The Best Clue on What to Expect

The Best Clue on What to Expect

My wife loves surprises. For my 47th birthday, she planned a surprise. The buildup was spectacular; for months she talked about “the day.” In fact, she was so excited she almost let it slip. Suspense kills her. Not me; I can wait. So I waited for “the day” to come. Denise soared with excitement—on the giddy scale, she registered a 9.9. I knew this would be big. But I also knew that her surprise hadn’t broken the bank. No huge dip in the checking account. No IRA or Fidelity retirement withdrawals. No credit card meltdowns.

Finally, “the day” came. She told me to dress casually, and I started getting ready while she took our youngest daughter to school. I waited and wondered. An hour later she returned. I was blindfolded and led out the back door for the grand revelation. What I saw next was an apocalypse . . .

Do you know what apocalypse means? If you surf the Web or browse the Christianity section of Barnes and Noble, you probably think it means catastrophic destruction, cosmic upheaval, asteroids raining down, fire melting the earth, nuclear annihilation, and terrorist attacks. Guess again. Apocalypse come from a Greek word meaning “an uncovering,” “a revealing,” and its best synonym is revelation. The title of the last book of the Bible includes this word: “The revelation [apocalypse] of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw” (1:1-2). Such a long title probably wouldn’t get past a publisher today, so it’s been shortened to “the Apocalypse” or “the Revelation.”

John’s vision is a surprise, a revelation, an unveiling. OK, so what’s the surprise? The world’s expiration date? The identity of the beast? The countries who engage in the battle of Armageddon? The time sequence for Rapture, Tribulation, and Judgment? The code for the Anti­christ? That’s what most folk go fishing for in the Revelation. It may surprise you to know that none of these are of interest to John or his readers.

The Revelation Reveals Jesus

The heart and soul of this mystery is Jesus. And when we reach the end of the book, we’re not meant to be engaged in millennial debates. We’re meant to be found worshiping the Lamb.

John calls Jesus the one “who is and who was and who is to come” (1:4). Present, past, future—strange ordering of the tenses. We usually go with past, present, future. But John puts the present first and goes backward and forward from there. Could it be that we should understand our life backward and forward beginning with the Christ, who is present? The Christ who stands with us now is the Christ who interprets where we’ve been and where we’re going. This Christ has been there in our past and is out there in our future.

Denise blindfolded me and led me out the door. What I saw when she took the blindfold off was an apocalypse—a new red convertible Mustang. Two of my close friends were sitting in the backseat wearing cool shades, and Beach Boys music was playing from the car’s stereo. Denise quickly informed me that the vehicle was rented, not purchased, for the day. We headed down the highway with hair blowing and the Beach Boys blaring. We spent the day cruising our favorite Lake Michigan haunts, eating with friends, singing at the top of our lungs, and feeling very alive. At the end of my 47th birthday, one thing was clear. Although the day was wonderful, the person who planned it was even more wonderful. Denise could hardly wait to surprise me, and I knew why. She loved me.

The Revelation is not about the details of the Day. It is the story of the Christ who loves us so much that He can hardly wait for the Day to come. Knowing Him is the best clue we have as to what to expect. Details will follow.

Today’s post is an excerpt from my book, Answers for Chicken Little: A No-Nonsense Look at the Book of Revelation.


  1. Thank you.

  2. Well said, well done. Paradigm shifting.

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