We need the whole Bible, watch this:
Back in the eighties there was a show called Quantum Leap. In this show the main character would leap between different time periods. A thought to think about is that God is outside of time and so He can leap between any time period He wants to. God is the keeper of the timeline. He is in charge.
As I do this, take the rope down the center aisle.
I have a rope up here, I have many feet of rope and I am going to pull it out and just watch as it falls to the floor. Now, suppose that this first end of the rope is Genesis 1:1. This is creation. Now, as I move, look at this rope and imagine all of this rope is time. So, we would have Abraham somewhere close to the same end and then Moses and then David and then Ezekiel and then Isaiah and then we would get to Ezra and that would be, oh, about 3500 years of history and then we go another 400 years and we have Jesus’ birth and then we have 2000 years until now and then we keep going until Jesus comes again and makes thing right. Now, as we look at this rope type of time line we are on the rope around, I don’t know, maybe here [point towards the opposite end of the beginning]. We are bound by our little time. We are stuck in the rope. Oh, but God, He created the rope. God created the time and He is powerful and in control. Take this thought a little bit further and understand that God put you in your spot for a reason, wow!
Be encouraged, seriously be encouraged. We can easily look at this rope and be discouraged about all of time and all of existence, but, no, be encouraged because God, who is not bound by time, chose to put you on this earth at this time. God can go anywhere He wants on our rope timeline. God can, “quantum leap.” But let’s go a step further: God is to time as we are to this rope. He looks down on the time all at once. He is not limited by it, for He created it.
Today, I wish to talk about where history is going. In a nutshell, history is going to a point and time and place where everyone will be judged. God will make things right again. In order to talk about this, I thought I would introduce the book of Revelation and then talk about Judgment. I will then end with Heaven. Revelation is the book of the end times judgment so we might as well talk about it. However, please know there are other places throughout the Bible when God talks about the judgment as well.
As we look at Revelation 1:1 we are going to “Quantum Leap” back in time to, around, 96 A.D. But not only us, notice that Jesus is also entering John’s realm of existence through an angel and even Himself later on.
My theme today is:
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, God Tells Us The Rest of the Story, An Intro to Revelation and Judgment.
Let’s read Revelation 1:1-3 to get us started.
The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
- This letter is revelation from Jesus Christ. This is all in verse 1.
- It is from the Father to the Son.
- It is from the Son, Jesus, to the angel.
- It is from the angel to John.
- It is from John to us.
- Look the verse says that God gave this to His servants to show His servants what soon must take place.
- Be encouraged that God is not limited. There is nothing limiting God. God wanted to show us and all Christians through the ages things that must take place.
- I must pause here because you are likely looking at this and thinking, “But it says must ‘soon take place.’” Let’s handle some of the background to this letter.
- First notice that it is titled the “’Revelation’ to John.” It is not “Revelation’s.’” This work, which is a letter, in the New Testament format, is one gynormous Revelation of Jesus Christ given to John.
- Remember that to God, He is outside of time. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:8, when talking about the end times: But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. So, when this passage says, “soon” we can know that it could be soon in our thinking or God’s thinking and God is outside of time.
- There are four primary ways of interpreting Revelation.
- One of these is the Historicism method:This method interprets chapters 1-3 taking place in the first century, chapters 4-20:6 taking place between the second century and the end times and then chapters 20:7-22 being when Jesus makes things right.
- Second, is Futurism: This method most of Revelation is in the future, chapter 4 and throughout chapter 22.
- Then there is the Preterist. The preterist which is a past fulfillment or contemporary to John’s readers. Those would believe that it had to do with the Roman Empire and the fall of the Roman Empire. Fulfillment is entirely in the past by the fall of Constantine and Rome in 476 AD. Some see it as the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD but this is a very narrow view. This seemed to start in the late 1500’s or early 1600’s. This would be the earliest understanding of Revelation in the period following its dissemination
- Then there is the idealist: Sees Revelation operating at two levels.
- General spiritual principles operating at all ages.
- There was an immediate meaning for John and his readers but there is a profound spiritual reality for all ages.
