Summary: Many people try to use the book of Revelation as a prediction tool and in doing so, they miss the purpose of this book.
Revelation – The Purpose of the Book
In this study from the book of Revelation, I am not going to take the normal approach of looking at the prophetic predictions of this book. Instead, I am going to look at the deep spiritual applications that fill this book. Because most people look only at the prediction of future events, the greater benefits are overlooked. Prophecy in the Bible does not always mean predictions. Prophecy means to proclaim the purposes of God through divine inspiration. Sometimes the purposes of God are veiled in mystery and predictions, other times, God’s purposes are proclaimed clearly for everyone to understand. Prophecy was never intended to be a tool for predicting God. When God foretells future events, it is usually impossible to predict how these events will be fulfilled with any real certainty. When people try to predict God, they are almost always wrong. Prophecy (or the proclaimed truth) for individuals is clearly revealed in the word of God. The purpose of truth as it applies to individuals was intended to be precise and understood so that we can live our lives in fellowship with God as He intended. Lifestyle prophecy is not shrouded in mystery but can be understood by anyone who is in Christ because the Holy Spirit teaches us what the world can’t understand (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The prophecy of God’s plan for the world is shrouded in mystery and can’t be accurately unfolded beforehand. Those who try to predict God fall into error for several reasons. First and foremost, God never intended to be predicted. The main reason for the prediction of future events is to give us hope and reveal to us that when these things happen, we can draw confidence knowing God is in control. Without this foreknowledge, the trying times of prophesied would dishearten believes because on the surface would appear that God is not on the scene if He hadn’t foretold the things that will happen. Another error of predicting God is that it draws attention away from what is truly important – the message of the gospel. The gospel is not only salvation in Christ, but also a lifestyle in Christ. It is easy to get sidetracked by future events and lose sight of our calling to know God, glorify Him and fulfill the great commission to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations. That calling will not end until He returns. Another error is that when predictors of God are wrong, the world gets deceived into believing the prophecies are wrong and have no credibility. Finally, those who have God mapped out completely miss what God is actually doing. Prophecy is foretold in such a way that it is impossible to self-fulfill. One of the reasons the spiritual leaders of Jesus’ day missed Him is because they had the coming Messiah figured out and boxed into a neat package. When Jesus did not fit into the box, they didn’t recognize and rejected Him.
The scholars and the people of Jesus’ day were looking for a world conqueror that would lead Israel out of Roman bondage and restore them to their promised glory when the Messiah sets up His kingdom. What they failed to see was that the plan revealed in prophecy would be fulfilled first by His sacrifice for sins and in God’s time the kingdom would come. The Old Testament foretold this but it wasn’t made clear until Jesus was revealed. The 330 fulfilled prophecies of Jesus’ first coming was not the same event as the Second Coming and the earthly kingdom to be established. Jesus made this clear when He began His 3-½ year ministry. Look at Luke 4:
17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."
20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
21 And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
The passage Jesus read from is found in Isaiah 61. Jesus read only verse 1 and part of verse 2. Jesus stopped after reading the prediction of proclaiming the acceptance of God. His first coming built the bridge that gives us acceptance with God through faith in Christ. The vengeance of the Lord has not been fulfilled, nor has the promise of comfort and restoration to glory. So much of this prophecy was to be fulfilled after the cross. Salvation to the gentiles, the judgment of God, etc. They missed this because they had it figured out.