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The Book of Revelations

Let’s look at the Book of Revelation and why it was written. Who it was written for and who wrote it.

The author is a supposed prophet who is called John but doesn’t answer who he is, and John is also a widespread name in that period. John tells us that he is exiled to the island of Patmos, just off what is now Turkey’s coast. He has some vision and begins with seeing Jesus, who he describes as the son of man and a powerful grand figure.

In this vision, Jesus is walking around seven golden lampstands and holding seven stars. The lampstands symbolised spiritual light shining out to a spiritually dark world. It is such a powerful vision, apparently; John faints. Then Jesus explained that the seven lampstands were seven churches of Asia Minor. The stars in his hands are the angels of those churches.

This vision tells us that Jesus Christ is among his churches, and he holds their destiny in his hands. Christ tells John to write about the things he has seen. He explains that these things are happening now and what is to come.

John is instructed to write a letter to each of the seven churches, which he does in Chapters Two and Three of Revelations. The remainder of the book, from chapter 4 to the end of chapter 22, is where the actions happen. Christ dictates these letters to John, and he writes them down. They tell the churches they are not doing well and better shape up, or Christ will take away their lampstand. John explains the problems and warns what will occur if they do not change.

The main thing is John is writing in Chapters Two and Three to Christians of his day. John is connected to these churches and writes a message to them. John expects these churches to listen and is not writing it for anyone 2,000 years later. These churches obviously had problems, and John warned them about what would happen due to their sinning.

The action begins in chapter 4 with John seeing a window open in heaven. He shoots up through this window and then sees the throne room of God. John is beamed up into the sky and lands in a room with a throne. God is sitting on his throne and holding a scroll in his hand. Notice how the artefacts, such as a scroll, fit John’s time. God is not sitting in a luxurious penthouse with television or anything technical around him. He is in a room based on that time and period. John gets upset that no one is worthy to break the seven seals that are on the scroll. John is so upset that he begins weeping because no one has the authority to open God’s scroll.

This is meant to be a God that created everything, yet he can’t save the Earth himself. There have to be some elaborate plans with scrolls and seals. If anyone handed you a sealed scroll today, you would need to figure out what to do with it, never mind open seals. However, the counterargument is that this was a vision for John’s time.

Then, John is told there is one that can break the scrolls: the lion from the tribe of Judah. John is describing Jesus since he comes from the tribe of Judah. However, John can’t see a lion, and there is only a lamb present which has been slaughtered. The lamb, Jesus, again goes up to God and takes the scroll, breaking the seals. Once he begins breaking the seals, bad things start to happen.

The first four seals bring four of the riders of the apocalypse and bring havoc on the Earth. There is war, internal uprising, insurrection, famine, and death. As Christ the lamb breaks the sixth seal, the moon turns to blood, the sun goes completely dark, and the stars fall from the sky. The entire heaven rolls up, which looks like the world’s end.

Here, we have the problem of natural phenomena like earthquakes, floods, and plagues over the last 2000 years. Time after time, Christians believed that these were signs of the end, as John predicted. Unfortunately, Christians are not put off every time centuries move on with all these disasters, and no one appears to save just them.

Luckily for John, it is only chapter six, and there is a long way to go. The seventh seal is broken, but nothing happens, and there is silence. No, wait. Then, seven angels come along, each with a trumpet. As each angel blows their trumpet, more disasters occur on Earth. A third of the Earth is destroyed, with a third of the fish dying in the sea. Crazy disasters happen, the seventh trumpet blows, and nothing happens.

You are then introduced to seven angels carrying huge bowls on their shoulders. These bowls are filled with God’s wrath, which is poured out on the Earth. The Earth is just being wiped out, and the people on it. So there was a sequence of three sets of disasters with seven each. Numbers seven and three are supposed to be important numbers in the bible.

During this, we have a figure rising that people call the antichrist. Well, that is what later Christians call him. In Revelations, he is called the beast from the sea and an enemy of God. So not only is God creating problems on Earth, but the beast is contributing to other ones. This beast wants to gather troops and do war with heaven, and at the battle of armageddon, Christ beats him with his troops.

