Revelation Genre and Destination

Revelation is from the Greek title word apokalypsis. This means “discourser of events,” or “discourser of the apocalypse.” It also means an “uncovering” or “unveiling” or as we have it in the English, a “Revelation.” The other title that has been used is “The Apocalypse.”

Thus, Revelation is a book of disclosures of John’s seven visions and God’s exhortations. This is why sometimes it is rendered as a plural, “Revelations,” even though the Greek word is singular.

The proper name is Revelation. The disclosure for us is the unfolding of historical events – past, present, and future, with God’s plan and purpose being the ultimate goal. Many people have feared Revelation and have thought it too mysterious to understand. But, Revelation was actually written to make things for us clearer—to expose and not conceal what God has for us.

Revelation is apocalyptic literature written in symbolism, poetry ,and imageries, as well as Old Testament Prophecy style (Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21; Rev. 1:2-3; 19:9; 22:7-19), all woven as a tapestry describing literal events (Rev. 1:1-4). John also uses the language in his current Greco-Roman figures of speech. Revelation has three main sections – a greeting and theme (Rev.1:1-4), then the main body (Rev. 1:4-22:21) which contains the succession of visions of spiritual warfare, warnings, and judgments, climaxing with the Second Coming of Christ, and finally a farewell (Rev. 22:21). Yet, the figurative speech and images, although borrowed from the Old Testament, would have been clear to an educated First Century Jew. It may not be a style we are familiar with in our contemporary culture, but it was very popular from 200 BC to 200 AD. Consider that describing our modern life with cars, freeways, electronics, and computers to a first century person would be unrecognizable and incomprehensible imageries.

What we take for granted, in what we know and what they knew, does not measure up in understanding one another. Revelation and its imagery were real and had application for them as they are real and have application for us, too. Much of the imagery was given to have a response from his readers, to evoke them from complacency on to spiritual activity. These images can be literal events as well as symbols. They can apply to the Church of Asia Minor and be reapplied to us. Sometimes John explains them; sometimes they are vague and we may not know what they mean until that day is upon us (Rev. 1:20).

Thus, there are no real mysteries other than when these events will happen or which ones had happened and the sequence of these events. However, time and sequence were not important to a Jewish mind or to our God who wants us focused upon Him as Lord. What we learn in our preparations is far more valuable than what will come about.

Much of what is spoken of in the Old Testament for Israel and the tribulation are found in Revelation 6-19. Its principle purpose is to reveal Christ as Lord and the end of the age. It also gives us firm instructions on how to live our lives being faithful to Christ and receiving His promise as well as His warnings. Revelation brings a lot of controversy because it is interpreted so varyingly.

We need to come to Revelation without a specific view, because each prophecy and image can have multiple meanings and multiple fulfillments.

Most of the Bible is very precise, but apocalyptic literature is difficult because God has not given us the final key. In addition, Revelation is about relationships and events in an Oriental logic form that does not have Western philosophical chronology in mind. Therefore, we must beware not to read into it our current idealistic

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Exegetical look at Matthew 24, Part V

Vs.32-35: Fig tree. This is the first of seven “futures” of the Kingdom parables. Fig trees give clear signs of what they are doing so you know what comes next; they lose their leaves in the winter, then they start to produce fruit before the new leaves bud. At this time, the fig trees would be “in leaf.” In Mark, Jesus uses this parable to predict the destruction of the Temple (Mark 11:12-25). By knowing Scripture, not popular reasoning, we will know for sure when the events are upon us all!

· This generation normally refers to “you people,” as in race and mentality; it can also refer to who is there, and in being stubborn (Lev. 26:18-20; Judg. 2:19). This is not about time; it is about the mentality and the people, such as the race of Jews. Some have said this meant only the people then; the destruction of the Temple and the reign of Nero comprised the Tribulation (“Preterism” means fulfilled eschatology). Also, that in 70 A.D., all that Jesus spoke of in Matthew, chapter 24, was fulfilled and now we are in the age of Jesus’ reign. I guess they have not looked out a window lately! Yes, some of it was fulfilled, but not all; so, “this generation” did see some of what is to come, in fact, most or all of it except for His Second Coming!

