Preaching Revelation: two thoughts

Sensationalizing Revelation

I have begun preaching through the book of Revelation in church. It gets more exciting as one passes chapter 5. I dislike sensationalizing this precious book with connections which have no basis in a proper interpretation of Scriptures. Those sensational and speculative interpretations and applications tickle the curious and fool the naive. They sell books and tapes and “energizes” some believers for a while, the way Red Bull gives a brief boost. Unsustainable. You want to give members slow burn carbs that can help them run the marathon called the race. This is what hope does: it gives endurance, sustained movement towards the eternal city.

One member told me a friend believed deeply that the “rapture” would happen by Monday or Tuesday. Her friend was frightened. Another couple sold all their stocks because they believed the “shemitah” would cause a collapse in Wall Street and ripple around the world.  Shemitah has passed and the stock market has not collapsed. God is still on His throne, and refuses to dance to the tune of suspect interpretations of His Word.

So on Sunday I asked the congregation to lay aside their theological frameworks and preconceived ideas of the end time schedule, even if an angel had whispered it to them. Stick to the Word and let the Word reveal what is there. If it’s not there be quiet. Having a set framework prevents us from seeing the truth that is actually there! Some 50 years ago, this was a shortcoming of those who believed in the “cessasion” of miracles. Their theological framework  could not accommodate the truth and the reality of the gifts of the Spirit in this age. As a consequence, they missed out on a grand blessing. Sad.

Interludes in Revelation

Yesterday my sermon title was “The Seven Seals” from Revelation chapter 6, but without explaining why, I stopped at the sixth seal. It was after all the end of the chapter. Furthermore, chapter seven is an interlude about the sealing of the 144,000 and the blessedness of the innumerable followers of the Lamb in eternal glory.

However after the worship service a few members asked, What about the seventh seal…you didn’t talk about the seventh seal?  I saw how not talking about the seventh created suspense, tension, a desire to know what would happen next. Was this perhaps the intention of the interludes in the vision – to create anticipation?  The interludes appear first in Rev 7 as above, and later on in Rev 10, when the two witnesses suddenly appear after the sixth trumpet. The pauses create suspense. You feel a tension as you want to know what would happen next. Your attention is captured. You will not let up on your curiosity until the last seal is opened or the last trumpet is blown.

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