I have a great fascination with the Book of Revelation. I have ever since I was a child. The movie “The 7th Sign” came on television and I wanted to watch it but my mother said no and told me to read the Book of Revelation instead. I have been reading it ever since.
I probably have more commentaries on the Revelation than any other book of the Bible (well… perhaps I have more on Romans but it’s debatable!). I even taught through it once on the Bible Institute level. It has a special place in my heart. No matter what your eschatological schema it is a tremendous message of perseverance and hope for the believer in Jesus Christ.
Now, I am a dispensationalist. I believe in a pre-tribulational, premillennial return of Christ. Yet, over the years I have been departing from the sensational approach to “charting the end times” and other such things.
When I was in Seminary we had to preach a graduating senior sermon. I chose Revelation 4 (and was told I was the only graduate who ever preached out of Revelation). As I was studying it out, I was amazed at the intricacies of the passage. It has incredible imagery that can be mined for centuries! Yet, I sort of had an “ah-ha” moment as I studied the text. I realized the message of the passage was that God was glorious (check it out for yourself). I thought, maybe if I missed the forest for the trees in this passage then maybe I missed it throughout Revelation!
With this new approach in mind (without throwing away my dispensational framework… sorry all you covenant theologians out there!) I planned on preaching through Revelation when I took my last charge as Interim Pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I told someone I was preaching through Revelation and they said, “how can you preach through Revelation? I can understand teaching through it… but preaching through it?” I think his question is reflective of many who “miss the point” of Revelation.
Here’s the kicker. When we get so focused on all the little details (what is the rainbow under the throne, etc.) we miss the big picture. The big picture is that Revelation teaches us more about God than it really does about the end times. Go ahead, try it. Read through Revelation with the picture in mind that it teaches us most about who God is. Take notes. What does each passage teach you about God? When I preached through Revelation to my people we had an incredible time basking in the glory of the Triune God. There is an amazing amount of application in Revelation when we realize it teaches us about God and our response to Him!
So, read Revelation with the big picture in view. Read it knowing that it is a message about the Great God of the Universe and how we are to live in light of who He is! Now, I have not given up my dispensationalism or my eschatological framework. But, I have a new approach when I read my favourite book of the Bible. I read it knowing that I am coming face to face with the Sovereign Glorious God of the Bible and that I must live in fear and service to Him until He calls me home!
Remember, Revelation is more about God than it is about the end-times!