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Reading Revelation Responsibly

Through reading Revelation we learn more about Christ — who He is and what He is like.

The other day over on my blog, I talked about what I’m learning about the book of Revelation. (I also talked about how I used to love Reba McEntire and her videos, but that is neither here nor there.)

I’m in a New Testament class, and we’re nearing the end of the semester and have finally made it to Revelation. It’s an odd book full of visions and prophecy, and it’s really hard to figure out exactly what and when John was talking about. Because it’s a confusing book, people tend to either over focus on it or ignore it completely.

There are all kinds of people attempting to predict the end of the world through the book of Revelation; most recently Harold Camping told everyone the end was coming this past spring, and when that didn’t happen, he moved the date to September 2011 … and we’re all still here. (Also, it always confuses me when people try to predict the end — Jesus doesn’t even know the day. Why would we?) There are also those who don’t like to approach Revelation at all — both Luther and Calvin were suspicious of the book. Luther grouped it with James and other books he didn’t like as much as Paul’s epistles, and Revelation is the only book Calvin didn’t write a commentary on.

I grew up reading the “Left Behind” series, which gives a very specific idea of how the book of Revelation will play out in the end times. Since then I’ve learned a lot more about other theories and eschatological beliefs, and I feel like I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I think things will play out. Overall, though, my opinion on the situation probably doesn’t matter. Jesus will return when He wants and how He wants, and it will probably be cooler and more amazing than any of our theologies has come up with.

I am reading a book for my New Testament class called Reading Revelation Responsibly by a guy named Michael Gorman. I’m not very far in, so I don’t really know what he believes about the end times or premillennialism or amillennialism or whatsamillennialism and all that. But amidst all of the end times guessing and predicting and “Left Behinding” that people get into, Gorman had this to say:

Revelation is not about the antichrist, but about the living Christ. It is not about a rapture out of this world but about faithful discipleship in this world. That is, like every other New Testament book, Revelation is about Jesus Christ — “A revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1) — and about following him in obedience and love. “If anyone asks, ‘Why read the Apocalypse?,’ the unhesitating answer must be, ‘To know Christ better.’”

That, I think, is profound. Revelation — like Genesis and Deuteronomy and Matthew and Ephesians — is about God. Him alone. It is for His glory. Through reading Revelation we learn more about Christ — who He is and what He is like. We learn that He is coming soon, that He triumphs over evil, that the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed!

We don’t read Revelation to come up with more conspiracy theories, and we don’t avoid Revelation because it’s confusing. We read it to learn more about our God, our King, our Savior who is coming back to make all things new!

Copyright 2011 Denise Morris Snyder. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Denise Morris Snyder

Denise Morris Snyder is a mom, wife and part-time discipleship pastor at CrossRoads Church in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. She previously worked as an editor for Focus on the Family and a writer for David C Cook. She has her Master’s in Old Testament Biblical Studies from Denver Seminary.

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