Introduction to the book of Revelation and chapter 1.
[Steve Myers] Good evening everyone. It is good to see you all. A couple of things that I just mention as we begin the Book of Revelation. There is going to be questions that come up and I know many people on the web will type us emails which we certainly welcome. If you would, what we will try to do is cover those questions as we come to those sections of the Bible. Oftentimes we will get a question that might be from Chapter 20 or from Chapter 15. What we would like to do is deal with those as we get to those chapters, so if you have a question, please go ahead and ask it. We will keep it in store for when we actually get to those sections of the scripture so that we won't be jumping around too much. We will try to stay on task and go through the chapters as we come to them and expound upon those passages. Hopefully we can address those questions as we get to them.
A couple of things that we should talk about as we get into the Book of Revelation, as an introduction, is that Revelation is part of what often is termed apocalyptic literature, or the apocalyptic writings out of the Bible. Now I don't know what you think of when you hear the word apocalyptic. What is it that comes to mind? Probably for most people, doom, devastation, war, and tribulation. All the difficulties seem to be the things that come to mind when you here the word apocalyptic or apocalypse. And yet, that's not what the term in Greek means at all. In fact, right at the very beginning of the book of Revelation, it starts with the revelation of Jesus Christ. And that word Revelation is the Greek word apokalupsis, which is where we get apocalypse from. From that particular word, it doesn't mean doom, it doesn't mean devastation, but literally means to unveil or like revelation, carries the connotation of revealing. So that God's word is going to be revealed by Jesus Christ. And so when we start there, we begin to see and really get a feel for the sense of what apocalyptic literature is all about. Whether we are reading Daniel or Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, all of those books are also apocalyptic literature. And yet, that sense of apokalupsis also carries with it two senses, two general ways of interpreting what that word means. Let’s think about those for just a second because initially there is a figurative sense to the word.
What do we mean by that?
Figuratively, if you think of the word apocalypse, it would be revealing or unveiling an understanding. Things that maybe we haven't understood that now we can begin to see. Almost in the sense like a bride who would be coming down the aisle and then her veil is lifted as they come to the ceremony. That veil is taken away and then you can plainly see the bride. Or like the writings themselves, when the veil is taken away, you can understand what the writing is all about. Most interpreters will look at the Book of Revelation in a figurative sense and that is not necessarily a bad thing. But only to take apocalypse in a figurative sense would be wrong because it’s not just that there are things here that we can now begin to understand. Yes that’s true, that is some of the things that’s happening throughout the Book of Revelation. It is written so that we can understand and we will see that as we go through. There also is a literal sense to that word that means the apocalypse of the Revelation.
Now how is that different from the figurative sense? If we are removing the veil, that’s like removing the ignorance so that we can understand is a figurative thing, literally when you remove the veil in a literal sense, what will we see? Well when it comes to this last book in the Bible, Jesus Christ is revealed. Will there be a literal revealing of Jesus Christ? Absolutely! Will He visibly be seen - is that a literal thing? Yes, that’s not figurative, that’s not symbolic. That is a literal thing and so when we begin to understand that, it literally points to the return of Jesus Christ. He is hidden not only from understanding, but He is hidden as well from His visible appearance. He is going to come on the cross as 2 Thessalonians says. So very clearly there is a literal sense to this revealing of Jesus Christ. When you look through the book of Revelation, this word revelation, this word apokalupsis, appears 18 times throughout the Book, and almost every time it is used in the literal sense of something that we’re going to be able to see. Something that is going to be revealed to us. Leading up to the Book of Revelation, this word is used in the Greek many times over as a literal thing. One example, if you look over to 1 Corinthians 1, you see an example of the literal usage of this word. Let’s notice it right at the very beginning of the letter as Paul begins his letter to the Corinthians,
Verse 6 he says "Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed to you,” as he begins describing,
Verse 7 – “So that you come short in no gift eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And so he says very clearly here in Verse 7 that you come in no gift eagerly waiting for the revelation. That is that word once again, the apokalupsis, waiting for the revealing. So what is he saying? He is pointing to the return of Christ. He is pointing to the second coming there. This is a visible absolute, literal time that he is pointing to. Of course that is what the Book of Revelation is going to deal with in no uncertain terms.
Also, if you flip over to 2 Thessalonians, we will see this example here as well and see the same word used once again. The Thessalonians’ were having difficulty understanding what the death of God's people really meant and how they should view this. It seemed that some of them felt that they would live on until the return of Christ and so Paul writes concerning that.
2 Thessalonians 1:7 2 Thessalonians 1:7And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
American King James Version× – “To give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.”
So once again what’s happening? Christ is unveiled; He is revealed. This is a literal thing when He appears in His second coming. That’s what this is pointing to and of course he says in
Verse 8 – “In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who don't know god and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
He is pointing to the events that are described in the Book of Revelation. Once again, it’s referring to Christ Himself and its plainly describing His visible revelation. So we see this tie to the Book of Revelation is undoubtable. Now there is also another sense, if we take the figurative sense, we take a literal sense, Christ himself will be seen, and He will be unveiled at the second coming. But in Revelation it is also interesting how it points to something else as well.
Something else is going to be revealed, not just to some, but to all. In fact, we get a little glimpse over in 1 Peter. We see the same word apokalupsis (if I could just say it right once - one of those words that is hard to say because I always want to say apocalypse). But our English translation is here in
1 Peter 1:3 1 Peter 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
American King James Version× – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
In fact it happens quite a few times in the next couple of verses here in 1 Peter 3. So he begins to show us here in verse 3 and it reminds us that our hope lies in the resurrection from the dead.
Skipping down to Verse 5 – “We are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation, ready to be revealed in this last time.”
Well what is being unveiled? It is reminding us salvation is being unveiled. So at the return of Christ, salvation for all humanity is being revealed and is becoming evident. Jumping down to
Verse 8 – “Whom having not seen, you love though now you do not see Him, yet believing you rejoice with joy in expressible and full of glory.”
So we don't see Him right now because He is veiled. We see Him in the spiritual sense as God's people, but literally we don't. There is coming a literal time that we will and there is coming a figurative time when the world will have its eyes opened. They will be able to see and have spiritual understanding as well.
In Verse 12 it talks about it again – “To them it was revealed that not to themselves but to us.”
