Continuing the record of his revelation from Jesus, John the Witness records that he was taken up into heaven, where he was given a glimpse of God’s heavenly glory. But John was also given an extended series of insights concerning a future time of devastating tribulation, which would be experienced throughout the entire world (345).
- These revelations echo what Jesus had told his closest followers just before his execution. But they also elaborate our understanding of the trials which new believers will face, after the faithful church has been removed from the earth. (Among these new believers will be many who previously had been Christian in name only & many who previously had rejected Jesus altogether.)
- These revelations also emphasize a constant theme: For believers on the earth during this devastating time, the only way out of the tribulation will be to go through it, trusting God for deliverance from pervasive persecution & suffering.
Elements of this intensive tribulation, as revealed to John, include slavery, war, poverty, plagues, martyrdom & natural disasters – all on a vastly larger scale than ever before experienced on the earth.
John is also shown that Satan will continue to attack God’s chosen people, Israel, and that Satan will keep up constant attacks on new believers in Jesus. Graphic symbolic language — drawn from several parts of the inspired Jewish scriptures — is used throughout this section of John’s record of the revelation. People will be inflicted with loathsome sores, the seas & rivers will be turned to blood, men will be scorched with fire, people will experience widespread darkness & widespread pain, and the earth will be utterly shaken to its foundations.
Babylon is used as an image of institutions of worldly wealth – more concerned with serving themselves than with serving God. The eventual & total destruction of such institutions is revealed to John; the world will be shocked, he is told.
Despite all this, John is also told that many Jews & Gentiles still will refuse to repent & submit to Jesus, so great & powerful will be their addiction to their selfish sins.
(345) Revelation 4-18