Why The Book Of Revelation Is Not Completely In Chronological Order–5/29/09

Why The Book of Revelation is Not Completely in Chronological Order



Why the Book of Revelation

Is Not Completely In

Chronological Order

by R.A. Coombes

author of: “America, The Babylon: Vols 1 & 2


There is a strong misunderstanding and misinterpretation about the book of Revelation in regards to time frames that is creating a serious error in understanding the book and its prophecies.  

Most readers of the book of Revelation start with an assumption. The assumption is that the book starts at a beginning point on a time line of events and proceeds to describe events in a totally linear fashion. Now immediately many readers here will wonder what is meant by the term ‘linear.’  

Linear in this regard is a term that means a sequence of events listed in the order in which they occur within a frame of time. In the case of the book of Revelation, we have a list of events described, one after the other. The question raised here is whether or not each event that is described for a future point in time within the book of Revelation occurs in chronological order.  

If we put the future events described in the book of Revelation onto a time line we should ask whether or not event A occurs first, followed by events B, C, D and so forth clear down to event Z in completely chronological order?  Some would ask if perhaps ‘event G’ might occur before event “D” If so, then the overall description of events would not be in a chronologically, linear order of events. 

Putting this another way, we might ask if the book of Revelation is in a completely chronological order of events. To answer this question properly let’s take an over view look of the entire book in a broad, general outline.  

We can look at the book of Revelation in outline form as falling into 3 main categories.


I. Past Events:  Christ (1:1-20)  

II. Current Situation: The Churches (2:1–3:22)  

III. Future Events: The Consummation of Time (4:1–22:21)

In a broad outline, the book begins with past events and then proceeds to events current at the time of the author’s writing of the book. The third section deals with future events yet to come. In this broad outline we see a progression of events that are describing the past, present and then the future, which indicates an ongoing chronological chain of events. 

Now, while the overall book itself is generally within a chronological time frame of events listed in chronological order, can we say that all events described in Revelation, chapters 3 through 22 are in a continuous stream of events in chronological order? The answer to this secondary question is absolutely ‘No.’  

Look at the subject content of chapter 4 through 22 in a broad over view. 

Chapters 4 & 5 – Deal with events in Heaven 

Chapters 6 & 7 – Deal with the 7 Seals of Judgment (and also 8:1) God’s wrath against Planet Earth.  

But also notice that within these two chapters we have a parenthesis of events in heaven. In chapter 7 verses 1 through 17, we find the sealing of 144,000 witnesses, plus worship of God by innumerable converts, including Tribulation martyrs. The question to ask is whether or not this parenthesis is part of the chronological events on earth or separate from those events. The answer is – we do not know – where this parenthesis actually falls in any chronology of earthly events, because the text is not specific. This could be describing a heavenly event just near the end of the Tribulation or near the start or somewhere in between. 

Chapters 8 thru 11 – Deal with the 7 Trumpet Judgments. There is further wrath poured out on Earth. 

These judgments are more drastic, more definite and final than the Seal judgments. After the first 6 Trumpet judgments are described we find yet another parenthesis. Inside this parenthesis we find the description of the “Little Book” and the story of the Two Witnesses, then returning to describe the final Trumpet judgment in chapter 11, verses 15-19 which describes only what’s going on in Heaven as the last Trumpet blows. We have no description of what is going on down on Earth with this last Trumpet Judgment.   

Could the 7th Trumpet Judgment be coinciding with the 7th “bowl” judgment of chapter 16:17-21?  We cannot be certain either way, yet it is curious that we have no description in this passage of what the results of the 7th Trumpet judgment are down on Earth. We are only told what is going on in heaven as the Trumpet sounds. 

After this last Trumpet judgment, we find 3 more parenthesis covering chapters 12 through 14.  

Chapter 12 – The Woman/Child & War in the Heavens are described as a parenthesis. This parenthesis covers the time frame of events described in chapters 6 through 11. So here we are certainly knocked out of a continuous chronological order of events.  

Chapter 13 – shows us another parenthesis of the 2 Beasts and their target is wrath against the Saints on Earth as well as the rest of the world.  

