Of all the books of the Bible, Revelation promises the greatest assurance, especially to those who have been oppressed, marginalized, wronged, in other words those needing hope the most. If one stands back from all the intriguing details of the book (which seem to have occupied Christians the most) and views the larger picture of the entire book, hope rises clearly and inescapably, driving away doubts and fear.
One moves through the book on an alternating rhythm of strong prophetic judgment and celebrative hymn-singing. This pattern repeats itself over and over, suggesting the end of oppression and oppressors which gives rise to joy and celebration at God’s attention to the plight of his wronged people. They will be victorious, even if it may not appear so at the present. Apocalyptic literature, of which Revelation is only one example in the Jewish/Christian world from about two centuries before Christ and two afterward, is good news for those who have suffered for their faith and promises a victorious end to the struggle. Bullies beware! God will win in the end! What does all this have to say about confidence in God’s great plan?
A major point of discussion in this lesson has to do with the beatitudes of Revelation – “Blessed is/are the ….” Check a good Bible dictionary for a definition of these sayings and where they can be found elsewhere in the Bible. The Sermon on the Mount comes quickly to mind, of course. These are sayings of assurance and trust. They call us to security and confidence.
Relevant Biblical Passages:
|Revelation||Hope for the oppressed|
|Revelation 1:3||Blessed are those who hear this word|
|Revelation 14:13||Blessed are those who die in the Lord|
|Revelation 16:15||Blessed is the one who watches and stays alert|
|Revelation 19:9||Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast|
|Revelation 20:6||Blessed are those who are part of the first resurrection|
|Revelation 22:7||Blessed is the one who keeps the words of this book|
|Revelation 22:14||Blessed are those who wash their robes|
Contributions to Study of Assurance:
What do the words of Revelation as a whole mean to those who want to believe in God, but who have suffered significantly? What do the beatitudes mean to these people? Are the book and its beatitudes more meaningful to some than to others? Do some gain more assurance than others?
Lessons for Life:
What difference do the words of Revelation make to most Christians in Central America? In San Francisco? In Russia? In China? In your neighborhood?