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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

January 15, 2014

Revelation 1 Introduction notes.

  1. Today we begin a journey into one of the more challenging parts of scripture, the book of Revelation. Today we will try to give some historical context to our scripture and some other information that should help us study this book. What makes the book of Revelation such a difficult book is that it is full of symbolism and prophecy. Some symbols and prophecies seem easy to understand, while still others have challenged theologians for years. What we don’t want to do is try to think we can fully understand what has boggled the minds of believers for l900 years.

  2. The words of this book were given to the apostle John while he was exiled on the Island of Patmos around the year 93-96 AD. John was exiled for preaching the word. The idea of exiling him was to silence him, but instead of silencing him, he was given an opportunity to be alone with the Lord for an extended period of time receiving the revelation. What is very interesting is that what was meant for evil, actually worked out for his good. During the time leading up to this revelation, the church was under intense persecution by the Roman Empire. The roman rulers fancied themselves as God, and demanded their loyal subjects worship them as such. This was contrary to the way of the Disciples of Christ. Because many disciples would not bow down, they were subsequently killed for their beliefs.

  3. The student should also know that there are many schools of thoughts when it comes to understanding this book. We will not take any one particular view, but rather let the scriptures speak for themselves and see where it leads us. Many have tried to interpret this book, only to end up looking foolish later. We will not try to be so arrogant, but rather seek the Lord for what He wants us to know. There are four traditional ways of interpreting this book.

    1. The Preterist View. This assumes that the Book of Revelation describes past events. It sees all the visions as arising out of conditions in the Roman Empire in the 1st century A.D. This method of interpretation casts John in the role of a seer. Seeing the evil conditions in his generation, John wrote about them, using symbolic language and imagery which could be understood by discerning believers, but not by enemies of the faith.

    2. The Historicist View. This takes the view that the Book of Revelation sets forth a panoramic view of history from the 1st century to the second coming of Christ. This was the opinion of most of the Reformers who identified the Catholic Church with “the beast.”

    3. The Idealist or Poetic View. This assumes that the main concern of the Book of Revelation is to inspire persecuted and suffering believers and to encourage them to endure to the end. Symbolic language is used merely to set forth a series of imaginative descriptions of the triumph of God.

    4. The Futurist View. This maintains that from chapter 4 onwards the Book of Revelation deals with the realm of eschatology. This view takes very seriously the predictive element of the book and sees it as setting forth the sequence of events at the end of time.

    5. It probably is a combination of these views.

  4. Revelation is full of symbols. Here are some interpretations of many of those symbols.

    1. Some of the colors we will read about White - The symbol of victory or purity. When we see someone coming on a white horse they will be victorious. When we see someone in a white robe they have victory over sin and are made pure. Red - The color of aggression as in the blood spilled in battle. Taking peace from the earth. Pale Gray - Is the color of death. Green - Indicates hope as in the regeneration of the earth in spring.

    2. Some of the numbers that are mentioned. 4 - Is the number of the created world, indicating the four points of the compass. 7 - Is the number of completion (totality, fullness), often referring specifically to the work of God. 12 - Is the number of the people of God. 6 - Is just short of 7, is the number of man meaning “imperfect.” 3 1/2 - Half of seven means “halfway.” 24 - Is double 12 and means the old and new covenant people of God. The meaning of a number is intensified when it is squared or cubed. When one number is multiplied by another both meanings are included. 7 & 10 - In general 7 is a qualitative measurement of all of something and 10 is a quantitative measurement.

    3. Some of the things mentioned. Lampstands or Candelabra - Are symbols of the gathered churches. A book or Scroll - Indicates the heavenly record. The concept behind the symbol is that everything which is to happen on earth has been already recorded in the eternal sphere. It’s almost an astrological concept. A seal - Sets something apart as private property of the one who does the sealing. When a record is sealed, it is closed off from human consideration. A Trumpet - announces an event. Eyes - Indicate Knowledge of things happening or about to happen. Fire - Power to separate good and evil like the refining of metals. Horns - Represent power and authority over others. Heads - Mean rulers like the head of a family or the head of a country. Incense - Is the symbol of prayer. The smoke rising from the burning of incense are the prayers rising to heaven. A Bowl - Carries some aspect of heaven to earth or earth to heaven. Harlotry or Fornication - Means idolatry or falsifying the truth of God. Jewels - Represent glory. Cloud - Symbol of Judgment. God resides in the cloud so when the cloud comes to earth judgment begins. Flowing Water - Indicates life or truth. Stars - Indicate angels or leaders of the churches. Two Edged-Sword - Is a symbol for the word of God. God’s ultimate authority and judgment. The Morning Star - Represents Jesus. Being given the Morning Star is being given Jesus or given immortality. A Key - Signifies control of or power over. Crown - Represents victory over something or the ability to rule. Lightning and Thunder - Significant events in heaven are about to be announced or symbols of power. Palms - Are emblems of victory. Prostitute – Idolatry

    4. Units of measure. A quart of wheat or three quarts of barley are standard daily rations. The denarius was worth about twenty cents, the standard daily wage.

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