If you’ve had trouble understanding the Book of Revelation, this summary and paraphrase is sure to help. Written as John might have told it today, the Revelation Story makes one of the most complex and controversial books of prophecy in the Bible so much easier to comprehend. Faithful to the literal interpretation with just enough background to make it a truly informative, even enjoyable, read.
I was living in exile on the Greek Isle of Patmos when He approached me to undertake the project. Today Patmos is a tourist stop on the sea route from Western Turkey to Athens. It’s visited daily by cruise ships and ferry boats crammed with visitors there to get a look at the huge monastery and over 300 little chapels all named after me. But in my time it was a Roman penal colony, a couple of square miles of rock and despair, bleak and lonely. I was there because I wouldn’t (couldn’t) stop preaching the Gospel. The authorities had tried all kinds of ways to shut me up but none of them worked so they finally shipped me off to Patmos where I couldn’t speak to anybody, or so they thought.
I heard His voice before I saw Him, and when I turned around I fell face down at His feet, knowing it was the Lord. Talk about being scared. Before, He had been more like one of the guys, but now He was King of the Universe. By the way He introduced Himself (as if He needed to) I knew that this was no casual drop-in but an official visit. Something big was in the works.
Although it had been over 50 years since I’d last seen Him, he wasted no time in chit-chat, but immediately instructed me to write a three part letter, a book actually, and send it off to the seven churches He named for me. The three parts were;
things that had been (His time on Earth before the Church was born),
the things that currently were (the church age as represented by the seven congregations He named), and
the things that would happen after the church age (the great tribulation, His 2nd Coming, and His 1000 year Kingdom.)
He then launched straight into a monologue on these seven churches. It was soon obvious that He had chosen them carefully because by their nature, and in the order He placed them, they chronicled what’s now become the history of the church. It would start off small and faithful but would soon grow into a formal organization in danger of forgetting its original purpose, worshiping Him (Ephesus). Its growth would frighten the world governments who would try to suppress it to no avail (Smyrna). Failing in that, they would embrace it and change it from within into a large and powerful government in and of itself, more attuned to the world’s ways than His (Pergamus). Near the end of its time the church would split into four components; Catholic (Thyatira), Protestant (Sardis), Evangelical (Philadelphia), and Liberal / New Age (Laodicea). These four would exist side by side until the rapture, when He would remove those faithful to Him from among all of them, bringing the Church Age to a close and leaving the rest to endure the end time judgments.
And then something happened that literally blew me away. I looked up and saw this door in the sky standing open and I heard His voice again, commanding me to “Come up here!” At once I was flung through space and time, landing in a flash before the Throne of God at the end of the Age. There’s no way to describe how that felt, one minute standing outside my cave in the 1st century and an instant later standing in heaven in the 21st, but apparently I was participating in the Rapture of the Church, just like He had promised to the Church at Philadelphia. There were millions of us there; singing praises to God along with all the host of heaven. We received the crowns we’d earned while on Earth and immediately gave them back to Him Who had empowered us to do the things for which we were being rewarded.
I looked at the Throne of the Almighty and saw Him sitting there holding a document that was no less than the title deed to Planet Earth. It was sealed with seven seals. I sobbed convulsively as I felt the pain God feels at seeing His Creation in terrible bondage, and realizing that no mere human nor even the entire angelic host could free it. But then I saw my Lord Jesus again, still bearing the awful scars of His crucifixion, and knew that He alone could free the earth and restore God’s creation to Him. By His sacrificial death He had paid its ransom along with yours and mine.
When He took the title deed from His Father, we all recognized that the time had come at last to begin the series of judgments that would rid the world of evil, restore the creation to its Creator, and usher in His thousand year reign of peace on Earth. We cheered and shouted and sang till the very heavens shook.
But the one who had stolen the creation was not about to let go with out a fight, and incredibly he had enlisted the support of some pretty powerful forces, both natural and supernatural. The biggest, nastiest war in history was spinning up and I had been given the seemingly impossible job of writing the eyewitness account.
I don’t know if you can appreciate just how big this job was. I’m nobody’s fool, but I was a 1st Century man with a 1st Century vocabulary and I was going to be describing things that were unheard of even at the beginning of the 20th Century. What’s more, all the millions of people who would read this account between the time I wrote it and the time the events actually took place would have to be able to understand it. Fortunately I had some supernatural help of my own. First, The Holy Spirit led me to write this account as if in a vision rich in symbolism. And second, of the 404 verses in my book, 278 of them are pretty much direct quotes from the Old Testament to help my readers keep things in their proper context and explain the symbolism. (Of course this presumes that you know your Old Testament.)
