Did you know that the Book of Revelation is the most unread book of the Bible?
I discovered this many years when I was in secondary school. I attended a Federal Government Girls’ College and we had what was known as the FCS, Fellowship of Christian Students.
Many of my classmates were given positions in the chapel. I also recall being an usher sometime in senior class.
What fascinated me, however, was how many students said they didn’t like the Book of Revelation because it was cryptic. Cryptic, yes!
Others said they were afraid of the things they found in it and would rather not torture their minds. Can you relate with this? I sure can.
Before you read, I’d like you to get rid of all distractions. If you can’t give this post your full attention right now, please set a time for it.
And I’m sorry if you feel hurt (at any point) by the bluntness of the things I have written. I have tried to share what I know but I have no intention of attacking your beliefs or old knowledge.
Nonetheless, I hope that you’d look on the bright side for the changes that your life can begin to experience from getting a new view of the Book of Revelation.
The Book of Revelation: an Uncommon Read
I often preferred reading the Song of Solomon. Besides the fact that I love poetry (you’ll find many of them on my other site, https://arrowbird.wordpress.com), I love the way love is described in this book.
In fact, my best part of Song of Solomon is the verse in chapter 6 verse 3: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.” And I found this verse very instrumental when I planned my wedding last year.
So, I agree that Revelation isn’t the first book anyone might want to turn to.
Irrespective of what I think, we live in the 21st century Christian space that seems to generally celebrate prosperity, lip service over true worship, and passive Christianity about the Great Commission.
I won’t deny the fact that, sometimes, I also get lazy in my walk as a Christian. At other times, I feel tempted to just damn all odds and get down into the dirt and do the dirty stuff.
But then, I remember Christ’s instructions to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” in Matthew 28:19-20.
And then, I say to myself, “I’ve got an assignment to accomplish.”
But without the true understanding of the Scriptures, especially the Book of Revelation (and Daniel), I might never get the real picture.
And it’s the same with every Christian out there.
Christianity wouldn’t make so much sense if we didn’t know what our stories really look like.
So, I invite you to join me as I attempt this Book of Revelation summary. You can equally consider this post as a “Book of Revelation for dummies,” because I’ve tried to clarify the figurative terms and symbols for easier understanding.
Why You Need the Right Attitude for Discovering the Truth
When trying to understand the Book of Revelation, you might come across all forms of explanations and resources.
As a matter of fact, when you search for the Book of Revelation online, you get many search results. But only the right perspective will guide you to the true meaning you seek.
The truth is: a lot of people are trying to decode the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John, the Apostle.
If you go on YouTube, you would find videos on the Revelation movie trailer and the Book of Revelation explained in 5 minutes or so.
We can’t hide from the fact that some of these discussions have some truth in them. Yet, we also should remember that nothing is as uplifting as discovering something for yourself.
Do you remember Thomas in the Bible? He was one of the followers of Christ, and one of those who saw Christ after the resurrection.
Because of his need to confirm that Christ truly resurrected, Jesus showed him the holes that the nails had made in his hands.
Well, inasmuch as that’s an exact example of how it’s better to believe without necessarily seeing, I’d like to borrow the Thomas idea.
When it comes to the Bible, the Book of Revelation specifically, you need to see for yourself. You need to study to discover why this book of the Bible is known as “the apocalyptic book of Revelation.”
The Book of Figurative Language
Is the Book of Revelation literal or figurative?
The first thing you need to know when studying the Book of Revelation is that this book of the Bible isn’t literal. It’s mostly a figurative book.
And as a graduate of English, I can tell you that the symbols of this book, if taken on the surface level, will put you in so much trouble.
Not literal trouble now, but just a major mental torture that will leave you feeling confused, disappointed and angry with yourself for even trying to start to understand Revelation.
Let me try to illustrate this.
