Hi there, Gill.
“We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
The starlight on the western seas”.
The series of threads on Revelation has now been completed.
So this is the promised Index.
I’m offering three different ways of reading these threads;
They can be read in the order of John’s chapters.
They can be read in the approximate order in which things happened- which is slightly different.
Or they can be read in the original order of publication- which is different again, for reasons which seemed good at the time.
(Yet are they not three indices but one Index. This is a great mystery)
There will also be an index of the Bible references quoted.
And a copy of the “definition of God” I once produced, which lies in the background of all of them.
And anything else which occurs to me which might be useful.
I’ll be interested to see any suggestions to improve the Index, or any comments which people might have on the series as a whole.
The real beginning of the story; Satan’s hostility to the Church is traced back to the birth of Christ.
And the faults of the church may weaken its claim on God’s protection.
So the opening chapters of Revelation are set in a time of persecution, and the church needs to be encouraged.
John is taken up to heaven, to be shown the power of God and the Lamb, .
God’s response to the persecution is to unleash the power of the “Four Horsemen”, which plunges the world into a great crisis.
God calls a truce. The destruction is halted.
What God does with the time of truce;
What Satan does with the time of truce; the rise of the Beast
At this halfway point, sorting out the chronology of Revelation.
The Beast breaks the truce, and war is renewed.
The Harlot of Babylon is associated with the Beast in this war.
God’s response is to resume the process of destruction;
Final warnings, before the seventh trumpet is sounded.
The sounding of the seventh trumpet brings in the climax of the destruction;
Then the old world is wound up, and a new world takes its place;
This is the same order that can be found on my profile;
But on this page the threads are identified by the opening question, not by the title.
Starting in the middle, of course, with the breaking of the seventh seal;
A mini-series covering the breaking of the earlier seals, as found in ch6;
Why would God send the “4 Horsemen”?
What would the events of the “4 horsemen” look like?
Who are the souls gathered “under the altar”?
What do the events of the “sixth seal” mean for us?
Why do so many of the OT “echoes” in ch6 carry overtones of God’s wrath against his own people?
Moving on to ch12, dealing with the background of the Revelation events;
A series on the Beast, and the developing “war on the saints”
How, and why, is the “Beast from the sea” dominating the world?
What is the Beast “from the land” adding to his predecessor?
What is the meaning of “666”?
How can we know the Mark of the Beast?
Must the Beast make war on the saints?
How does the “seal” benefit the people who receive it?
Would the Beast also be “the king who occupies the Temple”?
Who are “the two Witnesses”?
Returning to the beginning of the book, to consider the power of “God and the Lamb”;
Moving on to the beginning of God’s attack on the Beast;
There was then a digression (just as there is in John’s vision) to consider the nature of “Babylon”;
What is the difference between the “Harlot of Babylon” and the “Woman in Heaven”?
What is meant by the “cup of abominations”?
Where do the 7 kings of ch17 belong in the story of Revelation?
What is the connection between Babylon and Rome?
Why is the Harlot “drunk with the blood of the Saints”?
Then, completing the process of the destruction of the old world;
What’s the meaning of the proclamations of ch14?
What is the Third Woe?
What kind of battle is to be expected at Armageddon?
What is ch18 telling us about the nature of Babylon?
What is the impact of Christ’s arrival on the scene?
What is meant by the “Millennium”?
What are the last two chapters telling us about the “new Jerusalem”?
The numbers in the left margin will be used in the “Bible references” index.
John is first addressed by the vision of Christ
1 Fear Not
The letters dictated by Christ
John arrives in Heaven
Continuing the scene in Heaven
The breaking of the seals brings the crisis of the “Four Horsemen”.
God calls a truce
Sorting out the sequence of events.
The truce is broken, destruction begins.
The Trumpets continue
Explaining the significance of the seventh trumpet, immediately before the event.
The clash of Beast and Church, until the sounding of the seventh trumpet.
Flashback sequence, explaining the background of Satan’s hostility to the Church
Flashback continues; the Beast comes to power.
