Why Study Revelation?

Revelation 1

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
August 2022

We welcome you to a brand-new study on the Book of Revelation.  I have been looking forward to this series for a long time.  It is good to see so many people here anxious to learn about the end-times.  We have enough people to have a prophecy conference.

Some of you have never studied the Book of Revelation before.  It is your first time.  You do not know anything about this book.  Some others have studied it before, have been in several classes on Revelation and may be experts on the book.  Whatever your background, you should be able to get something from this study.

Today will be an important introduction to the book.  Next week, we will look at the first vision of the book.  It is a powerful, life-changing vision of Jesus.  You don’t want to miss next week.

Two Extremes

When it comes to the book of Revelation, there are two extremes in the church today.  Many Christians avoid the book.  The one book of the Bible that God tells us to read is the one book that many Christians avoid.

Some preachers avoid it.  It is too mysterious.  It is too controversial.  It is too impractical.  It is too scary.  Revelation is one of the scariest books of the Bible.

It describes scary demonic beings, seven headed monsters, and big red dragons.  The angels look a little scary.  They have eyes all over the body on the front and back.  Even Jesus looks a little scary.  John sees Him and He has a sharp sword coming out of his mouth.

In this book, people get unsightly and painful sores.  They go outside and get stung by ugly looking demon locusts from the bottomless pit and get hit in the head by hundred-pound hailstones falling from the sky.  Some Christians avoid this book.

Other Christians are obsessed with this book.  It is their favorite book of the Bible.  Some Christians only read the Gospels.  Some only read the Book of Acts and some only read the Book of Revelation.  They come up with the most bizarre interpretations. They say Obama is the Antichrist or Trump is the Antichrist.

They say the Mark of the Beast is the barcode at the grocery store or the COVID-19 vaccine.  There have been vaccine requirements for travel, eating in some restaurants and conditions for employment.

They say Babylon the Great is the USA.  It is the center of commerce.  It is a financial center with the stock market.  It is full of sexual immorality and greed.  It is symbolized by a woman.  That must be Lady Liberty.

The danger we have to avoid is newspaper exegesis.  That is looking at current events and trying to force those events into Scripture.  That is a common error.  By reading the Bible selectively, you can make anything fit.

Today, we want to ask one question:  Why should we study this book?  Why is the Book of Revelation important for the church today?  We are going to look at seven reasons why every Christian should study the Book of Revelation.

Seven Reasons to Study the Book of Revelation

1) Study Revelation to learn about future events

God wants us to know about prophetic events.  He does not want us to be ignorant of bible prophecy. You will often hear preachers say that knowledge is bad.

That is one of the greatest lies preached in the pulpit.  God said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6 KJV).  God does not want us to be ignorant.

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant (I Corinthians 12:1 KJV).

God does not want us to be ignorant about spiritual gifts and He does not want us to be ignorant of bible prophecy.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope (I Thessalonians 4:13 NIV)

Are you interested in learning more about bible prophecy?  Study the Book of Revelation.

Unfortunately, many Christians today in the American Church are ignorant about Bible prophecy.  They have no idea what the Bible says about the future.  They have no desire to study it.

2) Study Revelation to learn more about Jesus

The great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther did not like the Book of Revelation because he did not see Jesus in it.[1]

Luther was wrong.  The Book of Revelation is all about Jesus.  In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is the exalted, and glorified Son of Man.  He is the crucified Lamb, and the conquering Lion.  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He is ruler of the kings of the earth.

In Revelation, Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. He is the Word of God.  He is Faithful and True.  He is the faithful witness.  He is the root and offspring of David.  He is the Bright and Morning Star.  If you want to learn more about Jesus, study Revelation.

3) Study Revelation to find out what heaven is like

Most people have questions about heaven.   There are a lot of crazy ideas about heaven.  The only way to find out the truth is to read the Word.

The clearest description of heaven in the Bible is found in the Book of Revelation. There are two whole chapters on the topic of heaven in Revelation.

Most of what we know about heaven comes from Revelation. In fact, the word heaven is found more times in Revelation than anywhere else in the NT.  It is used forty-five times in the book. Do you want to know what heaven will be like?  Study the Book of Revelation.

4) Study Revelation to find out what Jesus says to the church

The Book of Revelation is the last word of Jesus to the church.  What would Jesus say to the American church today?   Jesus would say different things to different churches.  Each church is different.  He had different things to say to the seven churches in John’s day.  By reading Revelation, we get some idea what Jesus might say to our local church today.

