Most of the prophecies in the Bible that are about the End of the World come from the writings of the Hebrew prophet Daniel (More about him in Chapters 5-8.) and from The Revelation, a book written by a man named John. John was one of the first Twelve Apostles. Because of his beliefs, he was sent to live as an exile on an island, where he eventually died. But before he died, his "Revelation" was smuggled out and circulated amongst Christians all around that part of the world.

The Revelation has intrigued and baffled people for centuries. It is so full of symbols and allegories that most people just give up trying to figure it out, after making one or two attempts.

Two hints which could make your job easier: First, break it down into smaller pieces; and second, concentrate on the bigger picture. Smaller and bigger… Sounds contradictory, doesn't it? But if you'll read on, you'll see that it isn't.

There are some major themes and some major divisions in The Revelation. If you study them one by one, it won't matter if you don't understand every single word of the book. At least you'll have a broad overview in which to fit the details.

It helps to think of The Revelation as poetry or music, or even as a painting. Too much analysis can easily destroy the overall feeling that an artist is trying to communicate. Sometimes a work of art just needs to be "experienced" rather than analysed. It may be reasonable to discuss the composition, choice of colours, and subject matter of a landscape painting, for example; but it may be pointless to question what the artist was trying to say by painting one blade of grass green and another one nearby yellow. An incredibly gifted artist (such as God himself) might actually have a message hidden in the yellow blade of grass as well; but with or without an understanding of such a fine detail, one should still be able to appreciate the masterpiece as a whole. The same is true when it comes to appreciating the overall message of The Revelation.

The Revelation is divided into 22 chapters. The first three contain short letters that God told John to write to seven different churches scattered around Asia Minor. The last three chapters describe things as they will be after Jesus Christ returns to earth. Both of these sections are inspiring and informative, and well worth reading. However, you could make your target study smaller by setting these six chapters aside after you have read them once.

Some people argue that the first three chapters have secret prophetic messages hidden in them; but if they do, they would be on a par with the secret meanings in blades of grass in a painting. It would be far better to start by focusing on material that is clearly prophetic, and get to the more esoteric stuff later if you have the time and the inclination.

The last three chapters of The Revelation have to do with things that are still a long way off. They include descriptions of life in the new world that Christ will build for us, which are quite inspiring. But they contain other details which take more effort to understand. Because Christ himself is supposed to be here by the time they start to be fulfilled, we can probably expect him to help us understand anything we need to know about them when the time comes.

That leaves us with chapters 4-19 of The Revelation. Now let us break them down into three major divisions. Chapters 4-7 are a dramatic introduction to the overall theme of The Revelation. Chapters 8-13 are about the time of "Great Trouble" just before Jesus returns. And chapters 14-19 deal with God's punishment of the whole earth after he has taken his people out of the way. This time of punishment climaxes with the famous Battle of Armageddon which so many people think of when they talk of the end of the world.
 
Before we start to look at these various chapter divisions, however, we must remind people once again of something that most of you don't want to hear.

The opening sentence of The Revelation says that it is a revelation to God's "servants". Think about it. Servants are people who are working for God… right now. It's not a revelation to those drawn to read the book out of idle curiosity, and it's not a revelation to people who want to use it to prove their church is best. Admittedly, it's all there in black and white for anyone to read; and anyone can be amazed by much of what it says; but in the end, you're not going to like what it says unless you're willing to become a "servant of God", and even then there are going to be aspects of it which are not going to be easy to swallow.

If there is anything that today's world is not interested in, it is being "servants" of God. Even the major "Christian" denominations have largely given up on teaching people to serve God; it's just too unpopular. People are taught, instead, to serve their families, to serve their country, to serve their employers, or to serve their church; but not to serve God. They work on positive thinking, getting along with others, arts and crafts, dance classes and other forms of self-improvement, but no serious attempts are made to even find out what God wants us to do, much less try to obey it. Until that happens, the message of The Revelation is only going to make you angry, or go over your head.