Explaining the significance of the seventh trumpet, immediately after the event.
The results of the seventh trumpet- ie the Bowls.
A belated introduction to the Harlot of Babylon, just as she is being destroyed.
33 Harlot Babylon- part1;”The other woman”
34 Harlot Babylon- part2; “Mother of Abominations”
35 Seven kings and an eighth
36 Harlot Babylon- part3; “Twinned with Rome”
37 Harlot Babylon- part4; “Drunk with the blood of the Saints”
Rejoicing at the fall of Babylon
This lists the passages quoted on this Revelation series from the first half of the Old Testament..
The numbers in yellow identify (on the Chapter Order list) the threads where the quotations can be found.
ch3 Tree of Life——4,41
ch4 v10 Blood of Abel——9
ch37 v9 Joseph’s dream ——22
ch9 v14 Boils——16,31
ch9 v23 Hail——16
ch15 Song of Moses——13
ch15 v12 Earth swallowed——24
ch19 v4 On eagles’ wings——5,24
ch19 v6 Kingdom of priests——1,5
ch24 vv9-11 The elders——5
ch17 v11 Life is in the blood——9
ch5 vv11-28 Waters of bitterness——16
ch25 vv1-3 Shiittim——3
ch25 vv12-13 Eleazar——12
ch13 vv13-14 Abominations——34
ch23 v18 Abominations——34
ch27 v15 Abominations——34
ch2 vv11-14 The sins of Israel——11
ch10 v9 Solomon-666——27
ch11 v4 Solomon idolatry——27
ch11 v5 Abominations——34
ch1 v10 Elijah- fire from heaven——26
ch9 v22 Jezebel——3
ch17 v7 The sins of Israel——11
ch23 v29 Megiddo——32
ch9 v3 Desolated——20
ch2 v9 Curse God——31
ch3 vv20-26 Wanting to die——17,31
Ps 2v2 Nations rage——34
Ps 2v9 Rod of iron——4,22
Ps 8vv4-5 What is man?——5
Ps 24v8 Lord of Hosts—–39
Ps 33 God looks down from Heaven——5
Ps 68v17 Host accompanies——18
Ps 79 How long?——9
Ps 91vv5-6 Arrows, pestilence——8
Ps 96v1 Sing a new song——13
Ps 96v11 Heaven, earth, and sea——24
Ps 96v13 He judges with righteousness——39
ch6 vv11-18 Abominations——34
This lists the passages quoted in this series from the Prophets.
The numbers in yellow identify (on the Chapter Order list) the threads where the quotations can be found.
ch1 v12 You trample on my courts——21
ch2 v19 Flight into caves——10
ch6 vv1-5 Vision of God——5
ch11 v4 Rod of Jesse——1
ch13 vv20-22 Babylon uninhabited——38
ch14 v12 Fallen from heaven——23
ch21 v9 Babylon is fallen——38
ch25 v8 God will swallow up death——13,41
ch34 v4 Heavens roll up——10
ch38 v14 Joy and gladness——41
ch40 v2 Jerusalem pardoned——38
ch44 vv2-6 Fear not——1
ch46 Bel bows down——34
ch47 vv7-8 Babylon self-confident——38
ch49 v2 My mouth a sharp sword——1,39
ch49 v14 Will guide them by springs——13
ch51 v1 Water without price——41
ch60 v11,vv19-20 New Jerusalem——41
ch62 v4 A new name——3
ch63 v3 Bloody garments——39
ch63 v18 They have trodden down the sanctuary——21
ch3 v9 Adulteries of Israel——33
ch4 v4 The sins of Jerusalem——11
ch4 vv23-29 Earth quakes, men flee——10,11
ch4 v30 Harlot Jerusalem——22,33
ch4 v31 Jerusalem in travail——22,33
ch5 v14 My words a fire in your mouth—–21
ch9 vv14-15 Wormwood——16
ch15 v2 Four fates—–11,29
ch25 v10 Joys lost—–38
ch25 vv15-16 Cup of wrath——33
ch31 vv33-34 New covenant——19
ch46 v8 Egypt sends a flood——24
ch49 v36 Four winds——5,12
ch50 v38 Babylon river dries up—–31
ch51 v25 Babylon-burnt mountain—–16
ch51 vv7-8 Babylon-cup of wrath——34,38
ch51 v9 Babylon’s judgement reaches heaven——38
ch51 v45 Leave Babylon——38
ch51 v63 Dropping the stone——38
ch1 Vision of God——5,19
ch3 Eating the scroll—–19
