaze on the dead bodies of the two witnesses lying in the street of Jerusalem. Only in the last century could the world view these dead bodies in Jerusalem through satellite technology and media, such as television and the internet.
  • The two witnesses will lie dead in the street dead for 3 ½ days, a day for each year they prophesied. Those who gaze on the witnesses' dead bodies will prohibit their burial (Psalms 79:1-4). Indignity and dishonor are associated with prohibiting burial of the dead (2 Kings 9:36-37, Isaiah 14:19-20, Jeremiah 7:30-34, 8:1-2, 14:15-16, 16:3-9).

10) And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

  • After the beast kills the two witnesses, the earth dwellers celebrate their death. The earth dwellers are God's enemies who follow the beast (Revelation 6:10, 13:8-14), in contrast to believers who are citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20).
  • The fact that the earth dwellers celebrate the two witnesses' death shows that they place the blame for their misery on the two witnesses and reject their testimony of God. Even when God pours out the last of the Tribulation judgments, the earth dwellers refuse to repent and even blaspheme God, recognizing He is the source of their misery (Revelation 16:8-11). As a sign of the earth dwellers' jubilant relief following the death of the two witnesses, they exchange gifts and celebrate.

11) Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.

  • God will resurrect the two witnesses after 3 ½ days, by giving them the breath of life. The word for "breath" is the same word translated "spirit" or "wind," (Revelation 7:1). When God gives the breath of life to something, He gives it a spirit, making it a living soul or being (Genesis 2:7, 7:21-23). Death is separation of the body from the soul and spirit (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7, 2 Corinthians 5:6-8). So when God resurrects people He restores the soul and spirit to the body (Acts 2:30-31). When God resurrects Israel spiritually He will give them the breath of life and they will also stand on their feet like the two witnesses (Ezekiel 37:4-10).
  • Great fear will fall on those who watch the resurrection. Great fear fell on wicked people after witnessing or hearing about God's miracles (Psalms 105:38, Joshua 2:8-11, 1 Samuel 12:17-18). Right after the two witnesses ascend to Heaven, an earthquake will occur in Jerusalem and people will become more fearful and glorify God and the beast will lose credibility. Those who have taken the mark of the beast in allegiance to the beast with no hope of redemption (Revelation 14:11) will certainly become fearful when God defeats their beloved "god" who deceived them through the two witnesses' resurrection.

12) And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.

  • God called Moses to come up to the top of the mountain and will call the Church to come up to Heaven in the rapture with a loud trumpet sound, similar to the Lord's call to John and the two witnesses to come up to Heaven.
  • The phrase "come up here" in Proverbs 25:6-7, shows that a king will humble people who exalt themselves. This fits with the "Kingdom of Heaven" message, where those who are humble get exalted (Luke 14:8-11). On the other hand, the Lord will put down and humble those who exalt themselves, including kings, the antichrist, and Satan.
  • The two witnesses will go up to Heaven in a cloud like the Church and Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Acts 1:9-11, Luke 21:27). Clouds also symbolize the glory of God (Revelation 10:1).

13) In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.

  • A massive earthquake strikes Jerusalem within an hour after the two witnesses ascend to Heaven, causing great destruction and loss of life. Earthquakes have always been a fearful sign from God among other catastrophes that often lead to geopolitical upheaval (Luke 21:10-11).
  • The earthquake occurs in the "same hour" of the two witnesses' resurrection and rapture to Heaven, which further authenticates the witnesses' testimony. The "same hour" is a figure of speech indicating that a short span of time occurs between events.
  • One-tenth of the city will fall. Ten is the perfect number of divine order. 7,000 people die in the earthquake that strikes Jerusalem. This number is a multiple of seven, which means "perfection," and ten, which means "perfect divine order." This shows that the number of people who will die is divinely chosen.
  • There is one item to note concerning the 7,000 killed in the earthquake that is lost in most English translations. The English word "people," as in "seven thousand people," is not in the Greek. Instead, John uses the word typically translated "names." Having a "name" in Scripture shows notoriety (Revelation 3:1). So, Christ confesses "names" that are not blotted out of the Book of Life before the Father, but He blots 7,000 "names" out of Jerusalem, suggesting that these were notable people of Jerusalem who worship the beast and not God and perhaps they lead the people into revelry.

Revelation 11:14-19

14) The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.

  • A woe can describe grief, affliction, anguish, deep distress, and lamentation. We find these three woes are not just cries of distress like those expressed by the prophets in the Old Testament. In context of judgment, "woe" characterizes enormity of what will befall the inhabitants of the earth. In other words, these three woes are specific judgments that are increasingly severe, compared to other judgments already come (Revelation 8:13, 9:12).
  • The fifth, sixth, and seventh Trumpet judgments are the three woes:
  • Judgments and Woes

  • The seventh Trumpet is the "coronation of the King," but Jesus does not return to rule as King until the Bowl judgments and God's wrath are complete. Therefore, it is generally accepted that the last Trumpet judgment, or the final "woe," is God's final wrath and includes all the Bowl judgments that herald the return of the King (Revelation 15:1).
  • The last and third woe will come "quickly," which means swift, speedily, or without delay (Revelation 3:11). In other words, the Bowl judgments in the third woe will occur rapidly, which supports God pouring them out over the course of a few days or weeks at the end of the Tribulation (Revelation 11:3).

15) Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"

  • The seventh Trumpet judgment is the coronation of the "King of kings" (Revelation 19:16) right before He physically returns to Earth to begin His eternal reign. At the coronations of Judah's kings they blew the trumpet, or the horn (1 Kings 1:39-40, 2 Chronicles 23:11-13).
  • The only other place in Scripture we see seven trumpets is in the capture of Jericho (Joshua 6:2-10). Joshua is a type of Jesus. In fact, the name "Joshua" in Hebrew is "Yeshua," which transliterates to Jesus. The seven priests are a type of the seven angels who announce judgment by sounding seven trumpets. The Hebrew people were silent until the sounding of the trumpets. After the priests sounded the trumpets, the people shouted and God destroyed Jericho and Joshua took the city. Likewise, after a "half-hour of silence," seven angels will sound seven trumpets, and after the seventh trumpet Heaven will shout in a loud voice what is about to take place - God will destroy the kingdoms of this world in His final wrath in the Bowl judgments and His Son will reign over the earth.

16) And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God...

  • The twenty-four elders continue the "coronation of the King," falling on their faces in worship and praise. The pattern of their worship suggests that the "loud voices in Heaven" who began the coronation in Revelation 11:15 are the living creatures, angels, and saints because the elders fall down after their "loud" praises.

17) ...saying: "We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned."

  • The twenty-four elders give praise and thanksgiving to the "king of Kings" in His coronation, because God will bring justice on the wicked (Psalms 75:1-10), and He will also humble the wicked and exalt the righteous (Revelation 11:12).
  • The title: "Who is and who was and who is to come" describes the eternal nature of the Lord (Revelation 1:4, 1:8, 4:8, 16:5-7, Micah 5:2, Isaiah 9:6, John 17:24). The Old Testament version of this eternal title for God is "from everlasting to everlasting" (1 Chronicles 16:36, Psalms 41:13, 90:2, 103:17, 106:48).
  • The Greek word translated as "Almighty" can mean ruler of all, the one who holds all, the one exercising absolute dominion with unrestricted power (Revelation 1:8), or "omnipotent," as translated in Revelation 19:6. In short, the title "Almighty" shows God's sovereignty.
  • The Lord has always been all-powerful, but He has refrained from taking power over the Kingdoms of the world. However, when Christ returns, He will come in great power, tear down the worldly kingdoms, and set up His righteous Kingdom (Mark 13:24-26, Daniel 7:13-14).
  • While the Lord created all dominions and powers (Colossians 1:16) and always had the power to reign, He has not taken power to reign yet, but has allowed Satan to rule the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8-9). In the Tribulation, Satan will give his power to the beast and he will reign over the kingdoms of the world during the last half of the Tribulation (Revelation 17). Then Jesus will begin to take power to conquer the kingdoms He already has sovereignty over after defeating the beast by resurrecting the two witnesses. Similarly, David did not reign until Saul died and did not take power to rule over all of Israel until the house of Saul fell, even though he was the rightful king for years before he began to rule.

18) "The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth."

  • In God's final wrath, people become so enraged that they blaspheme God and gather together in a vain plot to battle against the King of kings (Revelation 16:9-21, Revelation 19:11-19, Psalms 46:6-10).
  • After the Lord completes His wrath, He will judge His people (Psalms 50:1-6). Unbelievers are not in view in the judgment cited by the twenty-four elders, because only believers receive rewards from the Lord. Also, this judgment is specific to dead saints and prophets, though the Lord will judge both the living and the dead in His Kingdom (2 Timothy 4:1). The Lord judges the saints who survive the Tribulation in the "Sheep and Goat judgment" and enter the Kingdom without dying (Matthew 25:31-46).
  • The dead saints who the Lord resurrects and rewards include His servants the prophets and the rest of the saints who fear the Lord's name, which describes His character and who He is (Revelation 3:1). These saints are small and great, of all statures (Psalms 115:11-16, Malachi 3:14-18, Revelation 13:16, 19:18).
  • After the Lord judges and rewards His saints, He will "destroy those who destroy the earth," meaning those who have morally corrupted the earth and the reason the Lord destroyed the earth in the flood (Genesis 6:6-13).

19) Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.

  • After the "coronation of the King" that started in Revelation 11:15, the temple of God in Heaven opens, revealing the ark of His covenant. This is not the ark of the covenant made by Moses which held the ten commandments; this is the heavenly ark that set the pattern for the earthly ark (Hebrews 8:4-5).
  • The heavenly ark is in the Most Holy Place in the heavenly temple, where Jesus offered His blood to redeem men (Hebrews 9:11-12).
  • The ark of the covenant serves as a sign for Israel. Just as the temple reminded Israel of their iniquity (Revelation 11:1), the ark of the covenant also reminds Israel of their corruption. The contents in the ark stood as a testimony of their rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 31:26-27, Numbers 17:10, Exodus 16:33-34).
  • After Israel turns back to God, acknowledging their transgression against God's covenant, the ark of the covenant will no longer come to mind (Jeremiah 3:13-17). God will make a new covenant with Israel, and the Law will no longer be kept in an ark, but written on the hearts of men in a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
  • The ark is a reminder of the covenant between Israel and God, which Israel broke, but the Gentiles broke the everlasting covenant God made with Noah (Isaiah 24:5-6, Genesis 9:16-17). This everlasting covenant defiled by the inhabitants of the earth is also known as the "natural law," where the laws God placed in nature help guide the conscience, acting as a law to follow for those not under the Mosaic Law (Romans 2:12-16). God will judge the world for breaking the everlasting covenant again in the Tribulation.
  • An earthquake and great hail follow the lightnings, noises, and thunderings in Heaven. Earthquakes stand as fearful signs from God among other catastrophes (Revelation 11:13). The noises, thunderings, and lightnings that follow the revealing of the ark of the covenant in Heaven also appear before the Seal judgments and the Trumpet judgments, and after the Bowl judgments:

  • Lightnings, Thunderings, Noises When
    Revelation 4:5 - And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the Seal judgments
    Revelation 8:5 - Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. Between the Seal and Trumpet judgments
    Revelation 11:19 - Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. Between the Trumpet and Bowl judgments
    Revelation 16:18, 21 - And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.... And great hail.... After the Bowl judgments before Jesus returns

Revelation 12:1-4

1) Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.

  • The sign of the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon at her feet, and twelve stars on her head represent the nation Israel, as revealed in Joseph's dream (Genesis 37:5, 9-10). The sun represents Jacob, the moon represents Leah the matriarch, and the twelves stars represent the twelve tribes of Israel.
  • The sun clearly Jacob in the sign, but the sun also represents God's protection and preservation of Israel, and His righteousness (Psalms 84:11, Malachi 4:2).
  • The moon is under the feet of the sign of the woman. Putting something under the feet shows subjugation and dominion (1 Corinthians 15:27-28, Hebrews 2:4-8). Since the woman is clothed with the sun, the moon is invisible because it is close to the sun in its new phase. The sun rules the day and the moon rules the night (Psalms 136:8-9). Thus, the moon is subject to the sun, succumbing to its brightness in the sign of the woman.
  • The garland on the head of the woman is the Greek word "stephanos," which is a victor's crown (Revelation 6:2). This crown also shows glory and honor (Hebrews 2:4-8).
  • The sign of the woman also appears in heaven as a constellation in the sky that shows that the Messiah would come through the nation Israel. God even said that one of the purposes for creating the luminaries was for them to act as "signs" (Genesis 1:14, Luke 21:25). God created the Mazzaroth and the rest of the luminaries to reveal knowledge and declare the glory of God (Psalms 19:1-6). God revealed knowledge through signs in the sky before He chose Israel to share that knowledge through His written Word to the world.

2) Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

  • John sees the woman in heaven in travail with birth pangs, as she is about to give birth to the Messiah - this is the beginning of the redemptive story of man found in the constellation Virgo, the virgin.
  • Virgo is typically pictured with an ear of corn in her left hand, which can symbolize "seed," and a branch in her right hand. The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would come through a virgin and be a branch from the stem of Jesse, which is the line of David (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, 11:1-5).
  • The sign of the woman shows that the Messiah would come after much travail like birth pangs. The theme of birth pangs associated with redemption begins in Genesis when the serpent deceived Eve (Genesis 3:13-16). Though the serpent deceived the woman, God cursed her and said she would have great pain in bearing children for her sin.
  • The reason for Israel's travail was because Satan deceived them like Eve; they did not follow God's commands, but followed after false gods instead. God warned Israel that they would suffer reproach like a barren woman (Revelation 9:5) and He would punish them with His severe judgments (Zechariah 6:6-7) if they chose to disobey His commands. In other words, Israel paradoxically travailed like a pregnant woman ready to give birth, yet suffered the reproach of a barren woman (Jeremiah 3:25, 24:9-10 , 29:18-19, 42:18, 44:8-12, Ezekiel 5:14-17, 22:4, Daniel 9:16) because they disobeyed God and followed after false gods (Isaiah 26:17-18, Jeremiah 4:1, 4:31, 6:22-24, 13:9-10, 13:21, Hosea 13:9-13).
  • God intended to take away Israel's reproach of a barren woman when the Messiah came the first time, but as a nation they rejected Him and God absolved the nation and sent the Jews into global exile. Jesus compared His return to the joy after the labor of bearing a child (John 16:17-22), because God will reconcile Israel through the Tribulation judgments after they accept Jesus as Messiah through the Tribulation judgments, and Jesus will return shortly thereafter (Zechariah 12:10, Revelation 1:7). God will then take away Israel's reproach after He restores His relationship with them (Isaiah 54:1-5, Ezekiel 36:12-15).

3) And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.

  • A dragon appears as another sign in Heaven. A dragon can also be interpreted to be a large serpent, or a sea monster like Leviathan (Psalms 104:24-26, Job 41:1-10). The dragon represents Satan, the adversary who seeks to destroy and deceive.
  • The dragon's seven heads represent seven Gentile kingdoms that oppressed the nation Israel:

  • Kingdom Ruling King Oppression
    1. Egypt Pharaoh Bondage
    2. Assyria Sennacherib Exiled the northern kingdom and most of the southern kingdom except for Jerusalem.
    3. Babylon Nebuchadnezzar Exiled Judah and destroyed the first temple.
    4. Medo-Persia Darius Established a decree that anyone who prayed to any god or man besides him would be cast into the den of lions, which directly targeted the Jews.
    5. Greece (Seleucid) Antiochus IV Epiphanes Persecuted and massacred many Jews, attacked Jerusalem, outlawed Judaism, and desecrated the second temple.
    6. Rome Domitian Revived the "imperial cult," which was the worship of the Roman emperor as a god, which led to the persecution of the Jews. He forced the Jews to pay taxes to continue to observe Judaism.
    7. Future Kingdom Beast/Antichrist Will conquer Jerusalem, desecrate the third temple, and persecute and massacre most of the Jews.

  • The crowns on the dragon's seven heads show specific kings of the seven Gentile kingdoms. The last head of the dragon bears ten horns. The last head of the dragon represents a future kingdom initially ruled by the ten horns, who are ten kings ruling under the dragon's authority through the beast. This beast represents both a Gentile kingdom and a king who rules over the world during the last half of the Tribulation.

4) His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.

  • The physical signs in heaven represent real characters in the redemptive story of man. The woman represents Israel, the woman's Child is the Messiah, the dragon is Satan, and the stars represent fallen angels who rebelled and get cast out of Heaven to the earth with Satan (Revelation 12:7-9).
  • There were several times Satan has tried to wipe out the seed of the woman to prevent the Messiah from being born and then again after He was born. In fact, the sign of the dragon in heaven shows that his intent was to devour the child as soon as it was born.
  • The dragon tried to destroy the seed of the woman in each kingdom represented by the seven heads of the dragon (Revelation 12:3):

    • 1. Egypt - Pharaoh tried to have all the Hebrew male babies killed (Exodus 1:15-17, Exodus 1:18-22).

    • 2. Assyria - King Sennacherib tried to siege Jerusalem and destroy Judah, the line of the Messiah (2 Chronicles 32:9-10, 14, 17, 21-22).

    • 3. Babylon - Certain Chaldeans tried to have the Jews killed who did not bow down to worship Nebuchadnezzar's statue (Daniel 3:1-11).

    • 4. Medo-Persia - Haman tried to have all the Jews killed (Esther 3:8-13).

    • 5. Greece - Antiochus IV Epiphanes is the little horn who trampled some of the "host of heaven" which is the "holy people," or the Jews when he attacked Jerusalem and desecrated the temple (Daniel 8:9-11, 22-24).

    • 6. Rome - King Herod killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem after the seed of the woman was born to try to destroy the Messiah (Matthew 2:13-16).

    • 7. Revived Rome - During the Tribulation, the dragon will try to destroy the woman who represents Israel and her other offspring (Revelation 12:17).
  • Now Satan's goal is to destroy both the woman (Revelation 12:13) and the rest of the woman's offspring, who are followers of the Messiah (Revelation 12:17). The reason Satan has tried to destroy the seed of the woman is because he does not want to lose his power and authority over the nations when the Messiah returns and defeats the kingdoms of the world setting up His own kingdom.

