You hear many pastors and theologians attempting to interpret the Book of Revelation in light of what is happening in our world today: Plagues, racial riots, a political antichrist, and the list could go on. It’s to be expected, after all, we generally think the end times is about us. Right?
Our desire to know the story of the end times is often clouded in the particular scenes the Apostle John describes—the seven bowls, the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the horsemen, the lake of fire, the battle of Armageddon—rather than in the prophecy that God’s mission will be completed (Rev 10:11). What does it all mean?
John, who stood with Jesus before His ascension and heard Him say once again that he is not to be concerned about when the Father will restore the kingdom (Acts 1:6-7), reminds the churches, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” (Rev 1:3).
Antichrists could very well be in the world now.
Yes, signs are all around: a US political system in turmoil; a global pandemic; 80 million refugees around the world without hope; 40 million blacks in America in anguish. Antichrists could very well be in the world now. Yet, the focus of the Book of Revelation is on the prophetic voice, the voice of God’s priests — you and me — that proclaims, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Rev 5:9).
It is a missiologically theocentric understanding of Revelation that points us to the proclamation of the gospel to every ethnic group on the planet so that more and more people will be at God’s throne in worship. However, our anthropocentric tendencies, that is our own selfishness, in reading Revelation focuses our attention on what will happen to us rather than on the prophecy that God’s mission will be complete and on His call for us to join that mission.
The great joy that awaits the Christian is not that our suffering will be alleviated (anthropocentrism), but that we will be eternally glorifying our Creator on the new earth with people from all over the globe (theocentrism). As John put it, “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him” (Rev 22:3).
Adapted from Ephesiology: The Study of the Ephesian Movement