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Chronology of Revelation

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The Chronology of Revelation details a series of events which take place in the Book of Revelation, detailing (by some accounts) the final judgement of God on the world, in the final Book of the Christian Bible. The events portrayed in Revelation are full of symbolism, imagery, and metaphor, with a wide range of interpretations as to how the events should be perceived.

Prologue and Church letters

The prologue of Revelation, the shortest chapter of the book (Revelation 1), introduces the reader to John (the author) and explains that John was visited by an angel and called to be a witness to "testimony of Jesus Christ" by reporting what he would see in a series of visions.

The author then proceeds to write seven letters to each of the major churches of the world (Revelation 2:1-3:22). The letters to the seven churches of Asia are a warning to the faithful of the world that Christ will soon be returning to the Earth to bring forth punishment to the wicked and redemption to the faithful. The letters, in themselves, are filled with a large array of imagery and metaphors.

Vision of Heaven

The first vision that the author experiences is that of entering Heaven and seeing God's throne (Revelation 4:1-6). In Revelation, God's throne is described as "sparkling like jasper and carnelian with a rainbow-like halo as brilliant as emerald". Around God's throne are twenty four other thrones, on which sit elders in white robes. From the throne come thunder and lightning and, in front of the throne, the author sees seven torches and a sea of crystal.

The author then sees four creatures which have six wings and are covered in eyes (Revelation 4:6-11). The creatures are giving eternal thanks to God and, whenever one of them bows down to worship God, the twenty four elders around God's throne bow down to worship God.

The Lamb and the Seven Seals

In God's hand is a scroll with seven seals (Revelation 5:1). The author weeps when nobody can be found to break the seals, but is reassured when a lamb appears who is able and worthy to do this (Revelation 5:3-5:5). The lamb appears as slaughtered yet standing, and has seven horns and seven eyes (Revelation 5:6). The lamb is commonly seen as a portrayal of Jesus,[1] see also Lamb of God.

As the lamb opens the scroll, from the first four seals come riders on horseback: a white horse, whose rider carries a bow; a red horse, whose rider carries a sword; a black horse, whose rider carries a pair of scales; a pale horse, whose rider is Death (Revelation 6:1-8). (see also Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse).

With the fifth seal the apparitions of the martyrs appear before God and ask when he will judge the people of Earth. They are each given a white robe, and told to wait until more martyrs have been killed (Revelation 6:9-11).

With the sixth seal there comes a terrible earthquake, the sky becomes black, and the people of Earth are afraid of the anger of God and the lamb. Four angels stand at the four corners of the Earth, and hold back the winds, while another angel commands them to wait until 144,000 descendants of Jacob have a seal put on their foreheads. A large crowd, too massive to count, is then seen before God and the lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches. In turn, they worship God, and the author is told by an elder that God will protect and provide for them (Revelation 6:12-7:17).

When the seventh seal is opened, heaven is quiet for about half an hour. God issues seven angels each with a trumpet, then another angel carrying a golden censer comes before the throne. After offering prayers and incense to God, the angel fills the censer with fire from the altar, then hurls it at the earth, resulting in earthquakes, thunder and lightning (Revelation 8:1-5).

The Seven Trumpets

When the first trumpet is sounded in Revelation 8:7, hail, fire and blood fall upon the Earth, and a third of its surface, along with a third of its trees and all of its grass, is consumed in flame. Upon the sounding of the second, a great, flaming mountain falls into the sea. A third of the oceans turn to blood, a third of the sea creatures are killed and a third of the ships are destroyed. With the third, the star Wormwood falls upon a third of the rivers and springs, poisoning them and the many men who drink from them.

With the fourth trumpet, a third of the Sun, Moon and stars darken, leaving a third of the day in darkness. After these four trumpets an angel flies through Heaven warning everybody that the worst is about to come. The fifth trumpet calls down a star from the heavens, which opens the Abyss, darkening the sky with its fumes and unleashing a swarm of scorpion-like locusts. The locusts are commanded not to pursue plant life of any kind, "but only those men which have not the seal of God on their foreheads," and to torment them for five months as though they had been struck by scorpions, but without death. They had the form of warhorses, with golden crowns, men's faces, women's hair, lions' teeth, iron breastplates, wings and scorpions' tails. They are led by a king, named Abaddon. Whether they are demonic or angelic is unclear.

The sixth angel Revelation 9:13-18 releases the four angels who had been bound to the Euphrates ready to lead an army of 200 million horsemen to slay one third of mankind.

