Does the book of Revelation give us additional details about events leading up to Christ's return?
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near" (Revelation 1:1-3).
The book of Revelation—a revealing of the future—is history written in advance. It describes in detail the events leading up to Christ's return, then tells us what will happen beyond that time. Be sure to look up and read these scriptures and surrounding passages in your Bible.
Does the book of Revelation confirm the sequence of events of Jesus Christ's earlier prophecy?
Carefully read and study Revelation 6:2-8. Here the same conditions Jesus Christ described in the Olivet Prophecy are present in symbols: the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
The white horse represents a powerful, conquering religious deception. (Some assume that the rider of this horse is Jesus Christ, but a comparison with the description of the returning Christ in Revelation 19:11-16, and the sequence of events Christ gave in the Olivet Prophecy and the book of Revelation, shows they are not the same).
The red horse (the color of fire and blood) and its rider clearly represent warfare. The black horse and rider depict famine (note the comment about the outrageously high cost of food). The sickly colored pale horse represents the sickness and disease that inevitably follow warfare and food shortages.
How will the conditions represented by these four horsemen impact humanity?
". . . And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth" (Revelation 6:8).
According to this prophecy, war, violence, starvation and disease may take hundreds of millions of lives. These disasters will also affect animals, which will also take a large toll of human life through predation and spread of disease.
How does Revelation depict the sequence of events that will precede Christ's return?
"And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals" (Revelation 5:1).
The book of Revelation depicts the events described in the Olivet Prophecy through a series of seven "seals." In the time of the apostle John, who wrote this book under the inspiration of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1-2), official correspondence was customarily fastened with a wax seal. To read what was inside, the seal had to be broken and the scroll unrolled. This is what John saw in vision. (Be sure to study the charts on page 12 to better understand the flow of events described in the book of Revelation.)
What do these seven seals symbolize?
Revelation 6 describes the opening of the first six seals, which depict major events and trends. You should read this entire chapter carefully. The first six seals are:
First seal (Revelation 6:2): religious deception (compare Matthew 24:4-5).
Second seal (Revelation 6:3-4): war (compare Matthew 24:6-7).
Third seal (Revelation 6:5-6): famine (compare Matthew 24:7).
Fourth seal (Revelation 6:7-8): disease (compare Matthew 24:7).
Fifth seal (Revelation 6:9-11): tribulation and persecution of true Christians (compare Matthew 24:9-13; Luke 21:12-19).
Sixth seal (Revelation 6:12-14): an earthquake and heavenly signs (compare Matthew 24:7; Luke 21:11).
What is unique about the seventh seal?
"When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets" (Revelation 8:1-2).
The seventh seal is divided into seven "trumpets," which reveal further events leading up to Jesus Christ's return. These events, which are not described in the Olivet Prophecy, are sometimes referred to as "the seven trumpet plagues." The seventh seal is comprised of these seven events. Be sure to read all of Revelation 8 and 9, which describe the events to occur at the first six trumpets.
The first six trumpets plagues are:
First trumpet (Revelation 8:7): devastation of earth's vegetation.
Second trumpet (Revelation 8:8-9): devastation of oceans and seas.
Third trumpet (Revelation 8:10-11): devastation of rivers and fresh water.
Fourth trumpet (Revelation 8:12): sun, moon and stars partially darkened.
Fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:1-11): a satanically influenced military power.
Sixth trumpet (Revelation 9:13-19): an enormous rival military power.
What happens as a result of this sixth trumpet plague?
"By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed . . ." (Revelation 9:18).
Here we read that another third of earth's inhabitants will die at the hands of this massive 200 million-man army (verse 18). This is in addition to those who have lost their lives earlier. These frightening prophecies help us understand how all life on earth will be threatened with extinction!
How do people react to these events? Do they finally repent of their evil and turn to God?
"But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts" (Revelation 9:20-21).
Incredible as it may seem, even after man has brought utter disaster on himself and after God begins to punish him for his rebellion and sins, man will still choose to defy his Creator. He will continue in the same direction that will bring mankind to the brink of extinction.
What happens when the seventh trumpet sounds?
"Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'" (Revelation 11:15).
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first" (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
The blast of the seventh trumpet announces the triumphant return of Jesus Christ to earth. "The kingdoms of this world" come under Christ's dominion as the Kingdom of God is at last established on earth! At the same time, "the dead in Christ will rise"; God's faithful servants throughout history will rise from their graves to eternal life with Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
Will Jesus Christ literally return to earth?
"And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south" (Zechariah 14:4).
This obviously describes a physical, literal return to earth. Jesus Christ will return to the Mount of Olives, which overlooks Jerusalem from the city's east side. Apparently a massive earthquake will then split the mountain in half, opening a new valley running east to west from Jerusalem to the Judean desert.
Why will Jesus Christ return to earth?
"Pilate therefore said to Him, 'Are You a king then?' Jesus answered, 'You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world . . ." (John 18:37).
At Jesus' trial before His crucifixion, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, asked Him if rumors about His being a king were true. Jesus responded that this was true, that He indeed was born to be a king. However, He also told Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 28:36). Christ's purpose at that time was not to overthrow the Roman government and restore the kingdom of Israel, which people assumed was the intent of the Messiah. Jesus' kingdom—the Kingdom of God—would not be established on earth until far into the future.
Was Jesus Christ's destiny prophesied to Mary before His conception and birth?
"Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end'" (Luke 1:30-33).
The angel told Mary that her son was destined to "reign over the house of Jacob"—the restored 12 tribes of the Israelite nation—in a kingdom that would have no end.
Is Jesus Christ's kingdom—the Kingdom of God—a literal kingdom?
"I was watching in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13-14).
In vision the prophet Daniel saw Jesus Christ—"one like the Son of Man"—come to God the Father—"the ancient of Days." In this vision Christ was "given dominion and glory and a kingdom" in which "all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him." Notice that He will rule over physical peoples and nations of all languages. This is clearly describing literal rulership over physical, flesh-and-blood human beings.
What will Jesus Christ's title be at His return?
"And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: King of kings and lord of lords" (Revelation 19:16).
Jesus Christ was destined to rule! His kingdom was foretold by the Hebrew prophets, revealed to Mary before His conception and birth and affirmed by Jesus Christ Himself. He will return to rule on earth over all kingdoms, governments, peoples and nations. He will be the supreme authority, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords over all the earth!