Now as I said, the title deed to planet Earth was sealed with seven seals and as the Lord opened them the Holy Spirit gave me visions of judgments being released on Earth. The first four seals were symbolized by horses and riders. In the first one a white horse appeared ridden by someone coming as a conqueror bent on conquest. He’s trying to look like the Christ but close inspection reveals that he’s an impostor, the anti-christ. For one thing he’s wearing the wrong crown. It’s a victor’s crown, not one for a king. Since he had a bow but no arrows, he wasn’t ready for war yet but that would soon change.
The second horse was fiery red and symbolized war. It was followed, as so often happens after wars begin, by a black horse symbolizing famine. Most people would now have to work all day just to buy a loaf of bread, but the rich would not be affected yet.
The fourth horse was a sickly green color and symbolized the death that follows war and famine. In fact more than 1/4th of the worlds population (that’s 1.5 billion people) will die in this series of judgments.
When He broke open the 5th seal, I saw all those who had been martyred for their faith. They cried out to God for vengeance, but He told them to be patient because still more would die and join them.
Seeing all the people who had been and would be slaughtered simply for believing in their Creator must have angered God because as the 6th seal was broken He unleashed a colossal earthquake on the earth. Smoke and dust rose into the sky until the sun and moon were blotted out. The mountains and islands shook from the power of the quake, and all mankind fled for cover, hiding in caves and among rocks, knowing that the time of God’s wrath had begun.
Because even in wrath God remembers mercy, He paused to commission 144,000 Jews, 12,000 each from 12 of the tribes of Israel, to go out among the people of the Earth and once again spread the Gospel into every nation and in every language. And just then all those who had not become believers until after the rapture, but had died in faith during this series of judgments, arrived in Heaven all dressed in white and waving palm branches. They stood before the Throne of God and praised Him saying, “Salvation belongs to our God and to the Lamb!” Immediately all the heavenly host joined them in worshiping God. These Tribulation Saints were assigned the special honor of serving God in His Temple, never again to hunger or thirst or feel any discomfort, for the Lamb of God had become their Shepherd.
The first series of judgments caused astounding devastation on Earth, but it also brought many millions of new believers into an everlasting union with their Creator. Before this seven-year period is over more people will come to faith than in all the History of Man preceding. But it’s also the time when the full extent of unregenerate man’s depravity is made clear. The middle ground will completely disappear as the People of Earth face their most perilous times ever.
When the Lord broke open the 7th and final seal of the title deed to planet Earth, there was silence in Heaven for about half an hour. The first 6 had caused so much havoc on Earth that I’ll bet most everyone in Heaven was literally holding his breath to see what the 7th seal would bring. I know I was.
I looked up and saw seven angels standing before God. Each was given a long trumpet, the kind a herald would use on earth to announce the arrival of an important dignitary or event. And another angel appeared with a golden censor filled with incense representing the prayers of all the saints that he placed on the golden altar before the Throne. As the smoke from the incense rose up before God, the angel used the censer to scoop up the fire from the altar and hurl it down upon the Earth. Immediately there was thunder, lightning, and another earthquake. More judgments were coming, worse than the ones just past.
When the first angel blew his trumpet a storm of hail and fire mixed with blood arose on Earth burning up 1/3 of the Earth’s trees and vegetation. As the second angel blew his trumpet, a giant meteor the size of a mountain came crashing into the Earth, landing in the ocean. The force of the impact turned the ocean red like blood and killed 1/3 of all the creatures living in it. Over 16 thousand ships were destroyed and 500 thousand sailors killed from the storms and tidal waves caused by the meteor’s impact. At the sound of the 3rd trumpet, another blazing star, called Wormwood, fell from the sky contaminating 1/3 of the Earth’s fresh water supply, and causing many more deaths. As the 4th trumpet sounded the devastation from the hail storm and the 2 meteor impacts caused smoke and dust to rise into the atmosphere reducing the light from the sun, moon and stars by 1/3 and causing periods of total blackness both day and night.
As if things on Earth weren’t bad enough, I heard the voice of an angel warning people to prepare for even worse disasters when the remaining 3 trumpets were sounded. Something much more frightening was clearly in store.
