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A brief word about this study in the book of Revelation. Tell me, quickly, why you want to study the book of Revelation? Be honest, what would draw you to a study of the book of Revelation?
- Rarely ever taught or explained – never studied it
- Hard to understand on your own
- Intriguing, mysterious, yet holds the secrets of our future
- Left Behind series made it appealing
- To know what the future holds
There are two responses or approaches to the book of Revelation that I want to point out.
- Some people approach the book of Revelation kind of like something out of the Da Vinci code. Like it’s a secret code that needs to be cracked. As if all we need to do is de-code it and then we will fully understand what is to come. But that is not what Revelation was meant to be. I thought the Left Behind books were entertaining and fun to read, but I don’t think God intended for us to fully be able to understand what He put in that book.
- On the other hand, some people might be put off by Revelation. Frustrated that God would give us such a strange description of what is to come and that there are so many interpretations of what it all means. Maybe it’s just a fairy tale type story with a moral to it. But this is not the way we are suppose to react to it either.
Open to Revelation 1 and let’s briefly look at 2 verses together. Here John begins by telling us what he’s about to write, what is the book of Revelation and how are we suppose to approach it? Revelation 1:2-3 he explains this revelation as,
“the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (and then he says) “3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it…”
So here John tells us that what is written in the book of Revelation is:
- the Word of God
- spoken by the resurrected Jesus
- we are to read it, hear it, and take it to heart
- and, when we do, he says we will be blessed.
Now, the first time I read that I immediately thought it meant that just simply by reading the book through once I would receive a magical blessing. But this is not what John means. For something to bless us means that it has a direct and immediate affect on our lives today. So John is saying that if you read and take to heart what is in the book of Revelation you will be blessed by it today, it will have a positive impact on your life.
But how is that possible? If we aren’t suppose to decode it, and there are so many interpretations, and we can never fully understand it in this lifetime? Well, we find the beginning of this answer in how the book begins. The first thing you will see in this book, after the introduction, is that it was addressed to 7 churches and a letter was written specifically to each one. Look at chapters 2 & 3. Notice the 7 letters. Each written to a body of believers, addressed to those who call themselves Christians. Each letter offers encouragement for the good they are doing, but most of them also offer a criticism of a sin that is prevalent among them. Each ends with a promise for those who persevere and overcome the things on earth. And as you continue to flip through Revelation you will see that after the 7 letters, the rest of Revelation is the unfolding of those promises.
So why do we have the book of Revelation? Why should we study it?
- To help us persevere by giving us a bigger picture of what we are striving for
- To encourage us in our suffering on earth, by telling us of what we have to look forward to in heaven
- To give us confidence in how it will all end
- We live in a very secular world so we need to be reminded of what is eternal and of the spiritual reality of life. So the book of Revelation helps give us perspective.
- And it blesses us by re-aligning us with the truth and giving us an eternal perspective with the promise of fulfillment in the end.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like for Christians today if we did not have the book of Revelation? Can you imagine not truly knowing that God will be victorious over evil in the end, or that we have heaven to look forward to? Revelation has so much to offer us that we would be foolish to neglect it.
So here is our plan the next 6 weeks. Next week we are going to study chapter 1 and talk about the book of Revelation in general. Then, we want to spend a good amount of time on the 7 letters, actually the majority of the time. And I believe it is going to be a great encouragement to us and very convicting to. And then the last night we are going to do an overview of the rest of Revelation and really give you a great picture of what the rest of the book says. We are not going to spend any time on interpretation or trying to guess who the beast is or any of that. So I hope you’re not disappointed.
Preparation: Read chapter 1. If you have 10 minutes, then also read ch. 2-3. If you really want an idea of what the book of Revelation is about, which I recommend, then find 45-1 hour to read the entire book.