The Book of Revelation (part 4): Behold, He Comes!
July 10, 2019
The Book of Revelation (part 4)
Behold, He Comes!
Ephesians 1:9-10 (J. B. Phillips)
For God has allowed us to know the secret of His plan and it is this: He purposed long ago in His sovereign will that all human history should be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in heaven and earth should find its perfection and fulfillment in Him.
The book of Revelation is an unveiling of last things. It is the revelation to us of what God will do to judge Satan and remove him and his cohorts from this fallen planet, claim this planet again as His own, rid the earth of the curse that came in the fall of man, and prepare the earth for its eternal future filled with His glory and with redeemed human families.
To understand the book of Revelation, you must have a bit of understanding of the Old Testament, and of God’s dealings with the Jewish race. And you must have a bit of a grasp of the New Testament and the church age.
Someone has said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed, and the book of Revelation is a combination of them both.
March 13 – (part 1) – 3 classifications of people that God deals with in the Bible:
The Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church
March 27 (part 2) – Four Covenants
April 10 (part 3) – Daniel’s revelation
There are yet 7 years of Jewish time that God revealed to Daniel that must be fulfilled.
The Jewish time clock will begin to tick again when Israel makes or confirms a covenant with its enemies. Seven years from that time the second coming will occur.
Tonight – We will actually begin looking at the book of Revelation!
Quote about the book of Revelation and its importance:
For this hour of history, it is perhaps the most important book in the world. Some may challenge that assessment. I think they would be wrong. Without this book, men would be in darkness. Without this book, mankind’s existence on earth would be like a story without an ending – a novel without a last chapter – a discordant, unfinished symphony of life. That such a book exists which can accurately speak to men concerning the end of the age before the end of the age comes to pass, is among mankind’s greatest treasures.1
Before we go here, let me set up how we are going to address the book of Revelation.
God expects us to understand this book! There is much discussion theologically about how to interpret the book of Revelation. You can become completely confused if you go to Bible reference books to gain information about this wonderful, future-revealing book of the Bible.
So, I want to give you a brief synopsis of the various views held by different schools of thinking. This will help you understand where I am coming from as we go through the book of Revelation.
Let me also give you permission to disagree with me on particular things. I encourage you to keep an open mind. Some concepts may be new to you, and may disagree with what you may have been taught or what you currently believe.
Let us all have the spirit of the Bereans, who searched the scriptures daily to see whether the things taught by the apostles were so.
Four Different Ways to Interpret the Book of Revelation
From Halley’s Bible Handbook
There are many interpretations of the book of Revelation. The four most common are usually called the symbolic, preterist, historical, and futurist view.
The symbolic view
Teaches that the book is not literal and is not connected with biblical prophecy. The Book of Revelation is simply symbolism showing the conflict between good and evil throughout the ages.
This view removes the book from any association with historical events—in John’s day, or during the time of the end, or during any time in between. It is seen as a pictorial representation, in highly figurative language, of the great principles of divine government and of good overcoming evil, which are applicable to all times (Halley).
The preterist view
Regards the book as referring entirely to its own day: Christianity’s struggle with the Roman Empire. It assumes that everything was fulfilled during the period it was written and that the story was told with imagery and symbolism to hide its meaning from the late 1st-century pagans. Preterist is from the Latin word praeter which means past.
The historical view
Sees in Revelation a prediction of the whole period of church history, from John’s time to the end of the world—a sort of panorama, a series of pictures, delineating the successive steps and outstanding features of the church’s struggle to final victory. It sees revelation as foretelling the history of the church and western Europe through the coming and going of the various popes, Islam’s rise on the world’s scene, the Protestant Reformation, etc. It is a way of seeing popular history through a Bible book. It is totally subjective and completely wrong!
The futurist view
Centers the book largely around the time of Jesus’ coming and the end of the world. This interpretation holds that most of the book (chaps. 4 – 22) reveals events that are yet to be fulfilled.
The futurist view is the view most widely held in American evangelical churches and is the primary basis for the remainder of this study on Revelation.
3 of these interpretations have major flaws. If the foundation is flawed, the whole structure is flawed.
Out of the 4, the futurist view alone is built upon a consistent, normative, hermeneutical (the principles and rules of biblical interpretation), and exegetical (letting the Bible say what it really means) approach to scripture.2
Finis Jennings Dake – God’s Plan for Man, p. 49
Take the Bible literally whenever it is at all possible. When the language cannot be taken literally, then we know it is figurative. Then get the literal truth conveyed by the figurative language as if it were expressed in literal language without the use of figures.
The Book of Revelation is in three parts.
In Revelation 1:19, God commands John to write about three distinct time periods:
Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.
Chapter 1: “Write, therefore, what you have seen,” that is, things that were in John’s day (that had already taken place), including his vision of Christ.
Chapters 2-3: “What is now,” represented by the seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor. These letters outline the condition of the churches in John’s day, but they can also be viewed as prefiguring the modern-day church, as well as the individual believer throughout the church age. The first three chapters are, in a sense, introductory to the main body of the book that follows.
