(Please read this before starting on the heart of this post)
I wrote this in response to a length conversation I had on Facebook. It sparked a great deal of commentary from both believers and agnostics, alike. This interest prompted me to sit down and explain how I see this Book of Scripture. Due to the subject matter, this will be a lengthy post, but not nearly as long as it could be. This is because I will only be commenting on those aspects of Messiah’s Revelations I find most significant or misunderstood. I would also like it to be noted that what follows is my understanding of, “The Revelation of Yeshua ha Mashiach,” as best I understand it at the time I wrote this. I am not looking to fight or argue over this post. As I said, it is my understanding, nothing more. So, while readers are welcome to comment, I would ask that they please keep this in mind if and when they do so.
Furthermore, I am writing mostly to those who not only know Scripture, especially those who actually study it. While I will provide some chapter and verse citations, they will be provided when and where I suspect they are necessary to help others make the connections I have made. I will make no pretext toward providing every supporting aspect of the Scriptures for any part of my explanation. I am assuming the reader either knows enough to follow along, or is competent enough to look it up for themselves. If not, then the reader is invited to ask specific questions about my understandings in the comment section below this post.
Finally, and most importantly, I make no claim to any special understanding or revelation. In fact, make no claim to any original insight, whatsoever. I just gather pieces of the puzzle from as many believers as I can; sort the wheat from the chaff by holding everything up to the Scriptures; then assemble those pieces I retain as wheat while keeping the chaff in a sack — just in case. To the extent that I have holes or things I do not yet understand, I count it due to the fact that I have yet to find the believer(s) who have been given those pieces to the puzzle. So, with this said and understood, allow me to explain — in detail — my understanding of:
“The Revelation of Yeshua ha Mashiach.”
(NOTE: Unless otherwise cited, I am using the NASB 1995 translation of the Scriptures)
I start by noticing some very significant but often overlooked declarations in John’s introduction. First, we are told that we who believe are already a Kingdom (1:6). I understand this to be the Kingdom of YHWH, which is and is still to come. So, we are already in the ‘millennial reign.’ ‘Yeshua will come with the clouds (1: 7) references the vision Daniel had of the Ancient of Days, and to the Judgment.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” (1:8) in Hebrew, would be “I am the Aleph and the Tav.” ‘Aleph’ means strong or leader, and ‘Tav’ means sign or covenant. Thus, “Aleph and the Tav’ can be understood as “I am the strong covenant.” Now, I am well aware that tradition holds that Revelation was written in Greek, and that John meant to say Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end and Master of all in between. I am even willing to concede that I might should understand this passage in this way. All I am saying is that Aleph and Tav also fits — especially in consideration of the fact that John is writing a very Hebrew prophecy that — in all likelihood — would not be understood by Gentiles freshly grafted into the Body. This suggests a strong possibility that Revelation was — in fact — originally written in Hebrew.
Next, John tells us that he is in the Tribulation (thlipsis) with us already (1:9), as he wrote. He also says he is a fellow citizen of the Kingdom — as he wrote. This indicates that the tribulation started in John’s lifetime (most likely at the ascension), and that the Kingdom already is (and is yet to come).
John’s description of Yeshua (1:12-16) is veyy similar to the description Daniel gives of the ‘man’ who describes parts of his vision to him (Dan 10:5-6). In fact, the two descriptions are so similar, I believe Daniel was speaking to Yeshua, Himself.
Then Yeshua speaks, and He commands John to write what John sees (1:19). And Yeshua tells John that John will see past, present and future. This is very important: we will ‘time travel’ in Revelations.
Finally, put a pin in the seven stars and the seven lamp stands. We will see them again soon, only in a slightly different way.
All I will note here is that these are only seven of many churches in Asia at the time John wrote. What I believe makes them special is that they all lie along major Roman roads. They are also listed in the order you would travel through these cities if you were to start at the first city mentioned and travel to the last — eventually circling back to the where you started.
While I believe there will be churches in every age that fit the Spiritual descriptions described in these two chapters, I strongly suspect the order is intended to also point to the general spiritual condition of the Church in each epoch of the ‘Church Age.’ If this is correct, it could leave us with an understanding that might look something like this:
32-95 AD Ephesus “Lost your first love…” Heresy starts to sneak into the Church
95-321 AD Smyrna “Persecution 10 days…” Ten major persecutions under 10 Roman Emperors
321-450 AD Pergamum “Where Satan’s throne is…” Constantine joins the church to the State
450-950 AD Thyatira “That woman Jezebel…” The start of Mary worship
950-1450 AD Sardis “But you are dead…” Dead Catholic formalism
1450-1948 AD Philadelphia “Have kept MY Word…” The Reformation: Protestant Church begins
1948– Laodecia “You are neither hot nor cold…” Luke-warm Church of today
The opening of this chapter makes it clear that John is having a vision, and thus, we must be cautious about interpreting the things that follow literally. We should first consider symbolic and Spiritual meanings.
