A familiar text can be read so quickly that the message no longer reaches our consciousness. Such is the case with the introduction to the Revelation of Jesus Christ as recorded by the apostle John. We may even give mental acknowledgement to the words but miss their importance.
The introduction to the letter could be outlined this way:
Purpose: to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place
Messenger: His angel
To: the seven churches in Asia
- the eternal God and Father,
- the seven Spirits before His throne,
- Jesus Christ
- the faithful witness,
- the firstborn of the dead,
- the ruler of the kings of the earth
- who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood
- who has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father
- who will return and every eye will see Him
The letter is written with all the authority and importance of God Himself – there is nothing higher or greater. The scribe was exiled to the island of Patmos because of His witness and testimony of Jesus. He describes himself as a brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus (Revelation 1:9, NASB).
The date of the writing of this letter is generally accepted to be about 90 AD, or about 20 years after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. The Jews had rebelled against Rome and the rebellion was fully suppressed concluding with the burning and destruction of the temple. Thousands were brutally killed by a Roman army that was out of control as recorded by eyewitness Josephus Flavius. Those who escaped the flaming temple mount were enslaved and sent to work in mines in Egypt.
Luke recorded that when Jesus walked in Israel before his crucifixion, he wept over the destruction that was soon to come on Jerusalem and the temple. The victory of their enemies was rooted in the Jew’s failure to recognize that Jesus is the Messiah.
Who is this Jesus? The rest of chapter 1 of Revelation paints a picture of what John saw. The first thing he saw were seven golden lampstands. The lampstands were symbolic of the seven churches to whom this letter is written. In the middle of the lampstands was someone who was identified at the risen glorified Christ. In His right hand he held seven stars which represent the angels of the seven churches.
The description of His appearance helps us understand that He is eternal, powerful and righteous. The picture of the sharp two-edged sword reminds us that He will judge the world. The writer of Hebrews wrote that “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, NASB). Jesus Christ is a power and authority to be reckoned with and those who do not make their peace with Him now will face an all-mighty judge and ruler who cannot be bribed or tricked.
The last book in the Bible is all about Jesus – don’t miss that fact!