Is the book of Revelation relevant today? Is it possible for us to understand it? Can we know to whom it was written—and why? What are the meanings of its mysterious symbols?
The name of the book, Revelation, is a translation of the title in the original New Testament Greek, Apocalypsis —the origin of the other name by which the book is now known, the Apocalypse. The Greek term denotes an unveiling or uncovering—thus, a revelation. It here signifies an opening up of hidden knowledge to understanding.
This book has perplexed readers for almost 2,000 years. Over the centuries it has been one of the world's most misunderstood and misinterpreted books. Yet it need not be so.
The fundamental message of the book of Revelation is simple. It promises that God will institute universal peace, prosperity and cooperation over all the earth immediately after the return of Jesus Christ. It reveals how this wonderful new world will be established and why it will never be destroyed or superseded by any other way of life or social order.
The book of Revelation also describes an incredibly deceptive alliance of internationally powerful political and religious entities attempting to prevent Jesus' reign from ever being established. Their opposition to Him and His saints will result in a time of international turmoil and suffering unlike anything the world has ever seen.
The terrifying weapons developed and manufactured using modern technology are an indication that the terrible time of trouble may be much nearer than we think. Nations have already stockpiled more than enough weapons to annihilate all human life from the face of the earth. Rogue nations increasingly gain the ability to produce and use horrifying weapons of mass destruction.
Even more frightful are terrorist groups, unable to attain their goals by conventional arms or diplomacy, that now have access to such deadly weapons. Respected advisers on international security warn that the danger of nuclear weapons being used by rogue nations or terrorist groups grows ever higher. Nuclear weapons are only one of several means of mass destruction available to unscrupulous leaders and terrorists bent on achieving their ends by any means, including mass carnage.
The book of Revelation presents us with good news and bad news about the future, giving us both aspects of the picture. On the one hand it describes the terrifying tools of destruction our advanced technology will produce —and a deceived humanity will use—at the end of this age. But it also reveals how the living God, the Creator of the universe, will intervene to prevent the annihilation of humankind. It further reveals the wonderful time of peace and a transformed world that will follow those horrible days.
You need to understand God's description of what lies ahead—and what it means to you. You need to understand how you can be a part of the good news He reveals about the future. Once you grasp the message of Revelation, you, too, will see that it contains the most remarkable message of hope ever written. Its fundamental message is plain and its conclusion certain.