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Revelation 1 - Part 1
By Brian Pepper
You will find as we move into the study of the Book of Revelation, that it will open up to you a new understanding of the times in which we are living. You will read about world history written from the way that God sees it, and what a difference that makes. You will have a better understanding of what is taking place in the Spiritual world for we are given an insight into the conflict between Christ and Satan which is intensifying as we move towards the great finale. Also we will read about the final events that will take place at the close of this world's history. More importantly you will come face to face with Jesus and see Him in a new and wonderful light.
Verse 1. "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John."
You will notice that this book is a revelation of Jesus Christ and nothing could be more important than that. Revelation is a revealing or an unveiling, and Jesus is revealing great events that are to take place in the future.
"which must shortly come to pass."
The second advent of Jesus Christ is the greatest climatic event of the near future, and all the events that are pictured in the book of Revelation point to this. As we examine the first verse again we notice that God gave this revelation to Jesus, who gave it to the angel. The angel gave it to John who wrote it in a book and sent it to the churches. So it is a message which comes directly from God and is vitally important to the church, and the church is you and me.
Verse 2. "Who bare record of the Word of God and of the testimony of Jesus Christ and of all things that he saw."
It is called the Word of God because it is a message from God to his people and to all mankind. It is also called the testimony of Jesus Christ because it is a message from Jesus Christ about Jesus Christ.
Verse 3. "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."
Did you notice that there is a special blessing on those who read this book. Back in John’s day not everyone could read but they could hear or listen. And with the blessings of heaven on what was read they could understand.
"and keep those things which are written therein."
The sad thing is that so few ever bother to read this book. They do not realize that they are losing out on a blessing. But those who do read and hear and keep in their hearts and in their minds the things which they have read, there is a very special blessing.
Number 7 has a very prominent place in the book of Revelation. There are 7 Churches 7 Seals 7 Angels 7 Trumpets 7 Last Plagues and many others.
"to the seven churches which are in Asia"
The book of Revelation was addressed to the seven churches in existence in John’s day, and was written during times of intense stress and severe persecution. The messages of Revelation are also very important for Christians today.
"from him which is"
This expresses the timelessness of God.
"which was, which is to come"
God has always existed. This is very hard for us to comprehend. This is because of our limited life span. It is only as we recognize that God as the creator existed even before the universe was formed that we can grasp the significance of the statement "which was" "which is to come" throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. Now isn’t that wonderful! That is great news for all of us.
"and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;"
As we have already noticed 7 plays a very important part in the book of Revelation. In the Bible 7 represents perfection, and it is a symbolic representation of the Holy Spirit.
Verse 5. "And from Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood."
The Faithful Witness Jesus is the only One who can reveal God’s character. In the 14th chapter of the Gospel of John Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father or to describe what he is like. And Jesus answered by saying, "If you really want to know what my Father is like, then watch me. If He were here on earth He would do the same things that I am doing." that is, healing the sick, caring for the needy, raising the dead to life, preaching the glad tidings of the coming kingdom.
"the first begotten of the dead"
Jesus was not the first to rise from the grave. There were others before him. Moses was an outstanding example. Lazarus was brought back to life in a miraculous way by the Saviour Himself. But those who were raised before Jesus came from the tomb: were raised by virtue of His triumph over the grave. Jesus said in John 10:18: that He had the power to lay His life down, and He had the power to take it up again. No other person who has ever lived on this earth and has died had the power to come forth from the grave. Only the One who has the power over death could do this.
"the prince of the kings of the earth"
Jesus the One who made this world is the rightful ruler. Colossians 1:16. "For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him." As Creator He is prince over all princes. “Unto Him that loved us,” And that love was seen so clearly in Calvary as John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." We will never be able to understand a love like that.“
"And washed us from our sins in his own blood."
Now isn’t that wonderful! The prophet Isaiah confirms this in Isaiah 1:18. "Come now, and let us reason together saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." This is the kind of assurance that we need. And when we are covered by the Saviour’s blood, we washed and clean.
Kings and priests. How exciting that is! But if we are all to be kings then we would have no one to reign over. Actually a better translation is "and has made us to be a kingdom" N.I.V. That sounds more like it! For Jesus is the king. The Bible calls Him the King of kings. And the church is the kingdom.
"and priests to serve his God and Father."
The apostle Peter explains this very well in 1 Peter 2:9. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." A priest is one who presents offerings to God, and every Christian can do this by prayer, intercession, thanksgiving, and by dedicating their lives to Him.
“to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen"
St Paul assures us that the Father has exalted Jesus by giving Him a name that is above all names called in that He is called the King of kings and Lord of Lords.
Verse 7. "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."
