Tag Archives: Book of Revelation

The Book of Revelation in 5 easy minutes

I was listening to Revelation this week and thought I’d update this.  I added the last bullet and tweaked a few things.

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Revelation is one of the most challenging books in the Bible because of all the symbolism and imagery. There are divergent views within orthodox Christianity on how to interpret it, and what makes it more challenging is that there are some seriously smart, highly respected people in nearly every camp.

I don’t get too worked up about people in the orthodox camps, though I reject the pre-tribulation rapture of the Left Behind series.  Sadly, too many people read several thousand pages of that series yet haven’t read all the Bible or even all of Revelation.

I know enough about Bible prophecy that the prophecies will always be right, but some of them aren’t that simple to understand. But there are several important points from Revelation that are very clear:

  • God wins in the end, and 2nd place isn’t even close. If it were a movie, you’d ask for your money back because the fight scene was too short.
    • Revelation 20:7-10 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
  • Jesus has some strong messages for the church – see chapters 2 and 3.  Read those and ask if Jesus was being loving (Hint: He was, but not in the watered-down way people think of).  Which church do you think we are most like in the U.S. today?  I think it is Laodicea.
  • Jesus is coming back, and He is full of righteous anger. Justice will be served.
  • Heaven will be awesome (I try to only use the word awesome to describe God and Heaven, so I mean that in the most powerful sense).
  • There is a Heaven and there is a Hell. Everyone will spend eternity somewhere.
  • Satan isn’t in charge of Hell and won’t want to be there.  He and his demons will be sent there to be punished.
  • There is no 2nd chance to repent after death (also see Hebrews 9:27). When God’s final judgment is coming about the non-believers still don’t repent. They just curse God all the more. Those advancing the “2nd chance” argument ignore that often times rebels will willingly take the punishment rather than relinquish their pride (people who have raised children may be nodding their heads at that!).  Note these passages from chapter 16:
    • 8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. 10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11 and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.

In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.

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I think of the above saying from St. Augustine that John Wesley liked to quote whenever I am trying to decide if an issue is important enough to divide over, or if it should just be a matter of friendly debate. There are some things Christians must agree on, such as the Divinity of Jesus, the accuracy and authority of the Bible, that Jesus is the only way to salvation, etc. If we don’t agree on those then we’ve got big problems. But we should be as charitable as possible when disagreeing.

Some church leaders actually say unity is more important than doctrine, but that is counter to what the Bible teaches (see Doctrine Counts). Ironically, the fact that they hold that view is one of the reasons the church should split from them! When you review the beliefs on the essentials of the faith, the factions are so far apart that unity is impossible.

For example, some claim that the Bible is not the Word of God, and that it is merely a product of the perceptions of certain cultures at certain times. But the Bible makes literally thousands of claims to speak for God. So if someone thinks all those claims are wrong, why pick up the book at all?

But we don’t have to have unity on non-essential issues. For example, there are honest debates about how to interpret the Book of Revelation, and one can hold one of several views and still be an orthodox Christian. There are many worship preferences (music, style, etc.) that we don’t need to agree on. There is remarkably little guidance in the New Testament on how to conduct worship services, so a little flexibility should be in order. The main thing is to never alter the message of the Gospel.

When we are united on the essentials, Christianity is incredible. We all read the same book and serve the same God no matter where we are in the world. Some of my favorite worship experiences have been when I visited Singapore and Kenya, because the same Holy Spirit was present in radically different venues.

God knew we would have disputable matters, so He gave us guidance on how to handle those.

P.S. In my experience, those who favor unity over doctrine have bad doctrine.