Summary: Understanding the role repentance plays in The Revelation helps frame the book and stir us to good works.
THE ROLE OF REPENTANCE IN THE REVELATION
REV. 2:1 – 3:22
Sermon Objective: Understanding the role repentance plays in The Revelation helps frame the book and stir us to good works.
How do you like my fancy yellow-lensed hippie glasses? Nifty huh? Or maybe I should say “groovy.” You probably think these glasses make me look rather silly but I assure you, from my vantage point youse guys look pretty odd too! You’ve all got yellow jaundice! In fact, from this perspective, the whole world is yellow! If I did not know better I would declare that the whole world has a yellow tint to it.
Sometimes we need to be reminded that the way we view the world may be too. It might just be “colored” by our experiences, culture, etc. The way we see things may not be entirely accurate. In fact, I dare say no one is immune from such a reality-altering dynamic.
That is also true about how we approach the Scriptures. It is easy to approach them with lenses that color what we read. Our assumptions and presuppositions go far in determining what we do and do not find. They also serve to unconsciously screen out some of what we read that contradicts our assumptions and presuppositions.
And that may never be truer than when we study The Revelation. We bring presuppositions to the book that affect the way we read everything within it. We bring an assumption about its purpose and outcome and we’re prone to rationalize or dismiss anything that might challenge those assumptions.
For example, since about 1853 (when John Nelson Darby proposed a “Pre-tribulation Rapture” and Dispensationalist View of the Scriptures) most Americans have viewed The Revelation as some sort of time-line or count-down to the end of human history. Granted, the book does address the end of human history; but by approaching it wearing these “Dispensational glasses” the book is colored and we fail to understand it the way the majority of Jesus’ Church understood it for the first 1800 years … and the way the church in most of the world still understands it. It is, quite honestly a Western “lens”.
You see, The Revelation has a much more noble purpose than to try and give you a hint about how the world will end. It was intended to stir the first century church (a.k.a. The Seven Churches of Asia) to good works and faithfulness. It was designed to instruct them about how to be “overcomers” in a world that was increasingly hostile to their faith commitment.
Interestingly enough – it was designed to stir the 21st century church to the same end; and every church of every century in between.
Many people read the book wishing to see secrets or the judgments or the sensational and miss the purpose of the book altogether. Remember – it is a REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST not a “code to secrets about the end of the world.” It is designed to draw us close to Jesus – not out of fear – but out of faith and gladness regarding His certain victory. The seals, trumpets, and bowls are all a call to leave “Babylon.” They are a call to align one’s self and allegiances with the Lamb not the world or the state.
If we can take our glasses off for a while when reading the book this will become more clear.
There are key words that help us grasp what the book really is about but if we are wearing our glasses we may miss them. I have talked to you about some of these words already (i.e. “overcome”) but there is at least one more word used throughout the book that, if missed, skews our understanding is the book.
The word is “REPENT.”
Oh we know it is used in the first three chapters a lot; but somehow we fail to see that it is used in other places in the book and called for in even more.
So let’s take our glasses off this morning. We will discover that repentance is a key underpinning of The Revelation; that it underlies every beastly story and every chapter in it. It is a call to take the warnings seriously and change our allegiances.
This can be seen not only in the seven churches but also other passages as well. For example:
Rev. 9:20The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Rev. 16:8The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. 9They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.