I have long believed the importance of this intricate book in the New Testament. Life has also taught me that 'keeping' is a cornerstone of 'believing' that is too frequently overlooked. What does it mean to "keep the words of the prophecy" of Revelation? What does following God on a practical level look like? In a book with allegorical style, fantastic imagery, and such a broad historical scope it is easy to intellectualize ourselves away from the essence of the message.
Chapter 12 of Revelation uses the word remnant in verse 17 when describing a group of people whom Satan (verse 9) is enraged with and fighting against with all of his power. These people "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus" and are caught up in the center of the great struggle between good and evil. So in seeking to better understand what it means to "keep the words of the prophecy of this book" I chose to start with the word remnant.
Because Revelation is largely a mosaic of the rest of scripture I believe that the Old Testament holds beautiful keys to understanding its message. So beginning in Isaiah working verse by verse I found three main categories of relevant verses. These either:
- Use the word remnant
- Explain the characteristics of the remnant
- Describe God's promises to the remnant.
~ Chapter 10
"And it shall come to pass in that day that the remnant of Israel, and such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, will never again depend of him who defeated them, but will depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. vs. 20
The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God. vs. 21
For though your people, O Israel, be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them will return; The destruction decreed shall overflow with righteousness." vs. 22
~ Chapter 11
"It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people who are left. vs. 11
There will be a highway for the remnant of His people who will be left from Assyria, as it was for Isreal in the day that he came up from the land of Egypt." vs. 16
~ Chapter 12 (A continuation of the previous verse)
"And in that day you (the remnant) will say: "Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for YAH, the Lord, is my strength and my song; He has also become my salvation." Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." vs. 1, 2
~ Chapter 28
"In that day the Lord of hosts will be for a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to the remnant of His people." vs. 5
~ Chapter 46
"Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb: Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you." vs. 3, 4
In these five verses there are many beautiful lessons! Practical pictures of a life lived in trust and hope. I encourage anyone interested to read the context of each of these for more insight into each promise. These are the concepts I think are most central:
- Refers to God's people - those who have chosen to follow Him
- Are called out and gathered by God from among the nations
- Return to God
- Depend on God in truth
- When faced with destruction will experience God's sustaining power to "overflow with righteousness" all circumstances in their lives.
- Travel the highway prepared for them
- Trust God completely
- Are not afraid
- Find their strength, song, and salvation in God
- Live joyfully in gratitude
- Become transformed until God is their beauty
- Are upheld daily by God
- Are carried by God throughout their lifetime