Revelation Roadmap: Outline of the End Times
Posted February 13, 2018 by Amy Wang (Updated February 24, 2018)
Photo: backyardproduction / 123RF Stock Photo
Outline of the End Times
In 1921, Princeton alumnus James McConkey wrote The Book of Revelation: A Series of Outline Studies in the Apocalypse, a book which uses Revelation and Matthew together to outline the end times events. His simple A.B.C. outline contains the A. Tribulation followed by B. Heavenly signs and then C. Christ's advent. He also shared a great insight that the seven trumpets may be contained within the seventh seal and the seven bowls within the seventh trumpet. I explain these insights in greater detail below.
Disclaimer: The following end times outline is still evolving and is susceptible to error. While I was trying to critique the mid-tribulation rapture and pre-wrath views, I suddenly noticed that the tribulation of the martyrs in the fifth seal of Revelation (Revelation 6:9,7:14, Matthew 24:9-10) may not be the end of suffering. The unprecedented great tribulation during the period of the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15,21) may actually occur after the sounding of the fifth trumpet. I will discuss this further below. Please leave a comment below if you have any corrections or improvements.
Part I. Intro to Revelation’s Sequence of Events
Revelation’s sequence of events is structured in terms of
(1) Seven seals that Jesus opens (ch.6),
(2) Seven trumpets that the angels sound (ch.8-11), and
(3) Seven bowls, or last plagues, that the angels pour out (ch.16).
The seals are sequentially ordered. After opening the seventh seal, the seven trumpets are sounded in sequential order (Revelation 8:1-2). James H. McConkey suggests that the seventh seal is actually composed of all seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet is composed of all seven bowls, as depicted below. In this way, all the seals, trumpets, and bowls are contained within the seven seals . If this interpretation is correct, Robert Gundry notes there will be overlap . The seven bowls will overlap with the seventh trumpet, and the seven trumpets will overlap with the seventh seal. This might explain the overlap of final events of the interludes, or commentaries, of each section.
Seals: [7------------------------------------] Trumpets: [7------------------] Bowls: 
Hints from the Battle of Jericho
Another biblical example of similar structure is the battle of Jericho in the Old Testament. (a) Joshua's men encircled Jericho once a day for six days (Joshua 6:3-5), and each day, seven priests blew their trumpets (Joshua 6:13-14). (b) Then, on the seventh day, they encircled the city seven times. (c) The seventh time, the seven priests again blew their trumpets (Joshua 6:3-5), the people shouted, and the wall crumbled (Joshua 6:16). They took the city, devoted it to the LORD, and destroyed everything in it except Rahab's household (Joshua 6:17,20-21). 
Now compare this to Revelation's outline. (a) Jesus opens six seals. (b) Upon opening the seventh seal, seven angels sound seven trumpets in sequence (Revelation 8:1-2). (c) The seventh time, the angels pour out seven bowls, or last plagues. Great voices in heaven reveal that Christ has reclaimed the kingdoms of the world (Revelation 11:15) and the wicked are destroyed. Carrying this analogy further, if the battle of Jericho foreshadows the future, perhaps just as Rahab was spared and kept alive during the judgment against Jericho (Joshua 6:25), some believers may also be spared and kept alive during judgments or plagues against Babylon (Revelation 9:4,12:6,12:13-17,16:2), assuming they set themselves apart (Revelation 18:4). Remember that the Israelites, too, were protected in Goshen during the ten plagues of Egypt (Exodus 9:26).
Part II. The Seven Seals in Greater Depth
In Revelation chapter 6, Jesus opens six seals (Revelation 6:1). These are detailed further below:
a. Seals 1-4 (Beginning of Sorrows: Four Horseman)
The first four seals are also known as the four horseman of the apocalypse, and are characterized by war, famine, and persecution (Revelation 6:2-8, Matthew 24:6-7). The beginning of sorrows in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 may refer to the same thing (Matthew 24:8).
b. Seal 5 (Martyrs of the Tribulation)
When Jesus opens the fifth seal, we see the persecuted martyrs (Revelation 6:9) of the Tribulation, prior to certain heavenly signs, also mentioned in Luke 21:11-12 and Matthew 24:9-10.
c. Seal 6 (Heavenly Signs)
When the sixth seal is open, there are major signs in the sun, moon, and stars (Revelation 6:12-13, Luke 21:11-12). Joel 2:31 and Acts 2:20 also indicate heavenly signs that occur prior to the Day of the Lord, which we will discuss in Seal 7.
