The book of Revelation is a greatly misunderstood volume. It isn’t that it is difficult to read or understand; it is one of the simplest books in the Bible. Those who state (usually emphatically) that it is difficult express what they have heard, and what they have been erroneously taught. Those who have read the book with just a little care, ignoring all commentaries, have found that the first several chapters may represent a mystery, but once the book turns to the judgments, the flow and clarity is usually quite simple.
This document proposes some very simple ‘rules’ for understanding this book. These rules will often appear to be obvious; that is because they are. Those who make the book difficult to understand are ignoring the obvious rules that any reader of a secular novel observes. Please consider each, then try reading the book with these things in mind.
Section 1. Background to the Book
John’s Tour Guide
John, the writer, is Jewish. This detail becomes important later in the book, and explains several pieces of vital information. All writers of all Biblical books are Jewish (regardless of the attestations of some scholars who ignorantly claim that this is not the case, especially focusing on Luke).
Romans 3:1 What advantage then has the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? 2Much every way!—Chiefly because the oracles of God were committed unto them.
If a Jewish person did not write Luke’s books, those books are not the oracles of God; they are therefore not the Word of God. That doesn’t sound like a wise claim to make.
John has several tour guides, but one principle one. John attempts to prostrate before this tour guide twice, and the tour guide tells him to refrain:
Revelation 19:9 And he says unto me, “Write, ‘Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he says unto me, “These are the true sayings of God.” 10And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, “See not! I am thy fellowservant and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus! Worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Revelation 22:8 And I John saw these things, and I heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9Then he says unto me, “See not! For I am thy fellowservant and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them who keep the sayings of this book! Worship God!”
The word angel and the word messenger are indistinguishable in both Hebrew and Greek. This ‘angel’ (this messenger) explained that he is:
- John’s fellowservant
- Of John’s brethren
- Of John’s brethren the prophets
- Of them who keep the sayings of this book
Thus, the tour guide is a Jewish prophet!
What Constitutes a Vision
John is seeing a vision. A vision differs from a dream in major ways. A dream (from God) is like a movie. The one seeing the dream cannot interact with it, but can clearly see it and be emotionally affected by it. A vision, on the other hand, invites full participation. Anyone experiencing a vision can touch, taste, smell, feel, hear, ask questions, interrupt, walk, run—can fully interact in every way anyone can during life. A vision is at least as real as regular life.
John was transported in location: to the heavens. He was transported in time: into the Tribulation and the events just prior to it. That way, he could record a history book before the history occurs. While this is the basis for much of prophecy, few prophets were transported so that they could ask questions of folks, angels and God far into the future.
Section 2. Target of the Book
The Seven Churches
Those seven churches are located in the area today known as Turkey. The following maps shows their placement:
Most readers believe that these are ‘Gentile’ churches—congregations made predominantly of non-Jewish folks. A more careful reading will give readers a very different impression, however. For example,
Revelation 2:26 He that overcomes and keeps my works unto the end, I will give to him power over the nations.
Nations in the Bible is the same as Gentiles, races. It is always in contrast to the nation of Israel.
These seven churches will exist, be fully functioning, and will be the recipients of these documents in the years prior to the seven-year Tribulation. John penned the words that are in our Bibles, and the communications will be delivered to them when that far future time arrives.
The Tribulation’s seven years are first directed against Israel/the Jews:
1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the House of God. And if first is at us [the Jews], what shall the end of them be who don’t obey the gospel of God?
Several of the seven churches are threatened with the Tribulation. Since the Tribulation commences against Israel, and only later is directed against the Gentiles who take stands against Israel and the God of Israel, the seven Churches must be primarily Jewish congregations.
John’s Perspectives on the Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls/Vials
John’s reactions to what he saw was a great contrast to Daniel’s reactions. Daniel was sick (once for three days). He knew that the judgments he saw were against Israel. John’s reactions were quite different. He was excited with what he saw. Why? He knew that this was the time when Israel’s enemies would receive Yehovah’s vengeance! It wasn’t that he was against the Gentiles; it was that he stood with Israel against Israel’s enemies.
