Sun, Jan 02, 2000

Introduction to Revelation: Revelation 1:1-3

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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People from all walks of life, from various backgrounds, are keenly aware that the world we are living in is a very dangerous place. From a nuclear holocaust, to global warming, to pollution, to pestilence, to meteors hitting the earth, and the list can go on and on. People are fearful of what the future holds for this planet and the people living on it. That is why I feel this book, THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, is so important.

As you are turning to the book of Revelation, let me share with you a story that will hopefully give us a proper perspective of this book:

A father was trying to read his morning newspaper while his little daughter was asking him all kinds of questions. He decided to give her something to do with her hands that would give him time to finish his reading. He found a map of the world in the paper and tore it out, folded it in several ways, and then cut it into small pieces. He said to his little girl, "Here, honey, is a map of the world. See if you can put the puzzle together." Confident that she didn’t know anything about geography, he settled back into his chair and continued to read.

In a matter of minutes the little girl had it all put together on the floor. The surprised father said, "How did you do that so fast?" She replied, "Well, I found a picture of Jesus on the other side, and I knew when I had Him in the right place, the whole world would be all right!"

That truly is the key not only to this book, but our life! You see, if you don’t put Jesus in the right place, you will be terrified of this book and have a wrong perspective of what this book is all about. But if Jesus is placed where He should be, you will see that He will make this world be right one day. So to me, if Jesus is your Lord and Savior, this book should be of great comfort and hope for you. If He is not, I pray that you will turn to Him, for if you refuse, this book will bring about great fear in your life, or at least it should!

We all know that the first book of the Bible is the book of Genesis and it is the book of beginnings. Not only all the good things that God created, but of sin and all the evil that came into it, which man has done. Now the last book of the Bible, Revelation, is looking forward to the future consummation of all things. We see the end of sin, the end of Satan, the end of false religion, the end of this world system, the end of lying angels or demons, the end of this present heaven and earth. The book of Revelation really ties up all the loose ends of the first sixty-five books of the Bible, as we shall see as we make our way through this fascinating book.

Now we don’t have to guess who wrote this book, for we are told in several places that it was the apostle John, and God spoke to John while he was a prisoner on the island of Patmos. Now Patmos was a Roman penal colony that was nothing more than a small island made up of volcanic rock and was located in the Aegean Sea about 32 miles off the cost of Ephesus.

The first wave of Roman persecution came under Nero who ruled from 54-68 AD. And Nero was insane. He would capture Christians, place oil on their bodies and put them on stakes, lighting them on fire as he rode in his chariot naked by them. The atrocities this man made against Christians is unimaginable. And then he set Rome on fire and blamed the Christians, which only increased their persecution.

The second wave of Roman persecution came under Domitian, who ruled the Roman empire from 81-96 AD. And he demanded the people to worship him as God, Caesar worship, which, of course, the Christians refused to do. And thus, they were either put to death or placed in prison. Domitian was not insane, he knew exactly what he was doing. And it was Domitian who placed John on the island of Patmos, exiled there to die.

But when emperor Nerva replaced Domitian, he was kinder to Christians and he released John from his exile on Patmos, and John spent the remainder of his life in Ephesus, where he eventually died of natural causes around the age of 100. John was the only apostle who wasn’t martyred for his faith, and he wrote this book around 96 AD.

Now there are four ways or models by which you can look at this book. And if you come at it by the wrong model, it is not going to make any sense and it is not going to give you a lot of comfort, a lot of hope. So I will share with you these four and then tell you what I believe is the most accurate model for understanding this book.



In this model they believe that from Revelation chapter 1 to Revelation 22:21, all these things have been fulfilled in history. All these things have already past. Now if that were true, I would be greatly disappointed because I still see evil prevail and I don’t see Jesus ruling and reigning in this world. And you can’t look at history and say that these things have come to pass. So I reject this model.


In this model they believe this book is nothing more than allegories of spiritual truth and it is never to be taken literally. And yes there are allegories and symbolism that is used in this book, but when it is spoken of in that manner, God lets us know. It is not hidden or difficult to see. Again, with the whole book being an allegory it would leave us without hope, Jesus would not be coming back! This too I reject because I don’t believe the Scriptures support it.


