We begin Revelation and I think the best way to explain this book of the Bible is to tell you a story. If I were to say: The Cowboys crushed the Eagles and the people wept. You would know exactly what I was talking about, a football game. But if we buried this statement and someone dug it up 500 or more years from now, they would think that we lived in a land where people were riding horses and slaughtering eagles and it made the population sad. 500 years from now without context and without understanding what is happening in the culture and in the society and the sports culture in which we live, we would have to create a meaning to the phrase which more than likely would be wildly inaccurate.
We do not know all the meaning of Revelation and we tend to make up stories as to what it means. So we are left with trying to discern the meaning behind the stories, and those are much easier to discern. These first chapters deal with the churches that primarily Paul planted and encouragement for them to persevere in the faith even in the midst of persecution. I have always seen the primary message of revelation as no compromise in the face of conflict and persecution. We would do well to hear that message.