Summary: The early chapters of Revelation show three doors The Door of Opportunity The Door to the Human heart and The Door to Revelation (my thanks to William Barclay)
The Book of Revelation gives us a vision of the future, but it is a vision of the future with a purpose.
The Book of Revelation was written to Christians suffering severe persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire early on in Christian history.
All the fantastic apocalyptic visions and symbolism are code that the first century Christians and Jews would easily have understood by their first century readers.
Though they are mysterious to us today, this apocalyptic kind of literature was widespread in the centuries just before Jesus life on earth and immediately following the death of Jesus.
Some of the prophecies of Revelation were fulfilled in the time of the Roman Empire.
Other prophecies still have to be fulfilled.
Story: Maddy and I used to work in the Anglican Chaplaincy of Wolds Prison, a Cat B prison in East Yorkshire.
And we were surprised to find that - in Wolds Prison - the Book of Revelation was the most popular book in the Bible.
For when they weren’t using its pages to roll a cigarette or joint – they would pour over it to see if they could predict the future!
As a sort of Christian version of Tarot cards!
However to get the full value of the Book of Revelation, we need to realise that it was written to give strength to people who might well have to pay for their membership of the church with their lives.
In short, the book of Revelation says, even if it costs you your life to be a follower of Jesus, persevere, for God will reward you. (my thanks to Fred Mueller of Hillsborough Reformed Church).
Or as Jim Eliot once said:
“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep
To gain that which he cannot lose”
The opening Chapters of the Book of Revelation talk about three important doors in our lives
1. The Door of Opportunity
In Rev 3:8 the Risen Christ says to the Church in Philadephia:
8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”
I am encouraged that this promise wasn’t given to the mighty warriors of the faith.
It was given for you and me, who might feel inadequate in our own strength. Who think we can’t do much for God
That promise to the Philadephian Church was the door of a glorious opportunity to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to those around them. (William Barclay; The Daily Study Bible The revelation of John p 149)
And that door is still open here in the UK.
As William Barclay puts the matter so well
“God sets before man his own door of opportunity”
(William Barclay; The Daily Study Bible The Revelation of John p 150)
The second door from the opening Chapters of the book of Revelation is
2. The Door of the Human heart
The Risen Christ says to each individual:
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
God offers to every person the door that leads to the knowledge of God and eternal life
When I became a Christian, it was that verse I hung onto – when I was tempted to doubt God could care about me.
“He said it” I used to say to myself.
I will believe Him.”
An interesting aside: “No other religion,” William Barclay tells us: “has the vision of a seeking God” (William Barclay; The Daily Study Bible The revelation of John p 147)
As a further aside: The Greeks used to have three meals a day.
Breakfast that was no more than a piece of dried bread dipped in wine.
The midday meal – a picnic snack eaten on the side of the road
And then the evening meal - Supper which people lingered over when the work for the day was done
So when Jesus talks about supping with us in Revelation 3:20 – he is not speaking of
i) a crust for breakfast or
ii) a snack by the side of the road but
iii) the full evening meal with table fellowship.
Much of Jesus’ teaching when he lived on this earth was done around evening meals!
Indeed the Last Supper was just that.
But do we as Christians only offer him our time – as a crust for breakfast or a snack by the side of the road)
The final door (in the opening chapters of Revelation is
3. The Door of Revelation
4.1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” (Rev 4:1)