Yesterday, I got talking with someone in the church about the book of Revelation. Not many people spend much time reading it, sadly that includes pastors as well as church members. I suppose there is a variety of reasons that people do not read it.
First and foremost, it can be a scary book to read. Lets face it, Revelation tells of the end of time, the world and Armageddon. These events that are described in the book do not sound like fun. Secondly, it is largely open to interpretation. John wrote the book about 2,000 years ago about things that have not yet happened. Imagine trying to explain a smart phone to someone 50 years ago, then magnify that by 40x. We are trying to understand even our future through the lens 2,000 years ago. There is bound to be some confusion which results in much debate about its interpretation. Finally, there is not much encouragement to read it. When was the last time, a pastor preached a message out of the book of revelation (excluding Revelation 3:14-22)?
Personally, I find the book of Revelation beautiful, and necessary to our faith. First of all, we have to understand the truth that God loves us and cares for us. Not just us collectively, but each of us as individuals. As a loving God, he always has our best interest at heart. He will not unnecessarily take us through difficult experiences just because it is written that it must happen.
Let me explain: I have no real solid belief about how much of the book of Revelation we will experience here on earth. Is the rapture the beginning of it all, or are we made to experience these things? I do not know, but I do know that if we are to experience what John wrote about, God will continue to take care of us through it all. He will give us the strength to endure and carry on through his power and grace. Just as 1 Corinthians says that God wont tempt us beyond what we can take, so I also believe that God will not take us through experiences that we can not handle. Look at Job. The only reason that God allowed these things to happen to him is because God knew that Job could handle it, and he did.
One of the most exciting things about Revelation is that it opens up the the throne room just enough to give us small glimpse of what Heaven is going to be like. That gets me excited! Heaven is our home (2 Peter 2:11, Hebrews 11:3), and I am really excited to be there (when the proper time comes).
One last thought: as a teenager my church did the “Heaven’s Gates, Hell’s Flames” production. If you are not aware of what I am talking about, count yourself lucky. The nature of the production is irrelevant except to say that it is an outreach to get people saved. Anyway, I was a part of it. The director one day made a comment to us that has always stuck with me. He said, “Keep in mind the last word of the Bible. It is, ‘We Win!'” He was speaking metaphorically. The last words of the Bible are literally, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” But the point remains that when you read through the mayhem of the end times, and you read about heaven and the beauty it has, we see that Jesus is victorious and Satan is defeated. We already know the end of the story, and its a good one.
I would urge you to open your Bible to Revelation and give it a good read. It is not an easy read, but it sure is beautiful.