The Book Of Revelation Part 2

Introduction

We have just discussed the first three main points, Revelation 1:1 / Revelation 1:3.

1. Revelation is a symbolic book.

2. It was written about things that were ‘soon to take place.’

3. Revelation was written to encourage or comfort Christians in the first century.

In this part of our lesson, we will be identifying some of the main characters in the book, the time frame, and where those events would be occurring.

4. Point number four is that Revelation identifies the dragon and the two beasts.

Like in any vision, to fully understand it, we must understand who the main characters are. Some of the characters in this book are ‘the dragon’ and the ‘two beasts’. Who are these characters, and who or what do they represent?

The Dragon

Let us remember again that this is a figurative or symbolic book. God showed or signified to John and the saint’s many things that were figurative, and that weren’t meant to be taken literally because they were symbols. So, who or what is the dragon, and what does the dragon represent?

I want to direct your attention to Revelation 12 so that you can notice where the dragon is clearly identified as none other than Satan, the devil himself.

In Revelation 12:9, the dragon is identified very clearly, he is the devil, Satan who ‘leads the whole world astray.’ In John 8:44 Jesus identified the devil as a liar and a murderer from the beginning. Revelation 12:9 identifies the dragon as Satan, which is a big help to our understanding of the Book of Revelation.

Toward the end of the book, the dragon also is identified. Look at Revelation 20. In Revelation 20:2, we see God binding Satan, the dragon for a thousand years.

When we come to the Book of Revelation, let’s understand that the dragon, a mythical creature that throughout human history in literature has wreaked havoc represents the devil, which is the most fearful adversary mankind has.

I am reminded of 1 Peter 5 where we are told that the devil is ‘like a roaring lion, seeking those whom he may devour.’ 1 Peter 5:8.

The Sea And Land Beast

In point number four we learn not only who the dragon is, but also who ‘the sea beast’ and the ‘land beast’ are. These powerful figures represent someone or something during the time of the first century. Let’s take a moment to identify from the Scriptures some characteristics that accompany the sea beast so that we can understand who or what this is.

The Sea Beast represents Rome And Her Rulers

In Revelation 13:1-10 we see some of the characteristics of the sea beast.

These texts tell us that the sea beast has been given its power by the dragon, Revelation 13:2 / Revelation 13:4. So, the sea beast is a tool or a pawn in the hand of Satan. It’s under Satan’s control, and as such is a wicked and ungodly figure. Whoever or whatever this beast is, it’s being ruled by ‘the god of this world’, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan himself.

In Revelation 13:4 we notice that people worship the beast. Whatever this beast was, during the first-century people were worshipping it. History tells us that the rulers or Caesars of Rome often were viewed as gods.

That’s how they viewed themselves. And the annals of history clearly show that the people worshipped Roman emperors as gods. Thus, we see that the sea beast receives its power from Satan and that people worshipped the beast.

Revelation 13:8 tells us something interesting about those who don’t worship the beast. Only those whose names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life didn’t worship the beast.

So, who is it, who isn’t worshipping the beast? It’s the Christians because those whose names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life were the ones who weren’t worshipping the beast.

In Revelation 17:9-12 we see the seven heads of the beast as representative of seven hills and seven kings. What would people in the first century naturally have thought when they read something like that? Rome always has been known as ‘the city set on seven hills.’

It also had seven major kings or Caesars. What is the sea beast? It’s none other than Rome and her rulers. The sea beast wasn’t a figure that would show up 2,000 years down the road. It wasn’t something about which God was prophesying that had to do with us today.

Christians would have understood this, the sea beast was under the control of Satan, and was none other than Rome and her rulers.

In Revelation 13:7 we see another characteristic of the sea beast, its identified as a persecutor of the saints and as a dominant world power. Who persecuted Christians? Rome did. Who was the dominant world power during the first century? Rome and her rulers, the Caesars.

Revelation 13 gives us adequate information to know that the sea beast is representative of Rome. When we see the sea beast under the control of the dragon, we can know that it’s speaking of Rome and her rulers, all of which would have been easily recognised by first-century Christians.

The Land Beast Represents The People Under The Power Of The Roman Government

But what about the second beast, the land beast? Revelation 13:11-18 identifies the land beast.

Revelation 13:12 says that the land beast exercises the authority of the first beast. It’s as if the land beast works under the sea beast, which has given the land beast its authority.

We also see that the land beast causes the people to make an image of, and worship, the sea beast. The land beast has authority and goes around enforcing the worship of the sea beast.

In Revelation 13:13-14, we see that the land beast, through trickery and other things that were not real, makes people think that the sea beast is a god.

Remember that people viewed Roman emperors as gods. It was the land beast’s job to make sure that people looked up to the emperors as gods. In Revelation 13:14 we learn that the land beast causes people to make images of the sea beast.

