I am been incognito for the past few months. Needed a break. Had a death in the family. AND I have been working my tooshie off trying to transfer my Revelation in Black and White workbook into book form – so that means typing in ALL the scripture. Now, if you don’t want to do a fill-in-the-black workbook, you can now just pick up The 60 Day Adventure and READ. ALL scripture is written for you. I have even added “Thoughts for the Day” at the end of each Day’s lesson. So, in order for you to see what I mean, I am going to post the first few days here. I may add a few more next week. Here you go!
The Time is Near
1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, 2who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
You know a book is exceptional when it begins with “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Consider for a moment this awe-inspiring introduction. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, the Lamb of God and the Lion of the tribe of Judah is about to tell us something previously unknown. Jesus is revealing, uncovering, and disclosing to us a truth that we could not possibly understand unless He Himself reveals it. You have undoubtedly heard Revelation is full of symbols, signs, and images we can’t possibly comprehend. This is a false statement and the first verse of Revelation proves it. Jesus isn’t trying to hide anything from us or it wouldn’t be deemed revelation. The signs and symbols Jesus uses in Revelation are not intended to conceal, on the contrary, they are intended to uncover things He wants us to understand.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ is our Savior disclosing to us how, and in what manner, this age will end. The Revelation of Jesus Christ is about the return of the King. The Revelation of Jesus Christ is about our return to the King. The Revelation is Jesus Himself. This is profound. This is extraordinary. This is Revelation.
So let’s open our eyes and dive right in, because the book of Revelation is a little more black and white than what many people think.
I wish I could sit down with you and discuss every verse in detail. Revelation is so rich in revelation (no pun intended) that volumes could be written about it. To know and understand Revelation, you have to know and understand the entire Word. There is so much treasure to uncover; you even find an occasional diamond. I just love God’s Word!
However, I know our time is limited, so please forgive me if I do not touch on a verse you are curious about. Please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com with any questions you have. I may not be able to answer every e-mail, but I will sure try. I would love to hear from you, Christian soldier!
But for now, let’s focus on a few phrases in the first three verses that might very well perk your interest:
Verse one says the vision must “soon take place.”
Verse three says, “the time is near.”
Does this mean the Revelation happened closer to John’s day? Many scholars think so. They are called “preterists” because they point to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the later fall of Rome as fulfilling most of the prophecies. Another view called the “spiritual” view believes Revelation isn’t literal, but a big spiritual allegory for events throughout history – a sort of rulebook for the bad and the good in the world. If you would like to study further about these views of Revelation, please pick up Revelation: Four Views, A Parallel Commentary by Steve Gregg.1
I would wager a guess that since you have this book in your hands you are probably of the “futurist” camp or those who believe the revelation John saw will unfold at some point in the future. Although a lot of biblical prophecy is both applicable to the past as well as the future, Revelation is mainly about end-time events. This is the view I hold and it will be the focus of the remainder of this book. So why does scripture say the vision must “soon take place” and the “time is near?”
In order to understand this, the reader must be aware of a scripture in Daniel:
He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time.”
So, the words discussed in Daniel could not be completely understood until the “time of the end.” If you study the book of Daniel (I highly recommend Beth Moore’s Daniel study2), it becomes plain some elements of Daniel are also in Revelation. In other words, some prophecies in Daniel are further clarified in Revelation. So Revelation, like Daniel, is very important for the “time of the end.”
Both Daniel and Revelation deal with ushering in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. The beast we will meet in Revelation 13 can only be explained by referring back to Daniel. Although we will not study Daniel in-depth, we will study parts of Daniel when we meet the beast of Revelation. Revelation, like Daniel, is for “the time of the end.” So why do the first verses of Revelation say “must soon take place” and “the time is near?” I believe the meaning is two-fold.
First, Revelation is written to individual believers. It will become apparent as we study chapters two and three that Jesus is talking to each person throughout history urging them to prepare for His return. For each believer, the time is near. Life is fragile and short. Christ is urging each and every person to examine themselves because He is coming quickly. Once you are dead, there is no more time. “Repent!” Jesus urges, “The time is near!”
