There are many ways to read and interpret the Bible, and many controversies because of that. I find that the closer I can get to the purpose and message of the original writers and audiences, the more likely I will interpret the message more appropriately. Revelation is a book that has been interpreted by many people in many different ways – often trying to predict a future that even Jesus said he did not know. A better way to understand the message of Revelation is to grasp its original purpose. Then ask if God is speaking to us today in a similar manner. Here are six passages.
PRAYER: O God, You move in mysterious and wondrous ways through men and women throughout history. With your Spirit illumine my mind and warm my heart that I may keep the faith in difficult times. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
MONDAY- Revelation 1:1-4; 2:1-7
John is writing to seven churches to encourage them in a difficult and dangerous time. Many of them were facing persecution, threats, and even death. But because the situations is so treacherous, he cannot speak openly and directly. So he speaks in “code.” For example, when he talks of Babylon, he really means Rome. When he uses the number seven, it may not be intended literally seven items; but a symbolic number representing a completeness and a wholeness. What is John’s message to the church at Ephesus? What did he praise? What did he criticize? If John were speaking to you, what would he praise or criticize?
TUESDAY- Revelation 3:7-13
There are seven letters to churches. This is just one of them – the Church in Philadelphia (modern day Turkey, not Pennsylvania). What does John praise? Of what does John warn? What does John promise? What is his message for Christians today who face difficult times?
Wednesday – Revelation 3:14-22
John has strong words for this Church. What does he threaten? Why? How does God use difficult and challenging times to groom and grow us into maturity? Can you think of some times in your past where you grew strength and endurance because of the challenge? How can God use current challenges to continue to groom and grow you? John uses a phrase at the end of each of these letters to the seven churches. What does he mean by this? How might we listen to these messages today?
Thursday – Revelation 4:1-11
John has a vision. Perhaps it is a glimpse of worship in heaven. Can you imagine what he describes? Don’t let it sprain your brain. Remember John is trying to describe in human terms what cannot be described. It is so far beyond our imagination, let alone our reason; that it becomes incredible and even mythological. But what can we gleam from this image? It is fantastic! Being in the presence of God is moving and passionate. It is joyous! And mere human words will be inadequate to describe it. Would this encourage a people who are suffering? Would this help someone keep the faith in danger? Sound like something you would enjoy? Who needs a video game when heaven is filled with this?
Friday – Revelation 21:1-8
Yes, we skipped a lot of fascinating images and stories in between. But John wrote this letter to encourage people in dangerous and difficult times. In the midst of struggle and scuffle, John reveals who wins the cosmic battle between good and evil in the end. What does John describe life will be like when God rules? What happens to death, and grief, and pain, and sadness? Who will receive these gifts? Who will not? How will you keep the faith in the difficulties you face?
Saturday – Revelation 22:1-5
As you imagine the scene John describes, what do you feel?Who is the source of light and life in this picture?What is the promise?If this is John’s message to a church in dangerous times, what would John say to you in our times?Who is the source of light and life in your picture?What is the promise in your situation?How does this help you keep the faith in the difficulties you face?