Jehovah’s Word Is Alive
Highlights From the Book of Revelation—I
WHILE imprisoned on the island of Patmos, the aged apostle John receives a series of 16 visions. He beholds in them what Jehovah God and Jesus Christ accomplish during the Lord’s day—the period that stretches from the establishment of God’s Kingdom in 1914 to the end of Christ’s Millennial Reign. The book of Revelation, written by John in about the year 96 C.E., is an exciting account of these visions.
Let us now consider highlights of Revelation 1:1–12:17, covering the first seven visions received by John. These visions are of interest to us because they pertain to what is happening on the world scene now and show how Jehovah will take action in the near future. Those who read the account of these visions with faith are indeed comforted and encouraged.—Heb. 4:12.
“THE LAMB” OPENS SIX OF THE SEVEN SEALS
First, John beholds the glorified Jesus Christ and receives a series of messages that he is to ‘write in a scroll and send to the seven congregations.’ (Rev. 1:10, 11) The vision of a throne in its position in heaven follows. In the right hand of the One seated upon the throne is a scroll sealed with seven seals. The one deemed “worthy to open the scroll” is none other than “the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah,” or “a lamb . . . having seven horns and seven eyes.”—Rev. 4:2; 5:1, 2, 5, 6.
The third vision reveals what happens as “the Lamb” opens the first six seals, one after another. With the opening of the sixth seal, a great earthquake occurs and the great day of wrath arrives. (Rev. 6:1, 12, 17) But the next vision shows ‘four angels holding tight the four winds of the earth’ until the sealing of the 144,000 is completed. “A great crowd” of those not sealed is seen “standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”—Rev. 7:1, 9.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6—What is indicated by the expression “the seven spirits”? The number seven signifies completeness from God’s standpoint. Thus, the message to “the seven congregations” ultimately applies to all of God’s people gathered together in more than 100,000 congregations earth wide. (Rev. 1:11, 20) Since holy spirit is given according to what its operation needs to accomplish, the expression “the seven spirits” denotes the fullness of its operation in giving understanding and bringing blessings to those who pay attention to the prophecy. The book of Revelation seems to progress on the basis of a series of sevens. The number seven here represents completeness, and indeed, the book deals with bringing “to a finish,” or completion, “the sacred secret of God.”—Rev. 10:7.
1:8, 17—To whom do the titles “the Alpha and the Omega” and “the First and the Last” refer? The title “the Alpha and the Omega” applies to Jehovah, stressing that there was no almighty God before him and that there will be none after him. He is “the beginning and the end.” (Rev. 21:6; 22:13) Although Jehovah is referred to as “the first and the last” at Revelation 22:13, in that there is none before or after him, the context in the first chapter of Revelation shows that the title “the First and the Last” there applies to Jesus Christ. He was the first human to be resurrected to immortal spirit life and the last one to be so resurrected by Jehovah personally.—Col. 1:18.
2:7—What is “the paradise of God”? Since these words are addressed to anointed Christians, the paradise here must refer to the paradisaic heavenly realm—the very presence of God himself. The faithful anointed will be rewarded with eating “of the tree of life.” They will receive immortality.—1 Cor. 15:53.
3:7—When did Jesus receive “the key of David,” and how has he been using that key? Upon his baptism in 29 C.E., Jesus became King-Designate in the line of David. However, Jesus did not receive the key of David until 33 C.E. when he was exalted to the right hand of God in heaven. There he inherited all the rights of the Davidic Kingdom. Since then, Jesus has been using the key to open up opportunities and privileges related to the Kingdom. In 1919, Jesus placed “the key of the house of David” upon the shoulder of “the faithful and discreet slave” by appointing that slave class “over all his belongings.”—Isa. 22:22; Matt. 24:45, 47.
3:12—What is the “new name” of Jesus? This name has to do with Jesus’ new office and privileges. (Phil. 2:9-11) While no one else gets to know that name in the way that Jesus does, Jesus writes it on his faithful brothers in the heavenly realm, bringing them into a close relationship with him. (Rev. 19:12) He even shares his privileges with them.
Lessons for Us:
1:3. Because “the appointed time [for the execution of God’s judgments upon Satan’s world] is near,” there is an urgent need to understand the message of the book of Revelation and to act on it.
3:17, 18. To be rich spiritually, we need to buy from Jesus “gold refined by fire.” That is, we should strive to be rich in fine works. (1 Tim. 6:17-19) We also need to put on “white outer garments,” which proclaim our identity as followers of Christ, and use “eyesalve,” such as counsel published in the Watchtower magazine, to gain spiritual discernment.—Rev. 19:8.
