A Preview of Revelation

May 31, 2015 | Speaker: Bro Jurem Ramos

 

Many Christians and church leaders avoid a serious study of the book of Revelation because they think that it is a mysterious and confusing book, and, according to one, “a kind of secret code to be deciphered.”

  I think the apostle John anticipated this attitude towards this book and so in his opening words, he states the nature of this book and promises a blessing to encourage believers to read this book.   Instead of hiding or covering the truth, Revelation reveals significant divine truths and unseen realities in heaven and on earth, and the future, which we would never be able to discover on our own.   This book reveals much about the Christian life. It teaches that Christ knows exactly about the condition of each local church and that He punishes sin among its members and instructs them to be holy and to persevere despite persecution. It reveals the believers’ strength in Christ and the power of the Word to overcome sin and Satan.   This book also reveals much about the worship of God. It presents to us the glory of God and the reverent worship that constantly happens in His throne.  

Revelation is also a rich source of truth about the future. John MacArthur writes:

  The book of Revelation reveals the end of human history, including the final political setup of the world, the career of Antichrist, and the final battle of Armageddon. It reveals the coming glory of Christ’s earthly reign during the millennial kingdom, the great white throne judgment, and depicts the eternal joy of the new heaven and the new earth. It reveals the ultimate victory of Jesus Christ over all human and demonic opposition.   Yet more than all of that, the book of Revelation is above all about Jesus Christ. It presents the majesty and the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. It shows His position in the universe in relation to God and His creatures, His love for His church and desire for it to be holy, and his sovereign control and power over the earth and the heavens. It also presents in detail His glorious return to defeat all human and demonic opposition.   And so if we are going to ignore Revelation, we will miss all of that treasure of truth and fail to experience the great blessing that is promised to those who read and obey what is written in this wonderful book.   And because we want to gain all the blessings we can from this book, we are now going to continue our study of this book.     We are still in chapter 1. We have seen the prologue (vv. 1-3), which is followed by a Salutation or letter introduction (vv. 4-6). In our study of the Salutation section, we learned about its author and its recipients. we learned that this was written by John the apostle and the immediate recipients were the members of the 7 churches in the Roman province of Asia. In the greetings we learned more about three blessed Persons of the Trinity, and in the doxology, which closed the salutation, we even learned more about Christ and the benefits of His atoning work.   Today we are going to look at Revelation 1:7-8.  Let’s read that portion:   7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 “ I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.   What is the connection or function of these two verses with the rest of the chapter or the book? What is John doing here?   I think John is here announcing the theme of the book, which is about imminent return of the glorious Christ. We could also look at this as a statement that gives us a preview of Christ’s second coming, how he will return and the impact of His coming upon the world of sinners.   Remember that the central subject of the book of Revelation is Christ. This book is about the disclosure of the exalted Christ in His second coming and not about his humiliation during his first coming. And to give us a preview of Christ's second coming and the events that will surround his return, we have here this verse, verse 7.   If you are using a Bible with parallel verses, you will discover that verse 7 contains ideas that are found in two OT passages: Dan 7:13 and Zech 12:10. These two OT passages combined predict the glorious coming of Christ and the effect of his coming on people.  
  • In Daniel 7:13 we read, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man…
 
  • And in Zech 12:10 we read, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, …
  This combination is also found in Matt 24:30 with Jesus Himself making the utterance:   Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.   And so, going back to Revelation 1:7-8, here we have a preview of what will come later in the book of Revelation. This portion also can also be viewed as the theme of the book, which is the second coming of Christ.   As we look at this preview or theme we will learn four truths about Christ’s second coming:  
  1. The certainty of His coming
  2. The manner of His coming
  3. The scope of His coming
  4. The affirmation of His coming
  I want us to explore these ideas.

