The Revelation Of Jesus Christ - Rev. Herman Hoeksema
1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."
These words should be sufficient justification of the attempt to expound this last book of Holy Writ, if, indeed, the earnest endeavor by a minister of the Word of God to deliver God's message to the church of Christ in the world from any part of the Scriptures ever requires an apology. A satisfactory exposition of the Book of Revelation is considered impossible by many. The book is so full of symbols and allegories, and its true meaning is couched in such mysterious language, that one can never feel sure that he has discovered its real sense. And the history of the interpretation of this book of the Bible apparently corroborates this opinion. Many a commentary has been written on the Book of Revelation; numerous treatises have been published on individual parts of it; and the explanations offered are as numerous and divergent as the scholars who attempted to expound the book. Thus it is alleged. And the conclusion is drawn that it is better to refrain from any attempt at explanation, or, at least, to wait until "the things that must shortly come to pass" are being realized. If, then, an apology would seem to be in order for offering our own interpretation, we would appeal to the last verse of the passage treated in this chapter. The book is intended to convey a blessing to them that endeavor to acquaint themselves with the contents of it and that keep the words of this prophecy. It must be possible, then, "to read and to hear," to understand "what the Spirit saith unto the churches" through this part of the Word of God. It may not be possible to satisfy the spirit of curiosity in which many approach this last book of Holy Writ; but one may surely so understand the "meaning of the Spirit" that he receives the blessing which is here promised.
To obtain this blessing will be more than sufficient reward for our endeavors.
It is quite customary to preface the exposition of the Book of Revelation by a discourse on extraneous matters, such as questions concerning the author of Revelation, the time of its composition, and the proper method of interpretation. We shall not try to add anything to all that has been written on these questions, neither shall we determine upon a definite method of exposition at this stage. Much has been written about the authorship of the book. I presume that all the internal and external evidence that can throw light upon this question has been presented; and opinions are still divided. Some claim that the author is the apostle John; others argue that the John who is mentioned as the author in the book itself cannot possibly have been the apostle "whom Jesus loved." It would be quite useless to repeat the arguments employed in favor of the one or of the other view. One who is interested in the question may consult any commentary on this book. I do not consider the question of any importance. The canonicity of the book does not depend on the apostolic authorship. Nor is the correct understanding of its contents contingent upon the proper solution of this question: if it were, Scripture would surely have given us definite information on this point.
The same is true of the question concerning the time when this book was written. Here also opinions are divided between an earlier and a later date. Although, therefore, it is our personal conviction that the author is the apostle John and that the book was written about the year 95 A.D., we do not consider the matter of sufficient importance to add to the mass of material that has already been written on these questions.
As to the proper method of interpretation, we would rather let the text speak for itself and let it become apparent from our interpretation which method we prefer, instead of announcing such a method beforehand. Several methods have been applied; and the weakness of them all is exactly that they are methods, and that they often have been applied too stringently, so that the contents of the Book of Revelation were forced into their scheme. This is especially true of the church-historical method, according to which the various visions of the book are more or less clearly and definitely traced in the history of the new dispensation. But also the futurist and the praeterist method of interpretation must plead guilty of this. According to the former, almost the entire contents of Revelation must be considered as referring to the distant future, the time immediately preceding the second coming of the Lord. According to the latter, most of the prophecy of this book must be regarded as having been fulfilled in the past, particularly in the fall of the mighty Roman empire. What must be considered the correct method of interpretation must be determined by the contents of the book itself, however; and what method we prefer will become apparent in the course of our explanation.
The first three verses of chapter 1 contain what may be called the superscription of the whole Book of Revelation. It announces the contents of the book: it is a revelation of Jesus Christ and throws light on the things which must shortly come to pass. It informs us how this revelation was received: it was given by God, through Christ, through the instrumentality of an angel, to His servant John, and by John to Christ's servants. And it closes with the beatitude to which we already called attention: "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."