The description of the Throne Room in terms of precious stones is one such case. All the stones mentioned are connected both to Old and New Testament figures. This fits neatly with the twenty-four elders: the twelve leaders of the Tribes, and twelve Apostles. But here is a note of caution: there were thirteen Tribes, and Thirteen Apostles — fourteen if we count Judas, Iscariot as an Apostle, or count his replacement.
Also, note that this description fits nicely with Ezekiel’s vision of the Throne Room (Ezekiel 1).
[NOTE: I would need to look it back up, but there is a great deal of deep-diving that needs to be done with Rev 4 and Eze 1. The stones, the wheels, the faces, the eyes: every detail of the imagery in the two descriptions has deep ties to Old Testament understandings. In short, Rev 4 is pointing directly back to Ezekiel 1 and the O.T. notions connected to the images in Ezekiel.]
This chapter is where things start to get interesting. It appears to deal with events from the past brought forward to John’s time, possibly even a future time. It also indicates that we are dealing with nested chiasims: a form of Hebrew poetry, sometimes called a ‘step ladder’ format. Chiasims are found throughout the Scriptures. Later, we will see that Revelation is also a bifid: a book divided into two parts where the second part retells the first, only with different details or to a different audience. Isaiah is a bifid, which explains why some people believe it was written by more than one person.
YHWH hands the book to John (5:1). The book is written on both sides. This is highly unusual, as most scrolls were only written on one side. I suspect this is a clear indication that Revelation is a bifid, and the first part — the part Yeshua reads — is to the believers living in the time of the tribulation (i.e. church age). The little book is sealed with seven seals (note the refrain of the number seven in this chapter, the number of perfection or completion). No one in heaven, on earth or under the earth was worthy to open it (5:2-3). This pins down the point in time which John is seeing things. Either John is transported from the point before Messiah was crucified to the point after He ascends to Heaven, or we are standing with John at the very point Messiah is ascending. As Messiah is ascending, he is no longer on or under the earth, but He is not yet in Heaven. Which is correct, I do not know.
Then, one of the elders on the twenty-four thrones tells John that Messiah has overcome. This indicates a point after the crucifixion. Then John sees the same four living creatures, each representing one of the divisions of Israel according to the order in which they marched through the wilderness. He sees the Lamb (Messiah) as if slain (after the crucifixion), and He has seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of YHWH (5:6) (we’ll come back to the horns later).
In the next scene, we are told that the incense represents the prayers of the saints (5:8). This is an important interpretation to remember. It is also important to note that ‘the saints’ refers to New Covenant believers, not those of the Covenant of Moses. This is why these saints ‘sing a new song:’ the new song is the New Covenant (5:9). We are then told — again — that they are, at that point, already a Kingdom: the Kingdom of YHWH!
Finally, Messiah and YHWH are equated by the words of the angels’ prayer (5:11-14).
Here is where I part from the understanding that most believers hold. I simply ask that you set your understanding aside for the moment, and hear my case. You do not have to accept anything I share. All I am doing is sharing my understanding of what follows. I am not telling you that you have to agree with or accept it. All I ask is that you allow me my understanding, as I will allow you, yours.
First, let me state that I see the Four Horsemen as YHWH’s figurative way of telling His People what life will be like throughout the tribulation (i.e. the Christian era). Again, I am still working on this area of Revelation, but I can share the following. But, before I do so, let me ask you this: Where have you seen the imagery of horseman before in Prophecy? Does this ring any bells?
Patrol of the Earth
7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, as follows: 8 I saw at night, and behold, a man was riding on a red horse, and he was standing among the myrtle trees which were in the ravine, with red, sorrel and white horses behind him. 9 Then I said, “My lord, what are these?” And the angel who was speaking with me said to me, “I will show you what these are.” 10 And the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered and said, “These are those whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.” 11 So they answered the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees and said, “We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth is peaceful and quiet.”
Now, I know that Zechariah does not tell us — for sure — whether he saw three or four horses (one or two red horses), and that these horses seem to be different from those in Revelation (different colors), but I think it unwise to ignore the imagery here as Zechariah’s vision is very likely to be connected to the horses in John’s vision.
[NOTE: I may be wrong, but I also cannot escape the suspicion that these four horsemen are somehow connected to The Four Winds of the Earth.]
The First Seal
I confess, this one still has me a bit uncertain. I understand that we’ve been told this is the false messiah, but that header in your Bible is not there in the original. We’ve added it. Thinking of where we may have seen this imagery elsewhere in Scripture, I know of only one other place where we see a rider on a white horse, and it is Messiah on that horse! In that other passage, He wears a crown, and He does conquer (Rev 19). However, there is something else interesting here. This rider in 6:1-2 holds an empty bow. Does that ring any bells for you? How well do you know Zechariah?
Or this verse?
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.
To me, Rev 6:1-2 and Zech 9:13 are connected. In fact, they are connected to a great many passages. But, staying on point, I can’t help but wonder whether or not the rider on the white horse is Messiah, early in His reign — before He has rejoined the stick of Joseph to the stick of Judah. There are no arrows at this point because Messiah’s Church has not yet gathered the House of Israel, nor the Fullness of the Gentiles with it. This is why, later, when we seem Him next, at the end of time, Messiah has both the bow (Judah) and His arrows (Ephraim/Israel) because the two Nations have been rejoined. In other words, this is an image of Messiah riding out to conquer Satan and his kingdom — and the gates of Hades will not be able to withstand His attack! It is why son will turn on father, and mother against daughter. It is why Nation will rise up against Nation — for the sake of and because of the Gospel!
