The messages in this book remain extremely significant because it foretells what will happen before and after Jesus returns. This book is not “shrouded in mystery.” The opposite is true because “revelation” means “unveiling,” “opening,” or “revealing” and it will continue to remain wide open because it is Jesus’ book – which is why it begins with “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Revelations leaves specific messages for the seven major churches of early Christianity, urging them to hold fast and to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church. A special blessing is pronounced upon all those who read it and heed its counsel (Revelation 1:3; 22:7).
The seven churches below represent seven different kinds of people in the history of the Church from the time of Paul until the return of Jesus:
- Ephesus – forsook it’s first love;
- Smyrna – suffered persecution;
- Pergamos – needed to repent;
- Thyatira – had a false prophetess;
- Sardis – had fallen asleep;
- Philadelphia – the church that endured patiently; and
- Laodicea – had lukewarm faith.
Whether you are in Philadelphia now, Laodicea, or any one of the 7, Revelations 22:12 says everyone will receive their reward according to their works. Revelations 14:6-14 gives three precise points on what God’s church should be preaching in the last days:
1. God commissioned His church to take the gospel to all people, telling them to fear God and worship Him before the judgment comes. The Bible says before Jesus’ second coming, Elijah will come (Malachi 4:5). That is very fitting since it was Elijah (1 Kings 18:21) that urged the people to make up their minds whom they would serve. John the Baptist did come and asked people to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The bible says John was Elijah which was to come (Matthew 11:14-15).
2. An angel said “Babylon is fallen” – so what is Babylon? Babylon’s roots are from the Tower of Babel. Noah’s great grandson Nimrod was their leader and he wanted to build an empire starting with the tower, under his authority, but God confounded their language and scattered them. Though they left off building the tower and the city, Babylon (which is modern day Iraq) was completed by the Amorites with Hammurabi as its 6th King. (Do you remember the Hammurabi Code? It brought law and order to that region by using harsh punishments which were swift and certain. If you stole something, your hand got cut off, etc.). Through King Hammurabi, trade increased along with military power, culture, wealth and commerce, but especially corruption in leadership and idol worship. Idolatry was rampant due to the fact that too much, or too little rain could wipe out a years supply of food so they used chilling rituals to “appease the gods.” Even though Babylon should have been totally dedicated to God because of Noah’s descendants, because of idol worship, the average citizen was completely cut off from the knowledge of the true God. As a matter of fact, because of pride, arrogance, materialism and corruption, Babylon’s ideology continued to oppose God at every turn. Babylon represents the world. The world represents a godless society. Though our world is preoccupied with “religion,” it does not honor the true and living God. Later the Hittites conquered Babylon, then the Assyrians under King Sennachrib, then the Chaldeans conquered Babylon, Nineveh and Egypt, and then Nebuchennezar took over Babylon and conquered Jerusalem, Judah, Jericho and Samaria.
We know Nebuchennezar’s background through the book of Daniel. His kingdom was certainly very great, and ancient ruins reveal he had an eye for building grand monuments and cities just like Ramses did in Egypt, and just like Solomon’s temple. He absolutely had the grandest and greatest empire in history, but power, prestige and pride caused God to step in to show him who was REALLY the greatest king! Daniel tried to warn him, but pride stepped in and he crossed the line. For 7 years he was labeled insane and driven from men until he understood that “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will (Daniel 4:32).” You’ll remember that Daniel, Shadrach Mishach and Abednigo continually stood up to the king’s materialism and idolatry. Daniel faced the lion’s den, and the 3 Hebrew boys faced the fiery furnace. The “spirit of Babylon” still lives to this very day. Materialism, could be your “Tower of Babel.” Maybe it’s idolatry. Babylon still represents the same things it did back at the Tower, up through the “writing on the wall (Daniel 5:25),” and on up to modern day Iraq which is 97% Muslim. In Revelations 18:4, God’s people are asked to “come out of Babylon. . . that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Naturally speaking – Saddam Hussein was not the only reason to leave, and it’s no coincidence that by the end of this year, all U.S. Military Forces will be withdrawn from that country. Spiritually speaking – I liken “come out of Babylon” to John’s plea in 1 John 2:15 – “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” because we are to be in the world, but not of it.
3. Lastly, Revelations shows an angel saying if any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead – he will receive God’s wrath. I don’t know for certain who the beast is or what the mark is (though I have my theories) but I know enough not to take a mark that would be received in my right hand, or in my forehead! (Revelations 13:16)
In conclusion, I do not consider this article to be an interpretation of the book of Revelations, but a quick reference to it. Just in case you haven’t read it lately, let this be a reminder that we should have our eye on “The Holy City” which is the “New Jerusalem” spoken of in Revelations 21:9 – which is described as having an incredible amount of splendor – much greater than Bablylon ever had! Have a blessed day!