Like a good detective, let's examine this book.
Imagine you had a childhood best friend. You grew up together. You had many backyard adventures. After graduation, you both go your separate ways to start your life. After several years, your friend comes home and he has become a millionaire. He owns many things, has a wonderful family, and looks healthy. He has made something of his life. Can you imagine how proud you would be and how thankful you were to hear of all his success?
I wonder if this could even come close to describing the emotion John felt when he first saw Jesus in the first chapter. While on Earth, it appears John was the person Jesus was the closest to. Maybe the closest we can see of Jesus having a "best friend." Jesus was more than a man, though. He is God. John knew this. However, seeing Him glorified and seeing Him reclaim everything for His own had to have been an amazing moment.
That is what Revelation is. It is not a story primarily about the future or about destruction. It is about Jesus. It is about Jesus taking what is rightfully His. Because of this, we should be careful when reading the book of Revelation. Our primary goal should be to learn more about Jesus and His kingdom.
It is only natural to try to learn more about the future, but any attempt to try to predict the future misses the point of this letter. Learning and predicting are two different things.
This letter is a letter of hope. We should not walk away with fear and dread. We should realize that Jesus sees, Jesus knows, and Jesus will provide ultimate justice.
🙏 Jesus in this Book
(Every book reveals the glory of God, revealed in Christ Jesus)
- The King of kings and Lord of lords
🔍 Things to Focus On
- Lots and lots of imagery
Notice how similar this letter's writing is to the apocalyptic writing of the Old Testament, especially the book of Daniel.
- Notice how many different analogies are used to describe Jesus: Lion, Lamb, Christ, etc
- Christ's future triumph over the forces of evil
- The creation of all things
- The church's final union with Christ
- The end of evil and the devil
Who wrote it: The Apostle John (John the Evangelist) There is some dispute about whether the same John who wrote the Gospel and Revelation also wrote the letters. I lean toward the majority that believes they were all written by the same person.
Martyred: John is the only one of the original 12 disciples who we believe died of natural causes.
Who is the original audience: The seven churches mentioned in Revelation 2-3.
Where are we: The political prison camp on the Island of Patmos
When was it written: This is THE question. There have been many attempts over the centuries to make this letter say many different things.
Some say this letter is predicting the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. This would mean the letter had to be written before 70 AD. If it was, the imagery fits well.
However, the majority of academic scholarship says John wrote this letter while a political prisoner on the Island of Patmos in the 90s AD. This would mean the letter is predicting days to come.
I will admit to being divided on this. While the letter fits rather nicely into a pre-destruction narrative, there is not a lot of evidence outside the book for this timeline. Therefore, I will defer to the majority of scholarship and go with the late view. However, I hold this view lightly.
What is the big idea: The main idea of Revelation has been lost to many. This letter is beautiful in its imagery and scope. But, it has been co-opted to predict the end of time and destruction to the enemies of the Cross. While it does talk about the ultimate defeat of the unrighteous, the point of the letter is hope. There is hope in knowing that Jesus wins. He will remain undefeated. All things will eventually come under His domain and justice will triumph. This should be everlasting joy and peace for those who have been mistreated in this life.
Why is this book important: This letter is important because of its message. It shares the hope of the future glory of Jesus and His church. In the early chapters, we see that Jesus is mindful of what is going on at the individual churches and has a word of warning and encouragement for each. In the following chapters, we also see that He is mindful of what is happening over the whole Earth.
Wherever you are, Jesus sees, Jesus knows, Jesus is with you.
How can I apply it?: Live with everlasting hope that God is undefeated. God is also going to be justice to the whole world in His time. We should be careful to not live with eyes only on what is happening here and now. Think through the lens of eternity. In the end, God will make all things new. Where do you need to apply "eternity thinking" in your life? Where do you need to trust God's ultimate justice?
😅 Something Extra
A word of warning. This book is full of imagery. It has been used by many over the years to say things it simply does not say. Therefore, it can be difficult to read Revelation without some type of bias. My recommendation would be to read the Old Testament book of Daniel first. Immerse yourself in Old Testament apocalyptic literature so you can get a feel for how it flows.
There is also a sharp divide among many Christians regarding eschatology or the study of the end times. Let me encourage you to not let yourself divide from one another over this topic. The truth is no one knows for sure what will happen in the future other than God Himself. After studying all the main end times views for years, my final analysis is... I don't know. Everyone cheats in some way and stretches at least one scripture a little farther than they should. The bottom line: Trust that God will do the right thing, at the right time, and for the right reasons. Live with hope and not fear.
Quick Thoughts on Each Chapter
The Book of Revelation has been a controversial topic ever since the days of the early church. Whether you think of it as a prophetic book to tell future events or a book full of allegory that was mostly fulfilled by the end of the first century, the goal is to remember what it is. It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The fact it predicts things is a side note. It is mainly about Jesus displaying His power to redeem His people and creation. All hail King Jesus!
