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The Christian Counter


Revelation Commentary – Introduction to the book of Revelation Verses 1:1 through 1:20

 

Today, we start a verse-by-verse study on the book of Revelation. If you would like to put some notes in your Bible as we go through the book of Revelation, this would be a good time to get your Bible out and do so.

 

Revelation 1:1   The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending His angel to his servant John.

 

Revelation 1:2   who testifies to everything he saw – that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

 

Revelation 1:1   The revelation, (e.g., the full disclosure) of Jesus Christ, which God (the Father) gave (to) him (Jesus) to show his (the) servants (of Jesus) what must soon take place. He (the Father) made it (this revelation) known by sending his angel (messenger/Jesus) to (me) his servant John.   

 

Revelation 1:2   who testifies (as a witness) to everything he saw – that is, the word of God (Jesus, is “the Word”) and the testimony (words) of Jesus Christ. 

 

The Book of Revelation predicts a full disclosure of Jesus Christ is coming. I want to share some thoughts on this process. According to the U.S. Census, 6, 651,605,767 people live on Earth right now in 2007.  According to the American Bible Society, approximately 2.5 billion people have not heard of Jesus and another 2.1 billion people have heard about Him, but they strongly reject or resent Christianity. That’s 4.6 billion people who do not know or like Jesus Christ.

 

Each month, our world has a net increase in population of about 11 million people! (For comparison, Los Angeles is a city of 10 million people.) From these stats, we can see that Christianity (currently 27% of the world’s population) is shrinking as a percentage of the world’s population because the net number of people standing in opposition to Christianity is growing larger each day.

 

The shrinkage of Christianity is not a problem for God, because He had devised a plan to reveal Jesus to a hostile, arrogant and ignorant world. 

 

Unfortunately, the revelation of Jesus will not be a pleasant experience, but it will be very effective.  This disclosure will necessitate turning everything in this world upside down. In short, the revelation of Jesus Christ will begin with an overwhelming show of force and wrath. Jesus Himself will implement and oversee a compelling drama that will totally demolish the religions and nations of the world.

 

It is ironic that the coming revelation of Jesus Christ, which the Father designed and pre-decreed by His own authority, will cause many so-called Christians to abandon their association with Christianity. In other words, when Jesus is revealed, a lot of Christians will not want to have anything to do with Him. Conversely, a large number of people from other religions will have their hearts and minds opened to the Savior and they will welcome and love Him when their blindness is removed!

 

Ultimately, the revealing of Jesus will cause the people of Earth to take a stand. One group will submit to the authority of Jesus. By faith they will obey His commands and accept the consequences. The other group will justify their rebellion and they will take their stand with Lucifer (the Antichrist) and they will suffer the wrath of God.

 

The revelation of Jesus will be a drama having many players, parts and sub stories. All of these pieces will combine to reveal things about Jesus that could not otherwise be known. For example, the Father wants the world to know that Jesus is fully God. Jesus has all the prerogatives of the Father because Jesus is a co-eternal member of the Godhead just like the Father and the Holy Spirit. 

 

A day is coming when the whole world will be stunned into a condition of reverence so that everyone can hear and consider that Jesus Christ is the only Savior of mankind, and by right of His blood-redemption, He is the Owner of Earth, Lord of lords and King of kings. It is also fair to say that of all gods presently worshiped, Jesus is hated more than any other because Jesus has made some exclusive claims that are highly offensive to people in other religions. For example:

 

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. “

 

Given the hostile feelings that billions of people have towards Christianity, you should be able to understand how the revelation of Jesus as the God of Heaven and Earth, the Savior of man, Owner of Earth, Lord of lords and king of kings will be “a hard pill to swallow” for a very large number of people!

 

During the revelation of Jesus process, the religions of the world will implode, the nations of the world will be demoralized, faith will be severely tested and everyone will experience suffering and tribulation. A big part of this coming drama will be man’s desperate need of a Savior!

 

Of course, our need of a Savior will become self-evident when our security and possessions are ruined and after this physical experience strips away our pretense, an even greater truth will be seen! Man needs a Savior to escape the penalty of sin.

