The Book of Revelation

An Overview

Part 2



John Hoole – May 20, 2012




In our previous lesson – Revelation Overview – Part 1 – we looked at the first 11 chapters of this great and final book of the Bible.  The book of Revelation should not be viewed as one that cannot be understood.  As Dr. Hindson once said, “Prophecy is not written to scare us, but written to prepare us.”


The key verse of the book is Revelation 1:19 NKJV


19        Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.


This key verse gives us an high level outline for the entire Book of Revelation.  It divides the book into three parts.


Chapter One – This speaks of the past.


“Thing which you have seen.”


                   And Christ is portrayed as the “Glorified One.”


Chapters 2 & 3 – …… speaks of the present.


“The things which are.”


This speaks of the messages to the seven churches,……


                            Here, Christ is shown to be the “Present One,” walking among His churches.


Chapters 4 – 22 – ……addresses the future.


         “The things which will take place after this.”


                   Here, Christ is shown to be the “Triumphant One.”


Then we took it down one level, which will be used again today to examine the message of the book of Revelation.  Here is an outline of the next level down for the first 3 chapters.  In Part One, we looked at the messages to the seven church of Asia in chapters 2 & 3.  Breaking the rest of the book down to the next level, we saw this chart.  In chapters 4 & 5, the scene is in heaven, where we see Jesus orchestrate the events that follow.  The next section we analyzed was Chapters 6 – 18 – The events of the Tribulation.  We have examined the 7 Seals of judgment followed by the 7 Trumpet judgments.




In chapters 12 and 13, we are introduced to 7 actors brought onto the stage of End-Time prophecy.  Their identities are crucial to how one interprets the entire book of Revelation.  Who they are and what they represent determines how we view what is happening.


As we ended Chapter 11 in our last lesson, we were told the 7th Trumpet is sounded.  But we were not told the judgments it releases.  The sequential events were interrupted by parenthetical insertion.  There are several such parentheses, which do not advance the chronological narrative, but provide very important information that helps us better understand the ongoing sequence of events.  In this case, we are given a view into the hidden forces that are at work behind the scenes that bring history to a climax.


While information about the actors mentioned in these two chapters don’t advance the chronology, the actors become important players in the sequential narrative that follows.  The actors given to us here are:

The struggle between God and Satan has gone on for millennia.  In chapter 12, we see “a war in heaven” which brings this battle to its ultimate climax.  The question that must be addressed is, “When does this war in heaven” happen?  Has it already occurred, or is it yet future?  If it already has happened, when did it occur?  Was it in the past at the time of Satan’s fall?  Or is Satan’s final eviction from heaven yet to occur in the future?  If it happened in the past, what do we make of the phrase that Satan “has only a short time?”


Another example: if the woman mentioned in this chapter is Israel, then the drama on the stage takes on a decidedly Jewish flavor.  But if the woman symbolizes the Church, then “the rest of her offspring” must be church saints suffering on earth during the Great Tribulation.  This one identity alone distinguishes between a pretribulational or posttribulational view of the book.


I believe we are told about these seven players to help us understand what John writes.  God certainly did not intend their identities to be a mystery.  We are in the third section of the book of Revelation, which is future oriented.  In this chapter there is an allusion to the birth of Christ and His ascension into heaven.  But it does so in the context of a future prophecy about the persecution of the woman.


The Woman - Israel


The first player mentioned is a woman, who was “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Vs. 1)  All of the symbols used to describe the woman are taken from the dreams of Joseph in Genesis 37.  The sun, moon and 12 stars represent the patriarchs and the 12 tribes of Israel.  Several times in the Old Testament, Israel is pictured as a woman in travail.  She is the mother of Christ, not the bride of Christ.


The Dragon


Appearing next is a red dragon having seven heads and ten horns.  There should be absolutely no problem with the identity of this player.  He is here called “the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan” (Vs. 9).  He is also called “the accuser of the brethren” (Vs. 10).  In verse 4, the Dragon is said to have drawn “a third of the stars of heaven,” when he was cast to earth at his fall.  Theologians generally take this to mean that at his fall, a third of the angels followed him.  The dragon’s seven heads, ten horns, and ten crowns are images taken from Daniel 7.


The Male Child


In verse 5, we are told the woman gives birth to a male child.  There should be no doubt as to whom this male child is.  The reference in verse 5 to this child “ruling all nations with a rod of iron,” is a quote directly from Messianic 2nd Psalm.  This Male Child is Christ, the Messiah, the Promised One.  This is Christ, and His being “caught up” is His ascension into Heaven.


