It is so ironic that Anti-catholics choose to speak the most boldly about that which they know the least about. Nowhere is this more clear than the Book of Revelation. The average anti-catholic and even most of all non-catholics haven’t a clue what this book is telling us.
To truly get an understanding of this sacred book, may I recommend Michael Barber’s Coming Soon? You cannot get a better resource on this subject.
Really quickly, however, let me give you a summation about the how to understand what this book tells us in 8 simple steps.
If you understand these 8 simple steps, you will understand the message of John’s Revelation.
Step 1: The literary style: Apocalyptic language.
Apocalyptic language is the style of language that John’s Revelation is written in. Symbols are often used to depict actual events and concepts. These symbols include symbolic creatures, numbers and hyperbolic and allegoric language. One must not forget this and expect every event to be literal. If one get’s too caught up in the images, one loses the overall theme. Ezekiel and Daniel are two other examples of books using Apocalyptic language.
I will give you two unmistakable examples of it’s use in Revelation;
First, from Revelation 12;
|3 And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his heads seven diadems.
4 And his tail draweth the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth:
Now, we know (from verse 9) that the dragon is the devil (depicted as a snake in Genesis 3:15). However, are we to literally believe that 1/3 of the stars in the sky were hurled to earth by his tail? No. The stars were the heavenly angels who fell from grace as did Lucifer.Now let’s jump to Revelation 17;3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness: and I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
Is this a literal woman sitting on a literal beast?
9 Here is the mind that hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth:
10 and they are seven kings; the five are fallen, the one is, the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a little while.
11 And the beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goeth into perdition.
12 And the ten horns that thou sawest are ten kings, who have received no kingdom as yet;
but they receive authority as kings, with the beast, for one hour.
13 These have one mind, and they give their power and authority unto the beast.
14 These shall war against the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of lords,
and King of kings; and they also shall overcome that are with him, called and chosen and faithful.
15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the harlot sitteth, are peoples,
and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
16 And the ten horns which thou sawest, and the beast, these shall hate the harlot, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and shall burn her utterly with fire.
17 For God did put in their hearts to do his mind, and to come to one mind, and to give their
kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God should be accomplished.
18 And the woman whom thou sawest is the great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
So the roman beast depicted here, by virtue of it’s seven heads and 10 horns, is being tied directly to the ultimate beast- Satan. The woman rides the beast by virtue of her harlotry with the beast. She is that great city that ruled over the world (v18).
The Book of Revelation identifies that great city as Jerusalem, the city on seven mountains where our Lord was crucified (Revelation 11:8).
Step 2: Typology.
One cannot understand prophecy without understanding typology. They are intrinsically linked. Typology is the practice of seeing, in actual Biblical events, a foreshadowing of larger concepts. A perfect example is the blood of the lamb saving the Hebrews from the plague of the first born. By the blood of the lamb, death passed over them. Clearly, a type of Jesus.
The video at left gives some good examples of typology and how they relate to the Book of Revelation.
Step 3: When was this book written and how does that relate to who John is describing?
It was commonly believed for some time that the Book of Revelation was written about 96 AD, during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian and about the time John completed his other 4 books. However, according to Scripture scholar Dr. Scott Hahn, the Gospel and the three letters were written in a far more polished Greek, suggesting some time of advancement in mastering the subtleties of the language.
Further, the clues John gives himself, place it earlier.
John says, of the Roman Kings, that he is currently in the 6th of seven kings (Rev 17:10). Counting them according to those officially Senate sanctioned emperors, he is in the reign of Galba (68 AD) with Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero being the five fallen).
This is key. John’s Revelation is written almost immediately before Jerusalem’s destruction and the urgency is foretelling exactly that event. The Woman who reigned over the earth (17:18) could be none other than Jerusalem.
Step 4: Who is John writing to?
Was John writing to a 21st century audience? No, he was not. John was writing an urgent warning of events that would take place very soon. Things that would be witnessed by the people living at that time.
Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John;
2 who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all things that he saw.
3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.
Near the very beginning of the book is a warning to the seven churches. A specific warning to seven specific churches within a 50 mile radius of each other (1:4).
