Teaching the Book of Revelation
Since Easter, I’ve been reading and teaching on the book of Revelation during the teaching ministry of our Sunday worship gatherings. We decided to name the sermon series “Unveiling Reality”. There were several motivating factors and several convictions that we were processing as we made the decision to take on this challenging book and sermon series.
For one, we felt that this book is not often taught thoroughly, if at all. Some preachers might reference the book on occasion, but the references are often limited to either passages about judgment or passages about “heaven.” And, these references are most often not fleshed out with regard to their context in this highly contextualized book. So, we wanted to offer our congregation (and anyone following along online) the opportunity to experience a thorough survey of the book in sermon form. Also, we felt that it had a timeliness to it, during this season of heightened political partisanship and nationalism. The Trump campaign had not yet picked up steam when we decided to preach through Revelation, but we sensed rumblings of another highly polarizing election season, with Conservatives/Traditionalists and Liberal/Progressives lining up on either side and preparing themselves for battle. As the series went on, we were amazed how much more relevant it became than we could have imagined. The themes of faithful witness in the midst of an oppressive empire, systems of power fueled by demonic darkness, the complicity of civil religion in idolatry and injustice are just a few of the ways we saw Revelation speaking directly to the news headlines. We also were convicted that there has been a lot of false teaching in the U.S. church around the Second Coming of Christ—specifically the “rapture” theology of Dispensationalists. Coupled closely with this is highly dangerous and erroneous teaching about “end-times war(s),” violence, and divine wrath. A lot of people avoid Revelation because they have witnessed teaching that portrayed God, Jesus or both as violent, wrathful destroyers of lives. Or, they have been in contact with teaching that an “antichrist” will try to destroy the world, but the church will fight, violently, against him. So, we definitely wanted to correct those errors. Finally, we also wanted to address the Gnostic belief that lingers in the U.S. church today that “heaven” is an ethereal place somewhere “up there,” “in the sky,” or in space, where disembodied spirits frolic with pudgy cherubs who play golden harps. This Platonic vision of the heavenly realm is fueled by extreme literalism that does not respect the context of Scripture, especially the apocalyptic literature that Revelation clearly includes.
Below, I’ve embedded the sermons I delivered as part of this series.
“Unveiling Faithfulness & Opposition” — Rev. 2.8-17
“Becoming What We Behold: The Transforming Power of Worship” — Rev. 4
“Seven Trumpets: Unveiling The Day Of The Lord” — Rev. 8.1-9.21, 11.15-19
“In Bed with Babylon, Part 1: The City Gone Wrong” — Rev. 17
“In Bed with Babylon, Part 2: Convicted Grace” — Rev. 18
“The Blessing of Revelation” — Rev. 22.6-21