· The Dead Sea scrolls predicted a 40 year tribulation versus the seven year one in Revelation!

· My words. These are words only God would proclaim; no O.T. Prophet would dare to say these things in this way. Their words were given to them by God; Jesus spoke as God (Jer. 31:35-37; Zech. 1:5-6). For the Jews, to whom Matthew is written, this meant the authority of the O.T. Scriptures.

· Jesus does not give us an exact timeline of when and how these events will take place; even Revelation and Daniel do not! This gives birth to needless speculation and obsession, because we fail to see His main point—being prepared, and being encouraged that things will get better after they get worse!

What can you do to make sure you are not distracted by theological trivialities that may seem fun to learn and investigate (and they are), but deter you from what Christ has called you to do?

Exegetical look at Matthew 24, Part IV

Vs.29-31: The sun will be darkened. This is a reference to a significant astronomical event in the form of O.T. judgment language (Psalm 18:6-19; Isa. 13:10; 24:23; 34:4; Jer. 4:20-28; Ezek. 32:7-8; Joel 3:14; Zech. 14:6). The question is not if or when, as many of us obsess over; rather, He will come and we had better be prepared with our attitude and mindsets!

· Darkness was the most frightening prediction (Ex. 9:21-23)!

· The sign of the Son of man refers to God bringing about the opportunity for people to repent for having caused Him grief. Then, the Kingdom of Heaven will flourish (Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 12:10; Rev. 1:7). Sign refers to the first real evidence of Christ’s second coming.

· Morn. Jesus is coming back and this time it will not be subtle; it will hurt, hurt people who do not believe and believers who have become apostate as in cause pain while still being glorious (Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 12:10-12)!

· Clouds mean judgment. This refers to a spectacular event, the numbers of angels testifying to God’s glory. It could also mean an extraordinary storm of clouds. Such as numbers of angels testifying to God’s glory (Ezek. 30:3; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 16:28; 24:30, 34; 26:64).

· Son of man means He is Lord and King! (See study, Matthew 10: 16-26).

· Trumpets were used to announce the coming of or the succession of a king. They were used to summon people together and for a war cry to motivate troops and scare the enemy (Judg. 7:8-25; Isa. 11:12; 27. 13; Jer. 4:5, 19-21; Zeph. 1:16). Here, it is a popular prayer Jesus uses to refer to a future gathering of believers in Christ (Zech. 9:14-16; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

· Some have thought that this section can also refer to the coming defeat of Satan and His dominion, but there is no textual support; rather, it is about His second coming (Matt. 13:40-43; 16:27; 25:31; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:14-17).

Exegetical look at Matthew 24, Part III

Vs.15-28: Abomination of Desolation, refers to the most vile reasons (apostasy and sacrilege) causing the desolation of the holy place of the Temple. Daniel predicted this would happen after the death/rejection of the Messiah, which was also fulfilled at the crucifixion and the Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D. (Dan. 9:25-27; 11:31).

· A lot of prophecy, such as this example, is fulfilled in stages! The Temple was defiled (Abomination) and became empty (as the Romans took all the sacred things) and useless because it was destroyed as a result (Desolation). Some have said this is a name for Satan; it is not, although he uses this tactic.

· Most Jews thought this was fulfilled when, in 168 B.C., Antiochus Epiphanes built a pagan altar to Zeus on the altar of the Temple and slaughtered pigs on it, which was, according to God, the most disgusting and revolting thing that could be done to the Temple! A warning for us today is not to become apostate, so to mess with God or His Holy people and places (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:14-15)!

· Zealots stormed the Temple in 66 A.D., killing priests and Romans and starting the siege and destruction of Jerusalem! They also desecrated the alter by shedding human blood on it. This was the ultimate sacrilege before God, and possibly the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” causing judgment to commence.

· Flee. Jesus basically says, when it comes, leave, and leave fast (1 Sam. 23:26; 1 Macc. 2:28)! Early church fathers said the Christians fled to Pella in the Judean hillside.

