The Star of the Show


Series: Revelation

Passage: Revelation 1:1-20

Speaker: Jeff Thompson

John's incredible visions begin with an encounter with the King of Kings, Jesus. We'll learn how Jesus is at the centre of the Book of Revelation, how we can be blessed by studying it, and how the Old Testament is the key to understanding it.

Transcription (automatically-generated):

As we prepared to dig into Revelation Chapter one this week, let me just say this, we are only going to be able to scratch the surface of this chapter. There's so much more here than we have time to dig into. And even though we'll only be focusing on the most critical things, you may still need to go back and listen to this message again. Watch this message again, because there's just going to be so much good stuff here. My goal is to give you the best information I can in the time that we have together.

And sometimes all I'm going to be able to do is just drop some breadcrumbs that you can follow in your own time as you study in the coming days and weeks. In our previous study, we joked about how the Book of Revelation is widely perceived as being difficult to understand. And I did my best to encourage you that in reality the exact opposite is true. I'm going to begin this week by encouraging you again with the knowledge that the title of this book is Revelation.

It's the Greek word apocalypses, which means and uncovering a revealing this book's very title. Tells us that it is written to reveal something, not to conceal something, a revelation is what takes place when something previously obscured or hidden is suddenly seen clearly. And one of the primary purposes of the Book of Revelation is to bring clarity to subjects that have previously been hidden, obscured or confusing. In fact, the first words of this amazing book, if you look in your Bibles, tell us that it is the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Would you underline that word revelation? It's the revelation of Jesus Christ. And this is going to be your first fill in. The word revelation simply means that something has been revealed. The word revelation means something has been revealed and it gets better because God also promises a special blessing to anyone who reads and responds to the contents of revelation, something he does for no other book of the Bible. The Lord does this because he wants us to understand, listen, this book, it's really special and he wants us to read it.

We find this promise in Revelation one three. Take a look at it. It says, Blessed is he who reads underline that. Blessed is he who reads. And those who hear the word here can also be translated. Understand? Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it for the time is near. Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises a special blessing to those who read and respond to it.

So think about this for a moment. The book is literally titled Revelation, referring to something that was obscured being made clear. The book opens by telling us that it is a revelation and God promises a special blessing to the one who reads and responds to the contents of this book. So how then would it make sense to believe that after opening the book this way, God made the rest of the book impossible to understand? And indecipherable collection of codes and metaphors wouldn't make any sense to believe that.

What would make sense is to believe that if God wants us to understand and respond to this book, then he has made it understandable. If you've ever attended a church that has studied all the way through Revelation, your church is an exception to the norm. Most churches avoid revelation the way they avoid Leviticus or the back half of Daniel. Revelation consistently ranks among the least taught books of the Bible in the church and is avoided like the plague by most pastors.

Perhaps you've heard some of these reasons why, oh, it's all about things in the distant future and and we need to be focused on things that are happening here and now or, you know, it's scary and we don't want to scare people in church. Or there's so much weird stuff in here and we just don't want our first time guests to think our church is weird. Or there are so many different interpretations of revelation, I mean, who knows which one is right?

And yet the book begins by telling us that this is the revelation of who Jesus Christ, the Lord promises to bless us if we read this, he desires that we respond to the Book of Revelation. And that's because, first and foremost, this is not a book about the end of the world. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ and it is intended for all believers. Now, whether we realize it or not, when we ignore revelation in our churches, we withhold a special blessing and we withhold greater revelation of Jesus from our congregations.

That's why I'm so glad you're here. I know that you're going to be blessed not because of me, but because God has promised it. In his word. Revelation has another special feature that is unique among the scriptures to help make this book easier to understand God included in it, a simple and clear outline that allows us to understand the major sequence of events. So write this down. Revelation is the only book in the Bible that comes with its own outline.

It's the only book in the Bible that comes with its own outline. And we find this outline in Revelation, chapter one, verse 19. Take a look at it. This is where Jesus instructs John to write the things which you have seen, underline that and the things which are underlying that and the things which will and then underline the rest of it take place after this. Right. The things which you have seen and the things which are and the things which will take place after this.

This outline reveals to us the three acts of the Book of Revelation Act one, the things which John has seen act to the things which are an Act three, the things which will take place after this. The first act, the things which you have seen refers to what John has seen up to this point and what John has seen up to and including Revelation 119 is the resurrected and glorified Jesus, the second act, the things which are refers to chapters two and three in which Jesus himself will dictate seven letters to seven churches that existed at the time that John wrote Revelation.

Those letters are going to speak to churches in John's day, but they're also going to speak to churches at all times and to all believers. And then when we get there, will find that there is another mystical layer to these letters, because in their order, they prophesy around two thousand years of church history from around 32 A.D. up to the present day with incredible detail and precision. And yes, it's going to be mind blowing when we get there.