[NOTE: A little later, I will show you another part of John’s vision that I believe is connected to 6:1-2, so stick a pin in this place.]
The Second Seal
I accept the common understanding of this passage: it is about war among Men on earth, but I cannot help but wonder whether these wars are just because; or are they due to Man’s lust for power, and to impose his will on others? More likely, this seal foretells of the enmity that will rise up between Peoples in connection to the Spiritual war started by the White Rider, thus leading to murder, war and genocides.
The Third Seal
I am not sure I can agree that this is famine. I find myself wondering whether or not this is actually corrupt trading practices. In ancient times, the scale was often connected to the notion of commerce — to weigh out monies, which was not always in the form of a coin. And notice how the foods mentioned are the foods of the poor, and that they cost a day’s wages for a day’s sustenance? But the oil and the wine — things connected to wealth — are not to be touched? To me, I do not see famine so much as I see ‘The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.’ Corruption!
The Fourth Seal
I see no reason to disagree that this horseman represents death, but not so much due to war as by natural disasters, murder and disease. However, I do object to the translation of, ‘ashen.’ In the original Greek, it says ‘chloros,’ which means green — as in the sickly color of green which is often associated with death from sickness and disease.
[NOTE: This brings me to another curiosity. The colors of the four horsemen of Revelation are white, red, black and green. We will see this again a bit later, so stick another pin here.]
The Fifth Seal
The thing to take note of here is that the Altar in 6:9 is the Cross. Thus, the souls of those who had been slain for the sake of Messiah are under the Cross (this imagery of the cross as the altar, as well as the rest of the thrown room, comes from the design of the Tabernacle as described by Moses while Israel wondered in the desert). These souls at the foot of the cross include all believers: Jew and Gentile. The white robes hearken back to the words of the New testament where believers are said to have been washed clean by the blood of Messiah. Thus, they have white robes: spotless garments (no sin).
The Sixth Seal
This is one of those areas where I must stress that I am speaking to those who have not only studied Prophecy, but the whole of Scripture. You’ll soon understand why I say this.
Revelation 6:12-13 are filled with prophetic imagery. I fully expect that there will be physical manifestations that align with John’s depiction here, but I focus on the spiritual meanings that lie behind them. For example: when you read about a great earthquake, does Psalm 18 ever come to mind? IN this section of Revelation, we are dealing with the faithful being persecuted and martyred by the lawless with the emphasis being near the return of the Messiah. But look at the pattern in Psalm 18: David is distressed (as are the faithful in Revelation), and YHWH responds with a great shaking of the earth:
6 In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.
7 Then the earth shook and quaked;
And the foundations of the mountains were trembling
And were shaken, because He was angry.
I would strongly recommend you read the whole Psalm, and rather than looking to pick it apart based on specific words, look to the pattern. There is a parallel between Psalms 18 and other passages that describe the earth shaking at YHWH’s wrath and Revelation 6:12.
The shaking of the earth is followed by the darkening of the sun, the moon turning to blood and the stars falling from the sky. If you go back and look at the prophetic meaning of these symbols, there is a clear message here. We are dealing with a time where Yeshua’s Gospel (the Son and the Light of His Gospel) will grow dark; there will be a drought of the Word. The Church has no light of its own: it merely reflects the Light of the Son and the Father. Worse still, it grows apostate, which is connected to the color red: the symbol of blood and sacrifice, but also sin! In other words, the Gospel fades and the Church turns apostate. Finally, the stars fall. This — to me — signifies the fall of many teachers of the Word. Either they fall in disgrace due to sin (can you think of any examples of this?), or they simply disappear: called home by the Father (can you think of a long list of strong, Scriptural-based teachers in this world right now?). Here again, I would ask that you not look for ways to tear my understanding apart word-by-word, but look for passages in the Old Testament that are parallel to the pattern in Revelation 6:12. Does Amos ring any bells?
11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
“When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the Lord.
12 People will stagger from sea to sea
And from the north even to the east;
They will roam about to seek the word of the Lord,
But they will not find it.
Once again, I urge you to read the entire passage and then tell me if you do not see the same pattern or spiritual ‘feel’ in Amos 8 as is described by John in Revelation 6.
[NOTE: The image of the son and moon darkening and the stars falling is used by several of the prophets. Joel 3:9-15 is a good example. Something to note, as well: in none of the cases where Isaiah, Ezekiel and Amos use this sort of figurative language did the sun and moon go dark of the stars fall in the physical world. Those three prophets were foretelling the fall of Kings who then fell in what is now our ancient history, yet, there were no physical manifestations of the description of the sun, moon and stars in this material world. This is something to keep in mind.]