 

God the Father personally designed the drama that reveals Jesus at the end of the world and He sent Jesus to John with a copy of “the drama.” The Father put the revealing of Jesus within the context of a “tribulation” because the Father wants the world to know the love, which Jesus has for all mankind. The Father wants the world to know who died for our sins.

 

Profound Point:

Earth’s degenerate condition has come to a place where God’s wrath is the best means through which God’s love can be explained. So, Jesus will tear down the arrogance, darkness and ignorance that sin and religion has produced by exercising justifiable wrath. This will hurt and affect everyone.

 

The Father designed the Great Tribulation to be an educational drama. This drama will show the world what sin and rebellion really are, and during this drama, Jesus will be revealed as our Creator, our sin bearer, our Friend and God. Near the end of the first century A.D., the Father evidently gave this drama story to Jesus. Then, Jesus chose John to write it down, so that those of us who would be alive when this drama took place could understand in advance what “must soon take place.”

 

The words “must soon take place” presents a problem for some people because the book of Revelation was written around A.D. 95 and that was about 2,000 years ago! 2,000 years later is NOT soon. The word “soon” means imminent.

 

The word “soon” in Revelation 1:1 has led early Christians to assume that Jesus was returning to Earth right away! In fact, all of the apostles were sure that Jesus would soon return. We investigated their belief in the imminent return of Jesus in my first broadcast on the book of Daniel.

 

Even though the word “soon” has been misapplied for 20 centuries, the word “soon” has helped to keep the interest and hope in our Lord’s return alive and that is not entirely bad even though there is the desensitizing danger in crying “wolf” when there is no wolf.

 

However, the word “soon” in Revelation 1:1 means exactly what it says when the word is placed within the context of the revelation which occurs at the appointed time of the end. In other words, because the book of Daniel was sealed up until the appointed time of the end, the book of Revelation has been misunderstood ever since it was written because the rules of interpretation found in Daniel are necessary to correctly interpret the book of Revelation.

 

The net effect is this:

 

Because the book of Daniel has been unsealed, we know that we are living at the time of the end. Therefore, the things written in Revelation will “soon,” that is, imminently transpire. So, ready or not, believe it or not, the revelation of Jesus will soon start. The predicted events are about to start and the drama will be more fascinating and more dramatic than anything the world has ever experienced!

 

And this brings us to verses 3-6:

 

Revelation 1:3   Blessed is the one who reads 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.

 

Revelation 1:4   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 before the throne.

 

Revelation 1:5   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.

 

Revelation 1:6   and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be the glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

 

I would like to reread this and insert some words for the sake of clarity:

 

Revelation 1:4   (From) John, (This message is directed) To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him (the Father) who is (alive),and who was (alive through all ages past), and who is (alive through all ages) to come, and from the seven spirits (angels that stand) before his throne.

 

Revelation 1:5   and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness (of the Father), the firstborn (the preeminent one) from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth (Jesus is King of kings). To him (Jesus, glory and honor is due) who loves us and has freed us from (the curse) our sins by his blood.

 

Revelation 1:6   and has made us (believers in Him) to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him (Jesus Christ) be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

 

Commentary:

First, John exalted God the Father and God the Son in these verses. It is important to notice that in verse 5 Jesus is called a faithful witness of the Father. (Jesus said, John 14:9 … Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…”)

 

Some people distort this verse to mean that Jesus is the Father. Not true. Jesus is not the Father. Why is Jesus called a faithful witness of the Father? Jesus is a true reflection of the Father because the Father has never been seen! (John 6:46)

 

Second, in Revelation 1:6 John positions the Son lower than the Father by saying, “(Jesus) has been made to us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father….” In other words, the believers will serve the same Father that Jesus serves! This will occur after Jesus returns the throne to His Father. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)

 

Third, notice John’s expression: “and he (Jesus) has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father…” This may sound very sweet and tasty to Christians, and we may think that we are special to God after reading from Revelation but…. These are not sweet and tasty words in John’s day. These words from Jesus were a direct insult to non-Christians (and they remain an insult). To understand these words, look at the words spoken to Moses while he was on Mt. Sinai with God:

Exodus 19:5   Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,

 

Exodus 19:6   you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

 

Throughout their history, the Jews have been convinced that they are THE ONLY holy nation, which God has chosen. (Many Christians today are also convinced the Jews are God’s people and they have created an end-time schematic that revolves around the nation of Israel.) But there are two things that Jews and many Christians do not understand:

 

First, the member of the Godhead who spoke to Moses at the burning bush was Jesus.

