Revelation 1:1-8 – 2024 Jan 25

The speaker reflects on signs of the end times, paralleling current global conflicts, diseases, and widespread deviation from Christian beliefs with biblical prophecies. Observing events like multinational tensions, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters, they argue these are indicators of the approaching final days prophesied in the Bible. The discourse emphasizes the importance of obedience to God’s word, repentance, and readiness for the return of Jesus Christ. As an in-depth study of the final book of the Bible begins, the speaker underscores the significance of understanding and obeying the prophecies within to prepare for the end times.

Here we are!  We’re in the first chapter of the last book!  I’ve done this book before a couple of times, but never in the detail that we are going to look at this!  I’m excited!

People have been asking me for the last couple of years if we’re in the end times.  I’m going to answer this question the same way the Apostle John did in 1 John 2:18, where he said, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.”  If that was true for the Apostle John in AD 95, then it is so much more true for us now.  I know a lady that has for the longest time put this statement on Twitter or X every day:  “We are now one day closer to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I could spend a real amount of time to tell you about what I see in the news headlines, a kind of Issachar-like approach to life, and it is a worthy exercise.  In general, what I see is this:  There is an increase in multinational conflict or threat of it around the globe as a whole.  I used to think that this was because we now had a 24-hour news cycle and we were just reporting it more, but then it started to focus on Israel or nations mentioned in the Scriptures.  Right now, I believe we are watching the players coming to their marks for the war described in Psalm 83, written 3000 years ago.  If you want a good summary of this, you can check out the work of a gent named Bill Salus, who has done a lot of research to figure out the historical names of the players that are involved.  The purpose of said war, at least for the nations involved, is to remove the nation of Israel from being a nation, as they say, “from the river to the sea.”  Then Ezekiel has another war described in his 38th chapter.  You get the idea.  Wars and rumours of wars.

Disease always follows that, as do famine and pestilence, but beginning in March of 2020, something that was described then as “airborne AIDS” that we eventually labelled COVID-19 arrived and the nations of the world locked down the planet to prevent its spread.  We are not going to talk about the mortality rates of that disease, but if nothing else, you can see it as a dry run for what the World Economic Forum called “Disease X” at their meeting last week in Davos.  Food shortages are tied into this.  Crazy weather all over the globe, not because of climate change, but because of God warning us of how helpless we are on our own.  Even animal attacks are on the rise, which is referenced in Amos 5:19 talking about the Day of the Lord:  “As when a man flees from a lion

And a bear meets him, Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall And a snake bites him.”  Earthquakes in all kinds of places.  All of this are signs of the end, and increasing like when a mother starts to go into labour with her baby.  These things are increasing in number, in frequency, and in intensity.

Finally, there is almost a wholesale turning away from Christ.  We are called bigots because we believe sex is only supposed to take place between men and women who are married to each other the way God allowed it to happen.  All other expressions are not proper!  Many are beginning to leave the faith because they find the road to narrow and restricting.  Beloved, hear this:  “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  (Matt. 7:13-14)  Instead, we hear, “We need breathing room!”  All Star Trek fans will recognize the words uttered by General Chang, which Captain Kirk attributed (not entirely incorrectly) to Hitler.  Discontent is just part of the package of wanting something more than you have, that is, what God gave you.  So in answering the question, I will say, YES!  We are in the last days, and we have been for about the last 2000 years.  Are we coming up to the end of time?  We are getting closer to it all the time.  Will it happen before tomorrow?  Probably not, but I wouldn’t just dismiss that out of hand.  “The time is near, as John tells us in verse 3 of this evening’s text.

I broke the text down as follows:

KV3:  Reading, hearing, and heeding – the key to Blessing

1-3:  The time is near for these things to occur

4-6:  Greetings from the Godhead through John

7-8:  God is returning to begin His reign in person

KV3:  Reading, hearing, and heeding – the key to Blessing

3:  Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

You have heard me talk about this before, but the Lord has communicated what I will call an “advanced scouting report” so that we will not be caught flat-footed and can keep ourselves ready for what is going to happen.  This book is all about that, and includes both heavenly and earthly content.  We don’t always know the difference, and it is not always easy to tell.  However, the main point I want to make is that this book is unique in that it offers a real blessing to those that will read or hear and then OBEY the things written therein.

