4. The Middle Interludes
As a recap, there is generally good news at the beginning of Revelation with Christ appearing to John and the heavenly scene, and the end after Christ’s Second Coming and His Kingdom comes to pass.
However, the middle section between chapters six and sixteen is basically bad news, as per the previous section. Through twenty-one phases, it focuses on the final message and judgement upon a wayward earth.
These are then grouped into three groups of seven – seven opening seals, seven sounding trumpets, and seven pouring plagues.
But there are also three interludes throughout these twenty-one punishments with a different focus:
• One between the sixth and seventh seal
• One between the sixth and seventh trumpet
• One before the final seven plagues
These interludes generally look at what is happening in heaven still and God’s believers on earth.
After going through the twenty-one punishments on earth, these three interludes therefore help confirm their interpretation and timing from a heavenly perspective and add further detail to God’s plan of Salvation.
Interlude #1 - Saved Souls (Chapter Seven)
This follows the end of the seven seals and a concluding question at the end of the previous chapter:
"For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" - Revelation 6:17
Therefore, it answers this question about who can survive these earthly happenings by focusing on God's believers, who Christ returns for at His Second Coming.
Verse one sets the scene of these believers, and four angels holding back four winds of the whole earth (rather than people specifically), symbolised through the four corners of the north, south, east and west:
“And after these things, I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.” – Revelation 7:1
These angels are specifically holding back these troubles, not causing them.
The winds symbolise war and strife, and the earth and sea represent the barren earth and multitudes of people, respectively (see the Symbols Checklist).
Considering that Satan was given authority on earth from Adam and Eve’s fall and will eventually succeed in deceiving the whole world apart from God’s true believers, I understand this as representing how God will still divinely hold back Satan’s devices until God’s people are ready.
These believers are described in two forms, with scholars debating whether they are referring to the same people.
1. The 144,000
A fifth angel then appears with a loud cry to the four angels holding back difficulties on the earth (interestingly from the East, which is often symbolised as where God comes from):
“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” – Revelation 7:2-3
The focus is God’s people as represented by trees (see the Symbols Checklist)
They need ‘sealing’ before the four angels allow crazy times on the earth. Although not specifically aimed at people inhabiting the world at this time, without this seal of protection from God, they will end up suffering, of course (and later on, there is mention of the famous mark of the beast as something opposite to this).
Also, this protective seal is on people's foreheads and therefore, logically focuses on the mind and thinking.
In addition, this means that God must have already judged people to then know who are His true believers. before His Second Coming. Also, this is different to the sealing mentioned generally when people first become Christians and the presence of God's spirit in them.
The number of these sealed people is stated as being 144,000, a popular number you hear people state from Revelation.
“And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” – Revelation 7:4
As with other numbers in Revelation and Bible End Times prophecies, this is logically a symbolic number rather than literally 144,000 people on earth at this time, although some do interpret it as literal.
John also ‘hears’ this number, whereas he then actually sees the first angels and then ‘beholds’ the second group.
There is also a reference to Israel and the twelve tribes that make up this number, which I understand as symbolising all Christians at this time as the new Gentile-Israel rather than literal Christian Jews that some identify as.
This is supported by not all the original twelve tribes being listed here as per the Old Testament or the gates of the New Jerusalem later on, or in the same order. Also, there is the theme of twelve continuing through Christ and the twelve Apostles to the broader world.
Therefore, with these logically not being the literal twelve tribes of Israel at the end of time, then the number 144,000 would also make sense to be symbolic of the final Christians making it through the Great Tribulation to see Christ's Second Coming.
2. The Multitude
We then have reference to another broader ‘multitude’ of believers.
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” – Revelation 7:9
This specifically includes all believers from different groups on earth and too many to number.
We also glimpse the heavenly scene of chapters four and five, with God on the central throne, the Lamb, elders, beasts and angels in worship.
“And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,” – Revelation 7: 10-11
These people are dressed in white with palms in their hands and emphasised by one of the elders to John to bring this detail out.
“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?” – Revelation 1:13
This leads to understanding how these came from the Tribulation, although debate from scholars as to how these relate to the previous 144,000.
Logically this initial number symbolises those in the final tribulation leading to Christ's Second Coming, whereas these multitudes are across time and general tribulation they have experienced.