Chapter 14 – The Judgment of the Lamb is the third parenthesis separating the series of judgments, which are interrupted at the end of Chapter 11. This is actually the fifth parenthesis overall so far in the book.

This parenthesis reverts back to the Divine perspective of what is going on during the time period. It also is out of any chronological order. Here we see the 144,000 witnesses located in Heaven, worshipping the Lamb followed by pronouncements of more judgments yet to come as given by 3 angels in verses 6-12, then a pronouncement of blessing on the martyrs in verse 13and then in verses 14-16 the Lamb is pictured as a reaper who reaps global judgment that results in a blood-bath for those dwelling on Earth in verses 17-20.  

After Chapter 14 we return to the theme of Judgment once again. Chapter 15 gives us a prelude to the judgments assuring us of the results that will come from these final judgments, yet chapter 15 describes no actual judgment events. The first 4 verses of chapter 15 present to us – new martyrs fresh from the chaos on Earth and they are singing.  

Chapter 16 – The 7 Bowl (vial) Judgments. We are now given the last series of Judgments which are poured out upon the entire Planet.  

At the end of Chapter 16 as we get the last judgment we also get a note in verse 19 that Babylon also again came in remembrance before God for judgment. 

At this point we get yet another parenthesis for 2 full chapters in which the narrative describes something called a “mystery” regarding a future super-power entity known as Babylon and a living entity known by two names with one being The Great Whore and the other being “THE MOTHER OF THE HARLOTS.”  

Here again we find this entire section, totally out of chronological order. Why do we say that?  

Chapter 17 introduces us to a living entity called the Great Whore, the Mother of the Harlots with a description of her in 17:1-9. The narrative stops and then gives a historic overview of human history in geo-political terms in verses 10-11. Then in Verse 12 we are given a description of how the Beast – the Antichrist comes into power. This is the same beast as in Chapter 13, only here in Revelation 17 and verses 12-17 we see how the Beast comes into power and by what specific circumstances he comes into power. This information was not presented in chapter 13 where the Beast (Antichrist) is first introduced along with his cohort, a second beast known as The False Prophet.  

So, if Revelation is in totally complete chronological order, why is it that we do not get a description of the rise of the Antichrist coming into power until midway through Chapter 17, where Babylon and the Great Whore are described and the destruction of the Great Whore?  

Please note that Revelation 17:12-13 describes the Antichrist being voted into power during a one-hour time span 

And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.”  

We then see in verse 16 that same one hour described again although the verse has been badly mistranslated into English. 

Verse 16: “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.” 

Verse 18 “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.”  

Verse 16 is actually not describing the Beast and the 10 horns as destroying the whore, but rather watching her be consumed by fire and they hate what is happening to her.  

This fire judgment upon the woman is described further in Chapter 18, verses 9-19 where it describes the fire judgment as lasting just one hour.

This is the same ‘one hour’ as the Beast and 10 horns meet and vote power unto the Beast (Antichrist).  

Now if you doubt the one-hour time frame for her burning destruction here’s some key passages 

Verse 10   Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.  

Verse 17a “For in one hour so great riches is come to nought.”…  

Verse 19b “…for in one hour is she made desolate.”  

Compare this with 1 hour of Revelation 17:12  

“one hour with the beast.”   

Now, let’s note that in 17:18 we find that the woman IS the megalapolis that is described in detail as being on fire in chapter 18.   

“And the woman which thou sawest —  IS — that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.”   

The term “IS” is a linking verb. It links the subject of a sentence to complement word which describes the subject.  

For understanding what a linking verb is, see this link. http://grammar.about.com/od/il/g/linkverbterm05.htm 

For understanding what a Complement word is – See this link http://grammar.about.com/od/c/g/complterm.htm 

Such a linking verb is called a “copula.” See this link for an explanation. http://grammar.about.com/od/c/g/copulaterm.htm  

What we have in Revelation 17:18 is a copula which tells us specifically that the Woman (the Great Whore, aka “The Mother of the Harlots” is also the “great city” – which is then described further in Chapter 18. But, there is much more to this verse. The English term “great city” is from the original Greek text which is  

 η πολις η μεγαλη

hey polis, hey megala is the transliteration into English. 

