For years, I assumed the New Testament book of Revelation was strictly a book about a series of events that would happen in the future (end times). I was taught to approach the book of revelation with a certain outcome or purpose in mind. Unfortunately, I missed the real point of the book altogether because I was looking for something different. As the saying goes, I missed the totality of the forest because I was looking for a specific tree. So what’s the point of the New Testament book of Revelation? That’s a great question. Thankfully, the book of Revelation begins by answering this essential question.
The book of Revelation is a revelation of Jesus Christ.
One of the main problems of the religious system is that it teaches us to approach the scriptures from an entirely wrong grid. Many times the scriptures are treated as if they are a manual to moral living, a guide to good marriages, a guide of child rearing techniques, an economic or political guide, etc… While those things can be seen in the scriptures, that’s not the point. The scriptures are nothing less than a exquisite revelation of the person of Jesus Christ. The book of Revelation is certainly no different. It’s astounding to me, however, that Christ gets lost in the very book that begins by stating its intent to reveal Him! There is more that I could say about this, but that is another article for another day.
Looking at the book of Revelation (as well as the rest of the scriptures) and seeing them as a revelation of Jesus Christ will change everything. The book of revelation gives us a ‘heavenly vision’ of Jesus Christ. It’s amazing what having a ‘heavenly vision’ of Christ will show us. Christ is the light of the world. When a ‘heavenly vision’ of Christ is revealed, the blinders are removed from our eyes. It is then that we can truly see what is happening all around us, as well as what is about to take place.
Interestingly, when the light of Christ is revealed, that which rivals the reality of Christ is also revealed. When light shines, the darkness can be contrasted. This is why the book of Revelation exposes the counterfeit economic & religious systems of mankind and calls the saints out of those systems (Revelation 18:1-4).
There is more that could be said about this, but in this article today, I’d like to highlight a passage of scripture that could be a ‘game changer’. To be completely honest, this passage of scripture (that I am going to share with you) seems very weird. I’ve read it numerous times and have never grasped the heart of it until recently. Before I share the passage with you, let me give you some context.
John, the now aged apostle, has been exiled to the island of Patmos. While on this island, the Lord gave him a panoramic revelation of the person of Jesus Christ that he had never seen before. This revelation of Jesus Christ would be a light to the churches. It would help them see who He is, and who He isn’t. This light (revelation) would illumine their path and help them see the ‘city’ (bride) that the Lord is assembling. This revelation would help them have peace with certain things which were taking place. When this vision was completed, the messenger (angel) of this vision gave John an important piece of advice. Here is what the angel said to John:
And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and let the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” (Revelation 22:10-11, NASB)
Isn’t that crazy? In the past, this passage seemed to make no sense as it went completely against my evangelical mindset. After all, if the ‘time is near’, shouldn’t we try to stop those who are doing wrong from doing wrong? If the time is near, shouldn’t we try to make the ‘filthy’ people clean? Since the time is near, shouldn’t we try to focus on and try to figure out how to live like those who are ‘righteous & holy’?
According to this passage, the answer is clearly NO!
How can this be? It wasn’t until recently that I read this from John’s perspective. During Jesus’ three year earthly ministry before His crucifixion and resurrection, John had a special relationship with Jesus. They spent a lot of time together, and John described himself as being the disciple whom ‘Jesus loved’. I’m sure John’s vision of Jesus went back to those days from the past. I can also imagine that this brought him a lot of comfort in his old age. Then the revelation of Jesus Christ came and gave him a view of Christ that he never had before! He would now see Christ in a whole new light, so to speak.
This grand vision & revelation of Christ would now be his guiding light. This revelation of Christ would give the churches the direction they desperately needed. As a result of the overwhelming power of this grand revelation, Satan would be petrified. Satan’s power has been taken from him. The darkness that is in him is no match for the brilliant light that is Christ. Satan has only one scheme and strategy left…
A temptation to seal up the book (revelation)!
The ‘book’, is the heavenly revelation / vision of Jesus Christ that dwells within our hearts. Although this heavenly vision of Christ was given to John & the churches, Satan knew that if he could distract them from this stunning view of Christ, he could tempt them to ‘seal up the book’, so to speak. Knowing our propensity to fall into temptation, the angel gives John (and us) some insight into the tactics of Satan’s most effective weapon against the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The Religious System Of Mankind
Mankind’s religious system has two major strategies that distract us from a breathtaking revelation of Jesus Christ.
1. Cleaning ‘filthy’ people.
Without getting into a lot of detail about this, a major focus of the evangelical world is the identification of sinful behaviors and people, and the attempt to clean them up to live ‘holy’ lives. While there are many different facets of this in the evangelical world that take on many different forms using biblical terminology, the aim is the same. Cleaning filthy people. I must say that this is a very effective distraction away from a heavenly vision of Jesus Christ. This false pursuit has kept me distracted from a revelation of Christ for most of my adult ‘Christian’ life. The angel’s words to John have never been more true for us today: ”Let the one who is filthy, still be filthy…”
2. Emulating ‘holy’ people.
The emulation of certain ‘holy’ people has been a hallmark of institutional Christendom for a long time. While the focus & adoration of a select few ‘holy people’ (called saints) has its roots in Roman Catholicism, this distracting practice is alive and well in protestant Christendom with the rise of the ‘celebrity leader’ culture.
The theme behind most ‘leadership’ conferences is the idolization of specific ‘Godly’ leaders and Pastors. A lot of the attention is given to who these specific people are, and what they are doing to be ‘effective’ in regards to building the church. As a result, many focus on, idolize, and seek to be like these venerated religious celebrities.
I can tell you personally, this is is a monumental distraction away from a revelation of Jesus Christ. Thankfully, we can leave the religious celebrities be. We’re now free to behold someone much more breathtaking. Again, the angel’s words to John have never been more true for us: “…Let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness:”
You Are Free!
Dear saints, you are hereby free from the job of ‘cleaning filthy people’. You are also free from the false focus & pursuit of ‘emulating’ celebrity religious figures. You are now free to ‘unseal’ the book, so to speak. You are free to allow yourself to be totally consumed and captivated by the blinding light of Jesus Christ.
This blinding revelation of Jesus Christ cleanses the world!
This blinding revelation of Jesus Christ has made us holy & righteous!
Dear saints, you are now free to rest in the blinding light of the revelation of Jesus Christ.
For the revelation of Jesus Christ,
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