The Book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is a series of prophecies dealing with the conflict between good and evil - Christ and Satan. It is therefore an incredibly important document. As such, it has been the target of attacks by those who are afraid of its startling message - that God will always have a people who may suffer for the true faith and their fidelity to it, but that the forces of darkness will be vanquished in the dramatic finale to Earth's history.
One of the elements which defined early Protestantism was their historicist1 approach to the understanding of Bible prophecy. Historicsim interprets Bible prophecy as it has been fulfilled in history. Once the climate of ecumenism had developed amongst those churches however, the inescapable conclusions of the historicist method of interpretation became increasingly unpalatable.
As a result, most Christian churches now apply a Futurist/Dispensationalist approach to Bible prophecy. Futurism typically seeks to place most prophecy into the future around the Second Advent. Other methods of interpretation such as the Preterist2 and Idealist3 have also been introduced in an attempt to escape the uncomfortable yet compelling identification of key players in the prophecies describing the Christian era.
Today, Seventh-day Adventists almost stand alone as a denomination which still adheres to the historicist method. Work has been done to thoroughly validate the established Seventh-day Adventist interpretation of Bible prophecy. It achieves this by faithful adherence to the Biblical principle of Scripture interpreting Scripture. It also acknowledges the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy in clarifying and affirming the Biblical text.
Unless otherwise indicated Biblical references are from the New King James Version. Wide use is made of historical sources to demonstrate how prophecies in the Apocalypse have been, and are being, dramatically fulfilled. This makes for fascinating and inspirational reading, while at the same time providing a readable but detailed exposition of the Book of Revelation.
The work is thoroughly referenced, providing an historical insight into the Christian Church and the movements which have shaped its history. The record of history is compelling evidence that the conclusions of the historicist approach are not only valid but verified.
A true understanding of the Book of Revelation is inspirational. It builds a grounded faith. A reading of each topic will establish the veracity of God’s Word and provide an understanding of His acts in the history of His people.
This work is not an exhaustive treatment of the Book of Revelation. There remain many spiritual lessons and insights available to us from the study of this inspired book which are outside the scope of this work. Rather, this set of studies is designed to give confidence in the time honoured prophetic interpretations of this book.
While this commentary follows the chapters of Revelation sequentially, the exposition is topic based, rather than chapter-orientated. Commencing in March 2011, a new topic will be posted to the Waitara Church website each week.
The Apocalypse of John, as the Book of Revelation is also known, is the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is the prayer of the Waitara Seventh-day Adventist church that every person who reads this work will come to understand the love of God for His people and come to know Jesus the Messiah as Lord and Saviour, and soon returning King of Kings.
The Waitara Seventh-day Adventist Church
1 A more complete understanding of these terms below may be found on the internet.
2 Preterism places the fulfilment of prophecy in the past, typically around the first century AD.
3 Idealism interprets the symbolic writings figuratively as spiritual lessons.
1. Jesus Christ, the First and the Last
This first chapter of Revelation explains what this book is all about. It explains the purpose of the book, how it was revealed and the special blessing on those who read it. It outlines the five areas of history that it foretells and presents the keynote of the book, where it was written, the significance of the term, Alpha & Omega, and why Jesus is called the First & the Last.
2. Desirable, Fragrant, Faithful
Revelation chapter 2 foretells the history of the first three of the 7 churches of Revelation. This topic spans the first three periods of Christianity. It presents a gripping account of the Apostolic period and then it deals with the period of martyrdom under the Roman Caesars. The third period it reveals as the era of great danger to the church, when Christianity became popular, resulting in the great cleavage of the Church. A minority remained faithful but the majority united with the state and laid the foundation for the development of the Papal apostasy.
3. The Church in The Wilderness
The fourth chapter deals with the church period called Thyatira. This was the true church during the Dark Ages. It consisted of numerous small groups of true believers who had fled to the wilderness, as predicted in Revelation chapter 12. This topic identifies these groups, their location and the persecution that they endured. It relates how growth of the gospel in that period, even reaching into China. It was the remarkable Church of the East which spread throughout the East, leading millions to accept the Gospel in this period.