Michael – the archangel


In verses 7 – 12, we are told of a great battle between Michael and his angels, and Satan and his angels.  Lucifer had in the past already fallen from his lofty position, but still has access to the throne of God.  The result of this battle is that Satan and his angels are permanently cast out of heaven forever.  The outcome of this battle tells Satan that he has but a short time (vs. 12).  The next verse tells us exactly how much time he has – 3½ years.


Rest of the woman’s offspring


Satan’s rage is turned back to the woman, and the remainder of her seed (Verse 13).  The remaining seed of the woman is helped by God to escape to a place prepared for her.  She is given wings to fly into the wilderness, where God nourishes her for 3½ years (Verse 14).  Notice the identity of the remainder of her offspring.  They are said to have “the testimony of Jesus” (Verse 17).  These are save Jews – those who have put their trust in Christ.  Elsewhere in the Bible, we are told that only one-third of Israel will survive the Tribulation.  Two-thirds will die.


Late in chapter 12, we are told that Satan, in his anger, “casts out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman……” then we read that God causes an earthquake: “…the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the flood.”




As we move into chapter 13, we are introduced to two more important, but evil, players in this drama.  Each are described as a “beast.”  One is described as coming from the sea, and the other coming from the land.  Both personify evil and deception.  Together, they will control the entire word in the Last Days.


Beast out of the sea


The beast that rises out of the sea is a grotesque seven-headed monster with ten horns.  It is clear that this beast is a man.  The description of this beast includes:


                   •  He has a mouth like the mouth of a lion.


                   •  His feet are like the feet of a bear.


                   •  He has the characteristics of a leopard.


These, by the way, are exactly the same combination of beasts mentioned in Daniel 7.  We are also told this beast gets his power and authority from the dragon – that is, Satan.


This beast out of the sea is undoubtedly the Antichrist.  John, in his gospel, quotes Jesus saying, “I have come in My Father’s name and you do not receive me; if another shall come in his own name you will receive him (John 5:43).  The term “antichrist” appears only in the letters of the apostle John.  But throughout the book of Revelation, he is only called the “beast.”  The beast is said to “blaspheme God” and make “war against the saints.”  He receives worship from unbelievers, and, with the help of the second beast, establishes the final apostate church on earth.


Beast out of the earth (Rev. 13:11-18)


The second creature in this chapter is distinct from the first.  This beast always brings attention to the first beast.  It is through the second beast’s efforts that people worship the Antichrist.  This beast is later called the “False Prophet” three times. 


This beast is said to look like a lamb, and also receives his power and authority from Satan.  He is a religious figure more than a political one.  One thing we are told of him is that he was able to bring healing to the Antichrist, who is said to have a “wound unto death” in one of his 7 heads.  He also appears to give life to an image of the Antichrist.  Whether that is real or deceptive, we are not told, although we are told, in verse 14, “he deceives them that dwell on the earth.”


These two will have control of the world’s economy, government and religion.  And one way to accomplish this is for the False Prophet to initiate the mark of the beast (vs. 16).  Through this mark, the False Prophet will be able to control the economy and commerce, as well as require those receiving the mark to worship the Antichrist.




Chapter 14 is another parenthetical chapter, and it is a breath of fresh air.  Heitzig, in his commentary of Revelation, says, “after the horrors that are described in the preceding chapters, and the terrors that follow it, John sees a vision of the Lamb of God enjoying the company of His redeemed people.”  In this chapter, we learn that God’s willingness to save in no way conflicts with His holiness and judgment.


The scene opens and we see the 144,000 standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb (Christ).  Each of them having the seal of the Father in their foreheads, which is a direct contrast to the mark of the beast we just read in the previous chapter.  Again, these are Jewish believers, saved and marked by God during the Tribulation.


Following is a description of actions taken by three angels that fly across the sky, one after another.  As they fly, they make some very dramatic announcements.


First angel


The first angels flies across the sky announcing, “Fear God and give Him glory … and worship Him.”  This is the only reference to the gospel in the book of Revelation.  God, in making this announcement, is still ready to save those who respond positively


Second angel


The announcement of the second angel who flies across the sky is:  “Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great.”  We will read of Babylon’s fall later in chapters 17 & 18, but here, in the mind of God, it already has happened.  This announcement anticipates the coming judgment by God on this wicked city.