Revelation 12:5-6

5a) She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.

  • The woman in the sign in heaven bore a male child. The phrase "male child" calls to mind the promise to Eve, that the Messiah would come through her seed (Genesis 3:15-16, 4:1).
  • To rule with a rod of iron means the ruling body is just, but punishment is swift and harsh. The one who will rule with a "rod of iron" is the Son of God and King of kings, Jesus Christ (Revelation 2:27). While ruling with a rod of iron sounds harsh, the Lord's strict enforcement of the law will bolster a peaceful kingdom (Isaiah 2:2-4).
  • The Greek word for "rule" means to shepherd. The Messiah is described as a shepherd (Matthew 2:6, 26:31, John 10:14-16, Hebrews 13:20, Revelation 7:16-17). A shepherd leads, nourishes, and protects his sheep. Likewise, the Lord leads his flock like a shepherd and gives refuge to those who seek it (Psalms 23:1-4, Isaiah 40:10-11, Jeremiah 31:10-12). However, those who don't seek the Shepherd's refuge, the Lord will dash them to pieces like pottery with a rod of iron (Psalms 2:7-9, Revelation 2:26-27, 19:15-16).

5b) And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.

6) Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

  • After the woman's child is "caught up" to Heaven, the woman flees to the wilderness away from the dragon. These two events are separated by a long period-of-time. The first event is Christ's ascension that took place nearly 2,000 years ago, as discussed in the last section. The second event is the flight of the Jews to the wilderness in the middle of the Tribulation.
  • God is going to take Israel back to the wilderness to purge the rebels (two-thirds) and preserve a believing remnant (one-third) (Ezekiel 20:33-38, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Zechariah 13:8-9) who will accept God's new covenant that Christ offered through His shed blood which they previously had rejected (Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25).
  • God has prepared a place in the wilderness for the woman who represents Israel. This suggests that the Jews will flee to a particular place together and not randomly scatter to the wilderness. In fact, the prophet Micah shows that the Lord will gather a Jewish remnant together like "sheep of the fold" before He returns to rule over them as a shepherd (Micah 2:12-13, Revelation 12:5).
  • God will protect the Jewish remnant in the wilderness for 1,260 days, or 3 ½ years. This day-count begins after the "abomination of desolation" which is the dividing point of "Daniel's 70th Week," therefore, the Jewish remnant will stay in the wilderness for the last half of the Tribulation. Incidentally, this is the same length of time God provided for Elijah during the drought (Luke 4:25-26, James 5:17-18).
  • God will protect Israel from their enemies and provide for their physical needs. But more importantly, God is going to prepare the Jewish remnant for the coming of the Messiah by pleading His case with them. By the end of the wilderness experience, God will bring the Jewish remnant under the new covenant, after they finally and corporately accept the fact that Jesus is the Messiah (Ezekiel 20:35-38).

Revelation 12:7-12

7-8) And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.

  • After the woman flees from the dragon to the wilderness, a war breaks out in Heaven between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels. The dragon is Satan and his angels are the fallen angels who followed Satan in rebellion against God (Revelation 12:4). The angels who fight with Michael are the holy angels who did not rebel against God with Satan.
  • Michael is an archangel (Jude 1:9), or chief prince (Daniel 10:13), which means he is a commander over other angels. Chief princes also have power over nations (Daniel 10:10-11, 13, 20-21). Michael is the chief prince over Israel (Daniel 12:1) and is able to "uphold" against the other chief princes of other nations.
  • Since angels cannot be defeated by conventional means, the war in Heaven is presumably a spiritual battle. Paul describes how to wage a spiritual battle in Ephesians 6:13-17 by taking up the whole "armor of God." Jesus waged such a spiritual battle when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness. Jesus defeated Satan with the truth and righteousness of the Word of God through the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1-13).
  • The battle ends when Michael and his angels cast the dragon and his angels out of Heaven. Up until this war, all the sons of God, both the holy and fallen angels continue to have access before God's presence in Heaven (Job 1:6-12, 2:1-7). At the end of the battle in Heaven, the dragon and his angels will not have a place in Heaven anymore.

9) So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

  • Michael and his angels win the war in Heaven and they cast the dragon and his angels out of Heaven to the earth.
  • The dragon is also known as the "serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan." These four depictions of the great adversary describe his character, which we covered in previous sections and summarized in the table below:

  • Depiction Greek Meaning Character
    Dragon Drakón Serpent, or sea monster Formidable beast like the sea monster Leviathan (Isaiah 27:1)
    Serpent of Old Ophis Serpent or snake who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden Crafty in deception (Genesis 3, 2 Corinthians 11:3, 13-14, (Revelation 20:2-10)
    Devil Diabolos Slanderer Throws false accusations against the saints to ensnare or destroy them (Revelation 12:10, John 8:44, 1 Timothy 3:6-7)
    Satan Satanas The adversary Stands in opposition to God and His people and angels (1 Chronicles 21:1, Job 1:6-12, 2:1-7, Zechariah 3:1-2, Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 8:33, 1 Thessalonians 2:18, Revelation 12:7-8)

  • Satan and his angels fell spiritually after they sinned, they will fall from Heaven to the earth in the middle of the Tribulation, then they are imprisoned in the earth during the millennial kingdom, and finally they are all cast into the lake of fire.

10) Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down."

  • A loud voice in Heaven praises the Lord and announces Satan's defeat in Heaven. Both angels and saints in Heaven cry out in a loud voice (Revelation 6:10, 7:2, 10:3, 18:2, 19:17). This loud voice speaks about their "brethren" and praises the Lord for salvation, showing this is a praise from redeemed people and not angels.
  • When Satan and his angels are cast to the earth, they will no longer be able rail accusations against believers on Earth, and the saints in Heaven will praise the Lord when He takes power and strength to finally defeat the enemy, so He can begin to reign over His kingdom and redeem the world.

11) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

  • The Tribulation saints also defeat Satan by the word of their testimony. Someone's testimony gives evidence or proof for something (Revelation 11:3). The Tribulation saints' testimony is tied to their willingness to die for their faith, as they do not "love their lives to the death," and they die for the Word of God (Revelation 6:9-11).
  • Jesus calls those who follow Him to hate this life and look forward to eternal life (John 12:25-26, Mark 8:34-38). Jesus will give them the crown of life because they love Him (James 1:12, Revelation 2:8-11). During the Tribulation many will love their life and choose to reject Christ; they will take the mark of the beast and worship his image to try to save their life, but instead they will lose their life (Revelation 14:9-11). But those who choose Christ and refuse the mark of the beast will die because of their testimony, but will have eternal life (Revelation 20:4).
  • Those who have the testimony of the Lamb are considered offspring of the woman (Revelation 12:17) who represents Israel (Revelation 12:1). Paul compares Israel to an olive tree, where Jewish believers are the natural branches and Gentiles believers are grafted-in branches to the same tree (Romans 11). In other words, those who hold the testimony of Jesus Christ are spiritual offspring of Israel (Revelation 12:17).

12) "Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time."

  • The loud voice in Heaven tells the inhabitants of the heavens to rejoice because of Satan's defeat. The heavens not only rejoice just because Satan and his angels get evicted from Heaven - they know that the defeat of all the Lord's enemies and redemption of the earth is not far behind (Psalms 96:11-13).
  • While the inhabitants in the heavens rejoice that Satan is cast out of Heaven, the inhabitants of the earth will mourn in affliction because he comes down to the earth having great wrath. The loud voice in Heaven warns the inhabitants of the earth of the coming affliction with the word "woe." The prophets often used the word "woe" usually while they were rebuking and prophesying, showing grief, affliction, anguish, deep distress, and lamentation over coming judgment, instead of protection and well-being from the Lord (Lamentations 3:38, Jeremiah 45:3-5, Revelation 8:13).
  • The "woe" in the warning from the loud voice in Heaven may allude to the general affliction Satan causes through the beast or antichrist, but the "woe" may also point to the torment Satan causes if he is the "fallen star" who releases the tormenting locusts in the fifth Trumpet judgment (Revelation 9:1):
  • fallen star unlocks abyss order of events

  • The reason Satan has great wrath when he is cast to Earth is because he knows his time is short. As shown in several places of Scripture, Satan knows God's Word, but tries to pervert it. That being case, Satan knows that once he is cast to the earth he only has 3 ½ years left to wreak as much havoc as possible in a final effort to subvert God's plan.
  • Jesus calls the last half of the Tribulation "great tribulation" (Revelation 7:14), because it will comparatively be the worst tribulation the world has ever experienced. When you consider that the inhabitants of the earth endure both the wrath of God and the wrath of Satan at the same time, no other time on earth could compare to the affliction experienced by the inhabitants of both the earth and the sea.

Revelation 12:13-17

13) Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.

