Revelation begins: “The revelation of Jesus Christ.,” but after that most people hardly find Jesus at all. What comes to mind for most people is beasts, persecution, plagues, a lake of fire, Babylon, 666, and a dragon. Oh sure, it ends with a wonderful New Jerusalem, but “good luck getting there” seems to be the underlying assumption.
Why didn’t John just “tell it like it is”? Why did he use so much symbolic imagery? Let me attempt to answer those two questions. First of all, John did “tell it like it is.” Read the Gospel of John and you get a pretty straight-forward picture of Jesus. According to John 20:30-31 (NKJV),
“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
What about the exaggerated imagery in Revelation? It is because things are not the way they appear. That’s right, what we often think is “reality” isn’t the whole picture. According to 1 Corinthians 13:12 (TLB), “Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now.” The images God showed John in the Island of Patmos exaggerate things to grab our attention. Things are not the way they appear. Here are just two examples.
Right now it doesn’t seem like God is in control on this planet. Hurricanes and fires, floods and drought, and that’s just the natural world. Some are terrified of what North Korea will do, or what the United States will or won’t do. If you say, “God’s in control,” some people will think you’re crazy. It seems like God is NOT in control. And that’s because, “Things are not the way they appear.”
Another thing that seems all messed up is that the righteous don’t flourish, and it seems like the wicked do. That’s just not right. It seems like you’re better off being wicked than being righteous. But that’s because, “Things are not the way they appear.”
Then how can we make sense of the vivid images in Revelation? Friday night we’ll cover four keys for finding Jesus in the Book of Revelation. These four keys will sound familiar to most. But on Sabbath morning we’ll cover three more keys that are likely to surprise you. Are you ready for a revelation of Jesus?