Chronological Sequential

Does Revelation describe events strictly in their chronological sequence?  Revelation repeats events, such as the return of Christ, in different parts of the prophecy. It also reverses the sequence of certain events.

Many people believe that Revelation it is a chronological record of events from beginning to end.  This is not correct.  There is an order, but it is not chronological.  The following are examples where Revelation refers to the same events in two or more places:

(1) The consummation of all things—the end of current world history—is described in various places:

The sixth seal is the “day of their great wrath” (6:17).

In the seventh trumpet, “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (11:15; cf. 10:7).

The harvest by the Son of man sitting on a cloud is described at the end of chapter 14 (verses 14-20).

The Return of Christ is described at the end of Revelation 19 (19:11-21). 

There are therefore four different accounts of the end time events in the Seals, the Trumpets, the Wars (12-14) and the Final Plagues.

(2) Two of these accounts of the Return of Christ use the winepress of the wrath of God as symbol for the destruction of the peoples of the world (14:20; 19:15).

(3) The sixth seal is the “great day of their wrath” (6:17), but the seven plagues are “the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished” (15:1). The implication is that the “great day of their wrath” includes the seven last plagues.

(4) The people “who had been victorious over the beast” are described in 15:2 but they are the same as the 144,000 in 14:1-5. 

(5) The “great multitude” (7:9), who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14) are again heard in 19:1, where they cry out with a loud voice..

(6) 13:1-10 predicts, after the beast from the sea has recovered from its deadly wound, that the whole world will worship it.  This worship becomes a reality in the next section, when the false prophet “causes them that dwell on the earth” to worship the beast (13:12).

(7) The period of 3½ years, 42 months or 1260 days, being all the same period (3½ x 12 = 42; 42 x 30 = 1260) is mentioned five time in Revelation, twice as part of the seven trumpets (11:2-3), and three times as part of the seven wars (12:6; 12:1, 13:5).

(8) Both 11:7 (in the trumpets) and 17:8 (in the plagues) mention the beast coming out of the bottomless pit

(9) The New Heaven and New Earth is mentioned in both chapters 7 and 21 (compare 7:15-17 to 21:3-4).  If Revelation consisted only of chapters 1 to 7 we would not have noticed anything missing, because Revelation 6 ends with the Return of Christ and Revelation 7 describes the New Heaven and New Earth.

(10) It is said “it is done” both in 21:6, where God makes all things new, and in 16:17, in the seventh plague.

(11) The destruction of Babylon is described in various places in Revelation:

Firstly, in the seventh plague, Babylon is given “the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath” (16:19). 

Secondly, when one of the plague angels (17:1) tells John the story of Babylon, the angel repeats the judgment of Babylon, saying that the ten horns will “hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire” (17:16). 

Thirdly, in 18:21 there is a prophecy that Babylon will be “thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer” (18:21).

(12) Both Revelation 14:8 and 18:2 state that “Babylon is fallen”.  If Babylon fell in chapter 14, and Revelation is chronological, was it rebuilt prior to chapter 18, so it could fall again?  Or were there simply two accounts of this event?

(13) The battle of Armageddon starts with the gathering of the kings “for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (16:14).  “And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon” (16:16).  Chapters 17 and 18 are devoted to explaining the Great Whore, but chapter 19 picks up the battle of Armageddon when John “saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army” (19:19).

(14) The great earthquake, which move every mountain and island out of their places, is found in both the sixth seal (6:14) and the seventh plague (16:20).

The above are examples where Revelation refers to the same events in two or more places.  The following are instance where events are given in reverse order:

(15) Revelation 11 ends with the seventh trumpet, when “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (11:15).  But Revelation 12 then starts with the time prior to the birth of Christ (12:1-5).  (Compare the “rod of iron” of 12:5 to 19:15 to identify the Child as Jesus.)

(16) Revelation 6 ends with “the great day of their wrath” (6:17), when the mountains and islands disappear due to a massive earthquake (6:12-14).  But then Revelation 7 starts with an angel ascending from the east with the seal of God, instructing the winds to be delayed until all of God’s servants are sealed (7:1-3).  The sealing of God’s servants must clearly precede “the great day of their wrath”.

(17) In Revelation 10 an angel comes down from heaven with a new message, contained in a little open book.  John is instructed to eat this book and “prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings” (10:11).  However, this is described after the sixth trumpet in chapter 9, in which a third of mankind is killed.  Logically John, representing the church, receives the message for the world before a third of them are killed.

In general, the events described in the interludes between the sixth and seventh seals, the sixth and seventh trumpets, the sixth and seventh wars and the sixth and seventh plagues all precede the sixth in the series.

The events in Revelation are therefore not given in chronological sequence.  Revelation frequently goes back to explain things that are described in previous chapters, but add more detail, sometimes using different sets of symbols.  The big challenge with Revelation is not only what these symbols mean, but also their chronological sequence.

TO: Return of Christ in the book of Revelation

TO: Babylon, the mother of harlots

TO: General Table of Contents

Does the seventh seal include the seven trumpets?

TO: General Table of Contents

Some interpreters understand several parts of the Apocalypse as somewhat repetitious, each leading its readers through the same period, adding new perspectives each time.  In this view—called “recapitulation”—each part of Revelation ends at the final consummation (the return of Christ or beyond).  For instance, some interpreters would understand the seven seals and the seven trumpets to both cover the period from the cross to the return of Christ or beyond.

In contrast, other interpreters understand the visions of Revelation to represent chronologically sequential events, with only one final climax at the end of the book.  One application of this principle is the large number of scholars that suggest that the seventh seal includes the seven trumpets, and that the seventh trumpet includes the seven plagues.  In this way the seven seals comprise the rest of the book.

The purpose of this article is to investigate this specific issue.  This issue may not matter too much to a preterist, even though preterists often defend recapitulation (repetition).  However, it is a decisive question for other interpretations of the Apocalypse.

The major parts of Revelation may be presented as follows:

  • The seven letters in chapters 1 to 3.
  • The seven seals (4:1 to 8:1).  The question to be answered in this article is where the seventh seal ends.
  • The seven trumpets (chapters 8 to 11).
  • The seven wars (chapters 12 to 14).  These wars are not listed numerically as the letters, seals and trumpets are, but “wars” is a good description of this part of Revelation, and an article is available that analyses this part of Revelation into seven wars.
  • The seven plagues (chapters 15 to perhaps 19)
  • The Millennium (chapter 20)
  • The New Heaven and New Earth (chapters 21 to 22).

This article will focus specifically on the seals and the trumpets, but will also refer to some of the other sections from time to time.

The proposal that the trumpets are all included in the seventh seal is based on the assumption that the seventh seal includes the whole of Rev 8:1-6.  Revelation 8:1-6 is therefore key in this analysis:

(1)  When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.  (2)  And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.  (3)  Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.  (4)  And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.  (5)  Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.  (6)  And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them. (NASB)

The person who numbered the text of Revelation put the seventh seal in a new chapter with the trumpets.  That person must have had the view that the seventh seal consists of the seven trumpets.  There is really nothing that happens when the seventh seal is broken—only silence.  The same applies to the seventh trumpet—nothing happens in that trumpet, except that God is praised for taking control of the earth.  This is justification for the view that the real action of the seventh seal is the seven trumpets, and that the seventh trumpet really consists of the seven plagues.  However, the numbering of the text is not inspired.  It was added about a thousand years after Christ.

It is proposed here that the seventh seal only comprises 8:1, and that 8:2 is the start of the series of trumpets.  This proposal is based on the following observations:

INTRODUCTIONS

The first point to be made is that every major part of Revelation has an introduction.  This is important for a proper understanding of the structure of Revelation.  Furthermore, it will be shown that the introductions are aligned to the themes of the various major parts.  The point that will be made is that the theme of the seals is very different from the theme of the trumpets.  The theme of the seals is about God’s people, and salvation.  The theme of the trumpets is about the people that do not believe in God, and about what God do to bring them back to Him.  It will then be proposed that if the themes are so different that the trumpets cannot be part of the seals.

Understanding of the introductions is also important for analysing the issue in this article.  The introduction for the major part will not be identified:

The introduction to the seven letters

Revelation 1 provides an introduction to the entire Book of Revelation (1:1-8), followed by a vision of Christ that serves as the introduction to the seven letters (1:9-20).  This vision provides the context for the letters, and most of the letters start with a reference to this vision.

