It’s normal to question the validity of Revelation. Some of imagery seems nuts and it’s hard to be in the waiting period prior to a fulfilled prophecy. The Jews know a little something about that! So, how can we know that Revelation is a future occurrence to anticipate and not the apostle John going crazy while exiled in Patmos?
For now, let’s take a look at the difference between a dream and a vision.
Dreams can come on you after eating fruit before you go to sleep. Usually dreams are your subconscious working something out. Dream interpretation can be eye-opening and show something you need to process or it can be derived from something you watched, ate, or experienced. There are some instances in the Bible where an angel will appear to a person in a dream (i.e. Joseph in the book of Matthew), but there is no question as to whether the dream was a meal gone wrong or a message from the Lord. When Joseph received instruction from the Lord via dream, he woke up and did what he was commanded. As you can see, with dreams, there are many variables to what causes them to occur.
A vision, on the other hand, only has one source: God. Visions in the Bible are typically delivered by an angel who has received a message from God. That is what we see in Revelation 1:1 as John writes his introduction:
“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.”
These verses give the image of a supernatural type of telephone. God gave Jesus a revelation intended for the church, which Jesus gave to an angel, who then relayed it to John. However, in this version of telephone, there is no miscommunication. We’re going to see that John not only received the message but experienced it. He heard, saw, tasted this vision. He was instructed on what he could write down and what had to be kept secret. This message from God was tangible to John and detailed. As you read Revelation, you will see just how specific John’s descriptions are of what he’s seeing. You’ll also find that these details, though confusing to a western mind, would make perfect sense to someone familiar with the Old Testament and Judaism.
You can be confident that John’s vision is legit because it’s the word of God. Prophecies in the past have come to fruition (Jesus, anyone??) and they will continue to come to pass. God is faithful and He does not lie. The source of Revelation is God. He wants you to know what’s up ahead because He loves you. So read away and be blessed!