God’s Grand Finale: An Introduction to Revelation
December 29, 2020
by Dr. J. Vernon McGee
I have always loved to read a good mystery, detective story.
When I was a young man in ministry, on Sunday evenings after the church service, I would go home and relax by reading a good mystery. About one o'clock in the morning I’d get to the place where the villain has tied the heroine to the railroad tracks and the train is coming along down the tracks. She is in a desperate situation.
Where’s the hero? Will he rescue her in time? But wait—he’s in that old warehouse down by the pier, tied to a chair under which is a stick of dynamite with the fuse already lit.
You know I can't leave the hero and heroine in that kind of position even if it’s one o'clock in the morning. But, since it is time for me to go to sleep, I peek over at the final page. A different scene greets me there. The hero and the heroine sit out on the porch of a lovely cottage with a white picket fence.
Then I would turn back to the place where I stopped reading, and say to the hero and heroine, “I don't know how you are going to get out of it, but I tell you this: It's going to work out all right.”
We look around at a dark world today and wonder how it’s all going to end. Well, all we need to do is turn to the last book of the Bible, the Revelation. What we read there tells us it's going to work out all right.
It doesn’t look that way. In fact, it looks like the devil is having a high holiday in the world. But God is going to work it out. God Himself will gain control—in fact, He has never lost control—and He is moving to the time when He is going to place His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, upon the throne of His universe down here.
Anyone who takes an optimistic view of the world situation isn’t thinking clearly. The world is in a desperate condition. However, I'm no pessimist, because I have the book of Revelation, and I can say to every person who has trusts Christ, “Don't you worry. It's going to work out all right.” God is coming out on top and you want to be with Him. You’re on the side that looks to be losing now, but we’re not on the last page yet.
It doesn’t take much to see a great crisis is coming. People talk about it all the time. As a result of this foreboding, there has been a growing interest in the book of Revelation.
Revelation is the 66th book of the Bible—the last one. This means we need to know 65 other books before we get to this place. Having a working knowledge of all the background of the Bible will give Revelation context. If you know the facts and the feel of Scripture, that will help, too. Revelation does not originate or begin anything, but it brings to complete conclusion what began somewhere else in Scripture. It’s critical to a right understanding of the book to be able to trace each great subject of prophecy from the first reference to the terminal. At least ten great subjects of prophecy find their fulfillment here. This is why you need to know the rest of the Bible to understand Revelation. More than 500 times, it alludes to or references the Old Testament. In its 404 verses, 278 contain references to the Old Testament. In other words, over half of this book depends on your understanding of the Old Testament.
Revelation is like an airport with ten great airlines coming into it. We need to understand where each began and how it was developed as it arrives in Revelation.
For more, see Why Study Revelation?
Get to know Jesus in Revelation
If you’ve read the Gospels, you’ve met the earthly Jesus. Revelation shows us the heavenly Jesus who was, and is, and is to come. (The two pictures are very different.)
Read the following verses in your Bible and begin a list in your journal or in the back of your Bible of all the names for Jesus in Revelation. (We found 20; see below.)
- 22:13, 16
(1:5—Faithful witness, First born of the dead, Ruler over the kings of the earth; 1:8-13—Alpha and Omega, First and last, Son of Man, The Almighty; 3:14—The Amen, The faithful and true witness, The beginning of the creation of God; 5:5-9—Lion of the tribe of Judah, The Root of David, The Lamb that was slain; 17:14—Lord of lords, King of kings; 19:11—Faithful and true, The Word of God, Rider of the white horse; 22:13, 16—The beginning and the end, The bright and morning star)