Summary: Introduction to Revelation and letters to seven churches.
A Letter That Reveals...
Though I write very few personal letters, I do enjoy receiving them. Not much else delights my heart like that of receiving a letter from a family member, or from a close personal friend, in which they reveal bits of news that pertains to future events and the part that I can play in them.
This book of the Revelation is just such a letter. Penned by the hand of the apostle John, it was written to believers, who like himself, had suffered greatly for the cause of Christ. The name of the book bears it’s purpose...it is the revelation.
1. It is the revelation of the glorified Christ, who identifies himself as the Alpha and Omega; the Beginning and the End.
2. It is the revelation of Christ as the Eternal One, who was, who is, and who is to come.
3. It is the revelation of Christ as the Living Lord; the One who was dead, but is now very much alive.
4. It is the revelation of future events in which every one, who is a believer in Christ, shall take part.
5. It is the revelation of future events in which every unbeliever shall suffer the wrath of God.
In twenty-one years of pastoring churches, I have found that there are two extremes when it comes to the book of Revelation. First of all, there are those who are so mystified by it’s teaching, and by all of it’s symbolism, that they are interested in very little else. The rapture of the church, the tribulation of the lost, and the day of God’s wrath is all that interests them spiritually. Then, secondly, there are those who have very little interest in the Revelation because they do not understand it’s mystery and symbolism, and because they are almost afraid to even think about future events. Well, somewhere, there has to be a happy medium; for, in verse 3 of chapter 1, John said: Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
Beloved, let me assure you that even though we do need to know about future events as revealed in this prophecy; there is nothing that we can do about them except to be ready for them when they happen. Our hearts and minds must be prepared for there will be that day in which great and small shall stand before the God of heaven. And, while we should also not be consumed by the mystery of the revelation, neither should we neglect to study it, for there is still much that God has to say to us as the church so that we may be ready to meet Him in the day of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I am going to attempt to preach from this book, but let me preface it by saying that I make no promise that we will cover it verse by verse, or chapter by chapter; or that we will even cover it’s contents from beginning to end, but will conclude the study when the Lord tells me it is time.
Now, as we look at this first chapter, we find that the letter, though penned by John, is not from John! The letter is from Christ Jesus, the Lord; from He who is the Head of the church, the Saviour of the body. John is just the scribe! The message that He proclaims; the mystery that he reveals is not that which was conceived within his own mind as an over-active imagination, but that which he heard from the mouth of the Lord, himself.
The letter is to the church, at large. Though the recipients are identified as the seven churches of Asia, each one represents the church of Jesus Christ at some particular time in history. There is, at least one of the seven churches of Asia, whose personality, character and works represents the First Baptist Church of Garden Lakes.
Now, as we read in verse 9, John was on the Isle of Patmos. He had been exiled there for one reason: Because of his stand in the Word of God and for the testimony which resulted from that stand. Obviously John was a man of conviction. Having been with the Lord Jesus Christ; having seen His crucifixion and having witnessed His resurrection, John was convinced that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God....and such a conviction could not help but make him share what he had seen and heard. As we read the book of Acts, we find that it was John who stood with the apostle Peter in the face of the council though their very lives were threatened. When told that they were never to teach or preach in the name of Jesus again, Peter, filled with a holy boldness that can come only from God’s Spirit, said: "Tell us whether it is right to listen to you, or to God. But we cannot help but speak of those things which we have seen and heard."