Contrary to what many think, through some simple study aids and techniques, Bible prophecy, including the last book of Yehovah's ("God's") written Word, the Revelation of the Lord, can be clearly understood by the "average" person (like me, Watchman Bob). Please read this brief essay to learn how:
The three basic messages of the Bible
are simple. Any infant or mentally
handicapped person who does not even know human language can understand them
because they are best communicated through nonverbal actions. They are:
(1) the pure, unselfish love of Yahuah, (2) the absolute necessity of
total trust in the One who takes care of us, and (3) the essential importance
of perfect obedience in submission to the One who created us and sustains
us. Understanding and yielding our lives
to those three messages will save us from the main consequence of sin
(separation from Yahuah) and from spiritual impotence and misery in this
life. In fact, acceptance and submission
to those three messages will fill our hearts with spiritual peace, love, joy and
hope that transcend all understanding and carry us through any circumstance in
which we may find ourselves.
However, if we want more understanding of what Yahuah tells us about the past, present or future, then we need to dig into Scripture and study it diligently. The good news is that we do not have to have a seminary education or even to know the original Biblical languages (primarily Hebrew and Greek) to understand Scripture just as well as any minister, Bible teacher, seminary professor, or even the Pope. Did you know that? Yahuah did not design the Bible to be read and understood only by the highly intelligent or highly educated. He designed it to be understood by the average person, if that person is enlightened by His Spirit. Studies have shown that most of the King James Bible, even with its outdated Old English language, can be understood by the average fifth grader. To me, that is good news.
However, virtually all translations of the Bible, particularly of the New Covenant Scriptures are translated from corrupted Greek manuscripts and cast a Greek/Gentile (anti-Semitic) slant on Yehovah’s Word. The Bible was originally written from a Hebrew cultural context using many Hebrew terms, idioms and modes of thought that are not clearly or, in many instances, even accurately translated in non-Hebrew versions of the Bible. For example, Acts 12:4 in the King James Version (KJV) states, “And when he [King Herod] had apprehended him [the apostle Peter], he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.” The word that is translated “Easter” in that sentence is, in the Greek manuscripts, pascha, obviously a transliteration of the Hebrew word pesach (Passover in English), because the context is referring to the Passover feast which begins, in Israel, “the days of unleavened bread” (Acts 12:3). “Easter” in that verse is actually a pagan, anti-Semitic, corruption of the text because Easter (the name of which was derived from the Saxon sex and fertility goddess Eostre—originally the Babylonian goddess Ishtar) is a Christianized pagan holiday invented allegedly as a celebration of the Messiah's (Christ’s” resurrection, but actually is an anti-Semitic substitute for Passover, as is indicated by its use in the Bible.
So, although a non-scholar can do it, to get to the real meaning behind the text of non-Hebrew versions of Scripture, including the venerable King James Version (KJV), requires diligent research and study. Thankfully, there are several recent versions of the Bible, including the Eth Cepher ("Divine Book"), the Complete Jewish Bible, and the Chronological Gospels, that attempt to restore the original Hebraic meanings to the text. My personal favorite is the Eth Cepher, which is based on the text of the KJV and the same Greek manuscripts on which the KJV was based, but corrects the anti-Semitic and other errors of the KJV and restores the Hebrew perspective of the Scriptures. However, I compare it with various other translations and I constantly use reference works including Bible commentaries, concordances, dictionaries and atlases to clarify the meanings of passages, words, situations, places, events, characters, and so forth. These days that is easy to do with downloadable computer applications like e-Sword and Bible Analyzer, and online resources like biblehub.com, blueletterbible.org, and biblegateway.com. Finally, there are innumerable teaching DVDs, audio recordings, YouTube videos, and other printed and electronic resources available.