Rev 6:14 speaks of mountains and islands being moved out of their places. In the prophetic language, mountains are a symbol of kingdoms or nations, and islands are a symbol of smaller states. What we have here is John’s way of telling us the nations and independent States will be no more. Don’t you see a picture of global chaos in chapter 6? This is the picture John is painting for us.
In Rev 6:15-17, the leaders of the world hide in caves and wish for the mountains to fall on them. This is a Hebrew idiom. Essentially, it is saying that the wicked and unrighteous of this world will seek to escape their faith and will hide from taking responsibility for their actions. Rather, they will grow angry with YHWH and blame him for their fate.
Rev 7:1, we see the four angels again. Whether they are somehow connected to the four horsemen of Revelation or of Zechariah or not, they are holding back the winds of chaos and social upheaval. This is what ‘the winds’ represents in the prophetic language, and the four corners of the world indicates this is a wide-spread or global calm. Only, in light of chapter 6, it is unlikely this is a physical calm on earth, but rather, a spiritual calm in Heaven. Then we see the angel ascending from the rising sun. This language is clearly connected in prophecy to the Messiah, so this angel is Yeshua. It is also very likely that John is sliding back and forth through time here. The Son rising with the Seal of YHWH could very well indicate the beginning of the New Covenant (i.e. the Christian era), and the sealing of the faithful extends to all those who will be saved during this period (a period also known as ‘The Last or Latter Days).
Now, let’s look closer at this seal that is placed on the foreheads of the faithful. Where have we seen this imagery before? Let me take you to a passage where the prophet has clearly indicated he is in a vision; seeing the Spiritual world around him:
4 The Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.” 5 But to the others He said in my hearing, “Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity and do not spare. 6 Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary.” So they started with the elders who were before the temple. 7 And He said to them, “Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!” Thus they went out and struck down the people in the city. 8 As they were striking the people and I alone was left, I fell on my face and cried out saying, “Alas, Lord God! Are You destroying the whole remnant of Israel by pouring out Your wrath on Jerusalem?”
9 Then He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with blood and the city is full of perversion; for they say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see!’
Now, let me share another verse that describes the same scene Ezekiel was seeing, only from the material side of things:
2 Chronicles 36:17
17 So He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or frail; He handed them all over to him.
Both passages describe Nebuchadnezzar sacking Jerusalem, only, in Ezekiel’s passage, he sees what is happening in the Spiritual (i.e. unseen) realm!
Now, read the passage from Ezekiel again. Note that there is a seal placed on the foreheads of the Lord’s people before the Lord sends His angels to slay the rest. This seal is not visible in the material world (i.e. 2 Chr 37:17), so why would we expect it to be any different in Revelation 7:1? But also, note that, in Ezekiel’s vision, the Lord tells the angels to start at the Temple: start slaying at the House of YHWH! But I thought the faithful would be spared living through the wrath of YHWH? NO! Scripture does not teach this! It says the faithful will be saved through His wrath, as was Noah, and as were the people in Ezekiel’s vision who had the seal, and as will those who have the seal when Revelation is fulfilled.
[NOTE: stick a huge, bright, flashing red pin in this discussion. We will be coming back to it!]
Finally, Ezekiel 9:9 mentions the Houses of Judah and Israel. This is very important, and we will get to it later. But, for now, understand that Revelation 7:4-8 speaks about a time after the stick of Ezekiel/Joseph has been re-joined to the stick of Judah. How do we know? Because Revelation 7:4-8 lists the number of those saved out of the tribes of the whole house of Jacob, not just the tribes of Judah or Israel. In Rev 7:4, it even says ‘every tribe.’ None are excluded, so we are dealing with the saved from the House of Jacob! What these passages mean beside this, or the meaning of the number 144,000, I am not sure — yet. But I am confident that the things I have shared so far are — somehow — connected to John’s description of his vision.
A Multitude from the Tribulation
This passage should, if we would let Scripture testify for itself, clear up one of those things believers argue over needlessly: when is the tribulation? First of all, John tells us in Rev 1:9 that we are already in it as he wrote Revelation. But then, in 7:14, the angel tells John very clearly: the people he sees in the white robes are the sum total of those who have come out of the tribulation. They have washed their robes clean by the Blood of Messiah. If you know your New Testament, then you know this is New Covenant language. There is nothing in 7:14 that suggests these people were only saved in some seven year period immediately preceding the return of Messiah, so why do we assume that the tribulation is only seven years? John says it started in his day, as do Paul, and even Yeshua, Himself — if we bother to let Him testify to us about it (‘In this world, you will have ‘thlipsis’ — tribulations!‘). This is a consistent theme running throughout Revelation from 1:9 until 7:14, and it leads me to conclude the ‘Tribulation’ is YHWH’s word ofr the Church age (and for ‘The Last Days’).
The Seventh Seal
Rev 8:1 The Lamb (Yeshua) breaks the seventh seal. Then another angel fills the golden censer with incense. Remember, the smoke of the incense represents prayer. The picture here is of much prayer, and the fire of the alter. Remember again that the alter is the cross, so the fire of the alter is the Gospel. This censer filled with the fire of the Gospel is cast to earth and sets the earth on fire. The lightning represents the difusion of Light/knowledge, and the earthquake, in the prophetic language, represents a revolution — in this case, a Spiritual revolution. Now, ask yourself: “Does this passage ring any bells for you?” because it does for me:
Christ Divides Men
49 “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!