  • Satan has tried and failed to subvert God's plan from the beginning, when he set out to destroy the seed of the woman, as discussed in Revelation 12:4. After the woman's male child was caught up to God's throne, Satan the dragon pursued the woman who represents Israel. Satan knows that if he can annihilate the Jews then he can defeat God because of His promise to Israel (Jeremiah 31:35-37).
  • Centuries of attacks and attempted genocide against the Jews - including the Spanish Inquisition, Russian Pogroms, and the Holocaust - show that the dragon already has been pursuing and persecuting the woman already for nearly two-thousand years since her child was caught up to God's throne.
  • Satan will attempt to destroy the woman as part of his strategy to defeat God, because Israel is the center of God's redemptive plan and God promised Israel that He would always preserve a remnant of the seed of Israel. If Satan can destroy the Jewish remnant, then all of the promises God made to Israel cannot come to pass, which means he defeats God and retains control over the kingdoms of the earth. Of course, God's Word is true and Satan will lose, even though he is arrogant enough to think he can change God's foreknowledge and sovereignty.

14) But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

  • The woman flees from the presence of the dragon - literally, from the face of the dragon - and flies to the wilderness with eagle wings. God brought Israel out of the wilderness on eagle's wings, which shows that they followed God through the wilderness without growing weary or faint because He gave them strength. The eagle's wings also show God's protection (Psalms 36:7, Ruth 2:12, Psalms 17:8-9, 57:1, 61:3-4, 91:4).
  • Michael the chief prince protects Israel and will watch over them during the worst time of trouble on the earth, which is the last half of the Tribulation, or "time, times, and half a time" (Daniel 12:1, 6-7), or 1,260 days, when God will protect and feed the woman in the wilderness (Revelation 12:6).

15) So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.

  • While the woman who represents Israel is fleeing to the wilderness, Satan, pictured as the water serpent known as Leviathan (Revelation 12:3) will try to stop her by spewing water out of his mouth to sweep her away with the flood.
  • This is similar to when Pharaoh sent his army to pursue Israel into the wilderness during the Exodus and thought they had the Hebrews trapped by the Red Sea. Satan may even cause the Jordan River to flood its banks to try to trap the Jewish remnant between the antichrist's army, a figurative flood, and a literal flooding river. But God will provide a way for them to escape the dragon's flood, figurative or literal, as He did during the Exodus, and the antichrist will fail to conquer Jordan.

16) But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.

  • In the Tribulation, God will open the earth to consume the flood. Regardless if literal water is involved or if the flood is in the form of an enemy army, the earth will open up with a sinkhole like a mouth to consume the flood the dragon spews out to harm the woman. Such was the case when the sons of Korah rebelled against Moses - God opened the earth and swallowed them (Numbers 16:1-3, 30-34).

17) And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

  • Satan knows his time is short and he will have great wrath against the inhabitants of the earth in his last attempt to thwart God's redemptive plan (Revelation 12:12). After he fails to annihilate the woman, he takes his hostile pursuit against her offspring.
  • The woman represents Israel and Jesus is the woman's notable child (Revelation 12:11). The rest of the woman's spiritual offspring are those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ - the saints (Revelation 14:12) - in this case the Tribulation saints.
  • The commandments that the saints keep are 1) to believe that Jesus is Messiah and 2) to love one another (1 John 3:23).
  • The Lord will give the Tribulation saints over to the antichrist in the last half of the Tribulation (Daniel 7:25). However, while the antichrist kills most of the Tribulation saints, they still win the war by the word of their testimony (Revelation 12:11).

Revelation 13:1-4

1) Revelation 13:1 - Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.

  • "Sand of the sea" is a phrase that indicates an innumerable number of something (Genesis 32:12, 41:49, 2 Samuel 17:11, 1 Kings 4:20, Jeremiah 33:22, Hosea 1:10).
  • The sea represents Gentiles, which shows that the beast will come out of the Gentile nations (Revelation 7:3).
  • The symbols of the "sea" and the "sand of the sea" show that the beast will come out of the Gentile nations whose population is too large to number.
  • The beast is both a person, also known as the "antichrist," and a kingdom, and has seven heads and ten horns like the dragon because the dragon gives him power and authority over the earthly kingdoms.
  • The seven crowns on the seven heads of the dragon represent seven specific kings in each successive Gentile kingdom who oppressed Israel. In contrast, there are ten crowns on the ten horns of the beast which shows ten kings who rule over ten kingdoms. These ten horns are on the seventh head, which shows that the ten kings will rule over the last head, or Gentile kingdom, but not the previous kingdoms (Revelation 12:3).
  • Blasphemy verbally expresses scorn in the form of curses against God. It is also blasphemous to falsely exalt oneself above God, or equate oneself with God. Not only does the antichrist, or beast blaspheme God verbally, each head on the beast has a blasphemous name that shows that each king exalted himself above God.

2) Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.

  • The beast and his kingdom are represented as the seventh head of the dragon (Revelation 12:3), the feet of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream (Daniel 2), and the fourth of the beasts in Daniel's dream (Daniel 7:2-7).
  • The beast in Revelation has characteristics of three of the beasts in Daniel's dream that represent kingdoms that came before it , which shows that the beast and its king will exercise authority over all the other kingdoms of the world like a lion - the king of the beasts, it will crush the enemy like a bear, and it will swiftly move to take out the enemy like a leopard.
  • The dragon giving the beast his power, his throne, and great authority is a counterfeit of God, as God the Father also gives all authority, power, and His throne to Jesus (Matthew 28:18, Acts 2:30, Revelation 5:11-13).
  • Though God is still sovereign, Jesus said that Satan is the ruler of this world (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11) and he directs global affairs through human agents who rule over earthly kingdoms (Ephesians 2:2). The antichrist is Satan's final human agent whom he will give power and authority to rule over the whole world from his throne.

3) And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.

  • The following passage shows the king over the beast system represented by the head is mortally wounded:
Revelation 17:8-11 - The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. "Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition."

  • The seven mountains, which are the seven heads of the beast indicate that the kingdoms of the beast are in view too. Mountains in Scripture show dominion, but they also represent kingdoms (Zechariah 6:1). The mountains are five consecutive kingdoms that had fallen, one kingdom was still ruling when John penned the Revelation, and another kingdom will rule in the future. Rome is the kingdom that was in power during John's life. No other kingdom conquered Rome - it gradually declined over time. This empire will revive from its apparent death as the seventh global kingdom that has not yet come, represented in the seventh head of the dragon.
  • The fact that the beast goes to the bottomless pit and returns with his mortal wound healed means he resurrects from the dead. In other words, the seventh king dies ("was, and is not") and in his destruction ("perdition") he goes to the bottomless pit, but he returns to life, healed from the wound of death.
  • The Greek rendering of the mortal wound is literally "slain to death," and is how Jesus appears as the sacrificial lamb (Revelation 5:6). Like the beast, Jesus also rose from the dead after being slain.
  • It is the power of God that brings the king and Lucifer down to the pit and casts them out again (Isaiah 14:4-20) and the power and source to give life belongs to God (Job 12:9-10, Acts 17:24-25) and He gives that power to whom He chooses. But God does not get the glory for the beast's resurrection, as the world marvels and follows the beast, giving him the glory and worship. However, this might play into God's "strong delusion" to condemn those who believe the lie (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
  • Though the beast returns to life, Zechariah 11:17 shows that he will bear the scars of his wounds, having a withered arm and hand and a blind eye. Some see a parallel between Christ who still had His wounds from the cross, which He used to identify Himself to others. The fact that the world marvels after the beast and worships him after he rises from the dead may suggest that his scars will authenticate him like Christ.
  • Those who follow the beast take a mark on the right hand or forehead to show allegiance to the beast whose wounds are in the same regions of the body. Curiously, the symbolism of the one-eyed ruler predates God's written word, being handed down through the generations through the occult and found across the cultures.

4) So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"

  • The beast will exalt himself above every god, this suggests that the world worships Satan through the beast and not separately from the beast, which also lends credence to Satan possessing the beast, but the beast himself will honor a "god of fortresses" (Daniel 11:36-39). The "god of fortress" is a stronghold in the spiritual realm who rules over other strongholds and gives the beast his power and authority. Satan is the "god of fortresses" who gives power to the beast and the beast worships him.
  • The world will ask: "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" Who can defeat someone who appears invincible? How do you kill an enemy who overcame death? On the surface, these questions make sense in light of the miracle of the beast's resurrection. However, the way the world phrases the questions show they are not merely asking questions, but mocking God as they exalt the beast in the same way God is exalted (Exodus 15:11, Psalms 35:10, 71:19, 113:4-5).
  • Only God Almighty can make war against the beast and those who gave him power, and the Lord will overcome them (Jeremiah 50:43-46, Revelation 17:12-14).
  • After the Lord defeats the beast and the dragon, He will assemble the nations and declare that there are no other gods to worship but Him, because only He can save them, and everyone will worship the Lord (Isaiah 45:20-25, Philippians 2:9-11).

Revelation 13:5-8

5) And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months.

