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Revelation:  A Survey of the Timelines

The timelines used on this site are intended to aid the reader to understand the order, extent, and concurrent events that are presented in the many prophetic passages in the Bible.  The reader is encouraged to see the webpage on this site to see the explanation of the timelines used on this site.  The following contains a portion of that webpage.

Revelation 4 provides an opportunity to pull together several of the other timelines that have been developed for this site to understand the sequence, temporal extent, and contemporary actions as each event relate to other revealed events.  It is not the intent to exhaustively review each of the timelines below but to conduct a quick survey to illustrate how other books and passages in the Bible intersect with and are congruent with the passages that will be covered in this chapter of Revelation to the end of the book.  In providing this comparison, the reader will see the complete harmonization of prophesy in scripture.  The timelines were taken from each of the books of the Bible that are covered in this web site.  

The base prophetic timeline with critical historical dates

The following graphic shows a timeline with important dates to illustrate the times of the Gentiles, the approximate date of the Lord's crucifixion, when the Jews began to be dispersed from their land to all corners of the world by the Romans, and when Israel became a nation again.  These dates and others are important in understanding prophecy.

The graphic also exposes the days that we live in within the context of the prophetic timeline, which is the church age.  The church age will continue until the day that the Lord calls the church to come up to Him in the clouds.  On that day, the saints in the body of Christ will be resurrected and those living will be raptured to be with the Lord for eternity.  There may be a period of time between that event and the beginning of the tribulation.  That event is signaled by the Lord opening the first seal on a scroll with seven seals, and by the Antichrist signing a seven year covenant with Israel.

The end of the seven years of the tribulation will occur with the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints at the battle of Armageddon.  Thereafter, will be the 1,000 year reign of the Lord with His saints, then Eternity future.  Between the millennial reign of Christ and the period of eternity future, there will be the great white throne judgment, where the unrighteous will be judged by God, and thrown into the lake of fire for eternity.

A comprehensive timeline of Daniel

Though the following chart is complex, many of the prophetic events revealed in the book of Daniel are shown against the backdrop of other historical events on the timeline.  The intention of this presentation is to illustrate each event in context of other historical events.  As the reader progresses through the pages on this site that examines the book of Daniel, the events are explored and identified on the timeline, chapter by chapter.  For example, the prophetic events revealed in Daniel 2 cover the entire prophetic timeline.  In contrast, events revealed in each of the chapters beginning in Daniel 7 through Daniel 12 are represented in smaller segments on the timeline.  Daniel 7 highlights the seven years of tribulation; Daniel 8 addresses events that affect the nation of Israel, and introduces the transition from the Medo-Persian Empire to the Grecian Empire.  Daniel 9 reveals the 70 weeks that God had determined on Israel, which are broken up into three segments.  The first segment is associated with the rebuilding of the temple.  The second segment points to the time when Israel's Messiah would present Himself, and be rejected by them.  It also identifies the people who would destroy Jerusalem, and from whom the Antichrist would arise.  The third segment is the final prophetic week.  The 70th week is not contiguous with former 69 weeks.  A pause is inferred in this passage, and elsewhere, between the 69th week and the 70th week in the prophetic timeline.  This is illustrated at the bottom of the graph with the reference to Hosea 6:1-2, which shows that there is a 2,000 year span between the 69th and 70th week.  Daniel 10 and much of Daniel 11 show the impacts on Israel from the type of Antichrist who appeared during the Grecian empire and performed many despicable and evil things upon them.  He was not conquered by men, but his death was from God.  At the end of Daniel 11, the Antichrist of the tribulation is introduced.  Daniel 12 then shows the return of Christ to the earth.  

The baseline for the church age and its rapture

Building upon previous base prophetic timeline, the focus is upon the church age.  As a result, the timeline has been truncated to begin during the days of Jesus Christ.  The church age is the main focus in Revelation 1, Revelation 2, and Revelation 3, and so that time period is exaggerated, beginning with the day of Pentecost, to the present.  The end of the church age is when it is raptured from this world by the Lord, who will come in the clouds to call His saints up to meet Him and then to be Him for evermore.  Also shown are the seven churches that the Lord addressed His letters to in Revelation 2 and Revelation 3.  All seven churches existed simultaneously in the days that John received this revelation from the Father, but none exist in the present day.  However, since the characteristics of the churches as described by the Lord can be evidenced in today's churches, the graphic below labeled "The church age and its Rapture," represents each church with a solid line from the early days of the church until the rapture.  The years identified on each line represents what is traditionally taught with respect to each church representing a period of time in church history. It is only presented as a reference, but it is not thought to be the best explanation for the characteristics of the churches.