Note that the heavenly signs in Matthew 24:29 go a little further than those of Joel 2:31 and Acts 2:20 by including the additional sign of stars falling from heaven and heavenly powers being shaken. It is unclear to me, but perhaps Matthew 24:29 includes both the heavenly signs of Seal 6 (Revelation 6:12-13) and later heavenly events during the Day of the Lord of Seal 7, when the sun is struck (Revelation 8:12). After all, the interlude in the trumpet section describes heavenly powers being shaken, similar to Matthew 24:29 (Revelation 12:7-9). If the heavenly signs mentioned in Matthew 24:29 include additional signs during the Day of the Lord, that may be why, unlike Joel 2:31 and Acts 2:20, it does not mention these heavenly signs as preceding the Day of the Lord, but preceding Christ's Advent at the very end of the Day of the Lord.
d. Interlude of Seals section: Commentary on the Sealing of the 12 Tribes of Israel and Martyrs of the Tribulation
The interlude in chapter 7 provides further commentary on what is happening. One section refers to Israel's tribes and another section refers to what are probably Gentile Christians during this difficult time.
- Israelites: In this interlude, an angel cries out that the earth, sea, and trees are not to be harmed until the 144,000 servants of God from 12 different tribes of Israel are sealed in their foreheads (Revelation 7:3-8). Since the trees are burned up upon sounding the first trumpet (Revelation 8:7), we know the first trumpet has not sounded yet at the time of sealing. This seal on their foreheads will later protect these 144,000 from torment when the 5th trumpet is sounded (Revelation 9:4-5).
- Gentile Christians: Besides the 144,000 Israelites, this interlude also indicates a multitude of all different nations, kindreds, and people, and tongues, arrayed in white robes, which come out of the great tribulation (Revelation 7:9,13,14). This may correlate with the martyrs of the fifth seal who are given white robes (Revelation 6:9-11).
e. Seal 7 (Day of the Lord and Seven Trumpets)
According to Acts 2:20 and other verses, the seventh seal, which is comprised of the seven trumpet judgments, should belong to the Day of the Lord.  In the Day of the Lord, in answer to the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:4), God will show his wrath, punishment, and vengeance (Luke 21:22, Jeremiah 46:10, Isaiah 13:9-13) against the nations (Isaiah 34:6-15) and against proud and sinful people (Isaiah 2:10-2:22, Zephaniah 1:17). This period will be characterized by darkness, gloominess, trouble, desolation, distress (Zephaniah 1:14-18), and destruction (Isaiah 13:6-9). The following is a rationale for correlating the Day of the Lord with the seven trumpets of Seal 7:
- In Revelation, after the sixth seal is opened and the heavenly signs take place, we learn of great men who hide in the dens and rocks of the mountains because of the day of his wrath. Isaiah chapter 2 also mentions the hiding of men in the rocks in relation to the Day of the Lord (Revelation 6:15, Isaiah 2:21).
- In Joel's description of the Day of the Lord, vegetation is burned, which correlates with the 1st trumpet (Joel 1:19, Revelation 8:7).
- At the seventh and final trumpet, the mystery of God revealed to the prophets is supposedly finished (Revelation 10:7). Indeed, many of the Old Testament prophets all mention the Day of the Lord, so perhaps the Day of the Lord could be part of the mystery.
- The Hebrew word translated as “Day,” “yom,” can also refer to a period of time longer than a 24-hour day, so there is no contradiction for the "Day" of the Lord to contain trumpet 5 which lasts at least 5 months (Revelation 9:5).
- The Day of the Lord is also referred to as a day of the trumpet in Zephaniah 1:16. Just like the 7 trumpets, the Day of the Lord symbolizes God’s judgment on unbelievers, and the time when He avenges His people (Luke 21:22).
- The Day of the Lord is said to occur after the coming of Elijah the prophet (Malachi 4:5), which may refer to John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13, Luke 1:17). This means that the Day of the Lord was not fulfilled during the lifetime of the Old Testament prophets.
