The Book of Revelation: Vindicating the Past, Explaining the Present, & Declaring the Future
Into the voiceless expanse of wonder, John arose! To answer the unanswered questions assailing every Christian heart, a prophet was ordained! At around 96 A.D., more than two decades later, an unprecedented revelation was granted and necessarily so. However, at the giving of Revelation 1-3 the feeling of lunging into the End of the World isn’t relieved. Nor was any answer provided on why the 70 A.D. historical event partially fulfilled and then deviated from the prophecies of Christ. How could such feelings be altered or relieved upon hearing the explicit warnings of Christ to the Churches?
“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” – Rom. 5:10
The apostle Paul was not misinformed in the emphasis, “much more”, when writing Romans 5:10. Most people are self-consumed by the death of Christ, not Christ-consumed, otherwise they would be much more ecstatic about the life of Christ! For, Christ died that He might live - and that we might live in Him! He didn’t die for us to selfishly celebrate the salvific victory of His death while being divorced from the superior salvific victory of His life!
Right away, in the 1st and 3rd verses of the 1st Chapter, the alarm is being sounded in that: firstly, the things herein revealed, in the Book of Revelation, are such that “must shortly come to pass” (Rev. 1:1) “for the time is at hand” (Rev. 1:3). Even so, the Book reveals the Christ, the One “which is to come” (Rev. 1:4), whose manner of coming is descriptively illustrated as “the ending” of all things (Rev. 1:8) insomuch that “all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him” (Rev. 1:7)! Then, very suddenly, John hears behind him “a great voice, as of a trumpet” (Rev. 1:10), and in turning to the voice he saw the LORD! [Ex. 33:20, Col. 1:15] Notably, John didn’t just see the LORD, the Christ, and Him alone, but John saw Jesus standing “in the midst of seven candlesticks” (Rev. 1:13) that represent “the seven Churches which are in Asia” (Rev. 1:11). Fittingly, this is the beginning of a message which, in Chapters 2-3, directly focuses on these seven historical Churches existing at that time; however, this message indirectly and transcendently focuses on the ascended and glorified ministerial existence of Jesus, whose Person and Work does evidently continue, as herein depicted, since the time of His ascension from the Mount of Olives until the 2nd Advent (Acts 1:9-11).
My reader, what John saw is an unprecedented revelation, a peering beyond the vail of clouds that received the Lord Jesus at His glorious ascent from the Mount of Olives! Hence, the message is twofold, both directly and indirectly, to the seven Churches of Asia and to the Gentile Church Age as a whole. In other words, herein we see the ministry of Jesus Christ to the seven Churches of Asia - exemplifying His ongoing ministry to all the Churches of the Gentile Church Age. The direct messages delivered to each individual Church of Asia are easily observable in that they are explicit; the Churches are named one by one. However, the overall message delivered to all the Churches of the Gentile Church Age is implicit and therefore harder to be observed. The implicit message is in building over the progression of the Revelation given to John. For example, it is likely that John didn’t know why Revelation 1:4 spoke of “Seven Spirits” before the Throne of God in Heaven. Albeit, as the Revelation unfolds and, scripture -interpreting- scripture, the meaning becomes plain. The totality of what is being communicated through the Seven Spirits simply cannot be comprehended until Revelation 5:6 wherein, gloriously, the Lamb of God is depicted as having Seven Horns and Seven Eyes!
Note: We must refrain from the desire of discerning the calendared events of the future in our own terms. The Book of Revelation contains the divinely authored terms, wording, and framework that cannot and should not be changed into our own words and expressions. God teaches it best. The Book of Revelation is the sufficient revealer of what we need to know and in what order, and nothing besides, and if we need to fetch other words and ways to express our own viewpoint of the Last Days, then it is an indicator that we don’t understand God’s words and ways. The Book was written so that it might be read, remembered, and quoted, and if we cannot remember or speak what is contained in the Book, neither can we obey it.
My reader, the following references of Revelation 1-5, that baffle most readers, show how explicitly implicit the prophetic message is in fact a revelation of Jesus Christ for all the Churches of the Gentile Church Age, and not merely the seven Churches of Asia.
The Seven Spirits of God: “from the Seven Spirits which are before His Throne” – Rev. 1:4
The Seven Candlesticks: “I saw Seven Golden Candlesticks; And in the midst of the Seven Candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man” – Rev. 1:13
The Seven Lamps of Fire: “and there were Seven Lamps of Fire burning before the Throne, which are the Seven Spirits of God” – Rev. 4:5
The Seven Horns: “in the midst…stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having Seven Horns and Seven Eyes, which are the Seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” – Rev. 5:6
The Seven Eyes: “in the midst…stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having Seven Horns and Seven Eyes, which are the Seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” – Rev. 5:6
There’s an explicitly implicit message being delivered in that, lo and behold: there are Seven Spirits of God, Seven Lamps of Fire, and there are Seven Horns & Seven Eyes on the Lamb of God in Heaven! Furthermore, the implicit message conveyed through these four 7’s does perfectly correlate with the explicit message being delivered to the Churches of Asia in that they are Seven Candlesticks. I repeat, this mystery will be fully disclosed at Revelation 4-5 culminating in the pictorial revelation of the Lamb with Seven Horns and Seven Eyes. Until then, however, let the reader understand the significance of these revelations as they progressively give answers to the most dominating questions bearing upon the mind of 1st century Christians as they read through Revelation 1-3 and onward. Remember that for over two decades, with 70 A.D. having come and gone, the saints have been wondering why the historical events perfectly matched and then deviated from the prophecies of Christ to wit they felt they were lunging into the End of the World.
My reader, no apology is given to the 1st century Christians. On the contrary, the feeling is only aggravated! For, by all appearances, the Lord was foretelling the imminent experience of salvation and damnation in terms of the apocalypse as something that the Churches of Asia will personally experience in their lifetime. Speaking of an apocalyptic salvation, Jesus of Nazareth foretells the enjoyment of “the Tree of Life” in “the Paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7), “a Crown of Life” (Rev. 2:10), “the Hidden Manna”, “White Stone”, and “a New Name written” (Rev. 2:17), “power over the Nations” (Rev. 2:26), ruling the Nations with “a Rod of Iron” (Rev. 2:27), the gift of “the Morning Star” (Rev. 2:28), the clothing of “White Raiment” (Rev. 3:5), becoming “a Pillar in the Temple” (Rev. 3:12), and sitting with Christ on His “Throne” (Rev. 3:21). Moreover, it is foretold that the Jews of 96 A.D., the enemies of the Church in Philadelphia, will come and worship before the feet of the Christians (Rev. 3:9)! My reader, this certainly doesn’t appear to be in the distant future, right? Likewise, speaking of an apocalyptic damnation, the Lord foretells the torment of being “hurt of the Second Death” (Rev. 2:11), being fought with by “the Sword of [Christ’s] Mouth” (Rev. 2:16), and being blotted out of “the Book of Life” (Rev. 3:5), to name a few among other direct threats. My reader, how would you feel hearing such things?
Evidently, at the giving of Revelation 1-3 no clarity is given on why the End of the World didn’t take place in 70 A.D., nor does the Lord immediately relieve the feeling of lunging into the End of the World. Rather, the prophetic momentum carries onward! Saintly alertness, if at all abated, is rekindled by the above prophecies! Why? Because, for the reader of the Book of Revelation only one thing is immediately important. At the start, only one thing should be emphasized with unrivaled importance. Before the past is vindicated or the future is declared, the present must be beheld: “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1).