The time has come to begin a new blog series. It has been a few months since I immersed myself in a particular topic of the bible. Lately, I have noticed an itch to zero in on something new and fresh. Based on the title of my post, the subject is self explanatory. Before I dive into it, I want to sketch a brief overview of the impetus of this series. Many Christians harbor skewed views regarding the book of Revelation. Some obsess over the symbolic imagery in order to pinpoint a timeline of future events. Another group has reacted against this by refusing to read and study it due to the controversy over interpreting its symbolism. Still others within Christendom avoid the book of Revelation like the plague simply out of neglect. There may be other factions lurking within Christendom, but these are the most common.
When I decided to write a new blog series, I found myself drawn to the last book of the bible. There are many reasons to do a series on the book of Revelation. One can only imagine the litany of questions that my readers might ask themselves. For example, what millennial position does Matthew hold? Does he interpret the book literally, symbolically, or chronologically? Is he a futurist, an historicist, an idealist, a preterist, or some hybrid of these perspectives? If some of my followers desire to learn answers to those questions in this series, disappointment will set in pretty quick. My focus with this series will not involve interpreting the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1, ESV). I apologize for any dismay that might cause, but my focus is very different.
One year ago, I read a slim, but dense book penned by Richard Bauckham called The Theology of the Book of Revelation. I recommend the book for its successful attempt at demystifying the last book of the New Testament. Bauckham largely succeeds in wresting the book of Revelation out from the grip of the sensational. I did not agree with some of Bauckham’s interpretive conclusions, nor did I enjoy his convoluted writing style. That being said, I gleaned some things about the book of Revelation that have remained with me ever since. In fact, the topic of this series is one of those key lessons that I have been unable to shake. I say this as someone who has been a Christian for over two decades. This means that I have read the book of Revelation numerous times. Somehow, the seven beatitudes escaped my notice.
There is an old saying, which goes as follows: “the best hiding place is in plain sight.” The point being is that these seven statements of blessing were always present in the book of Revelation. My attention or focus had been on other things such as the vivid images and the metaphors. Revelation really is an amazing piece of literature, which captures the imagination. It took Bauckham’s book to open my eyes to these seven beatitudes. They are easy to miss in a book filled with dragons, serpents, locust-demons, seals, trumpets, and I think everyone gets the picture. The pattern of seven figures prominently within the book of Revelation due to the seven churches, the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the seven bowls, and the seven beatitudes. From my perspective, the latter is hardly discussed, and I aim to rectify that with this series.
Over the next week and a half, I will examine each Revelation beatitude in turn. I believe that the Lord has some things to reveal that have remained hidden in plain sight. May the Holy Spirit guide us through his word, and specifically, through the book of Revelation. Stay tuned for the next entry, which will cover the first beatitude in the opening prologue to the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:1, ESV).