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Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy,
and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand

(Revelation 1:3)

These divinely authorised words of blessing were pronounced over nineteen hundred years ago and they were recorded for the benefit of the whole Christian Church in the Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Yet, sad to say, even at this critical period in earth's history, few believers really study the book of Revelation, let alone keep those things which are written therein.


Because the Revelation is considered by many to be a closed book, a mystery book, a book of riddles and bewildering symbols which cannot possibly be understood by the average believer. The result is, the book is left unopened by the majority in the church.

Others, who profess to have studied its pages, contend that the book is of little practical value to the committed Christian awaiting the Secret Rapture. Why? Because most of the events it foretells, they believe, are going to occur after the main body of the church has been caught away to heaven. In other words, the book need not concern true believers because they will not be on earth when the events it predicts come to pass. References in the Revelation to God's people, they maintain, concern the Jews and perhaps a few Gentile converts who have, for some reason or the other, missed the Rapture. But it does not concern the great multitude of believers from all over the world who acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

Believe it or not, these are the popular opinions many Christians hold about the book of Revelation. And so widespread are their views that multitudes of believers know little or nothing about this greatest of Bible prophecies. But, are their opinions correct? Is the Revelation a mystery book of little value to the Gentile believer today? Does it have a message for you for me?

The Stewarton Bible School considers it an inestimable privilege to place this booklet in your hands; for we believe that the message of the Revelation was given by the Almighty to His church to be understood. And it is insulting God's sense of judgement to suggest that the book cannot be understood. The very word 'revelation' means 'that which is revealed, made plain or disclosed.' The title of the book 'The Revelation,' in other words, is the very antithesis of mystery; so how can anyone sensibly claim that it cannot be understood?

The book, we further, believe, has been given to the church as a warning message; for God wants His people to prepare themselves for the stormy future that lies ahead. For, believe it or not, the church is not going to be secretly caught away to heaven before the Great Tribulation. Any believer, therefore, who persistently ignores God's warning message, is courting disaster!

On the other hand, those who diligently study the book of Revelation, allowing the Scriptures to interpret themselves, will soon understand the prophecy. To their amazement and delight they will come to find that they are in possession of a spiritual survey map which charts the future of humanity with awesome accuracy. Instead of the fear and uncertainty which characterises the people of this world, they will have the confidence and hope that belong to the enlightened people of God.

Symbolic Language

The book of Revelation is written mostly in symbolic language. This, admittedly, does seem daunting at first, but once the reader becomes acquainted with symbolic language and learns how to interpret it, by comparing scripture with scripture, the Revelation becomes a veritable storehouse of information about the future of mankind. A symbol is something which represents or stands for something else. Examples of symbols used in the Revelation are:

Symbolic language is used throughout the Bible but more so in the prophetic books. The parables of Jesus are also good examples of how symbolic or figurative language is used to illustrate and explain spiritual realities. When interpreting the Revelation, therefore, it is important to first establish if the language used is literal or symbolic, or a mixture of both. Utmost caution should be exercised here; because if a symbol is incorrectly taken in a literal sense, confusion will result. Similarly, if a literal object or element is mistakenly treated as a symbol, an equally warped picture of the future will emerge and the reader will not be prepared for the reality of last day events when they occur.

Bear in mind also that the Revelation is a prophetic warning message given by the Almighty to the church so that all believers may prepare themselves for the final events due to occur on earth. For the plain truth is this, JEHOVAH (Yahweh) the God of Israel wants His people to be ready for the last days. He wants every member of His church to have a clear understanding of what is going to happen just before His Son YESHUA (Jesus) returns. He wants us all to know what He is doing and what He is going to allow Satan to do. The Almighty does not want us to be terrified of the future, but to be patiently confident amidst the total confusion which is going to reign when this present civilisation collapses in ruins about us. For even though Yahweh is going to protect His obedient followers in those difficult days, He still wants them to know about future events before they actually occur. The Revelation is, in short, another example of that divine trait whereby

Amos 3: Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

Yes, it is God's will that all His church know of the future; and not only that we know what to expect, but that we come into line with His will soon, so that we may be accounted worthy to escape punishment.

Luke 21: 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Make no mistake, an understanding of the will of the Almighty God as outlined in the Revelation will be of utmost value and importance in the very last days. Indeed, your life and the lives of your family could well depend on it. Remaining wilfully ignorant is a fatal mistake. The Almighty says in Hosea.

Hosea 4: 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee…

Oh, how true that statement is going to prove with this end-time generation; a generation woefully and wilfully ignorant of the truth, yet so eager to believe any and everything but the Word of the Almighty God.

The Seven Churches

The Revelation begins with the prophet seeing a vision of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) the Son of God, walking amidst seven candlesticks. A candlestick is a symbol of a church group from which the light of God's truth shines.

… and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. (Rev. 1:20)

Seven is the number which represents wholeness, completeness and totality. The messages to the seven churches therefore are for the whole church, the entire body of believers, Jew and Gentile alike, in all ages. It is a mistake to think that most of the messages to the seven churches apply to the church in past ages; or that this or that church group is the Smyrna church, the Laodicean church, the Philadelphian church etc. For the fact is that in every church group in all ages, there were - and still are - individuals to whom one or more of the seven messages apply.

You may be sure that even in your own congregation there is the Laodicean believer who is in danger of being 'spewed out' by God. There is also the Smyrna group who are enduring great suffering for their Lord. There are those who classify themselves as 'Jews' (true believers) but who are not; and there are those who have not denied the Master's name. Yes, almost every type of believer is present in the average-sized church group. This is as true in our day as it was in the past. The letters to the seven churches, in other words, are for your church group and mine.

It is not the purpose of this booklet, however, to explain the letters to the seven churches; because with prayerful study most believers can arrive at a good understanding of those messages by themselves. Instead, in this booklet our aim is to briefly outline and explain the prophecy of the Seven Seals which is introduced in Revelation chapter four.

Understand The Revelation The Seven Seals Of The Revelation Seals 1 - 4

SBS   Prophecy   Book Index

Author: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
First published 1983 / Placed on the Internet 1996 / Updated: 1998 / Reformatted: May 2000