- ABOUT US
- Calendar and News
- READING PLAN
- The Chosen
The Book of Revelation
There’s a story told of a husband and wife both who were both doctors, one a doctor of theology and the other a doctor of medicine. When someone comes to their house and asks for “the doctor,” the maid replies, “The one who preaches or the one who practices?”
We know the theory of Christian living, but now we must practice it! This is what the Apostle John tells us in the blessing that comes from the Book of Revelation.
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it.” (Revelation 1:3 NKJV)
With this clearly in our preview, let’s take a look at what the Apostle John continues to say as He sees Jesus Christ in heaven.
Read Revelation 1:9-20
As a refresher, Patmos was a small barren island located in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Italy. It was one of the main island penitentiaries of the Roman Empire. Today we’d liken it to Alcatraz off the coast of California in the San Francisco Bay where the really bad guys are sent.
The Apostle John was in his 80’s when they sent him there and it’s believed that Revelation was written around 95 or 96 AD.
The Emperor Domitian sent him there to punish him because of his preaching of the gospel. John says, “(he) was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 1:9b NKJV)
It was intended to punish and isolate him putting him where he wouldn’t be able to continue to preach the Gospel. It’s a great example of how the devil tries to use circumstances to discourage, punish, isolate, and put us in a place where we feel unable to continue with God’s calling upon our lives.
This should be nothing new to believers as Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b NIV)
John Our Companion
“I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 1:9 NKJV)
While John is an Apostle and Elder of the church, he sees himself as one of the guys, that is, a brother in the Lord. Believers, whether rich or poor, male or female, Jew or Gentile are one family, we’re all children of God and heirs, all with the same hopes and inheritance.
And as such John identifies with their suffering. John shares the same types of difficulties, afflictions, and temptations as we all do for the Kingdom of God, which is achieved through patient endurance.
That’s what we need, patient endurance. The question isn’t “Why me,” but rather it’s more “Why not me?” John understood that we all go through times of tribulation when we follow our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. John was actually doing hard time because of it. And so like John we need to patiently endure.
John found himself doing time because he refused to compromise His faith and the testimony of Jesus Christ. And John is no different than all those who follow Jesus and who are willing to accept persecution because of it.
We see the same faithfulness from John’s disciple, Polycarp, who was burned at the stake for refusing to recant his faith. He said, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any wrong. How could I blaspheme my King and my Savior now?”
Both the historic church as well as the church throughout the ages is filled with such testimonies of all those who are making this same choice, choosing death rather than denying God’s word and their Lord.
Even in the time of Tribulation, this is the testimony of the saints who refused to deny their faith. It says of them, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12:11 NIV)
It says of them that they were beheaded for their witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and refused to worship the Anti-Christ and receive his mark on their foreheads or back of their hands, Revelation 20:4.
John Was In The Spirit
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet.” (Revelation 1:10 NKJV)
The identification of what is “the Lord’s Day,” has brought some debate amongst the scholars.
Let me just say that sometimes theologians get so caught up in the minutia that they miss out on what is trying to be said. Jesus said the same to the Pharisees.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” (Matthew 23:23 NKJV)
I like to bring some balance, and since we’ll never know which it was, why not incorporate both that will not do harm to the passage. John could have been in the Spirit on the first day of the week, that is, Sunday, to celebrate in absentia with the church, when the Spirit took him forward to the future Day of the Lord to show Him what was going to happen so He could write it down for all of us.
And so John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. This doesn’t mean John had a vision, but rather the Spirit carried him beyond his normal senses into a state where God could speak to him with clarity and power.
In the Spirit refers to an experience beyond our normal senses, but still within them. It was how the Lord reveals supernaturally what He desires to show His people through His people. Like He did for Ezekiel and the valley of Dry Bones:
“The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones” (Ezekiel 37:1 NKJV)
Further, John being in the Spirit on Patmos reveals it’s not the environment around us that determines a work of God; rather it’s the condition of our hearts much like Paul and Silas’ experience in the jail at Philippi, where God rocked the prison because of their praise.
And when you look at John, Paul, and Silas and then think about how hard it is just to get people to come to church, no less be in the Spirit when they get here, we fully comprehend that our hearts are more attuned to the world than they are to the Lord.
But what a beautiful thing it is to come together with other believers and be in the Spirit. Look at what happened when this occurred on the Feast of Pentecost, they were all baptized and filled and the church was born.
And so we need to come with a spirit of expectancy and anticipation for the Holy Spirit to move so we can fully live, move and have our being in Him in, Acts 17:28a.
Are we in the Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit having His way in our lives today?
This calls for the next thing we see …
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet … Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me.” (Revelation 1:10, 12 NKJV)
What’s interesting is John said he saw “One like the Son of Man.” In other words it was the Jesus he remembered on earth and in His transformed state, but now in a way He had never seen before.
Here’s the point; John would never have seen Jesus in this way if he hadn’t turned.
It was only when John turned, and it’s only when we turn, that is, when we repent that we’ll see Jesus as we’ve never seen Him before, and we’ll hear Jesus in a way never before experienced.
If the world has our attention, if our heart is set on the things of this world and it’s voices of philosophy, science, and psychology, then we’ll never truly hear God’s voice nor see His glory.
This is why Jesus says, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 29; 3:6, 16, 22; 13:9)
Jesus’ voice is like the sound of many rushing waters. It’s a voice of power and authority shattering the sound of everything else, eliminating the voices of this world. I’ve never been to Niagara Falls, but those who’ve been there says that it’s so loud it drowns out every other sound imaginable.
The prophet Jeremiah said that the Lord will roar on high; He will thunder from His holy dwelling and roar mightily against His land. The sound of His voice will be heard throughout the earth, Jeremiah 25:30-31.