Archaeology has shown us that the Romans made busts or images of their gods which then were placed on pedestals so that people could worship them on a regular basis. It was the land beast’s job to see to it that people made such images and worshipped the sea beast.

Revelation 13:15 tells us that the land beast would even put people to death if they did not worship the sea beast. Thus, the land beast is representative of some type of militia, a group of people who went around forcing people to worship the sea beast and punishing them if they refused to do so.

Revelation 13:17-17 identifies some people who worshipped the sea beast, and who were known by marks on their hands and foreheads. This mark signified that a person’s allegiance was to the sea beast.

It was the land beast’s job to be sure that the mark was clearly seen and known. The land beast is identified as a false prophet, Revelation 13:13.

Who is this land beast?

The sea beast is Rome and her rulers, and if it’s the job of the second beast to go around and force people to worship the sea beast and to set up images of the sea beast, then the second beast is representative of a type of militia, government officials, or army that went around and caused people to worship the sea beast.

The dragon is Satan and in the hand of the dragon is the sea beast, Rome and her rulers that are causing Christians to suffer. The land beast represents people under the power of the Roman government who were going around and trying to force Christians to give their allegiance to Satan by worshipping the sea beast. Understanding this helps us understand much of what the Book of Revelation is about.

5. Point number five identifies the harlot in Babylon.

The Harlot Represents Rome

If we’re going to understand who the dragon is, we also must understand who the harlot and Babylon are. These two figures are mentioned in Revelation 17 and 18. The harlot is none other than the city of Rome itself.

Let me list some facts for you that will help you see that the harlot is Rome.

Revelation 17:18 says that the harlot is a great city. During the time of the Book of Revelation, there was no city greater than the city of Rome. Millions of people lived there, and it was a powerful world force.

Revelation 17:2 says that the harlot had committed adultery with the kings of the Earth. Who was making foreign alliances and bringing foreign nations under her power? It was Rome.

In Revelation 17:3 we also are told that the harlot rode on the back of the beast. Because Rome and her rulers were the beast, she is the one who is riding on the back of the beast.

Revelation 17:4 says that she lives a luxurious life. Rome, its senate, and its elite inhabitants lived one of the most luxurious lives you could ever imagine.

Revelation 17:6 says that the harlot was drunk with the blood of Christians. During the time of the first century, Rome was the main persecutor of Christians, the Romans were putting Christians to death. Some were being thrown to the lions. Anyone caught worshipping as a child of God was put to death.

Who is this harlot?

Revelation 17 identifies a city that fits the description of none other than Rome itself.

Babylon Represents Rome And Her Government

But what about Babylon? Who or what is Babylon? Revelation 18 tells us about Babylon, taking our minds back to the image of Babylon in the Old Testament, which depicted Babylon as a great world power that conquered God’s people. Although Babylon of the Old Testament wasn’t a righteous force, God used it for His purposes.

But who is Babylon mentioned in Revelation 18? Babylon mentioned as a great city, Revelation 18:16 / Revelation 18:21.

Revelation 18:3 and Revelation 18:9 both say that Babylon commits fornication with those of the world. This is much like the harlot who was committing fornication and living in ungodliness.

Revelation 18:16 says that Babylon dresses and lives luxuriously, which is quite similar to what is said of the harlot. Babylon also is seen as having killed Christians, Revelation 18:24.

Babylon is a synonym for Rome, Revelation 17:5. If the harlot is Rome and if Babylon the Great is the mother of harlots, then that is a picture of Rome and her government. The harlot is Rome, Babylon the Great is Rome, which is the evil world force that is causing so much harm to Christians.

6. The sixth point identifies the period of 1,260 days. 42 months, or time, times, and half a time, three and a half years, Revelation 11:2.

This is important because this is the period of time in which the Book of Revelation was written.

Forty-two months is 1,260 days or three and a half years. Revelation 11-13 is a climactic scene of persecution and the beginning of victory. The two witnesses or prophets who represent the church, are killed.

In Revelation 12 we see a great battle where we see Christ and Christians as victorious. But what is the time period of that? It is 1,260 days or 42 months, Revelation 11:3.

Now when the two witnesses finish their testimony, something else will happen. The beast will attack and kill God’s people, Revelation 11:7. A woman flees to the wilderness where God would take care of her for 1,260 days. Revelation 12:6. A woman was given two wings so she could go the place where God would take care of her and keep her safe, Revelation 12:14.

We have three and a half years, 42 months, or 1,260 days. Notice how all of this comes together, Revelation 13:5-7. The beast is Rome and her rulers, and the time period is 42 months.

This is essential to an understanding of the Book of Revelation because the writing of the book was taking place during an intense period of persecution of Christians by the Roman government and her militia.

