I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been studying The Revelation of Jesus Christ. You know… the last book in the Bible… it is the one just before the concordance (Snicker, Wink!). It’s been consuming a good amount of my time reading, listening, thinking, examining, etc. So I haven’t wanted to write very much.
The first book I studied after becoming a Christian was Revelation. That was probably because my dad wanted to study it. He had just picked up Hal Lindsey’s book “The Late Great Planet Earth.” The Six Day War and the Yom Kippor War had been fought within the last few years and he was convinced the rapture was about to take place. So all our study time was about the Second Coming of Christ.
We read Hal Lindsey’s book… compared what he wrote to Scripture… and then dad pointed out in the news all the things that pointed to the imminent return of Christ. I bit and immersed myself in the thoughts of Scofield, Lindsey, and others who set forth the pre-tribulation rapture, pre-millennial, dispensational theology of understanding Scripture. I held on tight to that view until I was in my mid 20s.
It was then that I began reading Scripture apart from books written about the Scripture. The reason was because I kept running into things in the text of the Bible that didn’t fit what I believed and had been taught (The resurrection was the main issue for me in this process.). I also had a problem because I wondered why God would make His Word so difficult to understand unless you had some kind of map or chart or a degree in numerology. Then there was always the nagging question in the back of my mind, are you SURE that what Christians believed about the Revelation for hundreds of years was wrong, BUT NOW we finally have it right?
A few years back the Southern Baptist Convention had a Summer Doctrine Study about Eschatology. In preparation to present the material to the church I read respected conservative commentators and pastors that I admired who held to a view different from my own. These men made sense of the text in simple and plain ways. They answered questions that I had been dealing with for a long time. And I found myself beginning to contemplate afresh what The Revelation meant… what it really meant… and the possibility (Gasp!) that I might not have an accurate understanding!
The most important thought I ran into at the time was this… “If The Revelation of Jesus Christ did not hold meaning for the readers to whom it was written, then the book was useless. If the first readers didn’t understand clearly what was contained in the letter, it had no practical use at all.” I had to really work on that thought for a long time.
After all, the book is called “The REVELATION of Jesus Christ,” not “The SECRETS of Jesus Christ.” After all, the things written in the book were to “SOON take place,” not 2,000 years later. After all, unlike Daniel who was told by an angel to seal up the meaning of his book… John was told NOT to seal up the meaning of his book. Thus it HAD to be meant for first century readers! It HAD to be understood by them FIRST and FOREMOST. Or at least that was what I was thinking at the time.
Anyway… I have been working through a lot of thoughts recently. I have been trying to evaluate the theological baggage I have that might not be accurate and confirm the things that are accurate. And that is not an easy process!
So for a little while I might not post as regularly. And when I do, there might be a few thoughts showing up in my writing that are the product of my studies.
Suggested Reading: The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Read it through in one sitting… for seven days in a row… without reading any commentaries). “The Church and The Last Things” by D. Martin Lloyd Jones.