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Rooted in Christ

Priming the Pump for Revelation

There seems to be an uptick in preaching through the book of Revelation. This is a healthy and necessary thing for Christ’s church.

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it” (Rev. 1:3, NKJV).

There seems to be an uptick in preaching through the book of Revelation. And not just messages on the letters to the seven churches or selected passages, but series that work through the entire book.

This is a healthy and necessary thing for Christ’s church.

Revelation can present a challenge with its strange imagery and confusing structure. Plus, there are so many different approaches to understanding the book. It’s much easier to stick with a Gospel or an epistle.

But in Revelation our Lord gives His church a perspective unmatched by any other book of the Bible. It is uniquely presented to encourage and equip God's people for the challenges they face in this period between Christ's ascension and return.

Like the psalms, the book communicates in a way that informs the mind, excites the imagination, and stirs the soul. Vivid imagery opens wide believing eyes in awe and expectation, and stirs longing for the return of the Champion of God’s elect.

Revelation must be preached but for more than intrigue. It is far more than a key to understanding world events, although it gives categories that encompass those events. It conveys redemptive rhetoric rooted in the Kingdom of God and His Christ that offers strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.

To neglect the book of Revelation is to deprive the saints of the perspective needed to press on in the face of adversity and for confronting an adversary active to lead us astray. We can look at our world where evil thrives and wonder what’s going on. Revelation exposes that evil but also exults in its eventual eradication. The call to the saints is to overcome, not simply by determined effort but by abiding in the Lamb of God who overcame on our behalf.

To benefit from study of Revelation we need to understand its relevance. What are we supposed to see? How exactly are we “to keep” what we read and hear (Rev. 1:3)? (Click here to view my article, The Relevance of Revelation.)

In my junior year of college I took an art history course. It was vivid and fascinating. Hearing the stories behind the paintings and sculptures made them come alive. Unfortunately, I took that course after my French class trip to the Louvre. Had I the knowledge from that course I would have appreciated what I was seeing much more meaningfully.

We need to approach the book of Revelation with such knowledge, understanding it to be replete in Old Testament imagery and rich in redemptive reality on this side of the cross.

Though it may seem to conceal in mystery, Revelation reveals in majesty. Above all, we see Jesus, God the Son, as perfected prophet, priest, and king. Like the certainty of the sun behind storm clouds, the glory of the Son shines steadfastly behind the storms of this fallen and falling world. That glory will one day dispel the darkness and shine uninterrupted into all eternity.

We want to approach the book looking to see what Christ reveals. In addition, we want to see ourselves as He ministers to us in our fears and failings, and be drawn closer to Him who is our help and hope. We need to be reminded that He right now holds the keys to death and Hades, and enables us to stand firm in Him and the power of His might.

I suspect one of the reasons for the resurgence on preaching through the book of Revelation is the availability today of many excellent commentaries. Such volumes help pastors with the hard work of digging deep in the Scriptures and following the flow of Revelation as it empties into the basin of a new creation.

Another resource I commend to you is my small book, RE: VELATION: Seeing Jesus, Seeing Self, Standing Firm (Reformation Heritage Books, 2021). Its purpose is not as a commentary but as a primer. Like the art appreciation course that I took in college, it prepares God’s people to appreciate what they are reading and appropriate the counsel of our Lord for the trenches of life and mission with Him as we await His return.

"Come, Lord Jesus!"

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and nine grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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