When I started studying Revelation, I was sure that it could be unraveled logically. I have learned a lot since then, and my whole perspective has changed. What I’m going to say isn’t a copout–believe me, because I don’t give up easily (and that’s an understatement)!–but it’s what I feel God has taught me.

Here’s what I know now:

  • We each need to read Revelation for ourself, and pray that God will teach us what He wants us to know.
  • If we want to understand Revelation, we need to read it a lot and know it well (not the same as understanding–more like memorization). You may read it and learn it this Spring, and it may not be until next Fall that God chooses to reveal something to you. He will bring the Scripture to your remembrance–but you can’t remember what you never knew.
  • Don’t be discouraged. Be content with knowing, but not understanding. When the time is right, you’ll understand.
  • Do pray and ask God to teach you, and guide you, as you study.
  • Revelation is given on a ‘need to know’ basis.
  • Revelation is just that–something that God will reveal to each of us, in His own time and His own way.
  • You may study for hours, yet walk away with just one little nugget of understanding–but this is good!
  • The book is purposely complicated, to make it impossible to interpret merely using logic. The only way to understand Revelation, is by the Holy Spirit revealing it to us. The Holy Spirit will only reveal it to Christians.
  • The awesomeness of that is that it doesn’t depend on our intelligence! I’m fairly smart and there are things I have tried for years to understand, but can’t–but then, in an instant, God has opened my eyes to something that was right there all the time, and suddenly I understand! Contrary to what some churches have taught-you don’t have to be a priest to read and understand Scripture. God reveals things in a way that any of us can understand, no matter how smart we are–or aren’t. We’re all on a level playing field here!

These are my general opinions:

  • It seems the people who claim to understand Revelation the most, are actually the ones that understand it the least.
  • The prophecy ‘experts’ make certain assumptions, upon which they base the rest of their interpretation. Very few of them seem to question these assumptions, and the ‘rules’ they have set up for how to interpret prophecy. If these assumptions or ways of interpreting are wrong, then the foundation of their interpreting is wrong, and they may end up misunderstanding much, or most, of the prophecies.
  • In reality, right now there is no way we can know for sure how it will all play out. Only God knows the specifics, and although He is revealing things a little at a time, He has not yet made it all clear to us.
  • He may not give us the full interpretation before it is fulfilled. There may be things we only see later, in hindsight, as having been the fulfillment of prophecy.
  • It is tempting to latch onto the first interpretation that fits but, in studying with a completely open mind, I have found that each portion of prophecy in Revelation could potentially be fulfilled in many different ways.
  • I believe the reason God has not revealed it all, is because there are many possible outcomes, depending on what choices we make (our generation, the Church, America, etc.).
  • I believe if God revealed what would happen, it would cause it to turn out that way, violating our free will to some degree. I believe He wants us to do all that we can, until we breathe our last breath. MUCH of the ending has not yet been written!
  • A lot of people have a fatalistic attitude–that we really have little to do with the outcome, that it is predestined; some people even go so far as to say that God will make things happen a certain way, no matter what we do. But I believe that the time, and the way, the prophecies will be fulfilled, is completely dependent upon the choices of mankind.
  • God always prefers to show mercy and, if we repent in time, He may turn aside His wrath. These things could all come to pass in the next few years (that’s the road we’re on right now)–or, if we repent, God may intervene and ‘pause the clock’ by tens or even hundreds of years.
  • Because it is Satan that is behind the events in Revelation, and because his overall battle plan has not changed, we will see the same sort of events happen again and again, until he finally gains control of a global government.

These are my specific opinions:

  • I am not convinced that all of these events will be confined to a 7 year period.
  • Things do not necessarily happen in the order in which they are written. Yes, there is an overall chronology to the events–but there are a lot of ‘flashbacks’ (as in the movies), that go back to an earlier time and show the events that happened to bring you back to the ‘present’, in order to understand things that were just mentioned.
  • The same event may be explained from several different perspectives–rather than those being separate events.
  • I am not convinced that the bowl judgments follow the trumpet judgments, and they follow the seven seals. I strongly suspect that there is overlap here-that things are happening simultaneously, or even that what are commonly believed to be separate events, are actually the same event.
  • It is important to differentiate between what John saw in the spirit realm, and what he saw in the physical realm. In other words, when an angel sounds his trumpet and ‘hail and fire mixed with blood’ is hurled down upon the Earth–that is probably how it appears in the spirit realm. It may not literally be hail and fire mixed with blood when seen in the physical realm. The result: ‘A third of the Earth was burned up . . . ‘  is what we would actually see. So, we should not necessarily expect to see or hear, in the physical realm, everything that is described in Revelation.
  • I believe it is possible for God to have mercy on us, at any point, if we repent. Therefore, I believe it may be possible that the ‘clock’ could be paused at almost any point.
  • Although I believe the clock could be paused, there are certain things that cannot be undone. I believe this explains the significance of the three ‘woes’. The fifth, sixth, and seventh trumpet judgments involve releasing demonic entities that have been bound and prevented from interacting with mankind. I believe that once they are released, they cannot again be bound. These woes are:
    * the angel of the abyss, and hordes of spirits that physically torment people (for 5 months)
    * four angels, with 200,000,000 troops that have the authority to kill 1/3 of mankind
    * satan and his followers are hurled to Earth
  • If you understand that once these spirits are unleashed, we are stuck with them from then on (even if we repent and God pauses the clock), then it becomes even more apparent why these events would be called ‘woes’.
  • There is no ‘Rapture’ per se. Jesus will return (as warrior, judge and king) near the very end of the Tribulation. There will be a great earthquake, the dead in Christ will be raised, the ‘two witnesses’ will be taken up to heaven, any remaining believers will be taken up, and we will meet Him in the clouds.

So, again, I think the best way to understand the Bible, is to read the Bible. We are promised that the Holy Spirit will teach us what the Scriptures mean. Some of that teaching happens on a subconscious level. God-inspired writings are much deeper and carry much more information than when people write.

The more you read the Bible, the more you learn the many ways that God conveys truth to us. You learn His ‘voice’, His style, how He uses patterns and foreshadowing, how much meaning a passage can carry on many different levels, etc., etc. There is so much deception these days, I think it is far better that we ask God to teach us, than men.

(In God’s kingdom, no one is ‘better than’ anyone else. How much you understand will depend on how much you read the Bible, spend time contemplating God’s word, and pray.)

And one more thing:
“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”
Rev. 1:3

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