How to Finally Understand the Book of Revelation: An Interview with Margaret Feinberg
When did you last consider the Bible’s book of Revelation to be a wellspring of hope? Or have you always seen it as a declaration of judgment amidst confusing imagery? Of all the books of the Bible, Revelation is the one people seem to be the most afraid to study. They describe it in such terms as terrifying, mysterious, apocalyptic, and perplexing.
Please describe the Beautiful Word Bible Study Series and your role in it.
Margaret Feinberg: When I was approached to teach on the book of Revelation for this series, I responded, “No way—that’s a heavy and scary book.”
The editor said, “Why don’t you take another look—and pray about it, too.” Those words, “Pray about it,” can truly be the worst (smile).
As I dove in, I began to see the book as a true unveiling or revealing of Jesus Christ and the extravagant hope in him. And that’s not just in the opening or final chapters—it’s everywhere! So I’m thrilled to have created the Revelation DVD teachings and workbook.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Galatians Reminds Us We’re Accepted and Free: An Interview with Jada Edwards]
Why are people hesitant to read the book of Revelation?
Margaret Feinberg: With its bloody dragons, flying creatures, and mark of the beast, it’s no wonder people feel a little spooked by the imagery. The hesitancy is also caused from odd teachings from the past, scary images from movies, as well as some thinking that the book is only for “serious” or “heavy” believers.
As I’ve lead this life-giving study, I’ve discovered many people come with a lot of spiritual baggage. It’s so fun to see people say, “I now love this book!”[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Bible is a Modern Culinary Manual, God is “First Foodie”: An Interview with Margaret Feinberg]
Margaret Feinberg: Do you think God would give us the Scripture, this breathtaking love letter, and then in the final chapters, pull a switch-a-roo, and deliver a Big Cosmic Boo!, where he scares the heebie-jeebies out of us? That’s not consistent with the nature of God, the character of God, or the redemptive plan he’s been working throughout history.
Above all, the book is a revelation of Jesus Christ (1:1). And who would want to miss out on that?
Revelation is a survival guide for the suffering, a book of promises for the persecuted, a banner of hope for the beaten down. Not just for John in his time and his age, but for every church in every age, including you and me now.[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, A Fresh Foodie Bible Study Adventure: An Interview with Margaret Feinberg]
What is the context for the apostle John in writing Revelation?
Margaret Feinberg: The message came to one of the disciples—John—a pastor and prophet. John, who refused to bow down to the ways of Rome and worship Caesar Domitian by calling him “Lord,” was banished to the Island of Patmos.
Physically and spiritually John was likely in a dark place. His fledgling churches were struggling. His fellow disciples died brutal, barbaric deaths. I suspect he was wrestling with questions humanity has struggled with for thousands of years, such as
- Why does God allow evil to rise to power while God’s servants suffer?
- How does one cling to hope with so much darkness and uncertainty?
- Does God really win in the end?
- And in 22 chapters, Jesus answers in ways that leave us wonderstruck.
- How is Revelation an unveiling of Jesus?
The book begins, “The revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1 NASB). That word, revelation, in Greek is where the word apocalypse comes from. It means unveiling or uncovering. Throughout the book, we discover the names of Jesus, the heart of Jesus, the calling of Jesus, the purposes of Jesus, and the plans of Jesus for all of humanity.[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Is Your Definition of Joy Too Narrow?: An Interview with Margaret Feinberg]
How does Revelation integrate other Scripture into it?
Margaret Feinberg: Throughout Revelation is almost every passage traced back to another passage of Scripture (or two). It’s been estimated that of the 404 verses in Revelation, there are 518 references to earlier Scriptures.[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Significance of Shepherds and Sheep in the Bible]
How should people understand all the unusual descriptions in Revelation?
Margaret Feinberg: Revelation falls into a genre known as apocalyptic literature. Just as you wouldn’t pick up an electronics manual and read it like a fiction book, or open a recipe book and read it like a history book, Revelation has its own style. While genres like the Psalms, the Gospels, and epistles are much more instructive and straightforward, Revelation’s use of layers of symbols, unusual visions, and strange imagery give glimpses into the heavenly realm and the future.[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Significance of Olives in the Bible]
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What is your objective for viewers in teaching these lessons about Revelation?
Margaret Feinberg: With each passing page, we must resist the temptation to overemphasize or become dogmatic about interpretations or debatable topics that draw us away from what, or rather who, this book is all about: this is a revelation of Jesus Christ. We must also practice generous grace toward those who read and interpret passages differently than us. My hope is that viewers will encounter the extravagant hope of Jesus and the sacred call Christward in a fresh way.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
Margaret Feinberg: I’m so grateful for resources at Bible Gateway and the access to so many translations. Thank you for doing what you do!
Revelation Video Study is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Host of the popular podcast, The Joycast, Margaret Feinberg is a popular Bible teacher and speaker at churches and leading Her books, including Scouting the Divine, Fight Back With Joy, Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers and Fresh Food Makers, and their corresponding Bible studies, have sold over one million copies and received critical acclaim and extensive national media coverage from CNN, The Associated Press, USA TODAY, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and more. She was recently named one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today by Christianity Today. Margaret lives in Utah with her husband, Leif, and their superpup, Zoom.
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The post How to Finally Understand the Book of Revelation: An Interview with Margaret Feinberg appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.
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