Revelation is a book of the Bible notorious for its confusing language and vivid images. Many people reading through this book have been confused by it, even terrified by its contents. But the book of Revelation was not intended to cause nightmares. It was written to bring hope to Christians in the early church. We too can see the glory of hope in the pages of this book, when we understand what it is saying. Robert helps us get started by revealing tips for understanding it.

ROBERT >> The last couple of weeks here on The Truth In Love we’ve been discussing the question, Will Jesus come to reign on earth for a thousand years? Some teach that Jesus will establish an earthly kingdom, ruling from David’s throne in Jerusalem that will last for a thousand years. We saw that the Old Testament prophets spoke of the beginning of Christ’s kingdom. It would begin at Jerusalem in the latter or last days when the word of the Lord would go forth. It would begin in the days of the Roman kings. It would begin at the ascension of Christ. It would begin when the Holy Spirit would be poured out, and whoever would call on the name of the Lord should be saved.

We also saw that Christ’s kingdom was announced just before it began. It was at hand. It was going to come with power while some of the twelve apostles were still alive. It was to be after the resurrection of Christ when power would be given to the apostles and repentance and remission of sins would be preached in his name beginning at Jerusalem. It was to be not many days after the ascension of Christ when the apostles would receive power to bear witness to him. In Acts the 2nd chapter we read about the beginning of Christ’s kingdom. There it’s recorded how it was just as it had been prophesied, just as it had been announced. It began in the days of the Roman kings about ten days after the ascension of Christ. It began while eleven of the original twelve apostles were still alive. It began at Jerusalem. It began when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles, and they received power to speak the word of the Lord and bear witness to Christ. It began in the last days when whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. It began when repentance and remission of sins was preached in Christ’s name. It is his church. The kingdom of Christ has come, and Christ will continue to reign as king in his kingdom until he comes again. We’ve got much more to say about this, and we hope you’ll stay tuned. We’ll be back in just a moment.

SINGING >> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth,
speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> Yes, the kingdom of Christ that was prophesied, that was announced, that was established was the church of Christ. His kingdom on the earth is the church. Christ’s kingdom was never meant to be an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly, spiritual kingdom. We noticed that last week from Luke chapter 17, where he tells us the kingdom of God is within us, how he rules in our hearts, how he told Pilate the governor, My kingdom is not of this world. No, he is the king of truth, and his kingdom those of the truth. We are right now receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, a heavenly Jerusalem, the church registered in heaven, the kingdom that cannot be shaken of Hebrews 12:22-29. We also noticed last week that, yes, the prophets did tell us that Christ was to sit on David’s throne; but we noticed that his throne would not be upon this earth. He sits on David’s throne in heaven at God’s right hand, ruling and reigning as king in his kingdom. Not only is he ruling and reigning as king in his kingdom at God’s right hand from heaven, but he is a priest on his throne, and he is a priest in heaven. He cannot be a priest of this earth we learned from Hebrews 8:4. And so what have we learned? We have learned that Jesus Christ is now sitting upon his throne, ruling and reigning in his kingdom as priest on his throne, not upon the earth, but from heaven.

His throne is in heaven, not on the earth. I want to explore this a little bit further with you today, and I want us to go to 1 Chronicles 29:23, because I want you to see that David’s throne is God’s throne. It was God that gave David the authority and the power to sit upon that throne, and he rules by the authority and the power of God. And so when we think about David’s throne, we’re talking about God’s throne.

1 Chronicles 29:23, the Bible says, “Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father. Solomon, David’s son, the one who followed David, was sitting on David’s throne; but you’ll notice it’s called here the throne of the Lord. He sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father.”

So David once sat on the throne of the Lord, and now Solomon his son sits on the throne of the Lord. David’s throne is God’s throne. There’s another passage I want us to look at in this regard in 1 Kings.

1 Kings chapter 1, notice what the Bible says here about David’s throne, and let’s take a look at verses 46 through 48. 1 Kings 1:46, “Also Solomon sits on the throne of the kingdom. And moreover the king’s servants have gone to bless our lord King David, saying, May God make the name of Solomon better than your name, and may He make his throne greater than your throne. Then the king bowed himself on the bed. Also the king said thus, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has given one to sit on my throne this day, while my eyes see it! So Solomon sat upon David’s throne, but it would be made greater than David’s throne.”

And then look at 1 Kings 2:12. “Then Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his kingdom was firmly established.”

So David’s throne was sat upon by Solomon; but as we learned before from 1 Chronicles, Solomon’s throne was the throne of the Lord, the one that David was sitting on. David’s throne is God’s throne. But understand, God’s throne is not on the earth. God’s throne is in heaven.

Isaiah 66:1, “Thus says the Lord, Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? And so when Jesus Christ, the son of David, was raised from the dead, he ascended into heaven to sit at God’s right hand. The throne of David is now in heaven, where Christ now sits. God’s throne is in heaven. David’s throne is God’s throne.”

