Sunday, November 17, 2013

Highlights of Revelation to John

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Highlights for the Reading of the Bible: Revelation to John


Highlights for the Reading of the Bible: Revelation to John

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Summary of the book of Revelation to John in “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial”

*** si pp. 264-268 Bible Book Number 66—Revelation ***

CONTENTS OF REVELATION

7 The introduction (1:1-9). John explains the divine Source and the angelic part of the channel through which the revelation is given, and he goes on to address those in the seven congregations in the district of Asia. Jesus Christ has made them “to be a kingdom, priests to his God and Father,” Jehovah God, the Almighty. John reminds them that he is a sharer with them “in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in company with Jesus,” being in exile on Patmos.—1:6, 9.
8 The messages to the seven congregations (1:10–3:22). As the first vision begins, by inspiration John finds himself in the Lord’s day. A strong, trumpetlike voice tells him to write in a scroll what he sees and to send it to the seven congregations, in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Turning toward the voice, John sees “someone like a son of man” in the midst of seven lampstands, having seven stars in his right hand. This One identifies himself as “the First and the Last,” the One who became dead but is now living forever and ever and who has the keys of death and of Hades. He is therefore the resurrected Jesus Christ. He explains: “The seven stars mean the angels of the seven congregations, and the seven lampstands mean seven congregations.”—1:13, 17, 20.
9 John is told to write to the angel of the congregation of Ephesus, which, despite its labor, endurance, and refusal to put up with bad men, has left its first love and should repent and do the former deeds. The congregation in Smyrna is told that despite tribulation and poverty, it is in fact rich and should not be afraid: “Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.” The congregation in Pergamum, dwelling “where the throne of Satan is,” keeps holding fast to Christ’s name but has apostates in its midst, and these must repent or Christ will war with them with the long sword of his mouth. In Thyatira the congregation has “love and faith and ministry and endurance,” yet it tolerates “that woman Jezebel.” However, faithful ones who hold fast will receive “authority over the nations.”—2:10, 13, 19, 20, 26.
10 The congregation in Sardis has the reputation of being alive, but it is dead because its deeds are not fully performed before God. Those who conquer, however, will not have their names blotted out of the book of life. The congregation in Philadelphia has kept Christ’s word, so he promises to keep the congregation “from the hour of test, which is to come upon the whole inhabited earth.” Christ will make the one who conquers to be a pillar in the temple of His God. Christ says: “I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem . . . and that new name of mine.” Referring to himself as “the beginning of the creation by God,” Christ tells the Laodicean congregation that it is neither hot nor cold and will be vomited out of his mouth. Though boasting of riches, those in that congregation are actually poor, blind, and naked. They need white outer garments, and they need eyesalve in order to see. Christ will come in and dine with anyone who opens the door to him. To the one that conquers, Christ will grant to sit down with him on his throne, even as he has sat down with his Father on His throne.—3:10, 12, 14.
11 The vision of Jehovah’s holiness and glory (4:1–5:14). The second vision takes us before Jehovah’s heavenly throne of splendor. The scene is dazzling in its beauty, like precious gems for brilliance. Around the throne sit 24 elders wearing crowns. Four living creatures ascribe holiness to Jehovah, and he is worshiped as worthy “to receive the glory and the honor and the power” because of being the Creator of all things.—4:11.
12 “The One seated upon the throne” holds a scroll with seven seals. But who is worthy to open the scroll? It is only “the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the root of David,” that is worthy! This One, who is also “the Lamb that was slaughtered,” takes the scroll from Jehovah.—5:1, 5, 12.
13 The Lamb opens six seals of the scroll (6:1–7:17). The third vision now begins. The Lamb proceeds to open the seals. First, a horseman on a white horse goes forth “conquering and to complete his conquest.” Then the rider of a fiery-colored horse takes peace away from the earth, and another on a black horse rations out grain. A pale horse is ridden by Death, and Hades follows closely. The fifth seal is opened, and “those slaughtered because of the word of God” are seen calling for the avenging of their blood. (6:2, 9) At the opening of the sixth seal, there is a great earthquake, sun and moon are darkened, and the mighty ones of the earth call upon the mountains to fall over them and hide them from Jehovah and the wrath of the Lamb.
