Reading Revelation

A Rorschach test records a person’s perceptions of inkblots in order to determine their personality characteristics and the way they function emotionally.  It is also used to detect underlying thought disorders.  Unfortunately, many read and interpret the book of Revelation as a Rorschach test.  This leads to a neurotic interest in the future or an escapist fantasy about the future.  They tend to read more into the ink than they read out of it.  Consider the following when reading the Revelation of Jesus Christ as penned by the apostle John on the isle of Patmos in the first century:

  • Read Revelation on its own terms.  Everything in this last book of Scripture can be found in the previous 65 books (over 500 references in just over 400 verses).  This presumes that one must have an understanding of the entirety of the Bible in order to grasp its last book.  Revelation gives a strong warning to those who would dismantle and re-construct its message to conform to a denominational system or a personal agenda.
  • Jesus Christ is both the content and the agent of what is revealed about God and His purposes.  He is the center and all else is the circumference.  He is actively at work in the context of a believing community of “overcomers” in the proclamation of the good news and the propagation of His kingdom.
  • Evil is not glamorized or sensationalized.  It is exposed as a fraud.  As the seals are broken, the trumpets blown, and the bowls poured out, evil is exposed and defined, contained and diminished, denigrated and then destroyed.
  • Revelation must be read from the perspective of the “eternal now,” where both history and the future are breaking in on and rupturing the present.
  • God listens to and answers our prayers producing incalculable effects.  This results in constant opportunity for the overcomers to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God.  It is difficult and dangerous to tell the truth when it is countered by harsh persecution.
  • Salvation is God’s determination to recover His creation and to rescue His people.
  • Worship is the act of attention to a loving and holy God who rules, who reveals, who redeems, and rewards.  Worship recovers our focus on Jesus Christ.

The intent of the book of Revelation is not just to inform us about God.  These words involve us in God.  The mystery of salvation that will be accomplished is not a baffling puzzle.  It is an infinity to explore. Together with the Spirit of God, let us use all of our faculties to understand, interpret, and to enjoy our God, even Jesus Christ forever!