Article of the Month

January 2008

Revelation

The book of Revelation is the final book of the Bible.  It is last for a good reason.  Without having an understanding of God’s plans and purposes as revealed in all of the previous books (Old and New Testaments), it is impossible to understand Revelation. The results could only be confusion, sensationalism, and speculation. Nevertheless, it is ever so common for people to gravitate toward this fascinating prophecy. Radio and television ministries gain fame and money for their less-than-rational interpretations. Books and films of fiction (supposedly based on Revelation) make publishers, writers, and producers fabulously wealthy.  The one thing these “expositors” do not accomplish is that they throw no light on the great truths of this last book of Holy Scripture.

In a short article like this, it clearly is not possible to explain the details of Revelation.  It is possible, however, to give an intelligent and accurate summary of its form, content, purpose, and fundamental meaning.

SYMBOLISMS

The first VERY IMPORTANT truth about Revelation is that it does not say what it means!  We call this symbolisms.  It may talk about a lamb, but it MEANS Jesus.  It may talk about “death,” but it MEANS dying to an idea or condition—not the actual death of a person.  It may talk about “stars,” but it MEANS people who teach great truths—light-bearers.  All of this is stated IN THE FIRST VERSE of Revelation.  It says that Jesus had the message “SIGNIFIED.”  This literally means PUT INTO SIGNS OR SYMBOLS.  Explanations of Revelation which rely on literal interpretation are immediately suspect since literal interpretation is warned against by Revelation’s very first verse.

Revelation is the only purely prophetic book of the New Testament.  The Old Testatment, on the other hand, has numerous prophetic books.  Symbolism is a part of the nature of prophecy.  Prophecy is purposely obscured by the use of symbolism so that prophetic meaning will become clear only to those for whom the Lord intends it.  The rest of mankind is kept in darkness until the time (in the Kingdom) when God will deal with them.  Understanding now is reserved for sincere and teachable disciples.  (Consider this lesson as taught in:  Isaiah 6:;9, 10; 28:9, 10; 29:10-14; 56:10, 11; Jeremiah 5:21; Daniel 12:9, 10; Matthew 13:10-17, 34, 35; Mark 4:10-12; Acts 28:24-27.)

WHEN IS IT FULFILLED?

We learn another important item from Revelation’s first verse.  The contents of Revelation are “to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass.”  This great prophecy was written just before A.D. 100.  We are 2,000 years past that time.  Revelation, contrary to common interpretations, is a prophecy covering the details of the last 2,000 years extending into our day.  Therefore, MUCH OF IT HAS ALREADY BEEN FULFILLED.

At any point during the 2,000 years of the Christian or Gospel Age, disciples could see what for them “must shortly come to pass.”  The book is entitled (in its first verse), THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.  It is a prophecy designed to show how Jesus would be REVEALED THROUGHOUT THE AGE to his disciples. 

The first half of Revelation (Chapters 1-13) divides the history of 2,000 years into seven periods of time symbolized by seven churches, seven seals, and seven trumpets.  These seven periods are to show (by their symbols) religious conditions for the true and apostate churches with the social conditions and historical events accompanying church history.  All of these periods except a part of the seventh period are history—GONE, FINISHED, FULFILLED!  We now are living in the closing years of the seventh church, seal, and trumpet.

The middle section of Revelation (Chapters 14-19) deals with events during the last or seventh period of the Church.  It is a period Jesus calls “the harvest.”  These chapters cover events in the world from the late 1800s until a point now not too far in the future.  Therefore, much of these chapters (all but their climactic conclusions) also is history—FULFILLED! 

Finally, the last segment of Revelation (Chapters 20-22) deals with the establishment and functioning of Christ’s 1,000-year Kingdom.  Even a small part of these chapters is fulfilled because the beginnings of the establishment of the Kingdom occur during the seventh church period.  (Revelation 11:15)  The great upheavals in society, religion, politics, and economics we see in our day are a part of the great “earthquake” which removes man’s disastrous rule over himself and replaces it with the glories of God’s Kingdom.  Finally!  We are living in the days when God is intervening to answer our age-long prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come.  Thy will be done in earth.”

FEAR

Throughout the Gospel Age apostate church leaders have used fear as a motivator to control the people.  If it hasn’t been hell-fire, it has been the more modern threats like “second death” made by the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” group.  It is unfortunate that duped preachers of our day continue to foist their nightmarish versions of prophetic fulfillment upon us.  Revelation is used as the source of sensationalism, fear-mongering, and totally absurd claims concerning our future.  In Revelation 1:7, one of the first things Jesus says to John (who represents all true disciples) is, “FEAR NOT!”  When we come to understand the beautiful contents of Revelation, it inspires awe and love, not fear.  It gives great confidence in the God Who predicted the details of 2,000 years of history and Who has it all in control.  Revelation, when understood, now becomes our preview of the beautiful “coming attractions” that will bless the whole world.

COMING

We are preparing a new book, REVELATION SIMPLIFIED.  It will replace symbols with their literal intent.  It will be designed to introduce the sincere reader to the rational and beautiful contents of this great prophecy and to remove the mysterious and threatening characterizations being circulated concerning Revelation.  Look for it at this website.  We will announce its availability here.

May the Lord bless your considerations of His Word.