On three separate occasions, Revelation references “beasts” that have seven heads and ten horns. References to seven heads and ten horns often refer to something Satanic. The ten horns may be a reference to Daniel who saw a beast with ten horns. Daniel saw four beasts that represented kings. The first kingdom was the lion, Babylon, who under Nebuchadnezzar, sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. The second kingdom was the bear, Persia, under Cyrus the Great, Darius, and Artaxerxes, in many ways benevolent toward Israel, allowing them to return to Judah and rebuild. The third kingdom was the leopard, Greece, after the death of Alexander the Great, with the eventual ruler in Judea a man named Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who defiled the temple and sought to destroy the Jewish religion. The fourth kingdom was Rome, who stood out as different and more severe than the others. It was under Roman rule that the promised Christ finally appeared. In 70, Rome sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, killing about a quarter-million Jews and enslaving 90,000 more. All had dominated and persecuted God’s people, Israel, for a period of time. Ten kings, represented by the ten horns, emerged from Rome. What do you know about Israelite history in Judea?
In the Book of Revelation, there were two witnesses or two prophets mentioned. Christian eschatology interpreted these witnesses as two people, two groups of people, or two concepts. However, the two witnesses are never explicitly identified in Revelation. Some believe they are Enoch and Elijah, since they are the only two that did not see death. Others believe them to be Moses and Elijah because they appeared during the transfiguration of Jesus. These two witnesses also had the power to shut the heavens and turn water into blood like Elijah and Moses. There were also two olive trees and two lampstands. Either these were two individuals, or symbols of the Christian community and Israel. They might have been symbols of the Old and New Testament, or Jewish believers in Christ and gentile believers in Christ. Today, the preference is to see them as two individual people, either Elijah, Enoch, or Moses. The “Sleepy Hollow” TV series from 2013, had an interesting take on these two witnesses as Ichabod Crane and a twenty-first century lady named Abbie Mills, who faced various tribulations. What do you think about Moses and Elijah?
The seven thunders appear in Revelation. The angel gave a shout like the roar of a lion, and then the voices of the seven thunders spoke. However, John was not able to write about it. This incident of the seven thunderous voices occured in the interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets. The seven thunders are not just the usual noise of thunder but are thunder-like voices communicating a message. Thunder was often a mark of judgment and represented the voice of God, thunderous rumblings that display the power, majesty and glory of our mighty Lord. Perhaps this judgment was simply too terrifying to be recorded. The seven thunders were the only words in Revelation that were sealed or not revealed. Are you afraid of thunder?
There were four angels bound up at the Euphrates River in Revelation, who were all set to kill a third of all the humans. Apparently, they had 200,000,000 horsemen, who were ready to fulfill their purpose. These angels were prepared for a very special time. They were certainly fallen angels, since their sole purpose was to kill people. They were released for one purpose, to kill millions of people. The devil was also bound up in Revelation in the bottomless pit for a thousand years. The Euphrates River was the farthest eastern boundary of the land promised to Israel. The Euphrates River was connected to Babylon. Are these fallen angels connected to Babylon? Did they commit earlier sins for which they were bound? We do not know. What do you know about the Euphrates River?
Abaddon was a Hebrew term that meant destruction or doom. The Greek term appeared in the Bible as both a place of destruction and an angel of the abyss. In Revelation, an angel called Abaddon is described as the king of an army of locusts. In English, it is often translated as the destroyer. This Hebrew word “Abaddon” was used in Job, the Psalms, and Proverbs, usually associated with Sheol and destruction. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls talk about a Sheol of Abaddon. Revelation had Abaddon as an individual entity instead of a place. There was even a description of this Destroyer. He was the king of a plague of locusts resembling horses with crowned human faces, women’s hair, lions’ teeth, wings, iron breast-plates, and a tail with a scorpion’s stinger that torments for five months anyone who does not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Is this the anti-Christ, the devil, or Satan? On the other hand, he may an angel of God trying to destruct things under God’s guidance. Is it Jesus himself after his resurrection?
