We begin our study of Revelation and many of you are going to have to put your presuppositions away. Anyone who has read the popular Left Behind novels or listened to pastors preaching about the rapture and Armageddon might see Revelation as a blow-by-blow preview of how the world will end, but I hope to show how John was describing the way his world was ending- the world of Old Covenant Judaism. The end of Old Covenant Judaism, and the entrance of the New Covenant and the eternal Kingdom was the message of the Old Testament prophets (specifically Daniel and Jeremiah), Jesus and the Apostle John.
- Revelation is about the end of the Old Covenant and the establishment of a New Covenant.
In order to understand Revelation, you need to interpret it using the Bible and not the newspaper. It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ - “who is the Ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5). He is “Alpha and Omega,” and He has “made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (v. 6). The gospel of Jesus Christ came to “the Jew first” - for they were “God’s chosen people of Old.”
- Revelation is about a new paradigm of worship and a new eternal agreement with God.
The coming of the Messiah to rule in an eternal kingdom was the message of Daniel 2, 7, 9, and 11. We saw this in our study of Daniel. Many Christians have never realized the importance of Christ’s first coming because they become so enamored with the prospects of a so-called “second coming.” The message of Scripture is all about the coming of the Messiah to establish an eternal kingdom.
- Everything Daniel prophesied of the coming Kingdom was future (“seal up the scroll” Daniel 12:4). The coming of the King to inaugurate the Kingdom of God was the message of the prophets of old.
- Everything Jesus prophesied was within a generation (“this generation shall not pass” Matt 24:34). Jesus said “the Son of Man” would come within forty years to end the Old Covenant way of worship.
- Everything John prophesied was within a very short timestrong> (2 to 3 years - Rev. 1:1-3; see Rev. 22:10). That which Daniel said was over 500 years away and Jesus said was 40 years away, John said is near.
- Revelation is all about the fall of a temporal, earthly kingdom before the eternal Kingdom.
Matthew 24:30 speaks of the “tribes of earth mourning,” as in Revelation 1:7. Israel is judged by God. The great John Brown wrote: "A person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian economy, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and new heavens." (John Brown, vol. 1, p. 170). The language of judgment is clear: “For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light” (Matt. 24:30). In Isaiah 13:1-13 God says He will raise the Medes to come against the Babylonian empire (remember Daniel 5?). So too in Isaiah 19:1 we find God raising up the Assyrians to destroy the Egyptians. See Joel 2:28-32 for Israel’s doom.
- Revelation is about reorienting my life to an understanding of the King’s reign in me.
Revelation is the only book in the Bible that specifically promises a blessing to those that read the book and heed its contents. Yet it is probably the least read book of the New Testament. This chapter is unique in that this is the only place in the New Testament that the word, “Hallelujah,” occurs and it is here four times. The word, “Hallelujah,” literally means, “Praise the Lord.” The Greek word is the same as the English, Hallelujah. In fact, ‘Hallelujah” is pronounced the same in every language on earth. The word is composed of two words, “Hallel,” which means “praise” and “Jah” which is a form of the name of God, Jehovah. Thus, “Praise the Lord.” Revelation leads us to “praise the Lord” no matter what!