Preaching Revelation

I have been the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Freeport for close to a year and half now.  After a short topical series on “biblical preaching” i decided to take my new congregation through the last book of the Bible.  The most common response i get when sharing that bit of information with others is “Are you crazy, stupid, or a little bit of both son?”  OK not really, but i can see what many Christians are thinking when i tell them what I just told you. 

 When Christians talk about Revelation they often think of two common things: a very obscure New Testament book and lots of prophecy charts.  Yet the book of Revelation is one of the most Christ-centered books in all the Bible.  Chapter 1 begins with a picture of Jesus Christ in all His post-resurrection glory!  Chapters 2 & 3 are immensely practical instructions to the 7 churches (real churches that represent the type of churches/church goers that exist in every century of church history).  Chapter 4 pictures Heaven’s worship of  the Sovereign Creator.  Chapter 5 highlights the great Hero of Heaven,  Jesus Christ.  Some of the most theologically rich details about the gospel are presented in this magnificent chapter.   Chapters 6-18 describe the awful Tribulation period that is yet to come.  Chapter 19 highlights the majestic return of Christ (as righteous Judge, Holy Warrior, and as KING of Kings and LORD of Lords).  Chapter 20 describes the millennial Kingdom and the final judgment of all God’s enemies.  Chapters 21-22 showcases the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Last Sunday I preached my 48th sermon from this lengthy letter (I’ve preached  8 sermons on chapter 1, 23 sermons on chapters 2 and 3, 11 sermons on chapters 4 & 5, 2 sermons on chapters 6-18, and 4 sermons on chapter 19).  My last message covered the famous battle of Armageddon (Rev 19:17-21).  Instead of getting lost in the mintua of this final battle i tried to emphasize what I believe is a major theme of this section; Judgment without mercyThose who reject the mercies of God in Christ will one day experience God’s judgment without mercy.  Talk about relevant sermons. 

With that said, I have tried to walk a very thin line in preaching through this neglected Prophesy.  I don’t want this series to be an information drop that simply tickles the fancy of those prophesy chart pundits (you know who you are).  At the same time i don’t want to ignore the theology of the Apocalypse either.  In other words, just because it is en vogue right now not to have strong convictions with regards to eschatology does not mean those major themes should/can be ignored when preaching through this inspired letter.  For example, does Revelation  3:10 promising deliverance from the Tribulation?  Does Revelation 6-18 describe a 7 year period of unparalleled evil (the Day of the Lord, the future Tribulation) or something else?  Is the binding of Satan in Revelation 20 future or present?  Is the First Resurrection physical or spiritual?  Is the reign of Christ in Revelation 20 on earth or in heaven?

Bottom line: Pastors should consider preaching through the book of Revelation because of this book’s profound Christology.  The more I talk with unbelievers and the more I minister to American believers the more I see a need to preach the REAL Jesus.  After all He is the Lion of Judah and the Lamb that was slaughtered to purchase a covenant people.  He is Prophet, Priest, and King.  He is the righteous Judge, the Holy Conqueror, & the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.

13 responses to this post.

  1. I’m one of those folks who still doesn’t quite understand what all the fuss is about regarding eschatology. Then again, my early discipleship came through a counseling ministry and it really was not ever discussed. I’ve sometimes wondered why those who are Dispensational get so excited about preaching Revelation since the folks to whom they are preaching will be gone for most of it.

    However, your post brings up a great point to me that I had not considered. The Christology in it is indeed very rich. For example, the image of the conquering King stands in stark contrast to the way many perceive Jesus as being “meek and mild.” No matter how the timeline goes, the book of Revelation tells me which side of the fight I want to be on. It shows us that Jesus is “not some hippie in a pink dress” as Mark Driscoll has said.

    This isn’t to say that I worship Christ out of fear, but out of reverent awe. He is worthy of worship. The hippie in the pink dress surely isn’t.

  2. This is a great reminder not to ignore this wonderful book. You note that you have preached 48 messages so far. How many more messages do you anticipate to round out the rest of the series?

  3. Charles,

    To be honest with you I have not idea. I do a general outline of the chapter but don’t know how many sermons it will take me to get through a section until the exegesis concludes and the sermon writing begins. I always plan on preaching longer sections of Scripture then ends up happening. It was a real struggle for me to try and preach a Mark Dever overview sermon series on Rev 6-18 (2 sermons on the Tribulation).


