I have finally had enough. I am tired. I am tired of getting frustrated and angry and trying to discern if my anger is righteous like that of Christ turning over the tables in the temple on those who profit monetarily and with notoriety of false teaching, or if it is sinful. Most of the time if we are honest it is quite a mix, is it not? But settle in, because every Thursday until we are done or Jesus comes back we are going to address this very important book. It may be the most important book in the New Testament for us living today, but not because it speaks of the end, but more importantly it speaks of a people who lived through the tyranny of the first century. For some, I have already lost you, because you haven’t been told, or shown, or you don’t want to look at the Bible this way, but first and foremost this is someone else’s mail.
Imagine for a second that you are there. You are sitting there in a home in Ephesus. Today as you gather to worship someone is about to read. The intense question burning in your mind is very simple to understand but it is pressing. It presses in on you like the night of the crucifixion was pressing on Christ as He prayed and His sweat became like drops of blood (Luke 22:44). You are asking, “Why am I cursed and why are the pagans being blessed?” Families are under persecution. Christian are being asked to bow to Rome, and the emperor. Under this persecution they could kill you, imprision you or worse, take your kids. Why God if we are the followers of the way, of the Christ, why then do we suffer this wrath? I might have to bow to the emperor. I might have to pay tribute to Rome or renounce my faith if it means my family, right?
But at the same time you also know. You know that once you have lost your saltiness you are no longer good for anything. You know your witness is essential and some how God will take care of your family. Now it is time for the reading of the letter from the great Apostle John, and you can hear a pin drop.
The reader begins:
“1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ even to all that he saw. 3Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near (Revelation 1:1-3).”
Even though you began to sweat more intensely, you felt some relief. We are hearing a Revelation straight from Christ himself. It is coming from John. John knew Christ, knows Christ and wouldn’t lie about such a thing. We need him, he is the only one still with us from the original apostles. Still it takes faith to believe God sees us. It doesn’t feel like He sees you. You don’t even act like you know Him anymore. You are visibly filled with anger and sin. You hurt!
Your mind races. But the reader said it. It came right off the scroll. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place(Revelation 1:1a-b).”
He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John (Revelation 1:1c). God saw fit to send an angel to address us. This is a dire situation we are in. We are in danger of being extinguished by the emperor and Rome if we do not conform. We are considered atheists in this pagan culture because we do not call on their gods, but worship this one true God, whom they see as just a man who lived and was put to death by the Jews and Rome.
As the first part of this letter was read, you heard a knock at the door. There was a great silence. Everyone stood still. From outside the door a man said, “it is just me.” We are all relieved because it was just Thaddeus who was late again.
Back to the angel. God saw fit to send an angel to show John something. God must have an important lesson for us. I still want to know why this is happening to us. We are faithful and positive for society.
“2who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ even to all that he saw (V. 1:2).”
John is not making this stuff up. He is sending a message to us under his authority as an apostle and he wouldn’t lie about it. You must take the message on faith, just as you have everyday of your life as a believer, because being a Christian in Rome is hard. It is very difficult and dangerous. As you are humbled by John penning the letter and realizing God got an angel involved and is personally concerned about your well-being, you still want to know why this is happening to us. You must know. You must know why this is going on. There is a part of you who can’t help but think, “God sure does have some explaining to do.” You repent and snap out of it.
3Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near (V. 1:3).” As he read this next line, you had a weird thought. You thought about how important every word was. You thought about how intricate and how you shouldn’t add or take away from what God says. You thought how tragic that would be, but you couldn’t help to believe it would be so easy as time went by to loose the actual context and make something like this letter say something weird, because the Word divorced from it’s context no longer does what it was meant to do.
The person who is blessed is the one reading aloud this prophecy. The prophecy was about things that would take place. Prophecy is also a term for addressing sin, so there will be some hard things for us to hear in this letter, and it will address us directly. “Hopefully God doesn’t call me out by name,” you thought.
The people who hear and obey are the next people mentioned as they will be blessed. For the time is near. This concept is hard to nail down. It seems that God and His most significant disciples tell time much different than the rest of us you thought. But, the importance of this letter must be applied now.
Suddenly you have peace. As the speaker continued to read you zone in.
(To Be Continued)
Thank you for reading.
There are 260 chapters in the New Testament. You go to work 5 days a week. There are 52 weeks in a year. 52 X 5 = 260. This year, Take the Challenge! Change your life!
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