9.1.1a “THE TIME IS NEAR” Pt. 1 in Section 1 of REVELATION Chapter 1:1 – 3:22 / “JESUS CHRIST in the MIDST of the LAMP-STANDS.”

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“The Time is Near”

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Sermons on the Book of Revelation # 1

Overview of Revelation by Dr. Kim Riddlebarger

Texts: Revelation 1:1-3; Daniel 12:1-13
__________________________________

Revelation 1: Prologue.

A separate introductory section

that leads to The Revelation of Jesus Christ

throughout The Present Age of His Churches.

Revelation 1:1-3

1 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,

which God Gave to Him,

to Show to His Servants

Things Which Must Shortly Come to Pass;

and

He Sent and Signified It by His Angel

to His Servant John:

2 “Who Bore Record of the Word of God,

and

of The Testimony of Jesus Christ,

and

of All Things that he saw.

3 “Blessed is he that reads,

and

they that Hear

The Words of This Prophecy,

and

Keep Those Things

which are Written therein:

because

The Time

is at Hand.”

 

Michael’s Deliverance

and

The End Times.

Daniel 12:1-13;


1 “And at that Time

shall Michael Stand Up,

the Great Prince

which Stands

for the Children of your People:

and

there Will be a Time of Trouble,

such as never was

since there was a Nation

even to that same Time:

and

at that Time your People

Will be Delivered,

every one that shall be found

written in the book.

2 “And many of them

that sleep in the dust of the Earth

Will Awake,

some to Everlasting Life,

and

some to shame

and Everlasting Contempt.

3 “And they that Be Wise

Will Shine

as the Brightness of the Firmament;

and

they that Turn many to Righteousness

as the Stars Forever and Ever.

4 “But you, O Daniel,

Shut Up The Words,

and

Seal the Book,

even to The Time of the End:

many Will run to and fro,

and

knowledge will be increased.

5 “Then I Daniel looked, and, behold,

there stood other two,

the one

on this side of the bank of the river,

and the other

on that side of the bank of the river.

6 “And one said to the man clothed in linen,

which was on the waters of the river,

How long will it be

to the end of these Wonders?

7 “And I heard the man clothed in linen,

which was on the waters of the river,

when he held up his right hand

and his left hand to heaven,

and

Swore by Him that Lives Forever

that it Will be

for a Time, Times, and an Half;

and when He Will Have Accomplished

to Scatter the power of the Holy People,

all these things Will be Finished.

8 “And I heard, but I understood not:

then said I, O my Lord,

what Will Be the End of these things?

9 “And he said, Go your way, Daniel:

for the Words are Closed Up

and Sealed till The Time of The End.

10 “Many Will Be Purified,

and Made White,

and Tried;

but the wicked will do wickedly:

and

none of the wicked will understand;

but the Wise Will Understand.

11 “And from The Time

that the Daily Sacrifice

Will be Taken Away,

and

the Abomination

that Makes Desolate Set Up,

there Will be

a Thousand Two Hundred and Ninety Days.

12 “Blessed is he that waits,

and comes

to the Thousand Three Hundred

and Five and Thirty Days.

13 “But go you your way

till the End Be:

for you will rest,

and

stand in your lot

at

The End

of the Days.”

No book of the Bible

has captured

people’s imaginations

–both positively and negatively–

as has

The Book of Revelation.

From frightening depictions

of the white horse and its Rider

Administering Divine Wrath

upon the Nations of the Earth,

to the image of a multi-headed Dragon

who persecutes the Lord’s churches,

to an evil beast

who wages war upon the saints,

to the seductress

who dwells in the great city of man

and

who has prostituted herself

with the merchants of the world,

to John’s description of Jesus

in His Post-Ascension Glory,

The Book of Revelation

stirs us

like no other book of the Bible.

Some find these scenes frightening.

Some find them confusing.

Sadly, some avoid the book altogether.

Far too many have seen this book

as a springboard to fanciful

and wild speculation.

