Article by: Sarah Koontz
Over the past few years, I’ve heard many Christians proclaim that the book of Revelation is unfolding before our eyes. They firmly believe that we live in the end times and that the Lord’s return is imminent.
Is “this” the mark of the beast?
Is “he” the antichrist?
Is “that” the fulfillment of prophecy?
I do not fault my fellow believers for their increasing interest in apocalyptic thought.
But I do urge the Church to proceed with caution.
As we search modern history for signs and signals of the end of this age, we must not fail to consider ancient history.
Since Christ ascended into Heaven, every generation of Christians has believed they were living in the last days.
And with good reason! The last line of the New Testament boldly declares the deepest desire of every Christian’s heart, “Come Lord Jesus.”
We long for creation to be restored and our broken world to be redeemed.
We can’t help but listen for the trumpet sound and watch the skies for His triumphant return.
As a child, I distinctly remember stopping in my tracks whenever I heard a loud sound in the sky.
I would look up and think, “Is that Jesus coming back?”
My heartbeat would race until I spotted the source of the sound flying high above our valley.
I often spent the time it took my breathing to return to normal just imagining what that day would be like.
No, there is nothing wrong with our desire to experience the return of our Lord and Savior.
But we must never allow our fascination with current events to distract us from more important matters.Since Christ ascended into Heaven, every generation of Christians has believed they were living in the last days.
Why Christians Need to Study the Book of Revelation
Recently, I’ve had several people ask me about my thoughts on current events and how they (may or may not) fit into the larger biblical story.
My simple answer is that I simply do not know.
My complete answer is that I don’t know, I don’t know if I’ll ever know, and I don’t know if I need to know.
I have studied enough prophesy in Scripture to be confident of this: God keeps His Word and is more than capable of carrying out His plans for creation.
Whether Jesus is coming back in two days or two centuries, my job description doesn’t change.
I am here on this earth to glorify God and share His Word with the world.
This is what consumes me, motivates me, and stabilizes me.
It’s what allows me to continue His work when the world seems to be crumbling all around me.
And that is precisely what we should all be focusing on right now. Continuing His work!Whether Jesus is coming back in two days or two centuries, my job description doesn’t change.
Even so, Christians must be aware of Biblical prophecy and the role it is to play in our faith walk.
God’s prophetic Word is the backbone of our faith. It is how we know Jesus is the Christ, and it is also how we know Christ will return and make all things right.
I’ve spent a great deal of time studying the book of Revelation over the past two years.
In 2021, our beloved pastor, Dave Greenhood, preached his way through the entire book. This was his very last preaching series before retirement, and I sincerely appreciated the wisdom and passion he infused each sermon with.
In the spring of 2022, I studied the book in depth during one of my Bible Exposition classes at Dallas Seminary.
Today, I will share a basic overview of the book of Revelation and some powerful takeaways I gleaned from my study.
I hope you will be encouraged and edified by this article and the powerful truths contained in the book of Revelation.
The Purpose and Message of Revelation
The thing I love about Revelation is that the God of Revelation is true and trustworthy; He has never disappointed His people, and He never will.
No matter what is going on around me (or inside of me), I can rest confident in His Word and His promises.
I adore this quote from Oswald Chambers, “Let God’s truth work in you by soaking in it, not by worrying into it. Obey God in the thing He is at present showing you, and instantly the next thing is opened up.”
Let’s soak up the beautiful truths of the book of Revelation together.
The purpose of Revelation is to communicate the culmination of God’s plan for Christ’s kingdom on earth through prophecies, symbolism, and apocalyptic imagery while encouraging the saints to remain faithful to the end (Rv 1:19).
John writes to illuminate and establish Christ’s role in the past (Rv 1:1-20), present (Rv 2:1-3:22), and prophetic future of humankind (Rv 4:1-22:21).The purpose of Revelation is to communicate the culmination of God’s plan for Christ’s kingdom on earth through prophecies, symbolism, and apocalyptic imagery.
He utilizes apocalyptic language to give readers a divine estimate of history, while making many indirect connections to the Old Testament and offering a prediction of what is to come.
His purpose in writing was to issue a call to faithfulness (Rv 2:10) and godliness (Rv 14:4-5) and to remind his readers that earthly events are under the authority and sovereignty of God (Rv 11:17).
This book includes a blessing for those who receive it (Rv 1:3, 22:7) and a curse for those who add to it or disregard it (Rv 22:18-19).
Revelation reveals the culmination and conclusion of the biblical story (Rv 22:1-5).
It contributes much to the overall message of Scripture and reminds us that Christ is always at work in the local church (Rv 1:20).