Part III. The Seven Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls
White horse: Conquerer (Revelation 6:1-2)
Red horse: Sword (Revelation 6:3-4, Matthew 24:6)
Black horse: Scarcity (Revelation 6:5-6)
Pale horse: Sword, hunger, death (Revelation 6:7-8, Matthew 24:7-8)
Tribulation Martyrs (Revelation 6:9-11, a multitude: Rev. 7:9,13-14; Matthew 24:9-10)
Heavenly Signs (Revelation 6:12-14, Joel 2:31, Acts 2:20, Luke 21:11-12)
Interlude mentions the sealing of the 144,000 of the Israelite tribe (Rev. 7:3-8) prior to first trumpet
The Last Trumpet
Until Christ returns at the last trumpet and reclaims the kingdoms (Rev 11:15-16, 1Thess. 4:16-17, 1Cor. 15:51-52), there will still be war against the saints, in which the saints will be overcome (Daniel 7:21-22,25), but afterward, they will be given the kingdom (Daniel 7:27,Rev. 11:15-16).
The seven bowls of the seventh trumpet, also known as last plagues or vials, can perhaps be compared to the grand finale of a fireworks ceremony (Revelation 16:1-21). These bowls also seem to closely parallel the trumpets in the order of their targets (earth, sea, waters, etc.). After the sixth bowl and prior to the seventh bowl, Jesus says He is coming like a thief in the night (Revelation 16:15). This may suggest that He does not come back until the very last Bowl. At the seventh Bowl, a great voice says, "It is done." (Revelation 16:17).
Sets of Four, Two, and One and Interludes in the Seals and Trumpets
In Revelation's outline, the seven seals and trumpets are split into sets of four, two, and one . For example, we have the set of seals 1-4 (the four horseman), seals 5-6, and then seal 7. Then, we have trumpets 1-4 targeted at nature, trumpets 5-6 targeted at men, and then trumpet 7. The interludes, or insets , often occur between the sixth and seventh of each set of seven. The interludes provide additional background or commentary on the sections before or after it, although this commentary might include a flashback (Revelation 12:1-5) or glimpse of a future consequence (Revelation 7:9-17). The timing of events of the interlude relative to the seals, trumpets, and bowls, needs to be determined by matching it with other scriptures.
Interlude of Trumpets Section: Intervals of 3.5 Years and the Midpoint of Daniel's Seventieth Week
The interlude in Revelation chapters 11 to 13 is difficult to understand, but it appears to give information on the timing of events. Note that John mentions a period of time equivalent to three and a half years in multiple ways:
- 42 months (Revelation 11:2,13:5),
- 1260 days (Revelation 11:3-4,12:6)
- A time, times and half a time (1+1+1.5) (Revelation 12:14,Daniel 7:25).
Some believe this time span is linked to Daniel 9:27. Daniel 9:24-27 refers to 69 sets of 7 years from the decree to restore and build Jerusalem to Jesus' first coming (Daniel 9:25). After a gap of unspecified time, at the end of time, there is one more set of 7 years, which some call the seventieth set of 7 years, even though it may not immediately follow the 69 sets of 7 years. Sometime after the middle of that set of 7 years (Daniel 9:24-27) might be the time the abomination of desolation appears (Daniel 11:31,12:11).
One hypothetical interpretation
|First 3.5 Years||Second 3.5 Years||Resurrection of Dead and Ascension|
|Gentiles trod holy city 42 months (Rev 11:2, Luke 21:24)
Two witnesses give testimony: Israel/Church, 1260 days (Rev 11:3-5,1:20)
Power to strike earth with plagues (Trumpets 1-4?) (Rev 11:6)
Israel (Woman) flees/is protected in wilderness 1260 days (Rev. 12:1,6,14,Gen.37:9)
Mouth blashphemes for 42 months (13:4-6)
|Trumpet 5: "Star" falls to earth (Rev. 9:1,12:9, Isaiah 14:12).
Satan battles saints (Rev 12:9,17,13:4,7,17) for time, times, and half a time (Dan 7:25)
Daily sacrifices taken away (Daniel 11:31,9:27)
Abomination of desolation set up (Daniel 11:31,9:27,Matt. 24:15,21)
Jerusalem surrounded, Time to flee(Luke 21:20-21, Matt.24:15-16)
Beast comes out of bottomless pit and kills saints (Rev. 11:7,13:7)
|Some of the dead believers are resurrected
and ascend to the clouds, causing fear to|
those remaining who saw them (Rev. 11:11-12,
Mat 24:31). (The rest of the dead are later
resurrected after Jesus' millennial reign with
the resurrected believers (Rev. 20:4-5)).
