Often overlooked is the role that the book of Revelation can play in apologetics. One can start with the idea that Revelation provides many of the harsh things of Christianity: a coming Tribulation of great catastrophe poured out on all the earth (6-19), the judgments upon unbelievers when Jesus returns to earth at the Tribulation (19), and the final and ultimate judgment of the Great White Throne judgment (20). This of course includes the unending torment of a place called the lake of fire (20:10-15). A reasonable soul might ask the question, “What gives God the right to pour out all of this judgment in this life and the next?”
God gives clear responses to such questions in Revelation itself. First, men receive the judgments during the tribulation because they deserve it. Several texts in the book declare God’s ways are just and true (15:3, 16:5, 19:2). Added to this description of God’s ways in 16:5 is the understanding that the wicked deserve such judgment because “they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink” (16:6).
Revelation also reminds us that God has the right to pour out such horrible judgments because He is the Creator: “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created” (4:11).
In perhaps the strongest answer given in the book, the question is asked who is worthy to open the scroll to unleash the judgments written on it (5:2-4). The only One worthy to open the scroll and pour out judgment is the Lamb of God who is God the Savior (5:5-8). Why? He is worthy because he was slain for our sins and purchased our salvation for God with his blood (5:9-10).
In this way, Revelation is not simply about worship and judgment. It is a theodicy which vindicates the way God’s end time judgments occur understanding that people deserve the judgments and that God is the Creator and Redeemer. In this way, Revelation has a purpose in apologetics that goes beyond knowing the end time events.
The picture above is my all time favorite Bible illustration. It is from the Revelation Illustrated series — Artwork by Pat Marvenko Smith, c1982, 1992; www.revelationillustrated.com. I purchased the set of pictures and have found them helpful in my teaching ministry in school and church.