The Time of the End
A Study About the Book of Revelation
Arlen L. Chitwood
Taking the Scroll, Breaking the Seals
Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.”
And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. (Revelation 6:1, 2)
Revelation chapters one through three present the complete Church in heaven following the present dispensation. Events of the judgment seat are depicted; and when that which is depicted is one day realized, the overcomers, those found worthy to rule the nations with Christ, will be made known. And the scene which follows in chapter four is the only one which a person could expect (vv. 2ff). There is a relinquishment of crowns by angelic rulers (vv. 10, 11), with a view to a new order of rulers — Christians having previously been shown qualified through decisions and determinations rendered at the judgment seat (chapters 1-3) — taking these crowns and ruling the earth in the stead of the present order of rulers, in the stead of angels (Romans 8:18, 19).
“There exists a government of the universe conducted by great angels and their subordinates. Many of these have fallen from their original allegiance to God and prostitute their offices and powers to corrupt His realms. It is therefore inevitable that a re-arrangement shall come in that heavenly government. This will be effected by Christ and His glorified followers being invested with the whole of that heavenly authority. For it is written that ‘not unto angels hath God subjected the inhabited earth to come’ (Hebrews 2:5).”
— G. H. Lang
Then, immediately after Christians and a segment of the angelic rulers have been dealt with (chapters 1-4), chapter five opens with God seated on His throne, holding a seven-sealed scroll in His right hand. And a powerful angel proclaims with a loud voice,
Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals? (Revelation 5:2b)
And no man, in heaven, on earth, or beneath the earth, was found worthy to take the scroll from the hand of the One seated on the throne, break the seals, and look upon the contents (vv. 1-3).
Then John began to weep deeply (v. 4), for he could only have known, from the Old Testament and the corresponding Mosaic Economy, the entirety of that which was involved. The entire program of God, as outlined in His Word regarding His Son, Israel, the Church, and the Nations, could not be brought to pass apart from someone stepping forth to function in this capacity.
Then the scene abruptly changes. Christ is seen as One worthy to take the scroll out of His Father’s right hand, break the seals, and look upon the contents. And, within the sphere of Christ acting in this capacity He is seen functioning in two realms — as both a Lion and a Lamb.
But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep [Stop weeping]. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed [Greek: nikao, ‘to conqueror,’ ‘be victorious’ (Christ has proved victorious in such a manner as to be deemed worthy)] to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5)
But Christ does not take the scroll from His Father’s right hand as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Rather, He appears as and acts in the capacity of the Lamb which had been slain.
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne (vv. 6, 7).
Revelation 5:5 is the only place in the New Testament where Christ is referred to as a Lion. And reference to the tribe of Judah simply continues the thought of regality from the previous chapter. Judah was the kingly tribe, the tribe which possessed the regal part of the birthright, which goes back to that which had resulted millenniums before from the action of Jacob’s firstborn, Reuben.
(Through sexual impropriety, Jacob’s firstborn, Reuben, forfeited the rights of the firstborn. And these rights [priestly, regal, and a double portion of the father’s goods] were divided among three of his brothers. The priestly rights were given to “Levi,” the regal rights were given to “Judah,” and the rights to a double portion of the father’s goods were given to “Joseph” [realized through his two sons, “Ephraim” and “Manasseh”]. And this has never changed throughout Israel’s history; nor will it ever change at any time in the future.)
Christ, of the lineage of Judah through David, was about to take the throne and rule the earth. Thus, being introduced, He is first seen as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (v. 5; cf. Genesis 49:10). He was about to exercise the regal rights inherent in that seen through His lineage. But first He must redeem the forfeited inheritance. And to do this He must act in the capacity of “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (cf. Revelation 5:6; 13:8).
With respect to redemption, Christ is referred to as “a Lamb” twenty-eight times in the book of Revelation. That which is seen within the seven-sealed scroll has to do with redemption and the earth. This scroll contains God’s redemptive terms surrounding the earth, and Christ is seen breaking the seals of the scroll as a slain Lamb, not as the Lion from the tribe of Judah. Exercising that which is depicted by the latter could only occur following the breaking of the seals and carrying out the redemptive terms contained in the scroll.
That Which Is Involved
Chapters six through nineteen relate events having to do with the breaking of the seven seals, along with related events occurring on earth during this time. These chapters relate events having to do with God’s end-time dealings with Israel, lasting seven years, fulfilling the seventieth and final week of Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27). This seven-year period is dealt with time after time in Old Testament prophecy. And that should be understandable, for judgments during this period bring events to pass which, in turn, bring that toward which God has been working for 6,000 years to a conclusion.
