We will now shift our attention to The Revelation, starting with the introduction that appears in chapters 4-7. Most of the introduction is taken up with a "book" that has seven "seals" on it. In this chapter we will try to understand Revelation 4-7 and that "book" in terms of technology differences between the First Century
A.D. and the Twenty-First Century.

There was a time when ink and parchment were sophisticated technology. Then there came the invention of paper and the printing press. At each stage the new technology was used to communicate the will of God to the human race. And over time the instruments through which that revelation has come have assumed a sacredness which has been akin to idolatry.

Whether it was the stone tablets on which Moses received the Ten Commandments or Gutenberg's first edition of the Bible on his new press, the artefacts have become priceless.

But God moves on and so does technology. Today we have the powerful influence of motion pictures, recorded music, and special effects. It seems only natural that, at some stage, God would choose to use these media as well to communicate his will to the people of this planet.

When I started reading The Revelation as literature and not as a source of religious argument, my first impression was that it should be a movie. Its imagery, poetry, costumes, music, special effects, and casts of thousands were straight out of Hollywood.

A few films – suspense thrillers in particular – have tried to capitalise on isolated references from the book; but the results have fallen far short of the overall power of The Revelation. The closest thing to catching the true spirit of the book is the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah, and that is based on only half of two verses – Revelation 11:15b & 19:16b.

It was only gradually that I formed a theory that The Revelation might have actually begun as a movie… that John had actually travelled forward in time to "the Lord's day" or to the time when Christ himself was about to return to earth (Revelation 1:10), and he had been allowed to watch a movie which depicted the epic events that would climax human history as we now know it. (Please note: This is just a personal theory, and hopefully will not take away from the rest of what this book is saying.)

John then had the overwhelming task of returning to his own age and communicating to the rest of history what he saw. As a result, the book has remained something of a mystery for 2000 years. It has not been without meaning; but the grand message which so many have sensed it contained has been trapped by the limited dimensions of words and paper, waiting for the age in which we now live, when it could be portrayed on the big screen. Parts of The Revelation have been timeless, and as such the book has not been wasted all these years. But its full significance relates to the people of the 21st Century.

Just as the movie, according to this theory, became the inspiration for John's book, so John's book may one day become the inspiration for the movie. Cecil B. DeMille was once asked why he did so many epics based on the Bible, and he replied, "Why waste 2000 years of advance publicity?" However, in DeMille's case, he was only dramatising stories which were more or less complete in themselves. Revelation: The Movie, or the movie of the book of the movie, would be (or was, depending on your perspective!) what the Bible was actually pointing forward to and trying to describe in the first place.

It is quite possible that any third-rate movie producer could claim to be producing Revelation: The Movie and then proceed to give whatever interpretation to the book that he or she chooses. To a limited extent that is what some of the cheap thrillers mentioned earlier have done already. But I would like to think that there is a specific movie by a specific producer – an absolutely phenomenal production – which actually inspired The Revelation itself, and which is yet to be released. Time will tell.

Certainly there is a powerful message with far-reaching implications, that needs to be communicated to the masses of the Twenty-First Century. If the end is coming, people need to be made aware of all that this implies. And the audiovisual medium seems to be the ideal way to proclaim that message to today's world.
But first, some clues that led to my original theory that John the Revelator watched a movie and it was the movie itself that inspired his book.

To start with, he didn't say he had a dream or vision, as happens with most revelations. He says he travelled through time to "the Lord's day". Tradition says the Lord's day is the day of the week when this all happened. But the Lord's day in the Bible always refers to a time in the future, when Christ will return to judge the world. (I Thessalonians 5:2; II Peter 3:10)

While there, in the Lord's day, John was introduced to a "book". Bear in mind that books in the First Century were not flat rectangular stacks of paper like we have today. A "book" was a scroll. Some very long religious scrolls were so big that two people would carry them, one person holding each end of the pole around which the parchment was wrapped.

If one movie took up several reels, as is the case with some non-digital commercial films today, the entire film (especially if it was an epic of considerable length) might resemble a giant scroll with a single pole inserted through the middle of all the reels. (See illustration)

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John said the scroll was written on both sides. (Revelation 5:1) But he also said that it was sealed shut. It's not easy to say for certain that a scroll has writing on both sides, if you can only see the outside surface. But if the material that the scroll was made of was transparent, then it would be possible to see both sides at once. 

Also, while it is possible to write on both sides of a scroll, it is not very practical. It would be awkward to turn a "page" that was many metres long. But whether this scroll was written on both sides or not, hardly seems worth mentioning… unless John felt it had significance. Remember that transparent materials were almost unheard of in John's day, and they certainly were not used in scrolls. But if he had seen a transparent film it would probably have impressed him sufficiently to cause him to mention it later.
 
