Several weeks ago, I was asked to teach one session of a short course on the book of Revelation. Unlike most Bible studies I am involved in, this isn’t an exegetical verse by verse study but an in depth analysis of Revelation – the study of apocalyptic literature, historical context and even a discourse on the authorship of the book.
Clearly, this presents a type of challenge for me, as there is so much research out there that contradictions are everywhere. Did John, the author of the Gospel bearing his name, write Revelation or not? I believe he did but there are other points of view. What’s the difference between prophecy and apocalyptic literature? Do prophets speak about things to come about now while apocalyptic writings tell about the future?
What about different events throughout history that people have thought signaled the beginning of the endtimes? How about the Crusades, or 911 or even Covid? There are many groups of people who also think that World War I and/or II – signaled the end. By the way, this morning I was reading the paper and the wildfires in Canada that have produced all the smoke were referred to as an “apocalyptic” event. Go Figure! And then think about Hitler, or other leaders who most of us think of as evil – were they precursors of the Antichrist that is mentioned in the last book of the Bible?
Speaking of that – why is Revelation the last book of the canon? And how would our lives be different if those who determined the canon had left Revelation out of the Bible? These and many other questions are the kinds of things that we are exploring in the class. By the way, I have also been asked to teach the fourth week as well. That means that the pastor I am assisting will teach half the lessons and I will also present two lessons.
Make no mistake – I have very specific thoughts and beliefs about the Bible. But sometimes it is important to present opposing viewpoints so that people realize that everybody doesn’t have the same belief system or point of view.
There is no question that this is stretching me. One of the reasons why is that I attended a more conservative seminary than the leader of the class. She is more liberal than I am for sure – but she has welcomed me into her church with a willingness for the congregation to hear different points of view on the book of Revelation. That is a rarity in today’s world. People, and pastors in particular, are quick to present their point of view and don’t often welcome contrary points of view to be presented in their church.
I admire her willingness to not only tolerate, but to promote, my presentation of a different view of Revelation. So, next week I will be speaking on the various viewpoints on how to look at this most confusing book.
Many Christians fail to ever study Revelation. It is allegorical in nature and not straight narrative; and it is subject to different takes on eschatology – the study of the endtimes. It can be a scary book for those who don’t believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. However, I think of it as a wonderful book of hope.
God, in His infinite wisdom, gives us something to hold on to for the future. A way for us to know that, in the end, we will be with our Lord and Savior throughout eternity. What a wonderful, heartwarming thought. I should also note that the Bible starts with the creation story and the Garden of Eden. Likewise, it will end with a new creation, with a garden. Everything in between those two bookends is the story of God’s sovereignty and His relationship with His people.
The challenge these next several weeks will be to present God’s Word and to call on the Holy Spirit to help illuminate our understanding of the Scripture. The verse for tonight is, understandably, from Revelation. The author, who I believe to be John, the disciple who walked with Jesus during His earthly ministry, gives us a synopsis of the vision that he had when God gave him a glimpse of the future.
John gives us the words of Christ in Revelation 21:3-4, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
My encouragement is that Jesus will be with us throughout eternity – every step of the way. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega – the first and the last. In other words, He is first, last and everything in between. How wonderful! My prayer is that we will all take time to tackle a study of Revelation – a book of incredible hope for those who have put their trust in Jesus as our Savior. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…