When studying the book that completes God’s revealed truth and ties everything together, you must have a proper understanding of what precedes and leads up to it.
There must be a correct understanding of the Bible’s content (particularly with regard to Israel) and theology (particularly with regard to the church) in order to correctly interpret and apply the truths God has revealed in Revelation.
To put in another way, “Act I” leads to the conclusion in “Act II,” but “Act II” must be read in the light of “Act I” or else its meaning will be missed.
The Bible has a theme or purpose that includes, influences, unifies, and ties everything in the Bible together. Without understanding this over-arching, unifying theme, the Bible will just seem to be a collection of different stories and letters. Or, you may see something else as the main theme of the Bible, resulting in a wrong interpretation and application of different passages.
1. God’s Purpose in History
1) The motivation behind everything God does is His glory.
- God’s “glory” is the esteem that rational beings (humans and angels) have for God because of who He is and what He has done— when we “see” God for who He is, as He has been revealed in the Bible
“Esteem” – regard, respect, admiration, value, worth, appreciation
Romans 11:36 “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
1 Corinthians 15:28 “When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all”
Colossians 1:16 “all things have been created through Him and for Him”
2) Everything exists and happens for God’s glory, and God works that purpose out in history. In the Bible God has revealed His plan of glorifying Himself. What does the Bible say how God will accomplish His plan of receiving maximum glory from human beings?
3) God will ultimately glorify Himself in human history in the Kingdom of God—God will lovingly rule and dwell with His people on earth forever. This is the unifying center, the ultimate purpose/goal of God’s activity. This is the goal of human history. This is what ties everything in the Bible together.
A two-fold relationship is involved in God’s ultimate purpose—
- “I will be their God and they will be my people”
This relationship began with the creation of man as the image of God (Gen 1:26–27). Eventually, this relationship was expressed in covenants. See Gen 17:7 (Abraham); Lev 11:45 (Mosaic); Jer 24:7; Zech 8:8; 13:9 (New)
- “I will dwell among them”
This relationship began when God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden (Gen 3:8). God did this in what theologians call a Christophany, an appearance of Christ in human form before the incarnation. After the Fall God’s “dwelling” with men was probably in sporadic Christophanies. There was no permanent, visible dwelling of God after the Fall until the Glory Cloud and the eventual construction of God’s “house” (the Tabernacle).
Study these passages for more on this theme—Gen 3:8; 17:7–8; Exod 6:7; 19:5–6; 20:24; 25:8; 29:45; Lev 11:45; 26:12, 45; Num 5:3; 35:34; Deut 12:5, 11; 29:13; 2 Chr 7:12; Ps 46:7, 11; Isa 51:16; Jer 7:23; 11:4; 13:11; 24:7; 30:22; 31:1, 33; 32:38; Ezek 11:20; 14:11; 34:30–31; 36:28; 37:23–28; 43:9; Hos 2:23; Zech 2:5, 10–11; 8:3, 8; 13:9; 2 Cor 6:16; Rev 21:7
4) The greatest display of God’s glory on earth in human history will be during the millennium—the Kingdom of God—when God will enter into a rule of loving sovereignty and fellowship with His people and dwell with them forever (Ezek 37:23–28; Zech 8:3, 8). This is what all of human history is leading to and working toward.
5) When the Kingdom of God is established, God will receive the maximum glory possible on the historical plane. God’s glory is not fully visible now. It will be, beginning with Christ’s Second Coming. How will God’s glory be made fully visible among men in human history?
- In relation to the earth, the curse will be removed before the new heavens and the new earth are formed (cf. Rom 8:18-25)
- In relation to the animal world, all the animals will live in harmony with each other (Isa 11:6-9)
- All mankind will live in subjection to the King of glory (Phil 2:10-11)
- As Christ’s bride, the church will share in the glory of Christ’s redemption (Rev 19:7-9)
- Satan will be absent during this time (Rev 20:1-3) and Christ’s glory will not be hidden
- Open sin will be supernaturally judged (Zech 14:17–19)
So, you need to always keep this theme in the back of your mind when studying the Bible. Always remember that…
(1) Everything exists and happens for God’s glory.
(2) God will receive maximum glory from human beings in human history.
(3) When Christ comes and establishes His Kingdom on earth, God will lovingly rule and dwell with His people on earth forever.