One of the most misunderstood and least studied books of the Bible in our time is the book of Revelation. Most American pastors avoid the book of Revelation. They claim that it is not relevant or practical to the Christian life. They fear that teaching this book would frighten their people, or bring division over the many various interpretations of the book, and prophecy in general. Some church leaders go so far as to tell their people to avoid the book of Revelation, stating that no one can really understand this final book of the Bible.
Let us briefly consider the name, place, and message of this Biblical book. This book is called “The Book of the Revelation,” and begins with the words: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”(Revelation 1:1) According to the Bible, the grand climax of God’s redemptive plan is the revelation of Jesus in the heavens when He returns to earth at the end of the 7-year Tribulation Period. The Greek word that is translated “revelation” means “unveiling.” This will be the most awesome unveiling of God ever displayed in the history of man. For the first time ever, Jesus Christ will be seen by every living person on earth. (Revelation 1:7) The glory and power of God will be supernaturally unveiled in the person of Christ when He descends to the earth. (Matthew 24:29-30)
If a person only preaches and teaches the gospel, which is very important, and avoids the end of God’s eternal plan for the glory of God, he has failed to proclaim all of God’s divine revelation given to man. The Bible is not man centered. It is not about redemption, but about the redeemer! It is not about God blessing us, but about us glorifying Him! The glory of God is at the center of all of God’s revelation! Therefore, it is only fitting that the grand climax of God’s revelation is the personal and powerful display of the glory of God that will precede His coming to directly rule over His creation for His glory for 1,000 years!
A very significant question to answer is: Why did the early church place this book at the end of God’s written revelation to man? First, notice that the Bible is a collection of 66 books that contain the progressive revelation of God to man through 40 different writers, spanning a period of 1,500 years, on three continents. The fact that the Bible represents a progressive revelation indicates that God’s truth is like building blocks. The top blocks rest upon the ones beneath them. Even so, the New Testament rests upon the foundational truths of the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit assumes that the reader has read the previous books as the newer truth is anchored in previously revealed truth. The same can be said for the New Testament itself. The New Testament books were given through the apostles of our Lord from 45 A.D. to about 100 A.D. It is a known fact that the last living apostle was John, and it was through him that the Spirit of God gave to us the last book—the Book of the Revelation. This means that the book of Revelation is the capstone or climax of God’s written revelation to man. This book is the pinnacle of God’s revelation to man! In essence, the first 65 books of the Bible have been preparing the believer for the final revelation given to mankind. To say that the final book is irrelevant, insignificant, or impractical is basically challenging the knowledge and wisdom of the eternal omniscience (all-knowing) God!
Furthermore, look at the message of this book. It is all about the grand climax of God’s dealings with all of mankind through His Son, Jesus Christ. The central focus of the Bible and this final book is Jesus, because “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10) This book builds its crescendo of history until the reader reaches the climax in the final four chapters. In these last four chapters we are told about: the church’s grand celebration with her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, in heaven; the revelation of Christ at the end of man’s rule over God’s creation; the final defeat and imprisonment of Satan; the judgment of all of the sinners of all the ages; and the gathering of all the saints of all the ages to live in their eternal home on the new earth in the New Jerusalem where there will be no more Satan, sin, sinners, or consequences of sin. Therefore, the record of God’s written revelation would be incomplete without the book of Revelation. In this final book, the Holy Spirit takes all of the scattered prophecies in the first 65 books of the Bible, and puts them in a chronological sequence as they will unfold according to the predetermined will of God. So, the divine purpose of this book is to bring to conclusion and clarify the entire story of the Bible, from God’s perspective.
Is there any wonder that Satan is doing all he can to discredit the book of Revelation? As previously mentioned, many preachers have fallen into the trap of believing that it is not relevant or important to consider the end-time events. Such an attitude does not agree with God’s revelation! Can you imagine a person reading a novel that they cannot put down, only to finally conclude that it is not important to read the last chapter to see how it all ends? All of this just does not make godly sense!
Please note that we are promised a blessing if we read the book of Revelation: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”(Revelation 1:3)
I believe that our attitude toward the book of Revelation, and Biblical prophecy in general, is a test of our devotion to the Lord Jesus. If He is our Lord, how can we not be focused upon what He is doing, and will do in the end? Is our agenda more important than His agenda? If it is, then He is not the Lord of our life! And that, I believe, is the real problem in these last days! Our churches and pulpits are filled with carnal people who are focused upon self and others, rather the Lord Jesus! Many of these are simply not saved. Remember the message of our Lord to the church of Laodicea: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will [fellowship] with him, and he with me.”(Revelation 3:20)
My friend, are you sure that Jesus is your Lord and Savior? We are saved by grace, but our faith must be judged by our works. “Faith without works is dead.”(James 2:20) At the heart of being a true disciple of Jesus Christ is a lifestyle of self-denial. Jesus said: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he CANNOT be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, CANNOT be my disciple. … So, likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, CANNOT be my disciple.”(Luke 14:26-27, 33) This is the measuring stick that we will all face on the judgment day. It will not matter what you think or what you have heard, or just how sincere you really have been.
Here is the bottom line – is Jesus really first in your life and your lifestyle? The Bible declares: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19) Take a few minutes to really think about this verse! Are you living for the future when you will be with the One who died for your sins? If this is not the main focus of your life, then something or someone else is the priority of your life.
When a person’s life is totally focused upon their future in Jesus Christ, they will be riveted upon Biblical prophecy. Look at the godly men in the Bible who were intently focused upon the end-time events: Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Malachi, Jesus, and all of the apostles.
Finally, here is a question that we all need to seriously contemplate. Are you asking the Lord to join you in what you are doing, or are you seeking to join the Lord in what He is doing? How you answer this question will greatly determine what kind of attitude you will have toward the book of Revelation.