If you’ve ever tried to hike straight through your Bible, you know that something happens when you flip your reading plan over to the back side. If you’re using a one-year plan, you spend the first nine months or so in the sharp incline of the Old Testament and feel your spiritual muscles stretch and strengthen as you trek along. You might trip over some tricky passages, and at times, wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into—but time and time again, you round the corner and experience breathtaking views of God that make it all worth it.
Once you turn the last page of Malachi, it feels like you’ve arrived at the summit. You finally come face-to-face with Jesus. From that point on, as you journey through the Gospels, the apostles’ adventures, and Paul’s letters, it feels like flying downhill over familiar ground.
But then you come to the final stretch. Once you finish the last letter of John and breeze through Jude, there it is: Revelation. It’s not that you dread it—you’re just ready to get through it. It feels like the last mile you have to get through in order to reach the parking lot and unlace your boots. You put your camera and phone away for this section. You don’t expect to come across places where you’ll want to stop and take a selfie.
If we’re honest, that’s how many of us view the book of Revelation. We believe that we need to get through it, but we don’t expect it will have much for us today. Even though we know that all Scripture is profitable (2 Tim. 3:16), our anticipation level is often higher for other books because we think they will speak to our specific circumstances. We go to other points along the path of Scripture to be encouraged, to find out how we should live, and to get a glimpse of Jesus—all the while missing that Revelation is the exclamation point on God’s redemptive story.
The themes seen throughout the rest of Scripture find their climax in the person and work of Jesus, who is on full display throughout Revelation—and He has a message for you today. If you are a woman who has been hiking through her Bible this year and wants to learn to love every part of it, this book is for you. And if you’re on a mission to know and serve Jesus as faithfully as you can, it’s time to start reading Revelation 1–3.
3 Reasons to Love the Letters of Revelation
Spiritual riches await you in the first few pages of Revelation. The opening chapters include letters from Christ to seven local churches in the Roman province of Asia. If you’ve never spent time soaking in the truth of these pages, here are three reasons you’ll enjoy the seven letters found in Revelation 1–3.
1. The letters give you fresh insight into Jesus—from Jesus Himself.
These letters come from Christ. How could we ever pass up the chance to hear directly from His point of view: His commendations, His rebukes, and the aspects of His character He chooses to reveal about what He is truly like?
As you read, pay attention to introductions like, “Thus says the one who,” with the titles and identifying features Jesus gives in reference to Himself. Underline places where He said, “I know,” and look at what He was drawing attention to, both the negative and the positive. Jesus knew the deeds of those in the churches and He knew what suffering believers were up against. He knew the areas in which they were thriving, and He knew the circumstances that were beyond what they could handle. The same is true today.
As Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says in Overcomers: Lessons from the Churches of Revelation:
The opening chapters describe Jesus as being “in the midst” of the churches (Rev. 1:13) and walking among them (Rev. 2:1). He is actively engaged with His churches here on earth and knows them intimately.
Meditating on the character of Christ in these letters will not only enlarge your view of the power and authority of Christ, but it will also give you a more intimate and personal understanding of His involvement in your life.
2. The letters will convict and equip you to press on in the faith.
Often as believers we turn to Paul’s letters for our marching orders. Those are the practical passages we rely on most heavily to learn how to grow in our Christian life. But the letters in Revelation include a comprehensive evaluation from Christ that would transform our churches if we heeded His instructions.
In the letter to Ephesus, the first church, Jesus wrote, “I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev. 2:4). Could that statement also be said about you? In Overcomers, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth focused on this verse and gave “40 Evidences You May Have Left Your First Love.” Here are the first five evidences she lists:
- “You can go hours or days without having more than a passing thought of Jesus.”
- “You don’t have a strong desire to spend time with Him.”
- “You don’t have a strong hunger for the Word; Bible reading feels like a chore—something to mark off your ‘to-do’ list.”
- “Spending time in prayer is a duty rather than a delight.”
- “Your worship is formal, dry, lifeless, merely going through the motions.”
Although Christ rebukes the church, He also provides a remedy with action steps. In Revelation 2:5, He instructs the church of Ephesus: “Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” He provides a warning to those who fail to repent and a promise to those who keep His works to the end (Rev. 2:26). These patterns throughout the letters—with rebukes, remedies, and promises—offer guidance to help you evaluate your own spiritual life and take the next step of obedience.
3. The letters will inspire you to live as an overcomer.
Overcoming. Conquering. These are noble concepts, but the connotations can feel too ambitious for our everyday lives. Most of us are not facing martyrdom or severe persecution from a hostile government regime. We’re not really focused on overcoming our circumstances as much as we just want to feel less overwhelmed.
But as you read through Revelation, one of the themes you’ll notice comes from the key word translated as “conquers” (in the csb translation) and “overcomes” (in the nasb translation). It shows up repeatedly in Revelation 1–3 and again in Revelation 21:
- “The one who overcomes . . . I will give him authority over the nations” (Rev. 2:26 NIV).
- “The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God . . . and I will write on him the name of My God” (Rev. 3:12 NIV).
- “The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne” (Rev. 3:21 NIV).
In Overcomers: Lessons from the Churches of Revelation, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says that this message is crucial for all followers of Christ:
A key concept in the Christian life is that of conquering or overcoming. Overcoming is the identifying characteristic of all true believers. Jesus encouraged His followers by reminding them that they could take courage because He had “overcome the world” (John 16:33). Because of His act of overcoming, all believers are partakers in that victory (2 Cor. 2:14; 1 John 5:4). Although believers don’t often feel as though they are conquerors, that is who they are.
It’s who you are. Are you living out that identity? The letters of Revelation will challenge you to do so.
Letters for Then and Now
If you’re coming up on the book of Revelation in your Bible reading plan, now is not the time to start dragging your feet. Tighten those hiking boots, and get ready for the kind of adventure only the Lord can lead you down. There’s so much awaiting you on the trail of Revelation 1–3. May you encounter Jesus every step of the way.
Are you ready to begin the journey through the seven letters to the churches of Revelation? Walk among them as you read with Overcomers: Lessons from the Churches of Revelation, a short study adapted from the teaching of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, yours as our thanks when you give to the ministry this month.
Republished with permission from Blogs.crossmap.com, featuring inspiring Bible verses about 3 Reasons to Love the Letters of Revelation.