Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Book of Revelation: Chapter 1: vs. 1 - 6

The Book of Revelation is the culmination of Bible prophecy - 

The point at which all the prophecies of the ages converge and find their ultimate fulfillment.
Revelation discloses the future of the Jew, Gentile, and the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. 
Within its pages are specific details concerning the Savior's return, the establishment of His Millennial Kingdom and, finally, the eternal state of both the saved and the lost.
The word revelation comes from the Greek apokalupsis, meaning "an uncovering or unveiling."
For this reason, the Book of Revelation is also known as the Apocalypse. In either case, the definition reflects the fact that God has made known to mankind those eternal, supernatural truths and realities which man, on his own, could never realize or discover.
The Book of Revelation is the final work of the New Testament and the Revelation of Jesus Christ which details world history from the time of John (the Early Church Age) to eternity.
It constitutes God's last special revelation to mankind this side of heaven. Simply stated, Bible prophecy and Revelation are history written in advance. They form God's description of future facts and events. Such prophecy is completely trustworthy because God is Omniscient, He knows all things, whether they be actual or merely possible, and He knows them perfectly from all eternity. Acts 15:18 states: Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world. Thus, the Almighty is able to fully and accurately describe the future in advance of its actual occurrence.
Current international events reflect exactly the conditions and happenings predicted throughout the Bible for the last days of this age.
Yet, comparatively little prophetic teaching and preaching are currently taking place. This is probably due to the fact that this field of endeavor involves a great amount of research and study (see II Timothy 2:15). Millions more prefer not to have prophecy explained to them because they would rather live by the world's standards and dictates. As individuals who are seeking satisfaction and rewards in this life, they are obviously not anxiously anticipating Christ's return.
As we walk through the Book of Revelation together, remember that this special message has been given to reveal God's truth, not conceal it; and to clarify God's eternal purpose, not mystify it.
I will not present an elaborate outline or engage in the use of heavy theological terminology. My goal is a simple verse-by-verse analysis. I trust that, as a result, each reader will gain a clear understanding of the blessed truths that the Book of Revelation contains.
Chapter 1

Verse 1: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.

We begin our study by immediately recognizing that the noun is revelation, singular, not revelations, plural.
This term comes from the Greek word Apokalupsis and means "an unveiling or uncovering." It is often used in the epistles as a "manifestation" (Romans 8:19), a "coming" (1 Corinthians 1:7), a "revealing" (2 Thessalonians 1:7), and an "appearing" (1 Peter 1:7)
The Book of Revelation, then, concerns the unveiling or appearing of our precious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 
It is not the unfolding of the story of St. John the Divine, or even of prophetical truth, but rather the message of the "appearing of Christ." This appearing takes place at the Rapture (chapter 4, verse 1), as well as at the hour of His return to earth when every eye shall see Him (chapter 1, verse 7).
Secondly, we see that this revelation was given to Jesus Christ, as is everything, for Jesus said, All things are delivered unto me of my Father (Matthew 11:27). They are presented unto Him to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass.
The term shortly in the original means "rapidity of action once there is a beginning." This certainly pictures the present hour when signs pointing to His return are beginning to appear with alarming frequency. These truths, then, are sent and signified by Christ's angel unto John, the writer of the book, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 
 Notice that the first four letters of the word signified spell SIGN. Why?
The Book of Revelation is a study of signs. There is the sign of the Holy Spirit presented as seven spirits (verse 4) and the sign of the seven golden candlesticks and the seven stars (verse 20)
Thus, through signs, we come to an understanding of this gloriously revealed portion of Scripture.
Verse 2: [John] bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

This statement is self-explanatory.

Verse 3: Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

Verse three proves that the apocalypse is not some deep, mysterious, confusing book.
God would not be an omniscient, all-knowing God if He promised a special blessing to those who read, hear, and keep what they read and hear, if they were unable to comprehend the truth. No, the Book of Revelation is understandable and fills the heart with joy once one sees its glorious message concerning the Savior.
One reason that readers and hearers are to keep that which they have heard is because the time of Christ's return is at hand.
The words at hand mean "imminent." Near and imminent are not synonymous. Imminent means "impending." Hence, the event could happen immediately or within ten minutes, ten months, or even ten years. "Imminence" is always the meaning of at hand when speaking about the return of the Lord. For example, Romans 13:12 says, The night is far spent, the day is at hand [imminent]. Philippians 4:5 declares, Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. And 1 Peter 4:7 says, But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 
Thus, the next event on God's calendar, the return of Christ for His Church, may happen momentarily. That is why we, as Christians, should keep our eyes fixed heavenward, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).
Verse 4: John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before his throne;

