October 2, 2010
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
I feel released of the Holy Spirit to go ahead with a brand-new series of teachings on the book of Revelation. I feel that given the place in time the Body of Christ is, there is no more important book in all of the Bible for believers to know and understand. That is not to say that all scripture is not relevant and important. It seems though that for a variety of reasons, this book has all but been ignored by a large percentage of the Church. Ministers of the gospel seem to shy away from this book, as they do most eschatalogical studies. Since a full one-third of the Bible is prophetic in nature, it behooves us to study these subjects and to know the mind of God on these matters.
I am still seeking the Lord as to the format to take for this series. Typically, I would teach through this book expostionally; exploring each verse in-depth. I feel that would make the series far too long. We will see as we go what shape this teaching will take. As we go through this teaching, any feedback that the reader would care to offer would be greatly appreciated.
First, lets understand the nature of the book of Revelation. Contrary to much popular belief this book is not a book of fear. It is not a book about the Great Tribulation, the Beast, false prophet, or judgments; even though all of these are dealt with in the book. What is it about then? The answer to that question is found in the first words of Revelation 1:1, The Revelation of Jesus Christ…[Rev. 1:1a NKJV] This is the actual title of the book. Many Bibles render the title, The Revelation of Saint John the Divine. This is incorrect, for John is neither the subject or source of revelation. This is literally the revelation, the unveiling, or revealing of Jesus Christ. You could translate verse 1 as, The Revelation from Jesus Christ, as He is the one who actually delivered it to John. Notice the progression of the revelation, 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. [Rev. 1:1b NKJV]
Notice, that the Father gave this revelation, this unveiling, to the Son, who in turn sent it by His angel to the Apostle John. Why was this done? To show His servants—things which must shortly take place. God’s great purpose in giving this revelation was to show, not hide from or conceal from His servants, those events that would transpire from John’s day into eternity. Notice, if you will, the word shortly. This word being misunderstood has caused some to wrongly assume that the events spoken of would occur in close proximity to the time in which John wrote of them. This would be the preterist view, (which we will explain in greater detail later). The word translated shortly, is the Greek word tachos. The thought is quickly, rather than shortly. In other words, once these events begin to transpire, they will do so quickly; in rapid succession until they are all fulfilled.
John was in captivity on the Isle of Patmos, a volcanic, treeless, rocky island about 6×10 miles, 30 miles S.W. Of Samos, on the Eastern coast of the Aegean Sea; when he was given this message for the churches. The Roman government had made this place a prison colony for the lowest of criminal element of the day, and here we find the beloved Apostle John. Why had he been banished here? What exactly was his crime? He tells us in verse 9, I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. [Rev. 1:9 NKJV] This man of God was such an irritation to the Roman Emperor Domitian that in order to silence his testimony he sent him to Patmos. The fact that Domitian was the Emperor of Rome at this time gives us a major key to understanding at what time the book was written. We know from history that Titus Flavius Domitianus, (commonly known as Domitian), reigned as Roman Emperor from 81 to 96 A.D. The weight of scholarship places the date of the writing of the book of Revelation at 96 A.D., toward the very end of Domitian’s reign.
This might be a good place to mention the various schools of interpretation concerning the book of Revelation.
- Preterist Interpretation – This view interprets Revelation and its various symbols as being events of John’s own time in veiled language. This would take in to the end of the Roman Empire, or at least until the conversion of Constantine.
- Historicist Interpretation – This view interprets Revelation as being a chart of the whole history from Christ’s first Coming until His Second Coming.
- Idealist Interpretation – This view sees Revelation as containing messages for the first century, and a few prophecies of the far future; but mainly messages and principles that are always valid in Christian experience.
- Futurist Interpretation – This view interprets Revelation as mainly prophecy for a future time, with the events of the book transpiring at a time right before the Return of Christ. This view especially sees chapters 4 – 22 as yet future events.
For the sake of this teaching, I would be of the futurist school. While I certainly see the historical aspect of the book, I believe the vast majority of the book of Revelation is yet future. The book of Revelation is written in three tenses, as is shown in 1:19, Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. [Rev. 1:19 NKJV] This text presents three tenses and also informs us that Revelation is written in chronological order: the past – chapter 1; the present – chapters 2 & 3 (the history of the seven churches to the present time); and the future – chapters 4 – 22.
This is the only book of our Bible that promises a blessing to the one who reads it, hears it, and obeys it. John wrote, 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. [ Rev. 1:3 NKJV] John stated that the time is near. In the Greek text there are two basic designations of time. There is first, chronos, which refers to the basic passage of time. We get the word chronological, for example, from this word. There is then kairos, which speaks of an opportune, or appointed time. It is this second Greek word that John uses here. The appointed time, the opportune time, the beginning of the fulfillment of these things which begins with the Church as recorded in chapters 2 and 3, and continues forever; was at hand. At hand, is from the root to squeeze or throttle. The time is ready.
