An Exposition on the Book of Revelation -- by L. S. McCutcheon

 Part 1 of 11


Will Jesus come to establish a materialistic kingdom in Jerusalem? Is there really an anti-Christ? Do we believe in a battle at Armageddon? Is there actually just one church? Are there two resurrections? Is hell a real place? What is heaven like? These questions demand scriptural answers. It is imperative that we should not only know these answers for ourselves, but also endeavor to carry the candle of prophecy to illuminate the pathway of fellow travelers on the road toward eternity.

The church is not left without a light of prophecy. The Spirit and the Word offer more illumination to us than the cloud and pillar of fire provided for ancient Israel. Our dilemma is not an eclipse of light; rather it is that our spiritual eyes fail to comprehend prophetic vision. By the medium of intriguing symbols found in the Revelation, the author of The Symbols Speak endeavors to vividly portray the position, purpose, and power of the New Testament church in all ages, giving chief emphasis to the church of today.

This book is not a commentary on the Revelation. Rather it is a. brief exposition, in simple terms, prepared for the common layman. It is desired that the reader will make a more comprehensive study of the book of Revelation after reading this limited introduction.

The reader is urged to read from the Bible the entire Scripture passages noted at the chapter headings and subtitles in this book. The enclosed picture chart will also prove helpful as you study the parallel themes presented in their chronological order.

It is the author's prayer that your life may be enriched, and that the church may be awakened to her responsibilities and resources for reformation in "today's world."




The Title
The Author
When and Where the Book Was Written
Language and Purpose
John Dedicates the Book
The Candlesticks
John Writes a Preface Page

A Table of Contents (Opening the Seals)


The Great Image of Daniel
Daniel's Vision of the Four Beasts
Keys to the Kingdom
Key to Prophetic Time


The Star-Crowned Woman and the
Great Red Dragon
The Leopard Beast
The Lamblike Beast
The Image of the Beast
The Mark of the Beast
The Number of the Beast
The Lamb on Mount Zion


Blueprints for the Temple
The Temple Foundation
The Temple Door
The High Priest of the Temple
The Temple Furnishings
The Dedication of Christ's Temple
The Desecration of the Temple
Measuring Christ's Temple
The Temple Is Restored
The Witnesses Are Slain and Resurrected
God's Chosen Nation



Babylon Means Confusion
Babylon Means Bondage
Literal Babylon Fell
Mystic Babylon
The Mother of Harlots
Babylon Is Fallen
The Pure Bride of Christ
Mystery Babylon's Final Doom


The Binding of Satan
The Reign of the Martyrs
The Voice of the Martyrs
The Mysterious Thousand
The First Resurrection
The Dragon Released


Three Evil Spirits
The Antichrist in Scripture


God Is Preparing His Army
The Church of God Movement at Armageddon
The Second Resurrection
The Destruction of the Earth
The Judgment Day
Rewards Will Be Received
The New Heaven and the New Earth
The Conclusion



"Earth recedes; heaven opens before me," exclaimed the Christian whose last chapter of life neared completion. The first impulse of loved ones near the bedside was to arouse the dying man from what appeared to be a dream. But the faithful saint whispered, "It is not a dream; it is real; it is beautiful!"

A solemn stillness fell upon the room. The final paragraph of the famous evangelist's life had now come to the last sentence. William placed his ear to the lips of his dying father, listening intently to hear his words. Death's silence was broken as a feeble tongue uttered, "God is calling me, and I must go." His uneven, terminating breath placed a period completing the ultimate phrase inscribed in his life's story. An unseen angel closed the life book of D. L. Moody, bound it with the black binding of death, and placed it gently in heaven's library. To those who loved him, the last words of D. L. Moody became immortal.

