Revelation: The Apocalypse is Here

And I feel fine.

Sermon Series Beginning June 2, 2024

There are many reasons people do not want to study the book of Revelation. Some are scared by it. Some think it’s too complicated. Others think that it’s too much work to understand it. Yet, three times in the book we are told, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy”; “Blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near”; and then by Jesus Himself, “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (1:3; 22:7).

The revelation of Jesus Christ to St. John was given to the Church to bless the Church by assuring the Church that in the end Jesus wins. This was a timely message to the Church because at the time of writing, the Church was suffering intense persecution and wondering if it would survive. This is why the revelation is so cryptic and uses so much symbolic language. It was “encoded,” if you will, so that the Churches could distribute the letter and not be persecuted even more. It was also encoded in a way that they would understand it. The key to understanding, and demystifying, the Revelation is to hear it as the early Church would have heard it. Yes, the book is for us today too, but it was also for them. Viewed in that context, the wilder interpretations of the books are suspect from the beginning.

The structure of the books is actually simpler than one would expect. Jesus first addresses the seven churches in Asia, which represent the complete Church and the state of the Church. Then starting in chapter 5 the revelation changes to looking at the end of the world through four different “takes.” Each take zooms in toward the end. One way of looking at how the book is organized is to think of the revelations like a golfer looking down a fairway. The first take is from the perspective back at the tee box looking at the flag. The seven seals reveal the natural hazards that are going to be hit along the way. The second take, the seven trumpets, looks at the unseen supernatural forces. In the golf metaphor, this would be the wind and rain that are opposing the advancement toward the hole. The third take, the seven bowls, looks at God’s control over the situation and how the ball is going to make it to the hole. The fourth and final take begins in chapter 17 and describes the final battle, on the green, and judgment. Chapter 21 wraps up the scene, revealing the new heavens and new earth—Creation restored back to what it was supposed to be.

This is a book of hope and encouragement to stand firm and share the gospel with the lost—there is still time. It is a blessing.

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