Sunday, June 22, 2008
BEHOLD HE COMETH!
The meaning of the word “Revelation” is “the uncovering of something that was hidden”.
What did God uncover when He disclosed the prophecy that is called “The Revelation of John”?
God lifted the tip of the veil covering “the mysteries of the Kingdom of God”. This Reminds me of the words of 1 Corinthians 2:9, where we read,
1 Corinthians 2:9
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
What are these things that God is speaking about?
Look at the context. The context says, (look at Verse 7,) we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, which is nothing else than the Gospel of salvation. The wisdom that God gives us is the wisdom unto salvation. The princes of this world don’t understand it, verse 8. But God has Revealed it to us by His Spirit, verse 10. And so, verse 9 speaks also about the mysteries of the Kingdom of God in the Gospel, mysteries which God has not yet disclosed to us. But now, in the prophecy called “The Revelation of John” God discloses a little more than what He has disclosed in all the previous parts of the Bible. It was written between 90 and 100 AD, and it was addressed to the 7 churches in Asia. The Apostle John was the last of the Apostles still alive, and this was the last of the direct communications from God to man. It begins with the words,
The Revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 2:9, Revelation 1:1-8)
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was and which is to come, the Almighty.
Actually the title of this epistle should have been “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”. Most people take it to mean “the revelation which Jesus Christ gave, of which He is the author”. In other words, they read it as if it is saying, “the revelation from Jesus Christ”. But that is not what the Greek text says. When we compare this expression with many other verses where the same sentence construction in the Greek text occurs, then we see that this expression must be understood in the objective sense, meaning that Jesus Christ is the object of this Scripture. It means that Jesus Christ is revealed to us in this last epistle in the Bible. When we study it we see that “the revelation of Jesus Christ” is the central and all important theme of this prophecy. Then this prophecy is not just prophesying history, but it presents history in the light of the revelation of Jesus Christ. From the historical viewpoint this prophecy is rather gloomy and hopeless; one calamity follows another. This is not how we should look at this epistle. We should rather see how all things lead to the final revelation of our Lord in glory. Then we “see Jesus” in all the events of this present time, and we shall not fail to see the blessing that is promised to them that read, and hear, and keep the words of this prophecy. The Lord Jesus speaks in this epistle about:
Things Which Must Shortly Come to Pass (Revelation 1:1, Matthew 24:36, 25:13, John 16:33)
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His Angel unto His servant John:
God gave this revelation of Jesus Christ unto Christ, the Lord Jesus in His humanity, to declare this revelation to John and to declare it us who are His servants.
But what does this mean: “To shew things which must shortly come to pass”?
Does it mean, “To lift the veil that hides the future from our view”?
But that would again turn us to a historical interpretation of this prophecy, and we would be able to trace the fulfillment of this prophecy step by step in the consecutive events of this present time, and then we would be able to determine what time it is on the world-clock. Very soon we would be able to predict the day and the hour of the Lord’s return. As you know, this is the path that many have chosen in these days, but it is a path that is forbidden. The Lord Jesus Christ emphasized this when He said that “No man knows the day or the hour”, Matthew 24:36, 25:13. We must condemn this method of interpretation. “To shew things which must shortly come to pass” really means “to reveal them to us in a new light”, in their real significance, as a part of God’s own program, “as a revelation of the coming Lord”. We must “see Jesus” even in the events of the present world. We must have sufficient light to “hold fast that which we have”, even in the midst of the confusion and darkness and gloom of the history of the world, and of the church in the midst of the world, and of the breaking down of the family structure, and so on. In the midst of all these disasters we must rejoice to see the signs that Jesus is coming again. This then is the purpose of this prophecy: To enable us to see the events of this present time in the light of Christ’s coming, and therein we have peace and rejoice. Remember the words that Jesus spoke in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”.
Be of good cheer is not a flimsy advice, it is a command: “Be of good cheer”. And so, when we consider “the things which must shortly come to pass”, we realize that all things are but the unfolding of the eternal good pleasure of the Most High. They are indeed determined. All things are determined, large and small, what we call good and evil. They do not happen by blind chance, but by the counsel of the all wise Creator of all things. And thus our hearts find rest and peace, because God knows what is best.
And we are assured that all things come to pass because Christ is coming!
“Behold He Cometh”. All these things that we find in this prophecy called “The Revelation of John” must come to pass shortly.
What does that mean?