God has spoken some last words too--words omnipotent, omniscient, and pregnant with life rather than death. No words that fall from mortal tongue could ever compare with the utterances of the Spirit so divine. The magnificent chapters of the Revelation disclose God's final words to humanity. The Apocalypse climaxes the glorious revelation of Jesus Christ and the great redemption story woven throughout all the sixty-six books of Holy Scripture. God spoke through the pens of approximately forty different authors, over a period of more than a millennium and a half. Some authors were highly educated; others were fishermen, herdsmen, or tax gatherers. Various forms of writing have been included: historical, narrative, codes of law, proverbs, hymns, drama, biography, odes, epistles, and prophecies. All these reach a zenith of splendor in the transcending glory of the Alpha and Omega of the Apocalypse. No preacher has heralded his greatest message until he has echoed again the trumpets of the Revelation. No eyes have seen truth for today and prophecies for tomorrow more vividly expressed than those who behold the last paragraphs of God. "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that bear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand" (Rev. 1:3).

Last things often hold strange and mysterious significance. God's last revelation to man reveals the Christ who is "the first and the last." We hear Him speak of the last day, last trumpet and the last judgment. We bend our ear to the voice of God as He utters final prophecies to His children; and to all that love Him, His words are immortal. Every reader is compelled to cry, "Earth recedes; heaven opens before me!"

Strange as it may seem, there are some individuals who will not regard the Revelation as prophecy. They believe it was only a veiled way of communication, used by early Christians to bring comfort to one another, and at the same time protect themselves from the wrath of reigning Roman emperors. Others believe it is prophecy to be fulfilled after the Second Coming of Christ. They maintain that the clock of prophecy stopped at Calvary and will not "tick" again until our Lord's return. But a careful study reveals that it is the prophecy of the church, beginning with Christ's first advent, depicting its conflicts with sin and Satan through all ages, then, climaxing with the Second Coming of Christ.

The Revelator introduces the prophecies expressing that God's purpose is "to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass" (Rev. 1:1). The initial point for these prophecies is obviously marked by Christ's first coming as the author relates, "Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness, and first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. . ." (Rev. 1:5). All this transpired at our Lord's first com- ing when He paid the price of redemption and established His church. The prophecies, which were shortly to come to pass, began their fulfillment in the first century and continue through all ages of time. When the Lion of the tribe of Judah has opened the last seal; when the seventh angel has sounded the final trumpet; when the last great battle has been fought; when Babylon has fallen Satan is defeated-then comes the great climax of Christ's second coming! John describes the scene shouting, "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen" (Rev. 1:7). What could be of greater interest to the Christian than to study the prophecies, which lie between Christ's first and second advent? Which ones have been fulfilled? What is yet to come? As eagerly as the ancient Jews searched the Old Testament writings for prophecies of the Messiah's first coming, we, the Christians of today, search for New Testament prophecies of His return.

The Title

Every author is aware of the necessity for choosing an interesting title for his writings. How wisely John chose the inscription, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 1: 1). In the Fourth Gospel, John refers to the Lord as the Son of God, the divine Teacher, the Bread of Life, the great Intercessor, and the crucified and resurrected Christ. He depicts many other portraits of the humble Galilean, but nowhere in the Bible is He revealed in such glory and majesty as in the Revelation. Here He is magnified as "King of Kings," "Lord of Lords," "Eternal Victor," "Alpha and Omega," and the "Glorified Christ." How incomplete the Scriptures would be if they were bereft of these portraits!

The Author

God Himself is the Author of these last paragraphs in Holy Writ, even as "all scripture is given by inspiration of God" (Rev. 1: 1; 2 Tim. 3:16). John was chosen of God to be a pen in the Master's hand. Indeed, who would be better qualified to reveal the Christ? John, the beloved disciple, he who leaned upon Jesus' bosom, was the most intimate, earthly friend of our Lord. This faithful disciple had already served as God's scribe to pen the Fourth Gospel and three epistles that bear his nwne.

