The Book of Revelation

Capturing the heart of the book will help guide against incorrect assumptions and better interpretation.

This past year I have written a bit of what I have learned from my CSBS on each book of the Bible (although I didn’t write too much on the Book of Lamentations), and I have finally arrived to the Book of Revelation. Woohoo!

Obviously this book is the source of a lot of debate and I haven’t even yet scratched the

At about this time last year my CSBS classmates and I were decorating the classroom for Christmas.
At about this time last year my CSBS classmates and I were decorating the classroom for Christmas.

surface in developing any of my own conclusions.

What I think would be most valuable to share are some helpful thoughts/opinions that the teacher gave us to guide our own personal study. Here are the top seven I found to be the most interesting:

  1. You must make some assumptions when studying the book – information cannot be purely induced because of the obscure language and imagery.
  2. Capturing the heart of the book will help guide against incorrect assumptions and better interpretation.
  3. It is a good idea to read and study the entire Old Testament before trying to understand this book since 2/3 of the book’s verses allude to the OT.
  4. Cosmic/prophetic language (language used to describe an event in picture form, metaphorically) was used by the prophets in the Old Testament to describe future events but not necessarily end-time events, so therefore cosmic language in the Book of Revelation cannot necessarily always be interpreted as end-time events. For an example, Isaiah 34:4 uses cosmic language, but it was describing the judgment of Judah that happened around 586 BC, not the end-times.
  5. Although some like to study the book as if it was written in sequential (chronological) order, the book seems to be written more like a cycle or a repetition of ideas. It was as if John was looking at the vision and wrote what he saw from different angles. This explains the repeated themes – revolving mainly around the throne room of God.
  6. Numbers have symbolic meanings that meant something to the original reader. For example, the number “seven” was symbolic for “perfection.” Therefore the “seven spirits” mentioned four times throughout the book could refer to the Holy Spirit, since the Holy Spirit is a reflection of perfection. Another example is the number “four” which represents humanity or the whole of the world (see, for instance, Rev 5:9 [tribe, language, people and nation]).
  7. The teacher was of the opinion that chapters 6:1-19:10 probably refer to the Church Age, the Age of Tension, which we live in today. It is the age referred to as “the age of now and not yet,” or “inaugurated eschatology.” The rest of the Book probably refers to future events and Jesus’ second coming.
    • There are obviously different view points on this. For example, many “preterists” believe that chapters 6-19:10 refer to 70 AD, when Jerusalem was destroyed, and not the church age. Futurists in general believe in a more literal interpretation and therefore take Revelation chapters 4-22 as end-time events.

But regardless of what stance you’ve taken (if any at all), I think most can agree that Jesus’ message in this book is one of encouragement – that He has already achieved victory and therefore has given us what we need to overcome and endure the evil and suffering of this present age. Final justice will come and death will be defeated!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed. I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:

Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity,

and He will live with them.

They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them
and be their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will no longer exist;
grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer,
because the previous things have passed away.

Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life. The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son.

But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars—their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

Revelation 21:1-8

Finding Home

I have gained a deeper sense of acceptance and intimacy with my Father in heaven, and this has helped me overcome loneliness.

These past three months in Amsterdam have flown by before my eyes. I have grown close to many people here from around the world only to say bye to them all this week. I was at first reluctant to come to Amsterdam to serve in the school for this very reason. I knew I would again be leaving another place I could call home.

FCM Amsterdam Family
FCM Amsterdam Family

Transitioning in and out of people’s lives for the past few years since being in YWAM has definitely been challenging for me. These short seasons outside my comfort zone have grown me in many ways and I know that it has been God’s best for me personally, although I know God also calls people to stay where they are. I have also loved meeting so many different people and having cross-cultural experiences and seeing the world, but I have also longed to call some place a “home” where I can establish roots and not say bye every few months. Although I have an awesome family and amazing friends back in northern Virginia, I do not believe it is where I’ll end up long term. So my heart has been very much longing for a more permanent community.