Secondly, the main body of Revelation, those chapters after chapter three, deal with the final generation of believers, the end time generation, the one for which the time would be near. Look at Jesus’ own words regarding the timing of His return in Matthew 24:32-33.
“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
What did Jesus mean by the “fig tree?” And what did He mean about “all these things?” In Jeremiah 24:5 and in Hosea 9:10 the fig tree is a metaphor for the people of Israel. So the fig tree (Israel) needs to put forth its leaves for the “end times” to begin. Has this happened? Yes! In 1948 Israel became a nation after being dispersed for almost two thousand years. Israel’s rebirth is prophesied in Ezekiel 37 and clarified throughout scripture. This has come to pass in our lifetime. Israel is now “putting forth leaves.” They are back in their nation and they are taking root.
It is interesting to note when Jesus entered Jerusalem a few days before His crucifixion He became hungry and saw a fig tree.
He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.
I believe this was a representation of what would happen to Israel because she did not recognize Jesus at His first coming. She withered. Yet Jesus foretold of a future generation that would see the fig tree bear, not figs, but leaves. Does this mean the Jews have to come to faith for the end-times to begin? No, Jesus said they would bear leaves, not fruit (Matthew 7:15-23).
Now, what about “all these things” referenced in the Matthew 24 scripture quoted previously? Right before this scripture, Jesus described what would lead up to the end times in Matthew 24:1-14. There would be false christs, there would be wars and rumors of wars, there would be famines and earthquakes, and there would be tribulation and the persecution of the saints.
Date setting is a “no-no” when it comes to end time events. We aren’t God and we shouldn’t play gods by guessing about His timing. But we do know this: Jesus says the generation who sees “the fig tree produce leaves” and sees “all these things” (false christs, wars, famines, persecution) would not pass away until the end comes.
Jesus spoke to a future generation – our generation. That is why Revelation is no longer in gray, but in black and white. We are that generation.
What we need to remember is this: until 1948 the “end times” could not begin. Why? Based on the prophecies of Daniel 9, Ezekiel 37, and Revelation 12, the Jews have to be in their homeland for the final events to begin that lead to Jesus’ return. The end time prophecies of Daniel and Revelation hinge on Israel being a nation. Some of you doing this study have never lived without the nation of Israel, but your parents may still remember the day Israel was born. Israel’s rebirth was a huge occurrence for those who studied Biblical prophecy. This was, I daresay, the event! I personally don’t believe the generation born in 1948 will completely pass away before Jesus’ return. In Psalm 90:10 a generation is defined as being either 70 or 80 years. We can’t be certain 1948 is the exact “start date” but it is perhaps a good estimate as to how much longer we have without our Savior returning as King.
Now, is Matthew 24 the only indication that we are living in the end times? I am glad you asked that question. Look at the following scripture:
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
That scripture always leaves me feeling a little uneasy. You need to make up your own mind whether or not we are in the last days, but to be clear, they can now start at any time because the nation of Israel is back in their homeland.
Let’s end this day with the words of Revelation:
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it.”
You have to heed to be blessed – not just read. Many have read Revelation and put it down, never to give it a second thought. But if you heed it, if you believe it enough to watch for the return of the King, you will be blessed. Why? Although we can’t know the date, we can know something very important:
The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?”
We can know the signs of the times. In other words, we can know the season of His coming. And if we heed the book of Revelation, we will be prepared. The horseman will not surprise us, the famine will not surprise us, the beast will not surprise us, and the persecution will not surprise us. And God assures us, because we have heeded His Revelation we will be. . .
Thought for the day:
If the time is near – how are you going to spend your time today? How are you going to act or react? How will you treat those around you? Will you look forward to your time with Jesus tomorrow? Or will you brush any time with Him aside? Hope to see you tomorrow.
1 Gregg, Steve. Revelation: Four Views, A Parallel Commentary (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1997). The Four Views in this book are the Historicist, Preterist, Spiritual, and Futurist.
