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Summary of Bible Prophecy from Revelation and the teaching of Jesus:
1. Revelation Overall Framework
- CHAPTER 1: THE RISEN CHRIST
John is commissioned to write down the revelation of Christ and sees a vision of Christ.
- CHAPTERS 2-3: THE CHURCH AGE
The Church is in view and Jesus writes letters to seven churches.
- CHAPTERS 4-5: THE THRONE ROOM OF HEAVEN
Jesus, the Lamb and the Lion, is in charge and worshipped by the saints.
- CHAPTERS 6-18: TRIBULATIONS ON EARTH FOR 7 YEARS
A time of many terrible judgements and great evil.
- CHAPTER 19: THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
The second coming of Jesus brings to an end the period of Tribulation.
- CHAPTER 20v.1-6: JESUS TAKES THE THRONE OF DAVID
Jesus reigns on earth and this is known as the Millennium, or Golden Age.
- CHAPTER 20v.7-15: FINAL JUDGEMENT
Jesus judges all unbelievers before the Great White Throne and they are sent to eternal punishment.
- CHAPTERS 21-22: THE ETERNAL STATE
The present heaven and earth are destroyed and a new heaven and earth created.
2. Revelation in Some More Detail
The following list is an attempt to go through Revelation Chapters 4-22 summarizing the key points:
- Revelation Chapter 4
The writer is given a vision of a majestic throne in heaven. On this throne is seated the creator, "our Lord and God", and before the throne is the Spirit of God. Proceeding from the throne is the voice of God, like lightening and thunder. The One on the throne is worshipped by "24 elders" and "4 living creatures".
- Revelation Chapter 5
The vision continues and the One on the throne is seen to be holding a book which is sealed closed with 7 seals. The writer is told only the "Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David" is able to open the seals. Clearly, this is Jesus, the Messiah. This Jesus having the appearance of a slain Lamb takes the book from Him on the throne and also receives the worship of the 24 elders and the living creatures and hosts of angels and even all creation. From the song of the elders it is clear that they are redeemed and represent all who are redeemed through Jesus blood.
- Revelation Chapter 6
The one having the appearance of a slain Lamb, Jesus begins to open the seals on this book. Four seals are then opened in order. With each seal something with the description of a rider on a horse is released to inflict the earth with trouble. The first trouble is a power to defeat, overcome and gain dominance over people on earth. The second is a power to take away peace and cause wars. The third power is to upset monetary values and bring financial turmoil. The forth power results in much death through famine, pestilence and pandemic. When the fifth seal is opened the writer sees the souls of many who had been killed for their faith. If we understand this correctly, these would be those that had been saved and killed since the start of the tribulation, in other words, the fifth seal represents persecution. The sixth seal is then opened and many natural disasters occur in the earth.
- Revelation Chapter 7
Further natural disasters are then held back by instruction from an angel for the purpose of commissioning 144,000 evangelists, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. Obviously then the nation of Israel is still in God's purposes at this time. The writer then sees a vast company of redeemed people praising God and the Lamb and is asked by one of the elders "who are these?" The writer does not know, so is told that they are redeemed people evidently they have died during the suffering of the tribulation and they are now safe.
- Revelation Chapter 8
The seventh seal is then opened and there is an ominous pause in heaven. Seven angels are appointed to execute the seventh seal which has seven parts each of which is a brought about by the sounding of a trumpet blast. Four trumpets are then blown in order and these all result in some further natural disasters. At the first trumpet, fire is wide spread on the earth. The second trumpet brings great disturbance to the sea. The third appears to be connected to meteor showers and in the fourth the sun is obscured.
- Revelation Chapter 9
Continuing from Chapter 8 the next three trumpets are described as "woes" suggesting they are even more horrific. With the fifth trumpet
demons are released with the power to torment people, likened the sting of a scorpion, such that people would rather die. Then the sixth
trumpet is blown and this appears to release plagues which would even kill one third of mankind. But we are told that those who did not die,
even this horror did not cause them repent.
- Revelation Chapter 10
This chapter changes the scene. The writer sees an angel standing on the earth with a book and the voice of thunder saying there will be no more delay. The writer is told to inwardly digest the words he has heard and he finds them bitter and sweet. The writer is then told he must prophecy again.
