11/5/22 FROM THE INTRODUCTIONS OF 21st CENTURY BOOKS ON REVELATION

I have 22 books published in the 21st century; we’ll look at 6 of these.

We’ll start with Adrian Rogers (1931-2005). He was a conservative pastor in several successive American Southern Baptist Churches, starting in his home state of Florida and ending in Tennessee. He was president of the SBC denomination on three different occasions and helped move it into a more conservative stance in the late 70’s and 80’s. Mr. Rogers was also a broadcast minister: he started Love Worth Finding in 1987, and it is still running today on 2500+ radio stations and translators, as well as television stations across America and in 194 countries of the world. 

The book we will be looking at is called UNVEILING THE END TIMES IN OUR TIME: THE TRIUMPH OF THE LAMB IN REVELATION, published in 2004. From Chapter 1:

“Revelation is a book of prophecy…Have you ever wondered why the psychics who peddle their gifts on cable television never win the lottery? And even the weatherman can only make an educated guess concerning the weather…A prophet of God is right 100 percent of the time.

“This is not to say that we live an aimless life because we don’t know tomorrow’s details. Not at all. God’s plan for us is not a roadmap but a relationship. He knows the future and we know Him, and that’s enough. It is our lack of knowledge of day-by-day detail that keeps us closer…How much better to walk through life holding the hand of the One who knows the way and cares for us!

“…there is a sense in which I do want to know the future. I want to know that God has an ultimate plan for the universe and all that is in it. I want assurance that from heaven’s viewpoint all is planned, under control, and on schedule. The Book of Revelation tells me that the future is in God’s hands, and the best is yet to come. Of that we can be certain!

“…there are two books in the Bible that Satan especially hates — Genesis and Revelation, the first and last books of God’s Word…In the Book of Genesis, Satan’s doom is prophesied. In the Book of Revelation, Satan’s doom is realized. There is no devil in the first two chapters of God’s Word or in the last two chapters of God’s Word. For every child of God, these are books that tie the gospel message together.

“In Genesis we see the creation of the heavens and the earth. In Revelation we see the creation of the new heavens and new earth. In Genesis we see the first Adam reigning on earth. In Revelation we see Jesus, the last Adam, reigning in glory…In Genesis we see the beginning of death and the curse. In Revelation the Savior brings us to a state where there is no more death and no more curse…

The Central Person of Revelation. I find Jesus wherever I look in the Bible. He is the heart of the entire Bible. He is the Rose of Sharon. He is the Lily Fair. If you read the Bible and you don’t see Jesus, you need to reread it. Indeed, Jesus is the hero of the Bible and especially in the Book of Revelation…When the world begins to wind down, we will not be looking for something to happen; we will be looking for someone to come. And His name is Jesus. Sometimes people call this book ‘Revelations.’ It is not Revelations. It is Revelation, singular. It is the revelation of One — the spotless, glorified Lamb, Jesus Christ.”

I like what Mr. Rogers is saying here, it’s a reasonable overview of Revelation.

Next we will look at the John McArthur book called REVELATION: THE CHRISTIAN’S ULTIMATE VICTORY, published in 2007. John McArthur (1939-present) has been the Pastor of the Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA since 1969, when he was hired as the third and youngest pastor there. He has authored over 150 books, and he has been broadcasting on radio (Grace to You) since 1977 (now on TV and computer as well). He is a past president of The Master’s University in Los Angles.

From Introduction to Revelation:

“Four times the author identifies himself as John (1:1,4,9; 22:8). Early tradition unanimously identified him as John the apostle, author of the fourth Gospel and three Epistles. For example, important second-century witnesses to the apostle John’s authorship include Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian. Many of the book’s original readers were still alive during the lifetime of Justin Martyr and Irenaeus — both of whom held to apostolic authorship.

“There are differences in style between Revelation and John’s other writings, but they are insignificant and do not preclude one man from writing both. In fact, there are some striking parallels between Revelation and John’s other works. Only John’s Gospel and Revelation refer to Jesus Christ as the Word (Rev 19:13, John 1:2). Revelation (1:7) and John’s Gospel (19:37) translate Zechariah 12:10 differently from the Septuagint, but in agreement with each other. Only Revelation and the Gospel of John describe Jesus as the Lamb (Rev 5:6,8; John 1:29); both describe Jesus as a witness (see Rev 1:5; John 5:31-32).

