The Book of Revelation

Program # 2 

by: Ronald L. Dart

The Book of Revelation is a book with a very specific purpose. John who wrote it tells us in Revelation chapter 1 and verse 1, it is "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him, to show His servants things which must shortly come to pass."

Why bother? Why show them things that will shortly come to pass? Well the logical answer is because Jesus expects them to do something about it. He thinks that, "If I tell my servants things that are shortly come to pass, they can be prepared. They can change their lives. They can clean up their act, they can straighten up and fly right." You know it is not a bad idea if God is about to do something drastic to society, because things aren't going the way they ought to go, that He let you know, so that you can get yourself straightened out.

I think that is something all of us would appreciate. So John wrote all these things down that he went through and wrote a letter to some people about it.

John says 2 "He bore testimony of all the things that he saw," and I guess because it was a vision, and it had to do with things that he saw, the imagery of the book of Revelation is highly visual. What John saw was a nightmare. What we want to know about that nightmare is, what does it all mean?

Address or Title Page

The first three verses of the book of Revelation are simply a kind of an address or title page, if you will, that introduces us to it and the real salutation to the seven churches of Asia begins in verse four, where John says, "John to the seven churches that are in Asia, Grace to you and peace from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come."

It is a standard epistle's style opening to these people. It's like Paul uses in his letters. And what is oftentimes not understood about the book of Revelation is that it's a letter. John sat down and wrote a letter to the seven churches. He wrote the letter on the instructions of Jesus Christ.

It's John who wrote to them, and he said, 4 "Grace to you and peace, from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come."

John is Talking About the Father

Now the context of this makes it clear that John is talking about the Father. "From Him who is, who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits that are before His throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth."

This is kind of an odd expression in a way, the old Trinitarian expression of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is not exactly what you see here. You see the Father and the Son, but you don't see anything like the Holy Spirit, it is 4 "from the seven spirits that are before his throne." Now there is no direct explanation of what that means, but if we understand that God calls his angels spirits and He will later talk about seven angels who are like seven eyes of God to go up and down over the earth. It is not hard to imagine, then that there are at God's throne, Himself the Father, the Son and before that throne, seven angels, that have jobs, work, with particular tasks and responsibilities to carry out.


The salutation from Jesus Christ is of special interest.

Verse 5 of Revelation 1, "And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness."

One of the points that Jesus made throughout His ministry here on earth was that He was faithful to the Father, that the things that He did were the things the Father told him to do, the things that He said were the things the Father told Him to say, so He is Jesus Christ, the faithful witness.

Born Again

Jesus is also, it says, 5 "the firstborn of the dead." Now here we find another rather odd expression. All of us are familiar with the idea of being 'born again,' but this talks about being 'born from the dead,' and 'resurrection' is the term we normally use for that. Here he deliberately steps over and uses a slightly different term. The term of this occasion is 'born.'

Now I don't have any particular argument with people who believe that they were 'born again' in the sense that, that the experience of repentance, of baptism, the receiving of the Holy Spirit, is like being 'born again' in a way, because you're forgiven of all your past sins, and when you go down into the waters of baptism and you come up out of the waters of baptism, the Bible actually makes a comparison with this of death, burial and resurrection.

So you are in a sense in baptism, when you are put down in the water and you come up out of the water, you are born of the water, at least symbolically or metaphorically, and it's easy to see how a person who has this freedom from guilt, the freedom from the past, the knowledge of forgiveness, that the relief, the happiness, that the joy that would come from that, could be well expressed by the phrase 'born again.'

So I would not want to argue with that in anyway, except ask this question, "Is that what Jesus was talking about when He talked about being 'born again'?"

Now the passage in question is John three and verse 1, "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Him by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher, for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him."

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. When you have someone walking your streets, who can walk on the water, who can heal the lame man, who can make a man born blind see, right from day one. A man who can heal the cripples, cast out demons. One might suspect that he was a teacher come from God.

Jesus seems almost to sidestep what Nicodemus said and makes this statement, 3 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Now, our question is, what did Jesus mean by that? Did He mean the experience of relief, that we experience at conversion, or was He talking about, what He was talking about to John, when He talked about Himself as the firstborn from the dead? That is our question.

"Verily, verily, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old, he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born. Can he?"

So there's not a lot of room for misunderstanding, the terminology of Jesus. We, you and I, may not read Greek, we may not be able to even go back to the original Aramaic and know specifically what Jesus said to Nicodemus. We can look it all up in the lexicons, and the Bible dictionaries and so forth and try to understand the word, but Nicodemus was speaking the same language as Jesus and he understood what He was talking about.