Despite such a dubious reputation,
Revelation is a Comforting

and

Pastoral Book

and there is much here

for the people of God,

especially in a time of uncertainty

such as our own.

We begin a new series

on the Book of Revelation.

When I begin to preach

through a book of the Bible,

I like to jump right in and get started.

But that’s not possible

with a book like Revelation.

There is so much confusion

about the way in which this book

is to be interpreted

that in order to avoid

adding to that confusion,

we will spend a fair bit of time

on background material

before we tackle

the first three verses of the book,

known as “The Prologue.”

Even John Calvin,

the father of the modern science

of biblical studies,

is often quoted as saying

that he

did not write a commentary on Revelation

because he did not think

he understood Revelation well enough

to comment in detail.

Whether Calvin actually said this or not,

it is a shame that more commentators

did not take this advice!

That being said,

this is one book of the Bible

where recent studies in first century literature

can give us a great deal of help

in understanding the nature of this book

and the meaning of the symbols found throughout.

We really do know a great deal more

about Apocalyptic Literature now

than we did even thirty years ago.

This explains why it is

that so many outstanding commentaries

and studies on Revelation

have been published of late.

Whereas twenty years ago,

Reformed pastors had but one

trustworthy commentary on Revelation

(William Hendricksen’s venerable,

More Than Conquerors)

there are now at least five major commentaries

or studies ranging from basic guides

for the first time reader,

to exhaustive studies

numbering a thousand pages or more.

It is my prayer that whatever uncertainty

and apprehension you may have

about studying this book

will give way to a confident sense of understanding.

Simply put,

Revelation is a Book

about Jesus Christ’s Victory over Satan

and all  his ( Satan’s ) allies,

as John describes

The Redemptive Drama on Earth

from a Heavenly Perspective.

1 According to the best internal and external evidence,

The Book of Revelation

was written by John, the Apostle

and the author of our Gospel and three Epistles,

during his captivity on the Island of Patmos

some time in the mid-nineties of the first century.

1 Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation, 7.

2 Revelation is the last book to be written

included in the canon of the New Testament.

2 A comprehensive discussion of this

can be found in; Beale, The Book of Revelation, 4-36.

In many ways,

Revelation is the most practical book

of the entire New Testament

since it is specifically written to Christians

who live in the post-apostolic age.

This means that the symbols and visions we find here

are meant for us.

Therefore, we must make every effort to interpret them correctly

and apply them to our present context.

When we worked our way through the Book of Exodus

(in a previous series)

and studied Israel’s journey through the wilderness,

it was easy to think,

“well, this is interesting,

but how does it impact my life?”

But when John

uses symbols throughout the Book of Revelation

drawn directly from the Exodus account,

he now applies them directly to Christ’s church.

As members of that church,

we are the people Wandering through the Wilderness,

Sustained by The Living Bread from Heaven,

Fully Dependent upon the Living Water

to Quench our thirst,

while always living under the constant threat of attack

from God’s enemies.

Nevertheless, we have the certain knowledge that

God Will Fulfill

All of His Covenant Promises

Made to His People.

Nothing that Satan can do will ever stay God’s Mighty Hand.

As we will soon see,

the symbols and images in Revelation describe a conflict

in which God Calls us to participate as combatants.

This is why we must attempt to understand these symbols correctly,

thereby lifting the veil of mystery

which continues to shroud this great book.

The Apocalypse of John, as it is known,

contains a combination of literary forms.

First, Revelation is a letter (an epistle), written by John

and sent to the seven churches

scattered throughout Asia Minor and
which are mentioned by name in chapters 2-3.

But this book is certainly not an ordinary letter!

Even though Revelation takes the literary form of an epistle,

the content of this letter is what is known as “apocalyptic,”

a literary genre utilizing visions and highly symbolic language

to depict the cosmic struggle between God and Satan.3

3 See the discussions of this in: Bauckham,

The Climax of Prophecy and Beale,

The Book of Revelation, 50-69.

