Chapter 1 of "Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment"
Initial considerations for the
study of Revelation
The nature and purpose of Revelation revealed
The value of the book for all who read, hear, and obey it.
The origin of Revelation, who wrote it, and when?
The Nature and Purpose of Revelation
The nature and purpose of Revelation.
Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, is, essentially, a prophetic document.
The impressive time range
of its prophetic revelations
covers from the final years
of the 1st century of the
Christian Age to the present
21st century (19 plus centuries),
concluding with the end of
time itself and visions of the
beginning of eternity for
human beings who will have
been glorified and awarded
the crown of immortality.
Romans 2:7; 1 Corinthians 15:53-54
Historically, some visions of the book bring into view scenes of earlier times with their focus on ancient empires such as Sumer, Egypt, and Babylon, and powerful rulers like Nimrod and Nebuchadrezzar.
The spatial reach of the prophecies is no less awesome for it encompasses circumstances and events in spiritual dimensions as well as in the material universe.
With reference to living beings, the luminous, prophetical beams of Revelation focus on the earthly and also on the celestial, each beam individually in designated times and places, with the sum of them producing a wide array of information, orientations, and projections of many different moral and spiritual actions, some benign, others conflictive, even to extremely bellicose, in the material universe arena as well as in mental-spiritual ones.
Revealing beforehand their identities, natures, actions, and destinies.
Not only of vast temporal, spiritual, and intellectual extent, but also full of electrifying, intricate dramas presented following incredibly concise and colorful librettos, Revelation merits being classified, I personally think, as one of the world’s most unique and valuable literary works.
Revelation is a “prophetic message… completely reliable” more so even than personal testimonies and miracles.
"We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19 NIV
Revelation is, indeed, like an extensive line of torches across eons of time and geographical extensions that throw light on dark places of minds and hearts willing to “pay attention.” “Torch,” as in some Spanish translations, and “light” or “lamp” being more meaningful to most of humanity until the last century or so than “laser light” or “beam,” though the latter is, to me, a powerful metaphor for the function of true prophecies.
It is, truly, a powerful laser light visible to the knowledgeable and wise even in the darkest times of humanity. For example, the “Dark Age,” also called the “Medieval Age.” Not without strong reasons are those 10 centuries called “DARK,” and some visions of Revelation shine floodlights on the shadowy scenarios and evil protagonists who executed their destructive roles under the thick cover of dark ignorance, superstition, idolatry, incessant wars, simony, sexual sins, and incredibly cruel persecutions.
Revelation is an integral part of “the testimony of Jesus” that “is the spirit of prophecy.”
The following two inspired texts identify the principal content of Revelation.
1. Revelation 1:1. "The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John..."
“Revelation” is the inspired term that precisely defines the content of the book of Revelation. What does this “revelation” contain? The verse itself gives us the answer. It divulges “what must soon take place.”
What purpose motivates God to give through Jesus Christ this “revelation?” The answer is also found in Revelation 1:1. We are informed that God desires to “show his servants what must soon take place.”
Back there in the 1st century, the apostle John still being alive, God foresees from his throne in the High Heavens “what” for that time belonged to the future. All that he foresaw had not yet taken place, but, nevertheless, would most definitely come to pass in the future after the date when John received “the revelation.”
“…must soon take place,” that is to say: The omniscient Creator God, contemplating the time space from the end of the 1st century across the following future centuries of the
Christian Age, clearly discerns “what” was going to happen. At least, those entities, peoples, and events he wanted “to show his servants,” synonymous with “Christians” or the “church” which his Son Jesus Christ had successfully established in 30 a. d.
Now then, let us keep in mind that foresee is not synonymous with predestinate. God foresees that many bad things as well as good ones with take place, a fact that even a superficial reading of Revelation corroborates.
Even though God has knowledge of them beforehand, evils would manifest themselves, not necessarily because Deity had programmed them or purposely predestined them, but as a consequence of sin already existing in the world from the fall of Adam and Eve. They would take place as a result of the power of Satan in human beings who voluntarily submit themselves to him.
Since the “perishable seed” (1 Peter 1:23) continues on Earth during the whole Christian Age, bad things would be produced, inevitably, all along the time line of this Age, according to the law that says: “…a bad tree bears bad fruit.” Matthew 7:15-20
It is also evident that some things foreseen, among them some from the dark side, must take place because God himself determines to providentially intervene in certain human situations “to accomplish his purpose.” Revelation 17:14-17
2. Revelation 1:3. “…the words of this prophecy.” This
expression also highlights the central content of
Revelation. Fundamentally, it is “PROPHECY,”
in contradistinction to revelations basically hortatory,
heartening, or doctrinal.
