Sermon: Framing the Pieces of the Puzzle: Revelation 11:15-12:6


Brothers and sisters, this will be the last sermon devoted to introductory remarks concerning the book of Revelation. In the first, I sought to challenge the presuppositions of the futurist. I questioned if the book of Revelation itself will allow us to think that what it says pertains mainly to events yet in our future. I proposed that the book really tells us about things past, present, and future from our vantage point. In the second and third sermons I presented you with seven general observations which, if remembered, will help us in our interpretation of the book. The principles were these:

  1. Revelation is given to reveal.
  2. Revelation is a book to be seen.
  3. Numbers count in Revelation.
  4. Revelation makes sense only in light of the Old Testament.
  5. Revelation concerns what must soon take place (from the 90 A.D. perspective).
  6. Revelation is for a church under attack.
  7. The victory belongs to God and to his Christ.

These principles are simple, obvious, and clear. We must not forget them when we come to the challenging portions of the book of Revelation. Consistency in regard to the basics is key.

Today I wish to focus upon the structure of the book of Revelation. We’ll thumb through it together. I’ll present a basic outline to you, and say a few things the repetition and progression that we see in the book. 

I’d like to read from Revelation 11:15 to 12:6. Again, I will not be walking you through this passage as I typically would. We will consider it carefully when we come to it again as we progress through the book. For now I would like to use this passage as an example, mainly to help us understand something about the structure and the presence of recapitulation in the book of Revelation.

Let us now give ourselves to the reading of God’s holy word.

New Testament Reading: Revelation 11:15-12:6

[Revelation 11:15] “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.’ And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,

‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.’

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

[Revelation 12:1] And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.” (Revelation 11:15–12:6, ESV)


One of the claims that I’ve repeatedly made over the past few weeks is that the book of Revelation is clear. Do you remember interpretive principle number one? The book is given to reveal, not conceal. And remember that blessings are pronounced upon those who hear what is written in the book and obey, the assumption clearly being that the book is understandable and, therefore, obey-able.

But please understand what I mean when I say that the book is clear. I do not mean that it is easy. It is not easy. Revelation is indeed a challenging book to interpret. But it is clear. And by that I mean that it is understandable. The reader should be able to come away from the book with the gist of  the message. And the careful, well equipped, and diligent student should be able to glean much from the book, making sense of it’s most challenging parts through proper interpretive techniques with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Really, this is how we view all of scripture. We believe all of it to be clear, while at the same time understanding that we must work at interpretation – it’s not automatic. We also understand the role that the Holy Spirt plays in helping us to understand and apply the scriptures to our lives.

Do you remember the saying that I quoted on more than one occasion concerning the simultaneous simplicity and complexity of the Gospel of John? The quote when like this: “John’s Gospel [is like] a pool in which a child may wade and an elephant can swim. It is both simple and profound. It is for the veriest beginner in the faith and for the mature Christian. Its appeal is immediate and never failing” (Morris).

Indeed, we found John’s Gospel to be at once both simple and profound – complex in some ways, and yet very clear. We encourage young Christians to read John’s gospel, don’t we? And why do we do this? We understand that though there are challenging portions, the overall message of the book will be understandable.

I think something similar can be said of Revelation, but with some modification. It must be admitted that this is not the first book to send a new believer to. There is indeed something a bit more difficult about it. The proper interpretation of the book does require some familiarity with the rest of scriptures, doesn’t it? This should not surprise us given that it is the last book – the one that bring everything to a conclusion. The proper interpretation of Revelation does requires some advanced exegetical skill. Perhaps we might say, then, that Revelation it is like “a pool in which a young man may wade and an elephant can swim”, or something like that.

But it is clear – and by that I mean, it is understandable. May the Spirit help us to understand and apply the scriptures as we diligently seek to rightly divide the word of truth.

Dr. Johnson begins chapter two of his commentary on Revelation with the illustration of a jigsaw puzzle. I’ve never been a jigsaw puzzle guy – too tedious for me – but the illustration is helpful. A skilled puzzler will – especially when faced with a difficult puzzle – be careful to employ sound puzzling techniques in seeking to solve the puzzle. He will not look at the box top (evidently that is the unpardonable sin in the puzzling world), but he will dump out the pieces and immediately begin to look for obvious clues. He will find the corners, and he will find the straight-edged pieces.