Another important characteristic of the introductory scenes is that they all are heavenly scenes, in particular scenes of the temple in heaven, focussing on some aspect of the temple that is aligned to the theme for that part of Revelation.  In the introduction to the letters Christ is seen between the lampstands (1:13).  The lampstands represent the churches (1:20).  The theme of the letters is then messages from God to correct His church.

You may question why it is said that these lampstands is in heaven:

  • Firstly, Revelation indicates specifically that there is a temple in heaven (Rev 7:15; 11:19; 14:17; 15:5).  This might be a foreign concept to the reader, so please read these verses, and also Hebrews 8 and 9.  Then add to this concept the concept that, in the ancient Jewish temple, the lampstand was in the temple (Hebr. 9:2).  If the temple in Revelation is in heaven, and the lampstands are in the temple, then the lampstands must also be in heaven.
  • Secondly, Rev 1:20 does say that “the seven lampstands are the seven churches”, but according to 2:5 each church has a lampstand.  The lampstand therefore represents the church.  The churches are on earth, but their lampstands are represented as if they are in heaven.
  • Thirdly, notice that these are not lamps, but lampstands.  But if these are lampstands, there must be lamps as well, and in Revelation the Holy Spirit is represented as lamps in heaven:

“And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God” (4:5).  The churches are the stands on which the Holy Spirit “burns”.

If the lamps are represented as in heaven the lampstands must also be in heaven.

  • Fourthly, Revelation is a symbolic book.  We should not think about a physical temple in heaven.  The temple was the place to which the Israelite in ancient times went to obtain forgiveness from sin.  As stated by Hebrews 8:5, the ancient Jewish temple was a copy.  It was a physical representation of the means by which God solves the sin problem.  Therefore, the temple in heaven is really the processes God applies to rid the universe of the sin problem.  In that sense the temple in heaven includes the earth.  The sacrifice for the temple in heaven was made on earth (Hebr. 9:23).  Therefore, when we refer to the “temple in heaven” it must rather be understood as in contrast with a physical temple on earth, and not as something physically in heaven.  These wonderful works of God is something that we will study for millennia to come.  It is not something that we can now fully understand
  • Lastly, it will be shown that all the other introductions are clearly scenes from the temple in heaven.

In conclusion, the theme of the letters is messages from God to correct His church.  If they overcome the world through His love, He promises them to sit with Him on His Father’s throne (3:21).

The introduction to seven seals

The throne vision of Revelation chapters 4 and 5 functions as an introduction to the seven seals.  In Revelation 5 a slain Lamb (Jesus) receives a book.  The book is sealed with seven seals.  Each of the “seals” then starts with the Lamb opening a seal (6:1 to 8:1).  Similar to the letters, the throne vision provides the context for the seals.

As for the introduction to the letters, this is a scene from the temple in heaven, and the aspect of the temple on which it focuses is aligned to the theme of this part of Revelation. In the introduction to the seals God’s throne (4:2), which is in His temple (7:15) is prominent.  At the end of the seals all God’s people are around His throne (7:9).  But perhaps the key temple symbol in the seals is the slain Lamb:

“And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain” (5:6)

This is perhaps the key temple symbol in the seals because the seals are about salvation, as indicated by the following two quotes—one from the introduction and one from the sixth seal:

And they *sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” (5:9-10)

… And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  “For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple … (7:14, 15)

The blood of Christ therefore brings people to the throne of God, and the symbol of the slain Lamb introduces that theme.  The theme of the seals is perhaps best illustrated by the question from the lost multitudes:

for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev 6:17)

Jesus receives the sealed book at the throne (5:1), and eventually gathers all His people around the throne of God (7:9).  Non-believers are not specifically mentioned in the seals, except when they hide, like Adam, from the One sitting on the throne on “the great day of their wrath” (6:15-17).  As in the seven letters the focus is on God’s people (5:9; 6:9; 7:3, 9).  They must all come to the judgement throne of Christ, where they will be changed to see things as He does.

The introduction to seven trumpets

The vision of the angel serving at the golden altar, throwing fire on the earth, (8:3-5) is the introduction to the seven trumpets.  In the first place, this scene provides the context for the trumpets as the reader will notice fire everywhere in the trumpets (8:8, 10, 9:2, 17, 10:1; 11:5), and in the trumpets things typically fall on the earth or come down from heaven to the earth:

  • In the first trumpet fire is thrown to the earth; and much of the earth is burned up (8:7).
  • In the second a great burning mountain is thrown into the sea (8:8, 9).
  • In the third a great burning star fell from heaven (8:10, 11)
  • In the fifth a star from heaven fall to the earth, and the sun and the air were darkened by smoke, like the smoke of a great furnace (9:1-3).
  • In the sixth fire and smoke and brimstone proceed from the mouths of horses, killing third of mankind (9:17, 18).
  • In the interruption a strong angel come down out of heaven with feet like pillars of fire, brings a little opened book (10:1, 2), and fire flows out of the mouth of God’s two witnesses to devours their enemies (11:5).

The point is that the fire which the angels throws to earth in 8:5 results in the fire that we see everywhere in the trumpets, which means that 8:2-5 provides to context to the trumpets.

Secondly, as with the introduction to the letters and the seals, the vision in 8:2:5 is of something in the temple in heaven, particularly of the golden altar.  This introduces the theme of the trumpets.  In the ancient Jewish system individual sinners brought their sacrifices to the altar of burnt offering outside the temple, but sacrifices for the collective sins of the people were made at the golden altar inside the temple.  Revelation represents “much incense” (the benefits of the sacrifice on the cross) and the prayers of the saints on this altar because the trumpets represent God’s messages to a lost world.  In contrast to the seals the focus in the trumpets are on non-believers (9:4, 20).  God’s messages to them are symbolised of in the interruption in the form of John having to “prophecy again” (10:11) and the two witnesses (11:3).  But in the end, the focus is again on the non-believers, but now they worship God because they fear His power (11:13), not because they love Him.  This happens at the end of the sixth trumpet, which is equivalent to the non-believers hiding from God at the end of the sixth seal (6:15-17).  The trumpets, as prefigured in the incense and prayers offered on the golden altar, represent everything God does to reconcile non-believers to Him.

A further relationship between the introductory scenes is flashes of lightning, voices and thunders.  These were not seen in the introduction to the letters, but they are seen in the introduction of both the seals and the trumpets (4:5; 8:5)

Something else found in the introductions of both the seals and the trumpets is “incense” in connection with “prayers of the saints”.  In the introduction to the seals the incense is defined as the prayers of the saints (5:8), while, in the introduction to the trumpets, incense is offered on the altar “with” the prayers of the saints.  The term “prayers of the saints” is found only twice in Revelation, namely in the introduction to the seals (5:8) and in the introduction to the trumpets (8:3-4).

The introduction to seven wars

The first trumpet is blown in Rev 8:7.  Each trumpet is clearly identified. The last trumpet begins with Rev 11:15.  This trumpet is beyond the end of current world history, as indicated by the following:

  • “loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ …” (11:15)
  • the twenty-four elders, … saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.  … (11:16, 17)
  • The term “the one that is to come”—occurring elsewhere in Revelation as part of the formula of the divine name “who is and who was and who is to come” (e.g. 1:4)—is omitted in Rev 11:17.  In 11:17 God is designated only as the one “who is and who was”, pointing to the fact that He now has come and that the end of world history has arrived.

There is almost general agreement that something new starts with Rev 12 because:

  • The seventh trumpet ends current world history, while Revelation 12 jumps back to the time Jesus came as a human being (12:2, 5);
  • New characters are introduced.  A woman and a dragon are introduced in Rev 12. In Rev 13, the dragon empowers a beast from the sea. Then a beast from the earth arises and instigates the inhabitants of the earth to establish an image of the beast. The dragon and the beasts belong together and form a counter-trinity.  The major evil powers therefore enter the scene.  The woman opposes that evil trinity.

Revelation 12 is therefore a new part of Revelation.  The question is where 11:19 fits.  Is it the end of the trumpet vision as many scholars suggest, or is it the introduction of the seven wars in chapters 12 to 14, or is it both, as others propose?

In 11:19 the “temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm”.  For the following reasons it is proposed that 11:19 is the introduction of the seven wars in chapters 12 to 14:

ONE:   Rev 11:19, 12:1 and 12:3 present three successive scenes—the ark, the woman and the dragon.  The phrase “it was seen” (translated “appeared” in the NASB) occurs just three times in Revelation: namely in these three verses.  These three verses therefore belong together, which connects 11:19 with the subsequent two scenes.

TWO:  A further link between these three scenes is the phrase “in heaven” in each of these scenes.  There are differences between Rev 11:19 and Rev 12:1 and Rev 12:3, but such differences are not surprising, because introductory verses are always somewhat different from the section it introduces.