Then down in Verse 13 – “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober. Rest your hope fully on the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Literal appearing of Christ; His literal unveiling. He says because we are God's people, because we have an understanding we better be doing something. We better be preparing our minds for action and that’s what we need to be doing. So when we think about a figurative sense, that we can understand prophetic events, we will literally see Jesus Christ and salvation is going to be revealed to us. All of those things come to mind as we begin to study in the Book of Revelation. It becomes pretty clear that the Book itself is focused on unveiling. That is the name of the Book, the unveiling or revealing of Jesus Christ. It is focused on the events of the day of the Lord and surrounding the return of Jesus Christ as He comes to intervene in world affairs.
If you flip back to the Book of Revelation, we see at the very beginning as we read the revelation of Christ, we see that it was given to John. Now some versions of the Bible may have the revelation of John, which is not in the scripture. Was there a revealing or unveiling to John? Yes there was, in fact as we get into Verse 1 we will probably talk about that a little bit. But we see the point that John is the one who records these things. He is the one that was told to write down this book of prophecy. We see that throughout Verse 1 and Verse 4 it was shown to John and the seven churches.
Skipping down to Verse 9 we see that John is shown very clearly as the author. It is not disputed too much throughout scholarly writings. It is interesting that he describes himself a little bit here. He doesn't describe himself as the apostle John. He doesn't describe himself as one of the sons of thunder or anything like that. But he describes himself as a brother in Verse 9, a companion in verse 10. Here is also described as a doulos - as a bond slave. Just another Christian and a regular guy I guess you could kind of say. John identifies himself of course with such monumental things that were revealed to him.
You can see how his perspective would probably be that he is just another servant of God. So the Apostle John was certainly the author. He tells us in Chapter 1 that the book was written from Patmos, which was a prison colony for Rome. They sent prisoners there. It seems that somewhere probably in the late 80's A.D. he was exiled there. There was back breaking work that was done in the mines. Not sure how much a man of John's age would have been involved in some of that. He was probably somewhere around 90 years old when this was written, but he must have been creating enough of a stir throughout the empire that they didn't want him and his influence around the people. So it seems that the book was probably written in the 90's. Most seem to pinpoint it to the middle 90's, maybe 95 a.d. or so. It does seem that John was actually released from there after that, at least for a little while before his death. It seems like John could have been somewhere between 90 and maybe even up to 100 years old when the book of Revelation was actually written down.
Now one of the interesting things about the Roman Empire is that the emperor of the time would have been Domitian. He would have been the emperor and he would have been the one that would have been persecuting the Christians. Of course the Roman government was growing and because of John and his preaching and his beliefs, they exiled him to this rocky island. I believe it was something like 16 square miles - a little small. It is not big or anything like that. Do you remember the sea it was in - it is not coming to me at the moment. The Aegean Sea not far off the coast –30 miles or so off the coast. It is off the modern coast of Turkey, so imagine this prison colony where John would have been exiled to and yet God was still working with him. God used him very powerfully here to record powerful prophecies for us today.
Now one of the reasons they dispute whether John wrote the book or not is because some of the language at times seems a little different. Sometimes it seems unpolished and seems that some of the wording is odd. Sometimes there is not agreement between verbs and the usage. The way that the Greek is used seems a little bit different so some will argue that maybe it wasn't John, because compared to I, II, III John and the gospel of John, oftentimes its pointed to as a little crude or not as refined of style of writing. Of course the argument on the other side of that is that he is writing in just the common Greek of the day and not trying to be literallary perfect. There are lots of phrases if you begin to tear it apart that are used in Revelation that are used throughout John's other writings as well. So when you do a comparison of those things, there are similarities. John talks a lot about overcoming, or he who overcomes. That’s not just found in the Book of Revelation, but also found in the book of John. The Word of God, of course that’s a big part when you look back to John 1:1 John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
American King James Version× and the gospel of John, but the "Word of God" is also featured throughout the book of Revelation as well. About he who is true, truth is a topic of John's that is used also in his writing. So to try to relegate it to someone else it doesn't seem to fit very well when you really look at the style and the way that the words are used as well. There is high level of confidence that John is the author here.
[Darris McNeely] Okay, a couple of other things to think about. We will figure it out as we go along as well, but it is not written in a chronological order. So we can't say we start here, and time wise we are going to go through step by step and that will tell the entire story. That’s not the case with the Book of Revelation. It’s not like the synoptic gospels where the story starts here and it just flows all of the way through in a timeline in a nice plain order. We are going to have inset chapters here that will give us more information about certain things, but don't follow in a strict timeline. We will have to keep that in mind as we go along and we will try to point those things out as we move forward.
A couple of other things maybe to think about as we look through this, when we see what the purpose of the writing is. If we are going to talk about the unveiling, the revealing, of course that is going to be an important aspect of what’s happening throughout the writings. One of the things that I think you will find interesting as we look at an introduction to the book of Revelation is when we look at why John was writing this. Why would he pen these things for us, other than being told to do it?
One of the things that we see very quickly at the beginning of the book was that these were things that were written about things that were to come shortly. We see that mentioned immediately as we look at the first few verses here. There is going to be some world shaking events that are going to be happening. The events of the day of the Lord, it is going to focus on that. It is the time of the end of mans rule and that God is going to intervene. So we begin to see that very clearly, and God is going to map that out for us as we go through the book. As we think about these things, there are a couple of things that we should keep in mind as we go through that really help us to understand the Book of Revelation. One of the things is the meaning behind the book and the writings. We have to be careful where we draw our understanding from. How do we understand these things? How do we know we’re understand them in a right way?
There are some interesting word pictures here. There is some amazing symbolism. There are some literal things that are going to be happening. How can we be sure that we are interpreting these things in the right way and how do we know that these things are true? I think the first key is actually found in Chapter 5, right at the very beginning we have insight into understanding a key to the Book of Revelation.
Here at the beginning of Chapter 5 – “I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back sealed with seven seals.” The question comes up from an angel – “Who is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals.” But no one could, and then what happens?
Well, we see in Verse 6 – “There stood a lamb as though it had been slayed”. Then what happens? He was able to open the scrolls. So when we get down to Verses 7 and 8, we see who was able to open that scroll.
Verse 9 – “You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals.” When it comes to unlocking the symbolism and the vision, all of the descriptions in the Book of Revelation, John tells us Jesus Christ is the one who reveals. He is the one that is unveiling. He is the one through God the Father that we will see all the way back in Chapter 1, it is through Jesus Christ. So Jesus Christ is able and He wants us to understand. We have got to look to Christ. If we don't start there, we’re going to get off pretty quickly. We see it’s through Jesus Christ, it is through His own Words. By His Words He will unlock the words of Revelation.