This is like what we’ve been doing in these introductory sermons. We’ve been looking for the obvious and clear things – clues to help us in our interpretation of this sometimes puzzling book. The seven observations presented over the past two weeks are like corner pieces to the puzzle (I know that does not make a square, but bear with me). They are clear and undeniable principles. Whatever we do with the content of the book of Revelation, those principles must remain in place. We cannot alter or ignore them.

So we have the corners. And today we will pick out the puzzle pieces with the straight edges. We will observe the organizational features of the book of Revelation. We will see that there is a structure to the book. And we’ll also see that the book tends to repeat, or recapitulate, as it progresses.

I should say before going on that I’m indebted to commentators like G.K. Beale, Howard Hendricks, Richard Bauckham, and especially Dennis Johnson for this material. The outline of this sermon follows chapter 2 of Johnson’s commentary very closely.

So let us begin with our seven principles. The cadence of my speech is going to be a bit quicker than usual given the amount of material that I have to cover.

Revelation Has A Beginning, Middle, And End 

First of all, as we consider the structure of the book of Revelation it is important to notice that at the broadest level the book consists of a beginning, middle, and end. Chapter 1 verses 1through 8 make up the prologue, or introduction. 1:9 through 22:9 make up the body of the letter. And 22:6 through 22:21 make up the epilogue, or conclusion. Notice that there is an overlap between the body and epilogue as 22:6-9 serve both as the conclusion to the body and the beginning of the epilogue. Beginning, middle, and end.

The prologue introduces the content and genre of the book. What is the content? Well, we are told that the book will reveal “the things which must soon take place” (Revelation 1:1) from the vantage point of the churches of Asia Minor that existed late in the first century A.D. And what is the genre? Well, the book is apocalyptic and prophetic. John saw visions before he wrote. And the visions symbolized something concerning how things would be in the future, much like the visions that Daniel saw. The genre is apocalyptic and prophetic.

But it would be wrong of us to stop there in our identification of the genre of the book of Revelation. It is vital that we also recognize Revelation to be an epistle. It is an epistle, or letter, written by an Apostle of Jesus Christ to churches.

This observation has huge implications. Though Revelation belongs to a different literary genre than, let’s say, Paul’s letter to the Romans or his letter to the Galatians, the two books share this in common – they are both letters written by Apostles to the church for the purpose of edification.

We would do well to notice that the prologue and epilogue – the beginning and end – of the book of Revelation share similarities with the prologues and epilogues of the other New Testament epistles. I’ll save the details for when we, Lord willing, come to those sections of the book. For now, take note of the fact that the book of Revelation is, on the broadest level, structured like other New Testament epistles with a prologue, body, and an epilogue. Revelation is a letter crafted in the apocalyptic and prophetic genre. These observations will have a very significant impact upon how we go about interpreting this book. Certainly the book is not a crystal ball useful for predicting events yet in our future. It, like Romans and Galatians, was for the Christians living in the churches to whom the letter was originally addressed. And it, like Romans and Galatians, is for us too, as we seek to apply the universal principles contained within the book to our own lives.

The Opening Verses Tell Us Something About The Structure Of The Body

Secondly, notice how the opening verses of Revelation tell us something about the structure that we find in the body of the letter.

Revelation 1:1-2 describes to us a chain of transmission. There we read, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.” (Revelation 1:1–2, ESV)

The chain of transmission goes like this:

  1. God gave the revelation to Jesus Christ.
  2. Jesus revealed it through his angel.
  3. The angel communicated it to John.
  4. And John bore witness to all he saw by writing to the seven churches.

It is important to see that the chain of transmission which is stated in the introduction is in fact dramatized in the body of the letter.

In Revelation 4-5 John is invited to go up into the court of God to see “what must take place after this” (Revelation 4:1, ESV). There he sees the glory of God, and God has a scroll. The scroll is sealed – it’s contents hidden – and no one is worthy to open it. John weeps about this. But then the Lamb comes forward. And he is found worthy to open the scroll, so the scroll is given to him. Do you see how the first stage in the chain of transmission is dramatized here? God has given the revelation to Jesus Christ.