The Revelation of Christ
The book, then, presents itself as "revelation of Jesus Christ." The original word for "revelation" is apokalupsis, from which our "apocalypse" is derived. It denotes the act of uncovering something that is hid, as, for instance, the unveiling of a statue. In the Biblical sense it denotes that act of God whereby He makes known to us the things concerning Himself and the kingdom of heaven, "the mysteries" of the kingdom of God. For these things are not of this world. They cannot be perceived by our natural senses. Nor can they be conceived by the natural understanding. They belong to another world than ours, to the spiritual and heavenly order of things, "which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man," (I Cor. 2:9). They cannot be apprehended, therefore, unless God reveals them to us, "unveils" them, and unless there be a spiritual eye to see, a spiritual ear to hear, a spiritual mind to understand them. The word "revelation," then, denotes that act of God whereby He discloses to us that other world, the things of His heavenly kingdom and eternal covenant.
Now the text speaks of a "revelation of Jesus Christ." In the original the name "Jesus Christ" stands in the genitive case (apokalupsis Ieesou Christou); and the question is whether this is to be regarded as an objective or as a subjective genitive. If the latter is correct, the meaning is that Jesus Christ is the subject, or author, of this revelation, that He is the revealer of the things contained in this prophecy. If the former is the true interpretation of this genitive, the expression denotes that Jesus Christ is the object of this revelation, that He is the One that is "unveiled," revealed, in this book. The common interpretation takes the genitive in the subjective sense: the revelation which Jesus Christ gave, of which He is the author. In fact, practically all commentators take this sense for granted, and hardly allow for the possibility of taking the genitive in the objective, sense.
Yet we believe that there are important objections against this view, objections which are so weighty that we prefer to understand the expression in the objective sense, so that it means that Jesus Christ is revealed to us in this last book of Scripture. In the first place, we call attention to the fact that the expression "revelation of Jesus Christ" usually, if not always, has this sense in Scripture. In I Corinthians 1:7 we read: "So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ" (American Standard Version [ASV]. The King James Version [KJV] has erroneously: "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."). It is evident that the meaning here is: "waiting for the day when our Lord Jesus Christ shall be revealed." The genitive, therefore, is objective. The same is true of the expression in II Thessalonians 1:7: "at the revelation of the Lord Jesus" (ASV). The King James Version gives the sense correctly: "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed." And again, the same expression occurs in I Peter 1:7, and in the same sense, i.e., with reference to the second coming of the Lord: "unto praise and honor and glory at the revelation (KJV: "appearing") of Jesus Christ." And even in II Corinthians 12:1, where the expression is somewhat different in form (the plural "revelations" is used), the objective sense is by no means impossible. And this is the meaning of the genitive in similar expressions, such as "the revelation of the righteous judgment of God," Romans 2:5; "the revelation of the sons of God," Romans 8:19; "the revelation of the mystery," Romans 16:25. In all these instances the genitive can only be understood in the objective sense. The analogy of Scripture, then, is decidedly in favor of the view that also in Revelation 1:1 the expression "revelation of Jesus Christ" must be understood as indicating that in this last book of Scripture Jesus Christ is the One that is revealed. In the second place, not Christ, but God is the author of all revelation, even though this revelation takes place through Jesus Christ and is concentrated in Him. God is the revealer; Christ is God revealed unto us. In fact, this is even plainly stated in the words of verse 1: God gave this revelation unto Christ. And, in the third place, this is exactly what we have in this book: a revelation which reveals Jesus Christ to us. The revelation of Jesus Christ is the central and all-important theme of this prophecy. For all these reasons, then, we understand the phrase "revelation of Jesus Christ" in the objective sense.
Now this is of importance with a view to the proper interpretation of the Book of Revelation.
We should constantly bear in mind that this prophecy purposes to be a revelation of Jesus Christ. It may be said, of course, that all Scripture is a revelation of the Lord. He it is Who is revealed in the protevangel of Genesis 3:15. And all through the Old Testament, in direct prophecies as well as in types and shadows, the revelation of Jesus Christ is the main theme. Centrally we have the revelation of Jesus Christ in the fulness of time: in His incarnation, public ministry, word and work, death and resurrection, ascension and exaltation at the right hand of God the revelation of Jesus Christ, to which all the prophets and shadows of the old dispensation pointed forward, is become an accomplished fact. And it is that accomplished revelation that is interpreted to us by the Spirit of Christ through the authors of the New Testament Scriptures. Yet the revelation of Jesus Christ is not finished. He appeared from heaven, came in the flesh, died and arose and departed again to the Father. We saw Him for a while, but we see Him no more. He dwelt among us, performed His work upon the stage of this world; but He disappeared again without changing the stage on which He was revealed and accomplished His work. Although He is with us now by His grace and Spirit, yet He is hid from us. His revelation, therefore, is not finished: for in this world we see Him not. And yet, even now, even throughout this dispensation He is operating in this world of our present experience. For He has all power in heaven and on earth; He is even now King of kings and Lord of lords; and He controls all things and governs them unto the perfection of His church and His final appearance in glory. Then, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He shall be revealed in glory, never to be hid again, when He shall appear never to disappear again, then shall His revelation be perfected.