Now that doesn't mean everything will be unlocked strictly in this book, because this isn't the complete Word of Jesus Christ is it. We have the whole Word of God. So other parts of the Word will also unlock that symbol. So we have got to point and look at the Bible so we can expect some clarification throughout the Word because we know all scripture is given by inspiration of God. We are told that very clearly in II Timothy 3 as well. But we have to base our understanding on Christ's revelation, God's inspired Word rather than somebody’s opinion, somebody’s ideas; all of those kinds of things. We have got to realize and follow that principle that God's Word is going to interpret itself. And so we have got to believe the words inspired. We have got to believe that it is God’s Word and trust what it says. Of course part of that understanding, maybe one of the important keys to understanding as well, is that we have got to be a doer of the Word. If we are not a doer of the Word, how can we claim to have any level of understanding? How is God going to take the veil from our eyes, in a figurative sense? We know our God's way.
There is a passage that reminds us of this over in Psalms. This is certainly a reminder of this key to understanding God's Word. If you look right at the end of that particular Psalm, it reminds us of how we can gain an understanding, have the veil lifted from our eyes. If you want to look to
Psalms 111:10 Psalms 111:10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endures for ever.
American King James Version× – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A good understanding have all those who do his Commandments. His praise endures forever.”
Being a doer, being a follower of Jesus Christ and putting God's way into practice in our lives is going to give us insight that we wouldn't normally have. I think that those are important aspects of the understanding of the Book of Revelation. If we want to understand the Book of Revelation, look to God, look to His Word and be a doer so that we can gain an understanding through the inspiration of God. With that, I think that it kind of summarizes some of the things.
The reason I think that Steve and I are taking a little bit of time to kind of set the stage for this is because the Book of Revelation really is a very important book certainly in the Bible, to Christians, certainly within the Church of God culture. We have studied the Book of Revelation, we have written about it extensively through our years and our experience in the church. I remember going through this Bible study on a Wednesday night when I was a teenager and our pastor taking us through it. What really stuck in my mind is when we got into Revelation 13 and Revelation 17. These fantastic stories of the beast and the false prophets, and we drew our own charts of what the beast would look like and it turned into an art class.
We are not going to do that, at least I am not planning to, and I don't know if I will be teaching that part of the book of Revelation. I had a whole layout there of the beast of Revelation 17, the horns and the heads and everything. I carried that with me for years in my Bible as part of my notes. I think I lost it in a move somewhere a few years ago. But we have studied it, we have written on it and because we are very interested in prophecy and Revelation itself as a book, what I have called the capstone of Bible prophesy throughout the scriptures. It is the capstone of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Amos, and all of the prophets that went before. It sums up the plan of God and the prophetic aspect of the teachings from the scripture.
It lays it all out and brings it to a culmination in the plan of God to the point where God reveals His plan in Chapters 21 and 22. “The new heavens and the new earth” and then it ends right there. So it is very, very important to us and it is important that we have a good foundation for this. I did want to recommend a very good study aide for all of you to go through. That is the United Church of God's booklet on the Book of Revelation, which is on our website - readily available just like all of our literature. The booklet was written 12 to 13 years ago by one of our senior ministers, Roger Foster. I remember a team of us sat down and went through the whole manuscript, line by line, word upon word, and really fine tuned it, and edited it as one of our first major booklets on prophecy in the United Church of God. The way Mr. Foster wrote on that has stood the test of time and yet a very balanced approach to the book. I highly recommend it to use as a study guide. I was going through it last night and looking through certain sections once again. So I think that you will find it will be very, very helpful. I thought that he wrote a very balanced approach to the Book of Revelation.
I want to also mention just a few other things about the book. Revelation can be, as I thought about this going about laying a foundation here tonight, a blessing or a curse. Let me tell you how it can be a curse. It can be a curse if we take an approach to the book that takes us into various pitfalls. I am just going to list a few pitfalls, possible pitfalls for anyone who goes into a study of the book of Revelation, and there could a number more.
Pitfall # 1 - To get into predicting when Christ returns. To study from that point of view is a pitfall. We just did a series of programs on Christ's second coming and I did one on when “predictions fail." I talked about the very problem of trying to predict the day and the hour of Jesus Christ’s return. Revelation should not be approached from that point of view because of some of the obvious scriptures, but it can be a problem that I think takes us off onto a wrong
Pitfall # 2 -To read names into various figures, such as the beast or the false prophet. If you try to put a name up there, a political figure, specific names and faces, which can be done if you want to do that, but I think that that can be a problem. We can certainly understand trends and some general matters, but as we look at our world at any given time, try to avoid that pitfall. Some of those things will be covered more closely when we get there.
Pitfall # 3 - In Chapters 2 and 3 where it talks about the letters to the seven churches. There are a number of problems that one can get into in that particular area, one of which is judging and name calling. I have been around the church for a number of years and I have seen and heard all of the Laodecian jokes and designations that you could name. I can remember cartoons in previous additions of our church newsletters that we used to have. We had this character name Laodecian Larry and I forgot who even drew it. But this was all within the church and when we get into those two chapters, there are certain pitfalls that can be problematic. I will leave that to whoever will be covering that. But you can get into judging and name calling and a lot of self righteousness and that’s a major area to avoid. It is important for all of us to learn regarding the letter to the Ephesians as well as a letter to the Laodicians’. I have been Laodician at times and probably you have been as well if you are honest to admit. I have been Philadelphian. I hope that I have not been Sardis and dead in one sense. I think there are lessons to be learned from all of those letters to the churches for any of us at any time. If there is a need for us to repent and do the first works and come back to a first love, then there is a time for that to be a message for us to get into our spiritual lives and rejuvenate that as well. So don't get into judging and don't get into name calling and self righteousness over there.
Pitfall # 4 - One last pitfall, contracting what I call Revelation fever. Not Saturday night fever, but Revelation fever. That is just an unbalanced obsession to read more into a passage than it really does tell us. There is a technical Bible term for that and I won't go into it tonight, but don't read more into a passage than is there. In an effort to try and know more than others, or to unlock certain secrets that perhaps only God has reserved for Himself to reveal to his servants when he is ready. There can be an intellectual vanity in certain areas, in Revelation specifically, that can lead us into pitfalls and reading into it and making it convoluted. It can be a curse spiritually if you take certain approaches, but it can also be a blessing. A deep spiritual study of Revelation can be a blessing. As Steve has already mentioned, if we take Revelation as revelation of Jesus Christ, there is a lifetime of teaching there. I first studied it when I was a kid, teenager, and I am long since passed that period of time and I still read it and I still learn from it.