Also, it describes how they have arrived in this state – by them ‘doing’ something by washing their robes but within the context of accepting Salvation through the blood of Christ, the Lamb. This links with references elsewhere in Revelation to Christians obeying the commandments of Christ.
“And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great Tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” – Revelation 7:14
There is a beautiful picture of eternity with God – He dwells amongst them without them needing to experience things like hunger and light. Tears will be wiped away, and they will be fed by the lamb and have living waters:
“For the Lamb which is amid the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” – Revelation 7:17
Whilst most Scholars agree that this is a reference to final Christians receiving Salvation, as mentioned earlier, there is debate on whether this is the same group as the initial 144,000.
I believe they are the same but being described differently, beginning with individuals being sealed and leading to a collective group before God.
There are also two other important points.
First, both groups seem to go through difficulties – the first receiving the winds of strife after being sealed, and the second coming out of the Great Tribulation. It does not indicate that Christians will be removed from these difficult times leading to Christ’s return.
Secondly, this matches the timing between seals six and seven in the previous section. The declaration of who God’s people are after judgement begins from the sixth seal opening to the final Second Coming of the seventh seal.
Interlude #2 - Two Witnesses (Chapters 10 & 11)
The next interlude is between the sixth and seventh trumpets, which come after the seven seals.
On the understanding that the trumpets are running in parallel with the seals from the previous section, these are, therefore, at the same time as the first interlude and God’s sealed people.
There are three elements to this, which overlap and are described in three sections below.
In summary, these are a glimpse of what is happening To God, His people, and His way of Salvation during the crazy times on earth, which Christ is communicating through John.
1. The Little Book
The first section begins with a grand angel coming down with four specific features - being clothed with a cloud, having a rainbow over its head, having a face like a sun, and then feet like fire:
“And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire” – Revelation 10:1
Whilst some say this is a usual archangel (who took an oath with God in Revelation 10:6), others say it’s Christ Himself with these four features matching God elsewhere (Psalms 104:3, Revelation 4:3, Revelation 1:16, and Revelation 1:15, respectively). I also believe Michael the Archangel is Christ in a pre-incarnate form, with a post here.
This mighty angel has a little book now opened and feet on both the sea and the earth, which suggests that this has a worldwide influence and now involves another land of people than just the usual sea reference, as developed further in the third interlude and chapter thirteen.
Reference is then made to a little book being held:
“And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,” – Revelation 10:2
This book could be the book of Daniel, which Daniel was instructed at the time to be kept shut until the ‘time of the end’. Applying the traditional Historicist interpretation of this, it is some time after the year 1798, when there was a growth in the bible and missionary societies in the nineteenth century. It correlates with this timing after the sixth trumpet.
The angel then makes a loud cry, a significant factor regarding roaring like a lion and seven thunders sounding (God’s complete number):
“And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.” – Revelation 10: 3
John was about to do what he had been instructed to do so far – write everything down. However, the angels say do not, and instead ‘seal up’ these seven thunders.
“And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.” – Revelation 10:4
The explanation from the Angel seems to be that there is no more time for this, as it reaches heaven and swears by God.
“And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer” – Revelation 10:5-6
More specifically, when the next seventh angel sounds, it will be the end of God’s plans.
“But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” – Revelation 10:7
A voice from heaven then instructs John to take this little book from the angel (not write things down):
“And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.” – Revelation 10:8
The angels then tell John to eat this book, not just read it aloud. It will also have two contrary effects on him – tasting sweat in the mouth but bitter in the stomach. The order of these is also reversed between these verses.
“And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.” – Revelation 10:9-10
The end purpose of this is then revealed – to prophesy this meaning to the world and, interestingly, to do this again, suggesting that it has already been prophesied before:
“And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” – Revelation 10:11
Some say this bitter-sweet taste is the effect of God’s Word, which can be informative and encouraging, but also challenging and confrontational.
The Seventh-day Adventist denomination sees this as their experience in the year 1844 AD when the church was formed (and the time of the sixth trumpet).
Although William Miller was incorrect in believing this was the date of the Second Coming (a bitter experience), they then understood this as the commencement of the heavenly sanctuary being cleansed (a sweet experience) and the call to continue with this prophecy.