Of this final revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that is connected with it, all that leads up to it in this dispensation, this last prophecy of Holy Writ speaks. That is its theme. How the Lord is related to the things that come to pass throughout this dispensation, how through them He is coming all the time, and how He will ultimately come in all the glory the Father hath given unto Him, all this is disclosed to us in this "revelation of Jesus Christ."
This we must remember in our interpretation of the book. It would show us the things which must come to pass in a new light. We can only perceive them from an earthly viewpoint, as mere "history." And from this viewpoint the picture is rather a gloomy and hopeless one. We see wars and hear of more wars, ever widening in scope and increasing in intensity. We see vanity and death, earthquakes and destruction, a creature that is subject to vanity. But this last book of Scripture would show us these same things in the light of the revelation of Jesus Christ. We are asked to look at the history of this dispensation as it were from above. Bearing this in mind we will not approach this book with the purpose of satisfying our idle curiosity, to inquire just what may be the course of events in the history of this world. Why should we be anxious to know the future course of worldly events? What consolation would there be in such knowledge? Did not the Lord teach us that we should take no thought even for tomorrow? Nay, but we shall approach the Book of Revelation in the expectation that it will instruct us with respect to the significance of this present history in the light of the revelation of Jesus Christ, and that it will give us an answer to the question: how must all things lead to the final revelation of our Lord in glory? And if we succeed in thus interpreting the book that "we see Jesus" in all the events of this present time, we shall not fail to receive the blessing that is promised to them that read and hear the words of this prophecy!
The Things Which Must Shortly Come To Pass
In the light of the preceding it will also be possible correctly to understand the text when it informs us that God gave this revelation to Jesus Christ in order "to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly come to pass."
To "shew" these things does not merely mean to lift the veil that hides the future from our view. If this were the meaning, the Book of Revelation would really present us with a history of this entire dispensation written beforehand. We would then be able to trace the fulfillment of this prophecy step by step in the consecutive events of this present time more or less accurately, and to determine approximately, if not exactly, what time it is on the world-clock. It would follow that we would also be in a position to predict "the day and the hour" of the coming of the Lord. This view really underlies the church-historical method of interpretation of this book. The various visions of this book are directly applied to certain definite historical events which are supposed to be clearly predicted here. The very fact, however, that interpreters of this class differ widely in their choice of the events to which these visions are supposed to refer is sufficient reason to condemn this method. Besides, as we said before, it is not necessary for the believer thus to be able to foretell the future. To be sure, the Book of Revelation shows us in general outlines what will be the course of events in this dispensation with a view to the coming of the Lord and the perfection of His kingdom, but not in the sense that this prophecy is a history written beforehand.
To "shew" the things that must shortly come to pass means to reveal them to us in a new light, in their real significance, as a part of God's own program, as a revelation of the coming Lord! We must "see Jesus" even in the events of the present world. We must have sufficient light to "hold fast that which we have," even in the midst of the confusion and darkness and gloom of the picture presented by the history of the world and of the church in the midst of the world. To enable us to see the events of this present time in the fight of Christ's coming - that is the purpose of this book.
Hence, the things that must shortly come to pass must be shown to Christ's servants. By the term "servants" is not meant a special class or group of believers, such as the apostles, but all the believers in their relation to Christ as their Lord. They are His servants. They were liberated from the dominion of sin and the slavery of the devil in order to serve Christ with a new obedience. His Spirit dwells in them. In Him they are new creatures. His Word they possess and love. They are His friends, because they do whatsoever He has commanded them. And let us note that only His servants can receive the words of this prophecy, and that they alone have need of them. Nay more, it is only in the measure that we are faithful to the Lord in the midst of the present world and walk as His servants that the light of this revelation of Jesus Christ can possibly brighten our pathway. Then, indeed, we shall have tribulation. For as they have hated Him, so they will hate His servants. The servant is not greater than his Lord. Then the things which are below and the events of this present time shall have no comfort for us, until we see all things in the light of this prophecy. But seeing them in this light, we shall be of good cheer, being confident that our Lord hath overcome the world!
