Bible teachers might dread the thought of teaching the Book of Revelation. Yet, God’s intent for this book is blessing:
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. (Rev. 1:3)
Notice that this verse does not says, “Blessed is the one who fully understands the words of this prophecy.”
If we focus on what we can understand, it should build within us a faith that we can trust God for the rest. We can be okay knowing that we have a faithful, sovereign God who is all-knowing and all-powerful to bring all this into reality. If teachers pass on this understanding, they have done well in teaching Revelation.
Following is a summary of the book which should give you something on which to hang the details.
The Book of Revelation describes itself as a revelation of Jesus Christ.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John … (Rev. 1:1, NASB)
Jesus takes center stage from the start of this book as John sees Jesus in heaven in His full glory (Rev. 1). After some words to seven churches (Rev. 2-3), we encounter Jesus again in chapters 4-5 as the One who was worthy to break the seals of the scroll, ushering in the end times.
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. (Rev. 5:9)
As the book progresses we are privileged to peer into the future of Jesus’ final triumph over Satan, death, and evil with a description of how He is making everything new. John concludes, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
The Book of Revelation primarily deals with post-Church.
The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) provide the history of Jesus’ life and death on the cross. Acts through Jude explain what our response should be to Jesus in order to be saved and how we are placed into the Church, described as the Body of Christ, as members of one another. Many of the New Testament books are letters to churches about what it means to be His Church. Then in Revelation 1-3 we read Jesus’ messages to seven churches. After that, we find no more mention of the Church other than reference to the elders in chapter four who many believe to represent the Church.
The Rapture in which Jesus comes to take those who trusted in Him is not specifically mentioned in the book of Revelation. We must look to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 for teaching on what has been called the Rapture.
After a visit to the throne room of God (Rev. 4), we observe how the Lamb (Jesus) is worthy to open the scroll ushering in the end times (Rev. 5). The events unfold:
Seven Year Tribulation (Rev. 6-16)
Millennium (Rev. 20:1-6)
Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 20:7-10)
The Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-15)
The New Heavens & Earth (Rev. 21:1-22:5)
Prior to the Millennium (1000 year reign of Jesus on earth), in chapters 17 through the beginning of chapter 20, we read of the judgment of the Babylon world system, the uprising of the beast with the kings of the earth against Jesus, the beast and false prophet being thrown into the Lake of Fire, and Satan being bound in the Abyss. After the Millennium, Satan is released from the Abyss (Rev. 20:7) leading to the battle of Armageddon which Jesus wins. Satan is then thrown into the Lake of Fire for good (Rev. 20:10).
Within all these chapters of Revelation we find a more detailed description of the above events, some of which should be taken literally and some that must be viewed figuratively. Often that which should be interpreted figuratively is indicated with the word “like” or “as” in order to describe something outside of our current experience so we might at least get an idea of what it is like.
A thorough study of the end times, eschatology, would require a look at more than the book of Revelation. Other passages in both the Old and New Testament must be brought together with the book of Revelation to get a more complete picture. But, for the purpose of this post, we are focusing primarily on the book of Revelation.
The next post will provide some tips for teaching the Book of Revelation.