There are still things that I wish I knew about certain aspects of it, but again will wait for God to determine. We still can read it but with a balanced reverential point of view. Most of the book is a book that offers hope and offers a positive vision of what God is doing as he brings history to a point. In human history and experience good will win out over evil. God's Kingdom will be established and Satan's rule will end. That is a tremendous hope that should motivate us to Godly action. It should motivate us to be Godly people today in this life as we anticipate the world to come. We approach it that way with many other points that all of us will bring out as we go out through this study. It can be a blessing that can keep us poised in a sense of leaning into the winds, spiritually speaking, for the times in which we live.
In Chapter 17 there will be a number of points brought out that help us to understand certain aspects of those specific prophecies, better today than I think we did forty or fifty years ago. I am not shying away from the prophetic understanding that is there, and the application to our world today, but there is plenty still to understand. Understanding traditionally of our teaching on the book of Revelation as we kind of look at where our world is and look at what lies ahead for us.
[Steve Myers] I just opened to the end of book and Revelation 22:7 Revelation 22:7Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keeps the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
American King James Version× – “Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
So prophecy should be a motivation to us to obey and to follow God. If we just use it to think we gain understanding or feel better about ourselves, that we have some prophetic inside or figured out about this date or this individual, or get so wrapped up in all those pitfalls that you were talking about, we miss one of the primary purposes for prophecy that he summarizes at the very end of the book.
Of course that is Christ himself speaking, “Behold I come quickly. Blessed is he who keeps the Word.”
You have got to be doers and you have to be following Him. That has to be the ultimate goal then, is that it then draws us closer to God and not just gaining some kind of head knowledge and feeling somehow spiritually superior because of that.
Jesus Christ is from the first verse of Chapter 1 to the last verse of Chapter 22. He is right there. It is a book about Him, from Him in every dimension, that we can understand and that is the real focus that opens up an understanding and a whole world of blessing to understand for that.
[Darris McNeely] Those were all the opening comments that I wanted to make so I guess it is time we jump into Chapter 1 and try and make our way through tonight before we conclude. We are not going to get into Chapters 2 and 3. That will be for the next bible study. Let’s go ahead and go through the verses here and Steve will jump in if he has any comments and we will kind of share this as we go through this section here.
As has already been mentioned in Verse 1, it mentions that “This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show His servants, things which must shortly come to pass.”
One of the things that is also brought out here, is not only a Revelation of Jesus Christ, but it was revelation given to Christ from God the Father. You see the Father, as John always wove into his gospel of Jesus. So many statements where Jesus pointed to the Father and made sure that every one of his hearers heard and understood that He represented the Father completely. That begins even here in this first verse of Revelation that God gave to Christ, and then Christ reveals to us these matters, these things that must shortly come to pass. Almost like a chain that starts. If you start with the Father, the Father is the ultimate authority giving it to Christ, Christ gives it to His angel, and then to John. John turns around and gives it to us, to the churches in verse 4. So there is this whole chain of unveiling and starts with the Father so it is kind of an interesting way that God has arranged that revealing.
It mentions also here in Chapter 1 that He signified by his angel to His servant John. Angels are going to play prominently in the narrative in the story here of Revelation. But John says that he is a servant here. It is interesting just to contemplate this. Steve mentioned that John was in prison when this vision all began to unravel and it was given to him. John was an old man. He was as far as we know, the last apostle to die, as is the tradition.
This was written in the 90's a.d. He had been exiled for his work and his preaching of the gospel and because of the persecution that arose there. John no doubt had been through so much. He had been the one who was so very close to Jesus in the physical ministry and had, if you a will, a very strong friendship with Him from what we understand in the gospels. He was one of the first, along with Peter, to see the empty tomb and had been through a lot. And yet he referred to himself as a servant after all of this time. Remember that as well, when Jesus was dying, that He commended His mother Mary to John.
Tradition has it that Mary and John in these last years lived in Ephesus and it was from here that he would have been exiled a short distance out to the island of Patmos. Tradition has it that Mary died there; I think there is a tomb in Ephesus today that is designated as the tomb of Mary. Whether it is or not I don't know. It doesn't matter. It was to John that she was entrusted by Jesus. So he had a close relationship with Him and he had been through a great deal, but he still looked at himself as no more than a servant. That is how he finished out his life. Perhaps he became more of a servant in his later years than he had at any time. I think that will come out here even in this chapter as well.
One of the interesting things that also sometimes comes to mind here is that this chain of Father to Christ to His angel. This word for angel, Angelos, can mean an angel literally, it can mean a messenger, and it can also mean a pastor. We are not told exactly if this is an angelic being, because this will keep coming up.
Chapter 2 talks about “to the angel of the church of Ephesus,” or to the angel to the various churches. Is that a minister, a pastor, or is that an angelic being? A lot of it is interesting to think about. It seems to probably be an angelic being, buy I don't know that we can say within a 100% surety that that's the case because it might not be. It’s definitely a messenger, whether it is a spiritual being or a human being; it is used in that same way human or spirit throughout the Greek as well. Something to think about as we get into that.
[Darris McNeely] Verse 2 – “Speaking of John who bore witness to the Word of God, the testimony of Jesus Christ, and to all things that he saw.”
So when you break this down and you look at it, he bore witness to the Word of God. Remember what John wrote in the very first verses of his epistle.
John 1:1-3 – “The Word was flesh, the Word was God, was with God and the Word became flesh. In the beginning was the Word.”
And so he bore witness, he saw the living Word of God in the flesh. Bore witness to it and saw him resurrected and knew of Him working through him. He was first hand eye witness testimony to the fact of the very Word of God, who existed in the flesh as Jesus, and came and lived and walked among men. So he bore witness to Him in that sense and to the testimony of Jesus Christ. The teaching, the witness, the whole resurrection and appearance of Jesus after his resurrection during that period of time. The forty days afterwards that Jesus was with his disciples and taught them things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, and the works that He did there. John saw the completeness of the work of Jesus as the man and knew Him also as Christ the Messiah. The one who was the Son of God, resurrected as the powerful Messiah whose death made possible the forgiveness of sin, whose life makes possible our own hope of eternal life as well. That’s the complete package of the testimony of what Jesus Christ was and what He did and what was meant by His life, His death, and His resurrection. John bore complete witness to that especially in his writings and now even more powerfully in this visionary book that he has given through the visions, and what he was told to write down. Through all of the things that he saw, you may recall at the end of the book of John, the last words have it that if we put into words all that he did, there would be too many books to have to write to fill those. What we have is just a partial record in one sense and it’s enough for us to understand and to know and to have faith in that truth. John saw a lot, a lot that he wrote about and a lot that he didn't write about. Many reason perhaps, why he was the last one to die and it appears he may have had a natural death. We don't know again, again those were traditions and customs, but he bore witness to a great deal when it came to the work of God.
