The Book of Revelation
John on Patmos
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.” Revelation 1:1, 2
The word ‘Revelation’ means something revealed or shown to us. Yet many people claim this book can’t be understood. This is not true at all.
Webster’s Dictionary makes it clear: REVELA’TION, n. [L. revelatus, revelo. See Reveal.] 1. The act of disclosing or discovering to others what was before unknown to them; appropriately, the disclosure or communication of truth to men by God himself, or by his authorized agents, the prophets and apostles.
The first verse shows us that it is Jesus who sent this message to us with the help of the angels, and John was the one who wrote it down for us. It also tells us that the things were to happen soon. We know that the messages in Revelation began to happen even while John was still alive.
Book of Blessings
There is another unique thing about this book; it has a special blessing in it. In fact it has three blessings. No other book has these blessings. However we also know that both Daniel and Revelation go together as one book and help explain each other.
“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Revelation 1:3
Here are three blessings; first, for those who read; but some refuse to read it; they won’t have a blessing. Second, for those who hear the words of the prophecy; but some will not listen to it; they will have no blessing. Third, for those who will keep the things written in this book; but many will not keep them; they will have no blessing.
I want those blessings, don’t you? We will read the book, listen to it, and with the power of Jesus keep what we learn here. We won’t be like those people who refuse and lose out on those blessings.
“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:4-6
Look closely at verses 5 and 6 and see the wonderful words written there; ”Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” Jesus loves me; This I know; For the Bible tells me so.
“And hath made us kings and priests unto God”; we are all to be kings and priests; children of the heavenly King, helping others to learn about Jesus.
Promise of Jesus’ Return
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” Revelation 1:7
This is another place where Jesus is promising to come back to take His children home. “Lift up the trumpet and loud let it ring; Jesus is coming again.”
But here we also learn of groups that see Jesus coming and are not happy at all. It says they will wail; that means they will scream and cry. It says first those that pierced Him. The wicked men who tortured and killed Jesus will be raised from their graves to see Him come. How will they feel when they see the marks of what they did, on the great King of the universe?
The other group is those who have loved worldly things and have not given their hearts to Jesus, and are full of sin and selfishness. At this time they have been planning to kill all of God’s people who would not disobey Jesus and break God’s Law. But Jesus will put an end to their cruel plans.
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8
In the Greek alphabet, Alpha was the first letter and Omega, which looked like a round horseshoe, was the last letter. So Jesus here is telling us He is there for us at the beginning, and will be there at the end, and all the time in between. We would say He is the A - Z. Jesus will be with us when we come to Him and give our hearts to Him; when we live day by day; and all the way to the time when He comes to take us home with Him.
Brother John on Patmos
“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 1:9
How did John, the dear old man who loved Jesus so much and taught people about Jesus’ love, end up on that rocky, rough island of Patmos where the Romans sent their hardened criminals? Well, it is an interesting story: The Roman Emperor was trying hard to get rid of all the Christians. He thought if he caught John, who was the last of Jesus’ disciples that was still alive, and killed him in a horrible way, that would scare the Christians enough to make them stop talking about Jesus and worship the Emperor.
So he sent soldiers who caught the old man and threw him into prison. Then he ordered him to be boiled in oil. Have you ever dropped a potato chip into boiling oil and seen it sizzle and turn brown and crispy? Well, that is what the Romans wanted to do with dear old John.
They threw him into the huge pot of boiling oil, but he didn’t
sizzle; he didn’t die; in fact he wasn’t even hurt. Just like the 3
Hebrews in the fiery furnace, he was quite safe there in the kettle,
until the soldiers took him out again.
They did not know what to do with this man they could not kill, so they sent him to Patmos with the criminals. They were sure they had put an end to his work. But there, on that rocky, barren island, Jesus came to visit him and gave him the Revelation.
John probably felt his work was nearly over when he ended up on
Patmos; but later he was set free. It was then that he wrote Revelation
and later still, he wrote the wonderful gospel book of John, where he
tells the story of Jesus, giving us special information we don’t find in
the other gospels. His most important work came after Patmos.
I sort of think that many of the criminals on Patmos, would have learned about Jesus and His love while on that island with dear old John, don’t you?
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” Revelation 1:10, 11
The Lord’s Day
It was the Sabbath day and John had gone off alone to worship his
Lord in nature. As he sat thinking on spiritual things and praying, he
was given a vision. That is what he means when he says, “I was in the
One of the most important things about understanding prophecy is that you must use the Bible to tell you what the Bible means, you must never guess or put your own ideas in there.
Some people try to tell us that when John said ‘the Lord’s Day’, that he meant Sunday. There is nowhere in the whole Bible where Sunday is called ‘the Lord’s Day’. In fact Sunday is never called anything in the Bible except the ‘First Day’ of the week. But the Bible does have a day it calls the Lord’s Day; it is the Seventh day Sabbath. “Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:28.
