Week 3: Making Sense of Revelation

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Today let’s take a look at a book of the Bible that is all about the end times, Revelation.

“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, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 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.”  Revelation 1:1-3 NIV

Once you know how to read this book, you can take it to heart and it will build your faith. What we learn from the very first statement is that this is all about Jesus Christ. It’s a revelation from Jesus Christ. It’s a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is how we know God and how we know God’s plan.

Jesus said that, if you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father. If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the plan. If you find me you have found the way to life, the way to truth.

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.”   Colossians 1:15-16 NLT


Revelation is written by John, who was the last living of the original Twelve Disciples of Jesus. After the resurrection of Jesus, Judas, who betrayed Jesus, took his own life. The other ten, besides John, died the death of martyrs. Ten of the original Twelve Disciples were willing to be tortured and killed for their faith because they were so sure of what they saw. They saw was a risen Jesus after he died on the cross.

About 62 years after the resurrection of Jesus, the year was about 95 A.D., John was living when an emperor said, “I want all of you to worship me as Lord and God.”

John had seen God, and knew this wasn’t him so he decided he was not going to worship this new emperor. He was then punished, exiled and made a prisoner on the Isle of Patmos, in the Mediterranean Sea.

We can break down the revelation he recieved into five sections. These five sections help us see Jesus. The full name of the book is The Revelation of Jesus Christ.


1. Jesus is the alpha and omega. (Revelation 1-3)

John had this vision and he starts talking about the return of Jesus Christ. Not the first return of Jesus, when He comes back to snatch away believers. He’s talking about what’s called the second coming of Jesus, the first time He comes for His church and this time He comes back with His church.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'” Revelation 1:7-8 NIV

Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet. In our language He would have said, “I am the A and the Z.

“His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars…”  Revelation 1:14-16 NIV

How did He hold seven stars in His hands? When you read through Revelation, you will find lots of symbolism for many different reasons. One reason is it was also a way to hide the truth from enemies. This apocalyptic literature was used so that those who were enemies wouldn’t destroy the book. Because if you don’t know the rest of the Bible, these things don’t make much sense.

Another reason symbolism and pictures are used is because it’s transferable. A beast is a beast to every generation. It has emotional power. Also, symbolism is valuable because John is seeing things in the future that he doesn’t completely understand.

If you want to study the book of Revelation, take a look at this resource by Tom Holladay. He will walk through the book of Revelation in his Drive Time Devotionals

“and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword…” Revelation 1:16 NIV

The double-edged sword is actually the Word of God according to Hebrews. Out of His mouth comes the Word of God, a theme we’ll see over and over again.

“His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” Revelation 1:16-17 NIV

Jesus had a special love for John. Yet when Jesus returns, John doesn’t see Jesus as a buddy. He sees Jesus as the alpha and omega. He falls on his face in worship as though dead.

“Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.'” Revelation 1:17-18 NIV

He took on death and the grave, went to hell and came out with the keys. The grave could not hold Him down. All kings have graves, but not the King of kings. Now, that King holds the key to life. It’s the gospel.

2. Jesus is the Lamb of God (Revelation 4-5)

Twenty eight times in Revelation Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God who is worthy to open the scroll. In chapters 4 and 5 we see that God is on the throne and in His hand He holds a giant scroll that is sealed with seven seals. It’s the final declaration of all that is to come and all that is to happen to all the people of the earth.

To look in that scroll, you have to break the seals and you have to have the authority to do so. You must be worthy to open the scroll. An angel asks, who is worthy to open this scroll? Everybody looks around Heaven and they can’t find anyone worthy.

“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders… And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”  Revelation 5:6,9 NIV

This would have been incredibly powerful imagery for John’s readers because they would have remembered John the Baptist saying, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” They would have thought back in that culture to the temple system, how they had to bring a lamb to sacrifice to cover their sins. 

All the way back in the Old Testament we see a foreshadowing of the New Testament cross of Christ, the Lamb of God. So when John says, “I saw the Lamb of God who was worthy to open up the scrolls,” everyone there is filled with a sense of hope.

3. Jesus is the righteous judge. (Revelation 6-18)

In Revelation 11 it talks about how the The Temple in Israel will be rebuilt. Right now, in Jerusalem on the temple mount, there is a muslim mosque — the dome of the rock. It’s one of the most holy sites in all of Islam. God tells us that the Jewish temple will be rebuilt there.

In Revelation 13-16, this is where the Antichrist comes to power and institutes the mark of the beast. This is where you’re tracked and have to buy and sell through that mark. The word Antichrist is synonymous with the Beast. John uses the word Antichrist in his other writings. Here the Antichrist is killed and raised to life. He imitates the death and resurrection of Christ to get people to follow him.

