Persevere in Observation

A few years ago, I was in the lobby of our church after the service discussing the sermon we had just heard. The pastor had shared the importance of making God’s Word a part of our daily routine. I love these sermons as they speak to my heart; they probably speak to your heart as a Precept Leader as well. This is what we do; we study God’s Word as a part of our regular day-to-day routine. In the sermon, the pastor didn’t go as far as promoting the Precept Method or our studies, but he did give an example of how to ask the right questions of the text. He shared how it is vital to spend a fair amount of time observing what the text says before interpreting and applying it. YES!!! Preach it!!!

While discussing the sermon, one of our small group members approached me, “you must have LOVED that sermon — he’s preaching your method of study,” she said. I smiled. Then she continued with — “that is a lot of work, and I like my method better!”  I asked our small group member to share her method, and here was her response, “First I start with prayer, then I take my index finger and force it into the pages of the book and open the Bible to that page; I then circle my finger over the page I first touch and finally point to the verse I am going to study.”  My wife, Jessica, says the one thing I lack is a poker face, that my face clearly expresses my thoughts without saying a word, and this case was no different. I asked why this was her method, and she shared that this is how the Holy Spirit shows her what to study. In my mind, I immediately thought of several verses I would not want my finger to fall on to then observe and apply randomly, but I won’t get into what those verses are right now. The point is the finger method of study can lead to all kinds of trouble; one of the main concerns of this “method” is taking Scripture out of context.

Our discussion continued about the importance of proper interpretation, knowing that context rules interpretation and that careful observation leads to accurate interpretation and correct application. These components are vital to the study of God’s Word, but they do take time. 

When teaching prophetic books like Revelation, it is vital to set some ground rules for our students. Students come into our class with many ideas about these prophecies before taking an inductive approach to the book. Students can easily access information, commentaries, and sermons, which will give man’s interpretation of these difficult verses in Scripture. In my class, I look through the homework for the week and look for any red flags that may come up in that week’s discussion. I look at the difficult passages that scholars have debated for years and note any questions my group might ask. These usually come out of questions I want answered as well. At the start of the class, I will pray and tell my students, “I have a warning this week, are you okay with a warning? This week we will encounter some highly debatable passages and subjects but remember we are still in the observation stage of Revelation. We’re not going to be able to interpret or answer all of your questions but make note of them and hang onto them for future lessons.”  My students respond well to these warnings. When students start to interpret or add outside information for the purpose of unlocking the prophecy, they are corrected by one of their fellow students. “That’s interpretation…we are only observing the text this week,” someone will say. Amazingly, I don’t even have to say anything.

This can be a helpful tip if you run into students jumping to interpretation, adding in outside sources and shutting down discussion because they want to share their insights on the passage.

When leading the Revelation Precept Upon Precept series, keep the following things in mind:

  • Revelation Part 1 — Jesus’ Message to the Churches
  • Revelation Part 2 — Observing Revelation, drawing what you are reading. The focus of this study is mainly to observe and apply what you learn about God and His judgements.
  • Revelation Part 3 — Focuses more on interpreting the timing of the events in Revelation by creating a timeline.
  • Revelation Part 4 — The final part focuses on putting all the pieces of the puzzle together by looking at what the rest of Scripture teaches about the second coming of Jesus.

Studying prophetic books takes a lot of time and patience, but the fruit that comes from this hard work is so rewarding. You’ll remember these studies for the rest of your life, and you’ll be well equipped for the return of Jesus. Tell your students to be patient; the time for interpretation is coming, but we must carefully observe before jumping to conclusions.

I am praying for you as you lead!

Press on for His glory,



Check out upcoming online Training Workshops for you to establish yourself in His Word and make disciples. 


Submit a Comment