- Revelation Chapter 11
The writer is then told to "measure God's Temple" and we are told the Gentiles will tread the holy city for 42 months. We are then told about two of God's witnesses who have the power to carry out miracles with similarities to Elijah and Moses. Their ministry is also 42 months but this seems to be looking backward because when their work is complete they are killed by forces opposed to God who celebrate. But after 3-and-a-half days they are raised up to heaven accompanied by the sign of a great earthquake. So the witnesses seem to be killed around the middle of the 7 year period. We are then told that the second woe (sixth trumpet) has passed. The last woe comes soon; the trumpet is heard and the writer sees much rejoicing, worship and glory in heaven. As we shall see the seventh trumpet, itself, contains 7 parts called "bowls" and these judgements will occupy the remaining half of the tribulation. The construction is a little complicated: We have seen 7 "seals" of which the 7th seal equates to 7 "trumpets", of which the 7th trumpet will equate to 7 "bowls".
- Revelation Chapter 12
This chapter starts with a retrospective look back at the birth of Jesus. We are told that a man-child is born to a woman but a dragon seeks to destroy the child. The picture is clearly of Israel bringing forth Jesus and Satan seeking to destroy the child. We are then told that the woman flees to a place of safety for 42 months which seems to be saying that Israel (or at least believing Israel) is somehow protected for the remaining 42 months of the tribulation. The next part of the vision is warfare in the sky between Satan and Angel Michael and their forces and Michael prevails. Satan was defeated by Jesus at the crucifixion but it seems he retained permission to accuse the saints before God. Now he is thrown out to the earth and we read, "woe to the earth and the sea". Satan's plan then is to persecute the woman (believing Israel). But as stated earlier in the chapter, somehow, unrevealed, the woman is protected.
- Revelation Chapter 13
The writer then seas a beast coming out of the sea having 10 horns and 7 heads. This beast has blasphemous names and speaks blasphemy. The dragon gave this beast its power, and is seen receiving worship. The writer sees that one of the heads of the beast had been fatally wounded but was healed. The beast was given authority to wage war against the saints for 42 months. Then another beast is seen coming out of the earth. This beast had two horns and spoke like a dragon. He is seen performing miracles and causing people to worship the first beast. He also establishes a mark of allegiance to the first beast which everyone is required to bear in order to buy and sell. The imagery here is strange but it is fairly evident that the first beast would represent some kind of antichrist empire with 7 heads of state and the second beast is some kind of power or ambassador who ensure conformity, cooperation and obedience to this antichrist empire. Notice also that Satan is behind this and whatever this empire is it is opposed to Christianity.
- Revelation Chapter 14
The writer is then shown a vision of the Lamb standing on Mount Zion with 144,000 of the faithful. Straight-away these 144,000 are seen praising God in heaven. So it seems that the same 144,000 of chapter 7 have been executed and Jesus has gone to earth to receive them. Three angel messengers are then seen in the vision and their messages explain conditions on earth: (i) Salvation is still available, fear the Lord; (ii) "Babylon has fallen" - in other words evil cannot win and (iii) if anyone takes the "mark of the beast" of chapter 13 their choice is made and they are lost. Then there is a voice from heaven encouraging the faithful saying, "Blessed are those that die in the Lord from now on". Then three more angels seen in heaven calling for the "reaping of the earth"; clearly judgement is coming soon.
- Revelation Chapter 15
The "seven bowls" have still not yet happened but in chapter 15 they are anticipated; the last of God's judgement of wrath and carried by seven angels. There is a heavenly vision of glory, worship and praise: God is holy and righteous.
- Revelation Chapter 16
In chapter 16, all of the seven bowls of God's wrath are poured out in succession. The bowls appear reminiscent of the plagues inflicted on Egypt: First, the skin was affected of those bearing the mark of the beast; second, everything living in the sea became dead; third, everything living in fresh water became dead; fourth, people were scorched with great heat and the fifth, brought further pain across the empire of the beast. But there was no repentance and men blasphemed against God. The sixth bowl has the effect of gathering the armies of the antichrist for war and this prepares the way for Armageddon. The seventh and final bowl releases final judgements in the form of extreme weather and earthquakes. People blasphemed God again, because of the severity of this judgement.
- Revelation Chapter 17
The writer is taken away by an angel in the spirit and he sees a woman sitting on a beast which must be the same as the beast from the sea in chapter 13. The woman is called "Mystery Babylon, the mother of the abominations of the earth" and the woman is "drunk with the blood of saints". An angel then explains the vision of the beast and the woman. The beast represents all historical, present and future world empires, with Satanic inspiration, that have oppressed Israel and Christianity and have made war with the Lamb and His saints. The woman is the the city Babylon, its name linked to the Tower of Babel, and so represents all false religion. The commercial emphasis of the beast as a political empire is connected to the false religious emphasis of its rider, the woman which would include for example; state humanism, atheism, evolutionism, cultures which define sin as acceptable as well as all religions which deny Christ.
