In this guide I’m going to talk about the foundation we need to be able to properly interpret the book of Revelation. I’m also going to take time to carefully unfold the truth about it’s mysterious symbols, discuss the main character, and…
By the way, this is probably going to be a series because there’s a lot of information to cover.
I found an old folder with a set of studies on this subject and I couldn’t resist sharing them. Doing it in this format ensures I stay consistent. There are about 30 lessons in the booklet. So if you are looking to learn more about the book of Revelation you are in the right place.
I invite you to take a look at the comment section of the videos on our YouTube channel, included below, and take advantage of the information I’ve provided. You will find several links, one, to the study itself, which has been provided should anyone want to follow along with the study. I know I like to review things for myself when I do my research, so I’ve provided a link below for you to follow along with the materials provided.
This is the first chapter, titled: The Hero of the Book is Introduced.
That is, of course, Jesus Christ.
And because we are studying the Bible, I’d like to request for the Holy Spirit to help us understand.
Father in heaven, I am grateful for the opportunity to share these studies with anyone looking to learn more about the book of Revelation. Understanding that these are spiritual matters, we ask for the guidance of your Holy Spirit. That your wisdom and understanding may guide us to Jesus is my prayer. In Jesus name. Amen.
Most of us who hold the Bible in high esteem wish to understand it better. We know that for a majority, the Bible, but specifically, the book of Revelation is a major problem.
We’ve probably experienced discouragement when studying this book because of a lack of understanding of its prophetic language and mysterious symbols which seem to defy its comprehension.
So while many have given up on ever understanding it, I want to make an invitation to you today not to give up on your quest to unseal the prophetic messages found in this amazing book.
As a word of encouragement, remember what the Scriptures helped the psalmist accomplish in his day, should persuade us today to consider its prayerful study.
When sharing his encounter with the Word of God, he leaves us with these reassuring words:
“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” And a personal favorite: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
And Jesus, the Hero of the book is recorded saying:
“Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.”
As we carefully study these words we realize that there is a sanctifying INFLUENCE OVER THE HEARER. All who truly believe what is written in there and put its principles into practice, will experience bountiful blessings.
Revelation, A Sealed Book?
Why are there so many of us that feel the Bible applies largely to the past, or the future, that it doesn’t apply to us today?
Have you heard of the futurist view? Futurism is a way to interpret some portions of the Book of Revelation and Daniel as future events. Then there is the Preterists, who believe that the events in the prophecies have already happened.
These views are held by many today.
When I began to study the books of Daniel and Revelation and worked progressively through its sequential prophecies, I saw a continuous historical flow. I have come to conclude that the reason many are unable to understand the prophecies comes down to the ideas advocated by futurism and preterism.
In my studies I will be using Historicism as my method of interpretation.
I will also be reading from a King James version of the Bible simply because I find this translation to be the most reliable as it was translated from traditional Hebrew and Greek texts.
Can We Really Understand Prophecy?
Another misconception roaming around is that these prophetic books have been sealed. Closed to human understanding. However, if this were true, then why would God call the title of the book — Revelation?
In 1 Corinthians 14:6 Paul gives us a glimpse at what Revelation is
“…if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?”
In other words, how would I be of any benefit to you if I came here speaking a language you could not understand. Except I speak to you either by
- knowledge – science and
- Revelation – meaning “disclosure,” or “manifestation”
- Prophesying – meaning, a prediction
- or by doctrine – which means “instruction”
The apostle was taught the gospel, by the Revelation of Jesus Christ. You can find this in Galatians 1:12.
But I digress, God commanded for the book not to be sealed.
Let’s briefly read an excerpt from the Book of Daniel, we’ll turn to 2:28,29.
Here Daniel provides a beautiful definition of what a revelation is. He says:
“…there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days…”
The word “revealeth” in the pictograph is a picture of the eye which represents knowledge and experience. I find it fascinating that Nebuchadnezzar understood God’s position as the One with the power to reveal secrets and is quoted in Daniel 2:47 saying :
…your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer ( H1541) of secrets…
With this in mind, we must, as did Daniel, conclude that it is
…He that reveals the deep and secret things: he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him…” (Daniel 2:22).
”And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.”
The command to the writer not to seal the prophecy of the book of Revelation.
What is the time that is at hand?
In Romans 13:12 Paul’s exhortation is to turn to God by casting off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light.
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”
And in 1 Peter 4:7 the apostle tells us that “the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”
Philippians 4:5-6 says:
“Let your moderation be known unto all men The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
The word moderation is “patience,” “gentle,”
In James 3:17 we are taught to seek the wisdom that is from above and this is then described as wisdom that is pure, peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated (or good for persuasion), full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
What I am also finding in the study of Revelation is, God wants to renew our minds with this knowledge. He wants to reform our strong characters and teach us the gentleness and meekness of Jesus.
Some of the most important messages God has ever given concerning character formation are found in the book of Revelation.
Notice the urgency of the message in Revelation 22:11 and 12.
“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”
This is a declaration marking the close of probation.
The work of character formation is coming to an end, bringing a sense of urgency to the reader.
In Psalm 81:12 God provides us an example of what has happened in past generations. In this particular story He is faced with the uncomfortable task of giving His people up to their lusts and desires. Because they walked in their own counsels and rejected God.
