A STUDY OF THE SYMBOLS IN REVELATION
I believe that many will be quite disappointed with some sections of this paper because they do not even attempt to answer many of the issues that are so prevalent today in discussions of the end times. For example, the section on the beast of Rev. 17 does not attempt to address the question of who the ten kings are. The reason for that is that the Bible does not tell us either in the immediate context or in the entire Word of God. I believe that if we are to know God’s truth, we must learn it from His Word. And if we can not find it in His Word, it is not for us to know, it for those in the end times who will need to know.
Consider the fact that we are specifically told that the “new name” in the stone of Rev. 2:17 will be given only to those of the end times, i.e. those who overcome in the tribulation. And the song of Rev. 14:3 can not be learned by any except the 144,000 saints of the tribulation. My point is that we are told quite specifically that we may not know these things. So the precedence is set for the fact that we will not know what each symbol represents. However, I do believe that those of the end times will know what all the symbols in Revelation represent because it will be revealed to them.
It is interesting to note that of the twenty symbols discussed in this study, all but a few are explained in the immediate context or in Revelation itself. My point is that if we confine the study of the symbols in Revelation to God’s Word (as opposed to man’s recorded history or news papers, etc.) we will be able to determine what these symbols represent given that the representation is indeed made known.
As we all know, the book of the Revelation is not an easy book to understand. One of the difficulties in the study of Revelation is that in some passages, the Bible does not distinguish between Satan and the antichrist. For example, we learn in Rev. 12:13 that “the dragon (Satan) ….persecuted the woman (Israel)….”. And in verse 17 we learn that the dragon “went to make war with the remnant of her seed….”. But the dragon is Satan and it will be the antichrist who will persecute Israel (see Dan. 7:21). I believe that this passage tells us that because the antichrist will receive power from Satan, he and Satan are sometimes spoken of as the same person.
I realize of course, that most believe that we are now in the end times. But we cannot be, because we know that the antichrist will sit in the Temple of God and blaspheme Him (see II Thess. 2:3) and the Temple has not yet been built. The paper on how we can know when the end times will begin gives several reasons taken from Scripture for my belief that we are not yet in the end times.
The Seven Spirits of Rev. 1:4
Rev. 1:4, “John to the seven churches…..from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne”. Who are these seven spirits? The answer to that question is answered as we consider Rev. chapters 2-3.
We read in Rev. 2:1. “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write….”. And in verse 7 we read, “….he that hath an ear let him hear what the spirit saith”. In other words, in verse one we read that a letter was written to the angel of the church, and in verse 7 we read what the spirit said to the church. Angels are spirit beings. How do we know that? We read in Ps. 104:4, “Who maketh His angels spirits”. In other words, a letter was written to the angel of the church and the contents of that letter was “said”, i.e. read to, the church by a spirit. So it makes perfect sense that the spirits are indeed angels. As the reader will see then, the seven spirits of Revelation chapters 1-3 are the seven angels of the seven churches spoken of in those chapters.
In Rev. 2: 8 we read, “Unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write….”. And in verse 11 we read, “….let him hear what the spirit saith…”. Once again, the letter was written to an angel of the church and “said” by one of the seven spirits. So the spirit is the angel of the church.
Verse 12 of Rev. 2 reads, “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write…”. And verse 17 reads, “….let him hear what the spirit saith…”.
Rev. 2:18, “Write unto the angel of the church at Thyatira write…”. And verse 29, “….let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches…”.
Rev. 3:1, “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things saith He That hath the seven spirits of God….”. And in verse 6 we read, “Let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches”.
Rev. 3:7 reads, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write….”. Verse 13 reads“……let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches”.
Rev. 3:14, “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write….”. And in verse 22, “….let him hear what the spirit saith unto the church”.
In short, the seven spirits of Rev. 1:4 are the seven angels of the seven churches.
The Seven Churches
I include the seven churches of Revelation chapters 2-4 in this study, but I do not consider them as symbols that represent something, I believe they are literal churches that will exist in the end times.
Many believe that each church represents a part of church history. But “proof” of that suggestion is not in the Bible, but in the writings of historians. I believe we must learn God’s truth from God’s Word, not from man’s word.
Also, we read in the first chapter of Revelation that the things which John recorded, he had seen while in the spirit in the Lord’s day. Let us consider that thought.
We read in Rev. 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day….”. What does that mean? That question will be answered as we consider the Greek word translated “in” in the phrase “in the spirit”. That Greek word is “en” which is defined in part by Dr. E. W. Bullinger as, “…has sometimes the force of by, denoting the instrument”. In other words, John was taken by the Holy Spirit to the Lord’s day.
Then Rev. 1:19 records what John was told to do, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter”. In other words, everything that John recorded in the book of Revelation were things which he had seen while, by the Spirit, he was in the Lord’s day.