Notice to whom John addresses the letter. 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, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. [Rev. 1:4, 5 NKJV] These were seven literal congregations that existed in the province of Asia-Minor. It is interesting to note that we know from history that there were more than seven Christian churches in Asia-Minor at the time of the writing of the book of Revelation. There were churches in Colossal, Miletus, Hierapolis, and Magnesia as well. These seven were selected as being representative of the entire Church Age.
The number seven figures very prominently in this book. Numbers have great significance to God in revealing His plan to us. The number seven was regarded by the Hebrews as a sacred number, and it is throughout Scripture the covenant number, the sign of God’s covenant relation to mankind, and especially to the Church. Vincent’s Word Studies offers the following, “The evidences of this are met in the hallowing of the seventh day; in the accomplishment of circumcision, which is the sign of a covenant, after seven days; in the part played by the number in marriage covenants and treaties of peace. It is the number of purification and consecration (Lev_4:6, Lev_4:17; Lev_8:11, Lev_8:33; Num_19:12). “Seven is the number of every grace and benefit bestowed upon Israel; which is thus marked as flowing out of the covenant, and a consequence of it. The priests compass Jericho seven days, and on the seventh day seven times, that all Israel may know that the city is given into their hands by God, and that its conquest is a direct and immediate result of their covenant relation to Him. Naaman is to dip in Jordan seven times, that he may acknowledge the God of Israel as the author of his cure. It is the number of reward to those who are faithful in the covenant (Deu_28:7; 1Sa_2:5); of punishment to those who are forward in the covenant (Lev_26:21, Lev_26:24, Lev_26:28; Deu_28:25), or to those who injure the people in it (Gen_4:15, Gen_4:24; Exo_7:25; Psa_79:12). All the feasts are ordered by seven, or else by seven multiplied into seven, and thus made intenser still. Thus it is with the Sabbath, the Passover, and the Feast of Weeks, of Tabernacles, the Sabbath-year, and the Jubilee.” [Vincent’s Word Studies]
Seven also occurs as a sacred number in the New Testament. There are seven beatitudes, seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer; seven parables in Matthew 13; seven loaves, seven words from the cross, seven deacons, seven graces (Rom_12:6-8), seven characteristics of wisdom (Jam_3:17). In Revelation the prominence of the number is marked. To a remarkable extent the structure of this book is molded by the use of numbers, especially of the numbers seven, four, and three. There are seven spirits before the throne; seven churches; seven golden candlesticks; seven stars in the right hand of Him who is like unto a son of man; seven lamps of fire burning before the throne; seven horns and seven eyes of the Lamb; seven seals of the book; and the thunders, the heads of the great dragon and of the beast from the sea, the angels with the trumpets, the plagues, and the mountains which are the seat of the mystic Babylon, – are all seven in number.
Notice if you will Verse 5. John writes, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. [Rev. 1:5a NKJV] First, this speaks of Jesus’ unique relationship with and to the Father. Firstborn all through the Torah speaks of supremacy, the blessing of the Father, the right to rule, etc. It also speaks of the relationship between the risen Christ and the dead in Christ. 1 Cor. 15:20 – 23 – First fruits; Lev. 23:9 – 14. First fruits speaks of the first portion of the harvest, a portion specially dedicated to God. The First fruits were a promise of the greater harvest to follow, and the offering of them was a demonstration of faith in God’s provision. If He provided the first fruits, He would certainly supply the full harvest! Notice the second part of of the verse, To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. The price our Lord paid on the cross proves His love in no uncertain terms.
Verse 6 says, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. [Rev. 1:6 NKJV] Lit. a kingdom – The emphasis in the literal is on the kingdom. CJB – “who has caused us to be a kingdom, that is, cohanim for God, his Father — to him be the glory and the rulership forever and ever. Amen.” In the Tanakh both kings and priests were set apart by being anointed with olive oil.
I want to close this edition with verse 7. The Word says, 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. [Rev. 1:7 NKJV] This is not speaking of the resurrection or rapture of the Church. It is not referring to the “catching away” or the “great assembly”. This refers to His triumphant return with His Church,who at this time would have been with the Lord in Heaven for seven years. The Second Coming of Christ to rule and reign is the chief theme of this book. “Clouds” is probably a literal reference to clouds, or it could symbolically refer to the great number of saints accompanying Christ at His Return. Every eye in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem, and billions of people most likely via live satellite television will see Him as He returns with the saints.
What an exciting book this is! What glorious while at the same time horrific events it presents. We have only begun to scratch the surface. This promises to be quite a ride!
The Weekly Word is found in Revelation 1:18 – 20. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. [Rev. 1:18 – 20 NKJV]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson