Reading: Revelation 1:1-8
Today we start a new journey reading through the book of Revelation. The author identifies himself as John (1,4,9;22:8). It is widely understood to be written by the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee, the writer of John’s Gospel and the letters of John. It is written to seven First Century churches, in what is now modern day Turkey. We will see the number seven a lot within the book as it speaks of completeness, wholeness and God. The message of the book is a call to stand firm against the onslaught of the world and hang on to Jesus in the face of troubles. For the original listeners the onslaught came with the increasing demand to worship the Roman Emperor. Christians were being persecuted for refusing to bow the knee to Caesar, instead they were declaring boldly that Jesus is Lord!
Andrew Wilson helpfully writes,
“…The main thrust of the book is not to predict what will happen in the future, at least not until the end. It is to show disciples what is really happening in the present. It is a series of visions and metaphors designed to pull back the curtain, and show the readers (who were originally suffering Christians) the sovereignty of God through history, even when evil looks to be prevailing… It is designed to change people’s views, give a heavenly perspective on earthly events, and reveal the one who is in charge of it all. That is why John calls it “the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1).” (Incomparable p.188)
For a number of reasons this book is often overlooked. Firstly, it’s hard to read: the language is at times confusing, this is because of the highly visual language used; it’s a genre of writing called ‘apocalyptic’ which is highly symbolic in nature. Secondly, the visions themselves sometimes seem bizarre to us, so it’s hard to make sense of them. Finally, there seem to be so many interpretations of the language and the visions, (some of which can appear a bit strange) that it’s hard to work out what God is saying to us today.
Yet, there are some very good reasons to read this book. First, all who read this book and all who hear this book will be blessed! (Verse 3) Second, like the original First Century hearers, we are called to march and dance to a different beat than the world. Finally, we see a glimpse behind the scenes of what God has done, is doing and will do in the world. We see that He is Lord, He is the victor and that in the end the lamb wins! Today’s verses tell us, in no uncertain terms, there is a day coming when Jesus will return, every eye will see him, even those who pierced him! (7)
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first … I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:18,33)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8 NIV 1984)
Father, you have called me to be in this world not of it. You have asked me to love the world as you have loved it, by giving up my rights and laying down my life for those around me. I know there are places in my life where I have compromised with the world, I am truly sorry. I thank you that you love us and that you have freed us from all our sins by Jesus’ blood (6). Thank you that in your sight, because of your son’s blood, I am flawless. I ask today that you give me strength to follow you, to serve you and love you no matter what the cost. To Jesus be glory and power for ever! Amen.
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