- Revelation Chapter 18
Next, the writer sees another angel who announces with a mighty voice "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great". Another call is heard for any of the faithful to come out of Babylon. A sudden and total end is coming to Babylon and she shall be utterly destroyed for all her sins. All her precious things and her wealth will be gone and Babylon with all her artists, merchants, craftsmen and industry will be found no more. Heaven is told to rejoice because God has judged sin and unrepentant sinners. Whatever its the exact identity, this corrupt system and its persecution of the faithful and opposition to Christ will be judged by God; he will use extreme weather and earthquakes, plagues, famine and fire, and as we shall see in chapter 19, Jesus himself and his armies.
- Revelation Chapter 19
The next vision that we see is in heaven and there is much rejoicing, celebration and worship. It appears that the writer starts to worship an angel but is told to worship God, "for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy". The picture then turns to the final battle (Armageddon) between the beast and Jesus. Jesus is seen coming from heaven to earth riding a white horse and with His armies following. Jesus is victorious and destroys the all armies of the antichrist. The two antichrist leaders representing the beasts of chapter 13 are thrown into hell straight-away. (Everyone else who stands against Jesus will be sifted by Jesus, separated and sent to destruction.)
- Revelation Chapter 20
The writer then sees and angel casting Satan into the abyss, evidently a temporary prison, for a period of 1000 years. The writer then sees a vision where Jesus reigns on earth, together with those who have been raised in the first resurrection. (Note: All those raised in the first resurrection are believers and include those killed in the Tribulation and all appear before Jesus for judgement of their lives. The second resurrection referred to, applies to unbelievers and occurs after the 1000 years when they will appear before the White Throne for judgement of their sin. The raised saints in their resurrection bodies reign with Jesus for the 1000 years. The people living in the Millennium are all believers, Jews and Gentiles, who have survived the Tribulation). This 1000 year period is the "Golden Age" of which the Old Testament prophets foresaw. Jesus rules with complete authority and this is the Kingdom of God on earth. At the end of the 1000 years Satan is released to gather together any people to war; these would be any people born in the 1000 years who have not been saved through repentance and believing in Jesus. This rebellion is destroyed and Satan is cast into hell. The writer then sees the second resurrection which is the raising of all unbelievers to judgement. All these people appear before Jesus at the White Throne. Books were opened evidently recording the life and works of all. Another book is opened, this is the book of life and is a list of the names of all believers. All those whose name was not in the book of life were cast into hell, the lake of fire.
- Revelation Chapter 21
With the 1000 year reign and judgement of all enemies of Christ now complete, the heaven and earth are destroyed. A new heaven and a new earth is created by God with a new holy city, the new Jerusalem. A voice is heard announcing "Behold, God's dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away." This is the eternal state and nothing sinful or impure will be permitted. The writer is then taken away in the spirit and shown details of the holy city and the Lamb's bride. The new city was made of all kinds of precious materials and living in it, all whose name was written in the Lamb's book of life.
- Revelation Chapter 22
The writer is shown further detail of the new creation including the river of the water of life and the tree of life for the healing of the nations. The people will see the face of Jesus and they will bear his name for ever and ever. The chapter draws to a conclusion with the words of Jesus "Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book", and the warning that all unbelievers will "outside". John testifies to his account of the vision and writes the warning that nothing must be added to, or taken from, the words of God. Finally there is the benediction, "Yes, I come quickly." Amen! Yes, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints. Amen".
3. The Teaching of Jesus regarding the Future - "The Olivet Discourse"
The teaching of Jesus regarding the future is mostly found in Matthew 24 and the parallel accounts of Mark 13 and Luke 21. All three passages need to be considered together to understand the complete answer of Jesus.
The disciples ask Jesus a question (Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:4 and Luke 21:7). It is in Matthew's account that the question is recorded more specifically as: "Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?"
There are three parts to the question which, though the disciples may not have fully realised what they were asking, Jesus answers separately, however to distinguish the separate parts requires some care.
- When will these things be? - Jesus had just been speaking of the destruction of the Temple.
- What is the sign of your coming? - this is the second coming of Jesus to the earth in His Power and Glory.
- What is the sign of the end of the age? - this is really the consummation of the current age; the end of conditions as they are now; it is the start of the Tribulation.
From what we already know we can attempt to answer these questions ourselves and then see how Jesus describes things.
- When will these things be? - we know that the Temple was destroyed in AD70.
- What is the sign of your coming? - we know that Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation so the signs will be very clear.
