Jesus is the Head of the church in all things, and He knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart of every person. (Jn 2:23-25) His counsel and constructive criticism to the churches is very practical for each of us, since He is saying what pleases Him and what bothers Him within His flock and house. He is our sympathetic great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, and is the Shepherd and keeper of our souls.
This final book of the Bible is full of references and allusions to what is spoken and written before in the Old and New Testaments. It brings together all that the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Scriptures concerning the last days and the end-times. (The last days began with the death and resurrection of the Messiah; the end-times, I believe, can be said to have begun with the establishment of the State of Israel, and are concentrated in the last seven years (Daniel’s 70th week) of the age. (Mt 28:18-20; Lk 21:29-33) It is the end of what God began, and He has overseen it from the beginning until His plan and purpose for this Creation is completed. (Rev 21:1-8; Gen 1:1-4)
All things will be brought under the sovereign rule and authority of YHVH God, and the faithful saints will become a kingdom of priests to rule with the Lord Jesus Christ in God’s Kingdom in Israel and on the whole Earth. Prophecies which have been partially fulfilled will all be full-filled in full to perfection. The purpose of God from the beginning will be fully accomplished! (Dan 9:24; Eph 1:7-12)
The Revelation was written by the then old Apostle John around 95AD as directed by Yeshua from God and delivered by an angel (not “inspired by the Holy Spirit”, but directly from the Lord): this is unique, and God is revealing to us that which He alone knows, both in Heaven and on Earth and in the seas, and all that is in them. The revelation comes from the Father and the Son, revealing the “hidden” Jesus/Yeshua in His present glory at the right hand of God, and culminating in His full revelation when He comes again to judge the nations and to deliver His people, when all shall see Him.
This is the only book said to bless those who read and keep what is written in it, and to curse whoever adds to or takes away from this book of prophecy. (Rev 1:3; 22:7, 18-19) The book is open, whereas the Book of Daniel was sealed until the time of the end (so, now opened). (Dan 12:4, 9)
It is not a book to be ignored or taken lightly, simply because it is complex or given to so many interpretations; it finishes and completes the whole of the canonical Scriptures, the written Word of God; there are blessings and curses of eternal consequence attached to how we relate and respond to this Revelation of Jesus Christ; it’s primary attention are the final 3 ½ years/1260 days/42 months/time and times and half-a-time of the 70th Week/final 7 years of Daniel’s prophecy leading to the return of the Son of Man from Heaven, the Stone coming to destroy all of the worldly Gentile kingdoms of this world at the time of the end. (Dan 2; 7; 8; 9:24-27; 10 – 12; Rev 11:15); relevant to believers throughout the last 2000 years to prepare us to be overcomers in the generation that we have lived in, with the return of the Lord to establish God’s kingdom on the Earth, and His righteous judgments our incentive for holy and righteous living now, in the love of our heavenly Father and His Son, Yeshua the Messiah, King of kings and Lord of lords; as the first chapter says, the book covers the then present now past, the then future and now present, and the still yet future.
Those who do not believe the literalness of the beginning of the Bible Gen 1 – 11 do not usually believe in the literalness of the last book of the Bible – even with all of its imagery and symbolism; the first three chapters of the Bible describe not only God’s creation and order, but also how the devil gained authority in it; the last chapters of the Bible describe how the devil is going to lose his power and authority. Revelation tells us how God’s redemptive plan is fulfilled, which He planned before He began to create this universe. (1Pt 1:19-21; Rev 13:8)
The letters to the churches are directly from Yeshua — His assessment and practical counsel and warnings to those responsible for the believers, both in the present then, and also IN THE PRESENT/FOR NOW, before the coming 3 ½ years of great tribulation so that we will be able to endure and overcome it through our faith in Him and in His sacrifice for us (Rev 12:10-12): patient endurance in the midst of terrible persecution to obey the Lord Jesus’ commandments and to remain faithful; Jesus rewards the overcomers in Messiah, and punishes the unfaithful and unbelievers. As Paul writes elsewhere, the present suffering can not compare to the eternal glory to come! (Rom 8:18-39)
The letters to the last four churches take us all the way to the return of the Lord and the Millennial Kingdom with the saints ruling with Him. The church and the Body of Messiah/Christ (the believers within the church, like the remnant of faith within Israel) are still here until the return of the Lord (and the whole of the book is to be read to all of the churches, Yeshua says in the last chapter).
The “church fathers” – Abraham, Peter, James, John, Paul – all saw, by faith in the Word of God, the Messianic Kingdom of God on the Earth; in other words, that the Messiah comes as King prior to the beginning of the 1000-yr Kingdom (i.e., pre-millennial). This is the only view which fulfills all of the jots and tittles of the Law and the Prophets, which Yeshua said that He came to fulfill, not to annul (Mt 5:17-19). YHVH fulfills all of His covenantal promises which He gave regarding the Seed of the Woman; to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob/Israel; to David; to Levi; and to Jewish and Gentile believers in the Sovereign God of the Universe, which He created and made, through faith in the name of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah. Jesus says that we will be judged for every idle word that we speak. Does YHVH speak empty words!? Every word that He sends out will fulfill its ‘mission’ before returning back to Him.
The over-arching purpose of this Book of Revelation is to prepare believers through the patience of hope to be overcomers/victorious in the face of suffering and possible martyrdom for the name of Jesus, to inherit with Him the New Heavens and New Earth. The one true living God will be vindicated by all His righteous judgments, and worshipped as only He is worthy to be. The Father will keep to His schedule for His “project”, and the price will not go up. The cost of the Creation’s redemption is the blood of the Son of God: it cannot be more costly than that, nor will it be discounted.