I remember “Ambush,” a poem by Professor Gbemisola Adeoti. He is the current Dean of the Faculty of Art, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. The four-stanza poem decried the political space in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
A little digression, I met Professor Gbemisola Adeoti again (after graduation in 2015) at Tuface Idibia’s event last Wednesday. Again, I appreciated his humility, humor, and intelligence.
Back to my point, his poem was filled with words and phrases such as “the land,” “fishers,” “blue peters,” “dusk,” “giant whale,” “sabre-toothed tiger,” “giant hawk,” and more.
I recall teaching some students in Ado Ekiti between 2016 and 2017, and I told them that taking such metaphors at surface level won’t help them get the true meaning of the poem.
Those words referred mostly to oppressive leaders and their seemingly powerless and helpless citizens.
So that’s it about the poem. You’ll find out more about Professor Gbemisola Adeoti in this post on Medium by my friend, Rahaman Abiola.
Let’s get back to the Book of Revelation.
From the first chapter to the last chapter (22) of this book, you will find symbols, numbers with extra meanings, and ideas that refer to things that don’t match what you necessarily know.
When you come across this, keep an open mind.
The Book of Revelation: the Basics
Below, I provide a brief list of the meanings of symbols we find in the Book of Revelation. And I must say here that I’m grateful for my life as a Seventh-day Adventist.
I’m not trying to sell this church to you. But I admit that my number one reason for sticking to this faith (since childhood) is the fact that members are taught to search the Scriptures for themselves.
The Bible is yours for the digging and studying. Nobody shoves any doctrine down your throat. It’s true that some people have found the truth too challenging to accept, and they’ve left the church.
But for me, it’s not about just being an SDA. It’s about being a true Christian that searches the Scriptures with my own eyes, hands, and mind.
And since I’ve found this truth in this faith, I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church began 2019 by studying Revelation to remind ourselves of the past, the present, and the future.
As a result of the great knowledge I have gathered from the studies, I have chosen to share what I know.
I won’t lie that I know it all already or that I don’t still have some questions.
All I know for now is that I know some things and I’m ready to share them. Who knows, I might just be helping someone. Or I might get more insight myself.
That said, here’s the list of figures or symbols I earlier mentioned (adapted from a list used for Revelation Seminars).
List of Symbols and figurative Terms/Phrases
- Angel – God’s messenger
- Babylon – Confusion or false religious systems
- Beast – Kingdom/political power
- Bottomless pit – Chaotic and empty earth
- Crown – Kings/Victory
- Day – Actual year
- Dragon – Satan
- Book eating – Comprehending a message
- Forehead – Mind
- Harlot – False religious systems
- Image – Look alike
- Lamb – Jesus
- Lord’s Day – The Sabbath
- Mark – Seal of Approval/Disapproval
- Seal – Mark of Approval/Disapproval
- Serpent – Satan/Devil
- Mountains – Political and/or religious powers
- Red – Sin, Destruction
- Seven Candlesticks – Seven churches
- Seven Lamps – Jesus Christ
- Sickle – Harvest at the end of the world
- Testimony of Jesus – Gift of Prophecy
- Pure woman – True church
- Impure woman – Apostate church
- Waters – Great number of people
- Wine – Jesus blood of atonement/false teachings
A View of the Chapters of the Book of Revelation
The Revelation of Jesus Christ becomes easier to comprehend when you pay attention to the following:
- This book was inspired just like other books of the Bible
- You can only understand prophecies in the Bible by tracing history
- Tracing the history of Christianity is a must if you would understand the future (popularly known as the end time)
- Christ is the center of the Book of Revelation. Study it through His eyes
- Don’t force the meanings or struggle hard to understand everything because there’s still some mystery to Revelation which our human mind cannot fully grasp now
- An open mind, willing to learn, and eager to discover and accept the truth irrespective of its weight, is the only one that can truly appreciate what the Book of Revelation represents.
With this background, I give you the book of Revelation in chronological order.