Then it hit me the other day. While of course I would love to have a place of my own, what I’ve actually been desiring most is a sense of belonging and identity. I know that my surroundings and community can help with that, but unless I find it first and primarily in God, then my surroundings – no matter where I am and who I am around – will never be enough.

A home is exactly what God has given me over the past few years and has given me more of since being in Amsterdam. In this past season of staffing the Foundations for Counseling Ministry school and re-reading one of my favorite books From Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship, I have gained a deeper sense of acceptance and intimacy with my Father in heaven, and this has helped me overcome loneliness. As I have listened to Him speak to me throughout the day, I have heard Him say:

I will never abandon you.

People may love you for what you do and how you look and how well you perform, but I love you for who you are.

I fully accept your heart.

I delight in you always.

I will never abandon you.

I can always find a home in the Father. No matter what sin I still find myself battling, He is always there to help me and He always fully accepts me because of Jesus’ final work on the cross. Jesus has and is still fulfilling His promise to me!

Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.”

“Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:1-6

I’m still not 100% sure where I will end up next year and what I’ll be doing. I know I will be in Tahiti for a couple of months next year on another full-time mission, and then afterwards I would like to enter into the marketplace again and settle somewhere at least semi-permanently. But I have learned to keep my plans open to God and allow Him to convince me of His ways rather than my own, so I cannot fully say for sure what I’ll do or where I’ll be.

But no matter where I end up, I have chosen to partner with God and make His mission my own mission: to reconcile the world to Himself. I want to point both believers and non-believers toward the amazing sufficiency and fulfillment of the Father’s personal and intimate love so that no matter where people are at or what hardship they find themselves in, they can find the comfort, protection and guidance they need in Him.

Sunrise in Amsterdam
Sunrise in Amsterdam

[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
For everything was created by Him,
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things,
and by Him all things hold together.
He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have
first place in everything.
For God was pleased to have
all His fullness dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile
everything to Himself
by making peace
through the blood of His cross—
whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Colossians 1:15-20

3 John – God of Generosity

I saw that God at times will give back even more than what I give, which encourages me to continue showing generosity even in times of dwindling personal savings!

Well, it’s been over a year since I started my CSBS (a nine-month long Bible school) and I want to finish what I started and write about each book of the Bible. I have just two books left, 3 John and Revelation! Better late than never… Presently I’m in Amsterdam staffing YWAM’s Foundations for Counseling Ministry School and a couple months ago I had the pleasure of hanging out with a former student from my CSBS who had a layover in Amsterdam. I had the thought that I wanted to bless him financially by covering his expenses during his 15350845982_3b6178b277_zlayover as he was returning from his own mission trip in Africa to join another one in his hometown. I internally struggled with the thought even though the amount I wanted to give wasn’t a huge amount by any means. But still, my own bank account was the lowest it had ever been since I started working. Then God reminded me of 3 John!:

You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God, since they set out for the sake of the Name,accepting nothing from pagans. Therefore, we ought to support such men so that we can be coworkers with the truth. 3 John 6,8

Through this verse, God was teaching me to hold loosely to “my” money and be generous to others, especially missionaries, even if the amount that I give is small in comparison to what those in wealthier positions can afford. I was thankful that I made the decision to bless him because it’s just awesome to be free to honor others in every season:

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10

To top it off, several weeks later, I had the unexpected blessing of a mostly-provided for trip to
Zurich, Switzerland. I was completely amazed by the generosity I received through my friend!

Mount Rigi in the Alps, aka "Queen of the Mountains."
Mount Rigi in the Alps, aka “Queen of the Mountains.”

Through this blessing, I saw that God at times will give back even more than what I give, which encourages me to continue showing generosity even in times of dwindling personal savings!

Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.  Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. 2 Cor 9:6-8

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Mt. Rigi in the Alps