Revelation 1:1-3 "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John."
The late pastor and Southern Baptist preacher Dr. W.A Criswell wrote these words about the Book of Revelation in his commentary: No other book in the Bible has as much circumference and height and depth as does the apocalypse of Jesus Christ. It describes the great consummation of the age, and we are in the plan and that program and that unfolding now. We are involved in it. It is a part of our life and ultimately a part of our destiny. When we read the Book of Revelation, we read about ourselves. When we scan the vistas of the ages in this book, we are looking at the destiny of our own souls. It is not something far off; the time is at hand. It concerns us."1
The background and occasion for John's apocalypse was a most desperate situation. Under the watchful gaze of the Roman Empire and the increasing persecutions of the Emperor Domitian, Christianity was being chased and exiled. Attempts had been made to stamp it out. The aged Apostle John at this point was in his mid-nineties. John Foxe, church historian on the martyrdom of Christians from the days of Christ, writes in the famous "Foxe's Book of Martyrs": "This saint was at once a prophet, apostle, divine, evangelist and martyr." Than later on Foxe notes again: "Being at Ephesus, he was ordered by the Emperor Domitian to be sent bound to Rome, where he was condemned to be cast into a couldron of boiling oil. But here a miracle appeared in his favour; the oil did him no injury, and Domitian, therefore, not being able to put him to death, banished him to Patmos to work in the mines."2
The occasion for Revelation reminds us that there are no excuses for not following and serving Jesus
In reflecting on the occasion of the composition of Revelation, the book certainly takes away the excuses people commonly use for not trusting in nor serving Jesus. Sometimes Christians may say: "I'm too old" or "it's too late to start". However the Apostle John was in his mid- nineties when he wrote Revelation, and nearly that same age when he composed his prior works: The Gospel of John and 1,2,3 John. Other people will often complain: "I'll wait to do something for the Lord when times get better and I have more money". What about John? He was in exile with no resources and times could not had been more dire for him. Yet John did not hesitate in taking up his quill and by the Spirit's grace of inspiration pen the visions of Revelation. For sixty years John had been a Christ-follower. He never got over those first words he heard the Master say: "come follow me."
Why Study Revelation?
In this blog today we are as it were docked at a bay, waiting to sail. I want us to consider why it is important for the Christian to study this book. In times past I have written on the manner of interpreting the book and main message and features of the book. At times I may make references to those items - however my main interest in this post and the ones to follow is to understand: Why this book? Note the following three reasons why you and I should study and apply the Book of Revelation: Person of Christ is revealed, Prophecy of things to come and Promises of Blessing. The first of these will occupy the remainder of today's post.
Person of Christ is Revealed. 1:1
The word translated "revelation" is the Greek word "apocalupsis" from whence comes our English words "apocalypse" and "apocalyptic". Anytime we see this word it is referring to an uncovering or unveiling of whatever was previously hidden from sight. The Revelator is also the Supreme Object - Jesus Christ. In Revelation 1 alone we find nearly forty titles mentioned of Jesus Christ, encompassing nearly 20% of the 200 or so titles of Jesus Christ found throughout the whole Bible. Just two names or titles merit our attention in this first reason for studying Revelation.
Whenever you look at the title: "Jesus Christ", you are encountering a mountain of truth contained within those two terms. "Christ" speaks of His Deity, His position, His Pre-existence as God's Chosen or "Anointed One". (Isaiah 42:1) Not only was Christ chosen, anointed or appointed by the Father, but also too the Son Himself volunteered to come from Eternity into time through the virgin birth. (Hebrews 10:1-7) With the position of Christ describing His Deity, the name "Jesus" describes the human nature which He in His Person partook and assumed. As "Christ" He was always been co-eternal and co-sharer in the One Divine Nature with the Father and the Spirit. However "Jesus" was designated of Him to indicated the miraculous virgin birth conception that would form His sinless humanity. (Luke 1:35) (Matthew 1:23)
The Book of Revelation is all about unfolding the Person, the Purpose and Plan of Jesus Christ. Revelation 1-3 unfolds the truth of Christ's Lordship over His church and chapters 4-5 detail Christ and His Worship. In Chapters 6-18 of Revelation we see Jesus Christ and His Sovereignty over history in general (6-11); Jewish history (12); the historical defeat of Anti-Christ and his forces (13-16) and Christ's final historical defeat of this world system, Babylon the Great (17-19). As Revelation 11:15 states - "Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”