OK, so, before we start with our study of the Book of Revelation, I thought we might take a moment to ask ourselves why we would want to study this Book. For me, this is not going to be about trying to figure out exactly how the prophecies will unfold in this material world. I am not going to do this: I am not going to join that long list of people who think this book of Scripture should be used as some sort of crystal or magic eight ball. I believe those who have done so in the past — no matter how well meaning they may have been — have inevitably done as much or more harm than good. Rather, I am going to lead this little study for a very different and — hopefully — a spiritually edifying reason, and I believe that reason can be found in Rev 1:3.
So, I referenced Revelation 1:3. Well, then, we might as well have a quick look at that passage:
Revelation 1:3 New American Standard Bible
3 Blessed is the one who reads, and those who hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Now, look at how this verse starts. It says all who read this book of Scripture are blessed. Now, I might be wrong, but I think that should be sufficient reason to study this book all by itself. I mean, what more could we want than a blessing promised by the Apostle, John. Therefore, I propose to study the Book of Revelation for this reason: because it promises a blessing to those who read it.
But look carefully at the rest of this verse. It says, in order to secure this blessing, we must also hear the words (i.e. let the prophecy speak for itself, and try to understand its true message), then keep the things written in this Book (i.e. put them into practice in our lives). OK, well, if we are going to put the words of Revelation into practice, or otherwise ‘keep’ them, we must first hear and understand them. So, how do we understand them? Is merely ‘hearing them’ enough? Given the poor record of so many faithful and sincere believers in the past, I would suspect the answer to this question is no: it is not enough to merely read the words. This suggests an additional thought:
It is not enough to read Revelation merely for the blessing it promises, we must also learn how to study it so that we will understand it well enough to keep its words.
This leads to the next question: how should we study the Book of Revelation? Well, I would suggest that Rev 1:3 offers us a strong clue. If we are expected to understand the Book well enough to ‘keep’ it, or put it into practice, then that must mean the Lord has left us an ‘instruction manual’ of sorts. But where has He left it? Well, since we are told in the Scriptures to test everything against the Scriptures, I suggest we look to the Scriptures for help in understanding the prophetic messages in Revelation. But there is more. I could be wrong, but I do not understand how — exactly — one keeps an understanding of what is to come. How would we put foreknowledge into practice in our lives? Could it be that there are warnings, teachings and commandments embedded in the prophecies of Revelation, and that these are the things we are supposed to ‘keep?’ I don’t know for sure, but I think we might want to add this to our study: the search for warnings, teachings and/or commandments embedded within the prophecies of Revelation.
Therefore, I propose that our desire to study the Book of Revelation should be driven by the desire to:
Seek the promised blessing by searching the whole of Scripture for clues to help us understand the prophecies of Revelation, and — at the same time — to search for warnings, teachings and/or commandments that may be embedded in those prophecies so that we may keep them and employ them in our daily lives.
This is why and how I propose to study the book of Revelation, and I hope you’ll join me.