7:13, 14. The 24 elders represent the 144,000 in their heavenly glory, where they serve not only as kings but also as priests. They were pictured by the priests in ancient Israel, whom King David organized in 24 divisions. One of the elders reveals to John the identity of the great crowd. Therefore, the resurrection of anointed Christians must have begun sometime before 1935. Why? Because in that year the correct identity of the great crowd was made known to God’s anointed servants on earth.—Luke 22:28-30; Rev. 4:4; 7:9.
THE OPENING OF THE SEVENTH SEAL LEADS TO SEVEN TRUMPET BLASTS
The Lamb opens the seventh seal. Seven angels receive seven trumpets. Six of the angels blow their trumpets, heralding judgment messages on “a third” of mankind—Christendom. (Rev. 8:1, 2, 7-12; 9:15, 18) This is what John sees in the fifth vision. Participating in the vision that follows, John eats the little scroll and measures the temple sanctuary. After the blowing of the seventh trumpet, loud voices announce: “The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.”—Rev. 10:10; 11:1, 15.
The seventh vision enlarges on what is stated at Revelation 11:15, 17. A great sign is seen in heaven. The heavenly woman gives birth to a son, a male. The Devil is ousted from heaven. Being wrathful at the heavenly woman, he goes off “to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed.”—Rev. 12:1, 5, 9, 17.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
8:1-5—Why did a silence occur in heaven, and what was subsequently hurled to the earth? A symbolic silence occurred in heaven so that “the prayers of the holy ones” on earth could be heard. This was at the end of the first world war. Anointed Christians did not ascend to heaven at the end of the Gentile Times, as many had expected they would. They experienced difficult times during the war. So now they prayed fervently for guidance. In response to their prayers, the angel hurled to the earth a symbolic fire that set the anointed Christians afire spiritually. Though few in number, they began a worldwide preaching campaign that made God’s Kingdom a burning issue, thus lighting a fire in Christendom. Thunderous warnings from the Bible were sounded forth, flashes of Scriptural truth were made known, and the realm of false religion was shaken to its foundation, just as buildings are shaken by an earthquake.
8:6-12; 9:1, 13; 11:15—When did the seven angels prepare to blow their trumpets, and when and how were the trumpet blasts sounded? Preparation to blow the seven trumpets included giving direction to the revitalized members of the John class on earth from 1919 to 1922. Such anointed ones were then getting busy in reorganizing the public ministry and building up publishing facilities. (Rev. 12:13, 14) The sounding of the trumpets represents fearless proclamations of Jehovah’s judgments against Satan’s world by God’s people in cooperation with the angels. Notably, this began with the Cedar Point, Ohio, convention in 1922 and lasts all the way down to the great tribulation.
8:13; 9:12; 11:14—In what way are the final three trumpet blasts “woes”? Whereas the first four trumpet blasts are proclamations exposing the spiritually dead condition of Christendom, the last three are woes in that they have to do with specific events. The fifth blast is related to the release of God’s people from “the abyss” of inactivity in 1919 and to their relentless witnessing work, which became like a tormenting plague on Christendom. (Rev. 9:1) The sixth is about the greatest cavalry charge in history and the worldwide preaching campaign that began in 1922. The final blast has to do with the birth of the Messianic Kingdom.
Lessons for Us:
9:10, 19. The authoritative Bible-based statements in the publications of “the faithful and discreet slave” contain a stinging message. (Matt. 24:45) This message corresponds to the locusts’ tails that have “stings like scorpions” and the horses of a cavalry, whose “tails are like serpents.” Why? Because these publications warn of the “day of [Jehovah’s] vengeance.” (Isa. 61:2) Let us be courageous and zealous in distributing them.
9:20, 21. Many meek people who live in so-called non-Christian nations have responded well to the message we proclaim. However, we are not expecting a mass conversion of people outside the realm of Christendom, who are referred to as “the rest of the men.” Nevertheless, we persevere in the ministry.
12:15, 16. “The earth”—elements within Satan’s own system, or the ruling powers in various lands—upheld freedom of worship. Starting in the 1940’s, those powers “swallowed up the river [of persecution] that the dragon disgorged from its mouth.” Indeed, when Jehovah chooses to do so, he can influence governmental authorities to accomplish his will. Fittingly, therefore, Proverbs 21:1 states: “A king’s heart is as streams of water in the hand of Jehovah. Everywhere that he delights to, he turns it.” This should strengthen our faith in God.