Jesus Is Coming (Revelation 1:1-8)
Worship before The Throne of God
Introduction to the Series on Revelation
When reading the biblical book of Revelation, it is easy for us to interpret the book through our theological biases. For example, in the fourth chapter, on the first verse, John is invited to go up through a door in heaven. Some have concluded that this is a reference to the rapture of the church. But how did they arrive to this conclusion?
I think some of us just want to see a rapture before the tribulation, so we look for something that must be a rapture before the tribulation. But is this what the book is really communicating? Is this really what the text is implying?
In this series on Revelation, I would like to invite you to read the book Revelation along with me while putting aside our preferred theologies and simply looking at what the book says on its own. Perhaps we may see something we had not seen before, and perhaps (yes, surely!) the Lord will speak to our hearts through His word.
Revelation 1:1-2, A Message for God's Servants
The writer introduces the book by identifying it as "the revelation of Jesus Christ." He does not mean that Jesus Christ (Jesus the Anointed) is being revealed (unveiled) to the world, but that the revelation proceeds from Jesus: for God gave it to Jesus so Jesus would show to God's servants the things that will take place soon. Afterwards, Jesus communicated the message to John through his angel.
Thus, it is God who unveils the contents of the book to Jesus; and we should not be surprised about this, because the Lord said that only the Father knew about the day and the hour of the end times (Mark 13:32, Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:7).
After the Lord received this revelation from the Father, he communicated it to John through "his angel," who seems to be the Lord's personal messenger. The Lord did this because it was the Father's intent that he would show God's servants the things that would soon come to pass.
Now, Revelation does indicate that an angel gave a little book to John (Revelation 10:2, 10). Then the angel told John he would still need to prophesy before many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings. This does not mean that the book of Revelation was passed down to John already in a written form, but that Jesus used the angel to facilitate John's visions. After all, the Bible states that even the Torah (the Law of Moses) was delivered by angels (Hebrews 2:1), although it was clearly God Himself who spoke to Moses.
The author also explains that John testified of God's word, the teachings of Jesus, and all the things that he saw (a reference to the visions recorded in the book).
Revelation 1:3, Blessing on Those Who Read
The author then pronounces a blessing on anyone who reads aloud in the church the book of Revelation (so were the Hebrew Bible and the writings of the apostles read to the churches), on all those who not only hear the one who reads but who also keep (treasure, obey) what the book says. The book is a book of prophecy, and time for its prophesies to be fulfilled is close: those who keep what the book says will be blessed because they will be ready before all the prophesies are fulfilled.
Revelation 1:4-5, John to the Churches
The author now identifies himself as John. This is John, the one who testified of God's word, the one who testified about Jesus, and the one to whom this revelation was sent (see verse 2). This is John, the one who is a brother to the believers in the churches to whom this book is addressed, the one who is also their companion in tribulation, the one who is also their companion in the kingdom of Jesus Christ and in the patience of Jesus Christ (see verse 9). This person is John, the one who was in the island of Patmos due to his ministry for the word of God and the gospel of Christ. There can be little doubt that this man, who identifies himself simply as John, was a man known to the churches, one who was easily recognized by them: namely, John, the Lord's disciple (see Matthew 4:21, Mark 1:19, Luke 5:10, Acts 1:13, Galatians 2:9).
The author, John, also identifies the audience of the book: seven churches in ancient Roman Asia, what is now Turkey. To these churches, John wishes (blesses with) grace and peace, which will be relevant to them as they endure persecutions.
John states that this grace and peace are from The One Who Is, Was, and Will Come (a reference to God the Father), the Seven Spirits of God before His Throne (a reference to the Holy Spirit), and from Jesus Christ.
Of the Lord Jesus, John states that he is the Faithful Witness (because he taught God's word faithfully, as God wanted it to be delivered and while enduring persecutions and martyrdom for it), the First Begotten from the Dead (because He resurrected and will inherit God's kingdom), and the Prince of the Kings of the Earth (because he will rule over all human rulers).
Revelation 1:5-6, Dedication to Jesus
John now dedicates the book to Jesus Christ, and ascribes him glory and dominion for ever. He identifies why Jesus is worthy of glory and dominion: he loved us so much he shed his own blood to atone for our sins, and thus he has purified us and made us kings and priests for his God and Father.
