Jesus Reveals (Revelation 1)

AUDIO

MOTIVATE

Marvel Studios created 23 movies in the last 12 years, with more to come[1]: one’s like Captain America, Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor, Black Panther, Ant Man, Spiderman, and Avengers series. The franchise is the highest grossing of all time at $22.5 billion. The fascinating attraction of Marvel movies and fandom is that 23+ movies weave together to tell one story, with the latest Avengers: Endgame culminating the series and grossing over $2 billion in its first two weeks of showing.

Similarly, the Bible has 66 books with 40 different authors (professionals and commoners, priests and prisoners, military men and artistic type, fishermen, farmers, and shepherds) on 3 different continents writing over the course of over 2,000 years, and each book weaves together a single, beautiful story of God’s redemption.

Like many stories, the Bible is a book that makes the most sense when you know the end of the story. The book of Revelation in the Bible gives us some insight to the end, which is really the beginning of all eternity. It’s an amazing book that challenges our imagination, cultivates our anticipation, and comforts us while we wait for all that is yet to come.

The Testimony logo

EXAMINE           Revelation 1

Why Revelation
“Evangelical preaching from the Apocalypse gyrates wildly as it caroms off walls of neglect only to settle into theological opium fields where enthusiastic illusions inhaled from the fertile poppies of human imagination are passed on to bewildered congregants as insights into the minute details of the last days. Attempts to identify the Antichrist by means of numerics may smack of cabalism, but Christian interpreters have, nevertheless, wearied themselves and embarrassed the faith… Prophetic calendars… and gross literalism of almost infinite variety have all been part of the mishandling of the Apocalypse by its most ardent admirers. [AND] If there is something more regrettable than the treatment of the Revelation, it is the abject neglect by most evangelical preachers.”[2]

  1. Revelation is 1 of 66. In 10 years, I have preached either the entire book or a single message from 40 Bible books (not yet: Leviticus; 1&2 Chronicles; Ezra; Job; Ecclesiastes; Jeremiah; Lamentations; Ezekiel; Obadiah; Micah; Nahum; Zephaniah; Zechariah; Philemon; James). Previously, I have spoken 4 messages from the book of Revelation; and now will preach a series through most of the book (W.A. Criswell spent 3 years preaching Revelation!). In all, preaching from the breadth of Scripture – Old and New Testament – ensures the church engages with the whole counsel of God and not just q pastor’s priorities or church’s preferences. Interestingly, “[the book of Revelation has] 518 references to earlier scripture… there is not a single canonical Old Testament book to which the author doesn’t make at least some allusion;”[3] though there is not a single direct quotation. Therefore, to understand Revelation, or any book of the Bible, we must read the others. So, don’t be afraid of this last book and dig in to the word of God.Further, the book of Revelation is the only book of the Bible that promises a blessing for those who read it. Revelation 1:3 “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.” (cf. Rev 22:7)
    Rev 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; 22:14

 

  1. Revelation has the power to reveal. As God reveals himself to the book’s author, John, so too Jesus is revealed to us in Revelation more clearly than any other book of the Bible. We can see Jesus in the fulfillment of God’s promised Messiah, the resurrected and reigning Lord, and the returning king of kings. Revelation reveals the magnificence and mystery of God.One of the specific themes for what we can learn about Jesus and life’s meaning is studying one of the most repeated words in Revelation: “thrones,” appearing 47x. In a world ruled by an evil Roman emperor, Christians needed to be reminded who sits on the ultimate throne with full and final authority. When the world seems like it is spiraling into dark depravity, we need the calming confidence that nothing and no one can rival God’s throne. God’s sovereign power in the past, present, and future should permeate our worldview and lifestyle. Revelation unveils the cosmic authorities behind earthly politics and powers.

 

  1. Revelation has the power to revive. In the early chapters of Revelation are 7 letters from Jesus to local churches. Jesus cares deeply for the church and speaks plainly for each church to repent of its errors and revive its efforts. Every local church should pay attention to the warnings and promises of Jesus.
    The state of today’s church – at least in North America and much of Europe – is in critical condition. The terminal diseases of pride, power, and pleasure have metastasized within the church with the only hope for a cure is repentance and spiritual revival through Jesus. I believe this to specifically be true for us @spbcmd as we seek revitalization to overcome spiritual apathy, lacking evangelistic fervor and missional focus, and having temptations of worldliness. May the Holy Spirit be our Teacher and transforming power to love Jesus and lead generations in the gospel.
  2. Revelation has the power to restore. The first book of the Bible starts in a garden with humanity cursed and expelled from the tree of life. The last book of the Bible ends in a city with the curse reversed and humanity eating and enjoying the fruit of the garden. Revelation shows us God’s restoration acts: reuniting believers separated by sin and death, giving justice to tears and trials of humanity, instilling peace in all creation between earth and heaven.We live in between the time of Jesus’s first and second coming. The book of Revelation stimulates our senses to hear, see, smell, taste, and touch the kingdom of heaven. Our appetites are awakened for all that is to come in the end. Because our gaze is often on present problems and pains, we desperately need a compelling vision of our forever future. The book of Revelation lifts our eyes from the losses of this world to the victory as kings and queens in God’s kingdom.[4]

