The Book of Revelation is deep, deep like a Yeats poem or that movie The Matrix. It contains prophecy wrapped in symbolism explained by the Apostle John who was doing his best to describe things he did not fully understand. John, the last living disciple, had been exiled to a small island in the Mediterranean Sea by the Romans who were sick of him talking about Jesus all the time. John had seen Jesus resurrected from the dead.
I met Jerry Lee Lewis once and I still talk about it. He showed up at a nightclub on the night of my bachelor party. (Note: I wasn’t following Jesus very much in those days.) He was long past his hell-raising prime but looking to resurrect his career. He’s still alive, his career is still dead.
In chapter 4 John is given a vision of heaven. His described a church service like nothing we’ve ever seen, with creatures that looked like eagles and oxen and elders. Not your typical Presbyterian meeting. They all worshipped God, saying “holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” Bible experts say that the creatures John saw represented the attributes of God. I don’t know much about that, but I do know that worshipping God is very important. In fact, it is why people exist… to give God glory.
In chapters 5-9 John writes about a scroll with seven seals. The scroll contains a glimpse of the future. In chapter six he mentions the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which some say represent pestilence, war, famine and death (my opinion: Kim, Khloé, Kourtney and Kanye).
When the fifth seal is opened, John gets a glimpse of all the martyrs who have suffered and died for the cause of Jesus. He likely saw people who are suffering and dying for Jesus right now in places all around the world. Keep in mind that God is not bound by time. Boggles the mind, right? Open Doors, a persecution watchdog group, said that 7,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2015. Christian persecution is real, horrific and occurs every day around the world. American believers live in a fantasy bubble.
The sixth and seventh seals contain images from the end times; the final battle between God and Satan, natural disasters, war, Armageddon, and a celebration in heaven for God’s great victory.
The final three chapters (11-13) of Revelation speak of Satan’s imprisonment (in hell, we presume), a final judgement and the creation of a new heaven and a “New Earth.” This New Earth will be life as God originally planned it, before Adam and Eve goofed up everything.
The purpose of Revelation is not predicting the future; it is to emphasize the preeminence of Jesus. “Preeminence” is one of those churchy words that simply means Jesus is the most important person ever. More important than Plato, Gandhi, Einstein or Tom Brady.
In one of John’s other books, the Gospel of John, he refers to Jesus as “The Word.” He writes, “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He (Jesus) was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him (Jesus), and without him (Jesus) was not anything made that was made. In him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men. The light (Jesus) shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
According to Revelation, Jesus is a big deal, in fact, the BIGGEST DEAL. Certainly more important than Jerry Lee. He (Jesus, not Jerry Lee) is the focal point of creation and all of history. God revealed that fact to John in a vision. The Book of Revelation is John’s version of the vision.
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.’” – Revelation 1:17-18