Revelation Chapter 1: 4-8
John, to the seven churches which 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, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”
As we began the journey last week on the way through the book of the Revelation, we noted that just reading the book brought the reader a blessing. I pray that you will take the time to read the book as many times as you can as we travel through it. This week we will jump right into it and see what the Lord has for us.
The Churches of Asia, verse 4
There were seven churches to whom this letter was originally addressed. These churches were in what is the western part of modern-day Turkey. They were still a part of the Roman Empire. The Gospel had travelled with the apostles into Greece; and these churches were in the area that bordered Greece, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Black Sea to the north. You can look on a map and see it for yourself.
This gives you an idea of where we are talking about. In relation, the Isle of Patmos was just off the coast of Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea. So, John may have been able to see the land mass he was writing to. These seven churches, which we will explore individually, were a picture of the church age – the age we live in right now.
John the Baptist announced the coming of the Messiah (Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:15). Jesus came and preached the Gospel. He healed the sick, raised the dead and was rejected by his own; and so He gave the work of the Gospel to the Gentiles.
The Jews were put on hold for a season while the Gentile church age – the one we are still in – blossomed and bloomed. Ironically, Jesus used Jews to begin the Gentile church age. It was Peter in Acts 10 who was sent to a Gentile soldier named Cornelius. Then, of course, Paul was called to be the apostle to the Gentiles.
Galatians 1:15-16 “But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood.”
Paul and the other apostles took the Gospel to Africa, Asia, Rome and Greece. Paul wrote letters to the churches in Greece – places like Corinth and Ephesus. But as we come to the end of the first century, Jesus finds a cluster of seven churches that will serve as examples of what the church age looks like right up until the Lord’s return for His Gentile church and the era of the Jews restarts.
We are in the dawning of this rejuvenation. The parts are in place: Israel is back in her homeland and about to celebrate 70 years back in her Promised Land; then, just a few months ago the USA recognized Jerusalem as the historical and rightful capital of Israel. Thus, the pieces are in place for God to restart His focus on Israel. For this to begin, the church age must come to a stop. We will explore this further as we move ahead in the book.
Of these seven churches, local individual churches show – as far as we can tell from history – the predominant kind of church that was in each era, even though all seven kinds would have been present at the time. Some churches were very faithful, others not so faithful. Some were good at one thing, and yet others at another. All but two – the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia – had both good and bad in them. We should each work to diligently make our churches acceptable to the Lord Jesus, and that he would not find anything wrong in us.
The Godhead, verses 4-5
The Godhead is front and center in these end times, as He was at the very beginning. Here we have God the Father in verse 4 “who is and who was and who is to come.” A bit of research shows that this is actually an awkward way in the Greek language to describe Yahweh. But John saw that Yahweh was here, as Jesus is mentioned and then the “seven spirits.” This is actually the seven characteristics of the Holy Spirit. These are mentioned in Isaiah 11:2:
“And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.”
In the very beginning, Genesis 1:1-2, we are told that God created the Heavens and the earth, and that the Spirit hovered over the deep. In John 1:1-3, we are told that everything was made by Jesus. So, we have the Trinity at the Creation, and we see the Trinity here at the very onset of the Revelation of Jesus. The Godhead is essential to the Truths and the Doctrines of the New Testament church. God repeatedly mentions and makes clear that the three are One.
The Gospel, verse 5
Jesus has washed us in His own blood. This is the only means of salvation; NO OTHER WAY exists. Sadly, some churches have made up other ways; they lie and damn people to Hell.
Hebrews 9: 19-22 “When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.’ In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
There is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. In the Old Testament, the animals were sacrificed as a temporary picture until the Real Lamb of God came—Jesus, and then He was the total and final sacrifice for our sins. A saved person is one who has been washed in the blood of Jesus; His blood is able to wash away our sins in total and make us clean before the Holy God of Heaven. Three is no other way; you will never do enough good things to balance out your evil. You must be washed in the blood of Jesus.
There are still some today who think they can appease God and win His favor by keeping the Old Testament Law. They try, but they cannot and will not succeed. In Galatians 3:24 we see these powerful words:
“Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
The law was never designed to redeem us; it was designed to show us we needed to be redeemed. You will never get to Heaven by keeping the Law. Even if you kept every law perfectly you would still have the problem of your nature. You and I are born as sinners. The Bible says we are sold under sin. We need a change of nature, thus the need to be “born again.” We need a new nature. This nature is given to us by God when we put our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for us and we are washed in the blood – “born again.”
The Purpose for Redemption, verse 6
Jesus has made us to be kings and priests for God the Father. I will admit I do not know how this will work, but it seems that we have jobs to do in the new Kingdom; and this is the time that we are prepared for it. This gives us a whole new perspective on the church age. We are actually being trained and challenged to be useful to Jesus in His new Kingdom.
The idea of the New Testament church is to prepare persons not only to serve in the here and now, but to be ready to be asked to do more in the Kingdom to come. Faithfulness breeds promotion, and Jesus is all about faithfulness. He is about persistence, and He is about consistence. Jesus is looking for people who are faithful to a fault, able to stand in the days of trouble and still praise God—men and women who can have their lives rocked but their faith still be rock solid.
There is no ambiguity to the salvation that Jesus paid for in His blood. He is preparing us for greater things that simply cannot be appreciated by the human ear if described, and cannot be comprehended by the human brain when seen.
1 Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’”
The Apostle Paul, one of the smartest men in the Bible, could not describe Heaven to us after he had seen it. He was at a loss for words. Jesus has plans for us – and man, they are grand! Live for Him and seek His plans. Every little bump in the road will be insignificant when we see what He has in store for us in the Heavens.
Jesus is coming again, verse 7-8
John is so upfront with this it is impossible to miss it. Jesus is coming soon. He will be seen by all; all will worship Him, even the ones who pierced Him we are told, the Jews. They will worship Him. They did not worship Him the first time, but they will this time. He is coming to judge the earth, and the tribes of earth will mourn Him. They will be dismayed at His return; they will realize that they are in grave danger and that they are enemies of the Living God. Jesus will not be meek this time. His full power will be on display, and His full glory will be revealed.
There will be two types of mourning on that day. We are told here in Revelation 1:7 that the tribes will mourn because of Him; this is a mourning of defeat and destruction. But the Jews will have another type of mourning – one of mourning their own sins and their rejection of Jesus. We see this in Zechariah 12: 9-10:
“And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”
If you see verse 9, the nations that come against Jerusalem will mourn at the destruction that is coming their way. But Israel will mourn almost in a way of rejoicing. They will weep over Jesus; they will weep for joy and relief at His appearing, and they will mourn what they have done to Him. But, in return, God pours out the Spirit of Grace and Supplication. They will mourn from the right place—a place of brokenness and shame, not just that they got caught.
Have you mourned your sins? Have you felt broken and shame over them, and have you come to mourn before the Holy Lord, so He can pour over you His spirit of Grace and heal you. God loves a broken spirit and a contrite heart. God responds to humility; He responds with love and kindness, grace and mercy. He gives life eternal, and He removes all of our sins.
Matthew 5:3-5 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”