- What is the sign of the end of the age? - this is when Jesus returns for the Church and it marks the start of the Tribulation but we do not know exactly when this will be: there are no particular signs.
Now let's see what Jesus says:
1. The first question concerning the destruction of the Temple is answered only in Luke 21:20-24
"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is at hand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let those who are in the middle of her depart. Let those who are in the country not enter therein. For these are days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who nurse infants in those days! For there will be great distress in the land, and wrath to this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Note: The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple occurred in 70AD by the Romans:
- Jesus says "Flee to the mountains when you see Jerusalem surrounded". This is strange - would that not be leaving it too late? Historically, when the Romans first beseiged Jerusalem in 67AD it was poorly planned and they had to retreat. This gave a window of opportunity to escape for all who believed Jesus.
- Jesus says Jerusalem will be under Gentile rule "until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled". Jerusalem came back under the rule of the State of Israel in 1967 so we can conclude the "times of the Gentiles" ended in 1967.
2. The second question concerning the sign of the second coming is answered in Matthew 24:7-31.
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines, plagues, and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are the beginning of birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to oppression, and will kill you. You will be hated by all of the nations for my name's sake. Then many will stumble, and will deliver up one another, and will hate one another. Many false prophets will arise, and will lead many astray. Because iniquity will be multiplied, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. This Good News of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. "When, therefore, you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take out the things that are in his house. Let him who is in the field not return back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are with child and to nursing mothers in those days! Pray that your flight will not be in the winter, nor on a Sabbath, for then there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever will be. Unless those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved. But for the sake of the chosen ones, those days will be shortened. "Then if any man tells you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or, 'There,' don't believe it. For there will arise false christs, and false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the chosen ones. "Behold, I have told you beforehand. If therefore they tell you, 'Behold, he is in the wilderness,' don't go out; or 'Behold, he is in the inner rooms,' don't believe it. For as the lightning flashes from the east, and is seen even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, that is where the vultures gather together. But immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. He will send out his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
Note: The similarities between the description of Jesus and the Tribulation described in Revelation and Daniel:
- The Tribulation will start with wars, famines, plagues and earthquakes, then great persecution and false prophets.
- The Good News of the Kingdom will still be preached.
- He who endures will be saved.
- Jesus says "Flee to the mountains when you see the "abomination of desolation" spoken by Daniel (see Daniel 9:27). This is a warning sign to Israel to get out to a place of safety (see Revelation 12:14).
- There will be great suffering - worse than ever before.
- "Wherever the carcass is, that is where the vultures gather together" refers to the persecution of Israel.
- In the end the sun moon stars will be darkened and the heavens will be shaken.
- "Unless the days were cut short" then no-one would survive.
- The Son of Man will be seen coming in power and glory.
- The angels will gather his chosen ones.
3. The third question concerning the sign of the end of the age is answered in Matthew 24:32-44.
"Now from the fig tree learn this parable. When its branch has now become tender, and produces its leaves, you know that the summer is near. Even so you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Most certainly I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all these things are accomplished. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only. "As the days of Noah were, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, and they didn't know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and one will be left. Watch therefore, for you don't know in what hour your Lord comes. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you don't expect, the Son of Man will come.
Notes: The Rapture and start of the Tribulation will be sudden and unannounced - therefore be ready.
- Jesus says that the generation living that sees the sign of the fig-tree putting forth leaves will not all pass away before the end of the age. This suggests the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 so the Tribulation could be coming very soon - within a lifetime of 1948!
- Luke's account (Luke 21:29) mentions the fig-tree and all the trees putting forth leaves. This suggests that political, social and moral changes may well start to trend towards the conditions in the Tribulation, such as spiritual deception, the spirit of antichrist, antisemitism, globalisation.
- The second sign Jesus gave is that things will be continuing as they were in the days of Noah, in other words normal life will continue.
- Then the end of the age will come suddenly and some will be taken and others left (rapture).
- Heaven and earth will pass away (be destroyed) but the words of Jesus will not pass away because they are God's words and will be Truth in the heaven and earth to come.
In other words there ARE signs for the second coming and they are the events of the Tribulation which will be unmistakable and the duration of the Tribulation is foretold as 7 years. But for the start of the Tribulation which begins with Jesus taking his believers out of the world: there are no specific signs: this will come like a "thief in the night" and could be at any time. Therefore Christians in all ages are to live in a way such that they are ready for Jesus return.
4. Bible and Prophecy Timeline
The following slides are an attempt to summarize some key stages in Bible history and prophecy:
To download these slides as a Powerpoint Presentation: