Wednesday, 14 September 2011

An outline of the Book of Revelation

This post is quite long. If you're worried it might bore you, then Nyan cat will make everything better.

In this post, I am doing little better than summarising James B. Jordan's "The Vindication of Jesus Christ". Anyone who wants to borrow this excellent guide to the apocalypse from me is welcome to.

Introduction

Chapter 1 - John sees a vision of Christ and the seven churches.

Chapters 2-3 - Seven letters to the seven churches in the province of Asia. The "angel" of each church may be the representative bishop.

Worship in heaven

Chapter 4 - John sees a vision in heaven of God the father being worshipped by four angels and by another 24 angels seated on thrones.

Jesus the great preacher steps up to the pulpit

Chapter 5 - Jesus Christ ascends to heaven and is considered worthy to open the book of the covenant and to bring about a new creation. The angels bow down and worship the lamb who was slain.

Chapter 6 - Six of the seven seals on the book are broken, so that Jesus the great preacher can preach the word of God. The four horseman represent the Gospel of the kingdom breaking into the world on the horses of the church. The gospel (1) conquers men's hearts, (2) causes family division, (3) exposes the poverty of the world and (4) brings judgement on the old Covenant order.

The fifth seal is a cry for vengeance from martys. They are told to wait a little longer until more of them have died. The sixth seal represents the judgement of the old order.

Chapter 7 - The imminent judgement is frozen in motion. A representative 144,000 faithful Jews are sealed for martyrdom before the judgement can happen. There is likewise a sealing of faithful gentiles for martyrdom and they are shown in heaven, where they shall go when they die.

Jesus begins his sermon

Chapter 8 - The seventh seal means half an hour's silence for the lamb's sermon to be heard. The fire of the Holy Spirit is thrown down from heaven at pentecost. The trumpets are the proclamation of the contents of the book. The first four represent (1) a judgement on the land of Israel, (2) the Jews are dispersed amongst the waters of the nations, (3) satanic influence infects the temple and (4) the rulers of the nations are shaken by the power of the gospel.

Chapter 9 - The next two trumpets are judgements on the land of Israel. They are (5) the spreading of the demonic gospel of justification by works and (6) a righteous army of God conquers many jews with the sword of the gospel, though not all of them repent and believe.

Chapter 10 - A vision of Christ who is sovereign over the land (Israel) and the sea (the gentiles) through his body (the church). John eats the book (sweet in his mouth), but is required to vomit out its (sour) contents in prophecy.

Chapter 11 - Two prophets which represent the 144,000 preach the good news in the city of Jerusalem (where the temple is) but are martyred for it. After a short while, they are vindicated and ascend to heaven. The seventh trumpet is sounded, proclaiming the victory and lordship of Christ.

A call to faithful living

Chapter 12 - A faithful remnant of Israel gives birth to Christ, who rules the nations and who casts Satan out of heaven. Satan goes after the woman but it is the land (Israel) which drinks his poisonous doctrine instead. The woman is protected in the wilderness for a while.

Chapter 13 - A beast rises up from the sea (the nations). He is a combination of the four beasts of Daniel 7 and represents demonic Rome, the culmination of the four empires of Daniel. In Acts, Rome usually protected the church, but Satan has now caused Rome to rise up against the church.

A second beast, a false prophet, rises up from the land (Israel). He represents apostate Judaism, with the two horns representing the Herods and the High priests. He also persecutes the church.

Chapter 14 - The 144,000 are shown in heaven with Christ. A series of angels calls upon the world to repent and worship Christ the king. Finally, we see once again the martyrdom of the 144,000. They are like the sacraments, bread (grain) and wine (grapes). Their blood contains the wrath of God, which he will pour out on his enemies as wrath-wine.

A prayer for the sacraments

Chapter 15 - The massacred saints are shown in heaven, but not yet before the throne. There is worship and the seven bowls of wrath-wine are prepared so that there can be a baptism of judgement for the wicked.

The sacrament of Baptism

Chapter 16 - Six bowls of judgement are poured out on, respectively, the land (of Israel), the sea (the nations), the springs of water (the temple), the sun (the rulers), the throne of the beast (the Roman Empire) and the euphrates (to allow the saints/kings of the sunrising to pass through ready for battle). Then the dragon, beast and false prophet deceive the kings of the earth, to gather them for battle. The seventh bowl represents the victory of the army of the saints. This is not a literal battle, but a spiritual one.

Chapter 17 - Babylon is Jerusalem, a faithless harlot who commits idolatry against her God. She is protected by her lover Rome, the beast from the sea. She persecutes and murders the saints, but her destruction is soon.

Chapter 18 - Jerusalem is eventually destroyed by Rome, but as in Old Testament times, this is a punishment from God for her idolatry. Many kings, merchants (priests and levites) and seafarers (gentiles) will lament her downfall. The Lord Jesus assures the reader that this judgement will happen.

The sacrament of the Lord's supper

Chapter 19 - God is praised for his judgement of Babylon/Jerusalem. The saints partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb whenever they meet together in Jesus' name to break bread and share wine. Jesus leads an army of saints to war against the world and converts many to the faith. The beast and false prophet are cast into hell (a spiritual victory for the saints).

An announcement that the saints have conquered

Chapter 20 - Satan is bound and unable to deceive the nations by preventing them from hearing the gospel of truth. The dead in Christ rise and reign with Him from heaven for a symbolic thousand years. The resurrection is experienced on Earth through the Church's gradual conversion of the nations to Christ.

After the thousand years, Satan is released and causes many from among the nations to be deceived and to conspire against the Church in a kind of twisted spiritual resurrection. Christ returns and defeats these remaining enemies and the final judgement happens.

A call to hope and evangelism

Chapter 21 - After the final judgement, the New Jerusalem (the Church) is perfected and death is banished to hell forever, so that the saints can experience everlasting joy. However, an angel goes on to show John a vision of the Church in the present state. The Church is like a temple and attracts even the kings of the earth into it. Jesus is the lamp of the Church and all the nations of the Earth are lead by His light, as the whole world is brought to faith in Christ.

Chapter 22 - The river of life, the Holy Spirit, flows through the Church, the City of God. The cross of Christ is a tree of life which provides healing and atonement for the sins of the nations. The Spirit and the Bride together call the world to repentance, call sinners to wash away their sins through baptism, becoming members of God's people.

The letter finishes with a blessing: "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with us all. Amen."

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