Thursday, September 06, 2018

Revelation Refresher- A Shout Out to John

I have been spending a lot of time in the Book of Revelation preparing for a Sunday School Series I am teaching this quarter entitled "Meditations in Revelation". The content of this series was a result of almost 3 years of study that caused me to actually spend more time in the Old Testament than in Revelation.

The 'gist' of this study looks more at a devotional application rather than 'charting and interpretation'. It tends to put the book in its intended light, a message to encourage believers to stand firm when the going gets tough... to be ready for the Lord's return.

But in doing a fresh look at my notes and commentary, I noticed something I has missed before

One of the MANY ironies of Revelation is the the title of the Book means “To Reveal”.. or “Move the Veil”…. kind of a strange title for a Book clouded in such mystery.

In Greek.. the word Revelation is ‘apocalypse’… and God is in the business of revealing the mystery of His existence and the truth of His Word!

Let’s look at some important places where we find either a Hebrew of Greek use of this term:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17 ESV)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18 ESV)

I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:25-28 ESV)


Don’t you love to solve a mystery? Don’t you love to be entrusted with secret information?

If we understood everything about God- would He be divine?

I find it more comfortable that I don’t understood everything about God!

There seems to be some things he holds from us in terms of timing and our maturity.

In his preface to Romans, Calvin said that “God limits our knowledge that we should be humbled and have to have dealings with our fellows”.

There is a mystery to God and He invites us to dig in to His mystery. In John 17, Jesus said that “This is eternal life…that they know You and Jesus Christ whom You sent.”

Jesus makes His truth known to some and it remains hidden for others. That is why we pray for people..that their spiritual eyes and ears be opened.

This Book is not as ‘mysterious’ as it seems to be. There is understanding in this Book for the PURPOSE of encouraging believers in Jesus to persevere and prepare for His return. It is a teaching to believe in Jesus in spite of the conditions of the world, which would appear to be hostile to the things of God.

BUT I MISSED SOMETHING..... SEE IF YOU 'SEE' IT
Revelation 1:1–9

[1] 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, [2] who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. [3] 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.

[4] 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, [5] 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 [6] and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. [7] 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.

[8] “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

[9] 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. (ESV)

[10] I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet [11] 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.” (ESV)

THIS BOOK IS A BEAUTIFUL TESTIMONY TO THE FAITHFUL WITNESS OF JOHN
.... A LIFE OF TESTIFYING AND WRITING ABOUT THE TRUTH OF JESUS
.... 'REVELATION' IS A FAITHFUL COMPILATION TO WHAT HE WAS TASKED TO DO
WRITE WHAT YOU SEE.......

And throughout the book we read: then I turned/ when I saw/ after this I looked/ then I saw/ I saw/ then I looked/ now I watched/ and I looked/ after this I saw/ I saw/ then I looked/ then I saw/ this is how I saw it in my vision/ then I saw/ and I saw/ then I saw/ then I looked/ then I saw/ and I saw/ after this I looked/ then I heard/ and I saw/ after this I saw/ .... and ON AND ON- from 1:12 all the way until 22:8

I worry we make too much of the Book if we don't understand that John is being faithful to what Christ is showing Him....

I have discovered that reading the Book and listening to the Book being read is a blessing- it is a comfort and blessing to read it, hear it, and it is a joy to try to be constantly ready.. and I do believe the time is near.
But we have to be so careful…what we do with prophecy is NOT what it is intended for. I have always been cautious to avoid the pitfalls that most fall into when studying the great work:

“When Modern prophets turn Revelation into a crystal ball, they turn their back on church history and have been wrong every single time.” Rev. Art Azurdia
I am also realistic… if the greatest Biblical scholars in the history of the world got the FIRST coming of Jesus wrong… am I foolish enough to believe we have the 2nd coming right?

As you read this Book of blessing…keep these things in mind:

If I Am Reading Revelation Correctly:
I will feel excited, encouraged, and energized to stand boldly for Christ in a world that seems to grow darker and colder.
I will feel personally challenged to continually stay prepared. This will cause discomfort from time to time.
I will see clearer lines of demarcation: Lion/Dragon- Lamb/Beast- Overcomer/Defeated
I will evaluate my circumstances in light of eternity
My desire and practice to worship will grow
I will walk and live as a champion- Victory is in sight

Pray for me as I lead this class into a joyful journey this fall quarter!

2 comments:

Frank McClung said...

Can't wait to see what God reveals to you about Himself in this series. Isn't it interesting that the "him" first used in Rev 1:1 refers to Jesus, not John? God gave Jesus a revelation of who He was to give to His servants. Ah the mystery. Jesus had to learn by revelation who He was and what He was to do.

Jay Mathews said...

yes- the transmission of the message is interesting God gives to Jesus to show to His servants - and then makes it known by sending His angel to John (the one whom He loved)