Third angel


A third angel flies across the sky for all to hear its message.  The announcement is made of the eternal doom of any who worship the beast and take his mark.  The warning is that those who take the mark of the beast can never be saved.  The words of “fire and brimstone,” the “smoke of their torment,” and “no rest day and night,” points forward to their destiny, the lake of fire.


The third angel is followed by an announcement from heaven, saying “blessed are those who die in the Lord.”  And those who do are promised:

Next, John sees the Son of Man – that is, Christ – sitting on a cloud, and he has a golden crown on His head and a sickle in His hand.


Three additional angels are now said to come out of the heavenly temple.  They are about to announce the final 7 judgments – the bowls of the wrath of God.  The first cries to Him who sits on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap.” The second appears, also holding a sickle to assist in reaping the vintage of the grapes of wrath.  The third angel has the power over fire, and speaks to the second angel to thrust in his sickle and reap the ripe grapes of earth.




The final set of seven apocalyptic judgments are about to begin.  The eight short verses of this chapter provide the needed introduction  to the final phase of God’s wrath.  But, what John sees first takes place in heaven, where he observes martyred saints who were victorious over the Antichrist.  And they are singing the song of Moses and the song of Christ the Lamb.


Out of this scene, John sees seven angels proceeding from God’s Temple in heaven with bowl judgments in hand, ready to pour out God’s wrath.  With the blowing of the 7th Trumpet at the end of chapter 11, and after a lengthy textual parenthetical interlude, the seven bowl judgments are going to be poured out prior to Christ’s return.


It can be seen that the order of events is one of dramatic crescendo.  Just before God’s wrath is poured out, “the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power; and no man was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.”  Once the time of the final judgment has come, none can stay the hand of God.  The time of intercession has passed.  No longer does He stand knocking.


Chapter 16


As chapter 16 opens, John hears a great voice out of God’s Temple commanding the seven angels “Go your ways, and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God upon the earth.”


First bowl (Malignant sores)


The first bowl is poured out on the earth and affects the followers of the beast.  They are immediately inflicted with grievous sores.  They remind us of the sixth plague placed on the Egyptians in Exodus 9.


Second bowl (Oceans polluted)


When the second angel pours out its judgment, the oceans become “blood” and everything in them dies.  This would mean all fish and plant life in the oceans would die.  The stench alone would be unbearable.


Third bowl (Rivers polluted)


With the pollution of lakes and rivers, all mankind is in jeopardy.  River and springs become blood.  This also is like one of the Egyptian plagues in Exodus 7.


Fourth bowl (Sun scorches men)


Whereas the sun was previously blocked out by air pollution, now the ultraviolet rays of the sun are scorching men with heat and fire.  But the scorching heat of the sun will not cause any to repent.  They ill still blaspheme God.


Fifth bowl (Humiliation of the beast) (Vs. 10)


The fifth bowl is poured out upon the throne of the beast.  The judgment of this bowl results in darkness and agonizing pain in Antichrist’s kingdom.  Whether the description is of a “nuclear winter” or not, one can only guess.  Certainly, many of the judgments sound like the devastating effects of nuclear war.  If they are, then all the side effects of such war are to be expected.


Sixth bowl (Armageddon)


The sixth bowl is poured out upon the River Euphrates, to dry it up.  This is said to make a way for the “kings of the east” to pass with their armies.  It is only then that we are told the destination of these armies.  They are summoned to “Har-Mageddon” (Vs. 16)This is the only place in the Bible where this name is given in this form.  This will set the stage for the battle that will be occurring at the coming of Christ in chapter 19.


Seventh bowl (It is done!)


Revelation 16:17 NKJV


17     Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!"


The verses that follow describe the devastation.  There was thunder and lightning and an earthquake described as greater than any before it.  Every island of the sea was moved and mountain were not found.  And hail, with each stone weighing more than a hundred pounds fell.  What did the people do?  They still blasphemed God.




Chapters 17 & 18 are concerned with a city named Babylon.  This name brings with it the images of a wicked city with an abominable religious system.  And this wicked system will once again sweep across the globe, corrupting all it touches.  The events of these chapters probably do not follow chronologically after the bowl judgments.  They actually begin early in Daniel’s 70th week.