Note the phrase “Lord’s day”. That phrase tells us that the day belongs to the Lord i.e. possessive case. Can we say with certainty that the past nearly two centuries can be defined as “the Lord’s day?” That would mean that everything that has occurred in the last nearly two centuries has been ordered by the Lord. In my opinion, the Lord has allowed everything that has occurred to take place, but I do not believe that those events were always ordered by Him. Therefore I believe that the Lord’s day is yet future when God will rule this world.
It is true that God will allow Satan to pursue his ambitions of having multitudes worship him, but as the reader will see, God will be in control in the Lord’s day and Satan will be allowed to pursue his goals. But what is the key difference between the present day and the Lord’s day is that in the Lord’s day everything that God will allow will be allowed because it furthers His purposes. Let me give one example of that
We read in Rev. 17:16, “The ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire”. From whom will these ten kings who will turn on Babylon to destroy her receive their power? That question is answered in verse 17 which reads, “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill His will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the works of God shall be fulfilled”.
My point is that the seven churches do not represent parts of the church’s history because a) that history is not recorded in the Bible and b) everything that John saw and wrote about concerns a day yet future.
The Seven Golden Candlesticks and the Seven Stars
In Rev. 1:12 we read, “….I saw seven golden candlesticks…”. And in Rev. 1:16 we read, “And He had in His right hand seven stars…”. We are told quite specifically what these candlesticks and stars represent in verse 20, “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches”.
The seven stars represent the seven angels of the churches. It would be illogical to say that the seven angels (called “Spirits” in 1:4) represent anything. That is to say, because the angels are represented by stars, I believe we may conclude that the angels are literal angels which is consistent with what we learned above.
On the other hand, we are told quite specifically that seven churches are indeed represented by the candlesticks.
“In His Mouth… A Sword” Rev. 1:16
Rev. 1:16, “…..And out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword…”. We read of a sword also in Rev. 19:15, “And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron..…”. And in 19:21 we read, “And the remnant were slain with the sword of Him That sat upon the horse…”. I believe we may conclude that the sword in this context is something which will be used to slay Christ’s enemies, but it also represents His power with which He will rule.
Rev. 1:18 reads, “I am He That liveth and was dead: and behold I am alive for ever more. Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death”.
We read of keys in three other passages in Revelation. We read in Rev. 3:7, “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He That hath the key of David, He that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth”. I believe we may conclude from this verse that the keys of Rev. 3:7 is a symbol of the power of the holder of the key to open and close what no other can.
Obviously, the things that are said are said by Christ, i.e. “He that is true, He That hath the key of David”, What is it that no man can open or shut? I believe the answer to that question is found in another passage which speaks of keys. We read in Matt. 16:19, “And I (Christ) will give unto thee (Peter) the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”. The keys given to Peter represented the power given to him in his life time to “open” the kingdom of heaven, i.e. to bring men to a saving knowledge of Christ and therefore being allowed into the kingdom of heaven, i.e. the millennial reign of Christ (please see the paper on the kingdom of Heaven for the Scriptural evidence that the kingdom of Heaven is Christ’s millennial reign). But in Rev. 3:7 it is Christ who has the “key of David” and that key will open the kingdom of Heaven in the millennium. In short I believe that the keys of Rev. 3:7 represent the power to “open” the kingdom of Heaven to believers.
We read in Rev. 9:1, “A fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key to the bottomless pit”. If I may digress shortly, I believe we should consider this verse carefully. To begin, we must determine by Whom the seven angels were sent. That is to say, were they sent by God or were they sent by Satan? The answer to that question is found in Rev. 8:2 which reads, “…and I saw the seven angels which stood before God”. I do not believe that Satan’s angels would have stood before God. Therefore, I believe these angels were sent by God.
Rev. 9:10 speaks of the angel of this bottomless pit, “whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue, hath his name Apollyon”. The note in the Companion Bible tells us that the names given here mean “destruction” and Destroyer” respectively. These refer, of course, to Satan. What is important to note is that the fifth angel who opened the bottomless pit was from God. My point is that this shows that even though the tribulation will be driven by Satan, God will allow him to do certain things in order to test Israel. (Please see the paper on the differences between the tribulation and the day of God’s wrath for the Scriptural evidence of that statement.) So in this case, the keys are the symbol of the power to open the bottomless pit.
The last passage in Revelation which speaks of a key is found in Rev. 20. I will quote Rev. 20:1-2, “and I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent and Satan and bound him a thousand years”. This too, in my opinion, is important because it tells us that the angel, who, of course, was sent by God, has the ultimate power, even (or especially) over the bottomless pit from which Satan led his destructive locusts in the tribulation.
The Stone With A New Name: Rev. 2:17
Rev. 2:17 reads, “….To him who overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, that no man knoweth save he that receiveth it”.