And to make a note of this, chapters two and three refer to the church age, chapters two and three refer to the church age. And then Jesus tells John to write about the things which will take place after this. After what? After the events of chapters two and Chapter three, the church age. When we reach that point in our study, we'll learn that a supernatural global event is going to take place at the end of the church age after this.

Which will kick off the third act, so there's going to be this special event taking place at the end of the church age, and that's going to kick off this third act, the things which will take place after this chapters two and three, which describe the church age. And with Jesus saying this in Revelation three twenty behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with me.

So chapters two and three are the second act. Jesus described the third act to John as the things which will take place after this. The original Greek words behind the phrase after this are Metta Taruta, Metta Taruta. And here's the neat thing. The next place those same Greek words appear is in the opening of Chapter four, which begins with the phrase, After these things in the outline given in Revelation one 19, Jesus identified the third act of revelation by the phrase Metta Taruta.

And to make sure we could easily find that third act, God had it begin at the very next place that same phrase appears, which is revelation for one. Let's take a quick look at all of revelation for one. John writes, After these things, Meta Taruta, I looked and behold a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice, which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me saying, Come up here and I will show you things which must take place.

And then what phrase do we see next? After this? After this. Guess which Greek words are showing up there again? Metta Tatta. And that's important because when the Bible seems to be repetitive with a word or a phrase, it generally means that the Holy Spirit is trying to draw our attention to something. Revelation, for one, begins with meditator and ends with Metta Tatta. Apparently, the Holy Spirit really wants us to understand exactly where the church age ends and the next act begins.

So he marked the spot in Scripture with two Matya toutes to serve as a giant X.. The things which are the church age is the second act. And as the church age ends with Jesus knocking on the door in Revelation three twenty, Chapter four opens with John seeing a door open in heaven, hearing the voice of Jesus, which sounds like a trumpet and hearing that voice call him to come up here. When we reach that point in our study, we'll learn that this is when the church leaves the earth and heads up there to the presence of Jesus.

And it's interesting that although the word church appears over 20 times in the first three chapters of Revelation, it will not appear again in the narrative of revelation after revelation four one just disappears. And we'll find that's because the church has been removed from the earth at that time. Write this down after revelation. For one, the word church never again appears in the revelation narrative after revelation. For one, the word church never again appears in the revelation narrative.

So what have we learned so far? This book is a revelation. It's in the business of revealing, not concealing. There's a special blessing that comes with reading and responding to it. And God even gaze of gave us an easy to understand outline for the whole book. Our story begins likely around 95 A.D., more than 60 years after Jesus rose from the dead, more than 60 years after Jesus returned to heaven at the end of his earthly ministry.

John the Apostle has been exiled to the island of Patmos and has been there for around a decade. He was sent there as punishment for refusing to acknowledge Caesar Domitian as being divine. He wouldn't acknowledge that Caesar was a God like he was supposed to. Patmos is essentially a big rock that rises out of the ocean. It's six miles wide, it's ten miles long, and it's where Jesus visits John and gives him this revelation. John writes it down and it finds its way back to the church and eventually across the centuries to you and me.

You're going to want to have your Bible open now to Revelation one one, ideally, you're going to have a pen in your hand with your outline. You might even have a notebook as well to jot down anything that the Lord brings to your attention. And with that, let's get into the text revelation, one one, the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants. So the father shared this revelation with Jesus so that Jesus could share it with his servants.

That means that if you serve Jesus, this is for you, things which must shortly take place. And he sent and signified it by his angel to his servant, John. As you study Bible prophecy, you'll discover that one of the ways God shows affection to those he loves is by sharing his plans with them. And that's what we see here in verse one, where God tells us that he is sharing this revelation because he wants those who serve Jesus to know what he has planned.

And the more we see of God's plans, the more we see of God's character. That is why, even though this book seems to be largely about future events, the Lord describes it as the revelation of Jesus Christ. So make a note of this. God shares this revelation because he wants those who love him to know his plans. God shares this revelation because he wants those who love him to know his plans. Now, before we go any further, I just need to clear something up.

It is a total rookie move to ever refer to this book as Revelations, plural. Don't do it if you're guilty of doing that. It is time to repent or risk one day hearing me yell around a corner revelation singular, and I wouldn't do that simply because I'm a little crazy. It actually matters because this book is a single cohesive revelation. It mostly consists of one big flowing timeline and plan that all works together. It's a revelation, not multiple unrelated revelations.

