I received a phone call from a friend in Sebastian, Florida. He has been listening to a former prominent Baptist pastor in Tennessee teaching about prophecy. He knows that I hold a historical perspective on the book of the Revelation and wanted to talk about it. As we discussed the various positions on the Revelation he eventually asked, “What difference does it make?” It is a good question.
First, a correct understanding of the Revelation is important in order for Jesus Christ to be honored as a priest, after the order of Melchizedek, the King of kings to whom all power in heaven and earth has been given, and as the Great Prophet He was according to promise.
In Deuteronomy 18:15, God told Israel through Moses, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.” A historical fulfillment of the prophetic words of Jesus, in the Olivet Discourse, confirms that Jesus was a Prophet like unto Moses, according to promise.
Second, a correct understanding of the Revelation is important in order to realize the great comfort it brought to the church that was caught up in the great tribulation Jesus said would come upon His generation (Matt. 24:34). In the midst of great trials the church needed strength, and found it in the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the church needed hope.
Hope was provided by Jesus when He said the days of suffering would be shortened for the sake of the elect. “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:22).
Hope was provided by John when he foresaw the destruction of the devil, the beast, and the false prophet who had united to hurt the church because God in His wrath was judging Israel. “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 (Matt. 20:10).
Third, a correct understanding of the Revelation is important because in movies, in books, and in many churches, God’s people are being given false hope. I once sat in a class in a local church that was studying a contemporary and futuristic view of the Revelation. As discussion came to the various judgments of God being poured out, one lady blurted out, “Well, I don’t really care what happens because I am not going to be here for it.” In other words, people are being taught they will not be caught up in great tribulation like the Christians in Israel were in the first century. I submit, that is a false hope. While God has not appointed His people to the eternal wrath of His judgment in hell (1 Thess. 5:9), Jesus plainly said, “… In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Fourth, a proper study of the Revelation is important because there is a sense of urgency to the gospel that is being lost. In fact, it is being given away. How is this urgency being given away? It is being given away by teaching people that even after Jesus comes, they will have years in which to repent.
I saw a religious movie in 2014, with Nicolas Cage. What alarmed me about the movie was that it was supposed to be a Biblically based movie, and yet the clear message was that after Jesus comes there are still many years to get right with God.
I open my Bible and I read in Acts 1:11 that Jesus will come again in the same manner in which He went away. “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
I read in Hebrews 9:28 that Jesus is coming the second time, not a third time, for all who believe.
“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
I read that when Jesus comes the second time for all who believe He will judge the quick and the dead at his appearing. Because of this, the gospel is to be preached now. I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:1-3).
The study of Revelation is designed to comfort God’s people. The church will triumphant over all her enemies, but the enemies of God are called upon to immediately repent. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation) (2 Cor. 6:2).
We need to tell the whole world, including the church, to stop looking for the Anti-Christ and start looking afresh for Christ, because the heart has looked to Christ for redemption and forgiveness.