Summary of the Book of Revelation
Issue No. 252
From 2002-2004 I spent considerable time expounding on the book of Revelation from a Historicist viewpoint. This was, of course, quite different from the “Futurist” view that is popular today among many Evangelicals and Pentecostals.
The idea that most of Revelation lies in the future has become popular only since the mid-1800’s. Prior to that, since the Protestant Reformation the Historicist view prevailed. Before that, most people had no view at all, since people went to Church mostly to engage in rituals and were not encouraged to read the Scriptures at all.
In many ways, Revelation is a continuation of the book of Daniel. Daniel saw four main beast-empires arising:
Greece, broken into four smaller parts
Rome and the “little horn”
When the book of Revelation was written, the first three empires of Daniel’s prophecies had already passed, and Rome was in its full strength. So John’s primary focus was upon the fourth beast and the “little horn,” which is often called “the revived Roman Empire.”
Futurism claims that this revived Roman Empire is the modern European Community. Historicism sees it as the Roman Church which assumed power after the fall of the Empire in 476.
In my view, the “seals” of Rev. 6 portray conditions and events in the Roman Empire in the first few centuries after Christ. They are:
The White Horse (31 B.C. - 193 A.D.)
The Red Horse (193-284 A.D.)
The Black Horse (250-300 A.D.
The Pale Horse (250-265 A.D.)
Each stage of history is well known to historians who write of this. It begins with the White Horse, the conquests of Augustus Caesar in 31 B.C. and the transformation of Rome from a Republic to an Empire. Then it moves into the time of civil war and bloodshed (Red Horse). From here Rome declined into a period of horrible famine (Black Horse), which brought the Black Horse of Death, in which half of humanity died, according to Gibbon’s Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, page 111.
There is then an interim in Rev. 7, speaking of the sealing of the tribes of Israel, before the historical narrative continues with the decline and end of the Roman Empire. The first four “trumpets” of Rev. 8 portray:
Alaric the Goth, who sacked Rome in 410 A.D.
Genseric the Vandal (429-460)
Atilla the Hun (451-460)
Odoacer the Teuton (476) who ended the Empire.
Christianity was officially made the state religion of Rome in 391. Church leaders were pleased, and the people thought for sure that this would ensure divine protection upon the Empire. But then Alaric the Goth sacked Rome in 410 for six days—an event that was not supposed to happen to a Christian Empire. They apparently did not understand the prophecies in Daniel about the “little horn” (Church) that was no better than the iron beast of Rome.
Anyway, this had a huge effect upon the Roman people and the Christian Church, which by this time believed that since Rome was now Christian, it would last forever. It was commonly thought that this was the millennial reign of Christ by means of the Church. For Rome to be invaded and sacked in such a manner put their eschatology in doubt.
The “barbarian” invasions continued, one after another, until 476, when the Empire crumbled completely under Odoacer, the Teuton. Out of the ruins of the Empire the Church emerged as the “little horn” of Daniel 7:8 and Rev. 13:1-10.
The “little horn” came to full expression in 606 when Pope Boniface III claimed exclusive title to the title, “Universal Bishop.” His predecessor (Pope Gregory the Great, 590-604) had stated strongly that any claim to such a title was a “blasphemous antichristian assumption.”
Pope Gregory tried to keep the Roman Church from fulfilling the prophecies of Daniel, but his very opposition to the title, “Universal Bishop,” identified the Papacy itself with the little horn. Dan. 7:8, 20 says that this little horn spoke “great boasts.” But Rev. 13:5 interprets this as “arrogant words and blasphemies.”
Revelation 9 speaks of the fifth trumpet, which was broken down into three “woes.” This is the chapter that prophesies the rise of Islam, which God raised up to judge the “little horn” of Christian Rome. The three woes are:
The Saracens (612-762 A.D.)
The Seljuk and Ottoman Turks (763- ?)
The Kingdom of Christ established
The three woes are God’s way of saying, “Woe to the Church” for its arrogance and idolatry and their refusal to repent for their sins (Rev. 9:21). The Church had long lost the Sword of the Spirit which it had acquired on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. It had reverted to Old Covenant thinking and sought to establish the Kingdom of God by violence and force, rather than by the move of the Holy Spirit. So God raised up a different religion specializing in Old Covenant methods, in order to counter that which the Church was doing.
While the situations have changed over time, God is using Islam to this day to bring judgment upon the Church. Yet the Church continues to view Islam as a threat, instead of as God’s agent to bring repentance to the Church.
The second woe does not appear to end until it is time to establish the Kingdom of God (Rev. 11:14, 15). The third woe appears to cover the time of the seventh trumpet, at which time the fall of Babylon occurs. Consequently, the book of Revelation gives a brief overview of these three woes, but then must backtrack to give details of Church history during the time of the second woe.
Hence, Rev. 10 is about the development of the printing press which allowed books to be published cheaply. The Bible was first printed in 1452. It was a “little book” described in Rev. 10:2. Previous to that time, Bibles were huge books, handwritten, and usually chained to the front of cathedrals. In addition to this, linguists began to translate the Bible into the common languages.
The Protestant Reformation was birthed when the common people were finally able to purchase Bibles written in their own language. This occurred at the same time that the Islamic forces conquered Constantinople and put an end to the Eastern Roman Empire (1453). They succeeded through the use of gunpowder and cannons. This is described in incredible detail in Rev. 9:17-19. (See FFI #176 with the picture of the cannon.)
Rev. 11 and 12 prophesy the final result of the “little book” (i.e., the Bible) that God opened up to the people. Ultimately, this is the basis for the ministry of the Two Witnesses, which is the Moses-Elijah ministry, which prepares the way for Christ’s second appearance and the Davidic Kingdom.
Then, because it is necessary to know further details about the little horn in order to understand its final end, Rev. 13 gives us an outline of this history. It includes a surprising detail not seen in the book of Daniel. The little horn is broken down into two historical segments. The first ten verses deal with the beast from the sea; the second with the beast from the earth.
Daniel’s description of the little horn covers the time frame of “a time, times, and the dividing of time” (Dan. 7:25). He does not define a “time.” He merely describes this beast in 7:8 saying, “this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth uttering great boasts.” It was given power to make war with the saints and to overcome them until the Ancient of Days came.
Rev. 13:6 quotes Daniel but interprets the time frame as meaning 42 months, or 3½ years. This makes a “time” equal to a year, which in long-term prophecy is 360 years.
The beast from the sea (Rev. 13:1-10) represents a time period of 1,260 years, dating from the Law “codex” of the Emperor Justinian in 529 A.D. to the French Revolution in 1789. Justinian replaced the entire system of Roman law with Orthodox Church law in 529. His law forms the foundation of European law even today. That single act empowered the Church as the source of law for the empire, which the Emperor himself was then bound to enforce. That act made the Emperor the legal servant of the Church.
It is remarkable that precisely 1,260 years later, a new beast began to rise up, eclipsing the power of the beast from the sea. This new beast is said to come up from the earth (Rev. 13:11). Its description is primarily in economic or financial terms, and it is described as having “two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.”
In other words, this beast is not what it seems. It is a dragon disguised as a lamb.
This new beast began to arise by means of the French Revolution. It signaled the rise of the modern Banking system, largely through the financial genius of Mayer Amschel Bauer (“Rothschild”) and sons. Philosophically speaking, it began the era of Socialism and Democracy by means of revolution.
These new revolutionary philosophies soon began to overthrow the traditional monarchies of Europe, mostly Catholic monarchies. The Bourbons of France were the first to be overthrown with great violence. France had long been called “the first-born of the Church,” so the French Revolution dealt a severe blow to the Church.
Out of that revolution arose Napoleon, who invaded Italy and took Pope Pius VI captive in 1798, the same year that Nathan Rothschild was sent to London to begin his rise to financial power.
