Scripture reading – Revelation 1-5
Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the “Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the Apostle,” and is both the closing book of the Bible and the final book in our yearlong study of the Scriptures.
The Book of Revelation is just that, a book of prophetic revelations of the future. It is the “Apocalypse,” literally the revelation, the unveiling of Jesus Christ (1:1). It is God’s disclosure to believers; a prophetic insight into not only the future, but also the beginning of the end of this world with its sin and corruption.
Revelation 1:1-3 – The Apostle John’s Prologue
The historical setting of the Revelation is near the end of the first century, and at a time of increasing persecution against the Church. Some sixty years had passed since Jesus ascended to heaven, and the apostle John was an elderly man, perhaps in his 90’s. He is the last of the apostles, the others having been martyred. It was at such an hour that God saw fit to encourage His faithful servant, and the saints of God with a message of HOPE (Revelation 6:10; 8:1-5).
Revelation opens and closes with a special blessing for all who read this book of prophecy. John commences the book of Revelation by exhorting the saints, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (1:3). Revelation concludes with Christ assuring, “Behold, I come quickly” and John promising, “blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (22:7).
Consider four observations: The Object, The Purpose, The Method, and the Recipient of the Revelation (1:1-2).
The object of the revelation is Jesus Christ and it was given to Him by God the Father (1:1). The purpose of the revelation was to present our LORD in His present and future glory (1:1). The Gospels presented Jesus in His humility; however, in Revelation we see Him in His heavenly glory. In the Gospels, Jesus is the suffering Lamb that was slain, but in Revelation He is Sovereign God who reigns. In the Gospels, He is pierced; in Revelation He is praised. In the Gospels He is condemned; in Revelation He is King and Judge of the earth.
You will notice that the method of the revelation was by an angel (God’s messenger), who was sent to communicate to John all “which must shortly come to pass” (1:1). Finally, as the recipient of the revelation, it was John’s task to be a witness, to “bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony [witness] of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he [John] saw” (1:2).
The Seven Churches of the Revelation (1:4–3:22)
I do not have space to do an exhaustive study of the balance of today’s Scripture reading, however, permit me to briefly direct your attention to the seven churches of revelation that were located in Asia Minor, in what is today modern Turkey (1:4, 11).
Those seven churches are identified by their cities and their spiritual state: The church at Ephesus had departed from the love they once had for the LORD (2:1-7). The church at Smyrna, was enduring persecution (2:8-11). The church at Pergamos, whose doctrine had been corrupted, and its testimony tainted by immorality and worldliness (2:12-17). Thyatira, a church that had a testimony of loving service, faith, and endurance (2:18-19), but had spiritually backslidden and tolerated false teachers (2:18-29).Sardis, its spiritual state was described as living, but “dead” (3:1), and the Lord challenged its members to wake up, and to strengthen themselves before they died (3:2-6). The church at Philadelphia was identified as a faithful church (3:7-13).
Finally, the seventh church of the revelation was the church at Laodicea, infamously described as a proud, wealthy church, but that had become spiritually indifferent and compromised (3:14-22).
Sadly, perhaps of the seven churches, many 21st century churches might need to identify with Laodicea: “Rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (3:17).
Lord, forgive us for our pride, and self-sufficiency. Amen!
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith