Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Revelation 1:1-3

Revelation 1 v1-3.
By Gary Wearne
Author's Note: The following is a sermon outline for an introductory series on Revelation.

· Most neglected book
· Portrayed by many as difficult to understand, mysterious. Perplexing.
However, three things about the book of Revelation confront our neglect to come to grips with what it's teaching.
a) It's part of the bible, God's Word. READ 1:2. This is the very Word of God.

b) The books very name challenges us - the word "Revelation" comes from the greek word apokalyypsus in verse 1, and it means unveiling. A revealing.
God is not here trying to cloud what He is saying.
He's not in the business of smoke and mirrors.
It's certainly not like the sound bites we get from our politicians - a lot of words, but no content, nothing of substance being said.
In this book God is speaking to us to reveal !

c) God tells us that he who reads ! and those who hear! And those who keep these things written - obey them - are blessed 1:3
It's not an obligation but rather something to your profit!
A Christian is promised blessing from God himself upon reading or hearing or obeying this prophecy. This book of Revelation is prophecy.
And it's not to be ignored merely for being prophecy!
Yet that's the attitude of many in the Church these days. Sure, we had a period in the 70's and 80's where many went overboard on prophecy. Still that doesn't absolve our present neglect of this part of God's Word!

Now what is this blessing were promised?
First let's be clear it's not merely a corporate blessing being spoken of here.
It's not as though we as a group - as Australians are blessed by being born in this "lucky country" that offers to all so many opportunities. No way, the first blessing mentioned in 1:3 is for the individual, the one who reads this prophecy. The "he" there is singular.
Then it goes on to speak of hearers - plural. And it's plural again referring to those who obey - keep what's written in this prophecy.

Next we need to pick up that what is being spoken about in the book of Revelation requires continual study.
It's not as though one can read it through once and fathom the depths of Revelation in one enormous meal, it's not as though it's a blessing that can be received once for all and the next time you read a few pages of the book it's no longer a blessing!
Nope the passage says in verse3 that it's blessing is associated with continual reading hearing and obeying. All the participles are in the present tense.
Again we see that our attitude to this book is to be quite different to that which most of us take.
I once spoke to a pastor who was nearing the time of his retirement and he said to me he never preached the book of Revelation because it was too difficult and controversial! Goodness, what do you think God thought of that, he'd failed to see the book as not a mystery but an unveiling and a blessing! How tragic.

In the book of Revelation this blessing is the first of 7. The others are found at 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7 & 14.

So we've seen for whom the blessing is announced, it remains for us to understand what this word blessed means?
John MacArthur in his commentary on Matt 5 has this helpful comment to make about markarios ( blessed ). "means happy fortunate, blissful. Homer used it to describe a wealthy man and Plato used it of one successful in business. Homer and Hesiod spoke of the greek gods as being happy within themselves because they were unaffected by the world of men - who were subject to poverty, disease, weakness, misfortune and death. The fullest meaning of the term, therefore, had to do with an inward contentedness that is not affected by circumstances. This kind of happiness that God desires for His children, a state of joy and well-being that does not depend on physical, temporary circumstances. ( see Phil 4:11-13 )." MacAthur Matthew 1-7 pg 142
Now this gets to the crunch of being blessed. Unfortunately our use of it in our culture misses the rich depth of the Bible term.
We often here the commentators on football describing a player as being blessed. Meaning he's good at his sport. But this falls well short of what the Bible is getting at. It has little to do with outward circumstances.
In fact the word when used in Revelation 14:13 speaks of those martryed - dead for the sake of Christ - being blessed - which means it's quite out of the realm of the physical here and now. Now don't get me wrong. I a not saying you cannot experience this blessedness here and now - obviously from God's Word you can - but its source doesn't arise from outward circumstances such as wealth or a good business or whatever. To get the Bibles perspective it's something one receives from God himself. A contentedness and joy, and feeling of well-being. We can see from the bible that God blesses his people when he bestows on them some gift temporal or spiritual (Gen_1:22; Gen_24:35; Job_42:12; Psa_45:2; Psa_104:24, Psa_104:35).

Now that we've seen the importance of this prophecy let's dwelve just a little bit more this morning into the first 3 verses.

A) In 1:1 we read … This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, not the revelation or revelations of John the apostle, sometimes you read in some Bibles that this book is called the revelations of St John - that's wrong.

B) Also "these things which must shortly come to pass" it says. The word used here is tachi - it's the word from which we petrol heads get the word for the tachometer in our car. It's not here speaking of what we mean when we tell our wives "I'll put out the trash shortly, by which we mean when this TV show has finished or I am finished doing what I am doing". Nope, it has to do rather with rapidity of motion - this happens quickly - in the flash of an eye as we say. It isn't speaking then of a point of time in the near future, rather it's about quickness! It's about the rapidity of execution.

Interestingly the same word occurs in Revl 22:20 - turn with me to that verse, understanding the word may help you better get the time perspective right. It's speaking about quickness, not when !

Now back in verse 1 we read something about the man John.
C) Unlike many who gain status by claiming a prophecy from God or a "revelation" - John MacAthur's relates of one man who claims Jesus speaks to him in person - he appears to him in his door whilst he's shaving himself. - well really! Does he stop shaving himself?

See here how John the apostle views himself! He is a servant which is a polite way of rendering slave. Doulos.

And lastly this morning look at verse 3 again…
D) Also in 1:3 we read "For the time is at hand" kairos is the word used and relates to a period of time. Daniel himself mentions the "time of the end" five times in Daniel 8:17; 11:35,40; 12:4,9. The time is also mentioned to be at hand in Revelation 22:10. It speaks of a season of time, not a specific hour ( hora ) or time in general ( chronos ).

I hope that our introduction to the book of Revelation has challenged any preconceptions we may have held.
And I am hoping that it has spiked your interest in coming to grips with What the Lord lays out for us here.

It will challenge and encourage us - but we hold tightly to the promise this morning that in the study of it, in the reading and hearing there's special blessing to us from God himself.

Let's pray.

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