This interlude certainly shows the importance of biblical prophecies in the book of Daniel coming to light at the end of time before the seventh ‘thing’ happens on earth. There is no more time for writing and waiting; these need proclaiming.
2. The Temple Measurement
Chapter eleven then moves onto a picture of God’s temple, which John is instructed to measure. This includes explicitly God’s people who worship there, as well as the temple and alter themselves:
“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.” – Revelation 11:1
The Gentiles in the courtyard of the Temple are excluded from this, suggesting those who are not Christian:
“But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles:” – Revelation 11:2a
We then have a time frame here of forty-two months. Therefore, the principle of thirty days in the Jewish calendar equates to 1,260 days.
“and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” – Revelation 11:2b
This cannot mean the literal Jerusalem temple, as this had already been destroyed at this point (unless you date Revelation much earlier). However, Paul indicates a future ‘temple’ affected by the anti-Christ in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12. So if you don’t take the Futurist view of a reinstated Israel in the future, then it’s more likely to represent God’s people generally (1 Corinthians 3:16 & 6:19) and God’s heavenly temple.
Two other Old Testament prophets were also instructed to measure the temple – Zechariah 2:1-5 regarding the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile, and Ezekiel 40-48 for a future and greater restoration of Solomon’s structure.
Applying the traditional Historicist method of interpretation that I explain in the study on the book of Daniel, which all the old Protestant Reformers of old believed in, this emphasises 1,260 actual years using the ‘day year’ principle.
This was when the Papacy had control over God’s people from 538 AD to 1798 AD when the Pope was captured through Napoleon, which is the anti-system God warned about through the ‘little horn’ symbology in Daniel.
I believe this links to the judgment of Christians as a ‘measurement’ before God. This is therefore happening before we arrive at the Second Judgement, which relates to the judgement scene in Daniel chapter seven also for the saints, which is times after this 1798 AD date when the little horn’s power ends.
3. Two Witnesses
This leads into the final part of the vision, of two witnesses empowered by God to prophesy. This relates to this period of the 1260 days/years mentioned in the last part, and therefore the period between the sixth- and eighteenth-century AD:
“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” – Revelation 11:3
These two witnesses are then described as being in sackcloth in this verse and compare two olive trees and candlesticks:
“These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.” – Revelation 10:4
They have been given great power; fire from their mouths will devour those who harm them; they can stop rain coming, turn water into blood, and issue plagues on the earth:
“And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” – Revelation 11:5-6
After this period, the beast in the bottomless pit will attack and kill them. This is the first reference to a beast in Revelation, which most Christian Scholars agree symbolising the Antichrist (although different interpretations of who that then is):
“And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” – Revelation 11:7
The location of their dead bodies is also then emphasised as the ‘great city’ called Sodom and Egypt, where Christ was crucified.
“And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” – Revelation 11:8
Meaning – happened with bodies in the streets of Paris after the French revolution? The freedom from law/faith they started went crazy. Three and half years later, the French National Assembly had to re-introduce religion because of pressure from circumstances, then the Advent movement.
A time frame for these dead bodies is also given as three and a half days:
“And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.” – Revelation 11:9
There is a celebration on earth during this time, as these two prophets had a Godly message that was not accepted by the world:
“And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” – Revelation 11:10
But afterwards, God’s spirit raised these two witnesses back to life and transported them to heaven, which people than feared:
“And after three days and a half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.” – Revelation 11:11 -12
An earthquake then happens, which increases this fear in people and causes a tenth of the city to fall, and seven thousand men killed:
“And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” – Revelation 11:13
In terms of who these two witnesses are, the main interpretations are below, in addition, of course, to these being two literal individuals in the future which are unknown now (Deuteronomy 19:15 also describes how a minimum of two witnesses were needed to sustain a court case):
1. Zerubbabel & Joshua the High Priest – the two leaders of the move back from Babylon to Jerusalem
2. The Law & Prophets – what Old Testament Scriptures were often referred to.
3. Peter & Paul – the two early Church pioneers suggested by Preterists as Martyrs at the time of Nero Caesar (but not brought back to life)
4. Israel & the Church – as two groups of God’s people witnessing to the world
5. Enoch & Elijah – both raptured straight to heaven and did not experience natural death
6. Moses and Elijah – two major Old Testament prophets who appeared with Christ at the Transfiguration. However, John the Baptist later came in the spirit of Elijah.
