Revelation Introduction

Beth's Notes

Revelation Introduction
I do not think there is a book in the Bible less taught than Revelation (unless perhaps Numbers or Leviticus!). Many have the tendency to go from Matthew to Jude and back to Matthew again when studying the New Testament rather than face the unusual teachings discovered in Revelation. There is no denying that it has befuddled many a soul. It’s like it has a foreboding cloud resting over it. I am sure the adversary hates the study of it as it shows his ultimate doom so he seeks to blind, confuse and divide the saints regarding its contents. It can also not be denied that this book has been of immeasurable blessing to many others. Indeed, when it is taught it often produces a great evangelistic response. May that be true of us as well!  
There is a definite blessing in reading and studying Revelation. There is always a blessing in reading and studying any part of Scripture but this is the only book that actually promises a special blessing for those who read, hear it, and take to heart its words. Scripture tells us in Revelation 1:3:
Blessed is the one who reads 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. Revelation 1:3 (NIV)
This entices us to go further still, Amen? May we all take to heart these words! Keep in mind that the book also closes with a restatement of this blessing for those who, in addition to reading and hearing the Word, also keep it. Jesus states in Revelation 22:7:
“Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.” Revelation 22:7 (NIV)
This Book both begins and ends with a prediction of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation was not meant to be avoided as it is a fascinating book giving a detailed description of the future end time events. And God does not desire to veil His Truth to His saints - even for the simplest of us (that would be me at the top of the list)! Although some Books, like Revelation, will require our studying and digging. Besides that, no Book of Scripture is to be avoided. It is the whole Bible that makes a Christian whole. We don’t get to pick and choose what we like or what we don’t like.
Revelation means an unveiling, an uncovering or disclosure concerning Jesus Christ and the climax of redemptive history. God wants us to be very much aware of what will take place so that we will not be taken unawares, Amen? He does not desire for His saints to be uninformed or to remain ignorant rather prepared and ready. Further, we would not have known the end of the story unless God had not revealed it to His servant John and instructed him to hear it, see it, and write it down.
Orthodox Christians have almost unanimously ascribed the writing of Revelation to the Apostle John. Most evangelical scholars also affirm that Revelation was written in a.d. 95 or 96. This is based on accounts of the early church fathers that the Apostle John had been exiled on Patmos Island during the reign of Domitian who died in a.d. 96. John was then allowed to return to Ephesus. Revelation was the last inspired Book of the Bible and is rightly positioned as the New Testament’s final book. As the New Testament opens with the Gospels relating the first coming of Christ, so the Book of Revelation closes with the general theme of the second coming of Jesus. 
Revelation was written to a cluster of seven churches located in the Roman province of Asia Minor (Western Turkey). It is evident from the book’s contents that the recipients were undergoing a measure of religious and political persecution. 
In this book God reveals His amazingly wonderful plan for the future.  It gives a clearer detailed picture concerning Bible prophecy of the end times more than any other book in the Bible. A keen interest in future events is a universal desire of the human race, particularly in days like ours when the world conditions seem so uncertain – but when have they not been, Amen?    
When approaching any Scripture our prayer is to be as the Psalmist who stated in Psalms 119:18:
18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalms 119:18 (NIV)
This is certainly a great practice to our approach in studying Revelation as well. A proper understanding of its truths will motivate believers to consistent dedication and service. It lifts our spirits and gives hope to the future like no other book in the Bible provides. Further, it gives us a vital love for Jesus Christ and the souls of lost people in our spheres. 
It is not necessary for us to completely comprehend all the details to profit spiritually from it either. Like all Scripture, we will never plumb its depths and mysteries. But the main points are clear enabling us to know what to believe and how to behave (through His power). Paul tells his beloved Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
We want to be thoroughly equipped, Right? God gave us Revelation not to simply tickle our fancy but to strengthen our hearts and equip us for good works. As we approach our study of this great book it is good for us to consider both bookends of the Bible in a comparative way - Genesis and Revelation. By this we will discover the common themes running through all of God’s Word – the love of God, the battle of good and evil and the redemption of the souls of men. Regarding this Tim LaHaye writes:
“Genesis shows humanity’s beginning in a beautiful paradise. Revelation shows the wonderful paradise to come. Genesis shows how human beings lost a chance to eat of the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24). Revelation shows that humankind (believers) will yet eat of that tree (Revelation 22:2). Genesis tells of humanity’s first rebellion against God (Genesis 3-4). Revelation promises an end to humanity’s rebellion against God. Genesis records the first murderer, drunkard, and rebel. Revelation promises a city where ‘nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life’ (Revelation 21: 27). Genesis reveals the tragic sorrow that resulted from sin (Genesis 3-4). Revelation promises, ‘[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes’ (Revelation 21:4). Genesis records the first death (Genesis 4:8). Revelation promises that ‘there will be no more death’ (Revelation 21:4). Genesis shows the beginning of the curse (Genesis 3:15-18). Revelation shows the curse lifted (Revelation 22:3). Genesis introduces the devil for the first time as the tempter of the human race (Genesis 3:1-18). Revelation shows the final doom of Satan (Revelation 20:10). Genesis promises that Satan’s head will be bruised (Genesis 3:15). Revelation shows Satan bruised and defeated (Revelation 19: 20). Genesis shows Satan’s first attempt at discrediting the Word of God when he asked Eve, ‘Did God really say?’ and his first attempt at denying the Word of God, ‘You will not surely die’ (Genesis 3:1-5). Sad to say, the thousands of years since then finds human beings still believing Satan and not God. Today the Bible is not believed by the majority of people but rather is subjected to the criticism of skeptics in education, the entertainment industry, science, and even the liberal ministry. This skepticism has tragically resulted in the doom of many unsuspecting souls. Revelation promises a curse on all such infidels who detract from God’s Holy Word, ‘And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Revelation 22:19).” Tim LaHaye
And believers get from Genesis to Revelation through the redeeming blood of Jesus – there is wonderworking power in the blood of the Lamb, Amen? He is the golden cord throughout all of Scripture. Tony Evan’s writes of Jesus’ role in every Book of God’s Word in “Jesus Through The Scriptures”. He made it plural and I tweaked it making it personal as it relates personally to every believer!