ch5 vv16-17 Four fates—–11
ch9 vv4-6 Marked for God—–12
ch13 vv18-19 Trading in souls—–38
ch14 v21 Four fates——11
ch16 Adulterous Israel——33
ch23 vv32-33 Cup of wrath——34
chs 26&27 Tyre——38
ch29 v3 Egypt a dragon—-24
ch37 v37 God dwells with his people—–41
ch39 Gog of Magog——39,40
ch40 Measuring the Temple——20,21,41
ch43 The Lord returns to the Temple——20,21,41
ch47 The stream from the Temple——41
ch7 Four kingdoms——25,36
ch7 v10 Accompanied by host—-18
ch7 v11 Beast destroyed——39
ch7 v12 Other kingdoms prolonged——40
ch7 vv13-14 One like a son of man——1
ch9 v27 Half a week——15,24
ch10 Vision of man of bronze—–1
ch11 v30 Rome annoys Antiochus——36
ch11 v31, vv36-37 Abomination that makes desolate——20
ch12 v1 Book of Life——39
ch12 v7 A time, two times, and half a time——15,19,24
ch1 vv8-9 New name—–4
ch2 v5 Adultery of Israel——33
ch2 vv11-15 Reconciled——24
ch2 v19 Bethrothed—– 41
ch10 v8 Fall on us!—–10
ch2 vv10-11 Day of the Lord——10,11
ch2 v31 Sun darkened—–10
ch3 vv5-6 Tyre sells into slavery—–38
ch3 vv11-14 Dayof the Lord, valley of judgement——32,39
ch3 v13 Harvest——30
ch4 v10 Jerusalem in travail——22
ch5 v3 The birth——22
ch3 v13 No deceit found in them——13
ch1 Four horses——7
ch3 Satan against Joshua——23
ch3 v9 White stone——3
ch4 v10 Seven eyes——1,6
ch4 v14 Olive trees——21
ch5 vv5-11 The woman of Wickedness——38
ch6 Four horses, four winds——5,7
ch12 v10 Mourning over the pierced one——1
ch4v1 The day of burning——1
This lists the passages which have been quoted in this series from the New Testament.
The yellow numbers identify the threads (as numbered on the Chapter Order list) which have made the quotations.
ch10 35 Confess them before the Father——4
ch18 v6 Millstone——38
ch18 v10 Their angels are in Heaven——13
ch21 v5 Mounted on an ass——39
23v35 Guilt for bloodshed——38
ch24 v5 False christs——26
ch24 v43 When the thief comes——32
ch25 v30 Outer darkness——39
ch25 v31 Son of man sits in judgement——39
26 v52 Will perish by the sword——29
ch4 v17 if anyone has an ear——29
ch10 v18 Satan falling——23
ch21 v24 Jerusalem trodden by gentiles——20,21
ch1 v29 Lamb takes away sin——23
ch4 v14 Spring of eternal life——41
ch5 v24 Believer has eternal Life——13,40
ch6 vv49-51 Living bread——4
ch17 v30 God calls world to repentance——11
ch19 Diana of the Ephesians——34
ch8 v1 No condemnation——4
ch3 v23 All have sinned——39
ch13 vv2-4 Rulers appointed by God——25
ch3 v16 You are God’s Temple——20
ch6 v9 Will not inherit the kingdom——41
ch 6 v12 Self-confidence——3
ch8 v1 Self-confidence——3
ch10 vv8-9,v20 Immorality——3
ch10 v17 One bread, one body——20
ch11 v26 We proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes——20
ch1 vv21-22 Sealed with the Spirit——12
ch1 vv13-14 Sealed with the Spirit——12
ch2 v6 Sitting with Christ in Heaven——22,40
ch5 vv23-27 Bride of Christ——41
ch3 v27 Clothed in Christ——32
ch4 vv25-26 Two Jerusalems——33
ch5 vv2-6 Like a thief——32
ch1 vv7-8 Jesus comes in judgement——39
ch1 v9 Eternal destruction——40
ch2 v4 Man of sin——20
ch4 v13 Always with the Lord——40
ch1 v1 God speaks——27
ch4 v12 Word sharper than a sword——1
ch3 v20 Eight in ark—–35
ch4 v12 Facing a fiery ordeal——36
ch5 v13 Those living in Babylon——36
ch2 v5 Eight in ark——35
ch3 v10 The elements dissolve——39,40
ch2 v18 Antichrists——26
That which is not the Universe, but the originator of the Universe.
