Yes! You can understand the book of Revelation!
Several years ago, I was asked by a church to do a message on the book of Revelation for a men’s group. I started my sermon by making the following outlandish statement: I said, “The Book of Revelation is the easiest book of the entire Bible and it is meant to be understood.” After making that statement, one of the men suddenly stood up and with a shout said, “I’m out of here.” He then turned and walked out.
"The Book of Revelation is the easiest book of the entire Bible and it is meant to be understood."
I was perplexed by his behavior and after speaking asked the pastor what the man’s issue was. He told me that upon learning I would be speaking on Revelation he had told the pastor, “If he says Revelation can be understood, then I am walking out because Revelation cannot be understood.” He did walk out.
I do indeed believe Revelation can be easily understood if studied properly, in context and with the entirety of Scripture as the backdrop for interpretation.
After several decades of teaching on Bible prophecy and the Book of Revelation, on stage and radio, with prophecy teachers like Chuck Missler, Dave Hunt and others, I know there is a tremendous interest in Revelation and end time events.
With all the interest in Bible prophecy, why then is there so much confusion?
Here are four things that have a direct impact on the inability of many to properly understand Revelation:
1. Many pastors won’t teach the book
The common refusal to teach the book, according to their claims, is that the book is just too divisive and controversial. Therefore, it's better safe than sorry to simply avoid the book. This position has a logical fallacy. Is Revelation controversial? Sure, it is; but so is the entire Word of God.
2. Approaching the book with a pretext or with preconceived notions
The bane of Revelation are pretexts and preconceived notions. If you approach the Book of Revelation with predetermined positions, you will find that you will soon be stuck in a morass of errors as you try to fit Scripture into your preconceptions. If you immediately approach the book as an Idealist, Preterist, Historicist or Futurist, basing all your understanding on one of those preconceived positions, the likelihood of error entering your understanding will grow as you seek to fit all of Revelation into man-made positions.
3. Failing to rely on Scripture, especially the Old Testament, as your source for interpretation
In Revelation there are over 800 allusions to passages in the Old Testament. There is an old saying that states, “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.” This statement is absolutely true.
To understand Revelation it helps to have a good-working knowledge of the Old Testament, for most of Revelation is explained there. For example, in Revelation 1-3, we get introduced to Jesus standing in the midst of seven golden lampstands. We discover that these lampstands represent seven churches. Jesus then gives a spiritual assessment of each church. In reading those passages, they will be much more easily understood if we look to the Old Testament to find out a little bit more about the golden lampstands. Where were they? In the tabernacle. What was their purpose? They provided the only light in the Holy Place. Where did their light shine? The lampstands were positioned to shine their light toward the Mercy Seat. Why? The lampstands were on the left side in the Holy Place, directly across and parallel to the Table of Showbread. The twelve loaves of showbread represent the twelve tribes of Israel. The church has become the light of the world. The church is to shine its light, in the presence of the twelve tribes and point them to God’s Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies.
In Revelation 2-3, Jesus gives his prophetic and spiritual assessment of how each church is doing with respect to their relationship with Him and to the light they are to be shining. Continuing on, you’ll find that understanding the Old Testament Tabernacle is instrumental in understanding Revelation. Going through the Book, you will see all aspects of the tabernacle; the brazen altar, laver of water, seven lampstands, table of showbread, altar of incense, the mercy seat and angelic beings in the Holy of Holies, are all there. If you ignore the Old Testament, especially the Tabernacle, your interpretation of Revelation will be all over the map.
4. Intellectual laziness
Having an attitude of intellectual lazinessis being to lazy to learn, study or think. This has become a common product of our fast-food society. We want everything now. But, as we become conditioned to rely upon instant satisfaction as opposed to investing in the work required, we find ourselves relying solely on the work of others. We need to do the work ourselves so we can verify and validate or invalidate what we have learned from others.
The Book of Revelation can be understood if you avoid the four pitfalls mentioned above. Pastors, after properly studying the book in context, should teach this amazing book of prophecy. Pastors and laymen should rid their minds of pretexts and preconceived notions and let Scripture interpret Scripture.
Study Revelation and compare it to the Old Testament. Finally, don’t be intellectually lazy. As Paul tells Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
You can understand the Book of Revelation. Start today.