The wormwood star was mentioned in Revelation. The Wormwood star appeared when the third angel got involved. Wormwood means bitterness. Thus, this bitter star fell into a third of the rivers, poisoning them. This star was like a toxic meteorite that poisoned water supplies. However, this star had a key to unlock the abyss. It’s hard to say what exactly the wormwood star is supposed to be, or if we can predict what it will be before it arrives. This image of bitterness fits with the idea that the wormwood star made water bitter, like putting a toxic root or plant into a well. The people eating or drinking from this wormwood water were being punished for sins, individual sins, or collective ones that the nation of Israel had committed. C.S. Lewis used Wormwood as one of his characters in his novel, The Screwtape Letters in 1942. Did you ever hear about wormwood?
Seven trumpets sounded, one at a time. In Revelation, the angels sound these seven trumpets after the breaking of the seventh seal. The events that followed were described in great detail. These trumpets were straight, narrow bronze tubes with a mouthpiece of bone and a bell, not like modern trumpets. In Christian eschatology, all the first six trumpets were used as a wakeup call to the sinners on earth, a call to repentance. Each trumpet blast brought with it a plague of a more disastrous nature than the one before it. The trumpet was used to build anticipation and tell the reader that an alert, an announcement, or a warning was about to take place. The seventh trumpet did not bring a plague with it, but sounded so that glory was given to God and His kingdom. These trumpet blasts were like war trumpets against the apostate Israel of that time period. They correspond to events in the various Jewish Wars. The seventh trumpet showed that time was no more. Jesus rules and reigns forevermore. He rewards the righteous and judges the wicked. Have you ever played a trumpet?
John saw in his vision in Revelation, four angels standing at the four corners of the earth. They were holding the four winds of the earth, so that these winds would not blow on the earth, the sea, or on any tree. The four corners represented the whole flat earth. The four winds represented the four directions, north, south, east, and west. God’s angels represented the divine powers in this world holding back the forces of evil until the work of God on human hearts was finished. Do you think that God has power over the earth?
In the Book of Revelation, the fifth seal, after the first four seals of the four horsemen, was about those slain for the word of God. The most common interpretation of this passage is that these were the martyrs who believed in Jesus Christ as their Savior during the first century. Somehow, these martyrs were under the heavenly altar. They had sacrificed their lives as an act of worship to God. These believers were martyred because they held fast to the Scriptures and shared the gospel with others. John saw their souls under the altar in heaven. He heard them cry out to God for vengeance. Have you ever known a martyr?
The four horsemen appear in Revelation. They were part of the opening of the first four seals by the lamb of God. They each rode on a horse with a different color, white, red, black, and pale. The first horseman rode on a white horse, carried a bow, and was given a crown. He was a symbol of conquest or pestilence. Normally, white represents purity, light, holiness, and righteousness within Christianity. But the white horseman described was none of those things. The second horseman carried a sword and rode a red horse. He was the creator of wars, conflict, and strife. His mission was to take peace away from the entire earth. The third horseman was a food-merchant riding on a black horse, symbolizing famine. This horseman will bring famine due to the pair of balances or weighing scales he is carrying, which refers to the way bread would have been weighed during times of scarcity in ancient times. What is particularly interesting about the black horseman is that he is the only one whose appearance is accompanied by a voice that speaks about the prices of wheat and barley. The fourth and final horse was pale. Death was the name of the horseman, accompanied by Hades. He was given authority over a quarter of the earth, to kill with the sword, spread famine, and plagues. He was the only horseman with a name. He rode on a pale, greenish horse that resembled the sickly pallor color of a corpse. He did not carry a weapon or object when he appeared. However, he was followed by Hades, the resting place of the dead. Some Christians interpret the Four Horsemen as a vision of harbingers of the last judgment, the divine end-time upon the world. Have you ever heard of the four horsemen?