Is there a spiritual view of history that the book of Revelation reveals?
“Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter” (Revelation 1:19)
The Revelation of Jesus Christ reveals Jesus: his authority, his faithfulness, his sacrificial love, and his power to save the soul and heart of people completely out of and free from sin. But all this is revealed within the context of time because we are limited in our existence and understanding by the experiences that happen in this time world. After all, the record of the words in Revelation are scripture, and all scripture is written as a historical record of teachings within the context of a time world.
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:11-13)
Revelation certainly sounds a warning to the servants of Jesus Christ from a historical record called “scripture.” It reveals the confusing trials and deceptive temptations that Satan has perpetrated against our souls in the past so that we can take courage by understanding: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Thank God for a revelation of truth from scripture that we can apply to our time world and learn wisdom from!
“…thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:20-21)
How can a teacher we see before us, also be as a voice we hear from behind us? By teaching us spiritual lessons from a historical record which is “behind us” or in the past. Is not this the way that Jesus delivered the Revelation message to John?
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet… …And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man…” (Revelation 1:10 & 12-13)
When John turned he saw Jesus in the midst of an object from Jewish past history: the seven golden candlesticks that used to exist in the temple at Jerusalem. And then when John faced Jesus his teacher, he proceeded to teach him from this object of past history. What Jesus revealed by the candlestick would give John light and understanding concerning the spiritual condition of the church in Johns day.
“Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:19-20)
Before his death and resurrection, Jesus often referred to historical people and events recorded in the scriptures and used them to teach a spiritual lesson. The Apostles in their epistles also did the same. So why shouldn’t the book of Revelation be treated the same way? Is there not many lessons from church history for us to learn from today? Of course there is. And if you are willing to have the spiritual lessons of Revelation applied to the history of the church, you will learn many spiritual lessons that will help you avoid the many deceptions and discouragements the enemy of your soul would send your way today.
Some would argue: “But the historical view of the book of Revelation has been twisted and abused by many in the past.” Yes, and what spiritual thing has Satan not abused to deceive and discourage souls? Let us not be so easily discouraged into a spirit of unbelief because of what others have done!
My friends, the book of Revelation has many references to things of the past that have been recorded for us in the scriptures. If you want to understand what a particular scripture in Revelation is spiritually teaching, take time to study the rest of the scriptures that refer to the symbol or practice that the Revelation scripture is speaking about. When you understand those scriptures in their original context, you will get greater insight into the spiritual lesson being taught in Revelation.
The book of Revelation has a number of references to things happening within a space of time:
- Forty and two months in Revelation 11:2 and 13:5
- Thousand two hundred and three score days in Revelation 11:3 & 12:6
- Three days and a half in Revelation 11:9-11
- A time, and times, and half a time in Revelation 12:14
- A thousand years in Revelation 20:1-3
Once anything happens in time, it becomes history, and there is a lesson to be learned from it. There is a very common and well known saying that has taught us all for many years:
“They that ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”
Dear friends, may we be willing to receive spiritual lessons that are revealed when a historical view of Revelation is applied to the record of past church history.