Commentaries (including this one) can help throw light on the meaning of Scripture, but their interpretations must always be confirmed by our own prayerful, Holy Spirit-led Bible study. Our Savior promised that, after He returned to Heaven from His first visit to Earth, the “Spirit of truth” would come to guide His disciples into “all the Truth” (John 16:13). That is a wonderful promise, isn’t it? However, diligent study is required. The Berean Believers in Yeshua were commended for checking out for themselves in the Scripture what even the Apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Covenant Scriptures (the "New Testament"), taught them (Acts 17:11). Just remember one important point (we cannot emphasize it enough): The Bible is its own best interpreter! If we will just dig into it—learning what it says; comparing related words, statements, and sections; asking Yehovah to reveal its meaning to us—it will start to make sense to our minds and come to life in our hearts until we know that we know that the Bible is truly Yehovah’s inspired Word of Truth! “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” If there are some words we do not understand, locations of places we do not know, or if we want to compare how words or concepts are used in different parts of the Bible, plenty of study aids are available . . . right in front of our eyes and at our fingertips.
About one-third of the Bible is distinctly prophetic (although the whole Bible is, in a sense, prophetic - pointing to the ultimate Kingdom of the Messiah). This commentator knows that there are all kinds of attitudes toward and interpretations of the prophetic parts of the Bible. Some believe that the Bible is just a collection of myths. Some believe that its prophecies are just allegorical—symbolically portraying the universal conflict between good and evil, or something. Some believe that the prophecies of Scripture are literally true but have virtually all been fulfilled. Others believe in some combination of allegorical and literal fulfillment of Biblical prophecies. Many volumes have been published extolling each point of view. So, we are not going to wade into that debate; it is far beyond the scope of this little essay. I am just going to share with you what I believe that Yehovah has shown me through His prophetic Word that impacts every human being on Earth at the present time and will impact every person in the near future, based on a lifetime (70+ years) of being taught the Bible and studying it for myself.
I believe that Yehovah is real and communicates through His inspired Word, the Bible, to those whose minds, hearts, and spirits are open to Him. I also believe that the Bible is literally true. When it says, “In the beginning, [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth,” I believe that is exactly, literally what happened. When it says that Yeshua (Jesus), Yehovah the Father’s only begotten Son, was crucified on a Roman cross and was resurrected from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion, I believe that is exactly, literally what happened. When Scripture says that someday soon, the Savior will return to give those who have believed in Him and dedicated their lives to Him glorified bodies and take them to a place He has prepared for them in Heaven, I believe that is exactly, literally what will happen. When the Bible says there will be a man it calls the anti-messiah ("Antichrist") (among other names) who will deceive the whole world into following him as their (false) messiah, I believe that is exactly, literally what will happen. Of course, as in many great works of literature, the Bible uses symbolism, especially in the poetic and prophetic parts. But it is not difficult to tell from the context which characters, events, places, and so forth are symbolic and which are literal. And this commentator has found that when he reads the Bible in this common-sense way, taking it at face value, asking the Lord to reveal the Truth of His Word to him, then it really comes to life, helping him to understand history, what is happening in the world around him at the present time, what is going to happen in the near future, and what he needs to be doing about it—exactly how he needs to be living his life.
In addition to the above assumptions, there are six principles of interpretation of Biblical prophecy that may be helpful in understanding those prophecies:
The events of Bible
history that impact Yehovah's People repeat themselves over and over
until they reach their final fulfillment during the Final Seven Years and the
Western Gentiles have a Greek mindset and linear concept of history in which all events occur sequentially. The Eastern mindset of history, in which events repeat themselves over and over, is circular—hence, their belief in reincarnation. However, the inspired writers of the Scriptures, the Hebrews, had a combination circular and linear view of history, in which events repeat themselves in different ways, but spiral toward an ultimate conclusion. Solomon (the wisest man in history) said, "What has been is what will be, what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Then, he repeated the truism by stating, “That which is has already been; and what is to be has already been” (Ecclesiastes 3:15). And the apostle Paul wrote that everything that happened to ancient Israel has implications for those living in the present (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11). In other words, by studying the history of Israel and the nations that impacted Israel in the past, we can know the future of Israel and the nations that will impact her at that time (all the nations of the world).
