The Book of Revelation

Dr. David R. Reagan and panel on the show Christ in Prophecy answer questions concerning the Book of Revelation.

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God's Plan for the Ages

God's Plan for the Ages Book
by Dr. David R. Reagan

Transcript

Dr. Reagan: Is it possible to understand the book of Revelation? Or, is it a Chinese puzzle that no one can understand except those who have advanced degrees from seminaries? Should the average Christian simply ignore the book in order to avoid confusion? Stay tuned.

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Part 1

Dr. Reagan: Greetings in the name of Jesus, our Blessed Hope, and welcome to Christ in Prophecy. I’m Dave Reagan, Senior Evangelist for Lamb & Lion Ministries and I am delighted to have back with me this week the two experts on Bible prophecy who have been assisting me the past six weeks in answering questions that you, our viewers, have sent in. The first is my colleague Dennis Pollock, who is my associate here at Lamb and Lion Ministries. The other is Don McGee, the founder and director of Crown and Sickle Ministries, located in Amite, Louisiana. Fellas, I just want to begin by thanking both of you for all of the insights that you have been giving us over the last six weeks. I tell you, they have blessed me and I know they have blessed our viewers. And what I’d like to do now is get to the questions that we have this week concerning the book of Revelation. That is our theme, folks, this week, the book of Revelation. And I have a ton of questions here. I don’t know how many we are going to be able to get to, but we are going to try to get to as many as we possibly can. And to do that, let’s get our Bibles open to the book of Revelation and get ready to go fellas.

Dennis Pollock: All right.

Part 2

Dr. Reagan: Okay fellas, let’s get into the book of Revelation, and boy do we have a bunch of questions. Number one: Is it possible to understand the book of Revelation, or is it just a playground for Seminary students? Do you have to have a degree in hermeneutics, or do you have to have a very active imagination? You know, that word hermeneutics sounds like those kind of sophisticated words that this Cajun over here has been throwing at us all week long. Maybe he knows what it means. I’m not sure I do?

Dennis Pollock: Tell us, what is hermeneutics Don?

Dr. Reagan: OK. Do you have to have a seminary degree, or do you just have to have a very active imagination?

Don McGee: Neither one. All you need is a desire to know what the Lord has said through here. That’s not taking anything away from education.

Dr. Reagan: Yes.

Don McGee: Now we need to be educated, that’s good. But for a person to simply sit down, and in faith and prayerful study, they can get the gist of Revelation. They don’t need all this other stuff.

Dr. Reagan: I would say a desire, a belief that you can understand it, that God wants to communicate.

Don McGee: Right, a prayerful attitude.

Dr. Reagan: And the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Don McGee: Sure.

Dennis Pollock: You know, God is a very practical God and the entire Bible is written for ordinary folks. You don’t have to be a super intellectual, you don’t have to be a deep thinker to receive the things of the Spirit of God through the Word of God. And Revelation is included in that. There’s tremendous insights to be gained just by opening the book, reading it, asking God’s wisdom, and asking the Holy Spirit’s help, and allowing Him to speak to your spirit.

Dr. Reagan: There’s also a verse right at the beginning of Revelation that you don’t find at the beginning of any other book in the Bible. It says, excuse me, “Blessed is he who reads, and those who hear the words of the prophecy and heed the things which are written in it, for the time is near.” Man that says you’re going to get a blessing if you read this book.

Don McGee: A requisite is faith, not education.

Dennis Pollock: And it’s interesting because that’s true for all the books.

Dr. Reagan: Oh, yes.

Dennis Pollock: But it’s in Revelation that it is specifically spelled out, probably to deal with the naysayers that would try to tell us not to read it.

Dr. Reagan: Well, I grew up in a church that taught me that the book of Revelation was a Chinese puzzle that nobody could understand. That created a psychological barrier that, I just, well you know, you have to have a degree in something – I don’t know what, to understand it, but I don’t have it. And then one day I read that verse and I bowed my head right there and I said, “Lord, I’m going to read this whole book of Revelation, and the blessing I want is understanding.” And you know what, I got some understanding.

Don McGee: You know, Dave, we need to be careful with that too. Oftentimes, people coming out of Seminaries, and Bible Colleges, with those degrees that so many people covet, are people who look at Revelation and say, “Well, I know that’s what it says, but that’s not what it means.” So sometimes sitting in the classroom at the feet of some of these professors you come out with a skewed means of interpretation. Whereas if you take a person who simply approaches this in humble faith, and with a desire to know what this says, now they’re a lot closer to the truth than some of these other guys.

