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Back To The Future

Sermon #1

 

Series Introduction: In this study, we are going to embark on an exciting adventure. We are going to study the book of The Revelation Of Jesus Christ. This is a wonderful book. It has been misunderstood, misrepresented and misinterpreted by many. The book of Revelation has been avoided because many seem to believe that it cannot be understood and that reading it, studying and preaching from it will only lead to confusion. That is sad, because anyone who takes the time to study the Revelation will soon discover that it is not hard to comprehend. In fact, the book will only be unclear to the unbeliever, Luke 8:10; 1 Cor. 2:14. The diligent student of the book will also soon discover the fact that Jesus Christ is more clearly revealed than He is anywhere else in the Word of God. This is not a book to be avoided; it is a book to be read and studied.

So, beginning today, I want us to take a trip. Not a trip to any geographical location, but a trip to the future. I would like to move through this wonderful book paragraph by paragraph and bring you a series of sermons I would like to entitle Back To The Future.

By way of introduction, I want to briefly mention the four methods of interpretation people take when they approach the book of Revelation. How you approach this book will determine how you interpret it; and how you interpret it will determine what you will receive from it. There are four primary interpretations of the book of Revelation. They are:

1. The Preterist Interpretation This view sees the events recorded in Revelation as being a historical record of the events of the first century. This view requires a belief that Jesus has already returned to the earth, and it ignores the fact that the Revelation claims that much of its content is clearly prophetic in nature, 1:3; 22:7, 10, 18-19.

2. The Idealist Interpretation This is the liberal view. The idealist looks at the Revelation as a collection of allegories and stories designed to depict the struggle between good and evil. This view does not see the events of the Revelation as actual events, but as mere myths and fables.

3. The Historicist Interpretation This view considers the Revelation to be a sweeping overview of church history. It sees this book as a timeline of church history from the apostolic era down to this present day. Most of the events in the book are considered to be past events. Those who hold to this school of interpretation often engage in spiritualizing the text and in viewing it a pure allegory. This view ignores the book’s claims to be prophecy and offers odd interpretation and strange applications of the text.

4. The Futurist Interpretation This view looks at the book of Revelation and sees most of the events as being future in nature. This view holds that the book of Revelation is mostly prophetic in nature. This view takes a literal approach to interpretation. The futurist interpretation allows all of the events of the Revelation to be actual events. The people, places and occurrences are not spiritualized and relegated to the realm of allegory and myth. Everything to book says from the rapture of the church to the second coming of the Lord Jesus to a literal millennial kingdom is seen as a real, actual, future event. This is the only school of interpretation that allows the book of Revelation to be considered as it is written and for the clearly stated purpose for which it was written, 1:1, 3. This is the path of interpretation that we will follow for our study.

 

Here are a few quick thoughts to set the stage for our study of this book.

Date: 95 AD Many liberals try to date it later, but there is no evidence for their claims and strong evidence to date this book in the first century.

 

Author: John the Beloved, the same Apostle who penned the Gospel and the three epistles that bear his name. This is not really in dispute as it is stated clearly several times: 1:1, 4, 9; 22:8.

 

Title: The Revelation of Jesus Christ. (Ill. Not “Revelations) The word Revelation translates the Greek word avpoka,luyij apokalupsis {ap-ok-al'-oop-sis} which means “an unveiling. More will be said about that in a moment.

Key Verse: Revelation 1:19 This verse offers a clear, three-part outline to the events of the Revelation. This verse is also the key to understanding the book. The Revelation is the only book in the Bible to contain its own divinely inspired outline. That outline is as follows:

I. The Things Which Thou Hast Seen Chapter 1

II. The Things Which Are Chapter 2-3

III. The Things Which Shall Be Hereafter Chapters 4-22

 

Background: This book was written during some dark days for the early church. They were suffering terrible persecution under the iron hand of the Roman Emperors. This book was written to give them hope, comfort and encouragement in the struggles they faced. This book was also given to them to let them know how the plan of God would eventually play out. They are made to understand that God has a plan for the future, and that His plan includes the destruction of Satan, sin and this wicked world; and the redemption of creation and God’s Own people, and the exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ. This great plan will take shape far more clearly as we move through the pages of this book.

 

The Least You Need To Know: This book is a book of prophecy. It speaks of future events in what is often symbolic language. That language, however, is clearly defined and explained.

This is a book closely tied to the Old Testament. Of the 404 verses in Revelation, 278 refer to the Old Testament in some way. Of those 278 verses, there are over 800 allusions to Old Testament events. So, a working knowledge of the entire Bible is necessary to understand all that is taking place in this book.

The book of Revelation and the book of Genesis stand like the great bookends of God’s creation. Many things that have their commencement in Genesis have their conclusion in Revelation. Things like sin, Satan, creation, the curse, Heaven, earth, redemption, etc, come full circle by the time you reach Revelation.

 

Now, that is a lot of introductory material. I hope I haven’t lost you already. If you are still here, let’s begin our journey through this wonderful, vitally important book. Let’s go “Back To The Future.