The beginning of chapter 17 finds John being asked to witness the destruction and judgment on Babylon.  In this chapter, she is called a “harlot.”  John is taken to a vantage place where he sees Babylon, as a woman, sitting on a scarlet beast.  This beast is described as being full of the names of blasphemy, and having 7 heads and 10 horns which is undoubtedly the Antichrist, who, in chapter 13, is described the same.


This woman, Mystery, Babylon, is represented as the “mother of harlots” (Rev. 17:5).  She is pictured as the source of all moral evil and spiritual infidelity.  Whether apocalyptic Babylon exists today or is still in the process of being formed, only the future can judge.  As the “mother of harlots,” she can be seen as the mother of all false religions in the world.  If you study religious “harlotry” in the Old Testament that word consistently stand for one thing – idolatry.


Man is incurably driven to worship something, somewhere.  If humans do not bow before the holy and true God, they will then devise their own method, their own system, their own god.  They will worship that which is their own creation.


Paul the apostle wrote to Timothy these words in his first letter.


         “The Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons) (1 Timothy 4:1).


But the beast (Antichrist) will allow the false religious system to sit on him until she no longer serves a purpose for his plans.  When she is no longer useful to him, he will devour her.  When the woman is destroyed, the Antichrist will unite the world’s religion under his control.  He will then present himself to the world as being god in the fresh.




Revelation 17 focuses on the coming world religious system, or spiritual Babylon.


         Chapter 18 turns to yet another Babylon, a political and economic one.


Revelation 18 opens with John stating, “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power, and the earth was made bright with his glory.”  The phrase “And after these things” indicates that John receives a new revelation about the future.  He tells us that during the Tribulation a powerful and coercive global economic system is formed.


The spiritual Babylon of chapter 17 is given the titles “Mystery, Babylon” and “the mother of harlots,” but the economic system is called “Babylon the great.”  Spiritual Babylon is depicted as a woman guilty of religious evil.  Economic Babylon is shown as a great city guilty of commercial greed.  Spiritual Babylon is destroyed by the Antichrist himself so that the world might worship him.  Economic Babylon is destroyed by God when Jesus Christ comes again to rule the earth.


The economic system implemented by the Antichrist will allow commercial Babylon to live luxuriously and bring her much glory.  But in the end, all of it will go for naught.  God will announce doom on Babylon, and everything will quite literally go up in smoke.


James wrote – in his book for Christians scattered across the Roman Empire -  a passage that sounds prophetic for those living in the end times in Babylon.


James 5:1-3 NIV


1       Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.

2       Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.

3       Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.


When Babylon is judged by God with fire, completely destroying her, all her allies witness it, and are totally unable to come to her defense.  Everything that has been used to keep the kingdom of the Antichrist will disappear – forever. 


Proverbs 11:4 remind us, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath.”




While the people on the earth lament the loss of Babylon, as we come to chapter 19, all in heaven will rejoice.


Revelation 19:1-3 NIV


1       After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

2       for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants."

3       And again they shouted: "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever."


Chapter 19 is one of the greatest chapters in the Bible.  It deals with three important events in our lives.


        •  The marriage supper of the Lamb,


        •  The return of Christ to earth with His Church,


        •  The final triumph over the Antichrist and the False Prophet.


 In verse 7, there is an announcement of the marriage of Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom and the Church, His bride.  And a blessing goes out to those invited to the Marriage Supper.  It was customary in Jewish tradition that the marriage takes place at the home of groom’s Father.  And it would be followed by a feast that might last several days.


After the marriage feast, we are told in verse 11, Jesus will mount his white stallion.  This, the Second Coming, is the capstone of all Eschatology.  All that we have learned in the first 18 chapters has anticipated this event.  Jesus rides out of heaven to earth, and we will follow Him.


In this chapter, four important titles are given of Jesus.


         •  Faithful and True


         •  A name written that no one knew except Himself


         •  The Word of God


         •  King of kings and Lord of lords


When Jesus descends from Heaven to earth, He will bring a close the Battle of Armageddon.  It is time to set up His kingdom.  His kingdom will come, and His will shall be done


When the Lord walked on the earth the first time, He had eyes of compassion.  But now He comes with eyes of fire, which are flashing in judgment.  The first time Jesus came to earth, wicked men judged Him.  The second time He come, however, He will judge wicked men.


With great power Jesus will destroy His enemies. He will cast the false prophet and the Antichrist, alive, into the Lake of Fire. (Verse 20).  The armies of the world gathered in the plains of Megiddo will be annihilated (Verse 21).  With one weapon, the sword in His mouth, He will wipe out these enemy forces.


