The book of Revelation, unlike the book of Daniel, does not concurrently follow chronologically chapter to chapter, but rather tends to "jump" around through time, and so requires a little more attention when attempting to comprehend. We will attempt to unravel the mystery.
"And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke ." (Joel 2:30) In the opening of this lesson we will look at Heaven's Concourse (an act or process of coming together and merging - Webster's). In chapter 5 it is described as 4 beasts and 24 Elders with the conquering lamb in their midst. This is the opening of the Book of God by Jesus. The "lion of the tribe of Juda, hath prevailed to open the book". A perfect depiction of Jesus, who's earthly origin was from the tribe of Juda. (see Matthew's opening chapters for the geneological line)
In the 6th chapter we are opening the 7 seals. Here we see that the first four seals are synonymous with the four horsemen of the apocalyse, as they are so often called. They are described here in reverse order, and represent the six thousand years of world history, starting with the last and working back to the first. The White Horse (Jesus), the Red Horse (Antichrist and red powers), the Black Horse (the merchants) and the Pale Horse (Death).
The 5th seal shows the martyrs that died for the name of Jesus and for the Word of God. Then, in the 6th seal, we get a rapid overlook at what is coming. Then, before the opening of the 7th and final seal, there is a monumentous earthquake and God puts His personal seal on His saints. The 7th seal is opened and describes the preparation leading up to the sounding of the 7 trumpets.
1st trumpet = 1/3 of trees and green grass is burned up
2nd trumpet = 1/3 of "the sea" is turned to blood and 1/3 of men die.
3rd trumpet = a star called "wormwood" falls to earth and 1/3 of the water is made bitter and 1/3 of men die from the poisonous water.
4th trumpet = 1/3 of the sun, moon and stars are darkened and do not shine by day or night.
5th trumpet = the opening of the "bottomless" pit and the unleashing of torturous creatures who will torment men to the point of desiring death for 5 months. Their sting is like the sting of a scorpion.
The first five trumpets are called "the first Woe". There are two more Woes to come to pass. The next trumpet, the 6th, is split in two parts.
The 6th trumpet, also known as the 2nd Woe, depicts the period just prior to, and including the last seven years that we have studied in past lessons. More about this will be covered in the next lesson, although here would be an appropriate time to mention the prophecy given to Ezekiel concerning this time frame. We are told in chapter 39 of Ezekiel of a horendous war that will leave much destruction and many thousands dead in Israel. Ez 39:9 tells us that they will be burning the weapons for the whole duration of the seven year period and that it would take seven months just to bury the dead.(v 12). The sounding of the 6th trumpet show the "losing" of 4 angels, that had been bound, to slay 1/3 of men. This is the first half. Then comes the signing of the covenant, 1260 days of the prophets, and 42 months of Anti-Christ rule and persecution of believers to round out the second half of the 6th trumpet.
The 7th trumpet is a little more glorious for those of us who are true believers in Christ as it is His return, our subsequent "rapture" and "meeting the Lord in the air" as in the study on Matthew 24. So, what happens next ? That's it right ? We all go be with the Lord and live happily ever after ? Not quite yet. Back in Daniel you may have noticed a slight discrepancy when it spoke of a period of 1335 days. "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days ." (Da12:12) That leaves a 75 day hole in the math. After our "rapture" we are then caught up with the Lord as the Scriptures say, but then there is another event that takes place ... the marriage supper of the lamb ! Those who are familiar with the book of Matthew will remember Jesus' own words when He said, " But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom ." (Mt 26:29) These words were spoken at His last supper with His disciples just before His crucifixion. Another event occurs simultaneously with this "marriage supper", and that is the pouring out of the seven vials of the wrath of God upon those that have shown their hatred for God and His children.
" And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God,...And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: ... (Rev 15:7, 16:1, 21:9-11)
This is where a good portion of traditional religionists get confused about things. They misinterpret these "vials of wrath" as being synonymous with the Tribulation, and are correct in assessing that we, God's believing children, will not pass through this period of wrath, only they place the wrath of God at the wrong place chronologically. It comes after the Tribulation and after the "rapture", as stated by the apostle Paul in 1Cor 15:51-54, " Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
The Scriptures are not finished yet, in our perusal into this EndTime. Once we have all been reunited with our loved ones and all things reconcilled to God, as it was in the beginning, with the marriage supper of the lamb, there remains still another event prior to our returning to rule the world with a rod of iron at Jesus' side, and that is "The Battle of Armageddon" ! Where we return and forcefully take back what has been usurped by the devil and his angels for thousands of years. (see Luke 4:4). Read about it in Ezekiel 39. This "Battle of Armageddon" is the first time that the two worlds of the spiritual and the physical will meet and become one resulting in a cataclysmic war for control which we and the Lord will win, being eternal spiritual creatures now and fighting mere flesh and blood. We will then rule and reign with Christ a thousand years, having triumphed over Satan and his rebellious followers. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years ." (Re 20:6)
For more study on Biblical continuance and uniformity, you may select to read through chapters 25 to 35 of the prophet Isaiah, which cross-references with the book of Revelation.
*** This concludes our lesson on the overlook of the book of Revelation. The following lessons will get into a bit more detail about the last 3 1/2 years of history prior to the coming of Christ and what is to transpire before then. ***