People Cannot Say They Did Not Know
Radical changes have also been foreseen by many other cultures, for example by the Hopi Indians, who speak about the end of the ‘fourth world’ and the beginning of the ‘fifth world’. The change from the third to the fourth world was effected by water; the change from the fourth to the fifth world will be effected by fire. This may refer to earthquakes and volcanoes but also to the white men’s fire weapons as preluded by the atomic bombs thrown upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Similarly, the ancient Sanskrit scriptures indicate the onset of a ‘golden age’ after five thousand years of an Iron Age (Kali-yuga). Then, finally, the dark influence on earth will be overcome.
Briefly summarized, the Revelation describes the course of events during the phases before the end of times, the end of times itself as well as the time thereafter. The phases just before the end of times are described as the ‘opening of the seven seals’. When the seventh seal is opened, seven angels appear one after the other, each sounding his trumpet. The sounding of the seventh trumpet opens up the end of times. Then, through divine intervention, the ‘kingdom of 1000 years’ will come about, marking the transition to the time of the ‘new heaven’ and the ‘new Earth’, the ‘new Jerusalem’.
The Apocalypse is like a complex kaleidoscope of visions with manifold levels of interpretation addressing the people of John’s time, the following generations and, particularly, those people destined to experience the predicted end of times. ‘Now write down all that you have seen of what is now and what is still to come. […] Come up here, and I will show you what is to take place in the future.’ (Rev. 1.19; 4.1)
Occurrences as never experienced before
The Revelation contains some obvious parallels to the scenario envisioned by the prophet Daniel about five hundred years B.C.: ‘At that time Michael will arise, the great leader of the angels, defender of your people. That will be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence. […] I hear the man speak who was dressed in linen, standing further up the stream: he raised his right hand and his left to heaven and swore by him who lives forever. A time and two times and half a time; and all these things will come true, once the crushing of the holy people’s power is over […] These words are to remain secret and sealed until the time of the end.’ (Dan. 12.1, 7, 9)
A similar statement was made by Jesus: ‘For then there will be great distress, unparalleled since the world began, and such as will never be again.’ (Matt. 24.21)
At the same time, inconceivable forms of divine help and intervention will occur, also ‘unparalleled since the world began’!
The two halves of Tribulation
Seven is a sacred number in the Revelation (7 churches, 7 candle-sticks, 7 stars, 7 spirits of God, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 vials, 7 thunders, etc.). Similarly, the ‘end of times’ lasts for 7 years, a time span which is divided into two halves of 42 months, or 1260 days. Whether the words ‘years’, ‘months’ and ‘days’ are to be taken literally remains to be seen. In the middle, after the first half, the two ‘beasts’ will appear, establishing their short 666 dictatorship: ‘They will trample on the holy city for forty-two months. But I shall send my two witnesses to prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days …’ (Rev. 11.2–3)
This description refers to the first half. During the period of the sixth trumpet, the beast makes its first appearance and kills the two witnesses. After three and a half days, God breathes life into these two witnesses, and they ascend to heaven in front of everybody’s eyes.
Then follows the vision of the cosmic woman who is about to give birth to a child; a dragon appears, trying to devour the child, but the new-born child is ‘carried up to heaven’ while the dragon and its hosts are thrown down to the earth for the final decision. With the beginning of the second half, the first beast appears out of the sea (13.1). One of his seven heads has a wound but it is healed. This wound is mentioned three times (13.3, 12, 14) and is described as a deadly wound. One interpretation says that this person might have been saved from seeming death by some kind of miraculous healing. Should this be the case, then he was called back to life through the magical power of the dragon as an imitation of the resurrection of Jesus and the two witnesses. Many will interpret this magical resurrection as the last confirmation of the beast’s alleged divine mission (Rev. 13.3–4).
The beast’s reign marks the second half of the end time and also lasts three and a half years. The woman, whose new-born son had been attacked by the dragon, ‘escaped into the desert, where God had prepared a place for her to be looked after for twelve hundred and sixty days. […] The beast was allowed to mouth its boasts and blasphemies and to be active for forty-two months.’ (Rev. 12.6; 13.5)
Forty-two months are the same as 1260 days (42×30) and represent the three and a half years. The seven years consist of two times 1260 days, 2520 days. This is a sacred number which signifies perfection, being the first number divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. So it might well be that these numbers are to be taken symbolically.
… continued in TranscEnding the Global Power Game, p. 263