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Part 2 - Prologue


Rev 1:1 ... He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,.....

The revelation was given to John through "his angel" The word angel literally means his messenger. Who was this messenger is not very clear. In the whole Bible angels were employed as messengers. Thus the word angels here could be interpreted in several ways. Very often the one who sends the message is identified as the message, and then the deliverer is identified as the message. So in this context it could be one of the created angels or even Lord himself. In the absolute sense of the word, Jesus is both the giver of the message, the message and the deliverer of the message in his avtar. But this need not be true in all the cases. The word made it known (signified- as in RSV) does not imply a direct communication but the involvement of a medium.

What was the manner of this delivery? As we read through the book we see that in most places he was having a visual experience. In certain places John was actually involved as an active participant. [Rev 5:4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.

Rev 5:5 Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See,...]

However he was never a participant in the events that took place in space and time. Even though John was right in the midst of the events, he was never directly involved in any action that would produce a consequence or reaction. He is only an onlooker. Time travel only permits that.

Who delivered this? An angel. There is a close parallel between this and the Mosaic revelation. Heb 2:2 indicates that Mosaic laws were spoken by the angels. It is tradition that Moses received the revelations regarding the creation and the past history through the Angel while he was on the mount with God. The description given in Genesis indicates a super method of communication. Moses was in the midst of the events just as John was - as an onlooker.

 

Rev 1:2 who testifies to everything he saw--

The authorship of this book is clearly claimed by Apostle John. There are many critics who doubt this on the basis of the style of this book. One who reads through the Gospel of John and the letters of John will realize that there indeed is a different style. But if you look deeper into the material here we will see the reason for this difference. John of the Gospel and Letters was a man who saw God as love. These expounded the first Advent of Jesus . These depict a Jesus with a manifesto of: (Luke 4:18-19) " good news to the poor."

Luke 4:19 " to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

In contrast this book is on the second Advent of Jesus where Jesus will come again to declare : " the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, " Isaiah 61:2 This explains the difference in style and method. God in Jesus in his first avtar showed himself as love incarnate. But God is also justice and truth. Love cannot exist apart from truth and justice.

Exo 34:6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,

Exo 34:7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.

Yet

he does not leave the guilty unpunished;

The reason for this assertion of authorship by John is to validate the authenticity of the revelation because of its vary nature. The emphasis is on the importance and relevance of this book.

I have met many good Christian theologians who consider the book of revelation as a dream of a pious old man and nothing more. It is this very concept that is repudiated by John from the very outset. To them it is a wishful thinking of an Old Man at the ripe age of 100, day dreaming of his redemption in circumstance that is beyond redemption. John was Old and very Old. But his Apostolic authority still remained. He uses his signature of authenticity on to this book without hesitation.

The only difference is that this is another testimony of Jesus and describes another aspect of Jesus.

Rev 1:3 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.

Three blessings are now pronounced on

= ONE who reads the words of this prophecy.

The prophecy was to be read in the Churches. Remember that this was the only way a scripture could be made available to the believers in those days. Even now this is the only way it could reach the unreached.

= TWO who hears this prophecy. Donít sleep on it.

= THREE who takes this prophecy into heart. It does not say to understand it, analyze it or interpret it. This is often not possible because of the nature of prophecy. The reason for hearing is to get the basic feeling of the prophecy - viz. The urgency of the time and the readiness for the coming of Christ.

Acts 1:7 He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. Luke 21:28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

This is why it is important to read, listen and to take to heart.

Rev 1:4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia:......

John now addresses the seven churches that are in Asia. There is no further introduction or story telling. There is an abrupt change. This abrupt change can be understood only in terms of verse 11, where John was ordered to do this.

Rev 1:11 which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."

 

There were more than seven churches in Asia Minor at that time. But John was asked specifically to write to these seven churches.

Does that mean this letter is not for us? The introduction says this message was "to show his servants what must soon take place." It is meant for all churches - all his servants - all Christians. Then why this specification of seven churches? This seven churches represents the universal church in space and time.

1. These seven churches were the seven churches in Asia Minor as they existed at the time of John. Probably these seven churches were under the pastorate of Pastor John.

2. These seven churches also represents the various forms of churches as they exist any time in history. It represents the spectrum of church characteristics for all times. Those who are familiar with Mathematical statistics knows that a random distribution of all the population will be normally distributed. A good sampling of the population will exactly duplicate the population in its properties. These seven churches can be distributed about a normal. More of this later.

3. These seven churches also represents the seven church ages as the churches evolved through history. In other words these seven churches are the seven periods in the growth of the church. These letters are the prophecy concerning the church age. These are the things about to happen starting from Johnís period, "what must soon take place." A historical study will reveal the truthfulness of this fact. We cannot take up this here as it will be voluminous task.

Why is it then addressed to the churches in Asia?

Asia in the Bible represents the gentile world. So we read in Acts. 19:27 "Artemis, she whom all Asia and the world worship". Thus the churches which are in Asia clearly means the churches that are in the gentile world. John is writing to all of us who are the chosen who live in the world. These letters give us guidance and help in our daily conduct of lives as we spend our lives in dispersion in this world among the people who worship Artemis - the sex goddess.