Judgments during this period not only result in redemption of the forfeited inheritance but they also bring Israel to the place of repentance. And bringing Israel to the place of repentance during these final seven years will allow everything else to fall into place. Everything is contingent upon Israel’s repentance. Thus, is it any wonder that both events and the timing of these events designed to bring this to pass not only form a major subject of Old Testament prophecy but also occupy a major section of the final book of Scripture as well?
(All of the work having to do with the redemption of the inheritance though will not be finished until after Christ returns at the completion of Daniel’s Seventieth Week and overthrows Gentile world power [Revelation 19:11, 21], preceding the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom [ref. Chapters 8, 9 in this book; also, this will be dealt with in subsequent chapters].
Daniel, in the last three verses in his prophecy [12:11-13], reveals a seventy-five-day period between the time of Christ’s return and the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. And it is apparent from related Scripture dealing with events at the time of Christ’s return that the completion of the redemption of the inheritance will occur toward the end of this seventy-five-day period [for, when Christ returns, He will deal with Israel first (cf. 1 Peter 4:17), then with the Gentile nations].)
Then, the bride for whom the Spirit is searching during the present dispensation, who will be revealed through the decisions and determinations rendered at the judgment seat (Revelation 1-4), will, through the process of the judgments during the subsequent seven-year Tribulation, automatically become Christ’s wife at the completion of the redemption of the inheritance. In Old Testament typology this is seen through Ruth being revealed as the bride on Boaz’s threshing floor (Ruth 3) and then automatically becoming Boaz’s wife through the process of Boaz subsequently redeeming the inheritance (Ruth 4; ref. Chapters 8, 9 in this book).
Not only must Christ redeem the inheritance in the antitype but two things must occur in connection with this redemption:
1) Israel must be restored as the wife of Jehovah.
2) And, those Christians removed from the body of Christ, forming the bride (brought to pass through and based on decisions and determinations rendered at the judgment seat), must be wed to Christ.
The necessity of both being brought to pass preceeding the Messianic Era is seen in God’s creation of and dealings with man in relation to the government of the earth in the opening chapters of Genesis. God restored the ruined domain (Genesis 1:2b-25). Then God created man to rule the restored domain (Genesis 1:26-28). And God created man “male and female,” with the female seen as being a part of the male (created within the male and later removed and formed into a helpmate for the male [Genesis 2:18-24]). Consequently, together, the man and the woman formed one complete being.
Man was created in the image and likeness of God to rule the earth (Genesis 1:26), he was created male and female (Genesis 1:27), and it was to the complete man (comprised of both the man and the woman) that God said:
. . . Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion [Hebrew: radah, “to rule”; also v. 26] over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (Genesis 1:28)
The overall account of man’s creation forms an unchangeable type, showing the manner in which man was/is to ascend the throne. The man and the woman in the type were to ascend the throne together, as one complete being, and rule the restored earth. And so must it be in the antitype.
(The original type in the opening chapters of Genesis has to do with Christ and His wife rather than with God and Israel. It has to do with the first man, the first Adam, and with the second Man, the last Adam, and with their wives, respectively. But though the type foreshadows Christ and His wife, the principles regarding how God set forth rulership in the kingdom of men at the beginning of His Word would hold true in both spheres under discussion — God ruling in the kingdom of men, or God’s Son ruling in the kingdom of men.
Where man is directly involved — whether in the past theocracy or in the future theocracy — God simply cannot and will not rule in the kingdom of men apart from the manner in which He Himself has established matters, apart from a husband-wife relationship.)
Thus, when it comes to God ruling in past time in the Old Testament theocracy, or in a future restored theocracy, or to Christ ruling the earth, this principle established in the opening chapters of Genesis cannot be violated. Rulership in the kingdom of men, by God and man, can be accomplished in God’s eyes through one means alone. It can be accomplished only through the means in which it was originally established in the beginning, in Genesis. It can be accomplished only through a husband-wife relationship, the man and the woman ascending the throne together.
This is why Israel is seen as the wife of Jehovah in the Old Testament theocracy. And this is why Israel will be seen as the restored wife of Jehovah in the future restoration of the theocracy.
This is also why the Spirit is in the world today searching for a bride for God’s Son, in fulfillment of that which is seen in Genesis chapter twenty-four. The Son can no more reign apart from possessing a wife than God could have reigned in the Old Testament theocracy, or the future theocracy, apart from possessing a wife. To have done so in the past or to do so in the future, by either the Father or the Son, would violate that which God established in an unchangeable fashion at the beginning.
In the opening chapter of Genesis there is the restoration of a ruined domain and the creation of man (male and female) to rule the restored domain. Then in the book of Revelation there is redemption of this same domain, with a view to man, as God originally intended, ruling this redeemed domain. And through bringing all of this to pass, two marriages have to occur — a marriage between God and Israel, and a marriage between God’s Son and the bride whom the Spirit will have previously procured. Both are inseparably connected with the redemption of the inheritance, in the same manner that the creation of man was inseparably connected with the restoration of the ruined creation in Genesis chapter one.
