The first three verses of Revelation teach that we are supposed to be "Owning the Mindset of the Apocalyptic Jesus." Let's go through the verses and define what that weird pastor-speak statement means.
What do I mean by owning the mindset? That's really what the first few verses teach, especially verse three, is that we would put on an attitude or a worldview, a biblical worldview of what's going on in this prophecy, in this book.
Revelation 1:3 reads: Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
What I find fascinating about this is that the Sermon on the Mount is the inauguration of the kingdom of God. Now in Revelation, Jesus comes on the scene as the reigning King of the universe. And again uses this language "Blessed are the…". Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek; blessed are those who hunger and thirst. Blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart.
And here in Revelation, we see that blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy. And blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written.
We preach and hear Revelation, but what is "keeping what is written." The best translation is to "keep watch." We're a bride (church), and our relationship with our husband anticipates the wedding night. Have you seen a widow's walk? I think about it like a widow's walk at a Coast Guard station. When these sailors would go out into these storms, young brides would stand to watch at a Coast Guard Station on the "widows walk," longing for their husbands to return. They were "keeping watch ."We are brides, keeping watch for the love of our lives to return to experience the fullness of our union with Christ.
Secondly, in our first three verses, we are introduced to the word "revelation" or Acoploys.
Revelation 1:1 reads: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servant the things that must soon take place.
The Greek word for Revleation is ἀποκάλυψις (apokalypsis). Something that is made fully known, a full disclosure.
We often think of apocalypse as the end of the world, and it is, but the Greek root word simply means full disclosure. It is the English word Revelation. So the book of Revelation is a full disclosure of Jesus. In Chapter One, Jesus is seen in a vision as the Alpha and Omega who will be the righteous Judge. This is a side of Jesus we have never seen. This is why Revelation is so important; we need to look at the revealed word of God and let that shape our reality. The world sees Jesus in many ways, teacher, healer, and comforter. Gahandi saw him as a man of peace, but the truth is that Jesus is much more than all of those things. We must fully disclose what is revealed in God's revealed word. Seeing Jesus is spiritual.
I have a crazy eye. That's OK; we can talk about it. I have a crazy eye. Like, it goes where it wants to go. Some people are shocked and then embarrassed when they first recognize it. I'm the one with the crazy eye; why are they embarrassed? My eyes don't work together, so I live in a 2D world. So everything is flat that I see it's two dimensions. But is the world really two dimensions? No, it's three. You live in a physical world, but is the world merely physical? No, it's spiritual. And so you must learn how to walk by faith, not sight. We are called to see Jesus with the supernatural vision of the book of Revelation and the complete insight of scripture. We are called to look at this prophecy with spiritual eyes, not second-guessing its reality because it all seems too big, powerful, and hard to fathom.
Thirdly, we see the full disclosure of Jesus. This takes shape in Chapter 1. John hears a voice behind him; he turns around and falls flat, his face as though dead!
Revelation 1:17-18 says: 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.
Jesus reveals to John that he not only is the one who died, but he's the Alpha and the Omega; he's the Judge who holds the keys to Hades and death. Jesus is God, God Eternal, all who have ever lived will bow a knee. Jesus, in this full disclosure, is the reigning King of the Universe.
This full disclosure introduces us to Jesus as the Judge of the Earth. And we get scared of that sometimes, don't we? But think about it, has anybody seen your father become fierce in a loving, righteous, and proper way? I remember my dad's fierce love and sense of justice. We lived in these big apartment buildings in KC, and my sister came in, and there were about 15 dudes in the parking lot messing with my sister. She came in, they were grabbing her and calling her names, and she didn't know how she'd get through this tunnel of perpetrating men. When she came into the apartment, she was shaking and crying. After finding out what happened and if she was OK, my dad grabbed this little Easton baseball bat, my Little League baseball bat, and signaled me to follow. And I was like, "Oh, man." My father is a former Marine and a Baptist pastor. My dad finds their apartment, he bangs on the door, and they just barely start the handle, and he kicks in the door, and there are 15 guys in the room. As he holds the bat to their noses, gently resting it on their cheeks, he tells him what will happen if they ever look at his daughter, grab her, or even think of her again. At this moment, he was a just and loving father, fierce in his justice; his love for his daughter demanded safety and justice. This is how Jesus is; only multiply it by infinity minus sin.
The full disclosure of Jesus is that he is King of Kings, and he is just, faithful, and in his justice is love.
Finally, I feel a tension in studying Revelation. As we explore the text, there's a fight within my soul. I don't know if it's in yours. And when Jesus comes back, the chapter of grace closes permanently. I have this fight within my soul. Like, I want nothing more than to be with Jesus. That's home. This is not home. This is death. Look at all the murder, crime, drugs, and sin in our own community, the sin in my own flesh and heart. I'm tired. I want to see Jesus. I want to go home. I want to see those flames of fire. I'm just waiting and watching for Jesus. And that's part of what's always going on in my spirit.
And then, on the other side of the coin, when that judgment day happens, the grace of God is no longer extended. That chapter closes in Revelation, and then God judges the earth. And you either believe in Jesus, or you don't. It's heaven or hell. And so I have this deep sorrow. This sorrow awakens a love for the lost and an urgency for the Gospel.
This blog is a summary of a Sermon at Cascades Baptist Church in Jackson, MI. Click the video to watch it in its entirety.