“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…“
And He sent and signified it
An angel both brought the information of Revelation and put it in symbols. The word “signified” means to give a sign, report, communicate, point out, to give a signal to do a thing. In war, “signified” carried the idea of to give the signal of attack. John uses “signified” throughout his writings. He loves symbols.
When God gives the signal for all these events to take place, it will be clear to all. God will make known by a series of signs and symbols what will take place. However, this clarity will not carry bald literalism. We will see symbols of truth, not the actual, literal event. They will be “signs” of the actual and literal. Therefore, there will be some obscurity in this revelation (12:1,3; 15:1).
Note the order here. First the Father reveals the contents of the book of Revelation to Jesus, then Jesus gives it to an angel to give it to John, who, in turn, gives it to the churches.
Symbols occur throughout the Bible as a vehicle for delivering God’s thoughts to man. Revelation, however, uses symbols more than any other book of the New Testament. John probably uses symbols because of the peril of persecution looming over the Christian community.
We best understand the principle of interpretation of symbols where John explains symbols. It is pious prattle to say that God does not intend us to understand these symbols. Interpretation of Revelation also depends on a thorough understanding of all the Bible’s great prophecies that converge in this book. We find an ultimate termination of God’s purposes for creation here. This is the one book of the Bible that gives us a systematic plan for the future.
Revelation contains no less than 400 allusions to the Old Testament. We find no direct citation. Almost all of the imagery of Revelation relates to motifs that emerge from Old Testament prophetic books.
The flag of the country in which we live carries not only symbols and colors but also the flag represents that for which our country stands. Our flag is a symbol of that for which we stand. We stand for freedom and democracy.
God wrote the Book of Revelation in “sign language.” He wrote the Book of Ezekiel the same way. Algebra uses a system of signs. Sign language can make sense if you know what the signs mean. If we do not obey a stop sign, we might end in the casket. Signs are important even in our daily life. If you say, “I do not believe in signs,” then you might end in the morgue. All of us use signs every day. Why should we avoid understanding the sign language of the Book of Revelation?
Revelation is the only book of the New Testament that completely devotes its subject to prophecy.
by His angel to His servant John
The term “angel” occurs seventy times in the Book of Revelation. Therefore, it is obviously an essential idea in the book. To contrast God’s transcendence, God uses angels to transmit His revelation. Angels intervene in the great events of Revelation. The word “angel” means messenger. Sometimes the messenger is simply a human being who conveys divine truth.
The interpretation is clearly set forth in 22:6-9. This “angel” is not a supernatural being but a “fellow slave” and “prophet.” This may have been Daniel, to whose book John alludes throughout the book.
Note John here characterizes himself as a “servant.” God does not have any drones in His family. All of God’s children are to be His servants. God uses any people who will put themselves into His hands.
Revelation is the most modern book ever written.
Revelation presents God’s glorious plan for the future. We know God’s plan for complete victory over Satan. No wonder Satan does not want us to read Revelation! He wants to convey the idea that we cannot understand Revelation. “We do not want to divide over eschatology. This is not an important doctrine.” That is like saying that God wrote much of the Bible revolving around prophecy, and we negate it by relegating it into obsolescence. God did not write the Book of Revelation to render it into oblivion!