May Bible Reading Plan
Books: Ecclesiastes, Revelation
Authorship and Purpose:
The book of Ecclesiastes is traditionally held to be written by Solomon, including the epilogue, though it could also be another of David’s line or even a later editor compiling the words of the Preacher or Teacher (Qohelet). Despite this variety, precise authorship and dating is not necessary for reading and interpreting the book as the author purposely remains anonymous.
Ecclesiastes is one of the wisdom books in the Old Testament, along with books like Job and Proverbs, and offers a biblical perspective on living in this broken world. This life feels fleeting, temporary, and enigmatic; time keeps moving and eventually everyone will die. Even those who follow the wisdom of the Bible can at times find themselves struggling in the face of the wicked who at times flourish. While being honest about the reality of living in this world, Ecclesiastes does offer an encouragement, almost an admonition through a reality check, to keep following God’s commands. Though it is true that death comes to all, God will judge everyone, and every deed, good and bad, will be brought to light. It is impossible for humans to evaluate life with all its complexities and enigmas, but God can and will judge all accordingly. Therefore, it is still important to follow Him and keep His commands.
The book of Ecclesiastes can be a bit depressing to read and may even lead some to the conclusion that there is no point in this life so we may as well do whatever we want. While the Preacher is being honest with the complexities of living in a broken world, even to the point of calling everything “hevel" (vanity, smoke, vapor), the point is not to therefore do whatever because everything is meaningless anyway; in fact this is the exact opposite of what the book is trying to communicate. Though it is true that pleasure, wealth, and even to a certain extent wisdom is hevel, following God’s commands is still the best way to live. Following God may not always end up like we imagined it would, but God will still bring every deed, good and bad, to judgment.
On a larger scale, remember that Ecclesiastes works together with the other wisdom books to provide a picture of fearing the Lord in a broken world. Proverbs offers wisdom in how to live life in a God-honoring way and to therefore live the best life possible. Ecclesiastes steps in, however, to say that even if we do everything according to God’s instruction, life might not turn out that great anyway. Good people suffer (Job also speaks to this), and wicked people flourish. Good times come to an end and eventually, we all die. Even so, in the midst of the enigma that is life, we are to hold fast to God, in the knowledge that He is still in control, and that He will bring the wicked to justice.
Wisdom is good, but human understanding has its limits — It is valuable to seek a#er wisdom and follow the ways of God, but there is a limit to human understanding. We are not omniscient.
God will judge every deed done — Good people struggle and wicked people might flourish in this life, but God is still judge. Following the wisdom in Proverbs might not go exactly how we imagine it would, but it is still worth following its wisdom.
1. Introduction — 1:1
2. The Word of the Preacher — 1:2-12:8
3. Conclusion — 12:-9-14
Authorship and Purpose:
The book of Revelation was written by the apostle John while he was exiled on the island of Patmos. While on Patmos, John received a vision from God and was instructed to write down the things he saw for the church. The book was written either around 64 AD, during the reign of Nero, or around 95 AD, during the reign of Domitian. Either way, the Revelation to John is the last book in the New Testament and closes the biblical canon with a look behind the scenes of the visible world, putting on full display the hope Christ-followers have in Jesus and the sureness of the coming judgment.
The primary purpose of the book of Revelation is to provide hope for the church as it experiences persecution. The images of wrath against the enemies of Christ and the victorious status of Jesus as the slain Lamb provide a divine perspective on persecution. While followers of Christ can experience immense suffering and even death on account of faith in Jesus, there will come a day when God will judge all humanity. This life is not all that there is; one day all people will be resurrected either to new life or death in separation from God.
Scholars and church leaders have interpreted the book of Revelation in many different ways; you may even be aware of the major camps theologians fall in. In keeping with the primary purpose of the book, regardless of whether or not you identify with one of these camps, remember that this book was written to give hope. Revelation is considered “apocalyptic literature,” which was written to ensure a suffering people of God’s control and the supremacy of Christ. Simply put, the book of Revelation has present day applicationtt
The images in Revelation are deeply symbolic and find their roots in the rest of Bible, especially the Old Testament. While reading, if your Bible has references, it might be helpful to read where the quotes and allusions in Revelation come from. Also, some of the images which depict God’s judgment might feel disturbing, especially if we know people who are not followers of Christ. While God’s wrath is real and there will come a day when He will judge, keep in mind the intended audience of the book and remember that these images of judgment are not without hope. Through the cross and resurrection, Jesus made it possible for those who put their faith in Him to stand blameless at judgment. God’s justice demands punishment for those who persecute His church, but by His love and grace, sinful humanity can be washed clean in the blood of the Lamb.
In the midst of persecution, there is hope in Christ — It may seem as though God’s enemies have the upper hand, but God is in control and Christ will return. Even in death, those who put their faith in Christ can rest in the knowledge that they will live eternally with God.
Everyone will be resurrected and judged by God — All people will face judgment, but those who put their faith in Christ will stand blameless before the throne.
Structure of Revelation:
1. Introduction — 1:1-8
2. Vision of the Son of Man — 1:9-20
3. Letters to the Seven Churches — 2-3
4. The Throne, the Scroll, and the Lamb — 4-5
5. Seven Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls 6-18
6. The Second Coming — 19
7. Millennium — 20:1-10
8. Judgment — 20:11-15
9. New Jerusalem — 21-22:5
10. Conclusion — 22:6-21