Open to the only book exclusively devoted to introducing us to what our Master and Savior Jesus is doing RIGHT NOW: the last book of the Bible, the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Have you paused yet today to check in with Jesus Christ? The best way to do that is through your Bible, because Jesus Christ is revealed to us as the Word of God. He is the Word, and the Word reveals Him. Each time we open God’s Word we can hear His Voice.
At Creation God the Son, the Creator spoke and made all things; and through His Apostles and Prophets, His Word has been given. As you open to the last book of your Bibles, you open to the climactic conclusion of God’s Word written down for us.
Revelation is God lifting the lid off of Christ, or pulling back the wrapping paper on something very special about Jesus, but not yet fully seen or known. That is what the first word of this book says.
So, chapter 1 is God holding out for us: What Jesus is doing right now.
Chapters 2-3 are God showing us what Jesus sees in His Church.
Chapters 4-22 are what God wants us to know about His plans for the future.
Each of these sections of Revelation is a disclosure and an unveiling of things not yet fully seen, or even really understood.
As we open to Revelation 1:14 this is the second set of twin descriptions of Christ: His head and hair are white, like wool and snow; His eyes are like burning flames of fire.
When John turned to see who it was that spoke to him, he turned and saw the Ancient of Days Himself, in all His power, in all His holiness, and with those eyes ablaze with an inescapable and penetrating gaze. That is how Jesus Christ the Risen Lord appears at this moment, as we gather before Him. Let that sight get imprinted upon your heart:
Christ’s Flaming Eyes of Penetrating Holiness
When John saw Jesus that Sunday morning on Patmos, he collapsed and was like a dead man. It wasn’t that he was old and weak, or overcome by emotion, John had seen that look in Christ’s eyes before. When he realized what Jesus was communicating, it overwhelmed him. John saw Almighty God the Son, Jesus Christ, who was displeased with His Church.
Did you know that in less than 60 years, the original edition of Christ’s Church had gotten to the point where 70% of the local assemblies were displeasing to God? That’s right 5 out of the 7 churches that Jesus had visited were reprimanded and warned. Christ’s expressed in 5 out of 7 letters His displeasure about the way that were living out God’s plan for their lives.
John is flattened on Patmos when he sees Jesus. Those flaming eyes seemed so much like the ones John had seen when Jesus cleansed the Temple of Jerusalem. But this time its not the Temple of Jerusalem, Jesus is headed towards the local churches that make up His Body, His visible presence on Earth. Jesus with piercing eyes of holiness and glowing feet of chastisement is headed to stomp out the sin that is diminishing His power in His Church.
John is staggered. The churches that received the letter Jesus sent them through John were put on notice and Church History records the results. Those churches that did not repent have gone extinct. Jesus removed their lamp from the stand and He had to find others who would stay useful in His sight.
Most of us here today hold the most powerful device in the world; it is more jam packed with unbelievable features than the one-day-coming iPhone 5. It has the most ultimate guidance, communication and efficiency apps ever possible to obtain, and it is called God’s Word. God speaks through His Word, and we have His Voice on paper before each of us today.
As we open to Revelation we open to the longest book written specifically for Christ’s Church, containing 22 chapters, and 404 verses; all with the unique target of being given by God to show Jesus Christ to the Church.
Have you ever noticed that whenever Jesus described us as His children in the Gospels, somewhere nearby He spoke of fruitfulness?
As we open to the Matthew 13 Parable of the Soils, He said His born-again believers bear three levels of fruit: some 30, some 60, and others 100-fold. Look at v.8 and then at v. 23.
In the John 15 Vine and the Branches discourse, He said that He is vitally interested in us bearing “more” fruit. In fact, John 15 states more clearly than anywhere else in the Gospels what Christ’s constant desire is for us as His children: glorifying God equals fruitful lives.
God is a Farmer, His Word calls us His field (I Cor. 3:9), and our lives are searched by Him for fruit, so He can harvest from our lives. That is what we will see as we open to Revelation 2 this morning.
Much like the farmers all around us and the many gardeners among us, if you want a good crop this year, the field needs to be prepared and worked.
Jesus desires, from each member of His Body, a life that is plowed, planted and watered, so that we produce a harvest of fruit that pleases Him.
The last book of the Bible seems to be the most fascinating and revealing of all the books of the Bible[i]for believers. Nowhere outside of the first three chapters of Revelation is there such a concentration of church-related truth and they are the single most important source of understanding Christ’s present focus and work of any Book of God’s Word.
In the Four Gospels we find a quadrophonic symphony of Christ’s Earthly life and ministry. Acts shows what the Spirit of God, using the Word of God, can do through normal people. Romans through Jude records the doctrinal truths and foundation for everything in our new lives as believers, when we become a part of Christ’s Church.
We are part of the gathering, of all His obedient children, for Jesus asked us, as believers, to keep gathering to worship Him until He comes. So, there is perhaps no portion of Scripture more vital for us as we live out our lives on Earth than the last book of the Bible. In the final book of God’s Word we find that:
Revelation is the Culmination & Conclusion
This book comes last because it is not only the Conclusion of God’s Word, it is also the Culmination of God’s Plan. We see everything that started in Genesis: the Perfect Paradise of God, the Rebellion and Fall of the Universe into Sin, the Flood of Water Destroying the rebels, and the choosing and saving of the People of the Covenant-all in their final form in Revelation.
There was a church in the New Testament world that was doing all the right things for the Lord; but there was one problem: they were doing all the right things for the wrong reasons. Jesus addresses that problem in His first letter to the Churches in Revelation 2.
If you were arriving into the harbor to visit the church of Revelation 2 in Ephesus this morning, there is only one sight that would catch your eye. Not the bustling harbor teeming with boats, not the roads lined with the exotic spices and goods from the east. No: it would be the lustrous golden gleam of the Temple of Diana.
As we open to Revelation 2:1-7, we are reading the personal message in Christ’s last words to His Church. These verses are part of a warning about what tripped up the earliest generations of believers. Jesus wanted them, and us, to stay on the right path.
These churches were real gatherings of people 2,000 years ago. That means that Jesus saw seven different types of believers gathering at that moment in the history of His church. Have you ever thought about that?
Every believer back then was like one of these seven types of believers addressed by these seven letters we are studying. In some part of the end of the First Century AD there were Ephesian types of believers (2:1-7); Smyrna types of believers (2:8-11); Pergamos types of believers (2:12-17); Thyatira types of believers (2:18-29); Sardis types of believers (3:1-6); Philadelphia types of believers (3:7-13); and Laodicea types of believers (3:14-22).