Purpose of this Session
To look together at the final book of the Christian canon – the book of Revelation, and to draw from it a meaningful comprehension of the days in which we now live, and of things to come.
- To grasp the main focus and message of revelation.
- To be moved to take the warnings of Revelation seriously and seek to be a people prepared for the Lord’s return.
The book of Revelation brings to an end all that has come before. From the springs of Genesis the broad rivers of doctrine now pour into this great sea of revealing. The Bible is indeed a complete revelation of the mind and purpose of God and when we come to this book we tread on holy ground.
In Genesis we encounter beginnings; we find the tree and river of life, a bride, and God dwelling with man. So it is in Revelation. In Genesis we see Paradise closed; in Revelation it is opened again. In Genesis the curse is imposed; in Revelation it is removed. In Genesis we see the beginning of sorrow and death; in Revelation death and sorrow come to an end (Rev 21:4). We witness man’s dominion restored, the defeat of the serpent, and the triumph of the Lamb – the final crushing of the serpent’s head. In Genesis we see the first earth and heaven, in Revelation the new heavens and new earth. All is made new, and all is of God!
Although often referred to as the Revelation of John, this pre-eminent writing does not proceed from John Himself. Its Author is none other than Jesus Himself, and John acts as His scribe:
“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.” (Revelation 1:1-2)
Jesus Himself has the last Word. He it is who writes the final letters to the churches. Paul and others had gone before, and acted as His representatives, recording all that they heard and saw and shared it with the brethren, but here we have Jesus Christ Himself, the glorified Lord, specifically addressing His people, warning them of things to come, and presenting to them the very same joy that caused Him to go through the agonies of the cross.
“Of all the books of the Bible none other is so solemnly introduced to us; none so specially urged upon our attention; and, we must add, none so generally disregarded, so shunned, and so neglected. Yet no other book opens with the gracious promise of blessing on him that readeth, on those who hear and keep the things written therein. And to no other book is attached such a warning lest anyone should take from or add to its message. It is a message therefore of the very highest importance, though by men often lightly esteemed and treated as though it were superfluous, and could be dispensed with without material loss. In God’s estimate, at least, this book is of supreme value. In it we behold the end and consummation of all God’s work and plan, the climax and outcome of all His dispensations and dealings with men; and in it every prophecy and promise, every purpose and covenant finds its ultimate goal and fulfilment. In Genesis we have the beginning of all, in Revelation we have the end and goal of all.”
R.H.Boll, as quoted in ‘Explore The Book’ by J Sidlow Baxter
No other book so vividly shows us heaven, and so graphically describes to us the consummation of both good and evil, the conflict of the mystery of godliness (1Tim 3:16) and the mystery of iniquity (2Thess 2:7) coming to maturity.
It is called Revelation, the Greek word apokalupsis meaning the unveiling, the manifestation or revealing, the appearing and lightening. This is the very opposite of dark concealment, it is an opening and making plain to our understanding all that has come before. If indeed we do approach it with the heart of reverence and expectancy encouraged by verse three; “blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein”; we will find that its focus and message are bright and clear. Although some details may remain shrouded in mystery until their fulfilment pours the light of understanding upon them, the body and substance of the message is clear and urgent. As Jesus said, be ready for “the time is at hand.” (Rev 1:3).
Interpretation of Revelation
One’s understanding of Revelation is largely determined by the viewpoint one takes. Four basic interpretive views of Revelation exist:
|Interpretive approach||Basic Thesis|
|Preterist||All the events of Revelation were fulfilled during the period of the Roman empire. The book pictures the Neronian persecutions and Jewish rebellion, and the seven kings of Revelation 17:10 are successive Roman rulers. The number of the beast – 666 - is the numerical value of Neron Caesar in Hebrew etc.|
|Historical||The events depicted in Revelation are a progressive panorama of church history from the apostles until the consummation, with each symbolic event representing various events throughout history.|
|Idealist||Revelation does not represent actual events, but is simply a broad symbolic depiction of the struggle between good and evil.|
|Futurist||The book of Revelation from Chapter 4 onwards describes future events that will accompany the end of the age.|
The most commonly held view, and the one that seems to fit with the complete prophetic Revelation of Scripture, is the futurist viewpoint. These are indeed prophetic foretellings of actual events yet to come. Although elements of the prophecy may have been fulfilled in part, or typically in certain events of history, their complete and final fulfilment remains for the end of the age.