Both marriages will occur. They will have to occur. This is the way matters have been set forth in the types, and this is the manner in which that which is foreshadowed in the types must and will be brought to pass in the fulfillment of the complete overall antitype — God and His wife exercising dominion together, and Christ and His wife exercising dominion together.
Understanding certain things about the manner in which God originally established rulership over the earth at the time of man’s creation will put to rest all of the false ideology prevalent in Christendom today concerning how rulership in the kingdom of God in relation to the earth is often viewed. And, in reality, understanding biblical principles drawn from this overall teaching is the only thing which will put these matters to rest.
For example, there is both the thought of a kingdom now (“Dominion Theology,” as it is sometimes called) and the thought that some type mystery form of the kingdom exists within Christendom today. Neither, of course, can be the case, for, where man is involved, a husband-wife relationship between God and Israel or between Christ and the bride for whom the Spirit is presently searching must exist for a kingdom of either nature to exist.
A Husband-wife relationship between God and Israel can’t presently exist, for Israel remains unrepentant. Consequently, there can be no present marriage between God and Israel. A divorce decree, instead, is still binding.
And a Husband-wife relationship between Christ and the Church can’t presently exist, for not only is the Spirit’s search for the bride incomplete but the time for the bride to be removed from the body and be revealed is yet future. Consequently, there can be no present marriage between Christ and His prospective bride.
There is, however, a present existing kingdom in which “the heavens do rule” and in which “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men” (Daniel 4:17-35). But this is not a form of the rule that existed within the Old Testament theocracy. Nor is it a form of the rule within the theocracy as it will one day exist. The manner in which “the heavens do rule” today is quite different.
God ruled in the Old Testament theocracy in conjunction with His wife. Israel was to be placed at the head of the nations, with the nations being blessed through Israel (Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 4:22, 23; 19:5, 6). But Israel formed unholy alliances with the nations, and God eventually divorced Israel (Isaiah 50:1; Jeremiah 3:1-8; Hosea 2:2). Once this had occurred, a husband-wife relationship, necessary for God to rule in this manner in the kingdom of men, ceased to exist. Accordingly, the theocracy could no longer exist, and God took the kingdom from Israel (Ezekiel 1:15, 16, 26-28; 8:3-9; 10:4, 18; 11:22, 23; cf. Ezekiel 43:1-5).
But God is sovereign. He rules over all. And removing the theocracy from Israel didn’t do away with God’s rule in the kingdom of men. Rather, it changed that rule back to the manner in which it had existed prior to the Old Testament theocracy, or the manner in which it exists today. It changed God’s governmental structure to a rule solely through the incumbent ruler, Satan.
(God’s rule through Satan is something that could never have completely ceased, even during the time of the Old Testament theocracy. A rule through Israel — another ruling “son,” separate from Satan and his rule [Exodus 4:22, 23] — allowed God to deal with the Gentile nations in a manner separate from the disqualified ruler whom He had originally placed over the earth, who was still in power and remains in power today. It allowed God to have a ruling entity through whom His message could effectively be carried to the nations and through whom the nations could, in turn, be blessed [Exodus 19:5, 6; Numbers 23:9; Isaiah 43:10, 21; 60:5, 6].)
God is never seen ruling provinces in His universe in a direct manner. Rather, He is seen ruling through or in conjunction with others (angels and man). In the case of angels placed over provinces, such as Satan placed over the earth, He rules through these angels; in the case of Israel, His wife in the Old Testament theocracy, He ruled in conjunction with man.
And since a theocracy has not existed in the camp of Israel for over two and one-half millennia, there was only one possible means for God to carry out His regal activities in relation to the earth during this time. God could only have ruled in the kingdom of men through the one whom He had originally placed in the position of ruler over the earth — through Satan, though a rebel ruler, but still God’s anointed ruler (Ezekiel 28:14), whom God has yet to remove and replace.
And, of course, any thought of principles surrounding a husband-wife relationship within the government, as seen in the opening chapters of Genesis, could not exist in the present government of the earth. Marriage exists in the human realm alone. Completely different principles regarding the government of the earth in this respect would exist regarding the present government under angels, principles set forth and existing at a time prior to man’s creation and even prior to the time of Satan’s fall.
Then the thought of the existence or non-existence of any type of kingdom of Christ on earth during the present time — a mystery form, or any other form — should be simple enough to understand. Christ, as His Father, could not rule in a kingdom apart from exercising power in the same manner that His Father exercises power — through or in conjunction with others, whether angels or men. And since Christ does not presently possess a wife, the only type of present rule of Christ in the kingdom of men, which could possibly be considered, is the same type of rule that His Father presently possesses (note that the Son is presently seated on the throne with His Father in the heavens [Psalm 110:1; Revelation 3:21]).