1.   The Certainty of His coming (v.7a)

Behold, he is coming…   First, I want you to observe the first word in verse 7, the word "behold." In the Bible you will see that the word "behold" often introduces oracles. For example,  
  • Isaiah 17:1 An oracle concerning Damascus. Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins
  • Isaiah 19:1 - An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt.
  An oracle is a “prophetic message” or “a prophetic declaration” or “a message or utterance from God to an individual or group of people, usually delivered by a prophet.   In the book of Revelation the word “behold” occurs twenty-six times. It has two different but related meanings:  
  • In some instances it functions as a marker to show the importance of the statement it introduces. And so this can be translated "look, listen, pay attention.”
  • In other instances it functions as a marker to strongly affirm the truth of the statement it introduces. And so it can be translated can be translated "indeed, certainly."
  And so when John wrote, “Behold, He is coming,” he may have this in mind:   “My beloved brethren, listen very carefully to these words that I have written. What I am about to announce is very important and you cannot remain indifferent to it.  Indeed, certainly, surely, Jesus Christ is coming again and His coming is imminent. I tell you the truth, there is no doubt this is going to happen. And this is what I am about to expound in this book.”   The second coming of the Lord is an idea that is not new. It is a truth that appears in more than five hundred verses throughout the Bible. The letter of Jude says that even Enoch declared this truth. Jude 14-15 says, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” This is a message that is also repeated in in many of the Psalms and in many of the Prophetic books especially Daniel and Zechariah. Malachi, which is the last book of the OT does not fail to mention it as well. Mal 4:5 says, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.”   When we come to the NT the teaching about Christ’s second coming is clearer. Some have even estimated that one out of every 25 verses in the NT refers to the second coming. Jesus repeatedly spoke of His return (Mt 16:27; 24-25; 26:64; Mk 8:38; Lk 9:26) and warned believers to be ready for it (Mt 24:42, 44; 25:13; Lk 12:40; 21:34-36). The return of the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth is a central theme in Scripture.   One early writer wrote the following words:   No truth, therefore, ought to be more frequently proclaimed, next to the first coming of the Lord, than His second coming. We must look forward, as well as backward. We must look to Him on the cross and on the throne. We must vividly realize that He who has once come is coming yet again, or else our testimony will be marred and one-sided. The great advent may be near, or it may be far off. It may come while things remain as they are, or not till after great changes. But, come when it may, it will come surely. Of that our Lord has warned us. We know not, and we are not to know, when; but come it will. Those who are then living will see it; and those who are in the graves will awake to see it. We know not of which number we shall be. But this we do know, that see Him we shall, and that either to our unspeakable joy or to our shame and terror and despair.

2.   The Manner of His Coming

he is coming with the clouds,   This clause is taken from Daniel 7:13. “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man.”   Our Lord’s favorite designation of himself is “Son of Man,” and so we know that this prediction from Daniel refers to Jesus. It says that his coming will be with the clouds of heaven. This picture of the Messiah coming with the clouds from heaven is often repeated in the gospels.  
  • Mt 24:30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
  • Mk 13:26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
  • Lk 21:27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
  • Mt 26:63-64 And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.
  • Mk 14:61-62 … the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.
  We should not think that the clouds that are referred to in those passages are figurative. I believe the clouds are literal clouds. In the account of the ascension of Jesus in Ac 1:9 and 11 we read, “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. … 11 and [the angels] said, “ Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”   I think the clouds are real physical clouds but they probably do not refer to earthly rain clouds. These are the clouds of glory that surround the presence of God.   The cloud in Hebrew thought is commonly associated with the divine presence. The cloud is a material symbol of the divine presence, or the visible sign by which God displays his majesty and glory.   MacArthur: A cloud was used as the visible manifestation of God’s presence with Israel in the wilderness (Ex 13:21-22; 16:10; Num 10:34). At Mount Sinai, “a thick cloud upon the mountain” symbolized God’s presence (Ex 19;16). When the Lord communicated with Moses at the Tent of Meeting, “the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the Lord would speak with Moses” (Ex 33:9). Both the tabernacle (Ex 40:34-38) and the temple (1Ki 8:10-12) were filled with a cloud symbolizing God’s glory at their dedications. Jesus ascended to heaven on a cloud (Acts 1:9). Believers will ascend with clouds at the rapture (1Th 4:17), and Christ will return with clouds (Dan 7:13; Mt 24:30).   This is the reason why one of the names the Jews call the Messiah is the “Cloud-Man.”   And so when Christ returns with the clouds, it is a picture of Christ descending from heaven revealing His glory in a brilliant light and blazing brightness that is indescribable and terrifying.

