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All Things New, Revelation As Canonical Capstone - NSBT by Brian J. Tabb and published by IVP.
For many Bible readers, the book of Revelation is a riddle that fascinates and frustrates. Scholars and teachers have proposed different keys to its interpretation, including the 'futurist' and historical-critical approaches. However, none of these adequately demonstrates the ongoing, vital relevance of the Apocalypse for the contemporary church. Brian Tabb stresses the importance of the canonical context of the book of Revelation and argues that it presents itself as the climax of biblical prophecy. He shows how various Old Testament prophecies and patterns find their consummation in the present and future reign of Jesus Christ, who decisively defeats his foes, saves his people and restores all things.
Tabb considers key biblical-theological themes: the triune God; Christ's followers and foes; God's plan for salvation, judgment and restoration; and God's word. He also shows how the book's symbolic visions shape believers' worldviews around what is true, good and beautiful according to God's revealed standards, and motivate them to live obediently and counter-culturally in the world as faithful witnesses to Jesus.
The book opens by stating that Revelation “is rarely read aloud or preached in many modern churches” (p1). It is to be hoped that Brian’s book will do much to reverse that trend and also that it will be read by many Christians who are not necessarily called to preach and teach for they will be greatly enriched by reading it. “Revelation’s symbolic visions challenge readers to resist worldly compromise, spiritual complacency and false teaching” (p8). Chapter 2 deals with the centrality of God’s throne, “the centre of the universe,” referred to in Revelation nearly 40 times (p37). Even though some readers my find the transliteration of Greek words a little intimidating this chapter is hugely important for today – describing so clearly the glory and necessary centrality of God to all things. Chapter 3 exalts the Lord Jesus Christ and Brian shows “’the remarkable extent to which Revelation identifies Jesus Christ with God,’ the Almighty Creator who is the beginning and end of all things” (p62). He goes on to say, “It is impossible to overstate the importance and centrality of Jesus in this book of prophecy” (p64). Here is a chapter for ‘a church’ that perhaps has a tendency these days to ‘demote’ the Lord Jesus, making him often seem to be less than God by the vocabulary used. At the beginning of Part II there is a quotation from D. A. de Silva (p90) that focusses upon the church which would seem to be very appropriate for the Bible–believing community today. “More than seeking to be interpreted, Revelation seeks to interpret the reality of the audience.” Just so. A careful reading of the Apocalypse, suitably helped by Brain Tabb’s thematic treatment, will indeed show the church what was, is, and is to come. Perhaps more than ever we need to allow the faithful and true witness of Revelation to illuminate our day rather than we attempting to fit its teaching to our predilections which only darken our understanding. We see here how the church of Jesus Christ is the true Israel of God. Part III, deals with seals, trumpets, and bowls, and puts forward a very clear justification for “progressive parallelism” or “recapitulation” as the only coherent way of understanding the cycle of visions. The case is well made in the context of a reworked exodus – the eschatalogical salvation. There are numerous helpful charts throughout and these show the clear parallels with the Old Testament. Here is a book worthy of the needed focus and effort to read, skimming over the transliteration of Greek and the many biblical references (but perhaps stopping to look up an intriguing verse or two). After reading you will be left with a very large impression of what is now and what is not yet.
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