Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation, by Dennis E. Johnson ★★★★
This is about the fourth in a series of commentaries that I have read on Revelation in the recent past. The first was by Hendrickson titled More Than Conquerors. The second was by Doug Wilson, When the Man Comes Around, the third by Vern Poythress The Returning King, and now this text. Hendrickson’s text was my favorite for providing an overall means of interpreting the book. Vern Poythress’ text really didn’t delve into hardcore analysis of the text. Wilson’s text was a joke. And now, this text. Johnson admits that many of us in America were weaned on Dispensational Premillennialism, and certainly my exposure to Hal Lindsey and all of his writings were in my youth taken with a deep degree of seriousness. I didn’t know better back then. I still have a reduced version of Beale’s text on Revelation to work through.
Johnson does a reasonable assessment of the text, and I appreciate his approach of not being militantly in favor of a particular school of prophetic interpretation. Indeed, he leaves the discussion of the scholarly approaches to Revelation to an appendix; I certainly can understand why he did that, yet, I think the book would have been better served with such a discussion given in the early section of the text. I, like Johnson, lean heavily towards an idealistic interpretation, which means, we approach the book from the viewpoint that it provides multiple recurring glimpses of the Christian era (from the birth of Christ until he comes again), with the “millennium” from Rev. 20:6 referring to the Christian era of the church. Even with its problems, I think that Hendrickson provides a bit better sense as to the seven-fold recurring history of the church, each from a differing though advancing perspective.
The strength of this text is Johnson’s ability to show the relevance of Revelation to everyday life. Each chapter started with some discussion from everyday life, and then morphs into the text of Revelation, showing its practical meaning. It is too easy to assume that Revelation is an obscure book, requiring smoking a hallucinogen before reading in order to best grasp textual meaning, something best left to Hal Lindsey and Doug Wilson. That is precisely what the book of Revelation is not! Christ’s return will be imminent, yet when least expected. Until then, Revelation paints out exactly what the Christian will be facing, a world hell-bent on destroying the Christian faith. Between the dragon (the devil), the beast (world government system), the false prophet (the lying press) and the prostitute (the pleasures of life, personal peace and prosperity), we can expect that Christians may see suffering and persecution. Yet, ultimately the lamb will triumph. Our vision must look for Christ’s ultimate victory, and not our immediate circumstances.
Maranatha, come quickly Jesus.