The opening of the Book of Revelations reads:
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him, to show his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John: Who bore record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. (Rev 1:1,2)
Right from the outset we are given the foundational truth and purpose for this last book of the Bible and it begins saying “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”. This word ‘revelation’ in the ancient Greek is ‘apokalupsis’ which simply means ‘to make known something that was previously unknown, to reveal something hidden, a laying bare, making naked, to disclose the truth about someone, an unveiling’. What is it that this book is to unveil? It is the unveiling of Jesus, it is to make Him fully known, not only in the words of this prophecy, but in the literal sense – when the events which this prophecy foretell actually take place. At that time the whole world will see who Jesus truly is, for He will be on full display to consummate the Kingdom of God upon the Earth and to be joined to His wife forever Eph 5:31. This end time prophecy is all about His unveiling, the revelation of Jesus Christ. But more than His unveiling, He is also the One bringing the revelation, as verse 1 says it is “Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him”, Not given, as in Jesus saw something that He didn’t see before, for as fully God, Jesus is omniscient, all knowing with the Father. No, it was given to Jesus to make the revelation of Himself, for He was worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals. This is so important for us to understand and apply whenever we read this most profound last book of the Bible. For though the record contains all manner of visions and encounters that John had, the ultimate purpose of this book, is to glorify and magnify the Lord Jesus Christ. After we have speculated and debated on such glimpses of the seals, trumpets and bowls, the anti-christ and false prophet, the fall of Mystery Babylon, the Second Coming, the Millennium and the New Jerusalem, let us ensure we are not overly distracted by such things in a way that leads us down a path which does not have Jesus in full view. For this is His Revelation, its purpose is to put Him at the centre and make known to us the full nature of who He is and what He will accomplish in the days that follow. Ultimately there is nothing gained and much to lose if we approach this most wonderful book of Revelation from mere curiosity and intellectualism. For it is not an appeal to the mind so much as it is to the heart, to the spirit of man, to quicken not our rational thought but our spiritual alertness, so that we might align ourselves to who He is and what will shortly take place. The correct response to this prophecy or any prophecy is to worship God, because in His sovereign grace He is permitting us to see into matters concerning the future that we might know Him now. So in answer to our question “How should I approach the book of Revelation?” we should do so in pursuit of knowing Jesus more, for ultimately He is the one speaking to us through this prophecy. This is the Revelation of Jesus, though He has sent His angel to testify, it is His testimony.
Rev 19:10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.