Two details we must still consider in connection with these things which come to pass: 1) they must come to pass; and, 2) they will come to pass shortly.
It is good for us to know, as we look about us in the world, that the things that take place must come to pass. This must expresses the necessity of all the events of this present time from a two-fold aspect. First of all, it points us to the eternal and perfect and all-wise counsel of the Almighty as the ultimate reason and ground of this necessity. All things are but the unfolding of the eternal good pleasure of the Most High. They are, indeed, determined. All things are determined, large and small, good and evil, But they are determined not by cruel fate or blind force, but by the counsel of the all-wise Creator of all things. When we accept the Word of God and believe that all things must come to pass, our hearts find rest because they find rest in Him! And, secondly, this must points to the end, the telos, the final destination of all things: the perfected kingdom of heaven and its revelation in the day of Christ. This second aspect of the must is, of course, inseparably connected with the first. Just because all things have their ultimate reason and necessity in the counsel of God, therefore they must come to pass in order to realize the divine end of all things: the tabernacle of God with men! We may express the same thought thus: all things come to pass because Christ is coming! What a glorious assurance of hope even in the darkest moments of history! Let us declare this truth as His witnesses in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation!
These things must come to pass shortly. This expression cannot be used to sustain the view that practically the entire contents of the Book of Revelation must be considered as being fulfilled with the destruction of the Roman Empire. For the idea that all things that must become history before the final coming again of the Lord will be realized shortly is not at all foreign to the New Testament. "The night is far spent; the day is at hand," the apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome (Romans 13:12). And the apostle Peter exhorts us: "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer," (I Peter 4:7). To the church of Philadelphia the Lord Himself declares: "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no one take thy crown," (Revelation 3:11). And again, in Revelation 22:7 we read: "Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book." And in vs. 12 of the same chapter: "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." In the last three passages the word translated "quickly" is the same as that which is rendered "shortly" in 1:1. And this is, indeed, the meaning. The Lord comes quickly. He does not tarry. He is not slack concerning the promise. And this implies that the things which must come to pass before that final coming and in the process of that coming must also come to pass shortly, or quickly.
This may not appear so to us. Centuries have elapsed since these words were written, and still they have not been fulfilled. Nineteen centuries to us seems a long time, hardly to be denoted by the term "shortly." But we must remember not only that God's measure of time differs from ours, but also that tremendous things must come to pass before the end shall be. The whole church must be gathered: the fulness of the Gentiles and of the Jews. The measure of iniquity must be filled. Antichrist must reach his culmination and have his day. Gog and Magog must play their own part in the things that must come to pass. If we consider the nature of the things that must come to pass, we begin to see that they do, indeed, occur with astounding rapidity, especially in our own day. However this may be, the Scriptures teach that all things come to pass quickly. There is no delay, so that also the view that God restrains the progress of sin is contrary to this Scriptural teaching. All things hasten unto the end!
Which God Gave Unto Him
This revelation, then, of which Jesus Christ Himself is the object, "God gave unto him," the text informs us.
Of all revelation, and therefore also of this part of it, God is the sole Author. We must think here, of course, of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and not merely of the Father as the First Person of the Holy Trinity. We must make a distinction, therefore, between God and Christ as the Mediator in His human nature. Scripture, although clearly teaching that Christ is the eternal Son of God, very God, equal with the Father and the Holy Ghost, nevertheless makes this distinction. This is very evident from those passages which speak of God as "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." God is the God also of Christ, the Mediator according to His human nature. And this God is the Author of all revelation. Hence we read here: "which God gave unto him."