The book is called Revelation. Now, there's just a few more things you need to know about verse one. And then I promise the rest of this chapter is going to go much faster in the phrase things which must shortly take place. The original Greek words translated shortly are Antiochus and Taco's. They are the root of our word tachometer that Gaige in our vehicle, which displays the RPM's the refs per minute of an engine. And the idea behind Antiochus is not something getting closer in a linear or consistent manner, but rather something approaching that is accelerating exponentially.

If you've ever driven a vehicle with standard or stick shift, then you've experienced Antiochus. When you floor the gas pedal, the needle on the tachometer moves up with increasing speed and then it just takes off as you approach the red line and your vehicle begins rapidly accelerating, exponentially accelerating. The best example of Antiochus was given by Jesus himself, who described the end times as a woman in labor. In Matthew 24h, Jesus said. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs when a woman having her first child has her first contractions.

It's alarming, it's intense. And then a pattern emerges, prompting the woman to call the hospital and say, I'm having contractions. The baby is coming. The nurse asks, how far apart are your contractions? The woman replies, 15 minutes. And the jaded nurse says, sweetheart, I've got bad news for you, you're just getting started. Things are going to get a whole lot more intense before your baby's born. And they do. That last hour before the baby is born is not the same as the hour that occurred 72 hours earlier, it's completely different in terms of intensity and frequency.

That's the idea behind Antiochus and what we're meant to have in mind when John refers to things which must shortly take place. Notice as well. Write this down. This revelation will be given in signs. It will be given in signs. Let's look at verse one again, the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants things which must shortly take place. And he sent and signified it by his angel to a servant, John.

In the original Greek, the word signified literally means sign a five, signify it. It's the word, say Mineau, which means a sign to give a sign communicated. Now, why would God choose to communicate much of this revelation in science? Well, there's a few possible explanations I can think of. And again, these are just my own speculations. Firstly, the safety of believers, because the single greatest key to unlocking one's understanding of revelation is the Old Testament, the Old Testament.

That's because revelation contains more references to the Old Testament than any other book in the New Testament. Over eight hundred references lightheaded in the pages of Revelation to the Old Testament. But interestingly, none of those references are quotations from the Old Testament. They're all illusions. As we mentioned in our previous study. When you understand revelation, you realize it's insurrectionist regarding earthly rulers and kingdoms. It's all about the supremacy of God's power over all things, including the future.

And it tells the story of the king of kings, Jesus, who was coming to rule over the nations and kingdoms of the earth. Now, this wouldn't play well with the ruling Roman authorities. Imagine if a Roman soldier were to read a copy of Revelation and understand what it's actually saying. Those possessing it would likely be found guilty of treason and all copies of Revelation would be sought out and destroyed. But that's not what happened. While there are some explicit statements of Jesus power and greatness, much of revelation, most of revelation is written in science.

And that would have likely made a soldier think, oh, OK, this is this is basically fictional literature, no different to all the other Greek, Roman and Jewish apocalyptic tales that are out there. Jesus may have been a real person, but he's dead now and he's about as much threat to Rome as the Dragons and other beasts are that are written about in the pages of this book, that soldier wouldn't find a single Old Testament scripture in Revelation, and he likely would have thought it was just a tall tale of fantasy.

But if you were a believer, then you almost certainly would have had multiple men in your church who were Jewish and had been raised in the Old Testament scriptures, and they would have understood these illusions instantly. The second reason why revelation may have been written in science is just that visual language changes far less than textual language. The word awful means full of awe and was used to describe reverential wonder. And yet, if you came up to me after this message and said, hey, hey, Jeff, listen, I thought your message was awful, I, I wouldn't appreciate it because the word means something completely different today because textual language changes.

However, when things are described visually, we have a much greater chance of grasping what is being described because we can apply our own contemporary vocabulary to the subject. For example, when John describes things in revelation that he sees that don't even exist on the Earth in his day, we can decode some of them because they do exist in our day. And we can only do that because John chose to use visual language. Jesus tells us that these signs, like birth pains, are going to accelerate and increase in intensity as the end of the church age approaches.

Back to the text, finally, Verse 8 to Jesus shared this revelation with John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. That simply means that God got everything he wanted to say into this book and nothing got into this book that God didn't want their first three. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy underline the word prophecy and keep those things which are written in it for the time is near.

Here's that wonderful promise we were talking about earlier. As you study Revelation, let me encourage you to always pray before you start and thank the Lord in faith for the blessing that you're about to receive every time you open the pages of this book. Now, look, again, what's the word that I just had you underline there? It's the word prophecy. How do we know that this isn't just apocalyptic poetry or literature in the style of Greek, Roman or Jewish literature in John's day, how do we know it's real simple?