Nicodemus said, "Can a man enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?" He knew that Jesus was using an expression that had to do with coming out of the womb.

So Jesus then answers him saying, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless one is born of the water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Now the commentators that look at this will oftentimes tell you that the being born of the water has to do with baptism and being born of the spirit has to do with receiving of the Holy Spirit. Certainly the imagery of baptism, going down into a burial, and coming up in a resurrection of a new life is like being born of the water and that really does fit the analogy here.

But when it comes to the spirit side of this, Paul makes an interesting statement back in first Corinthians 15 when he's talking about the resurrection of the dead, when he says,50 "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God."

Well, why not, what is the problem here? Jesus continues in verse six of John 3 to say, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit."

Now you just think looking at this, that Jesus is talking about two different kinds of being, a flesh kind of being and a spirit kind of being, right? It is the spirit kind of being that can inherit the kingdom of God and can enter into it.

He went on to say, 7 "Do not marvel that I said to you, you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it wishes, you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and you don't know where it's going. So is everyone who is born of the spirit."

What Jesus is saying is that, "People who are born of the spirit are like ghosts." The word ghost, interesting enough comes from the German word for spirit, ghosts can walk through doors. They can appear in rooms where there was no way of getting in, they can blow through trees, you hear them come and go but you have no idea where they are because you can't see them. That's the way Jesus describes someone who is born of the spirit.

So Jesus uses 'birth' in this passage as a metaphor, as a figure of speech. He is talking about birth, either as this sort of born again experience we have, when we go through conversion or He's using it as a metaphor for being born of the Spirit in the sense of being born from the dead. In that case He's talking about the resurrection.

And that takes us back to Revelation 1 and verse five, "And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead."

So Jesus was the first one to be resurrected, the first one to have the new life form, as it were, to be the new life form, to be a spirit being and to enter into God's kingdom from the dead.

And so we have Jesus speaking of the resurrection. "Jesus is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and He is the ruler of the kings of the earth."

Now there is a bold statement of power. He is the one who is in charge. The head man. He is the ruler not merely of the people, but the ruler of the kings of the earth, dominating over all.

Now that finishes a little section that I would call the 'salutation to the book of Revelation.' It is followed by a dedication, "To him who loves us and released us from our sins by his blood, 6 And has made us to be kings and priests to his God and Father, to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen."

Jesus Will Make Us Kings and Priests

Now in this, is one small thing to notice in Revelation 1:6, Jesus has made us kings and priests. The new American Standard Bible, from which I am normally reading here uses, "Made us to be a kingdom, priests to his God and Father," but really the structure of it in the Greek calls for it to be 'kings and priests,' so we ourselves are destined to be rulers of something, but He says we are also priests.

Priesthood of the Believer

This brings us to a doctrinal idea called the 'Priesthood of the Believer' in that we are our own priest. We do not need an intercessor other than Jesus with the Father.

Remember when His disciples came to Him and ask "Lord, teach us to pray." Jesus said, in Matthew 6 verse 9 , "After this manner therefore pray you, 'Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name."

We do not have to address Jesus, we do not have to address a saint. We do not have to address a priest. There is no go-between. There is no one between us on the Father. Jesus just said, pray "Our father." So in a sense, each of us functions as our own priest, a priest is one who is designated to offer sacrifices to God. The sacrifices of God (Psalm 51:17) are a "broken heart and a broken spirit and repentant attitude" and each of us can bring that before God.


Then in verse seven of Revelation 1 begins a declaration, "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen."

Why will they mourn? He comes with clouds, every eye is going to see Him, apparently there's not going to be much question about what's going on when He comes back. I can understand that the people who pierced him, when they are allowed to see Him, would be in dismay, the people who actually executed Jesus, the people who were at the trial who said, "Let His blood be on us and on our children" (Matthew 27:25). I can understand their dismay, but it seems that that dismay goes to all the tribes of the earth when they see Jesus coming back.

This reminds me of the story, Someone once said, "I have good news and bad news. The good news is Jesus is coming back. The bad news is He's not happy, He's angry, He's furious!"

And so when people see Jesus coming, there will be enormous apprehension, because of the guilt, because of their sins, because we know who we are. We know what we have done, we know how far we have gone astray. The whole earth will mourn because of Him.

Then says the Lord in Revelation 1 verse 8, "I am the Alpha and Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

Poetic Style in What is Said

Now Jesus could have just said, "I am the eternal," because that's what all this means, the one who was, and is, and is to come. That means I have always been around, right? He could have simply said, after having said this thing about all the earth will mourn for him, even so, Amen. "I am eternal," says the Lord, but that doesn't have the style, that this has.

