What Kind of Book is This?
The ESV translates it best: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”
What other book on the planet is actually a letter, an apocalypse, a poem, a prophecy and comes with a built-in blessing? I would argue, in precept, not in promise, that the more one reads Revelation, the more one is blessed. May I give you one example that tickles me pink–that makes me giggle like a small child playing peek-a-boo, every time I read read it? Prepare for a blessing and don’t forget to waltz; 1,2,3 and 1,2,3.
Revelation 5 “And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look into it. 4 And I began to weep greatly, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look into it; 5 and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” 6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain…”
I love that, don’t you love that? John weeps, greatly, because no one is worthy to open the book:
- In heaven
- On the Earth
- Or under the Earth
Therefore, he cries. But all is not lost! One of the elders says to John, Look!
- The Lion
- From the Tribe of Judah
- The Root of David
He has overcome to open the book and break the seals. Don’t miss this, John was told to look and see the Lion, but when he looks, he sees a lamb. And not just a lamb, a lamb standing as if slain. In the animal kingdom, are there two more opposite animals, character wise, than sheep and lions?
This is the sort of imagery that Revelation reveals. John is looking for a lion, yet he saw the converse. Both are representations of Christ, from the suffering servant of Isaiah, the Passover lamb of Exodus to the Lion of Judah, alluded to in Genesis 49. And the root of David, from 2nd Samuel 7 and Isaiah 11, the root of Jesse. In fact, the whole of the content of the Bible is about Jesus. Revelation, many or most claim, was the last book written; I disagree but we won’t get into that now. But I do agree whether written middle or late first, or very early second century, the book is properly placed as the last book of the Bible. The reason is we need the entire rest of the Bible to best understand Revelation. In fact, many people have counted over 600 references to the O.T. in Revelation, and a few from the New (multiple sources, one only needs to do internet search). Revelation, although written in very common, almost primitive Greek, actually reads more like the Hebrew books of old. John was a Hebrew after all and, in all likelihood, a fairly close relative of Jesus. Yet I believe his background has less to do with the context than God’s purposes. That is, God never changes and his words are eternal. It’s no wonder that based on his goodness and man’s not-goodness, that God would continue to progressively reveal himself to us.
I can remember Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on Abraham, while I am meditating on the modern church. How blessed we are by having the book of Revelation! And the rest of the New Testament, and the Old Testament. Abraham had none of these. As Dr. McGee says, and I am paraphrasing slightly, all Abraham had was a promise of land, and that to his descendents. Or was it descendent, singular (Romans 4 + Galatians 3)? God told Abraham that he would make him a great nation. But God never gave him a glimpse into the spiritual realm like he has given us. Abraham knew nothing of eternal life during his life. His biggest hope was for a son… Interesting.
But here we are, blessed with the Bible–I literally have almost 30 versions at my fingertips. We have all sorts of ways of sharing it. For instance, here, online on this platform. Facebook should be flooded, Instagram ignited, Snapchat saturated and Twitter transformed to total talk about the one who sets us free, by those of us who claim to be followers! Why was the Reformation so successful? Because of the printing press. But not because of the printing press alone. If the reformers, such as Martin Luther, hadn’t seen the possibilities and seized them, we would not have the Protestant churches. We are blessed. We live in the greatest times. The ability to study and spread the gospel is at our fingertips.
But we have been sold a sickening sack of snake oil. The following is not a denial, nor an endorsement of any “millennial” position. As C.S. Lewis wrote in, Mere Christianity, “In essentials unity; non-essentials, liberty; but in all things charity.”
However it is a definite and decisive dissection of Western, pre-tribulation, America first, Jesus is coming soon because of–well, you name it. Gay marriage, transgender bathrooms, legalization of marijuana, millennials embracing socialism; the list is long– Christian thought. None of these things has anything to do with Jesus rapturing his church. Do they indicate the United States will go down like Israel, Babylon, Assyria, Rome, etc.? Probably, but remember what Peter said, “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” And James kicks us in the teeth when he says, “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.”
America is going down the proverbial tubes, and yet; Headline: UK Telegraph, “China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian Nation,’ within 15 years.” Other countries are experiencing a surge in salvation. I’ve had the privilege, along with some of you, to see first-hand what Jesus is doing in a land that has out-lawed him. So I beseech thee, be patient. And while we’re being patient, let’s do something! Use the media at our fingertips and spread the blessings.
God is good, he blesses us for reading his unveiling. Let’s continue to read and heed. Chances are, we all fit into one of those categories of churches we see in Asia. Most of us are not Smyrna, but some may be. Que Bola, Ricky? Like the disciples who turned the world upside down in the book of Acts, we can do it, God has given everything we need. And I, for one, am tired of being on the sidelines.