Go ahead and open your bibles to the last book – the book of Revelation. This book scares some folks. Mostly because of the imagery it paints of the End Times. Even when hearing the name of the book, REVELATION – we instantly think of the (TAB) mark of the beast, (TAB) the anti-christ and (TAB) an apocalyptic tribulation. AAAAND this book does reveal information on them. But notice the first words of chapter 1 verse. 1. It says, “The revelation of Jesus Christ” Ahhhhh, so this book, isn’t first and foremost about revealing end times details –it’s a book that further reveals who Jesus is. Now, some say, “But Vern we have the gospels that do that.” You’re right but they are only a partial revelation. The gospels show us Jesus at His first coming wrapped in flesh in humiliation culminating to His atoning for at the cross. Revelation shows us the exalted Christ, Lord of His church, judging this fallen world and it’s sin as well as taking back what is HIS – as a ruling, reigning, warrior King. So, this book isnt’ just a book about the end of time…. it reveals Jesus to us.
(TAB) God wants us to KNOW Jesus more fully.
Before we go any further let’s set the stage for this study. It’s the year 95 AD (TAB) Domitian is Caesar of the Roman Empire. Ephesus is the 3rd largest city in the empire and it’s where Domitian has chosen to build his first temple so people can worship him. That’s right, he’s the first living Ceasar to declare himself a god to be worshipped.
Around the same time there’s someone WE KNOW in Ephesus, the apostle John. That’s right, the writer of the gospel of John, and the only surviving member of the original 12 disciples. By this point He’s an old man BUT he’s still proclaiming Jesus. But due to a crack down by Domitian, John is arrested preaching faith in the One true GOD and we all know it wasn’t Domitian. So, he’s (TAB).exile to the barren island of Patmos located in the Aegean Sea southwest of Ephesus, John is one of many prisoners there, most of which, will never leave the island alive.
While at Patmos John receives an unexpected visitor. He writes in v.10: “On the Lord’s Day, I was in the spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet (pause), which said; ‘Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches; to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.
John receives a vision… as he turns to see who’s speaking he sees an incredible sight. Last half of v. 12 “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone ‘like the Son of Man,’ dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double edges sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”
Now when I read a passage like this, the first I think is – this is obviously God, after all it refers to Him as“the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last.” But as you look closer - more specifically, this is God the Son. John says in v.13 that it’s someone like, “the Son of Man”. “Son of Man” is an old testament title from Dan. 7:13 that implies deity. It’s also Jesus’ favorite titles he used to refer to himself. 81 different times He calls Himself the “son of man”.
And once I figure that out this is Jesus, the next thing I think is: What happen to Him? Snowy white hair now? Fiery eyes? What’s going? (TAB) This is not the Jesus we’re use too. Well, the book of revelation is filled with symbolism. Some of it, is explained to us, like v. 20 in this chapter. Other symbolism we can figure out thanks to other bible passages. Then there’s we’re just not sure about. But Bible teachers feel confident about Jesus description. We believe His white hair shows us His holiness and unlimited wisdom. His fiery eyes, show us His penetrating gaze that’s able to see into the depths of our soul. (TAB) His feet are glowing bronze. (pause) It’s interesting because the (TAB) alter at the temple, where the sacrifices to the Lord were burned, was covered in bronze, and all of the utensils used at the alter were made of bronze. Add to this that many of the animals sacrificed on this alter were sacrificed to atone for personal sin… they were a substitute so that the divine judgment of God on personal sin THEN all of sudden we see Jesus red hot glowing bronze feet and understand Hes on a mission of divine judgment… and we see this in most of Revelation.
v. 15 says his voice had the sound of “rushing” waters. Imagine a voice that sounds like this (TAB)…… Whether it’s ocean waves crashing against rocks or the thunderous roard of a waterfall, this is a voice of authority that invokes submission and reverence when hearing it.
Then, out of his mouth we hear of a sharp two edges sword. Now, this is more familiar to us. Heb. 4:12 tells us the meanings (TAB) “…God’s word is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;(it goes deep)- it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” So this is clearly symbolic for how Jesus speaks the powerful word of God.
