The Unsealed Prophecies
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
Of all the prophetic literature in the Bible, only Daniel gives as clear a sequence as Revelation. The Revelation (opposite of the “sealing” Daniel was told to do) that Jesus gave to John is the only prophecy literature in the New Testament. There are of course other prophecies mentioned as parts of Gospels and the Letters, but this is the only book of the New Testament that is centered on prophecy. And though it was sent to churches, only the first three chapters refer to the church. None of the terminology used for the church anywhere else in the New Testament, except the generic terms mentioned in the Preface, are found in Revelation between chapters 3 and 21. The content between those two points is about the judgments of God upon Israel and the unbelieving world, and a brief discussion of the Millennium. However, correlations will be made with Jesus’ statements to his disciples in the Gospels as well. And because of the volume of material, it will be presented here in ouline form.
Jesus’ Public Statement About the End Times
When Jesus’ disciples remarked about the magnificence of the Temple, he told them that it would be destroyed to the point where not one block rested on another (Dan. 9:26b, Mt. 24:2, Mk. 13:1-2, Lk. 21:5-6). This was said publicly, while they were still on the Temple grounds (Mt. 24:1), and it was fulfilled by the Roman ruler Titus in 70 a.d. Everything else was said privately at a later time. It is possible that the prophecy about the people of Judea fleeing when they would see Jerusalem surrounded by encampments was at least partially fulfilled at this time, though it was largely only the Christians who escaped. And it should be noted that Titus did not set up any idol in the Temple, nor go into it and declare himself God.
Jesus’ Private (Olivet) Discourse to Peter, James, John, and Andrew
Mt. 24:3a and Mk. 13:3 tell us that the Olivet Discourse was given privately to Jesus’ inner circle of disciples. They asked three questions (Mt. 24:3b, Mk. 13:4, Lk. 21:7), after which Jesus gave a lengthy response:
- When will these things happen?
- What is the sign of your arrival?
- What is the sign of the end of the age?
General Introduction (Mt. 24:33)
Jesus gave his disciples certain signs to look for as the arrival of the Kingdom of God drew near. Remember that these were signs for Israel and concern the prophecies for Israel, rather than for the church. And it is the arrival of the Kingdom of God that the disciples asked about, which is preceded by the Day of the Lord. That Day will begin suddenly and without warning, while people are going about their daily lives.
- Signs to watch for (Mt. 24:32-33, Mk. 13:28-29, Lk. 21:28-31). When you see all these things, the Kingdom of God is near:
- false Christs and prophets
- wars near and far
- lawlessness and cold-bloodedness
- gospel of the Kingdom proclaimed worldwide
- Jerusalem surrounded
- the Abomination of Desolation
- the Great Tribulation
- dark sun and moon
- stars fall
- the Sign of the Son of Man
- the Son of Man coming in the clouds
- trumpet blast for angels to gather the chosen people from all over the heavens
- This generation (Mt. 24:34-35, Mk. 13:30-31, Lk. 21:32-33) will not pass before it all takes place. Debate rages over the meaning, but it will include the appearance of “all these things”, meaning the signs Jesus had just given to signal the arrival of the Kingdom of God. And since these things did not happen in the first century, “this generation” cannot refer to the one of Jesus’ day. Then the question is whether it refers to the whole nation of that time, or to the lifespan of people born then. Even if it is the latter, we cannot say with any certainty what the length of that generation may be, or exactly when the signs began to appear. Thus date-setting is futile. It would be reasonable to take it to mean that the Day of the Lord will not span a generation; in fact, we know from Daniel that it will last seven years.
- No one knows day or hour (Mt. 24:36, Mk. 13:32-33, Lk. 21:34-35) for the arrival of the Kingdom of God.
- Like days of Noah (Mt. 24:37-39, Lk. 17:26-27)
- Like days of Lot (Lk. 17:28-29)
- Taken or left (Mt. 24:40-41, Lk. 17:30-35). In context, this applies to when the people of Judea flee upon seeing the Abomination of Desolation. This context also includes the examples of Noah and Lot, where the righteous were taken and the wicked left to suffer judgment.
- So watch (Mt. 24:42-44, Mk. 13:37, Lk. 21:36a)
- Pray to escape (Mt. 24:20, Lk. 21:36b)
- When least expected (Mt. 24:45-51, Mk. 13:34-36). There are two possible ways for not expecting something to happen: (1) presuming it will not come in our day, and (2) losing hope. But Jesus indicates that while the people of Israel still believe their Master will return, they expect him to come at a much later time.
- The ten virgins analogy (Mt. 25:1-13). Again, this is not for the church but for Israel. Jesus gave another indication about some of them being excluded from the Kingdom of God in Mat. 8:11-12.