I’d like to expand the original definition
(very cautiously, because Philosophy isn’t really my field)
Let’s make it a really trinitarian one;
God is a Creator
God is one who Communicates
God is one who becomes Incarnate
God is a Creator
I see this view as distinct from both Monism and Dualism.
As I understand the difference;
Monism resolves everything to one point of origin.
Dualism resolves everything to two points of origin, distinct and independent.
Creation theory falls short of being genuine Monism, because the created universe is understood as distinct from God.
Creation theory falls short of being genuine Dualism, because the created universe is understood as dependent upon God.
My private theory is that Creation teaching ought to be called “One-and-a-half-ism”, but I don’t suppose it will catch on.
As far as I can see, this involves the traditional teaching of “ex nihilo” (“out of nothing”) Creation.
Because if God is “creating” using pre-existing raw material, then the material is not genuinely dependent upon him- this has become Dualism.
Or if God is producing the material of the universe “out of himself”, then the material is not genuinely distinct- this has become Monism.
“Ex nihilo” is the only logical alternative, which is presumably why the teaching was developed in the first place.
God is one who Communicates
This assumption is built into Biblical religion.
In the first place, the Bible is believed to contain examples of communication (as reported, for example, by the prophets).
Furthermore, the Bible is believed to reflect a policy of communication.
It is said that God is using the Bible to “reveal himself”, and so Biblical religion used to be described as “revealed religion”.
The belief that “God is one who Communicates” links back with the belief that “God is one who Creates”.
In the first place, some of the content of the communication points to God as Creator.
The proper Biblical answer to the question “Why do you believe your God made the universe?” is not really “Because that’s the only way to account for the universe.”
The truly Biblical answer is “Because he says he did, and I believe him.”
But I think the very act of communication also points to God as a Creator.
Any act of communication necessarily implies a distinction between the communicator and the other party.
I’ve already said the Biblical understanding of Creation involves a distinction between God and the universe.
An act of communication implies the existence of a “will” in the communicator, or at least some sort of analogy of one.
But the same could be said, surely, of an act of “Creation”.
Finally, a God who creates a universe thereby sets up a relationship between himself and the universe.
The effect of communication is to set up a relationship between himself and individuals (or even a group of individuals) within the same universe.
I assume that a purely monistic deity would not be communicating with, or setting up a relationship with, parts of itself.
My point is that
The idea of the God who Creates
and the idea of the God who Communicates
are very akin to one another.
The kind of God who would Create would also be the kind of God who could Communicate.
God is one who becomes Incarnate
I could hardly, really, leave this out of a definition of the Christian God.
The understanding is that the Incarnation is a more direct presence of God within the created universe.
If this is true, it’s the ultimate form of Communication, as the author of Hebrews points out;
“God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets
but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son”.
But it’s also the ultimate form of “establishing a relationship”;
Because the doctrine of the Incarnation is that the Creator and his creation, divinity and humanity, are bound together within the person of the Son.
The bond is understood to be irrevocable.
It’s impossible for a relationship to get any closer than that.
