By Nathan Jones
What don't you understand about the book of Revelation?
To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy put together a panel of Bible prophecy experts. We invited Gary Fisher of the Bible prophecy ministry Lion of Judah Ministries from Franklin, Tennessee and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries which focuses on evangelizing the continent of Africa.
Things Not Understood
Dr. Reagan: Is there anything in the book of Revelation that you don't understand?
Dennis Pollock: Actually, I'm the ultimate expert on Revelation, so send all your questions to me. No, of course there are lots of topics I don't understand. For me, one of the simplest things that I would love to know about is what it really means to reign with Christ. A lot of times when people talk about eternity, their idea is you go to Heaven and you sing 24-7 non-stop forever. I have to be honest, that sounds a little boring to me. Sure, I love worship and praising the Lord, but 24-7? Really? In truth, the Bible doesn't say we'll sing forever, but Revelation makes it clear we will reign forever. Just what does that mean? Who will we reign over?
Dr. Reagan: Yes, if you're going to reign, you've got to reign over somebody.
Dennis Pollock: You've got to reign over someone, true. Will there be other worlds that will involved? There are so many questions related to reigning with Christ.
Dr. Reagan: Gary, do you understand it all?
Gary Fisher: No, absolutely not. I take great comfort in that, because the Bible says that at this time we are looking through a glass darkly. I have license from the Lord then not to have to understand it all. I don't have to understand everything in the Bible to believe it.
One of the topics that fascinates me in the book of Revelation is in chapter 22 where it says the Tree of Life is placed in the New Jerusalem at the end of the Millennium beginning with the eternal state. The chapter says that the leaves on the trees are for the healing of the nations. Wait a minute! I thought the healing of the nations had already taken place by then.
Dr. Reagan: Revelation also speaks of nations outside the New Jerusalem on the eternal New Earth.
Gary Fisher: Yes, it talks about "the dogs" outside. I'm just fascinated by that, but I can't explain it.
Dr. Reagan: That too is my number one question. I look through a mirror darkly as well and I have questions, and number one on the list is, "Who are these nations that appear to be outside the New Jerusalem on the New Earth?" I don't know who they are, but if we're going to reign we need to reign over somebody.
Another thing that's interesting is that at the end of the Millennium we are never told what happens to all those who had accepted Jesus Christ during the Millennium and whether they received glorified bodies at the end. What happens to them? We aren't told. Maybe they are put on the earth. I don't know, but that's one of the questions I've got.
Dr. Reagan: Dennis, you've already said you understand it all. What about you, Nathan?
Nathan Jones: Wow, you put me in there with Dennis! No, obviously I don't understand it all. I don't think everything's meant to be understood, because when we don't understand we keep on going into the Word and we keep reading and we keep on studying.
Dr. Reagan: That's right, not know makes us dig in deeper and dig in more.
Nathan Jones: For instance, the Sixth Trumpet Judgment has these demonic locusts that come out into the world and they're described as having heads of lions and mouths of fire blowing smoke and sulfur. When I read about that I'm like, "Say what?" I just don't understand what that imagery looks like. Are those people we are taking about, or are they demons? Why do they look like animals? There are all sorts of imagery that the Bible gives us, but not always a definition.
Dr. Reagan: Revelation 1:3 says, "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and heed the things which are written in it for the time is near." That verse jumped off the page at me many years ago. I discovered this is the only book of the Bible that promises you right up front that you are going to get a blessing if you read it and heed it.
What I began to do is every time I would read Revelation I would pray right up front, "Lord, help me to understand it better than I did before." And, I would indeed come to understand it better. But, I'm still reading it. There are still things I don't completely understand, but I get more and more understanding the longer I read, the longer I study, and the more I dig into it. That's all because I pray for that understanding based on Revelation 1:3.
Gary Fisher: I absolutely concur. I was fascinated by that verse years ago when I first started studying Revelation. It occurred to me one day that I heard this so many times — "blessed is he who reads." But, that's not just what the Bible says. It says, "Blessed is he who reads and heeds the prophecy of this book." So, what does it mean to heed the prophecy of this book?
The Number 666
Dr. Reagan: Another mystery that's greatly misunderstood in the book of Revelation is the number 666. This number people during the Tribulation are going to have on their hand or their forehead in order to buy or sell. Why 666? What is the symbolism of that number?
Dennis Pollock: The one clue that is given is where John describes it as the number of man. The fact that you have the number six repeated three times. Three is normally the number of God as Father-Son-Holy Spirit. Paul said that the Antichrist will show himself in the Third Jewish Temple, even claiming that he is God. So, basically what we have here is a man acting as God with Satan inhabiting him.
Satan has always wanted really two things: one is power, and the other is worship. In the Antichrist Satan will have that power for a very brief time over the whole world, and he will have the worship he craves. The False Prophet will force that satanic worship on all, apart from those who put their faith in Christ, that is. They will not give Satan the worship he desires, so the False Prophet will have them killed.
Dr. Reagan: The Antichrist will be a type of the Messiah to the people of the Tribulation. The False Prophet will be a type of the Holy Spirit. Then we've got Satan who is the Devil operating among them.
Dennis Pollock: The result is a counterfeit Trinity.
Dr. Reagan: Six is the number of man since that is the day that man was created. The number 666 then signifies the ultimate number for Man.
In the sixth and last segment of our forum on the book of Revelation, we'll ask our Bible prophecy experts if anything surprised them about the book.