KEY TEXT: Revelation 1:1-3 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
KEY THOT: The book of Revelation is an enigmatic book. Every Bible teacher has his or her interpretation of what the symbols mean. Most of the Reformers had a dim view of revelation, some rejecting it while others simply ignored it. I will try to take an inductive approach and let Scripture interprets Scripture, as many of the symbolism has antecedents in both NT and OT, particularly the Gospels. So, I will compare Scripture with Scripture and will not try to interpret Revelation based on my own theological presuppositions. The first three chapters ought to be quite straightforward but it is nevertheless a theological minefield as it challenges many cherished doctrines and theologies. Nevertheless, we must walk through it and deal with the theological mines as we go along. Hopefully, we can get beyond Revelation chapter 3!
We start off with the prologue in chapter 1, verses 1-3. The author John (presumably one of the Twelve disciples of Jesus) states very clearly the what, how and why of this book in the first three verses:
- What? The first verse describes the book as "the revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to his servants the things that must soon take place". So, this is not just a book by any human author but one by the Risen Lord Himself. And the source of his revelation is his Father who gave this revelation to him. We remember what Jesus said when he was in his flesh: "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only" (Matthew 24:36). So, verse 1 is consistent with what Jesus said that only the Father knows the day and hour. And now the Father has chosen to reveal it to His Son who in turn tells it to "his servants" the things that must "soon take place." It has been noted by one commentary that the word "soon" (Greek: en tachei) means "that the action will be sudden when it comes, not necessarily that it will occur immediately." So, we may read this as "suddenly take place". This revelation pertains to that period of history known biblically as the "last day" and the "last hour".
- How? The last part of first verse and the second verse describe how this revelation came to John: "He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw." Firstly, this revelation was communicated to John via an angelic intermediary. And John "saw" rather than just hear the "word of God" and the "testimony of Jesus Christ". So, it was not just audio but visual as well. The angelic intermediary was the interpreter of the meanings of what John saw and heard.
- Why? Verse 3 gives us the reason for this revelation: Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near." This Revelation is meant to bless those who read and hear its words. Why? Because "the time is near". The word time in Greek (kairos) is to be distinguished from chronos. Unlike chronos which refers to the time as registered on a clock, kairos carries the idea of season of opportunity created by a crisis. For those who are prepared by studying the Revelation of Jesus, the kairos will be a period of global global opportunities rather than crises. So, if we want to be blessed and stayed blessed even when the global crises start appearing, we have to study Revelation. And our generation seems to be heading for a global crisis that will soon and suddenly usher the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
May the Spirit of the Lord open our eyes as we continue with this devotional study in the coming months.
Abba-Father, You are the One who knows the end from the beginning. Thank You that You have chosen to reveal this to Your servants through You Son Jesus Christ who is Lord over Time--past, present and future. Amen.