Many think this book of the Bible can’t be understood. Since it means “reveal” you can grasp its vital messages.
[Darris McNeely] Consider a new approach to the Book of Revelation. Stop looking at the book as something incomprehensible and start to look at it as a blessing from God to be understood.
It was a feeling not quite like anything that he had felt before. While praying the Apostle John sensed the presence of God. He heard a voice and something about it was familiar. He had not heard it for many years. Yet he knew that voice. John turned and he saw seven tall gold lampstands and standing among them was the familiar form of the Son of Man. Before him in his mind’s eye was the man that he knew as Jesus of Nazareth. The man on whose chest he laid his head, the man who called him friend.
John shielded his eyes because the face was as bright as the sun, but through it he could see that it was the resurrected Jesus Christ and he was amazed at what he saw. The vision caused him to seize up and fall down on his face. Then a hand reached down and touched him and he heard the familiar tone of the man that he had followed for more than three years. The man who he worshipped as Lord. And he heard that voice say “Write the things that you have seen.” And he did. And we call it the Book of Revelation.
The Book of Revelation. It’s the last book of the New Testament. It’s the book that every Bible student studies. It’s the book of the Bible that everybody wants to understand and really tries hard to figure out all the meanings of that book. It causes some to scratch their head wondering, what’s all this about.
I was a young man when I first was taken through the Book of Revelation in a mid-week Bible Study in my church. And it was fantastic. The pastor gave us a blank sheet of paper and when we got to the chapters that talked about these fantastic beasts with heads and horns he had us draw all of this. And here I was a young man drawing things out of the Bible and it really impressed upon me and I was really fascinated by all of the heads and the horns and the images that the Book of Revelation has. I kept that page of my drawings for a long long time and finally lost it otherwise I’d put it on the screen for you. But probably just as well, there might have been a few things wrong in that that I’ve learned. But how about you?
Do you understand the book of Revelation? We are all students of the Bible and we’ve read that book many many times. And there is lot we that do understand but the more I’ve read it, the more that I have studied into the book of scripture the more I realize there is more to learn.
And so today as we talk about the Book of Revelation specifically I’m going to take you through just a few verses that I think help us to understand certain essential keys to understanding and to beginning to grasp the full meaning of the Book of Revelation. We’re not going to answer every question, we’re not going to even get to the chapters that really have the juicy things about the beasts and the images there. But we’re going to learn certain keys because no matter how many times we’ve read this book I always find that there is more to learn. I get the opportunity to teach this book, Revelation, every year to a group of students who come in to Ambassador Bible College to learn and I find that the opening verses of the entire book to be a vital key that helps to lay the foundation for understanding this book of prophecy.
It is a book of prophecy but it is more. It is a book of Christian living. It is a book of developing a relationship with God and that’s really one of the biggest keys that I’ve learned through the years because I always enjoyed history, I’ve always enjoyed prophecy. But the more I’ve reached into the Book of Revelation the more I recognized that in that book there is teaching there for how I live my everyday life. Not just wondering and worrying about some imagery and some great world event and the catastrophes and all that is in the book. But it helps me to motivate my life, it helps me to want to have a relationship with God that’s deep and meaningful because that book teaches me about the Word of God and the law of God and a relationship with the Father and with Jesus Christ. So you see there is more to it than just a book about prophecy. The prophecy gets you to a relationship with God. It gets you to change your life. To align it with God.
So let’s go back to the beginning. Let’s go back to the beginning of the book and let’s begin to lay a foundation for what we have here because one thing we’re going to find is that God wants us to understand this book. And you can understand this book.
Let’s begin at the beginning with the title of this book which is Revelation. Now the word means apocalypse, alright? This is your Greek lesson for the day, alright? For those of you that are watching this later you can look it up and even look it up on the internet and find some of these meanings here but really it’s very simple.
The word Revelation means apocalypse and that’s not something dire. That’s not something horrible of and by itself. It comes from a word in the Greek that means to reveal. To disclose unseen realities. I like that term. Unseen realities. You know why? Because our world is not what it seems. Oh it’s physical and tangible and we’re flesh and blood and we’ve got oxygen and we’ve got the elements and we’ve got a wonderfully created planet on which life here exists. Yes. But it’s not the ultimate foundation of reality. Doesn’t take long to understand that.
The world is not what it seems. The ultimate reality is the spirit world. The spiritual dimension and the Book of Revelation brings us into that and helps us to understand that what the ultimate reality is the world inhabited by God, by His Son Jesus Christ and the angelic realm.
