Revelation means literally ”an unveiling.” When a new work of art is being presented to the public for the first time, there is an official unveiling. The Book of Revelation is the unveiling of the handiwork of God. John is invited to enter (“Come up here!” 4:1) into a heavenly gallery of visions painted by the Artist on the fabric of time and space. Revelation is the grand opening of a divine art exhibit! If you want to understand Revelation, read it with artist’s eyes.
John was on the Aegean island of Patmos (I like to picture him on the beach), deep in prayer and meditation “in the spirit on the Lord’s Day” (1:10). Suddenly the curtain separating earth and heaven, the material from the spiritual, was pulled back. The lid of the ark was taken off, the fabric of space and time was torn asunder, the veil separating the outer court of earth from the heavenly Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom. And John saw with spiritual eyes.
He who has eyes to see, let him see. There is a spiritual reality right before us, but we do not usually see it. The Kingdom of God is in our midst, all around us, and within us (as Jesus is variously translated as saying in Luke 17:21) but we do not see. We do not see unless the eyes of our heart are enlightened by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Revelation is an invitation to John – and to us – to experience a different level of reality.
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:17-19)