4. The Reformation Churches
This chapter deals with the Churches of the Reformation. Here is a surprising revelation of the three main churches of that period, which were the Lutheran, Anglican and Reform churches. What Christ reveals about these three churches is quite startling and should be read by all professing Christians. The causes of the declension of these churches is clearly spelt out and is salutory for all Christians today.
5. The Great Revival
In chapter 3 of Revelation is a thrilling account of the Evangelical Revival under the name of Philadelphia. It covers the period of 100 years from the middle of the eighteen century to the middle of the nineteenth century. The prophecy predicts and history records how the Christian faith experienced a glorious revival and how this impacted whole nations and much of our world. Christ has not a single complaint concerning the church of this period.
6. The Church with no Recommendation
The final church period is called Laodicea. It reveals what Christ thinks of the professing Christian church today. We are in the last days before the return of Christ. However, while the church in these latter days is so severely faulted by Christ, the remedy is supplied and a remnant of the present church will survive and will be ready for Christ’s return.
7. A Glimpse of God the Father on His Throne
This topic, sometimes called, Lightnings, Thunderings and Voices explains the fourth chapter of Revelation. This is a vision of God the Father enthroned in the awe-inspiring temple of Heaven. Many features of this chapter can be baffling to the reader, however this topic presents a thrilling explanation of the symbols employed. Here is a picture of Heaven and its inhabitants, which, while awesome, is a realistic glimpse into the throne room of God. Read it for yourself and be inspired.
8. The Book No One Can Open Except?
Topic 8 is another vision of the heavenly throne. The theme is the Father and the Son. Here is presented a picture revealing the affectionate nature of the Deity. The main theme of this chapter however is the sealed scroll. Very clear evidence is presented identifying what this book really represents. It is of vital concern to the whole universe, and Christ is the only one who is worthy to open this book. This topic, along with Topic 4 comprises a fitting introduction to the prophecy of the Seven Seals.
9. The Seven Seals
Revelation chapter 6 begins with the vision of The 4 Horsemen of The Apocalypse. This topic answers the numerous unscriptural interpretations of this symbolism. It explains from Scripture that they represent four forms of spiritual warfare which the Christian church is facing. These horsemen depict the first four of the seven seals. They reveal how the apostasy in the church commenced, developed and finally dominated the world of the Dark and Middle Ages. It also explains why Heaven permitted such a long period of persecution at that time, when so many millions were martyred for their faith.
10. Silence in Heaven
The balance of Revelation chapter 6 describes the final three of the 7 seals. These deal with the revival of the true church in the glorious Protestant Reformation and the tremendous events in the Time of the End. It concludes with the appearance of the returning Christ in the distant heavens and the dramatic reaction of the unsaved. The seventh seal is couched in a single sentence, but what fascinating events it encompasses. Having read it for yourself, you will never regret it.
11. A Shelter In The Storm
Revelation 7 concerns the end-time people of God and how they are to be prepared for the coming storm as the last days come to their end. This preparation involves receiving what is called, The seal of God. This is a different seal from The Seven Seals. This chapter explains what this seal involves. It also introduces the 144,000. The identity of this group is discussed in detail in this chapter and some erroneous beliefs concerning the 144,000 are answered.
12. Trumpets and Plagues!
Revelation chapter 8 introduces the prophecy of The Seven Trumpets. The first portion discusses some of the current interpretations and why they are not satisfactory. It also reveals the difference between the Seven Last Plagues and the Seven Trumpets, as well as the principles involved in sound interpretation of prophecy. It examines the Historic Interpretation of the first four trumpets and explains why this interpretation remains valid under keen scrutiny.
13. The Rise of the Muslim Religion
Revelation chapter 9 described the rise of a religious phenomenon resulting in the parts of the earth being tormented by locusts for five months. This topic explains in detail what these locusts represent. It reveals the origin of the Moslem religion and whether or not it is of God. This remarkable prophecy is another example of the veracity of Bible prophecy. However it is of vital importance to allow Scripture to explain Scripture. If this principle is not adhered to, it causes Bible prophecy to be brought into disrepute. The remarkable time period of 150 years is shown to be perfectly fulfilled in the history of the Arabian empire.
