These are some more things that should help us as we study Revelation. Numbers in Revelation are flexible and symbolic. For instance, the number seven represents wholeness and completeness. It is God’s perfect number. The number seven here symbolizes the Holy Spirits wholeness and completeness. The number twelve and anything divisible by twelve is the number of the people of God (Rev. 7:1-12). Twelve has always been an important number in the Bible because there were twelve tribes of Israel and twelve apostles. Multiples of ten are used to represent an indefinite yet large number of whatever is described.
Revelation begins a vision, time is fluid, not strictly chronological. Like in a dream, time doesn’t work the same way as in the real world. Revelation is a visual picture of things, some of which are past, some of which are present, and some of which are future. Revelation is primarily a visual representation, making it more like scenes that switch around to different times to show different things rather than showing one long chronological story. The book of Revelation is a series of visions, but not every vision represents the same thing, nor are they in any strict chronological order. In fact, there is actually a lot of repetition in the book that operates like different chapters of a book or scenes of a movie. One chapter may talk about an event from the perspective of one or two characters, and another chapter will discuss the same event but from a different perspective or angle or talk about different parts of the event.
With these tips for understanding some of the more difficult elements of the book, Revelation opens up more easily. Jesus’ last prophecy to his church before the final judgment is his last word to us. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires, drink freely from the water of life.” (Revelation 22:16-17)