Some believe the Bible's last prophetic book is closed, meaning no one as yet can understand it. We find, however, a key verse which refutes this claim which states, "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, to show to His servants the things that are ordained to come to pass shortly" (Revelation 1:1, HBFV). The Father gave to Jesus something to REVEAL, a key not to hide. In the book's last chapter God reiterates that his words were given to reveal and not to be sealed (22:10)!
The key to understanding is the mysterious book of Revelation is comprehending its story flow. The theme of the book is the events leading up to the Jesus' second coming. The book's second and third chapters contain vital warnings to the 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 groups of believers that will all exist before He returns.
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 key question after he stated Jerusalem's temple would be destroyed. They asked, "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 is key to interpreting the many symbols found in Revelation. He stated that before his return several things will happen. The first thing is that many people, pretending to be him, or pretending to speak for God, would appear. Nations would also begin to fight each other in a global conflict. Starvation, suffering and devastating earthquakes will become common in the end time.
Christ also warned that true believers will be taken and martyred for believing in and obeying God. Additionally, 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 and how they are key to comprehending prophecy. 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. They are false Christs, meaning those who pretend to speak for God but do not!
Seal number two is then opened in Revelation. 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 (Revelation 6:7 - 8).
Jesus opens a key fifth seal and what appears is an altar with the spirits of those slain for the word of God under it (Revelation 6:9). 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
The key to understanding 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. 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 key 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 Key
to Book 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