As the 5th angel sounded his trumpet I got a glimpse of our great enemy. Back when I was one of the Lords first disciples, He had mentioned seeing Satan fall like a star from Heaven (Luke 10:18), and now Satan was being given the key to the Abyss, or underworld. As he unlocked it, smoke rose up as if from a gigantic furnace, and out of the smoke appeared swarms of hideous insects that at first looked to me like locusts. But as I observed them more closely, I decided that they had to be some sort of demonic manifestation. Real locusts are vegetarian, but these things weren’t allowed to harm any vegetation, nor could they attack the 144,000 servants of God. But they could sting those people who weren’t supernaturally protected and when they did the pain was incredible. The sting from these locust things wasn’t fatal but it left their victims in unbearable pain for five months. Believe me, they all wished they were dead.
Here’s where my first century experience was unequal to the task. These locusts looked like nothing I had ever seen, and in all the centuries since I wrote this account, nothing like them has ever been seen on Earth by anyone else either. Maybe they’re some sort of weapons system born out of 21st Century technology and maybe they’re some invention of the devil. One thing is certain; they’re straight out of the pits of hell. The one who unlocked the Abyss controlled them. He called himself “The Destroyer.” Amazing grasp of the obvious, that one.
When the 6th trumpet was blown, an invisible barrier came down on Earth. The Euphrates River has always been the traditional boundary between East and West. It starts in the Mountains of Turkey and flows southward through Syria and Iraq emptying into the Persian Gulf. Culture, language, custom and religion all change dramatically when you cross the Euphrates, and for centuries it’s width and depth prevented the armies of both eastern and western nations from crossing. But now this barrier, represented by four bound angels, was being lowered and a massive army, 200 million strong, was on the march. Before this army was finished, fully a third of the world’s remaining population would die. These deaths, when added to the ones from the earlier judgments would bring the total dead to nearly 3 billion, about 1/2; the Earth’s population. Once again my experience was inadequate to the task of describing the appearance and weaponry of this huge army, but suffice it to say that it was a fearsome and awful sight to behold.
You’d think with those demonic locusts attacking people and 3 billion others being killed from wars and other disasters, that the survivors would be flocking to the Lord in search of comfort and security. But this just didn’t happen, and I’ll tell you why.
There is a belief floating around that’s as old as mankind but in the last days will become a religion that deceives almost everybody. It’s called the Luciferian Doctrine and understanding it helps explain why the world won’t turn to its Creator in this, the worst time in human history. The Luciferian doctrine is named of course after Lucifer, a Latin name that translates “light bearer”, and holds that Lucifer is the good guy trying to enlighten the people of the world in preparation for the spiritual evolution necessary to bring peace to all mankind. According to Luciferian Doctrine our physical evolution is finished and all we need to do now is throw off the bonds of Judeo-Christian thinking to complete our spiritual evolution and enter into the Utopian Era. But Lucifer’s being hindered in all this by the evil Adonai (Hebrew for Lord) Who, along with His followers, is working to thwart Lucifer’s grand plan by requiring everyone to adhere to His reactionary religion, effectively preventing our spiritual evolution. In order for humanity to achieve Utopia those who insist on clinging to their obsolete Judeo- Christian faith have to be eliminated. The Great Tribulation is characterized in Luciferian Doctrine as the evil Adonai’s last great effort to destroy mankind’s “light bearer” and prevent our ascension into Utopia, keeping us in bondage to Him.
Following the church’s disappearance the Truth became pretty scarce on Earth and whole world was deceived into believing the Luciferian Doctrine just as my friend Paul warned would happen (2 Thes. 2:9-12). So naturally, thinking the Lord is the bad guy, they became even more intense in their worship of Lucifer, hoping that he would prevail and bring an end to their suffering. (There is a way that seems right to man, but the end thereof is death … Prov. 14:12) Lucifer, of course, is also widely known as Satan or The Devil.
Like He did after opening the 6th seal, the Lord paused now after the 6th trumpet had sounded to provide some insight on what was about to happen. A huge and mighty angel appeared as if in a vision and planted his right foot on the sea and his left one on the land. This symbolized the fact that what was coming would affect the destinies of all living things on earth, whether on land or in the sea, and all peoples. As he raised his voice to the heavens, I heard seven peals of thunder, each one a description of judgments to come. Before I could write down what I had heard, the Lord commanded me not to do it. The information contained in these 7 peals of thunder was to remain secret until the appointed time.