THREE:  Just like the introduction to the seals (4:5) and the trumpets (8:5), 11:19 refers to the heavenly temple.  Rev 11:19 uses the word “temple” (naos) twice.  John is allowed to see the innermost part of the heavenly sanctuary containing the Ark of the Covenant.  Both the golden altar (8:3-trumpets) and the ark (11:19) were part of the ancient temple furniture (Hebr. 9:4).  The Ark contained the Ten Commandments, and the wars on Revelation 12 to 14 are wars against God’s commandments.  This is indicated by the following:

    • God’s people are described as commandment-keepers (12:17; 14:12).
    • In the wars the first commandments are disobeyed.  The people of the world worship the dragon and the beast (13:4), they blaspheme God (13:6) and erect and worship an image (13:14, 15).
    • Therefore the plagues come from the “tabernacle of testimony” (15:5), which is Old Testament language from the temple of the Ten Commandments (Ex 25:16).

FOUR:  Still a further link with the other introductions are flashes of lightning, voices, thunders seen and heard also in 11:19.  Actually, each time thunder, voices, and flashes of lightning are enumerated, another element is added.   These three elements are found in Rev 4:5.  The introduction to the trumpets adds earthquakes (8:5).  In Rev. 11:19 a fifth element is added, namely a great hail.   The same five elements are found in 16:18-21.

FIVE:  Rev 11:18 is a fitting end to the trumpets because summarizes the final events that are described more extensively in the following chapters of Revelation.  It says:

  1. “the nations were enraged” summarises the seven wars in Revelation 12 to 14;
  2. “and Your wrath came” summarises the plagues Revelation 15 to 19;
  3. “and the time came for the dead to be judged” is the judgement before the great white throne in Revelation 20;
  4. “to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints” summarises the description of the new heaven and new earth in chapters 21 and 22, and
  5. “and to destroy those who destroy the earth”, explains the lake of fire and the second death (21:8).

The introduction to seven Plagues

The vision of the angels receiving the plagues from one of the four living beings (15:7) is the introduction to the seven plagues.  This is again a temple scene.  The temple here is called the “tabernacle of testimony” (15:5) which emphasizes the “testimony” a name for the Ten Commandments (Ex 25:16).

Introductions provides themes

It is important to note that these introductions always are scenes from the temple in heaven, and that the aspect of the temple that is seen is aligned to the theme of that part of Revelation.  The point here is that the themes of the seals and the plagues are very different.  The seals deals with the redemption of God’s people while the trumpets deal word God’s efforts to bring the lost back to Him.  Because the theme of these two part of revelation are so different, the trumpets cannot be part of the seals.

ENDS WITH THE RETURN OF CHRIST

Perhaps the most convincing argument is that the seals and the trumpets and the wars (Revelation 12-14) all end with “the end—the final consummation—which includes the return of Christ.  If the seals end with “the end”, then the trumpets must jump back in time, and at least to some extent cover the same period as the seals.  The following paragraphs therefore indicate that the seals and the trumpets do end with “the end”.

Since Rev 8:1 is introduced by neither “I saw” nor “I heard”, it seems that this verse has a very close relation to the preceding material.  With the sixth seal, not only the heavenly signs pointing to Jesus’ second coming have been fulfilled (6:12-14)—the day of the Lord itself—the “great day of their wrath”, has come (6:17).  In the extension of the sixth seal God’s people are perceived as already standing before His throne (Rev 7:9, 15).  This answers the question at the very end of the sixth chapter: “Who is able to stand?”  They are led by the Lamb to the water of life (7:17).  The climax has been reached.  Then the seventh seal adds silence in heaven.  So, the seals lead up to the final consummation.  Having reached Christ’s second corning, the Millennium, judgment, and new creation, a return to the old earth as described by the trumpets does not make sense if understood chronologically. If Rev 8:2-6—which draws with it Rev 8-9—would be connected with 8:1, the progression of Rev 6 and 7 up to 8:1 would be reversed and the climax destroyed.

The same is true at the end of the trumpets.  As illustrated above, in the seventh trumpet “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord” (11:15).  Then, in the next chapter, we read about Christ becoming a human being (12:2, 5).  Because the seals, trumpets and wars (Rev 12 to 14) all end with the end of human history as we know it, they must overlap in terms of periods covered.

SILENCE

This conclusion is supported by an understanding of the “silence” in 8:1.  In Revelation 5 describes John sees a Lamb taking a book sealed with seven seals.  When He opens the seals (Revelation 6), dramatic events occur on earth.  However, in 7:9 the scene returns to heaven with the great multitude standing before the throne and before the Lamb.  Then, when the last seal is broken, and the book is now completely open, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour, in contrast to the flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder which previously came out from the throne (4:5).  The silence must be because the book is now completely open, and can be completely read.  To understand this we need to understand what this book is.

There are various books in Revelation:

  • One is the book Revelation itself (Rev 1:11; 22:10; 22:18; 22:19).
  • Another book is the little opened book which the angel brings from heaven, which John has to eat so that he can prophecy (Rev 10).  Some believe this is the same book as the book the Lamb receives in Revelation 5, but the seventh seal will only be completely lifted after the end of current world history—after the return of Christ (6:17), while the angel’s book in Revelation 10 is already open when brought down to earth, and it is brought down as something that must be prophesied (10:11), which must happen before the return of Christ.
  • The third is the book of life.  In this book are written the names of the overcomers (3:5).  They will inherit the New Jerusalem (21:7), while all other people will suffer the second death in the lake of fire (20:15).  This is one of the books that will be used in the judgement (20:12).  This book is also called “the book of life of the Lamb” (13:8), or “the Lamb’s book of life” (21:27).  This implies that the book that is received by the Lamb in Revelation 5 is the book of life.  This is supported by the following observations:
    1. The book received in Revelation 5 is only completely unsealed at the end of current human history while the book of life is opened in the last judgement at the end of the Millennium (20:12).
    2. Jesus “has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals” (5:5).  In other words, His sacrifice on the cross gave Him the authority to open the book.  But we also know that through the cross Jesus “purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (5:9).  The book is therefore intimately tied to the redemption of man.  In other words, to open this book is to redeem God’s people.

The fact that the book with the seven seals is the book of life means that the seventh seal (8:1) happens in the final judgement at the end of the Millennium:

(Rev 20:12)  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

This silence then results from the judgement before the great white throne.  After this there is only the new heaven and new earth.  There is no space left for a return to earth for the events described in the trumpets.  This serves to confirm the previous conclusion, namely that the seals, the trumpets and the wars all end at the great consummation.

STARTS WITH THE CROSS

The seals start at the time of John.  As discussed elsewhere, the twofold introductory scene in Rev 4-5 points to Jesus’s enthronement in heaven after His sacrifice, possibly in 31 A.D.  The seals reach even beyond Christ’s second coming.  Thus the seals cover the entire Christian time span.

The vision of the seven wars (chapters 12 to 14), starts with a woman giving birth to a male child, which is a reference to the time God came as a man.  It ends with the harvest at the end of Revelation 14, which is the war Armageddon.  (See the article on Armageddon.)  The vision of the seven wars therefore again covers the Christian period.

Therefore the question is not whether the Apocalypse uses recapitulation—this issue is clear.  The question is rather whether the trumpets recapitulate the seals, which is possible given that the preceding and succeeding parts do cover the same period of time.

The “much incense” given to the angel serving at the altar (8:3) may be viewed as the benefits from the sacrifice at the cross.  In Revelation 5, at the inauguration of Christ’s ministry in heaven, the elders have bowls “full of incense” (5:8), which may be the “much incense” given to the angel at the altar in 8:3.  Notice in the following wonderful and joyous passage how Revelation 5 links the incense to the Lamb taking the book, and how taking the book is linked to His blood sacrifice at the cross, and to redemption:

When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.  And they *sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  (Rev 5:8-9)

It is therefore proposed that the “much incense” results from the Lamb’s sacrifice, and that the incense is given to the angel immediately after the sacrifice was offered.  This would mean that the trumpets also cover the full Christian period.

TIME, TIMES AND HALF A TIME

One of the seven wars in Revelation 12 to 14 is the “time, time and a half” of Dan 7 and 12 (Rev 12:6, 14).

