Summary: John gives us an incredible vision of the future of disciples of Jesus and the prophecy of Revelation. Join me in seeing what John saw as we unpack the book of Revelation and see what happens in the end times.
In my last post, I tracked growing in Christian character through John’s letters. In this post, I will describe Christian character development from Revelation.
Revelation is a polarizing book. Some people spend too much time thinking about the end times. Instead of living the Christian life now, they are distracted by every discussion of the end times. Other Christians won’t read the book of Revelation because they don’t find much application in it. There’s too much speculation for them to commit any time to it.
We need to avoid not picking up Revelation and reading it. Anyone who doesn’t read the book keeps himself from receiving a blessing (Revelation 1:3). There are four to five interpretations of Revelation, but this post is about what Revelation teaches the disciple of Jesus about living for Him and pleasing Him. Let’s get started.
Jesus As He Truly Is (Revelation 1)
John is imprisoned on the island of Patmos for His faith in Jesus. He seems just as surprised as we are on the Lord’s day (Sunday) to meet the Lord Jesus (Revelation 1:9-10). But when he turns to look behind him, John sees a different-looking Jesus than the one he walked beside for three and half years.
John’s description of Jesus shows up again in the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor. So, let’s break down the imagery to help us see Jesus and understand Him better. Jesus is standing in the middle of seven golden lampstands (the churches). Jesus is with us. He is in our midst even if we don’t realize it. He walks with us. He sees what we go through.
He is the Son of Man who takes His place on His throne. He wears a long robe of authority and kingship, with a golden sash around His chest, showing His wealth and power. His hair is white, showing His wisdom, the Wisdom of the Ages. By His wisdom we please Him as he gives us practical intelligence about everything we face.
His eyes are flames of fire, showing His justice and judgment of the disobedient. His feet are like burnished bronze that is refined in a furnace. So, He refines each of us as we suffer the fires of tribulations and trials. His voice is like the roar of many waters. It is a voice of authority, the same voice that brought creation into existence. We must listen and obey Him.
He held seven stars in His right hand. These are the seven angels, or overseers, of the seven churches. They are in His control. From His mouth comes a sharp two-edged sword, the sword of His word. What He says cuts to the heart and is the absolute truth. His face is like the sun shining at full strength. It shows His glory and gives light to every situation. Like John, when we see Jesus, we fall at His feet and worship Him.
Lessons from the Churches (Revelation 2-3)
Due to space, I will summarize each church and what we can learn from it. We focus on what they are doing right, wrong, and their reward. In those, and Jesus’s reply is a lesson for every disciple of Jesus.
The church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7). They worked good works for the Lord, endured patiently, and had not grown weary. In all their doing, they had abandoned Jesus, their first Love. They were doing things for Him, but they were not spending time with Him. They loved what they were doing. They must repent and do the works they did at first, for the right reasons and Person. The overcomer will eat from the tree of life in heaven.
The church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11). They dealt with tribulation and poverty and were about to be thrown in prison for ten days. There is no negative, only encouragement from Jesus. The overcomer will not be harmed by the second death (the lake of fire).
The church of Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17). They have some who hold to false teachings. They must repent, or Jesus will return and war against these false teachings. The overcomer will receive some of the hidden manna and a white stone with a new name only the overcomer would know.
The church of Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29). They had love and faith, their latter works seated the first works. But they tolerated false teaching and a false teacher. Those who weren’t involved in such sin must only hold fast until the end. The overcomer will receive authority over the nations.
The church of Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6). They had the reputation of being alive, but they were dead. They must remember what they received and repent. Some leaned faithful. The overcomer will be closed in white robes, his name will not be blotted out of the Lamb’s Book of Life, and He will announce your name to the Father.
The church of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13). They had an open door Jesus gave them to walk through. They had little power, but Jesus made them powerful. They remained faithful. Jesus will keep them from the hour of trial because they know patience. The overcomer will be a pillar in the temple of God, and Jesus will write God’s name on him, and the new Jerusalem.
The church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22). They were lukewarm. Jesus would spit them out of His mouth. They thought they were rich, but they were the opposite in every way. They should buy eye salve to see clearly. They should repent and open the door to Jesus. The overcomer will sit on Jesus’s throne.
What Heaven Will Be Like (Revelation 4-5)
God is on an amazing throne. Close your eyes and try to imagine what you read from Revelation 4. Twenty-four elders sit around the throne and cast their crowns before Him. Only He is worthy to wear a crown. There are four creatures unlike anything else in creation, and they worship Him.