  • The dragon gives the beast the ability to speak as a great orator expressing great things and blasphemies. Giving the beast a mouth is like Moses giving Aaron God's words to speak - Aaron was the mouth, or spokesman for Moses, and the beast is the mouth, or spokesman for the dragon (Exodus 4:10-16).
  • The great things the beast or king speaks are boastful words that serve to exalt himself above God (Daniel 11:36, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
  • The beast also blasphemes against God. Blasphemous words verbally express scorn in the form of curses against God (Revelation 13:1). It is also blasphemous to falsely exalt oneself above God or equate oneself with God, which the beast does. Daniel also sees the beast in another vision as a little horn characterized by his mouth that speaks pompous words, which are great boasts (Daniel 7:7-8, 11).
  • The beast will begin to take full reign in the middle of the Tribulation at the "abomination of desolation" (Daniel 9:27), after he desecrates the Jewish temple and exalts himself above God, speaking great things and blasphemies. Before this point, the ten kings give their authority to rule over the earthly kingdoms to the beast who was mortally wounded and rose again to life (Revelation 17:11-13). This shows that the beast had already begun to reign before the midpoint of the Tribulation and now John says that "he is given authority to continue" his conquest and reign through the end of the Tribulation, which is 42 months, or "time, times and half a time" (Daniel 7:25)
  • The 42 months the beast wields his authority over the earthly kingdoms coincides with the trampling of Jerusalem, the ministry of the two witnesses, and the time God protects the Jewish remnant in the wilderness (Daniel 12:7, Revelation 11:2-3, 12:14).

6) Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.

  • The Lord's name describes His character and who He is (Revelation 11:18). Blaspheming God's name is to reproach or discredit God (Psalms 74:10, 18).
  • The beast will also blaspheme the Lord's tabernacle. In the Old Testament, the tabernacle was where God met with men (Exodus 33:7-9). This earthly tabernacle looks forward to eternity when God will dwell with men (Revelation 21:3). Until then, God dwells in a heavenly tabernacle. The beast will defile the earthly sanctuary that the Jews will rebuild before the middle of the Tribulation (Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14), but since he can't touch the heavenly sanctuary he will speak blasphemies against it.
  • The beast will also speak blasphemies against those who dwell with God in His heavenly tabernacle where His throne is. Those who dwell in Heaven with God include angels, the living creatures, and the elders who represent the Church saints (Revelation 5:11). When the beast blasphemes the saints, he is really blaspheming against the name of Christ because the saints belong to Him (1 Peter 4:14). When the beast blasphemes the citizens of Heaven that he cannot touch, he will persecute and kill God's people on the earth (Daniel 7:23-27).

7) It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.

  • Satan will make war with the saints on the earth after he is evicted from Heaven (Revelation 12:13-17). the dragon first tries to destroy the Jewish remnant after he is cast out of Heaven, but God provides a place of refuge for them in the wilderness away from the dragon, so the dragon goes after the woman's offspring who are the Gentile saints that become believers in the Tribulation.
  • The beast overcomes or prevails against the saints, which means that the beast will kill most of the saints on the earth. But the saints are the true overcomers spiritually, even though they will lose their lives because they believe Jesus is the Son of God will overcome the world (1 John 5:4-5). In other words, Satan may win the battle by killing most of the saints on the earth, but the Lord already won the war at the cross and will defeat Satan in the end.
  • The beast is given authority to have global domination. Every "tribe, tongue, and nation" will pay homage to the beast or they will die like the saints who refuse to worship the beast (Revelation 13:15).

8) All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

  • Those who worship the beast are the "earth dwellers," whose names are not in the "Lamb's Book of Life," (Revelation 17:8) which are those who go to eternal torment for rejecting the Lamb and worshipping the beast (Revelation 14:9-11, 20:15).
  • On the other hand, those who refuse to worship the beast and worship Christ instead will likely lose their physical life, but they will have eternal life and reign with the Lord in His earthly kingdom (Revelation 13:15, 20:4).
  • All the saints' names were in the "Book of Life" before creation, from the foundation of the world (Revelation 17:8). God used His foreknowledge to choose who He would adopt as sons to partake in redemption made possible through the slain Lamb and predestined them to receive an inheritance in Heaven � putting their names in the "Book of Life" before the foundation of the world to "register" them as citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20, Hebrews 12:23, Ephesians 1:7-12).

Revelation 13:9-10

9) If anyone has an ear, let him hear.

  • Jesus asked each church in Revelation 2-3: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." This call to hear is a call for understanding with spiritually attuned ears. This last call to hear in Scripture is not for the Church saints, but for the Tribulation saints, and comes with a promise in the next section to those who hear and head what the Spirit says.

10) He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

  • The call to hear in the last section comes with a promise to the Tribulation saints. The promise to the saints is the Lord's vengeance on their enemies in the Tribulation, or "time of Jacob's trouble":
Jeremiah 30:7-9 - Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. 'For it shall come to pass in that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.
Jeremiah 30:10-11 - 'Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,' says the LORD, 'Nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, and no one shall make him afraid. For I am with you,' says the LORD, 'to save you; though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished.'
Jeremiah 30:12-15 - "For thus says the LORD: 'Your affliction is incurable, your wound is severe. There is no one to plead your cause, that you may be bound up; you have no healing medicines. All your lovers have forgotten you; they do not seek you; for I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of your iniquities, because your sins have increased. Why do you cry about your affliction? Your sorrow is incurable. Because of the multitude of your iniquities, because your sins have increased, I have done these things to you.
Jeremiah 30:16-17 - 'Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured; and all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; those who plunder you shall become plunder, and all who prey upon you I will make a prey. For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,' says the LORD, 'Because they called you an outcast saying: "This is Zion; no one seeks her."'

  • Facing trial or tribulation in any dispensation tests a believer's faith and leads to patience, which is perseverance or steadfastness (Romans 5:3-4, James 1:2-4, 2 Thessalonians 1:3-8). The patience of the Tribulation saints will come through martyrdom. While there is no option to escape death for the Tribulation saints taken captive, God promises a blessing of rest and reward for their works and their patience (Revelation 14:12-13).

Revelation 13:11-15

11) Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon.

  • John has a vision of another beast. This beast is a person and not a kingdom because we see that he is a "false prophet" in later chapters of Revelation. He also administers power over the global population later in this chapter, which shows that he is not a kingdom, but an individual. Moreover, the false prophet is cast into the lake of fire made for angels and people - not kingdoms (Revelation 16:13, 19:20, 20:10).
  • The second beast comes up out of the earth in contrast to the first beast who came out of the sea. The sea can represent Gentile nations (Revelation 13:1). When the sea represents Gentiles, the earth or the land can represent Israel (Revelation 7:3). Therefore, if the sea shows that the first beast will come out of the Gentile nations, then the second beast who comes out of the earth might show that he is Jewish.
  • The second beast has two horns like a lamb. Similarly, John sees Christ as a lamb with seven horns in Revelation 5:6. Horns can represent strength, authority, or dominion as a king. The second beast is a false prophet - a wolf in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15) who operates under authority of the first beast (Revelation 13:12), so the number two might signify the union between the two beasts. The two horns may also speak of the second beast's witness of the first beast, since the second beast acts as the first beast's prophet (Revelation 19:20) and compels the world to worship the first beast (Revelation 13:12).
  • The second beast speaks like a dragon, which means the dragon will give this false prophet a mouth to speak the way he gave a mouth to the first beast in Revelation 13:5.

12) And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

  • The second beast is dependent upon the first beast for his power, and the first beast controls the authority and power of the second beast who directs all worship through the second beast back to himself.
  • Since John notes the deadly wound of the first beast, it is likely that the second beast's testimony of the first beast's resurrection serves to compel the world to worship the first beast.
  • The second beast does not work in his own authority, but under authority of the first beast, and the second beast does not speak under his own authority, but under the dragon's authority (Revelation 13:11). This is a counterfeit of the Godhead, where the Holy Spirit does not work under His own authority, but He speaks under and operates under authority of the Father and the Son (John 16:13-15). Therefore, the false prophet is a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit, the first beast is a counterfeit of Christ, and the dragon is a counterfeit of the Father - all of which many scholars call the evil or infernal trinity.

13) He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.

  • The false prophet operates in the power and authority of the first beast, who gets his power from Satan (Revelation 13:12). The false prophet uses this power to do great signs, including calling down fire from Heaven.
  • Throughout Scripture, both God and Satan demonstrate power to make fire come down from Heaven.
  • People tend to associate signs and wonders with the power of God, but God calls the signs and wonders of Satan a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).

14a) And he deceives those who dwell on the earth - by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast...

  • The second beast is appropriately called the false prophet (Revelation 16:13, 19:20, 20:10) because he will deceive people with signs and wonders in the sight or presence of the first beast, which means he will work under the influencing power and authority of the first beast.
  • People open themselves up to deception when they rely on their experiences in life instead of the truth in God's word. Since God's word shows us that the enemy can use signs and wonders as a tool for deception, we must "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). Those who reject God's word will become subject to deception and worship false gods and practice lawlessness in willful ignorance (Matthew 7:21-23).
  • False signs and wonders can deceive even believers (Acts 8:9-24). God is always interested in the intent of the heart, so allowing signs and wonders that might even deceive believers serves as a test of the heart.

14b) ...telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.

