Why You Can’t Understand The Book of Revelation

BY PGF
7 months, 1 week ago

Read Isaiah 24:21-25:9

You can’t understand the book of Revelation because, perhaps, you started in the last book of the Bible expecting to need no prior knowledge and background to understand this final apocalyptic writing in scripture. So, most then look for some man’s opinion about what all of the imagery means.

Revelation is not about a dragon, a giant woman, bowls of wrath, or locusts with tails of scorpions although those things are in the book. The Revelation is about Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1)! Reducing Revelation to anything other than the conquest of Christ over His enemies and the curse of sin from the fall is to miss God’s purposes completely.

To understand the book of Revelation, you must study the entire Bible. There are many ongoing revelations in God’s broader redemptive plan, in choosing a people to be His, in grace and mercy unto salvation, instruction in righteousness, and yes, judgment.

Apocalyptic Judgments in the Holy Bible appear from the start. It would help if you started by understanding the magnitude of the fall (Genesis 3); the entire earth is cursed, and everything is dying. There are many separate curses and consequent judgments pronounced by Holy God at the fall; the woman is cursed, satan is cursed, and the man is cursed, and with him, the very ground you walk on is cursed. As can be pretty typical of Apocalyptic writing throughout the Scripture, each of these curses has four parts. Keep that in mind when reading the prophetic portions of scripture; often, judgment comes in fours.

An example seems necessary. Most straightforward to see is the four upon the woman.

“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Genesis 3:16:

1 Great sorrow

2 Pain and distress in conception and childbirth

3 In yearning for and need of a provider/protector husband

4 And made subject to that man

In God’s ongoing redemptive plan, every aspect of the sin curse in Genesis 3 is being addressed. Matthew 22:30 is one of the many verses that convince us amillennialism is flawed. All of it is ended by the close of history, the Kingdom of God now being a picture. God brought and is bringing judgment to every man, for all have sinned, but He is the God of mercies, grace abounding unto redemption; at the close of history, all those blood-bought faithful will be redeemed with no more curse (Revelation 22:3). Though we live by faith now in a type of the final kingdom, in the end, we hold out our hope by faith toward the God that restores for perfect (complete) restoration.

We reject the notion that Jesus Christ was tortured to death for an allegory. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” – Romans 5:12. Sin is real, the consequences of which can be devastating to not only individuals but to nations. There is no more thoroughly documented occurrence in antiquity than the resurrection of Christ. Almighty God, the creator of the heaven and the earth, reached across the expanse of His creation and through time eternal to personally contact you, offering salvation, a glimpse of the final Kingdom, and a knowledge of Him that only His own can receive. Is your salvation an allegory? You know better! Those claiming such things read the Bible as mere literature but having been brought to new life in Christ, His word is revealed, we know that the Bible is the words of life. There are just too many verses that point to an end state with God, not just spiritually now, but free from all corruption. Don’t doubt His power to have a people that live in fellowship and truth and worship with Him at the end.

Within this section of Isaiah (Chapters 24 through 27), we’ll narrow our study to some verses from 24 and 25 that can help build your knowledge of the apocalyptic type of language. Also, see Matthew 24, Part Four, Definition of Terms Primer.

The specific target of the judgments rendered in our verses is not given. Isaiah, in general, is the judgment of Israel using Babylon as His instrument, and then, as is also God’s typical manner, those used in judgment against God’s own are also judged; this too can help you understand the prophetic books. But we can’t miss the language, as many of these verses seem to point to a distant future yet unknown to the people then living.

God is not hiding what He is doing; He reveals it; scripture always answers scripture. In the book of Revelation, you must understand the language of prophecy. You must study God’s purposes in judgment, His means, and the modalities of bringing judgment, which is by human instrumentation with a few exceptions.

The addressees of Revelation, seven first-century churches, would have had some knowledge of what that book spoke about when using those apocalyptic images. Those that were Jews, notably, would have been very familiar with the meanings, types, symbols, and language in Revelation. But today, Gentiles are not raised from their youth in the knowledge of the Tora. Keeping in mind that the New Testament interprets the Old Testament to understand Revelation, you must study apocalyptic forms and language from Genesis onward, especially the prophetic books.

Holy God uses language throughout the Old Testament that is brought forward to Revelation. It’s NOT some new thing mystically veiled by God to keep us in ignorance.

“21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.

22 And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.

23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.” – Isaiah 24:21-23

[ And “In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.” Isaiah 27:1 ]

We see war in Heaven and judgments on the earth (verse 21) with similar apocalyptic imagery and symbols of serpents and “the Dragon” destined for the pit (27:1 above. See Revelation 20:2-3) and ultimately to be no more (Revelation 20:10). See also Daniel Ten about war in Heaven come to earth, against the kingdoms of this world, on behalf of just men.

Verses in Revelation to consider here include 12:7-12, and Chapter 20, especially verses 1-3, 7, 10.

No moon, no sun shall compare to the Glory of Christ, who shall be the light of the city. Compare verse 23 (above) with Revelation 21:23 and Revelation 22:5.