It is a thoroughly Biblical conception that also Christ in His human nature receives all revelation from God. This is not only taught here, but also in such passages as John 5:19, 20; John 7:16; and John 8:28. There is, of course, a difference between Christ and us with respect to the way in which God's revelation is received. We can receive the revelation of God only indirectly, through Christ, through the "apostles and prophets," through the Scriptures; but Christ, because He is the Son of God in human nature, received that revelation directly and immediately, without the intermediation of other agencies. But this does not alter the fact as such that also Christ receives all revelation from His "God and Father." God gave this revelation to Him. And this particular revelation was given to Christ after His exaltation. It is wholly in harmony with His position at the right hand of God, according to which He has all power in heaven and on earth, stands at the very pinnacle of all creation, that God gave this revelation to Him. For to a position of supreme power and authority belongs the possession of all knowledge and wisdom. Later in the Book of Revelation (chapter 5) somewhat the same thought is presented symbolically in the vision of Christ's taking the book with its seven seals from the hand of Him that sitteth on the throne. But this we hope to explain in the proper place.
And He Sent And Signified It
Having received this revelation from God, Christ communicated it to His servants. He did so by "signifying" it to His servant John through the mediation of "his angel."
The original is somewhat difficult to translate. Instead of the words, "and he sent and signified it by his angel," we read: "and he signified, sending (or: having sent) through an angel." The aorist participle of the Greek verb for "to send" is used; and for this we have no exact equivalent in the English language. Let me just say about it that the aorist in Greek stresses the act as such, rather than any time element.
The idea, therefore, is plain enough. The text emphasizes two elements.
In the first place, it gives us to understand that when Christ communicated the revelation which He received from God to His servant John, He "signified" it. This means that He cast it into the form of signs and symbols derived from our earthly life and experience. The Book of Revelation is a book of visions, full of signs and symbols. And this "signifying" must have been necessary. It seems to imply that the form in which Christ imparted this revelation to His servant John differs from the form in which Christ Himself received it from God. Christ is heavenly, the Lord of heaven, the resurrected Lord in glory. He is able to receive the revelation of heavenly things directly, in heavenly form. But we are still earthy, in our humiliated body. And we cannot receive the revelation of heavenly things in other than earthly forms, signs and symbols. This, then, is one of the truths that must constantly be kept in mind if we would interpret the Book of Revelation, though it is also one of the principles of interpretation which is very frequently violated by many commentators. Christ "signified" the revelation which He had received from God to His servant John.
In the second place, this signification took place through the mediation of "his angel." It appears from the rest of the book that different angels were employed to bring these visions to the perception and mind of John. Yet it is not improbable that one particular angel served as the "interpreting angel," and that the reference here is to this angel particularly. It is Christ's angel because the Lord is exalted far above all powers and principalities, and above every name that is named. The angels, too, are His messengers, sent out in His service. Nor is it strange that an angel here mediates to communicate and signify this revelation to John. Angels often appear in Scripture as the medium of revelation, not only directly, when they proclaim the Word of God, as at the incarnation and at the resurrection of the Lord, but also indirectly. We know that the law of Sinai was given by the disposition of angels, Acts 7:53, and that it was ordained by angels in the hand of Moses, Galatians 3:19. And that in some such capacity an angel also mediated in the communication of this revelation to John is reaffirmed in chapter 22:6. Somehow, therefore, an angel was employed as agent to bring the visions of this book before the eye of the seer.
This seer is simply called "his servant John." As was stated before, we believe that this was John the Apostle, although this is often disputed. We do not consider the question of importance for the interpretation of this book. Of many parts of Holy Scripture we do not know the human writers. But it seems to us, apart from all other considerations, that in the light of Scripture there can be no doubt that this "servant John" is the apostle of that name. Who else could thus designate himself without further qualifications and expect that his readers would know who was meant? Surely, one that is acquainted with Scripture can think of no other. That he is not called "the apostle of Jesus Christ" in this passage does not alter the matter. In his First Epistle the apostle John does not introduce himself at all, while in his second and third letters he merely calls himself "the elder." Besides, even Paul does not always introduce himself in his epistles as "the apostle" (cf. I Thessalonians 1:1; II Thessalonians 1:1; Philemon 1); and he also designates himself as a "servant of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1). And on the isle of Patmos, as the recipient of this revelation of Jesus Christ, John is not so much an apostle (one that is sent) as simply the servant of Christ. Although, therefore, we consider the question one of minor importance, we hold that this "servant John" is none other than the apostle "whom Jesus loved," especially on the ground that there was no one who was so well known as the apostle that he could afford to announce himself simply as "his servant John," or "John" (vs. 4), or "I John" (vs. 9).
