The third verse of the Book of Revelation says…
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Rev 1:3)
Through the years I have seen many young Christians develop a fascination for reading the book of Revelation. And I have heard older Christians discourage them. I think the reasoning of the older Christian goes something like this…
We cannot understand all the details of the book. Even gray-bearded Bible scholars of great age and experience find themselves disagreeing about the details. So it seems hopeless than a mere acolyte could get much out of it.
Also, there is so much that new believers need to learn. They need to learn truth that we might describe as of a more foundational nature. On that basis, older Christians like to encourage younger Christians to stick with, well… the Gospel of John is always a favorite suggestion. And, of course, it is important for young Christians to learn foundational Bible doctrine and read the Gospel of John.
But there are problems with the advice to avoid Revelation! (Not the least of which is that the Gospel of John… and all the other books of the Bible… have things in them that are quite difficult to understand as well!)
A huge problem with the counsel to avoid Revelation is that, as we have read above, God promises a blessing to those who read it!
Doesn’t it make sense that if we believe Revelation is part of God’s inspired Word (written, by the way, by the same apostle who penned the Gospel of John!) that it should be read? And that if any believer is eager to read it, that it would be good to fan that fire, not quench it?
Most of us have an inner curiosity about what God might do in the future. And God is interested in our having some understanding of the future too. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have given us books like Revelation and Daniel or chapters like Matthew 24.
So if you are interested in reading Revelation, go for it! I would just urge you to keep these two caveats in mind…
First, read it humbly. It really is true that great Bible scholars disagree about the details. Resist having an arrogant argumentative spirit about your understanding of the book. Isaac Newton, the brilliant scientist and Bible student, once said, “God gave the prophecies, not to gratify men’s curiosity by enabling them to foreknow things, but that after they were fulfilled they might be interpreted by the event, and His own providence, not the interpreters, be thereby manifested to the world.”
Second, don’t get so absorbed trying to figure out the details that you miss out on the great themes of the book! Let the great messages of the Book fill you with hope and encouragement.
What are the great messages?
Well, one message is that things can and will get pretty ugly in this world. (How bad? Read the Book and you’ll see!) Don’t miss or downplay that message. I would strongly discourage reading the book with the attitude that before the bad stuff happens I’m gonna be out of here!
People who say they are going to give Christ a try to see if He takes away all the tough times they are going through are like the seed sown in the rocky places or among the thorns (Matt. 13:20-22). Afflictions and the cares of this world quickly overwhelm their superficial profession of Christ. They misunderstand the Gospel and are not genuine believers.
(By way of full disclosure: I’m a posttribber. I love pretribbers and love fellowshipping with them. But I believe they are wrong about a pretribulational rapture of the church. If you are interested in our take on the end times, I’ve included some links below to a couple of previous posts that, in turn, have more links to some of our studies.)
But the main message of Revelation is that God carries His people through all the bad stuff–including suffering unto death. The bad stuff is all temporary and passes away. In the end, God reigns, Satan is ruined, and God’s people (i.e., all who trust Christ) are raised to life to dwell with Him forever!
So read Revelation! And rejoice!
And, while you’re at it, make up your mind that you are going to stay in the battle until God says it’s over!