Originally published Monday, 02 April 2012.
You know the saying, "Can’t see the forest for the trees."
I recently realized I think that it’s all too often that we do that with our reading of the Scriptures.
The last book that I read in my chronological Bible reading plan last year was Revelation. It’s a book that is hard to wrap your head around, to understand all the plagues and bowls and lampstands and locusts. It’s a book where we can get hung up on these mysteries and symbolisms and wonderland-like images and miss the bigger point that is going on in the story.
I’ve always thought Revelation was about the Antichrist and Armageddon and the end of the world as we know it. And it is.
But as I read through it this last time, I realized it’s about much more than that.
In the beginning of the book, John delivers messages to seven churches in Asia, from Ephesus to Laodicea. In these messages, he urges them to love and obey God passionately, to press on despite persecution, to pursue peace and serve one another selflessly, to stay away from evil and to keep the faith.
After these letters, he launches into his great revelation that talks about what lies ahead for the earth and everyone in it, how Christ will come again and redeem it from all evil and usher in the kingdom of heaven and all the perfection that comes with it. It’s in this portion that we read about all the supernatural episodes of dragons and beasts and bottomless pits, of wedding feasts and white robes of linen.
For the most part, I’ve always thought of Revelation as being divided into two; the letters being separate from John’s revelation.
I was listening to a Misty Edwards song (which you can download for free here) where she sings, “Don’t give up. Don’t give in. If you don’t quit, you'll win. You’ll win! 'Cause everything is in my hands. It’s going to be alright, going to be okay. Just don’t give up…”
As I listened to those words, I realized that I think that’s the same message that John was trying to tell his readers. In his letters, he told them not to give up, to keep trusting the Lord. But he takes that one step further through the revelation, where he reminds them why they need to keep holding on: Because everything is going to be okay.
Through the revelation, he tells them that Christ is going to come back and redeem everything. God has not forgotten about the suffering of his people. He holds it all in his hands and is going to make it right. He is going to rescue his people and they will finally get to enjoy the peace and the perfection that he has promised them from the beginning.
Scholars can argue back and forth about the meaning of the numbers and the images and the years that are described through the pages of this book. They can argue whether it’s all literal or poetic or something in between. They can get hung up on the details and miss the bigger point that is going on here.
We must not give up. This world is going to be trying and there are going to be days that are difficult. But we must keep holding on to our faith because if we do, we’ll see that God is going to turn it all around in the end. We must cling to that promise and trust that we will get to see the fruits of his victory when the time comes.
Until then, we must not give up.
Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."
Feel free to read more at her blog, Life Blessons.