Why Study the Book of Revelation?
For much of my life, the Book of Revelation was such a downer! It seemed strange, hard to understand and inapplicable to my personal life. I was wrong. After reading it all the way through and all within a single sitting, I discovered that this book is enormously encouraging and not so mysterious. I also discovered that Revelation is absolutely critical to read on a weekly basis.
The Book of Revelation is the only book in the Bible that specifically promises a blessing for those who read or listen to its contents. Why?
FIRST, because Jesus is coming back SOON! Personally, I believe that there is ample evidence that Jesus is coming back in my lifetime or that of my children. Jesus said to watch for the signs of the time and that these signs would happen within one generation (Mt. 24:32-34). These signs include: false messiahs, wars, famines, earthquakes and diseases in the world (Mt. 24:4-8); persecution of the saints, a great falling away, and that the Gospel would spread to all nations (Mt. 24:9-14); the abomination of desolation in Jerusalem (Mt. 24:15-28); among other signs. (Special thank you to Matthew Equivel's 4-part teaching series on "The Return of Jesus" for such a concise explanation of these events).
I want to focus on one of these signs in particular. Jesus told His disciples that once the Gospel of the kingdom is preached in the whole world and all nations, then the end will come (Mt. 24:14). The Bible clearly states that the the task of world evangelization will not be complete until every single ethnolinguistic people group is reached – no matter the size. Many of the largest people groups have been reached, but that is not enough. Jesus told us to reach EVERY tribe, tongue, people, and nation for the Great Commission to be fulfilled (Mt. 24:14, Mk. 13:10, Rev. 7:9).
The completion of the task of evangelization is closer now than would have been imaged 40 years ago! Conservative estimates show that the Gospel will have been heard by every ethnolinguistic group for the first time in all of church history between 2025 and 2032! This is clear evidence that Jesus is coming back VERY soon! Having said this, are we ready for His return? (See the Joshua Project and Youth with a Mission for more statics on world evangelization).
SECOND, the Book of Revelation prepares our hearts for the end times events that will usher in Jesus' reign on the earth. Things are going to get tough. Offenses will come to our hearts in how God sets the stage and pours out His judgement on the earth. Even Jesus tells us that before the Antichrist is revealed and the end comes, that many in the Church who have genuine love for Him will fall away and their love will grow cold (Mt. 24:10-12; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Thes.).
The Book of Revelation (and especially Chapters 1-3) contain 30 specific descriptions of Jesus regarding His personality and character. If we read and meditate on each of these with a devotional spirit, it will cause us to trust and adore Jesus (Please see "Prayer and the Book of Revelation" for some simple instructions on how to do this).
This said, something I ask myself is: if within a matter of months, I had no food, lost my house, job, closest of loved ones and all I own in quick succession, would there be offense in my heart toward Jesus? Idealistically, I say no, but when thinking about the last time I experienced the slightest of loss and the almost uncontrollable anger that came pouring out of my heart, I quickly realize that I would be the first to be deeply offended. If I still said no, then I would be calling the Word, Jesus, a liar who said "offenses will come" (Lk. 17:1).
THIRD, the Book of Revelation is a Prayer Guide, containing Jesus' specific plan to transition the earth to the age-to-come. These events require our deep involvement. As Moses released God's judgements on Pharaoh through prayer, so you and I will release the Great Tribulation judgements on the Antichrist through prayer (Ex. 7-12; Mt. 16:18-19; Rev. 12:9,13:2).
When I first heard of this reason for reading Revelation, I had a hard time with this. It got me searching in the Word. The Book of Revelation suggests this at many points, but Psalm 149 specifically tells us that the end times judgements will be released through prayer by His holy ones on the earth. Before the Tribulation, saintsdo not pray for judgment to be released, rather, we should pray for unbelievers to receive mercy and salvation. After the Tribulation begins, the saints will continue to pray for mercy for the lost, but will add the dimension of praying judgement on the reprobate (those who have taken the mark of the Beast) who will not repent and who will continue to violently oppress and kill the saints. We join the prayers of the martyrs in the fifth seal (see Bickle, Mike. Book of Revelation Study Guide, pg. 38).
If partnership with God will be so critical at the end of the age, why not start partnering with Him now and also start familiarizing ourselves with this book now? When we do, we will grow in our confidence in Christ now before theses events occur. Let's get to know this Jesus of the Book of Revelation! He is so worthy of our time and much more!
Why not make a commitment now? Today is Revelation Friday for me, meaning I read the entire book in one sitting. It only takes one and one-half hours to two hours to read this book. Comment if you would like to set aside Fridays for reading the Book of Revelation. Let's grow together in the knowledge of Jesus with Revelation Fridays!
The above contains ideas from Mike Bickle's Overview of the Book of Revelation.
-Christy Follow me on twitter as @christyncarlson