“Revelation was written in the last decade of the first century (about AD 94-96), near the end of Emperor Domitian’s reign (AD 81-96). Although some date it during Nero’s reign (AD 54-68), their arguments are unconvincing and conflict with the view of the early church. Writing in the second century, Irenaeus declared that Revelation had been written toward the end of Domitian’s reign. Later writers, such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Victorinus (who wrote one of the earliest commentaries on Revelation), Eusebius, and Jerome affirm the Domitian date.

“The spiritual decline of the seven churches (ch. 2 and 3) also argues for the later date. Those churches were strong and spiritually healthy in the mid-60’s when Paul last ministered in Asia Minor. The brief time between Pauls’ ministry there and the end of Nero’s reign was too short for such a decline to have occurred. The longer time gap also explains the rise of the heretical sect known as the Nicolaitans (2:6, 15), who are not mentioned in Paul’s letters, not even to one or more of these same churches (Ephesians). Finally, dating Revelation during Nero’s reign does not allow time for John’s ministry in Asia Minor to reach the point at which the authorities would have felt the need to exile him.

“…John’s vivid pictures of worship in heaven both exhort and instruct believers. In few other books of the Bible is the ministry of angels so prominent. Revelation’s primary theological contributions is to eschatology, that is, the doctrine of last things. In it we learn about the final political setup of the world; the last battle of human history; the career and ultimate defeat of Antichrist; Christ’s thousand-year earthly kingdom; the glories of heaven and the eternal state; and the final state of the wicked and the righteous. Finally, only Daniel rivals this book in declaring that God providentially rules over the kingdoms of men and will accomplish His sovereign purposes regardless of human or demonic opposition.”

As always, John McArthur is measured and practical. He doesn’t provide great detail, but just enough to make his point.

The next writer is Greg Laurie (1952-present). He is the senior pastor of the Harvest Christian Fellowship of Riverside, Orange Country, and Maui. He has written 70 books, produced 2 films, has a radio show called A New Beginning that is on over 1100 radio stations worldwide, and he’s been doing the Harvest Crusades since 1990. He has written two books on Revelation; right now we are going to look at the first one, published in 2014, entitled REVELATION: THE NEXT DIMENSION. 

From Chapter 1:

“The book of Revelation is a bit like putting on…3-D glasses. What we see in the pages of this book, however, isn’t conjured up in some Hollywood studio or special effects lab; it is real. This last book of the Bible enables us to look beyond the physical realm into another world, another dimension. It’s the supernatural realm of Heaven and hell, of angels and demons, of God and Satan.

“Revelation also allows us to glimpse realities that are outside of time, in the eternal realm. It reminds us that our God lives in that eternal reality and isn’t bound by the pages in a calendar, the hours in a day, or the hands of a clock. He has no yesterday or tomorrow, because it’s all just a continuum to Him. That being so, God can look at the future with as much clarity and accuracy as you and I might look at the recent past. In fact, more so, because I don’t recollect the past accurately…

“Revelation is a book that dares to predict the future many, many times over. Yet strangely, it is often a neglected book in the New Testament. People will get all worked up over the Mayan Calendar (remember  how 2012 was supposed to be a doomsday year?), or they will listen to some self-proclaimed prophet or guru. And yet they will neglect the Word of God that predicts the future, not once, not twice, but hundreds of times with 100 percent accuracy.

“The Bible is the one and only book that we can completely trust. It’s worth noting that two-thirds of the Bible is prophecy — and one-half of those predicted events have already taken place. So, if half of these events have happened just as God said they would, then we have no reason to doubt that the remaining prophecies will happen as well.

“Part of what has discouraged people from delving into the book of Revelation is the fact that much of it is written in  figurative language. Many of the predictions that God gave John to record were so far removed from his understanding and the language of his day that he had to use symbols, metaphors, and other techniques to communicate what he was witnessing.

“For instance, how would you describe a nuclear war (if John was indeed doing that — and he may have been) if you live in AD 90? There was no precedent for such a concept. In fact, black powder wasn’t invented until the ninth century after Christ, and dynamite didn’t appear on the scene until the mid-1800s. So how do you describe a thermonuclear exchange between nations?

“…What does Revelation uncover or unveil? Actually, many things. But it certainly reveals pictures of the spirit world, the realm of angels and demons. We also learn about great cataclysmic events in store for the planet, including the Great Tribulation period and the battle of Armageddon. Within the pages of this book we learn about the coming Antichrist and his henchmen. But the primary objective of this last book in the New Testament isn’t to reveal the Antichrist, it is to reveal the Christ. It is the unveiling of Jesus Christ.”

Greg Laurie is uniquely talented in explaining things of the Bible in a very basic and down-to-earth, homey kind of way.  He’s great for new Christians, though as you get deeper into the Bible, you tend to move on. But listening to Greg still makes you smile.

