Revelation is a book that has confused, frustrated, and puzzled the minds of the best biblical scholars for centuries.
In fact, neither John Calvin or Martin Luther wrote a commentary on it. And Luther, the great Reformer, was quite harsh in his evaluation of Revelation, noting: “My spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book. There is one sufficient reason for the small esteem in which I hold it – that Christ is neither taught nor recognized” (Preface to his 1522 Bible).
Wow! One wonders if Luther was reading the same book we have today.
In this installment of Theology Tuesday, we’d like to look at the different attitudes or feelings many have toward the end times, the book of Revelation, etc. – both from pastoral experience and biblical quotations. Finally, we will seek to know how we can best prepare daily for the Lord’s return.
PASTORAL REFLECTIONS ON ATTITUDES TOWARD END TIMES / REVELATION
Pastor Nelson noted some have said:
--"Meh, it doesn’t matter... Who cares?”
-“It’s all symbolism, so why try?”
--“I'm right, because I understand Scripture better than you.”
--"I'm godlier than you.”
--"Revelation is too decisive. So, let's ignore for the sake of unity.”
Pastor Brian noted:
--"We sometimes outright ignore or avoid eschatology (end times) because we are overwhelmed by the abundance of views on it, or sometimes, the loudness of folks with certain views.”
--"We fear pain and suffering, and especially in America, discomfort. We will take ibuprofen at the slightest ache.”
Other attitudes that might be thrown in:
--Marginalize the book (don’t ever talk or think about it)
--Sensationalize the book (take it to extremes God never intended)
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ATTITUDES OF PEOPLE IN THE LAST DAYS?
2 Timothy 3:2-9 lists at least 25:
1. People will be lovers of themselves (2 Timothy 3:2).
2. People will be covetous (2 Timothy 3:2).
3. People will be boasters (2 Timothy 3:2).
4. People will be proud (2 Timothy 3:2).
5. People will be blasphemers (2 Timothy 3:2).
6. People will be disobedient to parents (2 Timothy 3:2).
7. People will be unthankful (2 Timothy 3:2).
8. People will consider nothing as sacred (2 Timothy 3:2).
9. People will be unloving (2 Timothy 3:3).
10. People will be unforgiving (2 Timothy 3:3).
11. People will slander others (2 Timothy 3:3).
12. People will have no self-control (2 Timothy 3:3).
13. People will be unusually cruel (2 Timothy 3:3).
14. People will have no interest in what is good (2 Timothy 3:3).
15. People will betray friends (2 Timothy 3:4).
16. People will be reckless (2 Timothy 3:4).
17. People will be puffed up with pride (2 Timothy 3:4).
18. People will be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:4).
19. People will have a form of godliness but deny God (2 Timothy 3:5).
20. People will take advantage of women, weakened by sin (2 Timothy 3:6).
21. People will always been learning but not coming to knowledge of truth (2 Timothy 3:7).
22. People will resist the truth (2 Timothy 3:8).
23. People will have corrupt minds (2 Timothy 3:8).
24. People will have a fake faith from a depraved mind (2 Timothy 3:8).
25. People will not progress in fake faith and fail miserably (2 Timothy 3:9).
WHAT SHOULD WE DOING TO PREPARE FOR THE LORD’S RETURN?
1. Know the times (2 Tim. 3:1-4). The clear warnings from these four verses indicate we should not fall asleep at the proverbial wheel. Lest we have final days notions of ease (2 Tim. 3:12).
2. Turn from troublemakers (2 Tim. 3:5-9). “Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones” (Prov. 3:7-8). “Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil” (Prov. 4:27).
3. Follow the truth (2 Timothy 3:10-12). We need to follow the right examples, anticipate persecution, and expect evil to grow.
4. We need to be on mission—urgently (Matt. 25:26-29)! Doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the good things God has given us. But we are so often consumed by things of this world that we neglect building God’s kingdom. Lord, help us to seek first your kingdom!
5. We need to grow in our faith (2 Peter. 3:18). God wants us to grow up and be mature (1 Cor. 14:20) and He wants us to grow down and have a childlike faith (Matt. 18:3). And this doesn’t stop until we die or he returns – whichever is first.
6. We need to grow in our assurance that we are in Christ (2 Pet. 2:1-5). The Puritans often taught their followers that growing in assurance meant: 1. Spending time in God’s Word; 2. Meditating on the character of God, his work, and the promises he gave us; 3. Regularly participating in the local church, especially in the Lord’s Supper and baptism (not to be baptized again and again -- but supporting the work of the Great Commission); 4. And with regular prayer. May we be a people who regularly enjoy the blessing of these four disciplines as we grow in our confident assurance of Christ’s salvation.
7. We need to love Christ’s coming, pray for Christ’s coming, and take it more seriously (Rev. 22:20-22). If you take what the Bible says about you and the world around you seriously, you'll know your only hope is the amazing grace of Jesus. So, re-read those verses. They are written to us, as they were the original readers of John’s book.
8. We must believe what the Bible says about these things (Rev. 22:6). Let us not neglect this book. Let us embrace this book into our very lives and it will prepare us for the second coming of Jesus Christ that is described with great detail and great precision. Do you ponder it? Have you put your trust into things that are written in this book?
9. We must expect Christ’s return (Rev. 22:7a). He is coming soon. He is coming quickly. The judge is standing right at the door (James 5:9). In other words, Jesus is right there at the door. He's ready to push it open. He is not going send a delegation other than himself. He will be coming back personally, visibly, bodily, triumphantly, and victoriously.
10. We must obey Jesus (Rev. 22:7b). The opposite of being blessed is to be cursed. If we really believe that Jesus could return at any moment, that he could come quickly, it would stir our hearts to be living in a state of heightened obedience to the word of God. When Christ returns, may we be found in the pursuit of keeping his word and heeding his law.
11. We must worship Christ (Rev. 22:8-9). We must be worshippers as we are waiting for the return of Jesus Christ. We must be worshiping God who exerts all authority over the affairs of providence and over all of the world events. This is why reading the book of Revelation is intended to magnify within our hearts the greatness, grandeur, and the glory of God. We should worship him for who he is, for what he is doing, and what he will do to bring all of human history to its appointed end. He's, truly, got the whole world in his hands. May we worship accordingly.
12. We must study the words God gave to John (Rev. 22:10-11). Do not close this book. Do not ignore this book. It must not be hidden. Do not keep it to yourself. Let these truths be known far and wide of the glorious triumph and the matchless sovereignty of our God in the heavens and the soon imminent return of Jesus Christ.
13. We must serve the Lord (Rev. 22:12). Beloved, Jesus is mindful of all of your sacrifice for the kingdom. Nothing that we do in his name will ever be forgotten. Every deed done for his glory will be remembered by him and will be rewarded by him. And it will not even be a postponement of the giving of the reward. He says, “I'm coming quickly. And my reward is with me to immediately give to you in that day.” Every trial endured for him and every suffering endured for him will be remembered.
Let us pull up our stakes from this world. Let us begin to look to the horizon and wait and be alert and be dressed in readiness for the return of Christ. Come, Lord Jesus, come!