Revelation explicitly claims to be prophecy, and history tells us that it was viewed as such by the early church. Other Jewish apocalyptic books of the time did not claim to be in divine divinely inspired, and they were not recognized by the church as prophecy. Other New Testament letters sometimes contain prophecies, but only revelation identifies itself as a prophecy. Paul tells us that the function of prophecy is to speak edification, encouragement and comfort to men, specifically through a combination of preaching and prediction, or, as some put it forth, telling the word of God for today, as well as for telling future events.

That's prophecy. And that's exactly what revelation does in verses forth through five. We're going to see all three persons of the Trinity at work. We read In verses for John to the seven churches which are in Asia, so these are the seven churches who will each receive a personalized letter from Jesus in chapters two and three. Grace to you and peace. Underline this from him. Who is and who was and who is to come. And from the seven spirits who are before his throne and from Jesus Christ.

The faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler over the kings of the Earth. First, we see God, the father who is described as being eternal, him, who is and who was and who is to come. Now, there are a few things you need to know about this specific title. Firstly, the phrase translated "him who is", is actually "aigo imei" in the Greek. It's the famous Greek version for the term that God uses for himself when he appears to Moses in the burning bush in Exodus 314.

So, a more correct rendering of the father's title here would be the I am who was and who is to Come. And that Exodus three 14 reference is important in another way because it came right before God made a way for his people, the Israelites, to be freed from Egypt. And in the Book of Exodus, Egypt is a picture of what? It's a picture of the world, I suggest to you that there's foreshadowing going on in Revelation one, as when we reach the tribulation in Chapter six, we will see many signs and wonders that bears a striking resemblance to the plagues of Egypt.

And we will learn that God has a plan in the tribulation to free his people. Israel from the world once again. Secondly, you need to know that the father's title here is an intentional confrontation with the supreme God of Greek mythology and religion, Zeus and Zeus had a threefold title, history records, as worshipers declaring Zeus was, Zeus is, and Zeus will be. But if we go back to the Old Testament, not only do we find God describing himself as I am, but we also find God describing himself four times in the book of Isaiah as being the first and the last, the one who was and the one who will be.

In other words, Zeus stole the title from Yahweh. And across the events of Revelation, Yahweh will show that the title belongs to him and him alone. And this telegraphs another major theme in revelation the confrontation between the true and living God, Yahweh and the gods of this world. Again, like the confrontation between Yahweh and the gods of Egypt in the Book of Exodus. And my goodness, we could go down some rabbit trails pursuing that further, but we have to stay on track.

Then in verse five, we see the son, Jesus Christ, who's given three titles, and each title is intended to be an encouragement to believers and churches who are undergoing persecution at this time, being jailed, tortured, abused and even killed for following Jesus. Jesus is called the faithful witness, reminding believers that even if we're asked to die for Jesus, Jesus loved us and died for us. First, he was faithful even to death. Jesus is called the firstborn from the dead, reminding believers that because Jesus conquered death, we, like him will rise from the grave.

And then finally, Jesus is called the ruler over the kings of the Earth, reminding believers that Jesus is in control, Jesus is on the throne, and sooner rather than later, King Jesus is going to bring justice to the Earth. This is what revelation does it cause us to lift our eyes and our perspective higher than the events taking place around us in the physical realm, it cause us to see the greater reality that is unfolding all around us between the father and the son.

In verse four, we see the seven spirits who are before his throne. This refers to the Holy Spirit. As I mentioned a minute ago, pretty much all churches had Jewish men in them that had been raised in the scriptures and had likely memorized almost all of the Old Testament. And when they heard the phrase the seven spirits, they would have likely recognized that reference and their minds would have gravitated to Isaiah 11, Verse is one and two. And to help us understand why, let's read those verses there on your outline and then let's underline and count the spirits as we read them.

It says this there shall come forth a rod that just means a shoot from the stem of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots. That's prophesying of Jesus, the spirit of the Lord. That's one shall rest upon him. The Spirit of wisdom to an understanding three. The Spirit of Council for and MIT. Five, The Spirit of Knowledge six. And of the fear of the Lord seven. In the Bible, numbers almost always have meaning and symbolism in the scriptures, seven is the number of holiness and holiness, and it's a number that's going to pop up multiple times in this chapter.

For this reason, the Jewish view was that Isaiah was referring to the Holy Spirit of God, the complete spirit of God, the one we know as the Holy Spirit. So make a note of this. The Seven Spirit simply refers to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit. I struggle to read many verses in the Bible because I find them so moving in, these next verses are are no exception, because if you're aware just how hopeless you are without Jesus, these will move you to.

John lays out what Jesus has done for us, drawing the obvious conclusion that Jesus deserves all the glory. He writes to him, who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and it's made us kings and priests to his God and father to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. That reference to kings and priests is important because while Israel had a dedicated, specialized priesthood, John tells us that in the church, in the kingdom of God.