To quote Johnson,

“Revelation 10 repeats and completes John’s call to be Jesus’ prophetic witness. Not only has John been caught up to God’s heavenly court and made privy to the counsels of the One seated on the throne (4-5), but he has also been sent forth with the book of God’s plan, opened by the Lamb and consumed by John to proclaim to the churches (10-11). The members of the heavenly court commission John to resume his prophetic proclamation [look at 10:11]: ‘You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings — ‘again’ because he has been prophesying by reporting the visions of the seal cycle, which flow from the enthronement scene of Revelation 4 and 5. John’s call now leads directly into the heart of the drama revealed in the visions on Patmos (12-22): The cosmic conflict between God, the heavenly woman, and her son/groom and the dragon, the beasts, and the harlot. Everything that precedes Revelation 12 is preliminary to this central drama, preparing us to see our daily struggles as part of the great conflict of the ages” (Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, 31).

The point is this: in Revelation 4-5 John witnessed the scroll of Revelation being given by God to Christ, the seals being opened. But in Revelation 10-11 the scroll is given by the angel of Christ to John. He eats it, and proceeds to prophecy to the churches. The chapters that follow (12-22) make up the central drama of Revelation, revealing something about cosmic conflict that rages – God and his people against the enemies of God.

It is important to recognizing how the chain of transmission stated in 1:1-2 is fleshed out – dramatized – in the body of the letter. This is a helpful observation as we seek to frame the pieces of the puzzle.

1:19 Tells Us Something About The Structure Of The Body

Thirdly, notice how the command to write in 1:19 also relates to the the structure of the body.

In 1:19 Jesus tells John to “write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this” (Revelation 1:19, ESV). Here in this verse the visions that John would see are broken into two categories. The visions will pertain, first of all, to things “that are”, and secondly, to things “that are to take place after this.”

Of course we must understand this from John’s vantage point, and not ours. The meaning would have been clear to him and to his original 90 A.D. audience. The visions shown to John and record for us in this book addressed, first of all, the present situation of the churches in Asia Minor (“those that are”) and also to the future trends and events that would be experienced by the people of God as world history progressed from there (“those that are to take place after this”). Clearly these two categories work themselves out in chapters 2-3 and chapters 4-22:9 respectively.

In chapters 2-3 John receives a message for seven churches living in the region of Asia Minor around the year 90A.D.. That vision revealed the present situation of those churchesChapters 2-3 revealed to him and to those churches things “that are” from their perspective – things “that were”, from ours. But in 4:1 there is a transition. John sees “a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which [he] had heard speaking to [him] like a trumpet [this is the voice of Christ and is a reference back to 1:10], said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’” (Revelation 4:1, ESV) So chapters 2-3 describe the present situation of the churches in John’s day, and 4:1marks the transition to a focus on things “that are to take place after this”.

The futurist thinks that we should see a gap of at least 1,926 years in the white space between 3:22 and 4:1. They believe that the phrase “those that are to take place after this” in 1:19, and the phrase “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this” in 4:1, refer to specific events in our future. There is no reason to believe this. In fact the book of Revelation will not allow for that interpretation (this has been demonstrated in previous sermons). Instead it is best to see that chapters 2-3 describe the present situation of the 90 A.D. churches, whereas 4:1 through 22:9 speak to trends and events that will be experience by the people of God from that day onward, including those churches mentioned in chapters 2-3.

Indeed what is said in 1:19 provides a basic framework for understanding the visions that John would see – chapters 2-3 deal with present realities; chapter 4 onward deal with future realities – but not in the way that the futurist imagines. There’s no good reason to imagine a gap of time between chapters 3 and 4.  Any theology that has the white spaces between the chapters and verses of the Bible as its foundation ought to be called into question.

