“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone ‘like a son of man,’ but dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Revelation 1:12-16, NIV).
The Christians of the first century knew (or knew of) Jesus as a 30-year old man who was unjustly executed by the Roman government with the complicity of the Jewish religious leadership. Perhaps it was quite out of the ordinary for John and other first-century Christians to imagine Jesus, whom they had known as a compassionate human being, as the God of the Old Testament wielding divine judgment over His Creation.
The language describing the Son of Man figure in John’s vision in the first chapter of Revelation is suggestive of the Ancient of Days figure in one of Daniel’s visions described in Daniel 7, who confers divine authority, power and glory upon “one like a son of man” (Daniel 7:13). Daniel’s vision is considered to be a messianic prophecy in which the “Ancient of Days” represents God the Father and the “one like a Son of Man” represents God the Son, the Messiah Jesus Christ.
“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” (Revelation 1:3, NIV).
The book of Revelation is perhaps the one book in the New Testament that I’ve read and studied the least. That’s probably because it’s the one I least understand.
There’s so much imagery and symbolism that I don’t get. There’s so many interpretations and I don’t know who and what to believe.
Have its prophecies been fulfilled or are they yet to be fulfilled? Will Christians be raptured before the Second Coming of Christ? Is the millennial reign of Christ on Earth literal or symbolic?
These are some of the questions I carry into my reading of Revelation because I have relied on the interpretations of others I consider more knowledgeable than myself to help me understand its prophetic discourse.
But, the book of Revelation shouldn’t be neglected or ignored in our personal Bible study. It shouldn’t be left to Bible scholars to explain it’s meaning to us.
Revelation has much to offer the diligent and conscientious reader. We know this because it begins by promising a blessing to those who read it. It declares that those who read it and take it to heart (apply it to their faith) will be blessed!
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3, ESV).
If you are planning to go to heaven to be with God when you die, don’t plan to stay there forever because God is coming to live on Earth!
“Blessed indeed, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:13, ESV).
Did you know the book of Revelation has its own set of Beatitudes that pronounce blessings similar to the ones in from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5? But, in Revelation these seven pronouncements of blessing are stated in several places throughout the book:
“But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.” (Mathew 24:13, HCSB).
In Matthew 24:1-28 Jesus described a number of signs and events including an increase in evil and great deception, wars, famines, natural disasters, persecution, false Christ’s, and astronomical disruption. that would precede His Second Coming and the end of world.
He also noted that the good news of His coming Kingdom would be preached to all nations.
Following the distress of the last days, Christ will return in power and glory in full view of all nations and He will gather all His people to Himself.
Many biblical scholars interpret these predictions of Jesus to have dual meanings, referring to both the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem and the Apocalypse.