Revelation 1: 1-3
The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
Today is still about background information to help us get ready to study Revelation.
John writes the book of Revelation in a genre known as apocalyptic literature. Jewish apocalyptic literature was popular from the first century BC to the second century AD.
The word translated “revelation” in this passage is the Greek word apokalypsis, which means revealing secret information. Apocalyptic Literature usually contains dramatic symbolic predictions from a prophet from a vision.
Apocalyptic Literature was usually written during times of oppression so using coded messages made it safer for the writer and the reader. It often uses bizarre word pictures and code words to hide the message from hostile outsiders to avoid retaliation for the message.
The purpose of apocalyptic literature was to encourage and comfort during difficult times as well as to affirm God’s sovereign control over history and his plan for the future.
So, the visions of Revelation revealed to John, and subsequently to his readers, is what would normally be hidden. It is a glimpse into what is happening from a heavenly perspective.
I think this is important to remember as we study this book. We don’t know what heaven will be like, but it will not be the same experience as earth. And that is probably part of the reason we have so much trouble understanding the visions in Revelation.
Since the purpose of revelation is to reveal or make certain information known that implies the information can indeed be understood. Let’s stop throwing up our hands and saying, “I don’t understand!” We may not be able to understand every verse, every symbol, or every action, but there are things we can learn and take to heart and when we do, we will be blessed.