7. Old & New Testament – link with being attacked by the beast/Papacy.
Interlude #3 - Two Beasts (Chapters Twelve to Fourteen)
The third interlude comes between the seven trumpets and seven plagues. This is detailed in chapters twelve, thirteen, and fourteen, covering three respective prophecies.
This is the book's centre, with the final plagues after following people have accepted the mark of the beast or seal of God and, therefore, eternal destinies determined (before Christ’s Second Coming after the plagues).
Therefore, this interlude begins with the background of Satan as the ultimate source of sin, how the earthly systems used by Satan develop further right at the end of time, to how people then hear and respond to God’s Gospel.
1. The Dragon & Women
Chapter twelve introduces the symbol of a woman and dragon, identifying the overall fight against good and evil.
It provides an overall perspective over time, twice over. So, the second half of the chapter from verse seven repeats the first half with more detail.
The main indication of this repetition is the same time space on one thousand two hundred and sixty days. No
Whether you interpret what this means, it is the same in both halves.
The women and dragon are first introduced in heaven, with the women having three symbols of the solar system – sun, moon, and stars.
“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:” – Revelation 12:1
Most scholars agree this represents God’s people, with the Symbols Checklist highlighting other scripture references to this (however, Catholics identify this as Mary).
The twelve stars help confirm this, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel in the Old Testament and the twelve Apostles of the Church in the New Testament.
The greater-light sun logically represents Christ, and the lesser-light moon, the Old Testament sacrifice system, reflects Him.
The Dragon is introduced as being red, and variously numbered features – seven heads and crowns and ten horns:
“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.” – Revelation 12:3
There is a clear link here to earlier prophecies in Daniel, where the final symbolic beast has ten horns, and all four beasts have seven heads (chapter seven).
Later, there is a clear explanation of this symbolising Satan:
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan” – Revelation 12:9a
Also, the earlier description of a ‘red’ dragon represents bloodshed and links with attempts like Herod trying to kill Jesus early on.
Two things then happen to the dragon.
Firstly, its tail brings a third of the ‘stars’ in heaven down to earth:
“And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth:” – Revelation 12:4a
Most Scholars agree this was when Satan was the first cast out of heaven onto earth after sinning against God, causing a proportion of the fallen angels to come as his demons, as symbolised by stars in heaven.
The second half of the book, when repeating this whole saga, then goes back to this same point:
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” – Revelation 12:7-9
More detail is provided about the reason for this exit – a spiritual battle in heaven as Satan rebels.
Secondly, the woman is described as being pregnant with a child that this dragon then tries to kill:
“And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered...and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” – Revelation 12:2 & 4b
Most Scholars accept this child again to represent Christ being born, having the ability to rule and being God’s:
“And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.” – Revelation 12:5
This is logically on earth at this point where the dragon was sent, where the church/women reside, and where Christ was, of course, born.
In the second half of the chapter, the focus is more on Christ’s Ascension back to heaven after His Resurrection:
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” – Revelation 12:10
It also explains how Satan could still access heaven as earth’s representative after Adam and Eve's fall, but only until Christ’s sacrifice and His new rule as High Priest and sacrifice took over.
Verse six then brings in a time prophecy of one thousand two hundred and sixty days:
“And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” – Revelation 12:6
Most Scholars see this as the same period in Daniel’s vision of the beast with a little horn which had control for the same period (Daniel chapter seven).
It is basically the antichrist kingdom against God’s people; however, there are differences in how this is interpreted.
Preterists say it has already happened in the past, and Futurists to still occur at the very end of time through people persecuting the Jewish people.
Historicists identify this as an equivalent 1260-year period which identifies Catholicism and the Papacy as the antichrist system. This matched the middle Dark Ages when they oppressed God’s people.
Whilst the women in the first half of the chapter symbolised Israel in the Old Testament until the birth of Christ, the women in this second half New Testament represent Christian believers with a focus on the future seed of the child.
However, this verse says how God’s true group of believers is protected to survive this period, even if they are few. This includes the Protestant Reformation throughout this 1260-year period of the Middle Ages, which all the Reformers up to John Wesley and Charles Spurgeon understood.