Revelation teaches that there is a blessing for those who study and apply God’s Word (Rv 1:3).
Other key themes include:
- We have nothing to fear because Jesus is God (Rv. 1:17-18).
- God’s plan and purpose for humankind will be fulfilled (Rv 22:18-19).
- Satan will be defeated (Rv 20:7-10).
- Christ will return for His people (Rv 22:12, 20) and reign forevermore (Rv 4:10).
Four Key Truths from the Book of Revelation
1 – There is an inherent blessing for all who study biblical prophecy (Rv 1:3, 22:7).
Prophesy is an essential element of Scripture. Approximately 2,500 prophecies appear in the Bible, and the ones that foretold past events were absolutely and accurately fulfilled—without exception. If God dedicated so much of His Word to prophecy and promised blessings for those who study and apply His Word, we must also dedicate ourselves to studying biblical prophecy.
2 – The problems in the church today are the same problems that have always existed (Rv 1:20).
The Bible teaches us that “Nothing is new under the sun” (Eccl 1:9). Even though it seems that the challenges facing the 21-Century Christian are unique and original, the letters to the seven churches included in Revelation reveal otherwise. They, too, were filled with compromise, lukewarm faith, lost love, persecution, and false teaching.
3 – Commendation, complaint, correction, call, and comfort (Rv 2:1-3:22).
The structure of the letters to the seven churches reveals a biblical model for building up faith in Christ within the church: 1) Commend: Say something good about them 2) Complaint: Point out an area where growth is needed 3) Correct: Give advice on how to grow 4) Call: Challenge them to draw near to God in faith 5) Comfort: End with encouragement for the overcomers.
4 – The church is the lampstand—not the lamp (Rv 2:1-7).
Jesus Christ is the light that shines through us. If we aren’t actively cultivating our relationship with Christ and growing in our love for God and others, the light will dim inside us. If we want the light to shine brightly, we must be quick to repent and return to our first love.There is an inherent blessing for all who study biblical prophecy.
Two Action Points from the Book of Revelation
Action Point 1: The status of your vertical relationship (with God) is always reflected in your horizontal relationships (with people) (Rv 2:5).
If you desire to make a lasting impact during your time on earth, you must consistently cultivate your relationship with Christ. If you have strife and struggles in your earthly relationships, God is your trustworthy source of hope and strength to continue loving and serving others despite their shortcomings. There is no way to live a life of eternal value without submitting your life to Jesus Christ and prioritizing your relationship with God. When we trust God’s plan and respect His design, we experience peace and joy in the relationships He gives. Not because they are without flaw or fraction, but because they are a divine opportunity to reflect God’s unconditional love on this earth. You will know that the proper vertical/horizontal balance has been achieved when you experience peace and confidence in your frail and faulty earthly relationships.
Action Point 2: Do not compromise and conform; only One is seated upon the throne at the end (Rv 4:1-11).
No matter what trials and tribulations we face during our time on earth, we must never forget how humankind’s story will end. The book of Revelation gives us great hope because it reminds us that God wins, and Christ is the only One on the throne in the end. When you are tempted to compromise your faith or conform to this world, remember this eternal truth. Nothing (and no one) is worth compromising your faith in Christ for. He is victorious in the end, and we will be too! When temptations come, return to the pages of Revelation, and remind yourself how the story ends. You will know that you have accomplished this objective when you turn to the Word when the world tempts you to turn away.The book of Revelation gives us great hope because it reminds us that God wins, and Christ is the only One on the throne in the end.
Concluding Thoughts on the Book of Revelation
I loved all the practical applications included in the letters to the churches (Rv 2-3).
I think it’s just amazing that we are still struggling with the same issues in our modern churches.
It tells you how timeless God’s Word is and how human we are.
Pastor Dave sums up the message of Revelation by declaring, “Behold Your God.”
So long as we keep our eyes on our God, we will have the strength to endure whatever trials come our way.
Jesus Christ is primary; everything else is secondary.The power of laboring together for the gospel is for outsiders to see its transforming power in the lives of church members.
People have asked me if I will ever write a study on the book of Revelation, and I tell them I will likely follow Pastor Dave’s example.
Maybe, once I’ve had 46 years of ministry experience, I will be ready to write a study on Revelation.
But in the meantime, I will seek to be a wise and faithful student of the Book. Won’t you join me?
No matter what is going on around us (or inside of us), we can rest confident in His Word and His promises.
When the world is crashing down all around us, we can turn to the Word for comfort and hope.
And all will be made right in the end.
Come, Lord Jesus!
“Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God.” 2 Peter 3:8-12a HCSB