God is Here (Revelation 1:4-20 and 22:6-21)

Posted: March 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

God is Here (Revelation 1:4-20 and 22:6-21)

Scholars do not agree on the structure of Revelation but personally, for what that is worth, I believe it is a chaism, which is an ancient Jewish way of organizing poetry, hymns, etc. 

Here is the way one scholar outlined the book and it is how I will be preaching on it.

A     (ch. 1) Prologue

    B     (chs. 2–3) Present Situation: Letters to the seven churches

        C     (chs. 4–5) Fundamental Paradigm: Worship of God, worthiness of the Lamb

            D     (ch. 6) Judgment of God’s enemies (note rider on white horse)

                E     (ch. 7) Faithful believers (note “great multitude”)

                    F     (chs. 8–10) Judgment of God’s enemies (II; note first two “woes”)

                        G     (ch. 11) False power of the Beast: Defeat through the two witnesses’ resurrection

                            H     (12:1–6) Woman brings salvation

                                 I     (12:7–18) Judgment of God’s enemies (III): Dragon

                                     J     (ch. 13) Moment of Decision: Worship the Beast!

                                     J     (ch. 14) Moment of Decision: Follow the Lamb!

                                 I     (chs. 15–16) Judgment of God’s enemies (III): climatically on Babylon

                             H     (17:1–6) Woman killing saints

                         G     (17:7–18) False power of the Beast: Defeat by the King of kings

                     F     (ch. 18) Judgment of God’s enemies (II; note repeated “woe, woe” over       Babylon)

                 E     (19:1–10) Faithful believers (“great multitude”)

             D     (19:11–21) Judgment of God’s enemies (rider on white horse)

         C     (20:1–10) Fundamental Paradigm: Damnation of Satan, worthiness of the saints

     B     (20:11–22:5) Future Situation: The new heaven and earth and New Jerusalem

A     (22:6–21) Epilogue

So, today we hit the two outer prongs of chapter 1, the prologue, and Chapter 22:6-21, the epilogue.

Let’s look at 1:1-20:

1:1 The 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.

4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

1:4, note that Revelation mentions God’s throne 46 times!  Obviously, the Lord wanted John to convey the sovereignty of the Trinity over creation.

1:5, one scholar argues that these three titles correspond to the three major shifts in Jesus’ ministry: In his life, a faithful witness, in his resurrection, the firstborn of the dead and in his return, the ruler of all creation.

Moreover, 1:5 is very, very important for when Jesus calls us to be so radically obedient that we are willing to die, we are reminded that Jesus did the same for us.

1:7, “coming with the clouds” probably refers to the OT image of clouds accompanying war chariots.  In other words, Jesus often comes to kick some tail!

1:9 one scholar writes of this verse, “John insists that he shares with Christians in Asia Minor the tribulations of the end time, which consist of possible exile, imprisonment, social ostracism, slander, poverty, economic exploitation, violence, and the constant threat of judicial action.”

1:11 why these seven churches? Next week, we will see that these churches were (and are) indicative of the problems of all churches.

1:12-13 the seven lampstands represent the seven churches. Note that Jesus is in the midst of them.  This will become very important.

Also notice how Jesus is dressed. Some scholars speculate that he is dressed like the high priest from the Old Testament but it may also be the clothing of a king.

1:14-15, white hair signified dignity and wisdom while eyes of fire symbolized a divine gaze that sees everything and bronze feet were symbols of a warrior.

1:16, this a symbolic reminder that Jesus’ very words can alter all of creation and judge the entire human race.

1:20 the angels who are assigned to churches point back to Gen. 28:10-16.  Do you remember the story of Jacob? In a dream, God allowed him to see that heaven and earth are like dimensions right next to each other but normally unseen and that angels come and go between here and there.  Jacob sees this and mutters, “God was in this place and I didn’t even know it.”  We are usually just like Jacob in that we don’t consider the fact that God is here.

And now let’s look at 22:6-21,

6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes,  so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

22:7, the Greek word translated “coming” is erchomai and, in the OT, was used to speak about God’s coming to offer salvation or to render judgment.  

The picture is one of an active God who, along with his angels, are everywhere and taking part in what is going on around us.

As scholar Walter Brueggemann notes, in the Old Testament, God is the god of “active verbs.”  He is always doing something despite our tendency to see him as far off and disinterested.

Every moment of every day, we need to remember that God is here, Jesus is here, his angels are here. 

We are never alone.

We need to live with this truth constantly before us.  It should affect the way we live, think and pray.

Brennen Manning tells the story of an old man dying of cancer.  The man’s daughter had asked the local priest to come and pray with her father.  When the priest arrived, hr found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed.  The priest assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.  “I guess you were expecting me,” he said. 

“No, who are you?” 

“I’m the new associate at your parish,” the priest replied.  “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.” 

“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man.  “Would you mind closing the door?” 

Puzzled, the priest shut the door. 

“I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man.  “But all my life I have never known how to pray.  At the Sunday Mass I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head…. 

I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus.  Here’s what I suggest.  Sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair.  It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I’ll be with you always.’  The just speak to him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now.’ 

“So Father, I’ve tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day.  I’m careful, though.  If my daughter ever saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.” 

The priest was deeply moved and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey.  Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the rectory. 

Two nights later, the daughter called the priest to tell him that her daddy had died that afternoon. 

“Did he seem to die in peace?” he asked. 

“Yes, when I left that house at two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek.  When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead.  But there was something strange, Father.  In fact, beyond strange – kinda weird.  Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside the bed.” 

It appeared as though the man died resting his head on the lap of someone…that’s because he did.  Jesus was there.  He is here. He is always here.

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