Title: INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF REVELATION
We are about to begin a study unlike many others – a study on prophecy of the uncertain future. The very title of the book “Revelation” in Greek, apokalupsis, means unveiling of that which is about to take place, disclosure. This book unveils the program and character of God. But just because this book is about prophecy of the future, make no mistake about it, we will find admonitions for our daily walk and things that apply to the church today.
The author is the Apostle John. Rev. 1:1, 4, 9; 22:8 As stated in 1:9, John was banished to the island of Patmos by the emperor Domitian approximately A.D. 95. Question: Why do you think John reveals himself as the author so many times in this book, yet when he wrote his gospel, he did not reveal his name (the one whom Jesus loved, the one who leaned upon Jesus’ breast)? (Perhaps because the content of this book has a different value to him. When he wrote his gospel about Jesus, he wanted Jesus to be the main attention, not himself, the writer.)
Setting: The letter was written in a time of much persecution, and is thus written to seven selected churches in the Roman province of Asia. Rev. 1:9; 2:10, 13 As a form of persecution, Domitian often banished people to various places of exile. Patmos was a penal island much like Alcatraz. John did not die there – he was set free and John then went to Ephesus and lived to an old age and died there. Most likely this letter was circulated among those seven churches. It gains rapid popularity and it was widely circulated soon thereafter. But it has a message to the church as a whole, for often in it is recorded the words, “He who has an ear, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Theme: Revelation is a book of prophecy, like Daniel. It emphasizes the increasingly violent worldwide attempts of Satan to oppose Christ’s declaration of His kingly rule on earth. It foretells the complete destruction of the evil forces and reveals Christ’s establishment of His everlasting Kingdom. It shows the emergence of the righteous remnant that is loyal to Christ among a prevailing mood to compromise with the World. It reveals why the righteous suffer until the time God unveils the Kingdom. This conflict ends with the final judgment at the Great White Throne, the appearance of the New Jerusalem, and the beginning of eternity. This apocalyptic letter reveals contrasts: two opposing powers, God and Satan; two distinct ages: the present one which is temporal and evil, and the one to come is timeless and perfectly righteous; the first is under the influence of Satan and the second under God’s control. This book of prophecy reveals everything moves forward according to God’s plan toward a victorious end.
Though this book is pessimistic about this present age, John wrote earlier, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) History is under God’s supervision; redemption has already been won by the Lamb.
Some of the things in this book reveal things that have happened to the church in the past, things happening in them now, and things that will happen to the church yet to come, particularly just prior to Christ’s return. That leads us to the key verse John states as to how to interpret this book: Rev. 1:19.
Message for us today: This book is designed to warn us of the spiritual dangers to which we are exposed, and to inform us of the trials to come, and comfort us with the assurance of the final victory of Christ over the powers of darkness. Therefore we can stand firm in Christ and we must not become complacent nor compromise with the ungodly world in which we live.
The Christ of Revelation: This book clearly presents an awesome resurrected Christ who has received all authority to judge the earth. Look at all the awesome names that are ascribed to Him in this book: Jesus Christ (1:1), the faithful witness, the first born of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth (1:5), the first and the last (1:17), the living One (1:18), the Son of God (2:18), holy and true (3:7), the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of creation of God (3:14), the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David (5:5), the Lamb (5:6), Faithful and True (19:11), the Word of God (19:13), King of Kings, and Lord of Lords (19:16), the Alpha and Omega (22:13), the bright morning star (22:16), and the Lord Jesus (22:21).
This book is indeed “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1) since it comes from Him and centers on Him. It begins with a vision of His glory, wisdom, and power (ch.1), and portrays His authority over the entire church (2:3). He is the Lamb who was slain and declared worthy to open the book of judgment (ch.5). His righteous wrath is poured out upon the whole earth (ch. 6-18), and He returns in power to judge His enemies and to reign as the Lord over all (19:20). He will rule forever over the heavenly city in the presence of all who know Him (21:22).
The scriptures close with His great promise: “And behold, I am coming quickly.” (22:7,12). To which the Bride of Christ shouts, “Amen, come, Lord Jesus.” (22:20)
1. Since the Book of Revelation is an apocalypse (an unveiling of the program of God), we must be ready to receive the message God would give us personally. What do we need to do in order to receive God’s message for our lives? (Be open to it, not resist it; listen for it, even search for it; don’t react to it, but humbly evaluate it; don’t discount it or think it applies to everyone else but you.)
2. Why do you think Jesus repeats the phrase frequently: “He who has an ear, listen to what the Sprit says to the churches”?
3. Why is man so prone to not listening to God’s correction in our lives?
4. Knowing that Satan’s attempts are going to increase in violence towards Christians, what can we do in the meantime? (Stand firm in our faith, resist him, put on the full armor of God, and take the offensive, not the defensive.)
5. Knowing that trials are to come, how do you find your peace and confidence?
6. What has helped you the most to stand firm in the midst of trials?
7. Of all the names of Christ, which one do you like the most? Why?
END-TIME EVENTS AS EXPLAINED IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION
1. The Great Tribulation begins in Chapter 6 with the opening of the seven seals of judgment on the scroll. There is an interlude between the 6th and 7th seals, where the 144,000 Christian/Jews are numbered.
2. The seventh seal brings on the seven trumpets of judgment. There is also an interlude between the 6th and 7th trumpets where the “two witnesses” testify and are slain.
3. With the 7th trumpet we mark the halfway point of the 7-year Great Tribulation. As the 7th trumpet is blown, the Antichrist, False Prophet, and the Great Harlot appear on the scene.
4. Next are the seven bowls or vials of wrath. These judgments are markedly much more severe than the seals and trumpets.
5. Following the last bowl, Babylon falls.
6. At the end of the 7 years of Great Tribulation, Christ returns (the 2nd Coming).
7. Following Christ’s coming is the Battle of Armageddon where the Beast and the False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire. Satan is thrown into a bottomless pit and held there for 1,000 years.
8. The next event is the Millennium (the thousand year reign of Christ).
9. At the conclusion of the Millennium Satan is loosed from the pit and destroyed and thrown into the real “Hell.”
10. Next comes the Great White Throne of Judgment where all the living and dead are judged and either sent to Hell or to the new Heaven, the New Jerusalem.
11. Earth is then destroyed by fire and eternity begins with our Father in the new Heaven and earth.