The Book of Revelation is difficult reading. Yet, Revelation is also rewarding. Five major and contradictory approaches to Revelation can be found in the religious world. Such facts can boggle the mind, yet I think there are some simple guidelines for reading the book. Read Revelation for what it says about itself, rather than what others say about it. Read Revelation in light of the rest of scripture. Scripture is its own best interpreter. If all we get from Revelation is that Satan will be defeated and God wins, then we’ve understood the major lesson. Passages may puzzle us, but some things are crystal clear. Among the clear things is the fact that John gives us glimpses into heaven.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:9-17, ESV
Heaven is assured by the teaching and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Revelation, John gives evidence for heaven and glimpses of our future hope.
Heaven answers a deep longing. With C.S. Lewis we too cry, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”1 Christ conquered death, and so will the Christian. Paradise lost in the garden will be paradise regained in heaven.
Heaven gives purpose. The person who most fully believes in heaven will also be the one who most faithfully lives for the Lord in daily life.
1C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 120