In fact, if you have been here before, you know that it is our firm belief that if you really do belong to Christ, you WILL obey Him.  If you are not obeying Him, while we will stop short of saying you do not belong to Him, we will say without apology and in the strongest possible terms that you need to REPENT!  If you call yourself a Christian and then live like what Christ’s words do not matter, you cause people to speak ill of the Saviour, and that’s called blasphemy.  We do not want to be the cause of that or cause it ourselves.  We tell you this because we truly love you, and to NOT tell you would not be love.  With that said, let’s get into the text.

1-3:  The time is near for these things to occur

I’ve already spoken this evening about how I think we are in the time that is running up to the end, and I don’t know when that “end” will begin.  A few things may need to happen before this kicks off in earnest, and we will  speculate on some of what that will be as it comes up in the text.  Most of this will only begin when we reach the end of chapter 2 and beyond.  The thing not to miss here is that John is telling us that we need to be watchful and attentive, and obedient because we don’t want to miss when this all starts in earnest.  Let’s look at what the text says.

1:  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,

  • The first thing we see here is the title of the book in the very first words (5 in English, 3 in Greek):  The Revelation of Jesus Christ.  The Greek reads, “Apokalupsis Iesou Christou.”  The first word apokalupis means an uncovering of what was hidden (apo from; kalupto hidden or covered up).  It is in my thinking, best used as singular.  Though multiple things are revealed in the book, it is ALL the revealing of the ONE object, in this case the person of Jesus Christ.  To call it “revelations” [plural] implies more than one thing is being revealed, and can give rise to inclusions and errors that need not occur, so I will go with the actual text and call it “Revelation,” singular.  Yes, this is a pet peeve I have.
  • That whole thing is the subject matter title.  How can we know that?  Because that is how John tells us God has used it when he says the second phrase: “which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants…”  Who is “Him?”  Him in this case is Christ, who is telling this revelation to His own bond-servants.  What is this revelation?  The things which must soon take place.  “Soon” is the a form of the Greek tachos, meaning a brief space of time, or “quickly.”  I know what you’re thinking, because I think it too.  2000 years is not a quick time.  But is that true?  Not from the perspective of an eternal being that is not bound up in time and space.  God is that being.  A day to him is like 1000 years.  It is a short span of time to Him.
  • The last part of the sentence is where John introduces himself as the means by which the revelation messaging was sent.  Here He says “angel” in a less common sense than we are used to.  This is a physical representation of Himself in bodily form, just like when He was seen in the Old Testament by Abraham or Joshua, say.

2:  who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.

  • John here is describing what his own action was in the revelation.  He gave witness (“testified”) of what he was shown, he connected it appropriately to the Scriptures (“word of God”) where he had to, and also gave testimony to Jesus Christ (that is, he shared the gospel), in everything that God allowed him to see.  If John did that, so should we all.
  • Think about what that means.  When is the last time that you saw something in the Scriptures, and then came across a situation to which it applied and shared it?  Or like me, do you clam up and hold your peace because of a lack of confidence, or worse, sin in your life?  Beloved, God allows us to see things in His word, that is he reveals it to us quite literally, and He does this so that we might be a blessing to the world.  Not so that we may hide it and sit in condemnation over others.  The Greek word for that is hupocrites.  You know what it means, I don’t have to call you a hypocrite in English.  I know because I can also be that way.

3:  Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

  • Here is the blessing I mentioned earlier.  That word “Blessed” conveys the meaning of that which is the highest good.  It means happy or spiritually prosperous (not related to worldly prosperity, please).  Who are those that are so blessed?  Well now, this is a compound conditional sentence, isn’t it!  Those who are granted the highest good are those who either read or hear the words of this prophecy [a reference to “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” in v.1] AND HEED the things which are written in it!  The word “heed” is a form of the Greek tereo, and it means in this usage to observe, guard, or keep the things written, that is, we must OBEY what it says!  What a shock!  This is so new!  We must OBEY the WORD!  And I’m never sarcastic!  Hahaha!

