Sunday, October 10, 2021

God

吳紹偉牧師 10102021

I. The Triune God Revelation 1:4-8

Revelation 1:4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him

who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. 7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. 8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." 

The book of Revelation is not just about what is going to happen in the future--it is about God.  It is about what God is going to do in the future.  Is there any difference?  If it is just about prophecies, the focus will be on the events and ourselves.  But if it is about God, the focus should be on God.  Who God is and what He is going to do are the reasons that John wrote this book to the seven churches in his time and for us also.  Otherwise, John would not start the book by telling us who God is.  


When John started the book he said that it was God who revealed all these prophecies to him and now he is describing who God is to us.  The letter he is writing to us was from God, telling us that God is timeless, with no beginning and no end.  God is Three in One, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  


In verses 4 and 8, John told us that God is “who is, and who was and who is to come".   God is in the past, present, and future, not like all other creatures that were created. They all have a point of beginning.  God is the creator of all things.  Also in verse 8, John tells that God is the Alpha and the Omega, which means there is no beginning before God and no end after Him. He is eternal.  God is Almighty, which means the One who has His hand on everything.  Everything is under His control.


John also tells us about the Holy Spirit in verse 5. He sent blessing from the Holy Spirit.  The seven spirits before God’s throne is the Holy Spirit.  Some have suggested the Holy Spirit has seven spirits, not just One Spirit.  Seven in the Bible could also mean perfect and complete.  


John described who Jesus is--the Christ, the Messiah which means the anointed One.  In the Old Testament only prophets, priests, and kings could be anointed.  Jesus is all of these in one person.  He is the Prophet—faithful witness, He is the High Priest-- the firstborn from the dead.  The high priests made a sacrifice for people's sins. Instead, Jesus was the Lamb of God who was sacrificed on behalf of our sins, but He raised us from the dead.  Jesus is the firstborn of the dead because He died for our sins and after that, He rose and lives forever.  The Bible tells us of people had died and come back to life, but all these died again. Only Jesus never died again.  All those who believed will die, but we will be like Jesus when we are raised again and live forever.   Jesus is the King of kings—the ruler of the kings of the earth.


Because of what Jesus has done for us, all of our sins are forgiven, we are clean, and more than that we will be with Him forever as kings and priests.  John also tells us that Jesus will come again to fulfill all the promises that He promised us.  His return will be a joyful time for those who believed in Him, but it will be a judgment for those who don’t believe in Him.  As I had said last week, the Book of Revelation is unique. There are no other books like this.  No other book starts like this with a greeting from the Father, and Holy Spirit and the Son.


II. The Son of man Revelation 1:9-16

Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea." 12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 


The believers at that time were under great persecution. Suffering was part of their lives.  John understood their suffering--he was sent to a labor camp at the island of Patmos, as a miner of marble stone.  On the Lord’s Day which is Sunday for us, one of the Ten Commandments that God had given to the Israelites was to keep the Sabbath holy. No work was allowed, not even making fire to cook.  At the end of the Sabbath, which was from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, they would worship God and celebrate.  After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the early church believers, both Jews and non-Jews started to worship on the Lord’s Day, Sunday morning, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  This is what we forgot when we come to worship God on Sunday. We don’t see how the resurrection of Jesus has impacted the Commandments and worship.


It was on the Lord’s Day that John heard the call of God. While he was worshipping God, the Holy Spirit came upon him and told him to write a letter to the seven churches in Asia Minor, today's Turkey.   There are many ways to interpret this letter to these seven churches.  The first one is historical—John wrote to them and the letter only applied to those churches at that time.  The second one is historical and spiritual—not only did it apply to the early believers but also to all the believers at different times.  The third one is dispensational—the seven churches represented seven periods of time in church history.  The church in Ephesus is the Apostolic church from AD33-100.  The church in Smyrna is the steadfast church from AD 100-312.  The church in Pergamos is the state church from AD 312-606.  The church in Thyatira is the idolatrous church from AD 606-1517.  The church in Sardis is the dead church from AD 1517-1750.  The church in Philadelphia is the evangelistic church from AD 1750-Rapture.  And the church in Laodicea is the lukewarm church from AD 1900-Tribulation.


We will look into these when we get to the seven churches in chapters 2 and chapter 3.  The most important thing is that John saw Jesus and the ways that he described Jesus.   When John heard the voice, he turned and looked to see who was speaking to him.  He had a vision and saw the seven golden lampstands, which the Jews called a Menorah.  It was the only light in the temple and the priests needed to keep it burning day and night.  In verse 20 we know that the seven lampstands are the seven churches that John was going to write the letter to.  John saw someone like a son of man, which was the title referring to the heavenly Messiah in Daniel 7:13.  


These are the ways that John described who Jesus is.


In verse 13 he was dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.  Jesus is like the High Priest in the Old Testament.


Exodus 28:4 These are the garments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, so they may serve me as priests.


In verse 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.  For John, the same functions of ruler and judge ascribed to the "Ancient of Days" in Daniel's vision relate to Jesus. 


Daniel 7:9 "As I looked, "thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.   


In verse 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters indicating His authority.  A similar figure of glowing metal is found in Ezekiel 1:13, 27; 8:2; Daniel 10:6. In both Ezekiel and Daniel, the brightness of shining metal-like fire is one of the symbols connected with the appearance of the glory of God.  "His voice was like the sound of rushing waters" describes the glory and majesty of God in a way similar to that in Ezekiel (1:24; 43:2).


Ezekiel 1:13 The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it.


Daniel 10: 6 His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.


In verse 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.  The right hand is the place of power and safety, and the "seven stars" Jesus held in it are identified with the seven angels of the seven churches in Asia Minor.  The double-edged sword is His word—the Bible, which is a weapon.  Jesus’ face shines like the sun. We can see His glory just like Peter, John and James saw Jesus' transfiguration.  


Matthew 17:1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.


III. John reaction Revelation 1:17-20

Revelation 1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. 19 "Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.


John was one of the apostles that followed Jesus for more than three years.  He told us that Jesus loved him. He could be the favorite apostle and he witnessed Jesus performing miracles and transforming into His glorious heavenly body. He even witnessed His death, and resurrection.  But nothing was like this time when John saw Jesus again.  John tells us that his response was like a dead man when he saw Jesus.  This time was different than all the other times that John encountered Jesus.  The Jesus that he knew was God who became man, but this time the Jesus that he encountered is God. John tells us that in Revelation chapter 19, this is the Jesus that we will see when He returns.  


Jesus comforted John and told him not to be afraid, and reminded John who He was, and asked John to write this to the seven churches and also to us.  Many people believe the seven angels of the seven churches were the pastors of the churches.  The word angels could mean messengers, which could mean heavenly angels or human messengers.


John tells us clearly that the seven lampstands are the seven churches.  The lampstands were the only light in the temple.  Jesus said He is the true light of the world.  


John 9:5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.


Now Jesus is in heaven and this world still needs light. Otherwise, people cannot see the truth.  When we believe in Jesus, we become His light in this world.  


Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.


When do we need the light most, in the day time or at night?  When it is dark, we need the light most.  As the lampstands of God, we need to shine before the world, so that people can see God.