It’s true that the prophetic book is comprised of complex symbols and images that make it more than a casual reading. Nonetheless, it is God’s intention for the Church to read the Revelation. For it is clearly stated that it is that “which God gave…to show His servants” (Rev.1:1).
Before we dig in to the purpose for the prophecy though, it would be helpful to understand its origin.
Late in the first century, the Apostle John was arrested by Rome for his testimony of Jesus Christ and imprisoned on a small rocky island in the Aegean Sea called Patmos. Then on one given day around 95 AD, the aged apostle, while in worship, was visited by Jesus Christ and subsequently escorted into the future by an angel to bear witness of and to document the vision.
Accordingly, from his first encounter with Jesus through his subsequent journey into the future and back again to Patmos, John arduously recorded every word of God, every testimony of Jesus Christ, and every word picture and symbol just as he heard it and saw it. Then he presented it to the Church.
What you and I regard as the last book of the Bible called “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” is that selfsame account, exactly as it was presented first to the congregation at Ephesus nearly two thousand years ago.
Okay, let’s consider the vision.
Arguably, the most complete prophecy of future events recorded in Scripture, it should be noted that the Revelation is not John’s vision. The vision belongs to Jesus Christ. God the Father gave God the Son the vision to reveal to John that he would in turn reveal it to the servants of Christ. So that Christians in every generation might know the “things which must shortly take place” (Rev. 1:1). That is, that we might know the future.
But let’s be clear. Yes, God has given us the Revelation to learn, but not for reasons some would suggest. The Revelation was not given so we can set a date for Christ’s coming; the Bible is adamant that of that day and hour no one knows, except the Father (Matt. 24:36). Or was it given so we can identity the Antichrist; the Church has been instructed only to watch for Jesus Christ, not for the Antichrist.
Make no mistake; the Revelation has one purpose: To unveil Jesus Christ so we may know how God will accomplish all His work and purposes through Him in the last days. It is the final work of Christ—the destruction of all that is evil and the restoration of all that is good—that God wants us to understand.
But there’s more. A blessing is promised to those who learn the Revelation. Listen to the Apostle:
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it” (Rev.1:3)
It’s as Solomon stated, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2).
Finally, observe that Revelation is intended for “His servants” (Rev.1:1). That is to say, the “bond slaves” or devoted followers of Christ. What makes this special is found in the words of Jesus when He said, “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…” (John 15:15).
In other words, we should want to learn the revelation, not as a mandate from God, but with an understanding that the privilege has been granted to us because we are regarded as His friends.
“Your words were found,” the prophet wrote, “and I ate them and your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer.15:16)
If you’re a Christian, and haven’t read the Revelation, you are invited to do so on my site titled “Learn the Revelation” at http://learntherevelation.blogspot.com. There is a verse-by-verse commentary along with some study questions. It’s a labor of love, so feel free to join in. Hey, let’s learn the Revelation together.