That is the reality that frankly as we read the Book of Revelation we should come to understand and appreciate because that then drives and motivates our life. That is the reality that can be understood and God wants us to understand it and that’s what the title of the book means. A book that reveals. So we don’t have to worry. We don’t have to wonder, in one sense. There are certainly going to be things that God holds to Himself in terms of prophetic fulfillment that He knows exactly when and exactly how it’s going to be done. We don’t have to worry about that. But we do need to understand all that is around it.
So when you look at the title of the book it says the Revelation. Now depending upon the version of the Bible that you are familiar with, certain translations and I find it to be some of the older ones, will say The Revelation of John. Meaning the Apostle John, the one who I was talking about in the beginning. Alright. Newer translations of the Bible will say that it is The Revelation to John. Alright. Then you will also find in that superscription, remember that that is something that is not in the actual text that’s been inspired, that’s what authors and translators have put in there to kind of introduce the book. But then others will say, one I have on my shelf, says The Revelation of Jesus Christ. So you see the differences as people begin to get into the book and sometimes that should at least be a bit of a warning sign to us that if we don’t stick our nose to scripture and what the Bible says, we can really begin to stray even on a seemingly small point but the further and further we get away from that the wider the gulf can begin to be. So it’s important to stick to scripture.
So what does it say? Well let’s read in Revelation 1 beginning in verse 1. It says “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him to show to his servants things which must shortly take place.” Things that must shortly take place. Now let’s pause for a moment and let’s look at that. Here are 2 Beings who are mentioned in the very first verse.
God and Jesus Christ. God spoken of here is the one that we know as the Father. The one that was revealed by Jesus in His earthly ministry. And the other of course is Jesus Christ. He gave to Jesus Christ. So the Father gave to Jesus Christ the revelation.
That in itself is an awesome place to begin and to understand. The revelation comes from the Father to Christ to His servants. What we’re seeing here at the beginning of the Book of Revelation is the picture of the unity of the two Beings in the family of God. The God family. The two Beings working as they always have to bring their eternal plan of salvation to the human family. This is what we are getting a glimpse into.
I have to think that as the Apostle John wrote these words that he remembered what he had written years earlier when he wrote his gospel we call the Gospel of John. And if you remember the opening words of that gospel it says “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
Very simple straight forward language to understand something about this relationship between the Father and Christ. There are two Beings in the God family. There is the Father and the Son Jesus Christ. Both are God, God is the name of the family as well as these two Beings.
The one called the Father gave this revelation to Jesus. They work as one in perfect unity of purpose. So what we are seeing here is an opening glimpse into that. So the Father, God the Father, gave to Christ this vast tapestry of insight into where the world is heading at the end of the age and what is called here in these verses as the time of the Day of the Lord. It’s an amazing moment in world history. When Revelation opens it is actually in the Day of the Lord which is a time yet ahead of us and it is a time when God begins the transition period that will bring to a conclusion the age of man and human government before the return, the appearing, of Jesus Christ and the ushering in of the Kingdom of God on this earth.
Now he says what was to be shown were “things that must shortly come to pass.” Now keep in mind John wrote this in the mid 90’s A.D. a long long time ago. What do you mean, shortly come to pass? The key to understanding that is that God’s perspective is not ours.
From God’s perspective these events are #1 sure to happen. They will happen. #2 God is not limited to time as we are. He is eternal, He is ageless. He’s the beginning and the end. God exists in what we might call the eternal present. And so for God it is things that will shortly come to pass.
But there is another thing for us to understand as we read this because as we read it in our day and in our time we must read it with that urgency that it could and can be a short time before it does come to pass. In fact every generation that has ever read the Book of Revelation must come to understand that and accept it in their time of life and read it from that point of view that it could shortly come to pass. Because the words have teaching as to how one lives in their day and time. Each generation must live as if “things must shortly come to pass.”
That’s how God wrote the book, that’s how God intends for us to understand. We approach that, then it adds an urgency to our life that this book is saying something to us in 2019, in 2020, just as much as it said something to John when he saw it in the mid 90’s. It was 95 A.D. and it was urgent for him in terms of how he lived his life and the message of the churches.
So the Father gives this revelation to Christ and as we roll through the Book of Revelation we find that Christ has several names by which He is known. He is revealed to be The Son of Man. He is also called the Lion of Judah. He’s called The Lamb. And He’s called the Word of God.
So the Father is the revealer and He gives to the Lamb the knowledge of what is to happen and then His angel sends that to John and we read what was given to John as John then wrote it down, the things that happened.
