#1 The Revelation Of Jesus Christ
The Revelation Of Jesus Christ
by Michael Leonard
This morning we begin our journey in the scriptures and our guide for this journey will be the Apostle John. I believe that this will be a wonderful trip as we travel through the last book of the bible, The Revelation of Jesus Christ. And the title explains exactly what this book is about: it is the revelation, the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this book He is no longer veiled in humility but is radiantly glorified in splendor and majesty; He blazes out of the pages of Revelation as King of kings and Lord of lords and we bow before His presence in worship and praise to Him who is Holy, Holy, Holy.
I want you to know up front that I have not come to this book as a thrill seeker, nor with a desire to present things that will excite our fleshly cravings after the sensational. I have no intention of spewing forth the sensationalistic ranting’s of the majority of preachers who parade their wares in pulpits throughout the land for the purpose of reeling in numbers or awing their hearers with stupendous tales, none of which are usually true to the scriptures.
Neither have I any intention of approaching Revelation with a preconceived theological mindset: that is taking a theological position. Otherwise, everything I say would be colored by my own theological preconceptions. We must remember the words of our Sovereign God who said, “This is my beloved Son, listen to HIM! That is my intention. I want us to listen to Jesus, to sit at His feet and learn of Him and then to do what He has told us to do.
And so we will make a careful, verse by verse journey through the Book: examining the linguistics, the historical data and most importantly, the scriptures themselves. As we read the scriptures, we are hearing the voice of God who said what He meant and meant what He said. We must let scripture, God’s Holy Word, interpret scripture. And when we come to a place where there is no clear answer we must bow to scripture which says: “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. (De 29:29) And so my reasoning in coming to this book is simply this: we have walked with John thus far as he has taught us all that God has directed him to teach us.
Now we will finish our journey with him and after that bid farewell as we are led in our continued study of Gods Holy Word.
Now when one mentions the book of Revelation one is met with ooh’s and aah’s. Some would say “that’s a sealed book and not meant for our understanding.” Others say, “It’s so full of symbolism that no one can figure out what’s real and what is the symbol.” But while it is true that there is much symbolism contained within the pages of Revelation, we must also understand that there are great and marvelous truths pictured by those symbols. In fact, as has been pointed out, this book comes with a built in blessing: 3Blessed 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. And so as we study this book, as we hear the voice of God speaking to us, as we behold His Glory unveiled, we should be fully prepared to be blessed by what we find.
And what greater blessing can we have than to behold our beloved Lord Jesus Christ who loved us so much that He died for us, rose for us, delivered us from the powers of darkness and made us joint heirs with Himself of the Kingdom of God: who indeed is even now sitting at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. In this wonderful book we will see our LORD unveiled. Just as the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom to reveal the Holy of holies: so too is our Lord unveiled here in Holy Glory. He gave us a glimpse of His heavenly grandeur when on the Mount of Transfiguration. But here He blazes forth in unmatched splendor and majesty and beholding Him thus, we wonder why all do not fall before so glorious a God as ours.
But we understand that 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. (1Co 2:14) But we also understand that whether they ‘believe’ or not, there is coming a day in which Jesus Christ will return. Just as lightning blazes across the sky in brilliant splendor, so too will our Lord come back in all His Holiness and majestic glory (10) so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
One more thing by way of introduction: the New Jerusalem is described in this book, the Promised Land for the believer. Peter in his epistle spoke of the heavens destroyed by burning and the earth melting with intense heat.
And He said (1st Pet.3:13) “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” As the children of Israel were led through the wilderness by God and His servant Moses to their new home, so we too are being led by God and His Son Jesus Christ from this wilderness of sin to the celestial city: our haven of rest. The Israelites had in mind an earthly dwelling place in the Promised Land where they would live in houses that they did not build and eat of the food they hadn’t planted. God had provided them with a land that flowed with milk and honey.
Now with that picture in mind consider what awaits us who have been called by God into a saving relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. In (John 14:1-3) “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. (2) “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. (3) “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
We are awaiting a dwelling place not made with hands, where we will bask in the blazing holy light of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As the writer of Hebrews says, “there remains a rest for the people of God.” When we hear our Lord say “enter into the joy of your Master”: when we are told to come and inherit the kingdom that has been prepared for us since the foundation of the world, then we will rejoice with a shout of praise that will set the heavens ringing. Then we will enter our rest that rest will be complete! Consider these three passages of scripture which sum up our entry into paradise. And rejoice with me in our Great God and His Salvation!
