Revealing Revelation – Chapter One Part 3

05Mar11

In our continuing overview of Chapter one of the book of Revelation we will now look at John’s current state and be introduced to a source of interpretation support through the work of an angel that helps explain difficult visions to John and ultimately to the reader. This is a common thread that runs throughout the book and is useful resource in helping the most difficult sections, as we will see.

Another reminder here that the focus of this blog is prophecy and so there are many places that we will skim over that do not directly relate to helping us understand the prophetic pronouncements in light of the contemporary eschatological views. This will include how we discuss the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3 as well.

Rev. 1:9-11 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. [10] I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet [11] 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.”

The emphasis in these verses are in bold.

As discussed previously another clue as to the timing of the events described can be found in these verses. First, John proclaims that at that present time he, too, was a partner in the tribulation that is being discussed. John is not writing about some tribulation that will impact others centuries or even millennia in the future, but rather the tribulation presently being faced by the seven Churches and by John himself.

Again, as mentioned perviously, to taunt these seven Churches with an affirming proclamation of rescue and retirbution against their enemies, but to really be writing about events centuries later would just be horrific. These churches are specific and it was vital they received this book.

Also note that John states that not only is he a brother and partner in the tribulation, but is one as well in the kingdom. John clearly proclaims that the “kingdom” was a current and present reality. It was not postponed and forced into some unknown future, but was realized during his time. The gap and postponement of the kingdom is a fallacy and needs to be corrected and, fortunately, many in the Progressive Dispensational camp have come to this Biblical conclusion and the Church should be grateful for that.

One last thought about the kingdom. John is not just stating that he is in the kingdom – as if his special status as an Apostle grants him membership – but that the Church he was writing to was a member as well. Those members of the Church were co-heirs and kingdom members at that point and their entrance into the kingdom is not postponed even until their death but was a present reality in the life!

The last point from the passage above is the voice that sounded like a trumpet. Quite often one will hear that the Rapture takes place in Chapter 4 when John hears a trumpet and is transported up into Heaven. But that is not what John hears. John hears a “voice” that sounded like a trumpet both here and in Chapter 4. It is most likely the same voice.

Rev 4:1 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet,

As discussed in detail previously there is no warrant to demand that because John hears a trumpet that the rapture is in view, especially since he actually hears a voice that sounded like a trumpet. A trumpet is mention over 100 times in the Bible and in only two cases is it related to the Resurrection. The sound of trumpet was meant to call to order and for the congregation to gather to hear from the Lord. This, both instances, should be what is in view.

Rev. 1:12-13 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, [13] 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.

Here John turns to look at the voice and sees seven lampstands. He also sees Jesus amongst them. John is confused here and this is where we are introduced to a popular literary device in apocalyptic literature known as a guide. This guide, an angel of the Lord, is sent to help John clarify difficult sections and visions. Many argue quite forcefully that on several occasions this guide is actually Jesus Himself. Just a few verses later that answer to what are the lampstands is revealed.

In this case the guide is most definitely Jesus.

Rev. 1:20 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

So, here Jesus explains that the seven stars in His right hand are the seven angels, most likely Pastors, of the seven Churches and the lampstands are the Churches themselves. The word translated “angel” is the same word for messenger and the common expression for the Pastor of a congregation. This is similar to the sending of angels or messengers to proclaim the Gospel in the Olivet Discourse.

Note that Jesus stands among the Churches. He is not above them or away from them. He is there amongst them. This must have been a very reassuring image for those who received this letter. And again, this is one of the most important themes of the book. This reveals the nature of Christ’s relationship with the Church.

For our purposes, though, I wanted to make the reader aware that throughout the rest of the book we will find this type of guidance and explanation and to be looking for it.

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