Now, at this point, we need to stop and look back on the seven seals. I am going to use a page from a slide produced by Ellis Skofield. Much of my understanding of prophecy has come from his work. At the end of this post, I’ll post a link to this pdf. But, for now, it is enough that brother Skofield diagrammed the first chiasm in Revelation, of which, the passages about the seven seals are a part (in red below):
I assure you, this will start to make more sense as we progress. However, at this point, we need to stop and go back in time. The seven trumpets are about to blow, and the seven trumpets coincide with the seven seals. They are not meant to be understood linearly, but in parallel (a very Hebrew way of writing things). So, when the first trumpet blows, we are back to the point where the first seal is opened (the trumpets are the second ‘B’ in the chiasm).
The First Trumpet
The first trumpet is yet another vision of the Gospel being turned loose on the earth. The imagery here is not of a literal hail and fire, nor of fire burning up the earth, trees and grass. Once again, in the prophetic language, hail represents hard truths, and fire represents trouble, anarchy and destruction: in other words, tribulations. Likewise, the earth represents society, trees represent strong men or leaders and the grass represents the masses of mankind. In other words, the Gospel is turned loose and it burns up or consumes one third of Man (spiritually). Go back to the first seal and then the first trumpet and re-read the passages I cited. They are parallel to my understanding of the first seal and the first trumpet. Hopefully, you will notice it in the Scriptures I quoted.
[NOTE: I hope you will follow me carefully, because things are going to keep going farther and farther astray from what most believers have been taught about Revelation. However, if you will set aside what you’ve been taught and test what I am sharing against Scripture, I think you’ll find that it all fits, and fits without any need for hammers to make it fit. Just remember, I am hitting the high points of my understanding, and am not giving you all the Scriptural reasons that support my understandings. I assure you, there is much, much more to this than just what I am writing here.]
The Second Trumpet
The description of the second trumpet is ripe with prophetic meaning, but you have to know the prophetic language to see it clearly. Something like a great, burning mountain is thrown into the sea. A mountain represents a kingdom, and burning or fire represents destruction. In the prophetic language, the sea represents the masses of people, usually lawless and unruly people, but not necessarily so. It can represent the masses of society in an upheaval. So, we have a kingdom of destruction thrown into the nations, most likely in a time of social upheaval. This mountain causes a third of the sea (i.e. peoples) to become blood. This is difficult to interpret, as blood is usually a symbol for life, but not in this context. However, if we are meant to understand this as meaning a red sea, or turning the sea red, then it will make more sense, as red is the symbolic color of corruption and sin. This ‘blood’ causes a third of the creatures in the sea (i.e. people) who had life (knew the Gospel) to die (spiritually), and a third of the ships are destroyed. Prophetically, ships represent churches, so a third of believing churches are destroyed.
What I believe we have here is a prophetic foretelling of Islam and the following destruction of the Coptic Church. Remember, at the time Muhammad stepped into history, most of the Middle East had converted to Christianity. Islam quickly spread out and, in the process of the next several centuries, all but destroyed the Christian faith in the Middle East. I am not saying this is how John intended us to understand the second trumpet, but it fits — especially in light of the time line depicted by the structure of Revelation’s first chiasm.
The Third Trumpet
We continue John;s vision, still deep in the prophetic language. A great star falls to earth and lands on a third of the rivers and springs of waters, causing them to become bitter and to kill many. The name of the star is ‘Wormwood.’ A star is usually a messenger, and the messenger can be good or evil. Given the name of ‘Wormwood’ (a poisonous tree), which — prophetically — means sorrow or bitterness, it is likely that this is an evil messenger. The messenger falls at the fountain head of the rivers and springs of the waters. Prophetically, water represents Truth, as in YHWH’s Truth; the Gospel. Rivers are usually the source by which this Truth is spread, which likely means Churches. And the messenger falls at the fountainhead, the source of this Living Water. Well, the source is YHWH, His Son and His Son’s Gospel message. So, what we have is a messenger that strikes at the very source of Spiritual Life and causes many to die (Spiritually). Looking back, Islam has taken roughly one third of humanity.
Once again, I may be wrong, but, given the symbology of the vision and the timing of the chiasm, I believe we are dealing with a description of what we might call Secular Humanism (i.e. Communism, Fascism, Socialism, Progressivism — any belief that renounces The Creator for Man). Secular Humanism renounces any and all religion, favoring Man as his own god, instead. This strikes as the very source of Salvation, the Spiritual fountainhead by which we are saved. Incidentally, Communism was the death knell for the Eastern Orthodox Church. Looking back, it has also taken roughly one third of humanity.
