“He who has ears to hear – let him hear”
What’s Going On?
I’d like to point out the book is called “Revelation”, and not Revelation‘s’. Technically, it’s called “The Revelation to John.” It is commonly accepted that the author, who simply calls himself “John, a servant of Jesus” is John the Apostle, writing about 95 AD from the Isle of Patmos where he was in exile after the fall of Jerusalem. Revelation is a very specific style of writing called “apocalyptic” and while is seems very strange to us, the literary style was common at the time it was written. Revelation is the only apocalyptic book in the New Testament. Daniel and Zechariah are also considered apocalyptic and there are elements of apocalyptic writing in Ezekiel, Isaiah, Joel, and 2 Thessalonians as well as some sections of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. There were also MANY other apocalyptic writings, not only within the Jewish and Christian communities, but there are also writings from Babylon, Assyria, and Greece. So, while it may not be as familiar to us as other forms of literature, Revelation isn’t really unique as a form of writing. The word apocalypse is based on the Greek word “apokalysis” which means to reveal, uncover, or unveil. The word often brings up images of scary movies of the end of the world, zombies, and evil things. But the writings were actually meant to be very hopeful in a time when the world seemed to be falling apart.
Within apocalyptic writings, symbolism was used almost as a secret code that the audience understood, but the authorities didn’t, or least they had no proof of the meanings. John is “revealing” visions that were shown to him but the way the visions are revealed are veiled in images that the first century world would have understood much better than we can. In trying to understand all of the symbolisms, trust your instinct to know the difference between good and evil. The beast, the dragon, the prostitute – all represent the Roman authorities. Revelation contains quotes from 32 of the Old Testament books and when you understand those passages, the new ones make more sense. My guess is, as you read through Revelation this time, you will recognize many of these references and direct quotes from the Old Testament.
John begins by saying that Jesus’ story isn’t over. Although John would probably be the last remaining witness to the events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, he starts off by telling the readers that Jesus was going to be active in the future, just as He had been in the past. Of course there were many in that day (and this one) that believed that Jesus had been real but they did not necessarily believe He had anything to do with their lives in the present, much less in the future. The book is John’s response to that – He is real. He is present. He is coming back. It will cause trouble in the world. He has an enemy. There will be warfare. He wins in the end. Stay strong. The reward will be great.
John sends out seven letters to seven churches. Only the church at Ephesus is familiar, the other churches aren’t mentioned by Paul or the other early missionaries but they form a clockwise circle and were probably a common “circuit.” The letters were meant to be copied and shared with all seven of the churches. The message is clear – there has been persecution and it will continue and will even get worse – BUT – there is a future that involves Victory for those who stay strong in their faith and do not fall under the influence of false teachers and false prophecies. John is shown things by an angel, or perhaps a series of angels, and uses vivid imagery to describe the future battle between good and evil. But, after a time of judgment, it is the Lamb who overcomes and reigns in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Mankind will come full circle back to Paradise, under the Tree of Life. Our relationship is finally restored and the earth is once again as it was ……. in the beginning.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
Weekly Reading Assignment:
- Monday: Revelation 1-5
- Tuesday: Revelation 6-10
- Wednesday: Revelation 11-15
- Thursday: Revelation 16-18
- Friday: Revelation 19-22