This model is very similar to the symbolic model, the main difference being is the spiritual model emphasizes the perennial battle between good and evil that is depicted in the symbolism of this book. And in the end good wins over evil. Now while that is true, there is much more to this book than that, as we are going to see. It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ not just a victory of good over evil. And to see it only in a spiritual sense negates the reality of what is going to take place. So I also reject this model.


In this model they see the events of this book as still being future. That the majority of this book is to be taken prophetically and literally, unless of course there is good internal evidence for supporting the verses as being similes or metaphors. And I believe, as you read this book, you will see that this is the only view that makes any sense and that the Scriptures support.

Too often we try to get so spiritual that we miss what God is clearly saying to us. Understand this, God says what He means and means what He says. Now I do understand that some people say that you can’t understand this book. That it is hidden and not to be understood. I totally disagree. I think God wants us to know these things that are found in this book, and I will show you why I feel that way, that the Scriptures support us knowing what this book is all about.

In the book of Daniel, which is closely related to the book of Revelation, Daniel covers the gentile world kingdoms, including the last one that will be established prior to the Lord’s return, and including the establishment of the kingdom of God on this earth from which Jesus will rule and reign. And at the end of the book of Daniel, after he is told all these prophetic things, we read "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase."..."Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, ‘My lord, what shall be the end of these things?’ And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end." Daniel 12:4, 8-9. And so Daniel is told that these words are to be sealed, not understood until the last days, the "time of the end." Now the question we must ask ourselves is "When do the last days start or have the started already?"

Paul, in Hebrews 1:1-2 said "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds." The last days, this period of time, began with the incarnation, when God became flesh and dwelt among us. So that means the words of Daniel are for us to understand today, and these words have been opened up to us by the Holy Spirit in these last days!

But what about the book of Revelation, isn’t that a sealed book or a book that we are not to understand? Not at all! I will just give you one verse now, and that is found in Revelation 22:10, which says "...‘Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand."You see, in Daniel, the words were sealed; in Revelation they are opened for all to understand. In Daniel, they are sealed until the "time of the end"; in Revelation, "the time is at hand." This book is very relevant and important for us to read and understand today. It gives us great hope as we wait for the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Now before we get into this book, let me share with you one more thing that I believe is vitally important, not only for the study of this book of the Bible, but as you are going through, studying any book of the Bible.



In Hebrews 11:3, 6 we read "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which arevisible...But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God mustbelieve that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.You must approach the Scriptures by faith, believing these are the Words of God and that He wants to reveal to you those things you need to know and understand.


When you read the Word of God you need to ask the Lord to give you wisdom and understanding in what you are reading. Psalm 119:18, 169 says "Open my eyes, that I may seewondrous things from Your law...Let my cry come before You, O LORD; give meunderstanding according to Your word." If you approach the Word of God that way He will open your eyes to His wonderful truths!


Now a holy life opening up the Word of God to you may seem kind of strange, kind of out of place, but it is not. Listen to what the Psalmist said in Psalm 66:18-19, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. But certainly God has heard me; he has attended to the voice of my prayer." Living a holy life is important for us to keep the lines of communication open between us and God.


God wants us to be obedient to Him and again there are blessings in that. In Psalm 119:100-104 we read "I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way."


If you don’t put forth an effort to study the Scriptures, how in the world do you expect to learn them? In Acts 17:11 we read "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." And in II Timothy 2:15 we read "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." We are being admonished to know the Scriptures so that we can not only apply them correctly to our own life, but we can share them correctly with others, rightly dividing the Word of God as a surgeon uses his scalpel.

So as you approach this book, or any book of the Bible, do so by faith, with prayer, living a holy life, having a heart of obedience towards God, and with a willingness to study the Word of God and you will be blessed beyond belief as the Spirit of God opens up the Word of God to your heart and to your life. With all that said, lets dig into the book of Revelation beginning in chapter 1, verse 1.



