“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John.” (Revelation 1:1)
What is the purpose and specific prophetic message this verse brings to us today?
In Revelation 1:1, we see that the Book of Revelation is given to the followers of Jesus Christ to “reveal” something which would shortly come to pass. God the Father gave this revelation to His Son, Jesus, to convey to His servants (all those who were following Him; or would ever follow Him) to make them aware of the things which would soon come upon the earth.
Since God has a much larger perspective of time than we do, the word “soon” referred to this specific time as it relates to the entire history of the world. Most biblical scholars therefore agree that the beginning of what we refer to as “End Times” began when Jesus became flesh and was born into the world and will culminate when He returns.
This expanded time frame was not, at first, understood by His followers. They assumed that Christ would return during their lifetime. However, as time passed they eventually concluded that End Times would play out over a longer period of time than they had first imagined.
As a result, they also came to realize the importance of recording everything they had experienced concerning the life and teaching of Jesus so it could be preserved for those who would be living when He actually did return.
This was the reason they were commissioned by God to bring the Holy Bible into existence. The entire Word of God, including the Book of Revelation, serves as a record of the complete story of God’s provision for mankind’s eternal salvation; Genesis to Revelation.
Jesus sent His angel messenger to make the significance of this revelation known to John, the Disciple and servant of Jesus Christ. This is the same John who established the record in the Word of God in the Gospel of John, which includes the testimony of Jesus and the account of all that John had personally seen pertaining to the life, death, resurrection, and Word of Christ.
Revelation 1:3 promises that those who read and hear the words of this prophecy and hold on to the things which are written within the pages of this Book, will be blessed (given the favor of God and will benefit from receiving these words) because “the time is at hand.”
How does God intend to benefit us in End Times through reading this historical prophetic Book?
Elsewhere in the Scriptures we are given a clue through an illustration describing the process of End Times as “a woman in travail,” about to give birth. This is a picture of intense, on-going waves of painful changes and periods of rest until the very end when Jesus Christ will suddenly return.
The Book of Revelation contains a blessing that will be revealed to us over time by reading the words of this prophecy – and continuing to read them. It is necessary to continue reading the Book of Revelation, because the “revealing” was given in symbolic form and this message was designed to require careful interpretation over the years, comparing it to historical events as they would unfold.
In essence God is saying, “Just read it.”
Even though we may not completely understand what we are reading, God wants us to read it for the purpose of collecting pieces of a puzzle which will eventually be assembled in End Times.
Even the Disciple, John, did not understand the vision he was given.
Since this was a futuristic vision involving things with which John was not familiar, it becomes obvious that he was trying to describe it in terms of the things he saw and did not understand, such as the type of warfare and military devices engaged, which had the appearance of insects with mouths and tails that could belch fire.
The Book of Revelation was clearly designed by the Creator and original Author to be obscured until a specific time in history when everything would be revealed.
As time passed, things on earth would change. Mankind would become familiar with the players of worldly conquests, various religious and political powers, and new inventions. Therefore the blessing would come as this information was collected and assembled to form this important message of the End Time.
Even today while we are still struggling to understand the true meaning of the Book of Revelation, this process of “revealing” is carefully timed and controlled by the Spirit of God to correspond to the actual End Time scenario so believers will be able to accurately determine the times we are living in and begin to realize just how far along this count down process really is.
We find in 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 2, a warning concerning a “strong delusion” and another warning given by Jesus is found in Matthew 24 regarding a great “deception” – both taking place in End Times. Only those, who faithfully continue to personally feed on the entire Word of God and thereby be indwelt by the Spirit of God, will be able to rightly interpret the Book of Revelation and correctly compare what is written with what is actually taking place.
Personal Bible study is not an option. The stakes are too high to risk being influenced by the opinions of mere men and religious icons. We must embrace this responsibility ourselves and personally be nourished in spirit by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
If we do not listen to Him, He will not listen to us. It is as simple as that.
For this reason Jesus gives us another warning in the beginning of the Book of Revelation, Chapter 2:4-5:
“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
Those who have left their first love, who do not remember, repent, and do the first works, will be removed from their (presumed) relationship with Christ. Regardless of what we believe about the eternal security of a professing believer, we must all admit that this warning from the lips of Jesus sounds extremely serious and should not be taken lightly.
Most professing Christians believe that leaving the first love has to do with our love for Jesus, but this is only part of the interpretation which is dependent on the multitude of worldly definitions regarding what “love” really is. Jesus said that there is an imitation “love” that calls Him “Lord,” but is not really willing to give Him preeminence or genuinely acknowledge Him as Lord at all. (Luke 6:46)
The rest of the real interpretation is found in the “Hidden Manna” throughout the entire Bible as God defines these “first works” as the most important thing in life.
This warning is given at the beginning of the Book of Revelation because unless we are doing the “first works,” we will not be able to rightly divide the Word of God or accurately interpret what is written about End Times in the Book of Revelation.
Because the Word of God makes it clear, in Ephesians 2:8, that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works, the “first works” mentioned in Revelation 2:4-5 cannot refer to any physical works, but to specific works of the spirit that are only experienced by true believers; not required to be saved but evident when one is saved.
These are works that involve recognizing the preeminence of God and feeding on the “Hidden Manna.” They take place as a result of being saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and testify to our genuine relationship with Him.
It is this “Hidden Manna” which protects us from the great deception and enables the Book of Revelation to be accurately interpreted and revealed to the children of God so we can overcome and endure to the end.
“Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth (Word of God). He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” (Revelation 2:16-17)