The Greek definition of “hey polis” is “the city” and “hey megala” is ‘the super-power” – meaning super power in both size and scope.

The term was often used to refer to a nation by way of its capital city or its chief city. We do this even today in our language. Often times a chief city or capital city refers to a nation. Example 

 Tehran today announced that a new missile had been tested.”

 Does this statement refer to the city of Tehran or to the nation of Iran?  Here’s another example: 

Washington warned Moscow today that it would dispatch troops to …”

 Does this statement mean that Washington has troops? No, Washington signifies the nation of the United States and Moscow stands for Russia.
This same approach was used in language 2,000 years ago to describe nations or empires by their chief or capital city.
 Revelation 17:18 then indicates that a woman IS a super-power nation and yet the woman is only identified with the nation. Further studies of the term “MOTHER OF THE HARLOTS” would reveal that this same term was used for the chief goddess of ancient Babylon, known as Ishtar. Her worshippers referred to her as “The MOTHER OF THE HARLOTS” and she was often called The Great Whore. In Babylon a whore or a harlot were considered holy and sinless. They were priestesses to the goddess.  The goddess Ishtar was in reality, a fallen angel of high rank who was assigned to be the guardian angel of Babylon. Thus, she is identified with the nation she is guarding.  So the destruction of a fire judgment in chapter 17:16 and again in chapter 18 verses 8-19 are a reference to a super-power nation and the guardian angel, Ishtar who is assigned to defend and protect her. We know that nations have guardian angels because of Daniel chapter 10 which mentions the term “Sar” (prince) of Persia and later the “Sar” or “Prince of Greece. This is a reference to a very high powered angelic entity assigned to manipulate and protect an assigned nation. We see this show up in the Greek version of Ephesians 6:12 “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against …. “rulers of this dark world” = Kosmokrator in the Greek – which means ‘world-ruler’ – or the equivalent of the term “Sar” found in Daniel Chapter 10. This angelic rank had enough power to pin down the archangel Gabriel for 21 days and only when the archangel Michael showed up, was Gabriel un-pinned and able to resume his assignment to deliver a message from God to Daniel.  So that in Revelation 17, we have a fallen angel described as a protecting angel for a super-power nation, code-named Babylon.  Now let’s return back to the timeline issue of Revelation 17 and 18. Revelation 18:1-7 gives us further insight into the timeline aspect of this entire parenthesis of these two chapters about a super-power named Babylon.  Chapter 18, verse 1 tells us that what follows in chapter 18 is a continuation of what was described in chapter 17, which ended with the statement that the woman (fallen angel, Ishtar) is indelibly linked to the super-power nation known by the code name of Babylon.  Verse 2 tells us that Babylon is fallen, is fallen as a forerunner of the decree about to be issued. It states why Babylon is to fall, and gives the reasons – among which, she has become an operating base for the fallen angelic rebel forces who oppose God.  In verse 3 we have additional details for her judgment in her interaction with other nations and national leaders and mega-merchants of the Earth who became exceedingly wealthy by her.  Then in verse 4, the description shifts. A voice out of heaven gives a command – it is to God’s people and the vocal command states “Come UP and OUT of her and the term “come” is repeated twice in the verse as a Shout of Command. The original force of the Greek text, by grammatical rules of grammar is that the recipients of the command are told to come towards the voice, which is located UP in the Heavens. This command is the same command as mentioned in 1st Thessalonians chapter 4:16  “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” Note here in this verse, that the same grammatical command is used. The term “shout” is the Greek term    Κελευσματι   Keleusmati Which means “a shout of command”  So that with a shout of command, the dead in Christ arise first then as verse 17 points out, those who are alive in Christ will also have their bodies transformed instantly and are caught up in the air with Christ.  What we have in Revelation 18:4 is the same event as described in First Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 16-17 – also known as The Rapture. NOW – the question arises – when does Revelation 18:4 transpire??? Let’s note the progression of the passage.  We have the angels announce a judgment is coming. Then we have the Rapture described in verse 4. with the reason being that God’s people need to come out to avoid the coming wrath upon Babylon.  Chapter 18 and verse 5 then tells us that God has remembered Babylon’s sins as they have reached up into heaven. Verses 6 through 8 then gives us the Divine Decree of judgment. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.   Notice here in verse 6 that God announces a “Double” judgment. This means that Babylon is to be judged twice.  The first judgment is described as a fire judgment that takes place in 1 hour of one day. See Revelation 18:9-19.  This is the same – one hour – as found in Revelation 17:12-13 when the Antichrist comes to power after the 10 horns meet for one hour and vote to give their power to the beast. During that one hour meeting, they watch the woman burn and be consumed by fire – see Revelation 17:16 and note the bad translation suggests these 10+1 actually inflict the judgment but instead the text is trying to state that they observer her destruction and hate what they see happening to her. This then is Judgment #1. It starts at the beginning of the rise to power of The Antichrist and in fact, it seems that the Antichrist comes to power as a result of the emergency created by the sudden, surprise destruction of the super-power nation, codenamed Babylon – so codenamed because her guardian angel is the fallen angel Ishtar who also served as the chief goddess of ancient Babylon. Judgment #1 is a fire judgment. It coincides with the Old Testament prophecies given by God to Isaiah in Isaiah Chapters 13, 14 and 47 plus additional details give to Jeremiah in Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51.
In Isaiah 13, we find that
Babylon’s fire judgment is described as being like that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jeremiah repeats this in Jeremiah 50:11 and throughout both chapters Jeremiah speaks of fire judgment upon ALL of Babylon’s cities and her countryside, including farms and swamps, and the entire land, or entire nation is consumed.