[Steve Myers] One of the things that is also interesting, I don't think that we want to take out of the context of a court case either, when you think of witnessing and testimony. Because this is going to come up later when we talk about the two witnesses and the way they’re described as giving their testimony in a sense that this world is going to be judged and God is going to pronounce judgment on this world. So here then in verse 2, where it talks about the testimony, there is almost like a double witness, a double testimony or like a record of two witnesses. You have Jesus Christ and John. John witnessed this and Christ was the testator and we see pretty clearly than in
Matthew 18 – “In the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established.”
That’s what is happening here right at the very beginning of Revelation in a sense, is that here John is a witness; Jesus Christ is a witness and giving true righteous testimony.
[Darris McNeely] I think that somebody did a Beyond Today program on the two witnesses.
[Steve Myers] I think they did - I thought so (referring to himself - LOL).
[Darris McNeely] We let him tackle that challenge and subject of the two witnesses.
Verse 3 – “Blessed is he that reads, and those who hear the words of this prophecy.”
So this is a blessing. This is one of the first of several blessings within the book of Revelation. There are about seven key blessings throughout the book of Revelation that are important to note. This is the first one.
It is the blessing to read. “Blesses he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it, for the time is near.”
So to read it, to study it, to read it from an instruction perspective, for inspiration, for comfort, and for encouragement. Especially for encouragement. Sometimes it is important to read through and understand that God is a God of History. He does guide the course of events in the world. Nothing happens that He is not aware of and is not according to His plan. He is going to intervene in world affairs at the precise moment to keep all flesh alive. Those are encouraging things for us to note as we read from that point of view. To hear the words of the prophecy and to let those words sink into us, and to motivate us to faithfulness. To make changes in our life that make us better people before God and to our brothers and sisters within the church, and to keep those things which are written in it. To read, to hear and to keep, kind of three points out of this one verse here. We will even be able to refer back to it when we get into verse 9. You have to study not just Revelation, but scriptures pertaining to this. Here it, let it resonate in our hearts and then to keep it. Those are keys to endurance in this journey that we are on towards God's Kingdom. For the time is near.
[Steve Myers] Sometimes we look at this and of course Verse 1 – “Things that must shortly take place.”
One of the critical views of prophecy, and especially end time prophecy in these statements here in context, might leave one to say well you know these things, everyone has always thought the end was near, Christ's coming was near. Are we any closer today?
Those types of critical remarks echo what we read in 2 Peter – “People will scoff in the time of the end, said all things have continued as they are from the beginning.”
There is that tension and that balance that a Christian must keep at any time through their life as you study prophecy, and particularly Revelation, to let there be a feeling of urgency be driving us as we read what it says. The time is near and these things which must shortly come to pass, as if they will in our life. While at the same time we have a balanced approach to life. That we just don't sell everything and go out and live on a mountain top waiting for Christ to return, or making unwise decisions about our lives based on that. There is a balance to understand that you kind of lean into this, to life and to the wind if you will, and move forward with that. It keeps us more spiritually in tune to a better life if we do so. So there is a blessing to read, to hear and to keep these things that are written in it, as we understand the times in which we live.
[Darris McNeely] Verse 4, he makes a greeting here and there is a shift in emphasis. He says “John to the seven churches, which are in Asia.”
These are the seven churches that we will see in Chapters 2 and 3, and the famous churches that were on a mail route there in Asia Minor, western Asia Minor. Beginning with Ephesus and ending with the city of Laodicea. That in itself is just a whole field of fascinating study, historically from a dynamic there of what those letters to those seven churches are teaching us. That’s for the next Bible Study and this shows that this letter is addressed to the seven churches which are in Asia. Now you can read through the commentaries and there are seven specific churches. Why are those seven churches are mentioned is a very good question. It is true that they were on a mail route, that they weren't the only cities on the mail route. There were many others cities that could have been mentioned as well. It was kind of a circular one and they weren't always the largest of the cities, or the more prominent ones. We have no idea as to the size of the congregations of the church in those cities.
Those particular churches were likely started a number of years prior to the writing of this book. Probably during the time that Paul spent as a resident in Ephesus. It would have been logical for him and his other fellow workers to have ranged out through Asia Minor. As we see his custom was throughout the book of Acts and started these church congregations that endured and were still in existence at this particular time. They had certain characteristics about them, both in their physical location. The City Laodicea for instance had certain aspects of its economy and its position that the teaching that Christ gives to the Laodician’s would have resonated with them. There were other historical events with the other cities that resonated with them as well. What he said to the church at Pergamus, “You dwell where Satan's seat is,” they would have instantly know of the great alter that was at the temple of Zeus in the midst of their city, and this huge alter that was a dominant feature of this city. They probably passed through several times through the week. It was literally, when you understand that story, the seat of Satan. That has been excavated and it’s in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin today.
It is a fascinating thing to see and to study because of all of the beliefs, demonic warring, fighting and titans battling that are carved into the side of that particular alter. When Christ said you dwell where Satan's seat dwells, those people knew that. So these cities were chosen for specific spiritual, physical and historical characteristics that fit the message that Christ wanted all of the churches to understand. All of the churches then, all of the churches down through history, and all of the churches today. So those are the seven churches and there is a wealth of knowledge and understanding there.
He says, “Grace to you and peace from Him who is, and who was and who is to come.”
A typical new testament greeting here of grace and of warm thoughts. That’s kinds of a new age thought if you say something like that I guess. Grace as it’s used here was just an expression of good will reflecting the relationship John had with these churches and the way he felt from them and to them. Wishing them peace from Him who is, and who was and who is to come. He lives, he is, and he is present tense. He was, in the sense that he was in the flesh, and he died and he is to come. He is to have a revealing. There is to be an appearance of Him, Jesus Christ. And it says from the seven spirits who are before His Thrown.
So there are seven spirits here referenced specifically. This is the first time in the Book of Revelation that we have a reference to seven (well actually the second time because in verse 4 there was seven churches).
