Revelation is a mysterious book, full of things which, in my opinion, we’ll never understand fully until they’ve actually come to pass. This is true of other prophetic passages, as well. For example, who could possibly understand who Isaiah was referring to in Isaiah chapter 53, until the events surrounding the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had actually come to pass? So it is with the book of Revelation. There are things in there, that, friends, we’re just not going to be able to figure out entirely, until they’ve come to pass.
Having said this, we should not abandon the book of Revelation. You see, there are extremes. Some people try to figure out the entire book of Revelation, and even think they’ve got it mastered. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are like this. They think they’ve got the book of Revelation all figured out. Consequently, they’ve gone off the deep end, preaching things that are totally unbiblical. An interesting thing is that, even though we cannot fully understand the book of Revelation, there are some things that we can understand in it. One of them, quite interestingly, is that Jesus is God in the flesh! And this, the Jehovah’s Witnesses reject. So it is quite interesting, you see, to see how some people use, and abuse, the book of Revelation.
I am not about to try and interpret the entire book. To do so is folly in my opinion. But what I want to do is to go over those passages which are clear. And there are many of them. My thinking is this, that if we can go over the passages which are clear, and if we can do our very best to “heed” those things which are written in them, we will do well. God doesn’t hold us accountable for those thing which we cannot understand. However, he does hold us accountable for those things which we do understand! Or, as one person has put it, “It’s not those things which I don’t understand in Scripture that bother me! It’s the things I DO understand!” I think we would all do very well to try understand the entire Bible – in so much as we are able to – that we might “put into practice” those things which we do understand.
Quoting Jesus, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49)
Does the book of Revelation fall under the same category that Jesus is referring to here, in Luke 6:46-49? My opinion is, yes. First, the Bible is called “The word of God” and Jesus himself is called “The word of God”. When Jesus says, “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them …” in verse 46, he is, in a broad context, referring to the entire Bible. But more specifically, the book of Revelation is called, right in verse 1, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants.” So this entire book of Revelation has been “passed” from God the Father, to Jesus, to John, and so forth, right down to us today. Even when Jesus spoke in the gospels, we know that he did nothing of his own initiative, but rather, Jesus said, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father” (John 8:38a). Thus, even in the gospels, Jesus spoke words which came from the Father. In the book of Revelation, it is no different. We read, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him …” (Rev 1:1).
Does the book of Revelation, then, consist of the words of Jesus? Yes. And they fall in the same category as those mentioned in Luke 6:46-49. To drill this point in, we need to read verse three: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Rev 1:3). Note the language here. It is quite similar to what Jesus said in Luke 6:46-49: “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them …” Thus, we really are dealing with the same thing. In one (the book of Revelation), we are told to “read, hear, and heed”. In the other (Luke 6) we are told to “come to Jesus, hear, and act (or heed again)”.
In so far as it is possible, then, the book of Revelation needs to be understood. My promise is that in going over this book, I’ll do my best to leave the mysterious alone, and focus only on those things which clearly we are able to understand and put into practice. I’m personally looking forward to it, and I hope you are, too.