Well, church, hell has officially frozen over! Why, you ask? It is because I am beginning a teaching today on Biblical eschatology out the Book of Revelation (Eschatology is the part of theology concerned with the final events of world known as the "end of the world" or "end times"). You see, this is a subject I have said I never would want to teach on.
Now the reason I have always been so reluctant to share on this particular subject is because of the perversion I have seen of it in the Body of Christ. You see, there are many dogmatic views on end-time prophecy—groups that ascribe to the belief system of a pretribulation rapture of the church to a belief system that we will be here through the tribulation until Jesus returns. And there are those who will fight you tooth and nail on this subject. But in this series of teachings, I am not going to do that.
What I have on my heart to do is to focus on the heart of what all end-time prophecy points us to. In other words, I am wanting to put the emphasis on what I believe the Bible puts the emphasis on—not how to predict what’s going to happen or interpreting the various events that are described in these prophecies, but the good news that God promises us is going to ultimately happen.
Yes, church, what I believe is the objective of the Holy Spirit through this study is for us to eliminate the fear, confusion, and anxiety from this Book, and see the good contained within its pages! And I can assure you that it is ultimately “very good.”
As I wrote these words “very good,” it reminded me of God’s original creation: When the Lord created the things He did for those six days, we saw His process of creating the stars, the sun, the trees, the fish, the animals, etc. But then after the sixth day, we see that as God was about to rest from all His works that He said, “It is very good.” I believe that is what we are supposed to see in the Book of Revelation—that with God, the end is always “very good.” So, that is what I want us to see in this final Book of the Bible: I want us to see the very good news that it proclaims to us!
You see, through some of these teachings on end-time prophecy, people in the church become confused, paranoid, and have even become terrified. How many of you know that this ought not be the case? The “apocalypse” is not something that should generate fear in the Lord’s church. It should actually create an excitement in us!
Now those in the world who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior should definitely be afraid! Yes, they ought to dreadfully fear that time, which would hopefully inspire them to call on the name of the Lord today and be ready for what must soon take place. But for the true followers of Christ, there is nothing to fear about that Day. While it should be the dread of the unrighteous, it is the hope of the righteous, which should provoke joy and peace as opposed to depression and anxiety. But that is exactly what many of these end-time teachings do to believers—it generates feelings and emotions that are not conducive to the peace and joy of the kingdom of God.
So, we are going to study the “End Times” in a way you may never have heard it before. We are going to get excited about the things that lie ahead! We are going to rejoice in the things the Lord has told us were on the horizon!
But let me first say that while we will certainly cover a lot of the chapters and verses in this Book, we are not doing an exhaustive study of everything it contains. For example, I am not planning to do what so many have taken in hand to do—explain all of the theological parts of what John saw. I will be the first to tell you that I do not know what all of these things mean, nor do I believe too many others do either.
Again, we are going to go for the heart of the Book of Revelation! Yes, we want to capture the spirit of it so that we can receive the blessing associated with it. In fact, that is what I want us to begin with this week—the spirit of prophecy.
THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST
So, let’s begin in the “genesis” (i.e. the beginning) of the Book of Revelation …
First of all, notice I did not call it “Revelations” (plural) as many call it. So, not only do many people look at this whole Book of the Bible in the wrong way, they even refer to its title incorrectly because it is not the Book of Revelations, it is the Book of Revelation. But notice what the apostle John specifically called it in Revelation 1:1: He began this Book by referring to it as— “The Revelation of Jesus Christ…”
So, notice that this Book is not the Revelation of the Antichrist; it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. And, you see, this is why I believe there have been so many misconceptions about end-time prophecy—it is because people want to spend so much time focusing on the part that the devil will play in end time events. They want to focus on all the doom and gloom that will come through the beast, the false prophet, the bowls of wrath, etc. I don’t believe that is the emphasis of this Book of the Bible, church! JESUS is the revelation, not the apocalypse!
As a matter of fact, let me correct that previous statement: Jesus is the apocalypse! Say what? Let me explain: Did you know that the Greek word used for “Revelation” here is where we get the word “apocalypse” from? It sure is! It comes from the Greek word apokalypsis, which when transliterated, gives us the word “apocalypse.” So, while the picture that has been painted of the apocalypse is smeared with doom, gloom, destruction, and judgment, technically it doesn’t “reveal” that to us. No, the apocalypse is “the revelation.” So, it is not such a scary word when we look at it this way, is it?
