As I wrap up my first year of teaching the Bible at Amarillo High School I’ve been preparing what to say in coming to the Bible’s last book.
This will not be the first time I have taught about the Book of Revelation, but a couple of weeks ago I purchased a book about it that was highly recommended and offers some new insights and twists for me.
One thing the author said that got my attention is that Revelation is the most difficult book in the Bible to interpret and understand. You may or may not agree, but I certainly do; and if we survey the many different interpretations and understandings, we have to conclude it is complicated.
I could not agree more with what Gordon Fee and Douglas Stewart say in their book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: “It seems necessary to say at the outset no one should approach Revelation without a proper degree of humility!” Yet many interpreters think they have it all figured out.
My sense is that none of us knows exactly what everything in the book means, but I think that is part of the author’s intention. While written late in the first century, Revelation is meant to be read by and applicable to all believers until Jesus comes again. Contrary to what many suggest, I do not believe Revelation’s purpose is to give us a timeline and details of the future. Or as one author phrases it, an “advance DVD of the end of the world.”
Rather than telling us about when and what will happen at the end of time, the purpose of the book of Revelation is to give Christians warning, encouragement, hope, confidence, and comfort in whatever time they live.
One thing the book tells us is that things are bad and they are going to get worse. Revelation, of course, is not the only book in the Bible that tells us that.
A second thing the book tells us is that God is still on his throne. Even though it may appear that evil is dominating, God is still in charge.
Third, since God is still in charge, believers need to remain faithful. Even in the face of suffering and persecution, the call to followers of Jesus in Revelation is to maintain their faith.
Finally, the book of Revelation tells readers that in the end God wins. And if God wins, those who have remained faithful to the Lord also win.
Obviously there is a great deal more that can and should be said about the final book in the New Testament. But hopefully these few words about this sometimes strange and most difficult book will stimulate your thinking.
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