Summary: The Revelation was never intended to be take literally. Now, before you get angry with me, let me tell you that I do take the Revelation seriously and I do take it literally. This book is of vital importance.
A. Under the Romans
1. At the time of the Greek Empire, the Jews asked Rome for help
a. The reason was that the Greek King had persecuted the Jews, desecrated the temple, and murdered faithful followers of Jehovah.
b. The Romans were their liberators, at first
c. Then, as Rome grew in strength and influence, they began to require tribute.
d. As the power of the Roman Emperor grew, he wanted more and more power. Power in the very lives of people.
e. At the time of Christ's birth, Rome was interested in tribute and taxes - money and political power
f. As time progressed, the Romans introduced Emperor worship, the greatest intrusion into the lives of the Roman subjects.
g. Their was one major religious group that refused to bow down to Caesar, those who worshipped the God of the Jews. This included Christians
h. In 70 AD, the temple at Jerusalem was destroyed and the people scattered. This effectively ended the organized opposition of the Jews to Emperor worship
i. But, Christians didn't need the temple. They gathered together in homes and other existing places to fellowship and worship.
j. At the time of the writing of the Revelation, Domition was emperor. It was he who had John exiled to Patmos. Under Domition there was very sever persecution of Christians.
2. The Jews also created a great deal of trouble for the Christians
a. Those whom Christ called the Synagogue of Satan, Jews who were not Jews
b. These faithless Jews brought unjust accusations against the church
c. They pointed fingers and told tails
B. Because of this sever persecution, the Revelation was written to a persecuted church to give them hope.
1. John's purpose was to encourage the churches to give them hope. The book of the Revelation was never intended to be taken literally.
2. How could any right thinking Christian possibly believe that a loving God would put His creation through anything as horrible as the Tribulation as revealed in this book?
a. This only describes what is now going on at the spiritual level
b. The Revelation is highly symbolic and for the most part incomprehensible
3. Therefore the Revelation was never intended to be take literally
C. Now, before you get angry with me, let me tell you that I do take the Revelation seriously and I do take it literally
1. But, what I have just been through is the rationalizations of those who would disregard the message of the Revelation
A. First, let's realize that some of the statements made in our introduction are true
1. The church was under heavy persecution
a. We have just been through the messages to the seven churches
(1) Each church typified a specific character
(2) To some, the Revelation must have been a comfort and encouragement
(3) To others, it must have been an irritant
(4) To still others, it must have been of no consequence
b. The Synagogue of Satan was doing everything it could to destroy the church
c. The legions of the Roman Emperor were trying to systematically root out all Christians and give them over as Lion feed
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2. The Revelation is highly symbolic; but, it can be understood
a. Please turn to Revelation 10:1 - 4, here a voice instructs John to "seal up" something.
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. (2) He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, (3) and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. (4) And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, "Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down."
(1) As we can see, the instruction to "seal up" something means to keep it secret
(2) God did not intend for us to have the words of the seven thunders
(3) It might be interesting to hear those words one day; but, for now, we are not given that privilege
b. Now, turn to Daniel 8:26, Daniel had a vision concerning the end times, much of the vision was symbolic and Daniel was given some of the interpretation then the angel tells Daniel
"The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future."