The Inevitable Revelation of Jesus Christ
As a preparation to properly understand the book of Revelation, let us consider the following.
Commentators have proposed two different approaches to the book of Revelation. One is the linear view, where historical events unfold from one perspective without any repetition. Two is the cyclical view, where the same events are viewed from different perspectives.
Different perspectives are given of the same historical events in the Bible but never from the same writer. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give four different views of Christ from many of the same events, but four writers. Moses gives us a linear account of the creation and the lineage of men straight through to the patriarch Joseph, but there is only one perspective - ultimately, and most importantly, God's.
Bible authors write in no other way. All the prophets give their perspective. Why is this principle important? The interpretation of Revelation must follow the standard rules of writing; to deviate from the rules can only lead to a false understanding of the author's intent.
For example, no commentator understood as a child of God interprets any portion of the Bible as an allegory, except some- Revelation. Why? It is impossible to know the meaning behind an allegory apart from speaking directly to the author. Whenever I have allegorized a Hollywood movie and later read accounts of the author's intent, my allegory and author's intent were always different.
Then there is the matter of metaphors. We use metaphors all the time in everyday speech. We use them to go from the known to the unknown. Jesus said, "I am the vine and you are the branch, apart from Me you can do nothing." There is no problem with His use of a metaphor in this way. In reality, He is not a vine, and we are not a branch. However, His use of the terms conveys the meaning of our dependence upon Him very well. No portion of Revelation is an allegory, but it contains many metaphors.
BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:7, 8)
The following words of John from verses seven and eight are chock full of metaphors and yet very easy to understand with just a little work in Greek. The first word is "behold" and means take special attention to what is coming next. Yes, it has been 2,000 years; nevertheless, He is coming. Such a thing is unexpected yet sure. The following words are redundant but amplify the word behold, "HE IS COMING," most definitely.
The first literal metaphor is "clouds"; they point to the place from which Jesus comes, which is heaven. Jesus was here and yet is not of this earth, which should make all those only earthly-minded people consider they may be too narrow-minded for their own good.
"Every eye" points to each person that they will be made aware of Jesus' earthly return. "Pierced" refers to those who drove the nails into his hands and feet and all who ever rejected Him. Nothing is more piercing than hatred, rejection, and a failure to acknowledge a person's existence. All those who fail to worship Jesus by making Him all-important in their life pierced Him.
"Tribes" refers to the descendants of a common ancestor. The irony of all the national pride, hatred, and wars is that we all come from the same man Adam. Sin in the human heart has done its destructive best.
"Mourn" is to beat the breast and the same term used by those who left the sight of Jesus' crucifixion. When men rejected Jesus, they mourned; when He returns and eternally rejects men - they will mourn like never before.
"Amen" is how God concludes this string of metaphors, which is to say, truly, so let it be. God gives His heartfelt consent to these things. They are truly words by which to live.
To which God do we adhere? He is the Alpha or the first letter in the Greek alphabet. He is also the Omega or the last letter. With a metaphor, God points to Himself as the beginning and ending. God who lives outside of time, the eternal God who has always been. The Almighty, by which no one can do anything about it.