14 After this, the fourth vision begins. Four angels are seen holding back the four winds of the earth until the slaves of God are sealed in their foreheads. Their number is 144,000. Afterward John sees an innumerable great crowd out of all nations, standing before God and the Lamb, to whom they attribute salvation, rendering service day and night in God’s temple. The Lamb himself ‘will shepherd and guide them to fountains of waters of life.’—7:17.
15 The seventh seal is opened (8:1–12:17). There is silence in heaven. Then seven trumpets are handed to the seven angels. The first six trumpet blasts make up the fifth vision.
16 As the first three trumpets are successively blown, calamities rain down upon the earth, the sea, and the rivers as well as the fountains of waters. At the fourth trumpet, a third of the sun, moon, and stars is darkened. At the sound of the fifth, a star from heaven releases a plague of locusts that attack those “who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” This is “one woe,” and two more are coming. The sixth trumpet heralds the untying of four angels who come forth to kill. “Two myriads of myriads” of horsemen bring further calamity and slaughter, but still men do not repent of their evil deeds.—9:4, 12, 16.
17 As the sixth vision begins, another strong angel descends from heaven and declares that “in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel . . . the sacred secret of God according to the good news” is to be brought to a finish. John is given a little scroll to eat. It is “sweet as honey” in his mouth, but it makes his belly bitter. (10:7, 9) Two witnesses prophesy 1,260 days in sackcloth; then they are killed by “the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss,” and their corpses are left three and a half days “on the broad way of the great city.” Those dwelling on the earth rejoice over them, but this turns to fright when God raises them to life. In that hour, there is a great earthquake. “The second woe is past.”—11:7, 8, 14.
18 Now the seventh angel blows his trumpet. Heavenly voices announce: “The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.” The “twenty-four elders” worship God and give thanks, but the nations become wrathful. It is God’s appointed time to judge the dead and to reward his holy ones and “to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” His temple sanctuary is opened, and in it is seen the ark of his covenant.—11:15, 16, 18.
19 Following the announcement of the establishment of the Kingdom, the seventh vision immediately shows “a great sign” in heaven. It is a woman who gives birth to “a son, a male, who is to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod.” “A great fiery-colored dragon” stands ready to devour the child, but the child is caught away to God’s throne. Michael wars against the dragon, and down to the earth he hurls this “original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan.” It is “woe for the earth”! The dragon persecutes the woman and goes off to make war with the remaining ones of her seed.—12:1, 3, 5, 9, 12; 8:13.
20 The wild beast from the sea (13:1-18). The eighth vision now shows a wild beast with seven heads and ten horns, ascending out of the sea. It gets its power from the dragon. One of its heads was as though slaughtered to death, but it got healed, and all the earth admired the beast. It utters blasphemies against God and wages war with the holy ones. But, look! John sees another wild beast, this one ascending out of the earth. It has two horns like a lamb, but it begins speaking like a dragon. It misleads earth’s inhabitants and tells them to make an image to the first wild beast. All are compelled to worship this image or be killed. Without the mark or number of the wild beast, none can buy or sell. Its number is 666.
21 The “everlasting good news” and related messages (14:1-20). In happy contrast, in the ninth vision, John sees the Lamb on Mount Zion, and with him are 144,000 who have the names of the Lamb and of the Father on their foreheads. “They are singing as if a new song before the throne,” having been “bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” Another angel appears in midheaven, bearing “everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings” to every nation and declaring: “Fear God and give him glory.” And still another angel announces: “Babylon the Great has fallen!” Another, a third, proclaims that those who worship the wild beast and its image will drink of God’s wrath. One “like a son of man” thrusts in his sickle, and another angel too thrusts in his sickle and gathers the vine of the earth, hurling it into “the great winepress of the anger of God.” As the winepress is trodden outside the city, blood comes up as high as the bridles of the horses, “for a distance of a thousand six hundred furlongs” (about 184 miles) [296 km].—14:3, 4, 6-8, 14, 19, 20.
22 The angels with the seven last plagues (15:1–16:21). The tenth vision begins with another glimpse of the heavenly court. Those who have gained the victory over the wild beast glorify Jehovah, the “King of eternity,” for his great and wonderful works. Seven angels come out of the sanctuary in heaven and are given seven golden bowls full of the anger of God. The first six are poured out into the earth, the sea, and the rivers and fountains of waters, as well as upon the sun, the throne of the wild beast, and the river Euphrates, drying up its water to make way for “the kings from the rising of the sun.” Demonic expressions gather ‘the kings of the entire inhabited earth to the war of the great day of God the Almighty’ at Har–Magedon. The seventh bowl is poured out upon the air, and amid terrifying natural phenomena, the great city splits into three parts, the cities of the nations fall, and Babylon receives ‘the cup of the wine of the anger of God’s wrath.’—15:3; 16:12, 14, 19.