(Isaiah 25:8) tells us that “He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken.”
From (Rev 7:17) we read these words: “for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
And finally from (Re 21:4) we have this word of peace: “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” What a wonderful picture of rest! Is it any wonder that the last words in this book are the prayer “Even so come Lord Jesus!”
Now before we begin we must have a bit of background for the book. That it was written by John the Apostle should be without question. But as there were those who denied this even early on, there were witnesses including and Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna who was himself a disciple of John, Irenaeus the disciple of Polycarp, Justin Martyr who lived within fifty years of the apostle, Clemens Alexandrinus, and Tertullian. These men are considered the early church fathers and their testimony thus carries with it a certain weight.
It is agreed that by historians that John wrote this book between A.D. 95 and 96. This would be some 25 years after the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Titus, the son of the Roman Emperor Vespasian had come in 70 A.D. on orders from his father to put down the Jewish rebellion that had begun in May of 66 A.D.
With the 5th, 10th, 12th and 15th Legions: some 80,000 men, Titus attacked the city of Jerusalem which had been devoted to destruction by Jesus Christ Himself. Using scorpions, (spear launchers) and catapults that could hurl 100 pound stones some 600 feet, they began the destruction of Jerusalem that Jesus had spoken of in the gospels. In the span of five months: and in accordance with the words of Christ, (Luke 19:43) the Romans raised a siege mound all around the city. They crucified 500 Jews a day (until they ran out of trees) used battering rams to knock down the walls of Jerusalem and so destroyed the Jewish temple that not one stone was left standing upon another, just as Jesus said.
But John was not there. Jesus had warned His disciples to flee to the mountains when they saw the approaching armies. Historians say that the Christians had fled to the mountain city of Pella in Perea and thus were spared the horrific destruction that befell Jerusalem. But persecution arose from the Romans against Christians everywhere. The monster, Nero had multitudes killed in the arena or by way of crucifixion. He used them as human torches to light his gardens. He was truly a fiend: an antichrist. In the end he killed himself and a period of calm followed. But it was short-lived for after him the next great persecution came from the Emperor Domitian. It was during the reign of the Domitian, that John was exiled to Patmos for preaching the gospel. Now understand that emperor worship was in full swing by this time. Domitian had statues of himself set up throughout the Roman Empire and men were required to take a pinch of incense and toss it into the altar fire and say Caesar is Lord. John, being a disciple of Jesus and a preacher of the truth proclaimed that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Therefore Christianity was immediately at odds with Rome. Having met the true God, John could not and would not bow to idols made of stone.
He would not compromise in any way and so off to exile he went. And it was while he was in exile there that Jesus came and told John to write.
And John introduces this book as (Rev 1:1) 1The Revelation of Jesus Christ… Notice it does not say “revelations” but the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is our great God and Savior Jesus Christ who is being revealed in all of His holy majesty and grandeur. As we read we will we will be led to behold his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.Concerning the subject of revelation I would like you to consider the day of your new birth. In that day Jesus Christ revealed Himself to you. Up to that time you may have “believed in God” gone to church: even read the bible. But you didn’t know the Author of the Bible. And what you read in the scripture, you didn’t understand. Like me you probably had some preconceived ideas about Jesus which had nothing to do with who He really is.
But then, in the day of His power, you who were dead in trespasses and sins were made alive together with Christ. As the power of the Most High overshadowed you, suddenly those preconceived notions were blown to the winds. You were made to see that what you believed in was a mere caricature of your own imagination. And though it was through a glass darkly, Jesus Christ gave you a look at who He is. There was an unveiling and you fell to your knees proclaiming “My Lord and My God!”
Now understand that we haven’t seen anything yet. When Jesus revealed Himself to John in Holy glory it was too much. John fell down at His feet like a dead man! When Moses asked to see God, he was told “you cannot see My face and live”. He was placed in a cleft in a rock, God covered him there with His hand and passed by proclaiming the name of the Lord. And after He had passed by He removed His hand and Moses saw “His back parts” or His afterglow. But even though Moses only saw His afterglow, his face shone with heavenly radiance, so much so that the people fled from his presence in fear. Now consider the fact that we haven’t seen His heavenly glory. We have not been given a holy vision. But Jesus said “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
We have been given glimpses of Christ’s heavenly glory but here He is revealed in all of His magnificence. And this is according to the will of the Father, “which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, Is this not just the most beautiful statement you ever heard! Our Father has not left us in the dark! He has not left us to grope around like blind men. He has given us His Word. He has given us His living Word, Jesus Christ.