Listen to the way this rolls, "I am the Alpha and Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty!" Now this is what I mean when I say, that so often times, both in prophecy in particular, both Old Testament and New Testament prophecy, we find the poetic style where the choice of words is there to either fit music or to roll off the tongue or to evoke a feeling, an image, an idea and make us realize the enormity of something. This is the kind of thing that is done, "I am the Alpha and Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty!"

The Lord's Day

Beginning in verse nine of Revelation 1, John lays out the circumstances under which this letter is being written. "I John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus."

Now Patmos was a prison colony. It's one of the many places where the Romans sent people who were prisoners of one sort or another. Mostly I think political prisoners at Patmos, they had some pretty nasty places for the other kind of criminals that they had at the time, so John was there and was able to experience this, apparently able to write his epistle down and obviously able to preserve it for the rest of us.

John then says, 10 "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day and I heard behind me a loud voice, like the sound of a trumpet."

Now the question that is usually raised at this verse is, what does John mean by 'Lord's day.' Some of the commentaries suggest that the phrase 'Lord's day' means Sunday. They don't prefer the other side of it, which is the 'Day of the Lord' because this possessive structure is not found anywhere else in the New Testament, for the 'day of the Lord.' If you're going to refer to the eschatological 'day of the Lord' which means the 'end time day of the Lord,' the normal expression is to call it the 'day of the Lord.'

But on the other hand, there is no New Testament reference at all for either 'Sunday' or the 'Sabbath' ever being called the Lord's day. In fact, the chances are that expression 'Lord's day' for a day of the week is a late adaptation and it may very well have arisen out of a misinterpretation of Revelation 1 and verse 10.

The fact is, that the 'Lord's day' is a day that belongs to the Lord. It's just a simple possessive. It can be expressed the 'day of the Lord' or the 'Lord's day,' and it can be talking about precisely the same thing.

Pentecost and Joel’s Prophecy

Now there is a lot in the Bible about a 'day' that belongs to the Lord and it corresponds strikingly well with Revelation. You may be familiar with one of these references. It occurs in the second chapter of Acts. Now you will probably remember the book of Acts and the second chapter, of the book of Acts, in particular, as the birth of the New Testament church.

1 "The disciples were all together in one place on the day of Pentecost. And while they were there. 2 There was suddenly a sound of a rushing mighty wind, and flames of fire flickered through the ceiling and descended and distributed on all the people who were in the room, 4 and the people were filled with the holy spirit and began to speak with other tongues, and through these tongues or languages, they begin to 11 speak the wonderful works of God to everyone who was there."

The excitement that this generated and the style in which it was done gathered a crowd very quickly with all of them there. Some of the people who gathered around them, said 13 "All these guys are just drunk and have been at the new wine. They have had way too much to drink. 14 Peter put up his hand and stopped them and said, "No, no, no, that's not what's happening here," and he began to explain to them what had happened. He said, "You men of Judea and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and listen to my words, for these are not drunk, as you suppose. After all, it's only the third hour of the day."" (9:00 A.M.).

16 "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel," Peter begins to quote from the second chapter of the book of Joel and he says this, "It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams, and on my servants and on my handmaidens, I will pour out in those days of my Spirit and they shall prophesy."

Well it certainly looked like it, didn't it? The spirit had been poured out. People were preaching, that's what prophesying really means, they were putting out all the things about the kingdom of God to these people. Everyone was very encouraged by it.

But Peter didn't stop with that word. He didn't stop with the expression, "they will prophesy," he went on to continue quoting Joel, so he was honest with Joel.

19 "I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath, blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come."

Oh, so what Peter was thinking was happening at this particular point in time, was that this pouring out of the spirit and this beginning to prophesy, and this great excitement hitting the church, was a forerunner of the 'day of the Lord.'

Now, it did not turn out to be what Peter was expecting to take place. In the course of his lifetime, in fact, you will also get hints of this in Paul's letters, that they really expected Jesus to come back right away. They talked to Him about whether He was going to establish the kingdom here and now (Acts 1:6-7), and when they found out that wasn't going to happen, that He was going to die and be resurrected and then go to the Father. When all that had taken place, they thought, well, He's gone to the Father, He must be going be coming back very soon now. Even though when they asked Him about the times, He said, "It's not for you to know the times" (Acts 1:7) and He told them "to get on with the job they had at hand," but nevertheless, they felt these things were going to begin to come to pass in their lifetime, and in type, they were. Actually the fulfillment of the prophecy of pouring out of His spirit upon all flesh was happening right in front of Peter's face, and so what he saw was a type, a model, of what was going to take place at a later time in the history of God.