“And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” Revelation 1:12, 13
All at once John heard a voice; an amazing voice. He turned quickly
to see what it was, and there he saw his dear Lord. Not now toil-worn
and poor as He was on earth, He appeared bright and glorious.
In the Ancient Sanctuary, the candlesticks were in the first apartment, the Holy Place, along with the Altar of Incense and the Table of Shewbread. This shows that Jesus was in the Holy Place in the Heavenly Sanctuary. Later, there comes a time when He moves into the Most Holy Place to do the final work of Judgement.
“His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” Revelation 1:14-16
Do you know what the ‘two-edged sword’ is that went out of His mouth? It means the Word of God; the Bible. The Bible is the Christian’s sword. With it, we defeat the cruel enemy, Satan. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” Ephesians 6:17.
“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:” Revelation 1:17
John was so overwhelmed from seeing Jesus that he fell on his face on the ground. This is a very important point. When a messenger from heaven comes close to a person, he is so overcome with his own unworthiness that he will fall to the ground. He will feel very humble; he will not be bold or proud. If you meet people who are boastful and proud and talk a lot about how much they know God, you can be sure they really don’t know Him at all.
But it was the same Jesus who John had so loved when He was on earth, and now He came over to the dear old man and gently laid His hand on John to strengthen him. How precious to Jesus was that dear old disciple that had grown old in His service.
When we learned about Daniel, we read that he also fell on his face when he saw the heavenly beings. Even when God’s Holy Spirit comes especially close to us in prayer or in a meeting, you will find that people will become very quiet, and want to bow down humbly. Sometimes they will quietly weep as they feel how sinful they are. Even heavenly angels bow down and show reverence to Jesus.
This is why we should always be reverent and quiet in church or worship. The Holy Spirit is never found where there is rude noise and loud, heavy beat music, clapping or shouting. He will not be present where people are all excited, jumping around and dancing. There might be a spirit there, but it is a demon spirit, not the Holy Spirit.
“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;” Revelation 1:18, 19
These words of Jesus are so wonderful to us. Jesus lives. He died for us, and He rose again and now He tells us that He has the keys of death. Have you ever had someone you love die? If they are very close to you, it makes you feel so sad and lonely. But there is good news: Jesus has the Keys
Down through the ages, Christians have had a precious hope; Jesus was dead and He rose again. He defeated Satan and now He has the keys; the keys to let His dear people out of the prison of death and the grave. When someone dies trusting in Jesus, we know they will come out of that grave again. When Jesus comes, they will rise again, because Jesus has the keys.
Did you know there is a human power on earth today that claims he has those keys? Yes, the pope claims that he has the keys of heaven and hell. If you look on the Vatican flag, you will see a picture of two big old keys, crossed on there. But we know that Jesus really has the keys, nobody else has them.
Now Jesus tells John to write down everything that He is going to show him. He tells him to write down what he has seen, what is happening right then, and also what is going to happen in the future. Only God really knows what will happen in the future, and this is what that book of Revelation is all about, showing His children what the future holds.
When John wrote it, most of it had not yet happened; but now when we read it, most of it has already happened; some of it is happening; and the rest is soon going to happen.
The books of Daniel and Revelation are really one book. They go together and explain each other. Also the prophecies found elsewhere in the Bible, also fit in their places. You will even see that the One who gave the prophecy to Daniel, is the same One who gave it to John; Jesus our Savior.
“Blessed are they that keep those things written in the Book” The Bible is a whole book, and the real author of it is the Holy Spirit. Always pray for the Holy Spirit to help you and teach you when you study the Bible, and you then have the true Author of the Bible there with you, and you will be able to understand it. Jesus said; “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.” John 7:17. A heart willing to obey God is the key to understanding scripture.
To understand the prophecies it is also helpful to learn about the Ancient Sanctuary and its services and the History of Israel; because the prophecies refer to these things and the symbols are clearer when we understand where they come from. There are studies about the Sanctuary in this book.
Messages to God’s People
“The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:20.
In the first chapter Jesus starts talking about the Seven Churches and tells John to send the messages to them. Now there were more than seven churches in John’s day, so we know that the number and the names of these churches have a prophetic meaning. Seven in Bible numbers means complete or perfect. The seven churches represent all of God’s people; both back then and also down through the ages to the end of time.
It is important to understand that some of the Greek words that John originally used to tell us about what Jesus showed him, are a bit different than we see them translated into English. The word used for ‘churches’ meant congregations or groups of believers; and the word ‘angels’ means ‘messengers’.
In each period in history, God’s true people had a special ‘message’
that was Present Truth for their day, and Jesus showed us that all who
carry that message for their time, are carefully held in His hand. He
watches them with love. He ‘walks among the seven candlesticks’; this
means He is always with His true people, guiding and teaching them.
These ‘churches’ stand for different periods in history, but the lessons in the messages to them, also have instruction for God’s children in all times, especially today.
“God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is
it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations;
it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. . Where Christ
is even among the humble few, this is Christ's church, for the presence
of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a
church.” Upward Look 315.