3.   The Scope of His Coming

  and every eye will see him,   John declares that every eye will see Him.   This points to the fact that when Christ returns, it is going to be a personal visible appearing. It will be a literal appearance so that not merely will every mind think of Him, but “every eye will see Him.”   At His first coming, when He ministered here on earth during His days of humiliation, Jesus was somewhat obscure. Most of the people who had encountered him were living in Palestine. And in one rare instance when His glory was manifested, and this was at the transfiguration, only Peter, James, and John saw it. But when Jesus comes again, every eye will see Him, as every man sees the sun each day. His glory will be obvious to all humanity. {I believe ALL, including all the believers (Jn 1:51) and unbelievers (Mk 14:61-62) who have long been dead, will see Him. How He will do it, I do not know.}   When John says, “every eye will see Him,” it also means that when Jesus comes, it won’t be a “secret” coming. The whole world will know it is Jesus.   There are people who claim to be Jesus or the Messiah but only those who are in their community or who have access to television or internet have seen him. We have one here in Davao who claims to be the appointed Son of God but most people in the world don’t know he exists. More people are wealthier than he is and more famous than he is. When Christ returns, everybody will know it is Jesus. Everybody will confess Jesus is Lord.   And this is why our Lord Jesus warned in Mt 24:26-27 So, if they say to you, ‘ Look, he is in the wilderness, ’ do not go out. If they say, ‘ Look, he is in the inner rooms, ’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.   John clarifies who will be included in the “every eye” that will see the coming of Jesus.   and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him.   John is borrowing a portion of the messianic prophecy of Zechariah 12:10.   10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.   Who is John referring to as part of the subgroup that will see Jesus when he comes back in glory?  
  1. He is referring to the Jews who indirectly pierced Jesus
  In that OT passage, the prophet Zechariah points to the Jews as those who pierced or crucified their Messiah. This is confirmed by the statement of Peter in Acts 2:22-23. Here Peter accuses the Jews as those who crucified their Messiah, although indirectly. Peter said,   “Men of Israel, hear these words: … 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”  
  1. He is referring also to the Gentiles who directly pierced Jesus.
  In Jn 19:34 we see the actual piercing of Christ. It reads, “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” John explains in Jn 19:36-37 why this happened:   36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: … 37 … “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”   This quotation is from Zech 12:10, but you will observe that John is not applying the fulfillment of this Scripture to the Jews but to the Gentile Roman soldiers who actually nailed Jesus’ hands and pierced his the side.   In light of those two passages, I think that in Rev 1:7, John intends to show that all of those involved in the crucifixion of Jesus, whether directly (as the Romans soldiers did) and indirectly (as the Jews did), will see Christ when He returns, even if they have long been dead. Here is why I believe this.   Do you remember the incident when Jesus was on trial before the Sanhedrin in Mk 14:61-62? The high priest asked Jesus, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.   Take note of the words of Jesus. He said that the high priest will see Jesus seated at God’s right hand and coming with the clouds of heaven. This high priest has been indirectly involved in the crucifixion of Jesus. He is part of the group of Jews Peter accused in Acts 2:23 when he said, “you crucified and killed” Jesus. And yet Jesus predicted, “You will see the Son of Man … coming with the clouds of heaven.”   On the basis of these words of Jesus, I believe that all of those people, whether directly or indirectly, who were involved in the crucifixion and the killing of Jesus will see Him when He returns again, coming with the clouds. I don’t know how Jesus is going to do this but they will see Him.   But let me add two more groups who could be included in those who pierced Christ and see Him at his second coming.  
  1. All of those who identify themselves with the spirit of those who crucified Christ.
  Let me clarify what I mean by reading the comment in Vincent’s Word Studies:   The expression here refers not to the Jews or the Gentiles surrounding Christ when he was hanging at the cross, but to all who reject the Son of Man; those who “in any age have identified themselves with the spirit of the Savior's murderers” (Milligan).  
  1. All of apostates.
  Hebrews 6:4-6 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.   Someone said, “Those who once professed to love Christ and have gone back to the world; they that speak against the Christ whom once they professed to love; they whose inconsistent lives have brought dishonor upon the sacred name of Jesus; they who refused His love, stifled their consciences, and rejected His rebukes; they who scorn the love and mercy offered by the Savior—all these may be said to have pierced Him.”       Now let’s continue. Another subgroup the John mentions that are included in the “every eye will see Him” is   and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him.   The word “tribes” is commonly applied to the twelve tribes of Israel, but it may be used to denote nations and people in general. And so this can be considered to be just another reference to the previous clause, those who pierced Christ.   “Wail” means to beat oneself in the breast as an expression of sorrow; and then to lament, to cry aloud in intense grief.” However, it does not necessarily refer to an outward display of godly sorrow and genuine repentance. The mourning of Zech 12:10–12 was that of repentance, but the wailing of Revelation is the result of guilt for sin and fear of punishment (Rev 6:15-16)   15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “ Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?   NTCS: The mourners will beat their chests with their fists and regret the life they led. They will be filled with remorse but not with penitence when they see Jesus. When they see him coming with power and glory, the people who have refused to acknowledge him will realize that it is too late to repent.   And who will belong to the tribes of the earth who will wail at his coming?   That will include, as someone said, “all who have ever lived, the high and the low, the rich and the poor, the old and the young; all shall see Him, at one and the same moment, all together; the eyes of the blind shall be opened to see Him, all that are in the graves shall see Him, and all who lie in the depths of the sea.”  
  • Those who see Jesus and will wail at His coming will include skeptics like the New Atheists like Richard Dawkins (who wrote the anti-Christian bestseller The God Delusion), Christopher Hitchens, and others.
  • Those who see Jesus and will wail at His coming will include the founders of self-effort and works-based religions like Joseph Smith, Buddha, Mohammed, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Apollo Quiboloy, Felix Manalo, Eli Soriano, and many other founders of false religions throughout the ages.
  • Those who see Jesus and will wail at His coming will include the morally impenitent like Herod, Judas, Pilate and others.
  • They will include scoffers who say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.
  • They will include those who have shown indifference and ingratitude to Christ.
  • They will include the hypocrites, backsliders, and apostates.
  So we’ve seen three things that are taught by this preview to Revelation:
  1. The certainty of His coming
  2. The manner of His coming
  3. The scope of His coming
Now let us look at one more thing:  