23 God’s judgment upon Babylon; the marriage of the Lamb (17:1–19:10). The 11th vision begins. Look! It is God’s judgment upon “Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots,” “with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication.” Drunk with the blood of the holy ones, she rides a scarlet-colored wild beast having seven heads and ten horns. This beast “was, but is not, and yet is about to ascend out of the abyss.” Its ten horns battle with the Lamb, but because he is “Lord of lords and King of kings,” he conquers them. The ten horns turn on and devour the harlot, and with the beginning of the 12th vision, another angel, whose glory lights the earth, declares: “She has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen!” God’s people are commanded to get out of her, lest they share in her plagues. The kings and other mighty ones of the earth weep over her, saying: “Too bad, too bad, you great city, Babylon you strong city, because in one hour your judgment has arrived!” Her great riches have been devastated. As a great millstone is hurled into the sea, so with a swift pitch has Babylon been hurled down, never to be found again. At last the blood of God’s holy ones has been avenged! Four times heaven resounds with the call: “Praise Jah, you people!” Praise Jah because he has executed judgment on the great harlot! Praise Jah because Jehovah has begun to reign as king! Rejoice and be overjoyed because “the marriage of the Lamb has arrived and his wife has prepared herself”!—17:2, 5, 8, 14; 18:2, 10; 19:1, 3, 4, 6, 7.
24 The Lamb makes war in righteousness (19:11–20:10). In the 13th vision, the “King of kings and Lord of lords” leads heavenly armies in righteous warfare. Kings and strong men become carrion for the birds of heaven, and the wild beast and the false prophet are hurled alive into the fiery lake that burns with sulfur. (19:16) As the 14th vision begins, an angel is seen “coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.” “The dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan,” is seized and bound for a thousand years. Those having part in the first resurrection become ‘priests of God and of the Christ and rule as kings with him for the thousand years.’ Thereafter, Satan will be let loose and will go out to mislead the nations of earth, but he will be hurled, with those who follow him, into the lake of fire.—20:1, 2, 6.
25 Judgment Day and the glory of the New Jerusalem (20:11–22:5). The thrilling 15th vision follows. The dead, great and small, are judged before God’s great white throne. Death and Hades are hurled into the lake of fire, which “means the second death,” and with them is hurled anyone not found written in the book of life. The New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven, and God tents with mankind, wiping out every tear from their eyes. No more death, mourning, outcry, or pain! Yes, God is “making all things new,” and he confirms his promise, saying: “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” Those conquering will inherit these things, but the cowards, those lacking faith, and those who are immoral or practice spiritism or idolatry will not.—20:14; 21:1, 5.
26 John is now shown, in the 16th and final vision, “the Lamb’s wife,” the New Jerusalem, with its 12 gates and 12 foundation stones bearing the names of the 12 apostles. It is foursquare, and its majestic splendor is represented by the jasper, gold, and pearl in it. Jehovah and the Lamb are the temple of this city, and they are also its light. Only those written in the Lamb’s scroll of life may enter into it. (21:9) A pure river of water of life issues from the throne down the broad way of the city, and on each side are trees of life, which produce new crops of fruit each month and have leaves for healing. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and the slaves of God will see His face. “Jehovah God will shed light upon them, and they will rule as kings forever and ever.”—22:5.
27 The conclusion (22:6-21). The assurance is given: “These words are faithful and true.” Happy, indeed, are all those who observe the words of the prophecy! Having heard and seen these things, John falls down to worship the angel, who reminds him to worship only God. The words of the prophecy are not to be sealed, “for the appointed time is near.” Happy are those gaining entrance into the city, for outside are the filthy and “everyone liking and carrying on a lie.” Jesus states that he himself sent this witness to the congregations through his angel, and that he is “the root and the offspring of David, and the bright morning star.” “And the spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.” And let no one add to or take away from the words of this prophecy, lest his portion be taken away “from the trees of life and out of the holy city.”—22:6, 10, 15-17, 19.

