Revelation – The Big Reveal
It was a tearful, expectant, excited, breathtaking joy to see a home made over by professionals who knew what they are doing. We experienced all the “feels” of those emotions, right along with the recipients, as we watched “Extreme Home Makeover”. We oohed and ahhed, laughed and cried, at the new beauty with greater efficiency.
Yes, we all watched as the old was torn down and replaced with everything new. The new renovations gave refreshing beautiful life with “curb appeal” on the outside and functionality on the inside that the old home could no longer produce. We all cheered with the home owners!
The old was gone, the new had come!
Compare these emotions to watching a person say yes to Jesus and publicly proclaim this decision in baptism. Do our hearts and minds rejoice more or less in the extreme makeover and spiritual change of a address of a life reborn?
By the power and wisdom of God’s Holy Spirit the disciples provided a new model for God’s new church. Gatherings form in turbulent times of persecution with love for Christ, fellowship with communion, sharing, and the reading of God’s Word. (Acts 2:42) Led by Peter, the “rock upon whom Jesus built His church”, a new way of worship and teaching together began first in Jerusalem and then spread to the “other parts of the world”. As Jesus ascended back to heaven, it was by His direction and authority that this would be accomplished:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 19-20, NIV
But as gatherings are made of imperfect people, some churches needed renovations from the inside out for they had lost the original intentions for forming. They had lost “their first love”. Jesus was no longer the cornerstone upon which is church of “living stones” was to be built. Jesus was no longer at the center of worship.
John, Jesus beloved disciple, has a vision of prophecy, led by God’s Holy Spirit. His vision REVEALS Jesus once more with loving warnings of what will happen when, not if, Jesus will return to claim those whose hearts are completely His.
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV
Some will be rejoicing in worship as they have always done and others will wonder what went terribly wrong as it is revealed that their hearts for worship are not right in God’s eyes.
Are we, as the church today, FULLY committed to the Lord in all we think, do or say?
Are we BEING the church by being first with God through Jesus before doing anything in His Name?
Are we DOING what is right for all the right reasons…in Jesus Name?
I wonder and ponder this as we read/survey/study the final book of God’s Word to us that “directs our path” with light, revealing Jesus as Savior and Lord, the One and Only to be worshiped and adored.
Introduction to The Big Reveal…The Revelation
The Bible ends with a flourish: vision and song, doom and deliverance, terror and triumph. The rush of color and sound, image and energy, leaves us reeling. But if we persist through the initial confusion and read on, we begin to pick up the rhythms, realize the connections, and find ourselves enlisted as participants in a multi-dimensional act of Christian worship.
Haven’t you dreamed of pure-heart worship of God with Jesus Christ, fully committed to God and each other? Have you imagined no other thought than worship of God?
John of Patmos, a pastor of the late first century, has worship on his mind, is preeminently concerned with worship. The vision, which is The Revelation, comes to him while he is at worship on a certain Sunday on the Mediterranean island of Patmos. He is responsible for a circuit of churches on the mainland whose primary task is worship Worship shapes the human community in response to the living God. If worship is neglected or perverted, our communities fall into chaos or under tyranny.
Our times are not favorable for worship. The times never are: the world is hostile to worship. The Devil hates worship. As The Revelation makes clear, worship must be carried out under conditions decidedly uncongenial to it. Some Christians even get killed because they worship.
John’s Revelation is not easy reading. Besides being a pastor, John is a poet, fond of metaphor and symbol, image and allusion, passionate in his desire to bring us into the presence of Jesus believing and adoring. But the demands he makes on our intelligence and imagination are well rewarded, for in keeping company with John, our worship of God will almost certainly deepen in urgency and joy.
The Revelation – Chapter 1
1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud 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.
Greetings and Doxology
4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia:
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits[a] before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds,”[b]
and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”[c]
So shall it be! 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.”
John’s Vision of Christ
9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”
12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man,[d] dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels[e] of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
WHAT WE LEARN
Take note that John was at worship when the revelation began. It seems God speaks to us when we are fully engaged in our worship and love for Him. It is when He has our full, loving attention that He speaks to our hearts.
“Write this down!” is the direction of the Holy Spirit to John. Talk about a sermon message straight from the mind of God! This is why it is good for me to be quiet at the beginning of each new day to listen, in worship first, and then journal what God is telling me to clean up, renovate and change in my own life. Writing it down helps us remember.
(With help from Warren Wiersbe, Commentator)
The word translated “revelation” simply means “unveiling.” It gives us our English word apocalypse which, unfortunately, is today a synonym for chaos and catastrophe. The verb simply means “to uncover, to reveal, to make manifest.” In this book, the Holy Spirit pulls back the curtain and gives us the privilege of seeing the glorified Christ in heaven and the fulfillment of His sovereign purposes in the world.
In other words, Revelation is an open book in which God reveals His plans and purposes to His church. When Daniel finished writing his prophecy, he was instructed to “shut up the words, and seal the book” (Dan. 12:4), but John was given opposite instructions: “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Rev. 22:10). Why? Since Calvary, the resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, God has ushered in the “last days”(Heb.1:1–2) and is fulfilling His hidden purposes in this world. “The time is at hand” (Rev. 1:3; 22:10).
Why did John use symbolism? For one thing, this kind of “spiritual code” is understood only by those who know Christ personally.If any Roman officers had tried to use Revelation as evidence against Christians, the book would have been a puzzle and an enigma to them.
But an even greater reason is that symbolism is not weakened by time. John was able to draw on the great “images” in God’s revelation and assemble them into an exciting drama that has encouraged persecuted and suffering saints for centuries.
There is a third reason why John used symbolism: symbols not only convey information, but also impart values and arouse emotions. John could have written, “A dictator will rule the world,” but instead he described a beast. The symbol says much more than the mere title of “dictator.”
In understanding John’s symbolism, however, we must be careful not to allow our imaginations to run wild. Biblical symbols are consistent with the whole of biblical revelation. Some symbols are explained (Rev. 1:20; 4:5; 5:8); others are understood from Old Testament symbolism (Rev. 2:7, 17; 4:7); and some symbols are not explained at all (the “white stone” in Rev. 2:17).
Nearly 300 references to the Old Testament are found in Revelation! This means that we must anchor our interpretations to what God has already revealed, lest we misinterpret this important prophetic book.
Wow, so we will be careful and prayerful in our reading and understanding of what god is saying to us. Keep it simple. Jesus is coming back! Our decision and commitment to Him reveals our response to the mews of His return. Do we live in fear or joyful expectancy?
“Move that bus!” There is so much more to reveal…
Dear Heavenly Father,
Reveal to us what you know we need to know as we study what you gave to John to write down. Transform us in the reading.
In Jesus Name, Amen