“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:19-20
To the best of my knowledge, the book of Revelation is the only book in the Bible that contains an inspired outline of the contents. “The things which thou hast seen” refers to the vision in Revelation 1. “The things which are” refers to Revelation 2—3, the special messages to the seven churches. “The things which shall be hereafter” covers the events described in Revelation 4—22.
The most important thing we can say at this point is that the revelation embodied in this book, though often presented in symbols, is designed to reveal truth, not to hide it. Symbols in Revelation refer to something literal. There is a reality behind the symbols. Though all the symbols are not explained, in the great majority of cases the symbols are interpreted in one way or another in the Word of God. So even though many people say that Revelation is too hard to understand, or too filled with symbolism to be meaningful in today’s world, that is simply not the case. God gave us His revelation for our understanding, our obedience, our warning, and our encouragement. When God lead me to start these Bible studies in Daniel and Revelation, I felt that I could not understand them. In writing these Bible studies I have not only strengthen my Bible knowledge, but I have growth closer in my walk with God. God is more real in my life today than He has been in years.
Chapter 1, emphasizing as it does the glory of Christ, is in essence the theme of the entire book moving progressively to the climax—the second coming of Christ in power and glory to the earth in chapter 19. The spiritual significance of Christ and His coming to judge the world is applied in chapters 2 and 3 to the spiritual problems of the contemporary church, and forms the second major division of the entire book. As we move into chapter 2 and 3, we see Jesus giving a strong message to the church. This message is as up to date as it was when John wrote the book.