We are specifically told that no man will know the name that is in the white stone except he who receives it. This is one of two symbols used in Revelation of which we are specifically told only those of the tribulation will understand. Therefore, in my opinion, we should leave it at that and not try to determine what the name might be from a source outside the Word of God.
The Morning Star of Rev. 2:28
We read in Rev. 2:27-28, “And He shall rule with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father. And I will give him (he “that overcometh” vs. 26) the morning star”. We read in Rev. 22:16, “…..I, Jesus……am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright and morning Star”.
The morning Star is, as we read in Rev. 22:16, Christ Himself. Does verse 2:28 tell us then that the overcomer shall receive Christ Himself? I believe not. Rev.22:16 speaks of Christ as the “Root and Offspring of David”. The term “Offspring of David” reminds us that the King of Israel must come from the seed of David. So the term “Root and Offspring of David” points to Christ as the Ruler of nations in the millennium. We read in Rev. 3:21 that “he that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne”. So the overcomer will reign with Christ, I believe therefore that we may conclude that for the overcomer receiving the “morning Star” means that he will reign with Christ. So in Rev. 2:28 the “morning star” symbolizes the gift of reigning with Christ in the millennium.
The Seven Lamps of Fire of Rev. 4:5
“And out of the throne proceeded lightings and thunders and voices; and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God”. We are told what these seven lamps of fire represent, i.e. the seven spirits of God”. The section above on the seven spirits explains that those seven spirits of God are the seven angels (angels are spirit beings) of the seven churches.
I believe a word of explanation of the term “spirits of God” might be in order. The “of”, in my opinion, is the Genitive of Origin, which is defined by Dr. E. W. Bullinger in the Companion Bible as, “The source from which anything has its origin”. That is to say, these seven spirits come from God, i.e. God does not have seven spirits.
The Four Beasts “Full of Eyes” of Rev. 4:6
We read in Rev. 4:6-8, “And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy. Lord God Almighty, Which was, and is, and is to come.’”
Ezek. 10 speaks of “cherubim” which greatly resemble the beasts of Rev. 4:6. We read in Ezek. 10:14, “and every one had four faces; the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the fact of a lion and the fourth the face of an eagle”. The only difference between the beasts of Rev. 4 and the “cherubim” of Ezek. 10 is that the beast of Rev. 4 had a face of a “calf”, while the cherub of Ezek. 10 had a face of a cherub. A cherub however, is a spirit being and therefore can assume any face that God determines. I suggest we allow Scripture to verify that statement.
We read in Ezek. 10:22 of these four cherubim, “And the likeness of their faces was the same faces which I saw by the river of Chebar”. But in chapter one where we read of the four that Ezekiel had seen at the river Chebar we read in verse 10, “As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side; they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle”. So in describing what he had seen as recorded in chapter one as those cherubim he had seen in chapter 10, Ezekiel describes the same four faces, except for the face of an ox in chapter one rather than the face of a cherub in chapter 10. Once again, the cherub assumed whatever face the Lord had determined.
We may conclude therefore, that even though one of the faces of the cherub described by Ezekiel was different than one of the faces of the beasts described by John in Revelation, that they do indeed represent the same thing.
What then do these cherubim or beasts represent? Revelation does not tell us, but I believe that Ezekiel does. We read in Ezek. 10:3-4, “Now the cherubims stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord’s glory”. I believe that the cloud that filled the inner court represented the glory of the Lord and the cherubim/beasts were associated with the cloud which, again, represented the glory of the Lord.
Let us also consider Rev. 15:7-8, “and one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels vials full of the wrath of God, Who liveth for ever and ever. And the Temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no man was able to enter into the Temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled”. Given that both this passage and Ezek. 10 speak of the glory of God, I believe we may conclude that “one of the four beasts” of Rev. 15:7 is one of the beasts of Rev. 5:6 and that the beasts have to do with the glory of God filling the Temple.
Seven Horns and Seven Eyes of Rev. 5:6
“And I beheld and lo, the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain having seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven Sprits of God sent forth into all the earth”. We are told in this verse what the seven horns and seven eyes represent, i.e. they represent the seven spirits of God. As explained in the first section of this paper, the seven spirits of God are the seven angels sent by God to represent the seven churches.
Vials of Rev. 5:8
“And when He had taken the book, the four beasts, and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints”. We are told in this verse that the vials full of odours are (represent) the prayers of the saints.
The Four Horses And Their Riders of Rev. 6
Many have pointed to Matt. 24:4-8 as explaining what the four horses and their riders of Rev. 6 symbolize. There are some similarities in these two prophecies, but there are a few reasons that I prefer to stay with the immediate context, rather than go to Matthew’s Gospel. 1) What these horses and their riders symbolize is given as each of the horses and riders are presented. 2) The events ascribed to the four horses and their riders are those things which will happen in the tribulation (“one of the seven seals” of the tribulation “were opened -vs.1-) whereas, Matt. 24:8 tells us that those events described in verses 4-8 are “the beginning of sorrows”. But verse 15 tells us that the tribulation will begin when “ye shall see the abomination which causes desolation”, which is after the beginning of sorrows. That is to say, as we read in Revelation, the events ascribed to the four horses and their riders will occur during the tribulation, but the events described in Matt. 24:4-7 will occur before the tribulation, i.e. in the time of sorrows”.
