“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” Revelation 1:1-3
If I’ve heard it once this year, I’ve heard it a thousand times-- 2020 must be a sign that we are living in the times of the book of Revelation and Jesus’ return must be near.
And yet, the very first three verses of this wonderful book of Scripture show us that cannot be the case. God gave John this Revelation in the first century AD (most likely just a few short years before AD 70) to show the ones whom John is writing to, what must soontake place. John also states, ‘for the time is near.’
For the words “soon” and “near” to have any meaning in Scripture they cannot be projected thousands of years in the future. John is writing to 7 churches in the first century. The people who received his letter we able to understand it and the message that it contained.
This book is still a great encouragement to us today for it shows us the love and the preservation God has for His people as well as His judgment against His enemies. Primarily the book describes in apocalyptic language the judgment of God against Jerusalem and the Jews who rejected their Messiah as Titus destroyed the city and the temple in AD 70. The Beast is more than likely Nero, the emperor of Rome at the time.
We don’t have to speculate as to a future judgment or place the bulk of this book in our day. 2020 has indeed been a strange year, but it is not a sign of the end of the world. Revelation does not contain the word Antichrist. It has nothing to do with vaccines or imbedded computer chips, or viruses. Many books were written about the end of the world in the 1970’s and 1980’s (I remember reading many of them). Every generation since the introduction of dispensationalist theology in the early 1800s has been prone to project Revelation into the future or to the current day. May we not mis-interpret God’s Word by creating fear where this is no fear.
We long and we hope for the return of Jesus Christ as a Church. We long for the consummation of all things. The bridegroom coming for His bride, the body of Christ. But there is nothing in the Bible that contain signs of the time or signs of His return. It could be today. It could be many more thousands of years. Let us in the meantime live with hope and joy and peace, striving to be consistent in our faith. This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
And when we hear of the hype and all of the speculation around us of living in the days of Revelation let us kindly share the context of this wonderful book and help others not to mis-interpret it as well.
“John 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, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom of priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Revelation 1:4-8