We have begun a study of the book of Revelation on Sunday mornings. This book is one that is shied away from for a few reasons, but one of the major ones is its writing style. It is difficult to properly determine exactly what is meant in some verses, and for many that can be extremely frustrating. We are a people that love to know copious amounts of details, and Revelation was absolutely not written to answer our questions. The main point of the book of Revelation was to uncover the symbols of what was happening to the Christians at the end of the first century, give them a little insight into what would be happening the near future (until A.D. 300 approx.) and encourage them to not give up!
The writing style that is found in the majority of the book is what is called apocalyptic literature. The word “apocalyptic” comes from the Greek and conveys the idea of “uncovering” or “revealing”. In essence then, when something is written in this style there is a veiled message which is used.
This would be perfect if you were writing during a great time of persecution or distress. If the authorities or government ever procured a copy of the writing, the message would be so obscure, there could be little retribution for the contents. For example of this, see how the Kingdom of Babylon is referenced in John’s day. The Jewish converts would be very much aware of the writings of the Old Testament about the kingdom of Babylon and would easily be able to understand that John was really writing about Rome.
So which books have this style of writing in them? The entire books of Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelation are written in this way as well as sections of Joel, Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. Notice how most of these books were written while the Israelites were being controlled by a foreign empire. This supports our previous statements.
This is not the most easily understood style of writing in the Bible, but it sure is rewarding. These books have an underlying message of hope, and the contents are worth the study. I hope that you will find our studies in this book to be beneficial and encouraging.