"Behold he cometh with clouds"
When Jesus ascended to heaven from this earth the disciples watched as He rose higher and higher. Then suddenly He was surrounded by a cloud and was no longer visible. In verse 7 it says that He returns to this earth accompanied by clouds. Not clouds as we know them but a great multitude of angels. For Jesus makes this clear to us in Matthew 25:31. "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory." All the holy angels. Can you imagine that? There so many angels that both Daniel and John the Revelator were unable to count them. The entire sky will be blotted out. But it will not be dark, it will be brilliant filled with a radiance, brighter than sunlight.
"Every eye shall see him."
Did you know that the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ is the focal point of all prophecy? And especially in the book of Revelation no event of the past can equal or surpass it. It very clearly says, "every eye", which indicates that it is a universal event. Some folk have claimed that it is the Spiritual eye will see Him, that it is those who have spiritual discernment, will be the only ones to see Jesus as He comes in glory. But Jesus declares that this is not so. For He says in Matthew 24:30 "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
You will notice that Jesus mentions that "all of the tribes of the earth mourn".
They mourn because they realize that what the Bible said about Jesus coming was true. They have rejected the invitation to accept Him as their Saviour. Now they realize that it is too late, that their destiny is sealed forever.
"every eye" shall see Him
However there are some people who have ridiculed the statement that "every eye" shall see Him. They say that it is physical impossibility. They ask "how can everyone on earth see Him at the same time?" It does not say in the text that Jesus will be seen by everyone at the same time. Not everyone sees the sun at the same time but only as it comes to them. It could well be that Jesus could be out in space for 24 hours or more. However it is not impossible for God to perform a miracle so that everyone on this earth could see Jesus at the same time.
In Luke 4:5 the Devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in an instant (N.I.V.), in a moment of time (K.J.V.). If the Devil can do this God can do a lot better. But whether He does this or not the Bible says very clearly and very distinctly, that "every eye shall see him", "and they also that pierced him" or crucified Him.
"and they also that pierced him"
Those who were responsible for the death of Jesus will be raised from their graves to witness the return of Jesus as He comes in majesty and power. The prophet Daniel spoke of this in Daniel 12:2. "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
You will notice that there are two groups involved in this special resurrection. One is highly privileged, the other in disgrace. The text uses strong language to describe them: shame and everlasting contempt.
When Jesus was on trial before Caiphas the high priest, the one who was the most responsible for The unjust trial and crucifixion of Jesus, He told him "…Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."
Caiphas will come from the grave, he will be resurrected. Can you picture in your mind the terrible embarrassment, the awful guilt, the mental anguish that he will suffer as he gazes up to the heavens and sees the One who he had condemned now surrounded by myriads of glorious angels. The terrible realization of the enormity of his betrayal of the Saviour overwhelms him. But he will not be alone, for there will be Jewish religious leaders, the chief priests, the Scribes, the Pharisees. Also the mob who cried out "crucify him, crucify him"; those who spat on Him, those who mocked Him in His dying agonies, everyone who had a part in the crucifixion. They will be raised for a short time then they will return to their graves.
It could be that the principal persecutors of God’s people are included in the number of those who pierced Him. How different to those who are raised to everlasting life, for they will be caught up to be with Jesus, to go home with Him to glory. The partial resurrection occurs a few days prior to the actual appearance of Jesus in the heavens.
Those of God’s people who are raised just before the Advent will witness the awe inspiring events that climax in the greatest event of all time. They will witness the awful earthquake which causes the mountains to disappear. They will see the islands sinking into the sea, the great hailstones which devastate the earth. Then as they gaze heavenwards they see huge dark clouds begin to roll away. They hear great peals of thunder with brilliant flashes of lightning. Then far in the distance a small distinctive cloud is seen on which all eyes are riveted. They gaze upon the cloud as it moves toward the zenith of the sky. Along with those who have lived through the plagues they cry, "Lo this is our God, we have waited for him, and we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation." They behold the remarkable transformation of that small dark cloud from black to brilliant white as it draws nearer to the earth. Soon they discern in the midst of the cloud the Lord Jesus surrounded by multiplied millions of radiant beings. They witness the glory of the returning Christ. They hear the clear resounding peals of the trumpet echoing across the heavens. Then they hear the mighty shout of Jesus as He calls to the sleeping saints, "you who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy". What a call! What a command!
And throughout the earth from every cemetery, graves split open, and in an instant the sleeping saints rise up and step from the tomb. The guardian angels welcome the ones they cared for while they were alive. Throughout the earth there are a vast number of God’s people aglow with immortality. They burst forth into grateful and glorious song, and what a song they will sing! What joy will be theirs!
This joy could be yours, it could be mine. If we stay close to Jesus it will be.