The Spirit Initiates In Revelation

So we have picked up three straight-edged puzzle pieces. They are obvious and undeniable. One, Revelation has a beginning, middle and end. Two, what is said in the opening two verses concerning the chain of transmission is dramatized in the body of the letter – We see God giving the revelation to Jesus, Jesus to the angel, the angel to John, and John gives it to the churches through his writing. Three, what is said in 1:19 concerning things present and things future also helps us to understand the structure of the book. 4:1 marks the transition from a focus upon things present to things future from the perspective of the 90 A.D. churches. All of these observations help to frame the puzzle so that we might better understand the content of the rest of the book. Let’s quickly pick up four more pieces.

Fourthly, we would do well to notice how scenes portraying John’s call to be a prophet and his being “carried away in the Spirit” introduce “major sections of visionary material in the body of the Revelation” (Johnson, 33).

In 1:10 we read that John, “was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, [when he] heard behind [him] a loud voice like a trumpet” (Revelation 1:10, ESV).

In 4:2 John says, “At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne” (Revelation 4:2, ESV).

In 17:3 John says, “And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns” (Revelation 17:3, ESV).

And in 21:10 we read, “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:10, ESV).

Some have suggested that these references to John being “in the Spirit” or “carried away in the Spirit” ought to serve as the major sectional dividers of the book of Revelation. I’m not sure that I agree with them. But certainly they mark major transitions that ought to be noticed.

We would certainly do well to compare John’s experience with that of the Old Testament prophets, especially Ezekiel, who said “Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me the voice of a great earthquake: ‘Blessed be the glory of the Lord from its place!’” (Ezekiel 3:12, ESV), and “the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in the vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to the exiles” (Ezekiel 11:24, ESV).

Certainly these references to John being “in” or “carried away” by the Spirit of prophesy mark important divisions in the book of Revelation.

Revelation Is Organized By Sets Of Seven

Fifthly, it is important to see that Revelation is organized by sets of seven.

Some have suggested that the book is structured into seven sets of seven. Others see eight sets of seven. I do not have the time to present these views, nor to critique them. For now, notice that four sets of seven are obvious and undeniable. Whether the book can be broken down into seven or eight sets of seven seems uncertain to me.

The four obvious sets of seven are these: One, beginning with chapter 2 we will read seven letters to seven churches. Two, beginning with chapter six we will read of the opening of seven seals. Three, beginning with 8:6 we will hear seven trumpets blown. And four, in chapter 15 we will be introduced to seven angels who will be tasked with pouring out the seven bowls of God’s wrath.

The groupings of seven ought to be recognized as a major organizational feature of the book of Revelation.

Revelation Anticipates

Sixthly, it is important to know that the book of Revelation will sometimes, in the earlier sections, introduce figures and event that will be returned to in the later sections and dealt with in greater detail. This is called anticipation. Those who imagine that the book of Revelation is organized chronologically struggle with this feature.

Dr. Johnson presents a few examples of anticipation or foreshadowing in the book of Revelation. For example,

“John does not see the beast that emerges from the sea, the great persecuting power incarnated in John’s day in the seven-hilled Rome, until Revelation 13. But in Revelation 11 the two faithful witnesses, when they have completed their testimony, are slain, ‘by the beast that comes out of the abyss’ that ‘will make war with them’ (11:7, anticipating the wording of 13:7). The beast is mentioned before it is revealed” (Johnson, 43).

Another example of anticipation or foreshadowing is this:

“When the Lamb breaks the sixth seal on the scroll, as early as Revelation 6:12-17, John sees the sun blackened, the moon reddened like blood [no, this is not a reference to the “blood moons” that we just witnessed], the stars fall to the earth, the sky split wide open, and an earthquake that shakes every mountain and island from its place. This scene is a preview of the dissolution of the whole order of the old creation, [which will be] portrayed in detail in the visions of the seven bowls [beginning with chapter 16]. This is the last and complete expression of God’s wrath against the rebel world, plunging the beast’s kingdom into utter darkness (16:10) and bringing the final earthquake that causes every island to flee and every mountain to disappear (16:20)” (Johnson, 43).

These previews make it clear that the book is not ordered chronological, as many assume. The order of events narrated in the body of Revelation does not match the historical order of events as we experience them in time. Figures and events are introduced early in the book and then returned to and further developed later in the book – anticipation.

