In the previous episode we talk about the Book of Revelation as a simple book with a challenging message. A call to faithfulness. It encourages believers to read, understand, and obey the Word of God. So that we might be a faithful witness FOR the truest revelation the world has ever known – the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this episode, Tim brings clarity to who Jesus is and who we are in Him with a look at chapter one, verses 3-8.
Alright, so we’ll continue with Revelation. We did such a few number of verses last week that we’ll just start from the beginning as a review.
From God’s Perspective, It Hasn’t Been Long
Revelation 1:1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place.
And last week we talked about how Revelation is written to believers. It’s written to servants. You can have faithful servants and unfaithful servants, but these are servants, people who’ve been redeemed, who have heaven as their destiny.
But he wants his servants to do some things. And that’s what Revelation is written to talk about.
Shortly take place means speedily. We talked about last week how life is but a vapor, and if that’s the case, it’s been about 40 wisps of vapor since this was written. 40 generations. And so, from the standpoint of God’s economy, it’s not very long.
Martyr = Witness
And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all the things he saw. And we talked about how the root word for witness here is martyreo.
So, what Revelation is very much about is being a martyr, being a witness, being someone who gives testimony. Sometimes the cost to us is our life physically. But, in all cases, it costs us our life from the standpoint of being separated from the world if we’re going to follow what Jesus asks us to do here.
And angel here, we talked about is aggelos. It means messenger. We’re used to the Spirit being dispatched from heaven, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, we know here it’s going to be Jesus that is the messenger, and then it’s going to be some actual humans who are reading the letter.
Read, Hear, Understand, and Do
Verse 3. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear. And here is the evidence. In he who reads, he is singular. So, the idea here is, Jesus is going to be the messenger that gives the message to John. John is going to send the letters to a person in the seven churches, and a person in the seven churches is going to read it to the assembly.
So, blessed is he who reads—that’s the reader—and those who hear—that’s the people in the church, the servants—the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it.
So there’s our sequence: We want to read, we want to understand, and then we want to do it.
So the purpose of this book is for servants to learn how to be good witnesses by reading what’s in this prophecy and doing it. It’s a very simple book from that standpoint.
The Purpose Of The Book Is To Teach Us How To Be A Good Witness
The prediction of all the things that are going to happen is not so simple. But, that’s not the purpose of the book. The purpose of the book is to help us understand how to witness, how to live a life as a witness.
The Appointed Date Is Near
For the time is near. Time is near here is not chronos time, it’s kairos time. So, time here is an appointment.
There’s an appointed date. And we’ll see as we go through Revelation, that God has appointed times. All of history is already rolled out and in place. And this is one of the great mysteries of God, the paradox of God, that although God is sovereign and prescribes all things, our choice is real, and history happens as we make choices.
That’s something we can’t really reconcile in our own logic. But our logic only makes sense if we begin with definitions. And God is the very definition. In the beginning God. When a paradox is embedded in God, it’s not a contradiction because it’s part of his nature.
So we’re going to see history prescribed, and the time is near. The appointed date is near. The appointed date is the appointed date for the end of this age.
Him Who Is, Was, And Is To Come
Verse 4. John, to the seven churches which are in Asia—Asia at this time is a Roman province. The Roman province of Asia, we know it as Turkey. —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.
We’re going to see this was, is, is to come, beginning, end, we’re going to see this multiple times. And I think the reason is because Revelation is a book about completing the age. And God is the God who began everything, and he’s the God who’s going to end everything. He’s the same God, all the way through. And, so, we can be confident that as things start to fall apart that God has the end in his hand just as he had the beginning in his hand.
Grace And Peace
He asks them for grace and peace. Grace and peace are two things that circumstances can’t rob us of. We’re going to see as we go through Revelation circumstances are going to be horrific. Grace and peace can be ours irrespective of circumstances.
Jesus As Witness
Verse 5. And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness—here again is martyreo, the witness.
Jesus was the original example of what it means to be a faithful witness. And what did Jesus do? He obeyed the will of his father, right? Even to death on the cross.
Jesus As Ruler
The firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. So now Jesus is actually appointed ruler over the earth. When he’s leaving, he gives the Great Commission. What did he say? All authority is now mine.
However, he has not actually, physically imposed his authority on the earth yet. But will he? Yes, he will. He’s the beginning and the end. He’s the first and the last. He was, he is, he will come. It’s an inevitability that those things will merge together. Ruler over the kings of the earth. He has all authority.
