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A Flood of Light on the Book of Revelation

by John S. Fox
Essential Key Chapter

The "Book of Revelation" is deemed by many to be one of the most difficult books in the Bible; but, when properly handled, starting on the right road, with a clear understanding of the essential truths contained in this "Key Chapter"

The whole story can be understood quite easily. It is a book of symbols, written thus by our wise and loving God, who, while leaving mankind with free will or free choice, and foreseeing the moves of men and nations from beginning to end, is all the while silently overruling, steering the baroque onwards, from the fruitless ways of self-will and false religion into the haven of a world-wide Kingdom for His Son in which His shall eventually be done on earth, even as in heaven.

Through the Book of Revelation He displays once again that He alone is God, with power to fulfill His will; doing also what none others have been able to do: "Declare the end from the beginning."

Imagine the history of mankind prewritten in a language unknown to mankind! Its truth would remain hidden until such time as the words of that language could be deciphered and understood; or until the events themselves interpreted the meaning.

Just so with the Book of Revelation, written in symbolic language, speaking of Seals, Trumpets, Vials; of suns, moons and stars; Of beasts, scorpions, dragons and colored houses; of thunders, lightning's and great woes; of earthquakes, fires, olive trees and candlesticks.

It speaks, with rich contrast, of the true and the false; of a true Woman chased by a Serpent or Dragon; and a false Woman gorgeously clothed, deceiving multitudes in the earth into believing that She alone is the one to follow. It speaks of a "Great city" full of evil, and of a "Beloved city" which one day will be full of glory.

In  chapter 19 it speaks of great rejoicing when all that has deceived the earth is destroyed, great multitudes saying Alleluya when salvation, glory, honor, power and Truth are revealed. A "Lamb" has appeared, bringing light into the darkness, and a precious city is built, fashioned (symbolically) of "pure gold like unto clear glass" whose foundations are "garnished with all manner of precious stones".

Finally, there is a wonderful "Bride" revealed, which partnered by the Spirit of God, says to whosoever will: "Come.... And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely".

All these things certainly sound very wonderful: but what do they really mean? Can we unravel the hidden treasures of this Book?

Shortly To Come To Pass

John, the apostle of Jesus Christ, described as the "The disciple whom Jesus loved", experienced very hard times in his old age, for when over ninety years of age he was taken to the prison-island of Patmos. There, however, in that very place, His precious Master, the risen Christ, met him face to face, passing on to him the whole story of the Book of Revelation.

The opening verse of the first chapter tells us that God, who alone knows all things, had "given" this Revelation to His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus, when passing it on to John, told him plainly that it was a story of the things "which must shortly come to pass."

It was a prewritten history, foretelling events from that time (A.D. 96) onwards, concerning in particular the Church of Christ, and concerning God's chosen national seed of Israel which was dispersed and scattered at that time (John 7:35) but destined to be redeemed and restored nationally under the New Covenant (Heb. 8:8-12


In addition to presenting this prewritten history concerning the true Church and  of God's chosen nation, this Book of Revelation also foretold approaching developments in the great and powerful Empire of Rome, ruling the then-known prophetically "earth".

The Empire of Rome, was destined within two centuries to crack in half, and within three centuries to fall completely, making way for an entirely new System, a religious system (Papal Rome) which would succeed it and hold temporal power in Europe for 1260 years (A.D. 606-A.D. 1866).

The latter edifice built upon self-power and religious pride, would oppose, and for a time overcome the true humble followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The story of the Book of Revelation opens triumphantly first and foremost with a glorious vision or portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as He appeared in all His resurrection fullness to His faithful servant John. May God grant that in our lives, and in the lives of the coming generation also, we all may turn our eyes upon Jesus from the beginning, and then keep Him in views, always, even unto the end.

In the prison Isle of Patmos the Lord Jesus began the story of the Book of Revelation by giving John seven individual messages to seven existing Churches. As will be seen later, these messages reflected a panorama of the history of Christendom from John's day until the end of this present age.

The actual Book or Scroll, as seen by John in his vision, had no pages as books have today. It was then old type of book, a Scroll, which, while being gradually unrolled, revealed the sequence of events step by step from the end of the first century AD till the end of the present age.

If we do not understand and abide by the simplicity of the sequence of events of the prophecies contained in this Book, keeping everything in its straightforward order, nothing but muddled nonsense would be the outcome of our study.