Our next author is David Jeremiah (1941-present). Another of the broadcast ministers, Mr. Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries, as well as senior pastor (succeeding Tim LaHaye in 1981) of the Southern Baptist megachurch Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, CA, which has 9 satellite locations. He is also a prolific author.

Today we will be quoting from his 2017 book entitled WHEN CHRIST APPEARS: AN INSPIRATIONAL EXPERIENCE THROUGH REVELATION. From the Introduction:

“Revelation teaches us that regardless of what happens in this life — no matter how depressing the world news appears or how difficult life becomes — life in Christ has a joyful ending. When the heartache of this present world weighs heavily on us, we have only to look up and look ahead at the radiant end of one story and the joyous beginning of a new story that will never end. It’s an eternal story with one central message: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.’ (5:12)

“The revelation John received reminds the Church of every age that Jesus Christ is Lord of all; that He will be the ultimate victor over the devil and his representatives; and that He will usher His people into the glorious heavenly city where there will be no more death or despair, nor more pain or suffering. Regardless of the tests and trials that will come upon the earth, this book shows us the final outcome: all things lead to the perfect rule and reign of Christ. This should encourage you to follow Christ no matter the cost and to exchange the world’s offerings for Christ’s eternal kingdom.

“…the central theme of the book of Revelation is worship. It contains glorious scenes of all of heaven worshipping God and the Lamb, because they alone are worthy. the central plot line of Revelation is spiritual warfare — Satan, his demons, and his earthly representatives war against the authority of God and His Son. And the central hope of the book — the return of the victorious King — is the ultimate message that God wins the spiritual war…Revelation is not fiction — it is an outline of our future. Fear of the future can be debilitating, but rest assured, Jesus spoke of the future often, and He did so without fear. He faced the future with peace, and so can we as we read His inspired Word.”

David Jeremiah doesn’t work to convince you with a lot of facts, his goal is usually to inspire you and encourage you.  I like him for this reason, though, again, I don’t turn to him normally if I’m looking for facts.

The next writer, another Southern Baptist broadcast minister (Pathway to Victory), is Robert Jeffress (1955-present). He is currently the senior pastor of the megachurch First Baptist Dallas, and has authored over 2 dozen  books. Today we will be looking at FINAL CONQUEST, published in 2020. This book lists its author as “From the Ministry of Dr. Robert Jeffress,” so I would assume that he had the help of others with the authorship of this one.

From Chapter 1: Back to the Future: An Introduction to Revelation:

“There are usually three reasons people want to study the book of Revelation. One reason is sensationalism — they’ve heard there are some exciting things in the book. Another reason is intellectualism — they get excited about Bible knowledge and unwrapping the mysteries of Revelation. But the third motivation for studying Revelation is the only right one, and that is obedience. This is a book not only filled with symbols and future events, but it is a book we are to obey. Understanding Revelation rightly is reserved for those who truly desire to obey God…

“There are two characteristics of Revelation that will help you to understand it better. The first is John’s many references to the Old Testament. According to one scholar, 278 of the 404 verses in Revelation refer to the Old Testament. John referenced almost twenty Old Testament books, including Exodus, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah.

“Why is the book of Revelation filled with so many Old Testament references? It’s because Revelation is the ultimate fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies about Christ. The Old Testament includes eighteen hundred references to the second coming of Christ to earth to defeat evil and establish His kingdom.

“A second characteristic that makes the book of Revelation unique, and sometimes difficult to understand, is the symbolism John used throughout the book. This has led many to interpret Revelation as an allegory. But John said in Revelation 1:2 that he was testifying to ‘all that he saw,’ not all he dreamed of or imagined. Therefore, the best way to interpret Revelation is literally — what happened before and during John’s time actually happened, and what will happen in the future will actually happen.

“ So why did John use symbols like the beast, the dragon, the harlot, and the white horse? Authors of great literature often use imagery to help readers understand what they are trying to convey. Also, remember that first-century Christians were under persecution. If John said everything clearly, Rome could have used it as evidence of sedition. So to avoid inviting unnecessary persecution, John used symbolism as a code for believers. [I’m not sure that I agree with this idea. Of course it’s possible, but I don’t picture John trying to duck the authorities…]

“Sometimes the symbolism is explained in the text. For example, the seven lamp stands in Revelation 1:12 represent the seven churches to whom John was writing. At other times,  you have to know the Old Testament to understand the symbolism. John also used imagery to describe things he had never seen before, such as modern technology. Keep in mind: just because symbols are used in Revelation doesn’t make the people or the events they describe less real. It actually makes them more real. The things that will happen are so phenomenal, there is no way to describe them except through symbols.