Written To Believers
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. Amen. Behold He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. So be it. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and was and is to come, the Almighty.”
So, let’s look at these verses. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood. What does that reemphasize? It’s to believers. If he says he loved us and washed us from our sins, what does that have to mean? The people he’s writing this to have been washed from their sins, right? Is this past, present, or future? It’s past. This is something that has already happened.
So he’s writing to his servants, and his servants have been washed from their sins in his own blood. That is our new birth. So these are people that have been born.
Believers Are Appointed As Kings
But that’s not all. What else has he done? What else has he appointed us to do, as kings?
Do you think of yourselves as royalty? Do you think of yourself as a princess? Well, let’s just think about this for a minute. He has made us kings. Now, we know that one of the big rewards of Christianity is to be appointed to be a servant-king in the kingdom that is to come.
But it’s interesting. That’s not something that’s pending. It’s something that we’ve already been appointed to now. And the idea here is, you’ve been appointed, and if you’ll be faithful in small things, then I’ll give you a big thing.
And, actually, we’re already appointed to it, but it’s something we can squander, something we can lose. Isn’t that interesting?
Now if you’re going to be a king, if you’re appointed as king, what are some things that should be on your to-do list? What constitutes a really good king or a really good queen?
Justice. You should want to see justice done. If you’re going to see justice done, what do you have to do? You have to rule. And what does that mean?
You Have To Show Up
What’s the most basic thing you have to do if you’re going to rule? You have to show up! The first part of life is showing up. That’s the most basic thing, to keep showing up.
And a lot of times, we don’t show up. That’s one of our fundamental problems: We don’t show up.
You Have To Realize You’re A King
Another fundamental thing, real basic thing, you have to do is you have to realize you’re the king. So you have to show up, and you have to realize you’re a king.
Your Duties As King
You have to realize what your duties are. Justice would be one of your duties. What are some other duties? Serving. What would serving look like? If you’re going to have a great realm, what are some of the ways you serve? Dispensing justice would be good, as an example.
You have to take care of your people, right? If you’re going to take care of your people, what are you going to do? You have to be engaged with them somehow, you have to know what’s going on. Don’t you?
You Have To Produce An Heir
If you’re really going to be a king, an earthly king, what is your most important duty of all? Wars are fought over this. Massive disruption happens because of this. Produce an heir. That’s the most important thing.
Well, we got to visit a place with a king that I think you’ll find very interesting, and it’s worth talking about. Because this king did some of these things and not others. His name was Ludwig. And Ludwig built the Sleeping Beauty castle. There is an actual Sleeping Beauty castle. It’s in Neuschwanstein which means New Swan Town, and it’s on the border of Austria and Germany.
Now Ludwig was king of Austria, and he didn’t particularly want to mess with women. There’s a lot of speculation as to why that is, but one thing we know is he wouldn’t get married, and he wouldn’t have offspring.
And the other thing Ludwig loved to do was build castles: fancy castles, amazing castles, castles full of gold stuff.
And this new Neuschwanstein castle is up on a hill. It’s spectacular. It’s beautiful.
And on the inside, he made it like a fairy tale. It has big murals of the great epic story Tristin and Isolde that Richard Wagner wrote. It even has this one hallway that’s turned into a grotto. It looks like a cave. You think you’re at Disneyland when you walk into it. As a matter of fact, the Disney motif is kind of a direct correlation.
And Ludwig did something very unusual. His people loved him for it. He actually used his own family’s money to build all these castles. He only built a couple. But he had in mind to build like 18 of them.
Not only that, he didn’t show up for work. He spent all his time in his castles. So guess what they did to old Ludwig who wouldn’t produce an heir, wouldn’t show up, and was using his family’s money instead of taxes to build these castles that had no practical purpose. They were just for show, just a place to visit. There was not even any defense capabilities in these castles.
Well, Ludwig got arrested for being insane. And then poor old Ludwig—he was very popular with the people, by the way, because he didn’t like to fight, so nobody got conscripted into battle, and he used his own money to build all this stuff. He was very popular with the people.
They tried to arrest him, but weren’t able to because he was so popular. When they finally got him arrested, they took him to an island where a psychiatrist was going to examine him.
But poor Ludwig drowned in the surrounding lake that was three-feet deep, and he was an expert swimmer. That’s right, Ludwig got knocked off.
