When one studies the introduction of John’s writing, they find that he emphasizes and reemphasizes the central focus of the writing, Jesus Christ. It is easy to overlook the first six verses of chapter one and skim over the first five chapters to try and explore the secrets of the judgments and apocalyptic events, hoping to discover some mystic codes that will provide us with details of Christ’s return. Scripture states very clearly that God has predetermined not to reveal these elements of his return. Acts 1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power; Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only; Mark 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night; Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Revelation 16:15 Behold, I come as a thief.
It is easy to become swept away with the speculation and sensationalizing of the writings in order to create a following and enhance ones standing in the Christian community. It is easy to try and manipulate modern events to define and describe prophetic writings and project dates, which create false hope and expectations, but an honest study of the scriptures does not lend itself to such forays. Scripture teaches us that prophecy is given to motivate the unbeliever to escape eternal judgment by entering into the kingdom of righteousness, and to exhort the believer to live a consecrated life in expectation of his emanate return.
The grandfather of well known poet and preacher John Donne was John Heywood, an English writer who wrote plays, poems and proverbs. John Heywood put together a collection of common sayings. One of the common sayings he helped bring to prominence was a phrase coined by Publius Syrus in his writing Sententiae, “People who are always moving, with no roots in one place, avoid responsibilities and cares.” Which was later phrased, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” The phrase has been used in a number of American songs ranging from Muddy Waters “Roll’n Stone”, Hank William’s “Lost Highway”, Buddy Holly’s “Early in the Morning”, to Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.”
John Heywood also introduced or reintroduced such sayings as “the moon is made of green cheese,” “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and “You cannot see the wood for the trees.” This proverb was later rephrased as “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” The proverb, “You can’t see the forest for the trees,” is a good evaluation of many who engage in the study in the Book of Revelation. The proverb references one who is so consumed by the details that they lose sight of the main purpose or concept. In the Book of Revelation it is easy to become so engrossed in the judgments and the apocalypse that we lose sight of the intended focus, Christ.
When we look at these prophetic writings from the perspective for which God has designed them, the things that steal our peace and create anxiety become secondary, the trees, and Christ becomes the forest, that which should be the central theme and desired discovery. The book with this focus then breaks down into three parts: Chapters 1-5 The Merciful Redeemer; Chapters 6-20, The Righteous Judge; Chapters 21-22 The Majestic King.