Revelation 1:1-8 ~ Knowing THE Future
The prologue of Revelation presents to us that this book is an account of John's prophecy with God as the revealer and the message being that of Jesus Christ. While we shall dive deeper into understanding this "prophecy" in the coming weeks' sermons, let us first examine some of the interesting points that verses 1 to 8 of Chapter 1 introduce to us.
"who is and who was and who is to come"
"Who is" refers to the present, "who was" the past, and "who is to come" the future. This phrase is in reference to God (the idea appears twice in v4 and 8) - it describes an ever present God who was there right from the beginning, is still with us here in the present, and will still be there in the future. After all, "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God (v8). This is the one same God who revealed to John (through an angel) the things that must soon take place (v1) concerning that of Jesus - the very reason why we can be assured of the certainty of this particular "future" as the revealer has been present since time immemorial and will still be there when the things that must soon take place (v1) eventually do take place.
"the firstborn of the dead"
The irony of this phrase lends it a twist of curious interest - how is someone who is dead a firstborn? And what does "firstborn" refer to? The first child of the family? No - in fact, "firstborn" is a term commonly used to refer to that of the heir; one who is destined to receive an inheritance in the future. How then is Jesus the firstborn of the dead (v5)? Being one who has resurrected from the dead, He is the ruler of kings on earth (v5) who inherits from God, His Father, authority over all creation as well as the glory and dominion forever and ever (v6) that He deserves.
"coming with the clouds"
Read alone, this phrase may seem insignificant, but several other Bible passages do help shed some light here on what this phrase actually means. and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man (Daniel 7:13) started us off with the whole "cloud" imagery but more importantly, it continues to tell us that this son of man (Daniel 7:13) who came to the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13) has an everlasting dominion (Daniel 7:14) and that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him (Daniel 7:14). This reaffirms the same concept of Jesus being the firstborn of the dead (v5) that we looked at in Revelation! Jesus also foretold of himself, speaking in a third person language, that they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory (Luke 21:27). But what exactly is this "cloud"? Jesus presented Himself to His apostles after His resurrection and at one point of time as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him our of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11). This "cloud" is none other than "heaven" itself and it signifies the second coming of Christ in the future! This leads us to our next phrase, one that we have glanced at earlier on...
"the things that must soon take place"
As we read God's Word in its bigger picture, we can appreciate that these "things" refer to that of Christ's second coming. The word "must" indicates a certainty and this notion is confirmed by our earlier discussion on the revealer of the prophecy being that of God who is and who was and who is to come (Revelation 1:4, 8). But "soon"? How soon is "soon"?! More than two millenia have passed since the first coming of Christ - a seemingly long time to many of us. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Peter 3:8). So while we may not be able to pinpoint exactly how "soon" Christ will return, we can all appreciate that it is a certainty in the future and the Christians amongst us have a responsibility to share the gospel with others that they too may be warned that judgment day is not too far ahead but still be reassured that Jesus loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood (v5) and that He is the one whom they should give all glory to as Lord and Saviour. For blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near (v3)...
Next week, we will be looking at "The View From Heaven" as we explore Revelation 1:9-20. Feel free to join us (FOCUS PM Church) for the live sermon every Sunday 4.30PM at Keith Burrows Theatre @ UNSW! ^_^