For example, Yehovah's People Israel exited from Egypt and the bondage of Pharaoh, and the army of Pharaoh was destroyed. Then, after 40 years, they were led into the Promised Land by Yahuah. But, in 722 and 586 BCE, the twelve tribes of Israel were taken into captivity by the Assyrians and Babylonians, respectively, and during the following centuries, especially in 70 and 135 CE (the Roman dispersions) were scattered throughout the world. Then, exactly as was prophesied, a remnant of the Jews returned from the nations of the world to re-establish the nation of Israel in 1948. In the near future, they will again escape into the wilderness from the tyranny of Antimessiah, and just as Pharaoh's was, his army will be destroyed. Finally, at the end of the Final Seven Years, "all Israel will be saved”—brought back into the Promised Land by the Messiah, where they will be established as His kingdom Saints throughout His millennial reign (cf. Ezekiel 37:21; Romans 11:26). In the same way, Yehovah's People the Believers in Yeshua are, at the present time, scattered among the nations of the world, but will, when He returns to "gather His elect from the four winds" (Matthew 24:31), take them to dwell in and to reign with Him from New Jerusalem. See the commentary on Chapters 7 and 20 for details.
Another example of Israel’s history repeating itself is the prophesied War of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38), in which multiple nations of the world come against Israel. A partial fulfillment of that prophecy occurred when nations of the Middle East and North Africa came against Israel when her people returned to the Land in 1948, then attacked her again in 1967 and 1973. A more complete fulfillment will probably occur at the beginning of the Final Seven Years, at which time the armies of the nations that come against Israel will be destroyed and the anti-messiah will enact a peace treaty with Israel that he will later treacherously abolish when he attempts to destroy Yehovah's people (cf. Ezekiel 38:19-22; Daniel 9:27; Isaiah 28:15). Then, at the end of the Final Seven Years, the armies of many nations will come against the Messiah in Jerusalem. Then, the final War of Gog and Magog will occur when the armies of all nations gather against the Lord's People and New Jerusalem at the end of the Millennium. See the commentary on Chapters 19 and 20 for details.
A third example is the rise of many prototypes of the anti-messiah—Nimrod, Pharaoh, Haman, Antiochus Epiphanes, Herod the Great, the Roman general Titus, Constantine, Hitler, et al.—throughout history, which will culminate in the final false messiah (the incarnation of Satan) arising to rule the world. See the commentary on Chapter 13 for details.
A fourth example is the fall of Babylon, which has actually already occurred twice. The ancient city of Babylon founded by Nimrod/Sargon, the ruler of the world’s first empire, the Akkadian Empire, fell very quickly when a comet impacted the earth with the force of dozens of nuclear bombs only about 125 miles from the capital city of Akkad and nearby Babylon, killing the residents of that part of the empire and scattering survivors far and wide. Then, the Babylonian Empire ruled by Nebuchadnezzar also fell quickly—in a surprise infiltration and overthrow in one evening—to Cyrus, King of Persia. Very similar to ancient Babylon, especially Nimrod’s Babylon, all natural life in modern Babylon the Great will very quickly, in "one hour," be annihilated by fire, probably near the midpoint of the Final Seven Years, setting the stage for the rise of the anti-messiah. Then, Babylon will be totally physically annihilated at the end of the Final Seven Years. See the commentary on Chapters 17 and 18 and “Appendix 1—Who is Modern Babylon?” for details.
prophecies are fulfilled literally, specifically, and without fail.
For example, the prophet Daniel foretold in about 538 BCE, when the Jews were still in captivity in Babylon, that an order would be issued for them to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar) and that it would be 483 years from the time that command was issued until the arrival of “Messiah the Prince” (Daniel 9:25). According to Biblical and historical records and astronomical calculations, from the time the Persian king Artaxerxes issued the order on Aviv 1 (on the Jewish calendar), 457 BCE, to rebuild Jerusalem (cf. Nehemiah 2:7-9), it was exactly 173,880 days (483 prophetic years of 360 days, to the day) until Yahushua was identified by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of Yahuah,” the Messiah, on Aviv 1, 27 CE.2
Uncanny, is it not? And there are hundreds of other specific Bible prophecies that have been fulfilled with 100% accuracy, while none have been proven to be false. One of the strongest evidences for the divine inspiration of the Hebrew/Christian Scriptures is fulfilled prophecy.