This chapter tell of a few of the churches that John oversaw. These were all close geographically and John would have had a close relationship as the leader of the local pastors. This is fitting because God usually speaks to us through the leadership He has set over us. The “angels” of these churches are most likely the “messengers” or leaders of these local congregations.
Jesus continues to speak to the different churches about what is going on in their area. This brings me because it reminds us that God know exactly what we are going through and can speak straight to the heart of our issues.
This is an amazing picture of the throne room of Heaven. Much of this is symbolic, but the bottom line remains the same… God is awesome!
Our 21st century culture will start to fail us from this point on in the book of Revelation. Much of what is said was not as much of a mystery to the 1st century person who understood the metaphors John is using. It is also important to understand apocalyptic literature in the Old Testament, especially the Book of Daniel. Therefore, moving through the rest will be complicated, but we will walk together. Today’s reading involves a lamb and a scroll. The “lamb” is a metaphor for Jesus. The scroll is a metaphor as well. During the time when someone purchased land, they would seal up the deed to the land with seven seals. When someone else purchased the land, they would break open the seals to view the deed and reclaim it. That is what John is saying here. Jesus is taking back His Kingdom.
Jesus is opening the “deed” to His land and judgment is falling. God’s Word is telling us that judgment is falling on the Earth as the Lord is reclaiming His creation. It’s hard but try not to get completely lost in the imagery. This is not a literally fluffy lamb fumbling with a scroll. This is a metaphor of Jesus taking what is His.
This chapter speaks of how, in the midst of judgment, people are still serving the Lord. Their prayer in Heaven is amazing. Can you imagine what celebration in Heaven will be like?
Now that the final seal is open, the trumpets signify the King entering and judgement falling. Remember, this is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. All things point back to Him.
This chapter continues to narrative of the trumpets being sounded and judgment happening. It is important to remember the seals are announcing the arrival of the King and judgment on all who oppose Him. Judgment does not fall on the righteous but on the enemies of God.
This chapter is just plain odd… unless you have read the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. Remember this is all happening in a vision. God is using imagery to explain the things to come. In the book of Ezekiel, God also told him to eat a scroll. So why did it taste sweet but then sour in his stomach? Most scholars believe this is a symbol of God’s Word being sweet to hear. However, the result is His words are speaking of judgment so the outcome is not so good.
Who are the two witnesses? This is a question that has puzzled scholars for a really long time and we will not settle the debate here. The two front runners for who these people are is Moses and Elijah. This is mainly because they appeared to Jesus in the Gospels and John would have witnessed this.
Verse 11- This verse is so important because it reminds us of how we defeat our spiritual enemy… with the knowledge of our salvation (the Blood of the Lamb) and by our testimony (our allegiance to Christ.)
Sooooo… a LOT more symbolism. Scholars believe the ten horns/crowns represent governments that align themselves with the antichrist. This chapter is heavy in symbolism but the part you most likely recognize is the is the mark of the beast, 666. It is said here that no one can buy or sale without it effectively making them unable to be part of the world system. This is a sign of allegiance. I personally do not believe it is a tattoo or something similar. It is a sign of allegiance and solidarity with the antichrist. No one will be tricked or surprised. It is a willful act of allegiance.
A lot more symbolic things going on. Bottom line… an epic showdown is forming. The true King is coming and things are aligning.
God is being glorified and judgment is coming. Many have asked, “Why so much judgment?” In the Old Testament, judgment was unleashed when people turned their backs on God. God would remove His protection and judgment would come. Judgment also served as a wake up call and caused people’s hearts to return to God. However, in the last days, people will not turn their hearts toward God but continue to turn further and further away.
The wrath of God’s judgement is being poured out and worship is also taking place in Heaven. This dichotomy exists today. God has endless amounts of mercy and the price of sin God has endless amounts of pain.
The woman in this chapter is a metaphor and many have speculated concerning who she is. The end result is the same. There will always be power structures who come against the kingdom of God. As we will see in the next chapter, all fall.
We are entering the fall climax of judgement. You can almost feel the momentum picking up in this chapter. Evil is falling and judgment is increasing. It is almost time for the true King to arrive!
Here comes Jesus! It. Is. Time! The King of Glory is at the head of His army. He is taking back what is His.
A curious thing. After being placed in some type of punishment for 1,000 years, satan is released for a short period to try to deceive the nations. At the end, the final judgment of all. The Lake of Fire is the final destination for all who choose not to serve the Lord. In the end, God does not send anyone to the Fire. All who end up there choose it by turning their backs on Him.
God makes all things new. That is including me and you.
All glory to the Lamb. Remember, this final book in the New Testament is a testimony of the King taking back what is His. Thank You, Jesus for your ultimate Justice! If you have been with us this whole time, you just finished reading through the New Testament. I’m proud of you.