John had heard Christ say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life He heard Him cry, "Follow me " "Thy sins be forgiven thee' " and many other sayings revealing Christ as God incarnate. ,ES presence at the Transfiguration prepared him to behold even more glorious splendor. Years had now past since he last saw Christ as He departed through the clouds at Mt. Olivet. Imagine the thrill in the soul of the sainted apostle when this same Jesus appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos! He was no longer in the seamless garment of the poor, but clothed in the rich vestments of heaven. Searching for words to describe the Christ, John penned, ". . 'the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters" (Rev. 1: 13). No wonder John fell at the feet of Christ in fear as he beheld Him whose "countenance Was as the sun shineth in his strength"(Rev. 1: 16). It was not a dream! The Mas- ter spoke! His words were the familiar entreaty, "Fear not." How often John's soul had been strengthened by those two words. Christ assured John that He was the same Lord who was dead but is alive forevermore, and has the keys of hell and of death (Rev. 1:18). John was commissioned to write the things he had seen, things, which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.

John participated in divine worship-the highest act humanity is privileged to experience. True worship opens the sanctuary of the soul, and the infinite God communes with finite men. The eyes of the soul become as sanctuary lamps aglow with the glory of Christ's majesty. Pure hearts where Holy Spirit fire is aflame and prayer ascends as incense. The human intellect becomes a chancel where God performs a divine miracle and the will of man is surrendered unto his Lord. Mortal lips are made a pulpit to proclaim an immortal faith. The tongue becomes an organ to render perfect praise. Let our prayer ever be "Lord, teach us to worship in the Spirit that we too may see the Christ."

When and Where the Book Was Written

At the time of the writing of the Revelation, sixty-three years had passed since Jesus had been crucified. These were years of persecution, trial and death for many of the followers of the Christ. A great portion of the first century had become a trail of human blood. Of all the apostles, John alone was exempt from the death of a martyr. In the year A.D. 95-96, the tyrant, Domitian, banished John to the lonely Isle of Patmos, sentencing him to hard labor in the lead, quarries there. Patmos is sometimes called the "brown gem" of the Aegean Sea-not because of its beauty, but because of the great events, which transpired there. This island is some sixty miles off the coast of Asia Minor. It is barren and desolate, only ten miles long, and narrows in the middle to almost an isthmus. A range of mountains rising to the height of eight hundred feet provides a grand stage for the visions of John. Visiting Patmos today, you would find the eleven-hundred-year-old monastery of St. John erected on top of these mountains. The trumpets, which sounded there, still echo in the Scriptures.

According to historical records, John was recalled from exile when Domitian was silenced by death, and the humane Nerva ascended the throne as emperor. The aged apostle, too feeble to continue public ministry, often pastored in the humble quarters of his home. John died and was buried at Ephesus after completing a life of approximately one hundred years.

Language and Purpose

While it was no doubt written with letters of the Greek alphabet, the Revelation is an amazing combination of symbols and word pictures. This is a language based on analogy. For example, a lion is a symbol of courage; a lamb, a symbol of meekness; a bear depicts cruel, bloodthirsty characteristics. The book also includes sacred objects, such as golden candlesticks, altars, etc. To symbolize great spiritual truths, Jesus many times used this manner of conveying thought in his parables. He spoke of "the vine and branches." He referred to Herod as a "fox." He compared the righteous to sheep and the ungodly to goats.

The interpretation of words can become very confusing. The same word may be used in a number of ways with varied renderings. However, symbols do not change in meaning. The lion delineates courage and power in the twentieth century as much as it did hundreds of years before Christ when Daniel used prophecy.

Another reason for the veiled language of symbols was to assure safety for the early Christians. No man could be charged in court because he had written or read symbolic literature. Understood by the Christian, its meaning was hidden from the enemy; thus, these writings were preserved.

In this manner God fulfills His purpose for the book. In ages of despair it gave courage and hope of eternal victory to millions suffering persecution and death. Today it is our lamp in a sin-darkened world. It warns the reader of dangerous periods in the destiny of the church. The truth in its pages challenges the church of today to engage in the final conflict of the ages. Here the Christian will find a new edge for his sword of the Spirit. Faith becomes strong in the promise of final victory. Love will overcome hate. Light will put out the darkness. Good will over- come evil. Truth will destroy error. Satan will be defeated and Christ, the Conqueror shall forever reign. This the prophecies proclaim!