We read of the white horse in Rev. 6:2. I will quote verses 1-2, “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, ‘come and see’. And I saw, and beheld a white horse; and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer”. I believe that the answer as to what this white horse and its rider symbolize is found in this very verse, i.e., they represent the reign taken by force by the one who rides it.
We read in Rev. 6:3-4, “And when He has opened the second seal I heard the second beast say, ‘Come and see’. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth and that they should kill one another; and there was given unto him a great sword”. Here too the answer as to what the horse and rider symbolize is given in this very verse, i.e. he who rides it will take peace from the earth and cause great bloodshed.
Rev. 6:5-6, “And when He had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, ‘Come and see’. And I beheld and lo, a black horse and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts, say, ‘A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine’”. The “balances” obviously denote the buying and selling which will, as described in Rev.13:17, be regulated by the false prophet.
Rev. 6:7-8, “And when He had opened the fourth seal I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, ‘Come and see’. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death and with beasts of the earth”. The pale horse and its rider symbolize the power to kill in the ways enumerated in this verse.
Who are these four horses and their riders? Let us go from what we can know for certain. We read in Rev. 6:5-6 of a black horse and its rider. The rider had in his hand “a pair of balances” which symbolizes commerce. And we read in Rev. 13:16-17, “And he (“another beast”, i.e. the false prophet) causeth all both small and great, rich and poor free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name”. We can tell from this passage that the black horse and its rider symbolize the work, in part, of the false prophet, who will, of course, be part of the kingdom of the antichrist.
As mentioned above, the white horse and its rider of verse 2 represent the reign taken by force. The section below on the beast of Rev. 13 and 17 will show that the beast represents the kingdom of the antichrist and describes kings who will war against each other. This certainly implies reign taken by force. So by comparing Scripture with Scripture we have seen that this horse and rider also represent an aspect of the kingdom of the antichrist.
As mentioned above, the rider of the red horse as described in verses 5-6 represent he who will take peace from the earth and cause great bloodshed. This is also very true of the beast of Rev. 17. The difference between this rider and the rider of the white horse is that the rider of the red horse is not spoken of in terms of reigning kings, but only as taking peace from the world. But once again, this rider will do what is described as what the beast of Rev. 17will do. So once again, this points to the horses and their riders as representing those things that will be done by those of the kingdom of the antichrist in the end times.
The pale horse and its rider as described in verses 7-8 will kill “with hunger, and with death and with beasts of the earth”. These are other ways in which the kingdom of the antichrist will seek to control the people who he will be targeted to worship the antichrist.
In short, because those things that are said to be done by the beast of Rev. 17, i.e. the kingdom of the antichrist, are done by the four horses and their riders, I believe we must conclude that they represent what the antichrist’s kingdom will do in the end times.
Before we leave this passage concerning the four horses and their riders of Rev. 6 let us consider the fact that as each of the four are presented, one of the four beasts bids John to “Come and see”. As we learned above, these four beasts are connected to the glory of the Lord. Also, as we learn in verses one, three, five and seven the Lamb (Christ) opened each of the four seals that presented each of the four horses and their riders. Does that mean that God sent these four horses and their riders? As we have seen, these horses and their riders represent the kingdom of the antichrist in the end times. I do not believe that God was working hand in hand with Satan and his kingdom during the tribulation. I believe the answer to the question posed is found in the fact that although the tribulation is driven by Satan, God will allow him some latitude in order to test Israel. (Please see the paper on the differences between the day of God’s wrath and the tribulation for the Scriptural evidence of that statement.) In the end, of course, many will remain true to God and when His millennial temple is built it shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.
The Locusts of Rev. 9
Rev. 9:1 reads, “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth, and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit”. We read in Rev. 9:11 of the “angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon”. The note in the Companion Bible reads, “Abaddon. Hebrew word. The destruction of Job 26:6, 28:22, 31:12, Ps. 88:11, Prov.15:11, 27:20. Here personified as Abaddon and Appolyon the destroyer….”.
Let us determine who it was that gave the key to the bottomless pit, and to whom the key was given. The “fifth angel” was among the seven angels spoken of in Chapter 8. We read in Rev. 8:2, “And I saw seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets”. I do not believe that Satan’s angels could stand before God: therefore I believe the angel who had the key to give was sent from God. To whom did this angel give the key? I believe that Rev. 9:11, quoted above, tells us that it will be Satan’s angel who will be given the key to the bottomless pit.
