By David Faust
Revelation doesn’t charm us with the theological elegance of the book of Ephesians or confront us with the plainspoken wisdom of James. It jars us with images of supernatural judgments and natural disasters. It jerks us from the historical circumstances of first-century churches to the dazzling realities of eternity future. It contains unsettling descriptions of plagues, persecution, and martyrdom—and warm, appealing pictures of security and rest. There is “silence in heaven for about half an hour,” followed by “peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake” (Revelation 8:1, 5).
Intriguing Word Pictures
The book of Revelation is scary and comforting at the same time.
Scary: “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide usfrom the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of theirwrath has come, and who can withstand it?’” (6:15-17).
Comforting: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (7:9, 10).
The book of Revelation can be confusing with all its pictures of galloping horses, trumpeting angels, armored locusts, and terrifying beasts. Yet the overall message is unmistakably clear. Through turmoil and tribulation, God and his people will prevail. When Matt Proctor served as president of the North American Christian Convention in 2013, he used the book of Revelation as the foundation of the convention’s theme, Victorious! Matt wrote:
I avoided this book when I was a young preacher, but I have repented, and my confession is this: I need this book. On my darkest days, it is this vision that can keep me going. It is this vision that can strengthen my obedience, lengthen my endurance, and deepen my faith. It is no ‘haunted house,’ but a welcoming home to refresh and revive me when I am weary of heart.
A Beautiful Paradox
One of my favorite word pictures in the book appears in Revelation 7:17, which says, “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”
Now there’s an interesting paradox: the Lamb will be their shepherd! It’s an oxymoron, like saying the carpenter will be their house, the teacher will be their lesson, the follower will be their leader. However, the Lamb-Shepherd is a beautiful description of Jesus Christ. He leads, feeds, and protects the flock, but at the same time he knows what it’s like to be one of the sheep. He is both the shepherd and the sacrifice, the sovereign Savior and the suffering servant.
There’s a lot about Revelation I don’t understand. But reading it makes me stand in awe of Jesus Christ—and surely that’s one of the book’s main points.
1. What do you like best about the book of Revelation? What puzzles you about it?
2. What does Revelation show you about Jesus Christ?
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for December 14, 2014
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Amos 3, 4
Amos 5, 6