Finally, this timeline provides the view of the church age with the list of the seven churches.  The church age will end with the rapture of the church.  Anyone alive at this great event, the rapture, and are left behind will go through the seven years of tribulation.  The tribulation will be the most horrific time that the world will have ever experienced.  After the rapture, the church will no longer exist on earth.  Instead, those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ after the rapture of the church, and confess His name, are the body of believers who either constitute the tribulation saints, Revelation 7:9-17, or are the believing remnant of the children of Israel, Revelation 12:13-16.  These are the only two major groups of believers in Christ identified during the seven years of tribulation.  When the Lord returns with all His saints, Revelation 19, His kingdom will be established physically on this earth forever and it will have no end.

The church age and Israel

Some commentators erroneously teach that the church is a replacement for the nation of Israel with respect to the promises God made to Israel, which have not yet been fulfilled.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  As one reviews the latter chapters of Ezekiel, there is a plethora of promises that are very specific to Israel.  If God were to modify any of them, then what assurance does the church have that the Lord would keep His word to them?  Examining even one chapter, Ezekiel 37, shows the building relationship between the Lord and Israel during the church age, into the millennial reign of Christ.  The following graphic illustrates how, in the example of the valley of bones, that God assembles the bones and puts flesh on them, representing the rebirth of the nation of Israel.  An important point to be drawn from this example is that initially, as Israel is brought back together as a nation, there is no spiritual life until they meet with Christ in the wilderness.  Thereafter, they will also rule with the Lord Jesus Christ during His millennial reign.  As can be seen below, the Lord is now working in Israel to fulfill all that He had promised them.  

The church age and the Olivet Discourse

During the Lord's first earthly ministry, He told His disciples many things regarding the coming destruction of Jerusalem, of the tribulation that is yet to occur, and of His coming kingdom.  Most of His discussion on this occurred while he taught on the Mount of Olives, which is why these teachings are called the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24, Matthew 25, and Mark 13.  However, some teaching on these subjects occurred at other times as explained in this site in the examination of Luke 17 and Luke 21.  What the Lord did discuss was the ever increasing troubles that the world would experience as time marched toward the beginning of the tribulation.  As shown in the next graphic, there is a building up of the number of occurrences, duration, and intensities in the natural violence and wars that men would suffer with the approach of the seven years of tribulation.  

“Hereafter” or “After This” (Revelation 1:19, Revelation 4:1)

The next chart is a summary of the words of the Lord to John, instructing him to write the things that he has seen, the things that are, and the things that shall be, Revelation 1:19.  As can be seen below, the church age falls within the category of "the things that are."  The rapture of the church is what falls under the term used by the Lord, "hereafter" as translated in the King James Version (KJV).  Again, the difference between this chart and the previous one, is the expansion of the timeline for the period covering the church age.  This is done for purely chartmanship reasons to avoid clutter, and to enhance clarity in the description of the churches.

In Revelation 1:19, the Lord instructed John to write the things that he had seen (his witness of Christ’s first advent), the things that are (the church age), and the things which will be hereafter (the tribulation, millennial reign of Christ, and the future eternity). There are three distinct periods of time that was given by the Father, Revelation 1:1, Acts 1:6-7. These three periods concern Israel and the church. The first period is related to the time that John observed and participated in the Lord’s earthly ministry, 1John 1:1-4. The second period is the things that are, or the church age. The letters to the seven churches in Asia show that this period is related to the church age. The final period, which indicates a future event relative to the church age, is the transition into the opening of the tribulation. The phrase “hereafter” is the same word in Greek to that used in Revelation 4:1 to reinforce this relationship, that the church is removed, or raptured, prior to the things “hereafter,” which is the tribulation.  This is illustrated in the following graphic where the "things you have seen" align with the events surrounding the cross, the "things that are" are aligned with the church age, and the "things that shall be" are aligned with the future events following the rapture of the church, which is the "hereafter."

A possible sequence of Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39 and the judgment seat of Christ for the church

Following the church age, the next series of events described in the book of Revelation are associated with the tribulation period. What are shown in the following graphic are two events not explicitly discussed in Revelation, but are described in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39, which is the invasion of Israel by Gog and his confederates.  The implied timing on the following graphic is not a viewpoint that is reached by a consensus of a majority of those teaching the premillennial viewpoint.  However, it is the viewpoint that is taught on this site.  It is thought that this event will occur immediately after the rapture of the church.  The following graphic also shows the simultaneous appearance of the church before the judgment seat of Christ, 2Corinthians 5:6-10.  Again, there are many alternative views among commentators on the sequence of these events, particularly with the invasion of Israel, but this is the sequence of events used in this site in developing these timelines.

