I received a comment from a reader who noted how seemingly difficult it is to comprehend the verses found in the Book of Revelation and wondered how much value the book has to our daily lives. I think a lot of people are wondering the same thing, so I will attempt to address these issues today in this article.
Understanding the Book of Revelation
I think a common mistake people make is that they try to understand the Book of Revelation in isolation.
- I made this mistake when I read the entire book for the first time at Age 15. I had no idea what the prophecies in Revelation meant because I read the book without looking at prophecies elsewhere in the Bible.
The Book of Revelation should not be looked at in isolation. The book is only 22 chapters long, which is not a lot of text to provide a detailed description of all End Times events. However, the book compensates for its relative brevity by referring to many descriptive prophecies of the Old Testament and the New Testament.
- For instance, Revelation 17 and Revelation 18’s details concerning Babylon the Great City allude to Isaiah 47, Jeremiah 50, and Jeremiah 51 while Revelation 13’s beast of the sea prophecy alludes to Daniel 7. In addition, the reference to the mystery of God’s completion in Revelation 10:7 alludes to a topic that Paul wrote about in the New Testament.
- I remember one scholarly article about Bible prophecy state that Revelation draws upon the Old Testament more than any other book in the New Testament.
Therefore, gaining a good understanding of the topics referenced in the Book of Revelation requires going back to other books, chapters, and verses in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
I’ve used the analogy before that Bible prophecy is the ultimate puzzle which requires the piecing of every puzzle piece to gain a full understanding of the future. I would equate the Book of Revelation to the outer edge pieces of the puzzle much like Christ’s discourse on the end of the age found in New Testament chapters like Matthew 24.
- The Book of Revelation often helps to organize several Bible prophecy verses and chapters throughout the Bible in a chronological order.
- The Book of Revelation fills in some details about events that will take place in the End Times and helps to identify the subject matter of some Bible prophecy verses and chapters found throughout the Bible.
- I cannot imagine what it would be like trying to understand all the Bible prophecy chapters in the Old Testament and New Testament without the Book of Revelation there to provide some structure and some details relating to End Time events.
There are a variety of methods people use to interpret the Book of Revelation. Each interpretation method can lead to a different understanding of what the Book of Revelation says than another interpretation method. Consequently, there are a variety of conflicting views out there about what the Book of Revelation says. Nevertheless, here is how I analyze/interpret the Book of Revelation:
- I believe it is best to understand the Book of Revelation by comparing the verses found in the Book of Revelation with the verses found in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Book of Revelation references the Old Testament and the New Testament a lot so I see no reason to ignore the prophecies found in the Old Testament and the New Testament when trying to understand the Book of Revelation.
- I also believe it is best to view the verses found in the Book of Revelation at face value/literally as much as possible because when people begin to rely heavily on interpreting verses allegorically/symbolically the understanding they derive from the book can become subject to human error since humans often see things differently and have their own biases.
Value to Our Daily Lives
The Book of Revelation is very valuable to me because I am very interested in trying to gain a complete understanding of Bible prophecy. However, I recognize that most people do not carry the same level of interest in the Book of Revelation and Bible prophecy as I do. Therefore, I will try to relate my answer to why the Book of Revelation has value in our daily lives to people who have little interest in Bible prophecy.
The Book of Revelation is a reminder to us that world events happen for a reason and that God has a plan. The book provides reminders that God is still in control no matter how bleak things become on Earth. For instance, Revelation 17:16-17 tells us that God’s Will is being executed when the ten kings destroy the evil harlot:
(16) And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. (17) For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” (Rev 17:16-17)
Similarly, the Book of Revelation provides us a sense that world events are moving us to final clash between good and evil. The Book of Revelation describes the ascension of Satan’s representative the Antichrist, the tyrannical world ruler of the End Times, and the Antichrist’s eventual defeat by Christ at the Battle of Armageddon. The Book of Revelation even describes the eventual defeat of Satan (the devil).
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Rev 20:10)
The Book of Revelation provides us a sense of what things are possible and what things are impossible.
- For instance, Revelation refutes the notion that a one-world government, religion, economic system, etc organized by man will bring us Heaven on Earth. Revelation suggests that those conditions are associated with the reign of a brutal ruler (Antichrist) who will make the lives of those who resist him very difficult. We can perhaps work to make the world a better place to some degree, but mankind cannot create Heaven on Earth on its own.
The Book of Revelation also provides us a sense of the reward we will receive if we remain faithful to Christ and overcome the difficulties/obstacles we face in life to stay faithful to Him.
As I’ve written before, gaining an understanding of the Book of Revelation can help to protect you personally and spiritually against misinformation/false teachings provided by people who claim to “understand” what the Bible says concerning current and future events.
- For instance, understanding the context of when the great earthquake mentioned in Revelation 16:18 occurs would have protected you from believing in Harold Camping’s false prophecy concerning a great earthquake on May 21, 2011.
Finally, there will come a point in time when a large portion of Bible prophecy will be fulfilled. The Book of Revelation is available to help people gain an understanding of the future before those prophecies are fulfilled. People are not forced to look at the Book of Revelation, but there may be a point in time in the future when many people regret not looking at it when they had the opportunity.