God's Message to the Church
God’s Message to the Church (1967)
Revelation 1:1-20 – particularly verse11
What would happen to you if Jesus would come today to our church? Would you be ashamed or glad of what you have done? It could happen, you know. He appeared to seven in the Book of Revelation and passed condemnation on them.
I. “The Revelation”
Perhaps all that humankind knows is that which comes by revelation. Revelation is an unveiling: pulling back the covers and curtains to unfold some previously hidden truth.
In revelation, there must be a revealer and one to whom something is revealed. Niebuhr said that in revelation, people do not discover, rather, God discloses.
God is the initiator of the revelation always. Revelation is divine – spiritual. It took God to reveal Christ, and it takes Christ to best reveal God.
Note that in verse 2, people are to record this revelation; and in verse 3, we are to study revelations.
So, revelation in the general and best sense is the love and the work of God in letting us share something of His.
Here there is a revelation – something that we do not know about – and it is important, whatever it is. Why? It is because the revelation which came is the one “which God gave.”
II. The Revelation from God
All revelation comes from God. This is why some people call revelation “the Divine self-disclosure.” Here it came from God, and we see that it was the Divine self-disclosure. Certainly it resulted in the appearance of one who was both Divine and human. Revelation comes from God, and here He had something on His mind and revealed Himself.
Note that the both the Old and New Testaments are full of God disclosing or revealing Himself. It is the same with this incident.
III. The Revelation “of Jesus Christ”
In verse 1 we read “of Jesus Christ.” In verse 13 we read of “one like unto the Son
Verse 13 describes the scene of His appearance: in the midst of the seven candlesticks. These represent the seven churches, churches which are suppose to reflect in word and service the Light of the world – Jesus.
In verses 5 – 16, we read of the characteristics of His appearance. This passage is rich in symbolic meaning.
Royalty – “He is robed as a King…clothed with a garment
down to His feet.”
Majesty – “Behold, He cometh in the clouds.”
Purity – “His head and His hairs were white like wool.”
He is the only morally spotless man in history.
Penetration – “As a flame of fire.”
He looks through our hypocrisy to our selves.
Firmness – “His feet like unto brass.”
Yes, He is invincible.
Dominion – “He had in His right hand seven stars.”
Yes, He is the “bright and morning star” Himself,
and He lights up all of life.
Victory – “Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.”
He conquers the minds and hearts of those who trust
in Him, and He gives the victory of peace
to all whose minds are “stayed on Him.”
Brightness – “and His countenance was as the sun shineth in His strength.”
So, the revelation of God came through this man – the world’s greatest – in whom “the fullness of the Godhead bodily” dwelt.
IV. The Revelation came to man – “unto His servant John”
A man who said: I, John who am your brother. He was full of concern for all the churches.
A man who said: Your companion in tribulation. He is a fellow sufferer in the Lord.
A man who was banished to Patmos – a rocky island in the Mediterranean about fifteen miles in circumference – a wide barren spot where Romans sent all criminal wretches they deemed unfit for liberty.
A man alone, but not lonely, because he felt “surrounded by a multitude which no man could number.”
A man who was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.”
A man who was a preacher in Ephesus, but now expelled. Expelled here not to preach, but to listen. And listen he did – and hear he did – for he heard a great voice. It was a clear voice: “a great voice as of a trumpet.” It was a voice that he could not fail to hear nor soon forget. And it was a full voice: “as the sound of many waters.” Who can out-shout the sound of waves beating the shore? None but the eternal voice of God.
V. A Revelation that was effective
What about John’s emotional response to all this?
What about yours had you been there?
When Isaiah saw the Lord – “Woe is me.”
When Job heard the voice speaking out of the whirlwind, he exclaimed,
“I abhor myself in dust and ashes.”
When Christ appeared to Peter, he cried out,
“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man , O Lord.”
When Roman soldiers met Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
“They went backward and fell on the ground.”
When Ezekiel saw the Lord, “he fell on his face.”
And John here says, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.”
He had seen the Lord, and this was his reaction.
What about Jesus’ reaction?
He said, “Fear not . . . I know these churches . . . Write the things which thou hast seen.” And Jesus begins to relate a message for each church. We will study these messages in the weeks to come. Yes, our God is a great God. He always reveals Himself to perplexed humanity. He is always concerned about our church and our fondest hopes.
Will you follow such a God today if you never have? You too may be on an island in this life, in a sense. Will you be in the spirit on the Lord’s Day and listen for the magic ring of His voice across the ages for this church?
Jesus is not just one who is in ancient history, but One who lives now and can be confronted. Albert Schweitzer closes his masterpiece of a book, The Quest for the Historical Jesus, in this way:
He comes to us as one unknown, as of old by the lakeside He came to those who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word, “Follow thou me,” and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself, in the toils, the sufferings, the hardships which they shall pass through in His fellowship. And, as in all ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience who He is.
We serve a God who reveals Himself, and I think it best to close with John’s own words here – “to Him be all glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”