In the second half, detail is provided about how much true salvation and faith enabled such believers, even though it led to martyrdom:
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” – Revelation 12:11
A warning is given about Satan’s ability to deceive the world and have great wrath, and cause persecution:
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him...Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.” – Revelation 12:9, 12, & 13
More detail is added when this historical period of one thousand two hundred and sixty years is described in the second half. The woman has two wings of an eagle in this flight of protection in the wilderness:
“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” – Revelation 12:14
The dragon is now described as a serpent, drowning the women with a flood of water from its mouth:
“And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.” – Revelation 12:15
Looking at the Symbols Checklist, such floods can be identified as false doctrines amongst people. This is because water represents nations of people that Satan uses to carry God’s people away with wrong talk and beliefs that come from his mouth.
This highlights Satan’s change in tactic from crude persecution of God’s believers to the development of false belief systems to confuse and try to drown God’s people spiritually.
However, God helps His people by the earth symbolically opening up to swallow this flood:
“And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.” – Revelation 12:16
This indicates a development of true faith and truth to counter the false ones around the nineteenth century at the end of this period.
The last verse is an essential final focus. This not only describes how Satan begins attacking the women/church and Christ the seed but also now attacking the remnant of the church’s seed going forward:
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” – Revelation 12:17
Two aspects of these remnant Christians are then provided: believing God’s commandments and having the testimony of Christ.
2. The Two Beasts
The second section in chapter thirteen focuses on two beasts; one in the first half and the second in the latter half.
Jumping to verse five, a critical time frame of 1,260 days helps most Scholars link this first beast to the main one in Daniel in the Old Testament (as per the previous chapter):
“And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.” – Revelation 13:5
The Historicist interpretation that all former Protestant Reformers understood sees this as representing Catholicism and the Papacy through the dark Middle Ages. In the study on chapter seven of Daniel, there is a 10-point checklist of details within this chapter that identifies this.
Here are related points highlighted in this chapter of Revelation:
1. Verse one describes how it arrives from the Sea
This is just like the four animals in Daniel chapter seven representing a multitude of people.
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads” – Revelation 13:1a
2. The total number of heads across all four beasts in Daniel totals seven, as here in Revelation
Verse two then lists the same three core animals as in Daniel.
The order of these is also key, with John seeing them in reverse order than Daniel because he was looking back in time, whereas Daniel was prophesising into the future:
“And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion:” – Revelation 13:2a
3. The ten crowns
There are ten horns in Daniel’s vision, and now ten crowns are mentioned in Revelation, clearly showing that these are political and royal powers:
“and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads” – Revelation 13:1b
4. Revelation highlights that this beast is specifically Satan symbolised as a dragon
This is in clear opposition again Christ and His judgement:
“and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” – Revelation 13:2b
5. The beast here also speaks blasphemy against God
This is just like what the little horn was doing to the beast in Daniel:
“and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.” – Revelation 13:1c
“And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies” – Revelation 13:5a
“And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle,” – Revelation 13:6a
6. Reference is in both Daniel and Revelation about this beast being against God’s people
“and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” – Revelation 6b & 7
As mentioned earlier, the same period of one thousand two hundred and sixty days is given here. This equates to 1,260 years applying the day-year principle, which matches the Papacy gaining political power in 538 AD but then being defeated in 1798 by Napoleon:
“and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.” – Revelation 13:5b
Revelation then provides further details on how the beast somehow recovers after this defeat:
“And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” – Revelation 13:3
Catholicism has always continued as a religious force, but after 1798 it lost its secular and political influence.
However, this chapter explains how this beast will once again re-establish the attention and adoration of the world and how Satan, as the dragon, is the one that has empowered this:
“and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” – Revelation 13:3b & 4
Bringing this back to the core theme in Revelation about God’s people, the following verses emphasise how this beast/dragon combination will affect the whole world, except those who are saved in the Book of Life:
“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” – Revelation 13:8-10
We then have the second beast appear, with verse eleven being key in describing three features:
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” – Revelation 13:11a
Firstly, it emerges from the earth rather than the sea, which applies the same symbology, suggesting a far less dense group of people.
Secondly, there are two horns, but much milder like a lamb than on other beasts, indicating a more amiable and accommodating political power.
