This is going to be a longer post as we go through the middle of Revelation, but I liked the big-picture view that Chip Ingram presented as he went through it. I understood it so much more clearly, and I liked the way he kept the central message of hope in focus.
As Chip summarized, “This shows us we can endure anything when we look at today’s struggles in the light of tomorrow’s certainty.”
I know my day-to-day struggles are nothing close to what the early church suffered, but that doesn’t mean my life is easy. By understanding what’s to come, I have more hope in the midst of everything going on in the world around us. I don’t need to be afraid for my children or the future, even when it gets hard. I can trust that God has a plan for all of us, and pray that God opens their hearts to His truth, too!
Recap and Overview
Before walking through chapters 6–18, Chip provided a quick recap of the previous chapters:
- Chapter 1: A picture of Jesus
- Chapter 2–3: What Jesus expects from His followers.
- Chapters 4–5 : This is the one on the throne. He holds the scroll and justice will be revealed.
Based on my notes from Chip’s sermon, I created a brief outline of this section. The visual helped me understand how everything fits together.
As we go through the seven seals, we can see that the judgment increases with intensity. They start with humans’ evil deeds, continue with natural disasters and demons, and culminate with Satan himself.
Seal 1: The white horse with a crown on his head, bow in his hand, and no arrows. This is the antichrist, who brings false peace.
Seal 2: The red horse takes peace from the earth and creates war.
Seal 3: The black horse’s rider is holding a pair of scales and indicates there will be a great famine.
Seal 4: The pale horse is carrying a rider named Death. Millions will die by the sword, plagues, famine, and wild beasts.
Seal 5: The souls of the martyrs are told they need to wait a little longer until judgment, until all their fellow servants have been martyred as they were.
Seal 6: There’s a great earthquake. The sun turns black, the moon turns red as blood, stars fall, the sky rolls up like a scroll, and mountains and islands are removed. Then John sees everyone hiding and hears them calling that they wish they could die.
Chapter 7 is like a parenthesis on the seals. Four angels are holding back four winds, which represent what will happen in the next judgment, and a fifth angel tells them not to hurt the earth until God’s servants are protected.
The chapter specifies that 144,000 (12,000 from each tribe of Israel) were sealed, and that more people will come to put their trust in Jesus than ever before.
Seal 7: The seventh seal is the seven trumpets. But first, there’s a half-hour pause in heaven. Then, the trumpets sound:
- Trumpet 1: One third of the trees and grass are burned by hail and fire mixed with blood.
- Trumpet 2: One third of marine life and ships are destroyed by a burning object (some theorize it could be a meteor).
- Trumpet 3: One third of fresh water is poisoned.
- Trumpet 4: One third of the sun, moon, and stars are darkened (some theorize it could be some sort of eclipse or perhaps a nuclear warfare cloud). The eagle flies and says woe three times, which Chip said basically means, “You thought this was bad–it’s about to get worse.”
- Trumpet 5: There’s a demonic invasion.
- They look like locusts and horses armored for battle, but have men’s faces, women’s hair, lions’ teeth, iron breastplates, and stinging tails like scorpions.
- The king’s name is Abbaddon/Apollyon/Destroyer, which points to Satan.
- They’re told not to hurt the grass or trees. They may torture, but can’t kill the unsaved for five months.
- Trumpet 6: The second demonic invasion.
- Leaders are led by four special demons, kept in readiness for a particular hour.
- They kill one third of people after five months of torture.
- People’s hearts are still hard, though: they still don’t repent. They continue worshipping demons and things, and don’t repent of murders, magic arts, sexual immorality, or theft.
Chapter ten is like another parenthesis. In it, John said there’s a little scroll with more judgment inside, but he’s forbidden from telling us what it says. Instead, he eats it and describes it as honey on the tongue but sour in the stomach. Chip explained that this is like God’s judgment: the truth is sweet, but sour when you see the hurt and pain in people’s lives.
Chapter eleven starts with another parenthesis. John talks about two witnesses that will have 1,260 days of ministry (3.5 years) before they’re murdered by the antichrist. This will mark the end of the first half of tribulation. Then the Gentiles will trample the holy city for 42 months (another 3.5 years).
