Many commentaries on the Book of the Revelation fail because the writers miss the obvious. When St John records the series of visions he is writing down what the angel sent by Jesus Christ revealed, which nevertheless are in visions. Literal interpretation must fail as every attempt to fit the mark of beast, the number 666 to a historical person has failed.
John was carried in spirit and what he understood was spiritual truths of God’s fellowship with man. Spiritual discernment, or wisdom from above is what we need and not carnal wisdom. Every chapter bears as with the peculiar nature of visions the Spirit’s imprint in harmony with the narrative mode employed by him. We opened the book with an analysis of the vision mentioned in Chapter 12 in order to familiarize with it.
Visions are articulated meaning several visions,- each carrying the Will of God and how the Lamb would fulfill it, form the thread, analogy of chain with so many pendants is apt. The war in heaven describes with greatest economy in words the conflict predicted in the Garden of Eden (Ge.3:15), continuing till the White Throne Judgment (Re.20:10).
The point we need focus here is the nature of conflict being played out in heaven has its parallel on the earth. Consequently the saints redeemed from the earth (symbolizing the man child ) have a part in the final showdown. The dragon on being cast down wages a war on the earth ‘with the remnant of her (the woman) seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Re.12:17). Even though a vision what it upholds is the testimony of Jesus Christ. This being the case would it matter if remnant of her seed refers to the man-child or second batch of saints redeemed after the great tribulation? Here is a testimony: “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years (Re.20:6)”.The word of God is clear: blessed are they that have part in the first resurrection. Here we have the testimony of our Savior Lord in the light of the vision of the woman clothed with the sun. Visions given in chapters 12 and 20 refer to the war in heaven. The Millennial Reign of Christ (20:6) is elided over in the other, Instead we have this verse, ‘They loved not their lives unto the death (Re.12:11)’ By elision the time element of events brought forward or held back are standardized in God’s Time. As with Judgment parables our blessedness is in our watchfulness that hones our service to be called diligence.
“Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: (Lk.12:37; Re.16:5”)”.
We see two judgments mentioned in v.4 and v.11 of the Chapter 20. By law of Gradation before the great white throne judgment all other judgments beginning with the Great Flood to the one at the commencement of the Millennial Reign are partial judgements. “I saw thrones and they that sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them,…(20:4)” In the white throne judgment the dead, who have not had part in the first resurrection, small or great shall stand before God. Two books are mentioned there one of which is the book of life. “The dead were judged out of those things, which were written in those books, according to their works (20:12). ” The emblem of these two books are foreshadowed by the Urim and Thummim of the Old Testament.
Let us consider this verse, “Blessed are the dead which die from heneceforth :…that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them (Re.17:13) ”This was a testimony from heaven commanding John to write it down. The Spirit here is presenting Jesus Christ with seven golden crowns before the great Harvest. Gathering of the wheat or saints is one way of spelling their ‘rest from their labors.’
The two books of God and of the Lamb respectively are like the two stones used for divinations in the OT and now these books present the destiny of all saints that form the New Jerusalem. What are their works but their glory? So the foundations, gates are all set in various stones catching the glory the temple of God. “I saw no temple therein; for the Lord Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it (Re,21:22) . They are blessed because they have kept ‘the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Re.12:17).They have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city (22:14) .
Lastly his blessings are assured for those who diligently study this book. “blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book(v.7). In order to place due emphasis about the testimony of Christ the Spirit have this warning at the end. “And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.”
“And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand (v.10).
“I John” who responded to the testimony of Jesus Christ could only say “ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus”. I fully agree with it and quote his final line ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen (v.21).