Every person is made royalty and every person is set apart to serve the Lord Verse 8 seven, behold, he is coming with clouds and every I will see him, even they who pierced him and all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him. Even so, Amen. Behold, he's coming with the clouds is a reference intended to link Jesus with multiple Old Testament verse is such as Daniel 1713, and inform the reader that Jesus is the God who is described in those Old Testament passages.

Then it goes on to say, and every I will see him, even they who pierced him. And in the minds of early church Jews, this would have sounded very similar to the words of the prophet Zechariah, who more than 500 years before Jesus was born, wrote of an end times event when they would look upon him. Whom they pierced. Prophesying from the perspective of Messiah, so prophesying from the perspective of Jesus, Zacharias wrote this and I will pour on the house of David, that's the People group and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

That's the location, the spirit of grace and supplication. Then they will look on me whom they pierced, pierced. Yes, they will mourn for him as one mourns for his only son and grief for him as one grieves for a first born. Jesus promises that on the day he returns to the Earth, he will pour out the spirit of grace and supplication on the nation of Israel, the house of David, and on the city of Jerusalem. And they will finally get it.

The Jewish people will understand that Jesus was and is messiah and the most incredible family reunion will take place. But it will begin with weeping and mourning as they realize that despite all the prophecies of the Old Testament. They and their ancestors missed their messiah and even called for his crucifixion. What's so fascinating is that this is a prophecy about an End Times event that was recorded more than 500 years before Jesus was even born. It's over 25 hundred years old.

Additionally, Jesus prophesies the method of his execution, declaring that he would be pierced. When Zechariah recorded this prophecy, the law mandated stoning as the method of capital punishment in Israel. Crucifixion wouldn't even be invented until a couple hundred years later. The crucifixion part of this prophecy has already been fulfilled. We can trust that the rest will be to. As we discussed in our first study, let's told The View that revelation is about historical events that took place in Israel primarily around the year, severed with the fall of Jerusalem, but possibly up to an including 120 A.D. as Israel fell as a nation and was scattered across the earth.

But look at verse seven. One more time. He is coming with clouds and everything. I will see him, even they who pierced him and all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him. Let me ask you. Has has that happened? Did that happen in the late first century, early second century A.D., did Jesus return visibly so that every eye on Earth saw him? Surely we can agree that the answer is a resounding no in just this one, verse 8, we can already see that Jesus and Revelation cannot be speaking exclusively about historical events.

Verse 8, I am the alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, I want you to underline the beginning and the end, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come? The Almighty. Alpha and Omega are the last and first, first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It's another way of saying that God is the first in the last, God is the beginning and the end. Verse 8 nine.

I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patients of Jesus Christ was on the island that is called Patmos for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. John was exiled to Patmos because he refused to cease preaching the Gospel. We can see God's hand at work in this because when he desires to speak with us on a profound level, the Lord will often lead us into a place of isolation for a season.

John the Baptist went to the School of the Wilderness, where the Lord spoken to his life and prepared him for ministry. Paul didn't begin planting churches and ministering immediately following his Damascus road conversion. He spent around three years in the wilderness area of Arabia, where he received direct revelation from Jesus. And sometimes the Lord works in a similar fashion in our lives. Sometimes we find ourselves in a season of isolation, relationally or emotionally, and it's because God wants to do a significant work in us and give us a revelation that will alter the course of our lives.

And now John begins to receive his revelation in verse ten. I was in the spirit on the Lord's Day. There's wide disagreement among Bible scholars as to what the Lord's day is a reference to whether it's a reference to Sunday or the future season of time referred to in Scripture as the day of the Lord. I really don't think it changes very much either way. What John is saying is that he was somehow taken into the spiritual dimension where he received multiple revelations from God he wasn't asleep, or he would have described these as dreams or night visions, as Daniel the Prophet did.

He was awake and he likely went into something like a trance. And as best we can tell, his spirit was taken into the spiritual dimensions and shown these things. Now, exactly how that worked, we don't know. We'd be speculating. We don't know if huge amounts of time passed in these spiritual dimensions in parallel with Earth time, our time or of John spent huge amounts of time in the spirit, but only a second had passed an earth time like the the wardrobe that leads to Narnia in C.S. Lewis writings.

I personally believe that John was shown these events for real. In other words, I think that God actually transported him to the places and times of which John wrote. But again, that's just my speculation. We know some parts of Revelation are directly dictated word for word by Jesus, specifically the letters of chapters two and three. But we don't know how John wrote the rest. We don't know if God dictated it word by word or if John recorded it from memory and added his own thoughts afterward.

