Revelation is the 66th book in the Bible and the only book that is classified as prophetic in the New Testament. The other New Testament books are classified as the Gospels (first four), Historical (Acts) and the rest are epistles.
The name fro the book of Revelation is derived from the Greek word for apocalypse. As such, revelation refers to the unveiling of what is unknown about the future. This title is appropriate for the book as it goes into intricate details of the future events.
The Book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John, the beloved disciple of Jesus. We know this because John references himself four times in the book (Revelation 1:1, 4, 9; 22:8). John also authored the gospel of John and the first, second, and third letters of John. His gospel and epistles were largely based on what he had learned from his time with Jesus on earth. However, the book of Revelation takes a different turn because it is based on a revelation he got of the things to come.
Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation while in Exile on the Island of Patmos. When persecution arose, the apostles of the church were killed and according to historical documents, they also attempted to kill join by tossing him in a vat full of boiling oil. However, to their surprise, John didn’t die. So they resorted to gorging his eyes out and exhiling him on the Island of Patmos where he eventually died of old age.
Importance of Revelation
One of the things that the disciples questioned Jesus on was the future events. He gave them a detailed explanation of what to expect in the end times as documented by Mathew in Mathew 24. However, they were still not satisfied and wanted more information which led to them seeking more clarification on when he would restore his kingdom. Jesus answered them by saying that it was not in their power to know the times and the seasons that God had set by his sovereign authority. However, he promised to give them power through the holy spirit not too long afterward (Acts 1:7-8).
The book of Revelation can be seen as an answer to the prayer of the disciples. The power of the Holy Spirit was released as promised in Acts but it was until John the Revelator wrote the book of Revelation that the early church got a glimpse of what they could expect in the coming days. The tribulation is the central theme in the Book of Revelation. Chapter 4-18 gives a painstaking explanation of what the church can expect during the tribulation. This time of tribulation is portrayed as a time of judgment and suffering. When Jesus returns for his church, those who are not ready will be left behind and then they will be subjected to the pain and suffering of the tribulation. The suffering of the left-behind is the beginning of the judgment for their unbelief.
The book of Revelation portrays the time of tribulation as a 21-part series of events that are inaugurated by the breaking of the seven seals, the blowing of the seven trumpets, and the pouring out of the 7 bowls (Revelation 5). The picture that is portrayed here is that of a righteous God who not only hates sin but also takes sinfulness very seriously. As such, any that will be found not have been covered by the blood of Jesus will have to undergo the punishment of the tribulation.
The big picture
Granted, the book of Revelation offers a lot of details on the tribulation. Most of the information is interwoven in the tapestry of symbolic language. Even though tribulation is the dominant theme (since it covers most of the chapters in the book), the overall message of the book of Revelation is the triumph of Christ as described in the last four chapters of the book ( Chapters 19, 20, 21, and 22). In these Chapters, Christ’s triumph is described. After the season of the tribulation is over, Christ will overcome the forces of evil which will culminate in the recreation of the world for the sake of the elect. Revelation closes with the final victory that is demonstrated over evil.
In a way, the last four chapters of the Book of Revelation do not only summarise the Book of Revelation but the entire Bible as well. Right from Genesis 3 when man feel from grace, the Bible documents the constant struggle as man tries to overcome sin. Many times, sin seemed to overpower mankind and sometimes, man sank so deep in sin that God had to release his judgment. For instance, God releases the flood waters to wipe out sinful man (Genesis 5), sends fire and brimstone to punish sinful Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), causes the ground to open up and swallow the rebellious Israelites (Number 16), etc.
After documenting man’s suffering and woes for a chunk of the 65 books, the book of Revelation sums it up but agitates the problem in the first 18 chapters of the book and then closes beautifully by revealing the final solution to the problems of humanity. In chapter 19, John documents how Jesus, who is the hope of the suffering world, will ultimately heal the wounds that have been inflicted on mankind throughout generations. In chapter 20, John talks about the 1000 years of God’s reign on earth. Finally, in chapters 21-22, John reveals how God will create a new heaven and a new earth – almost like going back to factory settings in Genesis 1. This can be looked at as the final redemption work of Jesus.
The book of Revelation is one of the most important books of the Bible. This is because it foretells the things that will happen in the future. Additionally, the book provides a good conclusion to the story of mankind in that the elect will ultimately reign with Christ in the new heaven and earth that will be created.