Now, let’s look at this word apokalypsis to learn exactly what it is: It comes from the words apo, being a prefix that describes a separation and could be defined as “away from.” And it also comes from the word kalypto which describes something that is hidden or covered up, like a veil is placed over it. So, when you put these words together, you get apokalypsis which then means to “take away the thing that is hiding or covering something up” or you could say, “to separate the veil.” Therefore, good definitions of this word are the words “unveiling, uncovering or disclosing.”
This is an interesting word because of how it was often used when referring to Jesus Christ. In fact, the apostle Paul used this word a lot of times—especially to describe the revelation of the mystery of our new covenant (See Romans 16:25 & Ephesians 3:3).
One of my favorite passages of Scripture where Paul uses this word is in Galatians 1:11-12 when he said, “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
You see, what Paul was doing in these verses is letting the Galatians know that the gospel he preached to them was not second-hand information: First, he says that it was “not according to man.” What he was saying here was that his gospel was not something that was “passed down” to him by other people. No, he hadn’t received passed down information from Peter, James, or John. Then he goes on to say he “neither received it from man.” In the phrase “from man,” he used the word para which is where we get our word “parallel, para-professional, para-medical, etc.” from. By using this word, Paul indicated that he did not receive his doctrine by being “alongside of” another person. Then Paul goes on to say, “nor was I taught it.”
Now we know that the apostle Paul was certainly not against being taught by men. He himself taught these churches the gospel that he had received. What he was stressing to them, however, was that he personally was not taught by man the things that he had taught them. His teaching came by personal revelation—which is certainly a better way to be taught (by the revelation knowledge given by the Holy Spirit). Which is exactly where he goes to describe his revelation coming from— “but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” My point in bringing this out is that this phrase “the revelation of Jesus Christ” is the exact same terminology that the apostle John used in Revelation 1:1. So, the apostle Paul was describing here that the gospel of grace that the Lord gave Him—the revelation of the mystery—was given to him the same way that the apostle John was given his prophetic vision of the glorified Jesus and the end time events that would surround His revelation to the world: all of this was disclosed, unveiled, and revealed to Him.
Now we don’t know if Paul had an open vision like John did on the Isle of Patmos to where he saw the resurrected & glorified Lord Jesus and was shown these things in person. It might very well have occurred that way, or Paul’s revelation of Jesus Christ might have come differently. Perhaps the Holy Spirit revealed the truths concerning Jesus to Him spiritually to where he “saw” them in his spirit and knew them accordingly.
But here is one thing I find noteworthy about the revelation both the apostles had of Jesus Christ—it came while they were away from everything and everyone else. Yes, it occurred while they were separated from the things of the world—Paul in the deserts of Arabia and John while exiled on the Isle of Patmos.
In fact, did you know that the two men who had more revealed to them which resulted in them writing more Scripture than anyone else (I’m talking about Moses and the apostle Paul) had their “apocalypse” given to them while they spent years in the deserts of Arabia? They did! And this revelation given to John was “unveiled” to him while he was on an island—showing us that things can be best “revealed” when we are not clouded by the cares of this world, but are alone with the Lord in a secluded place.
Nonetheless, was this “apocalypse” of Jesus Christ that Paul described in the Book of Galatians that he received a scary thing? Of course not! Wasn’t it actually a “good” thing in that it contained the “gospel of grace” that you and I benefit from today? Absolutely! Therefore, this word “Revelation” should be an exciting word to us because it is the “unveiling & disclosing” of the good news of Jesus Christ! Amen!
WHAT THE WORD REVEALS
But I want us to notice what John continued to say in this first verse of Revelation: He said, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place…”
Notice this phrase, “which God gave Him to show His servants.” What that means is that this Revelation of Jesus Christ is not just what we have been shown about Him; it is what God showed Him (i.e. Jesus Christ) to then in turn show us, His servants. In other words, this Revelation of Jesus Christ is what God the Father revealed to His Son to share with His body. Glory!
You know, people have the misconception that Jesus, being God the Son, knows all. But that is not entirely accurate. There are some things He told us He does not know. And one of them revolves around what we are covering here in this series—His Second Coming.
Jesus said in Mark 14:32-37— “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
So, let me give you a great piece of advice: Not if, but when someone arises in the Body of Christ saying they know when Jesus is coming back, liquidate all your assets and bet everything that you have that Jesus will NOT be coming back on that date! Of course, I am joking about the betting part, but I am very serious about being that sure that Jesus will not come back on a date someone says that He is.