The Fourth Trumpet
The fourth trumpet signals a period where the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars are struck, and the day would not shine for a third of them. If you’ll recall, we have already discussed this imagery. I cited a few passages earlier, and you will find similar language in Acts 2:19-20. Once again, the sun represents the Gospel, the moon is the Church (which reflects the Light of the Son) and the stars are teachers. So, according to the prophetic language, we are dealing with a time when the Light of the Gospel has gone out, a third of the Church has turned apostate and a third of those who teach YHWH’s Word have fallen either due to dishonor or death.
To me, this is speaking of the modern age, and the great delusion Paul spoke of in 2 Thessalonians 2. It is a time when even those who profess to believe have gone spiritually blind, rejecting mush of the teachings within Scripture. We have replaced Spiritual enlightenment with ‘science.’ In some cases, ‘The Science,’ where ‘Science’ is the name of a false god. And, not coincidentally, it is the same period in which the Churches of the West — both Catholic and Protestant — have died (Spiritually). I’ll keep saying this; I do not know whether this is the correct interpretation or not. All I know is, given the symbology here and the time frame within the chiasm, it fits. Ultimately, we will each have to decide for ourselves.
The Fifth Trumpet
This is one of the few parts of Revelation where I believe I am still missing critical pieces. The 5th and 6th trumpet can be seen in one of two ways. If brother Skofield is correct, they are about Islam and the first Jihad against the Western world. While I used to be sympathetic to this understanding, I no longer am. This is for two reasons. First, I believe the Seals and Trumpets give us a timeline of events during the tribulation (i.e. Last Days/Christian Age). But, more than this, I have been convinced that the mindset of I Enoch is lurking in the background here (note: I am not saying I Enoch is Scripture!). When viewed from a perspective of I Enoch, then the 5th and 6th trumpets can be understood in the following manner, and both will be consistent with the timeline I have described thus far.
The fifth trumpet opens the start of the period which follows the Tribulation, also known as the Last Days. This is defined by Daniel as the End Times. Thus, the last three trumpets deal with events in the End Times, after the Tribulation has ended. However, this fifth trumpet is another jump backward in time, a jump made necessary because of its connection to the sixth trumpet.
The fifth trumpet starts with a star (which represents a heavenly messenger) falls to earth. Yeshua descends and ascends, He does not fall. So, given the language of falling to earth elsewhere in Scripture, this is likely a fallen angel. This fallen angel has been given the keys to the bottomless pit, which is also referred to as Sheol and Hades (we will see these same keys again later). The fallen angel opens the bottomless pit and it releases a great deal of smoke which goes up and darkens the sun. The smoke represents deception and apostasy, and it darkens the Gospel message on earth. This is in parallel to the previous passages where we have seen symbolic language that connect a darkening sun to the dimming of the Gospel’s Light. What we are seeing here is an apocalyptic description of the first Jihad against the West.
The locust would then be seen as Jihad warriors. The locust are not permitted to harm the grass or the trees. This means they were not permitted to convert the true believers among the people and their great men. They are, however, given permission to torment the rest of the men on earth, but not to kill them (not to kill them Spiritually, just to turn them apostate). The locust have their power for 152 days which, in the prophetic language, represents 152 years. This period coincides with the start of and end of the first Jihad, which lasted some 152 years before Islam agreed to peace with the Western world.
The Sixth Trumpet
With the sixth trumpet, we jump forward in time again. We are told that the four angels that had been bound in the river, Euphrates are released. This gives us a geographical location. The Euphrates starts in Syria, then runs through Iraq and Iran. This is the heart of Islam; the location from which it sprang and built its strength and where that strength still resides today. These four angels had been bound — most likely — by the constant, effectual prayer of the Saints. But, as the faith of Men grows cold, and the Coptic Church turned apostate, those prayers ceased to be effective at binding evil, thus releasing the angels. This is how Satan gained the ability to Spiritually attack the Holy Lands.
[NOTE: These angels come out of Islam, and are are connected to the three frogs, or unclean spirits described in Daniel. They are also connected to events described in chapter 11 of Revelation. Understanding the connections can get complicated, as it requires a great deal of study and many interconnected Scriptures. If you are interested, you will find Skofield’s explanation starting on page 410 of his pdf at the end of this blog.]
Then we are told about an army of two hundred million horsemen. This has lead to a great deal of confusion because the Greek does not actually give this number. The actual Greek would read closer to, ‘two times innumerably many,’ or twice too many to count. So, rather than assume we are literally looking for an army 2 billion strong, it is better that we understand the horsemen of this army is large, very large. Now, going back to the description, it can be inferred that John was describing Jihad warriors: fierce men who, in the first Jihad, rode horses and wore long hair and gold turbans. If this is correct, then this large number would most likely refer to the sum total of all Jihad warriors who would ever take part in the attacks on YHWH’s people. IN spiritual terms, they kill one third in that they either kill -literally — or convert a third of men.
[NOTE: I’ll keep stressing this: I am not absolutely sure this is the correct understanding, but it is how I understand revelation to this point. And, as we will soon see, there are very good reasons for this — Scriptural reasons (as well as ‘secular’).]
