INTRO TO THE BOOK OF REVELATION

by Riaan

UNVEILING THE TRIUMPHANT LAMB

Revelation-to-John

Introduction 1:1-3

Interestingly, when we look at the number 7 in the book of Revelation it typically represents perfection, e.g. 7 horns mean perfect strength and 7 eyes mean perfect wisdom. Well, this evening I have a 7 point outline- so I was wondering whether I can call this a perfect sermon

I want to look at 7 features of the book of Revelation that will help us get a good introduction to the book  1:1-3

  1. The Nature of the Book

“The Revelation”

What kind of book is this? Uncertainty and confusing regarding the book’s nature has caused many to be put off by it and those who took interest in it have come up with innovative interpretations that would even make Origen blush.

The book tells us exactly what kind of book or literature it is: 1:1 “The Revelation”. The word ‘revelation’ comes from the Greek word apo-ka-lyp-sis – meaning “to unveil”, “to disclose” “to reveal” (where we also get the English apocalypse from).  So, the book has been identified as apocalyptic literature. Now what does that mean?

Michael Vlack describes apocalyptic literature as having four characteristics:

  1. A prophet is given extensive visions.
  2. The vision includes many symbols.
  3. A heavenly messenger or angel is present and give the message to the prophet.
  4. The message involves the Messiah, the Tribulation Period, and the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

So, the book of Revelation is a book that unveils, through extensive visions, which includes many symbols, communicated by angels the message about the glorious triumph, and coming, and rule of the Messiah, the Lamb.

  1. The Subject of the Book

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ”

What or who is the main subject of the book? Well, we see it in the first verse – it is the unveiling (revelation, apocalypsis) of “Jesus Christ”. So, Jesus is the main subject of the book- the book is about Him. Here we have enough reason to read, study and understand this book because it is about our Saviour, it is about our Lord, Jesus Christ.

This is important to emphasize, because of the content in the book, and the things we read here that seem strange, and odd, and scary we can lose focus that this book is about Jesus- it unveils Him in his glory, judgment, and second coming.

It is then not a book about the mark the beast, or what present world order is behind the antichrist or the beast of the sea or the various other symbolic imageries. This book is primarily about Jesus Christ, so do not be distracted and do not forget who the main subject of this book is: The Revelation of Jesus Christ!

I think now would be a good time to also introduce the main theme I want us to consider the book through- and here is my summary of the book in one sentence: The book of Revelation is the Unveiling of the Triumphant Lamb! It is a book that unveils, it is a book about the Lamb who alone is worthy and it is a book that shows Him not as a suffering servant but as the Triumphant Lamb!

  • in glorious appearing – Revelation 1
  • in authority over His Church – Revelation 2-3
  • who alone is worthy in Heaven – Revelation 4-5
  • the Judge of this world – Revelation 6-19
  • the King from the tribe of Judah – Revelation 20
  • the one who makes all things Revelation 21-22
  1. The Source of the Book

“…which God gave Him”

Now, this great and glorious unveiling of the Lamb who triumphs – this revelation has been given by God to Christ. So, God (the Father) is the source of this revelation. What does that mean?

Well, it means in affirming God as the very source of this book we have just affirmed a high view of this book. In understanding God as the source of this book we also realize that this is His very words (2 Tim. 3:16). So, in this sense the book affirms its own divinely inspired origin! This is not the thoughts of man or the imaginations of some apostle stranded on an island, but instead “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him…!

  1. The Importance of the Book

“God gave Him…communicated by His angels to His servants”

We see the importance of this book when we read that the Father gave it to the Son, who communicated it by His angels to His servants (1:1). We see in the Bible when God sends important messages to His servant He dispatches angels to deliver the message (Dan. 9:21).

Notice also that this is the final message of God’s inspired word. The book of Revelation was the last book given to the church from God. It is the conclusion of God’s revealed word and it marks the end or closes the canon of Scripture.

Revelation 22:18–19 (NASB95)

18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

The New Testament begins with the Gospel accounts that tell us about the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and it ends with the book of Revelation that tell us about the Lamb who alone is worthy to rule, judge, reign. This book contains our hope-

Revelation 21:5–6 (NASB95)

5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.

