1. This evening we begin a journey in the book of revelation. At times, like tonight, my style of presentation will be more like teaching than preaching.
2. The book of Revelation is a book many of us shy away from. It is a very difficult book to understand - especially the symbolism. It needs some interpretation and there quite a number of different views as how we are to interpret various passages. As we will see, even disagreement as to when it takes place. Many abuse the book by propagating wild and fanciful theories. John Calvin, as well as many other commentators, did not write a commentary on Revelation. Many conclude it is just too mysterious to understand
3. But it was actually written to make things clearer! That is what revelation means.
4. The book of Rev. is most important. It gives hope to believers in their persecution and suffering. It shows clearly that God is in control of history. It shows there will be justice. It warns us that each one of us need to be ready for God’s judgement.
5. And so, John says:
Rev 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,
May we be blessed as we study this very important word of God.
1. Today, our focus will not be on any particular passage, but we will look at some bases or groundwork of understanding to help us as we study the text.
2.Revelation combines two forms of literary form or writing. This is found in first 3 verses
3. By the word "revelation" in vs. 1. The word "revelation" in the Greek is apokalupsis, which means "an uncovering" or "unveiling." Rev. is an example of what is called "apocalyptic literature" which was quite popular from 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. .
4. This apocalyptic style not familiar to modern man. Yet, it was a type of literature well known to the Jews and Christians of the first century church.
a. Features of apocalyptic literature include the use of highly symbolic or figurative.
b. It was normally written in times of persecution, usually depicting the conflict between good and evil.
c. It also helped explain why the righteous suffered and why God’s judgement was delayed.
d. Yet it offered them hope.
e. Visions are part of this form and it has to do with the end times.
f. Other examples of apocalyptic literature in the Bible are the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah which each contain elements of this style of writing.
g. In the New Testament, Matthew 24 contains apocalyptic elements.
5. At the same time Revelation is also a prophecy, as we read in vs. 3.
a. Prophecy is somewhat different from apocalytic literature. Prophecy deals more with how Israel was living and what God would do as a result.
b. As one person (Rowley) said "the prophets foretold the future that should arise out of the present, while the apocalyptists foretold foretold the future that should break into the present."
6. There are generally four different views used to interpret the book of Revelation.
a. "preterist" view - the book refers to events that were fulfilled in the first century A.D., or shortly thereafter. It was written primarily to encourage the original readers. All of Rev. was fulfilled by the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD or the fall of Rome in 476 AD. Its value for today would therefore be didactic (teaching the value of faithfulness to God).
b. "historicist" view - the book provides a panoramic view of the future of the church from as it goes through history. This view finds in the book such events as the rise of Catholicism, Islam, the Protestant reformation, world wars, etc., ending with the return of Christ. As such it would encourage Christians no matter when they lived.
c. "futurist" view - apart from the first few chapters, the book depicts events which immediately precede the second coming of Christ. Therefore most of the book has yet to be fulfilled (or is being fulfilled now), and its value is primarily for Christians who will be living at the time Jesus returns.
d. "idealist" view - the book does not deal with any specific historical situation. Instead, it is simply enforcing the principle that good will ultimately triumph over evil. As such the book is applicable to any age.
7. None of theses approaches is sufficient in themselves. For the book was written for early Christians being persecuted and had to be relevant to them. Therefor it had to speak to what was happening at the time. And yet the scope of the events go beyond their time. And there is much to be learned. Rev. blesses all who read it or hear it, whenever they do so.