 

It was Jesus who spoke these words to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

 

It was Jesus that called Abraham and gave him His covenant.

 

It was Jesus who led Israel out of Egypt.

 

It was Jesus Himself who spoke the law from Mt. Sinai.

 

It was Jesus who blessed Israel to be a light for all nations.

 

It was Jesus who twice sent destroyers to destroy Jerusalem.

 

And it was Jesus who spoke to John.

 

Without going into further detail, when Jesus came to Earth and was rejected by Israel, the Father redefined Israel.  Galatians 3:29 “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

 

When John wrote, Jesus “has made us (that is, us believers in Christ) to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father…” You can imagine the grief of these words caused between Christians and Jews. Christian beliefs and Jewish beliefs are perpetually antagonistic because both groups of people claim to be God’s special people. Ah, religious quarreling…. It never ends.

 

The point here is that the word spoken by Jesus confirm that a profound change has taken place. Plan A had been abandoned and Plan B had been put in place. (Plan A and Plan B have been discussed at length in several of these series articles.

 

Bottom line: God has redefined Israel and believers in Jesus are now the heirs of Abraham. Believers in Jesus are the kingdom, a nation of priests that will serve the Father and Jesus throughout eternity. The saints will serve God as priests throughout eternity. They will serve the angels as representatives of God. Hebrews 5:4  “No one takes this honor upon himself (serving as a priest); he must be called of God, just as Aaron was.”   

 

Continuing with verse 7:

 

Revelation 1; 7   Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

 

Again, with my inserted words:

Revelation 1:7   Look, he (Jesus) is coming with the clouds (of angels), and every eye will see him (as Earth rotates beneath His appearing), even those who pierced him (will be resurrected to behold the Second Coming); and all the peoples of the earth will mourn (suffer anguish) because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

 

Whether Plan A or Plan B, the appearing of Jesus at the end of sin’s drama is a horrible day.

 

Joel 2:1   “…Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand –

 

Joel 2:2  a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come.

 

Joel 2:3   Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the Garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste – nothing escapes them.

 

Joel 2:4   They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry.

 

Joel 2:5   With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a army drawn up for battle.

 

Joel 2:6   At the sight of them, nations are in anguish, every face turns pale.

 

Billions of people will be slaughtered.

 

Revelation 19:19   Then I saw the beast and the Kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army.

 

Revelation 19:20   But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

 

Revelation 19:21   The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.”

 

The surviving saints will tremble at the power and majesty of Jesus as the Jews did at the foot of Mt Sinai! Do you remember these words – spoken at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus?

 

Matthew 26:63   But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

 

Matthew 26:64   “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

 

Matthew 26:65   Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.”

 

Now, look again at this verse:

 

Revelation 1:7   Look, he (Jesus) is coming with the clouds (of angels), and every eye will see him (as Earth rotates beneath His appearing), even those who pierced him (will be resurrected to behold the Second Coming); and all the peoples of the earth will mourn (suffer anguish) because of him. So shall it be. Amen.

 

I wonder what these men will think when they are awaken from their sleep to behold Jesus as He really is? Incidentally: What would be the point of resurrecting those wicked men to see Jesus come in clouds of glory if, as many people believe, they were already burning in Hell?

 

Continuing:

 

Revelation 1:8   I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and is to come, the Almighty.

 

Revelation 1:8   I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says (Jesus, who is) the Lord God, “who is (alive), and who was (alive through ages past), and who through the ages), is to come, the Almighty (who spoke to Abraham and Moses).”   

