Here is one more blog on the book of Revelation (note: not Revelations). It was written to the “seven churches in the province of Asia” (Rev 1:4). At the end of the first century, Christianity was a tiny minority, a movement considered to be a splinter group of Judaism. Try to image yourself committed to one of those small churches, wanting to spiritually flourish in the mighty Roman Empire. You would be living in an indifferent and sometimes hostile environment, with the increasing pressure to worship the Emperor of Rome.
The Empire was the undisputed ruler of the known world. Roman civilization was impressive. There were signs of its glory everywhere. There were treasures of art and architecture to be seen along with magnificent temples that held lavish ceremonies. Rome had a matchless legal and political organization, all of which was protected by a huge and mighty army proud of all its victories.
Confronted with such an imposing and well organized society and culture could easily intimidate members of the young churches, causing some to question whether following Jesus was realistic. Revelation was written to help those committed to Jesus to be assured that they would be victorious, especially as the persecution increased.
The visions and symbols of the book were meant to stimulate the imagination of believers to see the spiritual reality, one more real than their daily life in the Empire. It was intended to say, “things are not the way they seem.” The book as one observer noted was, “a kind of ‘therapy’ for believers who were in danger of being blinded and deafened by the environment in which they lived.” One such symbol is the Lamb.
In Revelation the Roman Empire is portrayed as a great prostitute with her seductive powers of adultery and idolatry. But heaven declares that mighty Rome has fallen. “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great…For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries” (Rev 18:2a, 3)
It is Jesus, the lamb of God that defeats the forces of darkness. We read in Rev 17:14, “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.” In heaven they rejoice, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise” (Rev 5:12).
All of heaven rejoices and shouts out in victory. God, “has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants” (Rev 19:2). Then an angel tells John, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” (Rev 19:7). And the angel added, “These are true words of God” (Rev 19:9)
Men, the seductive power of our culture which is similar to Babylon is indeed seductive. It has caused many men to compromise. Many men in our churches live in a kind of spiritual stupor because of the influence of the harlot.
Like the Moravians, whose spiritual cry was “to follow the lamb,” I challenge each of you to be a follower of the Lamb. May this be said of us, “These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless” (Rev.14:4).