Revelation Week 2 – Greeting and Introduction

Let’s start back at the beginning because we only hit on one big point last week and there’s more to see.

1:1-3

  • Couple of important things
    1. Revelation from Jesus – they would have expected Jesus to be back by now, this is a message from Jesus that, among other things, is going to explain his delay/absence
      • Confirms the trustworthy-ness of the message, this comes from Jesus by way of John, not just from John
    2. Blessed is the one who reads it aloud – this is not intended for individuals, this is a message that needs to be shared
    3. Blessed are those who hear it and take heart – this is meant to inspire action, particularly faithful witness

1:4-8

  • Seven churches in Asia
    • As we’ll see, he does have a message to seven churches, but there’s more to it than that
    • We’ll talk about the specific churches when we get to them, let’s look at the number seven
      • 7 = divine number, number of completeness/wholeness
        • Seven days of creation, sevenfold spirit of God at the end of verse 4, seven year cycle for the Jubilee
          • Indentured servants released after seven years, land returned to original owners every fifty years (the year after the completion of seven sevens)
        • Genesis 1:1 is seven Hebrew words, anyone who harms Cain is cursed seven times over, In Pharoh’s dream there are seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, Noah is tasked with bringing seven pairs of every animal, David is Jesse’s seventh son, Jerusalem is built on seven hills
        • Seven colors of the rainbow
        • Seven continents and seven seas
        • Seven pure notes in a scale (doe-doe)
        • Seven metals of antiquity (metals humans identified and used in pre-historic times)
          • Gold, silver, tin, copper, lead, iron, and mercury
        • Seven classical planets (what could be seen before telescopes)
          • Mercury, Venus, the Moon, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn
          • Seven objects in the sky that are obviously different than the others, those must be gods or something else significant
        • SOOOOOOOOOO – seven is an important number (getting ahead of our selves but God is a 7, humanity is a 5, so that which is more than human but less than God is a…6)
          • Seven churches = all churches, the church as a whole, all churches at all times
            • We’ll see this when we get to them, the issues facing these churches are the issues that churches always have faced and still are facing
        • One last important thing about 7 – Rome is built on seven hills, just like Jerusalem (this is why some people begin to believe it is the new Jerusalem, one of the reasons the bishop of Rome (pope) takes precedence). Keep that in mind as we start hearing about evil creatures with seven horns or heads
  • Verse 5 – “faithful witness”
    • Why is Jesus a faithful witness – because he died.
      • We’ll see this more in chapter 5, the lamb is worthy because of his death
      • How are the readers of this book going to be faithful witnesses? By being faithful even unto death
        • They’re being given the choice of denouncing their faith or dying, the faithful one is the one who dies for the faith just like Jesus did
  • Verse 6 – “freed us from our sins by his blood”
    • There is no substitutionary atonement in Revelation – John’s view of atonement is not that Christ dies in our place but that Christ’s death frees us from the bondage of sin which leads us to death (more on this in chapter 12)
  • Verses 7 and 8 – probably an early church responsive reading
    • Alpha and Omega – don’t miss the power of that. The one who was at the beginning will also be at the end, the one who created and began history will also be the one who concludes history

1: 9-20 – starts to get us into it

  • Verses 9-11 – John is at Patmos under house arrest and has this vision
    • What is John doing when he has this vision? Worshiping. It is when we are involved in worship that we most open ourselves to the presence of God
  • Verses 12-20 – the start of the vision
    • Someone like a “son of man” – first used in Daniel, how Jesus describes himself in the gospels, he is like a person but also somehow more
      • Coming out of his mouth is a double edged sword – what is the only weapon God needs? A word
      • When John sees him at first he’s afraid because of the obvious power, but he’s comforted
        • The power of God is frightening to behold but comforting to those who belong to him
        • “I hold the keys to death and Hades” – death is the only thing the enemy can threaten us with and we shouldn’t fear it because Christ has the power over it
    • Lampstands and stars
      • Lampstands – the churches (just what it says)
      • Stars – has a little more going on
        • The text says these are the “angels” of the seven churches
        • There’s a belief in Jewish apocalyptic literature that groups on earth have heavenly counterparts
          • Daniel 10 introduces us to Michael (who will show up again later) as the patron angel of the Jewish people, doing battle against the angels of the Persians and Greeks
          • Something we’ll see in Revelation as well – things happening on earth have a parallel in heaven
            • If two nations are battling then their angels are also battling
        • Also important – tradition of seeing the heavenly bodies as representatives of the divine
          • So, the stars are the churches – if the churches fall the stars will fall
            • Independence Day – watching the battle on radar and can see when a plane gets shot down
          • Later in the book, stars are going to start falling
            • Important going forward – we’ve been told now that stars represent churches (the people of God), so its probably safe to assume that when we read about stars later that that symbolism is still in play. And churches falling from the sky (falling from grace, falling into sin and apostasy) isn’t as exciting as meteors hitting earth, but its probably just as dangerous to the world as God intends it to be

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