This is the day in which God is setting the stage for the revelation of Jesus Christ. He who has said: “I will dwell in them and walk in them” (2 Cor. 6:16) will not relent until this word finds its absolute fulfillment. The Lord will see it through that a people come forth who have been conformed unto a perfect man – the very stature and image of Christ. Many who today wait for the second coming of Jesus Christ and who are heaven oriented have lost sight of this glorious plan concerning the manifestation of Christ in His people. Of a glorious truth I tell you with much assurance, Christ is not coming back, He is being unveiled from that very place which God has chosen to dwell and walk. It’s high time for the people of God to awake from their slumber and to lay hold of the truth about the glorious revelation of Jesus Christ.
I speak from my own experience when I say that the doctrines taught by the church system had made the coming of the Lord a lifeless and distant idea, often used to trigger fear motivated works in me. Many a preacher has asked the question – “are you ready for the coming of the Lord?” The question is posed as a reminder to evaluate your spiritual standing with the Lord and is often accompanied by a call to some action; either to accept the Lord, to mend your walk with Him, or to revive your evangelical zeal. I recently came across a few posts related to the matter. One was titled: “3 things we should be doing as we wait for Christ’s return” and another by a rather popular minister that read: “What do we do in the meantime?”.
There are many well-meaning and sincere Christians who read such writings and who passionately long for the physical return of Jesus Christ. But, these are clear indications of the general misunderstanding by both clergy and congregation about the coming of the Lord. Much of the misunderstanding comes from erroneous end-time interpretations of the book of Revelation put forth by theologians. There are three common eschatological views on the book of Revelation:
Preterism – is based on the interpretation that the Revelation is a book containing accounts of history describing events that would end by AD 70, with the destruction of Jerusalem. Preterists insists that Revelation is not intended to predict conditions or events beyond the first century.
Futurism – is the belief that John wrote primarily about events that have yet to happen and includes the future rise of the Antichrist. This interpretation is one that is embraced by the majority of mainstream Protestant Christians.
Historicism – is the view that the Revelation depicts the future history as it would unfold from John’s day to the end of time, detailing the events of the church and major world powers all the way through to the “second coming of Christ”.
This is by no means an exhaustive account of the assumptions held by people who espouse these views. However, the general lack of agreement on the Revelation should lead us to be unbiased to both examine and challenge each view with an open heart. May the Lord help us to hear what the Spirit says, for this is not a trivial matter that should be left to theologians to debate. These issues concern the plan ordained by God from the foundation of the world of which we are partakers.
I would put forth to you that all three views miss the mark and are flawed interpretations. Each interpretation is incoherent with the spiritual truths conveyed throughout scripture, particularly as it relates to the coming of the kingdom of God. To the extent that I can, I have been writing on the various topics in this series on ‘The Appearing of Christ’ and thank God there are many brothers and sisters who will expound on this matter with the Spirit’s assurance.
You see, it matters little, from a spiritual perspective, whether we place the events of the book exclusively in the future or in the past. The preterists will fervently debate the futurists to take off the dogmatic straightjacket they are in, only to put them in another. Those who argue that the book is a sequential account of literal events (past, present or future) and who use the symbols depicted in the book to directly associate them to specific entities or events such as the destruction of Israel, modern day Jerusalem, the Pope, some Antichrist figure, a one-world government, Armageddon, literal marks of the beast, and countless other convoluted notions have all together missed the plot of this spiritual book. Listen to any debate among all three factions and you will come out recognizing one thing – it is lifeless. Why? Because the Spirit of God is not in it.
While the scripture clearly states that the carnal mind is enmity against God, some designate the Pope or some entity to be the antichrist. Apart from the error of that religious system which he leads, the Pope is my brother and I’m impressed to love him as my brother. Surely, the Kingdom of God is not advanced by warfare against flesh and blood. Have we not read that the spirit of the antichrist is now already in the world (1 Joh. 4:3)? Surely, “even now many antichrists have come” (1 Joh. 2:18). May it be clear to all that the corrupt Adamic nature that works in all men is of more control and influence over men’s thoughts and deeds than any Pope or specific entity will ever be. Is it not true that the chief instigator of world wars, genocides, ethnic cleansings, terrorisms, executions, slavery, human trafficking, exploitation of women and children and countless other travesties is the carnal man? So why do you wait for another to come?
How we need to turn our attention from trivial notions that unenlightened theologians have imposed upon us. Thank God for a people that God is raising that are only hearing what the Spirit says through that spiritual book of the Revelation. I, for one, do not read the book as a lifeless story of the past nor do I read it as a mere prophetic collection of inconceivable future events. Rather, I read it as the accounts of the progressive expansion of God’s life in me. I read it as the increase of Christ’s dominion over all carnality, both individually and collectively. I read it as I read the words of my Lord Jesus Christ – as words that impart to me spirit and life. Is this not why our Lord Jesus assures us saying: “blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this PROPHECY, and keep those things which are written” (Rev. 1:3).
Consider with me the word prophecy. Prophecy is often understood as the foretelling of what is to come. But prophecy is more than this. Put simply, prophecy is the divinely inspired declaration of the purpose of God. Thus, a prophet is any person who is filled with the Spirit of God and who by the Spirit’s authority and quickening reveals the divine purpose of God in their generation. It is regarding these hidden truths about God’s purpose which our Lord Jesus encourages us to read, hear and keep; heeding them and laying them to heart.
So, what is this purpose outlined by the prophecy of the book?
It is the revelation of Jesus Christ! Hence, the book is rightly titled: “the Revelation of Jesus Christ”. This revelation is the plan of God ordained from the foundation of the world. This is the key theme, the central topic, the primary subject matter, and chief concern of the book. The principal character is not the Antichrist, the beasts, Satan, the Pope, Hell or some man-made institution. It is the Lord Jesus Christ! And how gloriously He weaves through the entire book.
John begins his writing with that seemingly simple but profound phrase: “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). Any understanding of the book of the Revelation has to first begin with an understanding of the word ‘revelation’. In the original Greek, the word is ‘apokalupsis’. If you will understand this word and lay hold of it by the Spirit it will change the way you read this book. There are 18 occurrences of the word, translated as: revelation, appearing, manifestation and coming.
Apokalupsis which is a derivative of apokalupto means “to uncover” or “to lay open what has been veiled or covered up” and it signifies the revelation or manifestation of one by means of an uncovering or unveiling. It is similar to the unwrapping of a gift to disclose and make known what is hidden under the wrapping. It represents the manifestation of one who is present but hidden. It is in line with this understanding that Paul writes that we are “waiting for the coming (Apokalupsis: unveiling) of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7).
To be continued…
May the Spirit of Truth help us apprehend the purpose of God regarding the revelation of Jesus Christ!