2 Moore, Beth. DVD study Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy (Nashville, Tennessee: LifeWay Press, 2006). This is by far one of the best Bible studies I have ever completed.
He is Coming with the Clouds
4John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood – 6and He made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father – to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. 8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
John begins this section by addressing seven churches. Scholars say that seven in scripture symbolizes perfection, completion, wholeness, and entirety (take the seven days of creation as an example).1 So although the letters in Revelation are addressed to seven actual churches that existed in John’s day, they are also being addressed to the church universal – the church in its complete state – from John’s day right up until the present time. Let me say that another way:
The letters to the churches are addressed to us.
My faithful friends, the letters are talking to us. Their condemnations and praises are ours. We can either learn from them or ignore them. More on this when we read the letters.
In verses four and five John introduces us to the Trinity. First He mentions God the Father, “From Him who was and who is and who is to come.” This should remind us of Exodus 3:14 where God tells Moses His name is “I Am who I Am.”2
Our God is eternal and ever present, as Psalm 90:2 says so beautifully:
Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
In Exodus chapter three God IS, meaning He always has been and He always will be. The verse in Revelation mirrors this by literally stating He was and He is and He is to come. Glory!
Then John mentions the seven Spirits before the throne (Revelation 1:4), which represent the Holy Spirit. Again, because seven denotes completion, we see the all-seeing, all-knowing Spirit of God. Seven has been used to represent God’s Spirit before.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 11:2, emphasis added
Although these seven attributes of God’s Spirit are not an exhaustive list, they represent the Spirit’s complete nature. Then Jesus is mentioned in Revelation 1:5: the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
Our Lord is our faithful witness, the One who knows the wrongs committed against us. He reminds us that He has conquered death and will ultimately right those wrongs and rule over the kings of the earth. Let’s look at these one at a time because all of these foreshadow what will take place at the return of the King.
He is our faithful witness . . .
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.
He is the firstborn of the dead . . .
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:20-21
He is the ruler of the kings of the earth . . .
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “King of kings, and Lord of Lords.”
In the first scripture Jesus is riding to the earth. This reminds us that never again will we be under tyranny, persecution, or oppression. For He is faithful and true. The second scripture tells us Christ is the first fruits of the dead and this should remind us that the resurrection of the dead will soon take place. Those asleep will be made alive! The third scripture clarifies that He is also ruler of the kings of the earth and He is coming to take possession of the earth as reigning King.
Take another look at Revelation 1:7: “Behold, He is coming with the clouds.” I want you to write this verse in your mind because by the end of Revelation, this concept will become very special. But for now, let’s take a look at a few other verses.
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight . . .“This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
Acts 1:9, 11b
I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.
Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, faithful friends! Now look at this next verse:
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.
This is a second coming scripture. He is coming to judge the world – the guilty will not go unpunished. But when He comes, clouds are going to be the dust beneath His feet. Someone needs to shout, “Glory!” The clouds are the dust beneath His feet!
Let’s go to the next treasure in Revelation. When He comes with the clouds, “every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him (Revelation 1:7). Think about that for a minute. The people who pierced Him are dead, but they will see Him! This verse is saying that everyone will see the return of the King. That does not mean everyone will be resurrected at His return (some will not be resurrected until after the Millennial Kingdom – more on this in chapter 20), but it does mean everyone will see Him.
How, you might be wondering, if they are not resurrected? Remember the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31? They were both dead, yet they were aware. No matter where the dead are, they will all see the Return of the King!
Everyone will see the Return of the king!
Thought for the day:
Everyone will see the return of the King – even you. When He looks into your eyes will He see Himself (Romans 13:14)? Or will He see the enemy? What will you see in His eyes? A job well done? Or judgment? Find out what Christ will look like tomorrow.
1 Butler, Trent C. et al.,eds. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, Tennessee: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1199-1200.
2 Moore, Beth. DVD Study Here and Now … There and Then: A lecture series on Revelation (Houston, Texas: Living Proof Ministries, 2009), 7.