I’d also like to say that you can only fully grasp the symbols above by using this chapter summary:
- Chapter 1 – God the Father told Jesus to tell angels to tell John to tell the 7 churches in the Roman province of Asia which had the 7 Spirits (which is the Holy Spirit in all 7 churches) about their performance. Jesus Christ spends most of this chapter giving John a good background of himself as Savior, Redeemer, and Heavenly High Priest.
- Chapter 2 – Jesus gives the message about Ephesus (which represents the Christians/church in AD 31-100, John’s time), Smryna (the church in the post-colonial era of Christian persecution, before/around AD 303-313), Pergamos/Pergamum (around AD 313-538), and Thyatira (tradition-dominated Christianity, AD 538-1565).
- Chapter 3 – In this chapter, Jesus continues talking about the churches. He continues with Sardis (the Protestant church (nominal Christians) in the post-Reformation period, around 1565-1740), Philadelphia (period of the great Protestantism revival in Great Britain and America around 1740-1844), and Laodicea (the church post-1844 till present where Christians are filled with complacency and spiritual laziness).
The Next Stage of the Revelation
- Chapter 4 – Then John goes into the spirit. He is shown heaven where including 24 elders sit on 24 seats, 7 lamps which represent 7 spirits and four beasts with 6 wings each who worship God along with the elders on the 24 seats. (A little diversion – Are you familiar with the common Christian worship song “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, honor, and power: for thou hast created all things, and for they pleasure, they are and were created.”? You will find this song in verse 11.)
- Chapter 5 – In thischapter, there’s a scroll with 7 seals, and nobody on earth or in heaven (not even the angels) is worthy to open it. Guess who alone can? Jesus, and that’s because it was His blood who saved all humanity. All the thousands and thousands of angels, the 4 beasts, and the 24 elders worship Him.
- Chapter 6 – Christ (the Lamb) begins to open the seven seals. There are 4 horses with different colors – white, red, black, and pale (Death actually). There is a destruction of the earth following the opening of the sixth seal but we have a break before the seventh seal is opened.
- Chapter 7 – God seals his people with his mark (which comes by accepting the death of Christ and the salvation he offers) and their figurative number is 144,000, a representative number from all God’s people that stay faithful to the end and survive the tribulation.
- Chapter 8 –Seven angels are given one trumpet each. The first four angels sound their trumpets in this chapter and many strange things happen on earth.
- Chapter 9 – In this chapter, the fifth and sixth angels sound their trumpets and several events occur.
The Arrival of Persecution
- Chapter 10 – John is asked to take the little book which the seventh angel holds. He is told to chew and swallow it (and it is sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach). When the angel says “there should be time no longer” in verse 6, he refers to AD 457 BC through AD 1844 (the 2,300 prophetic days which Daniel talked about in Daniel chapter 8:14)
- Chapter 11 – We learn about the persecution of Christians for 1,260 years or 42 months (a time (which is actually a year which is the same as 360 days), times (360*2 = 720), and half a time (360/2 = 180)) which was from AD 538-1798.
- Chapter 12 – John sees the war in heaven (not military war, but war of words) that involved the pregnant woman (the growing church), the red dragon (Satan, the Devil, symbol of pagan Rome), Michael, the fallen angels, and the persecution that lasted from AD 538-1798. When the dragon couldn’t harm the woman, he attacked the remnant of her seed (the remaining Christians who stay faithful after 1798).
Activities of the Sea Beast, Earth Beast and the Dragon
- Chapter 13 – John sees the sea beast with 7 heads, 10 horns, 10 crowns, and which got its power from the dragon (Satan). The beast blasphemes for 42 months until it gets injured (42 months * 360 days which is 1,260 years – AD 538 (when the pope became the official church-state authority in the Western World) to AD 1798 when the French Revolution took the oppressive power from the Church and paralyzed it for a while. Then John sees a second beast, an earth beast which looks innocent like a Christian but sounds like the dragon (Satan). Both beasts work with the dragon to ensure that people on earth receive the mark of the beast (666, but is actually the falsehood which people believe and live by) or be killed.
