Summary: Whether cultural conformity or sever persecution, the book of Revelation is written to brighten their hope, to rekindle their expectation, to stir their hunger for heaven.. Hopeful anticipation is necessary to survival.
“Desire Heaven Deeply”
Today, we finish our sermon series Victorious! We complete our study of the book of Revelation. I need to start this message the same way I started the series – giving you the methodology we have been using and will continue to use today to understand this book.
First, we have to remember the style in which this book was written. This is apocalyptic literature. Apocalyptic means an uncovering, an unveiling, a revealing. The book of Revelation pulls back the curtain between the earthly realm and the heavenly. We get to see the intersection of the physical and the spiritual.
Second, we have to recognize the symbols within this book. The book of Revelation is more a series of pictures painted with words than it is the writing style with which we are familiar. It doesn’t follow a chronological order but uses numbers and images in a repetitive form called progressive parallelism.
Third, we have to realize the setting in which this book was written. The original writing was to seven churches in the Roman province of Asia. They were being targeted either by cultural subversion or by sever persecution.
These seven churches of Asia needed their hunger for heaven stirred. That’s why the book of Revelation was written. A few of the churches were conforming to the society around them. They were chasing money, physical pleasures, and the tokens of cultural respectability. They needed a reminder that the things of this world could never truly satisfy.
They needed their sights set on things above, a reminder that all the good things of this world are – to borrow the words of Philip Yancey – simply “rumors of another world.” Every pleasure of this present world is simply a preview of coming attractions. It’s not the main Event. John writes to turn their attention from these shadowlands below to the sunlit lands above.
Of course, some of these churches hadn’t compromised, and therefore were undergoing extreme persecution – hardship upon hardship. When we experience great pain, it can be easy to forget everything else. Eugene Peterson says that if a toothache “can eliminate the awareness of health in every other part of the body,” then think of how much constant harsh mistreatment could have blotted out everything else for these hurting believers.
Whether cultural conformity or sever persecution, the book of Revelation is written to brighten their hope, to rekindle their expectation, to stir their hunger for heaven.. Hopeful anticipation is necessary to their survival.
And it is for us as well. We face the allure of compromising with our culture. We face the abuses of those who believe that the ways of God are worthless. We need our hunger for heaven stirred so that we may remain faithful and so receive the crown of life promised to those who continue to follow Jesus.
There are three huge boulders we have to climb in the Christian life. The first boulder is: I have a Creator. He’s personal and he created me.