I want to be right up front. The choice to preach through the Book of Revelation was not made as a reaction to all that is happening in the news; not because of Russia’s invasion of The Ukraine; not because it is common to hear pundits speak of “World War III.” I do not want to give anyone the idea that I have some secret message from God about what is going on in the world right now. Rather, my decision to preach through Revelation was made many months ago at a time when nobody had any idea there might be a war to break out in Europe or other such things. And let me also be right up front that there are lots of things I do not know concerning Russia, other world powers, and what geo-political events might lead up to the end times. No such predictions are in the plans to be made in this sermon series.
This is now my twenty fourth year serving as one of the pastors of our church. Over those years church members have made many requests to hear something specific addressed in the Sunday sermons. And I must not go further without saying how thankful I am to be part of a church such as Koinos where the members love the Bible and want to hear the faithful preaching of God’s word! Requests for sermons on marriage, parenting, the Epistle of James, the Psalms, Romans all stand out. But the most consistently repeated request over time has been for the Book of Revelation.
So why have I been a pastor for twenty four years and still haven’t preached through Revelation? Plain and simple; I’ve been afraid. Why have I been so fearful? Honestly, it is because for me Revelation is difficult to interpret. And I’ve comforted myself by thinking I am in good company. After all two of the greatest preachers ever, John Calvin and Martin Luther, didn’t preach sermons or write commentaries on Revelation either. They must have had a hard time interpreting it too, like me, right. Well, at least that’s how I tried to comfort myself. In all reality, those men likely were not afraid of interpreting Revelation. I mean come on, was Luther afraid of anything? And Calvin probably had it on his to-do-list but just didn’t get to it since he died at only fifty five years old. So I should no longer hide behind my fears!
I have had other reasons too. It has seemed to me that it is easy to want treat the Bible like a science-fiction move or to think everything has some spooky, hidden meaning behind it. And of course there are the real whackos out there who predict the date for the end of the world and return of Christ. They are always wrong and make Christians look like gullible buffoons. I don’t want to be anything like that. Well as it turns out none of those things are good reasons to avoid teaching through the last book of the Bible either.
So here’s what changed my mind. Many months ago my discipleship group of 4 guys read through the New Testament together and met weekly for accountability and to discuss what we had read. When we got to Revelation I found that God brought conviction to my soul. In chapter five the Holy Spirit used the text to get my attention. This is what changed my mind.
In Revelation chapter 5 the Apostle John describes the vision he sees of the Heavenly Father seated on the throne holding a scroll. Written within the scroll are the details of all that is to come in the future for the followers of Jesus and the future of the entire world and the entirety of human and natural history coming to a close at the end of time. It is as if at this scene the entire universe sits on the edge of its seat waiting to see what will happen. But there’s a problem. The scroll is sealed with seven seals and no one is found worthy and capable of opening the scroll to reveal what is inside. When this is seen the Apostle John weeps loudly.
Just then one of the elders speaks to John, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” This is Jesus! He steps forward and takes the scroll from His Father who is seated on the throne. Now there is no more talk of John’s weeping. Instead an eruption of praise to Jesus breaks out. All those surrounding the throne of God, the twenty-four elders, the heavenly creatures, the throngs of angels, and every creature in the heavens, in the earth, and in the seas all break out exclaiming the majesty, honor, glory, and power of Jesus. They do this because He is the One worthy and will now open the scroll and reveal all the Father has planned to come.
This scene gripped me. The people of God long to hear all the Father has planned that is to come leading up to the end of this world and the inauguration of the new heavens and new earth in the eternal kingdom. The followers of Jesus long to hear this but they’re not the only ones. The angels long to hear and even the animal kingdom longs to hear. If all these have such a deep longing to hear what God has revealed in the Book of Revelation then who am I not to open the book, read it to God’s people, and to the best of my Spirit-enabled ability preach it to God’s people?
So I give up on hiding behind my fears. God’s word is beautiful. All of it is beautiful; the beginning in the book of Genesis and the end in the book of Revelation. That’s because all of it reveals to us who our LORD is. It reveals His beautiful glory. He is majestic. He is the only sovereign, ruling, reigning King. He owns all things and directs all world history and the entire universe all to display His glory. He is the Almighty.
Praise be to God and by His grace the sermon series on Revelation will begin this Sunday. Your prayers are greatly appreciated. Let’s learn together and exalt Jesus with all our being.