(Principles pertaining to marriage in the human realm and non-marriage in the angelic realm in relation to the government of the earth presents an interesting thought surrounding the co-habitation of the sons of God with the daughters of men in Genesis 6:1-4 [angels in the kingdom of Satan taking wives from the female lineage of Adam and his progeny, something that apparently began very early in man’s history (vv. 1, 2)]. A corruption of the human race could only have been Satan’s goal, with probably more than one facet of corruption in view. And these facets of corruption would have a single purpose — to prevent man from ascending the throne and fulfilling the reason for his creation in the beginning.
Not only would there have been an effort to prevent the appearance of the Seed of the woman promised at the time of man’s fall [Genesis 3:15] but there would have been an effort to corrupt and destroy that which God had established in the beginning concerning the manner in which man was to conduct appointed regal activities, through a husband-wife relationship. And an effort to prevent the latter would have been brought to pass through a corruption of the husband-wife relationship by the recorded co-habitation between fallen incumbent rulers and fallen female members of God’s new entity that had been created to rule.
This same thing can subsequently be seen occurring in a homosexual manner among those in the land covenanted to Abraham and his seed during the days of Abraham and Lot [Genesis 18, 19; Jude 6, 7], along with a heterosexual manner once again among those in this same land during the days of Moses [Numbers 13:31-33].
Is it any wonder that God eventually stepped in during Noah’s day, bringing about a worldwide flood [Genesis 6:11ff]? or during Abraham and Lot’s day, utterly destroying the cities of the plain [Genesis 19:24ff]? or during Moses’ day by telling His people to go into the land and, “with a mighty destruction,” do away with all of the nations therein [Deuteronomy 7:1, 2, 16, 22-24]?
And, with the rapidly changing mores of man concerning homosexuality during the present day and time, is it any wonder that God is about to once again step into the affairs of the human race, bringing about a climactic end to the whole of the matter, ultimately placing man in the position for which he was created in the beginning?
As it was in the days of Noah . . .
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot. . .
Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. [Luke 17:26a, 28a, 30].
Note an ironic situation existing in the world today regarding the preceding. The United States and Russia are currently recognized as the world’s two superpowers. The former has a history associated with God and Christianity, the latter with atheism.
But it is not the nation associated with atheism that is pushing Satan’s homosexual agenda; rather it is the nation associated with God and Christianity.
The latter is the nation picking up and seemingly leading the way where the cities of the plain during Abraham's day left off, not the former [in fact, homosexuality is unlawful in Russia (a nation associated with atheism is the one following biblical guidelines in this realm, not the nation associated with God and Christianity)]. The latter, not the former, is the nation today following one of the sure paths to national suicide [not only from a biblical standpoint but seen throughout man’s secular history as well]. And the latter, not the former, is the nation whose actions run completely contrary to the reason God established marriage between a man and a woman in the beginning.
When and how will all of this end? That’s the simplest question in the world to answer:
All of this will end when and how Scripture states that it will end. And Scripture is quite plain about one thing. That day when God will once again step into the affairs of the human race and bring about these changes is almost upon us.)
Promises to Israel and the Church
Israel possesses a promise that is regal in fulfillment, which is in complete keeping with both man’s creation in the beginning and the nation’s subsequent calling. This promise can be seen numerous places in the Old Testament (e.g., in type through God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt under Moses in the opening chapters of Exodus, through God’s deliverance of the Israelites numerous times during the days of the judges in the book of Judges, or through God’s promise to Solomon at the time of the dedication of the Temple in 2 Chronicles 7:12ff).
Note the way this promise is worded in Leviticus chapter twenty-six:
But if they [the Israelites] confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers . . .
then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land. (vv. 40a, 42)
This is the promise to which attention was called in the offer of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel in the gospel accounts at the time of Christ’s first coming:
Repent [a plural command, the entire nation] for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand. (Matthew 3:2)
This is also the promise to which attention was again called in the reoffer of the kingdom following Christ’s ascension, seen during the Acts period:
. . . Repent, and let every one of you [the entire nation] in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins . . . . (Acts 2:38a; cf. 3:19-26)
This is the promise that Israel presently possesses. And this is the promise that Israel will one day realize, when the Jewish people are brought to the end of themselves by and through the judgments of the Tribulation, causing them to act on this promise.
Christians likewise possess a promise, which, as well, is regal in fulfillment (e.g., seen in numerous Old Testament types, numerous New Testament parables, the epistles, and other places in both Testaments).
Note how this promise is worded in Revelation 3:21, which would, as well, also encompass the preceding six overcomer’s promises in chapters two and three:
To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
The future for both Israel and the Church is as bright as the promises of God — which, when fulfilled, will be inseparably associated with blessings for the nations on a redeemed earth.