For a while it looked as if the Papacy itself was in danger of extinction. Pius VI died in prison in 1800. But the cardinals appointed a new pope in March of 1800, calling himself Pius VII. The “fatal wound” of the beast from sea was healed, as Rev. 13:3 said.
Even so, Rome continued to lose ground as the revolutionary beast from the earth overthrew one monarchy after another, establishing secular socialist democracies in their place. The Papal States themselves were wrenched from papal control from 1860-1870, depriving the Vatican of all territory except the Vatican City itself.
Rev. 14 begins with another reminder that Jesus Christ will be victorious in the end. Keep in mind that the seventh angel had already sounded his trumpet in Rev. 11:15 and had proclaimed the establishment of the Kingdom of God and of Christ. This seventh trumpet is lengthy, because the seven bowls of wine in Rev. 16 are poured out under its authority. Hence, it covers the entire period of the third woe that brings us to the Age of Tabernacles.
The latter part of Rev. 14 portrays the “harvest” of the earth, in which grapes are being harvested with a sickle (vs. 19). That is not how one normally harvests grapes, of course. But if Gideon could thresh wheat in a winepress in Judges 6:11), then God can harvest grapes with a sickle.
There are two angels involved here: (1) the angel with the sickle; and (2) the angel who tells the first angel what to do. John does not tell us the names of these angels, so I prayed for revelation, and the Father gave me this:
The Angel of Effective, Abundant Harvest, who holds the sickle.
The Angel of Divine Judgment, who has power over fire.
The vines symbolize nations, even as the house of Israel was God’s “vine” (Isaiah 5:2). The nations are being harvested so that God can place them in His barn. He harvests the grapevines with a sickle because the political structure of the nations will not be retained when, as Rev. 11:15 says, “the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.”
But God is making wine here, and so keeps the grapes themselves. Grapes are trodden under foot in order to make wine, even as barley is winnowed and wheat is threshed. Barley signifies the overcomers, wheat is the Church, and grapes are the unbelievers of the world. God treats each differently, but with a view toward setting His great Communion Table, having both bread and wine.
The wine press of God is His “wrath” upon sin, so that the juice may be extracted from it and made into wine. This speaks of the greatest time of world evangelism yet to come, when the nations will seek to learn His law as Isaiah 2:2-4 prophesies.
Rev. 15 speaks of the overcomers, who are not part of this grape company, but are rather the barley harvest, or the first resurrection of Rev. 20:1-6. The only significant verse adding to historical narrative is 15:8, where we are told that these overcomers are not “able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.”
Those seven angels are then set forth in Rev. 16, having seven bowls of wine, which are “the seven plagues.”
Since John does not name these angels, I prayed to know who they were. The names of these seven angels with the seven bowls of wine are (by my revelation):
The Redemption Angel
The Cleansing Angel
The Appearing of Sons Angel
All Consuming Breath Angel
Overcoming Flesh Angel
Angel of Pure Influence
Angel of the Approaching Fullness of God
In my view, the Age of Pentecost began to come to an end on the 40th Jubilee of the Church, May 30, 1993. This was 40 x 49 years after Pentecost in Acts 2. In November of 1993 we were led to engage in spiritual warfare against Babylon, using Jericho as the primary Old Testament type.
Recall that Israel marched around Jericho for seven days blowing trumpets, but on the seventh day they marched around the city seven times. They made a total of 13 trips around Jericho. The first six days established the pattern of the first six trumpets of Revelation. The seven trips on the seventh day prophesied of the 7th trumpet of Revelation, during which time the seven bowls were poured.
In our Jubilee Prayer Campaign, we understood that the first six “days” (i.e., years) marching around Jericho went from 1993-1999, ending with Jesus’ 2000th birthday. The seventh “day” (year) was 1999-2000, but the revelation of God was that the seven bowls of wine were being poured out until 2006, extending the time of spiritual warfare to 13 years total.