Thirdly, the dragon is not only still behind the scenes, but this beast sounds like the dragon.
This all then links back to the first beast, both receiving its power and turning worship back to the first beast:
“And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast.” – Revelation 13:12a
The last part of this verse helps an indication of the timing of this second beast, in addition to the original introductory verse eleven:
“whose deadly wound was healed” – Revelation 13:12b
“which had the wound by a sword, and did live.” – Revelation 13:14b
“And I beheld another beast…” – Revelation 13:11
It emerges as the first beast goes out of the picture and becomes more influential as the first beast later recovers political power.
In 1798 the Pope was taken captive in Rome by Berthier on behalf of Napoleon and died the year afterwards, taking away secular political control of the Papacy.
However, over time this has and is gaining secular control back; one milestone was in 1929 when the Vatican state was granted sovereignty by signing the Lateran Treaty by Mussolini and Cardinal Gasparri (material articles in the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times lined this to the beast’s wound healing).
Also, in recent times, the Pope has described the ‘wound’ in the broader church between Catholicism and Protestantism as still being healed and seeking more general ecumenical unity (and other political and ecclesiastical authority).
This leads to the second beast demonstrating fire from heaven – whether literal or symbolic of the spiritual – and then miracles. These not only get the attention of the world but deceives them:
“And he doeth great wonders so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth using those miracles which he had the power to do in the sight of the beast;” – Revelation 13:13b-14.
Regarding what this second beast symbolises, then although a surprise, it logically has to be the United States of America when you develop the Historicist interpretation, which identifies Catholicism as the first beast.
As this only arose from the late eighteenth century, the former Protestant Reformers could not identify this as it had not yet emerged (although some later ones like Joh Wesley sensed it was on the way). However, this is what the Seventh-day Adventist Christians highlight who appeared in the mid-nineteenth century.
Going back over the above details about this second beast, here is how it links to the United States:
1. It was a sparsely populated land discovered by others, as per the earth rather than sea symbology.
2. It comes across as a nation that acknowledges God and people’s free will to worship Him as a gentler lamb-like beast.
Whilst other references to the lamb in Revelation are to Christ; this indicates something that appears to be compatible with Christian values.
America was formed as a republic emphasising liberty and freedom of conscience for people to express themselves and worship God without top-down control.
This was through civil political-government liberty without a king (only short-term Presidents) and religious freedom without a Pope-like figure, as the Christian forefathers from Europe were familiar with from the Middle Ages.
This matches the two horns symbology, which does not have a crown, symbolising a monarchy like the previous seven on the first beast.
3. There are links with Catholicism (the first beast), which means an influence of the dragon behind everything, despite the lamb-like qualities.
Over the last few decades, all US presidents have openly acknowledged the Pope, and most of the government influence is through Catholics and Jesuits in the Supreme Court.
Although America was the only western country in the 1960s which still had no diplomatic relations with the Vatican, this changed after John F Kenney, the first Catholic president. As a result, they are the dominant influence in government now and steer more money to Rome than the rest of the world put together.
4. America rose from the late eighteenth century, just as the Papacy’s political rule ended in 1798 as per the 1,260-year prophecy.
1776, the Declaration of Independence from England was enacted in 1783 after the war. The United States Constitution came in 1789, ratified in the Bill of Rights in the early 1790s and the first ten amendments to the constitution (the first on religious freedom). Even though there were no royal or religious bloodlines, this was to safeguard against any powers emerging to take control.
5. Mainstream Christianity nowadays is influenced by America’s ‘spirituality’ and symbols of miracles and fire.
This emphasises how modern Christianity influences this second beast of the USA.
This is deceiving people to the pure Gospel, a good example being the documentary ‘The American Gospel: Christ Alone’.
Spiritualism will increase with churches turning more to the state for help with worldwide crises and problems.
The first beast’s influence is also brought back in.
Not only is the first beast still seeing this, but this new second beast even makes an ‘image’ back to this initial one (although technically getting people on earth actually to make the image and then giving life to this image for it to speak then):
“saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had the power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak,” – Revelation 13:14a-15b.
It then demands worship of this formed image, failing which is death:
“and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” – Revelation 13: 15b
In terms of what this image is, it must mirror the ethos and movements of the first Papal beast.
