Think for a moment about your favorite symphony. Now think about its final movement. What is it that makes the final movement of a symphony into a grand finale? Three simple answers come to my mind.

First, it appears at the end of the symphony. There is no more music to come. Accordingly, this is the composer’s last opportunity to sum up his message and get it across to his audience with a final burst of artistic power and panache.

Secondly, it reprises the themes that the composer gave us in the previous movements. When it does, however, it does so “grandly.” Here the composer skillfully weaves together all his earlier motifs, so that we not only hear them again, but also hear them afresh, with fresh power. We hear them in new, startling, and beautiful relations with one another. We hear them in such a way that the whole symphony is somehow poured into the last part of the symphony.

Finally, precisely because it is a grand finale, it does not typically introduce any new musical themes. Instead, the composer devotes himself more or less exclusively to a fresh, inspiring, and majestic recapitulation of the old.

All three of these observations apply to the Revelation, and in a way that helps us understand it to its depths.

Like a grand finale, the Revelation appears at the end of the great symphony of biblical revelation. By God’s wise decree, it is the last book of the Bible. What’s more, its contents positively cry out that it should be the last book, since it is so thoroughly taken up with the last things: the Last Days, the Last Battle, the (last) Resurrection, and the (last) Judgment, the last two of which occur at the last Coming of the Last Man (1 Cor. 15:45). The claims of Church History’s false prophets notwithstanding, Spirit-taught Christians find it unthinkable that God, having given us a book like this, would give us any more. And indeed, this is the testimony of the Revelation itself (21:18-19). The Revelation is the Book of the End; therefore it rightly appears at the end of the Book (1:8; 2:26; 21:6; 22:13).

Like a grand finale, the Revelation also incorporates various biblical texts, historical references, theological doctrines, and images and numbers drawn from the preceding movements of Holy Scripture, both Old Testament and New. The allusions super-abound. There are references to the Garden of Eden, Moses, the Exodus, Elijah, Mount Zion, the Temple, the birth of Jesus, the murderous cruelty of Herod, the preaching of the disciples two by two, and Christ’s resurrection, ascension, session, heavenly reign, and Parousia.

These only scratch the surface. Westcott and Hort, Bible translators and commentators, counted nearly 400 references to the OT in the Revelation. Some say there are more. In Revelation 12 alone we find quotes from—or allusions to—Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, Daniel, Zechariah, Matthew, Luke, John, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 Peter, 1 John, and Jude. Clearly, the Revelation is not simply historical narrative, law, poetry, gospel, or epistle. Rather, it is something completely new under the biblical sun. It is a final prophetic word to the universal Church, clothed in raiment woven together from all that has gone before it. As such, it is not only prophetic scripture, but also the Grand Finale of All Scripture.

If so, the implications are important. For if the Revelation really is the Grand Finale of All Scripture, then we should not expect it to introduce new themes (i.e., doctrines). It is not the purpose of a grand finale to introduce new themes; its purpose is to creatively recapitulate the old.

And when we examine the Revelation, we find that this is indeed the case. Here there is nothing new, nothing other than what Christ and the apostles have already taught us in the New Testament. There is nothing new about the trinity, the creation, the fall, the eternal covenant, the nature and structure of the Kingdom of God, or the Consummation at Christ’s return. Rather, we simply find the Holy Spirit speaking to us over and again about these old and well-established truths. However, when he does, he does so in new and astonishing ways: in beautiful, powerful, and supremely inspiring visions and symbols. Here he weaves together all that has gone before in Holy Scripture, even as he celebrates—one final time—the exaltation of the One who is the grand theme of Holy Scripture: the High King of heaven and earth.

All evangelical Christians are aware of the great debate surrounding biblical eschatology, and most realize that the nub of the controversy centers around the proper interpretation of Revelation 20. Therefore, please let this convinced amillennarian close with a few questions.

If, as I have suggested, the Revelation really is the Grand Finale of All Scripture, then does not this simple fact greatly help us to resolve the debate?  For is it likely that just a few measures prior to its end (i.e., in chapter 20), God would suddenly introduce a completely new eschatological theme (i.e., a future 1000-year earthly reign of Christ)? Moreover, what if that theme had not been mentioned in any other part of the Revelation? What if it was never mentioned in the rest of the New Testament? What if it was never mentioned in the Old Testament? What if it could not be harmonized with the eschatology of the Revelation, the OT, or the NT? And finally, what if embracing it threatened to destroy the eschatological harmony that previously existed between them all?

Yes, the Grand Finale of All Scripture has much to teach the contestants in the great end time debate. My prayer is that we all may hear it, thrill to it, come together, and come home.