I’ve included a comment by F. B. Meyer where he beautifully explains the matter, he says:
God wants our emptiness, which seems to Him like the gaping beak of the young fledgling, Psalm 81:10. Give me room! is his incessant appeal. It must be the wonder of eternity, and it will certainly be our regret when we come to review our life, that we have asked so little. Give me room! cries the river, as it comes with a rush to the plains. Give me room! cries the wind, as it searches into the narrow courts and alleys of the slums. Give me room! says the Spirit of God, as He breathes around the house of our heart, seeking by any tiny crack to enter.
In the closing Psalm 81:13-16, we have an enumeration of all the blessings which would be ours, if only we would open our mouths wide. God would constitute Himself as our champion in subduing our enemies–the temptations from without and the inward warrings of selfishness and passion. He would give us unbroken and enduring blessedness. He would allow us to eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, which are meat and drink indeed. He would surely satisfy us with the sweet honey of His love. Let us begin to claim these benefits!
This is so sad. You can see Jesus clearly communicating this painful reality in Matthew 23:37 where He says:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under wings, and ye would not!
The gist of the matter is: God wants our hearts. He wants to bless us.
“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
Here again, we see the urgency communicated in the text along with a very special blessing pronounced on those who take time to understand and do the counsels presented in the book.
“Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”
You will find an emphasis throughout the book of Revelation on keeping the “sayings” or “teachings” of this book, because God is returning for His people.
He says, “behold I come quickly.”
Why is it Called a Revelation?
Matthew Henry explains:
“It is called the Revelation, because God therein discovers those things which could never have been sifted out by the reasonings of human understanding, those deep things of God which no man knows, but the Spirit of God, and those to whom he reveals them.”
Revelation is really a summary of the entire Bible, in which the main themes of Holy Scripture are reviewed in order to stress their importance.
The Bible introduces us to Jesus Christ and His merciful dealings with humanity in order to save us and bless us with Himself. He wants to be reunited with His people and provides the antidote for sin. Himself.
And most importantly, as an acorn embodies the mighty oak, so does the book of Revelation embodies the great key points of the entire Bible.
How to Understand
There are five key steps the Scriptures passed through to reach us today. Let’s take a look at what these are.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood…”
Before we proceed to unfold these verses, it’s important to note that this is the Revelation of a person. His name is Jesus Christ. The book starts with this simple truth. This is the revelation of Jesus Christ. So this will be my focus, Him.
The second step was The Father giving Jesus the prophecy for the purpose of showing His servants the future.
But before moving forward, I’d like to add that God considers His servants friends. I find that fascinating, the Creator of the universe considers me His friend.
Let me show you. Let’s read John 15:16.
“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”
But what I find more fascinating is how much John 15:16 sound like Revelation 1:1.
In John 12:26 He says:
“If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
Let’s take a look at John 14:21 to understand what we must do to qualify as His servants, or friends: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
You know one of the definitions of the word “manifest” is “signify”?
In Revelation 1:1-5 we read that God gave Jesus this Revelation to show His servants the future which was “signified” by His angel. In other words, Jesus will manifest Himself to His friends, those who study the Bible and put to practice what they’ve learned from God.
In Revelation 1:11 it says:
…I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
These are the seven churches that received the information revealed to John.
What Did John Write Exactly?
Revelation 1:19 says:
Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter…
This is the past, the present, and the future. Write what you’ve seen and give it to the churches.
Let’s review these five steps:
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
John was persecuted for his faith and service to God. Emperor Domitian tried to boil him alive in a caldron of oil. Some say that the book was written as a polemic against this emperor. This man deified himself and required his subjects’ worship. He was paranoid and cruel and known for his reign of terror. He exiled John to the island of Patmos in AD 97 and died two years after banishing John. John survived his cruelty and was preserved by God to continue preaching the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
What does he mean when he says:
“For the word and for the testimony of Jesus Christ”?
In Revelation 19:10 Gabriel defines what the testimony of Jesus is:
“I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of Prophecy.”
The testimony of Jesus is defined to be the Spirit of Prophecy.
Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.
We can clearly see this fact explained in His own words in Luke 24:44:
“These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”
And in John 5:39 Jesus said:
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
John writes the book of Revelation on the small island of Patmos, the “Alcatraz” of its day.
Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about the Words we are studying.
Rev 22:6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
In John 8:26 Jesus says:
“HE that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of HIM.” Then the next verse tells us plainly “…He spake to them of the Father” but they didn’t understand this. Why is this significant?
In 2Corinthians 4:3-4 it says:
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
This is why there is such a sense of urgency in the words of God. This concerns our eternal salvation or damnation.
This is why there’s urgency in the tone of the book. Satan, the god of this world, blinds the minds of those who do not believe in the Word of God.
What Are These Words According to the Scriptures?
John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
John 12:49-50 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
In the Great Controversy we find an exhortation by the writer to study the Bible. She says:
The Bible was designed to be a guide to all who wish to become acquainted with the will of their Maker. God gave to men the sure word of Prophecy; angels and even Christ Himself came to make known to Daniel and John the things that must shortly come to pass. Those important matters that concern our salvation were not left involved in mystery… the word of God is plain to all who study it with a prayerful heart… and no church can advance in holiness unless its members are earnestly seeking for truth as for hid treasure.
And the Father Himself in Deuteronomy as He speaks to Moses says He will put His words in Jesus’ mouth. Even the disciples understood that Jesus was the prophet Moses had written about.
And Peter answers Christ saying
…thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
The Book of Revelation starts with this truth as its foundation.