So John sees Jesus in this vision. The late Warren Wiersbe writes (TAB) “He was not the ‘gentle Jewish Carpenter’ that sentimentalists like to sing about. He is the risen, glorified, exalted Son of God, the Priest-King who has the authority to judge all men…”
And how does John respond? V. 17 “…when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead.” It reminds me of Isaiah…. When he had a vision (in Isa. 6) he’s (TAB) was ushered into the throne room in the presence of Almighty God and he falls on his face saying, “Woe is me, I am undone – I’m ruined – a man of unclean lips” Listen, when you stand before the Almighty, you know ONE THING – He’s God and you’re a dirty, rotten, stinking filthy sinner, deserving punishment for your condition.” You become instantly aware of His Holiness and power and deeply convicted of your utter depravity before Him. Do you realize who you are apart from Jesus? Many of us are told our whole lives, we’re loved, we’re important, we’re good… and that might be so by our fallen world standards. But when you but us on God’s standard…and you even get a glimps of the Holiness of ALMIGHTY GOD… we INSTANTLY realize we’re not good AT ALL! Apart from the Jesus, we are sick sinners, disgusting and wretched in the sight of God. We’re completely unworthy of His goodness and grace. (TAB) Who are you apart from Jesus? This is so important. KNOWING GOD and in turn knowing who you are apart – separated from Him. See, most of us think “I’m okay, I know I’m not perfect but we’re Okay”. NO YOU’RE NOT! (TAB)YOUR NOT OKAY, AND I’M NOT OKAY! God’s honest truth is: We’re sinners. In Isaiah’s vision He realized his condition and said, “Woe is me, I am undone.” “Woe” is a funeral terminology. It’s what a widow cried out when she lost her love and life – at the death of her husband. “Woe is me, It’s over, life as I know it is done. I’m ruined, I’m as good as dead.”
Let me ask it again: (TAB) “Who you are apart from Jesus!?!
If you learned anything from my feeble attempts at preaching – please learn this. HE IS GOD. YOU & I AREN’T. Apart from Jesus, you and I are dirty, destitute, debauched and depraved wretches. We have NO BUISNESS in the presence of God, NO BUSINESS saying His name. NO BUSINESS going to Him with requests. NONE! He is GOD, HE is HOLY, HOLY, HOLY… and we are so far, we fall so short form His glory. There are 2 things we deserve from God… 2 things: (TAB) His wrath and judgment. I’m serious. When you get even a glimps of the THE ALMIGHTY, HOLY GOD that He is… you are instantly made aware of how you fall short and are unworthy of being EVEN in the vicinity of His presence. We don’t deserve His grace, His love… we deserve His wrath and judgment. Now, I’ve shared this idea with Christians before…. and they let me know that it didn’t feel comfortable to them. IT SHOULDN’T. But the truth is what I’m explaining doesn’t even come close, to the spiritual reality of the situation.
Because of who we truly are - Jesus had to endure this (TAB) - for you and me. And still, on some level we’re used to seeing depictions like that… but imagine being there – imagine it’s your child – how would we feel? It would be the worst. That’s what sin looks like. It’s dirty, gross, disgusting… it’s naked and shameful. Remember, Jesus wasn’t clothed on the cross. He was naked. That was part of the horror and shame of it. And that’s what we look like in God’s presence.
When John saw the (TAB) glowing presence of Jesus, his snow white hair, His feet like brass and eyes like fire… His voice, the sound of many waters and he planted his face in the dirt. Because when you’re in the presence of the glorified, resurrected JESUS Christ you are extremely aware of who HE IS…& who you are.
But then in v.17 it says, “…He placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid….”
Remember, John knows Jesus. He’s believed, trusted His life to Him….. He’s NOT apart from Christ - He’s in Christ. And that changes everything. He has relationship with Him. And when we confess our sin, our depravity to Him and trust who He is and what He’s done… we enter relationship with Him and it changes everything. We’re forgiven and accepted by God. Instead of God turning away from us, waving us off as if to say, “Get this mess from my presence” He smiles, reaches out his right hand… because we are HIS… He’s saved us, forgiven and cleansed us, His work on the cross has made us accepted and loved - part of the family of God. Isn’t that great!
And just in case anyone the reader isn’t 100% sure this is Jesus, what Jesus says next seals the deal. Last part of v. 17 and in 18. “I am the First and the Last. He who “was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys to Hades and Death.
Jesus is the only one who fits the description! (TAB) “First and Last” (TAB) “Was dead and is alive forevermore” (TAB) and holds the keys to Hades and death”. This is Jesus!
And BTW, if you’re wondering what the difference between Hades and death is? Death is the condition of the dead, Hades is the place of the dead. And Jesus says He has the keys to both. Which means he determines who is there and who isn’t. And I think in a round about way He’s letting John know, “It’s okay, if you’re feeling like Isaiah right now – and thinking you’re a dead man, I hold the keys. Your’re okay.”
So, this is not only the opening to John’s vision… we can pull from this (TAB) life changing truths. #1. (TAB) WE NEED TO KNOW WHO JESUS IS… #2. (TAB) WE NEED TO KNOW who WE ARE APART from Jesus AND #3. (TAB) WE NEED TO see our need and trust in Jesus. Because having a relationship with Jesus – changes everything.
