It is tragic that the most blessed book of the Bible is also the one most overlooked or ignored! The mere mention of its name results in fear and apprehension among the uninformed. It intimidates the uninitiated, and many regard it as unfathomable - too difficult to understand. Yet, it is the only book of the Bible that promises a special blessing to the reader! There is only one book of the Bible that has the audacity to declare, in effect, "Read me: I'm special." No other book of the Bible singles itself out in such a manner.
It is, of course, the Book of Revelation. Several times it pronounces a special blessing on the reader:
Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
Does God keep His promises? Of course! Why not take up His challenge! He guarantees you a special blessing!
To whom was the Book given? (The answer may surprise you!)
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:
To Whom? To Jesus Christ! Wow! No wonder it is such a blessing! (Notice that the title is in the singular: the word means "The Unveiling." It is the Unveiling of Jesus Christ!) Why was it given? To show His servants things which must suddenly come to pass! (The word "shortly" might more accurately be translated "suddenly": when they start, they will occur rapidly. It is the same Greek word from which we get tachometer.)
How was it rendered? It was sign-ified: rendered into signs or sememes. Just as the alphabet is the fundamental unit of written language; phonemes, the fundamental unit of spoken language; pixels, the fundamental unit of an image; sememes are the fundamental units of meaning.
In a sense, the entire book is in code; yet, each "code" is explained somewhere within the Word of God. In its 404 verses, there are over 800 allusions from the Old Testament!1If the Book of Revelation seems strange to our eyes and ears, it is simply because we lack sufficient familiarity with the Old Testament!
One of the several reasons the Book of Revelation is such a blessing is that, properly pursued, tracking down each of the "codes" or "signs" will prove to be a treasure hunt which will take us into virtually every book of the Bible. Most of them will explain themselves. Many will reserve their charm for the diligent.
Another reason the Book is such a blessing is that it will convey a demonstration of the integrity of design of the entire Bible. Everything that begins in Genesis - and that includes practically everything - has its consummation in the Book of Revelation. Every thread is part of the total tapestry; every detail takes its significance from all of the others.
One more reason why the Book is such a blessing is that it brings into focus God's entire plan of redemption. It provides the context - the ultimate context - for all that has gone on before.
Yet this is probably what creates an apprehension among the uninformed. It deals with eschatology: the study of "last things." And eschatology challenges our hermeneutics: our theories of interpretation. It will challenge the precision of our definitions and the consistency of our perceptions. We believe God means what He says, and says what He means. Jesus called us to precision and respect of the text:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
A "jot" or "tittle" are Hebrew equivalents to our "dotting an i" or "crossing a t." This is a call to take the Biblical text seriously.
The Most Important Part
Even a superficial review of the Book reveals its heptadic (sevenfold) structure (see graphic). But this is just the proverbial "tip of the iceberg." There are virtually innumerable "sevens" throughout the Book, many of them obvious, many of them quite subtle, and many of them rather well "hidden."
However, the most important part of the Book for us is just two chapters, Chapters 2 and 3: the Seven Letters to Seven Churches. Jesus dictated seven "report cards" that are unquestionably the most relevant and practical part of the Book for you and me.
Why these seven? There were over 100 churches in operation when this Book was written. There are four levels of understanding of these skillfully crafted epistles:
- Local: They were real churches with real problems at that time.
- Admonitory: They were written to all churches for their instruction. They form a paradigm against which all/any churches can be evaluated.
- Homiletic: They were written for each of us personally.
- Prophetic: And, most surprisingly, they seem to form an anticipatory outline of all church history in advance! (In any other order, this wouldn't be true. (See graphic.)
This latest study of the Book of Revelation will reveal some provocative new insights and, as part of our K-Rations (and Berean Online Fellowship) subscription, will begin on June 6, 2005. Don't miss out, especially now that you can get your weekly K-Rations on audioCD as well as cassette tape, or simply download it onto your computer or iPod if you are a Berean Online Fellowship subscriber.
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