Having determined that it will be Satan’s angel who will have the key to the bottomless pit, let us consider the locusts which, we are told in verse 3 will come out of that pit. These locusts are described in verses 7-10, “And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails, and their power was to hurt men five months”.
Note that their shapes “were like horses”. That tells us what these locusts look like, not what they symbolize. Note also that their heads were, “as it were crowns”. Their faces “were as” the faces of men and they had hair “as the hair” of a woman, and their teeth “were as” the teeth of lions. In other words, these locusts resemble several things, but I do not believe that they represent those things, they are locusts. The reason that I do not believe that these locusts represent something is because for them to represent something, they would have to have been described as being certain things, not looking like them. That is to say, a metaphor (when one thing represents something else) would have been used. But there are no metaphors in this passage, what we have are similes, where something is said to be like something else.
Certainly these locusts are nothing like the locusts man has ever seen, but, in my opinion, they do not symbolize anything, but will indeed be like locusts.
(We must be careful to not confuse these locusts of Rev. 9 with the locusts of Joel 2. The locusts of Rev. 9 have Satan’s angel as their leader, while the locusts of Joel 2 have God as their leader -see Joel 2:11. The locusts of Rev. 9 will march during the tribulation whereas the locusts of Joel 2 will march in the day of the Lord, which, of course is after the tribulation –see Joel 2:1. In short, the locusts of Joel 2 will be part of God’s judgment, but the locusts of Rev. 9 will be one of Satan’s tools as he seeks to deceive.)
Two Olive Trees and Two Candle Sticks of Rev. 11:4
Rev. 11:3-4 reads, “And I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks, standing before the God of the earth”. Once again the symbolism is explained in the immediate context.
It has been suggested however that the two witnesses will be Enoch and Elijah in order to fulfill Heb. 9:27 which reads in part, “It is appointed unto men once to die…”. That is to say, because it is assumed by most that Enoch and Elijah did not die, they must be the two witnesses who will die in the end times. The problem with that suggestion is that as the paper on this subject will prove from Scripture, Enoch and Elijah had indeed died. That subject will take us too far from the present study so I would respectfully suggest that the above mentioned paper be considered by those who may hold to the view that the two witnesses will be Enoch and Elijah.
The Woman of Rev. 12
We read in Rev. 12:1, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon, under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars”. Who does this woman represent? There are several clues in the immediate context. Verse 5, for example tells us that “she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron”. Note the phrase which tells us that the “man child” will, “rule all nations with a rod of iron”. This is a quote from Ps. 2:9 which is an obvious reference to Christ, Who, of course, came from Israel. That makes Israel the woman of Rev. 12.
Consider also the description “a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon, under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars”. This takes us to Gen. 37:9-10, “And he (Joseph) dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, ‘Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold the sun and the moon and the eleven stars make obeisance to me’. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren, and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, “What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and your mother and brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?’” Obviously, the sun of Rev. 12:1 represents Jacob, the moon Rebekah and the stars their sons who would be the father of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The Child of Rev. 12:2 and the Child of Rev. 12:4
We read in Rev. 12:2 of a woman (Israel, see section above) “being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered”. The Greek word translated “child” in verse 2 is, “en” and is actually a preposition which, in this verse means literally, ”in”, i.e. “having in the womb”. Verses 3-4a are parenthetical but verse 4b refers to the child of verse 2. So without the parenthetical statement it would read, “And she being with child cried, travailing in birth and pained to be delivered. ……4b) and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered for to devour her child as soon as it was born”. To whom does this child refer? We must continue with verse 5b in order to answer that question.
Verse 5b reads, “and her child was caught up unto God and His throne”.
We must consider the fact that this child “was caught up unto God”. It is imperative that we understand the Greek preposition translated “unto” in the phrase, “caught up unto God”. That word is “pros”, which is defined in the Companion Bible as, “denotes to or toward, implying motion onward. ….Compared with para (another Greek preposition), pros denotes only direction and tendency, whereas para denotes both direction and change of place of some object”. Let us apply this definition to the phrase under consideration, i.e. “her child was caught up unto God…”. If the Holy Spirit had intended us to understand that the “child” was caught up into the heaven wherein God dwells He would have used the Greek “para”. But He used instead the word “pros” which tells us that the child was caught up toward heaven. This is not true of Christ, Who was, of course born of the woman Israel, but had never been caught upward toward God and certainly not at His birth.
So who is this child that will be caught up toward God and His throne? The Greek word translated “child” in verse 4b (“and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered for to devour her child”) is the same as the word used in verse 5b, i.e. “teknon” (“and her child was caught up toward God and His throne”. ) Teknon” is used for example in Matt. 2:18, “Rachel weeping for her children”. This Greek word is never used of Christ. There are different Greek words used to translate “child” because the Holy Spirit intended something different with each word.
