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Revelation 1:1-8

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The Revelation of John is a fascinating book. There are a few different responses to this book.
Some say, I can’t understand all the images and it is a little frightening, so I don’t read it.
Others will read it and try to pick it apart, analyzing every detail and trying to decipher it in a way that helps us determine when Jesus is going to come again and exactly what it is going to look like.
Others will read it and simply say that it is all symbolism and that it is simply a imaginative description of the final battle between God and Satan. We can’t take it literally.
—a victory that has already been won in Jesus Christ, but the final battle that ends all battles and brings about the end of sin and evil, and brings us into the eternal kingdom of God.
Where do we stand? It’s interesting to note that our denomination has had several people study this and put forward their opinions, but there is no official position on the end times that Revelation speaks about. However, there has consistently been a desire to interpret Revelation in the light of all scripture and try to not get ahead of God and his plan or to ignore it. What has come from this is a mix. There is a message to the churches that John was writing to then—something for them in their context and situation. Yet, it also looks ahead for all Christians to the day when Christ comes again—something that we need to take seriously. And, it is also makes use of symbol—to give images to what is a spiritual battle.
But ultimately what we learn is that Jesus has won the victory. The battle has been won. Satan has been defeated and Jesus will bring in the eternal kingdom—a place where there will be no more suffering or death.
At the bottom line, we believe the book of Revelation-it’s revelation, not revelations, by the way—we believe the book to be inspired by God and to be used by the believers and the church for encouragement, not fear, and to strengthen, not weaken their faith.
We believe the book of Revelation-it’s revelation, not revelations, by the way—we believe the book to be inspired by God and to be used by the believers and the church for encouragement, not fear, and to strengthen, not weaken their faith.
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The revelation of God

Many have called this the revelation of John—which is accurate to some degree—he is the author who wrote this book.
But, this is the revelation from Jesus Christ, the word of God. The Greek word for revelation is based on the word we now know as apocalypse. The meaning of that word has changed from it’s original intent. Apocalypse meant that something that was not seen was being revealed or uncovered.
Yet, with the connection to the images that we see in Revelation, apocalypse or apocalyptic has come to mean ultimate destruction or something catastrophic.
Instead of something that we should be afraid of, we read in vs. 3:
Revelation 1:3 NIV
Blessed is the one who reads aloud 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.
We are blessed by what has been given to us in Revelation and we should be glad to read and hear what it has to say to us.
In one of my commentaries, this was the heading or summary of the first three verses.
The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation The Revelation is Given to John as a Heavenly Commentary on What God Has Done in Christ so that John Will Bear Witness to It (1:1–2)

The Revelation is Given to John as a Heavenly Commentary on What God Has Done in Christ So that John Will Bear Witness to It

Revelation—From God
John—the earthly author
heavenly commentary—heavenly perspective instead of earthly perspective
What God has done in Christ
Bear witness—the purpose of the book is to bear witness to the work of God.
To say that John was only speaking of events in the far distant future or if John was looking to the situation around him and seeing the crisis of persecution from the Romans—these views limit our understanding of the book.
What we do clearly see is that John sees and anticipates God’s victory over evil and the beginning of the eternal kingdom.
We read Revelation in the same way we can read the book of Daniel.
Daniel 2:44 NIV
“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
It is the victory that is the most important.
In this revelation, we see the fulness of God.

The fullness of God

The fullness of God

Grace and peace is from God
He has always existed—he is, was, and will always be.
As we read:
Revelation 1:4–5 NIV
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 his throne, 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,
The number seven is important in Revelation as well as throughout the Bible. It is a symbol of completeness or fullness. It goes all the way back to Genesis.
God created the world in six days and then he rested on the seventh.
There are letters to the seven churches—but these letters are to be to the entire church—representative of all the churches in the area where John was writing, but also applicable to the entire church, wherever it met.
As for the Seven Spirits, it is representative of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. It is considered to be reference to the writings of the prophet Zechariah.
Zechariah 4:2–6 NIV
He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” I asked the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” He answered, “Do you not know what these are?” “No, my lord,” I replied. So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.
In the same way that we see the lamps as a whole, so are we to see the Spirit in its fullness.
We are greeted by the one one who is, was, and who is to come—God who has no beginning or end, the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and from Jesus Christ—the witness who shares his revelation to John for us. He is the first born from the dead, and the ruler of every king.

The glory of God.

In all of this, the book is not a lesson manual about exactly what is going to happen. That said, we affirm that Revelation has something to teach us and we should not just see it all as images and fantasy. We should avoid both extremes, and should look to the third and middle-way. The book of Revelation does use symbolism that we should not take as literal events, but it’s application is very practical and concrete. Revelation engages our imaginations so that we can picture a battle and a danger that is very real. Putting into focus something that gives us a glimpse into a spiritual world that up to now is yet outside our ability to see.
If we get lost in the details or if we ignore them, we miss what is most important. God wins and it is for His glory.
Even though we are going to take some time to look at what Revelation says and what we can learn from it to apply to the way that we live our lives, ultimately we can’t see it as an instruction manual or guidebook so that we can be more self-sufficient.
Ultimately it points us to the glory of God. It is God who gets the focus.
Revelation 1:5-6
Revelation 1:5–6 NIV
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, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
Revelation 1:5–6 NIV
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, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
Finally, it looks to the day when Christ comes. John quotes from .
Zechariah 12:10 NIV
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.
This message is especially timely as we look ahead a few weeks to when we remember Jesus’ death on the cross. He does not remain there. He goes to the grave and rises again. He ascends to heaven, but he does not stay there. He is coming again. He will come with the clouds (). The earth might mourn, but it will only be an instant, because he comes to wipe away our tears.
He is the Alpha and the Omega—the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. He is the beginning and the end. The one who was, is to come, the Almighty.
Let’s read the book of Revelation together, so that we might see God’s work and eternal plan come to complete fulfillment, so that we might better be able to give him glory.
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