While I don’t pretend to understand Revelation, I’m sure it contained meaning to the early Christians who read the letter. In saying this, I don’t intend to demean those who say today they do understand it. It is interesting, though, to consider how many different understandings there are: everything from Revelation records something that has already happened to Revelation records something that will happen in the future to a lot of things in between.
We can agree that Revelation contains spectacular imagery. It is beautiful, scary, powerful, otherworldly. One of my favorite passages is Revelation 7:13-17: “Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes–who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor will the scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'”
Several things stand out: the great tribulation; the Lamb; the shepherd; the throne of God; no hunger or thirst; living water; no more tears.
What stands out the most, at least for me, is the language about those in the white robes “who washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Were it not for our faith, that imagery wouldn’t make much sense. Blood stains a garment, particularly if it’s white. If we wash a white robe in blood, it doesn’t make it whiter; it ruins the robe.
But we believe that in the blood of the Lamb there is salvation. We believe we are cleansed by the blood of Christ Jesus. His blood can be used to wash the robes of believers and make them white, however improbable that may seem.
There is power in the blood–wonder-working power.