In 1999 Pastor Michael Catt compiled three booklets on The Revelation of Jesus Christ. This is part one of the Introductory material.
As we enter the last days of the current millennium, we are hearing much about end times, the last days and the Second Coming of Christ. There is a spiritual obsession in many saints to dissect and discern every detail related to the coming of Christ.
The Book of Revelation is a book I’ve been afraid to study and tackle. While I’ve studied the seven churches, I must admit, my study of the entire book has been very limited until this time. As I’ve read commentaries and searched for key words, my eyes have been opened to wonderful and powerful truths from the Word of God.
Louis Talbot expressed it this way, “Many people treat the book of Revelation like the priest and Levite treated the man who was beaten and robbed in the story of the Good Samaritan….they pass by on the other side. The devil has turned thousands of people away from this portion of God’s Word. He does not want anyone to read a book that tells of his being cast out of heaven…nor is he anxious for us to read of the ultimate triumph of his number one enemy, Jesus Christ. The more you study the Book of Revelation, the more you understand why Satan fights so hard to keep God’s people away from it.”
One of the reasons I’ve been hesitant to study this book is the misuse of it. Some treat it like an eschatological jigsaw puzzle. Others, like myself, have ignored it as being too mysterious, difficult or cloaked to be of practical use. This too is a major mistake based on a false premise. The Revelation is a hidden message, it is a revealing message.
I’ve seen all the charts and plot lines. I’ve scanned the last days novels. I’ve swallowed what others have said about the book without ever studying for myself. Good and godly men through history have differed on how to interpret this book. Obviously, everyone can not be right. However, I believe we can grasp the basic message of the book if we approach it in the right way and with a teachable spirit.
Many have approached the book with a sensational or speculative point of view. Too many approach the book with a desire to find out more about Anti-Christ and Satan than about Christ. It is, after all, a ‘revelation of Jesus Christ.’ It is not a revelation of weird, unexplainable stuff; it is a revelation of Jesus Christ. It is not a revelation of information, charts or graphs; it is a revelation of Jesus Christ. It is not a revelation of prophecies too mysterious for us to comprehend; it is a revelation of Jesus Christ.
The casting down of Satan, the rise of Anti-Christ, or the rapture of the saints followed by the tribulation is not the primary plot line. Jesus Christ is center stage and central to the book. This is not a book about Satan’s last days but A Sovereign Lord who sits on a throne.
It’s very easy to get bogged down in questions that we can not answer. “Who is the Anti-Christ?” “What do you think 666 really is?” “When will the Rapture happen?” By limiting our study and discussion to this, we will miss the point of the Revelation. This is not the scariest book in the Bible – it is the book that, more than any other, offers the suffering saint hope and assurance.
Jesus made His purpose very clear. He revealed Himself, so the saints would keep their lives and the times in perspective. (Rev. 1:1,3). We must view this book from an eternal perspective.
Long before the theories and man’s interpretations of the book, an uneducated, first century church found comfort in these pages. That’s where I want to go in my study of the book. I have nothing new, mysterious or unusual to say. Most of what I will say, has already been said in one way or another. As Dr. Vance Havner said, “If it’s new, it’s not true.” I make no claims of original thoughts or exegesis. My only prayer is that I will incorporate good exegesis and hermeneutics in my study.
Please note the power of the first words of this book. Chapter One and verse one reads, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,” (NASU). This book has something to say to us. We need to read it, hear it, study it, meditate on it and obey it.
I would suggest that you sit down and read the book, in it’s entirety in one sitting. It will help you grasp the key thoughts. While you are reading, keep a pen and pad close by and jot down key ideas, words and thoughts that come to mind. I’m sure, as you read, you’ll notice significant numbers, themes (like the Sovereignty of God, judgement, and worship).
While I will, in these pages, give the various historical perspectives and interpretations of this book, I must caution the reader. Revelation, in my opinion, was not given or written as a chart or a blueprint. It’s not a paint by the numbers book. It is more abstract. It is a fusing together of apocalyptic and prophetic words. It was written to a persecuted people to give them hope. We can make serious errors in interpretation and application if we simply view this book as a formula. Some systems of thought concerning the end times seem to be, at times, our effort to make God do it the way we think it should be done. If that happens, we are, in effect, trying to lasso our Sovereign God and put Him in a box labeled, “our theological perspective.”
Scotty Smith says, “God never intended Revelation to be a source of fear and confusion. It gave rise to Handel’s Messiah, not Mozart’s Requiem for the Dead! Why would the last of the sixty-six books of the sacred canon be written to do anything less than bring this great encouragement and hope? It is not a dark hidden mystery to be decoded by members of the illumined deeper-life club. Rather it is a heavenly perspective to be seen, embraced, and rejoiced in by the hearts of those with vivid imaginations and childlike faith.”
The Lord Jesus Himself is the writer of this book. John, the beloved apostle, is the human hand that Jesus uses to put it all down. This is not John’s idea of how it will be. This is the mind of Christ concerning how it was, is and shall be.
The word ‘revelation’ in the Greek is apokalypis, which means ‘disclosure’ or ‘unveiling.’ The entire gamut of man’s history, and eternity, comes into focus in the book of Revelation. The word has often been misused to impart fear.
Ray Stedman wrote, “Genesis, is the story of the origin of human sin; Revelation, is the story of complete and final victory over sin. Genesis presents the beginning of human history and civilization; Revelation presents the end of both. In Genesis we learn the beginnings of God’s judgement and His grace toward mankind; in Revelation we see the awesome result of His judgement and the triumph of His grace.”
2ProphetU is an online magazine/website, started by Warren Wiersbe and Michael Catt, to build up the church, seek revival, and encourage pastors.