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Reading Revelation

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Reading Revelation

Text:  Revelation 1,22

Topic:  The Book of Revelation

Big Idea:  The book of Revelation comforts persecuted Christians with the message the Christ's victory is coming soon.

Purpose:  To give people tools for understanding the mysteries of the Book of Revelation.

Introduction:

            Many Christians are fascinated by the end times

                        -in fact, so are many in our world

                        -Best selling books – Lahaye and Jenkins

                        -Movies – about numbers

                        -even dates – June 6, 2006 (6/6/6)

                                    -Will call people to consider the final days

            One of the reasons people are fascinated, and turn to the Bible

                        -is the nature of the book of Revelation

                        -a strange, symbol-filled writing

                        -that speaks of judgment, battle, Angels, Spirit-realm

            To be honest – a book that many Christians do not understand

                        -not often preached on

                        -because even us pastors have a hard time understanding the message

                        -we get caught up in the symbols

                        -and miss the point

            Over this summer

                        -in our morning worship services, we will have a series of sermons on this book

                        -but before we dive into the trees of this book

                        -I want us to survey the entire forest

                                    -give a framework for understanding this fascinating piece of God’s word

Sermon Body:

Outline of the Book:

            -Chapter 1:  greetings and Christ is supreme.

            -Chapters 2-3:  Letters to seven churches

            -Chapters 4-22:7: Vision of Judgment, Final Battle, (dominated by three sets of 7)

                        -Seven Seals opened

                                    -each seal brings a battle motif, or a cry for justice

                        -Seven Angels blow trumpets

                                    -each trumpet brings catastrophe to the earth

                                    -a battle seems to be described in this section

                        -Seven bowls of God’s wrath

                        -The final condemnation for Babylon

            -Chapter 22:8-21:  Final Summary

Context for this book:

            1. Seven Churches in Asia Minor

                        -All living for Christ, in a world that is definitely not Christian dominated

                        -probably a kind of world that would be very unfamiliar to us

                        -these are the books that are most easily preached

                        -they sound very much like Paul’s letters

                        -they are helpful

                                    -because they tell us what is happening in those times.

            2. All suffering persecution

                        -fears, concerns for their lives

                        -John himself was in exile, presumably for his faith

            3. They have waited long for Christ's return

                        -and might have started wondering, “Did we make a mistake?”

            -Purpose:  To Comfort

What type of literature is this book?

            1. Letter

                        -Important to know the context to understand

                        -written to a particular people for a purpose

                        -my words to my wife would not be words to you

                        -but you learn something about me by how I treat my wife

            2. Prophecy

                        -which brought warnings of God’s coming judgment

                        -spoken to a particular situation

                        -came with instruction

                        -usually written in prosperous times

            3. Apocalypse

                        -Use of symbols to convey a message

                        -often written in times of oppression (Daniel and Revelation)

                        -Our struggle – we get caught up in the symbols and miss the message

                                    CS Lewis (Narnia) Lewis later wrote that most common problem was

                                    people reading too much into what was written.

Strategies for understanding this book:

            *Preterist - teaches that the book was written primarily for John's contemporaries, and                              that the events of that book would have meant something to them:  ie. the                                 prophecy would have been largely fulfilled in John's day.

                        -key to understanding is to figure out what it would have meant to John’s readers

                        -were the signs common words/images that people would have understood

                                    -even if we don’t understand them today

            *Historicist - Revelation 4-22 describes the entire course of human history from the 1st                             century until the end of time.

                        -so the beast might be one Kingdom, person or ruler

                        -each sign has a corresponding reality in history

                        -key to understanding is to figure out what the signs represent

                                    -Ronald Reagan is the beast?

                                    -Russia is the beast?

                                    -Rush Limbaugh is the beast?

            *Idealist - Revelation does not refer to specific events, but to ideals, principles, and                                    timeless truths (eg. Battle between God and Satan, God's judgment, Christ's                                  authority)

                        -takes away the hope of finding corresponding symbols and exact realities

                        -key is found in the story, and seeing types and images

                                    -evil, battles, judgment, Christ’s authority

            *Extreme Futurist - Revelation describes future events.  Chapters 2-3 describe the future                         of John's day, and 4-22 describe the future in our day (after the rapture).

                        -again, back to finding exact symbols and corresponding realities

            *Moderate Futurist - Revelation refers largely, (but not exclusively) to future events.                                  Chapters 2-3 are addressed to real churches.  The church will experience                          tribulation before Christ's victory.

Proposed Method:

            1.  Part Preterist - understand what it meant before we apply.

                        -this is a good idea with any Biblical text

                        -because too many people take text out of context

                        -and end up making the Bible say what it never said

                                    -which is not taking the Bible seriously

            2.  Part Idealist - these images often tell a story of a battle,

                        Christ's power, ideals that must be proclaimed.

                        -Furthermore, God often spoke this way through His prophets

                        -speaking of a new land, redemption, even sacrifices

                                    -that pointed to a greater reality in Christ

            3.  Part Moderate Futurist - we still look forward to many of the events that will bring the                           fullness of Christ's eternal Kingdom.

                        -Judgment, Battle, Catastrophes, Protection are still on the horizon

Common Overemphases:

            -rapture (not mentioned)

            -millenium (mentioned once)

            -timeline (How long and soon)

Noteworthy Recurring Thoughts: (Keep an eye out for these concepts)

            1. Battle

                        Ongoing battle (enemies, death, judgment)

            2. Judgment

                        God's judgment is coming (and it is long-awaited)

            3. Trouble

                        Trouble is either anger or tribulation

            4. Images of Christ

            Jesus' is portrayed in a fascinating manner

                        -was, is, is to come

                        -lion

                        -victorious warrior

                        -able to unseal the scrolls

                        -worthy of worship

            5. Marks

                        Whether you are marked by God or the beast

Conclusion:

            Revelation – a difficult book

                        -but don’t lose sleep

            It does not contain any new secrets of the Bible

                        -that are keys to secret meanings

            Rather, it points us to comfort

                        -that despite battle and struggles

            God will bring perfect peace

                        -and will protect those who are marked by Him

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