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Thursday
August 13th, 2020
L&T Opinions Page

gary damronMY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron

 

We recently listened to part of a recording that used the word esoteric about once each minute. The premise was that the producers had uncovered facts about our nation’s founding, previously unknown, that they would share – for a price. Pretty “out there” stuff. Many people have similar feelings about the last book of the Bible, called Revelation. All the imagery and end-times writings seem mysterious and difficult to understand. 

Jesus’ disciple and good friend John penned the book to encourage a suffering church. In the writings, God revealed Jesus Christ the Redeemer and Ruler, in all his glory. The truths of John’s writings are not a secret, and they are available to each reader. The problem is often in trying so hard to find hidden meanings that we miss the obvious and intended truths. We’ll spend the next few weeks exploring and learning more about the Book of Revelation. 

By the time of John’s writing, all the other disciples had died, most violently as martyrs. John, who was young when Jesus walked on earth, was now nearing ninety years of age. He found himself exiled and alone on a rocky barren island called Patmos. He recounted that on the Lord’s Day, he walked outside the cave where he’d slept, and was ready for worship. It was then he encountered Christ himself, surrounded by a heavenly host. 

Many believers at that time were on the verge of despair. Paul had written (2 Thessalonians chapters 1 and 2) to correct false teachings about the second coming and to encourage them in the midst of persecution. But now Paul and most who’d experienced Pentecost were gone. The church needed a glimpse of heaven, and John’s account enabled them to see life from God’s point of view. After reading, each person would be able to carry a message of renewed hope for every age. 

The book begins, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and he sent and communicated it by his angel to his bond-servant John,  who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:1-3).

In the account, Jesus spoke and the angels spoke. Let’s look at some points in those first verses. 

• Jesus was the source of revelation, spoken through an angel. As John worshiped that day, the Trinitarian presence was with him. The Son was going to speak for the Father, while John was “in the Spirit” (verse 10). 

• The passage was addressed to bond-servants, faithful believers who would see what the world cannot. Throughout history, there have been people who bound themselves over to someone they found worthy, who would bring them into their home and care for them in exchange for service. Jesus called himself a servant (slave) and urged his followers to be the same for one another (John 13:5-16). 

• In the first three verses, there are two references to timing: “soon” and “the time is near”. Obviously, more than 2,000 years have elapsed but in God’s view the things about to happen are imminent, CERTAIN. Also in the book we will find seven blessings: verse 3 contains the first to those who “read”, “hear” and “heed”. As in the Beatitudes (Matthew chapter 5 and Luke chapter 6), we’re promised benefits in the form of spiritual blessings. 

• Throughout his younger years, John had been a personal witness to Christ – he was the first to arrive at the empty tomb, he was left to care for Jesus’ mother Mary, He was loved by Christ, and he was among those empowered by the Spirit at Pentecost. Now elderly, John would be witnessing to the Christ of Glory (Revelation 1:4-8). 

• Jesus himself is referred to as “the faithful witness” (verse 5) and again four more times in the book. Each time the phrase is connected with death – for Christ, that meant the cross, and many early church leaders followed him to martyrdom. “The firstborn of the dead” refers back to Psalm 89:27, indicating others will follow. Jesus’ earthly name means “God saves” and his title “Christ” denotes Messiah, King, Deliverer, and Redeemer. 

According to verse 5, Christ will be not only a king, but ruler over the kings of the earth. Moreover, he is the Loving Redeemer who cares for those in the community of faith, and releases us from sin by his blood on Calvary (John 3:16). As great as the fall in the first chapter of Genesis, greater will be our redemption when souls are restored in Revelation. 

We are a kingdom of priests to the Father (verse 7), which means God desires to speak directly to us and through us. Be encouraged by this introduction to the Book of Revelation. In the next few weeks, we’ll see more of the vision of a Savior who is the eternal Redeemer and Ruler, now and forever “the Almighty”. 

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