In apocalyptic literature the symbols

are never intended to be taken literally

–a mistake

that far too manyinterpreters” of this book have made.

Instead, they ( the symbols ) are to be interpreted

through the lens of both the Old Testament

and John’s own age

(the later years of the first century)

and historical situation

(the increasing persecution of the church

in Asia Minor).

John writes against the backdrop of the Roman empire

with its imperial cult (emperor worship),

and with Rome’s massive military

and political influence upon all aspects of life

always lurking in the background.

The evil visage of the emperor Nero

is inescapable in the Book of Revelation.

Nero, who lived in the 60’s of the first century,

was at first ambivalent towards Christianity,

but later unleashed a savage attack upon the church,

burning Christians as human torches in his private garden,

feeding them to lions and wild beasts in the Coliseum,

as well as putting to death both Paul and Peter.

For John, Nero Caesar is evil incarnate,

the historical reference point

for all of those enemies of Christ

who come after him.

But the primary key

to interpreting the symbols in Revelation correctly

is the Old Testament.

The Book of Revelation is very much

like the prophecies of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zechariah,

which also make use of similar apocalyptic symbols.

Most of those who heard the Book of Revelation

when it was read in the churches

to whom it was addressed,

were probably able to

immediately connect the symbols and images

John uses to those Old Testament passages

from which they are drawn.

But since we are two thousand years removed

from the original context,

and not Jews steeped in the Torah

and Jewish apocalyptic writings,

we will have to do some work

to keep such a background in mind.

This means that in many ways

The Book of Revelation

is a Divinely-Inspired Commentary

on those Old Testament themes

which were not completely fulfilled

by the first Advent of Jesus Christ.

To interpret this book correctly, then,

we will look to the Old Testament

to find the meaning of the symbols used by John.

It is John who explains to us

what the Old Testament Prophets meant

in the Greater Light of the Coming of Jesus Christ

and the Messianic Age.

Therefore, as we try and interpret these symbols

drawn from the Old Testament,

let us not make the mistake

of seeing the conflict they depict

as a struggle between good and evil

as though these were two equal poles

fighting for supremacy.

No!

Satan struggles against the Kingdom of God

throughout the Book of Revelation

as an already defeated foe

(cf. Colossians 2;13-15).

The final outcome is never in doubt.

In fact, since Revelation was written

after the First Coming of Christ

and

The Inauguration of His Messianic Kingdom,

we must understand that John’s vision

presupposes that

Satan’s head was already crushed

by Christ at Calvary

and that

Satan’s final defeat

is Rendered Certain

by Christ’s Resurrection from the Dead.

But make no mistake about it,

the images of conflict which are depicted

through the lens of Apocalyptic Symbols and Images

are that of a real conflict

in which the people of God will suffer greatly

at the hands of the devil.

Having been defeated by Christ’s cross

and empty tomb,

Satan is portrayed as a wounded animal,

certain to die,

but utterly vicious and irrational in his anger

before The End finally comes.

Satan wages war upon the saints, but he cannot defeat them.

When he kills them, they come to Life and Reign with Christ.

Indeed, this is a conflict in which the final outcome is never,

never, in doubt.

If you take nothing else from this series of sermons,

take this with you:

God Wins Decisively

in the End !

The Book of Revelation is not only

a letter filled with Apocalyptic Visions,

it also contains Predictive Prophecy

in which certain future events are foretold

well in advance.

Yet, while there are some elements of Predictive Prophecy

in this great book,

it is wrong to look at Revelation

as though it were simply

“history before it is written,”

as some have described it.

To do this is to confuse John with Nostradamus.

John is not writing this letter to tell us

about the minute details of future events.

Rather,

John is writing to tell us about

Jesus Christ’s

Ultimate Triumph over sin and Death

as the final chapters of Redemptive History

Draw to a Close.

Therefore, we should view

the Prophetic elements of Revelation

in service of Redemptive History,

and not just as sensational information

given to titillate the curious.