Both the trumpets and the seven wars (Revelation 12 to 14) refer to the period of “time, times, and half” (11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:6).  Both these parts of Revelation therefore cover this important period.  Everywhere in Daniel (where the period is first mentioned—Dan 7:25 & 12:7) and in Revelation this is the period of persecution of God’s people.  Because the seals revolves God’s people, and their persecution (6:9; 7:14), the seal necessarily also cover this period, which would mean that the seven seals, the seven trumpets and the seven wars all cover the “time, time and a half”.

The interpretation of the “time, times, and half” is critical to a correct understanding of the prophecies.  A separate article is available on this period.

CHIASTIC STRUCTURE

8:2-6 has a literary structure called a chiasm.  In such a structure the first element corresponds to the last, and the second to the one immediately preceding the last, etc.  The chiastic structure for 8:2-6 is as follows:

A Seven angels with seven trumpets (2)
B Angel, altar, censer (3a)
C Incense, prayers of the saints (3b)
D Altar before the throne (3c)
C’ Incense, prayers of the saints (4)
B’ Angel, censer, altar (5)
A’ Seven angels with seven trumpets (6)

This means that 8:2-6 forms a self-contained unit.  Rev 8:1 does not seem to have a place in this chiastic structure, which would mean 8:1 does not form part of the trumpets.

AND I SAW

Rev 8:2 starts with the words “and I saw”.  In Revelation the words “and I saw” or similar phrases are used to introduce a new section or at least a new aspect of a vision.   The same principle should be applied to 8:2.  it might be better to understand “and I saw” in 8:2 as introducing a new part of the Apocalypse.

In the seventh seal (8:1) the content (silence in heaven for half an hour) is presented immediately without a preceding “and I saw” used in all other seals, probably because silence cannot be seen and it would be awkward to say “and I heard silence”.

TREES AND STARS

There are things in Revelation that do not make sense if Revelation is understood as a single series of literal, physical and chronological events:

  • In the first trumpet (8:7) a third of the earth and a third of the trees and all the green grass are burned up. However, in the fifth trumpet (9:4), the grass and the trees are protected.
  • Under the sixth seal (Rev 6:12-14) the stars fall to the earth.  However, the fourth trumpet and the fourth bowl (plague) visions presuppose that the heavenly bodies are still in place (8:12; 16:8).

HEAVEN—EARTH—HEAVEN

The seals are initiated in heaven (Rev 4-5: Introduction), executed on earth (Rev 6:1-7:8—6 seals) and consummated in heaven (Rev 7:9-8:1).  The trumpets follow the same pattern.  They start in heaven (8:2-6: Introduction), are executed on earth (Rev 8:7-11:14; 6 trumpets) and ends in heaven (Rev 11:12, 15-18 Part of the 6th trumpet, 7th trumpet).

If the trumpets are a continuation of the seals, why would the scene return to heaven before it continues with the trumpets?  Would the “heaven-earth-heaven” sequences in both the seals and the trumpets not indicate that they are separate from each other?

DIFFERENCES

A further indication that the trumpets are not part of the seals, and of the seventh seal in particular, is the differences:

And I saw” statements are found throughout the entire seal series, including its introductory part.  None of the other groups of seven in Revelation are so intensely characterized by “and I saw” statements as is the vision of the seven seals.  With the trumpets this formula is found only rarely.

The seven trumpets start with a common formula, namely “and the. . .angel sounded the trumpet”.  This formula is prefigured by 8:2 and 8:6. It is quite different from the formula used in the seals: “and when it opened the … seal I heard the … living being saying” which draws on Rev 4-5.

There are no time periods mentioned in the seals.  In trumpets contain several time periods and indications of the passing of time:

  • After the first four trumpets an eagle warns those who dwell on the earth about the last three trumpets (8:13).
  • In the fifth the earth-dwellers are tormented for five months (9:5)
  • The sixth starts at a specific point in time when the four angels are released (9:15)
  • The interlude mentions the 42 months during which the holy city will be tread underfoot and the 1260 days during which the two witnesses will prophesy clothed in sackcloth (11:2, 3)
  • When the two witnesses finish their testimony the beast from the earth will kill them (11:7).  They will be dead for 3.5 days (11:11).
  • 11:13 mention another specific point in time, when the two witnesses are resurrected and ascend to heaven, with catastrophic results on earth.

The role-players in the seals are quite different from the trumpets:

  • In the first seals the Lamb is the centre of attention.  He is mentioned ten times within the seals, but not at all with the trumpets.
  • In the trumpets angels are very important.   In the seals they are only spectators.  Since no angels occur in the first six seals (except in the interruption) one probably should not expect to find them in the seventh seal.
  • In the seals the four living creatures and twenty-four elders are found in the introduction (4:4, 6; 5:5, 11, 14), in each of the first four seals and in the interruption (7::11, 15).  In the seals they are found only in the seventh.

There is a marked difference with respect to the people on which the seals and the trumpets focus, as already discussed above:

  • The trumpets to focus on the earth dwellers (8:13), namely the people without the seal of God (9:4) and the people that rejoice over the death of the two witnesses (11:10).
  • The seals focus on the people of God (6:9; 7:3, 14).

These differences imply that the seals and the trumpets are two distinct parts of Revelation, and that the trumpets are not part of the seventh seal.

THE SEALING AND THE SIXTH TRUMPET

Rev 7:1-8 describes the sealing of God’s people.  They must all be sealed before the winds can be released.  Four angels hold back the four winds “so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree” (7:1).  In Revelation the number four means “world-wide”.  As in Daniel 7:2, the winds must be understood as things that cause conflict.  God’s people are therefore prepared (sealed) for a difficult period.  Until they are sealed, four angels hold back the four winds of heaven.

In Revelation the closest parallel to the sealing is the sixth trumpet.  This trumpet also mentions four angels.  It says that the four angels are bound (9:14) at the “great river Euphrates” (9:14).  The Euphrates must be understood as Babylon’s river, because the ancient city Babylon was built on the Euphrates River, and Babylon is a prominent symbol in Revelation.  The Euphrates is then the “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” on which Babylon sits (7:15).  Four synonyms (peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues) again used to indicate that all the people of the world are included.  The sixth trumpet releases the four angels on a specific point in time (9:15) to “kill a third of mankind” (9:15).

Note the similarities between the sealing and the sixth trumpet:

  • In the one devastation is held in check.  In the other devastation is released.
  • In both a crowd which is numbered.  In the sealing it is “one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel” (7:4).  In the sixth trumpet it is the “two hundred million horsemen”.  The phrase “I heard their number” is found only in 7:4 and in 9:16.
  • Four angels are mentioned in both sections.  In the sealing they are holding back the winds (7:1).  In the sixth plague they are released (9:14).  In the sealing they are said to be granted to harm the earth and the sea (7:2).  In the sixth trumpet they kill a third of mankind (9:15).

On the basis of these similarities it is proposed that the sixth trumpet is the release of the winds warned of in the sealing.  This conclusion is confirmed if the plagues (Rev 15 +16) are compared with the sealing and the sixth trumpet:

  • The plagues are poured out on all people with the mark of the beast (16:2).  The mark of the beast is the opposite of the seal of God (13:16-14:1).  The plagues are therefore poured out as soon as every person on earth has either received the mark of the beast or the seal of God.  The release of the winds, referred to in the sealing (7:1-3), is then the same as the plagues of Revelation 16.
  • The sixth trumpet is the same as the plaguesbecause:
    • The sixth trumpet also refers to “plagues” (9:18, 20).  It is only the sixth trumpet, the two witnesses (11:6) and the section on the plagues (15:1, 6, 8; 16:9, 21; 18:4, 8) that refer to “plagues”.  The later occurrences of the word “plagues” refer back to the plagues of Revelation 16 (21:9; 22:18).
    • Only the sixth trumpet (9:20, 21) and the plagues (16:9, 11) refer to people that “repent not”.

If it is accepted that the sixth trumpet is the release of the winds, then the previous (fifth) trumpet, which is the torment of the people without the seal of God for five months (9:4) is the same as or overlaps the sealing-period.  This is confirmed by the reference to the seal of God in this trumpet.  Further, the sealing (7:1-8) must logically precede 6:17, because 6:17 is the “the great day of their wrath”, when “every mountain and island were moved out of their places” (6:14).  The fifth trumpet therefore preceded the sixth seal.  It is then impossible for the trumpets to be included in the seventh seal.

Commentators that believe the seventh seal includes the seven trumpets typically also believe that the seven plagues are included in the seventh trumpet.   The above analysis also proposes that this is not the case.