We need to turn and repent to allow God’s voice and God’s word to drown out the voice of this world, the voice of our own flesh, not to mention Satan’s voice.
And when John turns he sees Christ as He has never seen Him before. His hair was extreme white, his face shined like the sun in full strength, His eyes burned of fire, out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and His words were the sound of many waters. Along with this John saw Jesus wearing the robes of authority; that of priest, king, and judge, and His feet were of refined brass, Revelation 1:13-16.
The Son of Man is a title for the Messiah, and although Jesus appeared like what John remembered when He was transfigured before him on the Mount of Transfiguration, now he was different, now He is in His glorified form, and was probably what the prophet Daniel saw when He saw Jesus going up to the Father described as the Ancient of Days.
“The Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him.” (Daniel 7:9-10 NKJV)
This is a picture of the Father whom “One like the Son of Man” came before, “coming with the clouds of heaven,” and He was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom, and all peoples and nations will service Him, and His kingdom and dominion will be forever, Daniel 7:13-14 NKJV.
What we see is a picture that looks a lot like the Father, but this really doesn’t bother me all that much because of what Jesus told Philip, “if you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” (John 14:9 NKJV)
Most commentaries get caught up in His appearance, but in short they reveal the three aspects or positions Jesus now holds, which is talked about in the Scripture, and that is King, High Priest, and Judge.
And while I could spend a whole sermon on each, I’d like to stay with His countenance, because it was when John saw this vision of Jesus he hit the ground as if he were dead.
It was the same brilliance that cause Peter, James and John to hit the ground on their faces at the Mount of Transfiguration, and that blinded Paul sending him likewise to the ground.
Is it any wonder that when John saw the glorified Jesus he fell at His feet as though dead.
John probably thought he was dead given the experience of others who saw the face of God.
Others who saw the Lord thought the same thing.
Humans cannot see God, John 4:24. God said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20NKJV)
But Jesus said to John not to fear because the keys of death and hell are now under His authority and control. Jesus got them from Satan after His death and resurrection.
“That through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14b-15 NKJV)
Let me just say that if you are fearful or anxious in any way, the Apostle Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NKJV)
Jesus touches John telling Him not to fear. What this tells me is that the greatest cure for our fears and anxieties is the personal presence and touch of Jesus Christ.
John The Reporter
“What you see, write in a book … Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.” (Revelation 1:11b, 19 NKJV)
John is told to write down what he is told and what he has seen to the seven churches that are in Asia. Now, many have debated just what these seven churches represent.
The number seven would indicate these are representative of the church with the Lord Jesus Christ being the head. Therefore they talk about it being the seven ages of the church.
The problem with such a division is that we see in history parts of one church age bleeding into another, or found early or later on.
This leads us to the second possible answer, which is they represent Christ church throughout the ages, and whose characteristics are seen in the church of today. This is what we’ll explore next week as we do an overview of these seven churches.
But since I’ve talked about not getting caught up in the minutia, and that there can be a balance, and since we’re not told exactly what these represent, simply that they are churches in Asia at the time of this writing, let me give you my view, and that is they represent the church from its inception until now.
John is introduced to them as Jesus is standing in the middle of these seven golden lampstands that John identifies as the seven churches, Revelation 1:20.
Lampstands are not the light; the fire that becomes the light comes through the oil that’s supplied. In like manner the church is not the light, Jesus Christ is.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NKJV)
When Jesus left the world was thrown into spiritual darkness, but Jesus didn’t leave the world without light, which is why He is in the midst of the church, He is the light that shines through the church. The church doesn’t have it’s own light; rather it radiates the light of Jesus Christ through the oil of the Holy Spirit that should be on fire within it.
Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 NKJV)
The responsibility of Christians and the church is to let a lost world see the light of God’s glory.
Christ is seen in the midst of His church. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20 NKJV)
If we’re going to see Jesus we can’t divorce Him from the church. When we do we’re literally cutting off the church’s head. The Apostle Paul said that the Father not only put all things under Jesus’ feet, Psalm 8:6, but the Father also places Jesus over all things making Him head over the church, Ephesian 1:22.
With Christ as the head of the church, even with all its faults, the church is God’s design, which is what we see in these letters. Seven is the number of God. God has ordained the church, that is, it is divinely inspired
Far too many are dismissing the church today because it doesn’t fit their idea of what it should be. But church isn’t their idea; rather it’s God’s and its His to direct, not men.
Recently I’ve read about all these believers who are leaving the church because it doesn’t do it for them anymore. But it’s God’s way and method, and it isn’t up to them to determine what it should or shouldn’t be, it’s God’s.
What’s happening is they’re meeting with just a couple of people, and in so doing they’re no longer a light shining forth to bring people to Jesus. They just want to be their own little group; their four and no more. They’ve basically said, “We have no need of you,” and they’ve divorced themselves from the body of Christ.
A quick note as to the stars in Jesus’ right hand, they’re identified as the angels of the churches. The word in the Greek means messengers. While heavenly angels are always a possibility, the meaning may more aptly fit leaders in the church, and signifies that Jesus is holding them. The fact that He is holding them in His right hand denotes they are protected and are under His sovereign control.
Jesus ends by telling John to write a three-part book.
Jesus as revealed here is a picture of our Lord as He walks amongst His church and cleanses it of its sinfulness. He walks in royal garments with all these glowing attributes tied up in His appearance and clothed with sovereign majesty, and all creation will bow at His feet and become obedient.
So let’s give honor and praise where it is due, and that is Jesus Christ who gives strength to the humble, and humbles the proud. Who forgives our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. And we do so by letting the light of Jesus Christ shine through us to this world so lost and steeped in sin.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study