Revelation's theme is the events leading up to the Jesus' second coming. Revelation 2 and 3 contain vital warnings to seven churches that existed in Asia Minor in the first century A.D. Many believe these churches represent Christians from the time of Christ to the end time, or symbolize churches that will all exist before Jesus returns.
The Seals Unsealed
In Revelation 6 Jesus begins to open the first of six seals. As the seals are opened the apostle John records what he hears and sees. He sees, however, things that are symbolic of real things and events that will happen on the earth. The KEY to understanding what these symbols mean is to use Jesus' Mount of Olives message to interpret them.
Just a short period before his death on the cross, Jesus' disciples came to him on the Mount of Olives and asked him a very direct question after he stated the temple would be destroyed.
"Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the completion of the age?" (Matthew 24:3)
Jesus' answer will help us interpret the many symbols found in Revelation. He stated that before his return several things will happen.
Many people pretending to be him, or pretending to speak for God, would appear.
Nations will begin to fight each other in a global conflict.
Starvation, suffering and devastating earthquakes will become common.
- True believers will be taken and martyred for believing in and obeying Jesus.
The sun will become dark, the moon will no longer shine and stars shall seem to be falling from the sky. A sign will be given that the time of Jesus coming has now arrived followed by his actual second coming back to the earth.
Now let us get back to the seals. When seal number one is opened (Revelation 6:1) a man on a white horse is shown who also has a bow in his hand and a crown on his head. This symbolizes those who PRETEND to be Jesus - who are false Christs - or who pretend to speak for God - false prophets.
Seal number two is opened. What appears is a horse that is red, and someone who is setting on it who has been given the power to take peace AWAY from the world. This seal begins a time of war, a time when Jesus stated nations will rise up against other nations in a global war.
Seal three is opened and a black horse appears. The one sitting on the horse has a scale that weighs food and charges a hefty price. This seal represents starvation and hunger. A fourth seal produces a pale horse that has Death riding it. It represents those who die due to disease and pestilence.
Jesus opens a fifth seal and what appears is an altar with the spirits of those slain for the word of God under it. This is the large killing of saints that will occur during what many call the Great Tribulation. Signs in the heavens, with the sun appearing as if it were black and the moon becoming as blood appear when the sixth seal is loosed. This represents the time leading up to the return of Christ.
A seventh seal is opened, and under it John sees angels, and the angels are given trumpets. This seal represents that last seven stages of God's plan.
Trumpet plagues one, two, three and four are are described as winds that blow on the earth, trees, rivers, sea. Trumpets five and six portray war. The last three of the seven trumpets are referred to as WOES (Revelation 8:13).
Woe, Woe, Woe
Woe number one is given in Revelation 9:1 to 11. The power that brings destruction to man is told to us in Revelation 17:14. It seems likely this power will be a type of resurgence of the old Roman Empire. For more information, read our article on world empires from Babylon to the End Time Beast power.
The second woe, with its horses and horsemen, is found in Revelation 9. When the second woe finally ends the ministry of the two witnesses does also.
When the seventh and last Trumpet sounds (third woe) Jesus Christ begins his return to rule the earth! This is the time when he shall conquer all his enemies and the world's nations will be ruled directly by him.
Time Sequence of Revelation
THE SEVENTH SEAL
BEGINS THE TRUMPET PLAGUES
Trumpets 1, 2 and 3
Injure the earth, sea, trees and rivers
The Sun, Moon and Stars are darkened
5th Trumpet or First Woe
Man is tormented
6th Trumpet or Second Woe
A great army is allowed to kill one third of the world
7th Trumpet or Third Woe
The ministry of the Two Witnesses and the Seven Last Plagues