That Jesus identifies the Father as his God does not contradict that Jesus is one being with the Father and the Holy Spirit. After all, the book of Revelation will also identify Jesus as the Word of God, which means that Jesus proceeds from the essence of the Father (this identification of Jesus as the Word of God is a common theme with the Gospel of John and the First Epistle of John, and this commonality lends support to the view that the same John who wrote the gospel and the epistle is the same person who wrote Revelation).
Revelation 1:7-8, Jesus Is Coming
The author now states the subject of this revelation, of this prophecy: the coming of the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ, who left this world by ascending from the earth to a cloud (Acts 1:9) will return; and this book of prophecy reveals what we should know about his return.
When the Lord returns, he will return with clouds, just as the angels told the disciples he would do (Acts 1:11), and just as Daniel prophesied the Messiah would come to receive the kingdom (Daniel 7:13).
Most likely, these clouds are not ordinary clouds, but the clouds that manifest the presence of God (Exodus 13:21). Thus, the clouds point out to the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, for according to the Bible it is God who is in the clouds (Psalm 104:3, 78:14, 97:2, 99:7, 104:3, 105:39).
According to John, when the Lord returns to Earth, every eye will see him: in other words, everyone will know that he is returning. This principle is in agreement with the Lord's teaching, who in Matthew 24:27 indicates that his return will not be concealed, but manifest to everyone.
Since the Lord has not returned (since we have not witnessed this), the book of Revelation is about an event yet in the future.
Moreover, John quotes a portion of Zechariah 12:10, where Hashem (Jehovah, God the Father) states that He will be seen by Israel, that Israel will realize they pierced Him, and that Israel will mourn for Him (evidence of repentance because on them will come the Spirit of grace and supplication, and because they will realize that they were wrong about Jesus, whom they rejected and pierced on the cross).
Why then does John apply Zechariah 12:10 to Jesus if Zechariah is talking about Hashem? The reason is that John believes that Jesus is the Word of God, who proceeds from the essence of the Father's being, in whom God is perfectly revealed. Once again, this is strong proof for the Lord's divinity.
John states that all families on the Earth will wail because of Him. While their wailing could be a sign of repentance, it could also mean only that they will realize they have done wrong: for the moment when everyone sees the Lord returning is the moment when Hashem will fight for Israel against all the nations that come to war against it (Zechariah 12:9).
Thus, Revelation does not only concern the church, but also Israel.
John then closes the introduction to the book by quoting God the Father (we know it is God the Father who speaks because in verse 4 John identifies God the Father as the one who is, and was, and is to come), who declares himself to be the Alpha and the Omega (the first and the last letter of the Greek alphabet), and the beginning and the ending (in other words, He who is the eternal Creator of all things).
John again calls God the Father The One Who Is, The One Who Was, and the One Who Will Come, which is a reference to the Lord's uniqueness, eternity, and second advent. John finally calls the Lord The Almighty.
It is interesting that God the Father is said to be the One Who Will Come, though the book is about the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why is that? It is because the Father and the Son are one being, yet two persons who partake of the same essence. The Father is perfectly revealed in the Son, and the Son proceeds from the Father.
Reflection or Discussion
1. Do you agree with the author's interpretation of the first few verses of Revelation? Why or why not?
2. How does it make you feel to know that Jesus Christ will return to Earth? Are you ready for his return?
3. Do you know that Jesus Christ died on a cross to pay for your sins so you can be forgiven and made a priest and a king for God? Do you believe that He came back to life and ascended to Heaven? Would you like to receive God's forgiveness by placing your faith in Jesus?
4. How do you demonstrate in your life your gratitude to God and Jesus Christ for the forgiveness God gives you through the sacrifice of Jesus?
Tell God that you believe in Him and His Son, Jesus Christ. Ask Him to forgive your sins, and thank Him because Jesus died on the cross for you. Praise Him because Jesus rose from the dead, and tell Him you look forward to His return so you can be with Him.
Invitation to The Reader
I would like to invite you to share your thoughts, questions, and insights on the comments section below. I also would like to invite you to click on the links below to read the other devotionals I have written on the book of Revelation.
© 2018 Marcelo Carcach