What do you feel when you hear or see the name of the last book of the Bible? Fear? Confusion? Hesitation to read or study it? Do you mostly ignore it because you think it’s only about the end times, doubting that it has any relevance to your daily life? Or do you try to decipher all the imagery and symbolism, attempting to connect current events with what seems to be taking place in John’s descriptions of the end times?
In her new 30-day devotional for women, entitled “Take It To Heart,” Rachel Schmoyer guides us through the entire book of Revelation, pulling out simple truths from each passage to apply to our everyday lives. Each day includes a Scripture reading, key verse, devotion, prayer, and questions to reflect on and study further. This book is perfect for people who have never read or studied Revelation before. With each day’s devotion consisting only of three short pages, it is not intimidating or time consuming. It’s also perfect for those who have struggled with the practical application that Revelation has to offer us today.
During this study, I realized that our focus is often on the wrong things when reading or discussing Revelation. We try to figure out what should be taken literally or figuratively. We try to predict when end-times events will take place. We speculate about who the Antichrist will be. We wonder if believers will be present for the tribulation, or if there will be a rapture of the Church before it starts.
The speculation and questions can be endless, but just like every other book of the Bible, the real questions should be, What does Revelation teach us about God? What does God want us to learn about Himself, and how does this knowledge impact our lives and relationship with Him?
From the beginning of “Take It To Heart,” we are urged to focus on Jesus as the Light of the World (see Revelation 1 for an incredible description of Jesus). And throughout the rest of the book, Rachel keeps directing our gaze back to Christ, even as we read about the letters to the churches, riders on horses bringing judgment, angels blowing trumpets that initiate more judgment and death, the two witnesses, a woman and a dragon, two terrifying beasts, the mark of the beast, angels pouring out the bowl judgments, evil world powers personified as a prostitute, a final battle led by Satan, and the final Judgment Day.
Whew! It’s no wonder we get distracted. There’s a LOT going on in Revelation. But in the midst of all this, Rachel guides us through some very important lessons. We learn to evaluate our own hearts according to the warnings and encouragements that Jesus gives to the seven churches. We are drawn to the beauty, glory, and majesty of God’s throne room in heaven. We rejoice as we remember that Jesus is worthy because of the blood he shed for us. We are shown that although the judgments sound chaotic and scary, they are never outside God’s sovereign plan. We see God’s active protection, provision, and peace for His people. We are comforted with the knowledge that God hears and responds to our prayers. We see the Holy Spirit’s empowering of believers as we witness for Him. We are encouraged by the fact that God notices all the little things we do that reflect our love and service for Him. We are called to patient endurance and faithfulness through persecution and trouble. We are reassured of Jesus’s presence as we prepare for our own spiritual battles. And, of course, we are given the amazing promise of the new heavens and the new earth, and the presence of God dwelling fully with us.
Perhaps one of the most notable lessons for me was the reminder that we don’t need to know everything. As Rachel says on Day 16, “I trust God to tell us what we need to know. God, in His mercy, does not overwhelm us with too much.”
There are a lot of mysteries left unsolved in Revelation. It’s good to study these things to the extent that we are able. But most of our time should be spent on what we DO know. The Bible doesn’t tell us who the Antichrist will be, but it does tell us who Christ is. It doesn’t tell us when Christ will return, but we know that He will, and we know what we need to be doing in the meantime- studying His Word, growing in our relationship with Him, and being faithful to share the truth with others. It doesn’t always tell us exactly what should be taken literally or figuratively, but it does direct our focus to the One who has all things under His control as part of His sovereign plan.
“Take It To Heart” keeps us from the pointless (and sometimes harmful) speculation that so often consumes our discussions and thoughts about Revelation. And it provides a wonderful starting point for those who have avoided studying it before. No matter what opinions you hold, or what view you take on end-time events, this book will benefit you as you reflect on the truths Revelation gives us about who God is and how we should live as followers of Christ.