- Chapter 14 – Again, John sees the 144,000 wearing white robes and bearing the name of God the Father on their foreheads (their belief in the true God). Next, he sees the three angels who give the distinct messages which Seventh-day Adventists emphasize with great strength and vigor. First angel says (in summary) – Give God the worship due to Him because He created you, saved you, and will judge you. The second angel says (in summary) – Babylon (the great city, Rome that deceived the world) is fallen because she made all countries believe her lies. The third angel says (in summary) – If you accept the mark of the beast (believe the lies of the Roman Catholic Church system), you will receive God’s eternal punishment to burn till you no longer exist and Christ and the angels would watch you.
The Height of Chapter 14
When the angels complete their messages, John sees Christ come from the clouds.
And angels are told to harvest the earth (take the faithful Christians home and gather the condemned sinners into a winepress (which is the hell where they receive God’s wrath of heat and burning)).
The End of Time Torture that Affects Both the Saved and Lost
- Chapter 15 – John sees 7 angels with 7 last plagues which will come on the earth around the time of the end. The end is just after probation (a currently on-going period where your name is either written in the Book of life or not) and Jesus Christ is out of the temple (no longer interceding).
- Chapter 16 – John hears a great voice that tells that angels to start pouring out their vials/plagues (disasters actually, just like the 10 disasters (water to blood, hails from heaven, death of firstborns, etc.) that happened in Egypt when the then Pharaoh was stubborn about allowing Moses to take the Israelites with him). Angel 1 drops the plague of noisome and grievous sore on only those who are in the camp of the beast (people who accepted the falsehood and lies of the Roman Catholic Church system). Angel 2 drops the plague of blood-like sea where the sea turns to the blood of a dead man. Angel 3 drops the plague of blood-filled rivers and fountains of waters. Angel 4 drops the plague ofscorching sun (which brings unbearable heat, adding to the torture of no water to drink); yet, the people affected remain stubborn, insulting God, and would not glorify Him because they no longer can. Angel 5 drops the plague of darkness on the seat of the beast (the Vatican where the Pope resides) and the people there curse God because of their pain and sores. Angel 6 drops the plague of dryness upon the River Euphrates in order to prepare the road for the kings of the East (the actual King of the East is Jesus Christ, who is going to come suddenly).
The Armageddon Battle
Just before Angel 7 pours out his vial, the place (which isn’t a real mountain but a period of time) called Armageddon is the scene of the last battle. During this period, there’ll be an actual distinction between who is God’s and who is against him.
Angel 7 drops the plague of voices, thunders, lightnings, a great earthquake, and great hail from heaven which will destroy everything on earth.
The Judgment that Falls on Babylon
- Chapter 17 – One of the seven angels who had poured the plagues (the disasters on earth) approaches John and shows him how Babylon will be destroyed. The angel describes Babylon as a “great whore” sitting on many waters (controlling the world population). He further takes John into the wilderness where he sees the woman wearing purple and scarlet and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls and holding a golden cup (Babylon or false church system that is the “Mother of the Lateran”, has fallen daughters (Protestant churches), persecuted and martyred saints, and has religious and political power) sitting on a beast with many names of blasphemy, and 7 heads and 10 horns. The beast has a description (was, is, yet is) that looks like that of Christ (only the Devil does the counterfeit thing). 7 heads = 7 mountains the woman sits on (reminding us of the City of Seven Hills which Rome claims). 7 kings/kingdoms – Egypt (was), Assyria (was), Babylon (was), Media-Persia (was), Greece (was), Pagan Rome (is), and Papal Rome (yet to come as at the time John was shown the visions). The angel talks about an eighth kingdom. But this eighth kingdom (the United States of America) is indirectly powered by the beast/ the seventh kingdom (the Roman Catholic Church system). Little wonder the angel says the seventh kingdom (Papal Rome) is the same as the eighth kingdom (the US). Further, he adds that the 10 horns (kingdoms which succeed the divided nations of Europe) will initially fight with Babylon to attack God’s people. But when Christ defeats them, they will rise up against Babylon (Papal Rome) and fight back because she (the harlot, same as Babylon) deceived them into accepting lies and falsehood and can no longer protect them from the plagues.
