The book of Revelation is a disclosure of history’s final outcome so that believers and the Church may view the present moment in light of the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises. The Greek which the author of Revelation (John) uses to describe its contents is apokalypsis from which we get our English word “apocalypse”. The Greek term means “disclosure or unveiling”. In Revelation, we see the unveiling of the Messiah’s return, heaven and earth re-united, and the new creation that finally and completely establishes the Kingdom of God about which Jesus preached.
Due to its prophetic nature and heavy use of symbolism, Revelation has always been a challenge for believers to understand. However, we must remember that all of God’s Word is “profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16). God did not give us a book to confuse us. Rather, though the imagery takes work to unpack, God structured the visions in a clear outline so that every reader could follow the plot line of God’s story till the end of time and into eternity through the repetition of the number “7.” In the Bible seven symbolizes completeness or perfection, as in the seven days of God’s perfect creation. As God brings history to its perfect conclusion, we encounter seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. Along with an introduction and the conclusion of the whole biblical story, these “sevens” give you handles to grab on to any part of Revelation and know what you are reading. As you read Revelation, look for the repetition of the number 7 and when you encounter it, slow down and consider the symbolism of what comes next.
In the one Book of Revelation, we see God triumph over evil to live with His people forever. God’s story of creation, rebellion, redemption, and new creation with Jesus at the center moves from challenges in the Church to the new creation through evil’s ultimate defeat. We see Jesus at the center of the story for it is only Jesus, portrayed as the lamb who was slain, who is worthy to open the seventh seal of God’s scroll. The wedding feast of Jesus, again represented as the lamb, takes place at the culmination of history at the dawn of the new creation. And it is Jesus to whom the final petition of the entire Bible is addressed, “Amen, come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)