Bible Study Series: Revealing Jesus in Revelation
Revelation Chapter 1:1-8 Unveiling Jesus Christ!
by I Gordon
"Revelation is hard to understand, but it is impossible to forget."
Dr. Earl Palmer
- We'll look at the main focus of Revelation and why many Churches, unfortunately, avoid it!
- We'll touch on interpretation and its unique use of numbers and symbols
- We'll explore what 'the' Revelation is - when every eye shall see Him!
- We'll close with an application and what the blessing of this book is
The word “soon” (en tachei; cf. Rev_2:16; Rev_22:7, Rev_22:12, Rev_22:20) means that the action will be sudden when it comes, not necessarily that it will occur immediately. Once the end-time events begin, they will occur in rapid succession (cf. Luk_18:8; Act_12:7; Act_22:18; Act_25:4; Rom_16:20).
- Some churches see it as controversial and don't want to ruffle feathers so they stay away.
- The different ideas out there on the symbolism in Revelation lead some Pastors to just stay away, putting it in the too hard basket.
- The book of Revelation, to be taught accurately, requires a good understanding of the whole Bible (especially the Old Testament) and some don't want to put the effort in to understand what it is saying.
- One major theme of Revelation, that God will soon punish the world and sin, doesn't sound all the 'positive' to some churches who prefer to focus on 'nicer' thoughts as they establish their own little kingdoms on earth.
- Some of the 'absolute statements' over the years from those that are completely sure when Jesus will return has led to prophecy and end times in general being mocked in some circles.
- Back in the 70's with the 'Jesus People' revival, end times played a great part and people longed for, and spoke often of, Jesus' return. This was great but when His return didn't happen as soon as expected some lost heart and tired in their waiting and longing. So they started focusing on the final point...
- In general the church in the West is more focused on having your best life here and now... as if this place is where our hope is. It's not. But, as Bible prophecy indicates, the last church leading up to the return of Jesus is of the Laodicean spirit... which is basically worldly. It is happy and more than content with this world so why long for the life to come?
Despite all this, the promise of God stands - there is a blessing in reading and heeding the words of this prophecy. The Lord says through John that 'the time is near'. And if it was considered near then, in 95A.D, how about now? If it was near when John recorded this what about today when we see all the events lining up and approach 2000 years since the ascension of Jesus Christ? As you study this book, don't think of it as something far-off... for it is not!
- To protect the Church - The church, and John himself, were getting severely persecuted under the Roman rule of Domitian in the later part of the first century. Church tradition states that John himself had been placed in boiling oil even before his exile of the island of Patmos2. So if Revelation was written in a way that directly threatened Rome the letter would have been destroyed and the churches would have come under greater persecution. Therefore symbolism was often used as a means of protecting the church.
- To encourage study - The understanding of Revelation is kept for those that study God's word and understand the symbolism throughout the entire Old Testament. It is like Jesus' use of parables - to keep the unbelievers from seeing while reveling great truth to those that have eyes to see! (Mat 13:13-16)
"What is new in Revelation? And how much of it is really old? Although the Book of Revelation has no direct quotations from the Old Testament, it has about 550 references to it and most of the information found in its first twenty chapters is also found in the Old Testament. Only the last two chapters deal with things totally new."
Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum
Though it is filled with signs, the Book of Revelation is accessible to those who have an understanding of the first 65 books of the Bible, and especially an understanding of the first 39 books of the Bible, the Old Testament. The Book of Revelation is rooted in the Old Testament. It contains more than 500 allusions to the Old Testament, and 278 of the 404 verses in Revelation (that is almost 70%) make some reference to the Old Testament.
Pastor David Guzik
- The faithful witness - I like that. We hear so much about 'disinformation' in this day and quite often the ones giving disinformation are those warning against it! In fact it can come from those that are meant to be ruling and governing our countries! In contrast Jesus is the faithful witness. He cannot lie. This revelation is from Him and it is true. You can bet the house on everything word that He says!
- The firstborn from the dead - He also conquered the great enemy that has conquered all others - death! He has risen from the grave never to die again! He is the firstborn from the dead but thankfully He has no intention to be the 'onlyborn' from the dead. He is the first of many and He will share His victory over death with all those that believe in Him! Make sure you are part of that team!
- The ruler of the kings of the earth - And He is the ruler of all for He is the King of kings. There are many on this planet who think they are the 'big cheese'. They think that they rule and are accountable to no one. Well, Jesus is the King of kings and He will take His position soon. He will ask the Father and the nations will be given to Him as His rightful inheritance. Then, scripture says, things will come crashing down for (and upon) many of the so-called kings of this earth as they will hide themselves in the rocks, petrified at the wrath of the Lamb (Rev 6:15-17).
- Those that He loves - It was His love, and the Father's love. that sent Jesus to the cross... despite all that we had done! There is no comparison or greater love than this!