It means that these things began to take place immediately after the Lord Jesus gave this prophecy to the Apostle John. And thus the history that is unfolding in many of these chapters and passages refers to the entire New Testament period of time. God is not slack concerning His promise, and thus all these things have as their purpose that the whole church must be gathered, the measure of iniquity must be filled, and Gog and Magog must play their own part in the things that must come to pass. There is no delay. And therefore, the doctrine that God restrains the progress of sin is contrary to this Scriptural teaching. That is a doctrine that falls in the category of “common grace”. There is no such thing as “common grace”. And therefore, all things hasten unto the end. And then we read in verse 1, “and He sent and signified it by His Angel unto His servant John”. The Angel here is not an angel, but a Messenger. The Greek word translated “angel” can just as well be translated “messenger”. From the following verses we understand that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself was the Messenger who gave this message to the Apostle John. Briefly paraphrased, this part of verse 1 says, “and God sent His Messenger, the Lord Jesus Christ, and God signified the message in the form of various signs and symbols, and God conveyed it through the Lord Jesus Christ to His servant the Apostle John”.
And what did John do with that message?
We read in verse 2,
John Bare Record of the Word of God (Revelation 1:2, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 11:6, Ephesians 1:4)
Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
Well that is no surprise, is it not?
What is every servant of the Lord Jesus Christ to do in this world?
We bear record of the Word of God. We testify to those whom God sends to us what words of God are recorded in the Bible, we testify where we see Jesus Christ in the Bible and Him crucified, and we testify what principles we see in those words recorded for us. We tell them what God has done for us, and we tell them that God did that for us in the light of what He has done for Himself. It means, when we bring the Gospel to anyone, God must be glorified. It means, we must give Him 100% of all the credit for our salvation. Only then is God glorified. In other words, God is glorified if we tell them that “we are saved by grace, through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”.
You recognized that I quoted from Ephesians 2:8-9. We can use these words, or any other summation of the Gospel, as long as we do not leave out the essentials, such as Death and Hell.
We bring the good news of salvation, because this is what we are saved from: Death and Hell. God saved us through faith. But that faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. We did not conjure up a saving faith. Our faith is not in the fact that we decided to believe.
Our trust is not in our faith. Our trust is in Christ!
He gave us the faith to believe whatever He has written in the Bible. That is the faith, which has been given to us by grace.
And what is grace?
Grace is the unmerited favor of God that leads us to salvation. And since it is unmerited favor, don’t let anyone turn it around and claim that it was merited by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. That is a gross adulteration of the English language, and it is an abomination in the sight of God. “If it is by grace, then is it no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace”.
This is what God says in Romans 11:6. Therefore, if salvation is the free gift from God, given entirely by grace, not merited by us in any way by our good behavior, or by any other qualifications within us, it means that God must decide whom to give this salvation to. And since God is all wise, knowing the end from the beginning, God must have made such decisions from before the foundation of the world, and thus God did not make such decisions at some point in time when God learned what we have decided. Therefore God chose His elect from before the foundation of the world, and all those elect shall come to believe God’s words in the Bible. This is what we testify to those whom God sends to us.
And what response do we then hear?
“You mean to say that we are robots?”
What should your answer be?
“You are indeed robots, and I will prove it to you. You are Satan’s robots. Satan has programmed you to disbelieve the plain Word of God. When you read something in the Bible that does not agree with what Satan has programmed within you, you will reject it, and you will declare God a liar at this point in the Bible”.
And then you should turn to Ephesians 1:4, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him”, and see if they are willing to discuss it any further. This is what it means “to bear record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that we see in the Bible”.
Blessed Are They That Hear (Revelation 1:3, Matthew 13:13,16, 1 Peter 1:4-5, Philippians 1:29)
Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
The scene that is pictured here in verse 3 is that one person reads the Word of God out loud, and in the audience there are several, or many, who are listening.
But do they hear?
The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 13:13, “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand”.
You see, the way we come into this world we are not able to hear any message of the Gospel, because Satan has blinded our minds so that we are not willing to hear what Christ has to say. Therefore Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 13:16, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear”.
Only the elect of God can hear spiritual messages from God, because God the Holy Spirit makes it clear to us.
And what is the blessing spoken of here in this verse?
It is the inheritance of the glory of the eternal Kingdom in the day of Jesus Christ, “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”, 1 Peter 1:4-5.
It is the blessedness of the New Jerusalem and of the New Heaven & New Earth where only righteousness dwells, and where the dwelling place of God will be with men forever, with all that it entails. This is the ultimate state of blessedness that the entire epistle of Revelation looks forward to.
Is there also a present blessing in these words?
God says, “Blessed are they that keep those things which are written therein”.
What does it mean “to keep those things which are written herein”?
Almost all of it is future prophecy.
How can anyone keep this?