Side note: it’s no wonder that the dispensational futurist charts are insanely complicated. They assume the book is organized chronically and so they give every vision – every event described in Revelation – it’s own tick on their futurist timeline. What they fail to recognize is that the same historical event is often times pictured multiple times in Revelation. In other words, multiple visions peppered throughout Revelation will sometimes refer to the same historical event, and not to multiple events. They are different perspectives or camera angles on the same tick on the historical timeline – one tick, multiple perspectives.

Let me give one last example of anticipation before we move on. At the end chapter 11, which we read together at the beginning of this sermon, John saw a vision of the end. “The kingdom of the world [had] become the kingdom of our Lord… the twenty-four elders… worshiped God [for though] the nations raged, [his] wrath [had come], and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding [God’s] servants [had also come]…and [the time had come] for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” This describes the consummation of all things and the final judgment… and this is where? Revelation 11! And notice that the same event is described at the end of the book in Revelation 21, as we would expect. These are not two events, but one. The end of Revelation 11 anticipates, foreshadows, and previews the same event that will be described in greater detail in Revelation 21, namely the consummation and the final judgment.

Revelation Repeats

Seventhly – and this principle is closely connected to what has just been said about anticipation – the book of Revelation often repeats, or recapitulates, as it moves along.

The repetition in Revelation really takes two forms.

Sometimes the recapitulation provides us with multiple camera angles on a particular person, institution, or historical event. The last example I gave in the previous section comparing the end of Revelation 11 with chapter 21 would be an example of this. Both passages provide us with a different camera angle on the consummation and the final judgment, which is a particular historical event.

At other times, however, the recapitulation provides us with a different perspective, not on a particular personinstitution, or historical event, but on the common pattern (or ideal) that will come to expression in different ways as human history progresses.

The book of Revelation does speak to specific events yet in our future, doesn’t it? The second coming, the resurrection, the final judgment are examples of particular events. And it makes repeated references to these, looking at them from one vantage point and then another.

But the book also (and I would say primarily) paints a picture of how things will be, in a more general sense, for the people of God as they live in this world waiting for the Lord’s return. There is a battle raging that all Christians at all times and in all places experience. We all have the same enemy. And God has promised to sustain us all, having won the victory over his enemies and ours.

The most obvious example of this kind of recapitulation – repetition, concerning general patterns –  is found in the repeated reference to a particular period of time in Revelation “variously measured as forty two months (11:2; 13:5), 1,260 days (11:3; 12:6), or a time, times, and a half time (which is 31/2 years – one year, a pair of years, 1/2 year = 31/2 years; 12:4; Dan. 7:25; 12:7)” (Johnson, 44). Notice that these are all different ways of referring to the same period of time. Forty two months equals 1,260 days which equals 31/2 years (according to the Jewish calendar with 30 days per month and 360 days per year).

What we will see in the visions marked off by these time references are different perspectives on how things will be for God’s people in these last days. In the visions connected to this period of time we are shown a measured temple, two witnesses, and a the dragon pursuing the woman seeking to devour her male child. The message communicated in each of these visions is essentially the same, though there are nuances. “The temple is protected within, but exposed without”,  the “prophetic witnesses are protected until their mission is completed”, and the “mother is assaulted yet protected in the dessert”. All the while, the “beast wages war on the saints” (Johnson, 45). These are not references to actualparticular historical events, but they reveal a pattern to be expected – an ideal. These visions reveal something to us about the cosmic battle of the ages that rages continuously, being experienced by the people of God living throughout all the earth and in every age.

The beast is also a good example of this. The beast that rises up out of the sea in Revelation 13 and the killed the witnesses in Revelation 11represents, not a particular person, institution, or event, but the persecuting powers which threaten the church in every ages – The Roman emperor,  Domitian, in 90 A.D., the Roman Catholic Church of the 16th and 17th century, and Kim Jong Un and the North Koreans today.

Sometimes the repetition provides for us different camera angles on particular events. At other times the repetition provides different perspectives on the common pattern (or ideal) that will come to expression in different ways as human history progresses.

Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago, “how many times does the book of Revelation go through the cycle of recapitulation”. I think my response was less than satisfying. I said, “I’m not sure. It’s hard to count. There is something really complex about the repetition in the book. I would imagine that different commentators would include different things in their counting.”