Why?  Because all of this is very near.  There is some context here that is present that most people never think of because they miscalculate and think this is a “rapture” passage, which it is not.  Let me explain a little related systematic theology to you.  We know from Rev. 22:10-11 (“And he *said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.”” that the character you have when you end this mortal state we are ALL in will be fixed at time of death.  [MacArthur study notes have a bit on this too.]  I’ll do the math on me so as not to single anyone out unwillingly.  With everything medically wrong with me, I will likely make 81 years of age (a calculator of life expectancy I used to use for life insurance).  I’m 56 now, 57 in March.  Assuming that number is close to reality, I have about 24 years to live.  I have friendships more than twice that old, Beloved!  It isn’t such a long time.  If I go with threescore and ten (70 years), I have even less time.  My time on earth IS coming to an end, I just don’t know when.  Knowing that my character will be fixed at death, I should be doing everything I can to make sure it is a holy and righteous path I walk down no matter the cost to me if I want to spend an eternity with Jesus Christ.  My priorities must be constantly examined.  I must give the lion’s share of my time to the pursuit of God, like the church fathers did!  Like the puritans did!  Like all real saints did and still do.  It doesn’t mean I can’t have fun, it means I must be deliberate in what I call fun!  I said to myself that if there was a Bible study on a given night of the week in my local gathering, I would do what I could to make that activity my priority, and not, say, the Wednesday night weekly Cribbage tournament.  I would make that Bible Study.  [A word of advice, though:  Be careful or you may end up teaching one!  It can happen!]

That’s what I mean when I say these things are near.  Like our death, we don’t know when that will occur, but when it does eventually occur, our character will be fixed at that time, and your eternal destiny will be fixed on what you did with the Revelation of Jesus Christ in your life.  My encouragement is that you choose to be ready for it when it comes.  And Rapture, or the Greek harpazo actually shortens that time potentially, so there can be no delay in setting those priorities now.  THAT’S the Revelation of Jesus Christ to His servants, Beloved.  Next point.

4-6:  Greetings from the Godhead through John

This is not John saying hello to the followers of Jesus, although he does do that.  There is a much higher authority than John greeting the saints.  The entire Godhead says hello here through John.  Look at the text!

4:  John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,

  • Here is where the actual “letter” of Revelation begins.  Here is the writer greeting his audience and credentialling who is really giving the text of the letter, all three members of the Godhead, which will be completed in the next verse.  John self-identifies as the one doing the actual letter-writing, and his audience is the seven churches that will be named in the text of our next study, but who are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, and in that order of address by our Lord. 
  • Here is the greeting, similar in ways to the greetings of Paul and Peter, but more detailed in who is offering the greeting.  Okay, I can hear you beginning to take issue with me telling you who is saying hello here, but let’s resolve that concern.  It is the entirety of the Godhead!  What do they say?  “Charis humin kai eirene.”  Grace [God’s unearned and undeserved favour] and peace [the wellbeing that goes with knowing there is no longer any condemnation for those that are in Christ] to you!  For those that are perhaps losing patience, or are here in fear, please know that God’s wish for you is His Grace, and His peace, not condemnation and judgement.  He has called all men to repentance, and wants you to obey Him in that command.  Repentance is defined by the Greek word metanoia, and it means to change your mind!  Change your mind about your sin!  Admit that it is sin, and admit that you have sinned against God in your pursuit of your own goals and interests.  Then believe that God has Himself died in your place for those sins so that you do not have to!  Do that, and you WILL be saved, no ifs, no ands, no buts, no conditions, and no quids pro quo.
  • The Godhead members themselves have some interesting descriptions, so we will examine them.  Him who is and who was and who is to come is none other than God the Father.  How do we know?  Christ is named in the next verse, so we will comment on Him when we get there.  The Father is mentioned in relation to His very first and most important attribute:  His aseity.  The Century Dictionary defines aseity as “the mode of being of that which is underived from anything else; independent existence; existence by self-origination.”  God is the only being in the universe that can have that legitimately said about Him.  We certainly cannot, He created us all.  No angel can say it, as much as they might like to at times.  God created all of them also.  The only individual that is eternal and uncreated is God Himself, and I further would include all members of the Godhead, though I must openly confess I do not understand how it works.  No man can, so I don’t feel bad.  I won’t go into this in detail, but that’s the Heavenly Father simply sending His greeting!  And He is not the only person of the Godhead sending greetings through John.
  • “The seven Spirits before His throne” is a reference to the Holy Spirit.  Some have translated this as “seven-fold” Spirit, and either works here, but the textual evidence is “tōn hepta pneumatōn,” which are all in the plural use, so I don’t know what that means, and it doesn’t matter because no one debates this is referring to the Holy Spirit.  Here is why:  Isaiah 11:2 says, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.”  If you add “holiness” or swap it out for “Spirit of the LORD,” you have seven attributes of the Holy Spirit.  This is the seven Spirits of God to whom John refers.  The Him Whom it rests on is in the next verse.

