Bringing Revelation Into Focus
A review of Blessed: Experiencing the Promise of the Book of Revelation by Nancy Guthrie
A Gift to the Soul
By Tiffany Schrader
It is rare to pick up a book that reads like a novel yet teaches as a commentary; Nancy Guthrie accomplishes both in her latest work, Blessed: Experiencing the Promise of the Book of Revelation. Guthrie states upfront her focus will be replacing an unhealthy fascination about the future with a determination to follow Christ in the present. Then she walks us through the Book of Revelation broken into twelve sections with a refrain of “Hearing and Keeping” to wrap up each chapter.
Without intention I was recommending this book to family and friends, connecting what I was reading to day-to-day life.
Don’t be fooled by the pretty artwork on the cover—this is a deep look at the reality of judgment and wrath paired with the reoccurring call to patiently endure. As someone who has both studied and taught Revelation in a large group setting, I found myself highlighting and underlining personal truths to be prayed through and applied even from the more difficult chapters.
One such example comes in chapter nine: “Revelation as a whole is a call to patient endurance as we wait for our King, the Lamb, our Bridegroom, to come. And inherent in that patient endurance is faithfulness. To wait is going to require that we refuse the advance of any other lovers who seek to seduce us.” Guthrie then gives multiple illustrations of how we are tempted by the allure of the world and its charms—cutting to the heart beyond the usual dos and don’ts for believers.
This book requires patience. The introduction is long, but by the time I was ushered into the throne room of Revelation 4-5, I was stealing away for quiet pockets of time to take it all in. Slowing down, especially for the final two chapters, was a gift to the soul, and I found myself worshipping Jesus as I delighted in His promise of heaven.
Without intention I was recommending this book to family and friends, connecting what I was reading to day-to-day life. It will definitely be on my Christmas gift list and would make for a great book club read for any Christian circle.
Blessed Despite Disagreements
By Tim Etherington
“Accessible” probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of the Book of Revelation, and yet in Blessed: Experiencing the Promise of the Book of Revelation, Nancy Guthrie helps bring it one step closer. Her reason for studying Revelation is because the book promises a blessing for those who do and “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,” is “our blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). In the time before His return, we struggle in a world troubled by evil, longing for better. Revelation, Guthrie says, “speaks to that ache, telling us the days of evil having its way in this world are numbered.” Pastorally, I feel we need the long view of history Revelation offers now more than ever.
A strength of Blessed is that Guthrie acknowledges disagreements over how to read Revelation but says, “It is not my goal to make an argument against opposing views.” Rather than defend her position, she says, “I’m just going to state what I think the Scriptures present to us.” You can study Blessed with a differing eschatology (spoiler alert: she’s amillennial) and still get a lot out of it. I’m historic premillennial and I have been blessed by her teaching.
Guthrie does an admirable job of leading us through a difficult book to find the blessings it offers and the encouragement we need.
Since there are different approaches, know that she doesn’t interpret Revelation chronologically (nor do I) but believes that, “it traces the same events from different angles, each with a different emphasis or focus.” In the seven seals, trumpets and bowls, John tells and retells the story of the time from Christ’s ascension to His second coming. This approach makes Revelation applicable to every generation of believers, not just those in the last days. If you’re convinced Revelation is chronological, you can still get a lot from Blessed; you might see ways those events you believe are in the future can encourage us today, ways that might not have occurred to you before.
I appreciate how she finds the meaning of symbols in Revelation elsewhere in the Bible. For example, where else do we see seven trumpets in the Bible? At Jericho in Joshua 6! The seven trumpets of Revelation 8 through 11, “picture for us…our entrance into the greater promised land that God has promised.” She does this regularly throughout the book.
My few difficulties with Blessed are what I’d anticipated. I disagree with her interpretation of the millennium and, though she largely succeeds in her attempt to understand images and numbers based on other parts of the Bible, I disagree with how she sometimes offers symbolic meanings without justification.
For example, Revelation 2:10 says, “for ten days you will have tribulation.” Guthrie says, “ten is used symbolically here to indicate that it was going to last the exact length of time that God intended.” Why does ten mean that? Wouldn’t eight or eleven have worked as well? These sorts of things are not egregious; they were more disappointing, even when I tend to agree with them.
In the end, I can easily recommend Blessed for small group study. Guthrie does an admirable job of leading us through a difficult book to find the blessings it offers and the encouragement we need.
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