Summary: We have a Saviour who gives us a powerful calling, and powerful support, to be His servants in this broken world.
The Saviour of This Broken World.
How many of us enjoy reading a good novel?
Now, if you are like me, that novel needs to get your attention within the first 2-3 chapters. If it doesn’t, then I usually don’t keep reading. But of it does, I will just keep reading and reading and reading – sometimes ignoring everything else that is going on. Great stories begin with exceptional opening chapters.
The book of Revelation is a great story.
Not a story in the sense that it is made up fiction.
But a story in the sense that it has a very powerful narrative.
And it has an exceptional opening chapter.
Let me read it for you.
Read Revelation 1:1-20
Did you notice something while we were reading through that chapter?
When Christians think about the book of Revelation they usually think about amazing heavenly battles, and the mark of the Beast and strange visions and seals being opened, and the final judgement, and the new heaven and earth.
Is any of that mentioned in the first chapter?
It isn’t, is it?
The whole chapter pretty much focuses on … well it focuses on Jesus. Right from the opening words that is the case. The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon take place.
What does that mean?
It means that the primary purpose of the book of Revelation is for us to know how Jesus Christ is helping his servants in this broken world.
Some people say that Revelation was a book primarily for the early church – the early church understood the significance of all the visions and symbols because it was being spoken to their culture.
We say things like, “Slap a snag on the barbie”.
We know what it means.
100 years from now the meaning might not be understood.
It is a culture and time issue. Some people see Revelation that way. It is a culture and time issue. The understanding has been lost, and really we have no hope of working it out. This perspective very much takes into account the people who John first wrote to – the original recipients – but it pretty much makes the book of Revelation meaningless to us.
Some people say that much of Revelation is still to take place – everything from chapter 4:1 onwards. What is being outlined here is a seven year period called the great tribulation. These events that we read about are still going to take place and they will take place in a very literal way – so literal that we will be able to tick them off one by one.
This perspective recognises that Revelation is prophesy and it is speaking about things to come. But if most of it is still in the future it is pretty meaningless for us now until we get to that seven year period.
The approach we are going to take is different to bath of these – and it is based on a combination of verse 3 and verse 19
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.
Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.