 

 

 

Revelation 1:1-3

THE UNVEILING OF THE BOOK

Intro: In these first three verses, we are given a solid introduction to the content and purpose of this book. Let’s dig into these words for a few minutes and try to glean a greater understanding of all we will study and these weeks go by. I want to entitle our first study “The Unveiling Of The Book.” These three little verses reveal some of the essential principles that govern the content of the book of Revelation.

 

I. v. 1a THE PERSON OF THE REVELATION

A. This book is a book about Jesus! Your Bible might title this book “The Revelation of Saint John the Divine. That is the title given to this book by some man. However, the real title of this book is given in verse 1. It is called “the revelation of Jesus Christ. That is what this book is.

B. Jesus Christ is the theme of the Bible. You might say that the Bible is a “Him book. It is a book about Him! Everything in the Bible points to Jesus in one way or another. You can find Him on every page, in very chapter, and in every event. But, the book of Revelation, more so than any other book of the Bible, is a book about Him! It is a “revelation or an unveiling of the Person, the Purposes, the Plans, the Power, and the Promotion of the Lord Jesus Christ.

C. When Jesus was here the first time, He was veiled. He was not recognized by most people as God, even though He was and is God in the flesh, Phil. 2:5-8. The Bible tells is in 1 Cor. 2:8 that if they had known Who Jesus was, they would not have crucified Him.

Now, there was one occasion when the veil of His flesh was pulled aside and His glory shown forth. This happened on the Mount of Transfiguration, Matt. 17:1-8. There, the heavenly glory concealed beneath the flesh of His humanity burst forth. However, that event was only witnessed by Peter, James and John. The rest of the people did not see His glory.

When the world looked at Jesus all they saw was His poverty, His humanity. They saw a carpenter from Nazareth. Some saw an upstart; a man with strange and dangerous teaching. The last view the world had of Jesus was that of a convicted criminal dying in sorrow, shame and suffering on a Roman cross.

D. The book of Revelation tells us that the world has not seen the last of the Lord Jesus! He is coming again. When He comes the second time He is not destined for a cross, but for a crown. He is not coming as a suffering Lamb, but as a Sovereign Lord. He is not coming in shame and poverty, but in splendor and power. There is coming a day when Jesus Christ will come and be revealed to the whole world. They will see Him as He truly is. This is the clear teaching of the Scriptures, 1 Cor. 1:7 (The word “coming is apokalupsis.); 2 Thes. 1:7 (The word “revealed is apokalupsis.) ; 1 Pet. 1:7. (The word “appearing is apokalupsis.) Do you get the picture? Jesus is coming and the world will see Him as He really is, Rev. 1:7.

E. As the chapters of this book unfold, we will see that Jesus is the solution to all the problems of the world. We will see that He is the only hope for fallen man. We will see a world in turmoil and tribulation and that Jesus is the answer to the need. We will see that when everything else is gone; when sin, Satan and sorrow have all been defeated; Jesus will still be Lord. Regardless of what you might be facing today, remember that Jesus Christ is the answer. He is your only hope. He is “the way, the truth and the life, and no man cometh unto the Father but by Him.

F. We will see God’s promise to Jesus in Phil. 2:9-11 fulfilled in this book. Jesus came to this world to give His life for humanity. He came to reveal God and redeem God’s elect. He did give His life for us and God has promised to exalt Him because of that. We will see that accomplished in this book.

Verse one says, “which God gave unto Him. This reminds us that when Jesus became a man, He voluntarily gave up the independent use of some of His divine prerogatives. When Jesus was here, He plainly said that He did not know the hour of His Own coming, Mark. 13:32. Some believe that the Revelation is God giving this information to Jesus. But, there is a problem with this view; this book does not tell us of the day and the hour when Jesus will come. It does, however, give a full revelation of the glory He will display and receive in the future.

 

II. v. 1b THE PURPOSE OF THE REVELATION

A. The purpose of this book is clearly stated in verse 1, “to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass. This book is given to the people of God so that they might be able to comprehend God’s master plan for the future. Verse 3 reminds us that this book is a book of “prophecy. Now, there are two types of prophecy. One meaning of the word is to “forth tell. That is what I am doing right now. I am taking the Word of God and I am “forth telling that Word. There is a sense in which preaching is prophecy. The other use of the word carries the idea of “fore telling. That is, of revealing truths and events before they occur. Both of these types of prophecy occur in the book of Revelation. Revelation 1-3 are “forth telling chapters. Chapters 4-22 are “fore telling chapters.

B. This revelation of Jesus is given to “His servants. The word servant is the word dou/loj (doulos {doo'-los}) This word refers to “one who gives himself up to another's will; a slave. It brings to mind the law of the bondservant in Exodus 21:1-6. If a man became indebted to another, he was to work off that debt through seven years of servitude to the debtor. At the end of the seven years, the debt was considered paid and the servant could go free. If, however, he wished to remain with his master and spend his life serving him, then a hole would be bored through his ear and he would become a bond slave. The hole in his ear would mark him as one who served the master by choice, out of love.

This book is for the people of God! The lost man or woman will have real trouble grasping the truths contained in this book because they are words intended for those who serve the Lord from a heart of love. As I said earlier, these are things “spiritually discerned.”