Anyone who tries to understand the church’s teaching about the Incarnation will discover that it’s all about finding the right “balance”.
On the one hand, the distinction between the divinity and the humanity must not be exaggerated, to the point that the unity disappears.
On the other hand, the unity between them must not be exaggerated, to the point that the distinction disappears.
The correct position is somewhere halfway between the two extremes.
But this is exactly what I said, at the beginning of this piece, about Creation;
That it occupied a halfway position between Monism and Dualism.
So it seems to me that the “balancing act” which Jehovah’s Witnesses love to mock, when it comes in the teaching about the Incarnation, is also inherent in the very doctrine of the Creation itself.
The kind of God who would Create is also the kind of God who could become Incarnate.
I began by naming the Christian God as
The one who Creates
The one who Communicates
The one who becomes Incarnate.
I now suggest that these three ideas are akin to one another.
They belong together, naturally.
Whether you can believe them or not, they all belong to the same kind of God.
The editing process is now complete.
In relation to the above list of references, the question might be asked; why is this interpretation of Revelation being carried out with such attention to other Biblical passages?
“Scrabbling around in the Old Testament” is one phrase that I’ve seen.
Someone else has suggested that Revelation “is complete in its own context”; that it can and should be treated as an autonomous book, and discussed in isolation from the rest of the Bible.
I think the sheer size of the list of references goes a long way towards answering the question. The Bible is the cultural context in which Revelation was written. It carries a multitude of “echoes” of other Biblical passages.
The readers of John’s time knew the Old Testament so much better than modern Christians do, and they could not have failed to have recognised these allusions. And surely they would have understood the book in the light of these recognitions. When they saw the “Beast from the sea” in ch13, for example, they would have recognised to the allusion to the “beasts from the sea” in Daniel ch7. Then the point would have “clicked”; in both caes, the image represents a kingdom. And this process of recognition-and-understanding would have been happening again and again and again and again all the way through the book.
This is what I’ve been trying to duplicate. If the “echoes” were planted there in the first place, as clues to the meaning of the book, then it would be foolish to ignore.them.
Let me illustrate my point with an analogy that I’ve used before;
If you want to understand old political cartoons, you will find yourself completely at sea unless you know something about the politics of the time, and the way it was presented in the cartoons of the time.
For example, you may see a cartoon of a pipe-smoking bulldog having a fight with a kepi-wearing poodle. Anyone of my generation can unpack the meaning of that picture by remembering the significance of the various “props”.
Pipe=Harold Wilson (“And I mean that sincerely”)
Kepi=General de Gaulle (“I live in Colombey-les-deux-eglises; they worship God in the other one”)
So this is easy enough- an argument between the British and French heads of government.
But anyone who insists on treating the cartoon “in its own context” and ignoring any cultural allusions will be left floundering around, making guesses at random. He’ll be telling everybody in sight that the pipe is obviously a volcano in South America, and the poodle represents the archangel Gabriel.
So, yes, Revelation is written in a sort of code.
But most of us have a copy of the code-book.
It is called the Old Testament.
I come to Revelation as a student of history.
I see Revelation as a chronicle, and I treat it in exactly the same way as I would any other source document (the fact that it is describing events in the future instead of events in the past is only a minor complication).
In other words, I try to get past the obscure descriptions and the disjointed chronology in order to establish exactly what happens and in what order, and why one thing leads on to another.
The procedure justifies itself, in my mind, by the fact that it works. That is to say, it seems to produce a narrative sequence with a clear storyline, one that is coherent and self-consistent.
(I was particularly gratified by the smooth way that the “seven kings” passage slotted into it. I came into this project with no thoughts on the “seven kings”, so this was an unexpected bonus)
That is why my interpretation of Revelation has a chronological structure.
I’ve tried to demonstrate this in various places.
The “War on the Saints” thread is one of them.
The “Time, times, and half a time” thread is another.
It will be seen in the “Timeline” index of threads.
This is not a “timeless allegory”, but a history.