Dr. Reagan: There you go, right. Okay, now, in chapters two and three, we have seven letters to seven churches. It’s the closest thing we have in the Bible to Jesus just directly writing Scripture when He writes the seven letters.

Dennis Pollock: Dictates them.

Dr. Reagan: Yeah, I’ve got a Red Letter edition here and the whole two chapters are in red letters. OK, here’s the question: In the seven letters to the seven churches recorded in chapters two and three, Jesus makes 13 promises to overcomers. And in Revelation 21 the promise of eternal life on a new earth is also made to overcomers. Who are these overcomers? What is an overcomer?

Dennis Pollock: Well, John describes that in the First Epistle of John. He says, “This is the victory that has overcome the world, it’s our faith. Who is he who overcomes? But he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” So it is faith in Jesus, the person who has exercised faith in Christ and is born again is an overcomer. And the demonstration of that is a life lived for Christ, up to the point where you either die and be with Him, or you are raptured and taken to Him.

Dr. Reagan: So folks, make a note of 1 John 5:5. Again, it says, “Who is the one who overcomes? He who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” If you have put your faith in Jesus, the Son of God and been born again, you are an overcomer and you are an heir of all of these glorious promises that are made in the book of Revelation. Do you have anything to add to that Don?

Don McGee: I think that covers it pretty good.

Dr. Reagan: OK, but I would urge you, folks, to read Revelation 2 and 3 and find for yourself all these promises that are made there to overcomers. They are wonderful promises. Like if you are an overcomer you will be given a white stone, which was a symbol of innocence in that day and time, and you put your hand out at the end of a trial and if they put a black stone, you’re guilty, white stone, you’re innocent. You’re going to be handed a white stone that says you’re innocent, and on that white stone is going to be a new name that you’re going to have for eternity. Yes, we’re going to have new names in eternity. It tells us that those who overcome are going to reign with Jesus Christ over all the earth. You’ll find that in Revelation 2:26, “He who overcomes and keeps My deeds until the end, I’ll give him authority over the nations.” Go through, look at all of those glorious promises, and then either get on your knees and ask to become an overcomer by thanking God for Jesus Christ and accepting Him as you Lord and Savior, or praise God that you have already done that and that you are an heir of these incredible promises.

Dr. Reagan: Well, let’s go to question number three: Do you believe the events described in Revelation are fundamentally chronological in order, and if so, does that mean that the Seal Judgments and the Trumpet Judgments are in the first half of the Tribulation?

Dennis Pollock: Yeah, you know, there’s no reason not to think that they are basically chronological in order. There are some parentheses scattered throughout the book where he seems to be taking a pause from describing the action and showing some other things. So, we’re not saying that everything is in order, but the basic events that unfold are in order. Some people have tried to take, for example, the Seal Judgments, the Bowl Judgments, the Trumpet Judgments, and place them over the top of each other, saying they are all one and the same thing, but if you do that it just doesn’t fit. You’ve really got to stretch things to try to make that happen, so the simplest way to see it, I believe, is to suggest that they are in chronological order.

Dr. Reagan: How about it Don?

Don McGee: It seems that they just follow each other. As one guy described it one time as a telescope, that you move it out when you get to the seventh seal, that opens the first trumpet and it sets the stage for the first trumpet, and the seventh trumpet sets the stage for the first bowl, that kind of thing. So yeah, except for what you refer to as what we call parenthetical insertions.

Dr. Reagan: Okay. Let’s go to question number four: Revelation 7:9-17 pictures a great multitude of saved people in Heaven who are identified as martyrs coming out of the Great Tribulation. Now listen to this question, this is very interesting: If the church has already been raptured, who are these martyrs? Does this passage indicate that people will actually be saved during the Tribulation? And if so, how? How can they be saved if the Church is gone?

Don McGee: It’s a common misconception among some folks that the only way to be saved is through the Church, no, the only way to be saved is through Jesus. In this particular dispensation in which we are living now, when a person is saved they are added to the body of Christ, which is the Church. But there were people saved long before Pentecost when the Church was founded. Abraham is saved. Adam is saved. Those people were living in other dispensations, but they were not part of the Church. When the Church is taken out, that closes that dispensation, but those who become saved are called saints which simply means holy ones. But they’re saved separate and apart from the body of Christ.

Dr. Reagan: So you’re saying that definitely people are going to be able to be saved during the Tribulation.

Don McGee: Absolutely, it tells us that very clearly.

Dr. Reagan: How will they be saved? If the Church is not here, how are they going to be saved? How are they going to hear the Gospel?

