(Editor’s Note: Alex McFarland is known as one of the nation’s most articulate and engaging apologists. He is founder of Truth for a New Generation, and he teaches on campuses, in churches, and at conferences across the country. Below he shares why Revelation is a vital part of the Christian life. This article was published first in the October edition of AFA Journal).
AFA Journal: Why would John choose a highly symbolic writing style for the book of Revelation?
Alex McFarland: John was writing under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and the result in the final book of the Bible, Revelation, is a remarkable work. It was relevant to the immediate recipient, it has edified readers for two millennia, and it appears vividly accurate for our times.
I believe that only the Holy Spirit could have given the apostle John something applicable to that time, relevant for the church in every era, and also completely specific for the last days. Revelation is always fresh and relevant.
AFAJ: How well do you think Christians understand the book?
AM: It is interesting that Revelation is a part of Scripture that promises a blessing to the one who reads, hears, and keeps the prophecies of this book (Revelation 1:3).
Probably more has been written, theorized, and discussed about Revelation than any other biblical book, but many of these synopses have been inaccurate. Nevertheless, there is a general understanding, and this is accurate: The fallen world systems that align in opposition to the purposes of God will ultimately be vanquished, and Christ will rule and reign eternally with His followers.
AFAJ: Why is it important for believers to grasp insights into Revelation.
AM: Some study Revelation because they are intrigued by the idea of scary monsters, fighting angels and demons, and perhaps they approach Revelation for its assumed shock value. Others pore through Revelation, thinking they’ll find some esoteric hidden meaning others have missed.
But it says, “The time is at hand”(Revelation 22:10), and I believe the most important lesson for earnest followers of the Lamb, is that we stay faithful and stay ready. We will all meet Christ sooner than we think, and it might even be today. Revelation is a clarion call to godliness and obedience.
AFAJ: Share one of your favorite passages in the book.
AM: My favorite passage in the book of Revelation is the passage that inspired Handel to write “The Hallelujah Chorus” (Revelation 11:15). Speaking of King Jesus’ victorious reign, “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.” This truly is an inspiring reality!
AFAJ: What is one of the most surprising truths we might discover in the book?
AM: I believe one of the most unexpected plot twists in Revelation relates to the fact that at the end of the millennium, Satan is loosed for a short while (Revelation 20:7-10).
AFAJ: On Exploring the Word, your radio program, how do listeners respond when you teach on Revelation?
AM: On the two occasions when Bert Harper, my cohost, and I have taught through Bible prophecy (Revelation, Daniel, and other Scriptures), the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
I believe people are sincerely interested in what God has to say about the future because end-times scenarios we have heard since childhood seem to be upon us.
If ever there were a time to have one’s house in order, that is, to be right with the Lord, I believe this is that time.