Yet in Jeremiah 51 we see also a contrary judgment of water and the final outcome of Babylon – sinking underwater.  Verse 42  The sea is come up upon Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof. Verse 55 Because the LORD hath spoiled Babylon, and destroyed out of her the great voice; when her waves do roar like great waters, a noise of their voice is uttered: And finally in verse 65 “Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her:” Then in Revelation 18:21 we see a different judgment given. And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.  This then coincides with Revelation 16:19b -20  “… and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. “And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” So then, as every island fled away, (sinks) — so too, Babylon sinks beneath waves in the great earthquake. This is no doubt triggered by the Angelic action of missiling an object like a mega-millstone into the sea adjacent to Babylon.   

So then, we have Revelation Chapters 17 and 18 totally apart from any ongoing chronological order of the book of Revelation. These two chapters for their own parenthesis that is totally set apart from the overall chronological order, other than the fact that it is yet in the future aspect as is all of Revelation chapters 4 through 22.

–  Conclusion: 

We have noted that the numerous parentheses within the future section of the prophecies raise questions as to whether or not everything is in chronological order.  We can conclusively point to Revelation 17 and 18 as being outside of the Chronological order of the book by virtue of the fact that the first judgment of Babylon occurs at the time the Antichrist comes to power, which is first revealed in Chapter 17:12-14, but the Antichrist (Beast) is first mentioned in Chapter 13. Therefore, we know, flat out that we have at least chapters 17 and 18 thoroughly separated and outside of any chronological order. The Babylon chapters of Revelation 17 and 18 then are vulnerable to tremendous misunderstanding in the overall context of prophetic timelines and that in turn creates incorrect timelines for those who do not recognize what we have just presented in this article.

Most Prophecy commentators are of the erroneous view that all of the Babylon prophetic judgments will take place at the end of the Tribulation period. While it is true that Babylon will receive judgment at the end of the Tribulation period, it will also receive its primary, fire-destruction judgment at the very beginning of the Tribulation period and its destruction triggers the rise to power or at least coincides with the rise to power of The Antichrist.  That we have all misunderstood the timeline aspects for Babylon raises the question about those other parenthetical sections within Revelation and whether or not any of those events described are also out of chronological order. I would not try and argue one way or the other but I do raise the question. What I do know, is that Revelation 17 and 18 do not correspond to the linear chronology of Revelation and refer to events at both the start and the end of the Tribulation period.  



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