4.   The Affirmation of His Coming

 
  1. The Double Affirmation:
Even so. Amen.  
  • Verse 7 ends with a double affirmation. This is not the expression of a wish that it may be so but a strong affirmation that it will be so.
  • Robert Thomas: “Nai (“yes”) is the usual word of affirmation in the Greek language, and it is followed by the Hebrew word of affirmation Amhn. Combined this way, the two words constitute the figure of speech called synonymia, whose function is to strengthen the certainty of what has just been prophesied.
  • The combination of the Greek and Hebrew forms of affirmation is an expression of vigorous approval and double affirmation.
  • The idea which John intends to convey is, that the coming of the Lord Jesus will certainly come to pass as prophesied and will bring with it the consequences which he says will follow.
  The stupendous promise mentioned in v. 7 requires more than the John’s own affirmation. As the divine response to what has been said about Christ and his relationship to the unbelieving world, God himself now speaks and, with his own signature, vouches for the truthfulness of the coming of Christ. The eternity of God guarantees the prophecy just made. Only here and in 21:5ff. does God speak.    
  1. The Divine Affirmation (v.8)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”   God here is described in four ways. In three ways He Himself described Himself. In one He is described by John.  
  • First, God declares Himself as “the Alpha and the Omega” (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet). Alpha and Omega represent the Hebrew Aleph and Tau, which were regarded not simply as the first and last letters of the alphabet, but as including all the letters in between.
  Barnes: Among the Jewish rabbis it was common to use the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet to denote the whole of anything, from beginning to end. Thus, it is said, “Adam transgressed the whole law, from ‘Aleph (א) to Taw (תּ).” “Abraham kept the whole law, from ‘Aleph to Taw.”   The language here when applied to God means that He is the beginning and the end of all things; and it is thus equivalent to saying that He has always existed, and that He will always exist.   The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet are also a symbolic way of referring to God and His position as the sovereign Lord over everything that takes place in the entire course of human history. From beginning to end, God is fully in control.  
  • Next John calls God as the Lord God. This means that God is the absolute source of all creation and history, and nothing lies outside him. Thus he is the "Lord God" of all.
 