Highlights of Revelation to John in "Insight on the Scriptures

*** it-2 pp. 800-801 Revelation to John ***

[Box on page 800, 801]

Highlights Of Revelation

A disclosure of God’s view of conditions as well as a foreview of what he permits and what he will accomplish through Christ during “the Lord’s day”
A series of visions recorded by the apostle John in about 96 C.E.
The glorified Christ gives loving counsel to fellow Kingdom heirs (1:1–3:22)
The Ephesus congregation has endured but has left its first love
The spiritually rich Smyrna congregation is encouraged to remain faithful in the face of tribulation
The Pergamum congregation has held fast to Christ’s name under persecution but has tolerated sectarianism
The Thyatira congregation has a record of increased activity, but it has tolerated a Jezebel influence
The Sardis congregation is dead spiritually; it must wake up
The Philadelphia congregation, which has kept Christ’s word, is urged to keep holding fast what it has
The Laodicea congregation is lukewarm; let it obtain from Christ what is needed for spiritual healing
A vision of Jehovah’s heavenly presence (4:1–5:14)
Jehovah is seen in awesome splendor on his throne, surrounded by 24 elders and four living creatures; he holds a scroll sealed with seven seals
The Lamb is declared worthy to take the scroll and open it
The Lamb opens six seals of the scroll (6:1-17)
As he opens the first seal, a rider on a white horse receives a crown and goes forth conquering and to complete his conquest
The opening of the next three seals introduces three more horsemen, bringing war, famine, and death to mankind
The fifth seal is opened; those martyred for Christ cry for their blood to be avenged; each is given a white robe
At the opening of the sixth seal, a great earthquake heralds the day of the wrath of God and of the Lamb
The four winds of the earth are held back (7:1-17)
John hears that the four winds will be held back until the slaves of God are sealed; the number of those sealed is 144,000
Then, John sees a great, unnumbered crowd out of all nations; these come out of the great tribulation
The seventh seal is opened (8:1–11:14)
There is a half-hour silence; fire from the altar is hurled to the earth; seven angels prepare to blow trumpets
The first four trumpet blasts herald plagues on the earth, the sea, the freshwater sources, as well as on the sun, moon, and stars
The fifth trumpet calls forth a plague of locusts, and the sixth unleashes a terrifying cavalry attack
John eats a little scroll and learns he must prophesy some more
He measures the sanctuary; two witnesses prophecy in sackcloth, are killed, and are raised again
The seventh trumpet: the Kingdom is born (11:15–12:17)
The seventh trumpet sounds and the Kingdom of Jehovah and the authority of his Christ are announced
A woman gives birth to a male child in heaven
The dragon tries to devour the child; there is war in heaven; Michael casts the dragon and its angels down to earth
The dragon wages war on the remnant of the woman’s seed
The wild beast from the sea (13:1-18)
A wild beast with seven heads and ten horns comes out of the sea
The dragon gives the beast its authority, and a beast with two horns like a lamb makes an image to it; many are forced to worship the wild beast and accept its mark
Jehovah’s faithful servants in action (14:1-20)
The 144,000 on Mount Zion sing a new song
Angels flying in midheaven declare vital messages
Someone like a son of man reaps the harvest of the earth
An angel treads the winepress of God, with much bloodshed
Jehovah, from his heavenly sanctuary, commands seven angels to pour out the seven bowls of his anger (15:1–16:21)
The first six bowls are poured out into the earth, the sea, and freshwater sources, and upon the sun, the throne of the wild beast, and the Euphrates
God’s servants must stay awake, as demonic propaganda gathers human kings to Har–Magedon
The seventh bowl is poured out upon the air with devastating results
Visions of the end of Babylon the Great (17:1–18:24)
Babylon the Great, drunk with the blood of the holy ones, sits on a scarlet beast having seven heads and ten horns; the ten horns turn on her and devastate her
Her fall is announced; God’s people must get out of her
Her final destruction is mourned by many on earth
The marriage of the Lamb (19:1-10)
Heavenly voices praise Jah for the destruction of Babylon
A thunderous chorus of praise heralds the marriage of the Lamb
King of kings triumphant over the nations (19:11-21)
The Word of God goes to war against the nations; the wild beast and the false prophet are hurled into the lake of fire; all of God’s enemies are killed off; animals eat their fleshy parts
Satan abyssed; Christ rules for 1,000 years (20:1–21:8)
Satan is abyssed for 1,000 years
Jesus’ fellow rulers judge with him for 1,000 years, after which, Satan is released; he sets out to mislead mankind again, but finally he and all who follow him are destroyed
All those in death, Hades, and the sea are raised and judged before the One seated on the great white throne; death and Hades are cast into the lake of fire
John sees a new heaven and a new earth
The New Jerusalem (21:9–22:21)
The glorious New Jerusalem comes down from heaven, illuminating the nations; a river of water of life flows through it, with trees for healing on each bank
Revelation closes with final messages from Jehovah and Jesus; the spirit and the bride invite anyone thirsting to take life’s water free

Highlights of Revelation to John in "The Watchtower" (1991)

*** w91 5/1 pp. 21-23 Thrilling Visions That Strengthen Faith ***

Thrilling Visions That Strengthen Faith

Highlights From Revelation

JEHOVAH’S servant John is on the small island of Patmos, off the west coast of Asia Minor. There this aged apostle beholds wonderful things—symbolic, often startling, and significant indeed! He comes to be in the Lord’s day, running from Jesus’ enthronement in 1914 till the end of His Millennial Rule. Though John sees events that will take place during mankind’s darkest hour, how splendid is his foreview of Christ’s Thousand Year Reign! What blessings obedient mankind will then enjoy!
John recorded these visions in the Bible book of Revelation. Penned in about 96 C.E., it can strengthen our faith in the God of prophecy, Jehovah, and in his Son, Jesus Christ.—For details, see the book Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand!, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.

