This book marks the end of the Whole Story sermon series. You will find below a link to the 69th sermon, in a series that has lasted 20 months. And the end of the story brings us to one of its most intriguing—and famously confusing—chapters.
The Revelation of Jesus, which he gave to arguably his closest friend and disciple, the apostle John.
Most, if not all of you, are familiar with this book. And most, if not all of you, find it challenging to even read through it—particularly that large middle section from chapters 6 to 20 with its difficult to understand characters, made up of dragons, angels, beasts, locusts with human faces; the four horsemen of War, Conquest, Famine, and Death; its Exodus-like plagues of hail, blood, poison water, darkness, and demon locusts; its terrifying and horrific and divine judgments of seven seals, seven trumpets with seven signs, and seven bowls; its otherworldly scenes set in heaven (wherever that is) and its images beyond our imagining, and signs of the beast, and 666, and Babylon and Armageddon and Final Battles and, and, and.…
And that is just the story itself. Add to this the questions of how to approach this book:
— What kind of literature is it?
Apocalyptic? Prophecy? A Letter?
— What should be our interpretative approach?
Preterist? Futurist? Historicist? Idealist? Mixed View?
— Where do we stand on the millennium?
Premillennial? Postmillennial? Amillennial?
Maybe all this is why the famous and brilliant pastor, theologian, and scholar, John Calvin, wrote a commentary on every book of the Bible—except this one! And why it has been called “the graveyard of many [preachers].”
Can you sympathize with me and see why, in 15 years of ministry, I haven’t preached or taught much from this book? Frankly, the book has frightened me a bit. There is so much that I have found confusing and very difficult to understand. I find it quite easy to get lost as I make my way through it and attempt to make sense of it. I have found that so much in this revelation from Jesus is debatable. So I have been very reluctant to proclaim large swaths of it.
But here we are. At the end of the Whole Story. And I don’t think I get to pull a Calvin, and just skip it. And as I’ve spent time in and on this revelation this week, I have found that there is much here we can understand, which is actually where I think the apostle wants us to focus. And it is why he himself said,
Rev 1:3, NLT
God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church,
and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says,
for the time is near.
It seems to me that God wants us to have that blessing, just as he wanted his children of John’s day to have that blessing. I do not think we are excluded from it.
I invite you now to listen to our sermon on Revelation. And if you’d like some additional resources on this book, head on over to the Bible Project page for this part of the Whole Story.
May God use his Word to inspire you to help just one other person move one step closer to Jesus.
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