What was John saying to the early Church concerning the future, and was he only speaking to the early Church in his day? I ask this question because it was once believed John was speaking concerning the return of Christ in his generation, and that the people of his generation were sure in their hearts Jesus would return in their lifetime.
However, A closer look will reveal, John was not only speaking with the early Church, and the people of his generation were not expecting Jesus to return in their generation. A matter of fact, they understood more than we thought because they for one had met Jesus more than five hundred times after his resurrection.
Therefore, having that close of a relationship with Jesus, so that they saw him more than five hundred times after his resurrection, we are then sure, John was not only speaking to his generation concerning the establishment of God’s kingdom, he was also speaking with the generations to come concerning the day of the Lord.
But how do we know that? And why was he speaking to us concerning the day of the Lord? As far as we know, the Church will be raptured out of the earth before the tribulation begins. Well, that is what we were told until we understand why John not only wrote to the early Church, but also to the generations that will follow leading up to the return or establishment of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
What am I talking about? Well, I’m taking about John’s opening message and what he said to the Church before explaining what he saw in his vision. This is something we have missed over the centuries, we missed understand John’s message leading up to the vision he explained to the Church.
Because speaking to the early Church, John said in introduction, “The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.” And what most people missed in this introduction, is the fact that John spoke of the vision received not as a revelation of who Jesus was, but as a message from God to his people, the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The revelation was a message to John from Jesus, it was his effort to show his people what was to come shortly upon the earth in John’s day, and what was to come in the future leading up to the day of his return. It was not a revelation of who Jesus was; instead, it was a message from God to his Son who gave the vision to John. And upon receiving the message, Jesus told John to write what he saw, and that he was to share it with the Church.
John later wrote as part of his introduction; and writing in the third person he wrote, “He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” And upon receiving the message, John testified to what he saw and what he saw is what we can see through the eyes of his testimony.
We have today the book of Revelation because of John’s testimony, John said he received the testimony of Jesus Christ concerning things to come, and upon receiving that testimony, John said, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written there in; for the time is near.”
And why we may ask did John spoke those words as part of his introduction? Well, it has to do with what we will have to do in-order to escape what is coming. However, for most Christians, there is a coming rapture; therefore, there is no need for us to prepare. But a careful review of John’s introduction will show the rapture will not be before the return of Jesus Christ, but at the return of Jesus Christ.
But how did we come by this information and conclusion? Well, it can be understood based on what John said, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy.” This means it is a blessing to have received the testimony of Jesus Christ that is revealing what is coming in the future, and reading it aloud is sharing the information with those we love, so they can also prepare for what is coming.
Being informed is a blessing because it provides the means and time to prepare for what is to come. And having the information we need concerning what is to come will help us prepare accordingly, so we lack nothing during the season of testing. And as we continue to read John’s introduction, the second thing we will note in John’s statement is that he had also placed an edge of protection around those hearing and taking to heart what he was about to share.
“Blessed are those who hear it, and take to heart what is written in it, that is, the prophecy and vision he was about to reveal because the time is near.” And this John said because hearing the message is to understand and prepare that we might keep or guard against the hour. To hear is to act on the knowledge and testimony of Jesus Christ, and to keep is to watch, to remain faithful as we diligently prepare for the day of the Lord knowing the time is near.
Which then lead us to ask this question, “Why was the book of Revelation written?” And to answer that question, it was written to provide us with the information we need on how to prepare for the Day of the Lord according to the vision and what is to come.