We don't know if John intentionally added all the Old Testament allusions himself under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, or if the Holy Spirit directly told him and he just wrote down things and then afterwards was like, Oh, cool. That's an allusion to Isaiah. We don't know if the visions came over hours, days, weeks, months or years. We just don't know. What we do know is that it ended up exactly the way God wanted it to.

He's the God who created the universe. He's the God who will end the universe. And so, he's capable of overseeing the writing process of a book as we read through this description of Jesus from Verse is 10 through 16. I want you to notice every appearance of the words like and as John writes and I heard behind me a loud voice as of a trumpet saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last underline the first and the last and what you see right in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.

Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me, and having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands. That's just a menorah. And in the midst of the seven lampstands, one like the son of man. That's a title for Jesus, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. If you studied through Exodus, this menorah and linen garment should cast your mind back to the Tabernacle and hint that this son of man Jesus is ministering in the role of the high priest.

Verse 14 - His head and hair were white, like wool as white as snow, and his eyes like a flame of fire. His feet were like fine brass as if refined in a furnace, and his voice as the sound of many waters. He had in his hand seven stars, and out of his mouth went a sharp, two-edged sword, and his countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. This is where believers usually throw up their hands in frustration and say, well, book of Revelation, I tried.

I really did. I tried. Take heart. Let me show you how easy revelation is going to be to understand, skip down to verse 20 and take a look. The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lamp stands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lamp stands, which you saw are the seven churches. The seven churches are each going to have a letter addressed to them in chapters two and three, each church was a literal church that existed in John's day.

But each letter will have an application for every church in the church age, including us, today. And together, these seven churches, these seven lamp stands form a picture of the overall church, the uppercase C Church. The original Greek word, translated in verse 20 is angels. Egoless means messengers, divine or human. So angels could refer to literal angels assigned to these churches or to the pastors of these churches. Personally, I believe it refers to the pastors of these churches, and I say that because each of the seven letters in chapters two and three will begin with the phrase to the angel of the Church of Blank writes.

And I think it unlikely that Jesus was communicating with his angels via the Roman postal system, so the picture being painted for us is Jesus ministering as a high priest on behalf of the church, a concept the book of Hebrews speaks to repeatedly in verses like Hebrews nine 11 through 12, which read Christ came as high priest of the good things to come with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands. That is not of this creation, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood.

He entered the most holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. You may recall from our Exodus study that the Tabernacle and Temple were built to be models of the true temple that is in heaven. And that seems to be what John sees in revelation. He sees Jesus or High Priest ministering in the most holy place of the true temple that is in heaven. Jesus's position in this text is described as being in the midst of the seven lamp stands.

So if the lamp stands, represent the church where Jesus. He is in our midst, just as he told us he would be in Matthew 18 20, where he declared where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them. And hey, we cracked the code, even though we're not mystic's are scholars, and these explanations are going to become even clearer as we move through chapters two and three. I asked you to notice all the times the words like and as were used in Verse is 10 through 16.

And I'll tell you why. I want you to notice that John is seeing things for which there really are no words. He's in the spiritual dimensions, the heavenly place places, seeing the resurrected and glorified Jesus, his language and every language is simply it's simply inadequate. So while John can do is use words from his earthly vocabulary and do his best, he uses words such as like an ass to let us know that he's not being literal. He's simply doing the best he can with the words he has at his disposal.

He's seeing things and trying to describe them. And and these things have symbolic meaning. But John is also seeing them in verse 14. John does not say his head and hair were made of white woolen snow. He says his head and hair were white, like wool and white as snow. It's the best John can do to describe the brightness of Jesus's face and hair. If you ignore the presence of words like like and is in John's description and you take it literally, you end up with a crazy rendering of Jesus where he's got, you know, fire coming out of his eyes and brass sneakers on his feet and the sun for a face.

And these types of images are super awkward to give to kids to color in church. And it's not what John saw. While we can find similar descriptions in places like the Book of Daniel, the most likely description that John is alluding to is another event where John actually saw Jesus in indescribable glory glory. John's alluding to the transfiguration of Jesus, which is recorded in the Gospels where we're told the face of Jesus. Sean, like the sun and its clothes, became white as light.

If he were here today, I have no doubt that John would tell us whatever image his description conjures in our minds, the real thing is infinitely more glorious. Every part of this description of Jesus, as I said, is John relating what he sees as best he can, but even what he's seeing is also symbolic because of time constraints. I can't get into all of that symbolism, but I can just leave those crumbs for you to pick up on if you want to do that in your own study time.