With all of the details given in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39, the following graphic attempts to capture them in a general sense.  There is a buildup in activity between the God, or Russia, and its Muslim confederates.  Though there are battle plans drawn up to invade and destroy Israel, they are not pursued until some cataclysmic event occurs.  This event may be the rapture of the church, or other natural or manmade catastrophe.  Nevertheless, Russia and its confederates will realize an opportunity to take advantage of and quickly position their forces in Northern Israel to invade.  The battle is the Lord's.  Though the invading forces are prepared for an all-out attack, the invaders nor Israel will launch any type of weapon.  Instead, the Lord will rain many types of judgment upon Israel's enemies and utterly destroy them and their homeland will suffer also.  Thereafter, it will take about seven years to bury the remains of the dead.  Afterward, a remnant of Israel will have a revived relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, their Messiah, which is depicted as a solid purple rectangle in the last half of the seven years of the tribulation, and on into the Millennial reign of Christ over this world.

The baseline for the Revelation timeline

The next graphic provides a simplistic breakdown of the book of Revelation.  The timeline begins with the cross, when the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and died for our sins according to scripture, was buried, and rose from the dead according to scripture, 1Corinthians 15:1-4.  This is the singular event that divides the two testaments, the old and the new, and the beginning of the church age (illustrated by the red arrow on the graphic).  Following the rapture are two events; the appearing of the raptured saints before the judgment seat of Christ, 2Corinthians 5:6-10, and the scene that John observes before the throne of God, Revelation 4 and Revelation 5.  The next main section of the timeline covers the seven years of tribulation, followed the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, then eternity future.  

The following base timeline illustrates some basic sections.  First is the main horizontal bar that changes color from gold to an iron color, which are similar colors as revealed to Daniel by God, in Daniel 2:36-45.  The colors on the bar, starting with gold and transitioning to iron, is used to draw that distinction of the changes in Gentile kingdoms to the reader.  However, a precise rendering would show an iron color during the age of the cross, fade to clear with the passing of the Roman Empire, than become an iron color spotted with earth tones to represent the reformed, weakened, Roman Empire, Daniel 2:40-43, prior to and during the tribulation period.  The first three colors of King Nebuchadnezzar's image were of gold (representing King Nebuchadnezzar's era), and silver (representing the time of the Medes and Persians), and brass (representing the era of Greece's rule).  All three of these kingdoms have already passed.  Based on Daniel, this horizontal bar represents the age of the gentiles, which will last until the Lord returns, Luke 21:20-24, Revelation 19.  At that time He will establish His kingdom on earth, to rule with an iron scepter, and to reign for 1,000 years, or a millennium, which is represented by the blue arrow.  Thereafter, will be the beginning of future eternity, when those who were justified by their faith in Jesus Christ, will be with Him and in the presence of the Father and Holy Spirit for eternity. The unjust who rejected the revelation of Jesus Christ by the Father, are cast forever into the lake of fire.  This event is shown with a teal colored arrow.

Second, there are segments of time that represent the Gentile age.  From left to right, there is the identification of the church age shown in a red horizontal bar, with some scriptural references.  The church age ends with the rapture of the church, which is indicated by the vertical red arrow.  A span of time is shown following the rapture of the church to the next vertical black line, which indicates the beginning of the tribulation.  The tribulation does not begin with the rapture of the church, rather with the Lord opening the 1st of seven seals then the confirmation of the seven year covenant between Israel and the government whom the Antichrist represents, Daniel 9:27.  The opening of the first seal reveals the man with a crown on a white horse, Revelation 6:1-2.  This event is further highlighted with the yellow box at the top of the graph, with some scriptural references.  The seven years of tribulation follows, and is broken into two 3 ½ year time periods.  The dramatic separation of the two periods of time is a result of the indwelling of Satan in the Antichrist, Revelation 13.   Finally, there is a sudden and catastrophic end to the tribulation period which is Armageddon.

Third, the catastrophic change on earth is shown in the horizontal bar with the abrupt change to a blue arrow labeled Millennium.  The event separating the gentile age with the millennium is vertical line labeled tribulation end, with a yellow box at the bottom of the graphic labeled Armageddon, with some scriptural references.  Daniel's interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the multi-metallic image shows that it is shattered into dust, that the gentile era is never remembered again because of a stone that is cut without hands and smashes into the image at it's feet, Daniel 2:34-35, Daniel 2:44-45.  The battle of Armageddon is when the Lord will return to this earth with all of His saints to conquer His enemies and establish His kingdom, Revelation 19.  

Fourth, there is a season of time when Satan is allowed to roam the earth again following the first 1,000 year reign of Christ.  During that time, he will seduce an innumerable multitude to rebel against Christ.  God will end all rebellion, cast Satan into the lake of fire and setup His great white thrown judgment for the unjust, Revelation 20:11-14.  This event will separate the just from the unjust for eternity.  Afterward, the remaining two chapters describe some aspects of eternity future is shown in the horizontal teal colored arrow, Revelation 21 and Revelation 22.


Copyright (c) 2001, 2005, 2008, 2014, J.E. Huntley.  All rights reserved.
last edited August 2014

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