I woke my dear wife up by snoring, and she returned the favor by shoving! So now I’m up at 3:00 and decided to tackle one of the topics suggested for my blog on Facebook (find me on Facebook and let’s be friends!).
I jumped on what I consider the toughest topic there: the Book of Revelation. A couple Facebook friends suggested it. DISCLAIMER: There must be something about blogging in the wee hours of the morning that impairs one’s judgment, so you’ve been warned.
PS: when I use revelation with a small “r” I mean the concept of that which is revealed. With a big “R” I mean the book, unless begins a sentence, in which case you’re on your own.
PPS: read the blog, because at the end there’s an awesome project for you try.
I would not attempt to blog the whole book chapter by chapter, nor would I attempt to make a case for any particular eschatological scenario from this book. I’ll do something better. I’d like to point out what I consider the baseline truth of the book; something you have to come to grips with before you should ever bother counting the toes on the beast or the horsemen of doom.
The book opens with these three words in Greek: Apokalupsis Iesou Christou. A Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Think of revelation (apokalupsis) as an unveiling. An uncovering. Something is hidden and awaits a Big Reveal, like a statue in a park at its dedication. This book assumes that the person and work of Jesus Christ, in their deepest significance, are hidden from human understanding and require a revelation. This revelation takes two forms: 1) an eschatological, end time, last day physical appearing; and 2) this book itself, which reveals truth about Jesus.
Why is Jesus hidden? Is God playing hide and seek? Is he holding back on us?
Not at all. The deep things of God are hidden because our minds are clouded by our fallen condition. We’re messed up members of a messed up race.
14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14, NKJV).
Without God’s initiative in sending down his written revelation, would would be stuck in the dark about Jesus, God, salvation, and ultimate reality. If you sat down in a room with the smartest people in the world, you would never create an accurate description of God. You would shrink him. You would distort him. You would never imagine his plan of salvation. You would never concoct his Savior. He is hidden from your eyes, and you need a REVELATION of JESUS CHRIST. An unveiling of his majesty.
We are fallen people whose instincts of God are warped.
Compounding our fallenness, we have the evil genius, Satan, throwing his veil of dumbness over our eyes.
3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4, NKJV).
The “god of this age” dims our corporate understanding of the Lord Jesus. Without a revelation, we’re clueless.
So God, in his great mercy, has provided the revelation we need. He revealed himself, partly,through nature. He revealed himself, historically, through his mighty deeds. He revealed himself, supremely, through his Son, Jesus.
1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:1-3, NKJV).
If you want to know what God is like, look into the face of Jesus. And herein lies our problem. How? How can we study Jesus?
Through the deposit of revelation that we call the Bible. The Bible is God’s self-revelation — his self-disclosure — permanently inscribed for all time. That’s what makes this book so important. That’s why I urge our church week after week to stay in the Word. There is not and never will be a substitute for the Bible. Not even the Holy Spirit will provide truth for you apart from the Word (Eph 6:17). The Spirit uses the Written Word as his sword; every believer in Jesus has the Spirit, not not every believer has the Word.
How can you love God if you don’t know God, and how can you know God unless you seek his face in the Word? You NEED this written revelation, because you will NEVER, by searching, find out God! You will invariably distort and minimize him. You are utterly, hopelessly, totally dependent upon God’s self-revelation… i.e., upon Scripture.
When John opens the book of Revelation with the words, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, he wants you to sit up and take notice. He is about to unveil the celebrity of the universe. Yes, Jesus will be revealed, eschatologically in history; but this book is about more than that.
It is about JESUS HIMSELF TODAY. Who he is. What he has done and will do. What he is like. His names, attributes, qualities, character, agenda, and appearance. The Book of Revelation offers a glimpse into the heartbeat of Jesus.
If you want to know your Savior, pause your obsession with “end times” stuff (it’s definitely here, you can look for it later) and first look for Jesus.
So here’s your project of awesomeness. Open the book of Revelation with a pencil in hand, and as you read, UNDERLINE COOL STUFF ABOUT JESUS. Look for Jesus, not headlines. Jesus, not signs of the end. Jesus, not Antichrists. Look for truth about Jesus. Names. Descriptors. Plans.
When you find them, underline them. Reflect, meditate, think, pray.
You will be AMAZED at the profile that emerges. Here’s my sample from the first paragraph:
1:1* ¶ 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, 2* who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. 3* ¶ 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. 4* John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5* and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6* and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7* Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. 8* “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Try it, and let me know. Some sections of the book are packed with Jesus-statements. Where else is he the Alpha and Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty? What a Savior! And what a powerful book!
Before you ever try unraveling the end times in this book, why not sit and contemplate its profile of Jesus first? Isn’t eschatology about the revelation of HIM, anyway?
I thank God that he deigned to UNHIDE himself and his plan through his written revelation; we’d be lost with out him.
I’m going back to sleep now. I hope this was encouraging to you.