A beautiful yet deadly woman sits poised upon the back of a dragon. Both are covered with the blood of innocents. Both sparkle like black fire. Both smell of smoke and strong perfume. Dark clouds boil in the sky, unleashing bolts of crackling lightning. The woman’s nostrils flare as if she can smell the children and saints hidden among her followers. She reaches down, stroking the scaley beast beneath her, already anticipating the sound of its claws tearing flesh.
This may sound like a description of a villain from a fantasy novel, something you would read curled up with a flashlight on a summer Saturday. But it actually describes a scene from the last book of the Bible, Revelation.
Many Christians have never read the book of Revelation, believing it to be too complicated or too confusing. Others have read it over and over to fuel their theories or scare tactics. But, in truth, the book of Revelation is a deep well of hope for Christians of every time in history—past, present, and future.The book of Revelation is a deep well of hope for Christians of every time in history—past, present, and future. Click To Tweet
Between all the strange numbers, animals, and images are gems of truth grounded in Christ’s victory and His promised restoration. They flow through the whole book like a stream of refreshing water, encouraging the believer facing times of trials with the hope of eternity.
Hope to Endure Suffering
This stream of hope begins at the very introduction of the letter when John said:
“I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering and in God’s Kingdom and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and for my testimony about Jesus” (Rev. 1:9, emphasis mine).
John started off by reminding his readers that they were not alone in their suffering, and that Jesus called them to persevere. The rest of the letter flows from this one statement motivating them to endure patiently.
Because Christ perfectly endured suffering on this earth, we have hope to endure it through Him.
Hope of a Worthy Lamb
In chapter 5, we find a glorious image of God’s throne room similar to what Isaiah saw at his call (Is. 6). Just like then, a question is asked, only this time it’s not “Who will be our messenger?” but rather “Who is worthy to open the scroll?” Like Isaiah, John was struck by the reality of sin, and he began to weep. But then:
“…one of the twenty-four elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered…” – Rev. 5:5–6
Andrew Peterson wrote a beautiful song to summarize this scene, it is called Is He Worthy:
“Is anyone worthy? Is anyone whole? Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll? The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave. He was David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave… From every people and tribe. Every nation and tongue. He has made us a kingdom and priests to God To reign with the Son. Is He worthy? Is He worthy? Of all blessing and honor and glory… Is He worthy of this? He is!”
John explained why the slain and bloody lamb is worthy. He said, “…For You were slaughtered, and Your blood has ransomed people for God…” (Rev. 5:9).
Jesus ransomed people—us—with His blood, a feat none other could accomplish. He is our Worthy Lamb.
Hope of a New Creation
Revelation 6:9-11 is likewise drenched in hope. After the Lamb broke the first four seals on the scroll, it says:
“When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. They shouted to the Lord and said, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?’ Then a white robe was given to each of them. And they were told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters—their fellow servants of Jesus who were to be martyred—had joined them” (Rev. 6:9-11).
Even the martyrs in heaven longed for the earth to be made new, for the Lamb to rescue His servants still on the earth, and for God’s wrath to finish off sin and death.
Peterson’s song speaks of this longing too:
“Do you feel the world is broken? (We do) Do you feel the shadows deepen? (We do) But do you know that all the dark won’t Stop the light from getting through? (We do) Do you wish that you could see it all made new? (We do) Is all creation groaning? (It is) Is a new creation coming? (It is) Is the glory of the Lord to be the light within our midst? (It is) Is it good that we remind ourselves of this? (It is)”The true purpose of the book of Revelation is to embolden and encourage us here on earth as those who long for creation to be made new and for Christ to return. Click To Tweet
This is the true purpose of the book of Revelation, to embolden and encourage us here on earth as those who long for creation to be made new and for Christ to return.
Hope of the Shepherd
Further along, down in chapter 7, John wrote: “After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, ‘Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!’” (Rev. 7:9–10). John wanted his readers to remember they were not alone, they were among a great army of past, present, and future believers, all made pure by the Lamb.
Later, John gave more detail about this crowd:
“…They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white. “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve Him day and night in His Temple. And He who sits on the throne will give them shelter. They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:14–17).
This passage brings tears to the eyes of the believer, catching a deep longing within their heart and making it ache – ache for the shelter and comfort of that Shepherd.
Hope of The Word’s Return
In Rev. 16:17-18, John painted a very familiar picture: “Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air. And a mighty shout came from the throne in the Temple, saying, ‘It is finished!’ Then the thunder crashed and rolled, and lightning flashed. And a great earthquake struck—the worst since people were placed on the earth.” The crucifixion reflected here, almost as if John was saying “This is where it all started! This is what it’s all about! This is why Good Friday is good!” In chapter 16, we find another reference familiar to John: “He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God” (Rev. 19:13). It’s the same Jesus that was in the beginning with God, who is God (John 1:1), who gave his very blood for our sins, and who will return for us.This is our hope; the same Jesus that was in the beginning with God, who is God, and who gave his very blood for our sins, will return for us. Click To Tweet
Come, Lord Jesus!