Parenthetical: The Angel and the Little Book
[NOTE: This section of Revelation is a parenthetical, and is parallel to the parenthetical found in the telling of the opening of the seals (the interlude about the 144,000). This is one of the reasons that we can know, even if our understandings are not correct, we are on the generally correct coarse in that we are going backward and forward in time during the Tribulation/Last Days/Christian era. We know this because of how tight the parallelism is in the first chiasm of Revelation.]
Rev 10:1-11. The description of the angel that comes down out of Heaven matches that of Yeshua in Rev 1, so it is safe to assume this Angel is also Yeshua. Yeshua is handed a little book. This little books is the Revelation of Yeshua ha Maschiach. This is the same two-sided book given to Yeshua in Rev 5:1-7, so we are jumping backward again. Yeshua places one foot on the sea and another on the land, indicating that He is Lord and Master of both Man and YHWH’s Creation. He cries with a great voice, as a lion (i.e. the Lion of Judah). Then the seven thunders utter their prophecies, but John is told to seal them up and not to write them. This is most likely because the seven thunders tell about when Yeshua returns, and YHWH does not wish this to be revealed (but if this is correct, John knew!). Then, Yeshua swears by YHWH and declares that there will be time no longer!
This is important. Most Bibles translate this as ‘There will be no more delay!’ This is not what the Greek says! The Greek does not use the word for delay, it uses the Greek word for time — literal time. This pegs the time of this vision to the blowing of the seventh trumpet — as we will soon see.
At this point, Yeshua gives the little book to John and tells John to take it and eat it. This is a Hebrew idiom meaning to study it and embrace its message. It will be sweet in John’s mouth because it is YHWH’s Truth, but it will turn bitter in his stomach because John will then understand the trials and tribulations the believers will have to suffer and it brings great sadness to his soul.
Next, John is told to prophecy again. The Greek word here means to go back and repeat something. Remember, this little book is very unusual in its time, in that it is written upon on both sides. This double-sided writing and the command to prophesy again indicates that this section of Revelation is a bifid: a prophetic book that is split in the middle and tells the same story in two different ways or to two different people. Daniel and Isaiah are bifids. The first half of Daniel is to the Chaldeans, the second half to the Jews. So far, John has been prophesying to the believers (reading on one side of the book). Now, John will have to go back and re-tell the prophecies as they will apply to the non-believing world (read the other side).
The Two Witnesses
Once again, we come to another aspect of Revelation where I have a vastly different understanding than what is taught in the majority of the Christian world. All I ask is that you consider what I have to share.
Rev 11 starts with a scene where John is handed a measuring rod and told to measure the Temple Mount. He is told to leave out the Court of the Gentiles. The Gentiles will trod under foot the Temple Mount for 42 months. OK, now, I adhere to another understanding that comes from brother Skofield: Daniel’s 70 weeks. I will attach Skofield’s pdf explaining the 70 Weeks to the end of this post, as well. For now, just accept that I have tested what brother Skofield shared and I have accepted it is the best understanding of Daniel’s 70 Weeks I have found yet. The last week is not a 7 year period known as ‘the Tribulation,’ it is a quite length period based on the pattern of the Levitical jubilees. Following this pattern, the 42 months mentioned here ended in 1967! The trodding down of the Temple Mount is also the same reference Yeshua made in Luke 21:24:
“…and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
The trodding down of the Temple Mount refers to the time it is under control of Gentile nations. This ended in 1967, when Israel took the Temple Mount back as a result of the 1967 War. Now, it is true, the Israeli government does not exert its authority over the Temple Mount today for fear of the violence it knows will result, but make no mistake: Israel has the authority and power to wipe the Temple Mount clean of Islam. That it has not done so already cannot help but be counted against them by YHWH, but this is the Truth or the current situation.
Rev 11:3 introduces the Two Witnesses. There has been much needless speculation as to the identity of the two witnesses. If we would simply keep reading, we would find the two witnesses are also the two olive trees and the two lamp stands. In the prophetic language, the olive tree is representative of Israel, and the lamp stand of the Word, the Holy Scriptures. Then we have the scene in Zechariah 4, where we will find very similar language describing a very similar scene to that in Rev 11. Couple all of it with YHWH’s declaration in Jeremiah when He split the House of Jacob into the House of Judah and the House of Israel and things get very simple:
The Two Witnesses are the Two Houses and the Two Nations: Judah (Jews) and Israel (the Church)!
Judah is the domesticated olive tree, Israel is the wild olive tree. Together, they are YHWH’s witnesses to the world. They teach His TORAH to those lost in the darkness. Their Light is the reflection of YHWH’s Light, of His TORAH and of Messiah’s Light and His Gospel. They can destroy their enemies with fire (prophetically, destruction) and withhold YHWH’s blessings (prophetically, rain) through the power of fervent and righteous prayer. When they finished their testimony, the Beast comes out of the Abyss and makes war against them and kills them. This is the Beast on the fifth and sixth trumpets — Islam! And they were killed back in 688 A.D., when the Dome of the Rock Mosque was built.