In fact, I’ll go a step further and say that when so called teachers, prophets, etc. start telling you exactly how all of these end-time events are going to happen, don’t swallow what they are saying hook, line and sinker. The fact is, it is highly unlikely that anyone knows exactly how all of these things are going to come to pass and what they will look like when they do.
Consider the First Coming of Jesus 2,000 years ago: Did the Jews correctly see how their Messiah was going to come? No, they incorrectly took their prophecies of the Messiah literally as Him coming as a conquering King to free them from their physical oppressors. And understandably so—for that’s what it seemed like many of those prophecies were saying. However, we know now in hindsight that Jesus was coming to first free mankind from their spiritual oppressor—Satan, sin, and death. And we can now see how those prophecies made this clear. But the Jews didn’t see it, and they were much more learned in their Scriptures than the church is today with our Bible.
So, all I am saying is take everything you hear with a grain of salt regarding end-time events like exactly what’s going to happen and when it will happen.
In fact, let me give you another good nugget of wisdom: Just as it was given to the Lord Jesus to show us these things which must take place, know that everything we need to know is recorded in the Word of God. Jesus is the Word, right (See John 1:1)? So, everything God has given us through His Word is all the information we need to successfully navigate life in the last days.
I say this because I see so many people try to emphasize things the Bible does not emphasize. For example, there are folks who get hung up on the First Book of the Bible, Genesis, and read between the lines of those 50 chapters, trying to figure out what all happened in the beginning. Well, let me just say that as far as we know, the Book of Genesis covers close to 2,500 years of human history. That’s a long time to cover in just 50 chapters, right? Just to put that into perspective—the Book of Acts, which is 28 chapters only covers 30 years of the history of the church. And we know there was a lot left out of those first 30 years of the church. So, with that in mind, do you reckon God left some stuff out of those 50 chapters? He left a whole lot out!
So, my point is that when it comes to the last Book of the Bible—Revelation—understand that the Lord Jesus had this specific information given to Him to give to us, but that does not mean that we have everything that will happen revealed to us in this Book. So, there is a lot in these 22 chapters that might seem muddy and difficult to understand, but it will be revealed to us in time. You can be sure of that!
THINGS SHORTLY TAKING PLACE
But that leads me to another point: Notice that the apostle John goes on to say that these things Jesus was going to show His servants were “things which must shortly take place.” This, my friends, is the purpose of the Book of Revelation! It is to show you and I things which must shortly take place.
Now I know that we might read statements like that and think— “Things which must shortly take place? Well, that was around 2,000 years ago when John said that. What is God’s idea of ‘shortly’?” The short answer is this—His idea of “shortly” is not the same as ours. God doesn’t operate within our idea of time. The Bible teaches us that one day to the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day (See Second Peter 3:8). And this was said in the context of scoffers arising in the last days saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? Because all things continue just like they were before!” (See verse 4).
So, just remember—God’s timeframe is vastly different than ours. When these times come where people will ridicule us for believing Jesus is coming again, be mindful of these words from the Lord Jesus Christ. He is coming quickly indeed!
But this also applies to when we pray for something: God looks at it like— “Alright, the answer will come in 15 minutes.” In our timeframe of a day being as 1,000 years, that would be something like 10 years, saints! Do you see how our timetable is totally different than His? In fact, we all know of people whose references to time are different than ours. For example, you have might have someone who is coming to do some work for you say, “I’ll be there in a minute” and sure enough, they show up an hour later. Well, when the Lord Jesus says, “I’ll be there in a minute,” He means something like 8 and a half months. So, like when Abraham had to wait 25 years for the promise he had been given, that was only like a little over 30 minutes in God’s timeframe.
That means for us to grow faint after a couple of weeks would be like saying, “Well God, I have been believing you for this thing for fifteen whole seconds. I’m tired of waiting. Maybe it’s not your will or maybe you just don’t love me enough to answer my prayer.” Many Christians would not verbally express it like that, but that is really what they are communicating through their actions.
But what we should take solace in is the fact that if God’s “shortly” is obviously 2,000-plus years, then that same different standard of time works with how long He puts up with us. That is why the apostle Peter went on to say in verse 9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
You see, the Lord is looooooooooooongsuffering! The word “longsuffering” describes a stick of dynamite with an extremely long fuse to where, although it possesses a great amount of power to destroy anything around it, it can get “burned” a lot before it will explode. That is our God! He is slow to anger and abounding in patience & longsuffering! He is this way towards the world who needs to repent and to His children who also at times need to repent! God is full of mercy! Thank God for that!
