Revelation—what a fascinating book! We find ourselves part way into the book in this new sermon series. Although it was written almost 2000 years ago about events that still have to come to pass, it is a book that speaks to us today. It is, after all, God’s very Word.
The book of Revelation is written in a style of writing known as “apocalyptic literature.” You can also find apocalyptic literature in certain parts of the Old Testament books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. You can even find it in some of the passages in the Gospels in which Jesus talks about end times.
Apocalyptic literature contains lots of symbols and images, such as dragons, beasts, angels, and horses. The topics described are dramatic, often cataclysmic events—earthquakes, plagues, famine, falling stars, and blood moons. This literature is highly visionary. You see this in Revelation in the many, many times the Apostle John says, “I saw” and “I looked” and “I watched.” The Lord revealed the majesty of Jesus to John through visions He gave him about future events. And He gave these visions to John for the purpose of bringing blessings to those who would read and take to heart what John wrote.
Even though Revelation is apocalyptic literature, it is by nature prophecy. In fact, that is what the book says about itself both at the beginning and at its end: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy” (Rev. 1:3) and “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book” (Rev. 22:18). What this tells us is that even though Revelation discloses future events it also has a present challenge for all who read and hear what it says. Through prophecy God speaks forcefully to His people about what is going on in their lives right now.
We are using the imagery of a door during this sermon series to visually convey the impact of Revelation and this dual sense of prophecy. A doorway leads somewhere. There is something to be encountered through the doorway, something on the other side of the door. In Revelation 4:1 John says, “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven!” God was opening up heaven’s door to show John some of what He has in store for the future. A door helps us think about things unknown, like predictions of the future.
However, we also read about another door in Revelation 3:20. Here we find the words of Jesus, saying, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with Me.” Here the door represents the response of the hearer or reader of God’s prophetic Word in Revelation. If that person opens himself and herself to the Lord Jesus, he or she will experience the blessing of fellowship with the exalted Lord Jesus Christ. In this way a door makes us think about decisions, about how we will respond to what God has said.
So the image of a door helps us think about Revelation as Gods disclosing certain things—the majesty of Jesus, future events, scenes in heaven—as well as our response to His revelation. Are we responsive hearers? Will we take to heart what God has written? Will we open our heart’s door?
Revelation is indeed a fascinating book. However, it is not just a “crystal ball” giving a glimpse into the future. It is a strong prophetic word to us, now. It confronts us with the idols of our hearts, calls us to repent, and challenges us to remain faithful to Jesus even, and especially in calamity.
Please pray with me that the Lord will help us see and take to heart what He has for us in His book called Revelation.