Like the spare room cluttered with stuff, needing to be organized, Revelation is this room. We shut the door and promise to deal with it later. Revelation is easy to find and we know the topic is about the end of days, but still we avoid it. Some people avoid it because it seems scary while others can’t be bothered deciphering the symbolism, disasters, seals, bowls and weird creatures.
To me, the book gives the aura of mystery and symbolism that many theologians and authors have twisted it into something complicated, making it too hard to fully understand. That is, until I stumbled on a Bible teacher who has a passion for the Word like none I’ve seen before.
The ministry is called Thru the Bible and is founded by the late pastor Dr. J. Vernon McGee. His radio ministry desires to share the Word of God with the nations. In a 5-year plan, you can listen to Dr. McGee discuss every chapter of the Bible. The people at Thru the Bible have taken his radio messages and transcribed them into books. For some reason, these transcripts helped me learn better than the spoken word. Maybe it’s because I could see and better understand his teachings and then go over it again and again. Regardless, his teachings give me confidence and a better understanding of Revelation. Dr. McGee knows the Bible! While I learned a tremendous amount from his teachings on Jeremiah, Genesis and Matthew, I was blown away when I studied Revelation. Here’s why…
Dr. McGee states that Revelation is the EASIEST and most ORGANIZED book of the Bible?!
I have never heard anyone state this before. He says the apostle John is very clear in the text. Where John is recalling what he is seeing we are to take him literally and when John wants us to look at things symbolically, he uses the word “like” or “as”. And unlike the book of Jeremiah, Revelation is in chronological order.
The Church is raptured before the Tribulation
Here is another aspect that blew my mind…you know the debate of when the church will be raptured, is it before of after the Tribulation? With Dr. McGee, there is no debate. The church is mentioned up to chapter 3 and then no more until the end. Why? We are gone, taken to heaven. John does not explicitly say it but this lines up with God’s character. God never pours out His wrath on His bride. Sure, we get punished for bad behavior, but not like this. Look at Noah or even the Babylonian captivity recounted in Jeremiah and played out in Daniel. That “captivity” was God’s protection (Jeremiah 24). Those who stayed behind were destroyed. After Revelation 3, the only “church” left is the apostate church. Apostate is a fancy word that means turned away, particularly from one’s faith. Many of our friends and family will be left behind because they do not have a relationship with Jesus! You cannot be Christian merely by association or by doing good and godly things. We know this yet many people we think are saved are not.
WARNING: We need to know our ENTIRE Bible before we study Revelation.
Dr. McGee warns not to study Revelation unless you have a good working knowledge of the other 65 books. Revelation is the culmination of everything and often refers to passages found elsewhere in the Bible. I agree with this warning but add a little more. It is also helpful to know a little about Jewish religious feasts. Jews celebrate 7 times throughout the year: 4 in spring and 3 in fall. These are mandatory times of remembrance and celebration. When the Temple was around, they were required to travel to Jerusalem for the adherence 3 times a year. Those feasts with travel include Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles.
What’s the Jesus connection?
Christ’s death, burial and resurrection coincide with Passover, Feasts of Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits respectively. The Holy Spirit comes on the Feast of Weeks. The Rapture, Great White Throne of Judgement and Eternity line up with the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and Tabernacles respectively.
The events of Revelation are not something a young believer would understand or appreciate. Many of us are guilty of focusing on only the New Testament and especially the “red letter” passages of the Gospels. Christ’s story is woven through the entire work of the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. Authors like Nancy Guthrie have done a good job of teaching this. My ladies’ group has done several of her studies. The ladies are always surprised to see Jesus in the “white spaces” of the Old Testament. Throughout the Bible we see shadowing and word pictures of what is to be fulfilled in Christ. Jesus constantly refers to Old Testament passages. They lose their significance if we don’t study those parts of our Bible too.
The end of God’s story concludes with Christ the victor. Both death and Satan defeated. Many of our friends and loved ones are also condemned and separated from God for all of eternity.
Reasons to study Revelation NOW:
1) Events appear to be lining up.
No one can deny we have the technology to carry out the events seen in Revelation. China is working on prohibiting buying or selling if you do not have a certain social score. Some European countries are beta testing implantable microchips for employees. Facebook recently purchased a government ID tracking software. Plus, there is no denying the push for one world government and currencies. Can anybody say Bitcoin?
Within a generation, white Europeans will be outnumbered by Muslim Europeans.White Europeans are in a negative population growth while Muslim women have many children each. The Middle East and Europe are destined to become one in the very near future.
In the US, the darkness and degradation are at new lows. Have you seen the Fred Rogers documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? If we see a man with Fred Roger’s mannerisms, soft spoken, love for children, kind and gentle soul, we would question his intentions, wouldn’t we? Fred Rogers was a devout follower of Christ who lived out his ministry in the secular realm, sharing love and acceptance to all children. Any other man desiring to be around young children must have an ulterior motive, right? He’s a sick perv. Nope. In the 1960s and 1970s, there wasn’t as great deal of a sexual perversion like it is now.
It is now legal to kill babies at any time during gestation, including once it is delivered. Sex with children will be just as commonplace as homosexual relations. People are born this way after all. Don’t believe me? There are a subculture of men who openly admit to only admiring these youngsters. Have you ever heard of NAMBLA (National Man Boy Love Association)? I remember back in college in the early 1990s joking about this group. A gay friend followed them and would tell us they were known for having Will Wheaton sightings. At the time, Will Wheaton was a child actor on Star Trek Next Generation. Apparently, NAMBLA members put Wheaton on their hot list. Disgusting. Like a frog in a pot that slowly begins to boil, we forget how far we have fallen in our depravity until we turn around and remember what our culture used to be like. Right now in the state of New York, it’s a greater crime to be racist than to kill your unborn child in a fit of rage. God have mercy on our souls.