DANIEL

A strong relation between the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel must be recognized.  For example:

  • The beast from the sea (Rev 13:1-2) is directly linked to the four beasts of Daniel 7.
  • The seven heads of the beast in Revelation are or include the beasts in Daniel.
  • The important period of a “time, times and half”, found in Revelation 11, 12 and 13, originates from Daniel.
  • The interruption of the trumpets in Revelation 10 and 11 are actually a continuation of Daniel 12.  (See the article on this interruption for more detail.)
  • Both books belong to the same type of literature, namely, apocalyptic prophecy. These are the only predominantly apocalyptic books in the whole Bible.

The Book of Daniel undeniably contains recapitulation:  In Daniel one series adds additional elements to the preceding one. Whereas Dan 2 discusses the political dimension—that is, the kingdoms of the world—Dan 7 adds a religious dimension, namely, the saints, and Dan 8 adds another spiritual dimension, namely, the sanctuary.

Since the Book of Revelation depends on the Book of Daniel, we might also expect recapitulation in the Apocalypse.

 

CONCLUSION

The question in the article is whether the trumpets are part of the sixth seal.  A range of evidence has been offered to indicate that this is not the case.

  1. It has been illustrated that each major part of Revelation has an introduction, and that 8:2-6 is the introduction to the trumpets.  This implies that these parts are distinct from each other.
  2. These verses (8:2-6) have a chiastic structure that excludes 8:1.  These five verses (8:2-6), which carried with them all the trumpets, is therefore not part of the seventh seal.  This is supported by the fact that the initiating words “and I saw” is only given in 8:2.
  3. It has been shown that each of the major parts of Revelation have a different theme.  It therefore does not make sense to propose that one such part is included in another.
  4. Each of the major parts of Revelation ends with the return of Christ and beyond, and the seals, trumpets and wars probably all start at the time of Christ.  They must therefore overlap in terms of period covered.
  5. Although this only confirms that the seals end at the final consummation of things, it was shown that the silence coincide with the last judgement before the great white throne, because the book in the seals is the book of life.
  6. The seals, trumpets and wars all cover the important period of the “time, times and half a time”.
  7. A number of differences between the seals and the trumpets have been listed, such as phrases often used, the presence and absence of time references, the important issue of differences in the role-players and the very important issue of the differences in people groups that the seals and the trumpets focus on.  These differences imply that the trumpets are not part of the seals.
  8. If Revelation is read literally and sequentially, then there are certain contradictions.  For instance under the sixth seal the stars fall to the earth but later they are still in place.
  9. It is generally accepted that the visions in Daniel build on each other—each providing additional insights with respect to periods covered by previous visions.  Since Revelation is built on Daniel it is more than likely that the same principle applies in Revelation.
  10. Lastly, and possible most complex, is has been shown that the fifth trumpet precedes the sixth seal.  It is then impossible for the trumpets to be included in the seals.

The argument that the seven trumpets are included in the seventh seal is based on the fact that nothing happens in the seventh seal—only silence.  It is submitted that this is very scant evidence against the evidence submitted above.

It is proposed here that the seventh seal does not include 8:2-6 chronologically, but it does include those verses, and therefore the trumpets, thematically.  What is meant by this statement is that the silence refers to the judgement of the dead at the end of the Millennium, and the trumpets explain what God did to turn them from their disastrous paths.  In other words, in the first six seals the focus is on God’s people, in the seventh and in the trumpets the attention turns to the “the nations” (11:2).

In conclusion, instead of viewing the trumpets as coming out of the last seal, it seems to be more appropriate to view Rev 4-5 and Rev 8:2-6 as introductory scenes providing the vocabulary for the introductory formulas used with each of the seven trumpets.  The seven trumpets apparently start with Rev 8:2 and end with Rev 11:18. Rev 11:19 already belongs to the next part, functioning as an introductory sanctuary scene.

TO: General Table of Contents

The Seven Heads of the Beast

Three beasts in Revelation have seven heads.  They are the Dragon (12:3), the Sea Beast (13:1) and the Scarlet Beast (17:3).  These three beasts have been identified in a separate article.  The purpose of this article is to determine what these seven heads represent.  The heads are explained by Revelation as follows:

“Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.  (Rev 17:9-10 NASB)

The popular Preterist interpretation—the view of academics, generally—is that the seven heads or mountains are the Seven Hills of Rome, and that the seven kings are something different, namely literal emperors of the Roman Empire.  However, the heads and the kings are the same.  This means that the heads do not exist simultaneously—they follow each other chronologically (see 19:9-10 quoted above).  They therefore cannot be the Seven Hills of Rome.

The following justify the statement that the heads are the same as the kings:

(A) The KJV and NKJV translations give the incorrect impression that the kings (17:10) are different from the heads and mountains upon which the woman sits, mentioned in 17:9.  The KJV begins 17:10 with, “And there are seven kings.”  Even worse, the NKJV says, “There are also seven kings.”  As in the NASB quoted above, it should read “And they are seven kings”.  All the Greek texts, although differing in word order, include the following words, literally translated, “and kings they are seven”.  The words “there” and “also” in the KJV and NKJV translations are not in the Greek.

(B) According to 17:9 the heads are mountains.  Nobody disputes that.  What is disputed is whether the kings in 17:10 are the same as the mountains.  But the relationship between kings (17:10) and mountains (17:9) is well-established in Scripture—mountains represent the power of kingdoms and their individual kings (Isaiah 2:2-3; Jeremiah 17:3; 31:23; 51:24, 25; Ezekiel 17:22-23; Zech. 4:7).  In Habakkuk 3:6 the mountains may be seen as the nations which God scattered.  The stone (Dan 2:34) becomes a great mountain (Dan 2:35), which is explained as “a kingdom which will never be destroyed” (Dan 2:44).  And “Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it” (Isa 2:2 NASB).  If the heads are mountains, and the mountains are kings, then the heads are kings as well.

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

So what are the heads?  Firstly, the beast consists of the seven heads.  Imagine a beast with seven heads.  Now take away the seven heads.  What is left is a dead carcass.  Without its heads these is no beast.  This is confirmed by the text when it says that the harlot (Babylon) sits on both the Beast and on its seven heads (17:3, 9).  In Daniel 7 there is a leopard with four heads (Dan 7:6).  This is interpreted as Greece, and the four heads are interpreted as the four Grecian kingdoms that arose after Alexander’s death.  Also in this case the beast (leopard) consists of the four heads and it not something apart from them.  The relationship between the beast and its heads is similar to the relationship between the image of a man in Daniel 2and the metals it consists of.  The image consists of the metals, while the metals represent chronologic kingdoms.  Actually, there is no Beast.  It is only the heads that exist.  The Beast is the sum of the heads.  Everywhere that Revelation says that the beast does something, it is actually one of the heads (kings) that is doing it.

Secondly, the heads follow each other chronologically (17:10) and represent the exercise of the beast’s oppressive rule through one head at a time over the course of history.  The heads can therefore be understood as seven consecutive phases of the Beast.

Thirdly, the term “king” represents “kingdom” in prophetic symbols, just as a leader represents his people.  For example, Daniel called Nebuchadnezzar that “head of gold” but explained that another “kingdom” would follow (Dan 2:37ff).  In Daniel 7:17 and 23 the four beast are first explained as “kings” but later as “kingdoms”.  Most non-Preterist interpreters therefore take the seven kings to be world empires, but they disagree on which.

Fourthly, many people find heads by looking at empires that precede the ancient Babylonian Empire.  It is proposed here that such a procedure is not consistent with the principle that Revelation is built on Daniel.  According to this principle, one should not look outside of Daniel for the interpretation of the heads.  This approach is confirmed by the fact that the beasts of Revelation all have 7 heads and 10 horns, while the beasts in Daniel 7 have, in total, also have 7 heads and 10 horns, implying a close relationship between the beasts of Daniel and Revelation.

This does not mean that the seven heads are the same as the seven heads of the beasts of Daniel 7.  Daniel’s third empire (Greece) had four heads (Dan 7:6).  If the seven heads of Revelation’s beast were the same as the seven heads of the beasts of Daniel 7, then the third to sixth heads would be the four Grecian empires, which existed simultaneously.  This would be inconsistent with Revelation, because, according to 17:10, the sixth head follows in time after the fifth.

THE FIRST FIVE HEADS

On the basis of the principle discussed above that we should identify the heads from the beasts in Daniel, the four beasts in Daniel are the first four heads.  They are:

  • Babylon
  • Mede-Persia
  • Greece
  • Rome

The dragon with seven heads (Rev 12) is identified as Satan (12:9), but that identification is in the context of the war in heaven.  When it stands before the woman that carries the promised child, it has seven heads (12:3-4) which are “seven kings” (17:10).  In that context it therefore also represents an earthly power.  In particular it represents Rome, the fourth beast of Daniel 7, because that was the empire ruling at the birth of Jesus.  On the basis of the principle above, namely that the beasts of Revelation are actually heads, it is confirmed that Romeis one of the heads.

