Over the years many women have asked me if our Bible study group could study the book of Revelation. I am very resistant to doing that. Today I finally had an "aha" moment as to the why my resistance.
I probably know the least about the book of Revelation than any book in the Bible. I've read it the least. I know the big picture of Revelation. I believe it will happen.
Image from Bible Overview, Rose Publishing, copyright 2012, page 260
When I teach on the historical eras and books of the Bible and we get to Revelation, I pretty much give the students the basics. It is a letter to seven churches. It is a prophetical book. It is an apocalypse. We do go over what that means - a style of writing that uses images and symbols to convey an idea. And I mention the sheer volume of Apocalypses from Jewish, Christian and even pagan communities. It was a popular writing style in ancient times. I give them the big picture of Revelation. I tell them I am not an expert on it. I don't even begin to claim I know how it is going to happen. Just that it will.
I really don't want to spend my time and energy on it. I do realize it is part of God's word and as such perhaps I should give it more attention than I have though.
What I have noticed is there is a tremendous amount of energy exhausted in the Christian community on speculating about the End Times. Almost an obsession. When I worked at the Christian bookstore, we had a section of books dealing with the subject. I stayed away from it. But I noted the many Christians who were fascinated by it.
There are some reputable authors who have put Bible studies out on Revelation if you are interested. I'm just not at this point of my life.
I wrote a blog on the judgment of Israel and that led to a discussion with a couple people on the nation of Israel formed in 1948. In that post I said the 10 northern tribes of Israel were lost to this day. (See Do We Have Ears to Hear?) Someone commented about James 1:1 being addressed to the 12 tribes of Israel. I made several comments what that means (the Diaspora - which I don't want to explain here.) I made a comment that gave her the wrong impression. I said, "... to identify the church as the new Israel." To which she asked if I believed in replacement theology - that the church has replaced Israel.
In all these years I have never heard of replacement theology. Or if I had, I quickly forgot it. No I do not believe in replacement theology. What I meant by "church" was the "body of believers." I should have worded it differently. My statement was about those of us who aren't Jewish being brought into His inheritance. I do believe the Jews have a special place in God's plan. But I don't begin to guess what that looks like. The Jews were a blessing to us all. Through them we were brought into the promise. But I don't believe the church replaced Israel, God's people.
I was a bit embarrassed for my ignorance of the idea of "replacement theology." So I read 3 articles on it. I know just enough to be dangerously stupid now. Ha ha. This one best fits what I believe if you are interested.
She expressed her views on Israel and the Jews. I agreed with her comments except for the one on present day Israel. I'm not pro or nay Israel. Many Christians are very pro Israel. They feel very strongly God brought His people back to Israel in 1948. Because they believe that, they justify political actions taken as being purposed by God. I am definitely not in that camp.
I often view it in the same manner as when the Jews asked for a king and they got Saul. God permitted it. Then later He showed them what He wanted. Perhaps with regards to Israel becoming a nation in 1948 God only permitted it, but did not purpose it. There is a difference. Or perhaps He did purpose it. I do not know. All we really know is God is working through the nations to bring about His plans and which I believe with regards to Israel, it has something to do with the End Times. How is that for being vague? However, I think saying we know what God is doing through Israel and the Jews during our lifetime is wrong. We don't know anything. It is just conjecture.
Many years ago I took a class called Christian Theology taught by James Emery White, Ph.D. He had the credentials to be speaking on this subject - author of many books, past president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and professor of theology at Gordon-Conwell. I pulled out my notes from that class. He walked through the three views of the End Times and said he was post-tribulation and pre-millennial. I am too. (It doesn't matter if you know what that means. And if you do know what that means, I have no interest in debating it with you. You believe what you want and I'll believe what I want. We could both be wrong.) What he added next was what was important. He said he doesn't know and doesn't care [which of the End Times views is correct.] He said, "Too much time is spent on the End Times."
Early on I used to think quite a bit about them. I was very much afraid they would occur in my life time and that I would not have enough faith to endure the tribulation. (Remember I am post-tribulational, pre-millennial.) At some point I have crossed a line. I know what will happen. No, not the specifics, but the big picture. God wins! Whoo hoo!
Today I don't give much thought to them.
Here was my "aha" moment today. Not only do I not want to concentrate my time on and speculate on what God is going to do through Israel and the Jews with relation to the end of time; I believe that doing so in a way dishonors Him. I think it says a lot about a heart when we claim to know the specifics of how God is going to accomplish His plans. We are putting our reasoning capability on the level of God's. We are saying we can figure Him out. We can't. I believe when it comes to God, we must realize our place in relationship to Him. We must have a high view of Him and a low view of ourselves, especially with regards to our intellect. We don't know. We can guess all we want, but what is the purpose of that? And claiming to have knowledge of God's actions that I don't have is not a place I want to go with Him.
Just saying I think we Christians need to be very careful stating we know what the apocalyptic writing in Revelation means. And we need to be very careful correlating what we read in Revelation to today's world events. We need to have a very broad view of the take-aways from Revelation.
I'm more concerned with am I dealing with my pride and many other sins? Am I putting others before myself? Am I submitting to God's will for my life? Is my life honoring God? My effort goes into reading and studying things which will impact my walk with Christ.
Are the End Times coming?
You really want to know if they are coming in our lifetime, don't you?
I don't know. And neither does anyone else.