2) The message is imperative.
Do you “cheat” and read the end of the novel to see how it all works out? It can be relaxing knowing that the characters will be OK even though they are going through turmoil at the time. The same is true for us. Since I studied Revelation, I feel more at ease about the craziness of this life, because I know Who wins!
Stop reading the Bible and the stories about Jesus as if they were fiction. Spend some time on them, letting it sink in, this is truth! I remember over 12 years ago when I had this a-ha moment. It was when I first began studying the Jewish feasts, I began to realize God was real. Might sound stupid or silly but I can recall saying it over and over again…God is real, God is real. At the time, I had been a Christian for 10 years. I felt guilty of seeing Jesus as a story book character instead of God, King, and ruler of the universe!
Understanding Revelation makes me pray for other’s salvation. This should be our number 1 priority. Eternity without God is unbearable. Story lines like NBC’s the Good Place serve only to deceive us into thinking we all go heaven. Those outside of Christ’s righteousness will be cast into oppressive darkness and finally the lake of fire. This is the same lake of fire that is reserved for the Antichrist and Satan.
Dr. McGee says people want to be judged by God. They want to see if their good outweighs their bad. Unfortunately, God demands perfection if we come on our own merit. Since none of us have that to offer, the punishment is very clear: eternal separation. Eternal, forever. Oppressive darkness in a place that is real, not made up.
3) Helps us focus on what is important.
After studying Revelation, I can’t help but daydream about eternity. The small and insignificant things of this world don’t stack up. I care less and less about status, stuff, accolades, etc. None of it matters. It’s all fleeting, temporary and nothing compares to the riches that await me in eternity!
A side effect of studying Revelation is increased prayer for lost loved ones. How often are you concerned with the salvation of others? We will enjoy the bounty of never-ending peace and joy. Those who do not have a relationship with God will be judged and then cast out for ALL ETERNITY to a place of oppressive darkness, pain and torture. WAKE UP! This is real. Heaven is real; Hell is real!! TV shows like the Good Place, Touched By an Angel, and Ghost Whisperer all lead you to believe that we all go to some magical place of light when we die. It’s not true.
God is loving but His grace and mercy have a shelf life, a time limit. I’ve been drawn to Isaiah 55:6-7: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his ways and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord and he will find mercy, and to our God for He will freely pardon.” The mercy of our God does not last forever. The fullness of time will come, and He will seek justice and unleash His wrath on all mankind. We like to think of God as loving but forget He is also holy. His holiness cannot be near our unrighteousness–it’s why we need to be covered with the blood of Jesus. For us, there is no judgement, only reward. But for those who choose to stand on their own merit, they will be judged at the end of days.
This parallels the Jewish feast known as the Day of Atonement. Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Dr. McGee writes something peculiar to me. He says man wants to be judged by God. We want to stand before God and have our good and bad placed on scales to determine our entrance into paradise. What most people fail to realize is that God has an impossible standard. His acceptance is based on perfection. If we miss the mark, even by a little, we cannot enter His presence.
Hell is a real place. Make no mistake of it. Many people as well as many learned Bible teachers have claimed hell to be either a place outside the gates of Jerusalem where trash was burned or simply made up. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 assures us that everlasting punishment is real.
Revelation goes into great detail to assure us that hell is where the Antichrist, false prophet, and eventually Satan will be cast. God created hell for them, not for us. Unfortunately, man sinned and lost his ability to be in relationship with God. Our Savior is a gentleman and does not force Himself on anyone. We either choose it or not. Islam, the religion of Satan, is not like that. In Muslim countries, 90%+ follow the faith. The very name, Islam, means submission. There is no freedom, no choice, only submission.
Here’s the bottom line…I know it can be difficult to believe the fantastic events of Revelation. Rest assured, they will all come to pass just as John foretold. Here’s why. God has a 100% track record on predicting the future. Recall the numerous prophesies regarding the birth and death of Jesus? They all came true! God is a God or order. The death, burial and resurrection align with Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and the Feast of Weeks. I highly encourage you to study the fall feasts. The next one is the Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah.
Don’t be afraid
Remember God has not given us a spirit of fear! Perfect love casts out fear! Before you start worrying about the what if’s of the future, remember how God has provided and protected you in the past. For me, it was Snowpocalypse here in Atlanta. The entire town went to work and then decided to leave early because of a bad snow storm. Roads were jammed like never before. It took commuters 5-12 hours to get home. Some never made it. Cars were left on the roadsides, abandoned everywhere! I was downtown at the time. Took me 5 hours to drive to my sister-in-law’s place. It’s a drive that should take 20 minutes. My biggest fears: running out of gas, no food or water, having to go to the bathroom and being stuck in traffic. God took care of EVERYTHING! Found a bathroom downtown at the only convenience store in all of downtown. Not only did I not have to wait, there was toilet paper! Had a stash of snacks and water in the car and safely made it to a gas station despite skidding out a couple of times. I narrowly made it to the drug store to get saline for my contacts. The store closed shortly after I arrived. For 2 days, I was a refugee with my sister-in-law. God provided food, safety and shelter for me. Whenever I start to worry about the impending destruction, I remember this story.
Find comfort in words from God found in Psalm 91. It’s said every evening by Jews in their bedtime prayers.