This is a good time to at least mention one of the key features of the Book of Revelation and that is the multiples of seven. Seven churches, seven spirits, seven horns, seven seals throughout the book of Revelation. There are cycles of seven throughout the book and those will be explained as we come to them here. Seven is used as a number of completion, completeness, or even perfection. There are certainly seven days of the week, the seventh being God's Sabbath day. But we find that is to be a very unique feature here of the Book of Revelation, of the numbers of sevens that are mentioned here. So we have seven churches that could be shown to be the fact that the messages to those seven churches taken together form a complete message of Christ to this church at any given time. As I said, at any given time, you can find the attitudes of those seven churches existing in the Church of God. Again, I have been around a few years and I have seen all of those. I have seen the impact of false worship creep into the church, the spirit of the Nicolaiatins. I have seen luke-warmness. I have seen strong zeal and fervency. I have seen them return to first love, if you will, as well as anyone listening here.
There is a complete message to those seven churches, understand that taken as a whole, offers us a lifetime of study, understanding and reflection to appreciate Christ's role within the Church. So seven spirits - these are likely seven angelic beings down in verse 20 where we find reference here to the seven stars. The seven stars being the seven angels of the seven churches. These are angelic spirit beings that are referenced here.
You will see them again Revelation 4:5 Revelation 4:5And out of the throne proceeded lightning and thunder and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
American King James Version× and Revelation 5:6 Revelation 5:6And I beheld, and, see, in the middle of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the middle of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
American King James Version×. Seven spirit beings are mentioned here again. We will pass on from them here at this point and they will be referenced once again. They are before His thrown. So they are at the thrown of God and they are a part of this message and greeting.
It says, “And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler over the kings of the earth.” My there is a lot there just in verse 5. How are we ever going to get through one chapter? We are going to do it.
[Steve Myers] One of the interesting things about the seven spirits too, some would argue that instead of the seven spirits “who” are before the thrown, a better translation would be "which” are before the thrown. What happens is that the Trinitarians like to take this verse and say well Him who is, who was, and who is to come is the Father, then the seven spirits is the personages of the Holy Spirit as a person, and then from Jesus Christ in verse 5. So they try to use that as the Trinitarian summary of the three in one.
But it doesn't seem to fit especially when you look at Revelation 5:6 Revelation 5:6And I beheld, and, see, in the middle of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the middle of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
American King James Version×, where it seems to say, “The seven horns, the seven eyes, are the seven spirits of God”, so there is this connection.
What is that talking about? There is an interesting connection, maybe I can just mention it really quickly, in Zechariah if you may remember, Zechariah 3:9 Zechariah 3:9For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; on one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the engraving thereof, said the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
American King James Version× talks about a stone that has seven eyes. Well Christ is the rock.
Christ is described in Zechariah 7:7 Zechariah 7:7Should you not hear the words which the LORD has cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?
American King James Version× as eyes, and a couple of verses later is the famous verse that you will probably recognize where it says, “The eyes of the Lord which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”
God works by means of the Spirit, certainly that would be the case, but it is also interesting that this Hebrew word for eyes is not that He is gathering information. In Hebrew it really means that He is communicating. That He is checking things out and in other words, how is the word preached. Well the gospel is preached by the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s reflecting Christ's attitude, His intent and His character. We will see more about His eyes as we see some descriptions of Him later. It probably fits better with what Paul was saying.
You might just write down 2 Corinthians 13:14 2 Corinthians 13:14The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.
American King James Version× where he talks and he greets the people with the "Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit,” which is the fellowship or the sharing of God's Holy Spirit.
That makes so much more sense than because it is through God's Spirit that we can even have a relationship with God. So that seems to fit much better than to try to cram this into some type of Trinitarian model. It just doesn't fit very well there.
[Darris McNeely] When you read those descriptions that you will find about these certain commentaries, I was reading one today, they really are a stretch when you understand the whole subject of the trinity.
To do that with a verse like this is really a stretch, but people make that. Scripture itself can be easily used to refute that. Verse 5 it says, “And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first born from the dead and the ruler over the kings of the earth.”
I wanted to comment just on the concept of Christ being the first born from the dead. We have gone through the resurrection just recently as the Book of John was finished and going through all of that, the time of the resurrection. But by Christ being resurrected as a Spirit being, He became the first born. In this sense, and this is how it is important to us, because Jesus Christ was the Word who became flesh, was God who became flesh and lived among us, and lived and died and was resurrected after three days and three nights. He walked out of that tomb and Jesus Christ became the first born from the dead. He was God who became flesh and that in itself a big concept to wrap our minds around.
Why He did that was to make that process then possible, to establish it whereby flesh can go to Spirit. No one has done that before. No one did that before Jesus and no one has done it since. There have been resurrections. We find accounts in the gospels and in the Bible of people resurrected back to a physical life. No one but Jesus has been resurrected to immortal, eternal, spirit life. That is why He is the firstborn from the dead and by Him doing that than we can have faith and assurance that we also will follow in that path at the resurrection. When we are changed - our bodies are changed from mortal to immortality as 1 Corinthians 15 so eloquently puts it. We can do that because Jesus did it by virtue of that process of the Holy Spirit being joined to flesh, which is what happened as He became flesh in the womb of a virgin. And was born of a woman, lived and died, and then was resurrected. That’s something we can't spend too much time on, cause we don't have the time tonight to get into. But He was the firstborn from the dead and John points that out at the time of the resurrection.
Then others will follow in that as the first fruits. Powerful, powerful thought that John lays out here in verse 5 – “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.”
So we have had our sins forgiven. We have been washed from our sins in His blood by that shed blood and the importance of that which we rehearse and go through every year at the Passover service. Through the love of God and the love of Jesus Christ to have done that and to have put His life down for us, for all of mankind, that is what endears us in a relationship to Christ. Through that he has made us kings and priests.
Here is echoed the verse that began all the way back in Exodus 19 when God said to Israel, “I will make of you a kingdom of priests,” to the Israelites as He brought them out of Egypt to Mt. Sinai. That is one of the key points He made to them prior to giving them the law and entering into that covenant. He said I will make of you a kingdom of priests and this is brought back into this understanding through this passage as well as others in the New Testament. That we have been made to become kings and priests to his God and Father to Him be glory and dominion forever. To have opportunity to prepare for that rulership and to prepare for that sacrificial role as a priest is very, very important to our calling that we have been given here.
[Steve Myers] I think you make an important point when we look to the book of Genesis as the book of beginnings and Revelation, you can say, is the book of the end. So you see quite a few of these connections between Genesis and Revelation. There is mentioned this kingdom of priests. In fact, if you were to look this passage up in other translations, quite a few of them mirror that exact same language. They don't translate it as kings and priests but they say made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father. One of the translations, I think it is the new international version, says something like “made us to be members of His Royal Family, priests to serve his God and Father”. And so that is almost a direct parallel of what you see back there in Genesis as well. You have all of those comparisons to Genesis.