Certainly he was very intrigued by this book even before it was opened. He says that he "wept much" (Revelation 5:4) when it looked like he was not going to be allowed to see what was in it.

Of course, apart from credits and the occasional subtitles, most films have very little writing on them. And interestingly enough, when the scroll was finally opened, John made no mention of reading words. Instead, he saw pictures, and they were moving pictures at that! (Revelation 6:2) Note that he does not call this a dream or a vision. The action was actually produced by the "scroll" itself.

John also described the scroll as having seven "seals". (Revelation 5:1) Each time one of the seals was broken, he was able to see a bit more of the action that he was describing. But think about it. Any attempt to put seven seals in a place where they would all be visible at the same time on a normal scroll, would also require that all seven seals be broken before you could even begin to open the scroll… unless you sliced the scroll into seven very thin scrolls side by side, in which case you would have seven seals on seven reels. (See the drawing on the previous page.) If the seven reels were side by side on the same axle, they would look exactly like a scroll, or "book"! And considering that sticky tape, the material used to seal the loose ends of films today, did not exist in John's day, it is reasonable to think that he would have described the tape as "seals".

John was very keen to see what was in this strange "book", but he did not know how to go about reading it, until someone with special authority ("The Lamb") came forward to open it for him and to reveal its contents.

Then, along with the pictures that John saw when the book was opened, were sounds. He compared the opening commentary to "the noise of thunder" (Revelation 6:1), a very appropriate description of what the elaborate sound system in most modern cinemas would resemble to someone coming from the First Century.

From what I have said so far, it is clear that this theory is not based on obscure documents or elaborate rewrites of what actually appears in the Bible. Instead, it is based on an honest attempt to picture exactly what it was that John was describing. Readers should study chapters five and six of The Revelation for themselves to see if this is coming from an overactive imagination or if it may be the most reasonable explanation that could be given for what John said about the "book".

It is tempting to label the theory about John's journey through time as science fiction; yet it may be no more fiction than the miracles in DeMille's Ten Commandments or John Huston's The Bible. God and the supernatural are inseparable, whether the miracles involve parting the Red Sea or a journey into the future. The Revelation was written almost 2000 years ago; yet it depicts things that could only have taken place centuries after it was written. The invention of moving pictures is but a small part of what John saw of the future. This is not fanciful imagination. It is, in fact, more verifiable than the parting of the Red Sea.

As we have stated earlier, The Revelation was written to the "servants" of Jesus Christ. Herein lies the so-called "mystery" of The Revelation. It remains a mystery because so few people are willing to act on what it has to say. However, the sensational aspects of the book have enabled it to survive all these years, while its real purpose has remained a secret because of the threat it would represent to those who are not prepared to respond to its message.

A similar situation existed with Christ. He spoke in parables for the express purpose of hiding what he had to say. (Luke 8:10) People found the stories entertaining, but they failed to grasp their full meaning; and when they did sense something of the meaning, it was not easy to prove. Such was the case when some religious leaders "sought to lay hands on" Jesus because "they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them." They were not able to act on their suspicions because "they feared the people", who apparently found the stories entertaining. (Luke 20:19)

Christ used this technique to good advantage. And the movie industry has done much the same. It has repeatedly challenged the establishment and exposed corruption under the guise of entertainment. Great films like Citizen Kane and The Dictator are just two examples. And the same would be true of Revelation: The Movie. Its appeal to the masses would lie in such concepts as time travel and predictions about the near future. But its real aim should be to seek out and to inspire individuals who are, like Christ was, trying to stay true to ideals which today's world has largely trampled under its feet.

Appendix, Chapter 10

Revelation 19:16. He had on his vesture and on his thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Revelation 1:10. I was, in the Spirit, [at] the Lord's day. And I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet. [Note: The word used for "on" here can also be translated "at" as we have done above. It often meant "at a time in the future", as in Matthew 13:49.]

Revelation 4:1-2a. I looked and, behold, a door was opened in heaven, and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me, which said, "Come up here and I will show you things which must be hereafter." And immediately I was in the spirit...

1 Thessalonians 5:2. "You yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night."

2 Peter 3:10. "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat. The earth also, and the works that are in it will be burned up."

Revelation 5:1, 4. "I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals… And I wept much because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon."

Revelation 6:1-2. "I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard (as if it were the noise of thunder) one of the four beasts saying, "Come and see." I saw, and behold, a white horse. And he that sat on him had a bow. A crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer."

Luke 8:10. "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others in parables, that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand."

Luke 20:19. "The chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people, for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them."