The Little Book Eaten and Utterances of the Seven Thunders Sealed

John records the arrival of a mighty angel from heaven whose face was as the sun and whose feet were as pillars of fire and whose voice was as a lion. This mighty angel delivered a little book which John was commanded to eat and the voices of seven thunders which John was commanded not to write. John is then given a measuring rod and told to measure the temple and the altar.

The Two Witnesses

Revelation 11 introduces two witnesses, who are described as "the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth". They will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. The witnesses will be given supernatural powers to defend themselves from attack and to smite the earth with plagues. They will "torment those who dwell on the earth" with these plagues. After they prophesy and testify for 1,260 days, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. Their corpses will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for 3-1/2 days while the world watches and rejoices over their deaths. However, after the 3-1/2 days, they will be resurrected and then ascend into heaven while their enemies look on as 1/10 of Jerusalem and the 7,000 people in it are being destroyed by another great earthquake.

The Woman and the Dragon

The seventh angel sounds his trumpet and the temple of God in heaven is opened revealing the 'Ark of his covenant'. There is a great storm and an earthquake. Revelation 12 then introduces a woman clothed in the sun, a crown of twelve stars, and the moon under her feet. She is pursued by a dragon with seven heads and ten horns. It wants to devour her unborn child. However, the child was born and He will rule with an iron rod. The Child was snatched up to God. Then there was a great battle in Heaven. Michael and his Angels fought the Dragon and his angels. The Dragon lost and was thrown down to Earth and all of its angels with it. The Dragon pursued the Woman. Water came out of its mouth to drown the Woman. However, the Earth swallowed all the water. Then the Woman grew eagle wings and flew away. The Dragon was enraged 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. Then the Dragon stood on the seashore.

The Beast from the Sea

Revelation 13 introduces a beast, rising out of the sea. It is described as having "ten horns and seven heads", one of which has been injured but later healed. This beast is given authority by the dragon and proceeds to lead the world, being worshipped alongside the dragon. It is shown leading the whole world with the exception of those whose names are written in the Book of Life, and as making war against the saints.

The Beast from the Earth

Following this, another beast arises, this one from the earth. This beast exercises authority on behalf of the previous, and through this authority causes "great and miraculous signs" by which to make people follow the beast. The beast from the earth causes all to have a mark on their hand or forehead, "that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name" (Revelation 13:17). This beast is described as having the appearance of a lamb while speaking like a dragon. He is said to be the false prophet, who will exercise the authority of the beast on his behalf, and forces everyone to worship the beast and his 'image', and to take his mark on their right hand or on their forehead. He who doesn't have the mark shall not be able to buy or sell. They will be considered outlaws. The number of the beast is 666 or 616 (see also 616).

The Seven Bowl Judgments

Next, seven angels are given vials or bowls to pour out upon the earth which contain "the seven last plagues". These last judgments will complete God's wrath. The first bowl produces unbearable sores on humanity. The second bowl results in the death of every living thing in the sea. The third bowl turns the inland waters into blood. The fourth bowl causes the sun to scorch man. The fifth bowl brings darkness over the beast's kingdom. The sixth bowl dries up the river Euphrates to prepare the way for the kings of the east and causes the armies of the Antichrist being gathered together to wage the battle of Armageddon. The seventh bowl results in a devastating earthquake followed by giant hailstones (Revelation 16:17-21).

The Whore of Babylon

Revelation 17-18 introduces a Woman dressed in purple and scarlet, and decked with gold, precious stones and pearls. She sits on a scarlet beast with 7 heads (representing 7 kings) and 10 horns (representing 10 kings). She is described as the "Mother of Harlots" and is drunk with the blood of the saints indicating her intense involvement in persecution. She comes to power and rules the kings and peoples of the earth. Eventually, the 10 kings ruling the kingdoms that give their power to the Beast grow tired of her influence and overthrow her. Her destruction will cause the kings and merchants of the earth to mourn her passing.

Millennium

Jesus returns to earth followed by the armies of Heaven, which are seen riding white horses dressed in fine linen. The Beast and his False Prophet make war with the armies of Christ but are defeated. In the aftermath of their defeat, the Antichrist and False Prophet are cast alive into the Lake of Fire, which burns forever. Then Satan is bound in the Abyss for a thousand years. The Saints who died are resurrected and begin their thousand-year reign with Christ. After the thousand years, Satan is released from the Abyss to deceive the nations and gather Gog and Magog and the people of the world to encircle the camp of the saints and the city of Jerusalem. A fire comes down from God out of heaven and devours them. Satan is then thrown into the Lake of Fire forever. The wicked dead and all of those who died during the thousand-year reign of Christ are resurrected and judged. Then a new heaven and a new earth with the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven.

See also

Notes

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