“…The book of Revelation was written to persecuted Christians and its message is simple: Remain faithful to Jesus Christ in the midst of persecution, because Jesus is coming again soon to reward the righteous and to punish the unrighteous.

“Frankly, that’s a hard message for us to relate to. Unlike our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who are being imprisoned, tortured, and martyred for their faith, we are not yet experiencing persecution in this country. But I believe the relative freedom we have as Christians today is only temporary. Right now, the foundation is being laid for a world system that will result in a backlash against Christians in America. Christians who are living out their faith day in and day out are the last speed bump on the road to a completely godless, pagan society.  And Satan will do everything  he can to wear down and remove that speed bump so that he can achieve his goal of a kingdom opposed to God.

“You and I better get ready. We as individuals and as the church, need to prepare to do whatever it takes to endure persecution and be faithful to the one who came and died and rose again to redeem us, because Jesus is coming back soon.”

Robert Jeffress is very articulate, even appearing on Fox News frequently to explain the Christian point of view. I agree with his conclusions about our future, but I don’t always agree with what he concludes…for instance I don’t see Revelation as “written to persecuted Christians” necessarily. John received Revelation, he didn’t compose it.  It definitely has a message for persecuted Christians, but it also speaks to all Christians of all times. And I think a big part of the message is: Jesus is coming, and He is not coming as the Lamb, but as the Lion! And He will be coming in judgment of the world. 

Lastly, we will take a few quotes from Greg Laurie’s 2021 book REVELATION: A BOOK OF PROMISES. Some of this book is a rewrite of his 2014 book, but some of it is new. He published it as a new book rather than a new edition of the older book, so I have to assume it’s substantially different.

From the introduction:

“I think we’re all very aware of the fact that our world is in turmoil right now. There’s a sense of fear in the air, due in part to this global pandemic that was supposed to have come and gone but just seems to keep going with new strains and no real end in sight. We hear daily news about COVID-19, the vaccine, and vaccination rates, and new words have entered our regular vocabulary such as self-isolation, social distancing community spread, herd immunity, and even mask-shaming.

“Meanwhile, our cities here in the United States are in turmoil, with violence and murder rates rising dramatically. As we see the things that are going on, it causes us to wonder, ‘Are these signs of the times? Are these the things the Bible told us to be looking for, things that signal the return of Christ?’ Yes, they are.

“…We could look at these signs almost like dominoes. If you were to line up multiple dominoes closely together and then knock over the first one, the rest would fall down in rapid succession. That is what the last days events are like.  But the first domino has not yet fallen. It is my opinion that the next event on the prophetic calendar is the Rapture…but the Rapture has not yet taken place.

“…We need to understand the times we’re living in, and there’s no better book to explain that to us than the book of Revelation. God doesn’t want to conceal these things from us. Rather, He wants to reveal them to us. Bible prophecy is not given to scare us; it is given to prepare us. Bible prophecy is not given to inflate our brains; it is given to enlarge our hearts.

“…Studying the book of Revelation also unlocks the mystery of history. We see that God is in control, and things are moving according to a master plan. This isn’t being decided by people in power, whether it’s people in government or tech or any other people, wherever they are. God is ultimately in control…

“…Revelation brings sense to our suffering as well. What do you say to someone who has suffered tragedy or who’s grappling with a disability? What do you say to someone who has lost a loved one, someone who’s weeping from grief? You say this is not God’s final plan. It’s in Revelation that God tell us that He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things will be gone forever. When I read the book of Revelation, I realize that God is going to resolve all things in the end.

“The primary focus of Revelation, however, is Jesus Christ. Revelation gives us the only physical description of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, and it’s largely symbolic. Therefore, give your attention to who Jesus Christ is, because He is the very center of the book of Revelation, and He’s the very center of Bible prophecy in general. As Revelation 19:10 tells us, ‘For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.’(NLT) Jesus is the centerpiece and star of the book of Revelation. And He should be the centerpiece and star of our lives as well.”

We can see a clear change in attitude in these books of the 21st century. They are written for a distinct market: people who listen to their programs and agree with their point of view, thus requiring no big arguments or a ton of facts. There are other 21st century authors who don’t have the constant radio and TV outlets with which to draw followers, who will be more inclined to make the big arguments and expound different points of view. We will see some of their work and ideas as we move into the verse by verse…which will start with the next post! I’m excited to start digging into Revelation!

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