  • In apparent homage to the resurrected beast, the false prophet directs the world to make an image to the beast. The image made to the beast is probably the "abomination" that causes desolation which will stand in the temple (Matthew 24:15).
  • Many believe the beast will set up the idol made in his image in the temple just as Antiochus Epiphanes set up an idol when he desecrated the temple in the second century B.C.

15) He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

  • The false prophet appears to give life to the image of the beast who died and rose again. The common thread of resurrection and deceptive signs and wonders associated with frogs may relate to the plagues in the Exodus and the Egyptian frog goddess of birth and resurrection, Heget (Revelation 13:14). The false prophet directs those who worship the resurrected beast to make an image to the beast, and like the Egyptian frog goddess the false prophet is able to give "breath" to the image to make it become lifelike.
  • Images or idols themselves do not have the power to speak (Psalms 115:4-8, 135:15-18, Habakkuk 2:18). Nevertheless, the false prophet makes the image of the beast speak, possibly through advanced technology or demonic power.
  • The Greek word "pneuma" translated "breath" can mean breath, wind, or spirit. Since "breath" has the power to make an inanimate object lifelike, it is either the breath of life that makes the image come alive, or it is a demonic spirit that animates the image making it appear lifelike.
  • Worship of the image of the beast is a form of idolatry. The image of the beast will have power to kill those who refuse to worship it. We do not know how the image will kill people, but since it is able to speak, it is reasonable to conclude that the image will probably command others to execute those who refuse to bow down and worship.

Revelation 13:16-18

16) He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads...

  • The false prophet requires the masses to take a mark, in addition to worshipping the beast's image. This mark clearly pays homage to the beast, because it bears his name (Revelation 13:17).
  • The false prophet requires everyone to place the mark on either the right hand or forehead, which are the same areas on the body of the beast that are struck when he dies from a mortal wound (Revelation 13:3).
  • The Greek word translated "mark" can mean an engraving or a stamp used to identify something, or a brand-mark to show ownership, which shows that the mark is a sign of allegiance to the beast, so those who take the mark belong to him like slaves. Similarly, a mark on the forehead of God's people shows that they are His servants (Revelation 7:3). God also marks people to separate them from His enemies or protect them. Satan counterfeits God by offering physical provisions with the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:17) and kills those who refuse the mark, effectively separating the beast followers from his enemies.
  • The mark of the beast is not on both the forehead and the hand, but on one or the other. The hand is typically associated with "works" in Scripture, so placing God's commands on the hand show a person's commitment to do those commands. A mark on the forehead may point to the "third eye" or pineal gland which some believe is the "seat of the soul" (Revelation 13:3). So, putting God's word between the eyes may speak to God's command to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength" (Deuteronomy 6:4-8). Accordingly, in Satan's counterfeit scheme, those who choose to put the mark of the beast on their forehead would commit themselves wholly to the beast in every way, but taking the mark on the hand may show allegiance to the beast only through works.
  • Whether someone is a die-hard adherent of the beast or they take the mark merely to save their life, both parties irrevocably reject Christ when they take the mark and worship the beast, therefore, their eternal destiny is the same in the lake of fire (Revelation 14:9-11).
  • "Small and great, rich and poor, free and slave" encompasses all people groups (Psalms 49:1-2, Revelation 19:17-18), which means the false prophet will impose the mark of the beast on everyone in the world, no matter what their status.

17) ...and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

  • In the last half of the Tribulation, Satan will wield his power to control his global kingdom through the beast and the false prophet. First, the beast will move to subdue the nations through political and military might. Then the false prophet will bolster the beast's domination through religion with worship directed toward the beast and a global economic system that pays tribute to the beast and requires everyone in the world to submit to the beast by taking a mark or face certain death.
  • The mark of the beast will replace all the world's monetary systems. Those who refuse to take the mark and manage to escape execution for not worshiping the beast will have to trade illegally in a black market or hunt and gather off the land to survive, which will be difficult in the wake of Tribulation judgments that will cause massive devastation to the earth.
  • It is reasonable to assume that the global economic system ordered by the false prophet will use computer technology to scan the mark of the beast like a bar code or credit card on the forehead or right hand. The Greek word translated "on" can also mean "in" or "upon." Bible scholars disagree on whether the text describes a mark on the skin like a tattoo scanned like a bar code, or if it is a computer chip embedded under the skin and scanned like an RFID chip.
  • Whatever the mark is, no one will accidentally take it because it will identify those who voluntarily worship and give allegiance to the beast. While the information scanned from the mark will likely be unique to each person who takes it to buy and sell, the mark will visibly show the name or number of the name of the beast.
  • The number or the name of the beast suggests the use of Gematria, which is a Jewish numbering system where each letter in the alphabet is assigned a number and the sum of a word is a numerical value tied to the meaning of the word or name.

18) Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.

  • Those who have both wisdom and understanding are believers who fear the Lord (Psalms 111:10, Proverbs 2:1-8).
  • Believers who have wisdom and understanding from the Lord will understand the number of the beast through a supernatural understanding given by God.
  • If Gematria is in view to calculate the number of the name of the beast, then the letters in his name will add up to "666." Consider the Greek Gematria for Jesus, which is "888." The number eight speaks of new beginnings and three of something points to the triune nature of the Godhead. Jesus is part of the triune Godhead and He made a new covenant at the cross, so the meaning of the Gematria fits. Similarly, the number six is the number of man because God created man on the sixth day, and man is also a triune being, made in the image of God, so it fits that John said that "666" is the number of a man. But the three sixes may also point to the counterfeit trinity of Satan, the beast, and the false prophet.
  • There are three other times that three sixes or multiples of six are together in Scripture which show how "666" relates to the beast. These examples show types of the antichrist that point to the antichrist's military might (Goliath - 1 Samuel 17:4-7), his image (Nebuchadnezzar's image - Daniel 3:1-7), and his economic system (Solomon - 2 Chronicles 9:13, 1 Kings 10:4) marked by his name and number which take wisdom to calculate.

Revelation 14:1-5

1) Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads.

  • John's vision from the last chapter continues to take place on the earth.
  • There are three different mountains in Scripture called Mount Zion: Site of the City of David and the earthly temple, the future site of the millennial city of Jerusalem, and the heavenly mountain and site of the New Jerusalem.
  • John, who is on the earth, sees the throne of God on Mount Zion in Heaven (Revelation 14:3). The Lamb, who is Christ, stands in the middle of the throne in Heaven (Revelation 5:6). The Lord "standing" shows He is meting out judgment (Psalms 82:1-8), but the Lord will "stand" to "plead His case" before He "stands" to judge the earth (Isaiah 3:13).
  • The 144,000 men who are with the Lord on Mount Zion are the 144,000 Jewish servants who will evangelize the world during the Tribulation (Revelation 7:3-4).
  • The Father's name on their foreheads show that the 144,000 Jewish servants belong to Him and they will serve Him along with all of God's servants across the dispensations (Revelation 22:3-4). The seal with the Father's name also shows that He protects them from His judgments during the Tribulation. This is in contrast to the followers of the beast, who take the mark of the beast on their forehead as a sign of their allegiance and devotion to the beast as his servants (Revelation 13:16).

2) And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps.

  • The voice from Heaven is the Lord's voice.
  • The Lord's voice sounds like "many waters" (Revelation 1:13, 15).
  • The Lord's voice also sounds like thunder which shows His power and justice (Revelation 10:3).
  • The living creatures also speak with a voice that sounds like thunder (Ezekiel 3:12-13, Revelation 6:1). The multitude of the heavenly hosts also has a voice that sounds like many waters and thunder (Revelation 19:6).
  • John also hears harpists playing their harps in Heaven. Harps were used in worship (Revelation 5:8), when men were prophesying (1 Samuel 10:5, 1 Chronicles 25:3), and David's harp skills had the power to drive away distressing spirits from Saul (1 Samuel 16:16, 23). The four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, and those who have victory over the beast all have harps in Heaven, and represent all the redeemed saints in Heaven (Revelation 5:8, 15:2).

3) They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.

  • The four living creatures and the elders are around the throne of God in Heaven, which shows that the 144,000 are also in Heaven (Revelation 4:2-6).
  • The song the 144,000 Jewish witnesses sing is "new" because no one has ever sung it and the song might be about something that has not taken place yet. Since no one else can learn the song, it might describe intimate aspects about the 144,000 Jewish servants that only they know or could understand. Or, like a lot of the "new songs" in the Psalms, the 144,000 Jewish servants might sing about God's glory and righteousness, or about their redemption, like the twenty-four elders and four living creatures who sing a new song of their redemption (Revelation 5:9).
  • The 144,000 Jewish servants are "redeemed from the earth," which speaks of salvation's completion, and includes a translation from a mortal to an eternal body and the promised inheritance in Heaven (Ephesians 1:13-14, Romans 8:22-23).