This persecution was relatively short-lived in duration. And it was for this exact period of intense persecution that the Book of Revelation was written.

If we can understand when this was occurring, and we can, and if we can understand that it was a time of persecution by Rome and her government, then we can have a better understanding of when the Book of Revelation was written and for whom it was written.

7. The seventh point is that the Book of Revelation discusses a spiritual, not a physical, kingdom, Revelation 1:6.

The kingdom is present, and we are a kingdom of priests, it’s not a future event, Mark 9:1. In Revelation 1 we learn that John and other Christians were currently in the kingdom, Revelation 1:9.

To understand the Book of Revelation and how God’s kingdom will reign and rule over all other kingdoms, we must understand that this isn’t a physical kingdom being discussed. We aren’t talking about people in a militia conquering other nations. That isn’t how God’s kingdom is going to reign.

Remember what Jesus said to Pilate? ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.’ John 18:36

The Book of Revelation is about God, Christ, and His kingdom being victorious over all other kingdoms and especially, so far as first-century Christians were concerned, the Roman Empire.

Bringing It All Together

Now, let’s tie these things together to see how all of this, fits together. We have identified the main adversaries in the Book of Revelation. The dragon is Satan, the sea beast is Rome and her rulers, and the land beast is those in Rome who enforce worship of the sea beast. Those are the main adversaries in this book.

We also understand where these activities are taking place. They are occurring where Babylon the Great and the harlot are located, and we know that these two represent Rome.

We also understand the time frame, which is three and a half years, since three is the perfect number, and since there is a half after it, then we know that this isn’t something that will last forever. These events were happening during the reign of the beast, Rome.

Look at what we have learned as we have examined these points. We’ve learned who was doing the persecution, we’ve learned where the persecution was taking place and we’ve learned the time period. All of this will help us in our attempts to understand the Book of Revelation.

Do not forget that the Book of Revelation is very practical. I haven’t presented these main points just, so we can gain more knowledge about the Book of Revelation in general. Rather, I want to show that this book is a very practical book. Look at some of the lessons we have seen as we have examined the main points.

Lessons Learned

1. We can know that God knows, and cares deeply about, our suffering.

In Revelation 6 we see Christians crying out to God. Those Christians were told to wait a while because God would punish those who were harming them, Revelation 6:10-11.

So, from this book, we learn that God knows, and cares about, our suffering. How that can help us on a daily level to know that we’re not alone, that God loves us, and that He cares deeply for us! Hebrews 4:15 / 1 Peter 5:7. God even cares for us enough that He provides us with the things of this life, Matthew 6:33.

We are told that if we seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, things such as food, shelter, and clothing will be provided for us, Psalm 37:25.

God will take care of righteous people. We need to understand that the Book of Revelation contains some very practical lessons. When we struggle, have trials, face tribulation, or have things come into our lives that bring us great trouble, there is a God in Heaven Who knows about our suffering, cares for us, and wants to help.

2. We also learn that Satan, our adversary, is powerful and needs to be feared.

He isn’t someone with whom we should flirt or play, Satan is a fearful adversary, but we can win over Satan, Hebrews 2:14. This tells us that Jesus, through death, overcame him who had the power of death, the devil.

Yes, Satan is to be feared, He is ‘the serpent of old’, Genesis 3 and the ‘roaring lion’, 1 Peter 5:8. He even can present himself as ‘an angel of light’, 2 Corinthians 11:14. He definitely is to be feared.

And yes, Satan can work in human history through human governments to cause Christians to undergo persecution in order to try to cause them to be lost. But if Christians remain faithful, they will always be victorious over the devil, Revelation 12:11.

3. Another wonderful lesson that we can learn from the Book of Revelation is that persecution can have great spiritual value, Revelation 2:10.

Jesus said of certain Christians in Revelation 2:10 that they would have to endure persecution for a period of time, but if they would be faithful ‘even unto death,’ then He would give them ‘the crown of life.’ Through their persecution, these people learned great spiritual lessons and were forced to think about what was really important.

That same lesson is true for us today as well. When we face trials or tribulations, or when things happen to us that are difficult, we can gain spiritual wisdom and insight as we allow such things to be of benefit to us. True, we don’t often think about it like that. But that is what Scripture teaches, James 1:2-4.

Our trials can help us and can have real spiritual value, it’s as though we are being tested in the fire. Impurities that we do not need in our lives will be seen, and we can be refined by those tests. Paul said in Acts 14:22 that ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.’

Trials and tribulations help us see what really matters. In 2 Timothy 3:12, we are told that ‘and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.’

I hope that these main points will give you a better insight into the Book of Revelation by helping us understand to whom it was written, why it was written, and that its main application is that we must never give up regardless of what happens to us in this life. We must be faithful to God, and in the end, we will have the hope of eternal life.

Go To Revelation Part 3

 
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