The beast that comes out of the sea, with seven heads, (the Sea Beast) inherits from four other animals:

And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.  (Rev 13:2 NASB)

The leopard, bear and lion are the first three animals in Daniel 7 (7:3-5).  The fourth animal in Daniel 7 is not compared to any known animal but is described as “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth” (Dan 7:7).  This sounds like a dragon.  The Sea Beast therefore inherits from each of the four beasts in Daniel.  In the article on the seven headed beasts of Revelation it was for this reason and others concluded that the Sea Beast is the 11th horn growing out of Daniel’s fourth empire.  On the basis of the principle that the beasts of Revelation are actually heads, it is proposed that this 11th horn is the fifth head.

THE LAST TWO HEADS

Revelation mentions something about the 11th horn (the Sea Beast) which is not mentioned by Daniel, namely that this beast receives a deadly wound (13,3), but recovers from that wound to become the most destructive force ever in history.  After its fatal wound was healed, the whole earth was “amazed” after the beast” (13:3), and they (“everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life”—13:8) worshiped the dragon and the beast (13:4, 8).  This wound is not mentioned by Daniel.

It is very important to note that Revelation 17 indicates that the wound-period is the sixth head.  This is based on the following observations:

(A) The recovery from the wound is the same as the ascension from the Abyss, for the following reasons:

    • What happens after the recovery of the wound is the same as what happens after the beast comes out of the Abyss (whole world—not in book of life—worship 13:8; 17:8).  (See the article on the seven headed beasts for more information.)
    • It is quite unexpected that the anti-God persecuting powers go through a period of incapacity.  It is therefore likely that the period of incapacity in Revelation 13 (wound) is the same as the period of incapacity in Revelation 17 (wilderness, “is not”, Abyss).

(B) Revelation explains both the seven heads and the beast in terms of the past, the present and the future (see table below).  The sixth head is the “present” head, but at “present” the beast is in the Abyss.  The Abyss-period is therefore the 6th head.

PAST

PRESENT

FUTURE

Beast

Was

Is not

Come up from the abyss

Seven heads

Five was

One is

Other has not yet come

CONCLUSION

To conclude, let us revisit:  The heads of Revelation are limited to the beasts in Daniel.  Daniel mentions five “beasts”, if we add the 11th horn, which we must, because it is the main anti-God power in Daniel, and it is also the main anti-God power in Revelation (Sea Beast).  These are then the first five heads.  Revelation informs us that the fifth beast actually has three phases, because it receives a deadly wound somewhere during its existence, but recovers from that wound.  Revelation also tells us that the wound-period is the sixth head.  This results in the following seven heads:

  1. Babylon
  2. Mede-Persia
  3. Greece
  4. Rome
  5. Little horn
  6. Little horn mortally wounded (13:3) / in abyss (17:8) / in wilderness (17:3)
  7. Little horn resurrected (13:4)—Time of the False Prophet and Image of the Beast

This interpretation provides a challenge, because many commentaries hold that the explanation of the vision in Revelation 17 is given relative to John time.  This would mean that the sixth head (17:8) is in John’s time.  Please see the discussion of Revelation 17 for a response to this challenge.

TO: General Table of Contents

The Beasts with Seven Heads

There are three beasts in Revelation that are described as having seven heads and ten horns, namely:

  • the Dragon (Revelation 12);
  • the Sea Beast (Revelation 13) and
  • the Scarlet Beast on which the harlot sits (Revelation 17)

Commentators agree these are not literal beasts.  Because they all have seven heads and ten horns there must be some relationship between them.  What are these beasts?  How they relate to each other?  Are they the same, or do they symbolize different things?

DANIEL 7

While the beasts of Revelation each have 7 heads and 10 horns, the beasts of Daniel 7 have, in total, 7 heads and 10 horns.  The beasts of Daniel 7 are:

  • a lion (7:4);
  • a bear (7:5);
  • a leopard with four heads (7:6) and;;
  • a “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong” beast with ten horns (Dan 7:7).

The 7 heads and 10 horns of the beasts of Revelation means that they have some relationship to the beasts of Daniel 7.  It implies that they are part of the series of beasts in Daniel 7.  This series of beasts of Daniel 7 are represented by a single image of a man in Daniel 2, where each body part represents an empire.  The head is the first (the ancient Babylonian empire) and the feet are the last, to be destroyed by the return of Christ.  Where-as the beasts of Daniel 7 emphasize their individuality, the image in Daniel 2 indicates that, from God’s perspective, they all form part of a single entity.  It may be more appropriate to compare the beasts of Revelation to this image of a man.  It is proposed that all three seven headed beasts in Revelation are different perspectives on the image of Daniel 2.

To make the relationship between Daniel’s and Revelation’s beasts completely clear, Revelation 13 tells us that the Sea Beast “was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the Dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority” (13:2 NASB).  The leopard, bear and lion are the first three beasts of Daniel 7, while “Dragon” would be a good description for the fourth beast of Daniel 7.  This means that the Sea-beast inherits something from each of the four beasts of Daniel 7.  It seems therefore abundant­ly clear that the beasts of Revelation are part of the series of beast-kingdoms described in Daniel.  They provide additional information about the empires represented by Daniel, and as we shall see, particularly about the last empire.

The discussion of Daniel 7 identifies the beasts as follows:

  1. Lion = Babylonian Empire
  2. Bear = Mede-Persian Empire
  3. Leopard = Grecian Empire
  4. Dragon = Roman Empire

However, the main actor in the drama of Daniel 7 is neither of these four.  Most of the verses in Daniel 7 describe a fifth power, namely the 11th horn that grows out of the fourth beast (Dan 7:8).  An analysis of Daniel 7 will show that this chapter allocates more verses to this 11th horn than perhaps of all four beasts put together.  This 11th horn is the focal point of Daniel 7, and the four beasts are described as its predecessors merely so that we may be able to identify this horn.

Initially there are 10 horns that grow on Daniel’s fourth beast.  This is explained as “out of this kingdom (Roman Empire) ten kings will arise” (Dan 7:24).  The Roman Empire came to its end over hundreds of year as its territory was systematically eroded.  The ten horns represent the nations that were formed as the Empire dissolved.  Since “king” and “kingdom” are synonyms in Daniel (Dan 7:17, 23), each of the ten horns may be understood as a kingdom; a series of kings.

Then an eleven horn will arise from the Roman Empire.  It dominates the other kingdoms (Dan 7:20, 24), “speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One” (Dan 7:25).  Daniel 7 predicts that this 11th horn will be the most significant opposition to God and to His people of all time.  It will become so important that a court that will sit in heaven to judge between this horn and God’s people (7:26, 9-11 and 14).  At the return of Christ this 11th horn will be destroyed (7:26, 11), and the everlasting kingdom will be given to the saints (7:27) and to the Son of man (7:13-14).  This 11th horn will therefore be a continuation (horn) of the Roman Empire in some way, and will exist until the return of Jesus.

It is proposed here that this 11th horn is the Church of Rome.  About 200 years ago arguably all Protestant commentators accepted this interpretation.  Today more or less nobody believes it anymore.  Over the last 200 year the Church of Rome has not been able to destroy Bibles and persecute the saints, but it has been able to erase from human memory most of what it did during the Middle Ages.  Today it is no longer socially acceptable to identify this Church with the great persecuting power of Daniel.

In academic circles Antiochus Epiphanies IV has been awarded this honour, based on the assumption that Daniel was not written, as the book indicates, in the time of ancient Babylon, in the sixth century before Christ, but that it was written in the time of Antiochus in about 165 BC.  This view is not accepted here.  The present author has made a study of when Daniel was written, and sufficient evidence exists in the book itself, such as the amazing historical accuracy of the fifth chapter, and outside the book, such as in the Dead Sea scrolls, that Daniel was written in the sixth century B.C.  A lengthy article is available on this topic.

In non-academic circles the dispensationalist view is dominant, postponing the Antichrist to a future seven year period after a secret rapture.

Today there is considerable resistance against any conspiracy theory.  People do not want to believe that there exists today a massive conspiracy to brain wash the peoples of the world.  People, even Christians, no longer believe in the existence of Satan, and therefore they do not believe in any form of conspiracy.  But Revelation warns us “those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality” (17:2).  It is maintained here, against the massive resistance, that the Roman Church is the 11th horn of Daniel 7.

