Revelation: A review (part 1)

It’s been a while since I read Revelation – the Bible’s last and wackiest book. So I’m going to post a short series on this book, centered around summaries of each chapter. In this post, I’ll look at Chapters 1 through 5.

—– Chapter 1

In this chapter, the author (John) tells us that he is about to relate a vision he received from an angel of God. This vision has its origins in a revelation given to Jesus by God. Apparently God likes middlemen.

It all begins with John hearing a loud voice behind him. He turns around and sees a man talking to him amid seven large lampstands, and holding seven stars. He also has a double-edged sword in his mouth (ouch!). Apparently the lampstands are the major churches, and the stars are the angels of those churches.

The man claims to be the “Living One” who was dead but is now living, and will live forever. (So maybe God cut out one of the middlemen after all.)

—– Chapter 2

This Chapter is essentially a pep talk to the first four of the seven churches. Each church has something good going for it, but the man with the double-edged sword has bones to pick too. Here’s what he doesn’t like about the church in Thyatira (my words in italics):

Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering [syphilis, perhaps?], and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely [yes, probably syphilis], unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead [OK, that’s a bit harsh!]. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds [and slays children – but I guess they already know that from reading the Old Testament], and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:20-23.)

—– Chapter 3

Here, the man with the double-edged sword (who is now also holding seven spirits and the key of David, in addition to the seven stars) gives his pep talk to the remaining three churches.

—– Chapter 4

John is now invited up into heaven, where 70’s sci-fi kitsch takes over. A bejeweled entity of unclear description is sitting on a throne surrounded by a rainbow. There are also 24 smaller thrones, on which sit crowned elders dressed in white. In front of the thrones are four animals with eyes all over their bodies (at this point, the mushrooms must be taking over John’s brain). These animals, and the elders, are locked in an eternal love-fest to God, repeating the same words of praise, and bowing down to him over and over again.

—– Chapter 5

The central throned figure of the previous chapter is seen holding a scroll sealed seven times. John weeps because no one seems qualified to open the scroll (it’s not clear why he thinks it should be opened). Never mind, says a nearby elder, the Lion of the tribe of Judah is qualified to open it. Thereupon appears a lamb that looks like it has just been slaughtered. The lamb also has seven horns and seven eyes. It takes the scroll and everyone (and I mean everyone – about ten million angels and every living creature on earth) sings its praises, assisted by able harp-playing.

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