I’m no antique buff, nor am I particularly interested in collectibles, but occasionally, I enjoy going to places such as flea markets or yard sales, or even junk shops. There is a certain satisfaction in looking through displays and boxes and piles of stuff in search of some special treasure that can be purchased at a bargain price. You never know what you’ll find – an unusual book, or an interesting tool or gadget, or maybe something that just reminds you of your childhood and you just have to have it. On rare occasions, I have discovered something that looks ordinary, even worthless to most folks – dirty, tarnished, chipped or broken, even disassembled into a bucket of a thousand pieces – and taken it home, cleaned, repaired, and refurbished it into something of lots more value than some folks ever saw in it before.

I’ve lived long enough to realize that some truly precious parts of our lives are often right in front of us, but we never recognize them until something or someone does something to reveal their true worth to us. The Bible tells us that we cannot know the things of God unless He grants such knowledge to us. 1 Cor 2:14-15 says, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.” Jesus Himself said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” Jesus has been revealed to us as the Lamb of God, slain before the foundation of the world,” and we know this truth only because it has been revealed to us by the Holy Spirit by way of the Scriptures. Yet we know there is still much we do not, we cannot, know till the day when Jesus returns and His life, His power, His authority is completely revealed for all to see, not just His own.

Today we’re beginning a new series in the book of Revelation, at least up through the portion of the book that deals with the church specifically. Many people are hesitant to read, or study this book, but I pray that as we begin to uncover the treasures here, we all will gain a new and enthusiastic appreciation for the last book of the Bible. I don’t want to take up a lot of time laying out all the background considerations for studying Revelation, I’ll try to do that as we go along. So let’s get right into the text.

 

This is the Truth of Jesus Revealed.

The title of this book is literally the first word to appear in the text – in the Greek, apokalupsis, which literally means, “an uncovering, a disclosure, a revelation.” By the way, it is NOT “RevelationS” with an “S,” but the singular “Revelation.” In one sense, the entire New Testament is a revelation of Jesus, isn’t it? In the gospels we see Jesus revealed as Immanuel, God with us, the Savior, the substitionary sacrifice for the sins of humanity, the risen Christ who ascended to the right hand of the Father in Heaven. In the epistles we see Jesus revealed as Lord of His Church and His followers, and the application of His Lordship to our lives. Here in the book of Revelation, Jesus is revealed as the coming King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lamb who was slain, the righteous judge of the earth, the glorious conqueror of Satan and all his evil armies. The gospels tell of the man who was, the epistles tell of the life in which is, the Revelation tells of the Lord who is to come. Notice what this opening statement reveals.

The focus of the revelation.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him. This is the revelation of Jesus Christ. It’s all about Him. He’s the hero, the star, the central figure of this book. Don’t ever lose sight of this one, crucial fact. This fact is the full realization of the statement in Php 2, “for this reason also, God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of JESUS. . . ”

This is the revelation of Jesus. That little phrase, “of Jesus” has several implications. It is of Jesus in that it comes from Him. It is of Jesus in that it is about Him. It is of Jesus in the sense that it belongs to Him. We can never over-emphasize the fact that Jesus is the focus of this revelation. It’s all about Jesus!

 

 

The flow of the revelation.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him . . . and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John. It originates in the heart of God the Father, given to Jesus the Son, communicated through a heavenly messenger (that’s what angels are. The word “angel” means “messenger.”) to the apostle John, who has recorded it all so that the rest of us may also benefit. Remember, “all Scripture is God-breathed, and profitable.” Sometimes the chain of communication breaks down. For instance, my wife will tell you that if you want her to get a message, tell her and not me. I don’t always do a very good job of remembering to pass important information along to her. I tend to get busy and forget. But this chain of revelation which we hold in our hands is absolutely trustworthy. There are no gaps, no breakdowns, no lapses in memory. This is the Word of God Himself, preserved exactly as He wants us to have it.

 

The faithful of the revelation.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants. I think we have missed out on the signficance of what it means to be a follower of Jesus by avoiding this simple term, bond-servant. Your Bible may have the word “servants” or “slaves” there instead. A bondservant is a slave who serves, not involuntarily because of compulsion, but simply out of love and devotion. By the way, this is where those who are not born again start to lose out – they cannot comprehend such a selfless commitment because it is spiritual in nature. It’s an Old Testament concept whereby a slave could voluntarily choose to remain with his or her master after the time of obligation passed, because of mutual, personal devotion and affection. The Old Covenant Law specified that such servants have the lobes of their ears pierced as a permanent mark of voluntary servitude. If more of us would grasp this concept of what it means to be a Christian, a lifetime of devoted, Christ-centered servitude, I think we would see a more potent Christian presence in the world.

This is the Truth of Jesus Recorded.

