Chapter 1 The Beginning of Rules in Revelation
What sets this book of Revelation apart from thousands of other books? Number one, this book is not written to reveal anything about Revelation or any type of future prophecies. On the contrary, the Book of Revelation reveals the meaning of the visions John saw, the symbols God uses, and the timeline recorded in Revelation. The Book of Revelation is designed so we see exactly how John’s book explains each and every detail. It is not my intent to guess at any prophecy or insist I have any type of special gift available to a select few people. I do not rely on the world to fill in the blanks people claim the Book of Revelation has. John’s book has no blank sections. John recorded exactly what he was told to record in the order Jesus provided the information.
Within Revelation is a series of lessons showing us how to read and study the book. As well as other books in the Bible. One of the most important rules is to gather all the information on a particular subject. When chapter one is combined with chapters two and three, that rule is evident. The remainder of Revelation further verifies that rule.
My intent is to go through the Book of Revelation from cover to cover showing how John’s book reveals a few easy to use study rules that must be followed. The entire Book of Revelation was inspired from Heaven. Jesus wrote the entire book and placed special instructions throughout the book. In fact, those same instructions and rules are found throughout the Bible.
One of the first rules we want to test is, the rule of introductions and summaries. The first few sentences in a chapter or book sets the theme for that chapter and of course introduces the main idea. What do we find in the first few sentences in Revelation?
Revelation 1:1-3 NLTse This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John, (2) who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (3) God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.
Like many other books in the Bible, John sets the tone for an inspired manuscript by explaining how he received this message and who gave him that message. In this case the message was given to John by Jesus. This should peak our interest. Jesus pointed out one important detail at the beginning of His message. “God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.”
We have to first READ the Book of Revelation. Jesus described the Book of Revelation as one long message. No where in Revelation does Jesus tell anyone to separate or segregate one prophecy in Revelation from the others. The timeline in Revelation is very important. Without the other prophecies, the timeline is lost. That is one thing that causes most of the problems we see in modern day interpretations. The world has adopted a study method not found or explained in the Book of Revelation or anywhere else in the Bible. The art of taking one or two sentences out of the Bible and running to the news media in this world, or any other source originating in this world is a man made study rule. It is a rule designed with no rules at all. Taking one or two sentences out of scripture and using the world to interpret that passage is a free for all, no holds barred form of Bible Study. In this book we will take the Book of Revelation step by step to see how Jesus explained sound study methods. After all Jesus, “blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says.”
One of the first things you want to do when you begin studying anything in the Bible is to look at the introduction. We already saw why that is important. Now we can look at the last few lines in Revelation chapter 1 to see what details Jesus added to His opening message.
Revelation 1:17-20 NLTse (17) When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. (18) I am the living one. I died, but look–I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. (19) “Write down what you have seen–both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen. (20) This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Jesus introduced Himself to John by using a few symbols. This is important. When we see Jesus using symbols to introduce and describe Himself, we know how Jesus set the tone for the entire book of Revelation. Jesus introduced symbols. Jesus knows how to use those symbols, and Jesus knows how to explain what those symbols mean. In short, Jesus is the source of those symbols, and the only reliable source who can explain the meaning of each and every symbol in Revelation. Going outside that source is turning your back on Jesus. Going to other sources can be compared to idol worship. Even relying on yourself crosses the line Jesus established in His conversation with John.
Jesus explained exactly what those seven stars, angels, and lampstands represent. Jesus is the author of Revelation. The author chooses which symbols they will use, and what those symbols represent. No one else in the world can over ride the author. And in this case, the Author of Revelation is the One who will decide the final outcome of the judgment process. When we put the introduction together with the information found at the end of the chapter, we can see the warnings involved. Along with those warnings, we see specific instructions designed to keep us inline with the wishes of the Author. Jesus wants us to understand every detail in Revelation. And Jesus established the foundation of that understanding.
If we were to turn the page, we would see how the end of chapter 1 introduced the subject matter in chapter 2. That tells us, Revelation was written much like any other novel. You would never skip a chapter in a novel that interests you. So why skip chapters in Revelation?
At this point we are going jump to the very end of Revelation to see how it parallels the summation in chapter 1.
Revelation 22:18-21 NLTse (18) And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. (19) And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book. (20) He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! (21) May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.