"...the words of this prophecy"
The central content of Revelation is PROPHECY.
The VALUE of Revelation
The great value of Revelation for anyone who reads, hears, and obeys it.
Many, many people who read Revelation, though only a small portion, are of the opinion that the
book is simply too difficult to understand, even completely indecipherable in the parts that are highly metaphorical. In their reading or studying, they quickly become discouraged when they confront so many exotic rhetorical figures. Then we hear exclamations such as:
“Reading or studying that book is a waste of time!”
“I looked at 2 or 3 videos on Revelation, also read a few articles, and it seems like hardly any two teachers or preachers agree on the interpretation of the book.”
To be sure, the book merits being placed in the category of “things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction,” as Peter says about some things in Paul’s letters, and I think of Romans, chapters 3, 9, and 11. Nevertheless, from the very first verse of Revelation its importance and value for the reader, hearer, and doer are stated and emphasized repeatedly, and, therefore, it is definitely to be inferred that understanding the book is not totally impossible. Let us consider:
1. Revelation 1:3. “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it…” Did you pay careful attention? Reading the words of this prophecy, hearing them, and taking them to heart brings blessings!
But how can those blessings be received if almost all the book is, according to the evaluation of many, a mystery wrapped in an enigma?
How can one “take to heart what is written” in Revelation if most of the book is incomprehensible?
What logic would there be in God’s giving the Revelation “to show his servants what must soon take place” if the “what” cannot be understood? This is not to say the most minute detail would have to be fully and perfectly understood, but, surely at least the broad strokes of the prophecies. And more than just the 7 letters to the 7 churches in the province of Asia for the “what” is about that which “must soon take place,” even for those 7 churches.
2. Revelation 22:7 and 9. “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”
Instructively, the angel that showed the apostle John “what must soon take place” identifies himself, saying: “I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll.” Revelation 22:9. Recapitulating: How can human beings, or even the angels, keep the words if they cannot understand them?
3. Revelation 22:16. Revelation was given by God as a “testimony… for the churches.” However, if this “testimony” is not understandable, with what logic would it be given “for the churches?"
4. Revelation 19:10. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” This means, I understand, that “prophecy,” and, by inference, its real and faithful fulfillment, figure notably in the “testimony” that Jesus gives “for the churches,” and, also, as orientation and warning for every person who does not know and follow the God of “this prophecy.”
However, this “testimony of Jesus” would only bring confusion, even ridicule, if it is found to be totally, or almost, totally incomprehensible. It would produce the same effect as speaking in a “strange tongue,” without an interpreter, in the presence of people who did not understand it. “…will they not say that you are out of your mind?” 1 Corinthians 14:9-11, 27-28.
Click here for an in-depth study on the declaration: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
5. Conclusion. In the light of these texts, it appears to me not only reasonable and beneficial but also absolutely necessary to scrutinize the book of Revelation assiduously and patiently. Farther still, to do it as a duty implicitly imposed by God, the giver of “this prophecy.”
It is due to this conviction that I have been striving for a long time to fulfill what I perceive as “my personal duty to understand, to the highest degree possible, the prophecies and visions of the book,” without neglecting other vital areas of spiritual knowledge.
Esteemed friend, I would respectfully encourage you to do the same.
Personally, I have been able to confirm that Revelation really is, at least it has become so for me, a very rich and varied treasure. Examining it slowly, reading it over and over, objectively, laying aside preconceived notions, even traditional interpretations, exploring, visualizing, going deeper, learning, acquiring ever more knowledge of secular and religious history, making it mine, and not just what others have said it to be… all this, and more, including much prayer for understanding, redounds in extremely valuable blessings, among them: That of certifying the veracity of the book.
And this very certification is attained when we witness the unquestionable fulfillment of the prophecies projected for the times in which we live, as well as verify the astonishing fulfillment of the prophecies and visions given, according to my understanding, for previous periods of the Christian Age (Common Age) such as the Medieval Age and the Reformation.
It is precisely in this context that Revelation is, effectively, “the prophetic message… completely reliable.” Or, “…a more sure word of prophecy,” as some translations render 2 Peter 1:19.
To be continued...