The Revelation of Jesus Christ Today!
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, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
The last book of the Bible is the strangest book of the Bible. But things that are strange to some are not as strange to others. The style of literature Revelation is written is is called apocalyptic. It is not common in our culture to write or read literature written in such stylized language, but that is not true of the first century people. Because of it’s apocalyptic style, I believe this is the most difficult NT text to interpret and it is the most misunderstood New Testament text.
In today’s message, I want to do the impossible, I want to explain to you the Book of Revelation in one sermon.
The value of the apocalyptic style which is very heavily metaphorical, without direct explanation is that it allows for a text to not be understood by people who do not understand the word pictures used. It’s like writing in code. In the apocalyptic style of writing, there are generous use of metaphor or word pictures. And since the background of the people who read this is a Jewish background, we should expect there to be many pictures rooted in the Old Testament. And this is exactly what we find. The Book of Revelation is FULL of Old Testament allusions. Craig Keener, in the NIV Application Commentary Says:
Revelation, like the Fourth Gospel, is full of implicit allusions to the Old Testament; indeed, it contains more biblical allusions than any other early Christian work, which some estimate appear in nearly 70% or Revelation’s verses. But unlike John’s Gospel it includes no extended quotations of the Old Testament. Many of the allusions recall also the context of their biblical source; many, however, blend various biblical allusions, and Revelation regularly recycles its images. So we must look back to the Old Testament to gain understanding of John’s word pictures.
Standard rules of interpretation apply. The first question of interpretation is what does the text mean to those to whom it is written?
- The Revelation of Jesus Christ Today
Matt 28:20b And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” That is a quote from Jesus to the Apostles, and it extends to all who follow Jesus. Jesus is with us always! Well, what does that look like? What should I expect from a Jesus who is with me, but who I, if I am honest struggle to be aware of?
Revelation answers that question!
- Pictures of Jesus
If we have a specific picture of Jesus, we need to think of why that picture would be meaningful to a first century audience. That is why John uses the image.
Jesus is among the churches. In the Letters in C.2&3 they all begin with a description of Jesus from chapter 1. And it’s all about Who Jesus is and What Jesus can do for them!
Revelation 5 there is no one worthy to open God’s scroll. Until Jesus is revealed as the Lamb who is slain. And what does the scroll contain? Most logically it would contain salvation opened to all who would follow Jesus, but the account of the scroll is more related to history and historical troubles. (Things that are to come.) Some view these troubles as future, but they have already occurred at different times in the past. I think it is wise to view them as “types” of troubles that people who are in the scrolls (for that is to whom the book is written) may experience. In the words of Peter:
I Peter 4: 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory[b] and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
Revelation 12 Jesus is the child caught up to God whose followers are persecuted by the dragon and His beasts, but who are more than conquerors in spite of their troubles over him.
Revelation 19 Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who simply, swiftly and completely defeats Satan and all his hordes. He throws Satan, and his beasts into the lake of fire!
The Son of Man walking among the golden lampstands in 1:18;
Alpha and Omega: Who died and came to life. 2:8
The Lamb who was slain who is the Lion of Judah chapter 5
The Rider on the White Horse chapter 6
Messiah who reigns forever 11:15
Messiah who triumphs over the dragon Chapter 12
Lamb with the 144,000 Chapter 14
Son of Man with a sharp sickle Chapter 14
Lord God Almighty worshipped by nations Chapter 15
King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Rider on the White Horse! Chapter 19
Judge Chapter 20
Lamb on His Throne Chapter 22
- Fulfilling expectations
- Jesus is Emmanuel. He is with the churches who are enduring hardship in the kingdom of God.
- All of the metaphors listed in the letters are things Jesus does for those churches in the midst of their need for growth, repentance and trials.
What is true of Jesus? This is from the seven letters in chapters 2 and 3:
- ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
- ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
- ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.
- ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
- ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
- ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
- ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
- All of the promises for those who conquer by faithfully enduring in obedience to Christ in the midst of trouble are promises that meet the needs of those people.
What is true of those who conquer?
- To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
- The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
- To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’
- The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,27 and he will rule[c]them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star.
- 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
- The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
- 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Compare these truths to the experiences described in the book. What should we focus on?
So, while the expectation that the kingdom of God would be the end of trouble is not met, the need for life in the midst of trouble is met!
And what is necessary in order to experience that life is to faithfully endure in obedience to Christ.
This is the grand message of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. In the world there are troubles. But Jesus is with the churches, giving them what they need for life. They are to trust Him and faithfully endure, receiving life from the Lamb who was slain!
- Necessary because of disappointment
Read Morris page 21, 22 long quote.
The kingdom of God is already, but not yet! Jesus came preaching the kingdom. He established the gospel of the kingdom. He introduced the Holy Spirit for all people to empower the kingdom of God in all people. But the rule of God in people does not eliminate difficulty, temptation, suffering and death.
Those who are in the kingdom of God must still exercise patient endurance!
- Jesus Showing What Must Soon Take Place
Satan is behind all of the trouble. Rev 12-13
- Difficulty because of religious opposition
Synagogue of Satan
- Difficulty because of political opposition
What is a beast? Consider Daniel
- Difficulty because of a fallen world
White: Authority to conquer (Maybe Jesus)
Black: Famine & Scarcity
Pale: And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
Romans 8: 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
This calls for patient endurance!
III. Blessed are Those who Hear and Obey
- Obedience when it is hard
Politically, Socially, Religiously, Economically, it does not matter.
The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever! Halelujah!!!
Jesus says it the Apostles: Matt 28:18-20
- All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me!
Is this true or not. Does it appear to be true? Are we to believe this? What are we to do?
- Make Disciples, baptizing them and teaching them Jesus’ commands.
- Remember that Jesus is always with you!!
- Focus your vision on Christ
He is with you always!
Prayers, patience, endurance, hope, the visions of Christ are true now! If you endure patiently and wait on God, you win every time. It doesn’t matter. The only way to lose is to give up on God and trusting in Him!
Is Satan bound presently or not? Did Jesus bind Satan in His death and Resurrection? I believe that He did. Satan is a defeated foe!! Revelation 12-13. Satan is causing trouble and is defeated by God at every step of the trouble.
Matt 12: 22 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.
- A heavenly future waits for you
Revelation 21: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.