The Season is at Hand

Harvest - Photo by Joao Marcelo Marques on Unsplash
The book of Revelation opens with a “revelation of Jesus Christ” for his servants, the churches of Asia, concerning “what things must come to pass soon.” This unveiling must occur now because “the season is at hand.”
The book is not about encoding or veiling information but unveiling it; the purpose is not to conceal but to reveal information vital to the churches. This information concerns events about to occur, not in some far distant future, but “soon”; they are imminent from the perspective of the original audience of the book.
(Revelation 1:1-3) – “Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to point out unto his servants what things must come to pass soon — and he showed them by signs, sending through his angel, unto his servant John;  who bear witness as to the word of God, and the witness of Jesus Christ — whatsoever things he saw. Blessed is he that reads, and they who hear, the words of the prophecy, and keep the things therein written; for the season is near.” 
Revelation uses Old Testament passages more frequently than any other book in the New Testament, especially from the book of Daniel. But it does so by verbal allusions; it never quotes a verse directly. Instead, John folds phrases from key Old Testament texts into his narrative, often modifying specific words to make a point.
The opening paragraph provides two examples of how John applies verbal allusions to Old Testament passages to his day and to the seven churches. When applying Old Testament verses, John consistently uses the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament. Several phrases are used more than once (e.g., Daniel 2:8 in Revelation 1:1; 4:1; 22:5):
(Daniel 2:28 [Septuagint]) - “There is a God in heaven that reveals mysteries and he has made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in later days.”
(Daniel 12:4 [Septuagint]) - “Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end.”
(Revelation 1:1-3) - “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what things must shortly come to pass…Blessed is he that reads and they that hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things that are written therein, for the season is at hand.”
(Revelation 22:10) - “And he saith unto me, Seal not the words of the prophecy of this book; for the season is at hand.”
The first example occurs in Revelation 1:1 where John is informed that he has been given a “revelation” (apokalupsis) to show to God’s servants “what things must come to pass soon.” The phrase in Greek reads, ha dei genesthai en takei. The clause, en tachei, denotes “with speed, quickly, soon” (cp: Luke 18:8; Acts 12:7; 22:18; 25:4; Romans 16:20, 1 Timothy 3:14).
The source is Daniel 2:28 (Septuagint), which reads, “there is a God in heaven that reveals mysteries (apokaluptōn), and makes known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what things must come to pass in the latter days (ha dei genesthai ep’ eschatōn tōn hémerōn)".  Revelation modifies Daniel’s original phrase by changing “the latter days” to “soon.” What was once expected in a remote future is now at hand.
The second example occurs in Revelation 1:3. John is informed further that the “time is at hand.” “Time” translates the Greek noun kairos or “season”; “at hand” represents the Greek engus, meaning, “near, at hand, imminent, at the door.” It stresses proximity and imminence (cp: Romans 13:12; 1 Peter 4:7).   The source for this second example is Daniel 12:4: “Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the season of the consummation.”
In the Greek Septuagint, the term “season” or kairos is used; the same word that occurs in Revelation 1:3. Daniel was commanded to “seal” the book until the season of the end. Revelation implies if it does not directly state that the promised “season” is now at hand, if not already underway.
This understanding becomes clearer in Revelation 22:10. Unlike Daniel, John is explicitly told NOT to “seal up the words of the prophecy of the book” precisely because “the season is at hand,” the latter repeating the clause previously found in Revelation 1:3.
From the perspective of John and his first-century audience, the promised season had arrived in their day. In Christ, the long-awaited season of fulfillment had dawned.
Theologically, John is not breaking new ground. Though perhaps counterintuitive, the view of the early church was that the predicted period known as the “last days” began with the death and resurrection of Jesus. This radical change in the era is evidenced above all by the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all believers (e.g., Acts 2:16-21; Ephesians 1:10; Hebrews 1:1-3).
The events portrayed in Revelation had already been set in motion in John’s day; what was once expected in a distant future had begun. Its warnings and promises were already applicable to John’s first audience. This does not mean its visions were completely fulfilled in the first century, but it does mean that whatever future events portrayed in it began in the first century.
The vision that John received on the isle of Patmos concerns far more than just history’s final few years before the return of Jesus Christ. The "last days," the "season of the end," began with the death and resurrection of Jesus; the time of fulfillment has been underway ever since.

Comments