Notice what this revelation is all about. It is not the revelation of the Antichrist. It is not the revelation of the false prophet. It is not the revelation of a one world religion. It is not the revelation of a one world government. It is THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST! Don’t miss that point, it is that important.

The word "revelation" in the Greek is APOKALYPSIS which speaks of "an unveiling" or "a disclosure." Thus, we see here the unveiling of Jesus Christ in all His glory. God wants to reveal Himself to those who want to know Him. In Jeremiah 29:13 we are told "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."

Now the whole Bible is a unveiling of Jesus Christ, from Genesis through Revelation, for we are told in Psalm 40:7, "...‘Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me." And yet, in Revelation we see Jesus in all His glory, no longer a lamb who was slain but King of kings and Lord of lords ruling and reigning on this earth!

Just to give you a glimpse of how Jesus is portrayed in this book, here are a few examples:









And that is just a short list, there are some 32 titles or descriptive phrases of Jesus Christ as He is presented in all of His glory to us!

Also, in this opening verse, look at how this revelation, this unveiling is given. The Father gave it to Jesus who gave it to the angel, possibly Gabriel, who then gave it to John. God the Father wants to reveal God the Son in all His glory, as Isaiah 40:5 says, "The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD hasspoken."

Also in this opening verse John is called a servant of God, and the Greek word that is used for "servant" is DOULOS, and it means bondslave. You see, when we think of a slave we tend to think of someone who is being held against his own wishes. He is forced to serve another person and they have no choice in the matter, no free will, and no rights. But that is not what DOULOS means. It speaks of being a bondslave which was someone who freely gave his life to serve his master. In the Old Testament, a slave, after serving his master for 6 years, had the choice to be set free or to continue to serve, but now it was his free will. If he choose to be a bondslave, he would go before the judges, and his master would take an awl and pierce his ear with it, and it would symbolize that he was freely serving his master for the rest of his life. (Exodus 21:5-6). And Paul likens himself to a bondslave in the New Testament, (Romans 1:1 and Philippians 1:1), and the reality is, we are all bondslaves of Jesus Christ, for we are serving Him freely, not out of constraint! And John is also picking up on this idea of a bondslave.

Also, we are told that these things will "shortly take place." The word "shortly" EN TACHEI in the Greek, does not mean now or immediately, but it speaks of occurring suddenly, quickly, that once these things begin to happen, things will move quickly by.


John, almost 100 years old at this point, is writing down all the things he saw, all those things that were revealed to him. Remember what John said in I John 1:1-4. We read "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life– the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us– that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full."

John wrote all he heard, all he saw, all he gazed steadfastly upon, all that he touched and held, all that had to do with Jesus, he is declaring to us because in knowing those things, in having a relationship with God, our joy will be full. And John is doing the same thing here in Revelation. He is declaring to us, bearing witness to us, the things of Jesus, showing us the glory of God.


Notice, God wants us to read this Book, for as we do there is a built in blessing for those that do read it, those that hear the words of this Book, and for those that are applying these things to their life. In fact, in the book of Revelation there are 7 blessings built into it.


"Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near."


"Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them."


"Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."


"Then he said to me, Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God."


"Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years."


"Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."


"Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city."

And we are going to conclude this morning with the thought that John tells us "the time is near." The Greek word for "time" is KARIOS which refers to a period of time. John is telling us that the time of God’s judgment and wrath to be poured out upon a Christ rejecting world is almost upon us. It is only by the grace of God that it has not happened yet. But when that last person turns to the Lord, His judgment will come.

Thus, we need to watch and be ready. Each day we are drawing closer to His return. But remember, this book is unveiling to us the person and work of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior in all of His glory. This book is to give us hope, joy, peace. It should draw us closer to our Savior, inspiring us to love Him more and more, and to anticipate that glorious day when He shall return in power and great glory.

Let me leave you with this thought as we close this morning:

Praise must fill our hearts when we read the words of this prophecy and remember the grace which has saved us from all which is coming upon this age. Another blessing is the assurance of ultimate victory and glory.

Arno C. Galbelein

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