You have man driven out of the garden in Genesis and when you come to Revelation we have God's habitation is going to be with man. The tree of life is guarded in the book of Genesis. But the tree of life is opened up in the book of Revelation. You have all of the difficulties and the sorrow and the suffering throughout Genesis. Finally you get to the end of the book in Revelation and there is going to be no more sorrow. One of the commentaries, I think it is Bollinger, lists all kinds of different comparisons between Genesis and Revelation. Maybe 30 different things that are connections between those two. You might look that up some time. It is an interesting study.
[Darris McNeely] Let's go onto verse 7 - “Behold He is coming with clouds and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him and all of the tribes of the earth will morn because of Him. Even so, Amen.”
So in direct reference to Christ's coming with clouds is to see His final ascension. He went through the final time with His disciples and ascended to heaven in clouds. He will come the same way and every eye will see Him. It is not going to be done in secret. It is not going to be some midnight secret appearance, or not appearance, and everybody else disappears in some type of a rapture idea. But every eye will see Him when He does appear and even them who pierced Him. All of the tribes of the earth. The emphasis here in verse 7 is that this is a world shaking event with the appearance of Jesus Christ. All the nations will see Him. Those who pierced Him in a figurative sense, those people will certainly have died. Those who actually were involved in His death, they will be a part of the resurrection later on after the 1000 years are finished. So in a sense even at that time you can understand they will see Him at that point in time, those people, whether it is a Roman soldier or a Jewish official who were responsible for His death. They will see Him at that particular time and it is important to realize that. So this is an all inclusive verse, which really is the best way to appreciate this and understand when this time occurs. I thought a lot about this verse and the appearance of Christ and what that means.
I know we live in a round earth and sometimes we talk about the events of the last seal being poured out as horrific matters upon the earth. A very, very short period of time. Jesus coming back, the earth revolving once every 24 hours, every eye seeing Him in that way is one explanation. I remember that when we first went through Revelation when I was a kid, that being a way to understand what this verse is saying. There are probably other ways to see Him because we do live on a round earth and the renting of the heavens and the appearance of Jesus Christ. Sometimes when that instantaneous event takes place, I think that everybody will see it at the same time. Sometimes I think about it that way because of the appearance of Christ will be such a dramatic time and intervention. I will save my personal speculation for another time and some of these ways. But this is what he says and it is all inclusive in that way.
Verse 8, “He says I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end says the Lord who is, and was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
The first and last letters in the Greek alphabet, the Alpha being the first, Omega being the last. The beginning and the end, He was and is to come. This again, just an all inclusive complete package of Christ and His role as the great I am who was before Abraham, who created the heavens and the earth who sustains it all, who lived and died as the Word and is returning here to end that phase of the plan of God and the story of God as the Bible reveals it, in preparation for all eternity with the Father when it was handed all up to Him. We will say Verse 8 was a key
thought as well.
[Steve Myers] Of course some people will remember that the alphabet, when you look at the Greek alphabet, Alpha is the first letter and Omega is the last letter, so it would be like us saying everything from A to Z. Christ is everything right from the very start, so He fulfills all of that. I think when you think about it in those terms, He is everything and in fact, some translators instead of saying the beginning sometimes they will imply He is the beginner. He is the one that started it all as well as the one that will end. So once again you’ve got this kind of comparison of Genesis and Revelation almost.
[Darris McNeely] Lets go on to Verse 9 where John goes back to himself, “I John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom, and patience of Jesus Christ who’s' on the island that is called Patmos, through the Word of God for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Let's stop for a moment just to consider a few things about what he says here. He calls himself "I am your brother."
Earlier back in verse 1 he had said "I am His servant John."
He references himself as a servant of Christ and now I am your brother, and your companion in the tribulation in the kingdom and the patience of Jesus Christ. John could say to the members to whom this letter was going in these seven churches and wherever else it was distributed, who in turn were experiencing persecution. There was a great deal of persecution of Christians at this moment in time. John being exiled was proof of that. But others were losing their lives and had been for some years. That period there was a break out of Christianity from Judaism that caused the Roman Empire to focus on Christianity and the church at that time and the people had gone through it. By John saying I am your brother and companion, he was saying that he had earned the right to address them as brothers through experience.
Sometimes you can't say that to somebody who is suffering unless you have been there. We can always offer encouragement and certainly pray for one another but if we encounter someone who has been through the same thing with us, it means a bit more doesn’t it. Someone who has endured the same type of loss of the job, loss of a mate through death or maybe even divorce, or the ripping apart of flesh that that takes. Someone who has gone through the same thing that we have is a little bit closer brother or sister to us. “I am your companion in this”.
It reminds you of what you read back in Ezekiel 3:15 Ezekiel 3:15Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelled by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.
American King James Version×, “I came to the captives by the river Qubar and I sat where they sat.”
It was another way of saying I walked a mile in their shoes. John is saying I have been where you have been. I know what it feels like. I am your brother and I am your companion in the tribulation and the Kingdom and the patience of Jesus Christ. This is a very powerful verse that drew John to his audience and reminded them that it is through much tribulation that we will enter the Kingdom of God as the apostle Paul said.
Acts 14:22 Acts 14:22Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×, Jesus said, “He who endures until the end shall be saved.”
There are a number of scriptures that point to this matter of enduring trials and suffering on the road to the Kingdom of God. They go hand in hand. This journey that we are on is the greatest journey of our life. There is no greater adventure, there is no greater experience. This is the extreme of extreme experiences. I know that people love to get out today and be wild and have an extreme experience. Bungee jump, kayak off the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. I saw a picture of three kayakers on the lip of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe just the other day in a magazine I was looking at. I have been to Victoria Falls. If you have ever seen pictures of it, it's a humungous drop. It will kill you. I have been close to that very spot, I have seen it. There are crocodiles all around and it drops off into the biggest drop of any waterfall of the face of the earth, and here were these three kayakers right there. It says they didn't go off in their boat, but they rappelled down and then went down the Zambezi River from there, which that in itself is an e-ticket. That’s a trip. But people go to great lengths to have an extreme experience today and believe me, there is no more extreme experience than the journey to the Kingdom of God, which we are on. And that’s what John was saying. Is that I am your brother, I am your companion, we are in this together and we are going to endure. There is a courage that it takes; an inner courage, and only one who’s been there can begin to understand the need for it, and to experience it and to see what it produces. This is what John had gone through to this point in his life and he was going to finish on.
Verse 10 – “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day.”
