“What does it mean?”
This is the number one question that I receive when I teach or preach on the book of Revelation.
My answer: You can understand the book of Revelation!
Jesus would not have personally dictated a revelation to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos, asking John to write almost 10,000 Greek words of quill and hand-dipped ink on papyrus, if the book was not meant to be understood.
To say the least, I would be frustrated, you would be frustrated, every generation of Christian irked, and the Apostle John thinking while shaking off writer’s cramp, “All this effort without the help of a computer and it can’t be understood?!”
The second question that I get about the book of Revelation is, “Okay, it is understandable, but how do I understand it?”
Fair question. Even if the book is understandable, it doesn’t mean that you understand it. Commentators and scholars throughout church history have used their great intelligence to reach idiotic conclusions.
My answer: Understand the layers of meaning to begin with.
Prophetic writings in the Bible have layers of interpretation.
Layer One of Revelation concerns those reading at the time of Apostle John’s writing. Some commentators teach that the book of Revelation is written only to those living in the first century.
Again, back to hand-sore Apostle John as he thinks, “All of this ink on my fingers and it just relates to those living in the next 30 0r 40 years? What about those living after that? If the Lord tarries, shouldn’t this book speak to all until He returns?”
The Apostle John has great wisdom!
Layer Two relates to Christians in all eras. New Testament prophecy seeks to edify, build-up, and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3). To those reading Revelation during the greatest Roman persecution of Christians under Diocletian in the early 300’s; to those enduring the Bubonic plague in the Middle Ages; to those sailing from home with little hope of returning, while taking the gospel to the world during the Great British Missionary movement in the later 1800s; and to those sitting next to you right now.
Reading the book of Revelation brings hope. Jesus wins. Great evil seemingly prevails but ultimately ends in the Lake of Fire. We, us, you, and I – all of us – can find satisfaction and perseverance in knowing the ultimate end.
Let’s hang in there.
Layer Three focuses on the very end of times. Many of the prophecies of the book of Revelation will happen in the last years of earth’s history. Consider the 666 anti-Christ economy, the Millennium, and the Battle of Armageddon.
Of the 600 predictions about the return of Jesus, most of them will be fulfilled in the last years. Jesus foretold this in the Parable of the Fig Tree:
Behold the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. Luke 21:20-32 NASB95
Remember Layers One, Two, and Three.
A final thought about the book of Revelation and prophecy:
We believe the prophecies, we teach the prophecies, we pass them from generation to final generation. I believe we are the final generation, but if not, I am passing them along to my children.
Jesus, come quickly. And thank you, Apostle John, for listening carefully and writing the prophecy found in the book of Revelation!
Interruptions will feature the book of Revelation in 2021.
Read # 280, #281, and #295 at www.grantedwardsauthor.com
for previous blogs on Revelation.