5) Study Revelation to find hope in dark times

We are living in dark times.  All you have to do is watch the news.  There are school shootings, terrorism, sex crimes and murder every day.  John also lived in a dark time.  In his day, the church was persecuted by the state.

Revelation is a book of hope.  It was written to give hope in the midst of persecution.  It was written to comfort believers and help them find hope in dark times. Revelation describes the darkest time on planet earth.

No matter how dark it gets, we will see that God is still on the throne.  He is still in charge.  One day, Jesus will return to earth to rule and reign on the planet, and we will live in a perfect world, a world with sickness, without disease, without crime and without suffering.

6) Study Revelation to receive a blessing

Do you want to be blessed?  Revelation promises a special blessing, not just once but twice.  We see it once in the first chapter and once in the last chapter of the book.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (Revelation 1:3 NIV)

Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll. (Revelation 22:7 NIV)

Now, in America, we associate blessing with prosperity.  John does not promise if we read this book, we will all become millionaires.  The book was written to many poor Christians.  Some of the most blessed churches in the book were the poorest.  The one church that was financially well off was in worse shape spiritually.

This book does not guarantee economic prosperity, but it does guarantee blessing.  One pastor said when he preached through this book, all kinds of things happened in his church: lives were transformed and marriages were restored.

It could happen to you.  One man who read the Book of Revelation every six months of his Christian life to make sure that he did not miss out on this blessing.

7) Study Revelation for practical applications

Blessed are those who hear, AND WHO KEEP what is written in it (Revelation 1:3 ESV)

God did not give the book for speculation but for application.  Revelation is more than a book of doctrine.  It is more than a book of prophecy.  It is a book of practical application.  It was not written just to satisfy our curiosity about the future.  We are not only to hear this book; we are to heed it.

Now, many chapters in the book do not seem to have any application.  They are just plagues falling on people (seal, trumpets and bowl judgments) but there are many applications in the book.  What are some of them?  Let me share ten practical applications found in Revelation.

Practical Applications in Revelation

1) Do you know for sure if you are saved?

You say, “I think I am saved.”  Are you absolutely sure you?  To get into heaven, your name has to be written in a book.  The Book of Revelation describes that book.  It is called The Book of Life.  Is your name written in the Book of Life?  Your eternity depends on it.

2) Do you have any unconfessed sins in your life?

The word “repent” is found ten times in the book.  Jesus writes letters to seven churches.  He writes letters to Christians.  Jesus tells some Christians in Revelation to repent.  Will you need to repent?  Jesus had some things against some of these churches.  Does he have anything against us?

3) Do you know how to worship God?

Revelation is a book of worship.  It tells us how the angels in heaven worship God.  There is music mentioned in the book.  There are some songs in the book. It is the only book of the NT that uses the word “hallelujah.”  Do we know how to worship?

4) Do we listen to the voice of God?

Seven times in the book, we read the words, “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  This is the greatest need of the church today.

That is something we need to do today. Some are open to what the Spirit says to the church today and some are not.  Some are stuck in their tradition or denomination.

5) Do we have fellowship with Jesus?

Jesus wants to have fellowship with believers.  .Jesus does not force his way in.  He knocks.  In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is knocking on the door to get in.  Do you fellowship with Christ or does he have to knock on the door of your heart?

6) Do we believe the truths of Scripture?

I have seen people leave our church and join a cult.  There were cults in John’s day.  Jesus rebuked some Christians who held false doctrines.  He rebuked some who held the doctrine of Balaam and some who held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.  Do we hold those doctrines or any other false doctrine?

7) Are we afraid of what people will do to us?

Some Christians in the first century faced persecution.  Some of them faced death.  Jesus told some Christians, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer” (Revelation 2:10 NIV).  He told them, “Be faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10 NIV).  That is a message for persecuted Christians all over the world today. Would we be faithful to death?  Would we deny Christ?

8) Do we know how to do spiritual warfare?

There is a lot in this book about Satan and demons.  Satan is called the accuser of the brethren and the one who deceives the whole world.  He has a lot of power.  He throws some Christians in prison in this book.  Satan hates this book.  It spells his doom.  Do we know how to defeat Satan?

9) Do we share in the sins of others?

