How I Approach the Last Book
Likely one of the youngest of Jesus’ disciples, John managed to outlive them all. He had mourned the loss of his friends, particularly because each of his fellow comrades had been martyred for his faith.
John, too, had been persecuted and suffered; yet his life had somehow been spared.
With leathered skin and a weathered soul, John’s mind and spirit remained vivacious and sensitive to the voice of God.
Banished to a remote island (Patmos) as a prisoner, John spent his time praying for and writing to the several churches under his care. It was in this environment that John received a revelation from, and of, Jesus Christ.
This was not some random, flighty, hyper-spiritual person with wild claims about seeing a vision from God. This was a man who had been as close to Jesus than anyone else on earth. John was seeing and hearing Jesus…again.
Jesus revealed Himself to John as the One who was, who is, and who is to come. Throughout John’s (book of) Revelation we read of Jesus’ work in the past (with references as far back as when Lucifer was kicked out of heaven), present (with specific encouragement and correction to each of the seven churches regarding their current conditions), and future (with promise and hope that salvation will soon be manifest, sin will finally be brought to justice, and satan will ultimately be defeated)!
To get caught up in detailed speculation of future events by fixating on “interpretation” is to miss the intended “revelation.”
For years I viewed the last book of the Bible differently than any other of it’s writings. In fact, I often avoided reading it altogether. It was too difficult to understand, too “science-fiction-ish,” and too often used by maniac-ministers for my blood.
Then, one day, I sensed the comforting voice of the Holy Spirit say to me, “I inspired those words, too.”
I realized that I had been avoiding an entire portion of God’s inspired word based on a wrong perception of it. I had allowed other people’s perspectives and opinions keep me from opening up John’s letter with the simple faith of a believer, and reading it as if I were one of his intended recipients.
Certainly, this book deserves (and demands) scholastic insight, historical context, and prophetic discernment in order to accurately exegete the depth of truth being revealed by God’s Spirit through the former fisherman, now sage; but John’s letters were never intended to be a revelation of mysterious and cryptic signs of the end times; this is, and has always been, The Revelation of Jesus Christ.