Bible Study with Jairus – Summary of Revelation
The Turning Point of the Book of Revelation: The Arrival of the Bride of Christ
The purpose of Revelation is to produce the bride of Christ. When the bride of Christ arrives, Jesus Christ and His Bride will have a wedding feast (Revelation 19). Ultimately, God will judge Satan, evil spirits, and sinners, and cast them, along with death and Hades, into the lake of fire. But until this ultimate mission is accomplished, the negative experiences of judgment exist to help the church spiritually mature and become the bride of Christ. This is what Paul said in Romans 8:28: “For those who love God all things work together for good.”
Chapter 12 is a turning point in the book of Revelation. Before Chapter 12, God is judging the church to bring about its maturity. However, after Chapter 12, the church begins to judge the fallen angels and evil spirits. The Bible says, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:3). The overcoming bride of Christ (represented by the woman and the male child) will judge angels on behalf of the church. The battle becomes fierce, and the final tribulation begins.
Before his rebellion, Satan’s mission was to lead all things to worship God. Later, he rebelled against God and failed to fulfill his mission. God created human beings to replace Satan as the ones who would lead others to worship God. Although Satan tried to tempt man and destroy this purpose, the bride of Christ ultimately triumphs over Satan’s temptation. Conquering believers are well qualified to judge Satan and evil spirits.
In Revelation 12, the bride of Christ arrives on the scene. The bride gives birth to a male child (the overcoming believers). To fight against them, Satan’s persecution becomes intense, and the tribulation begins. During the tribulation, the battle between Christ with His bride and Satan with his prostitute continues. In the end, Christ and His bride will win the ultimate victory, ushering in the end of the age. This is the summary of Revelation.
The Cycle of Seven in The Bible
Seven is a very important number in the Bible. It reveals the way God has arranged the universe. God created everything in six days, and on the seventh day, He rested. Similarly, he has invited his people to work for six days and to rest on the seventh day (Genesis 3:19).
This cycle of work and rest points to a greater truth. When man first sinned and rebelled against God, they lost their rest in Him. Now, we must accept six days of God’s discipline as we learn obedience through suffering. We then hope to find His rest on the seventh day.
This continuous cycle of seven is the basic structure of life. The Old Testament not only teaches us to rest every seven days, but also every seven years. The Israelites were permitted to sow their fields for six years, and in the seventh year, they were commanded to rest. This is yet another example of the cycle of work and rest. It points to the fact that God will lead his people to find rest.
I believe that if the Israelites had kept the weekly Sabbath and Sabbath year, there would be no need for the Year of Jubilee. But this was not the case for the Israelites. Many Israelites lost their land or were sold as slaves before the Year of Jubilee, so God created the Year of Jubilee to save them. After the seven sets of sabbath years came another cycle of seven to reach the Year of Jubilee. After seven times seven years, in the fiftieth year came the Jubilee, where all lands that had been sold must be returned to their original owners and all slaves must be freed. This represents God’s ultimate salvation.
Daniel’s vision concerning the fate of the Israelites also contained seventy “sevens.” Seven “sevens” represented the time it took to rebuild Jerusalem. Sixty-two “sevens” described the time from when Jerusalem was rebuilt to the time the Messiah was killed. These events have already happened. The last seven represents the last seven years mentioned in the book of Revelation. The next time period, which lasts three and a half years, is the great tribulation. But there is a long period between sixty-two “sevens” and the last “seven”, which biblical scholars call the “Age of Grace.” No one knows how long this period lasts, but we know it will be a continual repetition of seven days (Sabbath), seven years (Sabbath years), and 49 years (Year of Jubilee).
In addition, the Israelites had seven feasts every year: the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. We will not discuss the first six feasts here, but we’ll take the time to look at the seventh: the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles was a day of thanksgiving and rejoicing after the wheat had ripened. This feast represents the wedding feast of the Lamb and His Bride in the Book of Revelation. God is our tabernacle and will be with us forever. Therefore, the seven feasts of Israel also point to God’s final plan in the book of Revelation. If we understand the number seven, the seven feasts, and the prophecies containing the number seven, we will better understand the book of Revelation. The end of Revelation is the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Cycle of Seven in The Book of Revelation
The basic structure of the book of Revelation contains several sets of sevens. Let’s look at seven of those!
