An Approach to the Language of Revelation
Apocalyptic language is written to reveal a message;
the word "apocalyptic" itself means to reveal. Hence, this is how we get
the word "revelation." However, only those with eyes to see can understand
the apocalyptic message, for apocalyptic language conveys a message that
is to be visualized. Of course we must hear the message, but more importantly
we must see the picture the message is painting in our minds with words.
The message is disclosed as we behold the images. For those who fail to
see the picture the message conveys, the message will remain obscure.
As we read the words of Revelation we must see
what John sees before we can hear what John is saying. The majority of
the message of Revelation is visual. Most of the New Testament is written
for those who have ears to hear, but Revelation is written for those who
have eyes to see. The message appeals to reason, but it appeals to reason
through the use of visual images described in Spirit breathed words. The
words are used to simply paint vivid pictures upon the canvas of our minds.
Apocalyptic language was used in times of persecution
to convey a message to God’s people. The world would have difficulty understanding
the message. It was a means of God revealing his judgment upon their enemies
without making their enemies aware of what he was saying. If their enemies
had understood the message, persecution would have only increased.
In Revelation John pens the words describing what
he has seen, but it is clear that it is a vision he has received from Christ.
John is commanded to put down in words what he has been allowed to see.
On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I
heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: "Write on a scroll
what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum,
Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea." (NIV)
John uses words to paint scenes conveying the
grandeur of the Christian's victorious hope that mere words alone cannot
describe. John is caught up in the Spirit and sees our earthly existence
from heaven's vantage. When we read the book to visualize what John is
saying the message becomes vivid in our minds. Revelation is the only book
that allows us to see our struggles from heaven's vantage point.
Don't forget that John wrote the book so that
we can understand it. John writes, "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 NIV)
The book was written to prepare God's people for
the onslaught of persecution, which came against the church at the close
of the first century. Revelation is a book for all time, for if we can
see what God was doing for Christians during the Roman persecution. The
book helps us understand some practical lessons today.
Practical Lessons from Revelation
This book shows God
is the sovereign ruler of the world and his purpose will be done.
This book looks at history
from the throne of God.
This book tries to show
us history will come out as God planned it.
The book breathes with
The book breathes with
The book shows us the
character of our victory.
We are taught that Christ
is very close to us.
It shows us that Christ
shares the victory with us.
There is a strong appeal
to persecuted churches as people live righteously in spite of persecution,
not because of persecution.
The call of the book
is to heroic living.
It is a book of encouragement.
It is a book of patience.
It is a book of steadfastness.
The book says that when
the church is loyal to Christ, it will be opposed. It is only in compromise
that there is no opposition.