Only those who have been saved will hear with spiritual ears, and only they are the ones who keep the words of this prophecy in their heart. They will meditate on it and they will make it their own. They will have an earnest desire to do those things that are pleasing in God’s sight. And so, when Christ speaks the two commands in Revelation 22:18-19, those who are saved will search out how they can remain obedient to this set of commandments. The blessing is knowing that we are doers of the Word, and not hearers only, because Christ has made us doers of the Word. The blessing is to know that we will be faithful unto death, because the grace of God keeps us faithful. The blessing is that we indeed can hold fast that which we have, and that no one can take our crown. And if we do suffer, we firmly believe the words of Philippians 1:29, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake”. Therefore to suffer for His sake is not a burden, but a privilege. That is the blessing for them that keep those things which are written herein. We move on to verse 4:
Grace and Peace (Revelation 1:4, Romans 5:1, 8:28, Luke 21:16)
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
This epistle was addressed to 7 churches in a province that was called Asia, which was actually a small part of what is now called Turkey.
Why only those seven?
By this time the Gospel had spread to almost all the parts of the Roman Empire. I believe God singled out these seven churches because they had all the elements of the church throughout the New Testament period of time. Here God addresses these 7 churches with, “Grace unto you and peace”. I talked already about grace. It is the unmerited favor of God unto salvation. Therefore, paraphrased this greeting says, “May God through Christ by the Holy Spirit operate with His grace in your hearts unto salvation, so that you may have peace with God”.
Peace is always peace with God. Apart from peace with God there is no peace. This is the first fruit of God’s grace. God says in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.
Before we were saved we were at war with God. We were enemies of God, hating God. But when we became saved we were reconciled to God through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. By His grace we became the adopted sons of God, the Bride of Christ. Therefore God assures us that we are always in His care. God says in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”.
God’s providence makes all things work for our benefit, even all things that we call evil. Let me suggest a few examples.
First: When we see in our secular society the next generation, and we see that they are more wicked than the previous generation, then we can have peace with that because it is pointing to the fact that this world is on a speed train toward Judgment Day.
And what is in it for us on Judgment Day?
Jesus Christ is coming again to take us to be with Him, and in this we should rejoice.
But what about all those people who remain unsaved; they go to Hell. Should we beseech God to give them more time to repent?
Does God need more time in order to save a few?
No! God’s timetable is perfect. And if it is God’s plan to bring on the Last Day very soon, I would not want to bemoan His decision.
Second: When we see that fornication in our society is on the increase, and homosexuality is on the increase, we can have peace in the midst of all this misplaced emphasis on love, sexual love. People say they have a relationship with someone, but in fact they are cohabitating with one another. I do not understand how they can be so dumb to think that if they change the label from fornication to a relationship then it will be all right. But we can have peace with that because Jesus compared the last days with the story of Lot and his two daughters who fled from Sodom. And thus it means that Jesus is coming soon, and in this we can rejoice.
Third: We can look at the local churches around us, and what do we see?
We see pastors and elders who have been divorced and remarried, we see pulpits populated by women as preachers, we see their Bibles which are Gnostic Bibles, we see their study materials which scream the “free will” gospel from off their pages, we see their hocus-pocus with healing miracles and other signs and wonders, we hear of their beliefs that God is still speaking today in dreams and visions and in angel visitations and in tongues, and we hear that they are cozying up to the Roman Catholic Church. It is pointless for me to give Scripture references. The list is just endless. We can have peace with this also, because it means that Christ is coming soon.
Fourth: when we are personally plagued by someone in the family who wants to live out his or her ego-trip, do not let this wear you down. Do not give in to this great pressure. Do not feel sorry for yourself. It will drive you insane, and you will end up in the hands of psychiatrists who will prescribe pills that you will have to take for the rest of your life. And after many years you end up in a wheelchair because of their side-effects. Instead go in the other direction: Have peace with it and rejoice, for Jesus is coming again. Did He not say in Luke 21:16, “And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death”. Just think of it that Almighty God, the Creator of the universe who is greater than this universe, will stoop down to our level and take us up to be with Him forever. “Behold He Cometh”. How awesome!
The First Begotten of the Dead (Revelation 1:5, Colossians 1:15-18, Romans 6:14)
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
Many people stumble over this expression, “the first begotten of the dead”, since it seems to imply that Christ had a beginning. Of course we should not look at this from a historical perspective, because Moses was also restored from the dead, and that was about 1400 years before the Lord Jesus rose from the dead. Also, there were two children who were raised from the dead by God through the prophets Elijah and Elisha. So, even though the word “first” is in this expression, do not interpret it historically. But God gave us the Scriptures to interpret this expression perfectly. God says in Colossians 1:15-18, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence”.
This passage emphasizes that Christ is not a created being in any sense. He is before all things. O yes, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but His conception in the womb of Mary only marks the beginning of His incarnation as a human. But because all things were created by Him and for Him, God considers Him the Firstborn of every creature, the One who is entitled to inherit all things from God. And now, in Revelation 1:5 He is “the firstborn from the dead”.
Here we lie in the midst of death.
