Theology: what we believe God says about something, generally speaking. It’s our biblical framework for understanding something.
Popular theology of the “End Times”:
• Jesus will come back some time in the future.
• When he does, he will rapture believers.
• There will be some kind of global tribulation or apocalypse which will lead to a final battle between the forces of good and evil.
• Jesus will bring a bloody judgment and establish his kingdom.
For many of us, what we believe the Bible says = what the Bible says. So for many of us, when we’re asked to examine whether our theology is correct, we feel like we’re being asked if the Bible is correct.
The Theology of the Book of Revelation (Richard Bauckham)
Reading Revelation Responsibly (Michael Gorman)
“End Times” Cheat Sheet:
1. What does the Bible say & what does it mean? (Interpret)
a. The book of Revelation has a lot of apocalyptic material in it.
b. Apocalypse (ἀποκάλυψις apokálupsis): “to reveal.” Uncovering, unveiling, disclosing. One of (3) words that refer to the Second Coming of Jesus.
c. Revelation uncovers the Point of God’s entire story – not just how world history ends. The entire point of God’s story – from beginning, to the middle, to the end – is Jesus.
2. Why was it written? (Historical Context/Purpose)
a. Principles to remember:
i. The Bible was written for you – but not to you.
ii. You can’t make the Bible mean something now that it couldn’t have meant then.
b. Revelation was written to Christian churches scattered throughout the Roman Empire.
c. The Roman Empire was threatening the church on two fronts:
i. They were persecuting Christians for their faith
ii. They were luring Christians into thinking that they could worship both God and Empire
d. John’s purpose for writing, then, was a call to remain faithful on both fronts.
e. John’s reason for why the can and should remain faithful: Jesus’ certain return.
3. What does it mean for us today? (Application)
a. If my first thought of the apocalypse was the Lamb instead of future world events, how would my message about it to others change?
b. Am I ever following Jesus in a way that causes me to endure persecution? Why or why not?
c. Does the notion that my love for country might be incompatible with my love for Jesus make me angry? If so, why?
d. How does the power of the Lamb and the certainty of his return and reign give me hope for my situation today?