“Too many interpretations of Revelation miss its message of discipleship because those interpretations are obsessed with speculations about who and where and what.”page 270
Revelation for the Rest of Us, by Scot McKnight and Cody Matchett, is the book on Revelation that many of us have been waiting for. I’ve had too many popular-level fearmongering and outlandish books on Revelation given to me and offered well-thought-out, deeply researched books in return, only to be met with, “this is too hard to read.”
Revelation for the Rest of Us is precisely what the title says—it’s accessible, easy to understand, and occasionally fun. It’s Gorman for dummies, Lowery for the least of these, and it’s about time we had a book like this!
A Timely Book for Those Tired of End Times Enthusiasts
People get jacked up and then watch for a date or fulfillment, then they get disappointed, and then they get jacked up again over something else and then disappointment returns, over and over until they decide to give up on Revelation.page 10
This was my first experience with Revelation. It was likely yours, also. I came to faith in 1984, which Hal Lindsey would have said was about two years too late. Nevertheless, before my first decade in the Kingdom ended, I survived the Late Great Planet Earth, the rapture of 1988 (remember that one?), and Harold Camping’s original prediction of 1994 as the return of Christ. At some point, I began to ask, “If these predictions are always wrong, why do we keep reading Revelation this way?”
I found out we don’t have to! There is solid scholarship that points to a more rational reading of Revelation. But, unfortunately, most of it is above the pay grade of the average person in the pew and nowhere near as sexy and sensational as those Left Behind books!
McKnight and Matchett offer their thesis on page 13. “The book of Revelation, when read well, forms us into dissident disciples who discern corruptions in the world and church. Conformity to the world is the problem. Discipleship requires dissidence when one lives in Babylon.” This is their view’s driving vision, and they return to it often. Each clause is explored and explained with conviction and a view of the triumph of the Lion, who is also a Lamb.
Not a Commentary
“This is not a commentary on Revelation. It is rather a theology of political discipleship rooted in Revelation and how best to read it.”page 293
I appreciated these words, the last words of the book. Revelation for the Rest of Us is not a verse-by-verse exploration of Revelation. Instead, it is a series of self-contained essays exploring themes and ideas within the apocalypse. As such, it stands on the shoulders of giants that should be read alongside this one. I have included some recommendations at the bottom of this article.
And having said that, I do take issue with McKnight and Matchett’s view of Revelation 20:1-6 and the millennium. I prefer Shane Wood’s interpretation as a logical and historical view of this singularly strange passage. Brett Davis’ chapter on Revelation 20 is also very well written. I’ve referenced both of them below.
This one will step on some toes because the insidiousness of Babylon means it has likely already infected the views, opinions, and politics that many hold dear. These guys don’t mince words, and they don’t mind naming names! You won’t find any candidates for the antichrist, but you will see the arrogance of an unchecked Babylon has already infected our world.
Sanity for Insane Times
I remember a dear old preacher telling me he didn’t understand prophecy, but he always preached pre-millennial because “it was more fun.” I still cringe when I recall that statement. I confess I have seldom preached from Revelation because there is too much to “unteach” before we can teach it. Themes, preaching points, and illustrations abound in Revelation for the Rest of Us. If you’re considering a sermon series or a Bible study, this would be an excellent book to get you started.
Recommended Revelation Resources
Brett Davis, See The Strange: The Gospel According to Revelation. Devotionally written and a lot of fun! This is one to share. Be warned, though, the typos are a little frustrating, but I’m not going to complain (have you ever read my book??)
Michael J. Gorman, Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb into the New Creation. This one is going to be a classic if it’s not already. It should be the definitive textbook on Revelation.
Robert Lowery, Revelation’s Rhapsody: Listening to the Lyrics of the Lamb: How to Read the Book of Revelation. A little-known book that is much beloved by those in my circle. It’s a valuable resource for its insights, extensive appendices (about half the book), and Bob Dylan references.
Shane J. Wood’s Website. There is so much to be gleaned here. Lectures, sermons, whole book studies. These are master’s class-level lessons on interpreting Scripture.
Bret Hammond, Seven Calls for the Committed Church. My own sermon series on the letters to the seven churches.
Bret Hammond, The Lady and the Dragon. My own sermon from Revelation 12. A good Christmas sermon. Makes a great stocking stuffer!