As we launch a new series this fall in the book of Revelation, John says it’s a blessing to read, hear and keep (=obey) what is written in Revelation (Revelation 1:3). So Revelation is actually a blessing and not something to be scared of. Jesus is revealing Himself to us and what He is about to do. He is not leaving us in the dark in a world that seems so scary at times. The past few months have only heightened this sense of anxiety. So John gives us a timely message. Don’t be afraid, draw closer to Jesus, Return to Him He is the One who controls the past, present and future (Daniel 2:20-21 actually fits in perfectly here!).
In Revelation Jesus is the ultimate “safe space” and He is inviting us to be in His Presence. For seekers and followers of Jesus, this is a great book to get to know Jesus in His full glory (Revelation 1:5-6; Revelation 1:7). In a few verses (Revelation 1:1-8), John creates a long list of attributes:
Jesus is “the faithful witness,” “the firstborn of the dead,” “the ruler of kings on earth.” He has “dominion and glory forever and ever.” He is “the alpha and the omega,” the one “who is, was, and is to come,” “the almighty.” In short order, Jesus puts on notice the Caesars of Rome and every subsequent ruler on earth after them, just as He did Pharaoh a long time before that: “Guess what, you’re not eternal, I am; you’re mere human, I am the Son of God. You rule over nothing, I am the ruler of the kings of earth.”
The Revelation of Jesus Christ is also about His Return. History has an end game when righteousness and justice will be established forever. Jesus is coming back to make everything right one day. In fact, and this is the catch, the return has already begun! When Jesus came to die on the Cross and to conquer death, the fulfillment began at that time. But it is yet to be fulfilled when Jesus appears “with the clouds” and when “all the tribes of the earth will mourn on account of Him” (Revelation 1:7). Jesus Himself says it in Matthew 24:14, “and this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.” In the meantime, God is showing His servant (s) (=John) “things that must soon take place” (Revelation 1:1). In Revelation 1:3, he says, the “time is near” which is exactly what Jesus says to us in Mark 1:15, “the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand (=”near”). Repent and believe in the gospel.” So the Revelation of Jesus is a call to return to Jesus and to feel and know His presence in our lives as individuals and as a church. It’s also a message of comfort because He knows the outcome of history, so we live our lives in light of that outcome.
The setting is also important: the then not-so idyllic island of Patmos (a place of banishment under Roman law, Revelation 1:9) is where John got a front row seat to these life-transforming truths. Inspired by the Spirit of God, John is sharing them with us. Let’s go together into the Cave of the Apocalypse, our own place of exile (whether sickness, depression, persecutions, and whatever trials you are going through) and let us meet Jesus there.
Reflection questions for the week:
- Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is in complete control. Do you believe that? Do you live that truth in surrender to Christ as your Sovereign Lord?
- John was in exile on the island of Patmos when he received the Revelation from Jesus. If you were to think of this time of the pandemic as your exile, what spiritual insights has Jesus revealed to you?
- The language of repentance permeates the Book of Revelation. Are there areas of your life that you need to repent of in order to fully enjoy your relationship with God?
- The Book of Revelation looks forward to Jesus’ return. Are you looking forward to His return? Consider discussing your response in prayer with God.