Some Gentiles (regardless of faith) will be great heroes and heroines during the Tribulation. They will be friends to the Jews, as the ‘Sheep/Goat Judgment’ of Matthew 25:31 and following shows. Other Gentiles will either be direct enemies, or will ignore the plight of the Jews. The same ‘Sheep/Goat Judgment’ will show that they will receive summary damnation regardless of any claim of faith that they have.
John is glad that Israel is being protected, and Gentile enemies are being destroyed. It is akin to a very large version of the Book of Esther.
Therefore, none of the judgments of the Book of Revelation is directed against the Jews once the discussion of the seven congregations (churches) is finished. All are against Israel’s enemies. ‘Old Testament’ books gave a large list of the judgments that Yehovah will bring against Israel during the first part of the Tribulation. Revelation gives the list of judgments He will bring against the Gentiles during the latter part of the Tribulation. Thus, Revelation starts with a threat to seven primarily Jewish congregations, and ends with the destructions against Gentile enemies.
Enemies include those who ignore Israel.
Yehovah sends terrible demons to bring horrors during the events of Revelation. A careful reader will notice a strange phenomenon: no demon ever attacks a Saint. The demons always only attack the bad guys. No unwillingness on the part of the demons to attack bad guys is noted. For example,
Revelation 9:3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth. And power was given unto them as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only those men who don’t have the seal of God in their foreheads.
Section 3. Demonic Actions
All angels (which includes all demons) have a common function and responsibility:
Hebrews 1:13 But to which of the angels did He say at any time, “Sit on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool? 14Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
Job himself had a strange guardian angel: Satan. Satan was given the responsibility to keep him alive even while Job was given into his hands.
Demons have an objective: to avoid being consigned to the sides of Sheol for the entire Millennium, and also to avoid being cast into the Lake of Fire and Sulfur. Their objectives can only be reached if they can stop entire Israel from turning in faith to Yeshua, then calling Him to come to reign at the end of the Tribulation. They will then have one more chance: at the end of the Millennium. Demons are not antagonistic to harming the ungodly, especially if the ungodly will become angrier with the Jews. Anti-Semitism is one of the demons’ friends. All anti-Semites are friends of demons. All who ignore the significance of the Jews in the plan of God are likewise aligned with demons regardless of their faiths. All Saints in the Bible recognized and delighted in the importance of Israel even if they lived before there was a Jew. Even the prophet Avraham knew about his offspring coming out of Egypt after being slaves 400 years.
All angels can appear in any form that is useful to their assignments and/or objectives as long as Yehovah gives them permission or leave to appear in those ways. The terrible appearances of monsters in Revelation are needed for the demons to do their works. The locusts, for example, are angels with appearances of locusts, horses’ heads, etc. They are assigned to cause great pain in bad guys and ignorers of Yehovah. Yehovah will get the attention of every human during the Tribulation.
Demons greatly fear Jesus, and occasionally make requests of Him:
Matthew 8:28 And when He was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils coming out of the tombs—exceeding fierce so that no man might pass by that way. 29And behold, they shouted saying, “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? Art Thou come here to torment us before the time?” 30And there was a herd of many swine feeding a good way off from them. 31So the devils besought Him, saying, “If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.” 32And He said unto them, “Go.” And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine. And behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
The demons in Revelation will do as they are told to do.