The family immediately turned his castles into places that were open to the public, and they’ve been making a fortune off of it ever since.
It turned out Ludwig was right all the time as to how things worked. They lost their kingdom, but they still have all that money flowing in every year.
I think that Ludwig was a lot like how we sometimes think of being kings. Ludwig wanted to use his kingship for his own pleasure. He didn’t really look at his duties. He just had this privilege, and he had fun with it.
And, the people like it because he kind of left them alone, but the people in his family that were in charge of this whole royalty thing didn’t like it too much.
Now, the example falls short because their goals were not good goals and their methods were not good methods, but the analogy can still speak to us because God has appointed us to be kings, to be queens. And that means he expects us to show up, understand our duties, discharge our responsibilities, and do so faithfully.
Taking Responsibility As A Leader
It’s a phenomenal responsibility. I want you to be thinking about that as we go through this whole thing. If you’re a king, what is your responsibility?
Now, if we have this many kings all throughout the world, obviously, we’re going to all have to play our roles. Think about the body, each person in the body has a role to play. But the most fundamental thing a leader does is take responsibility.
If you take responsibility, what does that mean? What does that always look like? And you’re always going to be taking responsibility for things you don’t control. What’s going to be happening? You’re always going to get blamed for everything, right?
What do the really good coaches do at the press conference when their team has lost? Every one of them say this. “This is all on me.” Why do they say that? They didn’t play the game. Why do they always say that? “I’m the leader” [says the coach.] What they’re saying is “I’m protecting my players. My job is to protect my players. So I want the criticism to stop here. I will deal with it. I want my players to focus on playing, not on dealing with you. And so I want it to stop right here.” They’re taking responsibility.
And if you have a coach that stands up and says, “Well, if Payton could throw the ball, we would have won this game. You know, the guard tripped, and he just blew the game.” What do you think about that coach? You think, well, he’s not a leader; he’s a whiner.
What leaders do is stand in the gap. They say “I will take the responsibility.”
And furthermore, what leaders do is cast a vision. And they say, we’re going to this spot, and I’m going to go there whether you go or not. Which means, I know I am a witness. I’m a martyr. I’m going to take responsibility. I’m going there whether you come or not. I’m going to show the way, and I’m going to do so with courage. If they kill me, they kill me. But nothing’s going to deter me.
If we have that view about God’s kingdom, we’re showing the way, we’re taking responsibility, we’re casting the vision. What we’re going to do is we’re going to create offspring. And not just babies that never grow up.
The Bible never calls us to go out and birth as many children as possible and then throw them into an orphanage. What it says is make disciples. So as we do this king-job, what we’re doing along the way is we’re teaching people what it means to be a king. That’s our job.
We have a very important position we’ve been appointed to.
We’re Also Priests
But not just kings, also priests.
What does a priest do? Stand in the spiritual gap. So we’ve got a physical world gap, and a spiritual world gap.
What does that look like to stand in the gap spiritually? What are some things we might be doing for people? Praying, intercession, teaching, counseling, rebuking. You might sit down with somebody and say, hey, you’re on the wrong path. Let me help you. That’s standing in the gap for them.
So we’ve got this king, and we’ve got priests. It doesn’t say here that that is our ultimate destiny. It says it’s our current appointment. Washed us from our sins and made us kings and priests.
Pretty awesome, huh? We haven’t even gotten into all the prediction stuff, and it’s already amazing!
And kings and priests to who? The world? No. Kings and priests to his God and father and to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. So we’re kings and priests to the father, and Jesus is the one who’s appointed us that.
And who’s the leading king? Jesus. Who’s the leading priest? Jesus. We have a high priest who’s faithful over all things, and he makes intercession for us as Moses made intercession for the people.
Jesus Went Into The Clouds And Will Return
Verse 7. Behold, He—Jesus—is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him—So when Jesus lifted off from the Mount of Olives, everybody watched him go, and then the angel, in this case, a messenger from heaven, a Spirit being from heaven—came down and said, “hey, did you see him go up into the clouds?” And everybody said, “Yeah.” And he said, “OK. Well, that’s what he’s going to do again, except this time he’s going to come back down.”
When you’re a little kid and you go to the hotel that has the atrium elevators with the glass on it, didn’t you stand in front of it and just watch it go up and then down, and then get in and go up and go down? And you have to tell your kids, “Quit getting in the elevator! There’s people trying to leave!”
