Anyone who loves a great novel would love the New Testament book of Revelation. It is the ultimate action thriller. Revelation contains drama, suspense, mystery and horror. It tells of rebellion, unprecedented economic collapse and the ultimate war of history.
Despite these ominous events, Revelation also bursts with joy and hope. It even closes with a happy ending as sin and death are banished forever.
Some are perplexed by this book. Many find it hard to understand. And I do not claim to have it all worked out or figured out. But I think much of it can be understood. People will ask whether there is a key to help them understand the book of Revelation. The answer is yes, because God’s purpose is not to conceal, but to reveal. And that is what he does in the book of Revelation.
We find the key to Revelation at its front door, where Jesus tells the apostle John, “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this” (Revelation 1:19 NKJV).
Revelation is unique in that it comes with its own outline. It tells about our past, present and future.
First, Jesus instructed John to write about the things he had seen. John recorded this in Revelation 1, where he described the resurrected and glorified Jesus, with all power in heaven and earth – the revealed Jesus, who is in complete control of what is about to happen.
Next, John wrote about “the things which are.” This is a reference to the letters to the seven churches found in Revelation’s second and third chapters, where Jesus gave seven messages to seven churches, providing us with a chronological look at church history.
Finally, John wrote about “the things which will take place after this.” These are future events, which we see unfolding in chapters 4 through 22 of Revelation.
Where are we today in relation to all of this? God has been pouring out his Spirit on the church, but that time is coming to an end. And it is my opinion that the next event on the prophetic calendar is the rapture of the church. The Bible says it will take place in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. This could happen at any time, and it could happen soon.
So what does all this mean? Why spend time studying the book of Revelation? Consider this: There is a special blessing promised to the readers of Revelation. No book of the Bible has an introduction or conclusion quite like Revelation does.
Of the 66 books in the Bible, this book alone has a unique promise attached to it: “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” (Revelation 1:3).
There are three prerequisites necessary to receive the promised blessing.
First, we must read it for ourselves. But it doesn’t stop there.
Second, we must hear. Jesus often would say, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” If you were to merely read the book of Revelation as a great work of literature or religious writing, you wouldn’t necessarily get much out of it. But if God, through the Holy Spirit, opens your spiritual eyes and ears to see and hear what he is saying, then it will make all the difference in the world.
Third, we must apply its truths to our own lives. The blessing is promised to those who “keep those things which are written in it. …” It is worth noting that whenever the Bible has something to say about our future, there is also an exhortation to live a godly life.
So here are some benefits of studying Revelation and Bible prophecy in general.
It will unlock the mystery of history. In eastern religions, history goes in a cycle. That is why adherents of these religions believe in reincarnation. Religious followers keep coming back until they get it right. But Bible history is not cyclical; it is linear. Christians are moving toward a goal. When you play checkers, you move your man into King’s Row and say, “Crown him!” And that is exactly what God is doing. He will move his son, Jesus Christ, into King’s Row, and say, “Crown him!” In Revelation 11, we read, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (verse 15)
Studying Revelation and Bible prophecy also will help bring sense to our suffering. What do we say to someone who is critically ill, has to go through life with a disability, or has recently lost a loved one? We can say this is not God’s final plan. Revelation 21:4 promises, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things will have passed away.
Studying Revelation and Bible prophecy also will cause us to live more godly lives. If we really believe what we are studying, then it will cause us to be more prayerful. It will also help us persevere through difficulties. We go through hardships in life that make no sense. Sometimes we feel like giving up, but instead we need to look up. The return of Christ is coming soon.
The Bible says that Jesus will return for those who are watching and waiting (see Luke 21:34). Are you ready for his return? You can be. Find out more at harvest.org.