Believers are called, not to stay in Babylon, but to come out of it.  Come out of her, MY PEOPLE, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues (Revelation 18:4 NIV)

10) Are we ready for the return of Christ?

The Book of Revelation is all about getting ready for the return of Jesus.  Jesus is coming back soon.  He could come back in our lifetime. If the time was near in John’s day, it must be really near in our day.

John said, “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” (I John 2:18 NIV).  If he lived in the last hour, we must live in the last second.  We live two thousand years later.

Will you receive any rewards when He comes back?  Jesus said, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Revelation 22:16 NIV).

Seven Things to Know about Revelation

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia (Revelation 1:1-4 NIV)

In these first four verses, we learn seven truths about the Book of Revelation.

1) The Book of Revelation is a circular letter

Revelation was not a treatise on eschatology by a biblical scholar, it was a letter.  It was a letter not written to one church but to seven churches.  It was written by John to the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 1:4).

Each church got to see what Jesus said to the other church.  If Lamb’s Chapel were one of the churches, they would get to see what Jesus said to First Baptist and vice versa.  That could be a little embarrassing.

2) The Book of Revelation is an unveiling

One of the most common myths that people have about the Book of Revelation is that it is impossible to understand. There are so many interpretations.

No one knows what it means or can know.  It is a book written in code.  It seems like a closed book, but the word “revelation” does NOT mean what most people think it means.

Revelation means “unveiling” or “uncovering”.  It is not a book of concealing but a book of revealing.  It was not meant to hide things, but to reveal things.  It was not given to confuse but to clarify.

3) The Book of Revelation is an unveiling of Jesus Christ

This book is called “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”  It is not a revelation of John. It is not a revelation of the Antichrist.  It is not just a revelation of future events.  It is a revelation, an unveiling of Jesus Christ.  There are about thirty-five titles of Jesus in this book. In fact, there are more titles of Jesus in Revelation than in any other book of the Bible.

4) The Book of Revelation is an unveiling about future events

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place… Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy. (Revelation 1:1, 3).

The Book of Revelation is a prophecy.  It is called a prophecy (the words of this prophecy) in Revelation 1:3. In fact, it is called a prophecy five times in the book (Revelation 1:3; 22:7, 10, 18, 19).  It is the only prophetic book of the NT and there is no prophecy in the Bible quite like it.

A Special Kind of Prophecy

1. Revelation is a divine prophecy

This is a divine prophecy.  It is an inspired prophecy.  Revelation is a supernatural book. It came from heaven.  It is a book not from this planet.[2] It is a manuscript from outer space, but it did not come from an alien but from God Himself.

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which GOD gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, THE WORD OF GOD and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:1-2 NIV)

It is called “the Word of God.”  Revelation is a divinely inspired book. Because it is inspired, it is trustworthy.  We are told that three times in the book.

Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the TRUE WORDS of God.” (Revelation 19:9 NIV)

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are TRUSTWORTHY and TRUE.” (Revelation 21:5 NIV)

The angel said to me, “These words are TRUSTWORTHY and TRUE. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.” (Revelation 22:6 NIV)

2. Revelation is an authenticated prophecy

This prophecy was confirmed by an angel.  He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John.  None of the other books of the NT were authenticated this way.  We do not see this angel until Revelation 17.  This must have been not just any angel.  John tried to worship this angel at the end of the book.

3. Revelation is an end-time prophecy

It is a prophecy of future end-time events.  It is a prophecy of things that will happen sometime in the future. They have not happened yet.  How do we know that it is an end-time prophecy?  The Second Coming is the theme of the book.  The book begins and ends with a reference to the Second Coming of Christ.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 1:7 NIV)

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20 NIV)

4. Revelation is a visual prophecy

It is a prophecy of things John sees take place.  The Book of Revelation is an eyewitness account of future events.[3]  The Gospels are an eyewitness account of past events.  This book is an eyewitness account of future events.  He sees them happen.  John is told to write down what he sees and he sees some things that have not taken place yet.

5. Revelation is a guaranteed prophecy

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what MUST soon take place (Revelation 1:1 NIV)

Jesus did not show His servants things that may take place or should take place in the future.  He showed them things that must take place.  They are destined to take place.

6. Revelation is a dated prophecy

Notice the two time-markers mentioned by John in the text.

Revelation 1:1 says, “The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must SOON (ἐν τάχει) take place.”  We are told this twice in the book (cf. Revelation 22:6)

Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is NEAR (γγύς).”

