1. We might not be able to understand everything in Revelation, but we can understand its central message.
If our goal in studying Revelation is to nail down what every image portrays, what every symbol stands for, what every detail means, we’re likely going to be frustrated. Our goal, instead, should be to listen for and take to heart what is really clear.
We’re living in such a divided time. We all have our opinions, as well as opinions about whose opinions are worth considering. And that is certainly the case regarding the book of Revelation. Some of us may be more comfortable focusing on interpretive issues or nailing down the details than opening up our lives to the self-examination this book demands of us. You and I can understand the central message of this book. The more significant question is whether or not we’re willing to embrace and live in light of it.
2. We need to see this world, and our lives in this world, through the perspective of heaven.
We sometimes foolishly assume we have all of the data we need to evaluate what is happening in our world. But we don’t. Our perspectives are limited by our humanity and our earthly vantage point. In the book of Revelation, we find that a curtain was pulled back for John so that he could see beyond the time and space of this earthly life into the heart of ultimate reality. He was enabled to see what is happening in this world, not from the perspective of this earth, but from the perspective of heaven. As we take in what he saw, we find that we are better able to see the true nature of things. Rather than view this world’s offerings as attractive, from heaven’s perspective we can see how ugly and unsatisfying they are. Rather than seeing the persecution of a faithful believer as a tragic defeat, we’re able to see it as a glorious victory.
Every one of us lives out of the story that we believe is true.
3. We want the blessing that is promised to those who “hear and keep” this book.
Many of us have a rather lightweight perception of what it means to be blessed. Revelation is going to correct some of our assumptions about what the blessed life looks like for ordinary believers like you and me. And since the blessing promised in Revelation is reserved for those
who “hear and keep” what is written in this book, we’re going to be challenged to think through what it will mean and require for us to hear and keep it. Revelation is [adds] some meat to the bones of our understanding of what the blessed life really is.
4. We need to live out of the story Revelation tells.
Every one of us lives out of the story that we believe is true. Some of us live out of the story called “the American dream.” Some of us live out of a story that must end with “happily ever after.” Some of us have come to think that we can craft our own life story toward the end that most appeals to us. There is a story that you and I should be living out of, a story that should shape how we live today and every day to come. According to Jesus, the kingdom of God is the story. And the book of Revelation helps us to see where that story is headed so that we can live out of it in joyful anticipation.
This article is adapted from Blessed: Experiencing the Promise of the Book of Revelation by Nancy Guthrie.
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