While the book of Revelation may at times prove challenging for the best of Bible students, it is especially a fertile field for bizarre teaching and false doctrine when its initial readers are overlooked and its rich symbolism is misunderstood. Appreciating the book’s historical context, along with Revelation’s uniqueness from a literary perspective (e.g. apocalypse, prophecy, letter) can provide a much more solid basis for preaching and teaching. Here are 7 words to keep in mind when approaching Revelation. These terms will help one not to lose sight of the book’s big picture.
- God. The word “God” occurs some 98 times in Revelation, and is found in every chapter of the book. The remarkable theocentric nature of Revelation simply cannot be ignored; God reigns and His purpose shall be accomplished!
- Lamb. This is by far the most common designation for Jesus in Revelation, being used 28 times. The lamb is slain, yet victorious. The Lamb is due the worship and praise which belong to God alone (Compare Revelation 4 & 5). Revelation deals with Jesus the Lamb in His exaltation!
- Behold. This expression serves as a reminder that Revelation is the most sensory book in the New Testament. Seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling are repeatedly referenced in the book. The particular term, “behold” or “look” is found almost 30 times. A sanctified imagination is needed to take in the message.
- Throne. The Lamb is on the throne according to the book of Revelation. God has not abdicated, no matter how dark and difficult circumstances may seem on earth. The word “throne” is found 46 times in Revelation, with 19 of those occurrences being found in chapters 4 and 5. What a comfort it is to know God is on the throne and He will take care of His own.
- Overcome. This word is found 17 times in Revelation. As my dear friend and extraordinary gospel preacher Johnny Ramsey used to say, “If we overcome Satan, sin, and self, we can come over and live with the Lord forever.” What a glorious thought! We are “more than conquerors” through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37-39).
- Satan (Dragon, Devil). These expressions occur some 30 times in the book. Satan fights furiously in Revelation, but ultimately, all his efforts are futile and he is doomed to defeat and failure. Although he has lost the war because of Jesus, he bitterly fights for every single soul. People would never stand a chance against such a formidable foe were it not for the Lamb of God (Rev. 12:11).
- Nations. This word is found 22 times in Revelation. The Lord’s people consist of folk from every tribe, tongue, people and nation (Rev. 5:8-14). The gospel is for all! The people of God in every generation must remember God’s will for His Gospel to be multinational and multicultural. Just as the blood of Jesus made Jew and Gentile one in the first century, what we have in Christ and His authoritative word far surpasses natIonal boundaries, cultural backgrounds and personal preferences.
Stop and think about it. Let’s make these keywords into a sentence. Behold the Lamb of God is on the throne, and through His saving work has made in possible for those from all nations to overcome Satan. What a glorious truth! Oh, what a Savior!