Then the giant angel shouted, “There will be no more delay!” When the 7th angel begins to sound his trumpet all the end-time prophecies will finally come to pass. Then the Lord told me to take the scroll that the giant angel was holding, and as I did he commanded me to eat it. At first taste, it seemed sweet as honey, but after I swallowed it, my stomach turned sour. This is to signify that the fulfillment of prophecy, when the Lord rights all the wrongs done through the ages to Him and His people, takes back all that has been stolen from Him, and puts His enemies to utter defeat, is anticipated with much excitement and joy by His people. But the horror and carnage of the warfare required to accomplish this is enough to make you sick.
In addition to the problems caused by my limited language and experience, I soon realized I had another even bigger challenge in writing this story. Even though events on Earth and events in Heaven were sometimes happening all at once, I could only write about them one at a time. Its kind of like the football commentator trying to describe the actions of all the 22 players on the field in a play that only lasts about 30 seconds. It takes longer to tell about it than it did to do it, so he has to “stop the play” from time to time to explain certain parts of it. With the vision of the giant angel we’ve entered into a time where lots of things are happening all at once, some on Earth and some in Heaven. Like the football commentator, I’ll have to “stop the play” a couple of times in order to describe what I saw.
As the end of the age was drawing near, the Lord had made Himself known to the People of Israel again just as Ezekiel had fore told 2500 years earlier, and in response they had built a temple for worshiping Him again like they did in Old Testament days. I was told to go and measure the temple area but to leave out the outer court because it had been defiled by a non-Jewish element whose real intent was to pay homage to a false messiah. These Gentiles were forcing their way into the Lord’s Holy City and would desecrate it for 42 months with their false worship. The Luciferian Doctrine I told you about was becoming the dominant religion of the world and the 3 1/2 year long Great Tribulation would soon be upon them.
To warn them against this false religion, the Lord sent two witnesses to preach the true gospel in Israel. To help His people identify these two and lend credibility to their warnings, He gave them the same supernatural powers they had displayed during their lifetimes in the Old Testament. Like Elijah, one had the power to prevent any rain from falling on Earth, and like Moses the other one could turn water into blood and strike the earth with all kinds of plagues. Of course, the leaders of the “new” religion tried to have them silenced, but the Lord protected them all through their 1260-day ministry. When their assignment was finished He allowed them to be killed, and to show their contempt, the people left them lying where they had fallen in the streets of Jerusalem and sent gifts to each other to celebrate finally being rid of their tormenting. But after 3 1/2 days they heard the same loud command I’d been given earlier. “Come up here!” the Lord shouted, and in full view of all the world these two dead bodies stood up and shot up into heaven, full of life. At that moment there was another earthquake, part of Jerusalem was destroyed and thousands were killed. The survivors were terrified and correctly identified God as the source of the quake. He always has the last word, doesn’t he?
Just then the 7th trumpet sounded and loud voices in Heaven announced, “The Kingdoms of the world have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever!” As the 24 leaders of the church whose thrones surrounded the Throne of God worshiped and sang praises to Him, I couldn’t help but think about that scroll I had eaten. Hearing that the time had finally come to begin the Lord’s reign on Earth caused my heart to swell with joy, but knowing that the full fury of God’s wrath was about to be unleashed on His enemies also filled me with a sense of dread.
Then God’s real Temple, the one in heaven, was opened and I saw the Ark of the Covenant, symbol of His commandments and promises to His people. The flashes of lightning, peals of thunder, earthquake and hailstorm that came next warned of the final and most terrifying series of judgments soon to descend upon the Earth.
Now comes one of those times I talked about when we’ll have to “stop the play.” To give me a better perspective and show just who was the cause of all this horror and devastation, the Lord gave me a quick history lesson in the form of another vision. First I saw a woman, representing the human race in general but Israel in particular. She was about to give birth to the Messiah.
Then I saw this enormous red dragon with extraordinary intellect, power, and authority. He had rebelled against God and convinced 1/3 of the angelic host to follow him. He stood waiting to destroy the Messiah the moment He was born. But God raised His Messiah from the dead and whisked Him up to heaven.
The woman fled into the desert to a place God had prepared for her to hide from the dragon during the time of his great war against God. This war began in Heaven, but Michael, General of the Lord’s army, defeated the dragon and drove him from heaven confining him and his forces to Earth.
Then I learned that the dragon is the devil, or Satan. Ever since he deceived Adam and Eve and illegally gained control of Earth he’s been at war with God to keep it. He’s also been trying to win the people of Earth over to his side by deceiving them just like he deceived Adam and Eve and the angels. He knew the Messiah was coming to take back the Earth and redeem God’s people and that’s why he killed Him. But when God raised His Messiah from the dead He promised to send Him back to finish the job. Since the Messiah first came to Earth through the Jewish people, Satan has been determined destroy them all, to prevent them from calling Him back again. This is what makes anti-semitism the most brutal of all bigotry. It’s Satanic.
