Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Prologue

1The 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, 2who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
(Revelation 1:1-3)

1. Many people approach the Book of Revelation with a bit of weariness assuming its content to be all but indecipherable. But is it reasonable to assume that God would give us Scripture that we cannot understand? According to the first three verses of that Book, no this is not a reasonable assumption. In fact, these verses tell us just the opposite - we can understand it! The word revelation, or revealing, tells us that something is to be revealed not concealed. Moreover, it is a revealing for 'his servants', not just for deep thinkers or Ph.D.'s, not for psychics or talking heads, but for the followers of Christ. Revelation is a book that can be understood by the followers of Jesus Christ.
2. Special care was also given to provide the Book's provenance:

  1. God gave the revelation to Jesus Christ (v.1)
  2. Jesus sent an angel to make the revelation known to John (v.1)
  3. The angel communicated it to John (vv.1 and 2)
  4. John "bore witness…to all that he saw" (v.2 and ff)

Just as the provenance for an object of art can help establish that it has not been altered or forged and therefore of its value, the provenance of the Book of Revelation helps assure us of the authenticity and value of this revelation which God has entrusted to His Church.

3. Consider also how that careful attention was given to document the Book of Revelation's provenance yet God signified the authenticity and value of the prophecy of this book by a second sign. This is how Matthew Henry described this second attestation:

" It is observable that the historical books of the Old Testament have not always the name of the historian prefixed to them, as in the books of Judges, Kings, Chronicles; but in the prophetical books the name is always prefixed, as in Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. So in the New Testament, though John did not prefix his name to his first epistle, yet he does to this prophecy, as ready to vouch and answer for the truth of it; and he gives us not only his name, but his office. He was one who bore record of the word of God in general, and of the testimony of Jesus in particular, and of all things that he saw; he was an eye-witness, and he concealed nothing that he saw. Nothing recorded in this revelation was his own invention or imagination; but all was the record of God and the testimony of Jesus; and, as he added nothing to it, so he kept back no part of the counsels of God." (emphasis added)

4. In verse three a special blessing is pronounced for those who labor to read aloud and hear and who keep what is written in this book. Here we have I think a clue about how we can begin to understand the Book of Revelation - simply by reading and hearing it read. Recently I watched a 30 minute TV program on which a well-known "Bible scholar" spoke about how difficult it is for the uninitiated to understand 'Revelations' (yes, he actually said "Revelations" with an 's' on several times). Of course he was offering a book he authored, a work book complete with charts and graphs, and even over 4 hours of 'crassest tapes' that together can 'open up' the book for those that are willing to put in the time required to do the hard work of study. As an added bonus for those who took advantage of the offer before the program ended, he threw in a set of 8 colored markers that can be used to color code their Bible verses to match his study system.

I didn't choose to take advantage of his offer but, in comparison, I think the Bible's recommendation to read and hear Revelation is most straight forward and, no doubt, far less complicated. You should give it a try and do it repetitively-- you might just be surprised about the themes and thoughts you pick up on and when you do, make a note of it, jot it down so that you can remember to follow up on the thought or flow of thought later.

I am given to understand that this is how scripture was disseminated to local congregations in the early 1st century church (what we think of as Bibles were not in circulation although the Scriptures were)-- those who had the necessary literacy would read the Scripture publicly so that all members of the congregation could benefit from the reading. Obviously, this means that those who read and those who heard the readings would be able to understand what they herd so that they could in fact respond by keeping what had been written. If they could understand by hearing what was read, so can we. In fact, I think this brings up an important concept that should be mentioned at this point. And that is, whatever the Book of Revelation meant to its original audience, it has to mean the same thing to us. Scripture cannot have one meaning for the 1st century church and a whole different meaning for those of us who live in the 21st century. Scripture means what it means. For this reason, I'm pretty sure that fanciful notions about the Book of Revelation referencing America or Russia or helicopters, or Atomic weapons , etc. almost certainly miss the mark. The second thing that should be noted here is that it is necessary to "Keep what is written in it". Inherent within this exhortation is that the content of the book is understandable enough to be kept. The reading and hearing is one half of blessing, the keeping is the other half. It is implied that both can be accomplished.

So. That's the challenge for you. Take an hour or two. And read the book out loud, read it to a loved one or to a friend. Read it from beginning to end. And then take time to listen to it being read. If there's not another person willing to read it for you to listen to then try out listening to it on line at or the Bible.IS app available from Faith Comes by Hearing. Listen to it several times. Read it several times and keep reading it. There's a blessing waiting for you by doing this. Nothing is more sure than a promise promised by God.


The Revelation of Jesus Christ can be understood by his people. He gave it to us to show the things that must soon take place and He not only gave us the instructions how to understand it (by reading it aloud and hearing it read and keeping what it written in it ) but He promised a special blessing for those that would do this.

No comments:

Post a Comment