Christ Gives Loving Counsel

Early in the revelation from God through Christ appear letters to seven congregations of Jesus’ fellow Kingdom heirs. (1:1–3:22) Overall, the letters offer commendation, identify problems, provide correction and/or encouragement, and cite blessings resulting from faithful obedience. Though the Ephesians had endured, they had left the love they had at first. The spiritually rich Smyrna congregation is encouraged to remain faithful amid tribulation. Persecution has not overcome the Pergamum congregation, but it has tolerated sectarianism. Despite increased activity by Christians in Thyatira, a Jezebel influence exists there. The Sardis congregation needs to wake up spiritually, the one in Philadelphia is urged to hold on to what it has, and the lukewarm Laodiceans require spiritual healing.
What fine words for training future heavenly kings—in fact, all Christians! For instance, have any of us become lukewarm? Then take action! Become as refreshing as a cup of cold water on a hot day but also begin to display hot zeal for Jehovah and his service. —Compare Matthew 11:28, 29; John 2:17.

The Lamb Opens a Scroll

Jehovah is next beheld on his throne in splendor. (4:1–5:14) He is surrounded by 24 elders and four living creatures. A scroll sealed with seven seals is in his hand. Who can open the scroll? Why, the Lamb, Jesus Christ, is worthy to do so!
Dramatic events unfold as the Lamb opens six of the seals. (6:1–7:17) As the first seal is opened, Christ appears on a white horse, receives a crown (in 1914), and goes forth conquering. As three more seals are opened, other horsemen bring war, famine, and death to mankind. With the opening of the fifth seal, those martyred for Christ cry out for the avenging of their blood, and each one is given “a white robe,” signifying a righteous standing related to their resurrection to be immortal spirit creatures with royal privileges. (Compare Revelation 3:5; 4:4.) When the sixth seal is opened, the day of wrath of God and of the Lamb is heralded by an earthquake. But “the four winds of the earth,” symbolizing destructive judgment, are held back until the 144,000 slaves of God are sealed. When they are anointed with God’s spirit and adopted as his spiritual sons, they receive an advance token—a seal, or pledge—of their heavenly inheritance. Only after testing will the sealing become permanent. (Romans 8:15-17; 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22) And how amazed John must be to see “a great crowd” out of all nations—a multitude with the hope of eternal life in an earthly paradise! They come out of “the great tribulation,” a time of unparalleled distress for mankind.
What startling events occur as the seventh seal is opened! (8:1–11:14) A half-hour silence, allowing the prayers of the holy ones to be heard, is followed by the hurling to the earth of fire from the altar. Then seven angels prepare to blow trumpets announcing God’s plagues on Christendom. The trumpets are sounded throughout the time of the end until the great tribulation. Four trumpets herald plagues on the earth, the sea, freshwater sources, and the sun, moon, and stars. Blowing the fifth calls forth locusts that picture anointed Christians swarming forth to do battle from 1919 onward. With the sixth trumpet blast, a cavalry attack takes place. In fulfillment, anointed ones, reinforced since 1935 by the “great crowd,” proclaim tormenting judgment messages against Christendom’s religious leaders.
John next eats a little scroll, denoting that the anointed accept their assignment and draw nourishment from the portion of God’s Word containing expressions of divine judgments they declare against Christendom. The apostle is commanded to measure the temple sanctuary, signifying the certain fulfillment of Jehovah’s purposes regarding the temple arrangement and that divine standards be met by those associated with it. Then God’s anointed “two witnesses” prophesy in sackcloth, are killed, but are raised. This points to 1918-19, when their preaching work was rendered almost dead by foes, but Jehovah’s servants were miraculously revived for their ministry.

The Kingdom Is Born!

