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A Brief Introduction to the Book of Revelation

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The book of Revelation records a vision received by the Apostle John while on the Isle of Patmos.He was there “on account of the testimony of Jesus.” It was originally addressed and presumably delivered to seven Christian congregations located in key cities of the Roman province of Asia. Most likely it was penned in the late first century when Domitian was emperor in Rome (A.D. 81-96). “A Revelation” The first word of the book is the Greek noun apokalypsis (αποκαλυψις) or “revelation,” from which is derived the English term ‘apocalypse’ and the title commonly used for the book (‘Revelation’).As originally written this word was not the book’s title but designated what it is, namely, a “revelation” from Jesus Christ. It is placed in the first position for emphasis. In popular culture, ‘apocalypse’ is a term associated with the end of the world.Its adjectival form or ‘apocalyptic’ conjures images of global catastrophes, earthquakes, tsunamis, warfare, and the like. But the Greek word does no…

The Counterfeit Religion of the Beast

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The book of Revelation includes a vision of two different beasts; one that ascends from the sea and, the second, from the “earth.” The first Beast is a composite of four creatures from Daniel’s vision of four beasts that he saw ascending out of a chaotic sea (Revelation 13:1-18Daniel 7:1-8). The description of the second beast in Revelation combines langue from two different passages from the book of Daniel: (Daniel 7:17) - “These four are four kings that will ascend out of the earth.” (Daniel 3:1-7) - “Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits, and its breadth six cubits.” In Daniel, the four beasts represent four consecutive kingdoms, beginning with Babylon. However, while Daniel saw four individual beasts, John saw only one and it possessed the characteristics of all four of the beasts from the vision of Daniel. The beast from the sea in the book of Revelation is characterized by its political and military might (“who can make war with it?”). It first appeare…

The Redemption of the Nations

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The book of Revelation presents images that are jarring, paradoxical and, occasionally, subversive.They challenge human wisdom and institutional explanations of how God will consummate His kingdom, overthrow His enemies, and judge the nations. Just as his contemporaries did not understand what kind of Messiah Jesus was, so interpreters often fail to comprehend the Lamb of Revelation. The significance of the visions of this book is missed when we lose sight of Jesus in his role as the sacrificial Lamb who came to redeem humanity, not to destroy all but a tiny remnant of men and women. The clues are there but are too easily overlooked. For example, in the image of Jesus riding a white horse, some commentators see him as the agent of God’s horrific wrath, an enraged Messiah bent on lopping heads off heads with his great sword. He is coming to tread the wine-press God’s wrath; therefore, his robe is stained with the blood and gore of his slaughtered enemies. Perhaps we ought to remember the…

The Victory of the Saints over the Dragon

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In Chapter 12 of the book of Revelation, the “sign of the Great Red Dragon” appeared, a sign that war had commenced “in heaven,” the battle between the Dragon and Michael the Archangel. This “war” is the heavenly counterpart to the earthly events described in the passage: The Dragon’s attempt to devour the Son at his birth from the Woman clothed with the Sun. This “son” is a messianic figure destined to “shepherd” the nations. But the Dragon fails when the Son is exalted to God’s throne (Revelation 12:1-12. Compare Revelation 5:5-12, Psalm 2:7-9). The image of a “war” between the Dragon and Michael borrows language from the prophet Daniel’s vision of Michael standing to fight for God’s people. The victory of the Son by means of his death has its heavenly counterpart (Daniel 12:1). Having failed in the attempt, no place remains for the Dragon in the courts of heaven, an allusion to the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of a great image comprised of multiple materials. Daniel interpreted it to…