The week before I was scheduled to preach on the book of Revelation in our 40 day blitz through the New Testament, Neil our Executive Pastor quipped that I’d be answering everyone’s questions about the Apocalypse in one sermon. I didn’t! Rather, I took one core idea behind what the Biblical authors wrote about the End Times, namely: to “Live with the End in Mind.” You can listen here. It includes the wonderful stories of a mother and daughter’s experiences serving in a school and hospital in Mali. I’m also including some resources for understanding the book of Revelation better.
As Jay Phelan points out in his book on Eschatology (the study of the end times), “There is probably no book so beloved and so despised, so carefully studied and so terribly abused, so routinely obsessed over and so generally ignored. G.K. Chesterton famously observed, ‘Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators!'” (Essential Eschatology: Our Present and Future Hope, p. 7) The prophets, including John, are not primarily about prediction and speculation, but becoming aware that the future is breaking into the here and now!
One easy to understand and substantive commentary on Revelation is N. T. Wright’s The New Testament for Everyone – Revelation.
Eugene Peterson’s Reversed Thunder; The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination, is a beautiful look at the unique poetic and apocalyptic genre of the book that helps make it exciting and accessible.
I included this diagram in the sermon that helps explain how the Bible sees the end times as beginning at Christ’s resurrection and completed at his coming again. We live in the tension between “The Already and the Not Yet.” We are to live now with the end in mind!
And so Paul, the Apostle, ends his magisterial chapter on the Resurrection and the New Creation with these words:
And so dear brothers and sisters of mine, stand firm! Let nothing move you as you busy yourselves in the Lord’s work. Be assured that nothing you do for God is ever lost or ever wasted! (1 Corinthians 15:58)