Summary: This summary of the messages from the Old Testament prophets encourages us to endure to the end (Matthew 24:13)
For the last ten months, I know a lot of you have been just like a little kid on a road trip, constantly asking, “Are we there yet?” as we make our way toward the Book of Revelation. During that period I’ve shared 30 messages that deal with the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Day of the Lord. And I know that some of you may be wondering if that was really necessary. I know that I asked myself that very same question last July, but now that we’ve gone through the process I am more convinced than ever that the answer to that question is a definite “yes”.
When we began this journey on July 19 last year, I shared with you the approach that Pastor Dana and I are committed to using in our examination of the Book of Revelation. Since we are still committed to that approach, let me remind you of the three principles that guide us each week:
1. Our starting point will always be the Bible itself and the plain reading of the text, considered in the context of the overarching theme of the Bible – the reconciliation of man and God through Jesus the Messiah.
2. We will not approach the text with any pre-conceived ideas concerning the structure of the book or any of the various approaches or positions held by any specific commentator or according to any systematic theology. We will allow the text itself to determine the direction of our study as we examine it carefully in its proper context of the Bible as a whole and the Book of Revelation itself. It is our firm conviction that the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself.
While this sounds good in theory, it is without a doubt the most difficult of these three principles to apply in practice. All of us, including me, have our own biases that we bring to the study of the Bible, and nowhere is that more evident than when it comes to the Book of Revelation. But I want to plead with you to do the very best that you can to lay those pre-conceived ideas aside and let the text itself determine the conclusions that you draw.
Let’s not be like the new bride who was cooking dinner for her husband. She was preparing a ham and she cut off both ends of the ham before she put it in the oven. When her husband asked her why she cut off the ends of the ham, she replied, “Because that’s the way my mother always did it.” Her husband’s question aroused her curiosity, however, so she called her mom to ask why she cut off the ends of the ham. Her mother replied, “Well, that’s the way my mother always prepared a ham.”
A few weeks later, the young bride was visiting her grandmother, and still being curious about the practice, she asked her grandmother about it. Her grandmother answered, “That’s very simple my dear. I only had one roasting pan and the ham was always too big for the pan, so I cut off the ends so it would fit.”
Particularly when it comes to the Book of Revelation, far too many Christians have become captive to some particular approach to the study of the book. And instead of allowing the plain reading of the text to guide them, their energy is spent trying to defend their particular position, which often requires them to discard proper Bible study principles. I know - I’ve been there myself. I’ve even taught things in the past that I am now convinced were in error based on what we’ve learned these past ten months. At the time, I did that partially out of ignorance, but also because I was captive to certain pre-conceived ideas about how to approach the book.
I’m certain not arrogant enough to claim that I have it all figured out now, either. In fact, I realize even more just how much there is that I thought I had all figured out that I’m not quite so sure about now. But what I have learned from these past ten months is that there are some unmistakable consistent patterns that we have seen that need to be the foundation upon which we build our study of the book of Revelation. Which leads us to our third principle:
3. Because the Book of Revelation builds upon other Scriptures, particularly many Old Testament passages, it is absolutely essential that we have a proper understanding of relevant passages as a foundation to build upon.
Since the Book of Revelation contains somewhere around 500 references to the Old Testament, we must build our study upon that foundation. That’s why we’ve spent the last ten months examining all these Old Testament Scriptures. And it’s also why I want to take some time this morning to review some of the most significant things that we’ve learned so far in our journey.