 

  1. Revelation has the power to ready. The Bible speaks of the 1st coming of Christ 129x, and we have a holiday to celebrate and our entire culture commercializes. But the Bible speaks of the 2nd coming of Christ 329x; more than twice as much. Revelation has intimidating references to raptures, bowls of judgment, plagues and false prophets, anti-Christ’s, a woman who is the mother of all prostitutes, 666, the 4 horse-men, and the Battle of Armageddon. Reading this book can compel urgency to know and live for Jesus.

 

So we begin with Revelation 1 with 2 grand themes.

Jesus reveals himself in awe.

Revelation 1:1-2 “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show 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.”

God reveals Jesus to His servant, first to John and then to Christians and the church of every generation who reads and follows these words, to be blessed by God.

ἀποκάλυψις: revelation or unveiling of something hidden.

  • God is a revealer of mysteries (Daniel 2:28).
  • Whereas God’s promise of Messiah was previously hidden is now revealed through the incarnation with Jesus (cf. John 1:14 word became flesh and we beheld his glory)
  • Revelation to John, the fishermen, son of Zebedee, son of thunder, disciple whom Jesus loved and was with Jesus at the Last Supper and at the cross being assigned to care for Mary, Jesus’ mother. Tradition says John was arrested by Roman emperor Domitian and placed in a cauldron of boiling oil to die but he did not die, so he was exiled to the island of Patmos. A date for this book is early to mid 90’s A.D.
    à Have you ever felt exiled and needed reminding that God is with you and not done with you?

 

And consider the last time John saw Jesus… eating breakfast together (Jn 21) and ascension (Acts 1). John felt so confident with Jesus, he describes himself as “the one Jesus loved and reclining in the bosom of Jesus” (Jn 13:23). But now John sees Jesus and at the end of the vision “falls at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17). Seeing the glorified Jesus changes the relationship from affection to awe.

 

Awe of Jesus…

  • Christ (7x in Revelation; three times in opening verses).
  • Faithful witness (Rev 1:5). Jesus gave testimony as God and coming from the Father. Prophet.
    à God has a name… do you believe Jesus is God? Not “A” God, but The Only God.
  • Firstborn of the dead (Rev 1:5). Death separates the irreplaceable, but the resurrection does the unimaginable to overcome death and offer hope that Jesus is the first of many more resurrections to come! Can you imagine how this might encourage the early Christians who lost loved ones, saw evil persecution and murder at the hands of an evil empire? Priest.
  • Ruler of kings on earth (Rev 1:5). All authorities, governments, laws, and circumstances submit to Jesus. King.
  • “’Alpha and Omega’ says the Lord God… the Almighty” (Rev 1:8). Jesus is the Creator God from the beginning, outside of time, matter, and space, and He is where all creation is headed at the end consummation standing in the presence of God.
  • John’s vision of Jesus is awe-filled (Rev 1:9-20).
    • Son of man {Messianic King as God in flesh}
    • Standing in midst of 7 golden lampstands {Dwells with His Churches)
    • Clothed in full robe, wearing a golden sash {Distinguished Person; Priestly clothes (Ex 28:4; 39:39)}
    • Head and hair were like white wool {Wisdom; Ancient of Days (Dan 7:9). Aged symbolism is offset in new creation without diminishing mental or physical capacity (cf. Prov 16:31 white head is a crown of glory”}.
    • Eyes like flames of fire {Purity & Refiner; likely power to see secrets with burning insight}
    • Feet were like glowing bronze {Man of Justice – work boots}
    • Voice like roar of many waters {Man of significant Power}
    • Holding 7 stars (angels / pastors? of churches)
    • Mouth flows sharp two-edged sword {Discerning & Piercing Motives}
    • Face shines like sun {Radiant Glory}
    • First and last, the living one, I died and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have they keys of Death and Hades” (Rev 1:18). And so many other names…[5]
      • Keys = ownership & power (house, treasure, cars… doesn’t go anywhere w/o keys – look but can’t drive unless you get the keys!)
      • Remember, John and the churches were suffering. They needed rescued from their circumstances. And it doesn’t get any better for the church over two-thousand years later. Instead, Jesus gives the church not what they want but what they need – not subtraction from trials but sustaining strength to persevere. “In times of intense persecution, you don’t need a sentimental Jesus – one part genie, one part therapist, one part life-coach, and the rest a warm blanket; you need a Jesus who is sovereign… and says ‘Fear not’”[6] with a greater purpose for our circumstances & promises to redeem every tear & trial.
      • The Christian life is like viewing a cross-stitch tapestry from the back where it’s all knotted and frayed, and we have to wait until it’s turned over before we can make sense of the picture.