The sounding of the seventh trumpet announces the birth of the Kingdom. (11:15–12:17) In heaven a symbolic woman (Jehovah God’s heavenly organization) gives birth to a male child (God’s Kingdom with Christ as King), but the dragon (Satan) tries in vain to devour it. Climaxing the war in heaven following the Kingdom’s birth in 1914, victorious Michael (Jesus Christ) casts the dragon and its angels down to the earth. There the dragon continues to wage war against the anointed remnant of the heavenly woman’s seed.
John next beholds a wild beast to which a disgusting image is made. (13:1-18) This seven-headed, ten-horned political wild beast arises from “the sea,” the turbulent masses of mankind from which human government springs. (Compare Daniel 7:2-8; 8:3-8, 20-25.) What is this symbolic creature’s source of authority? Why, none other than Satan, the dragon! And just imagine! To this political monstrosity a two-horned beast (the Anglo-American World Power) is seen to make an “image,” now known as the United Nations. Many are coerced to worship the wild beast and accept its “mark” by doing things its way and letting it rule their lives. But Jehovah’s Witnesses staunchly reject the demonic mark of the wild beast!

Jehovah’s Servants Take Action

Various servants of God are seen in action as seven bowls of his wrath are poured out. (14:1–16:21) Listen! On heavenly Mount Zion, John can hear the 144,000 singing as if a new song. An angel flying in midheaven has everlasting good news to declare to earth’s inhabitants. What does this show? That Jehovah’s Witnesses have angelic help in proclaiming the Kingdom message.
John must be astounded to see the vine of the earth reaped and entire nations crushed as the winepress of God’s anger is trodden. (Compare Isaiah 63:3-6; Joel 3:12-14.) At Jehovah’s command, seven angels next pour out seven bowls of divine wrath. The earth, the sea, and freshwater sources, as well as the sun, the throne of the wild beast, and the Euphrates River, are affected at the pouring out of the first six bowls. Imagine John’s excitement as he notes that demonic propaganda is gathering human kings to God’s war of Har–Magedon. And the results are devastating as the seventh bowl is poured out upon the air.

Two Symbolic Women

Surely, John is thrilled to witness the end of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, and to observe the joyous events that follow her destruction. (17:1–19:10) Drunk with the blood of holy ones, she is seen astride a scarlet-colored wild beast with seven heads and ten horns (the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations). Ah, but what devastation she suffers as the horns turn against her!
Heavenly voices are heard praising Jah for the destruction of Babylon the Great. And what thunderous praise heralds the marriage of the Lamb and his bride, the resurrected anointed ones!
Christ Triumphs and Rules
John next beholds the King of kings as he leads heavenly armies in destroying Satan’s system of things. (19:11-21) Yes, Jesus, “The Word of God,” wages war against the nations. The apostle sees the wild beast (Satan’s political organization) and the false prophet (the Anglo-American World Power) being hurled into “the fiery lake,” symbolic of complete, eternal destruction.
What next? Why, John observes the abyssing of Satan. There follows a foreview of Christ’s Thousand Year Reign, during which Jesus and his resurrected corulers judge mankind, lifting obedient ones to human perfection! (20:1-10) It is now time for a final test. Released from the abyss, Satan will set out to mislead perfected mankind, but destruction will end the careers of all demon and human rebels against God.
Backtracking in time, how enthralled John must be to see all of those in death, Hades (mankind’s common grave), and the sea resurrected and judged before God, who is seated upon a great white throne! (20:11-15) And what relief the upright will enjoy when death and Hades are cast into the lake of fire, never again to claim victims!
As John’s visions come to an end, he beholds New Jerusalem. (21:1–22:21) That governmental city is coming down from heaven and bringing illumination to the nations. Flowing through New Jerusalem is “a river of water of life,” picturing Scriptural truth and every other God-given provision based on Jesus’ sacrifice for recovering obedient humans from sin and death and granting them everlasting life. (John 1:29; 17:3; 1 John 2:1, 2) On each bank of this river, John sees trees with healing leaves, picturing part of Jehovah’s provision for giving eternal life to obedient mankind. Concluding messages from God and Christ are followed by an invitation. How wonderful it is to hear the spirit and the bride invite everyone thirsting to ‘come, take life’s water free’! And as we read Revelation’s closing words, doubtless we share the fervor of John’s exclamation: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.”