When Satan realized he had been confined to Earth he unleashed his full fury against God’s people. Foreseeing this God had done two things. First, as a reward for their faith, He had snatched His Church right off the Earth altogether and hidden them some years earlier in a place he had prepared for them in Heaven. And second He had hidden the believing remnant of Israel in the desert on Earth, east of the Dead Sea.
For his part, Satan empowered two men to deceive the people of Earth and mobilize them against God and His people. These men were identified to me in the vision as two beasts, one from the sea and one from the land. The first was a great political leader, the smartest, most charismatic man the world has ever known. When this man was apparently assassinated Satan supernaturally healed him, convincing the world he was the messiah. Nearly everyone on Earth was fooled by this so-called resurrection and began worshiping Satan and his false messiah. Remember I told you that after the church disappeared, God’s Word was pretty scarce on Earth and non-believers were easily tricked by what they saw. Also, having previously hardened their hearts against the truth they were now fair game for the lie. I have to admit, it was pretty convincing. If I hadn’t had the benefit of the Holy Spirit dwelling within me I’d have been fooled, too.
Satan’s second man was a religious leader. His job was to head up the world’s new religion and make sure everyone worshiped Satan and his false messiah. Using the supernatural powers Satan had given him, he performed all sorts of miraculous signs even constructing a giant image of the false messiah that could actually speak. To ensure their loyalty to his religion and compliance with its ritual, he fixed it so that people couldn’t earn money or buy the things they needed unless they took a mark signifying their belief in the false messiah. Refusing to receive the mark was punishable by death. From now on, following Jesus was going to require a whole bunch of faith.
With the appearance of these two men, all hell had broken loose on earth and the Great Tribulation had begun. Because of this vision I now understood that Satan was the cause of all of man’s troubles. With his successful effort in deceiving Adam and Eve he had introduced sin and sickness and death and destruction into God’s perfect creation contaminating it beyond repair and estranging God from man. In His great mercy, God had provided mankind a remedy for this predicament and through His prophets had pleaded with us to accept it, even sending His own Son to show us the way.
But even God runs out of patience and now the time had come to take back that which had been stolen from Him and punish those responsible. Satan and his angels along with all those from the human race who sided with him would now learn the terrible consequences that come from incurring the wrath of the Living God and refusing His offer of peace. But even in the midst of His wrath, God would still accept without prejudice all who bowed their knee to Him and asked forgiveness.
The Lord gave me the duration of the Great Tribulation in several ways. They come out equal when you realize He’s measuring time the way He created it; 12 thirty-day months for a 360 day year. So whether He says 3 1/2; years or 42 months or 1260 days it’s all the same. With Satan’s expulsion from heaven and the appearance of anti-christ as a self proclaimed god on Earth the last 3 1/2; years of the Age of Man have begun. This is the Great Tribulation.
I had been trying to absorb the vision of the woman, the red dragon and the 2 beasts when my attention was drawn back to Heaven. There I saw another group numbering 144,000 but different than the 12,000 Jews from each of the 12 tribes of Israel I described earlier. That group was composed of Jewish believers commissioned to spread the Gospel on Earth. These were standing before God’s throne in Heaven, having been redeemed from the Earth. Since they’re described as pure and blameless, purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God who follow the Lamb wherever He goes, they can only represent the Raptured Church, observing events of the Great Tribulation from their vantage point in Heaven. No group of humans could ever be described that way unless the Lord had first perfected them as happens in the rapture.
By the way, when I say they hadn’t defiled themselves with women, I don’t mean there’s anything wrong with women per se. But most of natural man’s evil thoughts involve sinning with women, and in my day the false religions used illicit sexual acts with women in their worship rituals. As an example the great temple of Aphrodite in Corinth was home to nearly 1000 female priests who supported the temple’s financial needs by getting sailors and other travelers who visited Corinth from all over the middle east to pay to have sex with them. Sex was all mixed up with pagan religion then just like it’s all mixed up with politics now
As I looked around I also saw three angels flying between Heaven and Earth broadcasting messages. One was proclaiming the eternal gospel to all the nations in every language, and alerting them to the judgments still to come. Another was giving news of the coming destruction of Babylon, that great city that has personified all that’s opposed to God on Earth. And the third was warning the people of Earth that worshiping anti-christ and receiving his mark was an irreversible decision that would condemn them to never ending pain and torment. I told you the middle ground was disappearing. Worship the Lord and face the death penalty on Earth or worship Satan and face eternal punishment in Hell. Talk about needing faith.
