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Selective Interpretation of the Book of Revelation

Selective Interpretation of the Book of Revelation

I.       Background

A.     Revealer:

Jesus Christ (Rev 1:1)

B.     Recorder:

Apostle John (Rev 1:2,4)

C.     Time:

Approximately 94 to 96 A.D.

II.    Different types of interpretations

A.     Preterist interpretation

Believes that things recorded in Revelation pertain only to the gen­eration of that time and have no bearing on things taking place today.

B.     Historical interpretation

Believes that Revelation is a concise description of things that will occur from that time until the end of the world.  Each of the inci­dents written in the book prefigures incidents that are to take place in the future.  However, scholars could not agree if the historical inter­pretation is limited only to church history or is also applicable to the history of the entire world.

C.     Futurist interpretation

Believes that things recorded in and after Chapter Four will take place after the church has been lifted, when the seven years of tribu­lation has come, and when the millennia has been realized.

D.     Spiritual interpretation (2 types)

The first type believes that every incident recorded in this book serves to train us in our spiritual life.  The second type believes that each of the recorded incidents reflect upon God's principle in coor­dinating historical events and, therefore, is not actual prefigu­ration of the things to come.   This interpretation is also termed "inter-pretation of principles", which is to mean that this book was written to clarify God's principle in dealing with problems.


A.     The Seven Churches (Chapters 2-3)

The Book of Revelation has been divided into two sections.  The first is "things of the present" and the second is "things of the future" (Rev 1:19).  Things of the present refers to the seven churches at that time and things of the future refers to the coming of the latter rain of Holy Spirit, the realization of the throne of grace, and the things pertaining to the second coming of Christ (Rev 4:1-3; 22:20)

1.        The Seven Churches, scattered in Asia Minor, are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, which actually exist at the time when the book was written.  With the exception of Smyrna and Philadelphia, all remaining church were rebuked by Jesus.

2.        The Seven Letters – written not only to the seven churches, but to all the churches at that time, for it was written at the end of every letter, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22)

3.        Contents of the Seven Letters – each letter began with "I know your works..." (2:2,9,13,19; 3:1,8,15)  followed by praises, re­bukes, exhortations, and promises.  This may serve as the prin­ciple in our conversation with others.

4.        The Seven Letters and the Churches Today – the seven letters were written to seven distinctly imperfect churches at that time to encourage them to improve and to pursue perfection.  Churches today which are still imperfect must also accept the messages in the seven letters to reflect upon their own weak­ness to change the bad things and to continue on with the good in order to eventually reach the state of perfection. (Rev 2:4,5; 3:15,16; Ref. Rom 15:4; I Cor 10:11)

B.     The Scroll with Seven Seals (Chapters 5-6)

1.        The Scroll – John saw the scroll, sealed with seven seals, in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.  Only the Lamb is worthy of taking the scroll and opening its seven seals for He has been slain and has redeemed the people by His own blood in order that they may truly belong to God (Rev 5:9-10).  The contents of this scroll, according to Chapters 6 to 22, are in re­gards to the salvation and judgment of God.  Only God has the authority to administer such a great task for He has died for our sins and has completed the work of salvation.  After He as­cended to heaven, all authority has been given to Him on heaven and on earth (Mt 28:18; Jn 5:22)

2.        The Seven Seals – The scroll is the main theme in the book of Revelation.  The opening of the seven seals reveals God’s great plan in the last days.  When the seventh seal was opened, seven angels with seven trumpets appeared; therefore, the blowing of the seven trumpets is also included in the contents of the scroll.

 a.      The First Seal: White Horse – In the New Testament time God expanded His work through the church (Mk 16:15; Mt 28:18-20; Eph 1:23; 4:10-11).  The horse is prepared for the day of battle (Prov 21:31).  The color white signifies ho­liness and the rider of the white horse is Jesus (Rev 19:11-16).  This white horse has been cleanse by the the blood of Jesus and has the abidance of the Spirit of God to obey the will of God in conquering the world.  The white horse is the TrueChurch.  It shall go out conquering and to conquer and to accomplish God’s great work of salvation.  If it were the false Christ, it cannot conquer and be victorious for long.

 b.      The Second Seal: Red Horse – Red is the color of blood; the rider of the red horse shall take away peace from the earth for the people to kill one another.  The red horse is in instrument of Satan to shed the blood of mankind.  The rider was granted a great sword, signifying that he will cause great battles in the future.  The red horse appeared imme­diately after the white horse (Ref.: Rev 16:13-16; Jas 3:14-16)

 c.      The Third Seal: Black Horse – Its rider had a pair of scales in his hand and there was a voice saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius...”  One denarius is a day’s wage, one quart of wheat is a day’s food for man.  Which shows the lack of food supply and the inflation of food price, which are signs of world hunger and poverty (Ezek 4:16; Lam 4:8-10)

 d.      The Fourth Seal: Pale Horse – The name of him who sat on it was Death.  Power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts.  Following the great battles, there will be famines and pestilences in addition to slaying by evil nations, the world at that time will fully immersed under the powers of Death.

 e.      The Fifth Seal: Cry of the Martyrs – Before the second coming of Christ, there will be great tribulations and dis­as­ters like never before (Mt 24:21-22) and the church will also encounter great persecution (Rev 20:7-10).  Therefore, the second coming of Christ will take place following the opening of the fifth seal.

 f.       The Sixth Seal: The Coming of Christ – Occurrences in the sixth seal is similar in content to what was recorded in Matthew Chapter 24.  Events of His coming are identically recorded – the sun became black, the stars of heaven fell to the earth, and other cosmic disturbances (Rev 20:11).  The day of Lord’s coming is the day of great wrath for the Lamb for it will be the day of judgment for all mankind.

