Maybe I’m getting a little old fashioned, but I really miss the days where we had to watch movies on DVDs. It’s not so much that I’m nostalgic for the experience of popping a physical disc into the player, but because most DVDs gave you so much more than just the experience of watching the movie. They almost always included a special section called “Bonus Features.” Usually that meant you could count on there being at least one or two little featurettes that took you behind the scenes and let you learn more about the people who made the movie and showed you some of the tricks of the trade—that old Hollywood Magic as it is sometimes called.
Well, I think this is a good way to understand what the book of Revelation is all about. John begins the book by announcing that this is “the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.” The word that we translate revelation is the Greek word ἀποκάλυψις from which we get the word apocalypse. It’s become popular to use the word apocalypse describe the end of civilization or the end of all things. But, in its proper sense, apocalypse simply means to open things up. To unveil those things which were previously unknown. To give us a peek behind the curtain.
The book of Revelation is Jesus is pulling back the curtain on this world to show us what’s really going on. It’s Jesus’ behind-the-scenes bonus feature for this movie that we’re a part of called Human History. Jesus wants shows us that the world we see around us with all its sin, violence, apostasy, and hatred of God is not the ultimate reality. Jesus is going to show us time and again that the world and everything in it is under his control—the Alpha and the Omega—the one who is, and who was, and who is to come—the All Powerful. Revelation isn’t a book that’s meant to confuse us—but to comfort us with the knowledge that Jesus has orchestrated everything for the good of those who trust in him. That’s why, when John sees a vision of the glorified Jesus and falls at his feet like a dead man, Jesus’ response is to touch him and say to him, “Do not be afraid! I am the first and the last, and the one who lives! I was dead, but look, now I am holding the keys of death and of Hades!”
You have nothing to fear when it comes to this world. Because Jesus has taken us behind the scenes to show us that nothing is out of his control.