Bible Topics
in the Christian Library


An Introduction To Our Series Of Sermons

On The Book Of Revelation

John L. Kachelman, Jr.

In 96 A.D. a miraculous thing happened on a rocky, desolate, six by ten mile island in the Aegean Sea. The Apostle John was walking alongside the ocean when the piercing sound, like a trumpet blast, grasped his attention. The majestic voice of God soke from heaven bringing a message of cheer to believers who were struggling with a harsh burden of persecution from the Roman Emperor Domitian. The old disciple looked heavenward to see the clouds part and God revealing a most amazing vision of His plan for the ages. No other human had seen what John witnessed. The vision was written so all believers would be encouraged. This vision was the Revelation, the last book of the New Testaments.

I. We begin a study of this marvelous vision with this lesson.

1. When one announces a study of Revelation there will be common reactions . . 
a. Some will grimace and say, "Well, I just cannot understand what that Book says!" Others say, "Uh, Oh! This is going to be confusing." These people see Revelation as impossible to understand. Such fail to understand that Revelation is not bewildering. The book is designed to inform, not to confuse!

b. Some say, "All right! Now we are going to get into the meat of the Word!" These delight in prophecy. They search for hidden meanings in every word, color, and number.

c. Some react, "Oh no! How irrevelant can you get!" These fail to realize this book is for you and me as we live every day - it contains down-to earth truths which should be studied!

d. These common reactions are discouraging because they accuse God of giving us a book that is incapable of meaning and application. In short, they make it useless!

3. As we study the book of Revelation two great questions arise. . .
a. Shall we forever abandon it? Surely not! We cannot agree with Martin Luther who refused to have it in his Bible. This is a book that has been inspired and preserved by the Holy Spirit.

b. What will we do with it? If we are not going to reject it, we must strive to find its application to modern man. This question is one which has been met in several ways:

1) Some see chapters 1-3 and 21-22 as offering needed instruction, but chapters 4-20 leave themwandering in a hopeless maze.

2) Others have tried to force the whole book to speak to future matters while others restrict itsmessage to past events. 

3) Others have found in this book a clear history of the Roman Catholic Church.

4) Because of the way it is often treated this book is the most abused Book in the New Testament!

II. Our purpose for studying Revelation briefly stated.
1. This book brings a much needed message and we need to study it.

2. This book is inspired and deserves study (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

3. Due to the widespread abuse we need to understand thisbook and be in a position to answer religious error (1Peter 3:15).

4. We need to study Revelation because many are ignorantabout its great message (Ephesians 5:17).

III. Perhaps our "fear" of studying this Book can be attributed to one of the following reasons.
1. It is an "APOCALYPTIC" book.
a. It is written in an obscure manner using symbols which were familiar to its readers.

b. The symbolic language would conceal the message from political authorities who would punish those receiving the book or writing it.

c. Because of its apocalyptic nature many have turned away from a study of Revelation. After all, how do you react when you read about, "rivers of blood; hailstones weighing 100 pounds; a dragon so large he knocks down 1/3 of the stars when he lashes with his tail; Death riding a horse, with the Grave following behind; a woman with the moon as a dress and the sun as a footstool; animals with many heads and horns; a dragon that casts from its mouth a river of water to destroy a woman who is flying through the air; a dragon, a beast, and a false prophet, each of which vomits up a frog which gathers an army"?

d. This symbolism is used in the numbers of Revelation.

2. Because of the general abuse of Revelation many arrive at conclusions which are so repulsive that true believers are incensed. Some of the most absurd - In Revelation you will find detailed references to Napoleon, the Balkans War, WW I, WW II, Emperor Wilhelm, Hitler, Mussolini, the peace treaty between Begin and Sadat, etc.
IV. Notice some of the general introductory matters about this book.
1. AUTHOR -- The author identifies himself as "John" (1:1, 4, 9; 22:8). He was a Jewish Christian who lived in Galilee before moving to Asia Minor. He was a man of profound spiritual insight and who exercised unques tioned authority. He was one who framed his speech in positive terms. This "John" is usually identified as John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee.

2. THEME -- The theme can be simply state, "Victory in Jesus!" (cf 17:14).

3. PURPOSE -- The purpose of Revelation is to give encouragement to believers to persevere in Christianity. John wanted his readers to know that Christ will triumph and all who follow Him will be exalted in heaven.

4. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND -- This point is crucial to a proper understanding of Revelation. The Emperor of Rome at this time was Domitian who has gone down in history as the one who bathed the empire in Christian's blood. His persecution was for the purpose of enforcing emperor worship. The Emperor insisted that he was divine and had images of himself erected through the empire. Those who refused to worship were persecuted. Some were put to death, some exiled, tortured and property confiscated. The majority of this persecution fell on Asia Minor because Christianity was strongest in that area. When the basic tenets of Christianity were understood by Rome a sharp collision was inevitable. Note what caused Christianity to become so hated by Rome --

a. It attempted to proselyte -- it could not be bound. Its purpose was to make Christians from others. For this it was outlawed.

b. It aspired to universality -- Rome could not tolerate this rival.

c. It was exclusive -- its followers refused to mix with heathen customs. This refusal made them enemies to the State's "gods."

d. The Christians were accused of evils -- they met at night, they were accused of "eating flesh and drinking blood."

e. They refused to take an oath to idols of the State and wear uniforms which displayed idolatrous insignias.

f. Christians were looked upon as wild fanatics because of their enthusiasm.

g. Christians came in conflict with many of the merchants of Rome-- priests, makers, and venders of sacrificial idols and animals (Ac 19:23ff).