Then in Revelation 16, the Beast, the Antichrist, mobilizes all the armies of the world to move against the nation of Israel. The Bible describes the massive armies moving in and it turns from a material war to a spiritual war. A war against God.

Jesus Christ returns with the host of heaven just in time to save the nation of Israel and defeat the Antichrist in the the Battle of Armageddon. As you read chapters 6 through 18, remember Jesus is The Righteous Judge and He issues three different judgments that are issued upon the earth:

  • The Seal Judgments (Rev 6, 8:1-2)

This is about the Four Riders of the Apocalypse. When the moon turns to blood red and lots of blood is shed from war and about a quarter of the world’s population will die from famine, plagues and wild beasts.

  • The Trumpet Judgments (Rev 8:2-9:21, 11:15-19)

During this judgment, you’ll see hail and fire mixed with blood fall from the sky and poisonous locusts. A third of the vegetation is destroyed, a third of the water contaminated, a third of the sea creatures die, a third of the light is lost and a third of the world dies; this is a bad time.

Now, all during this time, God still gives people the chance to repent of their sins. There is still grace even in the middle of these judgments.

  • The Bowl Judgments (Rev 16:1-21)

Here is when sores will appear on people with the Mark of the Beast, water turns blood and everything and it dies. The sun scorches people, devastating earthquakes hit and 100-pound hail falls from the sky.

And if you’re like a lot of people, you don’t like this part! If you’re thinking this isn’t fair… well, it is. This is justice. This is one of the reasons we turn to God. Is because he is just and we want to be spared. Judgment and anger are not the opposite of love, hate is the opposite of love. The final form of hate is indifference. Jesus is not indifferent, that’s why he went to the cross to justly pay for those who would believe and be forgiven.

And this is the time in history where God says, I am now through Jesus judging the world for its sinfulness, and an angel affirms it for John.

“Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged…” Revelation 16:5 NIV

4. Jesus is the King of kings (Revelation 19-20)

He’s the King of kings and Lord of lords. He’s the President of presidents and the Prime Minister of prime ministers.

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of GodThe armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”  Revelation 19:11-16 NIV

5. Jesus is the bridegroom (Revelation 21-22)

Which means we are the Bride. In the last two chapters of the Book, we see Jesus is the Bridegroom and we are the Bride. The Bible teaches us this principle that Jesus takes us, the Church, His Bride, to the Heavenly City. 

“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…” Revelation 21:9-10 NIV

Jesus the Bridegroom comes back for us the Bride, and takes us to the New Heaven and the New Earth where there is no crying and no mourning and no pain. In fact, this New Heaven and New Earth doesn’t even need a sun or a moon because in verse 23 it says:

“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” Revelation 21:23 NIV

Yes, you get to belong to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. What is this King saying today? What is He saying at the end of the Book of Revelation? The same thing He said from Genesis through Revelation.

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17 NIV

Jesus said, “I am the Living Water, if you taste of me you will never thirst again!” You may be so spiritually parched, you’re thirsty, you’re searching for something and you know it! You’ve spent your lifetime searching, there’s got to be something, somebody, somewhere, something that fills this emptiness inside.

The Spirit says, “Come, whoever you are, wherever you are, taste of the Living Water and you will never thirst again!” Some of you may think you are not good enough. But God tells you to come as you are.

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’” Revelation 22:20 NIV

What do we say in response?

“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” Revelation 22:21 NIV

You see, this book ends with grace and unmerited favor. That’s why when you read the Book of Revelation in light of who Jesus is, if you’re a Christian, you don’t need to be afraid because He’s coming soon and He is good; the Alpha and the Omega, the Lamb of God, the Righteous Judge, the King of Kings, the Lord of the Lords, and the Bridegroom to take us His Church to be with Him forever.

May the grace of God be with God’s people forever and ever. Amen.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions on “God’s Vision For Your Future?”

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

Spend some time in the word. If you have the time, consider reading the entire book of Revelation. It would take about 45 minutes. If you don’t have time for that in the group, read the verses on the outline.

The book of Revelation gives us five attributes of Jesus: He is the alpha and omega, He is the Lamb of God, He is the righteous Judge, He is the King of kings and He is the bridegroom.

“He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”  Revelation 22:20-21

Application

  1. Growing up, what was your family’s view of the end times?
  2. Before reading or hearing about the book of Revelation, what were some of the themes or things you were already aware of?
  3. What’s one idea from the message that really stood out to you?
  4. What new things did you learn about Jesus?
  5. How do you feel when you read about God’s wrath and judgment in Revelation?
  6. How can the second coming of Christ be a source of hope for you instead of a source of fear?
  7. Who is Jesus to you?

Tell Someone Else

How can you share the life-giving message of Jesus Christ with others this week?

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