The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
John, to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Even so. Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the Kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
When Mark Davis first announced we would be studying Revelation as a congregation, he said he would attempt to answer the question, “Why did God give us Revelation?” We must ask this question because without considering why God gave us Revelation, we are quick to think of it like a puzzle we must figure out, a fantastical curiosity to be entertained by, a book to fuel conspiracy theories, or even a theological war zone. On our own, we are prone to handle it like a mystical horoscope and miss out on all that God has to offer us in it. But it is meant to encourage us and strengthen our faith.
Our very first clue as to why God gave us Revelation is found in the third verse, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it…” (Rev. 1:3). While there are certainly extremely hard and confusing things in Revelation, it is not meant to bring confusion, terror, or sadness, but blessing! Be careful to notice that it doesn’t say we are blessed when we “crack the code,” but instead we are blessed by reading, hearing, and keeping God’s Word…just as with all of Scripture.
As we approach Revelation, there are three big-picture themes we must keep in mind that make all the difference. The first is that it reminds us of the spiritual reality we live in. In our day-to-day lives, it is all too easy to forget the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” that Paul tells us about in Ephesians 6. Even more, we forget the power and greatness of God and what Jesus accomplished for us. Revelation reminds us that there is a great battle between good and evil, between Satan and God. We must choose whom we serve as Joshua said (Josh. 24:15) and live according to our status as those whose names are written in the book of life (Rev. 13:8).
Secondly, Revelation is meant to comfort us, to provide hope, and to encourage allegiance to Jesus. Scripture never shies away from the reality of our fallen world and the fact that we will always face persecution, evil, and trials in this world. However, embedded throughout Revelation, amongst the trials and evil, is a call to the saints to press on, to hold on to the hope we have in Christ, to persevere, and to endure. Instead of inducing fear, Revelation is meant to strengthen our hearts so we can stand firm in what we believe.
And lastly, Revelation is a victory story of good conquering evil, light overcoming the darkness once and for all, and the consummation of all things in Jesus. In other words, as Mark Davis said this past Sunday, “God wins.” Revelation serves as a promise to those who follow its words and have put their hope in Jesus, that eternal life is on the other side of this broken world we live in. Full and final redemption will come. God’s purposes and plans can’t be thwarted, both in the spiritual realm and in the physical world.
How encouraging it is to know that God loved us so much that He inspired John to write this book unveiling to us, “His servants” (verse 1), that we can take heart, because He is sovereign and victory is His…and ours! As we take to heart the words within this book, we will be blessed.
Here is one last word as we dive into studying Revelation with these things in mind. What if we took Mark’s question and made it more personal asking, Why did God give you Revelation? Why does God have you at PCPC this fall studying the book of Revelation? Could it be that there is something very specific and personal that God has for you in the book of Revelation for this very time in your life? Perhaps there is something hard you are facing, and you need to be reminded of the spiritual reality we live in every day, or of the amazing truth of God’s final victory over Satan and evil. Maybe you are in need of some encouragement to persevere in the face of persecution, evil, or trials of all kinds and to be reminded that you are living for something so much bigger and eternal. Well, I’m right there with you and so grateful we get to do this together!