The Real Face-off for the False Church System and its Crew
- Chapter 18 – In this chapter, John gets a breakdown of the judgment that falls on Babylon, even though the voice from heaven appeals to some people (who may still have the opportunity to repent) to come out of Babylon (drop falsehood and accept the truth). Babylon (the false church system) gets punished in one day (probably a year). Additionally, the entire chapter focuses on the lamentation of the destruction on Babylon.
Closing Celebration & the Final Showdown
- Chapter 19 – John experiences the worship and adoration of Christ who has saved his people from the claws of the Devil. It is the marriage supper of the Lamb and the true church. He again sees how Jesus defeats the false church and casts all of them and their followers into “the lake of fire burning with brimstone.”
- Chapter 20 – Satan is tied to the earth (his prison, the bottomless pit which is hell, in actual fact) for 1,000 years while the saints are in heaven with Christ and the hosts of heaven. With him on earth are the wicked dead who didn’t repent or lost the opportunity to make it to heaven. They are still dead. After the millennium (1,000 years of recovery for the saved and learning things you’ve always wanted to know about God), Christ is ready to bring the second earth and second heaven. When Satan sees this, he gathers his followers one last time to defeat Christ and his angels. But he loses obviously. 1 Book (Book of Life) is opened and many books (records of works) are opened but the dead whose names are obviously not in the Book of Life are thrown into the lake of fire, with death, hell, and Satan to burn until they no longer exist.
New Beginnings after the Old Earth & Heaven
- Chapter 21 – In this chapter, John watches the new (second) heaven and new earth. Jerusalem, the new city, comes out of heaven, and it has no guile of any form. All old things are past. One of the angels who had poured the last plagues took him to the top of a “great and high mountain” so that he could get a good view of Jerusalem, the new earth. The length, breath, and height are equal. 12 gates have one distinct pearl (3 each on the North, West, South, East) (with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel), 12 angels at the gates, and wall with 12 foundations of 144 cubits (with the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb) and which was the measure of a man (as measured by the angel). The city is pure gold (as transparent glass) and the foundations of the city’s wall are garnished with the following precious stones – jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolyte, beryl, topaz, chrysoprasus, jacinth, and amethyst (following the order of first to twelfth). The city has no sun, no moon, no candles, no closing of gates, no nights, and no temple. Christ and God the Father are maximum light; besides, no evil can get into this new city.
The Conclusion of the Book of Revelation
- Chapter 22 – The angel shows John the “pure river of life” and the “tree of life” which is in the middle of the street where the river flows (from the throne of God and that of Christ, the Lamb). The tree produces 12 different types of fruits every month and the leaves of the tree are for “the healing of the nations.” The nations in this New Jerusalem will reign forever and ever (it’s not our business to find out how long since the Bible doesn’t say). Then the angel reminds John that the things he had shown him were true about Christ, and Christ is coming “quickly.” John bows down to worship the angel but the angel tells him that they are “fellowservants” (those who obey and worship God). Finally, the angel urges John not to close this Book of Revelation with a seal (leave it open, unlike the Book of Daniel) since “the time is at hand.” To wrap it up, Jesus reminds John that He’s the one who has sent his angel to reveal all these things to him. Lastly, John closes the Book of Revelation by saying that nobody should add to or remove from this prophecy (else he will receive the plagues described in Revelation or lose his place in the holy city).
John, the Apostle: the Author Who Could Have Died
John, the Apostle was given one key message throughout the Book of Revelation in the Bible – the second coming of Christ is undeniable and closer. You cannot ignore this fact.
But what did John have to go through before receiving this Revelation? From being thrown into a vat of boiling oil (and surviving miraculously) to being exiled on the Isle of Patmos in Greece, John didn’t have it easy.
