To Christians, one of the most frightening books of the Bible has to be the book of Revelation. Most people reading it wig out at all the dragons, beasts, and whores. I remember when I first became a Christian I was gung ho about getting this cool book read. I read straight through the old KJV translation of Revelation and was more confused than ever. I remember sitting in my Bible classes growing up and telling the preacher to teach us what the sevel seals meant. Ironically, I am now a youth minister teaching classes and suppose to have the answers to those kinds of things.
About a month ago I started teaching our teens on the book of Revelation. I had a graduate class on Revelation and I thought it would be nice to put that knowledge to work. How do you make a graduate level class speak to sixth to tenth graders, though? That’s the question I’ve been dealing with. But I think that the Book of Revelation can speak to teens maybe better than anything outside of the Gospels. It is full of images and pictures. It forces you to use your minds’s eye.
It is time for Christians to see John’s Revelation through the eyes of an artist instead of a theologian (this is applicable to all biblical texts, but especially here). Too often the millenial debates have been allowed to define Revelation’s message. When are these things going to happen? When will the seals be opened? Did this stuff happen already, or are we waiting still? Unfortunatley, dispensationalism has been allowed to rule the roost theologically for most evangelical Christians. (We have had a Nigerian immigrant become quite involved in our church. He has a wonderful hunger for God and a great knowledge of Scripture, but dispensationalism has been able to cripple his appreciation for the artistery of the narrative.)
Revelation is meant to be experienced, not analyzed. The things that don’t make sense, aren’t meant to make sense . . . and I don’t think that they are always symbolic of something. It is like watching Star Wars. There is the underlying theme of the Dark Side and the Force and that is seen in many aspects of life, but every single ship and character in Star Wars doesn’t necessarily fit into that major plot.
I encourage you to read the Book of Revelation. Don’t be afraid of it. If you are artistically inclined, draw the picture you see – not for systemic or analytic observation, but for art and impression. Don’t ask, “What does this mean?” Ask yourself, “How does this make me feel?” That is John’s point throughout . . . feel the way that I did upon seeing these things, not know what I know.
The teens seem to be getting it, at least getting it more than I’ve seen them get anything before. It speaks to them. We opened six of the seven seals last night and they got it. And when we open the seventh seal, then they will really get the message . . . the message the pervades Revelation and the entire canon of Scripture. God will redeem his people . . . no matter what happens . . . no matter who he might have to face . . . no matter what stands in his way. Who can stand? Is the question that ends Revelation 6. Next week, we will find out that only by God can anyone stand.