Saturday, November 9, 2013

A seven-fold outline of the Book of Revelation

Revelation 1:1  "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John."

Introduction - ways in which to outline Revelation
In past blogs I have introduced the reader to ways in which we can outline of the Book of Revelation. The most common way of course is to take Revelation 1:19 as one's cue for understanding the Book in terms of it chronological unfolding - i.e a chronological outline:

1. "Therefore write the things which you have seen... (referring to Jesus' initial revelation of Himself in chapter 1)

2. "and the things which are".... (referring to the seven churches of chapters 2-3, as well as possibly 4-5)

3. "and the things which will take place after these things." (possibly chapters 4-5 and most definitely 6-22)

A second way to outline Revelation is through a thematic outline of the Book. Hence an example of a thematic outline that this blogger has used in times past would be as follows:

1. Jesus & His church. Rev 1-3
2. Jesus & His throne. Rev 4-5
3. Jesus & History. Rev 6-19
4. Jesus & His coming reign. Rev 19-20
5. Jesus & His Bride in eternity. Rev 21-22

In today's post I would like to introduce a third possible way - namely through key words and patterns in the text of Revelation itself.

A seven-fold pattern to outlining Revelation
Many commentators, pastors and scholars alike have looked at key words or patterns in the Book of Revelation as a key to understanding the book. In this post I would like to suggest two such patterns: the number "seven" and the idea of John seeing visions "in heaven" followed by an unfolding of events occurring here on earth as a result of something coming out of heaven.

Explaining a little further as to why these patterns are being used as guides for outlining Revelation
The number "seven" dominates the Book of Revelation, being found over fifty times in the Book. We won't take time today to look at where those are found, however the sheer number of the occurrences is what prompts this blogger to suggest utilizing that number in a proposed outline. The Holy Ghost's inspiration of the book included this number in both the contents and structure of the book.The second pattern, as already mentioned, deals with John first seeing something occur "in heaven", followed by a sequence of events occurring here on earth. Such switching back and forth between heaven and earth moves the book forward. As John wrote what he wrote, he would had repeated the particular set of events in order to add detail and depth, as well as to convey what will be the intensity of the events prior to Christ's second coming.

A seven-fold outline of the Book of Revelation
With those thoughts clearly in mind, I propose an outline of the Book featuring those two main patterns:

1. Vision sequence #1 Christ in Heaven, followed by His church here on earth. In this first sequence the question is answered: What is Jesus' doing now in relationship to His church?  Revelation 1:1-20; 2:1-3:22

2. Vision sequence #2 The Father and Son on the throne in heaven, followed by Christ's unfurling of the seals and trumpets here on earth. This second sequence helps us answer the question: How will Jesus defeat the kingdoms of man? Revelation 4-5; 6:1-11:19

3. Vision sequence #3 God's program for Israel set forth in Heaven, with its Old Testament History, Christ's incarnation and remaining history until Christ's return unfurled. This third sequence answers the question of how Jesus will defeat Satan and his man, the Anti-Christ. Revelation 12:1-18; 13:1-14:20

4. Vision sequence #4 God's relationship to creation & judgment on the nations articulated in heaven, followed by the final judgment of the world system Babylon the great.  This fourth sequence answer the question: How Jesus will defeat the evils of man (15:1-4; 15:5-18:24)

Thus far Revelation is presenting in sequences #2, #3 & #4 the same time frame in repeated fashion, with each vision superimposing details upon the previous vision. We can liken this characteristic of John's Revelation to what happens when multiple sets of transparency overheads are laid atop one another, producing a full and complete picture. 

5. Vision sequence #5 Christ bring to bear God's judgment on the nations as He makes His return (19:1-10).  Because of the prior seven year tribulation period and all the judgments, history and the earth are now ready for the King to come and set up His 1,000 year kingdom.

6. Vision sequence #6 Christ's second coming followed by His Millennial Reign and Great White Throne Judgment of unbelievers. Revelation 19:11-21; 20:1-15

7. Vision sequence #7 The Eternal State, with the New Heavens and New Earth joining together and God and the Lamb being at the center of redeemed believers in eternity. Revelation 21:1-22:21. 

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