Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3, ESV)
I have been announcing for several weeks that we are starting a study of The Book of Revelation for our Thursday night Rector’s Bible Study. The Book of Revelation is a challenging and misunderstood book and, consequently, the least studied book of the Bible. It was no surprise then when I was asked, “Why study Revelation?”
First, what is the Book of Revelation? The Apocalypse of John or The Revelation to John is most commonly recognized as simply, The Book of Revelation. The title of this book is taken both from the content of the book and as a direct translation of the Greek word apokalypsis, meaning "unveiling" or “uncovering,” translated “revelation,” from the first verse of the Book, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,” (1:1)
The Book of Revelation is the only prophetic book in the New Testament, and it reveals how God will usher in peace, prosperity, joy, and universal love over all the earth. The Book also reveals the tumult and destruction (apocalypse) which will accompany this transition.
With that in mind, here are a few reasons to study the book of Revelation:
Jesus! Jesus is the one revealing this information to John, and he is telling John to tell us all that is being revealed. These are Words of the Word, the same as the Words of the Word found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Our privilege and our duty is to study what God has told us in order to grow in our “knowledge and love of the Lord” (BCP 423).
Communion. We are assured that Jesus is with us--providing for us and caring for us no matter what, and the “what” in Revelation is a BIG matter. We are in communion and fellowship with each other and with Christ as we approach what is to come, and in that fellowship it’s all going to be OK!
Patience. The prophecies contained in Revelation are often seen as "fire and brimstone" with an emphasis on judgement (and worse), the God we encounter in the last book of the Bible is not that. In these final scriptures, Jesus is teaching us yet again that God is patient and gentle and kind and loving. Jesus tells us judgement will eventually come, but even when it does God will proceed slowly and with the utmost patience to allow everyone time to get on board. Jesus is showing us the way to live, with all the upheaval in our lives, we have the example of God’s patience as we wait for better things.
Joy and Fulfillment! Jesus witnesses to us that God is sovereign, the Alpha and the Omega, and that what God began God has always been a part of. Jesus reminds us that all our hopes, dreams, and longings will come to fruition and that we will know true joy and be filled!
Worship and Encouragement! We are affirmed in our focus and in our pattern of adulation when we gather in Church. The focus we read about in Scripture and hear about in sermons is described in Revelation, which can encourage and inspire us on our faith journey.
Confusion and Estrangement. Perhaps I should have said, “the end of…”. To study the Book of Revelation is to open a new avenue into the mind and heart of God. Studying this book, we are no longer afraid of what it says or separated from the message it conveys. Studying Revelation is the pathway to understanding that “it” is actually the Word made flesh reaching out to us to dwell within us.
Blessings. There are seven blessings in the book, and they are ours for the taking! Who doesn’t want blessings?!
We study Revelation to understand what lies ahead, and how we are already a part of God’s plan. We study Revelation to understand how we are already part of the Good News and enfolded in the events yet unseen. We study Revelation to see that it contains the most remarkable message of hope ever written.
Thursday nights 7:30 to 8:30 via ZOOM, see you there!
Apokalypsis in Christ,
Father Bill Burk†