Meet the songs of worship happening around the throne. Heaven is going to be awesome! Only Jesus the Lamb can open the scroll because of His sacrifice. He elders and creatures worship Him because He can open the scroll. More songs of worship flow. All of creation worships Jesus because He is worthy. He doesn’t have to earn your worship. But you must give it! Don’t wait until heaven to praise and worship He who is worthy.
God’s Judgment Is Real (Revelation 6, 8-13, 14:6-18:14)
Some theologians see the judgment of God in 21 judgments, and others see three sets of seven judgments. God releases the seals, bowls, and trumpets as judgments. Has God unleashes each set of judgments against the world for its wickedness and unbelief, the judgments get worse. I prescribe to the three sets of seven judgments because the judgments in each set are similar and keep getting worse. It’s illogical to have earth be severely destroyed and then go back and start over to destroy it to the same level in the next set of judgments.
God uses the angels to distribute His judgments against the earth. There are things here that John may not have known how to interpret explained as he writes about the future. As with all Bible prophecy, sometimes the same events are referred to in different ways. John writes what he sees, not that he understands future events and technology. He probably equates it to his understanding and time.
One thing is sure. You do not want to be on God bad side. He will be relentless after this age of grace&, when we are no longer on the earth. God does not pour out judgment on His children, we do not have to be concerned that we will suffer the same fate as wicked people on the earth. But everyone must realize the terrible judgment of God poured out. The time is short, and we must make every opportunity to witness about Jesus in this age of grace.
God Seals the Faithful (Revelation 7:1-8, 14:1-5)
Revelation 7 and 14 describe 144,000 Jewish men who have been faithful to Jesus that are still on the earth during God’s judgment. Counter to the Mark of the Beast given by Satan’s puppets to make people subservient to them and worship them, the Seal of God protects the followers of Jesus against the wickedness of the world and God’s judgment.
Although we will not be there, it shows that even now God has sealed and protected us from the wickedness of this world. We may be persecuted, but we do not have to do what the world does. In fact, we should not. As we show our allegiance to Jesus, He protects us from any harm we could face. Even if we suffer momentary trials, our allegiance does not waver. We know God has plans we don’t understand right now.
An End to Suffering for Jesus (Revelation 19-20)
While the people on earth suffer God’s righteous judgment and wrath, we will be rejoicing worshiping God in heaven. When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He told the disciples He would not eat of the fruit of the vine until He was with them again (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18).
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb is that moment. We will drink and eat with our Lord in heaven as God’s judgment falls on the wicked and unbelieving. It’s only the beginning of what will take place in eternity. After this great banquet, we will ride into battle for the last time with Jesus at the Battle of Armageddon. After a thorough, powerful, and stunning victory over all the wicked of the earth, Jesus will rain on earth for a millennium.
We will see Satan and all his allies finally destroyed in the lake of fire. Then comes God’s final judgment of all the dead. At the Great White Throne judgment, books will be opened and the dead will be judged. We whose names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life will only be judged according to our works for Jesus. Those whose names are not in the Book will be judged and thrown into the lake of fire with Satan.
Our Inheritance for Eternity (Revelation 21-22)
God reveals to John the new heavens and new Earth prophesied by Isaiah and others. It is for us as God’s people who remained faithful to Him. A beautiful city that resembles us as Jesus’s bride and time will not exist, and a dwelling place for us and God. For the first time since the Garden of Eden, we will walk with God in His physical presence.
It will be an amazing place. Forever we will dwell with our Lord and God. The Bible doesn’t tell us all the things we will do for eternity. It must be much greater than what we do here. The river of life will be in the city, and the tree of life will be there too. It’s a bit different from the Garden of Eden, as we will live in a city instead of a garden. But it will be the best inheritance anyone could ever imagine.
The Message of Revelation for Us
Throughout the book of Revelation, the constant message to us has Jesus’s disciples is to remain faithful to Christ. We must have allegiance that does not waver no matter what we encounter. Stand firm against the enemy, temptation, persecution, and every evil you face. Do not give your allegiance to anyone or anything but Jesus.
The time is short, and we must remain strong as the events signaling the end times. The science of and will become stronger and stronger, getting bigger than anything that has happened in history so far. That is how we know our allegiance is about to be rewarded by Jesus. Stay strong in the face of adversity until the coming of Jesus. It will be worth it!
Has the Holy Spirit been speaking to you throughout this post about anything you have read? Take it to Him and ask Him what He wants to do in you.
With Revelation, we have finished studying through the books of the New Testament on Christian character development. Next, we will look at how to face trials and suffering as a disciple of Jesus.