We’ve been on this journey for almost a year. From Genesis to Revelation, these devotionals have covered many of the Bible’s themes. This one is the last in the series. I hope you have enjoyed using these emails as a guide for your Bible study. The plan is to continue sending Monday devotionals connected to the themes of the upcoming sermon on Sunday. Our next sermon series will be about Advent. Christmas is coming! But for now, let’s finish the book of Revelation.
Take a moment and read the last three chapters of Revelation—chapters 20, 21, and 22. Also, watch this video on the second half of Revelation. You can watch the video on the first half if you need to catch up.
One key to reading Revelation is to consider the signs, or symbols, contained in the narrative. The book has much symbolism, but this symbolism should not deter you from reading it literally. For example, Satan is depicted symbolically as a red dragon, but Satan is also literally real. All of Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true (2 Timothy 3:16), including the symbols. Do not dismiss symbols like colors, numbers, and sounds. At the same time, do not elevate them above the rest of Scripture.
Consider the meaning of colors in Revelation:
- White can represent purity
- Emerald green can represent life
- Pale green can represent death
- Gold can represent value
- Red can represent sin
- Black can represent famine
Consider the meaning of numbers in Revelation:
- Fractions can represent incompleteness
- Four can represent the earth
- Five can represent punishment
- Six can represent evil
- Seven can represent God, heaven, or perfection
- Ten and twelve can represent completeness or fullness
Sounds are also prominent in Revelation and often overlooked. They are meant to grab your attention in the way we might bold or underline a portion of text for emphasis. In Revelation, Jesus speaks loudly like a trumpet. The cries of the martyrs in chapter six make for a difficult read. When the seventh seal is opened in chapter eight, silence becomes a cacophony of noise. The loudest noise is reserved for the end of the book. When the vast crowd of heaven starts to worship Jesus in chapter 19, the overpowering roar sounds like the crashing of waves and the cracking of thunder.
Unfortunately, too many read Revelation as a riddle instead of as an unveiling. Is the book hard to understand? Yes, it is. But God is not trying to trick you with the style of writing. No doubt, there are some bizarre happenings in Revelation. The book is part of the apocalyptic literature of the era and contains over 300 symbols. The style appeared around the second century B.C. as a response to oppression, but Revelation is not the only book written in this style. There are other historical examples. John’s letter is both apocalyptic in style and prophetic in tone.
The more you study the last book of the Bible, the more beautiful it becomes. The first reading is intense and can be a struggle to understand the vivid imagery and symbolic elements of apocalyptic literature. The promise of Revelation, however, is one of blessing. God blesses in the moment as we read and gives us assurance of future blessings that come in the culmination of the end of days.
Can Christ return at any moment? Some believe certain events in Revelation must take place first, and we must be on the lookout for the fulfillment. Others believe Christ can fulfill these events at any point and may return at any time. The unlocking of Revelation is not so much about figuring out these future events as it is an entreaty to prepare our own souls. What Revelation teaches is how we must be ready. It’s a question we all need to ask: “Am I ready for Christ’s return?” If not, perhaps it’s time to read John’s letter with a fresh set of eyes.