·         Events recorded in first through the sixth seal will take place after the establishment of the TrueChurch of latter rain, but before the second coming of Christ.  Events of the Seven Trumpets and Seven Bowls will take place immediately fol­lowing the opening of the Sixth Seal, before the coming of Christ.

C.     The Beast with Seven Heads and Ten Horns (Chapter 13)

1.        The Beast – A beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns.  The heads signifies the kings and their kingdoms (Rev 17:9-10).  The number seven here should not be taken literally, for it represent vast and great numbers.  They, being many nations, gather as one group.  The horns signify power and strength.  Ten horns signifies the fullness of power  He had the appearance of a leopard – quick in motion; feet of a bear – full of strength; mouth of a lion – roaring and thundering.  It was given power by the dragon – an instrument of Satan in the last days (Rev 13:2).

2.        His Deadly Wounds Healed – he had been mortally wounded but was later healed; therefore, people of all nations followed him and gave him power and authority that no one can make war against him (Rev 13:3-4)

3.        His Work

 a.      Persecute the church – blasphemy against God, against God’s name, Jesus (Jn 17:11), against God’s tabernacle, the church (Heb 8:2), and against those in heaven, the spiri­tual saints (Eph 2:6; Heb 12:22).  He willfully persecutes the church for forty-two months and was victorious.

 b.      Conquer all nations – He was granted authority to make war and to conquer every tribe, tongue, and nation (Rev 13:7; Dan 8:24)

4.        The Beast from the Land – he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon.  He is the false prophet and false Christ.  He caused the people to worship the first beast and exercises its powers to destroy the earth.  However, his ending is like that of the first beast – being thrown alive into the lake of fire (Rev 13:11; 19:20)

5.        The first beast is the “little horn” as prophesied in the book of Daniel, the anti-Christ who does the evil deeds.  His appearance is one of the signs of the last days (Dan 7:7,8,11,25,26; 8:9-12,23-24; 11:31,36,37; Mt 24:15-22).

D.     The One Hundred Forty-Four Thousand (Chapter 14)

1.        MountZion – an alternate name of Jerusalem.  MountZion is spiritual, the True Church of God (Heb 12:22-24; Gal 4:26).  The TrueChurch is the spiritual holy temple, the throne of God.  Within it are the Lamb, the Four Living Creatures, the twenty-four Elders, the 144,000 chosen people, and countless multitudes of angels (Rev 14:1; 4:4,6; 5:11).  This wonderful assembly and gathering in heaven should also be evident in the True Church of God on earth (Heb 8:5; 12:22-24).

2.        The 144,000 – they were bought with a price.  This is the total number of people who were redeemed (the number 144,000 is not to be taken literally, it is merely a figurative number set by God).

3.        They have the likeness of Christ (Eph 4:21-24; I Cor 11:1; Gal 4:19), and have been through the great tribulation and are wor­thy to be regarded a perfect saints.  Their foreheads are sealed with the name of God - Jesus (Jn 17:11; 10:30).  Their charac­teristics are:

 a.      Holiness – have not defiled themselves, for they are virgins (Rev 14:4; II Cor 11:2)

 b.      Submission – they follow the Lamb wherever He goes (Rev 14:4; Phil 2:8)

 c.      Honesty – in their mouth was found no guile (Rev 14:5; Jas 3:2)

 d.      Blameless – they are without fault (Rev 14:5; Eph 5:27; I Thess 5:23-24)

E.     The Great Babylon (Chapters 17-18)

1.        Babylon the Great – the mother of harlots and of the abomina­tions of the earth (Rev 17:5); the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth (17:18); the mother of all abominations (17:6); the dwelling place of Satan (18:2-3).  “The waters which you saw... are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.” (17:15)

2.        Her Sins – blasphemy against God, shed the blood of prophets and saints (17:3,6; 19:2; 18:24) and all who were slain on earth (18:24), arrogance, fornication, and indulgence (18:7,3,9,; 17:2).

3.        Her Ending – she will be hated by her beast and by the ten horns to make her desolate and to make her eat her flesh and burn her with fire (17:16).  Within a day’s time she will be be burned and destroyed (18:8,10,17,19).  Finally, she will be like a great millstone being thrown into the sea and not be found again (18:21).

4.        The Calling of God – “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” (Rev 18:4)

F.      The New Jerusalem (Chapter 21)

1.        Descend from heaven – the new Jerusalem descending from heaven (Rev 21:1,2) on top of a great mountain (21:10; Is 2:2-3).

2.        She is the bride of the Lamb – the holy city of Jerusalem that descends from heaven to be the bride of the Lamb (21:9-10; Gal 4:26; Heb 12:22)

3.        The New Jerusalem – the characteristics:

 a.      A pure river of water of life (22:1) – signifying the river of Holy Spirt (Jn 7:37-39).  A church without Holy Spirit does not belong to Christ (Rom 8:9; Eph 1:23).

 b.      Twelve foundations with the names of the twelve apostles (21:14) – the foundation of the church must be firmly estab­lished upon the teachings of the apostles (Eph 2:20).  It shall not set any other foundation and it shall not preach any other gospel (Gal 1:6-9; II Cor 11:4).

 c.      A great and high wall (21:12) – signifies God’s secure pro­tection and also to be clearly divided from the world outside and be sanctified (Ref.: I Kg 9:3; II Tim 2:19).

 d.      Twelve gates (21:13) – three gates each on the east, north, south, and west signifying the spread of the Gospel in all di­rections to save the souls of mankind (Mk 16:15; Mt 28:20; Gen 13:14-17; Rom 1:16).

 e.      No need of sun or moon to shine (21:23) – there is no need for material things and physical joy and satisfaction.  By the glorious light of God and the spiritual joy, our hearts will be fully satisfied.