· Housetop. Houses then had flat roofs, and people entertained, slept, and lived there when it was too hot to be inside. Also, it was considered the best place for prayer by reverent Jews and early Christians.

· Clothes. This refers to the outer garment worn by field workers when it was cold, and then taken off when it was hot, but not referring to being naked.

· Pregnant referred to being expectant when traveling is difficult. My wife says, “Imagine what it must have been like before modern conveniences and in the midst of persecution!”

· Winter makes anything a source of exasperation, from severe cold to rushing rivers without bridges, especially before industrialization!

· Sabbath referred to the “Sabbath Year.” Because of food regulation, they would run out of food quickly (Lev. 25:1-7).

· Shortened referred to Daniel’s 1,260 days; maybe the time would be shortened to preserve life (Dan. 12:11-13).

· Look, here is the Christ. This was a call to be aware of false prophets and false teachers, even when they seemingly perform miracles! People are easily deceived; just watch a good magician!

· I told you referred to advance warning and the need to heed it (Isa. 48:5).

· Lightening, produced on command, was something a false prophet could not do; only God could (Zech. 14:3-8). Jesus’ second coming will not be as subtle as His first; it will be spectacularly noticeable!

· Carcass for the eagles. Being eaten was considered the worst fate for a dead Jewish body; the best was to be buried (Duet. 28:26; 1 Sam. 17:44; Psalm 79:2; Ezek. 32:4-6; 39:17-20).

Exegetical look at Matthew 24, Part II

Vs.6-14: Are not troubled. Suffering is a part of life; it will happen; we have to learn to cope, seek Him, and prepare for it so we can help others and ourselves through it.

· Sorrows literally means, “the spasms from giving birth;” troubles are like being pregnant, with the possibility that the birth will give us both opportunity and pain.

· We are called not to be discouraged when bad things, troubles, disasters, and tribulations happen in the world (2 Chron. 15:6; Isa. 13:8; 19:2; Jer. 51:46; Hos. 13:13). We live in a fallen world where sin has corrupted everything and everyone, so disasters will come. We are called to prepare, plan ahead, and look to Christ as the Deliverer. He is in control!

· They will deliver you was a forewarning that knowing and making Christ known is dangerous; we will face persecution both overtly and/or covertly.

· Persecution was what distinguished the early church from other groups, even many zealous ones who were not persecuted.

· Tribulation means “The Day of the Lord” which will come about in the last days. (This term has been wrought with controversy in the last 100 years. I, for time sake, will not explore all the theories; however we will when we get further in the book of Revelation).

· He who endures. This is also a call, a call to keep you from being spiritually or emotionally defeated when tough times come. We are to always see our Lord and not our situation (John 10:28-29; Rom. 8:31-39). This is an aspect of the character of faithfulness, as it will help you persevere under stress and chaos. Christ keeps us secure, not our environment!

· Offended, betray. Under cultural, family, and physical pressure, many early Christians gave up on the faith; some betrayed others, and some reverted to paganism or Judaism.

· Deceive. This leads to and comes from Apostasy—a blatant disregard for God and His truth as well as the forsaking of His love and acceptance! Love cannot function where God is not honored, sought, and glorified! We cannot be deceived when our eyes are on Christ and His Word!

Exegetical look at Matthew 24, Part I

Vs.1-5: Show Him the buildings. The disciples were excited to see the splendor of man’s creations and saw God’s glory in them. The Temple, considered by some to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was the central symbol of Judaism, and believed to be invincible and indestructible. Jesus refocuses them on God and away from things that soon would all be rubble!

· Do you see? Jesus’ primary audience and challenge is to Israel.

· Most Greek philosophers considered even the most extravagant building as unimpressive, though it was of more value to them.

· Not one stone shall be left. This was fulfilled in 70 A.D. The Qumran was one of the few first century Jewish groups to see the impending fall because of hypocrisy and apostasy. Other groups said the Temple represented God, and since God would not destroy Himself, they felt safe (Jer. 4:7-15)! All things in this world will be meaningless and destroyed eventually; only God will remain, along with those whose faith is in Him!