Great and Notable Day of the Lord

But in the process, Peter brings in an expression very familiar to Old Testament readers, but probably a lot of people who read the New Testament haven't thought much about it. There is a time called the 'great and notable day of the Lord' (Acts 2:20). It is a time when great signs are going to be shown in the earth beneath, in heaven above, blood, fire, vapor of smoke. The sun into darkness, the moon into blood.

Peter saw in the events of Pentecost, the beginning, he thought the end was a lot nearer than it was. But compare what you just heard from Acts 2, about the 'day of the Lord,' with Revelation chapter 6 verses 12 through 16.

John says, "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal."

This places us very late in the fulfillment of the prophecy of Revelation. You've already had the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, you've had the fifth seal opened upon great religious persecution. Then the sixth seal is opened, "And low, there was a great earthquake and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood, 13 and the stars of the heaven fell to the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind, 14 and the heaven departed like a scroll, when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places, 15 and the kings of the earth and the great men, the rich man the chief captains, and the mighty man and every bondman and every free man, hid themselves in the dens in the rocks of the mountains 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us," (I would rather be crushed by an avalanche) "than to face Him that sits on the throne, and to face the wrath of the Lamb."

The Wrath of the Lamb

The wrath of the Lamb, imagery of a lamb, so gentle, so small, so soft, so cuddly, but that Lamb is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29) and there comes a point in time, where the Lamb is angry.

"Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sits upon the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand" (Revelation 6:16-17).

So we have another element to this 'day of the Lord.' It is also the 'day of His wrath' and it is a day in which hardly anybody is going to be able to stand or keep themselves upright, because of the earthquakes, the fires, the smoke, the sun being turned black, the moon turning to be like blood, and the mountains and the rocks beginning to fall.

Day of the Lord

The book of Revelation, you will find, is very much about the 'day of the Lord,' called the great day of his wrath.

So it is not unreasonable at all that John would've said to the brethren, "I was in the spirit in the 'day of the Lord.' So we are talking about the 'end time day of the Lord,' the 'day of God's wrath,' the 'day of the wrath of the Lamb.' What do you suppose that's really going to be like?

Remember all the things we just read, the sun is black, the moon is as blood, men are hiding themselves in dens and caves of the earth.

Listen to Isaiah's version of this, it comes from the second chapter of Isaiah verse 10, "Enter into the rock, and hide you in the dust, for fear of the Lord and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day, for the 'day of the Lord of hosts' shall be upon everyone that is proud and lofty, and upon everyone that is lifted up, and he shall be brought low."

Later in verse 17, He says, "The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, the haughtiness of men shall be made low, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day, and the idols, He will utterly abolish. They will go into the holes of the rocks, and in the caves of the earth for fear of the Lord, and the glory of his majesty, when He arises to shake terribly the earth."

Oh, that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck when you realize what's going to actually happen. Here, the comparison is almost the same kind of words that we find in Revelation, and it's the 'day of the Lord.'

20 "In that day, a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship to the moles and the bats, to go into the clefts of the rocks in the tops of the ragged rocks, for the fear of the Lord and the glory of his majesty, when He arises to shake terribly the earth."
Other passages and prophets use the imagery of words like where he takes a blanket and shakes the blanket to snap the dust out of it, and He is going shake the earth like that.

Well, the book of Revelation is about that 'day of the Lord.'

Zephaniah describes it this way in chapter 1 verse 14, "The great day of the Lord is near. It is near, it hastes greatly, even the day of the Lord of hosts, the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, the day of trouble of distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities in the high towers."

Jeremiah says, "Alas for that day is great so that none is like it, it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it" (Jeremiah 30:7).

Prophet after prophet brings up the 'day of the Lord.'

Jesus said in Matthew 24 verse 21, "When that 'day of the Lord' comes, there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, and there never will be again."

He's talking about a time when, unless those days will be shortened, there would be no flesh saved alive.

It really is possible that all life could be blown off the planet. And there never has been a time until our lifetime, when it was possible.

And so the book of Revelation is about the time when God finally takes a hand in world affairs. There's a time coming when God is going to take vengeance upon those people who have hurt other people, upon those who have lied and cheated and murdered and killed and raped. There is a time for the vengeance of God.

Until next time, this is Ronald Dart reminding you, there is a day of vengeance!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This article was transcribed with

minor editing from a Born to Win Radio Program by: Ronald L. Dart

Titled: The Book of Revelation -Program #2

Transcribed by: bb 3-19-23


Ronald L. Dart was an evangelist and is heard daily and weekly on his Born to Win radio program. 
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