When you think of John’s Apocalypse, do you think “practical”?
In Revelation 1.3, John pronounces a beatitude upon the obedient reader: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”
Normally, most folks tend to think of dragons, angels, fire and brimstone, thrones, kingdoms, strange and wonderful beasts, Armageddon, and the New Jerusalem, all of which figure prominently in the book. But do most folks understand the practical nature of the book? How did it bless the contemporary reader, and how does it bless today’s reader? How can we keep the things written in it?
For starters, let’s just assume we will never perfectly understand the exact historical application of the book. Have most of the things written in the book already come to pass? John’s language indicates the things about which he writes would come to pass within a generation or so (1.1, 3; 22.6-7, 10). So what is left to keep?
Embedded within judgment prophecies (i.e., Matt. 24-25; Isa. 13-24; Revelation; etc.), we discover principles universal to all judgments of God. If you understand the principles involved, internalize them, and live them, you will be blessed in the day of judgment! Through the Holy Spirit, John reveals powerful heavenly activity and its terrible earthly results; he also reveals the great love God has for His faithful children and the wonderful results of their faithfulness.
“Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life…He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Rev. 2.10-11).
The blessings belong to those who, with eyes of faith and hearts of trust, march through Satan’s destructive forces and into the arms of a loving and powerful Savior. Read the book; open your eyes to the wonderful promises. How shall you keep the things written? Believe! Trust! Hold fast!