Why should we read the Book of Revelation? Here are two good reasons – (i) God wants you to read it; (ii) The devil wants you to ignore it.
(i) God wants you to read the Book of Revelation. Did you know that this book is the only New Testament book which contains a promise of blessing upon those who read it? – 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).
(ii) The devil wants you to ignore the Book of Revelation. Why? – Because this book – more than any other – proclaims the devil’s ultimate defeat and final destruction. This is why Satan wants you to remain ignorant of the great message contained in the Book of Revelation.What is the one great message of the Book of Revelation? – It is quite simply this: Jesus is Victor! Jesus is Lord. Our God reigns. This is the great message of hope which the Book of Revelation teaches us.When we read this book, we will find that there are many questions we cannot answer, many things that we cannot explain. Nevertheless, there is one thing we must never forget – This is “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Whenever you’re having difficulty understanding this mysterious book, remember its first five words – “the revelation of Jesus Christ.”Some people dismiss the Book of Revelation because it seems so different from the rest of the New Testament. This book contains many symbols which are difficult to understand. Nevertheless, we must ask, “Is it really so different from the rest of the New Testament?”
* The Book of Revelation speaks much of the Second Coming of Christ. So did Jesus! So did Paul! So did Peter!
* The Book of Revelation calls us to get ready for the Lord’s Return. So do the Gospels! So do the New Testament Letters, written by faithful men like Paul and Peter. The triumphant message, proclaimed in the Book of Revelation, – Jesus is Lord – is the message of the whole New Testament. The Book of Revelation may proclaim this great message in its own distinctive way. It is not, however, saying anything essentially different from the rest of the New Testament.Surely, if we are to understand all that Jesus Christ, we must not forget to read the last book of the Bible.
* How are we to read this book? – We are to read it with a view to keeping it (or living according to its teaching) – 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).
Here, God is promising that His blessing will be given to those who read, hear and keep the words of this prophecy. Reading and hearing are important, but they are not enough. The blessing comes where there is reading, hearing and keeping the Word of God.
In the early chapters of Revelation, the importance of keeping the Word of God is emphasized by two significant factors – (a) the context in which John received this “revelation of Jesus Christ”; (b) the messages spoken by Jesus Christ to “the seven churches.”
(a) John was on the island of Patmos – “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 1:9).
He was also in the Spirit – On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet (Revelation 1:10). In the midst of persecution, there came “the revelation of Jesus
Christ.” There is a lesson for us here. If you are faithful to God and His Word, there may be persecution, but there will also be blessing.
(b) The “seven churches” are first mentioned in Revelation 1:4 – “John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia”.
The next verse speaks of “the seven spirits who are before His throne” – “Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits[a] before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5).
Here, we should note that, in Scripture, the number “seven” is the number of perfection, the number which speaks of wholeness and completeness. The “seven spirits” speak of the fullness and perfection of the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. The “seven churches” speak of the whole Church in every age and every place.
The messages in the second and third chapters of Revelation can be applied to the Church in every age and every place. God speaks to “the seven churches.” He speaks to churches in grave danger – Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) and Laodidea (Revelation 3:14-22). He speaks to churches in excellent shape – Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) and Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13 ). He speaks to churches which are neither very good nor very bad – Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17), Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) and Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6). He is speaking to all of the churches. He is speaking to your church and my church.