4) These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

  • The 144,000 Jewish servants are "firstfruits," or the first ones "redeemed from among men" during the Tribulation. "Firstfruits" are the first ripe fruits of the harvest that Israel gave to the Lord as a worship offering (Deuteronomy 26:1-10). The word "firstfruit" implies that the rest of the harvest will follow later.
  • Reaping the harvest ends in death, but Jesus is the first fruit of the resurrection to life of all the souls harvested and saved in Him (1 Corinthians 15:20-24). The reason the 144,000 servants are firstfruits is because they get their resurrection bodies before the general resurrection of the Tribulation saints (Revelation 20:4).
  • The Old Testament saints were firstfruits of the barley harvest, which ends at the rapture of the Church and the 144,000 servants are firstfruits of the wheat harvest, which ends at the 2nd Coming of Christ. The firstfruits in both cases recieve their resurrection bodies before the rest of the soul harvest. So, the 144,000 servants as firstfruits will receive their resurrection bodies sometime before the end of the Tribulation when the rest of the Tribulation saints receive their resurrection bodies (Revelation 20:4-6).
  • The 144,000 Jewish servants follow the Lamb who redeems them from among men. Jesus is the Lamb of God who paid the ransom price to redeem men from the bondage of sin (Isaiah 53:5-7, John 1:29, 1 Peter 1:18-19, Ephesians 1:7-10).
  • Those "who follow the Lamb wherever He goes" are disciples, or those who follow and emulate the actions of Jesus. The 144,000 Jewish servants are "special-purpose" disciples who give up everything to follow Christ.
  • The 144,000 servants are likely virgins physically, remaining unmarried and celibate like eunuchs to focus on the things of the Lord. Their spiritual virginity might be in view too, seen in their following after the Lamb instead of idols, and dedicating their life to ministry considering the coming kingdom.
  • The "women" who could potentially defile the servants might be spiritual harlots, representing religious systems that worship false gods.

5) And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.

Revelation 14:6-11

6-7) Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people - saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water."

  • The first flying angel John saw "flying in the midst of heaven" was the angel that warned of how severe the fifth, sixth, and seventh trumpet judgments were before the angels sounded their trumpets (Revelation 8:13).
  • The second flying angel that Johns sees in this verse is the first in a series of three angels who warn the inhabitants of the earth of impending judgment in the next several verses.
  • The first flying angel that John sees in this chapter preaches the everlasting gospel "to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people" which are the four divisions of man represent all people groups who dwell on the earth (Revelation 5:9, 6, 7:9, 11:9).
  • The Greek word "euangelion" translated "gospel" means "good news." The angel's gospel message is everlasting, or eternal, because the message is the same from the beginning of time and across the dispensations - before and after the cross. The same gospel message or "glad tidings" preached to Israel is the same message preached to the Church (Hebrews 3:16-4:3, Acts 13:16-17, 26-32). All the different gospels mentioned throughout Scripture are all the same "everlasting gospel" (Isaiah 61:1-2, Luke 4:17-21).
  • The message of the "everlasting gospel" goes back to Genesis, even before the prophets. God promised Abraham He would establish the messianic kingdom through his seed (Genesis 22:15-18). Noah preached about the righteousness of God and that He was going to judge the earth through a flood (2 Peter 2:5). God promised Adam and Eve that one of their descendants would defeat the enemy and save them (Genesis 3:15). The "everlasting gospel" is also found written in the creation among the stars, which "declare the glory of God" (Psalms 19:1-6). Jesus is the "Lion of the tribe of Judah" (Revelation 5:5) who will crush the head of the serpent to redeem man and set up His kingdom on the earth (Revelation 12:1). So, the "everlasting gospel" is the same gospel that is in the stars, the same gospel that the prophets preached, the same gospel that Jesus preached, and the same gospel that His disciples and the Apostle Paul preached, and the message of this gospel is about the good news of Christ - the Lamb slain before the creation to redeem and reconcile man to God as the promised Messiah prophesied to come through the seed of the woman after the fall of man (Genesis 3:13-15).
  • The "everlasting gospel" in Revelation 14:7 includes four themes which show four roles of Christ:

  • Everlasting Gospel Theme Role of Christ
    "...to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people..." The Lord will rule over all people groups as King of kings, and the audience for the gospel message is all humanity King of Kings
    "Fear God..." The Lord is the Messiah, Savior, High Priest, and Prince of Peace who reconciles men to God Messiah/Savior
    "...and give glory to Him... and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water..." The Lord is Creator and the Mighty God worthy of all worship and praise Divine/Creator
    "...for the hour of His judgment has come..." The Lord is the Kinsmen Redeemer and Avenger of His saints as the righteous Judge Kinsmen Redeemer/Avenger

  • The four living creatures symbolize the fourfold nature of Christ, and the themes associated with the roles of Christ are found in the four gospels which cover the life and ministry of Christ:

  • Creature 1st Living Creature 2nd Living Creature 3rd Living Creature 4th Living Creature
    Likeness Lion Calf/Bull/Ox Man Eagle
    Type of creature Beasts Domesticated Human Birds of the air
    Gospel Matthew Mark Luke John
    Gospel Theme Heir to the throne of David Servant/Sacrifice Son of Man Kingdom of Heaven
    Role of Christ King of Kings Messiah/Savior Kinsmen Redeemer Divine/Creator

  • In short, the "everlasting gospel" is an invitation for salvation to all men from the King of Kings, and they should fear Him over false gods and idols who cannot save and "worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water" instead of false gods and idols. It also speaks of the Lord coming to judge the earth as Avenger and Kinsmen Redeemer, who is also the Creator worthy of all praise and worship.
  • The "everlasting gospel" is the same gospel preached since the beginning of time through the stars, the prophets, and the Lord's servants. An angel will present this gospel right before the Lord returns to the earth, but after God redeems from the earth to heaven the 144,000 Jewish servants who were undoubtedly commissioned to spread the gospel as evidenced by the great multitude saved after they began their ministry in Revelation 7. This suggests that the angel gives a final warning to the earth dwellers to make a choice for God and not the beast, giving one last opportunity for people to hear and receive the "everlasting gospel" of Christ because He desires for all men to come to Him and find salvation (1 Timothy 2:3-6).

8) And another angel followed, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."

  • A second angel follows the angel preaching the "everlasting gospel." This angel announces judgment on Babylon.
  • Babylon is both a city and a religious system (Revelation 17-18). The double structure: "is fallen, is fallen" could allude to destruction of both the city and the religious system, and/or point to the two destructions of the ancient and future city of Babylon (Isaiah 21:9).
  • Babylon is "great" because of its lavishness, but as in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, the city's greatness and its arrogant ruling power will not withstand God's judgment at the end of the Tribulation (Daniel 4:30-31).
  • The angel that announces judgment on Babylon explains that God will pour out His wrath because Babylon will make "all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication," which means that Babylon will corrupt the earth with her fornication during the Tribulation. Fornication in the sense of a harlot religion means that the people forsake God like a woman who plays the harlot and commits physical fornication with other men who are not her husband, and go after false gods and idols in spiritual fornication, like Jezebel.
  • To drink or take the cup of the "wine of wrath" is a picture of suffering God's judgment (Job 21:17-20, Psalms 75:7-20). Babylon will make the nations "drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication," which means they will entice the nations to follow idols in spiritual harlotry, leading to God's wrath on them in judgment.
  • Babylon's intoxication that makes the nations deranged, like being drunk with wine, is the same idolatry that leads to God turning people and societies over to a "debased mind" (Romans 1), which will "complete their iniquity" before God judges them, as He did in Egypt and in the nations who occupied Canaan before Israel conquered the land (Genesis 15:13-16, Leviticus 18:24-25, Exodus 7:3-4). In other words, God hardens people's hearts the way He did Pharaoh before the Exodus, by giving them completely over to their sin, where they pass a point-of-no-return before He pours out His wrath in judgment. God will do the same with Babylon at the end of the Tribulation (Jeremiah 51:5-8, Romans 1:18-28).

9-10) Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb."

  • Another angel follows the angel who gives the "everlasting gospel" with a last call for salvation and the angel who announces impending judgment on Babylon in the last Bowl judgment before the Lord returns to the earth. This third angel warns of the consequences for rejecting God and worshipping the beast and his image by taking the mark of the beast on their forehead or hand.
  • Taking the mark of the beast is an act of worship and shows allegiance to the beast (Revelation 13:16). Taking the mark on the head may speak of full devotion to the beast, being a heart issue, and taking the mark on the hand may show compliance merely to save their physical lives - either way they reject God and He will force them to drink of the wine of His wrath.
  • God will force those who reject Him to drink of the wine of His wrath that He pours out full strength into the cup of His indignation. The Greek word translated "wrath" is "thumos" and can mean passionate or intense anger. The Greek word translated "indignation" is "orgé" which speaks of an anger that seeks vengeance. Wine that is "full strength" is undiluted and unmixed, so the wine "poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation" means that His wrath is intense with no grace, mercy, or restraint, and will serve to satisfy His vengeance on those who have rejected Him and rejected the salvation He offers through His Son Jesus Christ.
  • God's wrath does not stop at death. Those who drink the wine of God's wrath will go to eternal punishment, where they will forever be tormented with fire and brimstone in the lake of fire. Fire, smoke, and brimstone are not weapons of the enemy - they are plagues that God pours out on the wicked in His wrath in both the physical and eternal realms, and in history and again in the future.
  • Those tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angel and in the presence of the Lamb will be removed from the presence of the Lord when Hades and all that is in it are cast into the lake of fire (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, Revelation 20:14).