Applying the USA as the second beast would logically be when both the religious and political sides come together to not only acknowledge Catholicism but form ways and even laws that prescribe it and give it life.
This image will be fully formed when the US perfectly mirrors and implements the ways of Catholicism.
Worshipping this image will therefore be following its demands.
We then have the famous finale of this second beast – to force everyone to receive the mark of the beast:
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or their foreheads:” – Revelation 13:16
When establishing what this mark symbolises, it’s important to note where it symbolically appears on people – either their right hand OR forehead.
Most scholars also accept that this is regarding the mark and consequences of the first beast, not the second beast, which is simply helping to re-enact the first.
The next verse outlines the final consequence regarding this mark:
“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” – Revelation 13:17
Two important aspects of this often get missed.
Firstly, it’s not just the ‘mark’ of the beast that triggers this, but also the name of the beast or its number’ - a total of three scenarios.
Secondly, the consequences here are the inability to trade and buy or sell. In contrast, the death penalty was technically earlier in verse regarding the worship of the image of the beast.
The final verse then emphasises how the famous number of this first beast, 666, will help identify who it is:
“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” – Revelation 13:18
With the Historicist method of interpretation highlighting that this is the Papacy and Catholicism, this number helps confirm this in various ways, as per a separate post here.
3. The Three Angels
Chapter fourteen then focuses on what is happening with God’s plan of salvation and His people.
The first part of this interlude in the chapter was a broad-brush look at how sin began with Satan in heaven, and the second part in the last chapter then provided detail at the end of time on how the earthly beast develops.
This chapter begins with the heavenly scene from chapters four and five. It is glimpsing things right at the end of time with God’s people.
Here are ten highlighted features:
1. Christ is the focus, symbolised again through a lamb:
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb…” – Revelation 14:1
2. He is on Mount Zion, where God dwells:
“…stood on the mount Sion…” – Revelation 14:1
3. The throne room of God with the twenty-four elders and four beasts is highlighted:
“…before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders:…” – Revelation 14:3
4. Voices are then singing a new song with harps.
Although it does not say who this is from, it can be assumed to be many voices by the symbology of waters (see the Symbols Checklist), and is worship to God at His throne:
“And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne” – Revelation 14:2-3a
5. The one hundred and forty-four thousand believers are then with Christ (the lamb), mentioned twice:
“and with him an hundred forty and four thousand…but the hundred and forty and four thousand” – Revelation 14:1 & 3
These are logically the same people as in Revelation chapter seven, with the same number of one hundred and forty-four thousand.
The earlier section concluded these must be symbolic of a more significant number of believers at the end of time, mirrored here with John seeing this number but hearing many more.
6. These people logically have the seal of God on them concerning the Father’s name on their foreheads:
“having his Father's name written in their foreheads” – Revelation 14:1
7. There is a close link between these people with Christ; only they can sing the new song mentioned earlier and closely follow Him:
“and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand...These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth” – Revelation 14:3 & 4
8. They display holiness, which would explain their closeness to Christ, as symbolised through virginity:
“These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins…And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” – Revelation 14:4 & 5
9. They are also redeemed people from earth, therefore a glimpse at the very end of time:
“which were redeemed from the earth… These were redeemed from among men” – Revelation 14:3 & 4
10. They are finally described as the first fruits of God and Christ:
“being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” – Revelation 14:4
These last two points can cause differences in opinion on when and who these one hundred and forty-four thousand are.
Although some suggest these are extraordinary believers that have already been raptured to heaven before Christ’s Second Coming, the previous two points, seven and eight, explain how they are unique in their expression of worship to God.
This suggests those living on earth with the unique experience of God’s power through the final tribulation that no other believer or angel will have experienced.
The Three Angels
The middle section then goes on to explain what three consecutive angels then do.
Whilst Futurists believe these are only at the very end of time after Christian believers have been raptured and therefore only for the final Jewish people, verse six clearly states this as being addressed for the whole earth:
“unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” – Revelation 14:6
We have, therefore, just glimpsed the very end of time with God’s people making it through the final Tribulation and being finally sealed. This section is now going back to explaining what God’s message is leading up to this and the warning about the opposing mark of the beast.
There are also three highlighted features of these angels:
1. Each one is described as ‘following’ the others, clearly indicating that they appear in this consecutive order (with a potential overlap of earlier ones).