14. The Turks in Bible Prophecy
This topic describes how the Turks completely fulfilled the specifications of the sixth trumpet in Revelation chapter 9. Here is revealed the origin and history of the Turks, how they came to be in the Middle East, and how they brought to an end the Eastern Roman Empire. The puzzling symbolism of this trumpet is convincingly interpreted and leaves no doubts as to its accuracy. It is inspiring to understand how the Moslems played a critical role in the history of the Protestant Reformation...
15. Time No Longer
In Revelation chapter 10 a mighty angel is standing on earth and sea and proclaims a most unusual message. What are the Seven Thunders? and what was the little book that was sweet in the prophet’s mouth but bitter in his stomach? What is the significance of measuring the temple in Revelation 11:1-2 ? The explanation of these Scriptures reveals the great truth of the Judgment in the Heavenly Sanctuary which commenced in 1844 AD.
16. The Beast From The Abyss and the Two Witnesses!
Revelation chapter 11 describes a beast which symbolically slew two witnesses. This topic presents clear evidence that the two witnesses do not represent the Christian church, nor Moses and Elijah, but the Two Testaments of the Word of God. This prophecy was fulfilled in the French Revolution when the Bible was outlawed for three and a half years. Every detail of this prediction was fulfilled at this time and confirms the Bible as the Word of God. There is on record how, years before the event, 20 Bible scholars predicted that France would be the nation that would make war on the Bible and fulfill the prophecy of Revelation 11:3-13.
17. Cosmic Invasion
Cosmic Invasion deals with momentous events which will occur in the Last Days when the world has come under the control of the Antichrist. In Revelation Chapter 11:14-19 we hear the seventh trumpet sound, announcing Christ’s reign. Five major events which occur are examined in sequence. These are: 1. The nations were angry. 2. God’s wrath has come. 3. The dead are judged. 4. Those who destroy the earth are destroyed. 5. The saints receive their final reward.
18. War on God’s Woman
This is a detailed exposition of Revelation Chapter 12, which predicted the never ending struggle between the true Christian faith and the false so-called Christian church during the Christian era. It describes the ongoing battle for religious freedom. Topic 18 especially focuses on the Remnant Church of the end time and the seven features that enable one to identify who this church is and where it can be found.
19. The Antichrist and 666
This topic presents 15 indisputable points of identification so that none can fail to recognize who this entity is. One point of identification is the number 666. The Catholic Douay version of the Bible states in a footnote that the Roman numeral letters of his name shall make up this number. There is overwhelming evidence for who the Antichrist really is and this is spelled out in this eye-opening topic. The fact that Antichrist is to gain world pre-eminence and enforce his mark upon every human being makes it essential reading.
20. When Religious Persecution Returns
Revelation 13:11-17. One nation is predicted in Revelation 13 to restore the Antichrist to world power. Ten specifications identify this nation and six of them have been fulfilled already. Where do we look for the signs of the coming crisis that will involve the whole world before the Second Coming of Christ. The fulfilment of the predictions about this power is a warning to God’s people that the great crisis is at hand. Special instruction tells God’s people what to do in the crisis.
21. The Head or the Hand?
Topic 21 clearly identifies what the mark of the beast is and when it will be enforced. Humanity will be divided into only two groups - those who have the mark and those who don't. There can be no neutrality. At that time the destiny of every person on the planet will have been determined.
22. The 144,000
This number referred to in Revelatuion chapters 7 and 14 has been the subject of misunderstanding and debate. Topic 22 in this series shows clearly that this is in fact a symbolic number. This reperesents the group of people who will remain alive through the seven last plagues and will witness the Second Coming of Christ. Who are they, and what are they like? Topic 22 is a challenge and an inspiration to every Christian.
23. God's final Ultimatum
The messages of the three angels in Revelation comprise God's final ultimatum to our world, and conclude with the Second Advent of Christ. Seventh-day Adventists find their mission and Biblical authority for presenting the Adventist Message to the world. This is a message of special preparation for the second coming of Christ. It explains the Adventist raison d'etre and their distinctive lifestyle.
