Advent is the season we celebrate in preparation for Christmas; the word has Latin roots and means “coming.” We celebrate Advent prior to Christmas as we anticipate the birth of Christ. While it might seem a bit odd that we aren’t reading the birth narratives from the Gospels in our churchwide devotional reading during Advent this year, the Book of Revelation actually prepares us to celebrate Christmas because it anticipates the second Advent. You see, just as we celebrate the first Advent and the coming of Christ in the manger, we also wait with joyful expectation and eager longing for His Second Coming. Christ came once to earth as a child in the manger, but He will also come again as the Conquering King.
Revelation is a vision the disciple John received while in exile on the island of Patmos. It is the revelation of Jesus, given “to show His servants the things that must soon take place” (Revelation 1:1). Revelation is an apocalyptic work, which means it is an unveiling. It’s giving us a picture of what is to come. Revelation is also a work of prophecy—foretelling future events, yes, but also proclaiming the truth of God’s Word.
Many read the Book of Revelation to gain insight about end-time events. There are definitely many exciting, mysterious, and perplexing events in this book, yes! But more than that, I hope that as you read Revelation, you won’t get too lost in the trees to see the forest. The Book of Revelation was given to the early church as a source of hope in the midst of conflict and persecution. The resounding gong that beats over and over throughout the text is that Jesus alone reigns. One day, He is coming again, and every knee will bow before Him. Satan will be forever and finally defeated, and Christ will be recognized by all as King of kings and Lord of lords. Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain!
As we anticipate Advent, I can’t help but think of the haunting tune to “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” We still live in a world broken by sin, and we deal with the effects of the Fall every day. Our bodies wear out, and our souls grow weary. But the Book of Revelation gives us good hope that Emmanuel is coming again to ransom captive Israel—all who believe in Christ. There is coming a day when our victory over the grave in Christ will be realized, when death’s dark shadows will be forever put to flight. Revelation tells us the story of that day when our faith will be made sight, when we will see Christ face to face, and when we will be able to proclaim with all of the saints, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). Until then, as we celebrate this first Advent, we await that second Advent. Even so, come Lord Jesus!