Look at it in Acts 7:49. “Stephen makes this very same point when he is speaking to the Jews of his day about the Messiah and his present reign as king in his kingdom.”

Here in Acts 7:49 he says, “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me, says the Lord, Or what is the place of My rest?”

The throne of God and the throne of Christ are inseparable. Being at God’s right hand is sitting upon the throne of God, because these two thrones we cannot separate.

I want you to notice this in Ephesians 5:5. Here the Bible says, “For this you know, that no fornicator or unclean person, nor covetous man who is an idolater has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”

It’s true that the kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of God; and therefore, the throne of God is the throne of Christ, the throne of Christ is the throne of God. Notice one other passage, in Hebrews 1:8, where the Hebrew writer speaks of the superiority of Christ over the angels and his equality with God on the throne.

Hebrews 1:8, “But to the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.”

So it should be very clear by now that yes, Jesus sits upon David’s throne, but it’s not on the earth; that that throne is in heaven; that that throne is the throne of God. We’re not to look for Jesus to come again and establish an earthly kingdom, because the present rule of Christ from heaven is the fulfillment of God’s promise concerning David’s seed coming to sit on his throne. There are two passages in the Old Testament that are quoted in the New Testament that even confirm this point further.

So let’s notice those two passages. Isaiah chapter 11 speaks of the one who will come from David. You’ll notice how it begins in chapter 11 verse 1, “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, David’s father, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”

This is a messianic message. This speaks of one who is to come from the lineage of Jesse and King David. And he goes on to talk about how the Spirit of the Lord is going to come upon him, and it speaks of his ministry. And you remember the vision of the wolf and the lamb lying down together.

It speaks of the peace in that kingdom. And at the end of chapter 11 it speaks about all the people coming together in that kingdom. But right in the midst of Isaiah 11, you’ll notice in verse 10, “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.”

In that day when this one comes from Jesse, from David, when this one receives the Spirit of God and when this one brings peace to the people of God as they all come to him, in that day we see the Gentiles shall seek him. I’ve read that because it speaks of Christ coming and ruling in his kingdom. But what is the fulfillment of that passage?

Are we to look for some future fulfillment at the end times, at the very end of this world where Christ will reign on earth for a thousand years?

Not at all.

Look at Romans chapter 15, because Romans quotes this passage I just read from Isaiah chapter 11. Romans chapter 15, and let’s notice in verse 12. And again Isaiah says, “There shall be a Root of Jesse, and He shall rise to reign over the Gentiles. In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”

There’s the quote from Isaiah 11. Paul in Romans chapter 15 is talking about how the Jews and the Gentiles make up Christ’s church, how the Gentiles should be accepted, should be received by the Jews, how they should all receive one another in the body of Christ, his church.

Where does he go to establish this?

Isaiah 11. So Isaiah 11 is not talking about some future earthly kingdom, but he’s talking about the kingdom of Christ on earth now, his church. Then notice one other passage from Isaiah.
v Isaiah 55:3, “Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the sure mercies of David.”

Here we see that God’s promises to David especially concerning a messiah to come, would be fulfilled, that God would keep his word. But let’s notice again the fulfillment of this passage.

Go to Acts 13:23. Here the apostle Paul refers us to Jesus the Christ, not his second coming, but his first coming and his present reign as king. In Acts 13:23, “From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a savior, Jesus.” And then notice verse 34 of this same chapter. “And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: I will give you the sure mercies of David.”

So what was Isaiah 55:3 talking about when it spoke of the sure mercies of David? The resurrection of Jesus Christ, the one who would come from David’s body, Jesus the Christ, would be raised, would ascend, would sit upon his throne in heaven, ruling and reigning in his kingdom.

No, we don’t look for Christ to come to earth again to establish an earthly, physical kingdom when he’s already established for us the greater spiritual kingdom, his church over which he now reigns and rules. Now let us turn our attention to another passage that has led many people to think that Christ will rule for a thousand years from David’s throne in Jerusalem. And that passage is Revelation chapter 20. But it is a misunderstanding of Revelation chapter 20 that has led to this thinking. We’ve already learned that Christ now rules from David’s throne in the heavenly Jerusalem at God’s right hand, and he will continue to rule until he comes again, at which time he’ll turn the kingdom over to his Father. He will not return to the earth to reign for a thousand years. Let’s notice from Revelation chapter 1 a couple of things that will help us to understand this book a little bit better.

In Revelation chapter 1 we see one of the keys of understanding this book, and that is that the Revelation was written about things that were soon to come to pass. Notice Revelation 1:1, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show his servants things, which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hears the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”

Yes, Revelation is about things which must shortly come to pass, shortly take place. The time is at hand. It is near. And therefore, Revelation 20 is not talking about something thousands of years removed at the end times. At the end of the book of Revelation, we’re reminded of this same thing again.

Look in Revelation 22:6. As John closes the book he says, “Then He said to me, These words are faithful and true, and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.”

And then notice in verse 10 what he was instructed to do: “And He said to me, Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.”