So, after this battle, Christ destroys the antichrist and wipes them all out. Then, at the end of the revelations, there is a final judgement when people are raised from the dead. I suppose raised from the dead is your supposed soul being placed inside a cloned shell awaiting you. The devil and what’s left of his troops are thrown into a lake of fire. So after judgement day, those who ever lived that sided with the devil also went to the lake of fire. The lake of fire, I suppose, is lava, which John would have known of in his day.

Those who sided with God are given an eternal city on Earth as the Earth gets recreated. So God created a new heaven and Earth, and the enormous city of God descended from heaven. It’s 1500 miles high, wide, long, and made of gold. Gates made of pearl, where the saints will live forever, and none will ever have pain or suffering again. By today’s standards, a city 15 miles wide and long is relatively small than it was 2000 years ago. The 15 miles high is a bit of a mystery, really.

The book ends with John asking Jesus to make it soon, and Jesus tells him it will be soon. This book was written as a warning to the people of these early churches. Moreover, John wanted these people to believe that the world would end in their lifetime. The very fact that people still think it will happen now is delusional.

So, what is the Book of Revelations trying to tell us?

To understand that, you must know the symbols and symbolism involved in the book. In Chapters 13 and 17, John gives away the game on what this is all about. In 17, the prophet is taken away into a wilderness area, where he sees a great beast with many heads, many horns and a grotesque woman sitting on the beast. This woman is adorned with jewels and expensive clothing. She’s a horrific figure who has an inscription on her head which reads, “Babylon the great, the mother of whores”.

She is drunk with the blood of Jesus, holding a cup of abominations in her hand. She is drinking the blood of the martyrs and prophets of Jesus. As usual, in these types of books, an angel is always standing nearby to tell you what this vision is all about. The angel explains the woman who is seated on the beast with seven heads. The seven heads represent the seven hills on which she is seated. Therefore, the woman is the city seated on the seven hills.

Anyone in the ancient world reading that book when it was written knew that it was a reference to Rome. Rome is a city with seven hills drunk with the martyrs’ blood. For John, this was a reference to Nero, who persecuted Christians after the fire that struck Rome. This woman on the beast is decked with gold and riches, which is another reference to Rome with riches and plunder throughout the Roman conquests.

The inscription of Babylon the Great written on her head is another reference to the Babylonians and Romans who destroyed the Jerusalem temple. John is telling his audience this woman is Rome, who rules the Earth and will soon be destroyed. So why doesn’t John call Rome by name?

The reference to the city upon seven hills is a direct reference to Rome for anyone reading it then. John is not scared or hiding the culprit here. John is giving his text a mysteriously simple message that the audience will easily work out themselves. These texts, like many at that time, seem a bit tricky until you get some clues. Like many biblical texts, God’s revelation is not a narrative story. It’s mysterious and esoteric that needs to be figured out.

In chapter 13, the beast from the sea wreaks havoc on the Earth, and the angel later gives clues to who this is. It is a man, and he has the number 666, called the mark of the beast. However, we already have the clue that the anti-Christ is connected to Rome. The first emporer to persecute Christians was Nero. An ancient interpreter would know precisely what was going on here. In ancient languages, they didn’t have separate numerical systems from their alphabets.

The author tells you that if you add the number of letters to this person’s name, you will get 666. Each letter of the Hebrew Alphabet also has a corresponding number; when Nero’s name is calculated, it is Six Hundred and Sixty-Six. Over the last 2000 years, people have tried to give the number 666 meaning for their own era. This was a reference to Nero, the emperor who persecuted Christians in John’s time.

John is not fulfilling scripture. He is talking about the destruction of Rome in his time. He thought it was gonna happen soon. The problem we have, like many other prophecies like this, is when they are not fulfilled. The people tend to move them on rather than doubt their authenticity.

The ongoing problem with current Christians is they believe that the Book of Revelations was specifically meant for them. As did Christians going back 2000 years, which makes them wrong and dilutes the authenticity of the book itself. Even today, American foreign policy is partly driven by a belief in the supposed end of the world written by John 2000 years ago.

The key is to look at symbolism in John’s time, which clearly defines what the vision is concerning that the evil Emporer and Rome will pay for the deaths of the Christian martyrs.

Please feel free to comment on this article. I do hope I briefly explained the Book of Revelations and gave you an insight into how it was important for Christians living in John’s time.

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