And compare verse 23 (above) with Revelation 4:4, the Lord on His throne surrounded by the “ancients” or “four and twenty elders.”

Know that God’s angels would make war in Heaven and earth for you who cry out to Him day and night that He would avenge His own elect. (Deuteronomy 32:35, Luke 18:7, Romans 12:19/Hebrews 10:30)

“O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.” Isaiah 25:1

This verse seems to point to a soon-coming day of victory by God, knowing full well that Christ is triumphant.

Verses in Revelation to consider here include; Revelation 19:1-3.

“2 For thou hast made of a city an heap; of a defenced city a ruin: a palace of strangers to be no city; it shall never be built. 3 Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee, the city of the terrible nations shall fear thee.” Isaiah 25:2-3

Many apocalyptic verses and some parables come to mind but immediately, Luke 19:41-44 and Mark 13:2. This language is striking. Perhaps Isaiah points to Babylon (see Revelation 16:19, a type). Still, it’s impossible to miss that God may be reaching across a span of many centuries pointing to the true Israel of God, that would worship Him in spirit and in truth when the “strangers” who knew Him not would reject the cornerstone (Luke 20:17-19) of the building, God creating much greater worship; “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” – 1 Corinthians 3:16. These verses are about a city run by God’s enemies, standing in the way of the new heavenly city, and the vengeance of God for His faithful (strong followers, Philippians 4:13).

“4 For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

5 Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.

6 And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.

7 And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.

8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

9 And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”  – Isaiah 25:4-9

The needy, the poor, and those in distress remind us of Luke 4:17-21. Imagine being there; “And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.” Wonder not at how many misunderstood or questioned but marvel in His sight that you, of all creatures, would be made aware.

We see salvation in verses 4-9, where this prophecy of Isaiah turns beautifully messianic. The veil is rent in verse 7 (Matthew 27:51), the heathen may have their faces uncovered (eyes opened), salvation has come to all people (Revelation 12:10), who shall live in the love and knowledge of our Lord, the great Redeemer, Creator and merciful giver of the breath of new life into His reborn creatures, salvation in Christ is at hand!

By the time we reach verse 8, what else could we have but the Revelation of God Almighty in final victory; all tears are wiped away (Revelation 21:4). The ending of the curse of sin and the last enemy death, is roundly defeated (1 Corinthians 15:26), for God is life, and to His own, He brings life eternal. The strong city, the heavenly Jerusalem, is born. The enemies of Holy Father God shall be tread upon by Christ’s hosts (Revelation 11:2) as Babylon the Harlot (Revelation 17:5) falls not only to physical destruction (Matthew 24) but into ruinous darkness (Romans 11:7). Christ has left the old temple desolate (Luke 13:35, Matthew 23:38).

“1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” – Revelation 21:1-7

In the judgments of God, the Bible shows us how God made them to war against each other, took their ability to sustain themselves, and brought diseases and famines. To understand Revelation, you must pursue prophetic language from Genesis onward.  To understand the freight-train-load of trouble coming at America, you must understand why God brings judgment and the means and modalities of destruction for those who hate Him.

And again, though full of typology and symbols, we reject the notion that all is an allegory and that the Kingdom of God now is the end. Christ is coming again for those that are His and His final estate with Him; there shall be no defiled thing, watch, therefore, keep your garments spotless, and be ready for no man knows the hour.

Edit: We should have noted that the concept for this post and some of the reference verses came from M. S. Terry.


Comments

  1. On May 4, 2022 at 1:10 am, Plague Monk said:

    There are two simpler explanations for the Book of Revelations. The first, and less probable, is that it was written by the Apostle John in response to the persecution of the church during the reign of Domitian in the AD 90s. That was what my professor in Roman history taught when I went for my masters in history some thirty years ago. The 7 churches were real, but that was about it. Note that many early eastern sects do not include Revelations as part of their Bible versions, including the Syrian(IIRC after 30+ years)
    The second and more likely explanation is that of a retired USAF officer turned History professor and pastor whose online classes I took a few years ago. He too, writes that this was written during the persecutions, but he doesn’t believe that the 7 churches are all literal. At least some of them are allegorical, if not all of them. He also believes that John was heavily influenced by Eastern mysticism, and was the “1st Century Timothy Leary”, what with his strange visions.
    The execrable Left Behind series popularized the idea of the Rapture, which didn’t really exist until the 1800s, i think under the influence of Scofield. I confess to having read the first few as novels and enjoyed them, but as the writers kept writing more and more novels to rake in the money, I gave up. I remember one online blogger that I won’t name who is still active that did a thorough dissection of the Left Behind crap, concluding that there is no Rapture or anything, and that God will return at the end of time, in a trillion years or so.
    These days, as a lapsed christian,(Small “c” intended), I tend to regard Revelations as similar to the history of the God Emperor in Games Workshops’ Warhammer 40k series, and about as believable, along with most of the New Testament after Acts and Paul’s letters. Your take is interesting, but…

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This article is filed under the category(s) Religion and was published May 2nd, 2022 by PGF.

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