John now focuses his attention on seven local churches located in a land area called Asia.
This is not Asia as we know it today, but probably a portion of Turkey. Only seven churches are mentioned, although there were undoubtedly more in existence. Seven is God's number of perfection. The number also pictures seven different sets of conditions reflecting the history of God's people through the Church Age.
God's salutation, found in nineteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, is presented here as well: Grace be unto you, and peace.
It is not "peace and grace" but "grace and peace," because this is God's program for sinners. They cannot have peace until He has shown them His lovely grace. God must show His unmerited favor and love, called "grace," before one can experience peace. 
This grace is shown through the sacrifice of Calvary and is freely bestowed upon all who believe and receive Christ. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9). 
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men (Titus 2:11).
When grace has done its job, peace follows:
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). This peace was made through the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:20). Thus, Romans 15:13 states: Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. 
Only Jesus can give this peace. An unsaved psychiatrist is unable to do the job. Psychiatrists need the same peace that they strive to give. Thus, we must turn our problems over to the Son of God.
We also find that the message of grace and peace is from the entire Trinity.
First, the Father which is, which was, and which is to come; then from the seven Spirits which are before the throne (a designation of the blessed Holy Spirit in all of His holiness, for seven means perfection)...
Verse 5: And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

The question is often asked, "Why is Christ the first begotten from the dead, when Lazarus and others were raised first?" The answer is simple.
Others were raised to life, but they died again. They were raised from physical death to physical life only to eventually die a second time. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead to immortality—never to die again! He is the first to have been resurrected with a new never-dying body. This is why Christ should be the first that should rise from the dead (Acts 26:23)...and why He only hath immortality (1 Timothy 6:16). 
Five times Christ is called "the first begotten" or "the firstborn from the dead." Another five times He is called "the only begotten." The term "only begotten" refers to His incarnation, whereas "first begotten (or firstborn) refers to His resurrection. For instance, he bringeth in the first begotten into the world (Hebrews 1:6). [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn [first begotten] of every creature (Colossians 1:15). And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn [first begotten] from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18).
Romans 8:29 declares, For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn [yea, the first begotten] among many brethren. 
Think these verses through carefully so that no cultist can trip you up on the terms "first begotten" and "firstborn," in his attempts to make the eternal Christ have a beginning. No, praise God, Christ is from of old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2). Yea, He is one with the everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6).
The Lord Jesus Christ is also called the prince of the kings of the earth.
This, of course, refers to the future, when the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) returns to earth as the KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:16). This glorious event will be the fulfillment of Psalm 2:6, which states: [I have] set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. At that time the Lord Jesus shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth (Psalm 72:8).
Verse 6: And [He] hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Verses 5 and 6 contain three glorious statements concerning Christ's work on our behalf:
(1) He loved us. 
(2) He washed us from our sins in His own blood. 
(3) He hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father.
The order is beautiful. Let's examine it in detail.

First, the Lord Jesus had to love us in order to wash us and make us kings and priests. 

However, it is even more thrilling when one sees that His love is in the present tense, meaning that He continues loving those He has washed.
This is why John 13:1 triumphantly declares, [Jesus], having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 
Can you understand such love? Oh, that you may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge (Ephesians 3:18,19). 
This love is forever.
That is why Paul declared in Romans 8:37-39: Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
The love which Jesus Christ has bestowed upon each born-again believer should manifest itself in daily living, for He said to His own, A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:34,35). This love for you and me brought Christ from heaven's glory to the cruel cross of Golgotha's hill. Love made Him shed His blood for the remission of our sins.

Secondly, He washed us!

Some do not like the teaching about the blood.
They want to earn heaven by their own meritorious works. However, being whitewashed is not the same as being washed white. There is a vast difference! It is not less toil that solves the difficulty, it is no toil. Listen to God: Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5). 
When one trusts in the merits of Christ's shed blood, his sins are gone, As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12). 
Isaiah 38:17 declares, Thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. God says, I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins (Isaiah 44:22). 
Yes, He has cast all our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). Oh, come to Jesus and He will lift all your load. 
Here's proof! To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins (Acts 10:43). 
It matters not how far astray the wayward son or daughter has gone, the blood of Jesus Christ [God's] Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
Thirdly, because of His love and the washing of regeneration, Christ is able to make us kings and priests unto God and his Father.
"Priest" is the title of every believer. 
It is also the reason one does not need a minister to help him get closer to God. 
If you have been born again, you are a priest in the eyes of the Almighty. 
You can bring your own petitions to God. 
One is not heard any more rapidly because he has been ordained by men, for all born-again believers are on the same level. 
All are members of a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that [we] should shew forth the praises of him who hath called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). 
What a calling! Thank you, Jesus.

John adds, To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen