The final book in the Bible contains mysteries that most people would not understand on first reading. But the Book of Revelation holds the key to understanding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Pastor Kong Hee kicked off the first of this 12-week Bible study series last Wednesday.
How should a Christian react when he hears news of wars, natural disasters, even pandemics? If he understood the prophecies in the book of Revelation, he would know these are some of the signs pointing to the return of Jesus Christ.
“The Book of Revelation is a most fascinating book,” said Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church as he began the much anticipated Bible study series on Revelations on Wednesday, April 22. “It talks about the ongoing battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. It also talks about how history will end when Jesus returns to this world in power and glory.”
The Bible study series is streamed online, via CHC’s official accounts on Facebook and YouTube, as well as The CHC App.
Going line by line, precept by precept, Pastor Kong introduced the key concepts of the Book in the first lesson.
To understand Revelation is to understand how to live in the last days. On the day of Pentecost, Peter said that the disciples were living in the last days (Acts 2:17) and John said in his first epistle that they were living in the last hour before the second coming of Christ (1 John 2:18).
“If the last days and the last hour had already begun began 2000 years ago, we must now be in the final minutes of God’s timetable,” said Pastor Kong. “The signs are becoming clearer and bolder!”
THE IMPORTANCE OF UNDERSTANDING REVELATION
Revelation 1:1 reads, “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.”
The book of Revelations is both the revealing of Jesus Himself, as well as the future, to the church. “The book of Revelation was given by Jesus to encourage Christians then and now,” the pastor explained. “He has two purposes: to encourage His people to persevere when they are suffering for Him and the Gospel, and to inform them of His second coming.”
The book of Revelation was written by John the Apostle at a time when Christians were persecuted—many of them killed—for their faith. John himself was banished to Patmos, a rocky island used as a prison when he refused to worship the Roman emperor Domitian, historically recognized as a great persecutor of Christians.
“This book will confirm what the other scriptures that have prophesied about the End Times,” the pastor said, reading Revelation 1:2. “That is why 70 percent of the book makes reference to the Old Testament.”
Even though Revelation is an important book to understand, many Christians shun it because of its complexity. But Revelations 1:3 tells Christians, “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.”
Because the book reveals Satan’s true character as well as his deceptions and devices, the devil would like nothing better than for Christians to believe it is unimportant. However, the pastor noted that unless Christians understand things that will happen in the future, they would not know how to live today purposefully.
Pastor Kong also noted that since Daniel’s prophecies of Jesus’ first coming were fulfilled, Christians today can be sure that Daniel’s prophecies of His Second Coming will also be fulfilled.
“End Time prophecies are intended to be a light, to help us understand the dark times we are living in. They prepare us psychologically, spiritually, mentally, for the return of Jesus Christ so that we won’t panic, because the Bible has already prophesied that darkness will intensify near the end,” he added.
He emphasized that Jesus criticized the Pharisees for not paying attention to the prophecies of His first coming. This was a clear sign that Jesus wants His disciples to pay attention to the prophecies of His Second Coming and to understand why certain events are happening in the world today.
“We are to encourage each other even more when we see the events pointing to the Second Coming,” said Pastor Kong, reading out Heb 10:25. “But how do we see the Day approaching when we are not even looking?”
Revelations 1:4 talked about “the seven churches which are in Asia” and “the seven Spirits who are before His throne”. The number seven is repeatedly used in the book of Revelations. Pastor Kong clarified that the number “seven” is neither sacred nor holy, but it symbolizes fullness or completeness.
“Everything in life and history is completely and fully under God’s control, proceeding in His perfect plan and schedule,” he said.
SUFFERING WITH JESUS, OUR SAVIOR
Revelation 1:5-8 talks about Jesus and His role as the Savior.
“Revelation has the greatest emphasis on Christology, the study of Christ,” the pastor said. He reminded the church that the doctrine of the Trinity was not so well articulated in John’s days. The Christians who were facing persecution in those days needed to be very sure that Jesus was really God so that they could hold on to their faith.
John wrote specifically that Jesus loved His people so much that He redeemed them with His blood and restored them to their intended positions as kings and priests. Reading Exodus 19:6, Pastor Kong explained that as kings, Christians share in Jesus’ rule when He returns and as priests, they have access to God’s presence.
In verse 7, John urged Christians to focus on the fact that Jesus will return a second time, and “every eye will see Him”. It will not be a secret return, noted Pastor Kong. Verse
8 emphasizes again that Jesus is the eternal God and He shares the same divinity of God.
Revelation 1:9 reads, “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
As their apostle and leader, John shared in tribulation with the church.
“This truth that suffering is the calling of God’s people must be firmly rooted in our hearts,” urged Pastor Kong. Quoting Matthew 5:10 and Mark 10:30, he went on to say that to live for God means that Christians will suffer for righteousness’ sake, but Jesus also promised that He will bless them a hundredfold.
The sooner Christians recognize this truth, the more at peace they will be, the pastor said. The truth is that the conflict between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness has been going on all throughout the history of mankind, and the church is standing right between the two kingdoms. Christians are the objects of Satan’s hatred.
“When we go through hardships, we need patience and endurance: the patience of Jesus Christ mentioned in verse 9. It is what Jesus-likeness means,” said the pastor.
Even when Jesus was publicly insulted, criticized, and humiliated, He never lost His cool and He trusted God fully (1 Pet 2:23).
“The fruit of the spirit can only be cultivated through suffering,” explained Pastor Kong. “It is very hard, that’s why we need the Holy Spirit to empower us.”
The pastor urged the church not to turn away from God or to fall into Satan’s trap during hard times, but to take it as an opportunity to grow in grace, relying on God alone.
“In times of persecution, our courage will be tested. If we cannot even confess Jesus as our Savior and share the Gospel in this peaceful time, how will we be able to do it when we are pressured to deny Him?” he challenged.
Pastor Kong encouraged the church, saying that God allows Christians to go through hardships so that their faith can be strengthened. “Jesus is known most intimately in the midst of our suffering,” he concluded.
Click here to watch Lesson 1.
New lessons of The Book of Revelation Bible study will be webcast every Wednesday at 8pm.