We are told twice, once in the first chapter and once in the last chapter of the book that these things will take place soon (Revelation 1:3; 22:6)

We are told twice, once in the first chapter and once in the last chapter of the book that the time is near (Revelation 1:3; 22:10).

Many say Revelation is not a prophecy of future end-time events.  It is a book written for first century Christians.  It could not be a book written about end-time events, because these events were going to happen soon, not two or three thousand years later.

Some believe that most of the book was fulfilled by 70 AD.  They are called preterists.  The problem with this view is that we are also told that the Second Coming will be soon (Revelation 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20) and that the time for that is near (James 5:8) and that has not happened yet

It did not happen in 70 AD.  It did not happen in 1914 like the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach.  When Jesus returns, He will come to the earth in glory with the clouds of heaven and every eye will see Him.

You say, “That does not seem soon.”  It has been two thousand years and it still has not happened.  Time is relative anyway.  God measures time differently than we do.  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (II Peter 3:8 NIV).

5) The Book of Revelation is an unveiling in symbolic form

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John (Revelation 1:1 KJV)

The word signified or sign-ified means to show by signsA few years ago, Greg Beale wrote a massive commentary that is almost two thousand pages (The New International Greek Testament Commentary, 1999).  Beale argued that the word “show” in Greek (σημαίνω) means to show by symbols.[4]

The Book of Revelation was written in symbols. The Bible is the Word of God.  We interpret it literally, but you cannot take symbols literally.  One commentary on Revelation boasted that it was the most literal commentary on the book ever written.

Churches are called lampstands.  They are not literal lampstands but Jesus called them lampstands.

Satan is described as a big red dragon with a long tail.  Satan does not really have a tail and he is not red, despite all of the pictures of a red devil.  He might be blue (to use a NC joke).

The Antichrist is described as a seven-headed beast.  The real Antichrist will not walk around with seven heads.  This individual will be popular and admired.  He will be charismatic.  They would run from a politician with seven literal heads.

Jesus will return from heaven with a sword in his mouth, but it will not be a literal sword.  What good is a sword against a gun or a bomb or a nuclear weapon?  The sword is symbolic.

There are more symbols in the Book of Revelation than in any book of the NT.  There are about a hundred different symbols in the book.  We get two symbols in the first chapter (seven stars and seven lampstands).

Why does it use so many symbols?  Truth is often expressed more powerfully through symbols than through words alone.  Symbols do not just convey information.  They appeal to your imagination and emotions.  As Pastor Biggers points out, God speaks to us in pictures.  That is why Jesus gave us so many parables.[5]

6) The Book of Revelation is an unveiling for Christians

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show HIS SERVANTS what must soon take place

Revelation is written for believers.  The book was not written for the unsaved people to warn them of what’s going to happen to them.

The first verse of Revelation tells us it is written for saved people.  It was written for Christians.

It was not written for Greek scholars.  It was not written for seminary professors.  It was not written for prophecy experts.  It was written for ordinary Christians.

7) The Book of Revelation promises a special blessing

Revelation is a book unlike any other book in the world.  It is the only book of the Bible that promises a special blessing for reading it.  None of the other sixty-six books of the Bible contain a promise like this. Chuck Missler used to say that “This is the only book of the Bible that says, “Read me.  I am special.”

Some pastors never preach on it.  Some refuse to preach on it.  In many churches, you will NEVER hear a sermon on Revelation. In some churches, you will only hear sermons on the first three chapters of the book. They are missing out on a blessing.

Do you want a special blessing from God?  You don’t have to send a big check to some sketchy TV evangelist.  You just need to read the Book of Revelation and do what it says.  Next wee, we will look at the incredible vision of Jesus in the rest of the chapter.

[1] Luther said in his Preface to the Revelation of St. John (1522), “Christ is neither taught nor known in it. But to teach Christ, this is the thing which an apostle is bound above all else to do; as Christ says in Acts 1[:8], ‘You shall be my witnesses.’ Therefore I stick to the books which present Christ to me clearly and purely.”  The full preface can be accessed at https://www.universitylutheran.church/luther-on-revelation.html

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRoi7RfsX_A

[3] William Hixson, Revelation 1:1-2 (spoken recording), nd.

[4] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 182.

[3] Brian Biggers, “Pictures of God” (8/14/2022 sermon).

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