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
1. When one announces a study of Revelation there
will be common reactions . .
II. Our purpose for studying Revelation briefly stated.
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!
3. As we study the book of Revelation two great questions
arise. . .
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!
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
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!
1. This book brings a much needed message and
we need to study it.
III. Perhaps our "fear" of studying this Book can be attributed
to one of the following reasons.
2. This book is inspired and deserves study (2 Timothy
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).
1. It is an "APOCALYPTIC" book.
IV. Notice some of the general introductory matters about
a. It is written in an obscure manner using symbols
which were familiar to its readers.
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.
b. The symbolic language would conceal the message from
political authorities who would punish those receiving the book or writing
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
5. STRUCTURE AND OUTLINE --
V. The universal practicality of this book is seen when you
consider how the message applies for men today.
a. The book is generally divided into 7 sections
divided into 2 general divisions.
6. SOME CAUTIONS TO REMEMBER
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
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.
1. It has a message of hope and comfort.
VI. We begin our study with excitement.
a. There is comfort for those who sorrow - it
reveals that freedom from sorrow will come (6:10; 21:3b-4).
2. It has a message of victory.
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
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
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
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.
6. It has a message of warning.
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).
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!).
"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
1. Know that Christ will triumph (17:14).
Copyright 1998 by John
L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes.
2. Since you know that, determine that you will be a faithful