  • Further described Himself as the One “who is and who was and who is to come.”
  Barclay:  That is to say, he is the Eternal. He was before time began; he is now; and he will be when time ends. He has been the God of all who have trusted in him; he is the God in whom at this present moment we can put our trust; and there can be no event and no time in the future which can separate us from him.  
  • Finally, God calls Himself the Almighty.”
  The lexicon BDAG defines the Greek word pantokratōr as "the Almighty, All-Powerful, Omnipotent (One).”   MacArthur says that the term “the Almighty” underscores that God’s power is supreme over all the cataclysmic events recorded in Revelation. He exercises sovereign control over every person, object, and event, and not one molecule in the universe is outside that dominion.   It was not enough for John to give his double affirmation, his "Even so Amen" to the prophetic utterance in Rev 1:7   Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him.   God must put His own signature. He must give his Divine Affirmation (v.8):   “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”  

Closing Thoughts

  Do you believe this? Do you believe Jesus is coming back? Are you hoping for this? Do you desire that Jesus would come back soon?   Do you know that your attitude towards the second coming of Christ could be a test of the condition of your heart if you really love him?   In 1Co 16:22 Paul writes, “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!”   The statement, “Our Lord, come!” is the desire and the prayer of those who love the Lord. Those who love the Lord pray for his coming. They desire His soon return.   We read of this again in Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “ Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!   What may be some reasons why we do not love the Lord’s coming? One of the major reasons is worldliness. This is why Jesus has solemnly warned us about this in Lk 21:34:   “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.”   Holman Christian Standard Bible: “Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly 35 like a trap.   The BDAG lexicon defines the word “dissipation” as “unbridled indulgence in a drinking party, drinking bout” but it also includes the idea of  ‘carousing, intoxication’ and its result ‘drunken headache, hangover’   Cf. Mt 13:22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.   One preacher said, “Ah! no wonder then that we love not His appearing, for has not our worldly self become within us a little Antichrist, whom the Lord must destroy by the brightness of His coming?”   If you are a Christian and you feel that you do not love and pray for God’s appearing, consider where you have fallen. Repent of your sin and lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and make a fresh and full surrender of yourself to Jesus.   If you are an unbeliever, do you not realize that in spirit, you belong to those who crucified Jesus and you will wail bitterly when He comes back in glory. If you are a skeptic, if you doubt Christ and mock at His word, if you are a persecutor of the church, if you are unrepentant of your sins, if you are a scoffer, if you are indifferent to Christ, if you are ungrateful, if you are a hypocrite or an apostate, do not expect that all is going to be well with your body and soul when Christ returns. There is no other place for you but as Rev 22:8 says,   But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.   If you belong to that group, are you not afraid of the sorrow and pain and irreversible suffering that will come upon you when Christ returns to judge the world. Even if you die peacefully, the Lord will raise you up and you will see Jesus come back and you are going to wail bitterly because of guilt, because of His judgment upon you and because you will no longer be given any chance to repent.   And so repent now while you still have opportunity. Acting later may be too late. May the Lord help us to take to heart and give heed to these things!