Sermon Notes: The Book of Revelation 1:1-3 “Soon Means Soon”

Posted: February 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Can we understand the book of Revelation?

You may be skeptical.  Have you been burned by televangelists’ predictions? Read Left Behind and wondered why you should understand the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to be symbolic but you should expect Jesus to return actually riding a white  horse?  When is a horse a horse anyway?

It may surprise you to learn that iberal and conservative scholars agree that Revelation is filled with
symbols, so the question is can we understand understand the symbols?

Let’s take a look at a section of Revelation and see.

Look at Revelation 13:17-18,

17so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is,  the name of the beast or  the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

Caesars were the titles of kings of the Roman Empire, which ruled dominated the western world for roughly 1500 years.

All of the Caesars ruled by brute force but two in particular were known for exceptional brutality.

Nero ruled Rome from 54 AD until 68 AD and was the church’s first true Roman persecutor even though the persecution was contained within  the city limits of Rome.  Yet, this localized perseuction was so viscious that Nero’s very name became synonymous with persectution.

So, it shouldn’t surprise you that when you apply the popular method of Hebrew Gamatria to Caesar  Nero you get “666”

Domitian was the first emperor to demand empire wide worship as a god and also became the first empire wide, systematic persecutor of
the church.

Jews referred to the Emperor Domitian as “the Beast” because he demanded to be worshipped as a god.

So, the images are not really difficult to understand if you are willing to dig in to the culture and history.

So, let’s dig in to Revelation 1:1-3

1The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God  gave him to show to his servants  the things that must soon take place.  He made it known by sending his angel to his servant  John, 2  who bore witness to the word of God and to  the testimony of Jesus Christ, even  to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

When John writes he writes as a prophet. Prophets were “covenant mediators” i.e., they reminded the people of God of their duties as a redeemed kingdom.

John writes that those who hear and obey will be blessed or in divine favor and privileged. Does it make any sense to address seven churches to obey something they couldn’t understand and that the world wouldn’t see for 2000 years or more?

When John says that the visions he was given by Jesus were to happen  “soon” and “near” he meant it.

Can we understand the book of Revelation? Yes, and we must for we  must understand in order to obey and obey in order to be blessed and the message of the book of Revelation, is a prophetic call for a return to radical obedience to the King who died for us.  May we hear it.  May we understand it.  May we obey the call.


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