I’ve always felt a little intimidated by the book of Revelation. People would say things about how it says the end times would include ABC and you can tell the end is getting closer because of XYZ. But whenever I tried to read it I ended up feeling more lost and confused.

Yet all that recently changed. I learned that it’s really a book of hope. Hope that, despite everything appearing to keep getting worse and worse, and life being hard for us and our families, we can rest assured that God has a plan for it all.

Rewinding to Earlier in COVID

During COVID, my mom and I started reading through the Bible together–despite living two states away from each other and having very different schedules. We’d both read the same passages and then email each other our thoughts. Sometimes we’d chat about it too when we happened to connect on the phone, but most of our interaction about it was by email.

We were following a Bible reading plan from the Wayfinding Bible and got to Revelation, at which point I mentioned it never really made much sense to me. She told me she happened to have just run across some CDs she had of Chip Ingram talking about Revelation (of course the timing was perfect), and we decided to listen to them together. For the first time, this part of the Bible made sense to me! 

I’d highly recommend you actually listen to Chip’s whole series–he goes into a lot of really great detail I wouldn’t be able to capture if I tried. But I thought I’d share some main points that really stood out to me and helped me understand how to approach this book.

Why The Symbolism?

I think one reason I’ve always struggled with Revelation is the symbolism. This writing technique has never come easily to me; I naturally take everything at face value and stop there (probably why I’ve never been a fan of poetry). Over the years I’ve learned to think about the deeper meaning more, but it’s something that takes me a lot of energy to do.

However, there’s a reason John used so much symbolism in Revelation. I always thought it was because John wouldn’t have known how to describe what he was seeing given the time he lived, but Chip explained that given the context of when he wrote it, it was actually because he was writing it in code for the early church.

At the time, Christians were being martyred. John was the only apostle not martyred. Instead he was exiled to a small island, where he likely felt useless–unable to do anything but eat and sleep. Then he had this revelation from God. And the point wasn’t to give him a playbook of everything God was going to do next, but to give him and the other believers hope. Hope that, no matter how hard things get, God will be triumphant in the end. 

In addition to providing hope to John and the early church, Revelation provides helpful insight for us today; it tells us the signs of the time and reminds us:

  • Jesus is coming back.
  • Where to place our hope despite everything going on in the world.
  • That we need to live our lives with the very end in mind, and not get wrapped up in the distractions and misinformation flying at us.

A Snapshot of Revelation

I’ll get into more details in future posts, but I wanted to end with a couple of quick snapshots of Revelation.

Write What You’ve Seen

Revelation 1:19 is actually an outline of the book itself:

“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”

  • Revelation 1: What you have seen.
  • Revelation 2-3: What is now.
  • Revelation 4-22: What will take place later.

In Greater Detail

Chip also provided an outline that had a little more detail. He explained that he studied it with the Christocentric method, which means the approach is looking at who John was writing to and what they needed to hear–a similar approach most believers take with the rest of the Bible. 

With that in mind, here’s the outline:

  • Revelation 1: Jesus is our hope.
  • Revelation 2-3: Messages/warnings for the church. Jesus is coming back soon, so you need to be alert.
  • Revelation 4-5: We see heaven, where Jesus is worthy to judge and be worshiped. 
  • Revelation 6-21:8: Jesus is the one who will judge the earth. We see previews of all the tribulation, all the battles, how he handles evil, and how he rules. Evil is finally conquered.
  • Revelation 21:9-22: Jesus in the new heaven and new earth.

It’s All About Hope

When it comes down to it, Revelation is all about hope. When life doesn’t make sense and we don’t know where God is, we can rest assured that the scales will be perfectly balanced by a loving, just God–even if it’s not in the timing or way we’d expect.

Through Revelation, we can see Jesus as the resurrected Lord offering hope to everyone, over and over again. And in the end, if we choose to surrender our lives to him, we’ll get to enjoy heaven with him forever.

I’ll share more about Revelation soon!

2 thoughts on “Revelation: The Book of Hope

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