Shut up the words and seal the book
The Lord impressed upon my heart to write a discourse on Revelation chapter one. Revelation chapters two and three gives practical application but it is also a panorama of church history. If you want to read about the seven churches in Revelation chapters two and three (their practical application and prophetic implication relative to church history) you can go back to January in the year 2017 on the Rose of Sharon is Jesus blog and see an analysis on every church which does go into the month of February.
To give you a background for the beginning verses of Revelation chapter one over the Aegean Sea an old man was there by the name of John. He was probably deprived of water, food and sleep. He had to share a cave with criminals. All these men were exiled to Patmos which was a desert island of the Aegean for real crimes they committed for one reason or another in the city part of society. The apostle John was distinct because his only crime was sharing his new life in Jesus with practically everyone he met. Domitian who was the Emperor of Rome decided to banish him to Patmos for the purpose of dying of old age, dehydration, starvation or some other symptom that would cause his death.
God had other plans because here in the seclusion of being exiled this apostle was about to receive a panorama of future events that would even in some cases shock his mind and spirit as he saw the day of the Lord. It has been approximately twenty centuries as he observed our sophisticated age of technology. John saw Jesus Christ Himself in all of His grandeur. He probably had a very difficult time describing this in ordinary words but I think he did a great job. Let me quote the original passage so you can read the text and perhaps make reference to it in this particular study of the Bible.
(1) "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him to show to His servants the things which are going to happen soon; and He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant, John, (2) Who bore witness about the Word of God, and of the testimony about Jesus Christ, and about all things that he saw. (3) 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 at hand." Revelation 1: 1 - 3.
This is not the Revelation of John because it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. This title is written in the very first sentence of the last book of the Bible. Jesus Christ is the central figure of this book just like our Lord is supposed to be at the center of our hearts. I can not even imagine how much the apostle John suffered to get this message out to people like you and me. They dipped him in boiling oil but made sure it was not enough to kill him. God has His ways of turning evil to good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. Remember John lived a couple more years after this so keep in mind that these burns never healed and hurt him very bad. We complain but the first century Christians went through unspeakable tortures.
The apostle John did not make this book up because it was inspired by the Holy Spirit who knows the future. John was called very young into the ministry as a teenager but now he was far more mature as an old man in the Person of Jesus Christ. The apostle immediately sets the record straight by acknowledging the divine source of this book and it's uniqueness in how Revelation traveled from himself. He explains the whole scenario in Revelation 1:1.
The theme is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The purpose is God gave him to show. The intermediary was an angel because verse one writes ... "And sent him and signified it by His angel to His servant, John." The recipient and writer was obviously the apostle John. The chain of progression from God the Father to His Son Jesus Christ to the special messenger who was the angel to the apostle John and then finally us so we can read this book that writes about the future. This is a fascinating chain of progression.
There are two senses that the apostle empathized many times in the book of Revelation. He saw and heard everything he wrote but did not fully understand many events that he witnessed. John was extremely careful to record everything he saw and heard but none of his words came from his imagination.
The book of Revelation is the only account that promises the reader a special blessing. It does not say those that read and understand but those that read this book will receive a special blessing. Of course study this book with a receptive attitude but you would be a very rare individual that understands one hundred percent of this book. Verse three does say, ... "And keep those things which are written in it" ... so the reader does have a responsibility to heed the words of the book to receive the blessing. Once again do not get upset if you do not comprehend everything you read because I have listened to very few who do and even at that opinions tend to be thrown into their paradigm in understanding this very special book.
The book of Revelation was written in such a way that when the actual time of these events approach the current events will unlock more of the meaning of the book. This book did not seem to have to much meaning to people a couple of centuries ago and very few individuals studied this book. Now that we are close to this book being fulfilled many people read and study the book of Revelation. The church reformers did not really talk about the last book of the Bible. They probably sensed their age would not witness the fulfillment of these end time events. More books have been written about the book of Revelation in the 20th century than all the other previous centuries combined. In these last eighteen years of the 21st century an extreme rise of prophecy lectures in all forms have been obvious to not only the Christian community but unbelievers listening in and a trying to make heads or tails of the subject.
A revival of interest is a sign that we are close to the day of the Lord. When Daniel wrote the book of Daniel in some of the latter chapters he became disturbed about some visions that he did not understand. Then the angel responded, "Thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." This can be found in Daniel 12:4. The visions that this prophet received were prophetic and their fulfillment would not be comprehended by him or anyone else until the end of the age of grace and going into the day of the Lord. The angel also said that prophecy would be understood as time approaches close to the return of Jesus Christ.
Let me give you the chronological order in basic terms in the day of Daniel. He received strange visions but did not understand them and he asked the Lord what would be the final outcome of these things. God responded go your way Daniel for these words are closed up and sealed until the end. God continued many will be purified, made white and tested (their character) but unfortunately the wicked will grow more wicked. The wise will understand but the wicked will not be granted true Godly comprehension of end time Bible prophecy. This can be found in Daniel 12:8 - 10. If the wise (righteous) are enlightened it is only because the Holy Spirit is working with their open heart to learn about these biblical truths. Remember the wicked do not have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of their hearts.
If someone for example in the 17th century sat down and started to read the book of Revelation they still probably received a blessing from God but now that we are close to the day of the Lord I noticed insights are being revealed to people like I have never seen before in the entire history of mankind. The promise of blessing carries with it an unprecedented peace and practical fulfillment for all people as long as they let the Holy Spirit illuminate the words from the pages of this book to their minds and hearts.
The book of Revelation is very figurative. When the apostle John wrote this book what he saw was so far removed of his day that ordinary Greek words could not adequately portray this message. If John saw a nuclear catastrophe around the year 90 A.D how could he put this in words? What John saw is going to happen more than nineteen centuries in the future from the time of the writing of the book of Revelation. The apostle has to describe things in words which had no existing terminology because these realities are familiar in our era.
John wrote in symbols so we must search the scriptures to find their meaning. There are so many biblical symbols that find their fulfillment in the book of Revelation. There are times that the apostle John used terminology which can only be understood when the prophetic fulfillment is near or already happened in life.
If John was trying to describe a war with fire and brimstone all he was even aware of was volcanos but what he really saw was a nuclear bomb. In some cases the apostle provides the interpretation of the symbology right in the same context. If one knows the Bible he or she can determine the meaning of most of the other symbols.
We as believers in Christ should be watching for the rapture of the church every day. It is always dangerous to say the Lord will delay His coming for His children. If you do not know the Lord realize that no promise is given to anyone that is not redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ to be snatched out of this earth into heaven. Many people mock this biblical promise but it is all over the New Testament. When God makes a promise He intends on keeping it and following through until it is fulfilled.
Now may be a good time to accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your personal Savior and Lord by repenting all your sins and inviting the Son of God into your life. If you just made that all important eternal decision then read the Bible, abide in Jesus Christ, obey what He tells you is His will for your life, repent of your sins and watch for His return on a daily basis. The Christian life is not a passive experience but as James writes readers and doers of the word of God. When we understand a biblical precept we are supposed to apply it to our lives.The rapture is an imminent event in that it could happen at any moment. Any reasonable person that understands this subject will be found obeying God and watching for His return.
God bless you,