The Revelation is one of the most relevant books in the Bible, especially if it is received as a book of encouragement or a book of worship. That’s right! Encouragement and worship. Those seem to be the overarching themes of the book when it is considered in its original context.
The Revelation is one of the most relevant books in the Bible, especially if it is received as a book of encouragement or a book of worship. That’s right! Encouragement and worship. Those seem to be the overarching themes of the book when it is considered in its original context.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
Because the imagery of Revelation resembles that of an apocalyptic action-adventure movie or a science-fiction novel, it is also one of the most often misunderstood and misused texts in the Bible.
When the book is studied seriously, a student discovers the book of Revelation to be more biblical prophecy than bizarre prediction. Contrary to popular belief, the Revelation does not predict when the end of time or the second coming of the Lord will occur. If we believe Jesus’ words in the gospels, then we must be content to know that “no one knows the day nor the hour, not even the angels in heaven” (Mt 24:36).
The Revelation is a book of prophecy, not in the sense that it predicts the exact events of the future, but in the sense that it summons people of faith back to faithful living even at times when the world is dominated by faithless chaos.
The Revelation is also a book of encouragement. Usually the Revelation is thought of more as a book of judgment than a book of encouragement, but careful readers will notice that the writer pens much of this book in the form of a letter or an epistle. In this epistle format, the churches being addressed are affirmed in the areas of ministry wherein they are faithful, and they are rebuked in the areas of ministry wherein they are unfaithful.
Finally, the book of Revelation is a book of worship. In the Revelation, the worship of God is the eternal preoccupation of the believer. Those churches being addressed in the book are challenged to be faithful and persistent in worship. And those believers who have gone on to everlasting life are repeatedly pictured in a sublime posture of worship, such as “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, and true and just are his judgements” (Rev 19:1-2).
When taken in context, the book of Revelation is a rich source of spiritual nurture. In symbolism and imagery, it is unique among all of the biblical books.
When you read the Revelation, do not just read a verse here and there, but read the whole book. You may rediscover the Revelation to be a relevant testimony to the sovereignty of God and an energizing challenge to a faith that has become lukewarm.
Barry Howard is a religion columnist who resides in Corbin, Ky.