This is it. We’ve reached the end. The end of summer book club and the end of our time reading through the Story.
I hope that this summer has been a time of spiritual renewal for you.
As you read this, I am at the Southwind middle school camp along with 50+ middle schoolers from PCPC. The mud pit is tomorrow. Pray for me!
The End Of Time
The last book in the Bible is the book of Revelation. It is written by the disciple John. This is the same John that wrote the gospel of John as well as 1, 2, and 3 John. At this point in John’s life, he is an old man. Christianity is being fiercely persecuted under the Roman empire. Christians are being subjected to arrests, torture, and death. John himself is exiled to the island of Patmos.
It would be easy for John to spend his last days in a state of despair. His days of traveling with Jesus as crowds of supporters gathered to hear his teaching seem like a distant memory. The time of the early church exploding onto the scene as recorded in the book of Acts probably seems like a lifetime away.
The church is suffering. It is illegal to be a Christian. If I were John, I would wonder what God’s plan was to end all of this suffering.
Then…John receives a revelation. A vision. A message from God.
I would summarize the message of Revelation as follows: “God is aware of the suffering on earth and promises that one day He will bring all of history to a redemptive end. So take heart.”
This is a message the persecuted church needed to hear.
In the book of Revelation we are given an extraordinary glimpse into the ultimate end of history. John uses poetic language to describe a city where God’s people will dwell. There is no need for a sun or moon because “the glory of God gives it light.” There is no temple because “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”
The tree of life (remember that from Genesis?) makes an appearance. Yet instead of being warned not to eat from it, now its fruit is given freely, “yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
Revelation paints a beautiful, poetic picture of the type of world that God is creating.
However…there are a couple of ways that we could read Revelation that would have us miss the point of this book.
1. It would be wrong to pretend that we know what all of the symbolism in this book is supposed to represent. There are too many books out there claiming that the seals represent ‘such and such,’ and the beasts represent ‘insert nation’ and on and on.
I would encourage you to be skeptical- very skeptical- of a Christian or author that believes they can explain everything about the book of Revelation. I would argue that Revelation was not written with the assumption that we could interpret everything. Instead, we are encouraged to learn through the poetry and symbolism that the book presents.
2. Please do not try to predict the timing of the events in the book of Revelation. Again, Christians have been predicting the end of the world based on Revelation for decades. And they have been wrong. For decades.
Jesus actually tells us explicitly that there is no point in trying to predict the Day of the Lord. Instead, we are to prepare ourselves by living like it could come at any time.
Matthew 24:36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Matthew 24:42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
Instead, focus on what is easily understood in the last book of the Bible; namely, that God is in charge of history. And God will continue to guide it through all of its pain and confusion to a redemptive end.
Summer book club is taking a break, but stay tuned for other ways this blog will be used in the fall. There will be more opportunities to engage with Scripture and the congregation soon.
And remember- our brand new series “Did Jesus Really Mean What He Said? 5 Famous Sayings” begins this Sunday!