When most people think of the book of Revelation, they think of dramatic end time events, the Antichrist, and the return of Jesus. Of course, you can find all these things in the book of Revelation, but the book actually contains much more than what people normally think of when they think about this book.
What tends to get little attention in the book of Revelation is what the book says about the church. In the book of Revelation, we find significant information about the church in the end of the age. For example, the book of Revelation predicts a massive end-time church that is faithful in the most difficult hour of human history (Revelation 5:9; 12:11). This alone tells us the church will both mature and experience great harvest before the end of the age.
The book of Revelation also gives us insight into God’s agenda for the church. By understanding what the book of Revelation tells us about God’s agenda for the church, we can better understand how we should build the church. Understanding the end goal God’s mission is designed to achieve helps us to understand how to better cooperate with that mission along the way.
We need to recognize this kind of information in the book of Revelation so that we can partner with God by building the church according to His objectives. While the book of Revelation has specific information for the church in the end-times, that information about the church is also applicable throughout church history because the end-time information in the book of Revelation tells us God’s end goal for the church. That end goal is the culmination of a process that is ongoing throughout church history. Each generation in the church is progressively building towards that goal.
This is one of the main shifts we need to make in the church with regard to the study of the end-times (the study of eschatology). We must begin seeing these kinds of passages as more than just predictions of future events, but as passages given to help us in our labor with God to see the church come to maturity regardless of the generation we live in.
One of the more profound predictions the book of Revelation makes is that the blood of Jesus has restored humanity so that human beings can serve as priests on the earth. The subject of believers as priests tends to be one of the most neglected subjects in the church in comparison to how central it is in Scripture. It is both Jesus’ eternal calling and identity (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:25) and our eternal calling and our eternal identity (Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; 5:9-10).
The book of Revelation declares that our primary and permanent identity is to be priests. The book of Revelation predicts that a priestly ministry led by human beings who reflect the priestly ministry in heaven must come on the earth. The New Testament affirms the priestly calling on the people of God as a present reality. Therefore, the predictions in the book of Revelation related to the priesthood affect how we build the church now.
To understand what God wants on the earth, it is important to be familiar with Revelation 4-5. These two chapters predict and describe the priestly expression on the earth that must come.