Like many Bible teachers whose churches follow in part or in full the schedule of Lifeway’s Explore the Bible series, I am finishing my lessons on Revelation this coming Sunday. It has been for me, and I hope for those of my local church, one of the most refreshing times in the Scripture I have had since I came to Christ. My lessons themselves always reflect my flaws, but my appreciation and understanding of this text has multiplied my love for Jesus and His Word. In the end, my goal remains what it should be for all teachers of the Bible: allow God’s Word and Spirit to change me and others as we read, pray, question, proclaim and obey the text.
Let me provide you with some parting observations of Revelation from this past quarter:
- Revelation is a revealing of who Jesus is (see especially1:1 and 1:12-16) and what He did do, is doing and will do. That is, the book shows us the implications of Jesus’ cross, death and resurrection upon the old creation. We are being shown a picture of Jesus as He is and as will be revealed to the whole creation at the very end. We are watching the old creation die in His Perfect Presence.
- Revelation is a book to be obeyed (1:3). But, what should we obey? It is not a law or a timeline. We obey the revelation of Jesus Christ. Where do we find such?
- Revelation is mostly allusions, quotations and citations of the Old Testament. This may shock some, but the book of Revelation says to obey what the Old Testament says about Jesus. He is not telling us to follow the Mosaic covenant as a group of laws, but John’s book repeatedly describes what will come and who Jesus is via the gospel language of the Old Testament.
- Revelation is a book that describes the coming of God’s Kingdom upon the earth in the very end. Picking up on Moses and the Prophets, John knows that they longed for a time when God would be upon the earth: the end of the days. They also knew that God coming to earth would mean death. When God’s perfect glory comes to earth, someone is going to die: either the Creator (1st coming) or the creation (2nd coming). When God’s Kingdom comes to earth, therefore, the kingdoms of men die. Everything built up in this world not tied to Christ faces an agonizing destruction in the end.
- Revelation is a book that describes the very end of the end of the days, which Moses and the Prophets called the Day of the LORD. In this “day,” the old creation dies, and Revelation is a stunningly powerful description of the death that awaits the old creation and of the power of Christ’s resurrection that will lead believers past the Day of the LORD into the new heavens and the new earth. The Day of the LORD is God’s final judgment on the creation (Gen 3), allowing believers to see that God’s judgment is both patient and perfect.
- Revelation shows that God’s judgment is patient because God is giving time and space for men to repent and join Him in the new heavens and the new earth. Even in the events described in the book, God calls men to repent because He wants men to find a way back to the tree of life in His Son.
- Revelation shows that God’s judgment is perfect because this death of the old creation in the Day of the LORD is the final ending of all idolatry. Not one idol, meaning not one uncircumcised heart, will pass into the new Heavens and the new earth. If His judgment were not complete, total and final in this last Day, then the new heavens and the new earth would be as broken as this one.
- Revelation teaches us that the new heavens and the new earth will be perfect because it will reflect its Lord, Christ.
- Revelation teaches us this eschatology (from the Old Testament) because it wants to change how we live in this world now, to change how we live, our ethics. If your primary takeaway from Revelation is a timeline, you have misunderstood this book. It is a call to trust God’s good plan in Christ for all of us and the whole creation. We learn about the end of the end of the days because we have brothers and sisters from all peoples who do not yet know that Christ calls them to join Him and us in forever fellowship. Revelation sends us on a mission to make disciples who make disciples because God’s Kingdom is coming. We must wait for that day by meditating upon the Torah day and night and proclaiming its gospel message (as the Prophets and the Apostles do) until we die or He returns.