Reading the Book of Revelation Today, Part 2

Revelation 1

1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John… [ESV].

Our preoccupation with chronology is not unique to us in the Twenty-first Century. Notice the 1st Century disciple’s concern in Acts 1:6-7. 

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.

Jesus refused to give his disciples a timetable. John in the Revelation does not give us a chronlogy of the end times. 

Revelation and the Last Days

This area needs to be made clear—the meaning of the phrase “the last days.”

Now but not yet

Chart from http://www.joeledmundanderson.com/pauls-letter-to-the-romans-chapter-51-11-an-alreadynot-yet-way-of-life-part-9/

“The last Days” were inaugurated at Jesus’ first coming and will be consummated at his second coming. This is why John writes about “things that must soon take place.” John writes about what will begin after his day and will extend to the time of the second coming. We live between these two days — 1) the First Advent of Christ; and 2) the Second Advent of Christ. This in between time is the “last days.” 

So far in the first century Asia Minor Church, there had been but one martyr — Antipas — Revelation 2:13. John sees Antipas as a specimen of what was to come for the churches after his day (see Fee below). This is prophetic insight drawn from the past and applied to present readers. When we experience troubles for the Gospel’s sake, John’s writings speak to us as well.

Applying the Book of Revelation to Everyday Life

What are we left with if we interpret Revelation other than by the “Left Behind” model? We have the assurance that our Risen Lord will be with us in every trial we face to the end of the history of this old world! 

Revelation’s Connection to Daniel in the Old Testament

Daniel is a book alluded to often by John. We have the experience of the the three Hebrew youths in Daniel 3 (click on the link below if you wish to refresh your memory)
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel+3&version=ESV

I like the fact that God saved these three — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego — within their fiery furnace. He did not snatch them out of the fire. Also, God did not pour out His wrath on them, but he permitted them to pass into tribulation and emerge from it unscathed. Daniel 3:27 records of the aftermath of their experience —

The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.

Not only did they escape harm in the fire, they bore faithful testimony to the God who was with them as the “fourth man in the fire!” (There is an old Johnny Cash song by this name.) The pagan king declared in Daniel 3:29 —

Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way. (emphasis mine; see ESV below.) 

What are we left with if we interpret Revelation in the way I suggest? The Revelaion says who is listen to the book. 

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev. 2:7, etc.)

We get a global picture of life for Christ’s Church in the “last days,” but we apply Revelation as individuals as this text directs. What remains without a detailed chronology? The comfort and strength that comes from the knowledge of our God who is with us in tribulation and who uses our experiences to glorify His name!

From time to time, I share a hymn that is meaningful to me. This one jumped out at me as I prayed recently. I hope it blesses you as well.

Application Chart

The chart below demonstrates how I propose to apply the teachings of the Revelation One. I want to show how this book impacts us today. This is not teaching only applied to the church as a whole or even any one church in particular. It is a message for every believer facing difficulties from the enemy — physical or supernatural. It is for me and it is for you

Message of Rev 1 to First Century Chart (2)

Enough for now, but I think you can see how I propose to read the Revelation. I think this way enables us to apply the Revelation to our own lives without speculating on a chronology of the end of the world. This is especially true since Revelation does not intend to present such a chronology.

More insights next time, when we “dive into” chapter one!!!

Notes

ESV. English Standard Version retrieved from https://www.biblegateway.com/

Fee, Gordon D. Revelation (New Covenant Commentary Series). Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

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