Then the Lord showed me another vision. In this one a harvest of grapes from all over the Earth was brought to Israel to be crushed in the winepress of God’s Wrath creating a great river of blood. It was up to 4 1/2; feet deep and 175 miles long, the distance from Mt. Megiddo in central Israel to the Dead Sea in the south. This was a vision of the soon coming Battle of Armageddon, the great and final thrust in Satan’s war for control of Earth. (Since the Hebrew word for Mount is Har, over the centuries what was Har Megiddo in Hebrew has become Armageddon in English.)
Back in Heaven seven angels appeared along with the seven golden bowls of God’s Wrath, His last series of judgments. When these were over His enemies would be vanquished and His victory complete. Just then another large group of martyrs arrived from Earth and stood before His throne. They were some of the last believers left and had been executed for their refusal to take the mark. Now they stood in Heaven singing praises to God: their faith had been justified. I was reminded of that verse in Isaiah about the righteous perishing to be spared from evil. (Isa. 57:1)
The doors to Heaven’s Temple opened and the seven angels were handed the seven golden bowls. As they went forth the doors were shut so that no one could enter signifying that nothing could interfere with the dispensing of these final judgments. God takes no pleasure from judging even His enemies and remained inside the Temple to suffer in anguish alone.
As the first bowl was poured out upon the Earth ugly and painful sores broke out on those who had taken the mark and worshiped the anti-christ. Their torment had begun. The second bowl turned all the seas to blood and every living creature remaining in them died. The third bowl contaminated all the world’s fresh water supply, turning it to blood as well. In doing this, God was avenging the blood of all His martyrs slain throughout the Age of Man from the prophets of old right through to the very last ones newly arrived in Heaven, by giving His enemies blood to drink.
The fourth bowl judgment increased the heat from the Sun to a point where people actually caught fire from direct exposure to its rays. Incredibly they cursed God’s name, having become so confused by the Luciferian Doctrine that they thought He was their enemy.
With the fifth bowl, everything went pitch black. The light from the Sun and Moon went out, electricity refused to work, and even fires would not give off any light. This scared people so much they could hardly stand it, but still they cursed God and refused His offer of peace.
With the sixth bowl the River Euphrates went dry, removing for good the natural boundary between East and West that had begun to come down with the sixth trumpet. The armies of the Eastern Nations saw their chance to steal across and join the battle for control of Planet Earth. Demonic spirits from the unholy trinity of Satan, the anti-christ and the false prophet went through out the world performing miraculous signs and enticing the leaders of all the world’s armies to come and join the fray. Before they were finished close to 400 million soldiers would show up in the Middle East, armed to the teeth and spoiling for a fight. This would really be “the mother of all battles.” I realized that my vision of a 175 mile river of blood was no exaggeration.
When the seventh angel poured out his bowl, I heard the voice of God saying, “It is done!” The thunder and lightning, and the greatest earthquake in history told me the judgments were going out in full force.
But this time something unique was added. The Old Testament punishment for blasphemy was death by stoning. The people of Earth had cursed and blasphemed the name of God to no end, and now they were receiving the penalty for their crimes. Giant hailstones weighing upwards of 100 pounds each fell upon the Earth and men scattered like ants, cursing Him as they ran for cover.
As all this was happening, one of the seven angels came over to explain why these judgments were necessary. In a vision He showed me a woman sitting atop a scarlet beast that had seven heads and ten horns. They were riding across many waters. This woman (he called her mystery Babylon) represents the false religions that have deceived and persecuted God’s people, and the beast represents Satan. The angel wanted me to understand that Satan has always used false religion to steal people away from God. Not many have ever been seduced directly into devil worship, so he has used the worship of anything other than God, especially those things that seem good or enjoyable, to deceive mankind and lead them unknowingly to their destruction. He has also used the followers of these false religions to persecute believers who refuse to join them, or who insist on spreading the True Gospel.
The seven heads stand for seven world powers that have challenged God’s authority over His creation through the age of man. All these world powers were built by Satan to glorify his false religions and alienate people from their Creator. At the time I was writing this five had already come and gone; Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. The one currently in power was Rome, and the one to come at the end would be a revival of the Roman Empire with elements of Babylon, Persia and Greece mixed in to spice things up. The anti-christ will emerge from this last group.