11) And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.

  • The "smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever" for those who reject the Lord and take the mark of the beast, which shows that the beast worshippers are eternally tormented - "their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched" (Isaiah 66:24, Mark 9:43-48)
  • Torment is the process whereby those who reject Christ's atoning sacrifice continually burn in God's refining fire to pay the price for their sin (Revelation 9:2). Their spirit bodies, or their "worm," act as a perpetual fuel for the fire to burn. The smoke is a byproduct of torment or the process of destruction. There is no annihilation, but eternal suffering. These tormented souls have "no rest day or night," which reinforces the fact that their torment is eternal and never ends
  • God will send eternal judgment on the beast worshippers, but He will also judge the harlot "Babylon the Great" for corrupting the earth with her fornication (Revelation 14:8). God will also avenge His martyred saints and judge both the leaders of the harlot religion and the beast worshippers who are responsible for persecuting and killing the saints in the Tribulation. The smoke of the "great harlot" also "rises up forever and ever" which shows that the leaders of this harlot religion will suffer the same eternal torment as the beast worshippers (Revelation 19:1-3).
  • It is possible the beast worshippers cannot be redeemed after taking the mark of the beast because God will give the world over to a debased mind (Romans 1:28), and He will send them a strong delusion so they believe the lie and follow the beast, which will harden their hearts so that they cannot change their mind to follow God (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

Revelation 14:12-13

12-13) Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write: 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.

  • In the last section, we saw that the beast worshippers will have no rest from their eternal torment in God's refining fire in Hades and later in the lake of fire. In contrast, we see in this section that the saints who die in the Tribulation will have rest from their labors.
  • Resting from the labors of life means to enter God's rest. Entering God's rest does not mean that we stop being active or stop worshipping God, but that we will get eternal relief from life's toils that involve struggle or pain (Revelation 14:11, Hebrews 4:1-11).
  • John writes that the saints "keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." These commandments are to "believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another" (1 John 3:23), and as a result God justifies us by faith in His Son (Galatians 2:16). We therefore receive God's promise to enter His rest for believing the "everlasting gospel" of the good news of Christ.
  • God's "works were finished from the foundation of the world" (Hebrews 4:3) and Christ was the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8), so God's works also included the sacrificial provision for salvation when He created the world. God created believers to also do good works (Revelation 2:2, Ephesians 2:8-10).
  • The Holy Spirit tells John that the works of the Tribulation saints will "follow them" and proclaims that "blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." In other words, the saints who die will get a special blessing and reward for their works on the earth. After the Tribulation is over, the Lord resurrects these martyred saints and rewards them for standing against the beast and dying for their testimony of Jesus (Revelation 20:4-6).
  • "The patience of the saints" will come through martyrdom (Revelation 13:10). The Lord does not want His saints to fight against the antichrist. God will allow the antichrist to overcome His saints (Revelation 13:7). Therefore, armed resistance against the antichrist is futile. While there is no option to escape death for the Tribulation saints taken captive, God promises a blessing of rest and reward for their works and their patience. These martyrs will take comfort in knowing that the Lord is about to avenge them by pouring out His wrath on the beast worshippers (Revelation 14:9-11).

Revelation 14:14-16

14) Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.

  • God compares people groups with the harvest of grain and fruit throughout the Scriptures, and Jesus often used the harvest imagery in several of His parables about the "kingdom of Heaven" in the gospels. The saints saved before the Tribulation are the barley harvest and the saints saved during the Tribulation are the wheat harvest. Unbelievers in the Tribulation are the grape harvest, but also pictured as tares separated from the wheat harvest of believers (Matthew 13:24-30, 38-40).
  • Jesus is the "One like the Son of Man" with a "sharp sickle" in His hand who is ready to reap the last of the wheat harvest, or the last of the saints who will die in the Tribulation. "Son of Man" is the title that Jesus gives to Himself throughout the Gospels and is also attributed to the pre-incarnated Christ in Daniel 7:13 because he came to the earth in the form of a man. Jesus had to become the "Son of Man," because He was the only sinless human who could fulfill the Law and free humanity from its penalty of sin and death in the flesh (Romans 8:1-4).
  • The Lord sits on a white cloud. The Greek word translated "white" can also mean "brilliant," and describes how celestial bodies physically shine or glisten with an intense bright light (Matthew 17:1-2, Mark 9:2-3, Luke 9:28-29, Matthew 28:2-3).
  • A golden crown of victory has replaced the crown of thorns placed on the Lord in mockery at the cross. Christ has claimed victory by overcoming the world through the cross. Believers overcome the world through His victory (1 John 5:4-5). Gold can also be associated with kingship.

15-16) And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.

  • An angel comes out of the heavenly temple and says to the Lord that the "time has come" to reap the "harvest of the earth" because it is "ripe." Ripeness indicates that the harvest is ready to reap because the crop is prime and at its peak growth, but the Greek word translated "ripe" here means parched or dried up like wheat, which becomes dry and golden brown when it is ready to harvest.
  • Events of the Wheat Harvest

    → 144,000 first fruits of the wheat harvest sealed before the Seal judgments begin (Revelation 7:1-8, 14:4)

    → Martyred saints appear in Heaven under the altar (Revelation 6:9-11)

    → Saints continue to arrive in heaven throughout the Tribulation as they die (Revelation 7:9-17)

    → Final harvest of souls to Heaven before Jesus returns to the earth (Revelation 14:14-16)

    → Wheat and Tares separated - Saints who survive the Tribulation enter the kingdom, unbelievers go to the eternal fire (Matthew 13)
  • The last of the general wheat harvest reaped by the Son of Man on the cloud takes place right before Jesus returns to judge the earth, but the parable of the "wheat and tares" takes place after Jesus returns to the earth - these are the gleanings left in the field and not reaped during the general harvest (Leviticus 19:9-10). The gleanings of the wheat harvest are saints who survive the Tribulation and enter the kingdom alive, but the tares are God's enemies who survive the Tribulation, but will not enter the kingdom.

Revelation 14:17-20

17-18) Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe."

  • After the Lord reaps the harvest of His saints who die in the Tribulation, another angel comes out of the heavenly temple with a sharp sickle. The only other time we see angels coming out of the heavenly temple is when the seven angels with the bowls of God's wrath come out of the temple at the end of the Tribulation (Revelation 15:5-8).
  • The angel with the sickle takes orders from the angel with power over fire, who gets his orders from the Lord. This is similar to the hierarchy of workers in the field of Boaz who was head over all the reapers, but put a servant in charge of the reapers (Ruth 2). The angel from the altar in Heaven with power over fire is the same angel who offered the prayers of the saints upon the altar before the seven Trumpet judgments (Revelation 8:2-6).
  • The angel with power over fire offers the prayers requesting the Lord to avenge His saints and judge the world; then here he directs the angel with a sickle to reap the "clusters of the vine of the earth," which will answer the prayers for vengeance against the wicked (Revelation 8:3).
  • The "vine of the earth" is a vine that produces wild grapes in contrast to the cultivated vine in the Lord's vineyard that produces good grapes. God compared foreign or wild vines to Sodom and Gomorrah (Deuteronomy 32:32-35). The vine of the earth represents the nations of the earth, and the wild grapes represent enemies of God because they are in rebellion against Him.
  • The grapes are ripe because their wickedness is great and they have passed the point-of-no-return for repentance, so judgment must come (Revelation 14:9-10), and the angel throwing the vine of the earth into the winepress shows that God will trample all the nations in judgment as He tramples His enemies (Joel 3:11-13).

19-20) So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses' bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.

  • The angel with the sickle will throw the gathered grapes into the great winepress of the wrath of God, where Jesus alone will trample the vintage from Edom to outside of Jerusalem (Revelation 19:13-15, Isaiah 63:1-6).
  • Demons draw the armies of the world to gather in Israel, but the angel drying up the Euphrates River effectively "gathers" the armies into an area outside of Jerusalem and all the way north to the valley of Megiddo where the Lord will crush them like grapes in a winepress with a great hail storm (Revelation 16:12-21). This might suggest that this angel is the same angel with the sickle who gathers the vine of the earth, because it is the crushing of this army outside of Jerusalem that produces a river of blood.
  • Outside of Jerusalem, the river of blood will run as high as the horses' bridle and extends 1600 furlongs - about 200 miles or 320 kilometers, which is roughly the distance to the Red Sea from the Jezreel Valley, through the Jordan Valley which passes by Bozrah and Petra in Edom. This makes sense, as the Lord will trample His enemies from Edom to Megiddo outside of Jerusalem.
  • The Lord gave Moses instructions on how His people were to keep things clean and separate which symbolized holiness (Leviticus 14). Executions were unclean, so they crucified Jesus "outside the city" like a criminal cut off from His people (Hebrews 13:12). Since Jerusalem will remain God's holy city through the Kingdom Age, it makes sense that He will take the unclean "outside of the city" to dispose of them. The unclean will also remain outside of the future New Jerusalem in eternity (Revelation 22:14-15).

* Note: I will continue to add notes to this study guide every
few months as I cover the material in the Bible study I teach *

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