[Box/Picture on page 21]

Stay Awake: Amid prophetic words about God’s war of Har–Magedon (Armageddon), it is said: “Look! I [Jesus Christ] am coming as a thief. Happy is the one that stays awake and keeps his outer garments, that he may not walk naked and people look upon his shamefulness.” (Revelation 16:15) This may be an allusion to the duties of the overseer, or officer, of the temple mount in Jerusalem. During the watches, he went through the temple to see whether its Levite guards were awake or asleep at their posts. Any guard found sleeping was struck with a stick, and his outer garments might be burned as shameful punishment. With Armageddon now so near, the anointed remnant of the “royal priesthood,” or “spiritual house,” are determined to stay spiritually awake. So must their associates, the “great crowd,” with earthly hopes, for they are also rendering sacred service to God at the temple. (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 7:9-17) Especially should Christian overseers remain on the watch against the development of bad conditions in the congregation. Because they stay awake, all loyal worshipers at God’s spiritual temple keep on their “outer garments,” denoting their honored service as Witnesses of Jehovah.

Highlights of Revelation to John in "The Watchtower" (2009)

*** w09 1/15 p. 30 - p. 32 Highlights From the Book of Revelation—I ***

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

(Rev. 1:1–7:17)
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

(Rev. 8:1–12:17)
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.

Highlights of Revelation to John in "The Watchtower" (2009)

*** w09 2/15 p. 3 - p. 5 Highlights From the Book of Revelation—II ***

Highlights From the Book of Revelation—II

WHAT lies ahead for those who worship Jehovah God and for those who do not? What is the future of Satan and his demons? What blessings will obedient mankind experience during the Thousand Year Reign of Christ? The answers to these and other vital questions are revealed at Revelation 13:1–22:21. These chapters contain the last 9 of the 16 visions that the apostle John received near the end of the first century C.E.
“Happy is he who reads aloud and those who hear the words of this prophecy,” writes John, “and who observe the things written in it.” (Rev. 1:3; 22:7) Reading and applying what we learn from the book of Revelation can affect our heart, strengthen our faith in God and his Son, Jesus Christ, and give us a bright hope for the future.—Heb. 4:12.

SEVEN BOWLS OF GOD’S ANGER ARE POURED OUT

(Rev. 13:1–16:21)
“The nations became wrathful,” states Revelation 11:18, “and [God’s] own wrath came, and the appointed time . . . to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” Providing background for this, the eighth vision shows the activity of “a wild beast . . . with ten horns and seven heads.”—Rev. 13:1.
In the ninth vision, John sees “the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion” and with him “a hundred and forty-four thousand.” They have been “bought from among mankind.” (Rev. 14:1, 4) Angelic announcements follow. In the next vision, John beholds “seven angels with seven plagues.” Evidently, Jehovah himself commands these angels to pour out “the seven bowls of the anger of God” on various features of Satan’s world. The bowls contain pronouncements and warnings of the judgments God will execute. (Rev. 15:1; 16:1) These two visions give details of further Kingdom judgments connected with the third woe and the blowing of the seventh trumpet.—Rev. 11:14, 15.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

13:8—What is “the scroll of life of the Lamb”? This is a figurative scroll containing only the names of those who rule with Jesus Christ in his heavenly Kingdom. It includes the names of anointed Christians still on earth, who have the hope of receiving life in heaven.
13:11-13—How does the wild beast with two horns act like a dragon and make fire come down out of heaven? The fact that the two-horned wild beast—the Anglo-American World Power—speaks like a dragon indicates that it uses threats, pressure, and violence to enforce acceptance of its form of rulership. It makes fire come out of heaven in that it assumes a prophetlike role by claiming to have conquered the forces of evil in the two world wars of the 20th century and to have won a victory over Communism.
16:17—What is “the air” upon which the seventh bowl is poured out? “The air” symbolizes satanic thinking, “the spirit [mental inclination] that now operates in the sons of disobedience.” This poisonous air is breathed by Satan’s entire wicked system of things.—Eph. 2:2.

Lessons for Us:

13:1-4, 18. “A wild beast” symbolizing human governments ascends “out of the sea,” that is, from the turbulent masses of mankind. (Isa. 17:12, 13; Dan. 7:2-8, 17) This beast, created and empowered by Satan, has the number 666, denoting heightened imperfection. Understanding what the beast is helps us so that we neither follow it with admiration nor worship it as mankind in general does.—John 12:31; 15:19.
13:16, 17. Despite the hardships we may encounter in carrying out such everyday activities as ‘buying or selling,’ we should not allow ourselves to be pressured into letting the wild beast rule our lives. Accepting ‘the mark of the wild beast in our hand or upon our forehead’ would amount to permitting the wild beast to control our actions or affect our thinking.
14:6, 7. The angelic proclamation teaches us that we should declare the good news of the established Kingdom of God with urgency. We should help our Bible students to develop a healthy fear of God and to give glory to Jehovah.
14:14-20. When “the harvest of the earth,” that is, the harvest of those who will be saved, is completed, it will be time for the angel to hurl “into the great winepress of the anger of God” the gathering of “the vine of the earth.” That vine—Satan’s corrupt visible system of governments over mankind with its “clusters” of evil fruitage—will then be destroyed forever. We should be determined not to be influenced by the vine of the earth.
16:13-16. “Unclean inspired expressions” symbolize demonic propaganda intended to ensure that the kings of the earth are not swayed by the pouring out of the seven bowls of God’s anger but instead are maneuvered into opposition to Jehovah.—Matt. 24:42, 44.
16:21. As the end of this world nears, the proclamation of Jehovah’s judgments against Satan’s wicked system may involve unusually heavy verbal expressions of God’s judgments, likely pictured by congealed water. Still, most of mankind will continue to blaspheme God.

