I was raised the first-born son of a Southern Baptist preacher. There was a memorable season in my boyhood when my father preached through the book of Revelation, chapter by chapter, verse by verse. This undertaking was no doubt spurred on by questions his congregation had regarding some popular writings of the era, the 1970s. I remember him delivering passionate sermons backdropped by a huge timeline chart on the wall, which gave structure to the events of the last days.
When I was a boy, I thought as a boy. So most of what I remember of that time is my father’s physical presence behind a pulpit and the incredible imagery of this final book of the Bible. My mind was captured by visions of blood reaching up to a horse’s bridle, seals opened and trumpets blasting, lakes of fire—to name a few. And then there’s this:
“The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints,
went up in the presence of God from the angel’s hand” (Revelation 8:4).
And while my father had a particular interpretation of it all, the most important thing impressed upon me was the need to make sure I was on God’s side in the apocalypse. The alternative, to my boy’s mind, was chilling.
Today, I look at the book of Revelation a bit differently than my dad did back then. But the impression he made on me? I remain held in its grip to this day. I confess I do not understand all that’s going on in John’s vision. Some of it is possibly historical, some possibly literal, some no doubt figurative and poetic, and some of it yet to come to pass. All of it remains quite chilling.
Regardless of how you approach this book, it’s difficult to deny that everything in the vision moves toward a clear loser and clearer winner. The revelation is God Himself, and here’s the good news: He wins. And here’s one impression we should each walk away with: our only hope—quite literally, in the culmination of all things—is Jesus. It is good to ensure we are on God’s side, not just in the already-has-been or yet-to-come apocalypse, but also in the very real right here and now. And right now, “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer” (1 Corinthians 15:52). While we wait for His return, we have His ear, His attention. But does He have our hearts?
For we know the rest of the story: God wins. The trumpet will blow. And in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet… we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).
Written by John Blase