Could one allow the interpretation that these churches provide a type of churches today, with certain issues? Sure. However, one must be honest to the concept of typology that requires a literal short-term fulfillment first, that provides the model for the larger fulfillment later. So, the letters to the churches in Asia minor where to the churches in Asia minor. This is a fatal blow to those who attempt to fix a strictly futurist interpretation on this book. For none of the seven churches stand today and they haven’t stood for centuries.
Step 5: The larger historical context
The historical context is stark. First, the only Gospel that does not deal with prophesying the fall of Jerusalem is John’s gospel? Why?
Matthew (c41 AD), Mark (60-65) and Luke’s (56-57) gospels were all written before Jerusalem fell, John’s gospel was written 28 years after this tragic event occurred. Still, why would John not choose to give some space to this? After-all, Jesus devoted much time to these prophecies and the three other gospel writers recorded it. Why would John be silent on this subject? Was it only because the events had already been fulfilled?
The evidence suggests otherwise.
If you simply look at the four Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and Revelation, you now have the 4 books that are saturated with prophetic utterances. In fact, you have the 4 most prophetic books of the New Testament and all 4, predate Jerusalem’s destruction.
So, at a minimum, John’s perspective on Jerusalem’s destruction, is before it with the Book of revelation, after it with the other 4 books.
Step 6: The four prophetic Biblical books context-ed with one another
Looking at the Gospels, and comparing them to John’s Revelation, what parallel’s are there?
The parallel’s are most striking with regard to the predicted destruction of Jerusalem.
29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and garnish the tombs of the righteous,
30 and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we should not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31 Wherefore ye witness to yourselves, that ye are sons of them that slew the prophets.
32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
33 Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of hell?
34 Therefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: some of them shall ye kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city:
35 that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar.
Revelation 18:24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all that have been slain upon the earth.
Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
Revelation 18:18 and cried out as they looked upon the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like the great city?
19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and mourning, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, wherein all that had their ships in the sea were made rich by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
||8 And their dead bodies lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.
Matthew 24: 1 And Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way; and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple.
2 But he answered and said unto them, See ye not all these things?
verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
* a clear refutation of zionism
20 But when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand.
21 Then let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains; and let them that are in the midst of her depart out; and let not them that are in the country enter therein.
22 For these are days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
Luke 23: 26 And when they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and laid on him the cross, to bear it after Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. 28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the breasts that never gave suck. 30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. 31 For if they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?
Revelation 6: 15 And the kings of the earth, and the princes, and the chief captains, and the rich, and the strong, and every bondman and freeman, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 and they say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
These are only of few of the many examples. That Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are describing the same events is inescapable.These prophetic utterances all parallel each other.
Step 7: The time-line of Jerusalem’s destruction and the coming of the Kingdom.
Many of you may still be convinced that I am using end-time prophecies to describe first century events. Once again, you have to deny the plain words of Jesus with regards to these events. The amount of scriptural evidence is enormous that Jesus would come on the clouds in Judgement, throw down Jerusalem the whore and establish His Kingdom on earth within the lifetime of some of the very people standing there.
Matthew 10: 22: and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
23: When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes.
Step 8: It is not Monday Night Football
Those who want to turn John’s Revelation into a play-by-play of the end-times have missed the meaning of the book. The book is about God’s victory over the evil of Rome and Jerusalem and the establishment of His earthly Kingdom and the establishment of that as the model or type of his ultimate victory over Satan. It all plays out very dramatically, from the dispatch of the four horsemen to the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven.
Now that you know the steps, let me wrap it up for you.
The message of the Book of Revelation is an expansion of the message of the Gospels. Jesus came to earth and his own people rejected him (John 1:11), so He took their authority from them and gave it to the Church He built on Peter (Matthew 21:43, 16:18).
He threw down the great city that betrayed him and played the whore (Rev 11:8. 17:18, 18:10) and established the Catholic church as a Kingdom of Priests (Rev 5:10, 14:4) and the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2) with the old Jerusalem never to be heard from again (18:16-24).
All of this provides the template for the ultimate triumph of God over Satan, which doesn’t occur until Revelation 20:3.
So, now you know.
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