Hopefully you’ve had a chance to explore a little about the original readers of Revelation, by considering the 7 churches to whom the book was addressed. In this post we are going to consider the original readers, and dig into the book’s big picture.
Revelation for the Original Readers
In the first post in this series, we considered how the book of Revelation has been maligned, and that many see it as too difficult to read and understand. It has even created fear amongst many – fear they won’t understand, fear of causing division, fear of the number 666, fear of the imagery . . .
Now consider our original readers. They have faced persecution to the point of martyrdom under Emperor Nero, and it seems that persecution is only going to continue. Believers need to decide if Christ is worth their lives, and the lives of their families. Are they willing to face more persecution, and martyrdom, for Christ?
Remember this Revelation was given by the Father to the Son through an angel to John. Considering the situation of the original readers, would Christ send a message of fear? Is the main reason for God telling John to write this book to scare the early, persecuted church half to death because worse is coming?
These are God’s words to His hurting and persecuted church! People have made Revelation a book of fear, but it was given as a book of HOPE! It is to proclaim final victory of Jesus Christ, and His people. It is a book of great COMFORT!
As we look into this book, remember the Original Reader. Ask the question: “What would this mean to the early, persecuted church?” They’ve already suffered, and more is coming! They need to see that their lives matter, their choices matter, and their deaths matter. They need to know that Jesus sees their suffering, but that they will one day stand victorious with Him!
Unsurprisingly, the themes hinge around persecution, hope and why God is worthy of their worship in the midst of suffering. Themes to look at when you read Revelation include:
- Persecution/ endurance
- Justice/ wrath of God
- God’s character/ worship of Him in all circumstances
- Conquering Christ (& His saints)
Some key words and ideas that feed into the themes: True/truth; Know (chapters 2-3); Faith/ belief/ evangelism; Eternal life; Godly vs ungodly.
Main Idea and Reason Written
What do you think is the main idea of the book? Has your thought on this changed since starting to dig deeper into the Historical Background of the book?
The main idea of Revelation is truly glorious:
Jesus wins and so do we!!!
Main idea = Jesus, the conquering Lamb!
Main idea = Jesus is victorious, and believers achieve victory in Christ!
Main idea = Be comforted; be very, very comforted!
More of the big picture:
- God’s heart for the churches
- God’s character
- Book of comfort and hope
- Call to endurance
I hope you are beginning to see that this book should bring comfort and rejoicing. It should not bring a moment of fear to the hearts of believers! Yes, there is some uncertain imagery, but the big picture is very clear and we are going to see that it is one of HOPE.
Don’t forget that John is worshipping God for the message of this book. He saw it as a message that would bring hope and encouragement for those to whom he was writing.
As we go through the book, ASK:
WHO WINS/ is winning?
How would the original readers respond?
Next blog we are going to take a look at apocalyptic literature to gain insight into how we should interpret this book.