With this background material out of the way,
let us now turn to our text, Revelation chapter 1,
beginning at verse 1.
The opening words of this letter
contain a general summary of the whole book
as well as identifying the nature of what follows:
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ,
which God Gave Him
to Show His Servants
Must Soon Take Place.
He Made It Known
by Sending His Angel
to His Servant John.”
This declaration can be taken two ways.
Either this book reveals Jesus Christ
as the main character,
or else Jesus Christ is the source
of all that is about to be revealed to John
through the angel.
In a sense, both of these are true
because the revelation itself is from Jesus Christ
as well as being about Jesus Christ.
The Book of Revelation
is certainly one of the most Christ-centered
in the New Testament.
But the primary sense of this declaration
is that although this Revelation concerns Jesus Christ,
it comes from God through the means of an Angel,
and is, in turn, given through the pen of John,
“the servant of the Lord.”
He is the one through whom
Jesus Christ is Revealed in the Vision
and symbols which follow.
Notice, too, that this Revelation of Jesus Christ
concerns things which
“Must Soon Take Place.”
creates a serious problem for “futurists”
since it means that what John is about to Reveal
will concern the entire church age–
these are things which must soon take place–
events located at the End of the Church Age
as Bible prophecy pundits often insist.
That John is speaking of the entire Churches Age
in the Book of Revelation
is reinforced by several other important passages
in the New Testament.
For one thing, in the Pentecost sermon,
Peter declares that The Last Days
were already At Hand
just fifty days after Christ’s Resurrection
because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
(cf. Acts 2:17).
The author of Hebrews likewise states that
The Coming of Christ means
that Christians in the First Century
were already living in The Last Days
This means that
The Entire Period of Time
The First and Second Coming of Jesus Christ–
“this present evil age,”
as Paul puts it in Galatians 1:4–
are also the
Therefore, the argument we hear from so many,
“the last days” are limited to a period of time
immediately before the Second Coming of Jesus,
is completely unfounded
when we look at the teaching
of the whole of the New Testament.
when Jesus Christ
Took on Human Flesh,
Lived a Perfect Life,
Died upon a Cross,
Rose Again from the Dead
Ascended into Heaven,
Entered its Final Phase.
While the duration of this
Period of Time–
the “Last Days”–
is never Revealed to us,
it is certain that the last days
Began with The First Coming of Jesus Christ
Will End at His Second
(Hebrews 1:2; Matthew 13:39).
Throughout His Messianic Ministry,
Jesus Warns us
Not to become preoccupied with the Date of His Return,
but instead to Keep Watch,
Eagerly Anticipating His Coming
(cf. Matthew 25:1-30).
Therefore, what John is about to Reveal
are things which are Soon to Take Place,
things which concern
The Final Age of Human History,
an Age which
Ends when Jesus Christ Returns
in Great Glory,
Judge the World,
Raise the Dead
Make all things new.
In fact, when John speaks of the “apocalypsis”
(Revelation) of Jesus Christ,
he very likely has in mind
that what is about to be Revealed
is directly connected to earlier Revelation
The Last Days in the Old Testament,
especially that found
throughout the Book of Daniel.
In his prophecy,
Daniel repeatedly speaks of
“the last days”
in connection to the rise of great empires
The Coming of the Son of Man.
When John says that the things he will Reveal
Must Soon Take Place,
he has in mind those things Daniel foretold,
which were already coming to pass
when John Reveals his Apocalyptic Vision.
Indeed, there is a direct connection made
throughout the New Testament
The First Advent of Jesus Christ,
The Dawn of the Messianic Age,
“The Last Days,”
because these things
Fulfill the expectations of Israel’s Prophets
regarding The End of the Age.
In the light of the Coming of Jesus Christ,
John will Reveal
those things Daniel could Reveal
only through the types and shadows
of the Pre-Messianic Era ( of Jesus Christ ).
This connection between the apostle John
and the prophet Daniel
can be seen in our Old Testament lesson.
As Daniel’s prophecy came to a close,
Daniel is told that his own prophecy
is being sealed until a later time.
In Daniel 12, we find this declaration:
“At that time,”
that is, at the end of the age,
The Great Prince
Who Protects your People,
Michael is the Name
of the Valiant Angelic Warrior
of Jesus Christ.
At the end,
“there will be a time of distress
such as has not happened
from the beginning of Nations until then.
But at that time your people—
everyone whose name
is Found Written in the Book—
will be delivered.
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth
some to Everlasting Life,
others to shame and everlasting contempt.
Those who are Wise Will Shine
like the Brightness of the Heavens,
those who Lead many to Righteousness,
like the stars Forever and Ever.”