Don McGee: The Gospel of Jesus Christ will be preached by a couple of witnesses, by the 144,000 Jews, and people are going to hear through that. In fact there is an angel himself that will preach the Gospel from Heaven as he flies over the earth.

Dr. Reagan: Plus there’s going to be a whole bunch of Bibles brother. That’s why I’ve got mine so marked up. I figure in seven years time they’re not going to have time to get into great depth.

Don McGee: The Holy Spirit is not going to recuse Himself from the activity of the Earth during that time either. He won’t be here in the presence of the Church, but He will be working.

Dr. Reagan: So we’ll have the witness of God’s Word. We’ll have the witness of those two great witnesses in Jerusalem who will be preaching there. We’ll have the 144,000. We’ll have the judgments of God, the judgments of God. The fundamental purpose of God’s judgments is not to punish, but to bring people to repentance that they might be saved. And then you mentioned the Gospel Angel. At the end of the Tribulation, God in His grace and mercy, before He does His final pouring out of wrath, is going to send an angel who is going to circumnavigate the globe and preach the Gospel to every creature on Earth, giving them one last chance of repentance. I think that is what Jesus had in mind when He said, “The Gospel will be preached to the whole world, and then the end will come.” Okay.

Dennis Pollock: I think it’s a tremendous demonstration of the love of God, because in His love, even while He pours out His wrath, He is remembering to show mercy, and to draw people to Jesus Christ. The great majority are going to reject Christ. We’re not suggesting that the great majority of people on the earth will come to Christ. But there will be a sizeable number, so sizeable that John looks at them and he can’t count them all and he says, “Who are these? These are the ones who have come out of the Great Tribulation.”

Dr. Reagan: Well, you’re right. There are going to be a lot saved, but the most will double up their fists and curse God. We’re told in Revelation 9:20, “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and silver, brass, stone, wood. And they did not repent of their murders, nor their sorceries, nor their immorality, nor their thefts.” You know, Billy Graham often says, “The same sun that melts the butter hardens the clay.” The Gospel is that way. One person can hear it and be turned off. Another person can hear it and be turned on, and be drawn to God. The same way with tragedy in our lives. A family member is killed in an automobile accident; some people will begin cursing God, others will be drawn closer to God. The same way with the judgments of God. When He pours out these remedial judgments, some people will be drawn to Him.

Dennis Pollock: You know, when a society, or a nation, or a world is in severe crisis, some will turn to God. But the majority will look for some man to save them. Just as they did with Hitler, and have done at various other times.

Dr. Reagan: Right.

Dennis Pollock: And so when the World comes to this incredible crisis, they’re going to turn to the Antichrist. He’s going to have tremendous influence in this Tribulation period, and many are going to just worship him, thinking he’s going to somehow solve their problems, but he won’t.

Dr. Reagan: Again folks, I urge you to read I John 5:5. Read verses one through five and ask yourself, are you an overcomer, are you an heir of the promises that are mentioned in the book of Revelation? Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? If not, we urge you to do so.

Part 3

Dr. Reagan: Let’s get back to our questions about the book of Revelation. And the first one that we have here is: Do you think the Seal and Trumpet Judgments will be supernatural or natural in nature? And if natural, what form are they likely going to take?

Dennis Pollock: Dave, I’ve always had a fascination with that whole concept and I am convinced that at least most of them will be natural. You know, before the last 60 years or so, people, when they read Revelation, they had two choices. Either A, you denied that it means what it says at all, or B, God is up in Heaven zapping all these things, zapping people and making it all happen.

Dr. Reagan: All supernatural.

Dennis Pollock: All supernaturally. In 1945 we dropped the first Atomic bombs on Japan, and we saw a whole new dimension of destruction the world had never seen before. People couldn’t believe it. They went to Robert Oppenheimer, the developer of the atomic bomb, after the War, and they said, “What’s the future of these horrible weapons?” And he said, “If you’re asking can we make them more terrible? The answer is yes.” He said, “If you’re asking, can we make lots more of them? The answer is yes.” He said, “If you’re asking can we make them terribly more terrible? The answer is probably. Well that was about 60 years ago. The truth is we have made them terribly more terrible. Now, when you look at Revelation, what do you see? What is described the destruction? You see the loss of lives in the billions actually, because you are talking about a third of the earth at one point, a fourth of the earth another. You add up all the numbers, you translate it to today’s population, it would be billions of people.

Dr. Reagan: It will be one half the population of the World in three and a half years.

