A Warning and An Apology

If this booklet were to go into great detail it would become a book. That is not the intent. It should be noted that the more detail which is given, the more likely that the opinions of the author will surface. The author wants to state clearly that he is not dogmatic in his views. Many fine expositors of Revelation are writing many fine things about it. It is the author's contention that the harvest saints DO UNDERSTAND the book of Revelation in its entirety, although he doubts that any one writer does. This is as it should be. The Lord, and not any one individual, will thus be glorified. Nevertheless, there seems to be a need for this kind of introductory text on Revelation. With the Lord's help we are trying to meet that need.

Thus, as we look closer at this great prophecy, please remember that what now follows is an attempt to build on the foundation laid in the previous four chapters. If any feel the need to improve upon the interpretations which follow, the author will be pleased to see the honest spirit of difference and searching because he believes that God encourages and rewards an honest and searching spirit. We merely supply what we believe to be sound in light of the study methods and the basic outline already suggested. (Revelation 1:3)

The Seven Periods of Church History

Over a century ago, a list of the probable seven messengers to the Church (the seven angels of Revelation 2 and 3) was suggested. It is such a good list as to need little or no adjustment a century later.

A word of caution: the religious world has had prejudice against many who have spread light. This problem was experienced even by Jesus. Therefore, should the reader look up histories of the following men, the accepted biographies may be either erroneous or prejudicial against some of them. Indeed, all of them had detractors in their day.

The likely messengers to the church are:

1. St. Paul to the Church of Ephesus
2. St. John to the Church of Smyrna
3 Arius* to the Church of Pergamos
4. Peter Waldo to the Church of Thyatira
5. John Wycliffe to the Church of Sardis
6. Martin Luther to the Church of Philadelphia
7. Charles Russell* to the Church of Laodicea.


* Arius and Russell are two particularly maligned men. Because Christendom became blindly trinitarian, Arius has been dismissed as a heretic due to his defense of the separateness of Jesus from Yahweh. Russell has had the same treatment. Additionally, the Jehovah's Witnesses have claimed fraudulently that Russell is their founder, adding to his disrepute. While the Witnesses sect is a religious aberration which grew out of Russell's movement, Russell did NOT found them. Their practice, organization, hopes, and doctrine are repudiations of Russell's teachings.

The dates of these churches are possibly as follows:

1. Ephesus Pentecost to about 100 (death of John)
2. Smyrna 100 to 313 (Edict of Milan)
3. Pergamos — 313 to 1161 (ministry of Peter Waldo)
4. Thyatira — 1161 to 1371 (excommunication of Wycliffe)
5. Sardis — 1371 to 1521 (Diet of Worms)
6. Philadelphia — 1521 to 1874 (the 1335 "days" of Daniel 12)
7. Laodicea — 1874 to the completion of the church

A Biblical Key

Please note that expert Biblical scholarship over the years has virtually proven that in prophecy a day equals a year. (See Ezekiel 14:34 for an initial clue.) The Bible uses a 360-day year as its basis. Thus, for example, Revelation 11:2, 3 and 6 all refer to a common period of time: 42 months (verse 2) = 1,260 days (verse 3) since 42 times 30 = 1,260. Verse 6, if carefully noted, also refers to time. It is clear that Elijah (who stopped the rain) and Moses (who turned water to blood) are being mentioned. Elijah's drought was three-and-a-half years (James 5:17). Three-and-a-half years is 1,260 days (360 days per year). Thus verse 9 must refer to three-and-a-half years since it says three-and-a-half days. This principle applies throughout the Bible when symbolic time is used. With this key in mind, note the following texts regarding the seven churches, seals, and trumpets.

