Summary: How to start reading Revelation and a picture of the glorified Christ
Revelations 1 September 7, 2003
Introduction to Revelations Series
John & Revelation
Why Revelation? Why now? – Verse 3, 17,
Today begins a series in the book of Revelation – it is the last book of the Bible and is in many ways an exciting book and a frightening book all the same – it is full of monsters and beasts, cosmic battles between good and evil, and although many parts are simple to read and understand, there are others that just give us a strange look on our faces. There are Christians who stay away from it because it appears hard to understand, and there are Christians who are into it with their charts and numbers and measuring sticks ready to tell you exactly what everything means and how it is all going to turn out in the end – watch out for those ones!
I encouraged you to read the whole book in one of back pages a few weeks ago, and one of you came to me and confessed that she had read it and didn’t like it. It was hard to understand – there were parts that were obvious, and others that made very little sense, much of it seemed to apply to the Jewish people, but not to 21st century Christians. This is why some people shy away from it, but I think that there are a few things in the first chapter that draw us to it – first it is written as a letter to 7 churches in what is now Turkey – these were not mainly Jewish Christians, but Gentiles like most of us, second is verse 3 that says, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”
Another way to translate this verse is “God blesses the one who reads this prophecy out loud to the church, and he blesses all who listen to it and obey what it says. For the time is near when these things will happen.”
One great reason to preach a series on Revelation is to receive this blessing from God!
Another encouragement for us to delve in deeper is Verse 17 which says “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.”
John – Apostle imprisoned on Patmos
When ever we start to read a book from the Bible it is always good to remember that we are reading someone else’s mail – It applies today – The word of God is living and breathing sharper than a two edged sword, but it had an original human author inspired by the Holy Spirit to write out of their own context. And it had original recipients who would have read it first and it applied to the things that they were going through. This doesn’t limit scripture and how God uses it in our lives, but it helps us to understand what God is saying to us today if we understand what he was saying to the original writers and readers.
I think that this is most important when it comes to Revelation. There is a great temptation to go from the page and apply the images to our own time right now, so that the great Babylon becomes whatever enemy our nation is fighting against, that the tribulation becomes a far off event that happens to other people since our lives a pretty good right now. We need to understand how the first hearers understood what John saw and wrote down for us.
John the Apostle is the original writer, He is an old man now in his eighties and he is imprisoned on the Island of Patmos, as he says in Verse 9 “for preaching the word of God and speaking about Jesus.”
He writes to a church that is suffering greatly under persecution and fear of death and imprisonment. We’ll discover more about these churches as we get into Chapters 2 & 3
John is a Poet – Apocalypsist John tells us that this is an Apocalypse in the first verse – it is the Greek word that is translated “Revelation.” Apocalypse was a genre of writing that you find in the Old Testament and in non-Biblical texts from the time before Christ – it is usually poetic and wild in it’s language. It gives us an idea of the future and even the present and the past, but one is not meant to get stuck on the details. For example Peter Quotes Joel’s prophesy in Acts 2 to describe what was happening on Pentecost.