Book of Symbols and Blessings
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 hear the words of this prophecy, and
keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. Revelation
apokalupsis is a mystery given to
Christ by God to show His church “things which must shortly take place.” We
learned that this mystery can be revealed through the use of words, signs, or
verse one we learn there is a chain of communication through which the
Revelation is given to the church. God (the Father) first gave it to Christ.
Christ then sent His angel to signify the Revelation. Third, the Apostle John
received the Revelation from this angel. And in verse 11 John is told to write
what he sees in a book and send the book to the seven churches.
is imperative that we understand that John actually saw the things revealed by
the angel, which gives us to understand that the means of revelation were words,
signs, or symbols; things that can be seen. This is made very clear in verse one
as it says the angel “signified” the Revelation. The King James Version has
the word “show” instead of “signified”. The Greek word for signified is dike-noo-o, meaning to show. Thayer says “to show; to produce what
can be seen”. Dr. Albert Barnes explains this word for us: “The word
rendered to show commonly denotes to point out; to cause to see; to present to
the sight; and is a word eminently appropriate here, as what was to be revealed
was, in general, to be presented to the sight by sensible tokens or symbols.”
chapter 9:17 John says he “saw the horses in the vision.” The Greek word
vision is hor-as-is, meaning the act
of gazing. This word is translated twice as vision,
once in sight, and once look
upon. From this we understand that the angel showed John things he actually
could see. When he saw horses, he saw horses; when he saw mountains, he saw
mountains; when he saw earthquakes, he saw earthquakes. Some expositors on the
Revelation say that John saw things such as B17 bombers but had no idea what
they were, so he called them locusts. The fact is the Revelation was presented
to John in the form of visible pictures he could recognize. But, the pictures
represent “things which must shortly take place.”
is our challenge to understand what these pictures, or symbols, mean. The
symbols used in the Revelation are those used in other prophetic dreams, such as
those had by Joseph, Pharaoh’s officers, Pharaoh himself, Nebuchadnezzar,
Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, and other prophets. It is therefore imperative that
we go to these sources to gain whatever understanding we can and apply that
understanding to the Revelation.
symbols are explained in the Book of Revelation, so we need go no further to
understand these particular signs. Chapter 1:20 tells us the seven stars are the
angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Chapter 17:12 tells us the ten horns on the beast of chapter 17 are ten kings.
Verse 15 of this chapter tells us the waters where the harlot sits are peoples,
multitudes, nations, and tongues (languages); and verse 18 tells us the woman
that sits on the beast is that great city that reigns over the kings of the
thing we cannot do is to look for literal fulfillments of the symbols. Ships in
the Revelation are merely pictures of ships and cannot be understood to be
literal ships or navies. Trees, grass, hailstones, earthquakes and such like are
not the literal things; they represent something other than what they appear to
be. But the natures of the symbols do have something in common with the things
symbols appear as physical things but their interpretation is not necessarily
something physical; the interpretations can be in either the realm of the
physical or the spiritual. Furthermore, some of the earthly things represented
are not of a tangible nature but can be in the nature of political or religious
developments. For example, the vision of the book, or scroll, sealed with seven
seals in chapters five and six helps us to understand this. There was writing on
the inside and on the back of the book suggesting that it pertains to the inner
realm of the spirit and the outer realm of nature.
the Faithful Witness
looking at verse 2 of chapter 1 we find that the Apostle states his credentials.
First, he bore witness to the word of God. A witness is someone that observed an
event and is able to give reliable evidence in court. As an original disciple of
Jesus, John observed the life and Person of Jesus Christ, the Word, and as an
eyewitness he was amply qualified to receive such an important communication
was an eye-witness to the testimony of Jesus Christ. He heard His claim to be
the Son of God; he heard the public sermons and private teachings Jesus gave; he
was present on the Mount of Transfiguration where he saw Moses and Elijah
talking with Jesus and heard the voice of God speak from heaven; he was there at
the crucifixion; he was one of the disciples that went to the empty grave
immediately after the resurrection; he saw Christ ascend into heaven; and, he
was there on the Day of Pentecost. John surely is a credible witness.
regarded himself only as a witness of the things he had seen and he claimed to
have made a fair and faithful record of those things.
19:35 at the crucifixion: And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony
is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.
21:24 at the close of his gospel: This is the disciple who testifies of these
things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
John 1:2 he speaks concerning the Word of life: the life was manifested, and we
have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with
the Father and was manifested to us.
John 4:14 from his own experience of salvation from sin: And we have seen and
testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.
at the beginning of the Revelation, he testifies that the credibility of his
past life extends to what he has now seen in this mysterious book given to him
by an angel sent from Jesus Christ.
Blessings of the Revelation
language of verse 3 tells us the Book of Revelation was intended to be read
aloud by one person to a group of people. “Blessed is he who reads and those
who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in
wasn’t that Christians were mostly illiterate at the time. Some certainly
were, but it is more likely that a majority of Christians, especially in the
cities of Asia indicated a few verses later, were able to read. The problem was
that this was to be written at a time before printing presses; books had to be
handwritten, and copies of the Scriptures were scarce. It was the normal
practice for the bishop (pastor) to read apostolic letters to his congregation
and in the same manner he would read John’s letter aloud to the assembled
blessings were to accrue to those that read the Revelation and those that would
hear it read. In a sense, the attached blessings were given to assure the
continued reading of the Revelation by the church and that it would not be
greater significance is that the blessing accrues, not just to the reader and
hearers, but to those that keep the things which are written in it. Without
equivocation, the Revelation can be and is to be understood; it is not ambiguous
even though it is mysterious. The things written in it are to be understood and
to be kept. That being understood, it is imperative that the church study this
book and allow God to open our minds and hearts to its message so that we can
experience the promised blessing. If we do not study the Book of Revelation we
are in danger of violating the terms of this blessing. Who knows what goodness
we would lose or what judgment we would incur because of our negligence? Who
wants to stand before Christ at the final judgment and be held accountable for
something in this wondrous Book only to plead ignorance in the face of the very
fact that its contents can be understood and must be observed? Who wants Christ
to pronounce the words: But you could have known.
nature of the blessing is not stated here in verse 3. This suggests that the
blessing was not limited just to the seven churches of Asia or even the first
century church, but that the blessing accrues to the church throughout the rest
of time, even to our day. While the nature of the blessing is not stated here,
the Book of Revelation contains seven blessings that accrue to those that read,
hear, and keep the sayings of this Book. Undoubtedly, these are the blessings to
be obtained from reading, hearing and keeping the things written in the book.
There are two general blessings and five specific blessings.
Beatitudes of the Revelation.
gave a set of eight Blessings in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5.
These blessings are available to all who obey His commandments and are true
worshippers. So it is with the blessings of the Revelation.
seven blessings or beatitudes of the Revelation are:
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep
those things which are written in it. (A general blessing)
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.
Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments.
Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.
Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. (A general
blessing, essentially the same as 1:3)
Blessed are those who do His
notice as mentioned above, there are seven blessings. The number seven is
significant in the Revelation as it appears over and over in the various
visions. Also, the seven blessings are significant in comparing these blessings
with the attributes of the glorified Christ. Ask yourself, Why would Christ
offer so many wondrous blessings if the book is totally ambiguous? That does not
make sense. These blessings are yours only if you are among His servants and you
observe and obey the things to be learned from the study of this great Book.
Revelation is a mysterious book of symbols—but those symbols have meaning and
represent things Christ wants us to know, and in knowing and observing those
things, He promises us blessings that can come in no other way.