Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Heart of Revelation by J. Scott Duvall

Perhaps you agree with Duvall when he writes, “Revelation is the strangest book in the whole Bible.” (1) It seems people either avoid it or obsess over it. But Duvall offers a third way, appreciating the book by looking at the big picture, identifying what we can know for certain, and finding lessons for our Christian living today.

He has a good introduction to Revelation, exploring the circumstances of the writing, the type of literature, and principles of interpretation.

I like how Duvall emphasizes that Revelation shows reality from God's perspective. “...God defeats the power of darkness, judges evil, rescues his people, and transforms creation.” (7) It is a book of hope but does not offer the false hope of avoiding persecution and suffering of the last days. The book of Revelation, he writes, “makes it crystal clear that Christians will face such things.” (61)

I like that Duvall does not try to identify the characters in Revelation with particular people. Writing about Revelation 13, for example, “The beasts represent wicked empires empowered by Satan.” (91) And, “The two witnesses represent the witnessing church.” (107) Regarding the judgments, “Revelation spirals forward in repeated cycles of judgment rather than progressing in a neat, straight line.” (149) As a general principle, “We must take Revelation seriously, but we shouldn't always take it literally.” (9)

This book is written for Christians who want to know the main teachings of Revelation. It is not a technical, scholarly book (by design). Questions are included at the end of each chapter for group discussion. He prays, “that it will strengthen your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and bring you hope, courage, and wisdom.” (3)

I highly recommend this book to those who are tired of authors trying to identify the Antichrist or trying to put the events of Revelation into current news broadcasts. Duvall's book shares the encouraging message of Revelation through its major themes. It's a refreshing book that clears away the confusion.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

J. Scott Duvall (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament and J. C. and Mae Fuller Chair of Biblical Studies at Ouachita Baptist University. He is the author or coauthor of many articles and books.

Baker Books, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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