Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Spoiler Blessing - Revelation Study Part 2

Revelation 1:1-8 ~ "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw - that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 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. 


To the seven churches in the providence of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. 

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father - to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. 

Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. 

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." (NIV).

Picking back up from our study yesterday, we have learned the reasons why Jesus must come back. In these references from Scripture, just in the first chapter of Revelation, there are eight references to Jesus Christ alone.

In Revelation 1:5, He is the faithful witness and the firstborn from the dead. In verse 8, He is the Alpha and Omega, the One who was, who is, and who is to come, the Almighty!

The book of Revelation is amazing in that it contains it's own outline. In Revelation 1:19, it says, "Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this." So there are three sections to the Book of Revelation.

1. There are things which are seen. That is what John describes in Chapter 1 as he views the glorious and resurrected Christ who is in complete control of everything that is about to happen.

2. There are the things which are. This is a reference to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. This describes not on the seven real churches but gives us a chronological look at church history from the beginning up to the present day.

3. There are the things that are after these things. These are the future events to follow that are found in Chapters 4 to 22. It is this simple outline that gives us a brief overview of the contents of the Book of Revelation.

Another unique thing about the Book of Revelation it is the only book that was sent and delivered by angels. In Revelation 22:16, "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches." In fact, Revelation is full of angels from beginning to end, and appear in every chapter with the exception of chapters 4 and 13. This book was given from Jesus through the angel to the apostle John.

John was one of the three special disciples who was often singled out from the rest along with Peter and John on special missions, to witness the glory of Jesus on the hilltop along with Moses and Elijah, as well as being asked to pray with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. John was the only one who stood at the foot of the cross when Jesus was being crucified along with Mary, Jesus's mother. At one point, Jesus sets aside a special task to John from the cross, when he says to John, "Behold your mother!" The Bible clearly states that from that moment, John took her home and cared for her in John 19:27.

When they were told the tomb was empty, both Peter and John ran to the tomb, and John arrived first. He was the one to look in and saw the tomb was empty and the grave clothes folded where the body had been but the body of Jesus was gone. We read that he saw and believed. He seems to be a bit more spiritually perceptive and was always close to Jesus, calling himself, "the disciple that Jesus loved." He was the one leaning his head on Jesus during the last supper, perhaps as not to miss a single word Jesus was saying. After Christ, had risen from the dead and was calling them from the shore while they were on the boat fishing, it was John who realized it was Jesus, and said, "It is the Lord!" (John 21:7).

We know that Patmos was not the tropical island location but it was cold, windy and barren. This was during a time when the church was facing extreme persecution in the Roman Empire. It began with emperor Nero and continued with other emperors, most notably Diocletian. Many believers were losing their lives and families were being torn apart as they were arrested, imprisoned, tortured or put to death in the Coliseum.

They thought that by exiling him to the island of Patmos, they would never hear from him again. It was on this wind swept island that God gave the incredible revelation to John which is contained in the book of Revelation. In many ways the Book of Revelation reads like an action-packed thriller. If you love a great novel, you will love this book. It has drama, suspense, warfare, horror and mystery. It contains rebellion, unprecedented economic collapse, and the ultimate war of all wars in the world. But is also a book of hope and joy and comes with a dramatic climax where sin and death are destroyed forever and those of us that believe in Jesus Christ will live with Him forever. It reminds us that we win in the end, and there is no better hope than that.

Revelation 21: 3-4 ~ "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." 

When we read in verse 3 of the special blessing that accompanies those who reads, hears and keeps the words of the book, we need to understand what that means.

"Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near." ~ Revelation 1:3. 

In order to receive the promised blessing you must:

1. You must read it. By the way the term in the Greek for "read: means to read it out loud. Sometimes when we read it out loud when hear it with our ears and it becomes not just words on a page. We hear it as well as read it. The impact on retaining this is much greater when you do that.

2. You must hear the words of this prophecy. Jesus would often say, "He who has ears, let him hear!" If the Holy Spirit opens your spiritual eyes and ears to see and hear what the Word is saying, it will make all the difference in the world.

3. You must keep it. It means keeping the truths of what you read. It means applying these truths to the way we live our life. It should motivate us to live our lives in anticipation that Jesus could be coming at any time and thus we should be doing the work He has called each of us to do. The reason we want to learn about the future is to help us live right in the present.

So what can we learn from Chapter 1? First of all Revelation reveals that the events of the last days are closely linked. Verse one speaks of "things that must shortly take place." or better stated might be, what must happen rapidly. Some might argue that this book was written over 2000 years ago, so how is this rapidly beginning to happen. But John wasn't referring to how quickly these events would happen in his lifetime, but once they happen, whenever that is, it will be in rapid succession. In other words, once the first domino falls, the rest fall in succession quickly.

Verse 5, speaks of Jesus Christ, the faithful witness. Who better to reveal Himself to us than Jesus? It means that He is the faithful witness, there is no lies about who He is, He is 100% authentic and true. It is followed up by "to Him who loved us," or better stated, "to Him who always keeps on loving us." There are some who believe we must do something in order to earn our way into Heaven, but this is not the case. God loves you the way you are, defects and all. He knows you intimately inside and out.

Jeremiah 31:3 ~ "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you." (NIV). 

What a contrast between the love Jesus has for us, and the love we find in our culture today. The world's love in conditional based, if you are pretty enough, popular, wealthy enough. God loves you when you are unknown and a complete nobody. God loves you when you are penniless and weak, offering nothing in this world. The world loves the extraordinary while God loves the ordinary. He showed this kind of love for us by his death,

"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." ~ John 15:13. 

Jesus showed us this kind of love which brings us back to verse 5, in Revelation 1, "He washed us from our sins in His own blood." Did you notice the past tense "washed?" Meaning it has been done. He paid the price for all of our sins, past, present and future. There is no other option in this world for someone to forgive you of everything you have ever done, are doing or will do in the future. No other god offers the power to forgive all sins, based on a love for us, like Jesus.

Tomorrow, we will pick back up with our study and detail Jesus's arrival in the clouds, how the entire world will see him and that Jesus is in fact God incarnate and that this chapter of Revelation is the only book in the Bible where we get a detailed description of what Jesus looks like. Hope you will join me tomorrow.

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