- Idea that there is a clash between good and evil
- There are variations on each of those interpretations especially when we get to the Millennial reign and the tribulation period and we are not getting into that today.
- I would fall in the futurist camp.
- I believe the Millennial reign is literal and it will still happen.
- I believe that Jesus will come again in the rapture.
- Following the rapture, I believe we will have the tribulation period.
- Following the tribulation period, I believe will be the Millennial Reign.
- Following the Millennial Reign, I believe we will have the final judgment.
- I do know that there are respectable pastors and theologians who are Amillennial and I have heard their view points.
- I mean no disrespect to them.
- Next, let’s look at dating. It appears that John is exiled to the island Patmos and this was under persecution. He might have been there forced to work the mines. This could have been the great persecution under Caesar Nero in the 60’s AD or in the 90’s AD under Domitian which many believe. I believe the latter.
- John witnessed for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ with all that he saw. This is verse 2.
- We may wonder what he saw. This gets into the type of literature Revelation is. It is a letter with apocalyptic literature and prophesy. Think of the idea of pulling back a curtain and revealing something. That is the idea of apocalyptic literature. It means that God is showing us the spiritual realm. God is pulling back the curtain and showing us the end.
- John uses a pool of images that are very familiar to him and to his readers, but not familiar to us.
- John uses a Jewish pool of images.
- He uses a few from Hellenistic culture.
- Most of the imagery is from the Old Testament and intertestamental period. They are plain to his audience.
- We must understand this. If we divorce Revelation from its original context and meaning we can have multiple understandings and make it say whatever we want it to.
- There was an early 80’s Reader’s Digest article titled the Motel of the Mysteries. It was written as if it was an archaeological report. It was about the late twentieth century America that is now buried under dirt. An Archaeologist comes across a motel, but with the description they say that this was a late twentieth century burial site. The toilet seat was something you wore around your head. The bath tab was a sacred tower and the shower was a musical instrument. The article goes on and on, but we know better.
- There was a Time Magazine article in 1992 when the Republicans took over congress which shows a Donkey under the Republican Elephant. We understand the image because it is part of our time, but in hundreds of years they may not know that.
- John’s audience understands the image.
- Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah are primary examples of John’s Old Testament imagery.
- Also, imagery from Baruch, Song of Songs and some other intertestamental imagery.
- John was a witness of what God was showing him.
- Verse 3 tells us we are blessed when we read this letter.
- This is the only Bible book which says this.
- But we may not feel blessed. We may feel cursed as we try to get through.
- One wrote (Dr. Constable): “The symbolism is drawn from many previous Bible books. Revelation is similar to an airport, or a railway terminal, where materials from many other sources come together.” I like that description.
- We must read the letter. We must study the letter.
- Revelation 22:10: And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.
- I want to share a little bit about the return of Jesus Christ
- His return will be Sudden (Matthew 24:44; 2 Peter 3:10); Physical (Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16)
- Jesus will come again in power as King of Kings to reign eternally (Philippians 2:9-11).
- Jesus will judge (Matthew 25:31–33; 2 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 20:11–15)
- Believers will be judged as well (2 Corinthians 5:10).
- We, Christians, will be judged based off of the way we lived (1 Corinthians 3:15)
- Believers can have confidence in the day of judgment (Romans 8:1; 1 John 4:17)
- Again, Revelation is the only book of the Bible that says we are blessed when we read it.
- I like the ESV Study Bible summary:
- While there has been much debate over the nature and timing of the millennial events, what is certainly clear in Scripture is that Christ will return and establish his kingdom and that all mankind will finally acknowledge his lordship over all creation. Once and for all, creation will undeniably submit to Christ the King, and he will reign on earth as already he does in heaven (Matt. 6:10; Phil. 2:10).
I don’t know about you but I can get discouraged when I hear the news. But isn’t it encouraging to know that God is in control. Look at this rope. [have someone in the back row pick up the other end] God is in control of time. God placed each of us here for a reason. God entered John’s time and told Him of the things to come.
Revelation is part of the Bible, the Word of God.
Do you know Jesus?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)