As a part of my ministry and work at LifeWay Christian Resources, I lead the team that produces the curriculum, Bible Studies for Life. To keep these series in tune with the needs and issues in our churches, we do an annual survey among Bible study leaders. We ask two questions:
- What is the single biggest challenge you are facing right now?
- What topics would you like to see covered in an upcoming study?
This is a highly beneficial exercise, but I always know what will be at the top of the list. It’s the same every year.
We want to study Revelation.
Why are we so fascinated with this one book? Because we don’t understand it.
Pull up a chair. It’s time I explained to you the Book of Revelation.
Why me? I just completed my 44th read of this revelation. One of my doctrinal seminars looked at every jot and tittle of John’s revelation. I’ve read countless books on eschatology (and the Book of Revelation in particular). Some of these books were good. Some of them … well, not so good.
So here’s what I can tell you about John’s vision: it is hard to comprehend. I haven’t figured it out.
I don’t say that to be flippant, nor do I want to discourage reading and studying it. But I do have issues with those writers and “scholars” who dogmatically expound on exactly what this means and what that means. Read any of these books from a generation or two ago; they were so confident that the 1970s (or the 1980s, or the 1990s …) were truly the last days. Their books go out of print, and newer books appear on the bookshelves outlining the correct millennial view and why we are in the last days.
Let me encourage you to read the book. Study it. Settle on a millennial view. But do it with humility. Why? John’s apocalyptic writing is difficult and, I’m sorry, but you won’t get it all exactly right.
Have you ever noticed how many elements of Revelation are picked up and used in popular culture? Horror movies and sci-fi stories often pick up the dark elements of the vision—the Antichrist, the number 666, the plagues and pestilence—and build a whole story line and worldview that is dark. What they miss is how much of the book is about Jesus.
If we’re honest, there are parts of the book of Revelation that make us scratch our heads, but the parts that are clear are clearly about Jesus. His life. His truth. His victory. His love. The first three chapters offer a challenge and encouragement to the churches. The next two chapters paint of picture of Jesus in heaven and His majestic role. The last few chapters point to His ultimate victory and gives a description of eternal life with Him. Even in the middle chapters, which contain the judgments, tribulations, and the parts that Hollywood grabs for movie fodder, are verses that clearly point to the victory of Jesus Christ.
So what’s my point? I think most people miss the point of the Book of Revelation. They think it’s all about scary end times, the Antichrist, and bad Nicholas Cage movies.But I see a letter to Christians telling us that, no matter how bad life may get, it will pass—and what will last is an incredible, eternal life with Christ in heaven.
- It’s a letter of encouragement.
- It’s a call to endure.
I refuse to sweat about the future. There is great security in Christ.