He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Why, do you think, did John write down what he saw in this revelation of Christ he experienced? Why didn’t he just keep his visions and experiences to himself, as his own special, personal memories? The answer is clearly given to us. Look down in v19 of this chapter (read 19). He was expressly, explicitly commanded to write!

John was told to record what he saw and heard and experienced so that others, the bondservants of Christ, would be encouraged. Let me remind you here that the overarching message, the meaning and motivation of the Revelation is to encourage Christians to remain faithful to Christ until the bitter end because as bad as things are going to get for us, the end is worth all the effort. The further you read in the book the more this fact becomes vivid and real. There are folks who are teaching that if you have enough faith, if you’re serious enough in following Jesus, you will never have to suffer from sickness, or poverty, or depression, or persecution. But remember that Jesus Himself promised us that we would have to suffer for His Name’s sake. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I miss my grandfathers. My Dad’s dad died when I was very young and I barely remember him. But my Mom’s dad died just a few years ago. I used to love to sit and visit with him and listen to the stories he shared with me about his memories and life experiences. He told the same stories again and again, and I never got tired of hearing them. Now that he’s gone, I wish I had recorded those thoughts so that my own memories could be more clear, and so that those stories could be passed on to future generations. I’m so glad John obeyed, and wrote down what he saw as it was revealed to him, aren’t you? For nearly two millennia, generations of Christians have benefitted from the memories of an old man named John, because the truth of Jesus has been revealed and it has been recorded.

 

 

 

This is the Truth of Jesus Read.

Let me see your personal copy of the Scriptures. In the ancient world, to have a book of any kind was a rare thing. To have your own personal copy of the Scriptures was an even more precious treasure. All throughout the Bible we see where the Scriptures were read publicly as necessary part of corporate worship. Every time the people of God got together, the Scriptures were read. A significant portion of the New Testament takes the form of epistles, letters which were read aloud as followers of Jesus gathered. They were copied and passed along to other congregations. They were read again and again for the same people as a source of instruction and encouragement. These days we all have our own copy of the Word of God, sometimes even multiple copies, and yet oftentimes they serve more as a monument or keepsake than the source of all truth and instruction. Here’s the point I want to make here – all books, and ESPECIALLY THIS BOOK, are intended to be read! A book that you never read may look nice in your bookcase, but it does you no good unless you actually read it, and then do what it says. Here before us is promise in regard to reading the Scriptures and hearing them read.

Herald the word.

Blessed is he who reads. He who reads is the one who would read the Scripture aloud in public worship. Remember though, no one had a copy at home to read. We are so blessed to be able to take up this blessed book and read whenever we want, and yet it seems that so few do it. How often do you read it? Have your read it through? There is a supernatural power that accompanies the reading of God’s Word aloud, if even to yourself or your family. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Herald the word. That means tell it out. Say it out loud. Read it and share it because there is life in these words.

Hear the word.

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy. Notice the promise to those who read and those who hear – Blessed is he . . . That’s a familiar phrase, isn’t it? It’s the same formula Jesus used as He spoke the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. That word “blessed” is sometimes translated as “happy” but that interpretation is too weak. I had a professor in Seminary who always substituted “OH, the joy” whenever he read the beatitudes scattered throughout the Bible. It is a deep sense of peace, fulfillment, and contentment that only comes from God. Oh the joy of the one who reads and the ones who hear the words of this prophecy. What a promise! But there’s a catch. You have to participate in the process. In other words, pay attention. Really listen to what you’re reading and what is being read aloud to you.

Heed the word.

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. Heed the things which are written. Take it to heart. Listen, and the obey. Let it make a difference in your life. Our key verse in VBS this week has been Ps 86:11, Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth. If you’re not going to walk in His truth, why even bother to read at all? Maybe that’s why so many never read it anyway – they have no intention of letting it take hold of their hearts and make a difference in their lives.

Folks, do you want to know what it is to be truly blessed by God? Heed the things which are written in His Word! Look at Lk 6:46-49. Life and death hang on this truth. Notice also that final phrase here, for the time is near. We are living under a time limit, and not one of us knows when it will end. You don’t have the luxury of waiting. As Is 53:6 says, “seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.” Heed the word and live, ignore the word and perish. It’s just that simple.

Did you catch the news coverage of Dunkerton Days on TV this year? The report was talking about how the townspeople were determined to go on with life after the flood and tornado earlier this year. Two channel 7 personalities were here in the parade, including the meteorologist Eileen Loan. That news report said that someone in Dunkerton credited Eileen Loan for saving their lives when she said, “Take cover now. I mean it!” I’m satisfied that lots of lived were saved on May 25 because of excellent television coverage, and because people heard and heeded the warnings. How many will hear and heed the warnings of Scripture and live, and how many will perish because they refuse the warnings?

 

 
 

 

 

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