Summary: The title, "Revelation", is taken from the very first verse of the first chapter: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to his servants..." (Rev. 1:1). Now, what do you do when something’s revealed to you? You LOOK at it.
A PICTURE OF JESUS
There’s an old saying that says, "A picture is worth a thousand words." I think that’s pretty accurate; Jesus seems to have thought so too. His favorite method of teaching was in parables - vivid, illustrative word pictures that helped his audience to understand. So over the next several weeks I want to take you on a tour of the book of Revelation… using pictures. Not visual pictures, but mental pictures..
First of all, I want you to think about the title - "Revelation." This is taken from the very first verse of the first chapter: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to his servants..." (Rev. 1:1). Now, what do you do when something’s revealed to you? You LOOK at it, or examine it . And that’s what we’re going to do.
1. THE RECIPIENT AND THE REALITY OF THE REVELATION (v. 9).
There’s a lot of things that John could’ve said about himself. You ask some people to introduce themselves and they start spewing out their resume. Men especially tend to be like that (not that you ladies are above that sort of thing). John could’ve said:
"I’m one of the apostles, but I’m not just any ordinary apostle. I belonged to the inner circle; I was the one who Jesus really loved."
But that’s not what he said. Notice how John describes himself: “your brother and companion”. You see, John wasn’t out to elevate himself. His purpose is to show us that we are united in a common bond; that bond is Jesus.
This revelation given to John was a real event in history. It’s not just some made up fairy tale. John was on a real island located in the Mediterranean Sea and he was given a message to be delivered to real churches that existed during that time.
It’s a book that is rooted in history. So if I we want to understand it, then we’ve got to place it the context of the world in which it was written.
People run into all kinds of problems in trying to understand the book of Revelation because they take it out of context. They start to look for a bunch of stuff that’s simply not there and the book of Revelation is not about any of those things.
2. THE RESIDENCE OF THE REVELATION (Vv. 10-12).
John hears a voice like a trumpet, and apparently it came from behind him. I don’t know about you, but when something loud happens behind me, it tends to startle me. I imagine this voice startled John as well.
He turns and looks to see where this voice came from, but instead he sees seven golden lampstands. This is important because he mentions these lampstands again in the next verse, and again in verse 20.
So what’s so important about the lampstands? They were associated with the Temple. In the original Tabernacle, there was a lampstand shaped like a tree with one branch in the middle and three branches on each side. They were made of solid gold and held seven oil lamps. (Show picture)
When God gave instructions for the building of the Tabernacle and later for the Temple, there was a reason He included a lamp stand in the shape of a tree. It represented His promise of restored life…a tree that lit the way into the Holy place. And so it was a tree of light, and a tree of life. These two things go together. John, himself, tells us so in his previous book:
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men (Jn. 1:4).
Do you remember the first mention of a tree in the Bible? It was in the Garden of Eden. There were actually two trees in the garden: The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. When Adam and Eve ate from the first tree, they were removed from the second. The first tree brought death; the second brought life.
Again, Revelation is rooted in history. It's written on the foundation of the OT; it’s full of Temple Language. The symbols that we see throughout this book aren’t nearly as strange to us if we’re familiar with the OT. Let me show you what I mean...Zechariah saw a similar vision of lampstands:
And he said to me, “What do you see?” So I said, “I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps (Zechariah 4:2).
FF to v. 20 and we’re told the meaning behind this symbol:
"...the seven lamp stands which you saw are the seven churches." (v. 20).
If we’re not letting our light shine in a way that can be seen, then we’re not fulling God's purpose for us as a church.