2. The angels are flying around heaven, emphasising the swiftness and importance of this message from God
3. They give a ‘loud’ cry, suggesting these are important and need to be heard by people. (Although not explicitly stated with number two, this does have a repeating word as mentioned below to emphasise still).
The first angel
This first angel gives the Gospel to people with three specific aspects.
Firstly, it is described as the ‘everlasting’ gospel to the whole earth, clearly indicating that it affects everyone throughout time (the only place in Scripture where the gospel is described as eternal).
“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” – Revelation 14:6
This is being preached and considering that angels are there as God’s messengers to help humans carry out the spread of the Gospel as per Christ’s Great Commission, then this (and therefore the other two messages) must be expressed on earth through people.
Secondly, this preaching causes people to worship God then and give Him glory, with specific reference to God as a creator:
“Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him…and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” – Revelation 14:7
Thirdly, there is mention of judgement not only coming but is in existence at this point:
“…for the hour of his judgment is come:…” – Revelation 14:7
Specifically, a period of one hour with this judgement is highlighted, which equates to just over a fortnight in the actual time applying the same day-year principle.
Seventh-day Adventist Christians logically deduce that this judgement of believers is currently in the process from the year 1844 and the sixth period of prophesied time on earth.
The second angel
The second angel declares that the symbolic city of Babylon is fallen:
“And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, “ – Revelation 14:8a.
Although it may appear over the top to emphasise something that will happen anyway, later in Revelation, more detail is provided on how serious this worldly system is and how believers should not be caught up in it when it does fall.
Repeating the phrase ‘fallen’ twice highlights this importance.
It then describes why Babylon falls – affecting people (nations) by her ungodly (fornication) ways.
“because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” – revelation 14:8b
The third angel
This is a serious message and links with the previous chapter thirteen, introducing the mark of the beast:
“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand” – Revelation 14:9
Specifically, the worship can be to either the beast or the image of the beast, which effectively mirrors who the beast is anyway.
Plus, the mark can be on the forehand or head; either will do (compare this to God’s seal, which is only on the forehead).
The severe consequences of accepting this mark are expressed – receiving God’s wrath leading to eternal damnation:
“The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” – Revelation 14:10 & 11
A couple of separate points can be noted here.
Firstly, it does not indicate a never-ending torment in hell, with only the ‘smoke’ (and effect) lasting forever and being in the presence of angels and Christ.
Secondly, one consequence is not having rest, which is opposite to the Seventh-day Adventists’ interpretation of God’s seal as a Sabbath rest of the seventh day of the week.
This is the most severe warning in the whole of the Bible, and to help balance this and offer hope, the following few verses offer clarity for believers – simple obedient faith in Christ that is consistent/patient over time until His Second Coming:
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” – Revelation 14:12
Plus, John is specifically told to write down the point that those believers who then die are blessed by not having to go through the experience of the End Times events through these three angels' messages:
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” – Revelation 14:13
The end – part #1
The final section of this chapter then looks right at the very end of time at Christ’s Second Coming.
The first few verses address what happens to Christian believers, with explicit reference to Christ Himself:
“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle” – Revelation 14:14
Another angel straight from God’s temple (with no clarity on whether Christ is inside the temple Himself or not at this point) then indicates when Christ’s Second coming is through the symbology of this sickle in His hand bringing in a harvest of souls:
“And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped” – Revelation 14:15 & 16
Something has triggered this final event, with the time now coming for Christ’s Second Coming. Christ emphasised in His Gospels and elsewhere in Revelation the importance of preparing for and understanding this time, even though we will not know the exact day or hour.
This is also a ‘sharp’ sickle symbolising this being quick and effective and matching the later symbology of a sword in Christ’s mouth when He arrives.
The end – part #2
The next part then clearly focuses on those who are unsaved, with another angel outworking their fate rather than Christ collecting His believers from the earth as before:
“And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.” – Revelation 14:17
Another instructing angel, specifically from the alter in the temple, then commands this angel to harvest unsaved souls through the symbology of the vine:
“And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth” – Revelation 14:18 & 19a
Clear consequences are then outlined with a specific quantity of one thousand six hundred furlongs being stated:
“and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs” – Revelation 14:19b & 20