I believe that the “children” of verse 4b and “child/children” of 5b were those of Israel in the tribulation who, as we learn in verse 14 were given two wings, of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness into her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent”. In short, I believe the “children” of verse 4b refers to those of Israel who will be carried up toward heaven on the wings of an eagle (probably a metaphor for an airplane) to a place where they will be taken care of during the tribulation.
So the child of verse 2 is the same child as is spoken of in verse 4b who Satan will want to devour at birth, and is the child of verse 5b who will be caught up toward God. That child is Israel who will go through the tribulation, but who God will take up toward Himself and deliver to a place of safety.
But we read in verse 5a “And She (Israel) brought forth a man child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron”. The Greek word translated “child” in this verse is not “teknon” as in verses 4b and 5b, but “whyos” and is used, for example, in Luke 1:13, “Elizabeth shall bear thee a son”. So verse 5a speaks of Israel as the woman who gave birth to Christ.
This passage is much more complicated than it first appears, so I will quote the entire passage. 12:1) “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman (Israel) clothed with the sun, and moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. 12:2) And she being with child (that child being in the womb i.e. Israel of the tribulation) cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered…….12:4b, ….and the dragon stood before the woman (Israel) which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child (“the children of Israel who will be taken to a safe place to escape the tribulation) brought forth a man child (Christ) , who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child (“the children of Israel who will be taken to a safe place to escape the tribulation) was caught up toward God and to His throne. 12:6) And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days”.
This passage seems to be going haphazardly from one subject to another, i.e. the children of Israel in the tribulation, to the dragon, i.e. Satan, to the children of tribulation, to Christ and then back to tribulation Israel. However, I believe this is not in the least haphazard and further, I believe as we put this passage in an outline form we can learn a great deal. That outline would be as follows:
A1, verse 2 is about tribulation Israel
- verses 3-4a are about Satan
A2. verse 4b is about tribulation Israel:
C verse 5a is about Christ:
A3 verse 5b tribulation Israel.
Note that Satan (B) and Christ (C) are at the very center of this outline because they are at the very center of the tribulation. The tribulation is a Satan driven attempt to persecute Israel so that She will deny Christ. My point is that this passage is not written haphazardly, as this outline shows, it is very deliberate and clear.
The Dragon of Rev. 12:3
Rev. 12:3 reads, “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads”. The immediate context, i.e. vs. 9 explains that “the great dragon” is “that old serpent called the Devil and Satan”.
The Stars of Rev. 12:4
I believe a word about the stars of Rev. 12:4 is in order. That verse tells of Satan drawing “the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth“. I believe these are literal stars. But some believe that they are symbols of angels. It is true that verse 9 speaks of angels being cast out of heaven, but in verse 9 it was not Satan who cast them out. That is to say, in verse 4 the stars of heaven were cast out by Satan, but in verse 9 the angels were cast out with Satan, not by him.
The Beast of Rev. 12 and 13 and 17
We read in Rev. 12:3, “And there appeared another wonder in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads”. But in Rev. 13:1 we read, “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads, and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
Note that in Rev. 12 this beast had seven crowns but in Rev. 13 the beast had ten crowns. This seeming discrepancy is understood as we consider a parallel passage in Dan. 7:25 which reads, “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise; and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings”. In other words, three of the ten kings were subdued by the antichrist leaving seven kings.
It is important to bear in mind that these kings had crowns. I believe that the crowns represent the power to reign.
Let us continue with Rev. 13:2, “And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion; and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority”. The leopard, bear and lion will be discussed in the section below.
Given that the beast was given his power and authority by “the dragon, i.e. Satan, we may conclude that this beast represents the kingdom of the antichrist.
There are two key phrases in Rev. 13 which take us to Rev. 17 and Dan. 7. Those phrases concern the seven heads, ten horns and ten crowns on the one hand, and the beast looking like a leopard, a bear and a lion on the other.
We read in Rev. 17:7, “And the angel said unto me, ‘Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. ….9) …The seven heads are the seven mountains on which the woman sitteth (the woman will be discussed below).
Verse 9 tells us that “The seven heads are the seven mountains on which the woman sitteth”. I believe that these are literal mountains where the people of that territory support the city of Babylon, which, as will be shown, is a literal city in which all the sins and wickedness of the kingdom of the antichrist will be in evidence.
We read in verse 10, “And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come, and when he cometh he must continue a short space”. These are the seven kings of Rev. 12:3 and 13:1-2 who had received power from the red dragon, i.e. Satan.
We will continue with verse 11 which reads, “And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. The Greek word translated “perdition is also used in II Thess. 2:3 which reads, “…and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the Temple of God, shewing himself that he is God”. This son of perdition is, of course the antichrist. In other words, the eighth king will be “of the seven” and he is the antichrist. I believe the “of” in the phrase “and is of the seven” is the Genitive of Relation which is defined by E. W. Bullinger as, “the ‘of’ is the equivalent of pertaining to”. So the eighth king, i.e. the antichrist, is in some way pertaining to the seven.