    Thanks for your thoughts. I can’t quite follow your logic with regards to the rapture but appreciate your sincere passion for Jesus. Blessings.

  4. Caleb — I apologize for being unclear. My point is that one can spend quite a bit of time describing the tribulation and all that follows. However, if I understand the timeline correctly the church will already have been taken away. Are the sermons on the tribulation there to explain to the unbelievers in the congregation what is going to happen so that they can put 2 and 2 together if they find themselves living in the tribulation?

    Again, I completely understand the value in giving us all a more robust view of Christ. The thought of His return as a conquering King gives me great hope and assurance.

  5. Jason,

    While I’m sure Caleb can explain his perspective on the issue, let me give you my personal perspective. First, it is worth noting that if we only preach/teach parts of Scripture in which we were/will be physically present we will not have much Scripture to work with. I wasn’t there when God created the cosmos, but Genesis 1-2 are worth proclaiming. We weren’t there when the events in Acts occurred, but what a great book. Second, to think that one must be physically present to appreciate a text of Scripture is an anthropocentric view of the Bible’s story. Even if I don’t believe that I will be physically present in the Great Tribulation I can still get excited because it is part of God’s story. At the end of the day, it really isn’t about me. Third, it is worth remembering that even if a section of Scripture is not directly applicable to Christians in our congregations, this does not mean that it is not applicable. For example, there are no slaves, as far as I know, in my church. Yet, I would suggest that the slavery submission passages in Ephesians and 1 Peter are still worth preaching, teaching, and applying.

  6. Charles,

    I certainly agree that there is value in teaching about passages where we are not present. I don’t think that is the issue here. My point is that I do not see how it is edifying to go into great detail about what is in some aspects speculation about how the tribulation is going to play out. I have heard it described in terrifying detail as if to warn the folks who are listening. That’s the part I don’t get.

    For me, the idea of being anthropocentric is one of the worst things I can be, so you’ve given me some food for thought.

  7. Jason,

    I view expositional preaching as both a science and an art. How much detail you tease out of a particular passage is not an exact science. Hopefully, you provide sufficient detail that you can say that you have actually explained the passage and have a sufficient foundation to draw an appropriate and relevant application to the passage. By the way, I would suggest that even if we simply read Revelation 6-19, there are “terrifying details,” death, plagues, persecution, etc. Even if one were to take these details metaphorically, they appear to represent terrible and terrifying realities of some kind. Keep in mind as well that warnings in Scripture need not directly address the contemporary audience to be worth proclaiming. For example, prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah warned Israel against trusting in Egypt for their security. Can we not learn from these warnings even though we are neither national Israel nor tempted by trusting in Egypt for our security? I would suggest that we can.

  8. Thanks Caleb, I’ve been spending some study time in Rev 20-22 lately. Thinking a lot about the New Earth which is what most folks mean when they talk about our eternal state. I will be preaching from Matthew 19:27-30 this Sunday. Jesus uses a hopeful glimpse of the future to motivate faithfulness in the present.

  9. Thanks Paul…

    Besides good commentaries, Greek helps, and Matt Waymeyer’s excellent work on Rev 20 what books have helped you most in this study (of Rev 20-22)?

    I have really been blessed by McClain’s the Greatness of the Kingdom & Waymeyer’s Rev 20 and the Millennial Debate.

  10. Caleb and Paul: Some time in the last decade, David J. MacLeod published a seven-part series in BibSac which consists of an exposition of Revelation 19-21. In 2003, Emmaus College Press published it in book form (“The Seven Last Things”); a very helpful resource, especially if you’re preaching through this passage of Scripture. In fact, the articles began as a series of expository sermons.

    • Thanks Matt,

      I have just added this to my reading stack. For those who have the theological Journal CD, MacLeod’s series starts in BSac 156:621 (Jan 99) p. 72.


  11. Congratulations on preaching through Revelation. I think it will benefit you and your hearers in various ways. I am now preaching through Hebrews and I am enjoying it very much…I think my congregation is too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  12. i thank you for the information that u given to me pls do well by sending other of your are trieding.

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