Both Jews who believe in the coming Messiah and Gentiles
who are Followers of Yeshua are
the People of Yehovah. Scripture clearly states, “There is [spiritually
speaking] neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile] . . . for you are all one in [Messiah
Yeshua]” (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11).
Yehovah’s ancient People Israel who have looked forward in faith to the
coming Messiah (including Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah and all the other Old Covenant Scriptures Saints plus present-day Jewish
people of faith), although they have not yet recognized that Yeshua is their Messiah, are just as
much the People of Yehovah as are those who have already accepted Yeshua as their Savior and
Lord. They have just been temporarily blinded to who their
Messiah is until all the Gentiles who are being saved have
been “grafted into” the Kingdom of God and made “fellow citizens” in the
“commonwealth of Israel” (Romans 11:25-26; Ephesians 2:11-15). In fact, it is more correct to affirm that Gentiles
who have come to faith in Yeshua
are now Israelites (in a spiritual sense) than it is to state that Jews who have
come to faith in Jesus are now
Christians. A very important key to
understanding the prophetic Scripture—all of it, including the Revelation—is
understanding that it was written by Hebrews, the caretakers of Yehovah’s Word, for all of Yehovah’s People—Jews and Believers in Yeshua. See Appendix 4—Who
are the People of Yehovah—for
prophecy applies to Yehovah’s
People the Jews in a physical sense and to His People the Disciples of Yeshua in a spiritual sense.
For example, Revelation 18:4 states, "Come out of her [Babylon], my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” The correct interpretation is that Yehovah’s People the Jews who believe in the coming Messiah but who have not yet accepted Yeshua as their Messiah should come out of literal Babylon and return to the land of Israel, and Yehovah’s People the Followers of Yeshua, who are already partakers of the indwelling Spirit of Yehovah under the New Covenant, should repent of (spiritually “come out of”) Babylon’s sins and take refuge in the righteousness of the Messiah.
Also, during the Millennial reign of the Messiah, the redeemed, glorified Saints will reign with Him from New Jerusalem over the nation of Israel and nations formed by the descendants of Gentiles who survive the "Great Tribulation" and the "Day of the Lord," and are allowed to enter the Millennial Kingdom in their physical bodies after the topographical features of the former earth are destroyed at the end of the Final Seven Years. See the commentary on Chapters 16, 20 and 21 for details.
Nothing is prophesied in the book of Revelation
that was not previously foretold, usually several times and in various ways, in other books of the Bible,
and in the events, traditions, and festivals of Israel.
The Bible states, “The Lord [Yehovah] does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). And no New Covenant book of Scripture quotes the Old Covenant Scriptures ("Old Testament") more than the Revelation. So, for a clear understanding of the meaning of the Revelation and what will happen in the near future, knowledge of other Bible Scriptures, especially the Old Covenant Scriptures, and most especially the book of Daniel, is absolutely essential. Also, the Spring feasts or festivals prescribed by Yehovah (Leviticus 23)—Pesach (Passover), Hag haMatzah (Unleavened Bread), First Fruits of the Barley Harvest, and Shavuot (Pentecost)—were “dress rehearsals” for the Messiah’s first coming, accurately foretelling to the very day and, in some instances, the very hour of His first advent: His arrival in Jerusalem being proclaimed the Messiah (Matthew 21:9), His crucifixion (Luke 23:44-46), His resurrection (Luke 24:1), and the outpouring of His Spirit on His followers (Acts 2:1-18). And, although the Lord's End Times timetable for His People the Followers of Yeshua is a little different than for His physical nation of people Israel (see Appendix 7 - When is the "Rapture”), in the same way, the Fall Feasts - Yom Teruah (the Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (the Feast of Atonement), and Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) - accurately foretell the events of the Messiah’s second advent, including His return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the destruction of His enemies at "Armageddon," the final outpouring of the Wrath of God on the earth, the separation of the “sheep from the goats” among His People Israel and the nations who are still on Earth, and the establishment of His millennial kingdom. So, a knowledge, not only of prophetic Scripture, but of the historical events, traditions, and feasts of Israel prescribed by Yehovah are essential to fully understanding the sequence and timing of the events of the Revelation.
