The One Who Was and Is and Is to Come
This morning, I want to talk about something that sounds boring, but will seriously inform the way we will interpret the book of Revelation: context. There used to be a phrase "context is king". Christ is king, but context is really important.
And so much of our time in Revelation will be focused on context. Because in Bible study, we have to ask three questions in the right order:
Principles of Bible Study
Principles of Bible Study
1. What does it say?
2. What does it mean?
3. How does it apply?
Context important- Phil 4:13, Matthew 18:20 and how we use it.
Context is important, especially for Revelation. How we read it will affect the way we read the rest of the Bible (E.G., Matthew 5, Schofield's comments on it).
Schofield basically says that the Sermon on the Mount isn't for the church because the Jews hadn't rejected Christ yet, therefore the Church hadn't been established and couldn't have been being spoken to (and if you want his direct quote on it, I'd be happy to get it for you).
The way you view Scripture is affected by how you view Revelation.
The way you view the times is affected by how you read Revelation.
The way you view God is affected by how you read Revelation.
The way you view the Church is affected by how you read Revelation.
Revelation's context is to 7 churches in Asia Minor. This means they would have been able to understand it. Revelation CANNOT mean anything to us today that could not have been understood by them first. We must look at this book in light of how it was understood in the first and second century church. We know this because of the charge in Revelation 1:3 to obey this book, and Revelation ends with a command to John not to seal up the book. How could the early church have obeyed the book if it wasn't about them/to them? In contrast, Daniel ends with a charge to seal up the book (Dan. 12:4).
This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him— even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”
Now, I want to look at this verse by verse and take these issues as they come:
This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne;
Seven Churches- The seven churches would have been understood as representing all the churches of Asia, and perhaps the entire worldwide Church.
(Revelation 1:4) grace & peace- our inheritance
(Revelation 1:4, 8) One who is and who was and who is coming- this verse itself is an interpretation of the name of God in Exodus 3:14.
God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.”
Whether we're talking about past, present, or future, God is already there.
Do not kill yourself for your past- God is using it to make you who you are.
Do not give up in the present- God is walking in it with you.
Do not fear the future- God is already at work in it.
(Revelation 1:4) Seven Spirits
In Revelation, we don't count numbers, we weigh them.
Because this is Apocalyptic genre, we will not COUNT with numbers, we will weigh with them. And I'm going to repeat this dozens of times in this book. We don't count with numbers in Revelation; we weigh with them. John told us in verse 1 that much of the language in Revelation is SYMBOLIC by using the word σημαίνω, which means, "to make known by the use of symbols."
σημαίνω (sēmainō)- to make known by the use of symbols (from Revelation 1:1).
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,
Talk about Bible translations. Dynamic Equivalency/Formal Equivalence
Different Types of Bible Versions
Different Types of Bible Versions
Trying to summarize the ideas in a way that will best be understood by modern readers. A lot of times, this involves interpretation as well as translation. An extreme form of this would be the Message and a more mild form of this would be our version, the NLT.
Trying to be as faithful as possible to the words that the writers of the Bible used. This would be like the NASB. Every version is somewhere on the spectrum. If you want to know the balance that a translation attempts to strike, read the translator's notes at the beginning of almost every major Bible translation.
Now, because ours is much more dynamic than formal, doesn't mean that the NLT is bad, but it is something we must be aware of when we read so that we can correct for it. And we will run into this issue in Revelation multiple times, and the interpretation of the word σημαίνω, which the NLT translates "present", but it's more than that. It's a symbol. Because, in Revelation, we don't count numbers, we weigh them.
Seven in Revelation- John no stranger to Seven.
Seven Miracles in John
Seven "I AM" statements of Jesus.
[[Numbers in Revelation Graphic]]
[[Numbers in Revelation Graphic]]
Seven just means "the whole Spirit of God" because in Revelation, we do not count with numbers, we weigh with them. And that's true of our example of 9/11. When we say, "Remember 9/11," we're not counting with those numbers, we're weighing with them.
and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us.
First to rise (or firstborn) from the dead- this means heir-apparent. The inheritance of rising from the dead belongs to Jesus. Part of that inheritance is all the people who rise from the dead. That's you!
(Revelation 1:5) Ruler of all the kings of the world-
There are 404 Verses in Revelation, at least 350 allusions to the Old Testament.
And this verse is one of them. It is reminiscent of king Nebuchadnezzar's language in Daniel 2:47. After Daniel interprets his dream. And this is a refrain that John will come back to in the later chapters of Revelation (Rev. 17:14, 19:16) . And the point is that because Jesus is truly in control, the final victory over those kingdoms that stand opposed to him will be his.
(Revelation 1:5) By his blood- Every time a bull or goat was slaughtered, you can imagine the Logos watching saying, "That's me." We see this idea in Hebrews, right?
For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
So for those of you who hunt, or kill animals, let that be on your mind as you slit the throat and bleed it out. Jesus violently, grotesquely spilled his blood for you because of your rebellion against him. You declared war on him, and he died for you. It doesn't make sense except by great love. And he does love you, very much! He wants you to be part of his people. To be a part of his kingdom!
He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
kingdom of priests- where Israel failed, we will not (Ex. 19:6)
And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”
Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him— even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen!
He is coming on the clouds- John is borrowing language again from Daniel 7, talking about one like a son of man (Jesus' favorite title for himself) who goes before God the Father and receives honor, power and authority! John is saying, that's Jesus! And do you remember how Jesus left?
So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”
This is the encouragement of John:
Church, DO NOT GIVE UP. No matter what the culture looks like, no matter how you might be tempted to lose heart, or stop doing good, DON'T GIVE UP. Jesus is coming back. And take heart, he sees your suffering. He sees your affliction. He sees your faithfulness in the struggle. And he has a message for you! Persevere. He will overcome, and he will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Maybe not now, but compared to eternity, it is SOON.
Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him— even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”
(Revelation 1:7) Pierced him- who pierced him? We all did. You killed him with your sin. I killed him with my sin. And he loved us.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
We declared war, but he declared peace. We declared separation, but he declared adoption. We declared sin, but he declared righteousness. We declared rebellion, but he declared grace.
And I will conclude today before I take questions with the same words that John uses at the end of this book: "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all."