"The Revelation of Jesus Christ"
The Book of Revelation
Scripture Reading: Revelation 1:1-8
The last book of the Bible, and the last written words by a human being which are now accepted as part of the Holy Word of God, is called simply, “Revelation”. With it, the written Word of God is complete. As it says in Article 7 of the Belgic Confession, “We believe that this Holy Scripture contains the will of God completely and that everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it.” The book of Revelation both fascinates and drives some people to distraction. It’s both beautiful and weird. It has caused a lot of confusion among Christians. Some see it as a fitting conclusion to the grand narrative of the Scriptures, others see it as a play-book for the End of the world. Some people rest in its gospel declaration, others use it as a Code-book by which to decipher the times and predict the future. Depending on how you read it, it can be either comforting or confusing. We will aim to hear its comforting message rooted in gospel.
Who wrote the book of Revelation? Who were the original recipients?
“The revelation of Jesus Christ …” In the first five words of this book we learn everything we need to know for understanding the book of Revelation. First, notice the word “revelation” is singular. This is not the book of “Revelations”. That is a theological error that needs to be avoided. This book is one revelation about one person who stands at the center of everything. This is the revelation of “Jesus Christ”. It’s about him. It’s not about the Prime Minister of Canada, the President of the United States, the European Union, the “Green Shift”, Social Justice issues, or whatever. This entire book is the revelation of Jesus Christ and what it reveals in the very first chapter is that Jesus is not dead, silent, or absent from his people. As Christ says in Revelation 1:17-18, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One: I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
Is the book of Revelation about the past, the present, the future, or all of it?
What is the three-fold description given of Jesus?
To belong to God in Jesus Christ is to rest in knowing you are in good hands. The God who has made himself known in Jesus Christ is the only true God of heaven and earth. The Christian faith is a religion that not only explains the existence of this universe and our life within it, Christianity also gives the solution to the problem of evil. Evil is real, but it does not win. There is a solution. But it will not be found in your political passions, pandemic protocols, or your trivial pursuits, it is found in the three-fold vision of Jesus: The Faithful Witness, the Firstborn from the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. Therefore, John goes on to say, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”
What is the Kingdom of God? How does it fit into the book of Revelation?
This is enough to get us started on a right and proper reading of this final book in the Bible. Revelation will give a grand conclusion to a Story that began in the beginning with the Word of God. This Word is not an encyclopedia that merely gives us information about God. The Word is not just a set of doctrinal pre-suppositions, a Book of codes by which to predict the future, or a set of proof texts to prove an agenda. The Word is living and active. The Word made flesh is Jesus Christ. By him all things were made and in him all things hold together.
Revelation is an invitation into the life of God. In an anxiety-filled, politically divided and too often foolish world, God is inviting us into the life of himself in a Kingdom of grace and truth. This was always God’s plan. Eugene Peterson writes, “The intent of Revelation is to put us on our knees before God in worship and to set the salvation-shaping words of God in motion in our lives.” The “salvation-shaping” words are read, heard, and taken to heart in Jesus Christ, the Faithful Witness, the Firstborn from the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. Amen.