THE TRIUMPHANT KING RULES

(Rev. 17:1–22:21)
“Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, is a disgusting segment of Satan’s wicked world. The 11th vision portrays her as a “great harlot”—an immoral woman—“sitting upon a scarlet-colored wild beast.” She is to be completely destroyed by “the ten horns” of the very beast that is carrying her. (Rev. 17:1, 3, 5, 16) Likening the harlot to a “great city,” the subsequent vision announces her fall and issues an urgent call to God’s people to “get out of her.” The demise of the great city is mourned by many. There is rejoicing in heaven, however, because of “the marriage of the Lamb.” (Rev. 18:4, 9, 10, 15-19; 19:7) In the 13th vision, the rider of “a white horse” goes to war with the nations. He brings Satan’s wicked world to its end.—Rev. 19:11-16.
What about “the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan”? When will he be “hurled into the lake of fire”? That is one of the subjects of the 14th vision. (Rev. 20:2, 10) The last two visions give glimpses of life during the Millennium. As the “revelation” comes to an end, John sees ‘a river of water of life flowing down the middle of the broad way,’ and a wonderful invitation is extended to “anyone thirsting.”—Rev. 1:1; 22:1, 2, 17.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

17:16; 18:9, 10—Why do “the kings of the earth” grieve over the very entity they themselves have devastated? The reason for their grief is strictly selfish. After the destruction of Babylon the Great, the kings of the earth evidently come to realize how useful she was to them. She provided a religious front for their oppressive deeds. Babylon the Great also helped them in recruiting youths for the battlefields. Moreover, she played an important part in keeping people in subjection.
19:12—How is it that no one but Jesus himself knows his unstated name? This name seems to stand for the position and privileges, such as those stated at Isaiah 9:6, that Jesus enjoys during the Lord’s day. No one knows this name but he himself in that his privileges are unique and only he can comprehend what it means to hold such a high office. However, Jesus shares some of these privileges with the members of his bride class, in effect ‘writing upon them that new name of his.’—Rev. 3:12.
19:14—Who will ride with Jesus at Armageddon? Included among ‘the armies in heaven’ that join Jesus in God’s war will be angels as well as the anointed conquerors who have already received their heavenly reward.—Matt. 25:31, 32; Rev. 2:26, 27.
20:11-15—Whose names are written in “the scroll [or, “the book”] of life”? This is the scroll containing the names of all those who come in line to receive everlasting life—the anointed Christians, the members of the great crowd, and the faithful servants of God who will experience the ‘resurrection of the righteous.’ (Acts 24:15; Rev. 2:10; 7:9) Those who will come to life in the ‘resurrection of the unrighteous’ will have their names written in “the scroll of life” only if they act in harmony with the “things written in the scrolls” of instructions opened during the Millennium. However, the entries are not made with indelible ink. The names of the anointed become permanent upon their proving themselves faithful to death. (Rev. 3:5) The names of those who receive life on earth become lasting entries when they pass the final test at the end of the thousand years.—Rev. 20:7, 8.

Lessons for Us:

17:3, 5, 7, 16. “The wisdom from above” helps us to understand “the mystery of the woman and of the [scarlet-colored] wild beast that is carrying her.” (Jas. 3:17) This symbolic wild beast began as the League of Nations and was later revived as the United Nations. Should not the unraveling of this mystery move us to be zealous in preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom and proclaiming the day of Jehovah’s judgment?
21:1-6. We can be absolutely certain that foretold blessings under Kingdom rule will become a reality. Why? Because concerning them, it is said: “They have come to pass!”
22:1, 17. The “river of water of life” represents Jehovah’s provisions for recovering obedient humans from sin and death. A measure of this water is available now. May we not only gratefully accept the invitation to come and “take life’s water free” but also eagerly extend it to others!

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