- Those that He has freed from their sins by His blood - He didn't just love us and leave it there. He provided a way to be cleansed and forgiven of all the wrong that we had, and will, ever do!
- Those that are made to be kings and priests - And He didn't just forgive us and leave it there. He gave us a position of kings and priests so that we can serve God in the current age and rule with Him in the next!
And He is coming for judgement upon His enemies and redemption for His followers.
- The blessing of clarity: Revelation is an unveiling and a revealing. It is an unsealed book. It shows the eternal plan of God in an order that can be followed and understood. Amongst a very mixed up world, there is a blessing of clarity in this that gives stability to our lives.
- The blessing of hope: Revelation is prophetic. It lays out the future and especially the return of Jesus Christ! There is a blessing of hope, the blessed hope, in this. There is no greater hope that the King of kings would return and put things right. In the books of C.S Lewis and the chronicles of Narnia, it is expressed in the hope of Aslan's return so that the long winter of the wicked witch would be over!
- The blessing of wisdom: Revelation turns our minds onto eternal matters and off the here and now. There is a blessing of wisdom in this. There is future reward in this. It helps us to make choices for our lives here that affect our rewards and life there. As the Psalmist said 'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.' (Psa 90:12)
- The blessing of peace: Revelation shows that God is Sovereign, the One on the throne and in control even in the darkest moments. There is the blessing of peace and patience in this. In Revelation the throne of God is mentioned more than in any other book. He is called the 'Almighty God' eight times in this book (Rev 1:8, Rev 4:8, Rev 11:17, Rev 15:3, Rev 16:7, Rev 16:14, Rev 19:15, Rev 21:22). May our hearts be at peace as we realise that our Savior, Almighty God, is on the throne!
- The blessing of praise: Revelation unveils Jesus as He truly is, the King of kings, the creator, redeemer and ruler of all creation. There is the blessing of praise and worship in this. It lifts our hearts to be in awe of this One that desires all that we have and are.
- The blessing of understanding: Revelation ties all the Bible together, showing how all the parts meet their end. There is the blessing of understanding in this. We see that the whole Bible is tied together in an integrated message from start to finish. And Genesis and Revelation especially form the two book-ends that hold everything in place. What Genesis began, Revelation ends!
- The blessing of certainty: Revelation is attacked by the enemy for it confirms his end & judgement, and it shows that Jesus & believers win! There is the blessing of absolute certainty in this. We are on the right team, the winning team, if we know the Lord!
Just in case you were running low and wanted some more 7's, the Ryrie Study Bible notes that this is the first of seven 'blessings' in the book of Revelation. Can you think of any others? Well, no need to think for here they are:
1. “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” (Rev 1:3).
2. “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. “Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them’” (Rev 14:13).
3. “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed” (Rev 16:15).
4. “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God’” (Rev 19:9).
5. “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Rev 20:6).
6. “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book” (Rev 22:7).
7. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city” (Rev 22:14).
Tertullian, in The Prescription Against Heretics, Ch. 36 writes:
"Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority (of apostles themselves). How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood; where Peter endures a passion like his Lord's; where Paul wins his crown in a death like John [the Baptist]'s; where the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile."
There is the thought that the emperor Domitian wanted to kill John because of the (incorrect) rumor that circulated that he would remain until the day that Jesus returned - as John wrote about in John 21:20-25.
For a further discussion on how Revelation should be interpreted and the many references in this book to the Old Testament, see this paper from Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum:
So many great prophecies in Zechariah! Note also the verse that comes before the well-known prophecy about the Shepherd getting struck and the sheep being scattered:
Zec 13:6-9 If someone asks him, 'What are these wounds on your body?' he will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.' (7) Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me! declares the LORD Almighty. "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. (8) In the whole land," declares the LORD, "two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. (9) This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.' "
Jesus' wounds were received at the house of His friends. One day Israel will see that... and mourn over what they did!
I am Alpha and Omega." This is quite a remarkable statement in the Greek language. The alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. From an alphabet you make words, and Jesus Christ is called the "Word of God"—the full revelation and intelligent communication of God. He is the only alphabet you can use to reach God, my friend. The only language God speaks and understands is the language where Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega and all the letters in between. He is the "A" and the "Z," and He is the "ABC." If you are going to get through to God the Father, you will have to go through the Son, Jesus Christ. Here the emphasis is upon the beginning and the end... "The beginning and the ending" refers to the eternity of the Son and His immutability. Concerning this, Heb_13:8 says, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever." When it says that He is the same, it does not mean that He is walking over yonder by the Sea of Galilee today. He is not. But it means that in His attributes He is the same. He has not changed. He is immutable. Since He is the beginning and the ending, He encompasses all time and eternity.
J. Vernon McGee