Revelation 2:10
"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."The Smyrna church suffered especially during the ten years of horrid persecution prior to the Edict of Milan in 313.Revelation 2:21
"And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.""Space" here is the Greek word for a time." The same expression is used in 12:14 where three-and-a-half "times" are mentioned — the same 1,260 years as in 11:3 and in Daniel 12:7. So, "space" or "time" is one year symbolically which equals 360 years literally. Adding 360 years to the beginning of Thyatira (which began in 1161 with the ministry of Peter Waldo) brings us to 1521. This is the date of Luther's condemnation by the Diet of Worms. "Fornication" is, of course, the mixture of church and state which makes Babylon a harlot.Revelation 2:23
"And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works."The great "Black Death" (Bubonic Plague) which killed over half the population of Europe occurred from 1334 to 1354, during Thyatira.Revelation 6:8
"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."This text, which is pan of the fourth seal, would correspond in time to the fourth church (Thyatira) and, thus, likely also refers in part to the Black Death.Revelation 9:5, 10
"And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man." Vs. 10: "And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months."This is during the fiflh trumpet (and, thus, the fifth church — Sardis — and the fifth seal). It seems to define Sardis as 150 years (five months times 30 days in length — 1371 to 1521).Revelation 6:12
"And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;""Earthquake" in Scripture is a symbol for revolution. During the sixth church (1521-1874), seal, and trumpet, occur a number of revolutions. Scripturally, the most important is the French Revolution (1789) which challenged religion, the Bible, and life as it had been lived.Revelation 11:13
"And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven."The same event is shown here. France, which had been under Papal dominion for ages ceased to be under it. (Ten is a number symbolic of a complete worldly unit.) In short, the Roman Church was embarrassed by losing one of its most faithful supporters.Revelation 11:15
"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever."As the last (7th) period of the church begins, the announcement is made in the religious world ("heaven") that the invisible ("like a thief') presence of Jesus has occurred, and he has begun to take charge in earth's affairs — though very secretly until the time the Church will be completed. (This corresponds to Revelation 3:20.) This announcement WAS made and WIDELY promulgated beginning in the 1870s.

Chapter 12

Among the 13 chapters which form the first section of Revelation, chapter 12 is one of the most complete units. Being able to interpret it correctly is the key to interpreting the remainder of Revelation. It might even be wise for a student to begin with chapter 12 and then work both directions to understand the remainder of Revelation. Following is a relatively complete exposition of chapter 12.

Before beginning its examination in detail, however, it is VERY IMPORTANT to remember the symbolic nature of Revelation (1:1). Many interpreters will look at verse 5 and innnediately assume this refers to Jesus. But Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4) tells us that another (FAKE) MANCHILD — the man of sin — would be exalted to religious superiority and, in this position, rule the religious world. Likewise, some will look at 12:7 and assume Jesus is here meant because Jesus also owns the name of Michael. But whatever Jesus owns, the man of sin (Jesus' counterfeit) also owns by usurpation. Verse 7 does not best apply to Jesus because heaven HAS NO WAR. If it did, how terrible would be the prayer, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."

We recommend to you the following interpretation because it provides the only known approach to this chapter which gives a smooth consistency throughout the chapter, an accurate reference to the events of history, an appropriate context for its placement here in Revelation, a reasonable and consistent use of symbolism for the time elements mentioned (vss. 6 and 14), and a consistency of symbolism not only with the rest of Revelation, but also with the rest of the Bible. We are not twisting the Scriptures, but consistently unraveling its symbolisms.

A Detailed Exposition:

v. 1 In the religious world (heaven) appears a sign (see margin) — a sign of a change from the Jewish Age to the Gospel Age. The sign is a woman. (A woman can be the true church if she's a virgin, the false church if she's a harlot, or a covenant if she is a good woman with children: Galatians 4:24.) This woman is the "Sarah Covenant" ("The New Jerusalem" covenant of Galatians 4:26; the "covenant by sacrifice" of Psalm 50:5). Some call her the grace covenant. She is the covenant under which the Church is developed.* She is clothed with the sun (the gospel) but has the moon (the Jewish Law and prophets) as a foundation. Her head (the part which thinks) is crowned by the 12 light-bearers (the Apostles)."And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:"v. 2 She wants to be delivered of her true seed, and as we know from Jesus' parable, there will also be a false seed (tares). That her seed is plural may be seen by reading verse 17 where it refers to the "remnant of her seed." (All the descendants of this woman exist because God supplied this covenant for the work of the Gospel Age. All of Christianity, therefore, are her descendants — true and apostate.)"And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered."


* Many prefer simply, and with good reason, to think of the woman as the true church.

