“1The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3Blessed 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.” (Rev 1:1-3)
Each week a group of faithful men gather to study The Word of God under the guidance of Pastor Michael. This is my summation of our 9/29/10 study session. It continues with our examination of Revelation 1:1-3.
Many look at the Book of Revelation as a book of the End Times. While that is clearly a part of the Book of Revelation, it is not the whole thing. As we discussed last week, Apocalypse means “unveiling.” We have come to associate “apocalypse” with disaster or calamity, the “End Times.” This is more appropriately known as “eschatology.” This word comes from the Greek words “eschatos”, which means “end”, and “logos”, which in this context means “study.” So “eschatology” is the “study of the end times.”
Eschatology is a part of the Book of Revelation just as the heart is a part of the body or Missouri is a part of the United States, but neither is the whole thing.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him…” (Rev. 1:1)
Jesus is clearly speaking for God the Father here as He has done before:
“Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me.” (John 7:16)
“Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true.” (John 8:28)
“For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.” (John 12:49)
In the Old Testament we find the words of many prophets who spoke for God. In other faiths and some Christian denominations, we find people who speak for a supreme deity. Examples are Buddha, Confucius, or Joseph Smith. But only Jesus left Heaven, took on human form, then returned to Heaven. Only Jesus has this “oneness” with God the Father.
“…to show His servants…” and “…and His servant John…” Rev. 1:1
As elsewhere throughout the New Testament, the Greek word used for “servants” is “doulos” meaning “slave.” The word “slave” has a negative connotation in today’s society. Yet, we all are slaves to something or someone. Certainly, being a slave to God is not a bad thing! Something will always be our master – money, self, power are worldly examples. But only God offers us salvation.
“You are not your own. You were bought at a price.” (1 Cor. 6:20)
“You were bought at a price, do not become slaves to men. Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.” (1 Cor. 7:23)
“…what must soon take place.” (Rev. 1:1)
We get caught up in this word “soon.” At the time of Jesus’ resurrection His disciples thought it meant the “Second Coming” was eminent. And for 2000 years, we have been looking for the same eminent coming. God has shared the time of the Second Coming with His Son, Jesus. But we humans still don’t know just when that will be. That “soon” is in God’s time, not ours.
This “soon” causes us to take a misguided look at our current times and situations. It causes us to look for literal occurrences in our present time and tie them to predictions in the rest of the Book of Revelation. Let’s face it, the world is in one heck of a mess right now. It is easy to read Revelation and associate many of the symbols and predictions with current events. But as we look back through history there have been many events just as dark. Examples are the rise of Attila the Hun (known as the Scourge of God), Genghis Kahn, Adolph Hitler or the Great Depression. Of course, we can also look forward to the Mayan End of the 4th Age of Man on December 21, 2012!
When John writes “…the time is near.” (Rev. 1:3), he is admonishing us to be ready, always. The early Christians were. We must be as well.
Jesus earlier gave us the same message in the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Brides) (Mat. 25:1-13)
“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with Him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.” (Mat. 25:10)
“Therefore keep watch, because you don’t know the day or the hour.” (Mat. 25:13)
Rev. 1:3 contains three blessings:
“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophesy…”
In both the synagogues and churches, someone would stand and read scripture to those assembled, much as is done in many churches today. This is a blessing to all those who read (and spread) the Word of God.
“…and blessed are those who hear it…”
For over 2,000 years, Christians have heard the Word of God. It is by hearing and learning God’s words that we can come to understand Him and develop our personal relationships with both Father and Son.
“…and take to heart what is written in it…”
Those who obey Jesus’ commands.
God’s grace overcomes sin. Just as errors in a marriage do not normally lead to dissolution of that marriage, sin does not end our relationship with God and hope for salvation.
The following are my thoughts on this session:
Before she turned 3, my granddaughter Lauren considered only three points in time.
There was yesterday, which was anything in her life that had happened prior to the present day.
There was today.
And there was Saturday, which was anytime in the future after today. “When’s your birthday, Lauren?” “Saturday!” When are you getting married, Lauren?” “Saturday!” “When are you going to visit grandma and grandpa, Lauren?” “Saturday!” “When will you start school, Lauren?” “Saturday!”
Lauren, in her own way, was preparing for each of these events even though she had no real concept of when they would actually occur. We should be doing the same in preparing for the return of our Lord and Savior.
Human beings seek a degree of certainty. So we try to find certainty by interpreting the Book of Revelation in terms of currents events. We are in error. Our certainty does not come through knowledge of current affairs, but in the hope and promise of the return of Jesus Christ. It is not earthly knowledge, but faith in the promises of Jesus that assures us of our salvation.
My thanks to Pastor Michael and the members of the Men on the Grow study group.
This blog is part of an ongoing series based on my notes from a weekly Bible Study. For all of the blogs in this study, see: A Study of the Book of Revelation: Index of Blogs
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