The book of Revelation is actually a book about the revelation of Jesus Christ to this world. This revealing of God’s Son is seen in His return – and the events leading up to it. If I were to get picky – I would insist that the entire Bible is actually about this revealing of God’s Son – and how God has been working in the past and the present to eventually sum up all things in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In light of this, I just want to ask a question of all the prophecy wonks out there. Are we doing a service to the body of Christ – or a disservice by our constant clamor about what we see in the news – and its direct relation to the return of the Lord? Are we ultimately pointing them to Him – or just to us as the authority on all things prophetic?
The book of Revelation is about revealing Jesus to us. So, I want to take a few moments (probably more than just a few – as I tend toward a windiness or wordiness that is somewhat long) and take a quick walk through Revelation and how Jesus is revealed to us through this wonderful book.
First we come upon Jesus in the opening words of Revelation and are introduced to someone far different in appearance that the Jesus we knew through the gospels. Jesus is glorified in this revelation – and that sight is enough to lay John at his feet like a dead man. This teaches us right off the bat that Jesus Christ is not coming in His earthly humiliation when He comes again. We had better be ready ourselves for a “glorious and powerful Lord Jesus Christ” who is coming to judge, rule, and reign.
Next, we run into a Jesus who is concerned about His church. For the next couple of chapters Jesus has something to say to the 7 churches of Asia. For those who believe this is also a commentary upon the church through the ages as various churches represent the various ages the church has had since Pentecost, there is much to learn from what Jesus reveals here. He is deeply concerned about His church – and in some cases deeply sickened (Laodicea, at least the lukewarm brethren among them, made Him want to puke). We learn that our Lord is coming for a spotless bride who loves Him more than they love the world. We also learn that the church is His, not ours. We would be wise to seek out His Word for its guidance rather than the latest cool trends that promise to fill seats – even though hearts may remain untouched.
Chapters 5-6 bless us with a revelation of our Lord in glory. Surrounded by myriads of angels and adoring elders – this scene is one that takes our breath away. John weeps as he wonders who can open a mysterious scroll – which many believe to be the title deed to earth. Then he rejoices when he sees Jesus revealed as the One who can open this scroll because of His sacrifice on the cross. All heaven erupts in praise of this One Who has overcome and Who now takes center stage to open the scroll and claim His place as the rightful Messiah of Israel – as well as Lord of all the universe. What do we learn here? We learn that not just the church is His – it ALL is. Once again the wise among us see this as a reason to seek Him – not the gurus of modern religion – or the Al Gore’s of the world who think our purpose is to save mother earth. Hope they find out that He is going to destroy this world the second time by fire – cause that will really bum out those who think our greatest danger is global warming.
From chapters 7 on through 19 we watch as the events unfold revealing how God uses a 7 year period of great tribulation to bring judgment upon the earth, as well as bring Israel to recognize and embrace her rightful Messiah. The Lord promised such in the Old Testament. This section of Scripture reveals to us the heart of our Lord in keeping His Word – both to the wicked and to His chosen people. This section also involves the most favorite characters and events of the prophecy world. We watch as the antichrist rises and tries to mimic what God has done in Jesus Christ. Yet his deception falls eternally short – and his kingdom becomes nothing more than a clearing house for lies, death, and destruction. This really shouldn’t shock us because Jesus warned us that he comes only to kill, steal, and destroy. We watch as a one world government, a one world economic system, and a one world religion are established by him and his minions only to fail miserably because they have one serious, fatal flaw – their efforts are not centered in glorifying Jesus Christ. Note to self . . . maybe we should be building all we build to glorify Him?
Chapters 7 through 19 also reveal to us the utter horror of God’s judgment. We watch as this world rejects God for the final time – and does so in the midst of the most awe-inspiring judgments we can imagine. This is a reminder to us, as well as a revelation, that Jehovah is God – and Jesus Christ is His Son, the world’s only Savior. The wrath of the Lamb is enough to make us fear with trembling what is coming upon the world for its rebellion against God. Would that we would focus more on this revelation rather than graspimg at straws as to the identity of the antichrist.
We watch the end draw near as mankind gathers together in one last insane attempt to overthrown Jesus Christ – and dethrone God. They gather for war thinking that they can take out God. Gloriously, Jesus Christ comes to put an end to their madness – destroying them with the sword that comes from His mouth. We watch in astonished amazement as God, who started everything by speaking our world into existence, now speaks to destroy those who have opposed Him in it. We are reminded quite graphically that what matters in the end is the Word of God. Those who stand on it – will not have to be destroyed by it!
As we move into the final chapters of this Revelation of Jesus Christ, we watch an initial judgment followed by a thousand year reign of Christ on the earth. Fascinated, we watch as God gives mankind a perfect world in which to live. He gives them a world in which Christ is reigning on earth. The only imperfection in the world is those who survived the great tribulation who are still on the earth. One would think this would be the perfect situation and time for man to show that all he needed to make it was a “perfect world.” But the sin nature rises up again – and as the devil is loosed for one last time to deceive mankind, man (now in a near perfect environment) rejects Christ and follows the wicked one. What is revealed to us is that fallen mankind MUST have a Savior. The human heart is wicked and in need of redemption and regeneration no matter what environment he is in. Jesus is revealed as the ONLY SOLUTION for the problem of mankind.
The final chapters are dedicated to revealing Jesus as Judge – both of the wicked and the righteous. The wicked are cast into the lake of fire where they will be tormented forever and ever. Hopefully, we learn from this that, whereas it is not that important if we guess the identity of the antichrist – or whether Rome or Babylon is where he is centered – or what the mark of the beast really is – or whether the descriptions in Revelation are all literal or refer to military helicopters and tanks – we do know this, “You better KNOW the identity of your Savior. Get that wrong and you will face eternity in the lake of fire. It is far better to know Who is being revealed in this book – and Why He is being revealed – than it is to try to know things we won’t until they actually come to pass.
We also see in these final chapters that heaven is glorious. And yep, you got it, it’s all due to the presence of God and Jesus Christ in heaven. Even our light bill in heaven is a matter of knowing Jesus Christ, since He is the source of its illumination. We learn that our days will be spent in a place far more glorious than we can imagine. Once again, though, we also learn heaven’s greatest glory is the presence of the One Who has been revealed to us throughout this book.
Interesting journey through Revelation, wasn’t it. Maybe it was because it was a journey that was all about Jesus. Funny that we tend to major on the minors and minor on the major about this book. Even this exercise in itself reminded me to keep my eyes on Jesus – not the latest headlines and what they may or may not mean in reference to His coming. Regardless of what is on the front page of the newspapers I can know based on what is on the back pages of my Bible what is important. What IS important saints is that we radically give ourselves to Jesus Christ – and radically live to spread His gospel while we can. The clock on this world is running down saints. Whether the world (or the church) chooses to recognize it or not, time is running out for men and women to hear the gospel and respond in repentance and faith. Time is running out for men to be clothed in the only wedding clothes that will be acceptable at the wedding supper of the Lamb. Time is running out for us to be clothed as a bride in the finest white garments of His righteousness. Revelation was meant to reveal Him – and to make us long for His return. May we once again study this book and come away with that truth. May we once again gaze upon Him and only give a momentary glimpse to the events and secondary characters of this volume. May we find ourselves captured by His beauty, His grace, and His glory. That, dear saints is why Revelation was written – to reveal and draw us to Him!