vs. 3 Another sign of the changing age occurs: a great red dragon. A dragon is a civil power. The red dragon actually became the official symbol of pagan Rome, replacing the symbol of the eagle. This dragon is the civil power, known as pagan Rome, on its way out of power. Paul refers to it in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 as "he who now letteth." The New American Standard reads, "...he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way." In short: Pagan Rome fought the development of Christianity (false as well as true); but pagan Rome was to disintegrate, making way, as Paul points out, for the "mystery of iniquity" —the "tare" class which would dominate Christianity and make Babylon such an anti-Christian institution even though it would claim the name of Christ. This dragon has seven heads (forms of government) and 10 horns (supporting powers). The antichrist was eventually to dominate these 10 powers. Thus we see in 11:13 that a tenth part (France) falls in the French Revolution. The crowns upon the heads show Rome's sovereignty during its seven stages. "And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads."v. 4 The tail of this dragon is Constantine as he was the LAST emperor in Rome; he moved the Impenal capital to Constantinople thus setting up great changes in history. Constantine embracing Christianity, and being chief religious ruler of the empire, called the Council of Nicea which drew to it one third of all the bishops ("stars"; i.e., teachers) of heaven (the Christia religious rulership). It is almost at this point that Babylon is born. The bishops are "cast ... to the earth" they now become primarily embroiled in earthly power grabs and political maneuvering. Their spirituality is lost. The dragon, wishing to use newly-bom Babylon (the wheat-tare mixture) to strengthen Rome, is ready to devour (assimilate) this "new" religion for political reasons."And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born."v. 5 The child of the covenant (Which was supposed to be true Christianity) turns out to be a "manchild" — "the man of and her child was caught up sin" which, during the Christian age, would rule all nations with total authority (a rod of iron). This is the clear history of the Roman Church during what most scholars call the Dark Ages. This "child" (the Papacy) was exalted to being "God on Earth." (Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4.)"And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne."v. 6 Consequently, the true covenant (and her true seed) had to flee into a condition of mind-separateness, away from this symbolic "city" (government) which persecuted her (17:18). Here for 1,260 years (from 539, when the Pope had obtained dominance in the city of Rome, until 1799, when the French Revolution ended with the embarrassing capture of the Pope by Napoleon), those under the covenant (the true saints) fed on whatever truth God let be known in the midst of the darkness."And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days."v. 7 How did this happen? There was a great struggle (war) in the religious world (heaven) between the Papacy ("Michael" means "One Who As God") and its followers, versus Rome's pagan religious interests."And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,"v. 8 The dragon did not win. Papacy did. Pagan Roman religion disappeared — no room found for it in heaven (the religious world)."And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven."v. 9 Rome, and all subsequent civil power, now did not exercise religious authority. The emperor relinquished to the Pope the title "PONTIFEX MAXIMUS" (Chief Religious Ruler) — a title only the emperors had worn. Now civil power was cast to the "earth" (a secular rule only). Note the four-name entity here: "dragon, serpent, Devil, Satan." This has been discussed in the treatment of 20:2 where this symbol also represents a purely civil power (but under the dominion of the literal devil)."And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."v. 10 The result of this rise to power of the Roman Church was the loud boast in heaven (the religious world): "We are the kingdom of God on earth! We have conquered pagan religion! They who is have persecuted us are now beneath our power.""And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night."v. 11. Naturally, Papacy attributed this victory to Jesus. Papacy also attributed it to its martyrs whom it venerates. Thus they claim the victory due to the martyrdom of those "accused" (v. 10) and to their life-stories ("the word of their testimony"), and also to their willingness to love the church over life itself ("loved not their lives unto the death"). Papacy would thenceforth be willing to ask others to sacrifice for the maintenance of church power."And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."v. 12 The rejoicing continues IF you are part of the apostate church ("ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them"). IF you are not, WOE! The false church quickly took on the power of the persecutor, and it used the dragon (civil power) to enforce its persecuting power. Throughout the 1,260 years of Papal dominance, the earthly princes readily obeyed Papal dictates knowing that the rule of the church seemed endless, but that of the civil princes, only a "short time" — unless, of course, they obeyed. If they did not obey, the Pope had the power to dethrone them."Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."v. 13 From this time on, the civil power relished its job of enforcing cooperation with the man of sin by putting down all "heresies." Many "heresies," of course, were truths promulgated by the "woman" (covenant) and those being developed under her."And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child."v. 14 The Dark Ages (3-1/2 symbolic years) were pictured by the 3-1/2 Year period in the life of Elijah when there was no rain. (Water is a symbol of truth. See also Amos 8:1 1.) The true church was fed during this time by the two wings (Old and New Testament writings) of a great eagle. (The eagle is far-sighted and represents WISDOM. This wisdom, of course, is the Bible itself which sustained true Christians all during the 1,260 years of Papal persecution.) Notice that the woman is hidden from "the face of the serpent." A face is a symbol of favor. She was OUT OF FAVOR with the civil authorities. (Serpent and dragon are the same character as is shown by comparing verses 15 and 16.)"And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent."v. 15 Eventually elements of society were tired of being under the thumb of the Pope. They revolted. They revolted by what history calls the "Age of Enlightenment." There was a large and dramatic spread of TRUTH (water) — so much truth that it was a flood. This flood, in the eyes of the people, would do away with the oppression of religion (false or true — it made no difference) and the oppression of tyrannical kings. This movement was centered in France and erupted into what we know as the French Revolution. Among other things, it OUTLAWED RELIGION. But it was, according to this verse, the personal devil behind this flood of truths. Recognizing the decline of his church-state empire, he wanted men to see the chaos caused by much truth and thus send them running back to the old arrangement. He helped by encouraging the spread of libertarian truths."And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood."v. 16 Things didn't quite work as expected. The earth (society everywhere) liked the idea of truth. Revolution spread everywhere. But many also liked religious truth. By accepting revolutionary trends, the world actually opened the way for religious freedoms. This "helped" the woman even though it certainly frustrated Satan. Since 1799 Papacy has been unable to control the rapid rise of religious truth-seeking and investigation. In terms of the Elijah picture: it rained everywhere! Bibles and Biblical truth-seeking have flourished since the early 1800's."And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth."v. 17 Religious truth is always a threat. This final verse indicates that, before the Church is completed, the civil power will yet "make war" with the remaining members of the true Church."And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."

