I appreciate the way in which Oliver Greene approached the study of Revelation. He said that "the only way to understand Revelation was to read it and let it say exactly what it says, then look to the Spirit to reveal the deep truths He would have you know. Then realize that no one will ever understand all of the Revelation".
Now that is an honest and extremely valid statement about the Book of the Bible which is the only one that offers a blessing for sharing, hearing, and taking it to heart. Why, because the end is near. Revelation 1:3 says reading from the NKJV that-
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, because the time is near.
There is an ancient legend that tells of the general whose army was afraid to fight. The soldiers were frightened and the enemy was too strong. Their fortress was too high and their weapons were too mighty.
The general however was not afraid. He knew his men could win but how could he convince them? He had an idea and told the men he had a magical coin, a prophetic coin, and a coin that could foretell the outcome of the battle.
On one side was an eagle and the other a bear. If the coin landed eagle side up, they would win, but if the bear side were up, they would lose. As the coin was flipped into the air, the army was silent. When the coin fell to the ground, they all circled about it to see the result.
As they held their breath and looked, they saw it was eagle side up, they would win. Bolstered with the assurance of victory, they marched into battle and won. After their great victory, the king showed the men that the coin had two sides, which were identical.
Now the story is fictional but the truth is reliable: assured victory empowers the army.
That may well be the reason that God gave us the Book of Revelation. In it, He assures victory, we are privileged to see the battlefield. All hell breaks loose as all heaven comes forth. Colliding in the ultimate battle of good and evil. Then in the midst of the smoke and thunder left by this great battle is the Son of God standing in victory.
Jesus born in a manger-now triumphant over Satan. Satan is defeated, Christ is triumphant and we, the soldiers, are assured victory.
Revelation is the book of consummation. God is vindicated against the backdrop of history and time. The book focuses primarily on prophetic events.
The title Revelation means “unveiling” or “disclosure”. Thus, it is the “disclosure” of the character and program of God. We note that the author of the Revelation is John the Apostle. He wrote what he was told and not what he wanted to write. Revelation 1:9-11 John writes-
9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,
11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”
John had been bold in telling everyone about Jesus Christ. That severely offended Domitian, the Emperor of Rome from A. D. 81-96. Domitian had assumed the title “Master and God” and he demanded that the people take an oath to worship him. John refused such a command and for this crime, he was exiled to the island of Patmos. A rocky, almost treeless wasteland, covered with volcanic hills and dented with caves. Domitian obviously thought that an old man in his nineties would not be able to survive such a cruel exile. This account is approximately 60 years since Christ's Ascension.
In the Greek text, it is known as the Revelation of John. It is also known as the Apocalypse, a transliteration of the Greek word apokalypsis, meaning unveiling, disclosure or revelation. Thus, it is the unveiling of that which otherwise could not be known. The better title is The Revelation of Jesus Christ as seen in the first verse of the book. So, it is a revelation to John that comes from Christ as revelation, which is about Christ. Because of the unified contents of the book, it should not be called Revelations.
The key to the Revelation is found in chapter 1 verse 19 and the threefold division of the book-
“Write, therefore, the things which you have seen”
What John had seen is recorded in verses 10-18. Christ in the midst of the 7 golden candlesticks (or lampstands) and this is past tense “and the things which are”, these things will be recorded in chapters 2 and 3. The professing church is traced from Pentecost to the Rapture.
This is present tense and has been in progress since the Day of Pentecost
“and the things which will take place after this” and this division begins with chapter 4 and continues until chapter 22 verse 5. This is essentially the prophetic part of the Revelation and the division is all future.
The seals, the trumpets, the vials, Babylon, the marriage of the Lamb, the Anti-Christ, Armageddon, the thousand-year reign of Christ (the millennium), Satan’s imprisonment in the pit for a time, all of this is the future. From 4:1 throughout the rest of the book is yet to be fulfilled.
Where are we now? Currently, we are living between Revelation 3: 7 and 3: 20. There are members of the church of Philadelphia as noted in Revelation 3: 7. As well, there are representatives of the Laodicean church, the lukewarm who profess but do not possess the love of God and a genuine experience with the Lord Jesus Christ.
I personally believe that these are the closing hours of the Dispensation of Grace. The next outstanding event for the church is the Rapture and, this could take place at any moment.
Matthew 24: 36 reminds us that no one knows the day or the hour however 1 Thessalonians 5: 1, 7 reminds us we are not ignorant of the times and the seasons.
I know that I am always looking forward. I am looking forward, especially to that day when we all get to heaven, and what a day of rejoicing that will be.
As much as I love this life, my family, my friends, and the privilege of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I quickly am reminded that this is not my home. Here I reside now but one day I will be in the presence of my Lord and Savior.
How do I say those things? Because as the Apostle said in 2 Timothy 1:12-
...I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Hin against that day.
Trust that is true for you as well this day.
In God's Grace,