Who are these two witnesses?
According to Chip, most scholars agree they’re probably Elijah and Moses, representing the Old Testament prophets and law. They also cause a 3.5-year drought, turn water into blood, and strike the earth with plagues: things that are reminiscent of events that happened when both were on earth before.
Revelation says they’ll prophesy for 3.5 years, speaking truth in the midst of judgment. The antichrist will kill them, but won’t allow anyone to bury them (as a way of showing contempt for them), so they’ll just lie in the streets while the world gloats and sends each other gifts.
Then God will rapture them into heaven, there will be a huge earthquake that destroys a tenth of Jerusalem, and 7,000 people will die. The whole world will be able to see this as a testimony.
This is when the 7th trumpet will sound and we’ll see a view of heaven. Those who have done evil will be punished and the saints will be rewarded.
What can we learn?
Chip explained the principle here: people are without excuse. The heart of rebellion is pride.
He also pointed out that Paul makes the same case in Romans 1:18-21, which he wrote before John wrote Revelation. I like the way Chip summarized that passage as well:
People worship the creation rather than the Creator, so God hands people over to the desires of their hearts. The issue here is people’s hearts–not intellectual arguments or miracles.
We have the same problem Satan had: we want to be like the Most High. He told Eve if she ate the fruit, she’d be like God and have His wisdom too.
God is opposed to the proud and near to the brokenhearted. His character hasn’t changed. We can have hope because God judges with perfect righteousness–no one will ever get a raw deal. And the way you respond in a fallen world will dictate how you’re judged.
Before Chip started in the next chapters, he gave us another overview. I really appreciated this, because taking steps back to understand the structure of Revelation has really helped me understand it.
As Chip explained, the structure isn’t chronological anymore. Instead, it introduces key characters of the tribulation and their historical relationship with one another.
- Chapters 12–13 are where the stage on earth is set. Questions addressed here are: Where did Satan come from? Who is the antichrist? Who is the prophet? How does it work? Who does he persecute?
- Chapters 14–15 cover heaven’s perspective during all of this.
- Chapter 16 picks up the flow of continuing judgments, the second half of the tribulation, and ends with final judgment and return of Christ. It also explains the seven bowls of wrath.
- Chapters 17–18 are almost like an epilogue, showing that Bablyon the great (the world system) will disintegrate and be seen for what it is.
- Chapter 19 is when Jesus returns!
In chapter 12, the woman and dragon symbolize Israel and Satan.
Verses 1–5 explain the original fall. Satan persecutes God’s nation and Son. This section looks back at Jesus’ birth and ascension, sharing Satan’s backstory and his role: where he’s been and where he’s going.
Verses 6–18 explain Satan’s future hatred for God. The woman in the wilderness is Israel. She’ll be persecuted by Satan during the tribulation, but Israel will be protected by God.
Verses 7–12 show the war in heaven. Scholars disagree about the details here, but we do know that is Satan’s kicked out of heaven. He’s filled with wrath, saints are filled with joy, and sinners are filled with fear.
Chapter 13 starts with the antichrist coming out of the sea (verses 1–10). He’s not Satan, but his authority is from Satan. Some believe he’ll be assassinated and raised from the dead. Regardless of how it’s done, the entire world will be astonished and worship him. For 42 months he’ll blaspheme God with an agenda of cruelty and persecution to conquer the saints. He’s going to rule as an evil messiah over the world.
The False Prophet
Next, the false prophet comes out of the earth (verses 11–18) and forces the world to worship the antichrist. This is where we see some parallels between: Satan and the Father, the antichrist and Jesus, and the false prophet and the Holy Spirit. Then we see a battle for the ages: good verses evil, all about the people on earth.
And, for those wondering, this section is where the mark of the beast comes into play.
In chapter 14, the perspective moves up into heaven. We see the 144,000 sing a song of praise–they sing a song no one else can sing.
John also gives us a preview of armageddon: when Christ returns triumphantly. He also shares messages from three of God’s angels:
- Angel 1 says to fear God, give glory to Him when He will sit as judge, and worship Him.