 

Two points:

Did you notice that John uses the same language in verse 8 to describe the eternal existence of Jesus that he used in verse 4 to describe the eternal existence of the Father?

 

Revelation 1:4   “…from him (the Father) who is (alive), and who was (alive through all past ages past), and who is (alive through all ages) to come, and from the seven spirits (angels that stand) before his throne.”

Good point to remember: Jesus is co-eternal with the Father. Contrary to what some claim, I believe the Bible teaches that Jesus was not created by the Father.

 

Second, Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega. This expression comes from the Greek alphabet. The first character is alpha and the last character is omega – the beginning and end. Jesus declares a profound truth about Himself. He was not created. He was in the beginning and He will be present at the end. He is eternal.

 

Genesis 17:1   When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.”

 

Exodus 6:2  God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord.

 

Exodus 6:3   I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them.”

 

Revelation 1:8   Jesus declares: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty – the omnipotent One.

 

Continuing:

 

Revelation 1:9   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.

 

Revelation 1:10   On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,

 

Revelation 1:11   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.”

 

Now, with a few inserted words:

 

Revelation 1:9   I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patent endurance that are our in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God (the Scriptures / compare with v2) and the testimony of Jesus (the words of Jesus).

 

Revelation 1:10   On the Lord’s Day (the seventh-day Sabbath) I was (taken away from the physical world) in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,

 

Revelation 1:11   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.”  

 

 

Commentary:

 

“The Lord’s Day”

 

When John wrote the book of Revelation in A.D. 95, the Jews were hated and despised by the Romans. Twenty-five years earlier, Jerusalem had been destroyed and the Romans were well aware of “the Jewish Sabbath.”

 

Prior to 45 B.C., the Romans did not celebrate one day of the week as a special holy day. At that time, the Romans were polytheistic; they worshiped some 300 different gods. However, Mithraism was brought to Rome around 45 B.C. (the time of Julius Caesar), and worshipers of the invincible sun god Mithra, observed Sunday – the first day of the week, as the day of the Sun, the first day of enlightenment. (They didn’t care that the weekly cycle was started at Creation and the Sun was created on the fourth day of the week, but that is another matter.)

 

Strange as it may sound, Mithraism was very similar in many ways to Christianity even though Mithraism began in the East a couple of centuries before Jesus was born. I think it is possible that the devil anticipated the ministry of Jesus and begun preparing a counterfeit of Christianity two hundred years before Jesus was born. 

 

For what it’s worth, the birthday of Mithra was said to be December 25. In the fourth century A.D., the Christian Church at Rome announced that Jesus was to be born on December 25 in an effort to eclipse the popular holiday that was associated with Mithra’s birthday. So, about 150 years later after the introduction of Mithraism in the empire of Rome, John was exiled on Patmos and Mithraism was a popular religion in Rome and similar to Christianity in many ways.

 

One more aside….

Around A.D. 274 the Roman emperor Aurelian proclaimed Mithraism the official state religion. A few years later, emperor Constantine reversed Aurelian’s state religion and made Christianity the state religion.

 

These things are important to know because Sunday had become a well-respected holiday and the worshipers of Mithra were pleased, and the working people were blessed. Sunday became a day of rest in Rome before Jesus began His ministry on Earth! Because the early Christians as Jews (Christians were thought to merely be a sect of the Jews) – And the Jews hated the Christians because Christians were destroying the pillars of Judaism, there was a three-way hostile tension between Romans, Jews and Christians.

 

I am putting this on the table because the term, “the Lord’s Day” is used only once in Scripture. However, there is historical evidence that it was also used by early Christians. Why? Early Christians used the term the “the Lord’s Day” to distinguish their observance of the seventh-day Sabbath from that of the “despised Jewish Sabbath.” Because the Romans hated the Jews with a passion, early Christians tried to put as much separation between themselves and Jews as possible. Thus, the seventh-day Sabbath was frequently called, “The Lord’s Day.”

 

Why was this term selected?

