Does the Book of Revelation Make You Nervous?

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Although I was only 8 years old and my mind was consumed largely with baseball cards and G.I. Joes, I knew the world was on edge as it approached the year 2000.

I remember talk of the Y2K bug and the havoc it might wreak on technological infrastructure. (That’s one powerful beetle, I remember thinking.) Though the adults in my life weren’t fearful of such an event, the question marks that punctuated their speculations caused some fear on my part.

Then, there was discussion of the Rapture. I don’t remember ever hearing about it prior to that New Year’s Eve; but as I sat next to my grandmother in the church auditorium, watching a film about the imminency of Christ’s snatching up of His church, I was entirely freaked out. In fact, I remember wondering if the Lord might return that very night, exactly at 12 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Needless to say, the grid did not collapse that night; and the Lord did not return. But for many years, my young mind associated prophecy with fear. 

Though I no longer view prophecy that way, many Christians do, especially when it comes to studying the book of Revelation. John’s visions of war, devastation, and the Antichrist cause many believers to wrap up their annual Bible reading plan a few weeks early, skipping the book altogether.

While I sympathize with such feelings, I must push back against them because they betray a misunderstanding of the book and an improper way of approaching it.

Let’s take a look at these errant approaches and consider how believers ought to read the book of Revelation.

Improper Approaches

1. With intimidation. Many Bible readers complain that interpreting Revelation is too complex and, therefore, do not read it. Indeed, even some faithful pastors say they are intimidated by the prospect of teaching through the book. Yet, if we claim to believe that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” and profits believers (2 Timothy 3:16–17), what right do we have to exclude a portion of God’s revealed Word from our study?

If God thought something was important enough that He revealed it in His Word, then it most definitely demands our study.

2. With disinterest. This view is espoused often by those frustrated with the various (and diverging) interpretations of prophecy. “I’m not amillennial, premillennial, or postmillennial,” they say. “I’m panmillennial—the Lord will cause all things to ‘pan out’ in the end.” While it’s good for a laugh, it makes for a horrible approach to the Scriptures. Imagine if we applied such a lazy approach to other areas of theology, such as the deity of Christ or gender roles in the church. If God thought something was important enough that He revealed it in His Word, then it most definitely demands our study.

3. With fear. For some, like my 8-year-old self, Revelation is a fear-inducing part of the Bible, best to be avoided. But Revelation should be fearful only for unbelievers, on whom the wrath of God abides (John 3:36), not for those who have escaped the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). In fact, Jesus promises a special blessing to those who read and obey Revelation (Revelation 1:3).

Proper Approaches

So, how should a Christian approach the book of Revelation?

1. With awe. While Christians should not be fearful of Revelation, it’s not wrong to come away from a study of it with a healthy fear of and respect for God. The Jesus we encounter in Revelation doesn’t resemble the “meek and mild” baby of the Christmas account. Yes, for believers, Jesus is our brother and friend (John 15:13; Hebrews 2:11), but He is also the One who has coming from His mouth “a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron” (Revelation 19:15). 

This should cause believers to tremble, not in terror, but in awe that such an omnipotent God would claim us as His own.

2. With confidence. The world is a dark place, filled with injustice and unrighteousness. But believers should come to the book of Revelation confident in its articulation of how the rightful King will bring true and lasting justice, peace, and righteousness to the world. 

Believers should come to the book of Revelation confident in its articulation of how the rightful King will bring true and lasting justice, peace, and righteousness to the world.

Jesus’ revelation reminds Christians that He is in charge of history. Jesus told the apostle John, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (21:6). He began time, He has superintended the affairs of men, and He will bring all things to a just conclusion.

Additionally, believers should approach the book of Revelation with confidence because it tells of our enemy’s defeat. Today, Satan “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But John tells us that, in his vision, he watched as “the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).

Believers who study Revelation should have the same confidence that the reformer Martin Luther had when, in the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” he wrote,

The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

3. With worship. If we read the book of Revelation and come away with facts, figures, and an accurate eschatological position, but not a heart full of love and humility before the Lord, then we’ve missed the point. Reading Revelation should lead every believer to worship.

Indeed, doxologies—praises to God—are strewn throughout Revelation. Saints and angels gather around God’s throne to worship Him for meting out righteousness and justice. In reading Revelation, believers can get a headstart on what they will do for all eternity.

Thankfully, the fear I initially associated with prophecy and the book of Revelation subsided, thanks in large part to actually picking up the Bible and reading it. What I found there was a book of admonition, encouragement, and exaltation of the Lord Jesus.

So, give it a try. Devote some time to reading through the book of Revelation, and see if it doesn’t lead you to awe, confidence, and worship!

About the Author
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Ty Perry

Ty is the Field Ministries Manager for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. He assists with strategic planning, organization, and growth of the Field Ministries department. He also ministers to the Jewish community by building relationships through volunteer work with various pro-Israel/Jewish organizations, a Bible study with rabbis, and care for Holocaust survivors. Ty also speaks in churches and at Christian colleges about Israel and the Jewish people. Ty resides in the Metro-Detroit area with his wife, Lissy, and their two children. You can support Ty's ministry online here.

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