Revelation 1:4-20; John 1:1-4; Proverbs 21:1; Colossians 1:15-18; John 14:6; Acts 4:12
Summary: The opening chapter of the book of Revelation shows that in what seems to be the darkest and most hopeless periods of history, the Lord Jesus Christ is still Lord and King over His creation and that all things will be made new.
If the book of Revelation had just this one chapter, it is enough for us to give praise and glory to God. He shows not just the apostle John but all of us that He is in charge of the affairs of His creation. No mere created being, whether it be mortal humanity or malevolent demon, will ever have the power, ability, resources, or foreknowledge to even think they are able to overthrow and subdue the rule and reign of the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Psalm 2:1-12; Philippians 2:9-11).
Megalomaniacal emperors, pompous philosophers, irreverent intellectuals, revolutionaries, tyrants, kings, prime ministers, and would-be conquerors who have declared that they were the absolute source of reason, wisdom, or authority at one point in history or another are now footnotes in the pages of yellowing volumes or have been forgotten altogether. Every blistering critic of the Word of God whose poison pens and words have attempted to silence “what God had wrought” have their moments of posterity only to face an eternity of misery and damnation for turning away from the only One who can give any of us true peace (John 14:6).
The critics who sit in the chairs of universities and centers of “higher learning” and whose skepticism turned others away from the saving grace of Jesus Christ will find themselves sinking to the bottom of eternity with the millstone around their neck that Jesus promised to anyone who causes someone to stumble and fall away from the salvation, mercy, and grace that are found in Him alone (Matthew 18:6).
Anyone who “played the religious game” and “professed salvation” yet lived as if God did not exist (2 Timothy 3:1-8; Hebrews 6:4-6) and whose life never showed any evidence whatsoever of genuine saving faith and the fruits thereof (James 2:14-26) – or worse, used the name of Jesus as a way of magnifying a so-called “ministry” or some other work that looked pious but was instead spiritually poisonous – will find themselves hearing from the Lord Jesus that “He never knew them.” They will be cast away for eternity to dwell with “the devil and his angels” forever (Matthew 7:21-23, 25:41; Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:11-15).
While Revelation is the culmination of all biblical prophecy, it is also a book of praise and worship, and I think that we tend to overlook that when we read it. The opening chapter gives us an outline showing us that even in the darkest of times, Jesus Christ is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He has not forsaken or abandoned us (Hebrews 13:5). He is aware of the specter of evil that permeates the world. He hears the cries of despair from those who realize that this world has nothing to offer in the way of permanent merit or worth (Matthew 16:26). He has given comfort and assurance to His people in the past and continues to do so now.
Revelation was written for the church in a time of despair and immense persecution, where nothing looked like it was going to change for the better anytime soon.
In the first century, Rome’s iron boot was on the neck of its subjects. The followers of Jesus Christ were under the threat of death, exile, or imprisonment for daring to defy the self-imposed “divinity” of the emperor Domitian (AD 81-96). Rome could only tolerate one supreme king, and Jesus Christ was a threat to that mindset. The apostle John, now in his late 80s or early 90s, was the last living eyewitness of the Lord Jesus. His ministry had carried him throughout the realms of the Roman Empire, where he boldly proclaimed the Gospel of salvation in Christ and saw the fruits of his labor as untold numbers of people surrendered their lives to Christ, all too often at the cost of their lives, fortunes, and all they had held dear.
John’s fellow apostles were all dead by this time, martyrs for the faith who never denied or compromised their testimony that they had seen the risen Christ and spent the remainder of their lives preaching His Word. Now John had been banished by orders of the emperor to the penal colony of Patmos, where Domitian hoped the old fanatic would die a slow death through exposure, overwork, thirst, hunger, or other means of silencing his voice.
The Lord Jesus saw to it, however, that John’s voice and pen would be used to write down the coming events upon the world that would usher in not only the time of predicted judgment that He spoke of on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21), but also of the new heavens and earth where we would dwell in the house of the LORD forever, free from the curse of sin, death, and disease (Revelation 21:1-7, Chapter 22).
Revelation 1’s declaration of praise to God can be presented in the following manner:
Revelation is directly from the LORD Himself. He promises a blessing to anyone who reads it and takes heart in its message of victory.
The work of salvation provided for us through the Lord Jesus has given us the privilege of being kings and priests in His presence, and He bestows His grace upon the poor, the disenfranchised, and all who come to Him for mercy. He promises us that He will return in glory and establish His kingdom forever.
While in worship, John hears from and sees the risen Lord Jesus Christ in all His glory and majesty. This is not the humble Lamb who was slain on the cross but is instead the Almighty, Sovereign, Glorified KING. John faints in His holy presence yet is told by the Lord Jesus not to be afraid. Jesus declares that He is the Beginning and the End of all things. This is a testimony of His eternal Sovereignty and absolute control over all things. He has the final word and has all authority over creation and the events of human history. He is the eternal King, and He will make all things new as He promised.
The chapter concludes with a commission to John to write down what He will see and to give this “revelation” to not only the seven churches of Asia but to all faithful followers of the Lord Jesus (Luke 21:28). He will return soon, so be ready.
Now you see why this first chapter is not only a testimony of the authority of biblical prophecy but is also a work of praise and worship.
We serve a victorious LORD. Do not look to the world to solve your problems. Turn your life over to Christ while there is time (2 Corinthians 6:2).