Because it’s fascinating. Up and down and…Well, they saw him go up. He’s going to come back down! He went up in the clouds. He’s going to come back down in the clouds. And every eye will see him.
Now this is interesting, isn’t it? Because when he comes back, somehow everybody on earth is going to see it.
When we went to Israel, one of the four times we’ve been, we had a guide who lives on the hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee. And he kind of knows that they’re in the crossfire of a lot of stuff. And his perspective, he told us, was that when Jesus comes back, he’s going to land in the Mount of Olives first, so he’ll get to be there first. And, if a rocket goes off or something like that, he said, heaven’s a local call from here. Everywhere else is long distance. This is a local call.
But every eye will see him. So somehow Jesus is going to come back in such a way that every person on the earth will see him.
People Will Mourn When They See Him Return
Even they who pierced him. So that could mean all of humanity who pierced him. Because all of us participated in the sin that killed Jesus. It could mean the Jews, the people in Jerusalem are going to pierce him. It probably means both.
And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him.
So every nation, every tongue is going to see Jesus, and they’re going to be unhappy that they see him.
Now why would people be unhappy that Jesus had come back? I would propose to you that there are at least two possibilities, and maybe you can come up with more. What’s two reasons why? —let’s just think about a child and mom and dad come home.
I’m in trouble.
Now why would you be in trouble? Why would you not think, “Oh wonderful!” Why would you not think, “Hey, mom and dad are home! Yipee!”
You got caught! So one reason is that mom and dad come home, and you got caught. And you’re like, dang! I didn’t have time to clean up. Hide something. Because you expected them to come later, right? And they’re home early. Dang! What happened?
Parable Of The Master Returning From The Wedding
There’s another verse about this. Let’s look at Luke 12:35. This is something, I think, that this parable fits into. This is Jesus speaking.
Let your waist be girded—that means have on your athletic shorts. Be ready for vigorous activity.—and your lamps burning. So, we’re ready for vigorous activity, and we have our lamps burning because we’re going to be working into the night. —and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may be open to him immediately.
So, why would you open immediately? You’re ready. The house is clean. The yard is mowed. The landscaping is all in perfect order. And you’re like, “The master’s back. Awesome!”
Now, have you ever had your parents come home and you were really happy about it? What are some of the things that made you happy because your parents came home?
You missed them. But mostly if you’re a kid, you don’t really care about that that much.
It’s really because they went on a trip and they brought a present home. That’s the main thing you want, isn’t it?
Maybe safety. Maybe you’re some place you’d prefer not to be and you get to come home again.
Verse 37. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.
So they were ready. They were ready for him to come back. These are the faithful servants. We’re all servants; some are faithful.
Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.
So, here’s the master, and he comes home from the wedding, comes home from his honeymoon. Everybody’s like, “Oh, we’re so glad you’re here! We’re ready! Everything’s cleaned! Everything’s landscaped! We got all the fields ready to go. We’re so glad to see you!”
And the master says, “I’m so happy that you’re ready for me. I want you to sit down, and I’m going to serve you the meal.” Pretty cool, huh?
I bet that didn’t happen very often in the ancient world. The people were probably listening to this saying, “I’ve never seen that before!”
Verse 38. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
So, not only do they say, “Yay, we’re ready for you!” at 5:00 p.m. or at 12 noon, or if he comes at 9:00 at night, or if he comes at 4:00 in the morning, they’re still ready. And so if you come at 4:00 in the morning, even more so. The more unexpected that you’re still ready for him, the better he likes it.
Verse 39. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
So here’s another thing: Sometimes you’re just kind of not paying attention, and a thief breaks in. And if you had known when the thief was coming, you’d be ready, right?
Verse 40. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
So what he wants us to do is be in a position where we are happy for him to come back because we’re ready. And the way we do that is hear, understand, do. Live life as a faithful witness. Live life as a king and a priest. And then we’re ready.
And it’s going to become more and more apparent why this admonition is necessary when we get into these extremely difficult circumstances in the world that we’re going to have to endure. It’s going to be hard.
Revelation 1:8. I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,” says the Lord. Again, over and over again, I have all this scripted. So when you see all this trouble, just know I am still in control.
But know I have for you to be a king and a priest. I have for you to be a witness. That’s what I’m asking you to do. Don’t just check out and wait for me to handle things.
Who is and was and is to come, the Almighty.” So even though it looks like everything is spinning out of control, don’t forget, all authority is mine, and I’m still the almighty.