Report From The Tower
I woke this morning, thinking about certain sections of the Revelation of John, when the Holy Spirit interjected: "Think about it just like you would a crossword puzzle". Immediately, my mind turned to the New York Times and their famous word puzzle, faithfully presented since 1942. Perhaps you young ones have never filled one out, but for those of us "in the know", the way you approach it is that you do not start at the top left. Instead, you review the list of questions to see which ones are easy; where you are sure you know the right answer. You fill those in, then based upon the help you get from the crossing letters of your "knowns", you can make some more sure guesses about your "unknowns". Puzzles always come with assumptions: the Times puzzle is prepared in English, so you can leave your Spanish behind, unless they clue you in especially in the question.
The great assumption you must make when approaching our "Revelation Puzzle" is that it flows in chronological order. See part 2 of this series if you need more convincing regarding the making of this assumption. When we look at the prophetic things that begin in chapter 4 and 5 with our Lord and a sealed up book, we then see Him as He begins to open these seals in Chapter 6. Daniel was also shown apocalyptic things about 700 years prior to John and he was told that his "scrolls" were sealed up until the time of the end. Since this sealed up book in Revelation is a book, which in the Lord's day was a scroll or series of sealed up scrolls, we immediately get the idea that as we move from Seal one to Seal Seven, there is an orderly flow to this, just as you would find in any book. This beginning to end chronological flow is reinforced by the presence of the last judgement and the resurrection at the end of the book. I would put forward the idea here that it is unnatural to hop around chronologically, although we find that some fiction writers employ this "foreshadowing" tactic, usually in a limited fashion. Things in those books always clear up by the end of the book. In like manner, there are a few parenthetical visions that have a bit of foreshadowing involved, but these are all clearing up at this time of history.
We know we must be getting near to the time of the end, one way or another, so according to the bible, these things of Daniel and John should be getting unsealed, or perhaps they already are unsealed. Elijah is credited by most with starting the tradition that just as the world was created in six days, so the creation will endure for 6,000 years, and then the end will come, starting a seventh day period of 1,000 years of Millenial rest. This is carried forth in writing in the "Epistle of Barnabas", an apocryphal writing, where this notion is presented as something that everyone knew and accepted at the time of the apostles. So, I think it is logical to conclude that now, or very soon, we should be able to unseal these puzzles and come to some solid answers regarding their proper, Godly interpretation, without utilizing a lot of speculation.
I do not believe that our Lord would have put this book into our hands unless there was one very clear, predominant meaning to the prophecies that are presented in it. To think otherwise would cause us to view God as an author of confusion, which He is most certainly not. Modern writers have dozens of interpretations for the various apocalyptic symbols that are included in the book. Some hop and jump all over the timeline as they tell you that primarily, these events cover the last two thousand years, but they are either in no particular order, or they are in some triplicate order, where the Seals, Trumpets and Vials all cover the same events. This gets confusing internally and I reject it outright. Others say that these events refer to things that are still going to happen in the future: a notion that sticks head in the sand regarding 1,900 years of World and Church history. Who do we think we are to arrogantly tell the Reformation saints that they wrongly interpreted the Book of Revelation as applying to them in a very major way? No, the natural flow of the vision, as it is given to John, suggests most plainly that it is most proper to operate under the assumption that a chronological flow of historical events is what is prophetically being shown in these pages. Yet, where are we to start with the process of interpreting it? Certainly not at the first seal, as there is no information there, given by God, that would identify just who is being spoken about, other than a White Horse, which was one of the six winged Beasts that were around the throne when Jesus was found worthy to break the seals of this Holy Book.
Past Biblical historical writings were huge works: very large, with lots of small print and footnotes. They are slow reads. One of my favorite works, written in 1905 by H. Grattan Guinness, is called History Unveiling Prophecy. That is a great work and you would be very well armed against the deception of Satan if you were to read it, but you probably will not read it, will you? It covers 522 pages. It took me about a week to read. Next, a great reference work I use is the 1862 version of E.B. Elliott's reference work Horae Apocalypticae by E.B. Elliott It is very scholarly and written in minute detail that covers 2,387 pages. I have read most of it and I am still working on parts of it. Clearly, most people of the Facebook era are not going to crack open even one of the almost 3,000 pages of these works. I have written about them in articles that number into the dozens of pages. Overall, I do not believe I have made much headway in getting people to read, ponder about and pray over these things. Evidently, people either do not think that much can be known about the Revelation, they throw up their hands about all the alternative theories and crackpot ideas that so many people present today or they simply do not think these things are important for us to know. I believe we can, right now, know what this Book means. I believe we can know the truth of the Revelation and separate it from these lies and frauds. Finally, I believe we really need to understand the message of the warnings that are contained within it as they are critical for us today. He who will not learn history is destined to repeat it.
The Lord brought before me the assignment of writing a series of five page articles, as measured on a computer screen. These will probably fill about ten smartphone screens. Hopefully, each one in the series will entice the reader to click on the next link and to proceed to the next article. How are we to fill in this Revelation Crossword Puzzle? I am not a D.D. Theologian and I will not try to rewrite the works of Guinness and Elliott, but I did pass the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam and I have been considered, for more than twenty years, a power spreadsheet user; first of Lotus and now of Excel. These Theologians simply did not have my tools, so I have used my advantages and have prepared spreadsheets on the Apocalypse and on their works. So, here is my Revelation Spreadsheet Tool as it has been completed to date. Revelation Spreadsheet Analysis Tool. Much of the work is complete from Chapter 6 through Chapter 17.
Where will we go from here to understand these things? First, Guinness suggested that we should fill in the Divinely given information first. There is only one Divinely interpreted sign found in the Seals, Trumpets and Vials of Revelation. Do you know what it is? Then, fill in the events that are most clearly identified by the presentation of a preponderance of evidence regarding undeniable apocalyptic symbols with their Godly intended meanings. Then, fill in those events on the timeline that fit best for the remainder of the puzzle and try to sensibly make events on the outline of history fit within the chronological flow assumption.
Why should you attempt to fill out this Revelation Puzzle? I will attempt to tantalize you with a few things.
Stephen L. Bening
Please go to Revelation Puzzle-Part 2 to read the second article in this series.
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