Continuing with verses 12 and 16 we read, “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. ….. 16) The ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
It is important to note that the ten kings of these verses had not yet received power. That distinguishes them from the ten kings of Rev. 12:3. How do we know that these kings are not the kings of Rev.13:1-2? We know that from the fact that Rev. 13 speaks of ten crowns. I believe that the crowns of Rev. 13 represent kings that have power to reign, but, as we learn in 17:16, the kings of verses 12 and 16 have not yet received power.
We know that these kings will be part of the kingdom of the antichrist because they are part of the beast which will get its power from Satan. But we are not told any more about these kings, so I will leave it at that. Where the Bible is silent, so too, in my opinion, should we be silent.
Let us consider the fact that, as we read in Rev. 17:16, “The ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire”. From whom will these ten kings who will turn on Babylon to destroy her receive their power? That question is answered in verse 17 which reads, “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill His will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the works of God shall be fulfilled”. In short, ten of the seventeen remaining kings of the antichrist’s kingdom shall turn on the antichrist.
Dan. 7 records Daniel’s vision of the lion, the leopard and the bear which will be discussed in the section below. Verses 24-25 of that chapter tell us a bit more of the “eighth” king, “which is of the seven” spoken of in Rev. 17:11. That passage reads, And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise; and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the Most High…..”.
I believe that the phrase “shall speak great words against the Most High” makes it fairly clear that the eighth king of Rev. 17:11 is the same person of which we read in Dan. 7:24-25, i.e. the antichrist.
What can we learn from these passages? I believe we may conclude that the beast of Rev. 12, 13 and 17 represents the kingdom of the antichrist. We are told of some of the activities of the kings of this kingdom. What we are not told, either in Revelation or anywhere else in the Word of God, is who these kings will be or from what kingdoms they will come. I will say however, that as the paper on the origin of the antichrist will prove from Scripture shows, the antichrist will come from Greece.
The Leopard, The Bear and The Lion
We first read of the leopard, the bear, and the lion in Rev. 13:2, “And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion; and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority”.
As mentioned above, because the beast which resembles a leopard, bear and lion will receive its power from the dragon, i.e. Satan, we may conclude that the beast represents the kingdom of the antichrist. That means, of course, that the leopard, the lion and the bear represent something about the antichrist’s kingdom.
As we consider Dan. 7 we will learn more of this beast that looks like a lion, a bear and a leopard
We read in Dan. 7:3-7. 3) “And four beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 4) The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. 5) Behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it; and they said thus unto it, ‘Arise devour much flesh’. 6) After this I beheld and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. 7) After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and brake in pieces, and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots; and behold in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.”
The interpretation of this dream is given in verses 17-25. 17) “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. …….23) The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. 24) And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise; and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, 25) and he shall speak great words against the MOST HIGH, and shall wear out the saints of the MOST HIGH, and think to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hand, until a time and times and the dividing of times”.
So the four beasts of Dan. 7 are four kings, each part of the kingdom of the antichrist. That is to say, they do not represent four different kingdoms, but rather they are part of the one kingdom of the antichrist. One is likened to a lion, one to a bear and one to a leopard. That tells us that these kings are the ones about which we read in Rev. 13:1. And because Rev. 13:1 also describes this beast as having seven horns, ten heads and ten crowns, we know that the beasts of Dan. 7 represent the same as does the beast of Rev. 13, i.e. the kings of the kingdom of the antichrist. And because as we have seen, the beast of Rev. 17 describes the same beast of Rev. 13 we can therefore, put all these passages together and learn what the Holy Spirit has to tell us about this end time kingdom.
Let us begin with the fourth beast of Dan. 7. Out of the beast which, in Daniel 7 is the fourth beast, will arise another king, called in Dan. 7:7 “a little horn”. That king, we are told in Dan. 7: 25 “shall speak great words against the MOST HIGH, and shall wear out the saints of the MOST HIGH, and think to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hand, until a time and times and the dividing of times”. That of course describes the antichrist. Rev. 17:11 also speaks of the antichrist, “And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition”. In other words, the antichrist will come from the fourth beast of Dan. 7 which will be the eighth king of Rev. 17 and called “the little horn in Dan. 7:7, all part of the kingdom of the antichrist.
But what are we to do with the seeming contradiction between Rev. 12:3 which speaks of seven crowns and Rev. 13:1 which speaks of ten crowns. As mentioned above, I believe that is made clear as we consider Dan. 7:7 which tells us that the little horn had “plucked up by the roots three of the kings. I believe we may conclude that three kings which had been destroyed (“plucked up”) by the antichrist made up the three crowns not mentioned in Rev. 12.That is to say, three of the ten crowns had been defeated which is why in Rev. 12 the beast had only seven crowns rather than the ten crowns of the beast of Rev. 13.
