Today’s focus is Revelation 6-7, when the seals are opened on the scroll given to Jesus and what is known as “Daniel’s 70th Week” begins, also known as the Tribulation. Reading through the whole of Revelation again this morning, I’m convinced again that it is not meant to be understood as purely chronological. I think it’s important to remember that God is not the author of confusion. He gave this vision to John not to confuse His people, but to reveal things to come. Scripture should be interpreted literally unless there is a clear reason to take something metaphorically or as an illustration. We need to have some kind of structural foundation if we are going to read, hear, and heed these prophetic words. If we see the book as chronological, it seems to move back and forth describing events that sound very similar. It appears to jump from topic to topic, and even from fulfilled prophecy to what is yet to be. This is one reason so many believers avoid it; they don’t believe it can be understood.
To that end, I wanted to share a resource that I believe makes a lot of sense. I ran across it years ago and it continues to hold up in my opinion. I’m only going to include a summary here but will give you the link so you can read it in more detail.
The author of this material (he only gives his first name as Jerry) does not hold to a pre-Tribulation rapture view; he places it towards the end of the Tribulation, just before the bowls of wrath. You can read his reasoning for yourself; ultimately it will happen when God says it will and none of us can say for certain. A different view of the rapture does not discount the scriptural foundation he’s laid for how the book of Revelation is structured which is what I want to focus on today.
Here is what the author calls the “Overlapping Model” of Revelation.
Revelation is easily the most structured book in the Bible. Its structure is best described by using different levels, with increasing degrees of detail.
The Top Level Structure
At the highest level, the following structure is rather easily seen:
Chapter 1 – Preface: The author informs us regarding himself, the purpose of the book and the circumstances in which it came about.
Chapters 2-3 – Messages to the Churches: Christ gives messages to the churches in advance of the end times. They include a mixture of commendations and rebukes, blessings and warnings.
Chapters 4:1-22:5 – The Main Body of Prophecy.
Chapter 22:6-21 – Epilogue: The author brings closure with final admonitions and encouragements.
As you can see, the third part, which I call the Main Body of Prophecy, covers the bulk of Revelation; a bit over 18 of its 22 chapters. This large third part has its own structure, as outlined below.
Chapters 4:1-8:1 – Period #1: The Seals
Seal Introduction (Chapters 4-5)
Seal Events (Chapter 6 and 8:1)
Seal Interlude (Chapter 7)
Chapters 8:2 thru 11 – Period #2: The Trumpets
Trumpet Introduction (Chapter 8:2-5)
Trumpet Events (Chapters 8:6 thru 9 and 11:14 thru 11:19)
Trumpet Interlude (Chapters 10 thru 11:13)
Chapters 12 thru 19 – Period #3: The Bowls
Bowl Introduction (Chapters 12-15)
Bowl Events (Chapters 16 and 19)
Bowl Interlude (Chapters 17 thru 18)
Chapters 20 thru 22:5 – Christ Reigns on Earth
Dominating the Main Body of Prophecy are the first three parts, which I have called “periods” (seals, trumpets, and bowls). These three periods encompass what is commonly called the end times. As you can see, these three periods themselves share a similar structure, as each period includes an introduction, some events, and an interlude.
Jerry goes on in great detail to provide a lot of scriptural support for this view. What convinces me most is the connection to the Old Testament scriptures which describe Daniel’s 70th Week. He created the graphic at the top of this blog to illustrate his view.
Based on this view, the entire seven years are described in Revelation 6-7. It begins when the rider of the white horse goes out to conquer and a crown is given to him, a picture of the antichrist who will be embraced by the world willingly. What follows is war, famine, death, and a time of great persecution which really begins mid-Trib at the 3 ½ year point. This persecution ends for the saints just before the great wrath of God is poured out on the world, after which Christ takes His rightful place to rule and reign on earth.
If we really want to know what they mean, I believe God will give us an understanding of the prophecies in Revelation. The details are important; this message was written for the churches. He gave it to His people not to argue over or debate, or to puff ourselves up with pride because we think we have knowledge. It is given to us so that we could sound a warning to the unbelieving multitudes of the terrible wrath of God, which we don’t want anyone to face.
But it does help to keep the big picture in mind:
God is going to judge the world that has rejected Him.
God will preserve and keep His saints and welcome us into Heaven.
Jesus will overcome His enemies and reign and rule.
Let’s be faithful to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15).
Read more on the Revelation Logic website here.