Dennis Pollock: Yeah, a tremendous destruction like we have never seen before. You see fresh water poisoned. You see the destruction of vegetation. You see the atmosphere so polluted that there’s a 33% reduction of visibility. You see people with sores all over their bodies. You see the sun scorching people with tremendous heat as a result of the atmosphere breaking down. All of these things plus some of the others could easily be the case in a nuclear holocaust. And what that has led many to believe is that Revelation is not so much describing God zapping people with His destruction gun from Heaven, but more a matter of God taking His hands off this world and allowing us to do in our moral insanity what we would have done a long time before had He not restrained us.

Dr. Reagan: I think you’re right on target there. The book of Romans indicates that quite often when God pours out His wrath, the way He does it is just to step back, lower the hedge of protection and allow evil to multiply. I think what He’s going to do is just take His restraining influence off and let man follow his own evil impulse.

Dennis Pollock: And the merciful thing is that He hasn’t done it already.

Dr. Reagan: Yes.

Dennis Pollock: Because we could have easily–if it was just left to us we would have destroyed one another already. The fact that we haven’t had nuclear weapons used in a war situation since 1945 is an amazing miracle, one that I don’t think people appreciate enough, and it’s only the mercy of God that’s kept that from happening.

Dr. Reagan: Every time I think about the capacity of nuclear weapons, I think of Luke 21:26 where Jesus says, “In the end times, men will faint from fear over the expectation of things which are coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Don, have you got any observations on this?

Don McGee: I just really like what Dennis said.

Dr. Reagan: Well, I think, you know, the more I read Revelation, the more it reads to me like a first century man explaining a nuclear holocaust in first century words, the only way he could explain it.

Dennis Pollock: He even uses terms like “something like, I saw something like a mountain burning with fire.” He didn’t say, “I saw a mountain burning with fire,” he said “something like it.” It was the best he could do to describe it. I mean he couldn’t use the term intercontinental ballistic missile, or some of the other terms that we use.

Dr. Reagan: All right, let’s shift gears here for a moment and go to a question that people always ask about the book of Revelation. Who in the World are the two prophets of God who are going to preach the first 3 ½ years and then be killed by the Antichrist? Who are these two characters?

Don McGee: It’s easy to answer that, and it’s hard to answer that. Let me take the first one first. It tells us in Revelation 11, God tell us in 11:4, identifying these two guys He said, “These are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands that stand before the Lord of the Earth.” You want to know who they are? That’s who they are. Simple as that.

Dennis Pollock: Oh, I’m glad you told me that, I’ve been wondering about that.

Don McGee: That makes a lot of sense.

Dr. Reagan: But that doesn’t satisfy anybody.

Don McGee: That is not what the question is about. The questioner was looking for a name or description of the personality.

Dr. Reagan: Right, right.

Don McGee: And actually the answer to that is pretty easy too: “I don’t know.” And no one else does, but we can speculate about some things.

Dr. Reagan: Yes we can.

Don McGee: We certainly can. A lot of people believe these two guys will be Enoch and Elijah, and the reason they believe that is because neither one of those guys ever saw death. Others say this is Moses and Elijah, with Moses representing the Law and Elijah the prophets. So, do your studying at home, do your studying at home and decide for yourself who you think these people are.

Dennis Pollock: Yeah, if you figure it out, write a book about it and send it to us.

Dr. Reagan: Well, I think that’s a great answer. I do believe that it’s very likely that one of them will be Elijah because we’re told in the very last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi that Elijah is going to come and prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. And even the Jews believe that. At the Passover meal they leave an extra chair in case Elijah appears. But who the other one is, I don’t know. Based upon the miracles performed, people argue that it’s Moses. Based upon the other argument that only two men have not died, and these would be the two that come back, Elijah and Enoch. I did a real in-depth study of this one time and it was interesting to me that in the first 300 years of the Church, until about 400 A.D., all of the writers, what we call the Church Fathers, argued that it was going to be Elijah and Enoch. And it was only later that it changed to Elijah and Moses. Elijah and Enoch makes a lot of sense to me because Elijah is a Jew and Enoch is a Gentile, and you would have one there speaking to the Jewish world, one speaking to the Gentile world. But we don’t know. We just don’t know.

Dennis Pollock: One thing you can say, if it’s Moses, it’s a real bummer for him because he’s already died once. He’d have to die twice, because they’re going to get killed somewhere during this Tribulation.

Dr. Reagan: A real bummer! This is the great theological insight here. OK. Let’s go to the next question: Who is the woman of Revelation 13 who is clothed with the sun and who has a crown of 12 stars? Actually, that’s Revelation 12 isn’t it? Yes, Revelation 12. Who is the woman of Revelation 12 who is clothed with the sun and who has a crown of 12 stars? Is this a symbol of Mary the mother of Jesus?