Through John, therefore, this revelation of Jesus Christ is given to the church, "the servants" of Christ. For he "bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw." These words, if taken by themselves, might refer to John's work and calling as an apostle in general. Always it was his calling to witness of the Word of God and of the testimony of Jesus. Yet it is more natural to interpret them as referring to his recording the specific Word of God and testimony of Jesus in this book. And this is certainly demanded by the last part of this second verse: "all things that he saw." "The testimony of Jesus Christ" may be understood either in the objective sense (the testimony concerning Jesus Christ) or in the subjective sense (the testimony of Jesus Christ). In the light of the context, the latter is to be considered as the correct interpretation. It was Jesus Christ Who received this revelation from God and Who communicated it to John. He, therefore, is the prime Witness of it. He it is that bears testimony concerning this revelation, which is the Word of God. And in verse 5 He is called "the faithful witness." Of this Word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ John bare record. The original word for "bare record" does not in itself signify the act of recording the visions in a book. It merely means "testified." We know, however, that John was commissioned to write them in a book, verse 19, and that, therefore, this is the form in which he communicated the things which he saw to the churches.
Blessed Is He That Readeth
Finally, the Book of Revelation is commended to the recipients by the promise of a blessing: "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."
The blessing here spoken of, no doubt, is in the ultimate sense of the word the inheritance of the glory of the eternal kingdom in the day of Jesus Christ, the "inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away," which is reserved in heaven for the believers, "the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time," (I Peter 1:4, 5). It is the blessedness of the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, of the new creation, wherein righteousness shall dwell and where the tabernacle of God will be with men forever. To this ultimate state of blessedness the whole Book of Revelation looks forward. Yet this does not necessarily exclude a blessing for the present time. On the contrary, it rather includes such a present blessing for them that receive and keep the words of this prophecy. As long as we contemplate the things of this present time, the things that come to pass in this world, from a mere earthly, human, historic viewpoint, there is nothing but darkness and hopeless misery. For "vanity of vanities, all is vanity" is true of the whole of present existence. We lie in the midst of death; and there is no way out. In spite of the optimistic outlook and predictions of the prophets and leaders of this world, things grow more hopeless as time goes on. And serious men of the world begin to ask the question anxiously whether our whole civilization will not totter into ruins. The world is not improving though it is developing in a cultural sense. It is plainly getting worse. In times like the present we are strongly reminded of this. Not only do we witness the horrors of war after war; but every war is worse than the former, and this in the face of all mere humanitarian efforts to establish a lasting peace. Besides, the people of God also partake of the "sufferings of this present time;" and when they are faithful and keep the "word of Christ's patience," they will be called upon also to suffer with Him. But "blessed are they that hear and keep the words of this prophecy" even now, even in the midst of this present darkness and death and hopelessness. For if we may look at these same things in the light of this "revelation of Jesus Christ," and live in the expectation of His coming, there is peace and hope and joy. Then we will be of good cheer, for we know that He has overcome the world!
This blessing is not for all, however. It is not general, but particular, as are all the promises of God. God's blessing is upon His people. His mercy is upon them that fear Him. Hence, this blessing is for him "that readeth" and for them "that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein." The words "he that readeth, and they that hear" probably refer to the public reader of this book in the church and the listening congregation. We may thus paraphrase them according to their true meaning: "all that receive and understand the words of this prophecy." But this is not sufficient. The mere hearing and natural understanding of this prophecy do not yield for us the promised blessing. We must also keep the things that are written therein. This surely signifies that we hear spiritually and receive the word of this prophecy in our heart. But it also signifies more. To keep the Word of God also means to obey it, to be doers of the Word. This is also applicable to this last book of Scripture in general and to many of its special exhortations in particular. Always we are exhorted to keep the Word of Christ's patience; to deny ourselves; to separate ourselves from Babylon; to be faithful unto death; to hold fast that which we have, that no one take our crown; to consider it grace in the cause of Christ, not only that we may believe on Him, but also that we may suffer with Him. These things we must keep! If we seek the things that are below and try to serve God and Mammon, if we receive the mark of the Beast in our forehead or in our right hand, we certainly are excluded from this blessing. He that is seeking to save his life shall surely lose it; but he that is willing to lose it for Christ's sake, shall save it unto life eternal! His is the promise and the blessing, now and forever!
The matter is urgent, and the promise is about to be realized!
For "the time is at hand!"