 

One Sabbath, Jesus and His disciples were walking through a ripened grain field. Some of the disciples gathered up some grain in their hands as they walked along so they could eat.

 

Mark 2:24   The Pharisees said to him (Jesus), “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?

 

(Actually, the actions of the disciples was not unlawful, but the Pharisees declared it unlawful because they had badly distorted the fourth commandment.)

 

So, Jesus used a well-known story to make a point:

 

Mark 2:25   He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?

 

 Mark 2:26   In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat.

 

The response of Jesus was powerful. The Jews could not answer Him.

 

The Pharisees would not condemn David for eating the sacred bread because David had already been chosen and anointed as Israel’s king when he took the bread and ate it. In other words, by right of his ordination and the circumstances, David did not incur guilt when he ate the holy bread!   

 

Then, Jesus said,

 

Mark 2:27   Then He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

 

Mark 2:28 (I am the One who did not punish David, I am the One who made the Sabbath holy, and I tell you) So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. (As Creator and Owner of the Sabbath, I define what is proper on the Sabbath.) “This is the meaning of “Lord even of the Sabbath.”

 

 The words of Jesus were used by early Christians to defend themselves against doing the things that Jews did or did not do on Sabbath. The Lord’s Day and the Jewish Sabbath, even though they were the same day, they were observed in different ways. The Jewish Sabbath required attendance at a synagogue.

 

Worship on the Lord’s Day did not require attendance at a synagogue, but Paul encouraged those who kept the Lord’s Day to not forsake assembling together because Christians need each other and they need to worship with each other.

 

So, “the Sabbath of the Jews” became known as “The Lord’s Day” to Christians. Around A.D. 150, Christian’s converts from Mithraism began to observe Sunday in Rome as a convenient day for worship and they appropriated the title “the Lord’s Day” to Sunday. That’s how the transition from Sabbath to Sunday started and the rest is history.  

 

Continuing:

Revelation 1:12   I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,

 

Revelation 1:13   and among the lampstands was someone ‘like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.

 

Revelation 1:14   His head and hair were while as wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 

 

Revelation 1:15   His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.     

 

Revelation 1:16   In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

 

Three comments should be made about the appearance of Jesus:

 

1.   A glorious appearance – white hair, glowing feet, eyes on fire, a powerful voice, face as bright as the Sun, wearing a golden sash. Jesus did not look like this when He lived on Earth because He came to teach us about the character of God, not the glory of God. Obviously, the glory of Jesus was strangely familiar to John. He had briefly seen the glory of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah.

 

2.   The seven stars in His right hand. These seven stars represent the seven angels who stand at attention before God’s throne. These angels are ready to execute anything commanded. The location of these stars “in the right hand” indicates that they are powerful. These angels are at His “right hand.” They immediately to whatever He commands – and this brings us to the sword….

 

3.   John saw a double edge sword coming out of the mouth of Jesus. This means that Jesus has power over life and death. He is Sovereign. He speaks and people live. He speaks and people die. (1 Thessalonians 4:16, Revelation 19:21)

 

The appearance of Jesus in this vision is telling. Jesus has been given great power.

 

 

Continuing:

Revelation 1:17   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 (eternal) the First and the Last (the Alpha and the Omega of everything that exists).

 

Revelation 1:18   I am the living One, I (Jesus, a co-eternal member of the Godhead) was dead (for a few days), and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold (have authority) the keys of death and Hades (grave).

 

Revelation 1:19   “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.

 

Revelation 1:20   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 of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”

 

Two interesting points:

Each of the seven angels was assigned to a church. This will prove interesting in our next study. Also, keep in mind that the seven lampstands represent the seven churches. This symbolism is very helpful. What was the purpose of the seven churches? Before answering this question, compare Christianity with the purpose given to Israel:

 

Acts 13:46   Then Paul and Barnabas answered them (the Jews) boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.

 

 Acts 13:47   For this is what the Lord had commanded us (believers in Christ): “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that  you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”

 

Acts 13:48   When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.”

 

The seven churches are represented as seven candlesticks because they had become the light of the world!

 

End Text:


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