The ten horns stand for ten leaders the anti-christ will appoint to help administer his power at the end of the age. They’ll be loyal to the anti-christ, supporting his efforts to overpower the Lord. But the Lord will prevail, and when He comes to defeat them, He’ll bring His church back from Heaven with Him.
The many waters stand for all the people of the world deceived by Satan’s false religions. When he comes to power, the anti-christ will abolish all these false religions since they were just the means to an end and proclaim himself to be god. Because of the successful promotion of the Luciferian Doctrine, and since almost all of the remaining believers will have been martyred for their faith, most people will accept this and knowingly become Satan worshipers (which has really been his goal from the very beginning). God will let this happen to pierce the veil of deception woven by false religion, and let people see who they’ve really been worshiping all along.
Because of God’s patience, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance, He has restrained Himself all through the age. During this time His enemies, mistaking kindness for weakness, have gone way over the line and so His judgment, when it comes, has to fit the magnitude of the crime. Billions have been deceived and lost and those responsible must pay the consequences. So that’s why this final round of judgments has to be so severe.
The last bastion of Satan’s deceptive practices will be found in the City of Babylon. In the end times this city on the banks of the Euphrates in modern Iraq will become the world’s center for the three major elements of society; religion, commerce, and government. Man’s religion which has imprisoned people spiritually, man’s commerce which has imprisoned them economically, and man’s government which has imprisoned them socially must all be defeated to bring the freedoms promised in God’s Kingdom. At the end of the age Babylon is the center and the symbol of all that’s wrong with man’s way and it has to be destroyed forever. And when it is the people of Earth will stand in shock at how quickly it fell. O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come.
With the defeat of Babylon, God’s enemies have finally been made a footstool under His Feet, and the way is now clear for the Lord to return as the conquering King to establish his Kingdom. The magnitude of the shouting and singing in Heaven rocked the universe. Hallelujah!
With the final and total destruction of Babylon, God’s enemies have been all but defeated and the war for Planet Earth is just about over. “Hallelujah,” we all shouted from Heaven, “For our Lord God Almighty reigns!” Hallelujah is a Hebrew word meaning “Praise the Lord” and after the fact I was surprised to learn that I’m the only New Testament writer who used it. I guess the Lord was saving it for just this occasion. It certainly applies.
I looked around again and saw Heaven standing open and there before me was a rider on a white horse. Unlike the one I had seen in a vision at the beginning of my story, this one was the real thing. He was even wearing the right crown, the crown of royalty. So there would be no mistaking His identity, I gave Him the name I had coined in my gospel account; the Word of God. The armies of Heaven were with Him on white horses of their own, all clean and dressed in white linen. By the blood on His garments and the absence of any on theirs it was clear that He was defeating His enemies all by Himself, just as Isaiah had foretold. (Isa. 63:1-6) No babe in arms this time, He’s here to assume command of His creation and won’t be taking any guff from anyone.
Down on Earth the anti-christ and the armies of all the nations gathered together for their final stand, but just like that He wiped them all out. As opposed to the bow without arrows carried by the imposter in my earlier vision, the Lord spoke with such power and authority it’s as if His words were a sharp double edged sword. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! The anti-christ and false prophet were captured alive, but all it took for all the armies of Earth to be slain in their tracks was the sound of His voice. God summoned demonic creatures that looked like birds to consume their dead flesh. The ant-christ and false prophet were thrown alive into the place of eternal suffering reserved for Satan and his followers, to be tormented forever.
And then the most incredible thing happened. An angel with a great chain and the key to the underworld came down from Heaven. He single handedly captured Satan, bound him with the chain and locked him away for 1000 years. Satan has one more appearance to make in God’s Grand Design but for the duration of the Millennium he’ll be in solitary confinement.
Then all those who had refused to worship the anti-christ and been martyred for their faith in the Lord were brought back to life to reign with Christ for 1000 years. With this event, the first resurrection that had begun with Jesus Himself coming out of the grave, was over. All those who died in faith from the cross till now, together with those raptured with the Church, were alive again to receive the blessings of the Kingdom Age.
