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Why Care About Revelation?

Revelation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:39
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I want to start today reading the verses I hope to cover. So let's start with the word of God:
Revelation 1:1–3 NLT
This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John, who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.
Obviously, we are in Revelation, and we're going to camp here for a while. What comes to mind when you hear the word Revelation?
Dragons? Beasts? Disasters? Wrath? Judgment? It's sort of scary or disorienting, isn't it? When we try to understand Revelation in light of our experiences today, there's a big disconnect. So I ask, is God's Revelation to his people supposed to scare his people or disorient his people?
Why should we care about this book?

The deeper we probe Scripture and reflect upon it, the more powerfully it will speak to our lives.

Today will largely be spent laying the foundation for our time spent in Revelation this year. I will be making CDs of this sermon, because fatigue of this book is understandable. It's hard to understand, but it's important. God has a message that he wants his Church to know in this day and age, and the hard work we have to do to hear it is worth it. There's a reason that Jesus adds to the Shema when he quotes it in Mark 12:29-30. See if you can spot the difference:
Deuteronomy 6:4–5 NLT
“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
Mark 12:29–30 NLT
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’
There is something important, something essential to who we are in Christ that we engage our minds to understand that which God has spoken through his prophets and his apostles. And Lord willing, we will do so.
One suggestion for those for those who want to get as much as they can out of this sermon series (not homework, but just a suggestion):
Take an hour and fifteen minutes a week to read Revelation all the way through in one sitting once a week without chapter and verse divisions.
Chapter/verse divisions are not original to the Bible. They were added in the 7th or 8th century, so it's not like John went, "John 3:16: This one's gonna be a doozy!" If you don't have a Bible without chapter and verse divisions in it, you can use any Bible software, or I will get you a copy of Revelation without those divisions. Additionally, I say to read it all at once because that's how the churches that received it would have dealt with it. You understand the arc of the book better when you take it in all at once.

How churches deal with Revelation:

1. Ignore it
2. Obsess over it
We all know the obsessiveness that I'm talking about. They're the churches carefully scanning the headlines of the newspaper each morning, looking for even the slightest, most tenuous connection to the events of Revelation. And they let you know it! And if you don't obsess over this book, and how it ties into the newspaper headlines of the day, you're just not spiritual enough, and a lot of times, they're the people with the bumper sticker that says, WARNING: IN CASE OF RAPTURE, THIS CAR WILL BE UNMANNED!
Sure, it can be a little disturbing when churches obsess over this book, but I don't blame people for it. Revelation is a really interesting book, filled with vivid imagery, and Jesus and his people winning. But even more disturbing than churches that obsess over this book are the churches that ignore this book entirely. And I think there are a few reasons why churches do this:

Why Churches Ignore Revelation

1. They are afraid of Revelation.
2. They are too lazy to do the work of studying this book.
"If scholars can't even agree on this issue, what chance do I have?"
3. They don't feel properly equipped to handle this book.
And these are the reasons I want to study this with you:

Why we are going to study Revelation

1. I don't want you to be afraid of God's word.
2. I want to do the hard work with you of understanding this book together.
3. I want you to feel well-equipped to come back to this book for your whole life and develop a deep appreciation for it.
And so, as we go through this book together, you might be tempted to throw up your hands, and say, "What's the point of this? Is this necessary to understand for salvation?"
To which, I will reply, "No. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Remember Hebrews 5-6 and 1 Corinthians 3 and the encouragement of the authors to seek knowledge of the faith beyond the elementary. Yes, we should cover the basics, but we shouldn't be content to remain there."

We care about Revelation because...

1. It is a word from God.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 NLT
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
2. How we read (or don't read) Revelation will affect the way we read all other books of the Bible.
Orthodoxy Chapter II—The Maniac

And though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators.

Revelation, not Revelations. There is only one Revelation of Jesus Christ. This book is a cohesive whole with one major message for the church, not a jumbled series of visions with different purposes.

IT IS OKAY TO DISAGREE WITH ME.

Considerations when Studying the Bible (Particularly Revelation):

Structure:
Recapitulation
Genre:
Define genre. Use examples of mail/newspaper.
-Apocalypse
-Prophecy
-Epistle
Historical Background (Author/Audience/Geography):
Explain who John is. 7 Churches.
John is a good disciple.
He is the disciple whom Jesus loved.
One of the inner three- Peter, James & John (transfiguration, the raising of Jairus' daughter, and Gethsemane)
He's faithful through and through.
He is the only disciple with the guts to show up to Jesus' crucifixion.
Jesus entrusted the care of his mother after his death to John.
John was the first disciple to reach Jesus' tomb after the news of the resurrection reached the apostles (John 20:2-4).
Paul calls him "a pillar of the church" (Gal. 2:9).
He was the last living apostle.
Faithfully carried out the great commission through his disciple, Polycarp.
But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true.
He suffered faithfully for Christ. Early Church tradition states that they tried to get him to renounced Christ, and when he refused, they tried to boil him alive, but he wouldn't die. So they exiled him to the island of Patmos because of his testimony.
Seven Churches- Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea. Each of them is situated along a major Roman postal route, and each church has it's own unique geography and history that will affect what Jesus says through John to them.

[[MAP]]

Symbolism and Sources
Draws heavily from the Old Testament, the geography and culture surrounding those Christians in the 1st century in Asia Minor, and a jewish mindset.
Cyclical thinking- it's why Hebrews can be difficult for us to read- because the author uses cyclical thinking to circle the point that he's making- Jesus is better.
Literal vs. Figurative
What does the word “literally” mean?
If I literally write something to be taken as a metaphor, I literally want it to be understood as a metaphor. I.E. “You are driving me crazy.”
John never said what he meant, he meant what he meant.
Literal/Figurative- I don’t care. Is it natural?
We have some clues from Revelation 1:1-3 how to interpret this book:
Revelation 1:1–2 NLT
This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John, who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Ἀποκάλυψις (1:1)- Apocalypse (revelation)
σημαίνω (1:1)- made known by the use of symbols.
The is a characteristic of apocalyptic literature- that they are heavily symbolic.
Revelation 1:3 NLT
God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.
προφητεία (1:3)- prophecy
If this is prophecy, how do you obey a prophecy? What is prophecy?

Prophecy is something that communicates

Who God is
What God desires
What God demands from his people
And Revelation does that.
So I'm encouraged in that today, I am blessed to be able to preach through this book. I'm blessed that I get to read it out loud. And you are blessed if you hear it, and obey the command of God in it, because the time is near.

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