Welcome to our fourth review of Revelation using David Chilton’s Days of Vengeance as our main source.
Another introductory issue we want to tackle is the matter of the nature of Revelation. Revelation is an eschatological discourse. It is John’s discourse. Matthew 24 provides a discourse, Mark 13 provides a discourse, Luke 21 provides a discourse, but there is no eschatological discourse in John’s gospel. Why? Because John offers the most comprehensive account in Revelation.
But what kind of discourse is this? What kind of genre? Some say that Revelation is an apocalyptic book. But Revelation is not apocalyptic. Apocalyptic literature “expressed themselves in unexplained and unintelligible symbols, and generally had no intention of making themselves really understood.”
In apocalyptic literature there is no progress, no direct acts of God in history. But for John, his symbols were not unintelligible symbols; rather they were rooted in history. They were rooted in Hebrew history; in the history of God’s people. As Jim Jordan once stated, Revelation is an easy book if you know your Old Testament. The problem, of course, is that very few evangelicals know their Old Testaments with the exception of some psalms and Proverbs. For John, Revelation is a prophecy. This is not prophecy to satisfy curiosity about future events, but prophecy to “direct God’s people toward right action in the present.” Revelation is an ethical book. As John says right in the beginning:
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written in it.”
The nature of Revelation is prophetic. It calls God’s people in the first century primarily, but also the Church today, to live faithfully in this age; to fulfill our callings, and to obey God’s commandments (22:14).