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The Book of Revelation for BlockheadsA User-Friendly Look at the Bible's Weirdest Book
By Douglas Connelly
ZondervanCopyright © 2007 Douglas Connelly
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFalling in Front of Jesus
* Be prepared to be blessed!
* Dear churches-from Jesus
* Catch a glimpse of our Sovereign King
* Lampstands and stars
Key Codes: Level 1
-> Revelation: Uncovering something hidden
-> Angel: A powerful being who serves God; a messenger from God
-> Prophecy: Predictions of future events
-> Province of Asia: Roman state located in the western part of modern Turkey
-> Alpha and Omega: The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet
-> Patmos: An island in the Mediterranean; part of Greece today
-> Seven churches: Groups of believers in seven cities
-> Hades: A place of torment; hell
-> Lampstand: A pedestal that holds an oil lamp
A Book about Jesus (Revelation 1:1-3)
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, who testifies to everything he saw-that is, the word of God and the testimony ofJesus Christ 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.
When I read a book, I read it all-the foreword, the footnotes, the thank-yous, the historical notes at the back. I even scan the copyright page! Sometimes you can find important clues about the book in the parts most people skip. Some people are so anxious to get to the prophecy part of Revelation that they just skim through the opening verses. They miss some important clues about the book and why it was written. Since every passage in the book is part of God's message to us, we should carefully consider it all.
The first thing we discover in verse 1 is that this book is a "revelation." That's where the title comes from, but it is also a description of the book itself. The word means "unwrapping" or "unveiling." In Greek, the word "revelation" is apokalypsis, so sometimes the book is called "the Apocalypse." That word in English has come to mean the end of the world, but in Greek it means opening-like opening a present on Christmas morning. The book of Revelation is not a secret book; it's a book that unwraps secrets God doesn't want its contents sealed up; he wants to tell everyone what he plans to do.
The book is not an unveiling of everything in God's mind. It's a revelation that focuses on Jesus Christ. The subject of this book is not the Antichrist or the War of Armageddon, but Jesus in his majesty and glory God tears back the curtain and we see Jesus emerge as the Sovereign King of history and eternity. If all you see as you read Revelation are beasts and wars and pounding judgments, you have missed Jesus.
Another insight these opening verses give us is how the book came into existence in the first place. Revelation is not just an old man's hallucinations. The revelation came from God the Father-who gave it to Jesus-who sent it by an angel to John-and John stands as a witness to just what the message is true. The point is that the contents of this book came from God to us through a chain of reliable witnesses, and it wasn't corrupted anywhere along the way. The book is the accurate record of what John saw as he was guided by an angel who received direction from Jesus who got it from the Father. God's goal all along was to get this message to us. He wants us to know what will soon take place.
Another crucial insight into the nature of this book comes from one phrase in verse 3 where Revelation is called "the words of this prophecy." The book focuses on future events. God's program for our world will come to a powerful conclusion in Jesus' return to earth in majesty and glory. The events leading up to and following the second coming of Christ are spelled out for us in detail. Nowhere else in the Bible do we find such a complete picture of what the future holds.
What we learn in these opening verses helps us keep our bearings all the way through the book:
It's a book that reveals, not a book that hides.
It's a book that focuses on Jesus.
The book's perspective is the future.
God wants us to understand this book. He will bless those who read it and the Holy Spirit will give us understanding if we open our minds and hearts to God's truth revealed in his Word.
John the Revelator
Four times in Revelation the author of this book signs his name. He calls himself John (1:1, 4, 9; 22:8). Five times we find God commanding John to "write" what he sees and hears (1:11, 19; 14:13; 19:9; 21:5) Scholars have debated for along time about who John is, but the best answer seems to be that this is the apostle John, who was one of the twelve original followers of Jesus. Church tradition and history provide several strong indications that John lived until late in the first century and, during the last decades of his life, lived in Ephesus in the Roman province of Asia.
We learn down in verse 9 of chapter 1 that John received these visions while he was exiled on the island of Patmos. Patmos was a Roman prison island, and John, during a time of persecution against the Christians, was sent in to exile there. He was later released and then compiled the book of Revelation in its final form.
SOMETHING ABOUT THAT NAME
Here are the titles and descriptions applied to Jesus in the book of Revelation:
the faithful witness (1:5)
the first born from the dead (1:5)
the ruler of the kings of the earth (1:5)
the Alpha and the Omega (1:8; 21:6;22:13)
someone like as on of man (1:13)
the First and the Last (1:17; 22:13)
the Living One (1:18)
him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands (2:1)
him who died and came to life again(2:8)
him who has the sharp, double-edged sword (2:12)
the Son of God (2:18)
him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars (3:1)
him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David (3:7)
the Amen (3:14)
the faithful and true witness (3:14)
the ruler of God's creation (3:14)
the Lion of the tribe of Judah (5:5)
the Root of David (5:5; 22:16)
the Lamb (5:6) [thirty-two times in Revelation]
Lord of lords and King of kings (17:14; 19:16)
Faithful and True (19:11)
the Word of God (19:13)
the Beginning and the End (21:6; 22:13)
the Offspring of David (22:16)
the bright Morning Star (22:16)
the Lord Jesus (22:20, 21)
An Early Date
Some Christians insist that Revelation was written in the AD 60s-before the armies of Rome destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in AD 70. They insist on the early date because they believe that the book of Revelation predicts the fall of Jerusalem, not a future Tribulation. This view, that the prophecies in Revelation were fulfilled in the past, is called the preterist view (from the Latin word for "past") Some prominent advocates of this view are R. C. Sproul, Hank Hanegraaff, and Robert Gentry. If Revelation had been written in the AD 90s, the prophecies would have to apply to a future Tribulation since the destruction of Jerusalem had taken place more than twenty years earlier.
Excerpted from The Book of Revelation for Blockheads by Douglas Connelly Copyright © 2007 by Douglas Connelly. Excerpted by permission.
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