Dragons, bizarre creatures, epic battles, and an intimate love story laced with malicious treachery. This could be the tag line of a blockbuster movie, but instead it is a thumbnail sketch of the concluding chapters of the all-time international best-seller. During the past nearly two thousand years millions of people have had the chance to read the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Many have wondered if Revelation will show them in advance what will happen in the future. Some churches have used it to support their interpretation of current world events. Influential Christian teahcers and even whole denominations have basically considered it to be "off limits", a book whose message is so cryptic that it is of little value, or even dangerous. It is no wonder that the vast majority of readers have come away scratching their heads and wondering, "what was that all about?

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him, to show His servants things which must shortly come to pass; And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John” (Revelation 1:1). The first sentence of Revelation hints that "what on earth...?" may be the wrong question; the Book of Revelation is first and foremost a “Revelation of Jesus Christ”. Jesus is the central figure, and whatever else we may learn about world events in the past or the future can only find its true context in a deeper understanding of Jesus Christ. The world is full of misconceptions and even blatant lies about Jesus. The fact that there are hundreds of denominations and diverse religions that all claim Jesus as their central figure shows that the world needs a much deeper "Revelation of Jesus." Millions wonder where Jesus was when they needed Him, why He allowed tragedies to ruin their lives, why He doesn’t seem to help them with their problems when they do what their church tells them. The book of Revelation explains all of this within the context of a cosmic battle between good and evil that affects every person on earth.

Although written by John,[1] Revelation perhaps more than any other book of the Bible reveals that God is the real author. There is very little commentary or dialogue by John; even the messages directed “to the seven churches which are in Asia” (Revelation 1:4) are direct quotations of what Jesus said. John basically described the visions he saw along with the commentaries given by Jesus or “His Angel” as he had been instructed: “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter” (Revelation 1:19).

The first thing Jesus reveals about Himself is His relationship to the human race. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants” (Revelation 1:1). God the Father, the Source of everything, gives to Jesus, who in turn gives to His servants. Jesus is our link to the invisible heavenly reality. The patriarch Jacob “dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” (Genesis 28:12). Nearly two thousand years later Jesus revealed to His disciples that He is the ladder connecting heaven and earth:“you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (John 1:51).

In the book of Revelation Jesus is revealed within the context of prophecy. Jesus shows “His servants things which must shortly take place.” Revelation, more than any other book of the Bible, reveals the things that will take place in the future. When Revelation was written the future included, of course, events which are now history, and these are an important part of the book. But Revelation focuses upon a particular part of the future called “the time of the end”. The time of the rnd itself is largely a preparation for a specific, short but very intense period called “the time of trouble” (Daniel 12:1) or “the great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21)Jesus said, “There will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be”(Matthew 24:21). The fulfillment of a number of Bible prophecies (which will be presented in this book) show that this fearsome time is about to break upon the unsuspecting world, and those who are unprepared will be plunged into unimaginable distress. One of the important purposes of Revelation is to help God’s people understand and navigate the time of the end, and particularly the great tribulation.

The prophet Daniel, who saw visions similar to John's, was instructed to“shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4). In contrast, Revelation is a book to be read and understood— “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein” (Revelation 1:3). One of the purposes of Revelation is to unseal the prophecies of Daniel that were to be sealed until the time of the end. And Revelation adds vital information that is not found in any of the Old Testament prophecies. The angel who showed the visions to John specifically directed him “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:10). Those who claim that the book of Revelation is too complex and obscure to be understood are contradicting the very purpose of the book, which is “to show His servants the things which must shortly come to pass” (Revelation 1:1).

However, the meaning of Revelation is not simple book or obvious. It is the only book of the Bible that does not have a general consensus by theologians as to its theme, its structure, the outline of its main sections and the meaning of the major symbols. It is a book that requires deep study, with the insight of the Holy Spirit, and it deserves much more than a quick glance to see what the mark of the beast is and if there is anything that relates to the current headline news. A study of Revelation requires slow, thorough and repeated reading, looking up texts and wrestling with scriptural comparisons to uncover the mysteries that are there. But it is definitely worth the effort"Blessed is he who reads…this prophecy and keeps those things which are written therein."[2]

Continue to next section: 1:2,3 SOURCE

[1] Most commentators believe that the author was John the beloved disciple who also wrote the Gospel and three Epistles of John.

[2] Most commentators believe that the author was John the beloved disciple who also wrote the Gospel and three Epistles of John.