We are told here as well that God is wanting to bear witness to all these things that He saw and to show His servants the things which must shortly come to pass.
Unlike other prophecies that are sealed until the time of the end here in Revelation we see prophecies that are revealed to the servants of God and the revealing begins with John here.
So God wants to make known to us what the future will be. Revelation can be understood. It’s not a closed book of mystery. It reveals signs and it reveals symbols.
In a short program like we have today we are not able to go through everything that is in this book but the study guide that goes along with this series on Revelation that we have been talking about and all that we may write about in Beyond Today is covered in this booklet The Book of Revelation Unveiled. Those who are watching this program later can get a free copy of this by calling the number or going on the website that they see, beyondtoday.tv, and begin to look into more detail to the elements of the Book of Revelation that we actually cover in this booklet. You want to know about the mark and the number of the beast? I’m not going to tell you today. Don’t have time. But it’s giving understanding out of this book but you have to read the book, the book of the study guide, to get that. So for those of you that are watching at home we sure want you to make sure that you get a copy of this, free copy that is available to you to help you understand more about what this Book of Revelation is talking about.
Now let’s go further into this. In verse 2 of Revelation it says this, “John who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, and to all things that he saw.”
The word of God is the Bible, the Holy Scriptures. We bear witness by living by every word of God. John did and so do we. You know Jesus once said that he who hears His teaching and does them shall be like a man who built his house on a rock and the storms came but did not wash it away. The storms of life are pretty strong at times aren’t they? Things that have come unexpectedly upon us when we think we’re sailing along pretty good. A tornado, flood, a hurricane, something personal hits our lives and we are in a storm. We are in a tempest. Our faith is tested.
You know the Apostle John was given a 3D full color IMAX vision meant to impress upon him the certainty of God’s hand in history. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he wrote it all down for us in this book and it is a fantastic book to read because of the color, the imagery, that is there and though we might not have the exact vision that John saw we have what he wrote down and with the aid of God’s Spirit that can come alive as we read it as to understand how we are to react and how we are to anticipate changes in the world and even changes in our life.
We read Revelation to understand how mankind survives in the transition to the age that is to come. That’s one of the critical things to understand about the Book of Revelation. We read Revelation to have a faith and a confidence in what God is doing.
We read Revelation to understand the transition that is about to take place and to have confidence that God is guiding history to His conclusion. Not to a random conclusion that mankind and the nations and the kings and the leaders of the world will come to but what God intends.
Christ we are told in the book is the revelator and He is confirming what will happen. Those who believe in Christ must take this book as coming from Him to those who worship him as Lord and consider themselves to be a follower, a Christian.
So what I’m saying is this. We can’t be selective Christians picking only the soft and the smooth teaching and ignoring the side that is revealed in this book. We just can’t do that.
You know Christ during His ministry He often spoke directly on the serious issues of sin and spiritual ignorance, spiritual negligence. To a woman who was caught in adultery He said “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t pass judgment upon her. He knew He could see within her heart there was genuine repentance but He said “Go and sin no more.” Stop what you are doing, your lifestyle. Change it.
To a woman whose daughter was demon-possessed and came to Him for help He put her off with statements about who He really was sent to. He said “I am not sent to you.” I am sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And then she kept persistently saying but even we could use the scraps off of the table. Impressed by her faith He healed her daughter.
On another occasion Christ said to people you have to leave your father and mother. He said I’ve come to set a man against those of his own household. Those are pretty strong statements.
Again, we can’t be selective when it comes to the Word of God as to what we accept, believe, and understand. Jesus spoke some hard sayings and we have to bear witness to the word of God, the testimony of Christ. The book of Revelation shows God’s judgment on all the nations. And when that happens it will be lights out for the world that we know. It’s a motivating book. Deeply motivating book.
In fact the booklet that we have, the study guide, actually talks about Babylon and I mentioned the mark and the number of the beast up here but it also talks in this booklet about the time of Jacob’s trouble and the women that are mentioned in the Book of Revelation even portrayed on this booklet here on the cover which is a better image of the beast than what I drew when I was a kid. I guarantee you they didn’t use that one for this artwork here.
But again it’s the symbols and the images that fascinate us and cause people to be drawn to the message of the book.
The number on our website, the website beyondtoday.tv, can be your pathway to get a copy of this book to take you deeper into understanding and some answers to these questions and we’ve got a lot here on Beyond Today about Armageddon, about the mark of the beast and these women and all of these images there. We do want to hear from people who are watching and engaging with us on Beyond Today. It lays a foundation to understand what this world is all about and where it’s going. So make sure that you get a copy of that. Those of us that are here today and a part of this it’s necessary that we understand that as well.
