About a year ago, I kept hearing my friends use a code word.
What the heck is BSF? I’ve grown up in church my whole life, but never knew what it was. I had some vague notion that it had something to do with being Baptist. Whatever the case, I wanted to find out what this mysterious club was.
Turns out I was wrong on a couple of accounts. BSF stands for Bible Study Fellowship, and it’s an international, interdenominational Bible study that runs from September-May (in the US) and includes meeting weekly in discussion groups, listening to a lecture, and answering lesson questions at home. It is not, in fact, a mysterious club.
What caught my attention last year was the fact they were doing Revelation as the next study. To be honest, I’ve always viewed Revelation as the strange emo cousin in the corner at family gatherings that no one knows how to carry on a conversation with them.
I was in junior high in the midst of the “Left Behind” book craze, and my friend and I traded the kid series back and forth, eagerly devouring each thin paperback. Then one day, my mom decided we weren’t going to read those books anymore (she would stop reading the adult series as well).
This decision, coupled with the fact that the church we were members of at the time presented some strong opinions on the end times, led to me completely avoid the book altogether. It was disturbing. It was confusing. Different groups spouted their opinions so strongly that I was afraid to “pick a side,” theology wise. Big words like dispensation and rapture repelled me. I knew where I was going at the end of life, and wasn’t that enough? Who was I to try and decode all these bowls and seals and smoke and dragons? Life is complicated enough. I can just leave Revelation on the shelf, right?
The Lord strongly prompted me to do this study. I love studying God’s word and have the opportunity to teach it frequently and so I realized I needed to take responsibility and get some knowledge on this freaky book.
So I joined. I went. And I am so thankful I did.
BSF studies are incredibly well-organized, well-researched, and well-presented. The Revelation study wasn’t about decoding all the signs, but rather tracing God’s hand of truth AND mercy from the first chapter to the last.
I can get on board with that.
Now I see Revelation as a book full of hope and mercy. Time and again, Jesus sends warnings. Time and again there is a chance to turn to Him. Time and again he desires to draw all men unto him.
There is imagery in Genesis that is elegantly presented again in Revelation. Scriptures, phrases, and other themes that have been present throughout the whole Bible are woven together and brought to a triumphant finish by chapter 22.
Revelation is not the emo cousin in the corner, but a powerful, beautiful flourish at the conclusion of a powerful, beautiful story. It’s not an impersonal, judgmental rant by an angry God. It’s an incredibly personal, compelling message.
Next year we are moving on to John, so I’m looking forward to learning more about the author of Revelation, the beloved disciple.
I don’t know what your thoughts on Revelation are, but I would encourage you to ask God to give you fresh insight as you read through it again.
I’m so glad I did.