Summary: As you read Revelation, what are you looking for? As you realize it's later than it's ever been before, what ar eyou looking for?
“The Great Unveiling: What Are You Looking For?”
An older couple retired to bed for the evening. As they began to rest the grandfather clock downstairs began to chime. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. But this time it continued – thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. Hearing all fifteen chimes the husband sat up in wonderment. His wife asked, ”What time is it, Honey?” “I don’t know,” he replied, “but it’s later than it’s ever been before!” It’s later than it’s even been before. So we turn to the book of ‘Revelation’, often called the book of the future.
Yet of all the books in the Bible, ‘Revelation’ is the most debated. It bitterly divides the Church of Christ. There always has been, and always will be, controversy and unanswered questions. As we begin our study, what are you looking for? From the get-go I want you to know that not all your questions will be answered in this series, not all the pictures will be unscrambled, not everything will be cleared up. But, with your prayers, my prayerful study, and the moving of the Holy Spirit we can be a better, stronger people because of this effort. I pray that it will be so.
This morning it’s my task to introduce this book to you. Most of what we see in this first chapter will occur again and again in various forms. Certain key themes and issues will keep appearing. That means today is extremely important because it will set the tone for all that is to come. Let’s look, then, at Chapter 1.
We discover, in verses 1-3, that ‘Revelation’ is a VISION OF ENCOURAGEMENT. John, in verses 1 & 2, points to the BASIS OF ENCOURAGEMENT. He begins, “The revelation . . .” The word is ‘apocalypso’, from which we get the English word ‘apocalypse.’ No matter what we’ve heard to the contrary, the basic meaning of the word is an uncovering or an unveiling. This letter is primarily AN UNVEILING, and uncovering, a drawing back of a veil. We will see something more than we’ve seen before. It’s like the unveiling of a statue in honor of someone – when the covering is lifted people see an image they know yet have never really seen before. Perhaps even more fittingly, it reminds us of the curtain in the Jerusalem Temple being torn in two at the death of Christ. It was an uncovering, or a drawing back, an unveiling of that which had hindered our access to Christ.
So this letter is not designed to cover up and hide; it’s not meant to be mysterious. Certainly there are symbols, but like our sacraments the SYMBOLS POINT TO A GREATER REALITY. Anyone who, for example, gets hung up on the literal nature of the bread and wine will never understand or appreciate the communion celebration. Likewise anyone hung up on an exact, literal interpretation of the symbols in ‘Revelation’ will never understand or appreciate its message.
John continued: “The revelation of Jesus Christ. . .” First and foremost all THE CONTENT ORIGINATES IN, AND POINTS TO, JESUS CHRIST. ‘Revelation’ is primarily about Jesus! It reveals Him in all His glory carrying out His plan for the ages. Let’s not let the details and our questions obscure the key figure – Jesus Christ. Jesus will not answer all our questions but He will become our answer. Through this great unveiling we will come to know Christ better; we will learn what Christ is up to and how He works.
“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what must soon take place.” Jesus, while on the earth, said He did not know the times or seasons of judgment – that only His Father knew. Now He is with the Father and has a better idea of what’s ahead for the world for which He died. This is what He’s prepared to share with us. As for the “SOON”, IT DENOTES THE SPEED WITH WHICH, NOT THE TIME AT WHICH, things will happen; not how soon, but the rapidity of execution. Like a tachometer, it measures velocity. Keep in mind throughout our study that while it’s later than it’s ever been before, God’s time is different than ours – with Him a thousand years are as a day.
What we will learn is that history is not a series of unrelated events; HISTORY NOT HAPHAZARD, BUT A DIVINELY DECREED ORDERING of that which must come to pass. History deals with the conflicts between faith and unbelief, evil and righteousness, Christ and Satan. That’s nothing new. But this is the last time God chose to reveal it so He does so with unforgettable splendor. He wants it imprinted, tattooed, on our hearts and minds. What a basis for encouragement! We will meet Jesus Christ and His plans for today and tomorrow, knowing they’re all in His hands! As Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:11: God “Works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we…might be for the praise of his glory.” Throughout our study, we will do a lot of praising!