For the next ten days, I’ll be reading Revelation, the last book in the New Testament. I’ll end this month with a view of what will happen when God says, “It’s a wrap” on our world, and those of us who belong to Him will begin the next stage of eternal life in a new heaven and new earth. After that, I’ll go “back to the beginning” and start through the Old Testament in Genesis 1.
It helps to remember the Bible is one story – the story of Jesus. From beginning to end, God is telling us the story of man’s redemption through the blood of His only Son – a story that was planned from eternity past, by His will, for His purposes and His glory. When you have the big picture in mind, it makes all the hard-to-comprehend details a lot easier to understand and believe.
A lot of people avoid Revelation, including pastors who ought to be teaching the whole counsel of God. They say it’s too difficult; there are too many interpretations; we don’t know if it’s literal or figurative, or if it’s already fulfilled or still to come. The man who penned these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit would be insulted to hear our reasons for ignoring a book that is so important for believers, especially the generation who may see it come to pass!
We don’t like Revelation because it tells us some difficult and scary things are coming on our world. We want to believe that we’ll be rescued before it gets “really” hard. And there are good, scriptural foundations for the pre-Tribulation rapture, but we can’t be dogmatic on it. We just don’t know how much we will be called to suffer before we go home.
But fear is not a reason to avoid this book. I believe God wants us to study it just as much as any other scripture, and it is, for the believer, a book of hope and anticipation for many reasons. When these events begin to unfold (and I believe are unfolding right now), it confirms the veracity of scripture, and when every single word comes true, God will be seen and worshipped by every living soul, recognized for who He is.
Revelation 1:7 – Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
To me, that’s the final word. This. Will. Happen. Our faith will become sight. The mockers will be silenced. The doubters and scoffers will be proven wrong, and God’s Word, which has been so maligned and dismissed, will be revealed as genuine and true. Jesus will be revealed!
After all, the book is entitled, The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 1:1-3 – The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Revelation is the only book that promises a blessing for those who read it. But we’re not just to read it; we’re to hear the words and heed the things written in it.
Read is the Greek word anaginōskō. It means to know certainly, to know again, to recognize, to acknowledge. In other words, we are to read for understanding, not just skim through and pick up the highlights.
Hear is the Greek word akouō. It is the opposite of “turning a deaf ear” to what you hear. It is to attend to, or consider what has been said, to understand and perceive. It’s also translated as “hearken” which has the idea of responding to a knock and opening the door. It’s listening with the intent to do something about that which you’ve heard.
Heed is the Greek word tēreō. It’s also translated as “keep” in this verse, meaning to observe, to attend to carefully, and to guard or preserve.
Revelation was given to us as a gift from God. He didn’t have to warn us about the coming judgment on an ungodly and wicked world. He didn’t have to give us hope of a glorious future that will sustain us and help us to persevere with faithful endurance to the end. But He did, because He is a loving God as well as a holy and just God.
When John wrote this book, he fully expected the events to unfold soon – even before he died. He saw the time for the prophecies to be fulfilled as “near.” Why has God waited two thousand years? Why has He stretched out the timeline, giving rise to mockers and scoffers who believe the world will go on just as it has since the beginning of time?
2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.
God is not in a hurry because He cares about us. He decided that you and I should be part of His sovereign plans, and He has waited until we were born. He has made it possible for us to hear the gospel and given us an opportunity to repent. But don’t be deceived. Every event we will read about in Revelation will come to pass. God’s patience will come to an end one day and the door to redemption will close.
Before that happens, may we read this book carefully, listen with intent, and take heed to what we learn.