Revelation is probably the most abused book out of all the canonical Scriptures.
Have you ever tuned into an evangelical radio station? If you stay on one long enough, you will hear somebody preaching from Revelation, and it probably will scare you to death. They'll have you worried about microchips and plagues, falling asteroids and a one world order. (If you've heard this before, you're probably in a cold sweat right now, just thinking about it.)
The impassioned preacher will be drawing all his horror stories from the visions seen by John the Beloved when the elder Apostle was exiled to Patmos. John was given a glimpse of both apocalypse and renewal, in visions which encompassed total devastation and then God's healing presence amid a redeemed world. The record of this experience was sent out to the newborn churches, and somehow I think they treated John's words differently than we do today.
Typical evangelical preaching on Revelation leaves you hoping to die before the End Times arrive. The focus is on the torment (I’m not sure if everyone alive will be tormented, or just the unconverted- I’ve heard it spun both ways) and not the triumph. The early church certainly understood evil, and corrupted governments, and deadly persecution, yet when they read Revelation they saw a victorious Lamb; a conquering Christ. This unforgettable and imponderable letter from John taught them how to live, how to worship, what to work for, and what to hope for.
J. Scott Duvall wrote this book to help us receive the words of Revelation in a Christ-centered, soul-strengthening way. Instead of sucking us into the kraken infested whirlpool of prophecy predictions, he pares his thoughts down to ten essential themes.
God- who is this Person, maker of Time, Space and Matter, who holds the ends of history in his hands?
Worship- how would we live if we recognized and responded to God's worth?
The People of God- when life is scary, we can give each other shelter in His name.
The Holy Spirit- our Advocate, Helper, Comforter, the One who came to bear with us.
Our enemy- that force which hates the ways of God, yet only exists because God created it.
The Mission- how do we carry God's news and enflesh Christ's life, from now until the final day?
Jesus Christ- he walked the earth with his glory hidden in human skin, yet when he returns He'll be revealed as the King.
Judgement- the act that sets everything right.
New Creation- everything as if was intended to be, aligned and alive in Christ.
Perseverance- clinging to the purpose behind all of life.
If Revelation has been used wrongly in your life and left you terrified and troubled, then maybe it's time to read this book. It will remind you that John's testimony was recorded to strengthen our hearts, fanning the flame of God's love so that the church can warm the world.
I thank Baker Books for providing my review copy.