Revelation is one of the most complex books of the Bible, even for Christian scholars and others who spend a great deal of time engaged in scripture. The Book of Revelation is also referred to as the Apocalypse, which means to reveal or disclose. Second Timothy 3:16 tells us that Revelation was “given by inspiration of God.” From this statement alone, we are made aware that the final chapter of the Bible includes information God wants to reveal to us.
Many believers don’t know a lot about the history of Revelation. There are some Bible translations that say that it is the Revelation of John, but this isn’t entirely the case. The Bible says, “The Revelation is from Jesus Christ, which God has Him to show His servants what must soon occur. He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John” (Revelation 1:1). The Lord spoke to John in a dream and provided the revelations that were written in Revelation. The real author of Revelation is God, and He gave the Revelation to the angel who gave it to John. While John recorded the Revelation, he is not the true author of the book. John was the perfect fit to write out Revelation because He was a beloved friend to Jesus, along with a beloved disciple. He was with Jesus for three years and trusted every word that He said.
One of the reasons Revelation scares so many believers is because they don’t understand it. If more people understood how the book is written and the real message of Revelation, their fears would subside. Here are four things to remember if Revelation scares you.
Understand that Revelation is highly poetic.
Revelation is an apocalyptic prophecy. This is something most Bible scholars agree on. Apocalyptic literature reveals visions of the end times by a heavenly messenger. In writing Revelation, John uses specific language, including end-of-world imagery like we would see in other apocalyptic works. Apocalyptic literature relies greatly on symbolism to speak to a particular audience. The symbols used in the book were put there to significantly impact those listening in. The big takeaway from Revelation is that it is highly poetic. The aim is to persuade and influence the audience. If you understand that some of the language used in Revelation is symbolic, it may not evoke so much fear.
Hold onto the number seven.
We are all familiar with the number “666.” This signals the coming antichrist. Many people are afraid of the number and for a good reason. The Bible says, “Let the One with misunderstanding reckon the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of man. His number is 666.” If you look at the history of the number in scripture, you see that man was created on day six, and man labors only six days. Rest is honored on the seventh day. Seven is associated with perfection and completion. If you are afraid of the number of the antichrist and feel drawn away from God, hold onto the number seven. The number 666 means imperfection. It is one digit short of seven. It signifies something flawed in God’s eye, something incomplete. It is also associated with God’s enemies, as referenced in 1 Chronicles 20:6 and Daniel 3. Remember, God is perfection, and no matter how many times you see the number six, it can never hold the power of seven.
Know that there is hope found in this book.
Too often, we get hung up on the dark language of Revelation, the apocalyptic language and the fear it conjures. What we should never forget is that Revelation focuses on God’s victory. If you are reading through Revelation, you will uncover many of the sufferings we will all face. If you believe Revelation is only about the end times and the dark days we will meet, you are missing a key message. The book assures us of a hopeful future. It helps us to see that God will save us all again and conquer the enemy.
Think of Jesus’ ultimate return.
We can learn so much about Jesus’ return from Revelation. The book is written as an apocalyptic letter. It counts on symbols, visions and references from the Old Testament to reveal the complete fulfillment of God’s promise that was given to Abraham, referenced in Genesis. There are some who think that Revelation is a secret portal into the date and time of the end times, but it isn’t revealed in this book. In fact, we are told in Matthew 24:36 that no one knows the day or the hour of Jesus’ final return. While we won’t know the specific time, we are told that we will be able to see when the end is close. Matthew 24:30 says, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” One of the biggest takeaways from this book should be that Jesus will return one day as King of Kings to cue repentance. If we can’t find hope in this, where else can we?
A big theme of Revelation is God’s absolute rule, which we see throughout all history. While Revelation can be confusing, this was never the intention. John’s aim was to bless readers. Scripture says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who heart it and take heart what is written in it because the time is near.” The devil will always be at work, prowling around us, but God is more powerful. His love endures forever. Remember this the next time you open the final chapters of the Bible.