Many interpretations of Revelation produce “timelines” of future events, which are filled with elaborate detail.
I do understand Revelation as pointing towards future events, but my interpretation is much less detailed.
For me, this is a picture painted with fairly broad brush-strokes.
Nevertheless, I do see a rough sequence of events.
And here is my brief summary of what Revelation is “predicting”.
1. A persecution of the church, implied in the background of ch1.
2. The great crisis of ch6, the “4 Horsemen” episode.
(Pestilence, War, Famine, Death)
I took this to be God’s reaction to the previous persecution.
3. The rise of the two “Beasts” of ch13, the great world-state and its leader. This implies a recovery from the events of ch6, so I suggested that the Beasts might rise to power on the strength of leading the world out of that crisis.
4. The renewed persecution of the church by the Beast.
5. The destructive catastrophe of the Trumpets and Vials.
6. Finally, the Return of Christ and the “winding-up” of the old world.
The crucial passage on this point is Matthew ch24 (and the parallels in the other gospels)
He says that the coming of the Son of Man will be “as the light comes from the east and shines as far as the west” (v27).
I take this comparison to mean “In an instant, and universally visible”.
He then goes on to say “They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Whatever this looks like on the day, I think the point is that the arrival would be universally recognisable. When Christ returns, everybody will know. There will be no room for doubt on the matter.
Conversely, Matthew tells us how to recognise someone who is not the Christ.
“Then if anyone says to you ‘Here is the Christ’, or ‘There he is’, do not believe it.”
“Do not go into the wilderness.”
“Do not go into the inner rooms”.
In short, if you have to go anywhere to meet him,.then he is not the true Christ. That’s the rule of thumb. That kind of coming is not “as lightning”, nor “on the clouds of heaven”.
What causes confusion is the idea that he would return by being born into a new human life on earth. Then the question of “How to recognise him?” would arise.
But Matthew is telling us that anyone living a human life on earth here and now is by definition not the Returned Christ, and that solves the dilemma
It’s become the custom to call him “The Antichrist”, although the title doesn’t appear in this book.
I must admit I don’t like using the label, because it carries so many associations from mediaeval fantasy and Hollywood fantasy and other speculations. All this baggage tends to confuse discussion of the figure found in Revelation.
Let’s get back to basics and consider the definition.
The disciples were told by Jesus that “many will come in my name, saying ‘I am the Christ'”- Matthew ch24 v5
The early church was told by John that “as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come”- 1 John ch2 v18
The natural and reasonable assumption is that both references to “many” are to the same kind of people, and that an “antichrist” should be understood as someone claiming to be the returned Christ (taking the Greek ANTI as “in place of”).
Does this apply to the Beast? There are certainly signs that Christ is being imitated, not only in the “horns of a lamb”, but also in the business of “recovering from a mortal wound”. I think the narrative is sending a sufficiently clear signal that he would, indeed, be claiming to be the returned Christ.
But if he publicly claims to be the returned Christ, then he meets the definition of an “antichrist” and belongs to that category. Since he would, presumably, be the final and supreme example of the species, I suppose you can call him “The Antichrist”.
If you must.
At the end of ch1, John is given the instruction- “Fear not”.
The theme of “Faith” is very important in Revelation.
Understandably so, because Revelation deals with times of crisis.
There is the immediate crisis of persecution.
Then, in the later stages of the book, there are the crises affecting the life of the world at large.
The essence of faith is “Trust”.
God’s people will need to be able to keep their trust in their God through both sets of experiences.
There is the word PISTOS- “Faithful”.
It is the “faithful” who accompany the Lamb (ch17 v4).
Those in the churches are urged to be faithful, if necessary “unto death”. (ch 2 v10)
Such a one was Antipas, who is called a “faithful witness” (ch 2v13)
The same word also means “reliable”, one in whom trust can be placed.
So Christ himself is descibed as a “faithful witness” (ch1 v5), besides being “faithful and true” (ch19 v11) or a “faithful and true witness” (ch 33 v14).
I think Christ is called “faithful witness” in a double sense.