Jesus Through The Scriptures
Genesis – My Creator God; 
Exodus – My Redeemer; 
Leviticus – My Sanctification;  
Numbers – My Guide; 
Deuteronomy – My Teacher;  
Joshua – My Mighty Conqueror; 
Judges – He Gives Me Victory Over My Enemies;
Ruth – My Kinsman, Lover And Redeemer; 
1 Samuel – My Root Of Jesse;
2 Samuel – My Son Of David;
1 & 2 Kings – He Is My King Of Kings And Lord Of Lords;
1 & 2 Chronicles – He Is My Intercessor And My High Priest;
Ezra –-He Is My Temple – My House Of Worship; 
Nehemiah – He Is My Mighty Wall Protecting Me From My Enemies;
Esther – He Stands In The Gap To Deliver Me From My Enemies;
Job – He Is My Arbitrator Who Not Only Understands My Struggles But           Has The Power To Do Something About Them;   
Psalm – He Is My Song And My Reason To Sing; 
Proverbs – He Is My Wisdom – Helping Me To Make Sense Of Life And Live It Successfully;
Ecclesiastes – He Is My Purpose Delivering Me From Vanity;
Song Of Solomon – He Is My Lover And My Loyal Friend;
Isaiah – He Is My Mighty Counselor – My Prince Of Peace – My Everlasting Father And More – In Short He Is Everything I Need; 
Jeremiah – He Is My Balm Of Gilead –A Soothing Salve For My Sin Sick                   Soul; 
Lamentations – He Is My Ever Faithful One Upon Whom I Can Depend; 
Ezekiel – He Is My One Who Assures Me That Dry Dead Bones Will Come Alive Again;       
Daniel -  He Is My Ancient Of Days – He is My Everlasting God Who Never Runs Out Of Time;   
Hosea – He Is My Faithful Lover Always Beckoning Me To Come Back Even When I Have Abandoned Him; 
Joel – He Is My Refuge - Keeping Me Safe In Times Of Trouble;
Amos – He Is My Husbandman – The One I Can Depend On To Stay By              My Side;
Obadiah – He Is My Lord Of The Kingdom; 
Jonah – He Is My Salvation - Bringing Me Back Within His Will; 
Micah – He Is My Judge Of The Nation; 
Nahum – He Is My Jealous God;
Habakkuk – He Is My Holy One;
Zephaniah – He Is My Witness; 
Haggai – He Rebuilds My Temple – He Overthrows My Enemies; 
Zechariah – He Is My Lord Of Hosts; 
Malachi – He Is My Messenger Of The Covenant; 
Matthew – He Is My King Of The Jews;
Mark – He Is My Servant King;
Luke – He Is My Son Of Man – Feeling What I Feel;
John – He Is My Son Of God;
Acts – He Is My Savior Of The World;
Romans – He Is My Righteousness Of God;
1 Corinthians – He Is My Rock Of Israel;
2 Corinthians – He Is My Triumphant One Giving Victory; 
Galatians – He Is My Liberty – He Sets Me Free; 
Ephesians – He Is My Head Of The Church;  
Philippians – He Is My Peace;
Colossians – He Is My Completeness;
1 Thessalonians – He Is My Hope;
2 Thessalonians – He Is My Glory;
1 Timothy – He Is My Faith; 
2 Timothy – He Is My Stability; 
Titus – He Is My God And Savior; 
Philemon – He Is My Benefactor;
Hebrews – He Is My Perfection;
James – He Is My Power Behind My Faith;
1 Peter – He Is My Example;
2 Peter – He is My Purity; 
1 John – He Is My Life; 
2 John – He Is My Pattern; 
3 John – He Is My Motivation;
Jude – He Is My Foundation Of My Faith;
Revelation – He Is My Coming King.
Amen and Amen!  All praise to Him!
