Are you one of those people who doesn’t read the Book of Revelation? You may read the rest of the New Testament, or simply be familiar with the Gospels and the epistles, but you find this last Bible book too strange or forbidding. Or is your attitude simply that this sacred book is best left for scholars to sort out?
If so, then I can relate somewhat. Recently however, I’ve taken a whole new approach to Revelation, formerly known as “The Apocalypse.” (The Greek word, “apocalypse” means to “pull the veil aside.” Hence the modern rendering; “Revelation.”)
It all started with my wife and I viewing the movie “Apocalypse” on DVD(2000). We were moved by the storytelling and the skillful cinematic treatment of the book. With its many visions and bizarre imagery, Revelation poses many challengers to any film maker. Directed by Raffaele Mertes and starring the great actor, Richard Harris as St. John, this movie makes the text come alive as it provides a compelling and inspirational narrative. Seeing the movie prompted me to go to the text for further study.
To the best of my knowledge, Revelation is the only Bible book that makes self-referential statements like this;
“Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who listen to this prophetic book and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near.” –1:3
Another ‘beatitude’ appears near the very end;
“Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic message of this book.” –22:7
Not only that, but a few verses later and very near the end, there comes this chilling and unique warning;
“I warn everyone who hears the prophetic words in this book; if anyone adds to them so will I add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words in this prophetic book, God will take away his share in the tree of life and the hold city described in this book.” –22:18-19
This was certainly not the first time that I had read this passage. I have been more or less familiar with it for many years. What is new for me, is that I now realize how very important it is to receive these ‘blessings’ and heed the ‘warnings.’ I can no longer afford to ignore or dismiss them as either mere suggestions or hyperbole. Rather, I’m convinced that these words are fully inspired by the Holy Spirit and designed to deliberately draw my attention to the ultimate significance and saving power of Revelation.
Over the years, only a few isolated verses from the book have moved or challenged me. For example, we hear Jesus say;
“Look, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my call and open the door, I will come in to you and have supper with you, and you with me.” — 3:20
This must be one of the most beautiful passages of the entire Sacred Scripture. It has inspired artists, writers, preachers, and people like you and me over the centuries. No doubt it has brought many, many souls into personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, and will continue to do so as long as this world endures.
Then, there are lesser known verses like this one;
” I open doors that no one can close and close doors that no one can open.” –3:7
I have prayed with this Word many times over the years, especially when seeking direction from God. It has also consoled me tenderly when ‘doors’ have painfully ‘closed in my face.’ As both an aid for discernment, as well as a source of great comfort, this Scriptural promise packs real power.
There are many other such verses scattered throughout Revelation. But how will we come to know and pray with them, if we keep the book ‘at a distance?’ Then, there are the extraordinary Chapters 4 and 5 which supply us with a vision of heaven, as the ‘veil is pulled aside.’ What a wealth of inspiration for us and for our prayer! These chapters have anointed my time with the Lord consistently over the years. This vision invites us to literally join with the heavenly choir and taste a bit of the joy and exaltation that those in His presence enjoy eternally and in fullness.
Thus, I invite you dear reader, to take up your Bible soon and fearlessly explore the astonishing, wonderful, complicated, yet stunningly simple, and ultimately enlightening Book of Revelation.
As you do, and when it does move and inspire you, don’t keep it to yourself…please. Make a comment on this blog or share the Word with a friend or family member. As with all of God’s Word, the more you share it with others, the more it will dwell inside of you and bring you ever closer to the living God!