He could have died the first time he was persecuted but God spared his life. Perhaps, he had no idea that he was going to be shown the Revelation in this last book of the Bible (Book 66 in the whole Bible, and Book 27 in the New Testament).
John, the Apostle was the same disciple John (the brother of James, the son of Zebedee) who had been mending nets with his father and brother around the Sea of Galilee.
He was Jesus’s buddy, companion, and witness to other nations (after Christ resurrected and returned to his place in heaven).
Now, the Island/Isle of Patmos was the common place where the Romans dumped people who offended the authority. What do you think was John’s offence?
He was faithful to the truth that he preached in Asia. And when he wouldn’t keep quiet, he was thrown to a small piece of land, surrounded by water, and deadly creatures, of course.
Yet, on the Lord’s Day (the Sabbath), Christ came to John (on God’s instruction) and shared the entire content of the Book of Revelation with him.
Having to know this much before he died must have assured him that his “troubles” for Christ’s sake weren’t in vain.
I want to assume that he was a lonely, dying man who was bored and feeling dejected having been isolated.
What solace this revelation must have been.
It’s Okay if You Still Have Questions About the Book of Revelation
I know you’re most likely aware that writing is a therapy. So writing all those details with amazement and some level of fear must have made John’s writing soothing.
By now, you might be tired of reading. Perhaps, I have even bored you with so many details. And you might still be puzzled. It’s okay.
Do you know how often I told (and asked) myself in the course of this writing “this is a lot,” “you need to rest,” “will they believe you?,” “will this post get to as many people that need to see it?,” “did you keep it as accurate as possible?,” and so on.
Here’s one thing:
I’ve been learning these lessons for about three months now (and more), and I have tried to put them into 5,000 words. How possible is that?
My goal has been to help you understand why you or other people think the Book of Revelation is “cryptic.”
In fact, some of the most popular questions you’ll find about the Revelation written by John include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Who is John in the Book of Revelation?
- What are the seven Seals in the Bible?
- What are the four beasts in Revelation?
- What is the Book of Revelation about?
- Who wrote the Book of Revelation?
All these questions become less difficult when you begin to take steps to understand what Revelation is about.
Don’t just see this prophetic book as a book of history or a book about the future.
Consider the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ as a goal board to remind you of the things you should be doing now as you await the unfolding of events and the coming of Christ.
My Final Thoughts
I must admit that I had no clear idea of what I was getting into when I decided to write this post about the Book of Revelation.
But I am happy I did. Because this is something I’ve been hoping I would do as a Christian, a writer, and a human being above all.
I owe it to you to share my time and knowledge. Funny part, it’s not even my knowledge. I’ve only been privileged to learn under the right conditions and many of Ellen G. White books has helped me.
Now that you know the nitty-gritties of the Book of Revelation, what are you going to do with it?
- Will you invite the Holy Spirit to be your study coach?
- Are you willing to pick up your Bible and commence a study?
- Will you seek out other people who have better understanding of the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel?
- Do you intend to share what you now know with others?
- Will you possibly seek out the Book of Revelation novel/graphic novel for further clarity?
- Are you convinced that being a Christian isn’t just a religious name?
- Is a voice in your head telling you to come out of Babylon and refuse the mark of the beast before the time of the testing comes?
- Will you allow the confusion and doubt you feel to bring you back to God?
I could go on and on with the questions. But there’s only so much I can say.
Overall, I hope sincerely that you will redefine your faith after reading this post about the Book of Revelation and ask for God’s help.
Ask Christ to show you where you can improve and how you can tell this account to the people in your own world.
For you, I have written this post.
I don’t know all. I don’t want to stop learning.
But I am committed to growing so I can help you grow.
Have you enjoyed this post? Please leave your comments if I missed anything. Like the post so I know that it resonates. Share it with your friends and loved ones so that the chain of truth doesn’t break. And subscribe to my blog so you don’t ever miss another post I write.
Till you read from me again,
You have all my love!