5:  and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—

  • Here He is, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the great logos that created everything by speaking it into existence.  If He did not create it, then it isn’t here.  God reserves the ability to create ex nihilo, that is “out of nothing” for Himself, and I suspect, though I did not search this out, ALL of the members of the Godhead have that ability.  But how is Christ identified in our text?
  • Christ.  That’s a title, not Jesus’ last name!  It’s an English shortening of the Greek Christos, which in Hebrew is Meschiach.  We Anglicize that as Messiah.  In English, we say “The Anointed One.”  He is the One that God anointed to do the Father’s will on earth in terms of redeeming the very people that the Father gave the Son before the world began.  You can read about that yourself in Romans 8:29-30 and Ephesians 1:5 and 11, and is referred to in passing in 1 Corinthians 2:7.  I give the references for you to do so.  Christ Jesus is God the Son, who made it happen. 
  • The faithful witness.  Ho martus ho pistos.  We get from martus our English word “martyr,” thus “one who bears witness by His death,” according to Vine in his Expository Dictionary.  Pistos is an adjectival for of the noun pistis, or “faith.”  It is used here in the passive sense here, and it means “faithful or trustworthy,” again, according to Vine.  This tells us that the Anointed One had such a strong opinion or position held on how He could pay the price for our sins that it made him pay the price for our sins and die in our place!  God was SO pleased with that sacrifice that He rose from the grave as proof that He did indeed pay for every sin of His people.
  • The firstborn of the dead.  What this is actually talking about is that He was the first One ever raised from the dead, and that’s right in the text, among other places like 1 Corinthians 15.  I mention this because some like Charles Taze Russell have used this as a proof text to say that Christ was not an eternal being but was a created being.  I pick Russell here because I know a bit about JW false teaching on the matter, but this isn’t a new idea, and it’s been around since a guy named Arius, and probably before that.  They must in their false doctrine diminish the eternal Son of the eternal Father so that they can have some support for their works-based salvation I think, but that isn’t what John is saying here.  John is saying that He was the firstborn from the dead.  He rose forevermore and was only the first to do so by the power of God, which is His own power.  We all have to wait for Him, but I can tell you that though He was first, it is not His will that He be the last!
  • Ruler of the kings of the earth.  I am reminded of Psalm 2:1-7, which says “Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing?  The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!”  He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them.  Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”  “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.”  This book is how that story will play out in detail.
  • John now begins a bit of a doxology.  He says, “To Him [God the Son] who loves [present tense] us [all of us who will turn to Him] and released [loosed the bonds of] us [all of us who will turn to Him] from our sins by His blood.”  Beloved, that sounds almost like John 3:16.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [the best He had to give] that whoever would believe in Him should NOT perish but have eternal life.”  How?  He died for us.  He, the Son of Man, was lifted up on a pole in the wilderness, and He has drawn all His people to Himself, or is in the process of doing that now.  John begins with the Gospel and moves to something very glorious.  Next verse.

6:  and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

  • Seems reminiscent of Peter here, does it not?  1 Peter 2:4-5 reads, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
  • I need to say this, because I most often overlook this fact, but “He has made us to be” is in the PAST TENSE!  It has already happened, even though we are even now still just beginning to grow into that through the trials that we experience here.  What has He made us into?  A basileian.  He has made us into His kingdom!  Not just a kingdom at random, HIS kingdom!  Beloved, are we excited about that?  I am!  So should we all be!  What wonderful things He has in store for us as we walk with Him!  We also hold an interesting position in that kingdom that John talks about here!  Priests to God His Father!  What does the priest do?  He represents God to the people to whom God sends the priest, and represents those people to God!  That was the duty of Melchizedek, all the Levitical priests, really, all priests everywhere that God ordained as priests.  (Not that man ordained, not even the so-called Church.)
  • Remember I said this is part of a doxology?  That last sentence clinches it.  To Him be the glory [doxa] and the dominion [more like “manifested power”] to the ages of the ages [literal from aionion use].  AMEN! 

This is the being that is greeting us.  It is too big for on person, it has three, and those three are One!  No, I don’t understand it, and no, I cannot explain it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.  Perhaps when this is over [our life on earth not the book], then we might be given to understand this.  This is the God who loves us, sending us His grace and His peace so that WE can have His security in Him, even to all ages.  Why is HE greeting us?  Our final paragraph in this study beckons.

