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The ancient Roman Empire defended its economic and political control in spiritual terms, calling its gospel the Pax Romana, or Roman Peace. While in exile on the island of Patmos, a Jewish Christian prophet named John received a vision showing that the cult of emperor worship would soon become deadly to followers of the Messiah. The book of Revelation (or Apocalypse, meaning unveiling) is a warning, circulated to seven cities in the Roman province of Asia Minor. John’s main point is to challenge and encourage the believers in the midst of their opposition and persecution.
Revelation is an apocalypse, a literary form well known in John’s day. In an apocalypse a visitor from heaven reveals the secrets of the unseen world and the future through vivid symbols. While the symbols may appear strange at first, they become clearer when seen in their first-century setting and in light of other Bible imagery.
John’s vision has four main parts, each marked by the phrase in the Spirit. After words of warning and encouragement to each of the seven churches, John’s visions then center on Jesus—his role in redemption and the judgments he brings to the world. The immoral political and economic forces that rebel against God will be destroyed, and the Messiah will triumph over all his enemies. The vision closes with the promise that God’s faithful servants will reign over the new creation.
Revelation also functions as the appropriate conclusion to the entire drama of the Bible. John concludes with images from the Garden of Eden, the first story in the Bible. The world will experience a fresh beginning: He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Revelation Chapter 1 (ESV)
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
- Revelation is a powerful affirmation of the sovereignty of God, the primacy of Jesus, and the certain judgment God will bring on all evil – including the evil one, Satan. We will benefit greatly as we meditate on the glory of God revealed in Jesus, and the ultimate triumph of God.
- With this in mind, read the passage slowly and pay attention to the characteristics and actions of God described in today’s passage. What image of God appears in your mind now? What does it mean to you today?
- Apostle John was worshipping when God’s revelation came to him. Read this passage a few times as you join John in worshipping God. What will you do and say in your worship based on today’s passage?
Stay with God for a little longer. Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you. Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.