The book of Revelation reinforces the theistic worldview of the rest of Scripture. God almighty ordains all events, all choices, and all acts of created beings without exception, not only of those who actualize his moral will, but also of those whom he permits to contravene him, for a time and within limits set by him. All contribute objectively to the eventual achievement of God’s plan, some voluntarily and some in spite of their contrary aim, and will be rewarded or punished according to their inner intent. The universality of God’s sovereignty reassures rejected and persecuted Christians that nothing they suffer can thwart God’s promise to bless them in the end; indeed, their sufferings enhance their future glory.
John calls on Christians to go on bearing witness to the truth and practicing good deeds, even when their integrity brings them into direct conflict with widespread cant and they become objects of hatred and oppression. Jesus is the model martyr who triumphed over death and was exalted to the high station of God’s plenipotentiary agent, soon to execute judgment on God’s foes. He holds out to his followers whose constancy brings on them the bitterness of martyrdom the promise of sharing his throne, as he overcame and now shares his Father’s throne.
No book of the Bible contains more graphic images of the coming end of the world. Ever more intense serial plagues torment humankind in the seals, trumpets, and bowls, leading up to an extended taunt over Babylon’s devastation, a gory description of birds feasting on the carcasses strewn at Armageddon, and visions of smoke rising to all eternity from the holocaust of the wicked in the lake of fire and brimstone. Behind such grim depictions is a divine love that spares no expenditure to persuade the impenitent before it is too late of the final consequences of their self-exclusion from the presence of the one God, the only source of happiness. As for those whose names were written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world, the Apocalypse speaks of a new order, where God will wipe away every tear, and death, mourning, and pain will be no more, and God will dwell among his people, and they shall behold his face and reign for ever and ever.