This might be an unexpected recommendation, but I would encourage you to read through Revelation at some point during this season of upheaval. Let me give a few reasons why it might be encouraging, and then a few cautions for your study.
1) Revelation gives a glorious picture of Jesus Christ. The apostle John is overwhelmed by the power, wisdom, and glory of the risen Christ in chapter one. This is the place our spiritual eyes should be. Gazing at the glory of Christ as he is described in the book of Revelation will put all other issues in life, including ourselves and our future, in proper perspective. It is all about Him.
2) Revelation includes the call of the Lord to his church to repent of every compromise with sin and to be faithful until He returns. The seven churches in Revelation two and three are not all in the same place–some need mostly encouragement, and those later in the list need mostly correction. But all of the churches are called to be faithful to the Lord, to remember that they belong to Him, and to repent of any moral compromise. In this moment when death announcements and the threat of disease are around the world, the church needs to remember that our greatest danger is always unfaithfulness to the Lord and our priority is faithfulness to Him.
3) The Throne of God is above everything. Revelation four describes God’s glorious throne–the symbol of his absolute power and dominion over everything large and small in the universe. Nothing escapes the gaze or the control of God’s sovereignty. From the beginning of time to the return of the King, the Sovereign One is in complete command. No disease, no dragon, no enemy, no government is outside of his absolute power.
4) The Lamb of God is the steward of all of God’s plans for history. The Lamb, a sacrificial victim, who is the Lion, the mighty King, takes the scroll representing all of God’s purposes for history and humanity. He is worthy because He was slain for his church and He purchased people for God so that God’s plans for judgment and salvation can rest completely with Him. History is in the hands of Jesus Christ.
5) The enemies of God are constantly at war with God and seeking to destroy God’s people. The dragon, the beast, and the false prophet–this unholy false trinity of abominations– seek to draw people away from the worship of God. Humanity is infected with sin and rebellion against God and hardened their hearts against Him. God’s people must not love their lives– even unto death– and must resist the temptations of this world and the roar of the enemies of God. As many Christians throughout history can attest–from the grotesque circus of Rome to the Spanish Inquisition, to the burning of Christian ministers in London, to the crushing persecution taking place in countries around the world today–the suffering of the church will not be limited to a brief time at the end of history, but will be the regular experience of God’s people until He returns. But all enemies of God will be cast finally into the lake of eternal condemnation. However strong they appear now, they will be helpless against God’s wrath in the end. And with those faithful saints from every age, we must believe that the true church will rise victorious and vindicated in the end.
6) Before Jesus returns, the world will experience plagues and devastations, advance rumblings of the doom of God’s final judgment on the world because of sin. God’s people must endure these hard times whenever they come, and God will sustain them by his grace, faithful through every hardship until we enter His eternal kingdom. We must bear witness that death and disease is a foretaste, a warning, of the reality of the condemnation to come because of sin. We must hold fast and proclaim the truth of the gospel so that many more can believe in Jesus and be saved from the wrath to come. Jesus himself warned us not to predict the date of his return but to live in constant readiness for the sound of that final trumpet. Let us keep our hearts clean for the wedding feast of the Lamb.
7) The New Heaven and Earth will be glorious beyond our imagination. Eternal life and joy await the people of God, and, most glorious of all, we will see His face. His name will be on our foreheads. Death will be no more, neither will there be pain or crying or suffering any more. The former things will pass away. The Lord Jesus is making all things new. We will be with Him forever. Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.
Wouldn’t this would be an encouraging book to read right now!
Let me give a few cautions, especially if you’re wanting to go beyond one reading to study it more slowly. Revelation is meant to comfort the saints and call us to faithfulness, not confuse us and paralyze us. Many of the images in the book of Revelation are harder for us to understand because we’re not first century people living under Roman rule, but they would have been more transparent to the original readers. You do not need to be a mathematician or a theology professor to glean comfort and strength from this book. John was writing for ordinary Christians just like you and me. If you reach a chapter you don’t quite understand, you can can search a trustworthy commentary or ask a faithful pastor, but don’t get bogged down in confusion. Move on to the main points that are clear. And please don’t search out the internet or videos from people that you don’t know or that don’t come recommended by a pastor you trust. If it helps, many of the images of Revelation are meant to speak to us according to their plain interpretation. Lambs are vulnerable victims. Lions are powerful. Thrones are for kings. Dragons are scary. Plagues and death are painful. Lies are dangerous. The Victory of Jesus is worth waiting for.
Take some time and read through Revelation. If you do, I’m guessing that our current crisis will seem less scary, that you’ll want to be more godly and watchful against compromise, that you’ll be more peaceful knowing that God is in control, and that you’ll be longing more for our heavenly home and our coming King. If you’re in our church and you read through it, send me a quick email. I’d love to hear how the Lord encouraged you.
Come Soon, Lord Jesus!