How to Reset

Series: Revelation
February 21, 2021
Revelation 1:9-20
George Robertson

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (ESV)

Big Idea: The sovereignty of God and the love of God are two apparently contradictory thoughts John stitches together for suffering Christians in Revelation. By his own example, he tells us that we can only affirm both as we hear and see them woven together in Jesus.

I. Listen (vv. 9-11)
To be convinced that suffering or disappointment do not conflict with God’s love requires listening regularly to God’s word. That listening involves not merely reading the Bible but especially listening to it preached within corporate worship.

A. Suffering Witness (v.9)   
The first reason one should feel compelled to accept the whole Bible and the New Testament in particular is that the men who wrote it suffered for their testimony. Most of them lost everything including their lives for recording what they did (2 Co. 11:23-29).

B. Spirit's Inspiration (v. 10) 
By “inspired” we mean that the Bible itself teaches that its words have been “breathed out” by God (2 Ti. 3:16). Rather than dictating, God “carried along” his authors, incorporating their unique personalities, experiences, vocabulary and training so that while the result is exactly what God intended, the Bible also has a human feel (2 Pt. 1:20-21). The Bible is also infallible. Because the Bible is God’s word, it carries inherent authority and is unfailingly true.

C. Superior Textual Record (v. 11)
Two primary tests are used to discern an ancient text’s reliability and accuracy. There are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Additionally, there are 10,000 more in cognate languages, that is, copies of Greek manuscripts in languages very closely related to Greek. By means of these 15,000 manuscripts, scholars have identified every textual variant and have by consensus been able to determine the original reading in most situations. See the chart below for a comparison with other ancient works.

II. Look (vv. 12-20)
The vision of Jesus we see here shows us at least four things about him.

A. With the Church
The earthly temple was a replica of heaven, so John sees Jesus walking among the lampstands, each of which represents a Christian congregation. This picture indicates how immediately attentive Jesus is to us. Not only is he with us on earth through his Spirit, we are spiritually with him in heaven (Col. 3:2).

B. For the Church
The vision of Jesus we see here shows us at least four things about him.

1. Divine: He is first one who shares the distinguishing characteristics of God. “Son of Man” together with the ascription of “glory” in 1:6 identify Christ as the divine Messiah anticipated in Ezekiel 1 and Daniel 7.

2. Priest: His long robe is reminiscent of the Old Testament high priest’s vestments (Ex. 28:4; 29:5).

3. Prophet: His “white hair” represents the wisdom he conveys to us as he reveals to us everything we need to know for life and salvation (Lev. 1932; Pr. 16:31; cf. Pr. 8).

4. King: The golden sash around his chest was worn by kings not priests. This King will come for us with overwhelming power like a conflagration (cf. 2:18) and with the offensive weaponry of a warrior.

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
• What is an example of something that makes suffering seem to be at odds with God’s love?
• How does the suffering of the writers of God’s Word help affirm its validity?
• In what way does God’s Word demonstrate his love?
• Which characteristic of Jesus was most comforting to you?

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