THE BLESSED BOOK
Then in the rest of verse 1 through verse 2, the apostle John went on to describe himself and how he received this “Revelation”: “And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.”
But I want you to notice what the apostle John then said in verse 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 near.”
Now if for no other reason, we ought to embrace this particular Book of the Bible because of this one single verse. And that reason is because we are promised here that a blessing is associated with reading, hearing, and keeping the things written in it! And notice that it does not say that you have to understand the things contained in it either! It just says a person is blessed in reading, hearing, and keeping the things written in it. That’s all.
What a blessing to know that when I choose to study Revelation and let my heart capture its heart, I am going to receive a blessing from God! But until just recently, I always believed that this was all that verse 3 meant. However, the Lord showed me something a little different as I prepared for this series.
You see, the word “Blessed” can be translated different ways. Yes, it means to be blessed, fortunate, and to be envied, but it also means to be happy and joyful. In other words, to be blessed is not just to have our lives filled with things, it is to have our hearts full of happiness and joy at the same time.
And this is true prosperity, church! Prosperity is not just having things and possessing a bunch of stuff. No, true prosperity is having a full heart—a heart full of joy and peace. If one does not have that, then all of possessions of this world will not truly “bless” them.
So, my point is that the reading, hearing, and keeping of this Book of the Bible is supposed to produce these blessed emotions in people. But if you look at a lot of people when they read the things from this Book, they are not happy when they hear its truths. On the contrary, they get depressed, become anxious, and are filled with fear.
But I believe a lot of the reason for this is because they are looking at the Book of Revelation through the wrong filter. Yes, they are not hearing the heart of what it is saying because they are looking at it through a carnal mindset—trying to figure out what all of the things John saw mean and only looking at them from an earthly perspective. Church, I’ll tell you—if we look at this Book through the wrong filter, it won’t lead to life & peace. We must be spiritually minded when studying the Book of Revelation! Amen?
So, that is what I am going to do, through the help of the Holy Spirit. I am going to take you through this Book of the Bible to where you will receive the blessedness that accompanies the hearing and keeping of this Book.
THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA
So, after John’s introduction to his prophetic Book, he then begins to address the recipients of it by writing (and I’ll put these verses in bullet points):
So, as many have taken in hand to describe Jesus in every Book of the Bible, it seemed good to me to do likewise. (See the Addendum at the End of this Article for “Jesus in Every Book of the Bible)
With that being said, let’s jump forward to the nineteenth chapter and take a look at one thing that I believe summarizes what the Revelation of Jesus Christ consists of:
THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY
In Revelation 19:9, after heaven rejoiced in the destruction of Babylon, the angel with John said to him, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God.’” And then in verse 10 we see John falling at the angel’s feet to worship him, and the angel said to him— “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!”
You know, it is easy for one to idolize either the messenger of God or even a message from God. And I see that happen with various topics. I had one tell me before that they believe the Pauline epistles, and I wondered— “Do you not believe the other apostles’ epistles? What about the Gospels?” But man has the tendency to repeat the same error of the Corinthian Church— “I am of Paul” or “I am of Apollos.” We need to all be of JESUS—for it is God who gives the increase, not another servant of God or his writings.
And the same goes for this Book we are covering: A lot of people have an undue affection for end-time prophecy and essentially “worship” this subject. We ought not do that with any biblical topic. Yeah, I love the subjects of grace, faith, the Holy Spirit, etc. but I dare not “worship” something pertaining to the kingdom of God more than I do the King of the kingdom Himself.
And then I just love what the angel told the apostle John at the end of verse 10— “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
What this means is that at the very heart of all prophecy is Jesus. We see the apostle Paul saying this in First Corinthians 12:3 when he said that if anyone is speaking by the Spirit of God, they will be saying, “Jesus is Lord.” That means that with the gift of prophesy, Jesus is being testified of.
But it is not just the gift of prophecy, which we can all operate in, that testifies of Jesus; Even the prophecy contained in the Book of Revelation speaks of Jesus Christ.
And that is the point I want to leave you with today: When studying this Book, we must do what Hebrews 12:2 encourages us to do— “Look unto Jesus!” That means keep our eyes on the prize and off of the struggle of the race that is set before us—for when we keep our focus on Him, we will walk on water. We won’t sink into the depths of fear and despair. No, we will walk in joy unspeakable and full of glory—for our attention is set on the spirit of all prophecy. That is the Jesus who was, the Jesus who is, and the Jesus who is to come. Come quickly Lord! Amen.