Is Revelation a Sealed Book?
Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Publish date:
Summary: Is the book of Revelation meant to be understood by the common person?

Many people believe that the book of Revelation is a “sealed” book—one not intended for us to understand. And it is true that the book of Revelation can be difficult to understand, but the fact that it is a revelation, and carries a special blessing for those who study it, means that God intended it to be understood.

In verse 3 the blessing is for those who not only hear, but also take to heart what is written:

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. Revelation 1:3

Since the book of Revelation was never sealed (as the book of Daniel was), it has been a helpful guide 
for all people since John wrote it almost 2000 years ago. The great truths of the book of Revelation are hidden to the casual reader, because they are couched in symbols. But God promised that He would lead us into all truth (John 16:13) by His Holy Spirit which is promised to those who obey God (Acts 5:32). If we are genuinely seeking His will, He will reveal to us the blessings in this book.

Purpose of Revelation and Prophecy

The book of Revelation was written to show God's people "things which must shortly come to pass" (Revelation 1:1). This statement is true for all generations of God's people—from the time it was written to the very end of time. Each generation can draw solace from its pages because all time periods are covered by these prophetic writings.

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The word revelation means to reveal or disclose. In a special sense, the book of Revelation is meant to reveal vital issues to the New Testament Church—the end-time Church in particular—about end-time events. God does not want us to be ignorant about the future:

Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, 
unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7 NKJV).

God has always wanted people to be informed, aware, and warned about future difficulties. Throughout the history of Israel, He sent prophets to warn His people about future impending doom. It has always been God’s purpose to steer people away from calamity.

An example of this was the prophet Jonah, who was sent to Nineveh to warn and rebuke the people that if they did not turn away from their evil doings, their city would be destroyed. The people of Nineveh heeded the warning and their city was spared, along with some 60,000 souls and much cattle (Jonah 3).

When the 10 tribes of Israel were heading down the path of debasement through idol worship and disgusting practices, God sent prophet after prophet to warn them to turn back. God also provided a wonderful preview of Earth’s history through Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and gave Israel hope that they would be returned from captivity to their homeland.

It is important to note that the book Daniel is another prophetic book that deals with end-time issues. Revelation and Daniel should really be studied hand in hand, so as we progress through a chapter-by-chapter study of Revelation, we will often be referring to the book of Daniel to shed light on what we are reading.

God uses prophecy for two purposes: to warn and to encourage. For example, prophecy warns us of the Enemy’s plans and encourages us with hope and the promise of victory. The book of Revelation is full of such warnings and encouragements. It discusses the forces working against Christ and the actions they will take, so that we can recognize them when they happen, and steer clear of any participation with the Antichrist forces.

We also read in the book of Revelation about the promise of final restoration—a new heaven and a new Earth. These come with the final destruction of sin and Satan, the originator of sin. Because Revelation pertains specifically to the end of time, and because we live in the closing time of Earth’s history, this book, in particular, deserves our attention if we want to recognize the signs and know the future. When we understand what is to take place, our fear of the end times won’t control us. And that’s what God wants. When calamities occur, many are afraid and wonder what is happening. But those that study God’s Word don’t need to be afraid.

The Book of Revelation is a Revelation of Christ

Jesus Christ is the central theme of everything we read in Revelation. He is the heart of the book, the One from whom the revelation stems. The book is even called "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 1:1). Here are some titles for Jesus that are found in the book of Revelation:

Jesus is given many names and titles in the book of Revelation....

It is crucial that as we study some of the darker prophecies about the Antichrist and the final controversy, we remember that Christ is the ultimate Victor over all evil.

The number seven is very prominent in the book.

There are seven churches, seven letters, seven stars, seven candlesticks, seven lamps, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven horns, seven thunders, seven heads, seven crowns, seven angels, seven vials, and seven kings. Amidst these symbols stands Jesus Christ the great High Priest, the Supreme Judge, the King of kings. The sanctuary symbols are also prominent throughout the book, revealing Christ as Intercessor, Judge, and King.

Jesus stands in the midst of the seven lampstands. He is the light of the world, and this light is to be spread to the entire world by His Church. The fact that He walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands (Revelation 2:1) is a promise of His presence in the Church throughout the ages.

Jesus is not only revealed as our great High Priest, but as God Himself in Revelation 1. John uses an epanados (a repetition of sentences in inverse order) to identify Jesus Christ as the great I AM. John quotes the Old Testament prophets in this sequence to bring to light a salient feature—the divinity of Christ—and in this way to give the highest stamp of authority to that which is to be revealed.

The epanados is as follows:

Revelation 1:5 Witness Isaiah 55:4
Revelation 1:7 Coming with the Clouds Daniel 7:13
Revelation 1:7 Pierced Zechariah 12:10
Revelation 1:8 I AM, Alpha and Omega Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12
Revelation 1:11 I AM, Alpha and Omega Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12
Revelation 1:12 Golden Lampstands Zechariah 4:2
Revelation 1:13-15 Heavenly High Priest Daniel 10:5-6
Revelation 1:16 Mouth like a Sword Isaiah 49:2

The first and the last quotes are from Isaiah, the second and second last from Daniel, the third and third last from Zechariah, and the double quote in the middle is from Isaiah. This feature is repeated to highlight it. Christ is the great I AM. Sadly, some modern translations leave out the second "I AM" quote in Revelation 1:11, thus nullifying the epanados.

CC Waiting For The Word

Christ, the great I AM, is thus the central theme of the book of Revelation. The Church through all the ages is the besieged bride, through whom Christ disseminates His truth to call people out of the world.

The book depicts Satan, the great foe, as the one bent on destroying Christ’s work. It describes the unfolding battle, the final destruction of sin, and the establishment of the kingdom of righteousness. The messages are not given to instill fear, but to encourage.

Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death (Revelation 1:17-18).

Revelation 1

This article is adapted from Truth Matters by Professor Walter J. Veith, an international speaker who has studied Biblical issues in-depth in his quest for truth. His popular series Genesis Conflict brings the debate between Creation and evolution to a new climax as he dissects the arguments with a scientific eye. His highly-acclaimed series Total Onslaught sheds light on the state of the world today as we move to a one-world government and an anticipated apocalypse.
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