By design the warning at the end of the book echos the information at the beginning of the book. “God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.” The introduction to Revelation contains the blessing. The end of Revelation contains the curses. Put the two together and we see how the first few and last few sentences create book stand to hold the entire book together. The warning in Revelation is obvious to most people. But its spiritual meaning is lost without the blessing. Without the blessing, what do we have?
The blessing establishes the Christlike attitude we need to approach the Book of Revelation as well as share the information revealed. When we put Jesus in the center of our studies, we can’t loose. We may not have everything revealed to us on the first, second, or even twelfth attempt. But we will continue to see details we missed. That is one way Jesus keeps us humble. Don’t forget, Revelation is an inspired book and we have to accept lessons designed for personal, spiritual growth.
We don’t want to skip over any details in Revelation chapter 1. This chapter sets the ground work of understanding. Jesus told us, this book is designed for those in His church to read and understand.
Revelation 1:4-6 NLTse This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; (5) and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. (6) He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
When we see the word, Amen, that tells us, this is a good place to stop, go back, and review the information presented. We see how John introduced himself as the messenger. The one who penned the inspired words. We see how John introduced Jesus using a series of symbols. It may seem rather strange to see how Jesus used those same symbols at the end of the chapter to describe Himself. We have to look at a number of reasons why chapter 1 used that particular pattern.
The Bible uses something referred to as repetition. Certain words or phrases are repeated to attract the readers attention. In most cases, those words and phases carry a spiritual meaning the casual reader will miss. It may seem rather strange for John to introduce Jesus with a set of symbols, then to see Jesus repeat that same series of symbols. Jesus is establishing a few general rules here. Jesus knows the meaning of each and every symbol. In this particular example, Jesus is using John to show us how He is able to meet and work with us on whatever level we are on. Yes there are different levels of learning. There are different levels of spiritual awareness. It wasn’t by accident that Jesus used spiritual symbols to emphasis that point. We know it is an important point based on the fact we see those words and phrases repeated. So remember, the author repeats words and phrases to catch our attention. At that point we have no other choice than to review the information so we do not miss its spiritual meaning.
We also saw how we had to gather all the information in the chapter before the spiritual meaning was unlocked. Collecting all the information on a subject is another important rule we need to follow.
We have the opportunity to collect information. The kingdom of priests is a phrase used in only a few stories in the Bible. The first time it was mentioned was a short time after God freed Israel from the slavery in Egypt.
Exodus 19:3-6 NLTse Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel: (4) ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. (5) Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. (6) And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”
Of course Israel instantly accepted the invitation. But after hearing the Ten Commandment, most of the Israelites changed their mind. They told Moses to talk to God and fill them in on the details.
We just leaned another valuable lesson. The term, kingdom of priests led us to another story with a vital connection. Jesus asks us to follow His commands as a condition to understanding the message. When we look at the original offer to becomes God’s kingdom of priests, we can’t help but notice the Ten Commandments. A link no one in their right mind could deny.
That’s exactly what we are looking for. Links in the Bible that explain the spiritual meaning of the message at hand. What is a priest dedicated to God? The Bible tells us, it is a person who keeps God’s commandments. That is one clue. Of course some people will argue, that is only for the Old Testament people. Is it? We can look at a few additional facts from the Bible.
1 Peter 2:5-10 NLTse And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. (6) As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” (7) Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” (8) And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. (9) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (10) “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”
Peter tied in God’s holy priesthood with the spiritual temple designed with Christ as the corner stone. Once we examine the link between these books, we can’t help but find how one story explains the other. Some people find it difficult to explain what that spiritual temple is. When we look at what Peter explained, and what Christ added in Revelation, there is no other definition than God’s people who take up the priesthood originally offered when God took Israel out of Egypt.
Some churches have long drawn out rules and regulations describing what they think a priest is, who can be a priest, and other aspects about priests and pastors they claim are Biblical. The fact of the matter is, Peter described a priest as a part of that spiritual temple. Jesus described that priesthood as anyone who reads and understand His message in Revelation. That can be a can of worms in modern Christianity. Almost every church claims they can read, understand, and interpret Revelation. Many churches claim their powers of interpretation prove they are some type of chosen or special church. Some claim to be the only true church. Many of those claims are centered on the Book of Revelation. Those claims are based on a few select lines in Revelation. When we look at those sentences as they were recorded, and where they lead us, we see quite a different story.
