Paul Wilson (6 July 2011)
"RE: Commentary on Revelation Chart"

Then why write it in a confusing manner??? why not write the book “he opened the first seal then the first angel sound his trumpet then the first angel poured out his vial”?? It would make more sense to do that if they are in this manner then to list each seal THEN each trumpet THEN each vial. God is not the author of confusion that he would write this very important book in a coded manner. It is chronologically written: seals then trumpets then vials. Just because the 3 judgment types share features does not mean they happen together.
Robert Gray (5 July 2011)
"Commentary on Revelation Chart"

Introduction to the Chart:

A number of years ago my wife and I were sitting in a local restaurant discussing an issue that had come up in our studies on prophecy.  We had noticed that in Revelation there seemed to be repetitive plagues or tribulations, even in some cases repeated as many as three times.  We began to compare the seals with the trumpets and with the vials and they seemed to overlap consistently.  We took a napkin and began to overlay repetitive events  over the top of each other (vertically) rather than chronologically (horizontally).

We have since revisited this idea a number of times and finally felt that it was time to share it with others.  The foundation of this study is a pair of charts which are attached to and the heart of this commentary.

The Highway of Time

Have you ever driven down a highway and saw a sign that said Chicago or Atlanta or some other city 250 miles away.  I think we all have.  I remember driving down the main highway in South Dakota and in the middle of the bad lands their was a sign that stated how far cities were from that point such as Paris, London and Hong Kong.  Of course this was an attempt at humor as they were thousands of miles away and certainly they were not in sight by any stretch of the imagination.  I like to think of some prophecy in this same way.  God gives us a road map for the future, but, in many cases when those road maps were first issued the events predicted were thousands of years into the future and how these events would play out were impossible to imagine by those who penned those prophetic words.

Now there is something that begins to occur as you drive down the highway.  The milage to distant places begins to lessen.  I live in the midwest so as I drive closer to St. Louis for instance, the milage goes from 50 miles to 40, 30, 20, etc.  As I travel closer to the city new markers begin to appear announcing accommodations and places to purchase food, gas and where other roads split off to take me to other destinations.  More and more information begins to appear on billboards and road signs as I get closer to my destination and I begin to get a clearer picture of the route ahead.  Finally I top a ridge on the Highway and off in the distance I begin to see the vague outline of the city ahead and the famous St. Louis Arch.  Now our little road trip gets more interesting as we are even now still several miles away and with every mile we get closer greater and greater clarity comes to the picture, we begin to see individual buildings and objects of interest in clearer detail and we see the maze of roads and bridges which allow us entrance to that city and to our final destination.  It is at this point that a road map takes on a great deal of importance for our destination, as somewhere out there in that maze our map will take us directly to the end of our travels.  Up to this point general information was sufficient but now that we have nearly arrived a map gives us specific directions and shows us what turns to expect. 

I said all of this to demonstrate how important a road map becomes when your destination is somewhere that you have never been before, and how very important it becomes the closer we get to that destination.  Eventually it becomes essential in order for us to be able to navigate to our final location.

In many ways prophecy serves the same purpose.  When Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and a host of other prophets wrote about prophetic events often referred to as end times or last days they were essentially incomprehensible to them, like my signs in the bad lands they were simply and totally out of sight thousands of years into the future.  Still they were the Words of God and as such they were penned with the authority of Divine Inspiration as accurate and reliable guides to the future.

Some of those early prophetic road maps did have mile markers which have historically been viewed and led us closer to their final destination.  Daniel in writing about the Kingdoms was able to see a couple of those signs come into greater clarity as Babylon fell and the Medo Persian empire arose, but, still future the rise of Greece and eventually the Roman empire were markers which for Daniel were still out of sight.  Certainly Isaiah could not have imagined the coming Messiah still centuries into the future or what the world of that day and age would be like even though he penned the words concerning the suffering servant and his rejection by the Jews of that yet still future event.

