Happy Easter from Japan! And welcome to the book of Revelation!
I think for a lot of people that try to read this book, they think, “Why Revelation? Why do we need it? It’s so obscure and difficult to understand. Is it really that important?”
In a word, yes.
If there’s one thing in this chapter that strikes me, it’s that despite the fact that many churches (even, admittedly, the one I go to) tend to avoid it like the plague, it was meant to be read to the church. And to be understood.
We see this in the first two verses.
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John who testifies to everything he saw — that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (1-2)
We see something of a chain here. God the Father gives this revelation to Jesus Christ, who passes it along to his angel, who passes it on to John. And now John passes it on to the church. Why? To show us what must soon take place.
I think one reason people tend to skip Revelation is because they think it has no relevance for the here and now. That it has to do with future events that are far beyond us.
But as we shall see, even for John’s readers and all their succeeding generations, Revelation had much relevance to their lives. When it says, “what soon must take place,” it means what it says. These events John talks about would soon take place.
This is not to say that everything that is written in Revelation would soon take place. There is much that is yet to happen. But I believe the events John wrote about started within his readers’ lifetimes. We can see them through the lens of history even to the present day.
And like I said, these things are meant to be read and understood. You still don’t believe me? Read John’s words in verse 3.
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. (3)
These are not the words of someone who thinks these words are obscure and impossible to understand. These are the words of someone who expects us to read these words and be blessed. And he expects this because the time for these events he writes about are near. They were near in John’s day, and in part were fulfilled. And in our lifetime, they are still being fulfilled. Perhaps, they will even be consummated.
In short, Revelation is meant to be fiercely practical. And as we will see, it is meant to admonish us and to encourage us as we live each day in this world.
So as Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
And if we do, we will find blessing.