The book of Revelation is somewhat of a sore subject for me. Every time it comes up in a sermon I get this niggling feeling of guilt in the back of my mind, because I know it is a book that I often neglect, and for many years preferred to pretend it sort of didn’t exist. Much of the imagery was confusing and while there are many encouragements for those who persevere in the faith the overwhelming theme I was always left with was the impending judgment and wrath that is coming to our world.
Having grown up in the church I was aware of the sinfulness of myself and the brokenness of the world, but the harsh reality of Gods judgement left a sick feeling in my stomach. I spent most of my teen years wrestling with the fact that many of my friends and family members who I love were going to be on the receiving end of God’s wrath if he returned then. To this day I cringe a little bit inwardly at the idea of the Lord returning in my lifetime, because selfishly I would rather be in heaven than witness the final days of the end times while I live here on earth.
But I have come to a much better understanding of Revelation over the past few years. God’s judgment seemed excessive and harsh, because I had taken it out of context. God is a holy God, whose character demands justice! God is a loving God, whose has displayed his love through his designed plan of redemption! God is a holy God, and His holiness rightly judges and serves up punishment that meets the crime. I realize now that I built a mental image of a God who was laying wait, biding his time to strike down all who oppose him.
The reality is this: Revelation shows us a splendid, holy, magnificent, just, and powerful God. He is sitting enthroned and waiting; he's not bloodthirsty, sitting around waiting for the day to see us perish. He sits waiting, holding back His wrath until the appointed time, so that all humanity has the chance to hear the good news of Jesus Christ, to hear of the coming judgment, and to choose to fall at his feet and worship.