Thursday, 29 March 2018
How Should We Read Revelation?
The sixty-sixth book of the Bible is one of the most mysterious in the canon. It also is the book with the most interpretations.
So what's the proper way to interpret what it says? We need first to understand that the book was written to the seven churches in Asia Minor, now modern day Turkey.
Because of this, we need to know that it isn't written to us but for our instruction and encouragement. As Revelation 1:1 (KJV) explains, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:"
The seven letters to the seven churches are easy to understand. It's the vision John had afterward that is difficult for modern Christians to figure out. That's because we think we're the ones spoken about.
But Revelation 22:6 (KJV) demonstrates that it's the present day recipients of the letters to whom the book is written. "And he said unto me, 'These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.'"
Those folks with Bibles which have the centre column of cross references will realize that John is alluding to the Old Testament prophets to make his meaning clear to the Jewish Christians while making the book mysterious to gentile unbelievers. Only the things which need explanation does John reveal plainly.
We see this in Revelation 1:20 (BBE) where Jesus says, "The secret of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and of the seven gold vessels with burning lights. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven lights are the seven churches."
I'll write more about the confusion people have with Revelation in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Many fans of end times prophecy mistake events from the first century for future events. As far as I can see, only Christ's glorious return and the punishment of the wicked are in the future.