This is a good time to remind you that the Bible, being God’s Word for the age of man, doesn’t speak of events that take place before the Creation or after the Millennium. But so you’ll know his ultimate disposition, at the very end of our Lord’s 1000 year reign on Earth, Satan’s set free again. And without a speck of remorse or any evidence of a change of heart, he immediately begins recruiting a massive army to go up against God one more time. And can you believe it, even after 1000 years of peace under the perfect rule of the Lord Himself, and with the lessons of history to teach them what happened the last time someone took on the Lord, a huge mass of people responds to his call. But the Lord sends down fire from Heaven and devours them all in a flash. Then that old devil Satan is thrown into the place of eternal suffering to join the anti-christ and the false prophet to be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And with that we’re finally rid of him.
I’ve often wondered why the Lord placed this 1000 year period between time and eternity. I guess I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s to shatter all our excuses for our behavior. Ever since the Garden of Eden, we’ve been blaming outside circumstances each time we’re caught sinning. First we say, “The devil made me do it”. So in the Millennium God has Satan chained and imprisoned. Then we say, “If only you hadn’t gone away and left us.” So He comes back to personally rule over us. Then we say, “It’s the bad example of all those unbelievers.” So He takes all the unbelievers off the planet at the beginning of the Millenium and leaves only those who’ve survived the Great Tribulation and professed their faith in Him to repopulate the Earth. (Note: See Matt. 25:31-46). And after 1000 years of Heaven on Earth, there’s still enough sin in the hearts of unregenerate man to staff Satan’s final rebellion the minute he’s freed. Even under ideal conditions such as these, natural man cannot behave well enough to please God and will rebel against His authority the first chance he gets. Only after he’s perfected by God can man hope to please Him. Our need for a Savior is indisputable.
One more thing happens at the very end of the Millennium. After Satan’s been dealt with, the Lord brings all the unsaved dead back to life for their final judgment. Boy are they surprised! Having lived their lives ignoring or denying God, they now stand face to face with Him to explain their behavior. As the events of their lives are reviewed, all the times they heard and rejected the gospel are pointed out. And having refused God’s offer of pardon, they now become accountable for their sins. They’re judged and thrown into the place of eternal suffering. It’s such a shame. The place was created for Satan and his angels so man has to choose to go there. He does so by committing the one unpardonable sin, refusing God’s remedy in favor of his own.
With those two glimpses of the end of the Millennium, let’s go back to its beginning. Before my very eyes, I saw Heaven and Earth restored to their original condition before sin entered the world and messed things up. I realized that some of the “natural disasters” that took place during the Tribulation were actually re-shaping the Earth and changing its orbit to permit this restoration.
Then I saw the New Jerusalem coming down out of the sky to enter its orbit near Earth. Because of its size, which I’ll detail in a minute, and the fact that only perfected believers can live there, there’s no way this city could ever be a part of Earth, but it has to be near to permit travel back and forth. The city was absolutely huge, over 1400 miles square and 1400 miles high. Some speculate that there’s enough room there for each and every believer to have his own 10,000 square foot mansion. The city had 12 gates, one each for the 12 tribes of Israel and each made of a single pearl. (That’s a hoot! Oysters aren’t even kosher.) It also had 12 foundations covered with precious gems, named for the 12 apostles. There wasn’t any temple in the city, nor did it need the light from the sun or moon because the Father and the Son both dwell there. Their Presence provides all the light that’s necessary. Leaders of all the nations of Earth come and pay tribute bringing all their honor and glory, but no one impure can ever enter, only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
On Earth a Great Temple, built in Israel to glorify God, gushed forth a giant spring of fresh pure water. It became a river that flowed west to the Mediterranean and east to the Dead Sea. Its waters freshened the Dead Sea and permitted fish to flourish there (Note: see Ezekiel 47). All along the river’s banks fruit trees grew, each bearing a new crop every month of the year. Their leaves had healing power, and the fruit was delicious to eat. Near the Temple the Father and Son had their Throne, and from there they would rule the world for ever and ever.
I was so overcome with joy at seeing all the splendor that God has in store for those who love Him that I fell at the feet of the angel who was showing it to me, and he scolded me. “Worship God alone,” he said. Good advice.
Then my Lord said, “Behold I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” I could see that He meant that God in His infinite wisdom has given all of us all the right to choose our own destiny. By what He showed me it’s obvious that everyone ever born lives forever. The only question is where we’ll spend eternity. Choose Him and receive eternal life in the City of God. Reject Him and it’s eternal punishment with Satan and his followers in his place of torment. The choice has never been so clear.
He then told me to warn all of the millions who would read this letter down through the centuries. Take this message seriously! Grave consequences would await the one who either adds to or tries to dilute its purpose and content. But as He told me at the beginning, great blessings would come to the ones who read, hear and take to heart what I’ve written
To this I say, Amen: Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.