How can we have peace?
He was here. He was in the womb of death. But His voice that speaks now of grace and peace is not of this world. He rose from the grave. His voice is the resurrection voice. He that speaks to us stands at the other side of death and the grave as the Risen One. And when He passed through death He left the way open. And the “Firstborn” is He that openeth the womb and prepares the way for all His brethren. Thus Christ was in the womb of death, was born from death, and opened the womb of death for all those whom the Father gave Him. And He calls to us: “Grace and peace to you!”
“Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood”.
He did not just shed His blood for us, but He also applies its atoning power to us. It means that we are not only liberated from the guilt of our sins, but we are also freed from the dominion and the corruption of sin. We have been freed from being enslaved to sin. God says in Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace”. And so we see that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death. In this way Christ made us kings and priests:
And He Hath Made Us Kings and Priests (Revelation 1:6, 1 Corinthians 15:28, Daniel 7:14)
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, by His indwelling Spirit, we are actually delivered and translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of the marvellous light of God, and formed into a Kingdom of priests. You see, God’s people are a Kingdom, not just a collection of kings. They are a unity, a Kingdom over which Christ rules as the chief Servant of Jehovah, the High Priest according to the order of Melchisedec. He has a name above all names, and in which His brethren reign with Him, each in his own position and all serving the purpose of the whole, in order that all may be to the glory of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The church is already such a Kingdom now, but incomplete. By faith we already partake of the royal dominion of our Lord Jesus Christ. But only when all the elect have been brought in, and when our earthly bodies shall be transformed into glorious bodies made like unto His most glorious body, and when all things shall be made new in the New Heaven & New Earth, and when the dwelling place of God shall be with men, only then shall this Kingdom of priests be fully realized. And Christ’s reign over it shall be forever and ever.
This chapter 15 is all about the resurrection of the body. The resurrection of the soul is not in question, but the resurrection of the body is. Many people teach that Christ’s reign will end when all things shall be subdued under Him. In other words, when we have arrived in the New Heaven & New Earth. They derive that from 1 Corinthians 15:25 and 28, which read as follows, “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all”.
These verses do not teach that Christ shall ever cease to reign. He now reigns until He has put all enemies under His feet. That is true. And that means that this complete subjection of all enemies under His feet is the purpose of His reign. It is the end that must be attained. And when this end shall have been attained, and all things have been subdued under Him, He Himself will also be subject unto the Father does not mean He will reign no more. Instead it means that He will reign as the Servant of God forever, but reign under Him. All things shall forever be subject to Christ. With all things Christ shall be subject to the Father, and thus God will be all in all. All the Scriptures teach that Christ’s dominion shall never cease, that He will reign forever, His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom is that which shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:14).
"Behold He Cometh" (Revelation 1:7-8)
Can you imagine this awesome event?
Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him:
and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
Always the church must have her eyes of hope fixed upon that final event. She must always stand in the attitude of the Bride, looking for the coming of her Bridegroom with the prayer on her lips, “Come, Lord Jesus!” And then, “Even so, Amen”. The word Amen is a Hebrew word. It means, “So be it”, or “It shall surely be!” The Lord shall surely come, we may not doubt it. The suffering of the waiting church may be severe, and it may sometimes seem as if the Lord is slack concerning His promise, But He is surely coming. This promise is sealed with a double oath: “Even so, Amen!” His literal and personal and visible return will mark the end of all history, and will usher in an eternal state of heavenly glory in the New Heaven & New Earth. The history of this world will end with a final catastrophe, a final wonder when every eye shall see the Lord Jesus Christ return in glory. An awesome spectacle. It is the last glorious spectacle all the unsaved shall see before they shall be cast into the Lake of Fire. But for the elect it will be just the beginning of an infinite series of awesome spectacles.
“And all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him”, and that includes those who pierced Him.
Why do they wail?
Where are the saints?
The saints are already with Christ when Christ shall come to judge those on the earth. All the unsaved shall be here on the earth, and they shall all have received their new body which makes them suitable for Hell. The Bible tells us that in our new glorified body we will be immensely glorious. The Apostle John saw one of these saints in his glorified body, and he fell down to worship him. So glorious was his appearing. But the Bible does not disclose what bodies the unsaved will receive at the same time that the saints receive their glorified bodies. We can just imagine that it will not be glorious at all, because they are an abomination to God.
And Christ says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending”. He is the Lord “which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty”. His counsel shall stand, and He will do all His good pleasure. In Him all things have their purpose. Just like all things are out of Him, so all things are through Him and all things are unto Him. From the beginning He made all things with a view to the end. And that end is “the perfect revelation of Jesus Christ”, the One in whom all things in heaven and on earth are to be united forever and ever. AMEN.
By Alfred Chompff