Your Companion in Tribulation

Revelation 1:8-11

The more committed people are to living in sin, the more ticked off they will get when you point out their sin. Pointing out sin doesn’t always require words – often holy life is enough. Have you ever walked into room, had distinct impression people talking just changed the subject? Works that way up to a point… until gulf between gets too wide, no longer any real positive relationship, conscience gets calloused. Can quickly turn into open hostility, opposition to God’s truth, ultimately persecution.

Not here in America! Say it isn’t so! Thought we were Christian nation, you know, God Bless America and all that! Truth is we are and always have been nation of sinners, living under rule of law in nation founded largely on Biblical principles. So long as government fulfills its God-given mandate to promote good and restrain evil according to God’s laws, well and good. When government strays from its mandate and civil laws deviate from principles established in God’s laws, should expect increase of evil in all aspects of society. Remember who we are: nation of sinners – some redeemed self-denying cross-bearing Christ-followers, the overwhelming majority dead in their sins.

When cultural restraints on sin slack off, people more freely express their sinfulness. One indicator of how that has changed in America: were certain things just didn’t talk about, at home or in public… Joanna, e.g. Now, those same things you just don’t criticize. Talk all you want, don’t you dare call it sin. And if you do dare to live and speak truth from God’s word, expect to be target. Sad truth is, church not insulated or immune from cultural / sinful influences – that’s why we need Revelation, more today than ever before in our lifetime. Is message of warning, of encouragement and hope – do not be afraid, one who is alive forevermore has it all under control!

Message not only comes with promised blessing (v.3), has repeated authentication from Christ – One revealing and being revealed; writer then tells of how he was incarcerated for Christ, contacted by Christ and commissioned by Christ.

A. authentication from Christ v.8

forms bridge between greeting and body of letter – all that precedes and comes after is certain because of character and authority of one speaking/showing, iow… the one revealing

further assurance that credibility of message doesn’t even depend on John – he is just recording instrument, passing on all that was given to him

alpha and omega – both original source and intended goal

gave all things their beginning, will bring this age to an end – “all things were made through him”, “he has appointed a day…”

more than that, Christ is goal of all things – Col. 1:16, 18; Rom. 11:36 – not on wheel of life going round endlessly

is God speaking with full authority

only one who could possibly make this kind of statement… seriously …believably: God; no being less than God has necessary qualities to actually be / do what is claimed

at beginning and end of Rev. same voice declares same truth (1:8, 17; 21:6, 22:13), added declaration in 21:6 – “it is done”

and full power – Almighty – equiv. “Lord of Hosts”, used 8x more in Rev.

not that he needs them, has innumerable Host of Heaven at his beck and call – because of how he has purposed to do his work, God uses angel army to carry out much of his plan

God by himself is overwhelmingly superior to all his enemies and ours, without question he has more than enough power to back up and carry out his authority

don’t forget: this is the One on display in Rev., He is one we must keep our eyes fixed on

B. incarcerated for Christ v.9

brother

not pulling rank – condescension unique to all of New Testament, John recedes into background with respect to message

John really is not one speaking with authority here, it is Lord Jesus; if Rev. is message of hope and encouragement, John needed to hear it first

nearing end of life, taken out of circulation, looking at fruit of his own and others’ labors – church in serious trouble

in question whether a healthy church would last beyond 1st generation… did they get it wrong? Jesus made clear they didn’t

companion – συγκοινωνος

in tribulation – word we don’t like to hear, concept we don’t want to experience

think Job and Jesus: “Since …God’s redemptive purposes were in Christ prior to the foundation of the world, it is not improper to say that it was God’s redemptive intention to conform Job to the image of Christ.” Charles Parker

would Jesus say “Blessed are those who are persecuted” and “”Blessed are you when they persecute you” if he didn’t expect it to happen? Matt. 5:10-12

told his disciples night he was betrayed “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” John 15:20

Paul told Timothy “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” 2 Tim. 3:12

Peter in first letter labors point that Jesus set example, we should not be surprised but expect to suffer 1 Pet. 2:21; 4:12-16; 5:8-10

John told first audience, us who read his letter today: I’m in it with you, I know what you are enduring, I need to hear this message too

in patience – another word like tribulation

think Job and Jesus again – instant gratification not part of Christian life; many encouragements to perseverance, endurance

if you are his child, God loves you and his wonderful plan for your life will probably include suffering and need for endurance

in the kingdom – don’t get this without the “rest”

Acts 14:22 Paul and Barnabas, on return to Antioch “strengthen[ed] the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

kingdom is real – is here, is coming – we already experience it in some measure, full expression will come after resurrection

prisoner

Patmos – volcanic island, mostly rock, 13 sq mi, 1/4 area of Gorham, 35 miles off coast of Turkey, Roman province of Asia

may not have been in cell, chained to soldier; certainly wasn’t swimming to mainland any time; mostly isolated from his support network – apparently could send mail, who knows if he could receive

banished for being a Christian

guilty of hate speech – things like: “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar”; “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness”; “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

worst of all: “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.”

say those things in certain places today and you could get locked up; all the more reason to be prepared

C. contacted by Christ v.10-11a

first use of “Lord’s Day”

in culture where all sorts of entities were worshiped – whole pantheon of Greek and Roman gods plus former emperors – this day acknowledges real Lord of all things

another witness to Christ highly unpopular with government and culture of John’s day, that he would intentionally worship single god on that day

in the Spirit

“John is referring to something …distinctive. He was in the Spirit in the sense that the Spirit of inspiration and illumination and revelation had come into his life and upon his soul in a special way. He was in the spirit of prophecy.” Geoff Thomas

what follows came to John by supernatural means – revelation from God the Father through and about God the Son mediated by God the Holy Spirit

voice of a trumpet – see also Rev. 4:1

was a trumpet call that made people afraid that called Moses up Sinai (Ex. 19:16, 19) – Moses answered trumpet, God responded; was that voice that gave John his commission

D. commissioned by Christ v.11b

what you see

reinforcing idea introduced in v.1 – primary means of communication to John: what he saw; secondary means: what he heard

keep it in mind for what’s ahead – what John saw, what we see here in Rev. intended to show by signs and symbols true meaning of reality we are living

write it

12x John instructed to write (Rev. 1:11, 19; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14; 14:13; 19:9; 21:5); Rev. not a polished literary work – more “stream of consciousness” writing supervised by Holy Spirit

at same time, intended to be enduring record to serve church in all ages – God not relying on word of mouth transmission as OT

send it

yes, John would profit by what he saw, but God had much larger audience in mind and time had come for them to hear the message

not like instructions to Daniel – “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end.” (Dan. 12:4)

Yes, are living in the last days. Have not reached the last day… yet! It will come, God has appointed that Day, has given strong assurance about final outcome. Has given wonderful treasure here in his word – making clear that is more to our circumstances than meets the eye. Is battle going on all around us, one of cosmic proportions, we are not alone in our tribulations.

Brothers and sisters who have already gone on line our course, encouraging us on. Faithful brothers and sisters around us also give help and support. Best companion of all: our Savior, Lord Jesus, our companion in all things at all times, present with us by his Spirit. Are you a soldier of the Cross? Do not be afraid to own his cause, do not blush to speak his name. Pray he will increase our courage as we press on, depending on his Word and Spirit.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s