Ezekiel who wrote so much about the eventual restoration of the nation of Israel wrote about events still some 2400+ years into the future and could not even begin to comprehend what that future world would look like or what form that restoration would take.  I very much doubt that he could imagine the holocaust or the modern world of today, it would be unfathomable to him.  Yet much of what he wrote about, the restoration of the land, the language, the land becoming like a garden and so much more has accurately portrayed events which have occurred only within the past 6 decades.  It should be noted that other events he spoke of still are coming into focus.

The road maps were laid out accurately and informatively thousands of years before they were ever needed or meant to be used.  But are “We there Yet”? Do the maps need to be brought out, dusted off and used for guidance and direction for our imminent and perhaps immediate use?

Are We There Yet?

This brief question has been asked hundreds, perhaps innumerable times in the past to question whether or not we have arrived at some destination.  In fact it is the question which has become the source of much humor even commercials “Are We There Yet”.  In the prophetic time sense, recently, that question has begun to take on greater meaning.  Our world has seen more changes in the last two centuries than in all of the 6000 years of history prior to them.  In fact changes have occurred at a phenomenal rate just since 1948 less than 6 decades ago.  I was listening to a Hal Lindsay broadcast about how many things occurred just in that interesting year, such as the birth of a tiny but world shaking nation, the invention of the transistor the beginning of the UN and on and on and on.  In just one year so many world shaking events occurred and the pace of change since that point has simply been incredible, so much so that it makes the head spin simply thinking about it.

The increases in science and technology just since then would require volumes of detail which this study could not possibly undertake.  But there is a more fundamental question that must be answered before we can answer the question, “Are We There Yet”.

Of course the answer to the question like that of any traveler whether in space or in time is totally dependent on another question.  What is our destination?  There are quite a number of prophetic destinations. 

The most common destination is of course the last days.  Another common destination is the tribulation.  Others are the Rapture, the second coming and still another is the millennial reign followed by eternity.  All of these are destinations named on the prophetic road mad.  The course of this study is a road map of the tribulation period.  However before we can arrive at this portion of the map we must first go through the last days and the rapture of the church. 

For the purpose of this study it would be simplest to state up front that we believe in the pre-tribulation rapture of the glorious bride of Christ and that the tribulation is a period of time during which mankind will have one last chance to receive Christ although at enormous peril.  It is a time when God will finally bring the Jew to that point of receiving their true Messiah, their promised restoration and finally bring to a conclusion this present age with the coming of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

So “Are We There Yet”.  Well not quite, but, I think that we are close and that we are about to depart from the main drive and enter into the maze of roads that define the tribulation hour.  I think that we can see the individual buildings and we are about to cross the Mighty Mississippi and enter the city at large.  In other words or more simply put, “We are really, really close”!

The Road Map!

Okay so now I’m on the bridge crossing the Mississippi let’s get out the road map and take a look at it, after all up ahead is the interchange and where do I go from here?

Well our Road Map first is a historical event.  This is an interesting statement because it is also a future event but it is still historical.  Why?, you might ask.  The answer is simply God the Word who spoke this prophecy to John the Revelator, lives outside of time and to Him they are both future and historical.  God spoke of history as something that is certain and that has already been established.  There are no uncertainties in His eyes the questions have all been answered and the events established, in other words historical, and yet to us they are still future, yet to occur.  Our road map analogy would be that our destination is at it’s current location, it is established but it is yet future to us because we have not yet arrived.

Our road map of course is outlined for us in the book of Revelation.  I cannot overstate this enough, the road map exists, it is full of detail and for those who make use of the map it will make more and more sense as we come to each turn of event and with each turn our destination will come ever closer to it’s final conclusion.

Our next question might well be, which map?  There are several interpretive maps out there that are meant to bring clarity to the situation and not all of the maps agree!  So which map.  Well there is only one supremely accurate map and that is of course the book of Revelation itself as penned by the divinely inspired John the Revelator.

