ISSUES OF FAITH: Pay attention for the Revelation

I’VE NOTICED THAT there are often two responses to the book of Revelation in the Bible.

People either avoid it or are consumed by it.

Some people avoid it due to its unusual and vivid imagery, complexities and obscurities.

John 3:16 is preferred for its simplicity. No obscurities there, yet it speaks volumes.

And some people are consumed by Revelation — needing to interpret the meaning of every detail.

A red dragon with seven heads, 10 horns and seven diadems? 666?

I confess to you that I do not know the meaning of every detail in Revelation, and I have done my research.

But I’m old enough to be comfortable with some mystery.

I also confess that I’m a little cautious of people who have interpreted every detail.

I once read that you can learn a lot from dissecting a frog, but you can be certain the frog will die from the dissection.

I don’t want to kill Revelation by dissection, nor do I want to avoid it.

It’s the glorious ending to God’s never-ending story.

Long ago Revelation 1:3 caught my attention: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” (ESV).

So last Sunday, we did it at Joyce Bible Church. Two other men and I took turns reading aloud all 22 chapters of Revelation, and the congregation listened.

For a long time — it took an hour and 15 minutes.

I didn’t tell the congregation ahead of time, fearing people might find an excuse to not come that Sunday.

My insecurities proved unfounded and God’s word proved true — again.

The readers were blessed and so were the hearers.

One of the basic rules of hermeneutics is to put yourself in the mind of the people who originally heard the message.

It is inconceivable that the original hearers of Revelation heard it in segments.

After reading 10 or 15 minutes, no one said, “That’s all for today, folks. Come back next week and I’ll read a little bit more.”

No way. Uh-uh.

Yes, it was a long time for people to watch and listen.

Twice as long as normal.

Some researchers have said that the average adult attention span today is approximately 15-20 minutes.

In today’s “tweeting” culture, maybe attention spans are shrinking. But our attention spans don’t seem to have trouble watching a 90-minute movie or a 3-hour football game.

God chose not to tweet us.

Scripture isn’t interrupted by commercials, praise God.

We benefit from spending ample time and careful attention to God’s word prior to our application of it.

Again, at the beginning of Revelation, Jesus says, “… blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

And at the end of Revelation, Jesus says, “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:7).

Be blessed.

Read aloud, hear and keep. Time is short.

“Amen. Come Lord Jesus” (22:20).


Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Greg Reynolds is pastor of Joyce Bible Church. His email is [email protected]

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