NOTE: The first phrase of 13:1 appears to belong in chapter 12. It reads (in its corrected translation), "And he stood upon the sand of the sea." (Chapter 13 then begins, "And I saw a beast...") The sand of the sea is a symbol for the great masses of humanity. The civil powers yet dominate the masses until the Lord overthrows their selfish rulerships.

The Great Multitude

While chapter 7 is part of the sixth seal discussion (6:12), the Revelator, in verses 4 through 17, takes the opportunity afforded by the context to look forward to the time of the completion of the Church, the 144,000. In verse 9, however, it is as if he sees something he had not before noticed, a "great multitude." This group is clearly not the church. The church is in the throne (3:21), whereas this great multitude is " the throne." The Church is a "little flock" of 144,000, whereas this multitude is preat and not of a pre-set number (7:9). The true church ecomes fountains of water (John 4:14), whereas this group is led to water (7:17). Just who are they?

The 24 Elders

"Just who are they?" is the very question asked in verse 13 by "one of the elders." Identifying this "elder" first will help answer the question. We have photographed, on the following page, a copy of the title page of a Jewish Bible. Please note carefully the reference to the TWENTY-FOUR BOOKS. To the Jewish nfind (and a large portion of the early church was Jewish), the mention of 24 likely would have brought to mind the Old Testament writings — the Prophets. The 24 elders are first introduced in Revelation 4:4, commonly called The Throne Scene. It is likely that these 24 represent the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible which always magnify God's name — especially as their prophecies come true.

From Whence Comes the Great Multitude?

In verse 13, one of the elders asks John, WHO ARE THESE? John's answer (verse 14) is revealing. In essence, he asks the prophet to stop and think: "Sir, thou knowest." This answer indicates that this great multitude has been prophesied from olden times — but not very obviously, not easily discerned without rethinking through the prophecies.

This group was typified in the Hebrew Scriptures by the tribe of Levi, as opposed to the priests (Exodus 28:1; 38:21); by the scapegoat, as opposed to the Lord's goat (Leviticus 23:17); by Lot (Genesis 19; Luke 17:28, 29; 2 Peter 2:7); and by several other types. The group also appears in such Old Testament prophecies as Jeremiah 8:20; Zephaniah 3:17, 18; Isaiah 66:7, 8; and numerous others. New Testament references also abound. Consider the foolish virgins of Jesus' parable (Matthew 25); the man whose flesh was to be destroyed but his spirit saved (1 Corinthians 5:3-5); and those less-than-adequate servants of Luke 12:47, 48.

When God accepts a man to become a part of the body of Christ and begets that man with the Holy spirit, a binding contract has been negotiated. These embryo "new creatures" (2 Corinthians 5:17) have, by God's arrangements in the Gospel Age, given up their rights to a resurrection on earth as human beings. They have had Jesus' blood applied to them the one time allowed (Hebrews 10:26). Thus, typically, the tribe of Levi had no inheritance in the land: Thus (1 Corinthians 9:27) the Apostle Paul feared that, unless he suppressed his flesh, he could lose his place in the body of Christ. Thus John cautioned that we could receive less than "a full reward" (2 John 8). Thus the Corinthian man's flesh would perish, but he would yet have his spirit saved (1 Corinthians 5:3-5). And thus (Psalm 45:14) these secondary virgins enter heaven but not as part of the bride. Probably millions of consecrated Christians will enter heaven as parts of the Great Multitude, having fallen short of the mark for the prize (Philippians 3:14). They will be part of the "resurrection of the just" (Acts 24:15), but they will not be a part of the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6). They will, no doubt, have some tearful regrets, but "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." (Revelation 7:17)

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