Some of the most popular priests or pastors today host television shows that concentrate on Revelation and prophecy. Week after week they make predictions. Week after week they prove their spiritual connection with Jesus is false and misleading. Their predictions rarely come true. Or as so vague, they hold little water. When we look at the kingdom of priests Jesus, Moses, and Peter described, we see the Biblical meaning of a priest. Which of course is far different than the earthly definition. The same is true for the majority of visions, symbols, and prophecies taken from Revelation and interpreted using any other method than those described in the Bible.
Based on the fact most churches boast about their knowledge of Revelation, no one can argue the fact, Jesus’ priests are those who read and understand His message. There is no other source of training required outside the Bible. With that in mind, we will continue to look at Revelation chapter 1.
Revelation 1:7-8 NLTse Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him– even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! (8) “I am the Alpha and the Omega–the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come–the Almighty One.”
John took a giant leap from his time to Jesus’ return. John must have jumped ahead for a reason. Remember how we jumped ahead to look at the last few sentences in Revelation? We followed a study rule. Look what we found. Now we find John sending us to the last chapter in Revelation. See how those connections exist inside scripture? We have a guide in Jesus’ Spirit. What more do we need?
Revelation 1:9-11 MKJV I, John, who also am your brother and companion in the affliction, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the island that is called Patmos, for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. (10) I came to be in the Spirit in the Lord’s day and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, (11) saying, I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. Also, What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.
Jesus being the first and last, the Alpha and Omega repeat throughout the first chapter. We can’t ignore that fact. We have to put that information in its place. Jesus is the Teacher. He is the first and last source of information for us to rely on. We don’t need any other source of information. We also see how this letter was to go out to the frontier of the Christian world. There is a lesson is that. We still have Christian frontiers.
The testimony of Christ is another phrase we have to look up. It is mentioned in a couple of stories in Revelation. This gives us the opportunity to look at other parts of the story, put the details together, and see what they say.
Revelation 6:9-11 MKJV And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held. (10) And they cried with a loud voice, saying, Until when, Master, holy and true, do You not judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? (11) And white robes were given to each one of them. And it was said to them that they should rest yet for a little time, until both their fellow servants and their brothers (those about to be killed as they were ) should have their number made complete.
When we read the description of the fifth seal, we see the price may be rather high. Following the testimonies of Jesus, which is described as reading and understanding His message is not going to be a bed of roses, or an easy road to travel. If we were merely reading Revelation, it would have taken us five more chapters before we got to that part of the message. Collecting all the information on what Jesus’ testimony is took us directly to that information.
Revelation 12:15-17 MKJV (15) And the serpent cast out of his mouth water like a flood after the woman, so that he might cause her to be carried away by the river. (16) And the earth helped the woman. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth. (17) And the dragon was enraged over the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Here John once again tied in God’s commandments with Jesus’ testimony. None of us made that connection a second time. Jesus the Author did. Again we see how rough the road is. We also see who is responsible for adding all those bumps and pot holes in the road. We also see why the devil is angry. He tried to kill the baby Jesus. Satan is angry because he failed. So Satan took that anger and focused it on the people who continued to follow Jesus.
Revelation 19:7-10 MKJV (7) Let us be glad and rejoice and we will give glory to Him. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself. (8) And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. For the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. (9) And he said to me, Write, Blessed are those who have been called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God. (10) And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, See, do not do it! I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Of course Jesus is going to describe the benefits in store for those who follow His Word. The road may be rough, but the destination is well worth the journey. Jesus doesn’t hide anything. He gives us the good news, and the warnings. Jesus tells us how rough the journey is going to be before He explains the benefits.
What is that prophecy John is trying to explain here? When people take that one line out of the story, they tend to drift off in different directions. In most cases they attempt to link that one line about Jesus’ testimony and prophecy to their church, and the advanced knowledge they claim to have. Thus far we have seen no evidence to support such a claim. On the contrary, we have written evidence telling us, Jesus’ church is made up of those who accept the role of priest with full knowledge of the pitfalls and benefits. There is no mention of weekly paychecks, degrees, retirement funds, collecting funds, and the other roles mankind has attached to the priesthood. You won’t find those roles in Revelation because that was never part of Jesus’ message.
On the other hand, understanding this letter is a part of Jesus’ promise, and a part of the benefit package. Not the way the world understands, or tries to explain John’s book. but the way Jesus designed Revelation to be explained and understood. The more we study Revelation, the more will will see and understand that difference.