There is danger, in fact a great temptation, amongst multitudes of Bible expositors, to take an attractive looking verse, placing  it perhaps a thousand years too soon or too late, and weaving  round it pure fantasy, with no backing in truth whatsoever.

Such rough handling, unfortunately, has been frequently employed by many interpreters, turning men away from this Book's beauty, making it indeed "Mystery", whereas God gave all Scripture for our edification to be clearly read and understood, thus unfolding and revealing His power and glory.

Past, Present, or Future?

In this Book of Revelation, and elsewhere in the Bible, God foretold, exposed and denounced the works and doctrines of a great apostate Church System which would rise out of and succeed the wreckage of the pagan-Roman Empire. This system, as we shall see clearly further on, was Papal Rome.

The Roman world had been ruled by paganism until the forth and fifth century A.D.: but now a change was destined to come to pass, this new-found Power being clearly symbolized in the Book of Revelation as a religious Power by saying it would be seen sitting "in the temple of God" that is to say, in the Church itself, swaying the lives of men and nations and ruling with great power from a self appointed pinnacle which it had set up.

As the darkness of the middle ages thereafter began to be lightened by the hard one labors of the Reformation, all the Reformers without exception had it revealed to them by the Spirit of God that Papal Rome had fulfilled exactly every detail foretold concerning this new religious edifice, and was therefore this apostate or Anti-Christ Power, which, while purporting to be the only true Church of Christ, was actually fighting against Him and His.

When this devastating exposure became revealed from the Scriptures themselves, the first reaction of Papal Rome (as also foretold in the Word of God) was to try to destroy the Bible.

They thus gathered all the early-English Bibles they could lay their hands on, and had public burnings of them. One of these ceremonies was conducted by Bishop Tunstall in A.D. 1530 at Paul's Cross, when William Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament was burnt publicly.

However when this endeavor eventually proved fruitless, they began to massacre and burn at the stake the living witnesses of the Truth, two of the most notable of whom were Bishops Ridley and Latimer who were burnt alive at Oxford in A.D. 1555 during Catholic Mary's reign.

When it was seen that both these drastic measures failed to stem the incoming tide of Truth and the Kingdom of God on earth, the only procedure remaining to the Papal Church was to endeavor to misinterpret all such such verses of Scripture which foretold and condemned its System, making the condemnation contained in these verses appear to fall, if possible, on some other party instead of upon themselves.

This endeavor, however, soon produced two opposing schools of thought even within their own ranks. These constituted numbered 1 and 2 below:-

  1. The Preterists. The school known as the Preterism declared that the anti-Christ Power of Scripture had already come and gone, being fulfilled in the Roman Emperors (Nero, Vespasian, depending on the Preterist school) and Titus who attacked the Jews, ransacked Jerusalem, and burned the Temple, in the year A.D. 70.
  2. The Futurists. The school known as the Futurism said that this great power must be future, even suggesting that it would not appear until after the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. The originator of this second erroneous thesis was a German Jesuit named "Ribera".
  3. The Historicists. Quite distinct from the two foregoing schools of thought were the Reformers, who were all without exception Historicists; that is to say, those who  believed that the Book of Revelation (accompanied by the prophecies of Daniel and others) foretold a perfect sequence of the history of Christendom throughout this present evil age from beginning to en; and that it also exposed with paramount certainty the complete failure of both pagan and Papal Rome to bring in Christ's Kingdom.

Since the Book of Revelation is a pre-written history of Christendom, then obviously a knowledge of history is essential for its correct interpretation. It is God's Word by which He most wonderfully foretold;

(A) the history of the true Church;

(B) The rise and fall of pagan Rome, with its useless military pagan rule of force;

(C) The rise and fall of Papal Rome, with its useless apostate System of false religious rule;

(D) The preparation for, the rise of, and the unshakable endurance of God's Kingdom of righteousness and truth, reigned over by His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, aided by the tested and proven members of His faithful Election or Church, who reign with Him (Psalms 110) " over the House of Jacob" (Luke 1:32-33), to perfect the latter first; and then  finally to lead "all the nations of the earth" into God's way of peace, happiness and life, until His Kingdom fully comes, and His Will is "done on earth, even as it is in heaven".