- Seven golden lampstands (Revelation 1:12). The golden lampstand is an Old Testament type that prefigures Christ. It is a vessel in the sanctuary of the tabernacle of God. There are seven lamps on the golden lampstand. The high priest is responsible for lighting the lamps of the golden lampstand and refueling them so that the light of the golden lampstand may shine continually. The golden lampstand represents the church (1:20), and seven is a “complete” number, a representation of all churches. Remember, the golden lampstands in the Old Testament were made of gold. Gold represents God’s divine nature. So, the seven golden lampstands speak of the eternal, heavenly nature of the church.
- Seven stars and seven spirits. I believe the seven spirits are closely related to the seven stars. Why do I say that? First, John’s letter to the seven churches is a revelation from God the Father (1:4, The one “who is and who was and who is to come”), the Holy Spirit (1:4, “the seven spirits who are before His throne”), the Lord Jesus Christ (1:5, “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth”). This heavenly vision is the joint work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.When Jesus Christ was walking among the golden lampstands, He was holding seven stars in His right hand (1:16; 1:20). John explained that the seven stars were the angels of the seven churches. Who were the angels of the seven churches? People have different opinions about this. Some people say that they were the overcomers of the churches; others say that they were the angels who represented the churches. I personally feel that the overcomers, who are filled with the Holy Spirit, will appear as seven stars. Why? First, the angels of the church are probably not literal angels. If they were, they could receive commands directly from God. Why would John need to write letters to the seven angels of the churches? Daniel specifically said, “He who turns many to righteousness shall shine like a star” (Daniel 12:3). This is why I believe that the seven stars are believers who turn others to righteousness.Second, when John wrote to the church in Sardis, he mentioned that Jesus had “the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.” In this verse, the seven spirits and the seven stars were placed side by side. Jesus Christ never left his throne, even when he was walking among the lampstands. Therefore, the seven stars in his hand are the same as the seven spirits before his throne. When we read about the Holy Spirit sitting before the throne of God in heaven, he appears as seven spirits; when we read of the Holy Spirit at work in his church on earth, he appears as seven stars. The Spirit manifests himself through the overcomers who are filled with his spirit.
Who are the messengers of the church? Are they the overcomers? Or the Holy Spirit? I think that they are the spirit-filled overcomers. Why do I say that the seven stars are the manifestations of the seven spirits? The Holy Spirit is the essence of the church. He is the Comforter sent by the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, who is the head of the church. Jesus is the reality, content, and representative of the church, and the Holy Spirit is the perfecter of the church. Andrew Murray said that the work of the Holy Spirit is to complete what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross in the life of each believer (in the life of the church).
The Holy Spirit is the essence of the church. We come to the Father in one Spirit and have constant fellowship with Him through Christ (Ephesians 2:18). “He who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17). The fellowship of the Holy Spirit is at the core of the church. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14). The church is filled with the fullness of the Triune God. Therefore, the seven stars may represent those who are filled with the Holy Spirit.
Third, the Lord Jesus is the High Priest, who walks among the golden lampstands to trim the wicks and add oil. The seven spirits and the seven stars represent the oil and fire in His hands, so they are all manifestations of the Holy Spirit. The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit as both oil and fire. When we barbecue, we use both firewood, lighter fluid (oil) and a spark of fire to ignite the wood. The spark will turn into fire, and the fire will ignite the fuel and the firewood, which will make the fire stronger. The spark, the fire, the oil, and even the wood (a representation of our sacrifice) are united in purpose. In the same way, the Holy Spirit is the spark that ignites our love, the oil that fans it into flame, and the wood that keeps our passion burning (2 Timothy 1:6). This is why I believe the seven spirits and the seven stars are two aspects of the same Holy Spirit.
- Seven churches. This description reminds us of the earthly side of the church. Although the church is infused with the divine gold of heaven, we are still earthly in many ways. Even though Jesus Christ sees the church as a perfect bride without spot and blemish (Ephesians 5:27), on earth it is still full of blemishes, spots, and wrinkles. As Lord of the Church and Lord of Heaven, Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God for the sake of his church (Hebrews 12:2). He sees the eternal perfection of the church. But in the here and now, inside of time, the church still needs refinement. That is why Jesus sent seven letters to the seven churches (Revelation 2-3), to point out areas where they needed refinement.
- Seven seals (Revelation 4-8). The fourth seven is closely related to the third seven. The third seven (seven letters to the seven churches) reveals the earthly side of the church and the ways it needs to be refined. The fourth seven (seven seals) speak of seven disasters, seven purifying fires that will burn the church and take away its earthly dross. As Peter said, “So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7). God’s judgment revealed in these seven seals is the consuming fire of His seven spirits and seven stars.