He has given us His Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth and teaches us concerning Christ. And through His truth He has warned us of pitfalls and dangers and false teachers whose desire is to lead us astray. Because we have been founded upon a sure foundation of the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ we shall not be greatly moved! “How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord is laid for your faith in His excellent word. What more can He say than to you He has said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled.” And as we have been taught sound doctrine, the sincere milk and the solid meat of the word of God, we need not be fooled by every wind of doctrine that comes along. Everything we need to know about how to live and move is here in God’s word “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2Pe 1:3)
Years ago I remember hearing about the military’s early warning system, a system of satellites and radar stations that would let us know of incoming enemy attacks. But they are limited in that, at best, they can only warn us a few hours before the bombs fall. But our Father has declared the end from the beginning and from ancient times, things that have not been done saying ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’
This of course speaks of the fact that every event that has occurred, from everlasting to everlasting, has been decreed, ordained by our Heavenly Father. Nothing can happen that has not been decreed by God! And so while sinful men’s hearts fail for fear because they know not God, for us the Word says, “Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. (John 14:29) Jesus has given us a sure word of prophesy so that our faith will not be shaken when trouble comes in whatever form God has ordained.
Another thing to notice is that He calls us His bondservants! Another word for this is love slave. We are His slaves, bound in service to Him by love. Having been made willing in the day of His power, (Ps. 110:3) having been the recipients of a new heart of flesh, (Ezekiel 36:26) we have gone to the doorpost and have had the awl driven into the lobe of our ears, that is we have received His mark upon our hearts. We are bound in love to Him by His Spirit Who dwells within us. He loves us with and unbreakable bond of love and we love Him who first loved us. History tells us that there have been many dark ages in which sinful men have sought to wipe out the very memory of Jesus Christ from the earth. Christians have at times been slaughtered by the millions. To be sure there are believers in many lands who even today in our “enlightened society” are suffering for the sake of Christ.
Here in America we have been blessed by a relative calm even though each day sinful men chip away at our freedoms to advance their own sinful agenda. Antichrists are everywhere raging and gnashing their teeth at any form of godliness. John in his epistle said that the spirit of antichrist is already in the world, that there are many antichrists already manifesting themselves. Paul calls us to stand firm in the faith and Peter said Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1Pe 1:13)
Our Lord Jesus Christ told us to be ready for we do not know the day or the hour of His coming. We are to be prepared to go and I am reminded of the Exodus. The people were to have blood on the doorposts and lintel, they were to be dressed and ready for a trip with their traveling clothes on and their staffs in their hands. They picture here is of being ready to go at a moments notice. Another picture that is in my mind is of the rescue of Lot and his family. They were literally thrust out of the city and were told not to look back. And the question we must ask ourselves is, do we love this present world more than Jesus Christ? Are we “willing to go to heaven when we really have to” but not a moment sooner? Do we look longingly at the things of this world? Or do we have the mindset of Paul who sorely wanted to be in heaven with His beloved Lord?
In (Phil 1:21-24) he said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” In other words, I would much rather be in heaven with Jesus. But I will continue on in this life if I really have to!
The truth of the matter is that there is nothing for us here. At one time this world was our all in all. This was all we knew and we clung to it vigorously. We were fearful of death for we were ignorant of God and His mercy. David’s words apply here in (Ps 73:21-28) where he said in “When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, when I was still lost in sin then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.
This is a true statement! While we were lost in our sins we were literally brute beasts. But then in mercy God reached down and saved us. And now though sometimes we stumble and fall, though sometimes we lose sight of what really matters because of our stupidity in taking our eyes off Jesus Christ, David states the truth 23 Nevertheless I am continually with You; in mercy You have taken hold of my right hand. 24 With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.
And here is the heart of the matter: in reality 25 Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. This can only be said by one to whom Christ has revealed Himself in saving grace. Only those who have been given this divine revelation: only those to whom the arm of the Lord has been revealed, only those who are the recipients of saving grace that is found in the person of Jesus can say these words with David. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
To us, through the Apostle John, is given 1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, 2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 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.