There are four major “approaches”

to “interpreting” the Book of Revelation.4

4 These are summarized in Beale,

The Book of Revelation, 44-49.

The one with which most of

you are familiar is

the futurist view,

which holds that most of what is written

here remains yet to be fulfilled in the days

immediately before our Lord’s return.

This explains why it is that people who hold this view

(like Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye)

spend so much of their time and energy

trying to tie the symbols in the Book of Revelation

to current events.

As many of you know, many evangelical churches

and ministries devote themselves to “explaining” every tragedy

and political crisis directly from the pages of Revelation.

But if you are expecting me to do the same

you’ll be very disappointed.

I am not going to “identify” the Antichrist,

“predict the date” of our Lord’s return,

or explain the roles of America

and Israel in Biblical Prophecy.

Instead,

I will be talking about what John talks about

= Jesus Christ’s Certain Victory

over all of His enemies.

Another view–

which is gaining acceptance among Reformed Christians

–is preterism.

full-preterism

This “view” holds that Revelation was written

before the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70

and that much of what we find in the Book of Revelation

was fulfilled when the Roman army

sacked Jerusalem in A. D. 70,

destroying the Temple and dispersing surviving Jews

throughout the Mediterranean world.

Preterists make the opposite error as do the futurists.

Instead of treating this book as though

it deals with future events,

preterists treat Revelation as though it is largely historical

and that most everything written here

has already taken place,

with the possible exception of Christ’s Second Coming

and The Resurrection,

a view taken by so-called partial preterists

like R. C. Sproul and Ken Gentry.5

5 See R. C. Sproul,

The Last Days According to Jesus (Baker);

Ken Gentry, The Beast of Revelation (ICE).

partial-preterisn

This is very problematic because it reduces Revelation

to a mere historical record,

robbing the book of its Apocalyptic Character

and

eliminating John’s stress upon Christ’s Final

and Eschatological ( End of Time ) Victory

when

He Returns in Judgment

to Raise the Dead

and

Make All Things New

on The

“Last Day.”

A third “view” is one which has been widely held

by historic Protestants and is known as historicism.

HISTORIC PRE-MIL

Though few still hold it today,

this view sees the book of Revelation

as a kind of historical map

which plots the history of Christ’s church

from the Apostolic Age unto the time of the Reformation.

Proponents of this view usually identify the Harlot of Babylon

in Revelation 18 with the papacy and the Roman church,

a view which has been elevated to confessional status

by the Westminster Confession.

Although the papacy may indeed

be a part of the anti-Christian opposition

to the preaching of the Gospel,

this view does not comport well

with the nature of apocalyptic literature,

which depicts not specific events

but

general patterns of a re-occurring conflict

between Christ and Satan

which culminates

in a Final Eschatological Battle.

A fourth view is called idealism,

a modified form of which

I will be presenting

throughout this series.

This view emphasizes the apocalyptic nature

of the book and understands the various visions

throughout Revelation as depictions of the struggle

which takes place during the entire Period of Time

between the First and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Each Vision is describing the same period of time

but from a different perspective or vantage point,

each Vision with a different theological theme or emphasis.

As Dennis Johnson

from Westminster Seminary California puts it,

each of these visions is like looking at the same scene

from a different camera angle.6

6 See Johnson,

The Triumph of the Lamb.

This means that we must not see Revelation

as depicting strictly future or historical events.

Nor does Revelation exhaustively map out

the history of the church age.

Instead, we must see the visions

and symbols in them

as pictures of the on-going struggle

between

Christ and Satan and his agents,

the Beast and the Dragon,

a struggle which Christ

Will Inevitably Win

on behalf of His People.

This is the way

Apocalyptic Literature works.

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Filed under ( 9.1 ) Section 1: REVELATION 1:1 - 3:22 / "JESUS CHRIST in the MIDST of the LAMP-STANDS" The First of Seven Sections in THE REVELATION 1:1 - 3:22.

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