Most who study Revelation want to know what the bear, the lion and the leopard represent. It is assumed by many that these refer to four kingdoms of the end times. But the Bible never uses any of these animals to represent a kingdom or a king. These animals are obviously meant to represent something in Revelation and in Daniel, but we must take that representation from the Bible, and only the Bible. As we consider how the Holy Spirit uses the words “bear”, “lion” and “leopard” to express something other than a literal animal, we will see that they represent fierceness. In other words, I believe that the Holy Spirit used these terms to symbolize the fierceness of each king.
Consider, for example Jer. 5:5-6 which reads, “I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God; but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds. Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities, every one that goeth out shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings increased”.
Let us consider also Hosea 13:2-7, “And now they sin more and more……3) Therefore, they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney………7) Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them; 8) I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them”.
Again, if we are to seek God’s truth, we must seek it in His Word. The lion, leopard and bear represent the fierceness of the kings of the kingdom of the antichrist.
Many believe that the leopard, the bear and the lion represent the kingdoms of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as recorded in Dan. 2. However, there is absolutely nothing that connects Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to the lion, the leopard and the bear. As students of God’s Word we cannot just choose a passage to explain another without a connecting link.
The Four Beasts of Rev. 14:3
We read in Rev. 14:3, “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders; and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth”. These are the four beasts of Rev. 4:6 discussed above which are connected to the glory of God. Rev. 15:7 and 19:4 also speak of these beasts.
I believe it is worthy of note that the no one can learn the song mentioned in this verse but the 144,000. The reason I believe it is worth noting is that it is one of several things in Revelation that will not be known or recognized until the end times. In other words, those of us who live before the end times will not understand many of the specifics of what we read in Revelation. (For the Scriptural evidence of the fact that we are not, as of 2017 in the end times please see the paper on the subject of how we can know when the end times will begin.)
The Woman of Rev. 17
We read in Rev. 17:3 of “a woman” who sat “upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy…”. In verse 5 we read of this woman that she had “upon her forehead..,, a name written, MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINAITONS OF THE EARTH”. “
Many have understood this woman to represent, not Babylon, as we read quite specifically, but Jerusalem or New York City, or any number of other cities. They cite the fact that the woman’s name is “mystery Babylon” and assume that the mystery is which city the woman represents. But In verse 7 the angel said to John, “I will tell thee the mystery of the woman”. Verses 8-17 reveal the meaning of the mystery of the beast, and verse 18 reveals the mystery of the woman herself. We read in that verse, “and the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth”. The mystery associated with the great city is not which city the woman represents, it is that the city reigns over the kings of the earth. If the mystery was which city the woman represented, the angel would have revealed the name when he revealed the mystery in verse 18. But he did not, he revealed the fact that the woman represents a city that reigns over the kings of the earth. Again, the mystery is not which city the woman represents, the mystery is that the city she represents “reigneth over the kings of the earth”.
In short, the woman of this chapter represents the city of Babylon, which although quite small at this moment in the 21st century, does indeed exist in Iraq. For more on Mystery Babylon please see the paper on that subject.
The White Horse of Rev. 19:11
We considered above the four horses and their riders spoken of in Rev. 6. But in Rev. 19:11 we read of another white horse, this one ridden by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as He returns to earth. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse; and He That sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war.”
In Rev. 6 the four horses symbolized four things. But in this verse, I believe that the horse itself does not signify anything but is quite literal. Let us also consider verse 14, “And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean”.
Bearing in mind that angels are spirit beings, (i.e. they have no bodily form but do, at times, take on bodily forms) I believe it is more likely that these horses are angels who have taken on the form of a horse.
On the other hand, the “armies” of Rev. 19:14 are not angels but resurrected saints. We read in Ezek. 37:9-10, “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them (Israel), and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army“. This comes in the context of the resurrection of Israel. Note that upon resurrection there will be “an exceeding great army”. So we have the connection of time between the armies of Rev. 19 and the armies who will be raised upon resurrection. And we also have mention of an army that will be resurrected for the coming of Christ.
Is. 2:4 comes in the context of millennial prophecies and reads, “And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more”. That being true, there would be no need in the millennium for an “exceeding great army” to be raised. Indeed the existence of an army would contradict what we have learned in Is. 2:4. I believe that there will, however, be need for this great army when Christ returns to earth to fight the battle recorded in Rev. 19. And that leads me to the conclusion that “the exceeding great army” of Ezek. 37 will be the resurrected of Israel that will be riding white horses as Christ comes to earth.
But we read in Matt. 25:31, “When the Son of man shall come in His glory and all the holy angels with Him….”. The Greek word translated “angels” is not the same word as is translated “saints”. Therefore, we may conclude that this verse tells us that Christ will come with angels. There are, of course, no contradictions in the perfect Word of God. Therefore, I believe that Christ will come with both angels (in the form of horses) and saints.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: email@example.com