Hi, I'm Tim Coombs, co-pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Scotia, NY and a member of the network of biblical storytellers. To learn more about its mission, go to nbsint.org.
The Book of Revelation is a book to give hope to people who were suffering persecution at the end of the first century. It was written by John of Patmos, a bishop who was exiled on the island of Patmos. Writing, we believe, to his seven churches in his charge, and telling them in this time of persecution and suffering, to have hope, that God's victory will be ultimate. Now, the book itself is a series of symbols. It's poetic, it's narrative, and the symbols often come in a series of seven. Seven is a magic number in Revelations. There are the seven letters to the seven churches, and there are seven seals and seven trumpets and seven mystical figures that appear. And they appear one after another until there's the sixth and then there is an interlude, by John, before the seventh seal or trumpet is revealed and with the seventh symbol there is a celebration in the Heavens over the lamb of God. The story continues until there's the final battle with what is called the great horror of Babylon. This is said to represent Rome because it's a cryptic book criticizing Rome and telling the early church not to give in to Rome, but to hope in God, to hope in Jesus. It is finally consummated at the end with a vision of a new Heaven and a new Earth, with God the alpha and the omega. And a new Jerusalem is described, and in this new Jerusalem, there is no Temple. The Temple is the Lord or the the lamb of God. And so though it is used in a lot of apocalyptic predictions about the end of the world, in its original context, John was writing to his parishioners, his people, telling them to trust in God. God will be ultimately victorious over Rome. And that's what Revelations is about.