 This is our hope: I am making all things new” this is why the book of Revelation is so important!

  1. The Recipients of the Book

“..bondservants…”

With all the symbolism, with all the happenings, the descriptions of heaven, the throne, the judgment, the beast, the seals, the various other elements in this book it is important to know that this book is for the church! Notice, “From God, to Christ, communicated by His angels- now who is on the end of this long line of revelation? It is “His bondservants”- i.e. the church!

Revelation 1:4–5 (NASB95)

4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—

We cannot ignore this book, we cannot shun this prophecy, we cannot fail to understand it because it is written for us, it is given to His bond-servants.

  1. The Urgency of the Book

“…which must soon take place…for the time is near”

After last Thursday’s class where I covered the seal and trumpet judgment in chapter 6-9 one of the sisters in class was saying what an urgency it has given her to serve the Lord and tell others of the Lord. I commended her and told her, that is exactly the effect the truths here should have on us: we should be urgent and zealous in our service of Christ and our witness of Christ. Why?

Well, notice the language used here in this opening section:

Revelation 1:1,3 (NASB95)

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,

3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

That is why there must be a sense of urgency, and eagerness and zeal that this book induces in God’s people. They must come alive and come on fire to know the truth revealed here, to live by it and to proclaim it to others- to tell others that He is coming soon and the time is near!

  1. The Promise of the Book

“Blessed is he who reads…”

As we end of this “perfect” sermon, we come to number 7: The promise of this book.

Revelation 1:3 (NASB95)

3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

There is a blessing promised here for he who “reads”, those who “hear” and “heed” the things which are written in it. There may be yet a blessing we have deprived ourselves from which can only be received when giving ourselves to read, hear and heed the things written in this book!

Notice here are two groups mentioned in this verse (v3). Firstly, “he who read” (singular pronoun) implying this book is to be read by the individual believer. This book is given for the benefit of the Christian; it is to form part of our private and personal devotions. The blessing promised here is for the “he” who reads- that is you who take this book in your private devotions and read it. My prayer is that you will do that every week before you come to sit and listen to it proclaimed.

Notice also, not only “he who reads” is blessed but “those who hear” (plural pronoun). What does that imply? It implies the book will also be proclaimed, expounded and read in the presence of many (‘those’ i.e. plural pronoun). Here we have in a sense a case for corporate gathering. As Christians we’re not to be islands isolated from one another, but the New Testament expectation is that we would gather together for the preaching of God’s Word (Acts 2:42, Heb. 10:24-25). And in Revelation there is promised a blessing for those (plural pronoun) who hear. This presumes that there will be a gathering where this book will be proclaimed and when that happens there will also be blessing from God. (Cf. Rev. 2-3)

Conclusion

So, here have our introduction to the book of Revelation: The Unveiling of the Triumphant Lamb.  Now, the one reason I referenced Jesus as the Lamb in this book is because the book does so about 30 times in the English (NAS) translation.

He is referred to as the LAMB more times than He is referred to as Jesus, Lord or Christ. Now you may think, if this is the book about His triumph, the name ‘Lord’ should be more common. Or if this is the book that all biblical prophecy finds it culmination, the name ‘Christ’ should be the most common. Or if this is the book where He judges the world the name Judge or King or something like that should be the most commonly used. However, according to my calculations, the name LAMB is the most used name for Jesus.

Here’s why:

Even though this is the book that shows Him in His triumphant glory, it’s all possible because He went to the cross and was sacrificed as the Lamb of God for the sins of the world, triumphing over sin, Satan and death. The cross is not forgotten in the book of Revelation. And though we are talking about the end of history here, and though we are talking about His reign and eternal rule- what is held front and center is the cross, is the Lamb.

If the book of Revelation doesn’t forget He is the Lamb – neither should we. If the future doesn’t forget that He is the Lamb, neither should we. If heaven itself recognizes Him as the Lamb who has been slain (Rev. 5:6) so we too should continually bear that in mind, in our hearts and in our lives, especially as we read and study this book!

But in the book of Revelation, He is not the suffering Lamb, He is the triumphant Lamb

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