John Dedicates the Book

The ministry of John was shared by many congregations. He had especially nurtured seven churches in Asia Minor. He lists them in the same order he would have visited them on the main road of travel beginning at his home in Ephesus. He often traveled the way the mail route went from Ephesus to Smyrna, then north sixty-four miles to Pergamos, turning southeast to visit Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

The number seven claims our attention. In chapter one of the Revelation, John sees seven stars in the right hand of Christ. He also pictures Christ walking in the midst of seven golden candlesticks. Seven is a number used to denote perfection or completeness. The seven stars, which are angels or ministers to the seven churches, are seen in the right hand of God. Speaking of ministers as stars, we are reminded of Daniel's words, "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever" (Dan 12:3). Holding the seven stars is symbolic of God's holding all His ministers in the hand of His power. For example, when a large object is held in the hand, only part is actually touched by the fingers, but the entire object is held. This is also true of Christ walking in the midst of the seven churches. This symbolizes His presence in the midst of all congregations of the church. There were other congregations in Asia Minor, but seven is sufficient to symbolize the whole. The symbol of a candlestick or lamp is not new. John heard Jesus say, "Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house" (Matt. 5:15). Also, Jesus is proclaimed as the "light of the world." He further ex- presses to the disciples, "Ye are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14). What oil is to a lamp, the Holy Spirit is to the church. Without it, we become only empty lamps void of light. The 6 6golden" candlestick depicts the church as precious.

The Candlesticks

1. The Candlestick at Ephesus (Rev. 2:1- 7) Ephesus was an ancient city. It was noted as a very important commercial, political, and religious center. The Apostle Paul went to this wicked, idolatrous city and established the church. Some of the things Paul encountered have been recorded in Acts chapter 19. The temple of the goddess Diana was the greatest glory of the city. The Greeks boasted, "The sun sees nothing finer in its course than Diana's Temple." I One would suppose the image of Diana to be very beautiful; however, to us it would be very repulsive. The image is grotesque, ugly, and covered with many breasts, which was a symbol of fertility. The Ephesians believe it had been dropped from heaven. This temple became the shrine of heathen superstition, vileness, and immorality. It was in this city that Paul labored longer than in any other.

How great the power of the gospel to convert the heathen and plant the true church! Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians reveals an established congregation abounding in spiritual life. The glorious doctrine of sanctification is set forth as Paul writes, "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30). And again, "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it. . ." (Eph. 5:25b-26a).

But from the description in the Revelation, a drastic change has taken place in the church at Ephesus. While they are commended for their words, patience, and orthodoxy, they are lacking in Christian love. As Christ walks in their midst He cries, "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love" (Rev. 2:4). Christ requires more than good works. To preserve the pure doctrine of the Christian faith is essential, but to maintain a vital, sincere love is indispensable. All else is in vain if love is lacking. This can happen to anyone. When one has lost that first enthusiasm of the Christian experience, he soon becomes critical, faultfinding, censorious, and self-righteous. Our works may become acts of duty rather than service of love, but the chief demand of our Lord has never changed. He still requires, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself' (Matt. 22:37-39).

Christ demanded the Ephesians to repent. The demand is no less for this generation. True repentance is not only a contrite heart and tears of remorse, but also an about-face turning. It demands action to change. Real repentance means to acknowledge guilt and turn from ungodliness. God never glosses over iniquity; He demands godly sorrow, bitter regret, and a sincere forsaking of sin before He pours out His love, grace and mercy upon men. Christ said failure to repent of the cold, indifferent spirit would mean removal of the candlestick. How sad is the picture of the church or of individuals who refuse to repent. They become lamps with no oil, desolate and empty.

There is no evidence that the Ephesians repented. Their candlestick has long since been removed. Not a vestige of the church remains where once stood an important congregation. The city itself is no more.

2. The Candlestick at Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11)

Smyrna, an important city of trade and noted for its beauty, was also characterized as a great center of Caesar worship. Christians were in constant peril for refusing to worship Caesar as God. Romans believed the Pax Romana, the Roman peace, was embodied and incarnated as a spirit in the emperor. During the reign of Domitian, Caesar worship became compulsory. It was demanded that once a year every Roman citizen must burn a pinch of incense to Caesar saying, "Caesar is Lord." Refusal meant disloyalty to the government. Christians lived as, sheep counted for the slaughter, never knowing when the death blow would be wielded. Furthermore, the Jews who had a synagogue in Smyrna were a constant source of agitation. They often re- ported the deeds of the Christians to the city officials, causing punishment or death.