We’ve covered a lot of material on this program to this point. We’ve seen that Revelation reveals the unseen reality of this world. That the Revelation is from God the Father to Jesus Christ. We see that we must also take this message very very seriously and let it change our life.
Now let’s look at one other thing that is said here in this opening statement. It actually concludes with a blessing, one of the seven blessings that you can find throughout the Book of Revelation. You may not have thought about the Book of Revelation as a book that contains blessings. There’s seven of them and the first one is here in verse 3. It says this, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” There’s that phrase again. Things which must shortly come to pass that we read earlier and the time is near.
You know the Book of Revelation was meant to be read aloud. It was meant to be read in a congregational setting with people. Kind of like I’m talking to you here today. But the whole book would have been read initially to a group of people by one individual. You can imagine the impact on a hearer when the descriptions of the throne of God, four horsemen, Christ on a white horse. All of this was read out. The language would call up images that would make a deep and lasting impression. It would be motivational. It would be inspirational. It would be aspirational. Christ said “Blessed are those who hear…and keep the things that are written in” this book.
This book is meant to stir us to action. More to righteous conduct then to intellectual vanity. I’ve seen a lot of people get hung up on this book through the years trying to figure out timelines, individuals and putting a face to various people that are mentioned that are mentioned directly in the prophecies of this book. But fail then to motivate people to obedience. Or to be inspired to a conviction to a relationship with God. Aspiring to know God and to please Him. It says the time is near and we all have to take that very literally.
The word time here is the word “Kairos.” And it’s not talking about a day or a month, not even a year. That’s again where people get hung up on this book. It means a season of time. It’s not meant to determine an exact time as in a year or a day. Right here God shows us don’t try to figure out a date for any of these prophecies. God’s plan and purpose does not work that way. For the time for us is always near. A Christian lives their life in the near. Today this is all we have.
Whether in the 1st century with John or whether it’s today in the 21st century. It is a time for all of us to read the book and to wake up from the sleep, from the slumber, that our times that our world and all the distractions cause us to slumber and to fall asleep and not be spiritually alert.
That’s why this message is so important. That’s why only a few verses at a time perhaps can be enough to motivate us to do something. To fall on our knees and to worship God. And to get a copy of a booklet that’s going to make a tremendous impact in a very high and important way.
One of the things about this booklet that I have been impressed with because I’ve been involved with it from the very conception of it here on Beyond Today and our work with it is that it is written without a lot of speculation. It is written to give understanding. It is written with a spiritual intent that the name Revelation really means and that is to reveal the unseen reality. And in the process cause us to have our lives changed and developed into a relationship with God that actually changes our life and makes it better day by day for us at this time.
So here’s what I want you to do. For those of you who are watching this later make sure that you get your own copy of this booklet. For those of us that are here and perhaps we feel this is a subject that we’ve known before, take a second look at it and to let it change your life in a prayerful and meaningful way.
Consider a new approach to the book of Revelation. Stop trying to come to wild predictions.
Stop looking at the book as something incomprehensible. Stop looking at the book in that way and start looking at it as a blessing from God to be understood. A book that carries the voice of God today, meant to be acted upon.
The closing words of Jesus are the words that speak to us. “I am coming quickly and my reward is with Me.” Let us take hold of the promise of this book and its blessing.
[Narrator] Please call for the booklet offered on today’s program “The Book of Revelation Unveiled.” Maybe you find Revelation to be a confusing book. This free study aid will make it clear. You can know the truth about Bible prophecy. It doesn’t have to be a mystery. This booklet lays out the story flow of the Book of Revelation. You will read about the mark and the number of the beast as well as the work of God’s two witnesses in the time of the end. You will learn the meaning of the seven trumpets, the mystical beast, Armageddon, and the day of the Lord. Order now. Call toll free 1-888-886-8632 or write to the address shown on your screen. Revelation is God’s newscast of events before they happen. You can understand Revelation and how it actually reveals a coming world filled with promise, joy and peace. When you order this free study aid we’ll also send you a complimentary one year subscription to our Beyond Today magazine. The Beyond Today magazine brings you understanding of today’s world and hope for the future. 6 times a year you’ll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family. Call today to receive your free booklet The Book of Revelation Unveiled and your free 1 year subscription to Beyond Today magazine. 1-888-886-8632 or go online to beyondtoday.tv