Readers may recall my astonishment over The Great Rethink: Back to Basics, Bible Prophecy by dear Neil Mackereth published six weeks ago, comprising part of a totally unexpected triplet as the 3,600th posting on Richard’s Watch. Recently he sent me this most helpful paper, as follows:
Hi Richard, Do hope you and Nina are well.
Every week we seem to be facing yet more turmoil and danger as the world creeks and groans its way towards the final denouement. I feel urged to try my utmost to get people to take Revelation seriously! I embark on a number of papers to try to encourage more interest by demystifying that which can be demystified! But still recognising that some things await revelation as they unfold. I hope it will be helpful.
May the Lord continue to bless, encourage and guide your thoughts and actions. Neil
WHAT IS THE BOOK OF REVELATION FOR? – PART 1: AN INTRODUCTION
The prime purpose of the Book of Revelation is to give the Church all the information it needs to be victorious in the time of tribulation (which is very near) which precedes the second advent of Jesus. The Bible opens with creation and man’s fall; it ends with victory. In the early stages, Satan is triumphant; at the close Satan is conquered, and the redeemed are with Jesus.
In this and subsequent articles, my aim is to provide a basis for further study, in smallish chunks of understandable English. I do not attempt to address the diverse options, opinions and queries relating to different interpretations and understandings of features of the Book of Revelation, nor do I seek to change any of its content!
Scepticism and a burgeoning form of liberal humanism have taken a grip on western society. Bible truths have been reduced, at best, to the rank of eccentric opinion and harmless religious sentiment. At worst, those who live by biblical principles are seen as undermining social cohesion and in need of remedial training, or more draconian “corrective” measures. We Christians need to use every God given help at our disposal to confront this all-pervading evil. Biblical prophecy is a major weapon in our armoury; it shows clearly that God has always known the end from the beginning. God Himself draws back the veil to enable us to see, and understand through His prophets, that His strong arm has been at work throughout history. Once our eyes are open to the truths of fulfilled prophecy, it becomes clear that what appear to be disconnected shakings, confusion, chaos and turmoil (historical, current or in scripture relating to the future) had, has, and always will have, purpose in God’s providential plan. We can be absolutely certain that the prophecies which relate to the future will be fulfilled.
Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.” He now sits at the right hand of God the Father, has “all power and authority”, and leads His Church, as “conqueror bent on conquest.” In His letters, sent through John to the Churches (His witnesses on earth), He promises that those who overcome will receive the wondrous rewards of the Kingdom of Heaven. In the prophetic vision chapters that follow the letters, we gain an understanding of what the conflicts, sufferings and challenges are going to be, in the time of tribulation that comes before the preordained (ultimate) victory for Jesus and His followers. This is the theme of the prophecy, and its object is a practical one. It is a gift to the Church militant from Christ triumphant. Because Jesus has overcome the world, we too can overcome the world. Faith in God, His Word, and the authenticity of biblical prophecy therein, will make us victorious: without it we have nothing. In other words, conquering visible enemies is achieved through faith in things invisible. The conflict is both physical and spiritual: the latter includes demonic led attacks through sorcery, the occult, the apostate church and false prophets.
For the last 2000 years Christians have suffered hatred, persecution, torture and murder; nevertheless, it is the Christians who are the real conquerors, and the ultimate victory is assured! “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”
There are theologians and ministers, of various ranks and denominations, who dismiss Revelation as irrelevant. The opposite is true, it was written to encourage and strengthen Christians, to arm us for battle and to guide us to victory. It is NOT just some curious way of writing that belongs to a distant past, nor is it a myriad of strange images and visions that relate to events so far in the future that they can be ignored. Those who have not grasped its huge significance have missed the point. It is prophecy (and tells us so) straight from the Throne Room of God Almighty. The exhortations in chapter 1 and warnings in chapter 22 give clear indication of its unique status and huge importance to God. It may be difficult to interpret but it deserves close study: it is vital that any true follower of Christ does his or her utmost to grasp its importance and purpose.
In some studies of Revelation, the letters chapters are treated in isolation to the rest of the prophetic content of the book. To my mind that “compartmentalisation” is not helpful: each church has a message for us in relation to how we prepare to face the time of tribulation, and the relevance of the promises and warnings to those churches are explained in the subsequent chapters. I will expand on this in Part 2.
In Part 3, we will look at how the true Church is represented by the woman who is “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head” who is forced to flee into the wilderness and remain hidden during the time of the antichrist’s dominance (Rev 12, 13). And at the woman seated upon the beast, reigning over “peoples, multitudes, nations and languages” (Rev 17): the Harlot Babylon who represents the corrupt world power structure and economic system based on selfishness, lust and greed.
In Part 4, I will endeavour to pull the threads together and provide an aide memoir to encourage further study. My hope is that by looking at Revelation with a greater awareness of what is being portrayed by certain imagery and personifications it will become easier to read and understand.