- Angel 2 makes the prediction that Babylon has fallen.
- Angel 3 says not to receive the mark of the beast–the penalty is eternal torment in the lake of fire. This angel urges people to remain faithful.
In verse 13, we also hear that the martyrs are blessed and will soon be rewarded.
Then we move into the reaping and harvest of God. Jesus is the reaper, and the unsaved and unrepentant will be judged. Sinners will be crushed and blood will flow in streams 180 miles wide and as high as a horse’s bridle.
In chapter 15, seven angels get ready to pour out seven more judgments on earth from the bowls and John hears victors over the antichrist singing songs of praise.
In chapter 16 we come back into the chronology, going through the seven judgments (or bowls).
- Judgment 1: Ugly, painful sores on those with mark of the beast.
- Judgment 2: Waters become blood, killing all life.
- Judgment 3: Rivers and springs become blood to avenge the blood of the martyrs.
- Judgment 4: The sun is poured, which scorches people with fire–and people still don’t turn to God.
- Judgment 5: The beast’s entire kingdom is plunged into darkness–and people still don’t turn to God.
- Judgment 6: The great river Euphrates dries up, demons deceive kings of the east, and march to prepare for armaggedon. A blessing is promised for those who prepare their hearts for the return of Christ.
- Judgment 7: The angel pours it out into the air. A voice from temple says, “It is finished.” Then we experience history’s greatest earthquake. Cities collapse, islands disappear, mountains fall, 75-pound hail falls from sky–and people still don’t turn to God; instead they curse Him.
Chapters 17 and 18 are almost like a commentary, telling us that the world and its system are trying to seduce you from all that’s good. When you get mad at them, you’re starting to gain victory. It’s a good reminder that we should be placing our faith in God, not in the governments or other systems people have set up in the world.
The world is also like a prostitute, trying to seduce you away from what will make you really secure and loved. This prostitute is Satan’s tool. It represents the corrupt religious system depicted by Babylon. The beast she’s riding represents various kings.
In chapter 18, an angel announces Babylon’s destruction with authority and splendor. It’s a reminder that if you love the world, the love of the Father isn’t in you: you’re committing adultery in your relationship with God. If we’re pursuing the same goals as the world, our heart isn’t in the right place.
You can also read about this in:
- 1 John 2:15-16: We’re told, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.”
- James 4: “Friendship with the world means enmity against God.”
Chip ended the sermon by touching on the second coming of Christ, the wedding feast of the Lamb, and John seeing Jesus–faithful and true–seated on a white horse, coming from heaven, eyes flaming, wearing ruling crowns, with his robe dipped in blood and a sword in his mouth. Then He binds Satan in the abyss for 1,000 years to keep him from deceiving the nations.
This reflects the principle in 1 John 4:4: Greater is he who is in us than he who’s in the world.
Wrapping it Up
So this is a really long, summarizing post. I thought it was a helpful review of Chip’s sermon and a good way for me to internalize the structure of this big chunk of Revelation. It’s so easy for me to get distracted by the symbolic details, and then feel confused and lost. Chip’s reminders of the high-level overview helped me understand it so much more clearly than I ever had before.
Also, I thought it was worth mentioning that I know there are some variations in the ways that scholars interpret some of the details, but I think the main points are the same:
- This is a message of hope that Jesus will win in the end.
- God loves us so much He gives people as many opportunities as possible to turn towards Him.
- God wants us to love Him back, but He won’t force us. After all, forced love isn’t really love, is it? Loving someone is a choice you make over and over again. The same is true with God.
God Provides Clarity
If you have questions, I’d recommend you pray and ask God for answers. Over the years, I’ve told God I feel confused and asked questions. Every time He’s answered them. Sometimes He’s had me wait, but eventually He’s always explained it to me.
This series in Revelation is another example of this, too. It was a book I always kind of avoided and didn’t talk about very confidently because I had trouble understanding. But then He arranged it so I’d mention it to my mom right when she happened to run across her copy of this series from Chip. It’s yet another example of God’s perfect timing in my life! I still may not understand every detail, but I have a much clearer understanding of the book and don’t feel quite so intimidated by it anymore. I hope this helps you, too!