John, who is in prison at Patmos, writes letters to the church of Ephesus and churches that surround it. His goal is to comfort them and encourage them because they’re living in a very harsh time. These letters are probably written in the 60s AD, shortly before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It was in 64 AD when the Great Fire of Rome occurred, which the Roman historian Tacitus believed was started by Nero, the emperor at the time, since he had dreams of being an architect and redesigning the city. The fire was set in a slum area that he wanted to burn down, but the fire spread throughout the whole city. Nero blamed the Christians. He called them arsonists and blamed them for the fire, which was not true.
The Christians were being persecuted in Rome and even other cities. And so these folks that were believers, living in what would be the Roman province of Asia (modern Turkey today), around Ephesus, they’re worried. “What’s going to happen to us?” And, “How do we live our lives in such a time as this?” The Book of Revelation addresses those questions.
John has a vision, and in the vision in Chapter 4, he sees the Lord high and lifted up. It almost sounds like the theophany that Isaiah experienced in Isaiah 6, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and lifted up” (Isa. 6:1). Isaiah sees the Lord, in much the same way as he now appears in Revelation 4.
Much of the imagery in the Book of Revelation cannot be easily interpreted. There are parts in which we have to stand back in wonder. But the chorales, the songs that are sung throughout the Book of Revelation, are crystal clear, and that’s where the main teaching of this book is found, in ...
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