7-8:  God is returning to begin His reign in person

Simply put, God is greeting us and communicating His grace and peace to us, sharing us the work of Christ in us, and giving us a picture of His kingdom and our place in it because He is RETURNING!  Oh yes, Beloved, He is coming BACK, and all of those things that like righteous Lot vex our very souls to tears WILL BE put right.  He will take revenge on those who have mocked Him or declared Him to be their enemy in thought, word or deed.  See what it says in verse 7!

7:  BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

  • Those of you who have read your bibles before know what the all-capital-letters thing means, it is a quote from the Old Testament!  In this case, it refers to Daniel 7:13-14, which reads, “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.  And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.”
  • John also tells us that “every eye will see Him.”  In this case, I really think this will be a literal thing.  Every eye will behold the returning Christ.  I don’t know how this will be accomplished in detail, though I do know some of the details are in this book.  Whether this will be achieved through technology or by supernatural means by the power of God, I do not know, but again, that does not mean it is not true or will not happen.  What I find interesting here is what particular eyes will be the ones that see Him.  “Even those who pierced Him.”  Will that be the actual people that did the condemning and piercing?  Or just the sinners that remain on earth after all the disaster that is coming in the last times?  I cannot say because I do not know.  One thing I do know though, is that everyone that sees Him, and that will be everyone literally, all of them will mourn over Him.
  • There are two reasons that people could potentially mourn over Him, and I think both will be in play, though to what proportions is impossible to say.  I know if I am standing there, I will mourn over Him because I will be so very sorry for the sins I personally have committed that made His suffering necessary, and those are many and even continue in me at this time.  I am a sinner, saved only by His grace.  The other seems more likely to me though.  In this second reason, people will regret that He has returned, because all of their pleasure and fun will end in a condemnation of sin, and many will want to turn to Him and find themselves no longer able to do so.  Will some be allowed?  I would like to think so, but again, I do not know.  We will revisit this topic when we get to chapter 20.
  • Beloved, this is to be so, according to John in our text.  All we can do is with him say “Amen.”  This is a Greek word that is a transliteration from Hebrew.  Omain!  It means “Let it be so, or so be it.”  It is not a word that has to do with male and female as a “Methodist Minister” put it as a congressional prayer breakfast in Washington DC when he said, “A-men and A-women.”  That’s silly.  Just saying.  This kind of moronic “spirituality” will continue to increase before this all starts to happen.  We though, do not need to fear these things, no matter what events occur or their outcomes for us.  Why?  Last verse.

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

  • That Alpha and Omega stuff is invoking the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet.  Alpha is the first, Omega the last letter.  In Hebrew, it would be Aleph and Tau.  In Canadian English, it is Aay and Zed.  God Himself is saying that He is the first and He is also the last.  He is at the beginning, and He is at the end of all things.  He is, and was, and is to come, and He is ho Pantokrator, the Almighty Lord of Everything.

Why would we end with this verse?  Because it is a good closing to all that has come in the previous verse.  Who is the one who says this?  The one who is making it all happen even now.  Many “believers” if they can be called that, and I’m not sure they should be, have the view of God that He is either absent in the day-to-day affairs of people or that He is not able to work without peoples’ faith, or that He doesn’t know what will happen, or that He willing blinds or limits Himself in some way where events among men occur.  THAT is a very LOW view of God, my friends. 

I can assure you all that God the Father is on His throne and in control of everything that happens in the universe.  Yes, He has given people the gift of free will, and because He knows everything all at once and all the time, He knows what we will do with it.  He knows and He loves us all anyway, so much that He sent His Son to die for the sins of the world!  All have been commanded!  Whosoever will may come.  So come.  Or don’t.  Just know there are consequences either way you choose.  Let me read this from Chapter 3 of the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689.  The first paragraph reads, “God hath Decreed in himself from all Eternity, by the most wise and holy Councel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things whatsoever comes to passe; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin, nor hath fellowship with any therein, nor is violence offered to the will of the Creature, nor yet is the liberty, or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established, in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power, and faithfulness in accomplishing his Decree.”  How powerful is that?  God accomplishes His plan and purpose by using the free will choices of His enemies to accomplish the very thing He wants to happen and IT HAPPENS, whether we like it or not!  THAT is a proper high view of our God and King.

The book itself will actually give us a written description of God the Father on His throne ruling the universe.  He sends us all these descriptions of things that for us are difficult to understand and hard to know.  But He wants us to know them, and at the very least that He is returning to set up His kingdom for all those that will be His and follow Him.  Let’s be in THAT number, Beloved, when those “saints” go marching in.

That’s what I saw in our text this time.

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