The Revelation began saying these things are about to take place, the Revelation ends by saying these things are about to take place. Don’t seal up the book, because the time is at hand. Now, compare that with what we read about in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 8:1, we read about a revelation that was given to Daniel. This would be about 550 BC, and it was about the work of Antiochus Epiphanes which took place in about 164 BC.

And notice what Daniel was told concerning this prophecy here in verse 26. He says, “Seal up the vision; for it refers to many days in the future.”

You see, Daniel’s prophecy had reference to something that would take place several hundred years later. And because of that, he said you seal it up; it’s not about to take place. In the Revelation, since these things were about to take place, he says don’t seal it up. So the things of the Revelation could not have taken place thousands of years later, as some are trying to tell us today, or even several hundred years later, but they were already beginning to happen. The Revelation should not be understood as referring to things far removed in time from John’s day, but to that which was coming upon the church in John’s day.

Now, another key to help us in understanding the Revelation is to realize that it was written in apocalyptic language. Look again at Revelation 1:1. The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show His servants, things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.

Now, the word translated revelation comes from the Greek word apocalypse, which means an unveiling or an uncovering, a revelation. And this word came to be used of writings which were like the Revelation of Jesus Christ, that were like Revelation in their use of symbolic language.

Other books in the Bible such as Ezekiel and Daniel and Zechariah contain much apocalyptic language. An understanding of how the symbols are used in these other books will help us in understanding Revelation. For example, in the visions of John, we read about numbers; and each of these numbers have different symbolic meanings. For example, the number one would be the number for unity in the Bible; the number two, the number for strength; the number three, for deity, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. When you read about three and a half, or times, times and a half a time, you’re talking about a difficult time of trial where God would protect his people. And the number four usually refers to earth or the creation of God. The number five is a limited number. The number six speaks of sinful man, just one short of the number seven, the number for perfection. The number eight speaks of revival or resurrection, a new day. And the number ten, the number for completeness in the Bible. The number twelve often is used to speak of God’s people, the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only does the Revelation use numbers, it uses colors: White for purity, red for bloodshed, black for sin, pale for death.

It uses different animals symbolically, the lamb and the lion referring to Jesus Christ, the dragon for Satan, the frogs for the false prophets. Cities like Sodom and Gomorrah, Jerusalem, Babylon, these cities were not in view in the Revelation, but they were used symbolically to speak of the horrible persecutor of God’s people, Rome.

The persons of Revelation: Balaam, Jezebel, Gog and Magog, these were persons of the past, but their names were used symbolically of those in the Revelation. And many other things, angels and demons and stars and clouds and winds and waters and fire and thrones and crowns and swords and chariots, armies and plagues and altars and temples, garments and trees and oil and wine and gold and silver, precious stones and ships and coins and books and musical instruments and eye salve and time periods, all of these things are used symbolically in the Revelation. John sees vivid images which are meant to convey a message. And you’ll read of a dragon that cast down stars from heaven, a flood that proceeds out of its mouth, frogs coming from the mouth of a false prophet and leading armies into battle. The sun is darkened, the moon becomes blood, the heavens are rolled up like a scroll. We must not get too bogged down in the details of the image that we miss the big picture. As is characteristic of most apocalyptic literature, Revelation was written to comfort God’s people in their trial, with the assurance that their enemies would be judged and that they would be victorious if they remained faithful.

As Jesus promised in Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. And so as we take a look at Revelation 20 in our study next week, I want you to remember that Revelation was about things that were coming upon the church then, things that were about to take place, and that the visions of the Revelation are highly symbolic.”

And look for the message behind that symbol, that vision. And may we all be encouraged today to know that the great message of the Revelation is victory over our enemy. No matter how horrible or terrible they may be, our enemies will be destroyed, Jesus Christ will be victorious, and if we remain faithful to him, we will one day enjoy that crown of eternal life.

SINGING>> Sweetly, Lord, have we heard thee calling,
Come, follow me.
And we see where thy footprints falling lead us to thee.
Footprints of Jesus that make the pathway glow,
we will follow the steps of Jesus where’ere they go.
By and by through the shining portals, turning our feet,
we shall walk with the glad immortals heaven’s golden street.
Footprints of Jesus that make the pathway glow,
we will follow the steps of Jesus where’ere they go.

SINGING>> Years I spent in vanity and pride,
caring not my Lord was crucified,
knowing not it was for me he died on Calvary.
Mercy there was great and grace was free,
pardon there was
multiplied to me,
there my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary. Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan;
oh, the grace that brought it down to man;
oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary.
Mercy there was great and grace was free,
pardon there was multiplied to me,
there my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.

ROBERT >> Thanks for watching the program today. We’d love to hear from you. Let me encourage you to contact us with your questions, comments, or requests at The Truth In Love, P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.

You may e-mail us at requests@ttil.tv, or call our toll-free number, 800-819-2966.

And also, please visit our web site at www.ttil.tv.

All our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.

SINGING>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.

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