The book of Revelation is a fraught book. For many generations it has been often approached as a manual for deciphering the future date of Christ’s return. 666 has been variously applied to Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and other scurrilous people. The featured picture (above) for this article is based on stereotypes of the book of Revelation. Not John’s message!
Books have even been written by people purporting to know the secret code to Revelation, including The Late Great Planet Earth and the Left Behind series.
However, the books are out of date or irrelevant as soon as they leave the press. Leaving readers to wonder, “What are we missing here?”
The problem has been that writers don’t respect the genre of literature that Revelation is. Genre? What does that mean?
To illustrate this, consider the common newspaper. In the days when newspapers flourished and were chock full of interesting daily reading, newspapers had several kinds of genre, all within one document. For example, there was front page headlines, meant to be taken seriously and straight-forwardly. “World War II Ends,” “Local Official Caught in a Sting Operation,” “Tornado Kills 5 In Southern Community.”
At the back of the newspaper was the want ads. This was where you went if you wanted a job or to sell something. It contained factual information like phone numbers, job openings, and objects for sale. Again, you took this information in a straightforward way.
But then there were the comics. You read these in an entirely different way. It was humor, satire, sarcasm, and other forms of writing that you did not read like you read the want ads.
Some folks say the Opinion page of the paper is also humor, but only in the sense that you considered it to be Opinion which might we wildly different than what the facts are. You do not read the opinion page with the same lens as a fact-based article on the front page.
Similarly, Revelation is a different type of literature within the document we call The Bible. Revelation is called “apocalyptic” literature, and there are other instances of this type with the Bible, like in Daniel. If you were an ancient reader of the Bible, you would automatically understand that apocalyptic literature is read differently than straightforward history, like the book of Acts or the books of Kings.
LifeSpring is going to begin a shortish study of Revelation soon. Here are some resources we will be using to undertake this study. We will not be attempting to turn Revelation in a code book for understanding our contemporary times. It is NOT that and was never intended to be. We will respect the genre of Revelation.
Books we will be using include:
- The Message of Revelation by Michael Wilcock (our small group study book)
- Reading Revelation Responsibly by Michael Gorman
Short videos which are also helpful for understanding Revelation include: