“I don’t understand Revelation!” is often said. Yet it is the only book that promises a “blessing” to the reader (1:3) and often exhorts us to “hear” what is said about Christ’s “quick” return. The book is a full “revealing” of who Christ is to encourage believers as we await His return.
Last Sunday we did an express train tour of Revelation. But, here is a bullet train tour. “All aboard!” The three-part outline of the book is given in 1:19. The past (ch. 1) tells briefly of the John being given this vision while imprisoned as the last of the apostles.
The present (ch. 2-3) deals with the seven churches in Asia minor. Christ addressed their problems with His advice. They represent the spectrum of problems churches might have. Being in the church age this applies to us also.
The future (ch. 4-22) reveals the second coming of Christ. This is mentioned eight times as often as His first coming in the Bible. First, we see a glimpse of heaven with worship around the throne. Angelic figures and 24 elders that seem to represent the church. Then Christ appears with a sealed book that only He can open (ch. 4-5).
Next, we see three series of judgements God brings to cleanse and bring men to repentance (ch. 6-18). Each series is successively more intense. Each has seven parts with the seventh introducing to the next series.
The first series (ch. 7) are seal judgements that begin calmly and mainly deal with things caused by man. During this time, God seals 144,000 Jewish evangelists that results in a great revival. This shows the Jewish nature of Revelation as Messiah brings Israel to Himself (cf. Dan. 9:24).
The second series (ch. 8-14) are the trumpet judgements. They are more intense and deal with divine judgements on the earth. In some cases, demons are unleashed to effect this. However, few repent.
God ordains two witnesses who are divinely protected and empowered for 3.5 years. They continue the work of evangelism in this tribulation period (cf. Mat. 24:9-29). The witnesses are eventually killed but are resurrected after three days which amazes the watching world.
Then Satan is thrown down from heaven and two men emerge who are the anti-Christ and false prophet who work with Satan. These three are a counterfeit of the true trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (cf. 16:13; 20:10). The mark of the beast, 666, is also Satan’s counterfeit of God’s identifying mark on those who are His (cf. 7:3).
Next a powerful angel in the heavens to proclaims “the eternal gospel” to all on earth (14:6). Our Lord in His grace repeatedly calls men to repentance even though few repent.
The third series (ch. 15-18) are bowl judgements that are the most intense as God’s wrath over sin is poured out on the earth which is totally devastated. The greatest earthquake of all rattles the entire planet (16:18) and Satan’s empire, depicted as Babylon, falls. It pictures the collapse of a worldwide financial system.
Finally, four heavenly “Hallelujahs” herald Christ’s return in power (ch. 19). His saints from heaven follow as He defeats and imprisons Satan and sets up His earthly kingdom in Jerusalem for a thousand years (ch. 20). This is a prelude to eternity. Finally, Satan is released briefly and instigates a rebellion against God. He is thrown into the Lake of fire. Then the great white throne appears and the dead are judged by their works from the “books.” Works are never enough to pay for their sin so they are also thrown into the Lake of Fire. Only those whose names are in the “Lamb’s Book of Life” have His complete forgiveness because of their faith.
The culmination of the book is the New Jerusalem coming down (ch. 21-22). It is the “Grand Central Station” of our train tour. This massive and beautiful place is square like the Holy of Holies and could cover almost half of the USA if it sat on it. Christ is the center of worship and all glorified believers of all the ages have access. The curse of Adam is gone. Therefore, it is a place of perfect worship like never before.
In the last chapter, Christ reminds of His sudden return. We are to be living in light of this return. We can’t just sit on the tracks as the train comes or we’ll be destroyed. This is the message to the church today (22:16,20). Repent and have faith in Christ who died as the Lamb of God for your sin. Don’t let the concerns of this world, your uncertainty about things or spiritual confusion delay you. He is “coming quickly.” So “come” anyway. (Hear this full message on Livestream for 2/19/2017).
I am excited about this Sunday as Chris Rogers, my pastoral assistant, begins a new series in Nehemiah. This is appropriate as we look forward to doing some building as we prepare to reach others in these last days. Don’t miss the first his first. If you can’t be here, then watch on Livestream.
Later Sunday I’ll be visiting one of our mission churches with Juan Carlos Magallanes in Quincy. Keep us in prayer.