It gives us meaning and purpose for this life. IT puts us on a life changing path: (TAB) KNOWING, GROWING and GOING. Knowing Him more and more, Growing in your relationship - trusting Him more and more then putting that into practice by GOING in service to Him – continuing what He started. And I know that you’ve heard this before. But are you doing it? See we not only what to hear that we want to heed it.
And this is really only grasped when we have a true awareness of Jesus Christ. We need to see Him High and lifted up. We need to see Him, in all His glory. And to fall on our faces in awe of Him. We don’t’ allow this to happen enough, because we don’t’ see Him for who He is… but when we do – life get’s put together the way it should be – under His authority and we are renewed and revived to be about Him and His work, building His kingdom… not our own little make shift edens.
An evangelists from the last century, (TAB) Evan Roberts, for years prayed, “Bend me! Bend me” Like John was bent down face in the ground. And in 1904 and 05 God answered His prayer with the great Welch Revival in Wales of Great Britain. The church experienced a spiritual renewal that impacted multiple countries because they realized who Jesus was - who they were apart from Him and their need for Him. We need to do the same. (pause)
So, after this incredible sight and receiving the comfort of Jesus, John gets up from the ground to hear this command V.19: “Write therefore, what you have seen, what is now, and what will take place later.”
And with these words we have an(TAB) outline of the book of Revelation.
1. (TAB) “What you have seen” – refers to Revelation chapter 1
2. (TAB) “What is now” – refers to Revelation chapters 2 & 3 - the letters to the 7 churches.
3. (TAB) “What will take place later” – which refers to the rest of the book chapters 4-22.
And finally we come to the last verse of chapter 1 v. 20 “The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
First He mentions “7 stars or angels” then 7 lampstands being 7 churches”. The word for angels is the word “messengers”, most Bible teachers these “messengers” are the pastors of the churches. There’s also a Roman culture connection that I shared in a sermon on Nov. 22nd. It’s very interesting and I think worth yoru time. To see it go to fbcpekin.com/sermons and look for Reveation part 1 – Nov. 22.
But Jesus also mentions 7 lampstands. In fact, back in v. 12 when John initially saw Jesus, He’s standing in the midst of (TAB) these 7 golden lamp stands. This shows us that Jesus is the head and leader of the churches - and that He is actively involved and very aware of everything that goes on with them.
Now, many Bible teaches have noticed how Jesus chose “7” churches. See, for Jews numbers were more than just a unit of measure… they often have symbolic significance. And the number 7 is particularly interesting because it symbolizes (TAB) “completion”. (God created in 6 days and rested on the 7th – when everything was complete. That’s just 1 examples) There are over 700 different uses of the number “7” in the Bible ). Because the number is so often symbolic and means “completion”, many Bible teachers believe that it’s not only a reference to the 7 churches of Asia Minor but it could also represent all churches or 7 sections in all the church age. Now, if the case, this ups our interest even more. But either way, the letters to the 7 churches are like x-rays God gives revealing the needs all of struggle with and should deal with.
So let’s (TAB)recap some of what we’ve learned today:
1. (TAB)Revelation is revealing Jesus Christ in glory.
2. (TAB)Jesus appears to an exiled John in a vision.
3. (TAB)John is reminded of who Jesus is and who he is apart from Jesus.
4. (TAB)John experiences comfort that comes through a relationship with Jesus.
5. (TAB)Life path of knowing, growing and going
6. (TAB)John is given an outline of the boo.
7. (TAB)The 7 churches could represent all of us.
And we come to the end of chapter 1.
Remember, although this book has insights and details about the end times… IT’s first and foremost a book giving us a fuller more revealed understanding of Jesus. And if we miss that – we miss the primary purpose of the book. (pause) HE wants us to know Him. HE wants relationship with us. Do you know Jesus? Do you know who you are – apart from Him. It’s important that you do. Because when you do – you’ll see your need for him. That’s what he wants. HE wants us to know him in all His glory.
Let’s pray: Jesus, thank you that you don’t leave us in the dark. You want us to have the way, the truth and the light. That’s You Lord. Things will come to an end… and so that we’re ready we need to know you. Lord, right now helps each of us to evaluate where we are with you. Do we really know you? Do we really know ourselves – that apart from you – we are destitute? Helps us see our need for you. Impress on our heart how important it is that we know You.
Apart from each of us accepting what you did for us at the cross – your resurrection for us, we are left dirty, rotten, stinking, filthy sinners – on the path to your wrath. You want to save us from that.
IF you need to, turn humbly to Jesus. Tell Him, right now, I know I’m a sinner. I need your forgiveness. Make me your’s. I trust you with my life. I want relationship with you from this day forward. I need you Jesus. Be my Lord and my savior. In Jesus’ name.
God’s not going to wait forever. There is an end coming for each of us and for this present world. Let’s make sure we knowing Him, we’re growing in our relationship with and we’re going for Him in this life.