The Book of Revelation
The last book of the Bible is called the Book of Revelation, or sometimes “The Apocalypse” which refers to the type of writing of which it consists. Apocalypyic literature contains the use of brilliant imagery and usually is descriptive of perilous times of great upheaval. It is a prophetic book which foretells of things which will happen sometime after it was written. Some people shy away from it thinking it too difficult to understand due to the apocalyptic imagery and symbols which must be interpreted. On the other hand, many have taught far fetched ideas by mis-interpreting the symbols into almost anything.
Though we may not understand every symbol in the book, the good news is that the overall message is very simple and very plain. The book has value and beauty - and its theme is very important! Here are some things that we know for sure:
The book was written in the first century by the apostle John. The book itself says at the very beginning that it is speaking of things which “must shortly take place” (1:1) and that “the time was near” (1:3). Any speculation which concludes that the majority of the book has to do with something in our future and was not fulfilled shortly after it was written is wrong! The book itself says so! Right away we see the greatand often repeated fallacy of trying to apply the imagery of the book to present day headlines in the news.
The book is an account of a message Jesus revealed to John in a series of visionary and audible visions. It was given at a time when Christians were being severely persecuted. It encourages faithfulness on the part of disciples, even to the point of death (2:10). It promises complete and final victory to those to are faithful despite the costs. The turmoil would last for only a short time, the victory would be eternal. This message is a great comfort not only to Christians of the first century, but also for Christians today. Thgough the times are different, the principle is the same.
By Jon W. Quinn
The Front Page
From Expository Files 16.2; February 2009