Demons can also appear as horses, and as their riders. Two demons mentioned in Revelation are Death and Hades [inappropriately rendered Hell]. Death is the angel of fame. Many wrongly believe that the ‘Death angel’ slaughtered in the Passover event when the firstborn of Egypt died the night before the Israelis left Egypt. The angel Death had nothing to do with that slaughter; it was the work of Jesus. A careful reading of the texts will prove this. But Death will do a great deal of slaughtering during part of the Tribulation. Death will also ride a horse (another angel). Death will be accompanied by Hades (called Sheol in Hebrew), the angel that is in charge of keeping those who now die in unbelief in the location of the same name situated in the heart of planet Earth. Sheol will ride an angelic horse, and the two will do some heavy slaughtering of the bad guys and those who ignore Israel and the God of Israel:
Revelation 6:8 And I looked. And behold, a pale horse. And his name that sat on him was Death. And Hades followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth to kill with sword and with hunger and with death and with the beasts of the earth.
These four means fit the four means of Yehovah’s fury against Israel in Ezekiel 14.
Death and Hades will later be cast into the Lake of Fire and Sulfur, as will all demons, after the Saints have judged them (1 Corinthians 6:3).
Section 4. The Twenty-Four Elders
Who They Aren’t
Many have believed that the twenty-four elders in the heavens are human Saints who previously died. They are unaware of two pieces of evidence against this. First, some scrolls use different pronouns in texts referring to them. For example, most Bibles use the following scroll translations. I have indicated the pronouns that will be different in the scroll translations that follow.
Revelation 5:8 And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9And they sung a new song, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof. For Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, 10 and hast made us kings and priests unto our God. And we shall reign on the earth.”
Other scrolls of the same reputation have the following:
Revelation 5:8 And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9And they sung a new song, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof. For Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed them to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, 10 and hast made them a kingdom of priests unto our God. And they shall reign on the earth.”
Even if one isn’t convinced of this (and it is noted in numerous translations), twenty-four persons cannot be redeemed out of every kindred, tongue, people and nation, since there are more than 24 kindreds, tongues, peoples and nations.
The elders are already crowned. They cast their crowns. No Saint will cast a crown (as if unthankful) at Yehovah’s feet. When He gives crowns, recipients will keep them with thankfulness. The elders serve a different purpose. They are tour guides and do show-and-tell demonstrations to instruct humans. The crown-casting signifies that Yehovah will reign over all the earth. Saints will not praise Yehovah day and night; humans are not made for such repetition. Angels are made for different purposes; they do not become bored with repetition. That is why only the 24 did that over and over again; the rest of the Saints were attending to different things, as John’s tour shows.
Section 5. How to Read the Book
Only a Literal Reading Permits Faith
The Book of Revelation, like every other Biblical book, must be read literally. This means that only those who take the words literally, unless they can prove that the words must not be taken literally, are reading the book right. All the rest who take the words figuratively, symbolically and/or metaphorically will never understand the book.
Yehovah designed all books of the Bible so that folks who will not believe could take texts in whatever way those chose, and ‘make sense’ out of the texts from angles of unbelief. That way, information He gives that will save lives during the Tribulation will be beyond the understanding of bad guys. Only folks who take texts literally will understand what is occurring during that most terrible time. The best way to hide a secret is to place it openly before those who seek it. Only those who are willing to think (a rarity) like a child (even a greater rarity) will be able to see what is on the pages in plain view.
Those who read texts, then insist on claiming that they don’t mean what they obviously say declare their own unbelief. For example, so-called ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ read about the Lake of Fire and Sulfur in their texts. They then declare that God isn’t so cruel; he would never do such a thing. In other words, they don’t believe their texts if they don’t want to believe them. The very same attitude is found in all denominations and non-denominations: an unwillingness to believe what isn’t acceptable. This is how to never understand Revelation. Few texts in the chapters are difficult to understand if a person just believes that God is capable of giving angels appearances and powers that the texts describe.
If a text states that 144,000 out of Israeli tribes are sealed, faith states that this is what the Spirit of Yehovah meant. Unbelief states that this is a metaphor.
If a text states, “Come here; I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife,” followed by “And he showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God,” the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife must be Jerusalem. That is faith. Unbelief will make some foolish claim, like “Our group is the Bride of Christ.”
Believe the Word of God.