Just think about the macro sequence of the Daniel 7 prophecy.  Four empires are described, the fourth being Rome.  Rome will break up into a large number of nations, and the Antichrist will be among them; stronger than the others, but still among them.  This requires an Antichrist that fit this sequence.  Neither the Antiochus nor futuristic theories fit this pattern.  It has been proposed above that we are informed of this sequence of beasts in order that we may be able to identify the 11th horn.  But the Antiochus and futuristic interpretations separate the 11th horn form its ancestry.

Also consider the continuity between Rome and the Antichrist; Rome will continue to exist until the return of Christ.  In Daniel 2 Rome is represented by the legs of iron.  In the feet Rome continues because the feet are made partly of iron and partly of clay, until the image is struck at it feet by Christ’s return, which vaporises the whole image (Dan 2:45).  In Daniel 7 the great persecuting power is a horn that grows on the fourth beast, and this horn continues its evil work until the return of Christ.  Antiochus and an Antichrist that will exist after a secret rapture do not satisfy the requirement of continuity with Rome.  But the Roman Church does.  It is a direct descendent from the Roman Empire.  As Rome became weaker and weaker, the Church grew stronger and stronger.  In this way, over time, the Pope replaced the Caesars, and inherited many of their titles.

Today people do not want to think any more about the history of the Roman Church, how it actively destroyed Bibles and killed God’s people.  The Roman Church is not the continuation of the early church.  The Roman Church developed in the church in Rome, and in an effort to become acceptable, it adopted heathen theories.  It became strong.  It even became the official religion of the Roman Empire, and was able to systematically destroy the remnant of the true church.  It replaced the gospel with a different religion; one where one is able to buy salvation; one that is based on the ancient mother-child religion from the time of Nimrod and Semiramis.  It has become a church that is based on wealth, splendour and power, mesmerizing the world with it dignity, power and wealth.

Since the reformation the Roman Church has been able to institute a counter reformation, and both theories, namely Antiochus and the futuristic Antichrist, have been developed by the counter-reformation.  It has been so successful that today very few people identify the Roman Church any longer as the Antichrist of Daniel.  However, consider the identifications provided by Daniel:

TEN KINGS:  According to Daniel 7 “ten kings” will arise out of “this kingdom”  (Rome) (v24).  Rome did break up into a large number of nations, such as the Visigoths, Ostrogoths and Vandals.  This, by itself, was a remarkable prophecy, made long before it happened, even if one assume Daniel was written in 165 BC, because each of the previous empires were conquered by one single mighty nation.  Babylon was conquered by Mede-Persia, Mede-Persia by Greece, and Greece by Rome.  In contrast, Rome’s end came over hundreds of years, as the “barbarian nations” eroded it from all sides.  This break-up happens before the 11thhorn became dominant.  How does this fit the Antiochus or the futuristic interpretations?  The text of the prophecy is completely incompatible with these interpretations. The Antiochus interpretation is based on the proposal that Media is the second empire, Persia the third and Greece the fourth,  which is contrary to the direct statement of the angel in Daniel 8:20, and contrary to the consistent information in Daniel that Mede-Persia was a single empire.  But even if we accept their proposal that Media and Persia be split, what are the 10 horns on Greece?  In Daniel 8 Greece is represented as a goat with four horns, not ten.  And where to you find 10 horns that fit the futuristic interpretation?  Remember that this Antichristian power of Daniel 7 subdues three of the horns.  What three horns are subdues by Antiochus or by an end time Antichrist?The point is that there are identifying marks in Daniel, and we have to use them to identify the Antichrist, and not be guided by politically acceptable notions.

AFTER THEM:  The eleventh horn will arise “after them” (v24).  Initially the Roman Church was purely a church.  It was only later that it also assumed political authority over other nations.  After what ten horns did Antiochus or will an end time Antichrist arise?

DIFFERENT:  “He will be different from the previous ones” (v24), which the Roman Church was, being partly religious, partly political.

SUBDUE THREE:  The 11th horn “will subdue three kings” (v24).  Certain Arian nations (Heruldi, Vandals and Ostrogoths), not believing in the deity of Christ, opposed the Church.  They were subdued before the Church was able to become dominant.  But these nations did continue to exist.  In the end all 11 horns existed simultaneously.  How does this satisfy the Antiochus or futuristic interpretations?

LARGER:  The 11th horn is “larger in appearance than its associates” (v20).  During the long dark period of history known as the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church dealt with a high hand.  She made and unmade kings:

Emperors and kings had to … be in communion with the Pope, as essential conditions of their reigning lawfully; if these conditions were broken, of which the Pope was the judge, then … he could … declare their ruler unfit to reign. [Cath Dic, 257]

Sixtus V (Cath. Ency. I729) excommunicated Protestant Henry of Navarre, and sent an army to unseat him.  Sixtus promised the Spanish King a subsidy for the Armada, with which England was to be subjugated.  Let’s take a look at how Pope Gregory compels King Henry to freeze three days before he would receive him:

Striped of his royal robes, and clad as a penitent, Henry had to come barefooted mid ice and snow, and crave for admission to the presence of the pope. All day he remained at the door of the citadel, fasting and exposed to the inclemency of the wintry weather, but was refused admission. A second and third day he thus humiliated and disciplined himself, and finally on 28 January, l077, he was received by the pontiff and absolved from censure, but on condition that he would appear at the proposed council and submit himself to its decision. Cath. Ency. VI, 794

Imagine the head of a significant nation today having to ask the pope for forgiveness in this way.  All of this shows how arrogant the Catholic Church was during the dark ages and how she ruled over the kingdoms of Europe.

WAR WITH THE SAINTS:  The 11th horn was “waging war with the saints and overpowering them” (v21).  Rome’s long history was marked with the shedding of the blood of saints.  In 1208 Pope Innocent III warred against the Waldines and Albigines (Bohemian Brethren), in which one million perished. From the beginning of the Jesuits 1540-1580 it is estimated that 900,000 were destroyed through papal cruelty.  One hundred fifty thousand perished by the inquisition in thirty years.  In the low lands 50,000 persons were hanged, beheaded, burned alive or buried alive for the crime of heresy (Christianity).  Within 38 years from the edict of Charles V, 18,000 were executed.  The Popes tried to put down the reformation in Germany and Switzerland.  One might consider the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, Martyrdom of John Calas, John Wycliff, John Huss, Jerome of Prague, Tyndale, Luther, Persecutions in Germany, France, Scotland, England, Ireland, persecution of Quakers. The historian W.E. H. Lecky says, “The Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a complete knowledge of history.” Some historians have estimated that the persecuting hands of Rome have been reddened by the blood of fifty million saints. I doubt that anyone can come close to the exact number.

SPEAK AGAINST THE MOST HIGH:  It will “speak out against the Most High” (v25).  This may be found in statements by the Church claiming what belongs to God, for instance: “we (popes) hold on this earth the place of God Almighty.”  Christ “is the head of the body” (Col 1:18), but the pope claims to be head of all churches.  “Christ Jesus … will judge the living and the dead” (2 Tim. 4:1), but the Pope claims to be the Judge of the Living and the Dead.  Jesus promised “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth. (John 14:16-17), but the Pope claim to “hold upon this earth the place of God almighty”.  Jesus said ” do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers” (Mat 23:8), but the church claims that the supreme teacher in the church is the Roman Pontiff.  For more information and references see the section on the Roman Church in the article on Babylon.

ALTER LAW:  It will “intend to make alterations in times and in law” (Dan 7:25).  The Church allows worship of images, and legalised many other sins, such as the forgiveness of sins for a price.  She changed the laws with respect to the Lord’s Supper and enacted celibacy of the clergy.  In 1075 Gregory VII declared all clerical marriages invalid.  This was the greatest mass divorce in history.  She changed the 10 commandments.  The deification of Mary is really the continuation of the ancient Semiramis religion.  The picture of the woman with the child in her arms is really a picture of Semiramis with a child (Tammuz).The Catholic Church acknowledges that its doctrines are not based on the Bible, but on “traditions”.  First Timothy 4:1‑5 gives us one of the primary doctrines of the Antichrist, namely celibacy among the priests.  This has led to horrible atro­cities in the Roman Catholic Church.  In Chiniquy’s book, Fifty Years in the Roman Catholic Church, he says that a young student priest was question­ing a superior about this doctrine of Rome and received the following reply: “You have spoken as a true heretic…you speak of the Holy Scriptures just as a Protestant would.  You appeal to them as the only source of Christian truth and knowledge. Have you forgotten that we have the holy traditionsto guide us, the authority of which is equal to the Scriptures?”Such a position nullified Scripture on the basis of human tradition(Mark7:13).  It refuses to allow people to carry out their responsibility to func­tion as Berean believers, “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

TIME, TIMES AND HALF:  The “saints … given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time” (v25).  Because the “time, times and half a time” is the period of the prominent horn of Daniel 7 (v25), and because the horns of Daniel 7 are the kingdoms of Europe after Imperial Rome broke up, it is proposed that the “time, times and half a time” is a symbol for the Middle Ages.  The only place outside of Daniel where the phrase “time, times and half a time” appears, is in Revelation 12.  A study of the sequence of seven wars confirms that this is the Middle Ages.  Please read the article “Overview of Revelation 12 to 14” for more information.