He is a role model for such as Antipas, having been “faithful unto death” on the Cross.
But he is also a “witness” in front of his Father, when he “confesses” the names of those “who have conquered”.
And in the last two chapters the “words” (LOGOI) of God himself are also described as “faithful and true” (ch21 v5 and ch22 v6)- though in those cases the RSV chooses to translate the word as “trustworthy”.
So “faith” is about the faithful putting their trust in one who is faithful, the firm holding firmly on to firmness.
It might be translated as “patience”, or “endurance”, or even “patient endurance”.
In any case, it’s an indispensable quality in Revelation.
Without that quality, the church could not resist the harassments of their persecutors.
So the time of tribulation which John is sharing with his readers (ch 1v9) is also a time of “endurance”- the two things go together.
Over and over again, the seven churches are commended for their “patient endurance” during the time of trial.
Endurance depends upon faith.
In the middle of destructive troubles, faith gives an assurance that better things are coming, there’s “light at the end of the tunnel”.
“There’ll be blue-birds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Tomorrow, just you wait and see,”
That’s why the two things are linked together in this book. “”I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance”- ch2 v19
“Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints“; ch13 v10 (and similarly ch14 v12).
I’m emphasising the verse just quoted, because it’s the “mission statement” of the book of Revelation.
The whole object and purpose of the book is to encourage the faith of the saints, in order to motivate their “endurance” during a time of persecution.
The readers of John’s own time need encouragement in order to endure the persecution of the Roman empire.
A church facing the persecution of the Beast would need encouragement.
And the saints would need encouragement again if the world was living through the traumatic events of the second half of Revelation.
Incidentally, if this book is a manual of encouragement designed for the benefit of a church suffering persecution- that would explain why it seems so puzzling in the interval, when the church is not suffering persecution. We don’t find it easy to understand its purpose, because it’s addressing a need which we’re not experiencing.
But if the church is plunged once more into a time of tribulation, they will find the kind of encouragement in this book which will motivate their faith to “patient endurance”.
In this series, I’ve been putting together my own version of a “timeline” of Revelation events.
But I made no attempt whatever to tie them in with the current calendar.
I haven’t been trying to calculate exactly when the times of “tribulation” might start or finish.
There are reasons for this.
In the first place, Jesus himself refused to give any indication of time. He told his disciples that it was “not for them to know” the times which the Father had set. Why on earth should we think that we’re entitled to acquire knowledge which they weren’t allowed to know? But everybody knows that quotation.
There’s also the pragmatic point, that so many calculations have been made and proved wrong in the past.
I’m also convinced that trying to calculate exact intervals of years from one event to another is a waste of time, because this is not the way God works. There is no reason to think that God lays out events at exact time-intervals, so there is no point in trying to second-guess his calculations.
As a test case, let’s take the “seventy years” predicted by Jeremiah.
Jeremiah told Jerusalem that “these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years” (Jeremiah ch25 v11), that God would punish Babylon “when seventy years are completed” (ch25 v12), and that he would bring the exiles back from Babylon “when seventy years are completed for Babylon” (ch29 v10).
So if God is working with exact time-intervals, there should be seventy years between the destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of Babylon.
But the records of history tell us that the respective dates were 587 B.C. and 539 B.C. This is not an exact seventy year interval.
The explanation is probably that “seventy” is a symbolic number, one that keeps appearing in the Bible and Jewish tradition. It combines “7”, the number which points us towards God, with “10”, the number which points towards completeness or perfection. So “seventy years” means “the complete period which God has assigned”.
And I suspect that exact calculations based on the implied “seven years” of Daniel ch9 v27 will go astray for exactly the same reason. We need to recognise how often numbers are part of the symbolism,
The purpose of Revelation is the building of faith, in order to motivate the “patient endurance of the saints”.
But date-calculation may be a symptom of impatience, an unconscious attempt to reduce the necessity of endurance.
And a failed date-calculation, after the event can be a very effective killer of faith.
Faith would be patient and willing to wait for God to do things in his own time.