Summary: This message helps the layperson understand the layout and gives an overview of the Revelation.
The Key to Revelation
Keys are big things in our culture. With keys we open doors, start cars, open pad locks, drop boxes, control security & more. Most of us have email for which we have to have a ‘key’ called an ID and password. Candidly, you cannot check your mail without your password or ‘key.’
Revelation is a book, for which, a key seems to be needed. In years past, some have suggested that there USED to be a key and that this key has now been lost. For those folks, they conclude that Revelation is now an enigma to us as it is impossible to understand. Yet, the serious Bible student may find just the opposite. Our text today may help us better understand the Revelation & then see the personal implications it holds for our lives.
1. Outline – An outline helps a person see the big picture. One of the reasons why I, so diligently, use technology is so that the outline can be seen and maybe better grasped so that it can be remembered & thus applied. In the Revelation, you’ll find many suggested outlines. Few weeks ago, I gave you the outline of the ‘seven sevens.’ (Chapters 1-3 -7 churches, chapter 4-7 – 7 seals, chapters 8-11 – 7 trumpets, chapters 12-14 – 7 personages, 15-16 – 7 vials, 17-20 – 7 judgments, and 21-22 – 7 new things). Others suggest an outline of 4 divisions based on visions which are unequal in scope, content, and length, but each true. These are taken from the position of John as the “seer”. Chapters 1-3 would be the “Seer in Patmos”, 4-16 –the seer in heaven, 17-20-the seer in the wilderness, and 21-22 – the seer on a Great & High Mountain). Another outline suggests only 2 divisions in this book consisting of the first 11 and the second 11 chapters. In this case, Chapters 1-11 shows the Kingdom of this world which becomes the Kingdome of our Lord. Each of these is true & can be traced. But each of these have one thing in common, they are born of men. If we are to hear from God, perhaps we can discover HIS outline. I’ll suggest we find this in verse 19. He simply says, write the things which ‘have seen’, which ‘are’, & ‘will be.
a. Past –The Lord said, “Write the things which you have seen.” Can you imagine all the things which John could have written about? Yet, Chapter 1 is all about the glorified Christ. He painted a picture of Jesus, he wrote down everything had said, and even tells us about what Jesus held in His hand. He holds the stars, the messengers, or the pastors of the church in His right hand AND He holds the Keys to death & hell. Can you make the connection?
b. Present – Then John writes about the things which ‘are.’ To read the 2nd & 3rd chapters of Revelation is to write about the things which ARE. This describes and depicts the condition of the churches during the church age. When John penned these words, the church was coming out of her infancy, had faced severe persecution, and was morphing into the 2nd generation. In the words found in the letters to the churches, we can know, rest assured that Christ is in the business of walking among the churches. HE knows about our condition, He knows about our failure, & He desires to right the wrongs within the church.
c. Prophetic – This is those things which are yet to come, which will be or which are coming! The loosely translated Greek word is meta tauta (those things which ‘shall be’). Prophecy is literally history written in advance. When God says it, whether we have seen it, believe it, or respond to it, is of little consequence because IT IS DONE. At the end of Chapter 3, the church age ends, the time of the present is past, & those things which shall be begin to happen. For instance, after chapter 3 you never see the church on earth again. In fact, the next time the church appears is in Chapter 19 at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. God has spoken and it is done. Did you catch the outline? It should remind you that God was, is, and will be in control. For the true child of God, it should life our spirits, have us longing for the future, and cause us to love Him more. To apply this outline to our personal life is to bring into focus God’s hand on us. He knows your past, the problems that you have faced and the joys you have experienced. He sees your present knowing the decisions you must make, particularly the spiritual decisions. And you future has not escaped his sight. He sees and He knows.