The Thirty-First in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Revelation
Having given us a glimpse of the back of the book, so to speak, John now wraps up his panoramic vision of the course of redemptive history in the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Revelation. In the epilogue of his apocalyptic vision, John reminds the church of Jesus Christ that the things recorded in this book are soon to take place. But it is with great urgency that John also makes the point that all of human history is racing toward that glorious day when Jesus Christ returns in unspeakable glory, to judge the world, raise the dead and make all things new.
As we now complete our survey of the Book of Revelation, Lord willing, next time we will spend our time together reflecting upon some of many points of application that we should take with us from our studies in this amazing book. During this series, we have been emphasizing the fact that as the various visions in this book are set forth, John is giving us a running commentary on the progress of redemptive history–giving us the big picture and telling us the story behind the story. In effect, John picks up where the Old Testament writers left off. Beginning with the expectation of the dawn of the messianic era, John takes us from the birth of the Messiah all the way to his second coming at the end of the age. In the last few chapters of this book, John gives us a glimpse of the final chapters of the redemptive story even before they play out on the stage of human history. Therefore, in the midst of our struggles in this present evil age, we have seen that glorious goal to which God will graciously bring us. And with this glorious vision now before our eyes, we should not grow weary or despair as we make our way to the heavenly city, even though the journey is difficult.
In the opening chapters of Revelation, John describes the persecution faced by those in his original audience at the hands of the Roman Empire. Using apocalyptic symbols, John has shown how the Roman empire and its supremely evil emperor, Nero, is, in turn, a type of all those evil empires and their leaders yet to arise throughout the course of this present evil age. In fact, John foretells of the rise of a whole series of world empires and dictators all waging war against the people of God. But this series of empires will finally culminate in one last evil empire which will arise in those days immediately before the return of Jesus Christ and which is crushed by our Lord as his coming. Knowing how the redemptive drama will turn out in the end, John comforts his readers with the prophecy of the total defeat of this Satanic world empire and all those who ally themselves with it (the harlot, the beast and false prophet). By looking at the back of the book, we know who wins in the end. Thus the Book of Revelation is not a book of esoteric information to give the curious something to do, it is a book filled with pastoral comfort.
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