I went back to school a couple of weeks ago as I began a degree at Western Seminary. I am taking it slow, one class at a time, and the flexibility and emphasis of the degree program makes it a great fit for life and ministry. I’m focusing on New Testament studies, taking classes that will be specifically applicable to my work as the Lead Pastor at LifePoint. As I take courses on certain books of the Bible it will allow me to engage a depth of study into the text that will produce sermon series’, blogs, Life Group studies, Sunday classes, and leadership teachings. It’s really the work I do day to day already, but with added guidance, fellowship, and tutelage from some world-renowned professors and mentors.
My first course started at the beginning of January. We meet twice a month for a few hours, and we have assignments due each week. This initial course is an in-depth study on the book of Revelation. I’ll be posting some of my assignments here after I turn them in, and I’ll add a category (on the right) marked “Book of Revelation,” for quick retrieval if you’re interested in this subject.
I’ll be transparent enough to admit here that one of the reasons I’m taking Revelation is because for years it has been a book that I’ve somewhat avoided. Sure, I read it in my yearly Bible reading, I quote applicable passages in sub-points and explanations in preaching, and every once in a while I preach a passage from the book. But it is not a book that I have ever preached all the way through, nor is it a book that I have spent a ton of time teaching or dissecting. There is so much out there on Revelation that I see as massively speculative, that I’ve hesitated to dive in and spend a ton of time breaking down the text. Those days are now officially over.
In class we’ve already made it through Revelation 6, examining every verse in its historical, linguistic, and theological context. It has been fun to say the least. I’m learning a TON. Some of my suspicions about the book of Revelation are proving to be true. The first of those suspicions is that I have always had the notion that many people miss it when it comes to the book of Revelation. When I read an article, hear a sermon, or see another “end times” book released, I hear the voice of Inigo Montoya resound in the back of my head: “You keep saying that, but I do not think that means what you think it means.”
It seems that the knee-jerk reaction when it comes to Revelation is to assume that the book is about prophecy. It is supposed that Revelation is the unfolding of the “last things” that will take place, and that the central theme is “what will happen in the future.” That is not what the book is about. The book certainly does contain things that “will take place after this” (Rev. 4:1), but that is not the burden of the text.
Then what is the book about? In a word: Jesus. You only have to read the first 5 words of the book in English to figure that out.
“The revelation of Jesus Christ….”
Revelation is about Jesus. It’s not ultimately about prophecy, apocalyptic imagery, end times issues, politics, history, the Antichrist, the horsemen of the apocalypse, judgment, wrath, or even salvation. It’s about Jesus. Any study of this book in its context has to begin there.