Chapter 1 of
"Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment"
Initial considerations for the
study of Revelation
The Fundamental Content of Revelation. Prophecy and Predestination. Time Range and Spatial Reach.
Revelation is essentially a prophetic document. The following two inspired texts identify the principal content of the book.
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.”
It sets forth within the limits determined by its Author, God the Creator and Controller of Time, what will happen before it happens! It is prophecy, pure and simple, without any element of uncertainty regarding its fulfillment because its infallible Author never fails when he identifies personages, events, and circumstances of the yet-to-be future.
It s not prediction, extrapolating, probability calculation, projection analysis, educated guessing, uneducated false prophesying, doctrinally unfounded prophesying, soothsaying, nor divining. Rather, simply a plain, unequivocable prophetic declaration by the God who has the real power to foresee unerringly “what must… take place.” Not “maybe, perhaps, might, or could,” but “must… take place.”
"...the words of this
The central content of
Revelation is PROPHECY.
2. Revelation 1:3. “…the words of this prophecy.” What is “the revelation?” It is “PROPHECY.” The fundamental content is “PROPHECY.”
In contradistinction to revelations basically doctrinal in nature, for example, the detailed dissertation in 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14 on supernatural gifts. Or, hortatory, such as Hebrews 5:11-14 and 6:1-12 on the importance for a Christian of going from drinking just “milk” to eating “solid food,” of which Revelation is a large buffet! Or, comforting, consoling, and encouraging, like Philippians 4:4-13.
The seven letters to the 1st century seven churches of the Roman province of Asia, which are basically analytical and hortatory in nature.
The historical scenes of “a woman clothed with the sun… an enormous red dragon… war… in heaven,” and persecution of the woman and “the rest of her offspring.” Revelation 12.
Inspiring scenes of essentially descriptive content such as that of the 144,000 who sing “a new song.” Revelation 14:1-5.
Its closing section is composed mostly of general explanations and warnings. Revelation 22:6-21.
The remainder of the book is almost purely prophetical.
Revelation is a “prophetic message… completely reliable” more so even than personal testimonies and miracles.
The apostle Peter writes: “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 very bright torches across eons of time and geographical extensions that throw a strong 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 with the coming of electricity, than “laser light” or “beam,” though the latter is, to me, a powerful metaphor for the function of true prophecies.
Revelation is, veritably, 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, a plethora of sexual sins, and incredibly cruel persecutions.
Revelation is truly and absolutely an integral part of “the testimony of Jesus,” that “testimony” being the very “spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10. “The revelation from Jesus Christ” are the very first words of the book of Revelation.
Christ receives “the revelation” from his “God and Father,” and makes it also his own! Thereby also infusing it with double authority, divine validity, unquestionable importance, and value, all the while fully aware that his God and Father was the original Author. The two cooperating fully in providing the church and all humanity with the so-very-important revealing of “what must take place” during the Christian Age. Collaborating as they do in all other glorious works of creation and redemption. On Earth and praying to his Father in Heaven, Jesus said: “All I have is yours and all you have is mine.” John 17:10.
Prophecy and Predestination
Some students of these subjects may think that “foreseeing” is synonymous with “predestinating.” If God foresees it, whatever “it” may be, then he predestinates “it” to happen, so they might reason. The more knowledgeable and analytical will understand that is really not so at all.
For the “perishable seed” (1 Peter 1:23) of evil continues on Earth during the whole Christian Age (Common Era), and it will most certainly produce bad thoughts and people, including secular, political, and religious rulers of all kinds, across the entire spectrum of this Age. A bad “seed” produces “…a bad tree” that “bears bad fruit.” An inviolate law of both the natural and the spiritual worlds. The opposite is also, thankfully, just as true: “…every good tree bears good fruit.” Matthew 7:15-20. Since the introduction of Evil in the Garden of Eden, there has been, is, and will be to the end of time, Good and Evil in the world, though not a single prophecy should ever be uttered!
Foreseeing, with supernatural power and clarity, the evolution, implementation, and heart-rending impact of powerful evil forces during the present Common Age does absolutely not imply the creation or predestination of them. To have foreknowledge is not to create, cause, or predestinate.
It is no less true that some things foreseen by God, among them some from the Dark Side, must take place, not because he foresaw them, but because he himself determines to providentially intervene in certain human situations “to accomplish his purpose.” A classic example is that of the “ten horns… the beast,” and the “prostitute,” in Revelation 17:12-18, a text to be studied fully in Chapter Seven of this commentary. I will copy it here, without further comment, adding boldface to keywords and expressions.
"The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. Then the angel said to me, ‘The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples,
multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” Revelation 17:12-18
The Time Range and Spatial Reach of Revelation
The time range of the prophecies and visions of Revelation is quite impressive. They cover 19 plus centuries, from the final years of the 1st century of the Christian Age to the present 21st century, concluding with the end of the 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 Nebuchadnezzar.
The spatial reach of the prophecies is no less awesome for it encompasses circumstances and events in vast spiritual dimensions as well as in the great material universe.
In terms of thinking, intelligent, rational beings, the luminous, prophetical beams of Revelation focus on those in the material universe and also on those in celestial, spiritual realms. Each beam individually in designated times and places, with the sum of them producing a wide array of information, orientations, and projections related to many different moral-spiritual-social-religious-secular beliefs and practices, revealing beforehand the identities, natures, actions, and destinies of the entities projected as involved.
For example: Angels faithful to God versus fallen angels with Satan-Lucifer as their leader; nations, kingdoms, and peoples deceived and used by the Dark Side versus nations, governments, and humans who have broken the chains of enslavement to evil; and, followers of God and his Son Jesus Christ versus atheists, humanists, hedonists, and scorners.
In synthesis, my personal opinion is that Revelation merits being classified as one of the world’s most unique and valuable literary works. Its great temporal, spiritual, and intellectual breadth, its scores of electrifying, intricate, interrelated dramas and visions unfolding according to incredibly concise and colorful librettos, plus a host of related values, lead me to place it in a category all its own.