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The Subtler Sevens of Revelation

The seven-fold structure of the apocalypse

That Revelation is a book of “sevens” is exceedingly obvious, even for the casual reader. Some of the more perspicuous occurrences include the seven lampstands, seven spirits, seven stars, seven churches, seven lamps, the seven-sealed scroll, seven trumpets, seven bowls of wrath, seven promises to the overcomer, seven horns, seven eyes, seven angels, seven thunders, seven thousand, seven heads, seven crowns, seven plagues, seven mountains, seven kings, and so on.

There are, however, numerous other occurrences of seven that aren’t so apparent. For example, while it is obvious that there are seven letters to seven churches, what may not be immediately perceivable is that each letter itself is composed of seven elements: (1) the name of the church, (2) chosen title of Christ, (3) a commendation, (4) Christ’s concerns, (5) an exhortation, (6) a promise to the overcomer, and (7) the close. Revelation also has seven personages including the woman, male child, red dragon, seven-headed beast, false prophet, Michael and the Lamb (12; 13). There are seven years of judgments (11:3; 12:6, 14; 13:5), seven “I am” statements of Christ (1:8, 11, 17, 18; 21:6; 22:13, 16), seven doxologies in heaven (4:9-11; 5:8-13; 7:9-12; 11:16-18; 14:2,3; 15:2-4; 19:1-6), seven new things (20, 21), and even seven beatitudes:

  1. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear and keep those things… (1:3),
  2. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord (14:13),
  3. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments (16:15),
  4. Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb (19:9),
  5. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection (20:6),
  6. Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book (22:7), and
  7. Blessed are those who do His commandments (22:14).

Although there are disagreements surrounding how Revelation ought to be interpreted, there’s no debating its heptadic (seven-fold) structure. And we’ve only just scratched the surface. Indeed, as the late Dr. Chuck Missler quipped, “I suspect that it’s probably not possible to make an exhaustive list of the ‘sevens’. Whatever number you come up with there’s probably seven times that many.”

Ryan Hembree is a daily co-host, speaker, and writer of Bible Discovery. He also hosts a YouTube channel that shows the unity of the Bible and how science and Scripture fit together. Ryan also has an honorary Masters of Ministry in Creation Science from Phoenix University of Theology.

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