We were led to bear witness of what these angels were doing by enacting on earth what was being done in the heavens. And so, at the feast of Tabernacles each year from 2000-2006, I was led to go to various symbolic places and literally pour out a bowl of wine (and water). This was God’s way of teaching and revealing to us what He was doing to bring about the end of modern Babylon.
This time ended on October 7, 2006 as we met to pour out the seventh bowl of wine at Babylon, New York. There we spoke prophetically: “It is done,” quoting Rev. 16:17. We understood that within the year we would begin to see the economic collapse of Babylon, and this began with the mortgage crisis in July of 2007. We are now two years into this deepening crisis.
So this is where we are in the history of the Kingdom of God, insofar as the book of Revelation is concerned. Rev. 17 and 18 speak of Babylon’s fall in colorful terms. Yet in the midst of this description, John looks back, tracing this history in terms of the 7 or 8 “kings” (Rev. 17:9-14). His purpose is to explain in greater detail the beast that makes war with the saints and overcomes them—that is, the “little horn” of Daniel 7 and Rev. 13.
Rome sat on 7 hills: Capitolinus, Aventinus, Viminalis, Caelius, Palatinus, Quirinalia, and Esquilinus. These are prophetic of seven forms of government (“kings”) in Roman history. They are: Kings, Consuls, Dictators, Decemvirs, Military Tribunes, Military Emperors, and finally Christian Emperors by whom the popes exercised authority.
By John’s day, five of these had already fallen (17:10), and they were being ruled by the Military Emperors. These 7 forms of government ended in 476 A.D. when the Empire itself collapsed. But the “little horn” of Daniel was seen to emerge from the great iron beast of Rome as an extension of Rome’s power.
This “little horn,” then, is the 8th “king” of Rev. 17:11. Its power was described more fully in Rev. 13. So once again John identifies it as “the beast which was and is not,” and this is comparable to Rev. 13:3, where the beast appears to be slain, but then recovers. This does not refer to the demise of the Roman Empire in 476, but rather the “head” of the beast that is given a “fatal wound” in 1798 when Napoleon took the pope captive and threatened to extinguish the Church altogether. Yet the Church returned to life to remain a player on the world scene to the end.
John also speaks of the 10 horns of Rome. “Horns” are powers, kingdoms, or ethnic groups, which (in John’s day) did not yet have power of their own, because they were ruled by Rome. They were: Bavarians, Franks, Burgundi-ans, Alemanni, Suevi, Visigoths, Alans, Vandals, Ostro-goths, and Lombards. These gave power to the Roman beast, assisting it in making war with the saints.
But in the end, these same 10 European ethnic groups are said to hate the “harlot” (false bride) and will turn on her and destroy her. In other words, God will use those same people (modern European nations) to destroy Papal Rome. Indeed, this is precisely what began to occur in the late 1700’s when the secular-economic beast from the earth challenged the power of Papal Rome.
In other words, even though Daniel 7 speaks of the “little horn” as a single beast, Rev. 13 divides it up into two beasts in succession. Then Rev. 17:16, 17 adds the final detail to make it clear that this second beast is God’s primary agent of judgment upon Papal Rome. This is, in fact, the greatest concern of the Vatican today.
Rev. 19, then, speaks of the coming of Christ on the white horse with his robe dipped in blood. This fulfills the prophetic law in Lev. 14:6, 7. The second dove (i.e., Christ in His second appearance) is dipped in blood and released into the open field. (“The field is the world,” Matt. 13:38.)
Rev. 20 speaks of the first resurrection, which is limited to those who are called as “priests of God and of Christ.” In my book, The Purpose of Resurrection, I show that this includes ONLY believers, but NOT ALL believers. It is stated that there is a thousand years between the two resurrections. The second is a general resurrection of ALL the dead, including (Jesus says) the rest of the believers who will receive their reward at that time (John 5:28, 29).
The final chapters of Revelation are supplemental comments describing the Kingdom of God after the divine plan of the great Sabbath cycle (7,000 years) has been completed. It says little about the Creation Jubilee at the end of that final Age, for that is left to Paul to reveal in his statements about God being “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).