Let’s examine a few seals in detail. The Gospel (represented by the white horse in the first seal) may be the purifying fire that refines the church in Ephesus. The church in Ephesus had left its first love. Once a church stops preaching the gospel, it will be filled with infighting and internal friction and will gradually lose sight of its first love. Meanwhile, a church that zealously preaches the gospel will often be full of love for God.
Jesus’ letters to the seven churches are assessing and diagnosing the seven churches, measuring their spiritual temperature and symptoms to determine the correct remedy. The seven seals are the remedies to deal with the unique and varying problems of the seven churches. I had never noticed this connection before. It was only during our recent Bible study that I received this inspiration from the Holy Spirit. There is no way that Jesus would have mentioned the problems of the churches without providing a solution to the problems in the following verses. Our Lord is a Lord of provision. He not only informs us of our problems but also provides solutions to our problems.
Between the sixth and seventh seals, God gave John an encouraging vision so that the believers would not lose hope. He shared that 144,000 Jews were sealed and that there was a great multitude in heaven serving God. What could be more inspiring? Trials often tempt people to lose their faith, so God specifically asked John to share this encouraging vision between the sixth and seventh seals. Why between the sixth and the seventh? We’ve previously noted that seven is a number of perfection, completion, and ultimate fulfillment. Not only is there an encouraging vision between the sixth and seventh seals, but there is also an encouraging vision between the sixth and seventh trumpets, and also between the sixth and seventh bowls in the great tribulation. All of these passages follow the same principle.
- Seven Trumpets. The seven seals and the seven trumpets take place before the appearance of the woman and the male child in Revelation 12; they usher in the coming tribulation. In other words, the seven seals and seven trumpets help produce Christ’s bride and overcomer. The seven trumpets bring more judgments, including the judgment of the land, sea, rivers, sun, moon, stars, those who do not have the seal of God, one-third of mankind, the dead, and so on. The vision between the sixth and seventh trumpets shows that even though God allowed the Gentiles to trample the temple, the two witnesses appeared to testify of God’s truth. Believers in trials would learn that God was still sovereign, even if the earthly temple was trampled. They should not be discouraged.
- Seven years, 3.5 years of tribulation. The 3.5 years of the tribulation period began after the bride of Christ began to judge evil spirits. Satan tried his best to persecute the church (the woman) because the time for his judgment by the bride of Christ was near. But she gave birth to overcomers (the male child). This birth process is what Jesus referred to as labor pains. At this time, God and angels helped the church fight against the team of evil spirits and sinners led by Satan and gain the victory. Before the Great Tribulation began, God harvested the firstfruits (true believers) while the angels harvested the tares (false believers). Of course, there were also many martyrs. The bride of Christ continued to mature through suffering as Babylon the Great was thrown down.
The book of Revelation can be divided into two parts. Before chapter 12, God helps the church mature through various judgments; after chapter 12, the mature Bride of Christ continues to fight against the enemy and eventually judges fallen angels and evil spirits.
- Seven Bowls. These bowls represent the ultimate judgment of God. During the bowl judgments, sores appear on the worshipers of the Antichrist; seas, rivers, and springs turn into blood; the sun scorches people with fire; the kingdom of the Antichrist becomes darkness; the great river Euphrates dries up; a great earthquake takes place; and great hailstones fall. Between the sixth and seventh bowl judgments is a vision that encourages believers. This vision depicts the preparation for the final battle of Armageddon. God reveals his plan and encourages believers that they will be victorious if they persevere.
The Ultimate Seven Brings Jubilee
After the seven bowl judgments, the book of Revelation depicts the destruction of Babylon, the marriage supper of the Lamb, the battle of Armageddon, the imprisonment of Satan, the coming of the millennial kingdom, the last rebellion of Satan, the Great White Throne judgment, the New Heaven and New Earth, the New Jerusalem, etc. At this point, God’s judgment is finally complete. Death and rebellion are cast into the lake of fire, and believers reign with God forever and ever. This is the ultimate seven, which is the reality that the Sabbath, the Sabbath year, and the Year of Jubilee point to. It is also the end of human history.
Although I discussed seven sevens in this article, there may be even more sevens in the book of Revelation. The Bible is full of continuous cycles of sevens. Human history is not limited to a linear timeline of 7000 years. Instead, our history culminates with the ultimate Sabbath, an eternity of rest and completion.
 All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.