The Book of Revelation is the last of the inspired writings and contains a personal message from the Lord Jesus Christ to his friends (John 15:15). It is written in a style that only his “friends” can understand, because it expresses “spiritual things in spiritual words” (1 Cor 2:13) and therefore requires a “spiritual” mind to interpret its message. Very often the “Lord’s friends” also experience difficulty in comprehending certain features of the book and whilst acknowledging that it is right that the message should be written in such a fashion that “the wicked will not understand” (Dan 12:10), they are frequently perplexed at the structure and arrangement of the message. It could be true to say that such people come to view the Apocalypse as a series of difficult visions to be explained and reconciled with what they know to be the Truth of the Gospel, but without a clear understanding of why the Book was structured in this fashion.
Acknowledging, therefore, that the Lord carefully chose every symbol as the best possible illustration by which to convey his “spiritual message”, it is incumbent upon his friends to study the book with a view to understanding its theme. This theme is expressed in the title “Revelation” or, to transpose the Greek word, “Apocalypse”. It is a confidential message from the Lord explaining to his friends how the Father has manifested His Glory in the past, is manifesting it at the present and will assuredly reveal it in a multitude of glorified ones in His future Kingdom. The message is set out in the most beautiful and orderly fashion that the mind of the Spirit could devise and it is “our Glory to search it out” (Prov 25:2). The following extract from Eureka emphasises the importance of seeing the book as an exhortation to the Saints of all ages and, whilst it is important to comprehend the continuous historic perspective of the prophetic sections, it is needful also to see that this is secondary to the principal exhortational theme of God Manifestation.

The Blessed

In Apoc. 1:3, the Spirit pronounces a benediction upon individuals of a certain class in relation to the Apocalypse. They are characterized in the original by the terms ho anaginoskon, and hoi akouontes, and terountes; the first being rendered in the Common Version, “he that readeth;” the second, “they that hear;” and the third, “keep.” But these renderings do not express the full sense of the original; for a man may read and hear and keep in memory the words prophesied, and the things commanded, and yet be very far from understanding, and heeding, and watching by the light of, what is written. The benediction of this verse is not pronounced upon such; but on those who answer to the import of the three words selected by the Spirit.

The word anaginoskon signifies one who gathers exact knowledge of a matter or thing. Hence, in my translation I have rendered it, “he that knows accurately.” Such a one might assume the position of an expositor; for knowing accurately the words of the prophecy, he would be competent to expound them to others. The first part of the benediction, then, falls upon him—”Blessed he that can expound the words of this prophecy!” But, alas! if the benediction were confined to him only, how few in the generations subsequent to John’s would be of the number of the “blessed!” Happily, however, it is not so limited. If one comes to know accurately, others, who would never have been able to get an exact knowledge by their own unassisted efforts, may obtain from him such a knowledge as will enable them to be hoi akouontes; that is, not only hearers, but hearers who give heed to what they hear, and understand. They are not to be negligent hearers if they would be blessed; they must keep or “observe narrowly the things which have been written in it.” They must scrutinize them, and by their aid “Watch.” “Behold, I come as a thief,” saith Jesus; “blessed is he that watcheth.” But they only can watch to any purpose who “narrowly observe.” The Apocalypse was given to this end—that the servants of the Deity, who are keeping their garments, might be able to discern the signs of the times preceding the apocalypse of Christ; and the real nature of things extant in their several generations. No believer understanding this prophecy could be seduced into fellowship with the clerical institutions of the world; because he would see them all in their native deformity and sin.

The reason given why they are blessed who know accurately, give heed to, and observe narrowly, the subject-matter of the prophecy, is “because the time is near.” The time of the prophecy. When the prophecy was given, that the Seed of the Woman should bruise the serpent’s head, the time was not near. But in respect of this prophecy symbolized in the Apocalypse, “the time is near.” It began to be developed soon after it was published; and its development has been progressing onwards to its grand catastrophe ever since. Hence, all this long series of centuries from John to the apocalypse of the Sons of the Deity, and the consummation of their mission in the establishment of the kingdom of their Father, and the overthrow of the enemy, is the time of the prophecy. This long period had its beginning and its end, which are significantly indicated by the fact of the phrase occurring but twice; first in the verse before us, and next in ch. 22:10, at the end of the book; as if they had been so placed to enclose the prophecy between them. In the latter place it was said to John, “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book; because the time is near.” This instruction was contrary to that given to Daniel in ch. 12:4, 9. He was commanded to “shut up the words, and seal the book” of his prophecy, “till the time of the end;” which was an intimation that it would not speak intelligibly till then. But it was not to be so with the Apocalypse. This was to speak intelligibly to the blessed who came to know it accurately, and to give heed to it, in all its course, each generation discerning the signs of its own times, while all “the servants of the Deity,” whose especial document it is, had among them a scriptural understanding of the consummation it reveals.

“The time is near,” then; not that the thousand years should begin, and Christ and the Saints should rule the nations, near to John’s time, but that soon after the Apocalypse was revealed to him, the threatenings against the Nicolaitanes, the Balaams, the Jezebels, and the “liars,” in the apocalyptic and other ecclesias of the time, in which John’s contemporaries were personally interested, should begin to come upon them; and that this judgment, beginning at the house of God, would set in motion the comparatively, or rather politically, quiescent iniquity of the churches, which, in its working, would at length develop the results foreshadowed in the Dragon, the Beasts, and the False Prophet, and the events thereto relating, which, also, in their action and reaction upon one another in their efforts to establish their policies, should create such a situation of affairs in the Habitable, as should favor the interference of Omnipotence for their chastisement and overthrow, and the establishment of the kingdom of God upon the ruin of theirs. The Seed of the Kingdom had been sown in the whole Roman Habitable by the apostles. Ecclesias had been planted everywhere, and wherever they existed they embodied principles subversive of the existing order of things, for if their doctrine prevailed in its purity, converting all the world, as our clergy vainly imagine it is to do, both governors and governed, Judaism and paganism, would of necessity have been abolished; and if perverted and traditionalized, it would still be inimical to the existing order. A corrupted gospel would only intoxicate its believers. This was the condition of such men as Origen, Dionysius, Cyprian, Lactantius, Eusebius, and such like. Like the people and clergy of our day, they had acquired too much light to continue pagans, but not enough to become Christians. They became Catholic Politicians. If there had been no true Christianity, they would have continued pagans; but the truth being established, there existed a basis out of which flesh and blood could evolve a system of abomination agreeable to its own diabolism. This, as we shall see, had attained considerable development in John’s period of exile. It was a powerful element in the “ha eisi, the things which do exist,” that is, contemporary with John. Many professors were intoxicated; and when they no longer had the apostle, and the faithful men that overlived him, to keep them in check, iniquity broke loose, and gave an impetus to human affairs, and a direction to their policy, which ultimated in the establishment of a system of spiritual prostitution, variously denominated Catholicism, Romanism, Protestantism, and sectarianism, as at this day.

But blessed is he that understands the Apocalypse, gives heed to, and observes narrowly the things which have been written therein, for it is utterly impossible for such a man to be imposed upon by any of these. He could as soon become a Mohammedan, as understanding, and honestly believing what he understands, to become a pious professor of any of the churches of what is absurdly enough styled “Christendom,” and to imagine thereby that he was a Christian in faith and practice. The teaching of the clergy is opposed to, and subversive of, the Christian faith, and therefore, from alpha to omega, at variance with the doctrine of the Apocalypse in faith, hope, and practice. Blessed is the man who, instructed by its teaching, is delivered from the dogmas and commandments of the craft.