Let him who has an ear hear what the Lord is saying to us.
v 1 (22:6; Dan 2:29,45; Mt 24:6) – The Book begins by saying that it is the revelation of Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah, given by God to Yeshua, for Him to show His servants, things which must come to pass. Jesus sent and made known the revelation by His angel/messenger to John.
It is a revelation of Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah now, in glory at the right hand of the Father, and in the future, at His coming in glory when every eye shall see Him. Yeshua told His disciples that He is now hidden from the world because of rejecting Him and the Father’s love. (Jn 14:19-21; 16:4-15; Ezek 39:21-29; Mt 23:37-39; Hos 5:15)
v 2 (Jn 21:24) John is bearing witness to the Word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things which he saw
v 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it, for the time is near.
While this book was relevant to the believers at the time this book was written, it is even more relevant to us living today, because the time is near for the fulfillment of the prophecies written in it.
v 4 (Rev 4:8) John is writing to the seven churches in Asia with grace and peace from YEHOVAH – He who is, and who was, and who is to come; the Alpha and Omega (Aleph v’Tav), the Beginning and the End – from the beginning through to the end, all inclusive: His eternal purposes remain unchanged. YHVH is from everlasting to everlasting!
He is also writing from the seven Spirits before the Throne. So we have here the Father, the Holy Spirit, and…
v 5 (Ps 2:10-12) and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the Earth. Yeshua/Jesus is the only one who spoke and lived entirely in accord with the Law (Torah) of YHVH God, and who gave His life for being “perfect”, and justified by His resurrection from the dead. He is the King of kings, all of whom will give an account to Him for their rule.
He is the One who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, the blood of the cross for the new covenant, which reconciles God to man, and offers forgiveness to all who believe in Him. (Rom 5:6-11; Col 1:15-20)
v 6 Through identification with Yeshua, God’s beloved Son, we are made kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen! (Rev 20:6; Ex 19:5-6; Mt 6:13c) We will be a people who know God, who minister faithfully to the people, and will reign with Him in righteousness and justice in His Kingdom. This will fulfill the mandate given to Adam and Eve for man to rule over God’s creation. (Gen 1:26-28; Ps 8)
v 7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the Earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen! (Dan 7:13-14; Mt 24:29-31; Zech 12:10-14; Rev 22:20)
v 9 (Lk 21:10-19; Mt 13:20-23; James 1:2-4; 5:7-8) John now turns from exalting the Lord to telling us that he is our brother and companion in tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, and that he was [banished] on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
We will be John’s brothers and sisters, and companion in tribulation, the kingdom, and the patience of Jesus Christ. Yeshua/Jesus was patient: although frustrated as a Man with the unbelief of so many, He continued in His redemptive ministry until His death on the cross.
v 10 (Lev 23:9-14; Ps 118:22-24; Lk 24:1-7; Ps 2:7; Acts 13:33; Rom 1:1-4) John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day (the day after the Sabbath; the “one”/first day of the week; the day of the resurrection; the day in which God said, “let their be light”; life after death; a new creation) when he heard a clear loud voice like a shofar,
v 11 (Rev 22:16) saying, I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; what you see, write in a book, and send to the seven churches in Asia. Jesus is the first and the last thought and word of the Father. From the Father’s heart, and the Holy Spirit, the focus is on the Son, who gives glory to the Father. These seven churches in those cities give us together a picture of the church in those days, and of a progression from first love to the falling away. For those who hear and do to obey the Lord’s words, there is revival and blessed promises from Him.
v 13 (Ezek 1:28) and he saw like unto the Son of Man in the midst of the seven lampstands.
Yeshua/Jesus is in the midst of His household and flock: do we believe that He is here when we gather together in His name? If we truly do, how would that affect our worship, our fellowship with one another, our body language, our clothing? He will not only hold the kings of the Earth accountable, but every leader of His churches.
v 14-17 (Dan 10:4-9; Ex 24:9-11; Mt 17:1-2) John describes Jesus as He looks to him in His glory. It was the LORD who appeared and spoke to Daniel of the end-times Antichrist and great tribulation; it was the LORD whom Moses and the others with him saw; it was the LORD whom John saw, and He comforted him, saying not to fear: He is the first and the last. God wants our attention on Jesus/Yeshua, in whom, by whom, through whom all things were created and for Him, and by whom we know the Father. He is the First and the Last! (Is 44:6-8)
v 18 (Rev 4:8-11; Mt 10:28; Rev 20:13-15; 2Tim 4:1-5; Acts 17:30-31) Jesus lived, was dead, and behold, He is alive forevermore! Amen! He has the keys of sheol/hades and of death. It is Jesus who can cast both body and soul into Hell, and it is He, the Son of Man, who will judge the living and the dead, for He died for all and is the Savior of all who believe.
v 19 (Lk 21:7, 36; Rev 4:1) Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be after these things. John was given to see the Lord in glory; what he writes concerning the churches, and the heavenly scenes in chapters 4 and 5, are the things that are; and the rest of the book are the things that shall be.
v 20 (Mal 2:7) the mystery of the seven stars and of the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars in the Lord’s right hand are the angels/ministers of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. Yeshua/Jesus is in the midst of His household and flock: do we believe that He is here when we gather together in His name? If we truly did, how would that affect our worship, our fellowship with one another, our body language, our clothing?
Jesus is present where His people are gathered together, and He holds to account those whom He has made overseers and teachers of His flocks.
We want to see Yeshua as He is, and be changed into His likeness, who did all things to please His Father who loved Him, and to be worthy of the high calling to be priests of God to rule with the Lord in His kingdom when He comes again.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, February 26, 2022, and reposted with permission.