Now this is a very direct reference to the time of the Day of the Lord. You can check through a number of the commentaries and many of them will say that this is the direct reference and support and proof of Sunday worship. Changing to the Day of the Lord being the day that He was resurrected on according to their teaching, and therefore; justification for the change of the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day. Then you will also find other references that say that that cannot be supported by this verse alone as well. That it is, and truly is, referencing the actual Day of the Lord, which is referenced multiple times in the old testament prophecies and in the new testament prophecies, where John was actually taken in a vision to witness and to record these events that are going to begin to unfold that take place during that period called the Day of the Lord, which is technically the last year of the Great Tribulation. Again that will be covered in more detail later on. But this is not a strong enough support for changing the Sabbath day from the seventh day to the first day of the week, but it is speaking of John being transported by spirit through a vision into this Day of the Lord. Just a careful reading of this verse plus all of the multiple scriptures that talk about the Day of the Lord is enough to support exactly what he is saying here is a reference to a prophetic period of time in the future.
[Steve Myers] What if there was a Day of the Lord, or the Lord's Day, what day it would be. It would be the Sabbath right.
So if there is ever a question about that, just go to Mark 2:28 Mark 2:28Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
American King James Version×. And really there can't be any support for the fact that this is referring to the Lord's Day as the first day of the week. There is a couple of interesting quotations, maybe to just take a moment so that you realize that not all scholars disagree with us. There is an interesting comment made in Bollinger’s Companion Bible and he writes this, "It is strange that if John had referred to the first day of the week as the Lord's Day, there is no trace of the use of such a title until 100 years later." So Bollinger makes that very clear and later he says, "Sunday is the derivation from the pagan worship of the sun." So he is very clear on that. There is an interesting book called Revelation of Jesus Christ and is written by John Walvoord and he says on page 42, "The word Lord in this passage is actually an adjective used in the sense of Lordian. The Lordian day, or the Day of the Lord." Which is talking about that prophetic time. He says, "Though today the expression is used commonly as the first day of the week, it is nowhere so used in the Bible. Nowhere - there is no solid evidence; however, that the expression used by John was ever intended to refer to the first day of the week. It is rather a reference to the Day of the Lord of the old testament, an extended period of time in which time deals in judgment and sovereign rule over the earth." So pretty specific here. That's what the Day of the Lord is all about and really that’s the focus of the book of Revelation, what is the Day of the Lord? Whereas Isaiah 13 talks about the Day of the Lord is at hand and comes destruction from the Almighty. So it makes it very clear that we are not talking about Sunday or the first day of the week at all. We are talking about the Day of the Lord. We aren't going to make it through Chapter 1 are we? LOL - We will get where we get.
[Darris McNeely] So he is taken in spirit, he is in a vision here in verse 11 and he says, “I heard behind me the loud voices of a trumpet saying I am the Alpha, the Omega, the first and the last and what you see write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”
Same seven churches that will be mentioned in more detail with a message to each church in Chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation. So John is told to write this in a book and then send it to all of them. So in Verse 12 – “He turns to see the voice that spoke to me and having turned, I saw seven golden lamp stands and in the midst of the seven lamp stands, one like the Son of Man clothed with garment down to the feet, girded about the chest with a golden band.”
Let me pause there just for a minute because this vision that John is now having, this first vision that he records, is very similar to a vision that we find Daniel having back in Chapter 7 of Daniel, beginning in verse 9.
Where Daniel has a very similar scene and when you line them both up together, you will see that the reactions are even the same. Johns' reaction here and Daniel's reaction back there. Daniel saw and wondered what he saw. In both cases there is a vision of God's throne. A vision with God in charge and all that occurs in the universe, of total complete control. Daniel has a reaction there where he falls on his face when he sees the Son of God and he sees the throne of God - very similar reactions. Revelation is the prophetic capstone of the Bible. There are many loose threads drawn together in the book of Revelation. There are recaps of scenes that Daniel had, that Ezekiel had, where more information is given. More context is provided for us and things are wrapped up. One instance of that is in Chapter 20 where we find that the period following the return of Jesus Christ is referred to as a 1000 years. A specific reference and frame of years. From that we get the term millennium - a 1000 year period. Revelation is the only place where that period is exactly 1000 years. Ezekiel doesn't do it, Daniel doesn't do it and no other prophecy does this. Again that is why it is a wrap up here and a capstone of what we see. So he saw seven golden lamp stands.
Again there is another reference to seven. “In the midst of the seven lamp stands, one like the Son of Man clothed down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.”
Here is the image of Jesus standing in the midst of seven golden lamp stands. These seven lamp stands here are referenced at the end of the chapter as the seven churches. If we jump ahead at this point and time down to verse 20, Christ here is shown (perhaps a good scene for us to end on here tonight), standing in the midst of seven lamp stands, each one representing the seven churches. That they are already enumerated here, and again a complete picture of the church with Christ in the midst of the church.
Ephesians tells us that Christ is the head of the church to all things and goes through that in more detail but very clearly anchors Jesus Christ as the head of the church. Here John is showing through this vision that he is seeing Christ standing in the midst of it. This always is, for me personally, an encouraging passage to read at times. Especially when we go through various times of crisis. To know that what is happening is happening because Jesus Christ is aware of it. He doesn't stop it in one sense; He knows what is taking place at any given time within the church. He is the head of the church. It is according to His plan and His purpose which at times are beyond what we may be able to see at any given moment, at any given episode. That is where faith and many other principles come in for us to hang close to God. This is one that personally has meant a great deal to me to go back to and cling to times. You wonder is it all spinning out of control. No it isn't and it never has. Because Christ is in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands. So I will leave my comment off at that particular point if you would like to wrap it up here with anything you may want to add. Next time we can pick up here in this verse.
[Steve Myers] It is also interesting in that particular passage where he says He is in the midst of the churches and how He is dressed. It says He is girded about the chest with a gold band. That seems to point back to the high priest would have worn in ancient Israel. So He is attired like the high priest, not exactly, but like the high priest so it brings that to mind. And of course what is Christ, Christ is our high priest. He is in the midst of the church. He is petitioning God on our behalf. He sacrificed on our behalf. So there He stands as our awesome spiritual high priest among the church watching over us. It definitely leaves you with a tremendous deeper understanding of what Christ is doing today as our High Priest.
We probably should break right there. We’ll pick it up there next time and just see how far we can get. I know with the different questions that will come in and the different symbolisms and prophecies that we’ll identify, will probably limit us from mapping out exact chapters all of the time. Hopefully we can cover it thoroughly and continue to move along as well. We will look forward to seeing you. Good Night.