Time and sequence must be interpreted correctly, but can be understood by the diligent student of prophecy.
There is much confusion and disagreement among Bible prophecy scholars and teachers concerning the sequence of events of the Revelation. However, it has been the experience of this student of prophecy that, if we will just put aside our pre-conceived ideas, approach the text with a common sense mindset, accepting it at literal, face value, paying attention to the many timing and sequence clues in the text, and compare it with parallel texts, including Isaiah 65, Daniel 9, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, 2 Thessalonians 2, et. al, the sequence is very straightforward and easy to determine. Our Heavenly Father really does want His children to understand what is going to happen at “the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3), does not want them to be confused about it, and wants them to be prepared for it (cf. 1 Chronicles 12:32; Amos 3:7; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Revelation 1:1, 3; 18:4).
And, when we study the Revelation according to these simple principles, we find that we are given, in . . .
Chapter 1, the introduction and statement of the purposes of the book;
Chapter 6, a preview and overview—like the overture of a symphony—of the events that will happen on Earth during the Final Seven Years;
Chapter 7, a description of an event that occurs on Earth just prior to the trumpet judgments of the Lord being executed during the last half of the seven years, and of an event that occurs in Heaven following the last half of the seven years (the time of the “great tribulation”—7:14);
Chapter 10, an ominous, parenthetical pause to announce that when the seventh trumpet sounds, the “mystery of Yehovah will be finished” (the opportunity for Earth’s inhabitants to repent and be saved will be ended, time on this present Earth will be no more, the Messiah will return to “gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31), and the terrible Day of the wrath of the Lord will have arrived;
Chapter 11, a description of the conflict between the Gentiles who “tread down” Jerusalem and the “two witnesses” during the last half (42 months, 1260 days) of the Final Seven Years, then what occurs on Earth and in Heaven when the seventh and last trumpet sounds;
Chapters 12, 13, 14, parenthetical details about the “dragon’s” (Satan’s) pursuit and persecution of Yehovah’s people Israel and the followers of Yeshua during the “great tribulation” of the last half of the seven years, ending with the destinies of those who do and do not take the mark of the beast;
Chapter 19, the celebration in Heaven of the resurrected and raptured Saints over the destruction of Babylon the Great on Earth, the marriage supper of the Lamb, then the return of the newly coronated King of Kings and Lord of Lords with the glorified Saints and Angels to destroy what remains of His enemies on Earth;
Chapter 20, a description of the casting of the Devil/Satan into the “bottomless pit” and binding him there for 1,000 years, during which time the Messiah and his redeemed, resurrected, glorified Saints will rule from New Jerusalem over the physical nation of Israel and other nations on Earth; followed by the physical destruction of those who rebel against the Lord; the casting of Satan into the lake of fire; the annihilation of the earth and its atmosphere (“heaven”); the final judgment of those whose names are not written in the Book of Life and the casting of them into the lake of fire;
This watchman prays that you are beginning to see how obvious the sequence of events of the Revelation is when the book is read in a simple, common sense, literal way, enlightened by parallel passages of Scripture. The sequence will come more and more into focus as you read through the commentary. But meanwhile, the timeline below might help you to visualize the sequence of events and understand the sequence of events in “The Tribulation” narrative on the following pages.
Click on the image below to see an expandable pdf chart of The Final Seven Years and Beyond Timeline.
"From Issachar were men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do." - 1 Chronicles 12:32
²For a complete explanation of how Biblical dates are accurately determined, get the DVD The Creator’s Calendar and the Restoration of All Things at www.michaelrood.tv or view the YouTube videos by the same name.
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