The Story Behind The Story In Revelation

Throughout the Book of Revelation John tells the glorious story of our Lord’s victory over all of his enemies. He does so using symbols and visions typical of apocalyptic literature. In apocalyptic writings, the author uses such symbols to depict the cosmic struggle between good and evil. In Revelation, the specific struggle is the on-going conflict between Christ and his already defeated foe Satan during that period of time between Christ’s first advent and his second coming. In other words, John describes a struggle which goes on this very day.

The symbols and images found in apocalyptic literature are not to be taken literally. Rather, they are word pictures which point the reader to the story behind the story. In Revelation these symbols are drawn directly from the Old Testament and are set against the backdrop of the Roman empire of the first century. If we want to know why John uses certain numbers, i.e., “a thousand years,” or “seven,” or twelve,” we look to the Old Testament. If we want to correctly understand why John speaks of lampstands or dragons, mentions particular cities and so on, we look to the Old Testament. All this means that the Book of Revelation is God’s commentary upon those redemptive historical themes which have been introduced earlier in the redemptive drama (the Old Testament and elements of our Lord’s messianic mission), but which have not yet been brought to their final fulfillment.

Revelation, therefore, is that book in which God wraps up all of the loose ends of the story. This book gives Christ’s church a heavenly perspective upon our present earthly struggles. Ultimately, our struggle is not against flesh and blood. It is against the principalities and powers who manifest themselves in flesh and blood (cf. Ephesians 6:12). Read More»

Kim Riddlebarger | “‘The Alpha and the Omega’ — The Lord of the Seven Churches (1) — (Revelation 1:4-20)” | July 29, 2022


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  1. Should we expect Revelation to be understood with much specificity now? As I look at Old Testament prophecies, it seems that the prophecies that were on a grand scale such as the first coming of Christ were only really grasped retrospectively. There was much confusion even among his disciples until after the resurrection when Jesus unfolded the scriptures to them face-to-face. It seems presumptuous for us to believe that we understand Revelation in anything more than very broad strokes.

  2. I once attended a lecture given by Greg Beale on the Book of Revelation. He said all of the same things that Kim says and he summed it up nicely by saying that Revelation was written to be a comfort to the elect and a warning to the reprobate. Oh and BTW, before the lecture began we overheard a comment made by a person sitting in front of us to the one sitting next to him, “Did you bring the rocks and rotten tomatoes?”

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