Apocalypse Now: The Lion Roars
On November 27, 1989, the day when Communism fell in Czechoslovakia, a church in the capital city of Prague erected a sign. For decades, the church had been forbidden any publicity, but with the winds of freedom blowing, the Christians posted three words, which summarized not only the New Testament in general but the book of Revelation in particular: ‘The Lamb Wins’. Their point was not that Christ had unexpectedly gained victory, but that he had been reigning in triumph all along. Richard Bewes explains: ‘Christ is always the winner. He was winning, even when the church seemed to lie crushed under the apparatus of totalitarian rule. Now at least it could be proclaimed!’
The book of Revelation, by its very name, is an unveiling, a vivid disclosure of invisible realities. And yet, confronted with bizarre imagery that is alien to our experience, we are often left asking, ‘What in the world does this book mean?’ Can the book of Revelation be understood? Yes, it can.
The message of Revelation can be summarized in one sentence, according to Vern Poythress: ‘God rules history and will bring it to its consummation in Christ.’ If you read it with that main point in mind, you will be able to understand it. You will not necessarily understand every detail – neither do I. But it is not necessary to understand every detail in order to profit spiritually from it.
The same thing is true of all Scripture. Scripture is inexhaustibly rich, so that we can never plumb all its depths and mysteries. But the main points are clear, so we can know what to believe and how to act. Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us not only that all Scripture is inspired, but also that it is ‘useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ All Scripture, including Revelation, has practical value for exhortation, comfort, and training in righteousness. Paul underlines this point in 2 Timothy 4:1-5 by drawing a contrast between the solid teaching of the gospel and people’s desire to have teachers who ‘say what their itching ears want to hear’ (4:3). God gave us Revelation not to tickle our fancy, but to strengthen our hearts.
We need the book of Revelation to establish and empower our hearts, for in Revelation we see two kingdoms and two armies poised opposite to one another. The kingdom of God will triumph, but it is opposed by the kingdom of Satan. God controls the whole course of the battle, but it is waged partly among unseen angelic and demonic powers who operate alongside and behind human beings. Human beings have their own role to play, because their commitments and actions display their loyalty to God or to Satan. We must realize that in all of history, this spiritual battle is going on. Revelation enlightens our spiritual eyes to see the true state of affairs in this universe and in our lives.
Hence, Revelation challenges and enables you to see the world and your life for what it is: a scene of spiritual warfare. There are no noncombatants, no truces, no mercy from the Satanic opponents. But there is victory, brought to a climax when Christ returns. In the meantime, you must be loyal to Christ, your commander and chief. You must obey him, worship him, honor him, praise him without compromise in all your life.
Join us as we begin this exciting journey in the book of Revelation as we look at Revelation 1:1-5 to see how to read the book. Invite your family and friends to come and hear what the Lord reveals in his Word. Pray for the work of the Spirit through his Word as we study the book of Revelation.
The King is Coming,