That, however, brings us to our version of the roadmap and perhaps another way of looking at that historical book possibly in a new and interesting light.

Please open the attached chart

Features of the chart.

The number 1 feature is that the chart looks for events to unfold over a period of 7 years, as such this chart agrees with most charts of this type.  A second feature of this chart is that it has 7 seals, trumpets and vials along with explanations of events surrounding those events.  A third feature of this chart and where it differs from previous charts is the way these articles are aligned.  This requires a degree of explanation.

This chart was practically first drawn on the proverbial napkin at a local restaurant when the subject was being discussed a number of years ago and after noticing how similar the seals trumpets and vials appeared to be.  We got into one of those “what if” discussions and the napkin begin to look something like what the attached chart looks like now.  Of course it has since been considerably refined since then but that was it’s starting point.

How does it work

Well all road maps have orientations, usually North, East, South or West.  This map has as it’s orientation, time.

In Revelation chapter 4 we see a door opening in heaven and a command come up here and I will show you what must take place after this.  Notice the historical and future context of the words.  Historically these events must occur, but they are still future events.

At this point we are introduced to the four and twenty elders, the throne room of God and all of it’s occupants.  In chapter 5 we are introduced to the map!  It has seven seals on it.  The seals were mighty and there was no one found who could break them.

Now consider this, each seal was an announcement of a future event.  For that event to occur the seal had to be broken and the announcement was brought forth in a voice of thunder. 

Let’s look a little further on in Revelation in chapter 8 we see 7 angels with trumpets, and with each sounding another event is triggered which brings yet increasingly greater degrees of destruction to the earth.

Now curiously and I am skipping a lot of in between stuff for now, we see in chapters 15 - 16, 7 vials or bowls poured out which parallel the seven trumpets in many ways. 

In all 21 separate events plus some other events which are occurring in heaven at the same time.

What we have done is line up the seals - The announcement in heaven of events to come.  The Trumpets - The proclamation of the events upon the earth and the vials - The plague associated with the proclaimed event and it’s result.  Interestingly the vial is poured out on a different objective and affects the same items as the trumpets proclamations.

1st trumpet  fire voices of thunder, lightning, earthquake hail blood 1/3 trees and all green grass burned up

1st vial - poured out on the land followed by grievous sores on those with mark of the beast

2nd trumpet - great mountain cast into the sea 1/3 sea turned to blood and 1/3 ships destroyed.

2nd vial - poured out on the sea and the sea becomes blood and all life in the sea dies.

3rd trumpet - falling star 1/3 rivers of fountains turn bitter

3rd vial - poured out on the rivers and the rivers and fountains become blood.

4th trumpet - 1/3 sun and moon and day darkened

4th vial - poured out on the sun - sun scorches men with great fire and heat

5th trumpet - star falls abaddon arises sting and torment men with the mark for 5 months

5th vial - poured out on the seat of the beast, beast and his kingdom full of darkness men gnaw their tongues for pain

6th trumpet - 4 angels loosed from the river euphrates 1/3 of men killed by fire and brimstone 200,000,000 man army marches

6th vial - poured out on the euphrates - euphrates dries up making way for the kings of the east and 3 unclean beasts gather the kings to armageddon

7th trumpet - great voices in heaven crying thy wrath has come give reward and destroy them that destroy the earth.

7th vial - poured out on the air great voice from the temple says it is done voices thunder lightning earthquakes Jerusalem divided and the nations fall.

As can be seen the trumpets and vials are parallels.  Just a thought, the trumpet is the proclamation and begins an event or sets it into motion as in the 2nd trumpet where 1/3 of sea turns to blood.  The vial is the event brought to completion as the sea turns fully into blood and all life dies.  The seventh trumpet, seventh vial and seventh seal are almost a mirror image of each other indicating to us that they are occurring nearly at the same time.  Silence for 1/2 hour, followed by great voices saying thy wrath has come and it’s time to destroy the destroyer, followed by a great voice saying “it is done”.