WHEN I WAS A KID, everyone seemed to think the last book in the Bible—Revelation—was about Last Things.
Not so much anymore, at least among the crowd of Bible scholars.
Steve Cooper hints at that in what has become the Bible Question of the Week. Steve wins a free book for his trouble. (Steve email me for the list of available books, including the most recent: 100 Tough Questions About God and the Bible.)
Here’s his question:
Is the Book of Revelation really meant to prepare us for the end times, or by stressing the need to know and love Christ, is it meant to prepare us for our own death, no matter when the world ends?
The Book of Revelation is a little about history in Roman times. It’s a little about the future in Eternal times. But it’s a lot about life in Our times.
It’s not so much about how to die, I think most scholars would agree.
It’s about how to live.
Let me show you.
“The seven heads of the beast represent the seven hills where the woman rules” (Revelation 17:9).
Rome was built on seven hills.
Revelation goes on to talk about eight kings—with details that track nicely with the eight Roman emperors up until the AD 90s, when most scholars say Revelation was written.
As the theory goes, Revelation was a coded way for the writer to encourage Christians of his day to stay true to the faith during the terrible persecution they were facing from that eighth king, Emperor Domitian—one nasty guy (ruled AD 81-96).
“The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city. God’s servants will serve him….They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun. The Lord God will give them light. They will rule for ever and ever,” (Revelation 22:3-5).
Sounds like heaven to me.
“I see everything you’re doing for me. Impressive! The love and the faith, the service and persistence. Yes, very impressive! You get better at it every day,” (Revelation 2:19).
That’s a clip from a letter to the church in Thyatira, in what is now Turkey. But some scholars say this letter and others like it were intended as barometers for all Christian souls and local churches to measure their spiritual health.
Besides, the point of the book is this: We win.
“If you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life,” (Revelation 2:10).
Nothing can beat us.
Not even death.
The Book of Revelation is a little about history, a little about the future, and a lot about life.
I think I hear some New Testament scholars saying, “Amen.” Some of them do actually get that excited.
When someone agrees with them.