There is much carnage in this portion of Revelation 19.  The word “flesh” is used six times in just two verses (vv. 18, 21).  Through an angel, God will invite the vultures to gorge themselves the bodies.  Take your pick: Attend His supper, or be the supper.




Chapter 20 provides a great summary of many end-time events, among them:


         •  Christ’s Millennial rule on earth


         •  Satan’s destruction and destiny


         •  Destiny of the Tribulation saints


         •  Great White Throne Judgment.


The first verse tells us the completion of the destruction of God’s enemies.  We are told that a strong angel was given “great chain” to shackle Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit – the abyss.  Only God-given authority can subdue Satan.  And then the door to the pit is closed, incarcerating the devil for 1,000 years.


How one interprets the verses that follow will determine their eschatology leanings.  I take it that the 1,000 years mean a literal 1,000 years.  Why else with the phrase “1,000 years” be found in each of the next six verses.  While these few verses give only a few characteristics of the 1,000 year reign of Christ, other Bible passages give us a great deal of information about it.


In verses 7 & 8, we are told how that, after the 1,000 years, Satan will be released, and will go across the world to once again deceive many.  These few verse tell us at least two important things.

Satan will lead this enormous army against “the beloved city,” which no doubt is Jerusalem.  This is where the regal throne of Jesus will be.  It is, at this time, the capital of the world.  But, once the armies are gathered for battle, “fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them” (vs. 9).  This battle is over as quickly as it started.


Immediately after this, Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire, where the Antichrist and False Prophet are.  And all the wicked who have ever lived are resurrected to stand before Jesus at the White Throne Judgment.  Each are judged out of the Book of Life and another set of books according to their works.  And all that are at this judgment will end up also in the Lake of Fire.


At this point, death and Hades are also cast into the Lake of Fire, and for all those sent here, it is the “second death.”  Notice, as you read this chapter, the interplay between the terms “death” and “resurrection.”  The Tribulation martyrs die once (physically) and are brought back at the “first resurrection.”  The unsaved die twice (physically and spiritually), when they are thrown into the Lake of Fire at the “second death.”  To say it slightly differently: the saved are born twice and die once, while the unsaved are born once, and die twice.




With the beginning of chapter 21, the Revelation takes us on to its grand conclusion.  This is called the “Eternal State.”  Beyond the Great Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom lies the final reality – eternity.  These last two chapters emphasizes to us once again that this earth is not the end.  There is indeed a new world coming where God dwells among us.  I believe that not even the Millennial Kingdom compares with what awaits us here.  These chapters take our focus off everything that is temporal and place it on that which is eternal.


Chapter 21 introduce us to a whole new series of events.  In the first verse, John is shown a new heaven and a new earth, but tells us little about them.  From verse 2 through verse 5 of chapter 22, a detailed description of our eternal home is presented to us.  And, most appropriately, it concludes the revelation of the ages.


Revelation 21:2 gives us the name of this city as the “New Jerusalem,”  But this is not the first time in this book that John records the name of this city.  In Revelation 3:12, the overcomers in the faithful church at Philadelphia are promised residence in the New Jerusalem.  It is in this city that we are told God will “tabernacle” with us.  Our Creator will live among us.  Because of this, the most dominant characteristic of the holy city is the glory of God.”  In the Old Testament, it was the Shekinah glory which rested on the Ark of the Covenant.  But, unlike the Jewish Temple, there will not be a veil between God’s glory and us.


What is clear to us is that John is describing a real place where the saved, and only the saved, will dwell with God forever.  The unsaved are excluded totally.




The first 5 verses of chapter 22 bring to a close the detailed description of our eternal home.  John sees a river flowing from the throne of God, and we have access to the Tree of Life once again.  In the final chapter, we learn that ll that was lost in the beginning will be regained.  Paradise is restored in the holy city.  The biblical story, which began in the garden, ends in the eternal city.  In between, there stands the cross of Jesus Christ.  It alone has changed the destiny of mankind from death to life.


The book closes in a series of rapid succession of voices, instructions, statements and promises.  John is told not to seal up the book (vs. 10).  Three times the promise is declared: “I am coming quickly” (vv. 7, 12 20).  To this, I add my voice to that of John, when he then said, “Even so, Come Lord Jesus.”