It seemed almost impossible to light a candle of truth in such a mass of darkness. Yet, the message of Christ to the church in Smyrna was all commendation, without reproof. The Lord had taken note of their poverty but reminded them of their spiritual treasures. He appeared unto Christians in Smyrna as "he that was dead and is alive," and foretold a period of tribulation:

Fear none of those things, which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life (Rev. 2: 1 0).

The "devil" who cast them into prison was really the power of Satan embodied in pagan Rome. Polycarp, a disciple of John the Revelator, was the pastor of the Smyrna congregation. He was given the command to sacrifice to Caesar or be burned. While this servant of Christ perished in flames he said, "I fear not the fire that bums for a season and is quenched." Thus the martyr passed into the portals beyond. The "ten days" is used as a Greek expression to mean a short period of time, and no doubt has reference to ten years of intense persecution.

It is most interesting to note that Smyrna yet stands today. Approximately one-half of its population of 250,000 inhabitants are nominally. Christian. Its candle flame has never gone out although often it became very dim.

The message gleaned from the Smyrna church for us today is a firm conviction that nothing can separate us from Christ, We may face poverty, trial, tribulation or death but none of these can sever us from the love of God.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, @or life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38, 39).

Also, let it be noted that the crown of life is only given to those who are "faithful unto death."

3. The Candlestick at Pergamos (Rev. 2:12-17)

Pergamos, "where Satan's seat is," depicts a pagan city of heathen gods and smoking altars. To visit this city of Asia, a center of idolatry. in John's day, one would observe paganism at its peak. Throngs of people press toward the temple where Aesculapius, the god of healing, is worshipped. This god is acclaimed as "savior," and the symbol of worship is a serpent. Afflicted persons are urged to bathe in the temple baths and spend the night in the temple darkness. Here there are tame, harmless snakes. If one of these snakes touches or glides over the body of a sufferer, it means the touch of god himself bringing healing.

Multitudes offer their sacrifices at the shrines of the Greek gods, Althene and Zeus. Numbers can be seen flocking to the amphitheater to view bloody spectacles in the arena. No one forgets that this is a chief center of Caesar worship. Others, also great in number, enter the temple of Venus with its licentious rites.

But not all wend their way in heathenism. There are a few, perhaps not many, of the noted or great among them, who make their way to some upper room or perhaps a cave in the mountain side. These are called followers of "the way." Their God is the Lord of all. The Christ is present in their midst and utters, "I know thy works."

The ever-seeing eye of Christ notes the good as well as the evil, but He who commends righteousness also must condemn iniquity. There were those in Pergamos who compromised the truth with idolatry. They encouraged the eating of meats sacrificed to idols and committed fornication. A reference is given of an Old Testament story where God sent judgment on Israel when Balak and Balaam taught the people to sin in this same manner. God was displeased with Israel, and because of their fornication twenty-four thousand fell in one day. (See Numbers 22 through 25 and 31:13-17.) His judgment also fell on Pergamos as He fought against them with the "sword of his mouth." There is no room for compromise in the religion of Christ. He taught, "No man can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24a). He demands complete surrender. The call still echoes for men like Antipas, the faithful martyr. Even the price of death was not too great to pay. "To him that overcometh will I give ... him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it" (Rev. 2:17). Christ is that hidden manna, the Bread of Life. The white stone may refer to the ancient custom in which votes were cast by a jury placing stones in an urn. A black stone meant "guilty." The white stone stood for acquittal in the day of judgment. Another custom of the heathen was the wearing of a precious white stone as a charm. Only the wearer knew the mystic writing on the stone, which, according to tradition, was to give protection and good fortune. He who over- comes sin receives Christ as the true and living Stone. Only the Christian knows what it means to have His name engraved on the heart. This name alone can keep you safe.

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