Reading Revelation Through a Different Lens

Photo by Jordan Wozniak on Unsplash

One month ago I had finished reading the book of Hebrews and was asking the Lord what book of the Bible I should read next. I was feeling drawn toward the minor prophets or Leviticus - you know, something that would be a sacrifice of love for me to read and study.

I really couldn't decide on a specific book, so I followed the suggestion of my pastor when in doubt for what to read: play the lottery.

I pulled up a website with a random number generator and put in the parameters of the books of the Bible: 66. Then I prayed and asked the Lord to direct the generator to the number of the book He wanted me to read next, and it came out to...

Revelation. I almost ran the generator again, but thought better of it. This is what He had for me, so I decided to face it head on.

I cannot tell you the last time I read through the book of Revelation. It has been a turn around the sun or two. It has never been my favorite book of the Bible (I'm not sure it is anyone's favorite, except maybe those who like to "prophesy" when Jesus will return... perhaps they skipped past Matthew 24:36 on their way to Revelation).

Anyhow, whenever I have read Revelation in the past, I have felt such pressure to "figure it out" and "get it right" in terms of what events happen in what order and what is the meaning of all the symbolism.  I believe there is great value in digging in to this book to uncover the buried gems of cultural context and literary style; however, I decided to let myself off the hook a bit this time and read it through a different lens.

This time, I embarked on the study of Revelation simply asking myself two questions: What does this teach me about God, and what does this teach me about humanity?

While Revelation is still not my favorite book, I came to look forward to reading my chapter each day. And I'm so excited to share with you some of the "revelations" I had about this book full of hope and much application for today with the goal of inspiring you to read it again soon (or at least not avoid it like I had for several years).

1) What is God like?


Photo by Bryce Evans on Unsplash
Over and over, I saw God's justice emphasized, and how His justice is without flaw, good, and right. Justice is an uncomfortable topic in our culture until we have personally been wronged by someone. Otherwise, we prefer to emphasize mercy and grace because they feel good.

However, mercy and grace are meaningless without justice. If God never carried out justice - punishing wrongdoing according to His holy, righteous standards - there would be no room for mercy or grace because we would simply consider Him a pushover.

Yet, near the end of the Revelation (Chapter 19), we see the host of heaven worshiping God because, as they say, His judgments are "true and just". God's justice is part of what makes Him good. If He was unjust, He wouldn't be good, and He wouldn't be worthy of our adoration.

Revelation also answers the question of why God is qualified to be the judge of the earth. First, He created all things (4:11), and second, He is holy. God's holiness is lauded throughout the entire book, and as such, it is an important attribute to dwell upon as we think about the end of this earth and eternity.


"Day and night they never stop saying:
‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”
Revelation 4:8b

Finally, I saw how wild and powerful God is in the description of Him in Revelation 4:5 - "From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumbles and peals of thunder..."

This made me think of a description of the lion Aslan from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Many argue Lewis's Aslan is meant to represent God in his allegorical Chronicles of Narnia series.


“Aslan is a lion - the Lion, the great Lion."

"Ooh," said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he - quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."

"Safe?" said Mr Beaver. "Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

Our God isn't safe - He is an all-consuming fire - unless we approach Him covered by the blood of His Son, Jesus.

2) What are people like?

Humans are described throughout the book of Revelation as unable to meet God's standard (5:3), unable to stand in the face of God's wrath (6:16) and evil (18:13). Additionally, some of those who have been called out and saved by God's grace have abandoned their first love of Jesus and grown stagnant and apathetic in their practice of faith (2:4-5).

This is not a positive assessment of the human condition. And while it is clear that people remain under God's sovereign control (17:17), we also see the concept of free will displayed in Revelation in a very sobering way.

After God pours out His wrath on sinful humanity in waves of plagues as described in Chapter 9, the remaining people are shown to be rebellious, despite being given a second (and third) chance:

"The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts."
Revelation 9:20-21

When I read this part, I just began to weep for lost souls who will not repent. It was a moment to pause and grieve and understand that God's grace is just that - grace. A free gift people are able to accept or reject by their own choice.

A famous atheist and humanist once said "eternal worshipful bliss" was "a somewhat hellish idea" to him. God did not make puppets. While He is ultimately sovereign over His creation, He has given humans, His image-bearers, free will. If people don't desire God in this life, they won't want Him for eternity, and that is their choice.

3) What Jesus is like
Photo by Tiago Almeida on Unsplash

Oh, how I love Jesus! What a beautiful, victorious Savior He is!

He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (1:5b-8).

His eyes are like a flame of fire (2:18).

He is holy and true (3:7).

He is the Amen, the beginning of Creation (3:14).

He meets God's righteous requirements, and therefore He is worthy (5:8-14)!

He is the conquering King (17:14)!

Yet, He pursues us (3:20)!

There are so many more wonderful descriptions of our Savior in the book of Revelation, but the above list is a good enough contrast to its assessment of humanity to motivate us to ask:

4) What should we do about it?

Revelation 19:7-8 shows us exactly what Jesus wants - a beautiful, spotless Bride (His church), who has adorned herself for the wedding of the Lamb. He is worthy of our purity and faithful devotion.

The early part of Revelation consists of letters written to churches on how they can become more of this kind of Bride. They include admonitions to remember their first love (2:5), strengthen their works (3:2), hold fast to what they have (3:11), and clothe themselves in white (3:18).

Overall, we are called to endure in Revelation 14:12 because pursuing righteousness in this age requires sacrifice. We are also to remember that the time is near for the end of the age (22:10), and while we don't know the day or the hour when Jesus will return (Mark 13:32), we should live in a state of readiness, fixing our hearts on Him and living with joyful expectation.

Finally, there is a call at the end of the book for all who are thirsty to come and find life in Jesus (21:6-7; 22:17). This is urgent and not optional, as we saw from our study of humanity in Revelation.

Conclusion

Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash
When looking at the injustice and brokenness in the world around us, we may cry out with the martyrs in Chapter 6:10, "How long, O Lord?" How long until He enacts vengeance on His enemies and rights all wrongs?

We don't know how long, but we do know from the whole of Scripture that God is patient (2 Peter 3:9), that He is waiting until all who will be saved are saved before He destroys all evil and makes all things new.

Until then, we live with hope, knowing that one day soon (in perspective of eternity), we will be sheltered in His presence forever (7:15) and that God will be our light (21:22-27). And while we wait, it is our delight to worship Him, live righteously for His glory, tell our neighbors (that is, everyone) that He alone can save, and rejoice in the assurance that evil will be punished once and for all and then there will be no more tears (7:15-17).

"He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.'
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen."
Revelation 22:20-21

Share this:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hello! I'm Faith. I'm a verbal processor who wants to love the Lord and love people with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I write to think and think to write. I don't drink coffee. I am a dogless dog lover. I enjoy hosting large parties in my home, and I enjoy being alone. Join me in looking to Him and pursuing A Radiant Face.

0 comments:

Post a Comment