The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Revelation 1: 1-3 NKJV
The very first words of John tells us many useful things to keep in mind when studying Revelation:
1.) It is a revelation of Jesus Christ (Verse 1)
It is a book with Jesus at its center and it reveals to us Jesus in all His glory and how He appears throughout its pages and therefore throughout the history of the church. It is interesting to note that the translators of the King James Version of the Bible have given this book the title, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine.” This is a contradiction of the very first words of the book, which declare it to be “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”
2.) The message of the book came from God himself through an angel to John and John witnesses to both the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Verse 1 & 2)
John witnesses or tells us what he saw in both the word of God and particularly the words of Jesus that he personally heard as one of his disciples. He walked and talked with Jesus while upon this earth and knew him in a close spiritual way. As a called disciple, he was able to touch and feel the warmth of the human form of Jesus.
John’s resume is very impressive. He was so close to Jesus that he is often described as the beloved disciple. John was an evangelist and a gospel writer as well as an inspired letter writer. This is demonstrated in the epistles of 1, 2, and 3 John.
But now, we can add prophet to his record of experience.
Because of John’s intimate knowledge of Jesus and the word of God, he draws upon this understanding of both in his writing. But, let us not forget the inspiration from the Holy Spirit and the visions given him. This is the supernatural aspect of this book.
Revelation is practically impossible to understand without a knowledge of Jesus and familiarity with the other books of the Bible, particularly the book of Daniel. Many of what John describes are in the book of Daniel and many other passages of scripture.
3.) The objective of the book is to show or reveal “the things which must shortly take place.” (Verse 3)
Our God wants us to know the truth. The world is full of lies, but there is truth available to all. He reveals his secrets to His prophets who in turn reveals them to us through what they saw. He will not do anything unless He discloses it ahead of time..
Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
4.) There is a blessing for reading and keeping the words of Revelation because it talks of the nearness of the time when Jesus will return (Verse 7). But it is of little value to us personally if we do not “read and understand.” (verse 3)
I have often been told that Revelation is a closed book. That no one can understand it, but the first few verses demonstrate the opposite. It is a prophecy, just like Daniel and others, that can be understood when comparing John’s words with other inspired writers he alludes to when he states he “bore witness to the word of God.” The word of God is the word contained in the Old Testament and those words written by his fellow disciples in the New Testament. It is here where we find the keys that unlock the symbolism and timelines of Revelation
To support the premise, let’s compare the book of Daniel with Revelation. See the chart below:
We will study this comparison in the coming lessons. This charts is provided here simply to show the reader an example of the connection between the visions of Daniel with the visions of John.
This is important because there is much confusion today about the beast of Revelation 13 and the mark of the Beast. But, we will see that there is no need for any confusion. Once you see clearly from God’s word the identity of the beast, you are more likely able to see what the mark is or is not.
Last week, I heard a radio talk-show pundit saying that he believed the “mark of the beast” was the “Rainbow Coalition.” We have also heard that the bar code pricing system is the mark of the beast. But it is only in the Word of God where we can we find the correct interpretation. The prophecies are not dependent of the ideas of a talk-show pundit, regardless of how intelligent they may think they are.
knowing this first: that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in olden times by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
2 Peter 1:20 – 21
John begins to describe::
“seven churches in Asia” Verse 4
The origin of the message:
“From the seven spirits which are before His throne;
and from Jesus Christ” (Verse 4 and 5)
The core message:
“Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so. Amen.” (Verse 7)
This is an important statement about the manner in which Jesus comes. When he left the earth and ascended to heaven, he left with clouds and returns with clouds. Clouds appear at many places when talking about the return of Jesus and of God.
And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.”
We can cross reference this scene found in Revelation regarding the throne of God.
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the living beings and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,
These clouds are, perhaps the throng of angels that are so vast in number that they appear as clouds
But the point is this “Every eye will see Him.”
This includes the saved and the lost, but with two different responses:
“Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”
and they said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb!
There is no room for the theory of a secret rapture in the book of Revelation and other books of the Bible for that matter, where people see driverless cars, empty churches and wonder why everyone disappeared. This is the work of Hollywood and makes for good entertainment, but it is not truth.
When Jesus returns heaven is emptied to come to our little planet that has been the stage for the great controversy between Christ and Satan. Christ comes as the victor.
For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He shall reward every man according to his works.
Is there anyone alive that cannot see this sight?
John mentions that he was in the Spirit on a particular day:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet,
This appears to be a casual reference to which day John was “in the Spirit.” Many have tried to make this to be Sunday although there is no reference or context to make it so.
The context of this chapter would seem to indicate this as the “Day of the Lord” when Jesus returns, but even that statement is somewhat of an assumption. There is only one particular day of the week that God claims as his own. It appears in scripture and in connection with creation:
“the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.”
In the heart of the 10 commandments is the day that the Lord claims as his own because he is Creator.
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Want a new testament version of this?
Therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath.”
If Jesus claims to be Lord of the Sabbath. Which day is the Lord’s day?
On the Lord’s day, John hears a voice like a trumpet sound. It is the voice of Jesus, for He says,
“I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last,”
Jesus is the beginning and the end. He has always been and will always be. He was with God the Father in the beginning. Jesus is God and He is our Creator:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men.
John 1: 1-4
The instructions of Jesus to John is to write a book to the seven churches:
What thou seest, write in a book and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”
These are seven literal churches who will get a first look at John’s new book. The book will give them encouragement and direction, just as it will do for us.
As we will see, the book of Revelation is not just for these seven churches, but also for us. Perhaps we will see ourselves in the characteristics of a particular church.
As we move through Revelation, let us always remember that is a revealing of Jesus. The more we know about Him, the more security we can have in our own salvation because to know Him is to have eternal life:
And this is life eternal: that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.
Herein is our comfort that Jesus rose again:
I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen, and have the keys of hell and of death.
Our hope depends on this fact that Jesus rose a victor over death….that He is alive today and always….that he has power over death. If we want to get out of the locked room called death, Jesus has the keys and will let us out on that great Day of the Lord. Paul knew the importance of this when he said,
and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.But now Christ is risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of those who slept.
1 Corinthians 15: 17-20
Revelation 1 ends with Jesus repeating to John the instructions to write about things that John had seen (past) are now (John’s time), and the things in the future (from John’s time to ours)
Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.
In Verse 20 we are reminded of how the symbols represent something:
The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
We can be assured that the candlesticks seen in the vision represent the seven churches. Those churches are at different points in their experience just as we are.
We will find encouragement and a revealing of Jesus as we study this great book that promises us blessings if we read and understand. By God’s grace and mercy may we do so.
Until next time, be blessed—Eddie