Don McGee: Well, no, no this is not Mary.

Dr. Reagan: All right, why isn’t it Mary?

Don McGee: Well, if you look at it, you’re looking at something that is larger than just the concept of a woman giving birth to a child.

Dr. Reagan: Okay.

Don McGee: We have here the dragon who is identified down in verse nine, who is called the Devil and Satan who deceives the whole World. And we see this, at least from my perspective, as this woman being Israel that has produced Jesus the Messiah. And if you look at this, and if you step back just a little bit and look at this thing in its entire context, you see that this is Satan wanting to destroy the Lord Jesus Christ, as he tried to do at His birth.

Dr. Reagan: Yes.

Don McGee: And we see, as the result of his inability to destroy the personal Messiah, he goes straight for the source of the Messiah, and attempts to destroy Israel. He has tried to do that since Abraham, and he is even trying to do that today.

Dr. Reagan: Well, I would agree wholeheartedly that this woman represents Israel and not Mary.

Don McGee: Not Mary whatsoever.

Dr. Reagan: And to me the clincher of that is that you have exactly the same image in Genesis 37:9 when Joseph had his dream and he saw the same thing and it represented Israel. It’s no change in the symbolism here, it’s Israel.

Don McGee: Well, his father understood what that meant when he said, “You expect us to bow down to you?”

Dr. Reagan: How about it?

Dennis Pollock: Well, yeah, and it says that “the woman fled into the wilderness where she has a place prepared by God, that they would feed her there 1,260 days.” Well that never happened with Mary. And it’s pushing it way too hard to try to suggest it’s Mary.

Dr. Reagan: OK, let’s go to the biggie question folks. And that’s in Revelation 13. What is the significance of the number 666? Is this number literal? Is it symbolic? What in the world is it?

Don McGee: I don’t know.

Dennis Pollock: You can tell by our lack of quick response that neither one of us know.

Don McGee: This number has been associated with personalities for a couple thousand years, and they do that by trying to figure out the number of certain people’s names. And you can get really wrapped around the axle with this kind of thing, and I have seen this number represent everyone from Bill Clinton to Bill Gates to all kinds of people. Folks, I don’t know what this number means. I really don’t. I wish I did. If I knew, I’d do like Dennis said, I’d write a book on it. But I don’t know. We just know that this represents the personification of an evil, very evil being.

Dennis Pollock: A couple of things that I can think of that may be a little bit helpful are: one, you have six, which is normally considered the number of man by those who study these things. And it’s repeated three times.

Dr. Reagan: Because man was created on the sixth day.

Dennis Pollock: Yeah, and it’s repeated three times. So, people say, “Well its God, I mean its man making himself as God.” Well, we know that is true. That is exactly what the Antichrist will do. So that is not really that much of a stretch to say that. And the other is, you do see that number in terms of Solomon receiving 666, what was it?

Dr. Reagan: Talents of gold, yes.

Dennis Pollock: Talents of gold per year.

Dr. Reagan: And when that started, he turned his heart away from God.

Dennis Pollock: Solomon apostatized.

Dr. Reagan: It became a symbol of apostasy, yes.

Dennis Pollock: Yeah, and there seems to be evidence the Antichrist will probably have had some type of Christian upbringing. Not to say he was ever born again, but probably had been associated with the Church at some point, because John talks about those who have left the Church, and he uses that in the context of bringing forth the word Antichrist.

Dr. Reagan: Well, fellas, we’ve got so many other questions here, I wish we could get into them because people are really interested in the book of Revelation, but we just don’t have time. So let me just conclude this particular section of our program by saying that if you have a lot of questions about the book of Revelation, please send them to us and we will be glad to consider them in a future program, along with the ones that we were not able to get to in this program. And another thing I would suggest is that you consider purchasing a copy of our video program called Revelation Revealed because it takes you through the book of Revelation chapter by chapter and addresses many of the questions that people have about that book.

Closing

Dr. Reagan: I want to thank you for tuning in this week. I hope the program has been a blessing to you and I hope you will be back with us next week. I want to take this opportunity to thank both Don and Dennis for helping me respond to your questions. And if you have other questions you would like to hear us discuss, please send them to the email address you see on the screen right now, and we will try to respond to them in one of our future broadcasts. Until next week, the Lord willing, this is Dave Reagan speaking for Lamb and Lion Ministries, saying, “Look up, be watchful, for our redemption is drawing near.”

End of Program

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