Revelation speaks of the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ as well as the ultimate end of Satan. The Book also gives clearer detail concerning Bible prophecy than any other book in the Bible. For example, John describes the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ; the governmental operation of the anti-Christ, the man of sin and the terrible events of the Tribulation Period; the ultimate end of Satan; the future glorification of the Church; the future position of the saints; and the city Christ is preparing for His Church. Without Revelation we would have only scant information regarding these future events.  And wonderful and encouraginginformation for the believer it is!
This enlightening Book also demonstrates that history will involve great spiritual warfare. There are two sides – we are either for God or against Him. There will be no middle ground.  No one foot in the world and one in the Lord. Wholehearted devotion and a willing mind is what He desires for every saint. It is what He has always desired. Lukewarm love, we will discover, He spits out of His mouth. We will serve and worship God or, in one way or another, be found serving and worshiping self, Satan and his bestial agents. As Joshua told the Israelites (as well as Moses and Elijah), we must choose who or Whom we will serve. He does not want us to be doing a limping dance between the two. Joshua 24:14-15 states:
“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV)
Moses stated earlier in Deuteronomy 30:19-20:
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV)
Elijah ditto’s the same sentiment in 1 Kings 18:21:
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.  1 Kings 18:21 (NIV)
No wonder King David spoke these words to His son Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:9-10 (yet sadly he did not adhere to them):
“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 28:9-10 (NIV)
In Isaiah’s time the Israelites were caught up in worshiping idols of gold, silver and bronze. Idols that could not speak or hear – lifeless idols made by the hands of men – of what good are they?  There is nothing new under the sun, Amen? Isaiah writes in Isaiah 41:21-24:
“Present your case,” says the LORD.  “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King. “Bring in [your idols] to tell us what is going to happen.  Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear. But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; he who chooses you is detestable. Isaiah 41:21-24 (NIV)
To be sure, Satan is the supreme counterfeiter but God is infinitely greater, Amen? The adversary seeks to counterfeit everything God is and does. His aspiration is to be God. But he cannot succeed.  He is not the originator rather only an imitator. In Revelation the beast, the anti-Christ and the false prophet all mimic the One True God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Revelation unmasks his demonic devices in an effort to arm us to resist him so he will not take us unawares. The world will worship him but believers will be enlightened to see how hideous he truly is. 
Revelation also underlies an exceedingly comforting and important point for believers – God is in control – He always has been and He always will be. This however does not minimize or conceal the reality of evil, pain and tribulation. We live in a fallen broken world of our own choosing and these things are very real.  We battle sin, self and Satan. Indeed, Jesus has warned us in John 16:33:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NIV)
The forces of evil, by their absolute opposition to God and likewise God’s absolute opposition to them give a stark contrast to God’s goodness and Satan’s evil. God shows us the whole course of the warfare beforehand demonstrating His ultimate control over the whole of history. Remember it is God alone Who makes known the end from the beginning. As the Prophet Isaiah tells us Isaiah 41:21-24:
“Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”Isaiah 46:8-10 (NIV)
God’s Word predictably reveals superb planning and organization. Our God is a God of order. Satan is the god of confusion, disorder and chaos. We see that clearly in the book of Revelation, for it completes the great truths begun in Genesis and in other passages of the Bible.  Every major theme is treated to some extent in this book, with special attention to completement or fulfill God’s prophetic program – especially for the Jewish Nation of which Gentiles are grafted it. Every promise in Scripture is “Yes” in Christ Jesus. All prophecy will come to pass. The Bible is God-breathed and inerrant. Because of this, Revelation cannot be fully understood apart from all of Scripture. A strong knowledge of the Old Testament is important. 
Whatever one’s perspective on this book we must not miss its rich theology of redemption and the great love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We must not allow curiosity over incidental matters to obscure the central message of this book: The Lamb  has conquered sin, Satan, death, and hell by His sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection, and so He reigns victoriously over all. Those who are His have, through Him, likewise overcome and will reign victoriously. Hallelujah! God is infinitely and inconceivably good – this should draw us to God as the magnet draws iron. The Puritan Thomas Watson writes:
“If God is our God it is comprehensive of all good things. He is our strong tower, our fountain of living water, and our salvation. He is our Father who tenderly cares for us, and never dies. God says, ‘You are mine’, and the soul answers, ‘Lord, I am yours; all I have is yours!’ A sinner without God will get by while his health and estate lasts, but when these crutches are broken, his heart must sink. During the flood the waters came to the valleys, and the people went to the hills. The waters came to the mountains, and they climbed the trees. But the waters rose above the trees, and all hope was gone. So it is with those who do not have God as their Father.” Thomas Watson 
 Paul tells us Romans 13:11-14:  
“The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Romans 13:11-14 (NIV)
As we follow hard after Christ and eagerly wait for Him – anticipating His return, He will keep us strong to the end so that we will be blameless on the day of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:7-8). Jesus promises, “I will come again and will take you to myself” (John 14:3). Until then, Christ also promised to give “another Helper,” namely, the Holy Spirit, who is with us forever (John 14:16). Christ ascended to go and prepare a place for us. The Spirit of God descended to abide with us every step of the way on our journey home. In this way Christ is fulfilling His promises “I will never leave you nor forsake you”(Hebrews 13:5) and “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). The Lord will keep you, “from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 121:8).

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