- The good and bad servants (Mt. 25:14-30)
Beginning of Birthpangs / Seal Judgments (Mt. 24:8, Mk. 13:8d)
- False Christs (Mt. 24:4-5,11,23-28, Mk. 13:5-6, Lk. 17:23, 21:8, Rev. 6:1-2)
- Wars/uprisings (Dan. 9:26d, Mt. 24:6-7a, Mk. 13:7-8a, Luke 21:9-10, Rev. 6:3-4)
- Famines (Mt. 24:7b, Mk. 13:8c, Luke 21:11b, Rev. 6:5-6)
- Plagues (Mt. 24:7b-8, Luke 21:11c, Rev. 6:7-8)
- Earthquakes (Mt. 24:7b,9, Mk. 13:8b, Luke 21:11a, Rev. 6:12a)
- Black sun, red moon, stars fall, sky recoils (Joel 2:30-31, Rev. 6:12b-17)
The Tribulation / Seal and Trumpet Judgments (Dan. 9:26c, Mt. 24:14b)
- Treaty enforced for seven years (Dan. 9:27a)
- Beast/prince deceives the world (2 Thes. 2:9-11, Rev. 13:14)
- Persecution (Mt. 24:9, Mk. 13:9,11, Lk. 21:12-18, Rev. 6:9-11)
- False prophets (Mt. 24:11)
- Strife/coldbloodedness (Mt. 24:10,12, Mk. 13:12-13a)
- Endurance for salvation (Mt. 24:13, Mk. 13:13b, Lk. 21:19, Rev. 13:9-10)
- Gospel of Kingdom (Mt. 24:14a, Mk. 13:10, Rev. 14:6)
The Great Tribulation / Trumpet and Bowl Judgments (Mt. 24:21)
- The Abomination of Desolation (Dan. 9:27b, Mt. 24:15, Mk. 13:14a, Rev. 13:5,15 [at or after 7th trumpet])
- The ruler who commits the Abomination:
- Called the Son of Perdition, the Lawless One, the Beast (Dan. 7:7-8,11, 2 Thes. 2:3b, Rev. 13:1-8, 17:12-13; the name Antichrist [1 John 2:18] is actually better applied to the False Prophet / Second beast of Rev. 13)
- Will perform miracles (2 Thes. 2:9-10, Rev. 19:20a)
- Claims to be above all gods and sets himself in the Temple of God (Dan. 11:36, 2 Thes. 2:4)
- Has no regard for the gods of his ancestors or the one favored by women (Dan. 11:37; this is not saying he will be homosexual, since the context is about gods)
- Honors a god of forces/fortresses and a “foreign” god (Dan. 11:38-39)
- Fights kings of north and south, invades many nations, takes great plunder (Dan. 11:40-43)
- Alarming reports from east and north will cause him to destroy many more nations in a great rage (Dan. 11:44)
- Will make camp near the Mediterranean Sea and “holy mountain”, but he will meet his end there and will be defeated by the breath from the Lord Jesus (Dan. 11:45, 2 Thes. 2:8)
- Judeans must flee to mountains (Mt. 24:16-20, Mk. 13:14b-18, Lk. 17:30-33, 21:20-22, Rev. 12:6 [for 1,260 days])
- This is the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7)
- Battle outside of Jerusalem (Rev. 14:19-20)
- Jerusalem plundered (Zech. 14:1-2)
- Unprecedented suffering (Dan. 12:1, Mt. 24:21-22, Mk. 13:19-20, Lk. 21:23-24)
- False Christs and prophets (Mt. 24:23-26, Mk. 13:21-23)
- Gather in Valley of Megiddo (trad. Battle of Armageddon, though no battle actually happens; Joel 3:1-2, 12-14, Rev. 16:16)
After the Great Tribulation (Mt. 24:29a, Mk. 13:24a)
- Cosmic disasters (Is. 13:10, 24:20, 34:4, Joel 2:31, 3:15, Mt. 24:29b, Mk. 13:24b-25, Lk. 21:11d,25-26, Rev. 16:18-20)
- Sun and moon dark
- Stars fall from sky
- Powers of heavens shaken, sky recoiled
- Fear over roaring of sea
- Mountains and islands shifted
- Sign of Son of Man in sky (Mt. 24:30a)
- Descent of Son of Man in clouds (Mt. 24:27,30b, Mk. 13:26, Lk. 17:24,21:27, Rev. 19:11-14)
- Lord’s army arrives, Bride and Bridegroom leave chambers (Joel 2)
- The Lord stands on Mt. of Olives, splitting it in two, and fights against all the nations (Zech. 14:3-5)
- Defeat of Beast (2 Thes. 2:8, Rev. 19:15,21)
- Where body is, vultures gather (Mt. 24:28, Lk. 17:36-37, Rev. 19:17-21)
- Beast and False Prophet thrown alive into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20b)
- Satan imprisoned (Rev. 20:1-3)
- Trumpet blast, angels harvest the elect (Mt. 24:31, Mk. 13:27)
- Sheep and goats (Mt. 7:21-23, Mk. 25:31-46, Lk. 13:24-30)
Next we will examine the scriptures concerning what is to come after Jesus has established his earthly kingdom.