If we use Skofield’s understanding of the Levitical 3 1/2 prophetic years, the two witnesses came back to life in 1948. Between 688 and 1948, the bodies of the witnesses (churches and synagogues) lay dead in the streets of Jerusalem (Islam refused to allow them to be torn down or repaired — to show they had been defeated). Durring the time the Church was dead in the Holy Land, the people who wage war against YHWH and His people celebrated, as Satan would celebrate if he thought he had defeated YHWH. They gave gifts to each other, a practice still seen in the Middle east to this day. But then, when Israel became a nation again and Jews and Christians could both worship openly again, the two witnesses came back to life. Their buildings were repaired and re-built and they worshiped openly again, and Satan’s people hated them. The witnesses torment the people of the darkness in the same way the demon asked Yeshua if He had come to torment them before their time. You see, to those who are perishing, the Word of YHWH is torture. Finally, the two witnesses are called up to heaven — The Rapture!
[NOTE: There is no hard timeline set by the prophecy in Revelation telling us how long it will be between the two witnesses coming back to life and the time they are called up to Heaven. It is just assumed they are called up on the same day they stand back up, but this is not stated in the prophecy. This is why we must be careful when we read: careful ot to assume, nor to read into Scripture the teachings and traditions we have learned from others. Be sure you head this same warning with me and my understanding of prophecy!]
The Seventh Trumpet
Before we start on the seventh trumpet, let me stop and borrow another slide from Skofield. This is where we are in the 1st chiasm of Revelation so far:
Now, we have come to one of the most hotly debated aspects of Revelation: the Rapture and the Millennial Reign. I have said it before and I will keep saying it: I have a very different understanding of these prophecies from what you have most likely been taught. For me, this is because I have tried to study and learn the prophecies as Scripture teaches them and in the context of their original, First Century, Hebrew audience. So, with this in mind, here we go.
First thing we need to understand is that the six trumpet may or may not include the ‘snatching up,’ or the event most of us know as the Rapture. The Rapture happens either immediately before, or immediately after the seventh trumpet is blown! (Personally, I think the seventh trumpet and the Rapture happen almost simultaneously, but the timing is not as important as the order of events.) I have written about this previously. You can review a more detailed explanation here.
As soon as the believers have been snatched up into the air, the seventh trumpet sounds. This trumpet is also known as The Trumpet of YHWH, and may well be blown by YHWH or, more likely, Yeshua, Himself. Either way, when the seventh trumpet blows, time as we know it comes to an end!
That is correct: time as a physical phenomenon in this material world ends. There is no time left for a seven year tribulation, or a thousand year reign. Time just stops and we roll straight into the judgment. This is all clearly foretold in the Scriptures, but we have been taught something else, so that ‘something else’ is what we see. Essentially, if we see another understanding, it is because we are affirming the bias we have already been taught to see.
The problem here is found in poor translations. No, I do not read or write Ancient Greek or ancient Hebrew, but I have studied this issue from the hand of those who do read and speak both fluently. I can also follow behind what I have learned using multiple concordances and Biblical Language Dictionaries. Needless to say, I am convinced that the original Greek says there will be ‘chronos‘ (i.e. literally time) no more! The Greek language has a specific word for ‘delay,’ but John used the word for time. So, if YHWH meant for us to understand, ‘…there will be no more delay,’ then John used the wrong word, which would then mean the whole validity of the Book of Revelation would be cast in doubt!
Honestly, friend, this is not that difficult. All we are seeing here in Rev 11:15 is the fulfillment of the stone cut out without human hand, which strikes the feet of the statue and spreads throughout the whole earth. This is the Kingdom of YHWH replacing all other nations. It is Nebuchadnezzar’s dream fulfilled. We are seeing the prophecies in Daniel fulfilled!
Rev 15:18 is also a fulfillment of a prophecy first given in Daniel. The time to judge the dead and reward the faithful is the same scene, the same event as when Daniel sees the thrones set up, and the Court seated and the sorting of sheep (the faithful) from the goats (the lawless).
The Second Chiasm
Chapter 12 starts the second chiasm in Revelation. The first chiasm was written to the Believers, and it foretold the spiritual conditions and events of the Tribulation/Last Days as well as The End Times. Now, John is prophesying again, only, this time, he is describing the events that will overtake the rest of the world (i.e. the lost and lawless). Just as the Seven Seals were parallel to the Seven Trumpets, so the Seven Bowls of Wrath are parallel with the Seals and Trumpets. As I said before, Revelation is written using very complicated and intertwined forms of Hebrew poetry, but, once we understand how these poetic forms work, they provide the framework by which Revelation is rightly understood.
At this point, I will confess that have a slightly different understanding from that of brother Skofield, but he and I agree closely enough that I have no problem posting his diagram of this second chiasm. I will explain how I see and understand each point afterward, but, for now, here is the second chiasm in diagram form:
The parts that come next are the toughest, as — to me — they mean something entirely different from anything most people have ever heard before. So, if you’ll allow me a day or so break, I will take time to pray on how best to explain what I see in the 2nd chiasm of Revelation. I may even write a post or two with much more detailed explanations of points that we will soon have to cover (so this post doesn’t become a book). Until then, please feel free to review what we have covered so far.
TO BE CONTINUED