Prof. Johan Malan, University of the North, South Africa.
Abstract: A thematic study of Revelation
1. The glorified Christ
2. The dispensation of the Church
3. Caught up!
4. The Antichrist
5. The revival of Babylon
6. Israel during the tribulation
7. Wars, plagues and natural disasters
8. The kingdom of the Messiah and the new creation
9. It is finished!
10. A Biblical strategy for spiritual survival
Never in the past has the book of Revelation been as relevant to the times as now, for we are on the threshold of the rapture and the glorification of the true Church as the bride of Christ. In the wake of this dramatic event a treacherous New World Order of political, religious and economic unity will be instituted under the leadership of the Antichrist. He will rule as a false Prince of Peace for 3½ years. The sudden collapse of his humanistic peace programme will usher in the dark days of the great tribulation when the whole world will be subjected to an unprecedented military dictatorship lasting another 3½ years. This international reign of terror will culminate in the battle of Armageddon.
Very aptly, Paul exhorted Christians not to despise the prophetic word (1 Thes. 5:20). It should merit priority in our thinking, our conversations and in the ordering of our lives, since it lends an extremely important future perspective of what is in store for all of us. Preachers should strongly emphasise this message, as ignorance of biblical prophecies leads to secularism and a poor insight into the true significance of world events.
The tendency in the Churches to resort to humanism and excessive involvement with secular issues, while being content with a mere form of godliness, can be attributed to a lack of prophetic understanding of end-time events. This is particularly evident in the astonishing ignorance about the dangers constituted by the interfaith movement with its objective to unite all the world’s religions.
Many of the theologians who do not expect a millennial kingdom after the second coming of Christ, have substituted this future dispensation for a Kingdom-now theology. They blatantly exalt themselves rather than Christ and institute high positions of authority through prophets and apostles with supernatural powers. These powers are practised in close association with extra-biblical, and hence unverifiable, revelations of God's will. In so doing, they produce strange signs and wonders while striving to unite all believers. They clearly do not prepare the way for Christ with their transformations and false revival, but for the appearance of the Antichrist and the universal false prophet who will astound and deceive the world with their display of supernatural powers (Rev. 13:11-13).
By means of this review of Revelation it is proposed to bring into sharper focus the prophetic perspectives that God has provided to us in His Word. Since biblical prophecy is in most Churches either hushed up or spiritualised, and thus deprived of its original meaning (replacement theology), the information to be presented here could indeed be a revelation, or even a huge disillusionment, to some. Whatever your reaction, the objective of the author is to acquaint you with the vital events related to the end-time. Without knowledge on this subject, people are not able to adequately comprehend the rapidly changing world in which we live. Ignorance of the signs of the times also results in a lack of vigilance in the midnight hour immediately prior to the coming of the heavenly Bridegroom:
Christ also reprimanded the people of the first century for their inability to discern the signs of His first coming (Lk. 12:54-56). They were able weather-prophets, and when the clouds from the Mediterranean Sea rolled inland, they could tell that the rain was imminent. When the hot winds from the desert swept over the countryside, they could predict dry and warm conditions. Why then did they lack the ability to observe the signs of the times? These signs are just as obvious as those of nature, if one would just care to read the Bible and use the prophetic word as a frame of reference to interpret and anticipate world events.
However, criticism can also be levelled against our generation on similar grounds as to Israel’s spiritual leaders in the first century. Most Christians are hypocrites – people who, because of their lack of discernment, have only a form of godliness. They either ignore or deny the basic truths in the Word of God, and reject reprimands about their stubbornness.
Vigilance is an indispensable disposition in the life of a born again Christian. We should constantly be on guard against the possibility of attacks and deception by the enemy of our souls. Furthermore, we should endeavour to be found occupied with the works of the Lord when He comes. The promise of His second coming, as well as the signs pointing to this event, serve to encourage and motivate us to persevere with a life dedicated to glorify our Saviour. We should realise that we do not have unlimited opportunities to do the work assigned to us by the Lord Jesus, and that we will have to give account of our stewardship when He comes. What preparations have you made by way of a programme of spiritual commitments so that you can have confidence to face Christ before His judgement seat – not only as a saved person, but also to be found a faithful servant?
The prophetic word also addresses sinners not to delay in their quest to find a refuge in the Saviour, Jesus Christ. In the prophecies, much attention is given to eternal life and eternal punishment in order that people should give due consideration to this very important matter. The spiritual interests of your soul should take precedence over the material interests of your earthly life. Eternity waits at the end of the road, and the choice about your final destination must be made now!
The prophecies of Revelation are also intended as a guide for those who will be left behind during the rapture, and have to face the turbulent times of the tribulation period. In the first place, they should hurry to be reconciled with the Lord. Furthermore, they will have to bear the immense responsibility to withstand the deception of the Antichrist and to unmask him as a counterfeit Christ. They will have to be prepared to pay the highest price for their faith. Their greatest concern should be their spiritual lives, and not physical and economic survival in a Christ-less New World Order. Knowledge of the prophetic word will be indispensable during the tribulation period.
A biblical strategy for spiritual survival during the tribulation period has been included at the end of the book. It is our sincere prayer that those of you who, by the time of the rapture, have not yet responded to the friendly invitation of the Lord Jesus to come to Him to have your sins forgiven and your burdens lifted, will have the courage of your conviction to do so in the dark days of testing and antichristian deception that lie ahead.
Johan S. Malan
University of the North