Those Who Read, Hear and Obey

Revelation 1:1-3

Revelation is book that seems to encourage extreme treatment – people either dive in headfirst and come up with all sorts of different ideas about what it means, or, they run away from it. Neither one is what the original source… God the Father himself had in mind. Like any other part of Bible, must understand and interpret Revelation in light of all the Bible and character of God as revealed there. If you don’t need secret decoder ring for rest of Bible, won’t need it for this book either. If not typical of God to frighten his children, shouldn’t expect this book to do so.

Rather than long-winded introduction to confuse with all the technical details, will take this approach: God said what he meant and meant what he said. So what is it he said? If you have technical questions, be sure and ask; do my best to answer. But, as we go through the text, will take up issues when they appear – things like who wrote down what we find in Revelation, who his intended audience was, etc.

Also, would challenge you – if you haven’t done so, read or listen to Revelation start to finish… at least once. Takes about an hour and a quarter to listen.

A. spotlight – Jesus Christ (1a)

wonderful thing about language – can take a statement more than one way! remember: it must fit the context, though

really the title of the book: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”; given what comes next in v.1 and rest of book…

first way: revelation from Jesus Christ – “He sent and signified it by His angel”… who is He? Rev. 22:16 tells us: “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches.”

second way: revelation about Jesus Christ – He is coming (7), He is in midst of lampstands (13), He is First and Last (17), He has keys of Hades and Death (18) – He fills every page of John’s letter to the church, without question first and foremost a revelation about Jesus

what the Father revealed, what Lord Jesus said right here in first chapter sets tone of entire letter – means we should expect to find Jesus often throughout its pages

also means we need to start with Jesus and his place in it all, where is Jesus in the picture – find him first, then go from there

in various scenes, thing that gets our attention first may not be Jesus – don’t try to figure out the point until you see what Jesus is doing, place he has in whole picture

if we get hung up on significance of numbers, overwhelmed by 7-headed monsters with many horns, and the like, and in process lose sight of Jesus… Satan has gained ground

B. source – Father (1b)

“God gave Him to show” – Lord Jesus portrayed in Rev. as God-Man – both aspects of his identity clearly in view

here his Manhood primarily in view: Father gave to Son what he did not possess before – knowledge of the future

Matt. 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”

approx. 60 years later, Father gave further insight / knowledge to Son, with purpose: not simply to enlighten Jesus, but for him to enlighten us

shows distinction between Father and Son continue on and so does his Incarnation – eternal Son of God did not take on human form and substance for 33+ years, then discard his humanity

also shows us glorified humanity, Jesus with resurrected body like we will have, does not know all things: still depends on the Father just as he did while on earth

Father’s intention in giving this understanding to Jesus, about what if not when, was for Jesus to expose it to his servants

Jesus’ task here to lay open to view things that are not obvious to human sight – exposing to Christ-followers the significance of world events in light of Jesus

Jesus has taken what Father gave him, laid it out in pages that follow: enables us to see how God is so much bigger than we imagine… and so is his plan for us

God’s plan for all things comprehensively includes time and eternity, material and spiritual, seen and unseen

yes, we live in time and space, but God has given us resources to see beyond, recognize presence and significance of spiritual realities

C. scope – things shortly (1c)

shortly take place, take place soon – here is first significant hurdle to understanding and interpretation, what does “soon” mean

however following chapters are understood, must be understood in light of third verse

they had relevance to initial readers… to start, then others later on like us and in way consistent with another time reference: “the time is near”

simplest way is to take two time references at face value – God wasn’t talking in code, said what he meant, that’s how we should take it: what was revealed to John would begin to take place soon

sure, are several places where subject obviously return of Jesus in glory, doesn’t mean everything else is still future

salutation v.4 shows John writing letter to seven churches; closing, Rev. 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches.”

much of all between 1:4 and 22:16 had relevance to churches in 1st century… and still does today… they’re still happening

D. style – signified (1d)

said last week – apocalyptic literature, a style of writing that uncovers the future by means of imagery; very first word: αποκαλυψις = revelation

how is Jesus revealed; “he sent and signified” σημαίνω – show by signs and symbols – not “God gave him to say” but “God gave him to show

Jesus rarely said anything about his Deity; showed it repeatedly by signs he did – bringing life and light and hearing and liberty

communicated encouraging truth about future to John using pictures, visions, along with explanation when needed

used at times shocking imagery to unmask forces at work, trying to overthrow the Lamb and his followers

since what is being revealed applies to entire world, visions / images are effective means of broad communication

E. sending agency (1d-2a,b)

Jesus & angel & John – Father gave this revealing to the Son who sent his messenger to John who wrote down what he saw for benefit of the churches

why the big deal about how it got onto the paper? John making sure everybody knows – not his idea, he was simply servant

contents of this revelation are: word of God, testimony of Jesus Christ, iow they are part of God’s inspired word the Bible

who would die for words of John? “word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ” quite a different story – why John was exiled to Patmos (Rev. 1:9), for his adherence to truths of the Bible

saints were “slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Rev. 6:9; 20:4) – if this is integral part of word of God, must be certain it is authentic

perhaps John making play on words here – reference to both written and living Word of God; reminds us in ch. 19 name of one on white horse is “The Word of God”

without question, central figure of Rev. is the God-Man: the Word who was in beginning, with God and was God, who became flesh known as Jesus the Messiah

F. soundness (2c)

complete testimony – no holding back

everything John saw recorded to extent that visions could be described in words – can be certain that is not only word of God, is complete revelation of all we need to know

are lots of details hinted at, we’d really like to know more but… is true about more than just Revelation… and

“The Holy Scriptures are the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule for saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.” LBCF 1.1

everything we need to be prepared and equipped so as to live Christianly in our world right now is in the Bible

G. stipulation (3)

7-fold blessing: begins in Rev 1:3, extends to end of book – Rev 14:13, Rev 16:15, Rev 19:9, Rev 20:6, Rev 22:7Rev 22:14

only book in Bible with this kind of promised blessing – not all pie-in-the-sky live-happily-ever-after kind of promise: involves here and now as well as hereafter

if any book should receive thoughtful attention and study, should be this one, following at least basic coverage of the rest

can’t fully grasp significance of last chapter without general idea of plot and cast of characters, some of storyline leading up to the end

blessing for reading (aloud)

primary one in view here: the one who read aloud from one copy of Scriptures present in the church – took work, all capitals with no spaces, each line same length, word-wrap

promise is that one who perseveres through reading aloud will receive blessing; go a little further: one who reads aloud for purpose of expounding (preaching) will be blessed

for hearing (it read aloud)

at start, what is revealed here primarily designed to be seen… and heard publicly; simply hearing it read without any further ado was sufficient to provide blessing to first hearers

in our day, need a little help with understanding – are that many centuries away from original context, need to get up to speed on that

many today also unfamiliar enough with Old Testament that many allusions lose significance without additional explanation

however… person who prays “help me understand what I hear and know what to do with it” will be blessed by hearing it

important also: contents of this large letter directed to the churches, for benefit of local church and individuals

for keeping

simply hearing Revelation read no source of blessing any more than for other parts of Scripture – must be committed to obedience

especially important since “the time is near!”, in fact, the time is now


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