There’s nothing new under the sun, not really. Our world may look entirely different to the first century. The pressure on the church may be different to that of the churches in say Western Turkey, 70 years after Jesus Christ walked the earth, but the temptations to compromise, the challenges of obedience, the rising tide of persecution in post-Christian nations and the simple fact that most of us just find it really hard to be a Jesus-follower in the many situations we live and work in show us that the Bible still helps us today. That is my hope as we read this last book in the canon of the Bible, Revelation. (I don’t intend to align myself with the many great theological books that have been written. I just want to encourage perhaps you today as you live out your faith in Christ.)
“The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (Revelation 1: 1-3)
We need to read this letter, we need to hear this letter and we need to keep hold of the contents in our heart because we need a different perspective to the world we live in. This is not a letter from an apostolic figure, like Paul and Peter who at the time of this letter are long dead. Their writings would have been passed around Christendom many times over by the time this letter came about. But this is the revelation from and of Jesus Christ. It is all about Him from start to finish. It actually isn’t about the end-times schedule, it is there, but it is about Him and how to live for Him in the light of His imminent return. It is about today whenever your today is.
There it is, the time is near, at hand. But here we are in 2022 and where is He? So many have told us when Jesus Christ will come back. One poor chap called Edgar Whisenant wrote ’88 reasons for 1988’ predicting the date of the rapture in that year to be between September 11 and 13th. Amazingly 4.5 million copies were sold! He stated, ‘Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong. ‘ Hmm!
Throughout history angels and men have asked ‘how long?’ and ‘when will you come?’ But there is no answer. What we are told is He will come and He will gather.
The last words of this letter “I am coming soon!” this is all we need to know!
The letter was created by God and Jesus Christ and given to John via the angel. John is the apostle closest to Jesus but he only describes himself as a servant amongst God’s servants (v1). His testimony or witness (ESV) points us to the law courts for those words are where they are connected to judgments and sentencing of the verdicts (we will see this theme come through later). It also points to martyrdom (the word carries that sense of being a martyr which also appears later in the letter). Many have been and will be called to suffer because of what they have seen and heard, they are the witnesses of Jesus Christ. They do it because just like the Temple for the Jew was the connection of heaven and earth; Jesus Christ is that person now. Relationship with Him is the perspective we all need to survive this world
So in 2022 what does it mean to be a Christian where you are placed in this world? How are you meant to live as a Jesus-follower today?
This letter shows us here in the Prologue that:-
- JESUS CHRIST has to be the central figure in your life.
- YOU have to live in the light of His return.
- The WORLD may cause you to suffer for your testimony.
That’s the perspective we must hold to.