Today, we know from Verse is, like Hebrews four, 12 and Ephesians six 17 that the sword coming out of Jesus's mouth is a metaphor for the word of God. When John writes that, he's almost certainly alluding to messianic prophecies from Isaiah 11 four and 49 two. And I suggest that in this instance, John is using Old Testament imagery to make the point that the Earth is going to be judged by Jesus and by his word, like a sword coming out of the mouth of Jesus.

And if you haven't figured it out yet, this is not gentle, Jesus, meek and mild. This is not Jesus in the humbled state of the incarnation, his first coming, this is Jesus, the coming, conquering all powerful irresistable king. Jesus came the first time as the lamb of God. But when he comes again, it'll be as the lion of Judah. I mean, we love General Jesus, don't we, because he's not threatening in any way and he doesn't create a sense of urgency for many of us, there's not really a rush to get right with gentle Jesus.

But we forget that we're in the age of grace right now and that age is going to end very soon and the Jesus we read about in the Gospels is not coming back a second time to be rejected and beaten and crucified. He's coming back to reign. He's coming back to dispense justice to all who reject his offer of love and life. And for those who reject Jesus, the future is going to be terrible. It's going to be terrible. The Jesus who's coming back demands your urgent attention.

I want to highlight something back in verse 13, where we find Jesus ministering as a high priest and the high priest who stood before the menorah would be tasked with keeping its lamps burning by ensuring they had enough oil. So think through the imagery with me. What are the seven lamp stands represent? Verse 8 tells us they represent the seven churches, which together represent the church. So who is the one who keeps the light of the church shining? It's not us, it's our great high priest, Jesus Christ.

Don't get caught up in fear when you hear some Christian sociologists announced that his latest study proves Christianity is dying and the church is only one generation from extinction. Jesus has taken on the responsibility of keeping the light of the church shining, the reason I have hope for the future of the church is not because of you or me or even my children. It's because Jesus is the one who established and sustains the church. If it all depended on us and we'd have a real problem.

But it doesn't. The church was created by Jesus. It exists for Jesus and she is sustained by Jesus. So instead of worrying about whether or not the church is going to survive, let's devote our energies and efforts to being the kinds of churches that make Jesus smile and say, I got to keep that lamp shining. After describing the resurrected Jesus, John tells us what happened to him the moment he saw Jesus in verse 17, John says, And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.

Underline that as dead. Wow, two thoughts come to mind. Firstly, we live in a time when there's little to no reverence for God, for his name or for his word, he is mocked. He is the butt of jokes in the media. We hear people say things like, if God is real, he's got some explaining to do. He's going to have to tell me why he let tragedies happen and didn't heal kids with cancer. And then he'll need to explain to me why I went through the difficulties I experienced in my life.

Oh yeah. I'm going to have some questions for God. John's a good guy. He's an apostle, Uppercase A. He's been persecuted for serving Jesus and exiled on Patmos in his gospel. He's called the disciple whom Jesus loved. Jesus likes John. And yet when John encounters Jesus in the fullness of his glory. John can't handle it. And all he can do is fall on his face as dead. Whoever you are, you will one day find yourself in the presence of God.

And I can guarantee you that when you do. You will not be sticking a finger in his chest and saying, I've got some questions for you. It's not going to happen. Secondly, you're probably aware that there's an entire segment of Christianity that holds to a form of Pentecostal theology that espouses things like uncontrollably falling over and or rolling around on the ground. The phrase is being slain in the spirit. That's what they call it. They claim these manifestations are evidence of God's spirit, tangibly blessing and interacting with his people.

However, when we find people falling in the presence of God in the Bible. It's always described as a near-death experience, and it's clear that none of those people would describe it as a desirable experience, they would tell you I thought I was a goner. I thought I was about to be vaporized. I've never been more afraid in my life. John was terrified. Just look at what Jesus has to tell him next. Imagine the scene in your mind.

John thinks he's about to die and then this happens. But he that's Jesus laid his right hand on me, saying to me, do not be afraid. In other words, John was afraid. He wasn't rolling around laughing. He wasn't in a state of euphoria. He was terrified. And so Jesus has to say to him, do not be afraid. I am the first in the last underline. The first in the last. I want you to notice something else.

I believe the Lord is undeniably doing something here in Chapter one that is aimed at Jews who have not yet grasped that Jesus is God. And I suggest the Lord does this because revelation is not written only for you and I. It is not written exclusively for the church. It's also very much written for the Jewish people who I believe will earnestly search its pages during the tribulation. And again, that will become clearer as we go through Revelation. But notice this in verse for the father is referred to as him who is and who was and who was to come.

