The book of Revelation has held a special fascination for me, from the time that I first read it in high school. I would try to imagine the amazing visions that John described. The artist in me always wished I could somehow capture the vision on canvas. The spiritual seeker in me sought meaning behind the images.
I found the symbols and events depicted to be both enthralling and terrifying, and very difficult to comprehend and wrap my mind around. It seemed so rich in information, but so intense, and I found that whatever I read on the subject, people had many different ideas and opinions on how it should be interpreted. But it was in fact, through a rigorous study of Revelation, Daniel, and other prophetic works, in addition to several read-throughs of the Bible as a whole, that I eventually got enough of a handle to get what I believe to be "the big picture", and it led me to becoming a believer myself.
Bringing Technology to the Vision
Fifteen years ago I created a series of multimedia Bible study CD-ROMs, with the study on Revelation being the flagship product. Now, I am preparing to launch a grander project, with a full motion movie in conjunction with an in-depth, video based online Bible study of Revelation, bringing to the body of Christ what perhaps will be one of the most comprehensive and immersive study of Revelation ever produced (www.revelationmovie.org).
Many people are excited about the project and I have received great feedback, but one thing is becoming very clear to me, is that the body of believers, as a whole, is very lacking in the area of a clear understanding and experience of the book of Revelation. A large percentage of pastors don't even attempt to teach on the subject, and the average lay person is confused amidst a mass of conflicting, and often misleading information.
Since I myself believe Revelation to be one of the grandest and most important books of the Bible, I found it fascinating to learn this, and I began to explore the reasons people avoid Revelation.
Why don't people study Revelation?
- One of the most common reasons people seem to avoid Revelation is that it is "difficult to understand". I have learned over the years that in reality, this is not the case. It is very clear, well structured, and for the most part, self-interpreted. In most cases, John is either told directly the meaning of a symbol, or there is a clear allusion to some passage in the Old Testament that gives a key to unlocking the meaning. Although there are some differences of opinion by good scholars over some minor points, the overall meaning of the various portions of the book are made clear. It is especially easy to grasp when made into a movie and visual bible study, the way we are doing at revelationmovie.org.
- Many people are turned off by sensationalists, and "doom and gloom" scenarios. They equate Revelation with tabloid headlines, and just don't want to be bothered by it. Of course, any serious Bible scholar will realize that the front cover of the Weekly World News is not a good representation of the book... but unfortunately for many, these misrepresentations are a barrier.
- A lot of folks have an "I've heard it all before" attitude. They may base their formulation on a combination of popular Hollywood Disaster movies (Deep Impact, Armageddon, 2012, etc), along with even the Christian "Left behind" books and movies, and so forth. Whereas these mainstream representation each have presented a portion of the end times scenario found in Revelation and other Bible prophecies, they mix fact and fiction, and miss a large part of the big picture.
- To many, Revelation seems vague and esoteric - and doesn't have any relevance or practical application to their lives in the here and now. I will tell you quite candidly that Revelation is not only relevant to your life, but perhaps one of the most important parts of your life, both here, and in the ages to come.
Now that we have addressed the common reasons why people avoid Revelation... it is time to discuss why every Christian should make the study of Revelation a priority in their daily walk.
Why should people study Revelation?
- The book of Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing if you read it or share it with others. You don't even need to understand it to be blessed, just partake!
- It's a Revelation of Jesus Christ - it gives us as believers the best picture of the risen Lord whom we serve! If we only read the gospels and think of Jesus as the 33 year old man we saw walking with fishermen by the sea of Galilee, leading up to a death on the cross... and never think beyond that, it is almost as though we take a picture of our 3 year old son, and for the rest of our lives, show people only that picture and say, "look, this is my boy!"
- It was the early church's worship book - sets the pattern and inspiration for how we are to worship (see http://jgospel.net/faith/worship/worship-in-the-book-of-revelation-and-the-eastern-orthodox-liturgy.c9002.aspx)
- It's an exhortation for how we are to walk as believers! The letters to the seven churches have a timeless message for everyone, in addition to historical context. And throughout the rest of the book, we are exhorted to hold fast, and patiently endure to await the inevitable triumph at the end.
- It's an encouragement as we face uncertain times in the future! Although the world may at times seem doomed, and heading for destruction... we have the benefit of seeing the end of the story. We know that God is in control throughout the ages, and has a master plan to bring everything to justice, restoration and wholeness. We see where we are going someday! Heaven, and then eventually the new heavens and new earth - New Jerusalem... no more tears! Eternity in Paradise.. How cool is that!
- This is the last book in the Bible, and is like a grand finale of the entire scripture. With so many references to both old testament and new testament scriptures and prophecies, Revelation is like a key to unlocking the Bible as a whole.
- In short, Revelation more than any book in the Bible opens our eyes and minds up to the big picture - whom we serve, what our destiny is for the times we live in and a future beyond this....and encourages us to hold fast to the end, through good times and difficult times, no matter the trials that may come upon the world or our own lives. Truly a study of this book should be a staple in every Christian's life!
And what if you are not a believer? If you have an interest in the fascinating symbols and events depicted in the book of Revelation, but do not have a personal connection with the Messiah that is the focus of the book, and do not consider yourself a Christian? Can a study of this book have any meaning for you?
Let me simply answer that by reminding the reader that I myself had a fascination with the book of Revelation from the time I was in high school, back before I was a believer.
Within a few years, I "joined the flock".
Even so, Amen.