It is therefore concluded that the Roman Church fits the identifying marks provided by Daniel, and that the alternative theories do not

The next question is; how do the beasts of Revelation relate to the five empires of Daniel?

DRAGON

The first seven-headed beast that we come across in Revelation is the “great red Dragon having seven heads and ten horns” (12:3).  It is also the seven-headed beast that disappears last from the scene.  The Sea Beast disappears before the Millennium into the lake of fire (19:20, but the dragon is only thrown into the lake of fire after the Millennium (20:10).

Revelation 12 provides a high level overview of various wars between God and Satan, from the war between the woman and the serpent since the Garden of Eden, until the final great conflict of Revelation 13.  In each of these wars the dragon is the antagonist, even the war in heaven (12:7-12).

In the context of the war in heaven, and when imprisoned during the Millennium, the dragon is specifically identified as Satan (12:7-9; 20:2) and as such exists for all human history.  In this sense it continues to exist beyond the return of Christ (20:2), and only vanishes only from the pages of Revelation when it is thrown in the lake of fire after the Millennium (20:10).

However, when first introduced as standing before the woman, it is presented as having 7 heads and 10 horns (12:3).  Both the heads and the horns are “kings” (17:10, 12).  The dragon therefore also represents kingdoms.  Because it has exactly 7 heads and 10 horns it is part of the continuum of beasts of Daniel 7.  Therefore, when in conflict with the woman’s Child Jesus (12:5), it represents the specific earthly authority at the time of Jesus’s earthly life, namely the fourth kingdom (beast) in Daniel 7, which is the Roman Empire.  This is supported by the observation that “dragon” would be a good name for the fourth beats of Daniel 7.

The article titled “overview of Revelation 12 to 14” indicates that the dragon is involved in various others wars, such as:

  • The war against the woman before the “time, times and half a time” (12:13)
  • The war against the woman during the “time, times and half a time” (12:14, 15)
  • The war against the woman’s “other children” (12:17), which follows after the “time, times and half a time”, and is the war of Revelation 13

As discussed in the article on the overview of Revelation 12 to 14, some of these wars are beyond the time of Imperial Rome.  “Dragon”, in these wars, may then represent either Satan or the continuing influence of the Roman Empire.

SEA BEAST

The Sea-beast is frequently mentioned as working with the Dragon (e.g. 16:13), which means it is not the same as the Dragon.  The Sea Beast is here identified as the 11th horn of Daniel 7, namely the Roman Church, for the following reasons:

  1. Because the Sea Beast also has 7 heads and 10 horns (13:1) it must, like the dragon, be part of the continuum of empires of Daniel 7.
  2. The Sea Beast inherits something for each of the first four beasts of Daniel 7 (compare Rev 13:2 with the beasts of Daniel 7):
    • like a leopard (Greece);
    • feet were like those of a bear (Medo-Persia);
    • mouth like the mouth of a lion (Babylon);
    • throne and great authority from the dragon (Rome)  (13:2)

Because the Sea-beast inherits something from each of the four animals of Daniel 7, it must come in existence after them.  Therefore it is the fifth; namely the 11th horn.

  1. It is the Dragon that calls up the Beast from the Sea (13:1) and the Dragon gave the Sea Beast his power and his throne and great authority (13:2).  This implies that the Sea Beast is the Dragon’s successor.  Since the dragon is the Roman Empire (when represented as having seven heads and ten horns), and since the 11th horn is the real successor of the Roman Empire (Daniel 7), the Sea Beast is the 11th horn.
  2. Further comparisons of the 11th horn with the Sea-beast will verify this conclusion.
    • Both persecute the saints for “a time, times, and half a time” (Dan 7:25; Rev 13:5).  (Comparing 12:6 to 12:14 proves that “a time, times, and half a time” is equal to 1260 days, and 42 months x 30 days = 1260 days.)
    • Both overpower the saints (Dan 7:21; Rev 13:7).
    • Both blaspheme God (Dan 7:8, 20; Rev 15:5).

The Sea Beast goes through three phases.  It first arises from the sea, then dies and then is resurrected (13:3, 4).  After its resurrection “the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast” (13:3).  All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain (13:8; 17:8).  We have therefore now effectively identified seven phases:

  1. Babylon
  2. Mede-Persia
  3. Greece
  4. Rome
  5. 11th horn after it arose from the sea
  6. 11th horn after it died
  7. 11th horn resurrected

THE SCARLET BEAST IS DIFFERENT

The Scarlet Beast of Revelation 17 is mentioned briefly in 11:7, but is described more fully in Revelation 17.  The Scarlet Beast is not the same as the Sea Beast of Revelation 13:

They differ in terms of associates:

  • The Sea Beast receives it power from the Dragon (13:2) and gives his authority to the Land Beast (13:12).  In Revelation we often find this evil trio working together (e.g. 16:13; 19:20-20:2).  In contrast the Scarlet Beast is never mentioned as working with or having a relationship with any of this trio.
  • The Scarlet Beast is mentioned with Babylon, while the evil trio (Dragon, Sea Beast and Land Beast) is never mentioned in the same breath as Babylon.  It almost seems as if different sets of symbols are used in Revelation 13 and 17.

In Revelation 13 the people worship the Sea Beast (13:3-4).  The Sea Beast therefore reigns.  In contrast, in Revelation 17 the harlot sits on the Scarlet Beast (17:3).  She therefore rules over the Scarlet Beast (17:18), while the Scarlet Beast is presented in a subservient role.  Therefore, while the Sea Beast rules, the Scarlet Beast is ruled over.

The relationships between the beasts and the peoples of the world are also different.  In Revelation 13 the Sea Beast is worshipped by the people, and is therefore something apart from the people.  In contrast, in Revelation 17 the harlot (Babylon) sits on both the beast and the waters (people—17:1, 15), indicating a close relationship between the beast and the people.

SCARLET BEAST IS …

It is therefore clear that the Scarlet Beast is something very different from the Dragon and the Sea Beast.  But the Scarlet Beast must relate in some way to the beasts of Daniel 7 because it has seven heads and ten horns.  So what is going on?  Observations from the text include:

  1. The Scarlet Beast exists for all of human history:The harlot is identified in the article on Babylon as “false religion”.  The harlot (Babylon) exists for all of human history because “in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth” (18:24), and because she is the “mother (origin) of harlots” (17:5).  If she exists for all human history, the same must apply to the scarlet beast.In contrast, the Sea Beast of Revelation 13 is a specific organisation, coming into existence at a specific point in time, when it comes out of the sea (13:1) of the human population (Daniel 7:3, 17).
  2. The Scarlet Beast represents the “kings of the earth”:The harlot (Babylon) sitting on the Scarlet Beast is explained in 17:18:

“The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth”.

Because the Scarlet Beast represents the “kings” and kingdoms of the world, and because it exists for the whole of human history, it must represent all the kingdoms of Daniel 7.  It cannot be limited to only one of those kingdoms.  It therefore includes both the Dragon and the Sea Beast.

  1. The Sea Beast includes Babylon. This is clear when the Sea Beast “make war with the saints and to overcome them” (13:7), while actually Babylon must carry the blame for all martyr deaths of God’s people (18:24).  This is also indicated by the fact that the Sea Beast is in charge, similar to Babylon.

Revelation 17 therefore presents the anti-God powers for all of human history, but shows that it consists of two components; a political (beast) and a religious (harlot) component, with the religious component reigning over the political.  It is further proposed that the Sea Beast represents that same anti-God power, consisting of both the political and religious components, but limited to one specific organisation in one period of human history.

The symbolism of Revelation 17 informs us that the kingdoms of the world are always under the control of the deceiving influence of Babylon.  Babylon corrupts the minds of the people (17:2) and kills the saints (18:24).  Babylon exists during all the empires of Daniel 7.

TO: General Table of Contents