ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 466


kind of writing that uses striking imagery in a highly symbolic way. For
example, the driving force behind the persecution of believers in these
visions is a dragon, which is later identified as “that old serpent, who is
the devil, Satan.” The dragon summons a beast whose “seven heads”
represent “seven hills”—a reference to the city of Rome—and who is
“allowed to speak great blasphemies against God.” For the original
readers, this beast would have been identified as Emperor Domitian,
who claimed to be “Lord and God.” The meaning of many of Revelation’s symbols can be discerned in this way, with an awareness both of
the book’s late first-century setting and of similar symbols used by First
Testament prophets.
After a greeting to the churches, John organizes the vision into four
key parts, each introduced by the phrase “in the Spirit.” John was “in
the Spirit”
• on Patmos: the vision of the Son of Man and letters to the churches
(pp. 456-459)
• in heaven: visions of God’s reign in heaven and conflict on earth
(pp. 460-473; 478-480)
• in the wilderness: the judgment of “Babylon” (the Roman Empire)
(pp. 473-478)
• on a high mountain: the glorious new Jerusalem (pp. 480-481)
The book of Revelation brings a clear call to first-century believers to
remain steadfast and to patiently endure the suffering that comes from
being a part of God’s Kingdom on earth. But it also brings a fitting close
to the story of the entire Bible, presenting all God’s people with reasons
for a firm hope. God’s first intentions for his people and his creation will
be realized: God will defeat evil and reveal a new heaven and a new
earth, the place where he will come and make his home with us.

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