One of my favorite Books in the Bible is Revelation. It is important to plow a straight line. A farmer will fix his eyes on a distant object- a large rock, a tree- and plow toward it. Fixing his eyes on a distant object enables him to plow a straight line. Revelation teaches us the end. We know the future by studying and understanding this amazing Book. Understanding Revelation helps us plow a straight line with our lives.
The key to understanding Revelation is the first chapter. Chapter one is an introduction to the Book. There are five details we should notice in chapter 1.
First, we see the importance of this Book. Verse 1 begins, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His servants the things that must soon took place. He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John…” God the Father gave this truth to God the Son. God the Son gave it to His angel. The angel gave it to the apostle John. The apostle John gave it to you and me.
We dare not fumble the ball. We dare not drop the baton. God has given us this tremendous Book. We must study it and understand it. One person said, “If you rake, you get leaves. If you dig, you get gold!” There is gold in the Book of Revelation!
Second, there is encouragement. Verse 3 says, “Blessed is the one who reads 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 is the only Book in the Bible that begins with an encouragement like this. God knew we might be intimidated by Revelation. God says, “If you read it and understand it and most importantly obey it there is a special blessing for you.”
Revelation uses symbolic language. The vast majority- 95% of the symbols used- are found and identified elsewhere in the Bible. What is the key to understanding this Book? The key is to understand the first 65 Books of the Bible! As we understand the rest of the Bible Revelation becomes clear.
Third, we discover the theme of the Book. Verse 7 says, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn.” The theme or big idea is the Second Coming of Jesus. Jesus is coming with the clouds (the shekinah glory). He is returning to rule and to reign. Anne Graham Lotz said, “It is not falling apart. It is coming together.” The chaotic events of our world are leading to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus.
Fourth, we learn the outline to the Book of Revelation. Verse 19 says, “Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.” The “things that you have seen” is chapter 1. Chapter 1 is a vision of the resurrected Christ. “Those that are” is chapters 2 and 3- the seven churches. “Those that are to take place after this” is chapters 4 to 22. God has revealed the future to us!
Fifth, the most important detail is this. Chapter 1 is a picture of our Lord Jesus in all of His glory and power. In verse 13 John saw the Lord Jesus. He described Him as, “….clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest.” It is the Lord Jesus in all of His glory. He is clothed in military clothing.
Verse 14 teaches, “The hairs of His head were white, like white wool…” He is eternal. “….like snow.” He is holy. “His eyes were like a flame of fire.” Jesus has the x-ray eyes.
Verse 15 says, “…His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace...” Jesus is coming back to defeat His enemies. “…and His voice was like the roar of many waters.” He is coming back in great power and great glory.
Verse 16 reads, “In His right hand He held seven stars (the leaders of the churches), from His mouth came a sharp two edged sword…” Jesus has the atomic sword. “…and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.” His glory will be known.
Are we fearful today? If so, we need to go back and reread Revelation chapter 1! John is saying, “Don’t fear the Antichrist. Don’t fear difficult circumstances. Don’t fear the mark of the beast. Instead, put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus! The first time, He came to die for our sins. Next time He is returning to judge and tor rule and to reign.”
Our God is good! He even reveals the future to us. The Bible describes the closing days of this age as birth pains that give way to a far greater, wonderful time. Let’s live with hope and eager anticipation and optimism for God’s glory.
Ethan Hansen is a pastor at Faith Bible Fellowship in Big Lake.