Daniel is not only speaking of the end of the age and the bodily resurrection which accompanies the
return of Jesus Christ, he also speaks of a time of unprecedented tribulation which precedes these events.
This is the so-called “great tribulation” which Daniel connects to the resurrection, but which John reveals
to be that entire period of time between the first and second comings of Jesus Christ (cf.. Revelation
7:14) While Daniel speaks in general terms of a horrible distress, John will describe the nature of this
great tribulation through a series of visions and apocalyptic symbols. As we will see, it is the dragon, the
beast and the harlot who bring about the distress of which Daniel foretold. John’s vision describes
Satan’s final struggle before he is crushed by Jesus Christ and hurled into the lake of fire on that great
and glorious day when our Lord returns with the hosts of heaven to destroy all of his enemies with a final
judgment. The last enemy to be destroyed is death, which explains why Daniel connects this to the resurrection.
It is what follows which connects John’s vision directly to Daniel’s prophecy. In Daniel 12:4, Daniel
writes, “But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go
here and there to increase knowledge.” That prophecy which Daniel was ordered to seal up until the
end, is now unsealed–after what appears to be a reference to the general advance of civilization–and
revealed by the angel to John. The Lord himself says to Daniel in verses 9-10 of his prophecy: “Go your
way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified,
made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will
understand, but those who are wise will understand.” Not only will Daniel’s prophecy be sealed until
the time of the end when Christ comes to fulfill all righteousness and lay down his life for his own, but
these things will be intelligible only when viewed through the eyes of faith. As Jesus said, the course of
this age will be very much like the days of Noah. People will go about their business all the while
scoffing at the gospel. But a sure and certain judgment will come upon the world when people least
expect it (cf. Matthew 24:36-42). It was also Jesus who said that unless God grants us understanding of
these things, they will remain a mystery. Daniel foretold of this but his vision was sealed. John now
unveils that which was sealed.
In verses 2-3, John moves on from speaking of the content and the manner of this revelation of Jesus, to
his own trustworthiness as a reporter of the things he has seen in this vision. It is John, the servant of the
Lord, who “testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
And it is John’s reader who will be blessed by receiving this book’s testimony of Jesus Christ, which is
the word of God. Says John: “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are
those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”
As we have seen throughout our earlier series on redemptive history, the entire redemptive drama unfolds
against the backdrop of a covenant of works, and the works-principle of blessing for obedience and curse
for disobedience. With the time of distress being at hand, John now pronounces a blessing upon all who
read the words of this prophecy–for these words are the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The blessing extends to those who hear these words and who take them to heart, because the time is near.
Since Revelation was a circular letter intended to be read aloud in the seven churches to which it is
addressed, John may mean “hearing” here in the ordinary sense of “hearing” this letter as it is read aloud.
But given the stress upon taking what is heard to heart, “hearing” is probably used in the sense of hearing
not merely as listening to the words, but truly believing what was heard and taking comfort from the
testimony of Jesus Christ which is being revealed. If we believe what we hear and take it to heart, there
is a great blessing in this book for Christ’s church.
This is the first of seven “beatitudes,” or “blessings” found in this prophecy. Numbers used in
Revelation are never accidental or coincidental. They are symbols which point to something else.
Throughout the Scriptures, seven is the number of completeness or perfection.9 The seven blessings in
Revelation are connected to believing and hearing (chapter 1), to being faithful unto death in chapter 14,
to being ready for the Lord’s coming (chapter 16), to receiving rest from our labors (chapter 14), to
responding to the invitation to the marriage supper (chapter 19), to participating in the first resurrection,
(chapter 20), to finally being granted the right to eat from tree of life and enter the new Jerusalem
(chapter 22). Therefore, anyone who hears these words of this prophecy and responds in faith to all
seven of these promised blessings of God, will have the reward of eternal life and victory over death, rest
from our labors, and will dwell in the city of God. In other words, they will receive their seven-fold
inheritance that is ours in Christ (completeness), and obtain every blessing that God has for his people
As we hear John’s words in the Book of Revelation throughout this series, let us continue to respond to
the Savior whose testimony they reveal to us, by taking every word to heart. For God promises us a great
blessing if we do so. In this book, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, we have the sure and certain testimony
of that one who gave himself for us and who conquered death and the grave so that we may ever be
victorious. That same Jesus whose testimony is given in this vision, will indeed bless all those who hear
these words and take them to heart.
As we read in Revelation 22:12-13, 20: “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will
give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,
the Beginning and the End.” He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Beloved, in the name of Jesus Christ, take these wonderful words to heart, for the time is near. Amen!