Let’s recap what we’ve seen in the book of Revelation so far. In the Introduction in chapters 1-3, the Apostle John is given a vision while he is praying on the earth. It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ in His glorified form. It is from Christ and it is about Christ. The purpose of this revelation is to show His disciples the things that must soon take place in God’s prophetic great Week, including our part with Christ.
Then John is taken to Heaven so he can see the full revelation. In chapters 4 and 5 John sees the throne of God and Jesus after His ascension. Jesus takes the scroll from the Father. In chapter 6 Jesus removes six of the seven seals, providing an overview of the beginning of sorrows and the tribulation that Jesus spoke of in the Olivet Discourse. This review of the Church Age (Days 5 & 6) from Heaven’s perspective brings us up to our own time, for we are closing in on the end of the 6th Day and the final sign of this age—total celestial darkness over the whole earth.
We should expect to see the rapture at this point, for Christ comes to gather us as the 7th Day dawns. And that is exactly what we see in chapter 7. It is our first view of the 144 thousands—the innumerable company gathered from every nation, tribe, peoples, and languages before the throne of God and before the Lamb. It is the Body of Christ united with the Head, the Bride and Bridegroom together as One. From this point forward, we shall be with our Lord forever, always serving Him as our Shepherd, abiding in the House of the Lord forever.
Then Jesus opens the 7th seal in chapter 8. He didn’t cover this seal in the Olivet Discourse because it has to do with the 7th Day, the Day of the Lord. That Day comes upon those still on the earth as a snare, for it unleashes God’s wrath and vengeance against evil. Since believers are not appointed to this wrath, which is why the rapture has already taken place. The first four trumpet judgments are released, destroying one-third of the land, the seas and fresh waters, and the celestial lights. We’re told that the final three trumpets are three great woes.
Chapter 9 gives us the overview of the 5th and 6th trumpets, which are the first two woes. When the 5th trumpet sounds, vicious locusts are released from the Bottomless Pit attacking any person who is not sealed by God. The tortuous pain lasts for 5 months. Five is the number of grace. Perhaps this is because they have rejected God’s grace through Jesus Christ. The 6th trumpet releases four evil spiritual princes that ruled over the oppressive empires of the Fertile Crescent. The plagues they bring kill one-third of mankind. Still there is no repentance. They cling to their humanistic and idolatrous ways.
Before the 7th trumpet sounds, however, something strange happens. While in Heaven, John is given a scroll to eat. This symbolizes him digesting its contents, words of revelation, so that he can continue to prophesy and record what he sees. This figurative action signals that the overview is done, and it is now time to review what has been seen through a series of mini-visions. They are like video replays of the “play on the field” so to speak. They look at certain events from different perspectives, allowing us to see more details.
Stay tuned for the rest of the story. He saved the best for last, because now we get to see what we do once we are in Heaven. Spoiler alert: we don’t just float around on clouds, playing harps.