Rev 1:4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you

We need this grace and peace as we live our lives in this world. And this is provided by the Trinity. The Trinity consists of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Each one of the Trinity is described in the most fascinating way.

Rev 1:4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him

God the Father:

who is, and who was, and who is to come.

The unchanging I AM - Yhvh. He knows the past, present and the future. Hence we can rely on him.

Holy Spirit: and from the seven spirits before his throne,

Though some people think that this refers to seven angelic spirits which serve before God, the placement of the phrase would not allow us to interpret it that way. The spirit is described in her manifold aspects. The Seven spirits are detailed in Isaiah 11:2

Isa 11:2

1. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him--

2. the Spirit of wisdom and

3. of understanding,

4. the Spirit of counsel and

5. of power,

6. the Spirit of knowledge and

7. of the fear of the LORD--

This Isaiah verse indicates how the various spirits are but one Spirit of the Lord yet seven. I will not digress to a detailed study of these seven spirits. It will be great study.

The Son

Rev 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

A precise but loaded description is given of Jesus.

1. Jesus is the faithful witness - The Prophet.

Jesus told Niccodemus:

John 3:11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.

John 3:12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

John 3:13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man.

2. The first born of the dead - The Priest

Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,

Heb 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered

Heb 5:9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

Heb 5:10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

First born of the dead depicts two special aspects.

First it signifies the ultimate Priesthood. The Priest according to Levitical regulation should be blameless. Since this was not possible it was ordained "Draw near to the altar. And offer your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and for the people" If these were not done properly it would result in death as the Priest enters the Holy of Holies (See Lev. 8 and 9 and also Heb: 4:14-5:10) Read Hebrews to get a clear understanding of how Jesus became the true High Priest as appointed by God himself. Through his death he entered into the Holy of Holies and officiates as our mediator (Heb: 7:11-8:2)

As the first born from the dead, he is the nucleus of the New Creation. All those who are born again enters the Kingdom.

John 3:3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

3. The Ruler of the King of the earth. - The King

1 Tim 6:15 ............ God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,

1 Tim 6:16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.

These are the three anointing ordained in the Old Testament for the covenant people. In Jesus we have all these three anointing totally fulfilled in one person. In so doing he made all of us inherit these three anointing by the following act.

Rev 1:5 ... To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,

Rev 1:6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-

He loved us

He freed us

He made us Kings

He made us Priests.

1 Pet 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

The New creation Man is

==Prophet: spirit filled, spirit renewed, spirit controlled.

== Priest: sanctified, soul renewed, God controlled.

== King: Perfected conduct, Perfected body, Jesus controlled.

This is what Jesus made us. No wonder John bursts out in a volley of praise in the midst of his descriptions.

Rev 1:7 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.

Mat 24:30 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.

This is repeated in almost exact terms in Mark 13:26 and Luke 21 :27

Mat 26:64 "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

This again is repeated in Mark 14:62

In the above cases Jesus is described as coming "on the Clouds" and refers to a heavenly vehicle. In Old Testament the cloud was often used as the vehicle of God. Evidently these were the presence of Jesus. Some examples of this can be seen in the following passages.

Exo 13:21 By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.

Exo 16:10 While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.

Exo 19:9 The LORD said to Moses, "I am going to come to you in a dense cloud,

Exo 34:5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD.

Lev 16:2 The LORD said to Moses: "Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.

Num 11:25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with him,

However in this passage we have slight change as "with the clouds" - a spiritual accompaniment is implied it. The same picture is given in Daniel

Dan 7:13 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.

Heb. 12:1 interprets this for us:

Heb 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,

It indicates the presence of other personalities that accompany Jesus in his second coming. This cloud is the cloud of believers who are with him. At the time of the second visible reentry into the planetary orbit of earth, he is coming with all the believers - the church. Jesus is coming with his wife and his spiritual retinue back to the earth from where he took his bride.

In contrast there is mourning on the earth.

They mourn:

they that pierced him - i.e. the Jews

and all the Tribes of the earth .

Why?

Because they rejected the King of Glory and did not accept him during the period of grace. Now he come in the clouds with all those who did in joy and triumph. They all had the opportunity to accept him. The gospel must be preached to every nation and tribe. He will come only after that, so that no one may complain that they never had a chance. Now they realize their mistake and they shall mourn.

Zec 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

Zec 12:11 On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.

Zec 12:12 The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives,

Zec 12:13 the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives,

Zec 12:14 and all the rest of the clans and their wives.

Jesus himself prophesied this.

Mat 24:30 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.

Zechariah describes this reentry thus:

Zec 14:4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.

Zec 14:5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

Rev 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

Here the message begins. It starts in a manner similar to all covenants of ancient days with the covenant maker - the superior identifies himself before the decree is given. God who is the beginning and the end, the origin and ultimate consummation declares his method and the means of such consummation in this message. He is the almighty who accomplishes what he proposes in spite of the freedom of will he has graciously granted to all creatures. He planned it, he is still active in history so that he will accomplish it.