Sometimes the recapitulation is very obvious. The passage we read at the beginning is the most obvious example of recapitulation, in my opinion. Chapter 11 brings us to the end of history, and chapter 12 takes us back to the birth of Christ. Clear chronological repetition.

At other times the recapitulation is much more subtle. It seems to me that the last few chapters of the book are filled with little mini-recapitulations. If you look at chapter 16 you’ll notice that it takes to the end in general way, culminating with the pouring out of the seventh bowl, the angel saying, “It is done!”. Chapter 17-19:10 takes us again to the end, zooming in specifically upon the judgment that is to come upon the harlot, culminating with the marriage supper of the Lamb. And then 19:11-20:11 take us to the end again. The last battle is described to us here, and this time the emphasis is upon the final defeat and destruction of the beast, the false prophet, and then finally the dragon himself, who is Satan (these are judges in the reverse order as they are introduced to us. Then 20:11-15 zooms in upon the Great White Throne Judgement. And so the end of the book of Revelation recapitulates often, describing to us the end from a number of vantage points.

I have not done the work to count all of the instances of recapitulation. If someone has done the work, I haven’t seen it. And I would imagine that different commentators would count differently. This is one of those things where there are probably different ways to slice it.


So today we’ve picked up seven straightedged puzzle pieces that should help us to frame the puzzle of the book of Revelation. We’ve noticed that:

  1. Revelation Has A Beginning, Middle, And End
  2. The Opening Verses Tell Us Something About The Structure Of The Body
  3. 1:19 Tells Us Something About The Structure Of The Body
  4. The Spirit Initiates In Revelation
  5. Revelation Is Organized By Sets Of Seven
  6. Revelation Anticipates
  7. Revelation Repeats

This book is a complex book. It has layers to it. In fact, it probably more like a three dimensional rubix cube than a flat, two dimensional, jigsaw puzzle.

The book seems to frustrate those who want to find one primary organizational principle. Some try to say, “it is the sets of seven which bring structure to the book”. Others insist, “it is the references to John being ‘in the Spirit’ that organize the book.” Others make much of the supposed chronology of the book.

What I’m saying is that we are going to be frustrated if we try to organize the book using a simple timeline as if the book were organized chronically. Also, we’re also going to be frustrated if we try to organize the book using a logical outline – Point I… sub-point A, B, C… point II… sub-point A, B, C. It’s possible to outline Romans and Galatians in that way. Revelation doesn’t fit the mold.

There is structure to the book, but it is more circular than linear – it’s more like a spiderweb than the outlines that I provide for you in Emmaus Essentials. It’s the anticipation and the recapitulation that make it so.

Revelation does reveal truth to us concern specific events, people, and institutions. But more often than not it reveals common patterns to us, saying, “this is the kind of thing that the people of God should expect to experience in every age and in every place until the end.

This is the concept that the term “idealism” is referring to. When I say, I am not a futurist, nor am I a historicist, nor am I a preterist – I am an idealist. I’m not trying to be snarky, saying those views are less than “ideal” whereas mine is “ideal”. No, an “ideal” is a pattern, a model, a paradigm. And that what I believe Revelation to be. It reveals to us how things really are and how things will be in these last days.

The reality is this – there is a battle that rages all around us. God, and the people of God, have an enemy. Satan is that enemy, that ancient serpent. And Satan wars against God, his people, and his purposes, using the seductiveness of the world – the harlot, the lies of the false teacher, and the threats of powerful institutions – governments will often persecute. The people of God should not be surprised to see these patterns in the world. But they should know that God and his Christ reign even now. They are moving things to their desired and predetermined end. They keep their people. They preserve them. They protect them. And if they should suffer and die, they do not really die, but live in the presence of God. In the end these enemies God will not prevail, but will be fully and finally defeated and destroyed.

This is the pattern, or ideal, that is set before us in the book of Revelation. And this is why those who hear the prophesies of this book and keep what is written in it are blessed indeed. May God bless us as we given attention to and seek to apply his inspired, inerrant, authoritative, and clear word to our lives in the months and years to come.

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