24. Grapes of Wrath or Harps of God
This section of Revelation is highly symbolic and difficult to decipher. Yet when Scripture is allowed to interpret Scripture, a clear picture emerges as to what the Revelator is revealing. Here is a symbolic portrayal of the reaping of the harvest at the world’s end. There are two crops to harvest - the saved and the unsaved, the righteous and the wicked. There will only be two classes at that time, because the world’s population will have made their decision for life or for destruction. The imagery is graphic and the implications are startling. It is a tragic scene, but it is the great finale of the conflict between Good and Evil, between Christ and Satan.
25. The Seven Last Plagues
These are the judgments of God upon those who have rejected the Three Angels’ Message. The severity of these plagues is revealed by the statement that they are unmixed with mercy. This is because the unsaved have determined that all dissent must be wiped out and they machinate to destroy the true people of God. The plagues are God’s answer to this threat, and His people are delivered.
26. Three Powers and Armageddon
An exposition of Chapter 16:13-16 reveals who the Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet symbolize. The exposition clearly shows how the powers of the occult are controlling these three powers and leading them to deceive the world’s population. Their objective is to involve them in the final battle between Good and Evil, between Christ and Satan.
27. The Drying up of the River Euphrates
This symbolic river represents the millions of supporters of Spiritual Babylon. As a result of God’s intervention for the protection of His people, the deceived people turn upon their religious leaders and, instead of supporting them, they annihilate them. Read the chapter and find the meaning of the symbolic terms used in describing the final conflict between Good and Evil.
28. The Kings from the Sunrising
This chapter reveals the heavenly side in the Battle of Armageddon. The imagery is based on the Old Testament portrayal of the capture of Babylon by Cyrus the Great, who came from the East and is a type of Christ when he destroys spiritual Babylon.
29. The harlot and the seven-headed beast
Topic 29 (Revelation Chapter 17) identifies who Spiritual Babylon really is. Under the symbol of a great harlot it explains why she is doomed to punishment. We discover her identifying colours and her crimes, and why she is called Babylon. In this topic we discover how Babylon will gain world pre-eminence and will lead the world into the final conflict against Christ and his people. Her end will be brought about by her own followers who turn on her and destroy her.
30. God’s final call and Babylon’s final fall
In highly symbolic language Revelation Chapters 18 and 19:1-6 foretell the final religious revival before the close of human probation and the Second Advent of Christ. The fall of spiritual Babylon is described. These events are depicted in the form of seven songs, six of which are dirges. Topic 30 explains why God employs so much Scripture in predicting the fall and destruction of spiritual Babylon.
31. Christ triumphant
Topic 31 explains Revelation 19:7-21 and commences with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb at which the redeemed saints are the guests. We discover that there are two brides in Scripture, and this settles the dispute over who is the bride of Christ.
This topic also explains what the testimony of Jesus is. The sometimes contentious topic of the Battle of Armageddon is dealt in detail, demonstrating that the contestants are Satan and the unsaved, led by the beast, opposed to Christ with His heavenly agents and His true people on earth.
Some of the dramatic events of the Second Advent are also portrayed.
32. The conclusion of human history
Revelation Chapter 20 deals with the subject of the millennium. It reveals that the Christ comes both at the beginning and at the end of the one thousand years.
There has been ongoing dispute as to when the Second Advent occurs. Some held that it was at the beginning of the millennium and others held that it was at the end. Both were half right and half wrong. Topic 32 reveals that the clue in understanding the millennium is the term bottomless pit or abyss. Scripture is clear that the abyss refers to this earth when it is emptied of all life at the Second Advent. It then becomes the prison for Satan and his angels. Thus the reign of Christ during the millennium is not on earth but in heaven.
This topic outlines the awesome events that occur at the end of the millennium when Christ returns to earth once again.
33. A new Heaven and a new earth
Chapter 21 is the final chapter of the Book of Revelation. It describes the three different heavens and explains that the third heaven is dwelling place of the Sovereign God. It is a literal country at the centre of the vastness of space.
In Topic 33 the conditions of the hereafter are described, including that we will be real people with real bodies. This earth will be restored to its Edenic state and there will be no more death.
This topic also demonstrates that while other worlds are inhabited with sinless beings our world is the one lost sheep of the universe, and as such is the lesson book of the universe.