Revelation has long been one of my favorite books in the Bible. But it wasn't until very recently that I learned just how rare that makes me - many people find Revelation too gruesome, too weird, and too difficult to enjoy.
While I definitely understand these aversions to the last book of the Bible, there are at least three things we can keep in mind in order to read Revelation with enjoyment as well.
Remember the Book's Purpose
There's just something awe-inspiring about Revelation as I read the depictions of Christ, the throne room, and the saints worshiping the Savior. Best of all, Revelation invites us to preview the end of history, reminding us that in the end, Christ will conquer Satan and that the best is yet to come.
And this is a crucial point to keep in mind as we read: we cannot lose sight of Revelation's purpose, to reveal Jesus Christ. Yes, there will be great suffering and destruction before He is fully revealed to all the world. No, end times will not be fun for anyone who lives through it. But as believers, we don't need to have any fear of death or destruction since Christ has already overcome sin and death and rescued us from eternal damnation!
So, as you read Revelation, focus on Christ, no matter how gruesome the details get.
Remember God's Promises
Much of Revelation is troubling and confusing. We won't know for sure what some of those passages are referring to or describing until those events take place. And it can be downright scary to read about a third of the Earth being destroyed by fire, about plagues with seemingly-endless torture, and about God's wrath being fully poured out.
But it's still possible to read through these passages without feeling hopelessly doomed. We simply have to remember God's promises throughout the entire Bible. Without getting into an eschatological discussion about whether or not there will be a rapture, there are numerous promises God has made to His children that we must keep in mind when reading about end times:
- He will never leave us nor forsake us, no matter how evil or terrible things become (see Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20)
- He has loved us with an everlasting love, and He will continue that faithful love (see Jeremiah 31:3)
- He has given us the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us through all circumstances, including end times if He so chooses to allow us to go though them (see John 16:7, Isaiah 43:2)
- He will ultimately defeat Satan and his demonic forces, proving one last time that He is the Eternal God (see Revelation 17:4)
- He is the final Word and the Ultimate Authority (see Isaiah 45:18)
- He has spared His people time and again and will also care for and protect us (see 2 Samuel 24:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:3)
Remember that We Only See In Part
One reason that the book of Revelation seems so intimidating and daunting is that we don't fully understand everything it's saying. Just as the disciples didn't fully comprehend that Jesus was going to die and be resurrected until it happened, so we also don't completely grasp all of the content of Revelation.
As you read, keep in mind that none of us truly knows what will happen. We have a lot to go on based on what John recorded in this amazing book, but it's still largely unknown to us all. Rather than trying to figure out if there will really be huge flying locusts with stinging tails or if John was trying to describe helicopters in the only way he knew how, let's not get lost in those smaller details. Instead, realize that the important part of the story is Jesus. It's always, only ever been about Him.
We truly do only see through a dim mirror at this point in our lives and won't be able to figure out all of the lesser details contained in Revelation. Don't stress about what you don't know; trust that our Almighty God is big enough to handle it all and to bring us through it.
Revelation is an amazing book, and we shouldn't skip over it for fear of what may lie ahead or for concern that we won't understand it. If we remember the book's purpose, remember God's promises, and remember that we only see in part, we can and should read through it frequently. And by keeping those three things in mind, we can even read through Revelation with enjoyment!