 

  • Awe results in adoration and singing to God.
    The book of Revelation is, quite literally, song-saturated.[7] 15 hymns or song fragments are commonly recognized (4:8; 4:9–11; 5:9–10; 5:12; 5:13; 7:10; 7:11–12; 11:15; 11:16–18; 12:10–12; 15:2–4; 16:5–7; 19:1–4; 19:5; 19:6–8), and some scholars have identified even more. “Music plays a larger role in the book of Revelation than in any other book of the New Testament, and few books in all of Scripture have spawned more hymns sung in Christian worship today.”[8] It is noteworthy that the heavenly worship scenes occur at critical junctures in the book and provide commentary on the surrounding circumstances.[9] In all, we learn that worship is warfare and how God brings His people to victory.
    – – – > Sing your struggles away trusting in the Lord. Worship is with you at all times bc God is.

 

  • Where do you need to see awe of Jesus? My God is bigger than _______.
    From boulder pushed in prayer to God’s hands transformed into pebble in God’s pocket.

    • Over health, over family, over job & finances, over school year, over sin & struggles.
    • “Spiritual growth is about recapturing your awe.” @PaulTripp[10]
      God hardwired all human beings for awe. There is a quest inside of us to be amazed, to wonder, to have something that is so great and so awesome and so compelling that we want to live for it. In contrast, sin is when we awe other things equal to or beyond God’s provision.

 

Jesus reveals himself arriving soon.

Jesus first came to earth in humble circumstances (born in manger, small town Bethlehem and showed great mercy on people with healings and compassion). Jesus’ second coming is promised to be combined with victory for believers and judgment for unbelievers.

  • Revelation 1:4, 7, 8 “From Him who is and who was and who is to come…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…”
  • Revelation 3:8, 4:8 “I am coming quickly… [the one] who is coming”
  • Revelation 16:15 “Behold, I am coming like a thief!”
  • Revelation 22:7, 12, 20 “Behold, I am coming soon….bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done…”

 

  • Jesus is coming visibly.

Jesus’ coming will not be incognito or secretive, he will be visible to all, “every eye will see him” (1:7). This is a prophecy from Zechariah 12:10-14 and Daniel 7:13, as well as Jesus’ own words in Matthew 16:27.

Signs of Jesus’ coming (Matthew 24)

  • Wars & rumors of wars… nation against nation (24:6-7)
  • Famines and earthquakes (24:7)
  • Persecution of Believers, hatred (24:9-10)
  • False prophets misleading many (24:11, 24)
  • Diminished love (grow cold) (24:12) (2 Tim 3:1-5)
  • Gospel preached to all nations (24:14)
  • Great Tribulation (24:21)
  • Activity in the sky (24:29-30)
  • Angels trumpet (24:31, 1 Thess 4:16)

 

More Signs

  • Jewish salvation (Romans 11:25-26)
  • Man of Lawlessness (Antichrist) (2 Thess 2:3)
  • Restrainer (Holy Spirit) removed
    (2 Thess 2:7)
  • Jesus is coming quickly.

Jesus’ coming is to be anticipated since the time and date are unknown. Jesus says he will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night (Matthew 24:42-44).

  • Jesus is coming to judge (Revelation 6 – 18)

Jesus’ coming will bring a series of judgment and wrath on the world because of sin and upon those who were unwilling to repent as they rejected God

 

APPLY/THINK

  • See the heart of Jesus. “To him who loved us and freed us from our sin by his blood” Rev 1:5
    John was apostle of love… but Patmos didn’t feel loving; boiled in oil; persecution; struggles…
  • See the hand of Jesus – The church is in the hands of Jesus. Community is God’s means for redeeming and healing this world.
  • Read Revelation along with the sermon series…. Use booklet to journal notes and questions.- – – – – – – – – – – – – –

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Marvel_Cinematic_Universe_films

[2] Paige Patterson, “Interpreting the New Testament for Preaching – The Apocalypse” Faith and Mission 12, no.1 (Fall 1994): 67-69.

[3] Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination, p.23.

[4] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/kings-and-queens-in-training

[5] https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2011/11/16/god-who-triumphs-revelation/

[6] Quote from J.D. Greear sermon on Revelation 1.

[7] Robert Smith, “Songs of the Seer: The Purpose of Revelation’s Hymns” Themelios 43.2 (2018): 193-204.

[8] Craig Koester, “The Distant Triumph of Song: Music and the Book of Revelation,” WW 12 (1992): 243.

[9] Grant Osborne, BECNT: Revelation.

[10] http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/god-s-glory-must-enchant-us

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s