· Tell us when. Jesus responds to the disciples with the “Olivet Discourse,” named for the place where it was spoken. Jesus groups together two questions as one (in meaning, not necessarily in chronological order), the time of the destruction of the Temple, and the End of Ages.

· Wars…are signs of Jesus’ coming, but also of life in a fallen world. The emphasis is on not being negligent toward such things! If we knew the exact time and day, Christians would probably be callous, lazy, and unproductive, as history has shown with such groups who think they know.

· When. Most scholars, over the centuries, have stated it will be when the Gospel has been preached to all nations (Matt. 28: 16-20).

· Take heed. People with various intentions—from deliberately deceiving others to being deluded individuals—will claim to be the Christ. We are called to be discerning so we will not be deceived! We are to always evaluate everything by the Word, while being sensitive to the Spirit.

· Many will come. And, many did in Jesus time, attracting large crowds and followers, according to Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. No one claiming to be Jesus would ever contradict the Bible (Isa. 8:20; John 16:13-15; 1 John 2:18-29)! The key to knowing who is real and who is fake and their motivations is that false prophets seek political and self-fulfilling aspirations; real followers of Christ seek to glorify Him and Him alone (Psalm 69:30; Rom. 15:5-9; Rev. 16:8-9).

Why so much rebuttal to a nonessential, theological concept?

Our critics and retractors use our foolishness against us in a big way. We give our enemies the bullets for our own downfall in reason, the relevance of faith, and the impact of the Church. To the thinking critic, who may have embraced Christianity if it was explained effectively and modeled effectually, sees religion as harmful. So say the secular humanists and contemporary philosophers from Bernard Russell to Kant (1872-1970 British philosopher and atheist), who said “He (Jesus) thought His second coming was to come before the death of people living at that time in clouds of glory.” His criticism was that it did not happen as Jesus (Matt. 10:23) said it would, or as preachers have interpreted. Thus, he argued that the Bible has no credibility. And on to Niche and the current attack on the Pledge of Allegiance.

The secular view is fueled by our unreasonable, irrational, ever-changing trends and infighting. This premise from our waywardness is we cannot know God, and Jesus did not exist or at best was a good teacher. Thus religion is destructive. Opponents point to the fanatic movements and wars over the century, ignoring the fact that it was not God but evil people using God’s name for their prideful gain. If they had proper instruction of what the Bible was saying, biblical Eschatology may have won the day.

Thinking that there will be rapture as taught by the TV preacher crowd and popular books is not unorthodox or heretical. Believe it as you may. I will keep buying cars with sunroofs as I used to call them “rapture roofs,” because if God wants to take us up in that way, He certainty may and can. If so, I hope it is when I am in traffic. A rapture is even not worth debating. There are far more important subjects to look at such as godly church leadership, effectual discipleship, and biblical literacy. But what it does is bad, just the same. Because it gets us, as Christian communities, continued infighting and/or focused away from what is really important, and that is the development and deployment of our faith. Focusing on the minors and forgetting about the majors just creates a major hole of personal and spiritual growth and very minor faith in our churches.

You may be as upset over this as I was; sorry. I do not want to be a party-pooper on end times. Yes, there will be a rapture of sort, but not the one from TV preachers; rather, it will be one far, far more magnificent.

One where Jesus Christ is truly glorified as He is coming back and we will be caught up in whatever way He sees fit. I firmly believe this will be far, far more impacting and spectacular than any wild, speculative theory that usually misses the main point. The main question is this: are you ready for His return?

If you disagree with me on this subject, we are still friends. I suspect this will be controversial. But as brothers and sisters in Christ, we can agree to disagree on these minors; let’s focus on the majors such as sharing the gospel and building up our faith. By the way, I will not respond to any emails or letters on this; I do not have the time. I have laid out my thoughts, references, and arguments in the best way I can. You can post your thoughts on this blog, or my other at intothyword blog, where I will read them. But my answer is this to any replies: Just got to the Word and remember context, context, and context; and it helps to look up words we may not understand.