The final "straw" came with the Christians' refusal to worship the Emperor. Because of these conflicts the Christians were blamed for all calamities -- if there was no rain Christians were blamed, it there was a flood Christians were blamed. Famine, earthquakes, military failures were all blamed on Christians.

When people were being killed, exiled, and robbed of their possessions for refusing to renounce Christ; when evil was threatening to strike a death blow to the church; is there any hope for the future? Revelation is God's answer to this question. In light of the severe historical background we can understand why believers were asking if God had lost his power and why He did not intervene. The Revelation is God's unveiling of answers to these questions.

a. The book is generally divided into 7 sections divided into 2 general divisions.

b. In each of the sections we see the great conflict between righteous ness and evil. Each time the conflict intensifies until the righteous are completely delivered and Christ is seen as the Supreme Victor. In the end Satan and his followers are vanquished and Christ greets His faithful in the riches of Heaven.

c. The message of these seven sections is clear -- The church always functions as a light-bearer, shining the midst of darkness because Christ is in it. Result? (Jn 17:14). The world always persecutes the church. Result? Divine judgements of every description fall upon the world, while the church is victorious. This struggle between the church and the world reveals a deeper conflict between Christ and Satan. Satan always employs three allies mentioned in chapters 12-14. They always, and especially on the Day of Judgement, go down in defeat. The victory is always ours!"

a. Do not attempt to study so deep that you try to find out what each tiny detail in the vision is.

b. As you read ask 2 questions: What is the whole picture? How does this support the theme? (Rv 17:14)

c. As you study, look to understand the message as the first century believer.

d. Remember to be consistent with other inspired writings.

V. The universal practicality of this book is seen when you consider how the message applies for men today.
1. It has a message of hope and comfort.
a. There is comfort for those who sorrow - it reveals that freedom from sorrow will come (6:10; 21:3b-4).

b. There is hope for those who are discouraged - it tells them to lift up their heads and hearts for God has not abdicated His throne (3:4).

c. Here is a book that speaks comfort and hope to those who struggle and are perplexed.

d. Look at how hope and comfort are expressed --

1) Believers may find their garments splashed and filthy but they wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb (7:14; 22:14).

2) Believers may be "in great tribulation" but they will come out of it (7:14).

3) Believers may be killed but they will rise to stand on their feet (11:11).

4) Believers may be persecuted by the dragon, beast, and false prophet, but in the end you see them standing victoriously on Mt. Zion. With the Lamb there are 144,000 (14:1) and these triumph over the beast (15:2).

2. It has a message of victory.

Throughout the Book Christ is presented as the Victor, the Conqueror (1:18; 2:8; 5:9ff; 6:2; 11:15; 12:9ff; 14:1, 14; 15:2ff; 19:16; 20:4; 22:3). He conquers death, Hades, the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, those who worship the beast, etc. (cf 17:14).

3. It has a message about the Omnipotent reign of Jesus Christ.

As you complete its reading and sit in reflection, you can see Christ seated at the right hand of God. Christ reigns and all are in submission to His will (19:6; 11:15).

4. It has a message for every age. This book is not just for those who first read it, it is for everyone (22:17; 1:3).

5. It has a message that says, "Do not trust in how things seem to be, trust in God!"

a. This wonderful Book tells us that things are not what they seem.

b. It seemed as if prayers were not heard (6:10), but God heard and answered (8:3-5).

c. It seemed that the saints were defeated (6:9-10), but in reality they reign -- on earth (5:10), in heaven (20:4), and forever and ever (22:5).

d. It seemed that Satan was the conqueror -- he rose as the dragon (12:3), the beast (13:1), the false prophet (13:11), and Babylon (14:8). But each went down in defeat!

e. Please remember - Things may not seem to be going the right way; everything may seem to be going against us, but in the end we will triumph! (17:14).

6. It has a message of warning.
a. To the church there is a warning to keep pure and free from worldly entanglements.

b. To the enemies of the church it warns that the church through Christ will eventually triumph and all opposition will be broken by the righteous power of God (14:11-no rest!).

VI. We begin our study with excitement.

"Beautiful beyond description is this last book of the Bible. Where in literature do we find anything that excels the majestic description of the Son of Man walking in the midst of seven golden lampstands (1:12-20)? Where in Scripture do we find a more vivid and picturesque portrayal of The Christ, Faithful and True going forth into victory, seated upon a white horse, arrayed with a garment sprinkled with blood, followed by the armies of heaven (19:11-16)? Where again, do we find a sharper contrast than that between the doom of Babylon, on the one and the happiness of Jerusalem the Golden on the other (18, 19, 21, 22)? And where are the Throne set in heaven and the blessedness of heavenly life depicted in a manner more serenely simple, yet beautiful in its very simplicity (4:2-5:14; 7:13-17)?"

VII. We encourage all to heed the message of this great book.

1. Know that Christ will triumph (17:14).

2. Since you know that, determine that you will be a faithful follower (22:17).

Copyright 1998 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes.

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