Question many people ask: How can I read and understand the Book of Revelation?
Answer from Pastor Bob:
Perhaps the most mysterious book of the Bible is the last one: Revelation.
David Koresh led his cult to a fiery death in Waco, Texas, in part because of his interpretation of Revelation. Movies have been made about Armageddon, 666, and other terms and events in the Revelation. Some Christians spend so much time studying Revelation that they neglect the rest of scripture, while other Christians are afraid of it and neglect it altogether.
Revelation 1:3 promises and blessing to those who read and obey it. So how should we go about reading this mysterious book?
First, understand that it is a book of symbolism. Revelation 1:1 says it was "signified," that is, that it is meant to be taken symbolically. Sometimes it comes right out and tells us what certain symbols are, such as Revelation 1:20 that says the seven stars are angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. So when you read the book, don't take it all literally, but take it seriously, by looking for symbolic meaning. Some commonly understand symbols include "horn" which means strength, the color "white" for victory, "Lamb" for Jesus, "dragon" for Satan, the number "3" for God, the number "4" for earth, the number "6" for evil, the number "7" for perfection, and the number "12" for God's people.
Second, notice that it is structured with many sevens. There are seven blessings, seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. So read a large portion of the book in one sitting, or listen to it on CD, and you will get the dramatic feel for the book.
Third, look for the big picture, and don't get bogged down in details. While there are different opinions about the 144,000 or the millenium, the main message is still clear: Jesus Christ is coming back, there will be a judgment day for all people, and everybody will either go to heaven or hell.
Fourth, look for hope and encouragement. Revelation has seven "blessings" found in 1:3, 14:13, 16:15, 19:9, 20:6, 22:7 and 22:14. As you read the last two chapters, especially, you will be greatly encouraged to think of the beauty of heaven.
So pick up the Bible and read the last book! You'll be blessed if you do.