The last book of the New Testament! Well done if you have studied the daily Scriptures and read the commentaries in the Gateway Church ‘New Testament in a Year’ up to this point! Only one more book to go. And what a book of hope! ‘Revelation presents the final chapter in God’s story of salvation in which he defeats evil, reverses the curse of sin, restores creation, and lives forever among his people.’ (The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook)
Chapter one opens with a prologue, where the apostle John explains how this book of ‘revelation’ came into being – from God to Jesus, to an angel, to John. It starts in a really impactful way by telling us that the one who reads it aloud and those who hear it are blessed and is the only book of the Bible that claims to do this. The intention is that the book was to be read aloud as were the books of the Old Testament, and that it would encourage all those who heard it. John was fully aware of the importance of what he was writing – that it was a Holy book, and to be treated as such. The book of Revelation addresses the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea, churches which were located on a major Roman road so the letter carrier would travel in the same order that the letters were dictated.
John greets these seven churches in Asia, on behalf of God (‘him who is and who was and who is to come’), the Holy Spirit (‘the seven spirits who are before his throne’ – a reference to the seven aspects of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Isaiah 11:2) and Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness (the Greek word translates that as martyr), the most important person among those who have been or ever will be resurrected and the one who will rule forever.
In verses 5b-6, we are reminded that Jesus loves us, cleansed us from our sins by his blood on the cross, gave us royal status and authority and appointed us God’s priests on earth to bring men and women closer to him. We give Jesus glory and leadership of our lives!
Jesus will come on the clouds and he will be visible to everyone, even those who killed him and we will all weep because we will know that we, too, were responsible for his pain and suffering.
In verse 8 the Lord God (as in God the Son), says ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’. The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The beginning and the end. Jesus, who was there at the beginning of creation will be there until the very end. Everything from the beginning of time has been planned and Jesus has lordship over all. When we think about the end of the earth, relationships and life as we know them, our human brains tend to go a little bit into freefall. It can be unsettling to move to a new area, daunting to start a new relationship and unnerving to switch careers or start a new life, but to consider everything as we know it changing all at once is pretty terrifying, even for those of us who like change! It’s so comforting, then, to know that there is one constant that will never change – God! God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have reigned since the beginning of time and they will reign until the end. God’s character doesn’t change, so even though there will be upheaval when the new heaven and the new earth come into being, we can be tranquil in the assurance that the most important thing – God’s steadfast love – will still be with us in the transition. God has the plan, the authority and the eternal perspective, so we can trust in him and look forward with joy to our new-life home, fellowship and purpose.