Some scholars say that we see in Revelation not progressive events, not events that continue on and on, but parallel events, various pictures that describe the same events. Look back over chapters 6-8.5. Then look at chapters 8.5-10. Do you see anything that could be taken as parallel? How do both of these sections end?

At the beginning of Revelation 9, there is a picture of a star falling from the sky to the earth. And this star is given the keys to the great abyss. In Revelation, stars seem to represent angels. Here is a passage from Isaiah:
How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!

You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”

But you are brought down to the grave,
to the depths of the pit.

Is this a reference to what we are reading in Revelation? What do you think it represents?

Remember, if you find yourself confused, you are in good company. To be honest, there are many things I read here, then read commentary from scholars, and still find myself confused. Revelation is not an easy read. But hang in there - there are some great pictures yet to come...



Most of us probably understand that many of the things we are reading are symbolic representations of something. The difficulty lies in knowing what these things represent. In chapter 7, we read about 144,000 people who are sealed. Is the number 144,000 symbolic or literal? Jehovah's Witnesses believe that this is a literal representation of how many from their own will be in heaven. Others say that this is a symbolic representation of the many Jews who originally followed the ways of Jesus. I think understanding a little more about the common views of Revelation may help us. There are 4 main views of Revelation held by scholars:

1. Preterist - A preterist interpretation of Revelation says that the prophecies held within this book have already happened. A preterist would say that the judgments we are reading about happened shortly after John wrote this letter. Proponents of this view look at Jesus' own words in the Gospels (Mark 13, Matthew 24) as a parallel to these prophecies, predicting the destruction of Jerusalem.

2. Historicist - A historicist interpretation sees Revelation as a picture of all that will happen during the church age, our current age. Proponents look at the judgments we are reading about as happening between the first and second coming of Jesus. They would say that we are living somewhere in the middle of these very things. Historicists look at many world events as the judgments we read about.

3. Idealist - An idealist interpretation looks at Revelation as completely symbolic. Proponents say that these are spiritual lessons for the church and thus can be seen as happening again and again throughout history. They would say that there are spiritual lessons for us, just as there were spiritual lessons for 4th and 5th century Christians. They believe that this book gives a powerful picture of the spiritual warfare constantly being waged in this world.

4. Futurists - A futurist interpretation looks at Revelation as something that will one day, literally happen. Most futurists are dispensationalists. Most futurists are premillennialists. Proponents say that there will be a great tribulation, which is described in Revelation. They believe in a rapture of true believers, followed by the tribulation, followed by a 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth.

Obviously, there are significant differences in the above views/interpretations. BUT, it is important to remember that the different interpretations are not essentials in theology. There are probably, within our own church body, those who would hold to different interpretations...and even a mix of the above interpretations. Though we may have some differences in how we read Revelation, we are united in our faith which is rooted in Jesus Christ alone. We do not know what the end will look like. We do not know if these things are completely literal or completely symbolic, or a combination. We do not know when and where and how. We read, we interpret, we listen, we even debate, but we do not know with full assurance. BUT, we hold on to Christ with our lives. We place our faith only in Him. This is a great reminder that living out the Gospel, living out the teachings of Jesus, loving others with no strings attached, is vitally important in our world today. No matter the view you and I hold, may we live our lives as a sacrifice, may we give ourselves to the mission of love, no matter what may come.


As the seven seals are open, we realize that these are events to transpire on earth.  There seems to be much agreement that these are sequential events as they coincide with Jesus' teaching in Matthew 24: 1-35, Mark 13:1-37 and Luke 21: 5-33.  Go and read these passages.  They are almost identical to each other and give depth to today's reading.

In Matt's blog the other day he spoke of the tendency to focus too much on heaven and the life to come.  Likewise, there are people consumed with watching for the end times.  It has been used to strike fear into unbelievers and to guilt sinners into repentance.  And, our culture's media has done a great job of reducing end-time believers into sign holding lunatics who walk the streets ranting and raving of what's to come.  For me, personally, that has caused me to swing the other way, to not think of it much at  all, and focus on Jesus' words that tell us that no one knows the day or hour that all of this will occur (Mark 13:32, Matthew 24:36).   However, neither is the right approach. 

What are we to do with these signs given in Revelation 6?  I believe that answer lies in the verses I referenced in the beginning of this blog.   Jesus says to "watch out that no one deceives you," "Be Alert!," "Be on Guard," and "Watch!"  Now my first thought was that this sort of behavior will have me way too focused on the end of the earth not the live on the earth. But Jesus doesn't say that this is the only thing we are to do, he says "watch" and "be alert".  I can best equate this with being a mom.  There are times in my children's life where I have obsessed with their safety at the pool or a park, focusing only on them to the extreme.  At the end of that trip, I am exhausted and are left empty of great experiences with my children.  I think most of us would agree that this doesn't mean I send little ones off by themselves to encounter the world alone and hope for the best.  As with anything, there is balance.  I try to experience, enjoy and live out moments with my children, while still aware of their presence--watching them to make sure they are accounted for and safe.  

I believe that's what Jesus is trying to get us to do.  Live our lives with an awareness of what is to come.  Be watching for deception and know that a time will come when life on earth will be excruciatingly difficult; knowing what's to come allows us to prep for that.  And, I believe, does help take away complacency.  Being alert and on guard is an action.  It requires us to be aware of something other than ourselves.