In our previous post we mentioned how the French Revolution brought to life the Beast “THAT WAS” and what some of the specific causes and results were. We likewise mentioned how the revolution was brought to an end when the military under Napoleon Bonaparte came to power, and as such the Beast “THAT WAS” went into the abyss (the state of powerlessness and nonexistence, i.e. the “IS NOT” condition).
Of course this is how the world viewed things, that is as taken from the worldly perspective, but as Christians we are more interested in how these events unfolded according to the Divine Testimony.
Now in order for us to properly understand these matters it will first prove necessary to explain a little bit about how to interpret the Book of Revelation. (We will not here go into every detail but simply elaborate on those methods pertinent to our study here.) The primary reason why many misunderstand and misinterpret this book is a failure to understand how it works, specifically how it is arranged. Remember that this book along with most of the other prophetic writings found in the Scriptures were purposely designed so as to hide their true meaning until the “due time” for their revealing, and then only to a certain class of watchful ones, awake at the proper time and in possession of spiritual insight, thus in essence it remained a “sealed book”, until then. But now that we have reached “the time of the end” as mentioned by the prophet Daniel (Dan 12:8), the seal is broken, and to such the books (the Holy Scriptures) are now opened.
“The book of Revelation is a prophecy, and not a literal epistle. It abounds in symbols or signs, and these are the rule, and the literal—when unavoidable–is the exception. The signs and symbols are evidently designed to barricade its mysteries from all except a certain class, the saints, and from them also until the time was due for the secrets to be revealed.”
“The greatest source of error in understanding the symbols of Revelation is a too literal interpretation. It is read as though it were a statement of facts instead of a statement of symbols.”
“The book of Revelation is a book of pen-pictures of events and of periods of earth’s history—from Christ’s first advent onward–usually in groups of seven succeeding stages (i.e. seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls and etc.); several of these groups running more or less synchronous, or parallel in time, with each other. Seven throughout the scriptures denotes “completion” or “perfection” thus the fulfillment of each of these “pen-pictures” is shown in the seventh stage of each of these events.
“Notice that the Churches, Seals, and Trumpets (each of which takes us through the Gospel Age in seven successive steps) have their own introductions. This is likewise true of the Seven Last Plagues of Chapter 16. (Chapter 15 serves as their introduction.) No other part of Revelation has this kind of introduction (save the introduction to the whole book itself in 1:1-8). Only the four series of seven parts each have this peculiarity (Churches, Seals, Trumpets, and Plagues). Why is this?
It is likely that the Lord wanted to unify each series so that we understand that the parts of these series do not stand alone. In each case, one part affects the next, and it is the totality of each series which gives us the story of the Gospel Age or the Gospel Age Harvest. The introductions give us vital lessons applicable to all parts of the series.
Also when we study the three introductions to the Churches, Seals, Trumpets, we find the evidence we need to show us that one series does not follow another series historically. Rather the first church, first seal, and first trumpet are all simultaneous (and so on through the series). This might well escape our attention without a study of the introductions. It is important for each individual to be convinced in his own mind regarding the histories and lessons of these Churches, Seals, and Trumpets.
This would be a good time to mark your Bibles so that each of the Churches, Seals, and Trumpets are clearly visible to your eye as you look through Revelation. Personally I have far too many notes scribbled all over my pages to be able to see some little number written by each of these items so instead what I did was to purchase some of those little stick-on dots which were just big enough to write the numbers on and then to make them more visible I color coded them. For example the first Church, Seal, and Trumpet are all orange with the next series green and so on and so forth. Now I am able to easy reference each series when studying them.
Since these three views of the Gospel Age (Churches, Seals, and Trumpets) all seem similar in that each view is divided into seven parts it is only natural to ask, what is the objective of each series? Why go through the seven periods of the age three times?
1) Churches: The messages to the “angels” of the seven churches are for the purpose of explaining prevailing weaknesses and conditions during each stage of the church. Thus the brethren of each period can be instructed as to what is to be overcome and what is necessary in order to accomplish the overcoming.
2) Seals: The descriptions found as each seal is opened are for the purpose of showing how the historical events of the period will have affected the church.
3) Trumpets: The object of the trumpet sequence is just the opposite of the seals. The trumpet descriptions show how the seasonal religious truths (present truth, at that time of course) are to affect surrounding society.”
“However in the case of the plagues, they are not contemporary, that is, unlike the churches, seals and trumpets which date from the same time period, the plagues follow after, that is, they are the just consequences of previous lessons unlearned, thus because the world didn’t listen to the trumpets, felled to heed the lessons, now the truths of the trumpets must be forced upon them by the plagues.”
In other words although the first church, first seal, and first trumpet are all contemporaneous one with another the first plague does not necessarily follow this sequence. Let me attempt to explain. Each stage of the church received a specific message of praise and or condemnation from the Lord and likewise what was required of them at that time, the seal connected to that stage of the church described how the church at that period was affected by historic events then transpiring, the trumpet showed how the truths then being espoused by the church at that time affected society. Did they respond favorably or unfavorably, did they listen? Obviously not, and so the Lord sends the plagues upon them to force them to heed.
However these plagues do not follow the same pattern as the before mentioned items, one in connection with the other instead they are ALL held in check until all seven stages of the church have received their specific message, seal and trumpet. Each stage of the church received these messages, seals and trumpets separately; nevertheless they are applicable to the church as a whole. Unfortunately it is the last stage of the church, the Laodicean stage that will bear the brunt of the plagues as they are poured out one following another.
Now how does this all relate to our study of the Beast “THAT WAS”, how do the scriptures interpret its rise its disappearance, and its subsequent reappearance or accent out of the bottomless pit?
We’ll take a look at this in our next post.
Excerpts taken from the New Albany Notes on Revelation