Chapters 4-22: “And what will take place thereafter” cover events yet to be revealed, from the end of the church age (4:1) to the establishment of a new heaven and new earth (21:1-27).
Text and Comments
Revelation 1:1-9 – NKJV
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,
* Revelation –
Gk – apokolypsis (our English word apocalypse is transliterated from this Greek word)
apo – away from
kalupsis – veiling
away from veiling, an unveiling.
A revealing of Jesus Christ in all of His splendor and glory.
Not as a lamb as in His 1st coming, but as the Lion of the tribe of Judah at His second coming.
* must shortly take place – Preterists use this to say that all of this happened in the 1st century.
In the upper room, Jesus sought to encourage His apostles before His death by explaining that He was returning. He gave NO scope as to time:
John 14:1-3 – NKJV
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. (2) In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
In every century of the church age, believers have looked for Jesus to come in their lifetime.
This produces a purifying effect on us:
1 John 3:2-3 – NLT
Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. (3) And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.
Jesus appeared to His disciples for 40 days after His death and resurrection, and then ascended to heaven. Yet then too, there was no scope of time given between His ascension and second coming.
Acts 1:9-11 – NLT
After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. (10) As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. (11) “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”
They thought His return would be in their lifetime, just as we do.
Jesus’ return is NOT a signless, imminent return as some think! The Bible doesn’t teach the idea of “imminence” as to the return of Christ. There are specific signs of His return, which include the rapture of the church.
Of all the generations, we have some amazing signs that His coming is very soon.
(2) who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.
* John “saw” the future. The gift of discerning of spirits was given to John there, and he saw into the spirit world, and saw the future before it happens.
* God is eternal. He lives in the eternal “now.” Our past, present, future, are all now to God. He does not dwell in the confines of time. He sees the end from the beginning.
(3) Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
* A special blessing is given to those who read and hear the prophecy in the book of Revelation. Again, it’s an unveiling. God wants us to understand it.
(4) John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,
*The number 7 is used frequently in Revelation. 7 is the number of perfection. 7 lamp stands, 7 stars, 7 angels, 7 spirits, 7 churches, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls…
* This letter was written to the seven churches in Asia. This is really Asia Minor, a Roman province in what is now present day Turkey. Don’t confuse Asia in the Bible with what we call Asia today.
* John extends grace and peace to the churches here, as Paul does in all of his letters to the churches (13 of them). See Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 3. This is just like any other letter from Paul to the churches. It was meant to be read and understood.
Over and over he mentions grace and peace. We need grace and peace everyday for our journey in God. We need God’s ability, and an outgrowth of walking in grace (or God’s ability) is peace.
* The seven spirits before His throne refers to the perfection of the Holy Spirit.
(5) and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
* 3 things are said here of Jesus. First, he is the faithful witness. This is talking about Jesus’ teaching ministry. Witness is from the Greek word for martyr. He was a witness unto death. Second, Jesus is the firstborn from the dead. Others experienced being resurrected from the dead before Him, but they died again. But He is the first to never die after resurrection, and is heir of all things! Thirdly He is the ruler of the kings of the earth.
* So Jesus is the faith witness, the firstborn and heir of all things. He has cleansed our sins, and has made us kings and priests.
(6) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
* Jesus is the supreme ruler over all, so John exclaims:
(7) Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
John wasn’t looking to the future. He believed Jesus was coming then! John was eye-witness to Jesus promising to come back. He was on the Mount of Olives when Jesus went up into heaven in the ascension. He expected Jesus to come back in his lifetime.
* with clouds
As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. (14) He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.
And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (31) And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world —from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.
After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.
The clouds are speaking of the glory of God in manifestation.
But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.”
(7) Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
* the Jews will see Jesus in His Glory when He comes.
Cosmic disturbances will precede the rapture of the church. The sun, moon, and stars will be darkened. In that dark sky, Jesus will appear for all to see.
Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. (30) And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (31) And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world — from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.
Many Jews will convert to Christianity.
For on that day I will begin to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. (10) Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died.
“Two-thirds of the people in the land will be cut off and die,” says the Lord. “But one-third will be left in the land. (9) I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”
I watched as the Lamb broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood. Then the stars of the sky fell to the earth like green figs falling from a tree shaken by a strong wind. The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places.
Then everyone—the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person—all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?”
(8) “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Jesus was here at creation, and will be here when creation is finally cleansed of all defilement!
Next time…we’ll start with verse 9.
1. Behold He Cometh: And Every Eye Shall See Him, a newsletter from Zion’s Fire.org -January/February 2008 Issue (2009: Winter Garden, FL: Zion’s Hope.org; Zion’s Hope, Inc). p.1
2. Some of this material covering the history of Revelation and the four views came from two sources:
(1) Behold He Cometh: And Every Eye Shall See Him, a newsletter from Zion’s Fire.org -January/February 2008 Issue (2009: Winter Garden, FL: Zion’s Hope.org; Zion’s Hope, Inc) p.3
(2) Halley’s Bible Handbook by Henry H. Halley (Grand Rapids,, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1965) p. 683-685.