Revelation is a difficult book to understand. It has much symbolic and apocalyptic language, and I am far removed from the time and culture in which it was written. I’m not going to clear it up in a few hundred words.
Even so, I’d like to offer a perspective on the book. It seems to me that Revelation is a source of a lot of fear and confusion. So much of the Bible is intended to encourage and edify believers that it is clear to me that fear and confusion are not the intent of the Apostle John or God in the writing of Revelation. As a believer wrestling with this part of God’s Word, however you may feel, do not be afraid.
I’ve seen and heard television and radio program focused on Bible prophecy, particularly Revelation. Some seem particularly alarming or sensational, and others seem to shoehorn current events into a particular interpretation of Revelation and Bible eschatology. Rarely have these programs increased my understanding. Eschatology is important; God addressed the end times, and we should do our best to understand what He said. However, we are not all called to be experts on eschatology, though we are all called to be imitators of Christ.
Some parts of Revelation are easy to understand. In the second and third chapters, Jesus Christ delivers through John messages to seven churches in Asia. Though written to those churches, it is still for us. Christ’s encouragement and criticisms serve as a mirror into which Christians and churches can still can look to see themselves and how they are.
There are a few other things in Revelation that are plain, especially in light of straightforward teaching found elsewhere in the Bible. Jesus Christ will return. He will judge all the people from all of time; as believers we are already assured of God’s mercy and can expect a much different type of judgment that the one facing those who refused God and continued in their sins. We will all be bodily resurrected; God’s people will be resurrected in transformed, incorruptible bodies to live in God’s presence in a purified and remade creation forever.
Even though it is difficult, I encourage you to read Revelation. It is okay if you can’t understand it all. Ask God to help you understand. Read other books of the Bible; you may be surprised by how they can illuminate Revelation.
John also wrote
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