Chapters 11, 12, and 13 could possibly refer to the same time period. Prior to the midpoint of the 7 years, it seems that the woman, who probably represents Israel (Rev. 12:1,Gen.37:9), flees to the wilderness for 3.5 years (Rev. 12:6), but after the midpoint, Satan then makes war with the rest of her offspring (Rev. 12:17) and is given to overcome the saints (Revelation 13:4,7,12:9). The saints will then suffer oppression and persecution (Daniel 7:25). When the abomination of desolation appears and Jerusalem will be surrounded, it will be time to flee (Luke 21:20-21, Matt.24:15-16). This period seems to be associated with the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:15,21). Perhaps it is an even greater tribulation than the one that took place during Seal 5.
In Revelation 11:3, I believe the two witnesses may refer to Israel and the Church, and that they are present but some of them may have protection during the 6 trumpets, in which water turns to blood (Rev. 11:6). Other evidence for this is the use of candlestick imagery (alternatively, lampstand) to represent a church (Rev. 1:20) prior to passing of the 2nd woe, i.e., 6th trumpet (Rev. 11:14,9:12). After the fifth trumpet is sounded, the bottomless pit is opened (Revelation 9:2), and the beast comes out of it at some point (perhaps fifth or sixth trumpet) to fight against the saints (Revelation 11:7). The saints are overcome and die, but after 3.5 time periods (probably years, I don't believe these are necessarily 24 hour days), there is a resurrection (Rev. 11:11) and ascension to heaven in the cloud (Rev. 11:12,Mat.24:31).
Interlude of Bowls Section: Notice the Overlap Between Interludes of Trumpets and Bowls Section
If the commentary of the Bowls section (Revelation chapters 17-19) seems to overlap with that of the Trumpets section (chapter 11-14), it may be because the seven bowls are contained within the seventh trumpet. In particular, this overlap might include the judgment of Babylon the whore, which reigns over the kings of the earth (Revelation 14:8,18:2), the earthquake (Revelation 11:13,16:18), the victory cry of Alleluia (Revelation 11:15,19:1), and the redemption of the kingdoms (Revelation 11:15,19:15-16). A challenge is to determine whether these events take place twice or whether the same event is being explained twice.
Part IV. Christ's Advent, Millennial Reign
After Babylon is punished, we see in Chapter 19 that the people in heaven cry out Alleluia (Revelation 19:1). Heaven opens and Jesus appears on a white horse with a sword (Revelation 19:11-13) ready to rule the nations (Revelation 19:15). Satan is then bound for a thousand years (Revelation 20:3), during the millennium. Those beheaded who did not worship the beast will reign with Jesus during this period (Revelation 20:4-5). This appears consistent with 1Thessalonians 4:16 which says the dead shall rise first . Afterwards, when Satan is loosed from his prison to deceive the nations and gather them to battle, Satan is devoured by fire from heaven and cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:10).
Great White Throne Judgment, New Heaven and Earth, New Jerusalem
Subsequently, the great white throne appears, the dead are judged, and whoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15, Matthew 13:49-50). Finally we see the new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1), the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2), and the tabernacle of God will be with men (Revelation 21:3). According to Colossians 2:16-17, the Jewish feasts foreshadow the future. Just as the fall feasts foreshadowed events related to Jesus' first coming (e.g., Passover symbolized Christ as the sacrificial lamb and First Fruits symbolized Christ's resurrection), some say that the spring feasts also foreshadow events related to Jesus' future second coming. These feasts include the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles. See Leviticus 23 for more information on the feasts.
 McConkey, James H. The Book of Revelation: A Series of Outline Studies in the Apocalypse. Pittsburgh, PA: Silver Publishing Company, 1981. p.32
 McConkey, pp. 43-45
 Gundry, Robert. The Church and the Tribulation. Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corporation, 1973, p.75
 Gage, Warren. "Is Joshua’s Battle at Jericho the Dramatic Key to John’s Revelation?" May 11, 2013.
 Anderson, Sir Robert. The Coming Prince. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1984.
 McConkey, 58
 Fee, Gordon D. Revelation: A New Covenant Commentary. Cambridge, UK: The Lutterworth Press, 2013. p.118
 Gundry, p.78
 Gundry, p. 80
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