C. We are told that another purpose of this book is to reveal “things which must shortly come to pass. Many people read this and think of shortness of time. If that is the case, then we have a problem. It has been 2,000 since these things were written and most of them have yet to be fulfilled. This phrase simply means that when these events begin to take place, they will happen in a short period of time. So, the events of the Revelation were made clear 2,000 years ago, but once the events begin to unfold; one will follow the other in rapid succession. The word “shortly translates two Greek words. They are: “en (en) which means “in and tachos (tachos) which means “quickness; swiftness. We get our word “taxi from this word. You need to get somewhere in a hurry, so you flag down a taxi, you hop in a take off. That is the way the end time events will take place. Once they begin, they will “take off like a speeding taxi. (Ill. My experience with an Iranian taxi driver in Washington, DC.)

D. Verse one says that He “sent and signified it by His angel. The word “angel simply refers to a messenger. Jesus sent this word to John by a heavenly messenger service; much like the virgin birth was announced to Mary. But, the word “signified is very important to understanding this book. It literally means “to give sign. We could read that word “Sign-I-Fied. In other words, the Lord is letting us know that He will be speaking in symbolic language and word pictures in the Revelation. Why would the Lord use signs and symbols? There are a few reasons:

1. These symbols are a spiritual code. The church in that day was under intense persecution. The language used would have been clear to the redeemed, but a riddle to the lost who might desire to use the message of the book to attack the saints.

2. Languages change, symbols do not. John was trying to write about events, images and people far into the distant future. He did not possess the vocabulary to adequately describe what he was seeing. He used the language of his day to describe events in our day and beyond. That is why the Lord sent this message in signs and symbols. As the language has changed the symbols have retained their power and they still speak today.

Don’t worry about the signs and symbols that we will encounter in this book. They are all carefully and completely explained for us. Remember, this is not a hidden book; it is a revelation, an unveiling of eternal truth. We will encounter important symbolic numbers: 3, 4, 6, 7, 12, 666 and they are all explained in the book. We will read about trumpets, bowls and seals; they are all explained. Every symbol we will encounter is defined for us.

 

III. v. 1c-2 THE PENMAN OF THE REVELATION

A. John is designated to be the human author. This is the son of Zebedee. He is the one known in John 20:2 and 21:20 as “the disciple whom Jesus loved. He is the one who rested his head on the breast of the Lord Jesus at The Last Supper, John 13:23. (Ill. Even there, he was privy to divine secrets. It pays to be close to the Lord. He reveals things to His friends, Gen. 18:17; John 15:15.) He is the one who left everything to follow Jesus, Matt. 4:22. He is the one who stood by the cross of Jesus as the Lord hung there dying, John 19:26-27. He was the one who looked into the empty tomb on the morning of the resurrection and believed, John 20:8. That is the penman of this book! He was a faithful friend to the Lord Jesus and a faithful scribe of the Word of god. John tells us that he faithfully recorded everything that was revealed to Him. Just as John had faithfully recorded an accurate record of the first advent of the Lord Jesus, John 19:35; 21:42; 1 John 1:2; 4:14, he tells us that he is doing the same with this revelation that He has been given.

B. These visions must have overwhelmed the old Apostle. But, he gives us a faithful record of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

IV. v. 3 THE PROMISE OF THE REVELATION

A. This is the only book in the Bible that comes with a built in promise to those who read, hear and heed the message. God promises a special blessing to those who spend time in this blessed book.

B. There are three present tense words used to describe who can expect to receive this blessing. They are readeth, hear and keep.

1. He that readeth This refers to the one who would read these words in the public gatherings. In those days, copies of the Scriptures were rare. Usually there was one copy per congregation and one person would stand and read so that all could hear the words. The one who reads the book is promised a blessing.

2. They that hear This refers to the congregation that is hearing the words as they are read. There is a special blessing attached to hearing this book read.

3. They that keep This speaks to those who will take this message to heart. Those who hear it, believe it, and live it can expect the Lord to bless them for their efforts in this book.

C. We can expect the Lord to feed us and teach us as we move through this great book. But, we can also expect the Lord to bless us because we are taking Him at His word and we are reading, hearing and keeping the words of this prophecy.

That is why I would encourage you to invite lost people to these studies. I believe the Lord will save them! Invite other believers; if they come they will be blessed along with us.

 

Conc: Now, we are told why this book is so important in the last phrase of verse 3. It says, “for the time is at hand. The word “time in this verse does not refer to time on a clock; it means due time; a season; an era of time. God is telling us that we are nearing the end of this things and this book will give us help and hope as we see the end approaching.

If the time was near 2,000 years ago, why haven’t these things come to pass? First, God’s clock does not operate like our clock. Ill. 2 Pet. 3:8, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” God does things in His Own time and on His Own schedule. Second, God is giving lost sinners time to be saved in this age of grace, 2 Pet. 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. And, 2 Pet. 3:15, “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation…

Friend, if you are here lost today, you need to come to Jesus and be saved. One day, He will come and it will be too late then. Now, if the Lord has spoken to your heart on any level during this message, I invite you to come before Him and do whatever it is He is leading you to do.

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