And Jesus is referred to as the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler over the kings of the Earth. John keeps the father and the son separate in verses five through seven. John writes about what Jesus has done for us and that he's going to return in the future, even appearing to they who pierced him, which is a reference to who the Jewish people in Verse 8. John writes of yours as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

And then In verses 11, Jesus appears to John and introduces himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. And here again in verse 17, Jesus again tells John, I am the first and the last. Do you see the progression? The text is walking Jewish readers through. It's telling them that Jesus and the father are both the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning in the end, the first and the last. It's revealing that both Jesus and the father were there in the burning bush in Exodus three fourteen.

Jesus is the first in the last prophesied by Isaiah. Yahweh is Jesus and Jesus is your way because they are one John wants his readers. And more importantly, the Holy Spirit wants his readers to understand that Jesus is God. If you look at verse fourteen and compare it to Daniel seven nine, you'll find they match with one difference. The Daniel description is ascribed to the one called Ancient of Days. Who was Yahweh? God, the father. While here in Revelation, the same description is applied to Jesus.

The Lord wants us to know and understand that Jesus is God, and as I said, I believe that's because in the midst of the tribulation, there will be Jews who will find hope, knowing that the God who redeemed them from Egypt thousands of years ago is coming again in the tribulation to redeem them from Egypt once more. The central message of the Book of Revelation is that God is in absolute control of all of time. Before there was anything he was there, and when our universe comes to an end, he'll be there, too.

He stands both in time and out of time, and he has absolute control of everything that unfolds in the space between our universes beginning and end. He's the first. He's the last. He's the beginning. And he is the end. He is alpha and he is Omega. We're not reading someone's opinion, we're reading the very word of God, we're hearing the plans of the one who holds the future. These are not plans in the sense that we think of plans where there are things that we would like or hope to see happen.

Write this down. God's plans. Are future events as certain as the events of yesterday? God's plans are future events as certain as the events of yesterday, we like to say when God gives prophecy in his word, he's writing future history. That's how certain it is. In light of that, let's study the word of God with the appropriate reverence and all in verse 18, Jesus says I am he who lives and was dead. And behold, I am alive forevermore Amen and I have the keys of death in Hades.

I love this moment. Jesus puts a hand on John and he says, It's me, John, your friend, your brother, your savior, your God. And John, I want you to know that you're welcome here. You belong here, John, with me. Again, I can barely read those verse is aloud because they're so heavy in the most wonderful way, they they make me love Jesus more and longed for the moment when I get to see him face to face.

In the last sentence of Verse 8, the word Haiti's can also be translated as the unseen realm. Jesus is telling John I have total authority, control and power over the spiritual dimensions, including death itself. I have the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. If I set you free from death, nothing can drag you back to it. And if I open the kingdom to you, nothing can keep you out of it. And we see obvious hints here of what we call the doctrine of eternal security, the idea that if you're truly saved, if you've truly given your life to Jesus and decided to follow him as Lord, then you are eternally secure in your salvation.

You don't have to keep yourself saved. You didn't earn your salvation. Jesus did. You're not the one who sustains your salvation. Jesus does. The gates of death and the gates of heaven open and close at the command of Jesus, the one who has total authority over the unseen realm. That's why it's the wisest and most secure decision you could ever make to place your eternity in the hands of Jesus. Because if we could lose our salvation. We would, we would.

But praise God, our faith is in Jesus, what he has done, what he is doing and what he will do for us Verse 8 19, right. The things which you have seen, what has John seen up to this point? The resurrected and glorified Jesus and the things which are will begin studying those in Chapter two and the things which will take place after this. What's the Greek phrase for after this matter? Tutor that starts in revelation for one.

Well, did you survive Chapter one of Revelation? Was it too hard to understand? I don't think so. And Chapter one is the most complicated chapter in the entire book. If you made it through this, the rest is going to be easy. I hope that you're starting to get over any nervousness you may have felt be encouraged. God is going to bless you as your study, your way through revelation. Jesus is saying to us, do not be afraid.

I am the first in the last. I am he who lives and was dead and behold, I'm alive forevermore Amen and I have the keys of Haiti's end of death. And we respond to him by saying to him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests to his God and Father to him be glory and dominion, forever and ever. Amen. Let's pray. Father, thank you so much for the gift of your son, Jesus and for the gift of this revelation of him that we have begun studying, in your word.

Our prayer is simple, Lord, that you would give us a greater revelation of your son, Jesus, we place our faith and stand on the promise of your word to bless us as we read this very, very special book. But, Lord, more than understanding what's going on and even more than understanding what is going to happen in the days to come. We want to see more of Jesus. We want to understand more of your son. We want more of him to open our eyes, open our ears, open our hearts, to see more of your son, Jesus, that we might love him more dearly, that we might serve him more faithfully, and that we might grasp the reality of the good things in store for us and be motivated by them to serve you even more diligently in the short time we have on Earth.

We love you, Jesus. We bless you in your name. We pray Amen Amen.

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