3 Reasons to Read Revelation Every Year
December 31, 2020 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This is my 4th Christmas at Oak Hills (1st in Quarantine thanks to COVID-19!) and I believe that every year I have had the privilege of preaching the Sunday either immediately following Christmas (or the Sunday after that). There’s always something weird as the assistant pastor of picking back up a text that we haven’t visited in weeks (or months) for another sermon in that series, like we’ve been doing with the book of Acts over the last two years as I’ve had the opportunity to preach. Sometimes, especially in between two other sermon series such as Advent and our annual series on the Means of Grace, it’s nice to step away from Acts and focus in on something a little different. Perhaps, something a little more New Year savvy. That is why, the last two times I’ve had the opportunity to preach this time of year, I’ve chosen to preach from the book of Revelation. Believe it or not, I can think of no other book of the Bible more fitting for ringing in the new year than the book of Revelation. This coming Sunday we’ll be hearing from Revelation 12 and last year we heard from Revelation 21 (apparently I really like combinations of #’s 1 & 2 in the book of Revelation).
As I’ve read through the book of Revelation this week, it’s been a good reminder to me of why it’s important to not neglect this book in our regular reading of the word. Sure, it’s a confusing book, and there are only a few (give or take a billion) different views on how to interpret it, but when it comes down to it, it’s still part of God’s word. And, I would argue, one of the most encouraging and uplifting books of the Bible. That being said, here are a few reasons for why I would argue every Christian (myself included) should try and read through the book of Revelation at least once every year.
First, reading Revelation helps us see how all of scripture is connected. One of the most faith-strengthening things that I’ve learned in my relatively short life thus far has been the reality that all of scripture is connected. We say it all the time, from Genesis to Revelation, it’s all the word of God. Reading through the book of Revelation somewhat regularly will help you to see how much of the Bible is interwoven and even wrapped with a nice bow at the end. It’s in Revelation that you see connections to churches mentioned earlier in the New Testament (think 7 letters in Revelation 2 & 3). You also see references to Israel and to the church as God’s people. To the righteous king who is going to rule the nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 12, Psalms 1 & 2). The labor pains of the woman bringing about the crushing of the serpent (Revelation 12, Genesis 3). The Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life, and the living waters of Christ (Revelation 21-22, Genesis 1 & 2, John 4 & 7, Jeremiah 17, Zechariah 14). And more! Reading the book of Revelation helps us see how all of scripture is masterfully connected and interwoven by its divine author.
Second, reading Revelation reminds us that we live in the middle of a cosmic battle. It’s obvious as you read into the bulk of Revelation that the book is describing a cosmic battle between the dragon (Satan) and his minions (the beast, false prophet and the harlot) and the lamb of God (Jesus). This battle is already won (see my third point below) and yet the death throes of the dragon, like a wild animal trapped in a corner, are still evident in our lives. While we may not understand all of what we are reading as we spend time in Revelation, one thing is clear, there is a chaotic battle at hand. The same is true in our experience as we live our lives this side of heaven. There’s division, persecution, pain, suffering and more and the church at its best stands at odds with the world, and at its worst, is enticed by temptations of the world. Seeing this play out in the pages of Revelation can help us to remember our true allegiance as God’s people and to stay the course, no matter what suffering or even death might come our way.
Third, reading Revelation reminds us that the battle has already been won. This is perhaps the most important reason to read Revelation. Sure the cosmic battle is, in one sense, at hand. And yet, the suffering that we experience in this life is a reminder to us that by the suffering and death of our king, Jesus, the battle has already been won. The already accomplished victory of Jesus over Satan is our own victory over Satan. Our call in this life is to love our Savior more than we love this life, and to live knowing the comforts of the life to come are far greater than any perceived comforts in this life. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that this world is broken and is not our home. To love the things of this world is to be divided and destroyed as the church, and yet we are called to instead love God and others more than ourselves as we set our eyes on the world to come. The end of Revelation keeps our hearts motivated to that end, comforting us with the reality that the battle is already won (Revelation 21:6), calling us to testify alongside the Spirit to others of the hope that is found in Christ (Revelation 22:17) and reminding us of Christ’s promise to his people, “Surely I am coming soon.” May we respond as with John as we look to the year to come in saying, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). The book of Revelation gives us confidence in the midst of this life that is often wrought with hardship that the battle is won, and that He is coming soon.