A Future Worth It All
Studies in the Book of Revelation
Dr. Jim Denison
We are on the preparation committee, not the planning committee. Three times in our passage in this study, Jesus promises us, “I am coming soon.” The first Christians took this promise to mean that he would return in their lifetimes; of course, he did not. Even they tended to be more interested in planning than in preparing. Let this final study help us to be prepared for Jesus to return, whenever he chooses to come.
But first, there are two questions from last week I’d like to address briefly. The first is the idea of “double fulfillment”—could Revelation have both a first-century application and an end-of-time interpretation and fulfillment?
Sensus plenior. Seen in Scripture; example is Hosea 11.1, “Out of Egypt did I call my son,” used by Matthew 2.15 for Jesus.
But be careful seeing double fulfillment where the Bible does not clearly say that it is so; this is speculative. And be careful not to see a second fulfillment which requires a completely different interpretation of the passage. I think Revelation intends to be understood as symbols, whether those symbols applied only to the first century or also to ours in an historical way (the locusts were not and are not army helicopters!).
The second question relates to the “book of works” (Revelation 20.13: “The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books”). Did I mean that Christians will not face this judgment? Not at all.
Scripture is clear: Christians will be judged for our works as well. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3.11-15 is explicitly clear; 2 Corinthians 5.10 is clear as well: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” The referent is obviously Christians (“we”).
My point was that we will not gain heaven by it, for no one can. Our names in the “Lamb’s book of life” are what give us eternal celebration in heaven with God.
Now, to a description of that heavenly future, we close our study of Revelation with chapters. 21-22.
An outline of Revelation
I. Prologue (1.1-18)
A. Preface (1.1-3)
B. Author and recipients (1.4-5)
C. Doxology (1.6-8)
II. The first vision (1.9-3.22): the glory of Christ and letters to his churches
A. The vision of the risen Christ and commission of the book (1.9-20)
B. The letters to the seven churches (chs. 2-3)
III. The second vision (4.1-16.21): judgments on the evil powers of the world
A. The vision of God in heaven (ch. 4)
B. The vision of the Lamb who breaks the seals (ch. 5)
C. Seven seals (6.1-8.1):
1. White horse of conquest (6.2)
2. Red horse of war (6.3-4)
3. Black horse of famine (6.5-6)
4. Pale horse of death (6.7-8)
5. Altar of slain faithful (6.9-11)
6. Great earthquake of the wrath of the Lamb (6.12-17)
Interlude—the sealing of the 144,000 (ch. 7)
7. Silence in heaven for “about half an hour” (8.1)
D. Seven trumpets (8.2-11-19):
Interlude: the angel with incense, the prayers of the saints (8.2-5)
1. Hail and fire—1/3 of earth burned up (8.7)
2. Huge mountain thrown into the sea—1/3 of sea to blood, 1/3 of
its creatures killed, 1/3 of its ships destroyed (8.8-9)
3. Great star fell on 1/3 of the rivers, turning water bitter (8.10-11)
4. 1/3 of sun, moon, stars struck and turned dark (8.12)
5. First woe: Abyss opened, scorpions released to attack all without
the seal of God (9.1-12)
6. Second woe: four angels released to kill 1/3 of mankind
Interlude: the angel with the little scroll (ch. 10),
two witnesses (11.1-14)
7. Praise of God by heaven and the 24 elders (11.15-19)
E. The seven signs (12.1-14.20)
1. The woman (12.1-2)
2. The dragon (12.3-13.1)
3. The beast out of the sea (13.1-10)
4. The beast out of the earth (13.11-18)
5. The Lamb and the 144,000 (14.1-5)
6. The three angels (14.6-13)
7. The harvest of the earth (14.14-20)
F. The seven plagues (15.1-16.21)
Preparations (ch. 15)
1. First bowl: ugly and painful sores on those who had the mark of
the beast and worshiped his image (v. 2).
2. Second bowl: the sea turned to blood, and all life in it died
3. Third bowl: rivers and springs of water became blood, while the
angel praised God (vs. 4-7).
4. Fourth bowl: the sun scorched people, but “they refused to
repent” (vs. 8-9).
5. Fifth bowl: poured on the throne of the beast, and the world was
plunged into darkness but refused to repent (vs. 10-11).
6. Sixth bowl: Euphrates was dried up “to prepare the way for the
kings from the East”; demons gathered the kings of the
world “for the battle on the great day of God Almighty”
(v. 14), “the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” (v. 16).
7. Seventh bowl: the greatest earthquake in human history;
Babylon (Rome) was destroyed as God “gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath” (v. 19). 100-pound hailstones fell upon men, and “they cursed God”
IV. The third vision (17.1-21.8): victory over the evil powers of the world
A. The mystery of Babylon (ch. 17)
B. The fall of Babylon (ch. 18)
C. The praise of heaven (19.1-10)
D. The victory of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (19.11-21)
E. The millennium (20.1-6)
F. Satan’s final doom (20.7-10)
G. The judgment of the dead (20.11-15)
V. The fourth vision (21.1-22.21): the future blessing of the faithful
A. The new creation (21.1-8)
B. The new Jerusalem (21.9-27)
C. The river of life (22.1-6)
D. The promise of Jesus’ imminent return (22.7-21)
The new creation (21.1-8)
There are three promises here:
•Fellowship with God (21.1-8)
•Protection by God (21.9-26)
•Provisions from God (22) (Summers 212ff).