By Jay Rogers
Published April 27, 2008
Most biblical prophecy is “forth-telling” rather than foretelling. Therefore, it is not good to try to figure out what every symbol means when reading Revelation. Do not use a “this means that” cryptic approach. Revelation is a prophecy not a puzzle.
However, John meant at least some of his hearers to know what he was talking about. When the fifth seal is opened the martyrs cry out: “How much longer will God withhold his judgment?” The answer: “A little longer because there will be many more martyrs.” When the sixth seal is opened, those who persecuted the saints are judged and their doom is made absolutely certain. These are temporal judgments upon the persecutors of the first century saints, therefore I find little reason to suspect that the judgments occurred centuries later.
The seven letters to the seven churches are written to John’s companions in tribulation. Suffering and death are linked to those who bear the testimony of Jesus. The martyrs who have come out of tribulation are spoken to in the present tense. In several passages, the “great tribulation,” is described as the same suffering and martyrdom described in the first three chapters. This “tribulation” is later attributed to a “beast” who now “is.”
Further, when we compare the historical context of Revelation to parallel passages in Daniel, we should understand that John was alluding to Daniel to demonstrate to believing Jews in his day that the prophecy of Daniel concerning the four kingdoms was about to be fulfilled.
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