revelation as a satirical poem

The dragon became angry ... and went away to do battle against ... the ones who keep God’s commandments and hold on to the testimony about Jesus. [Revelation 12:17 ISV]

I recently read about a different way to read the book of Revelation. The view sees it as a satirical poem targeted at those who worshipped Domitian, the Roman emperor from 81 to 96. John's apocalyptic story seems to track with some of the events of Domitian's reign. The emperor regularly began his speeches commending his followers for what they were doing right and rebuking for what they did wrong. He demanded his subjects to worshipfully chant 'you are lord' in his presence. John's writing seem to be a direct mockery, rebuttal and condemnation of Domitian's reign and claim of being a god.

Yet Revelation is much more than satire. In it Jesus is revealed as King of kings and Lord of lords. Rulers like Domitian, and their claims of divinity, are put in perspective. John writes to us of a King that subverts the plans of despots and tyrants. A Lord who considers the cries and prayers of people who suffer at the hands of malevolent dictators. John tells us of a time when all will be made right and divine justice will prevail. The book of Revelation speaks to the worst and best of humanity. Of people who bow down to oppressors. And ones who do not bow when faced with death.

I find John's story to be a fitting and beautiful end to, and summation of, the bible.

Help us Lord to keep your commandments and hold fast to our testimony about Jesus.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation

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