Consider how this Special Book of Prophecy begins! Chapter One is packed full of Holy Spirit-inspired revelation into
- the reality of God as eternal and as the Father and the Subject of the book as the Author of the Plan of Salvation and Judgment;
- the Lord Jesus Christ in His Unique Capacity to both lift mankind out of destruction and be the Head of a universal congregation, and also judge mankind for rebellion and idolatry;
- and the seven specially-appointed angels which assist Christ in the Day of the Lord’s Judgments!
Chapter One gives us the actual Title of the book: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” – the full disclosure of the Person sent by God to redeem mankind; who He is and what He has done for the benefit of mankind from Eternity to Eternity!
It declares a special blessing which is in no other book of Scripture: a blessing to the reader and the hearer of the book and to the obedient to the writings of the book. Whenever you feel in need of a Blessing from God, resort to the book of Revelation! Oh the Happinesses available here!
In addition to “Jesus Christ”, it declares six other Names, Titles or Descriptions of the One who “loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood”.
These are: The Faithful Witness, the First Begotten of the Dead, the Prince of the Kings of the Earth, Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, and the Son of Man.
The believer is given a glimpse of the authority he/she has been given in Christ – a king and a priest, v6; a position alongside Christ in authority and service.
V7 declares the return of Christ to the earth; the peoples of the world, especially for the Remnant of Israel, who, as prophesied in Zechariah 12:10, will mourn for Him as for an only son. How sorry they will be that their forefathers didn't know Him and rejected Him who called Himself the Kinsman-Redeemer of Israel!
The eternal equality with God on the Throne and the Holy Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Object of the book is revealed by Him having some of the same Titles and God, namely in Chapter One, “Alpha and Omega”.
Firstly, in v8, God speaks as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. He has already been revealed in v4 as “Him which is, and which was, and which is to come”, and the Almighty. In 4:8, and again in 11:17, He is worshipped as “Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come, or which art, and wast, and art to come”. In 15:3 and 16:7, He is worshipped as “Lord God Almighty”, and again in 21:6, He speaks as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, as He freely promises the thirsty the fountain of the water of life, which is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!
So we see in v11, Christ speaks as the Alpha and Omega and as the “first and the last”, identifying Himself with the Redeemer Speaker in Isaiah 41:4, 44:6, and 48:12. He also speaks of Himself as Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end in 22:13, here, distinguishing Himself from the Father by adding, “the first and the last”. (Later!)
The book of Revelation is to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ as He is, as He has been since His Resurrection from (among) the dead – Eternal, Sent, Humiliated, Crucified, Damned, Resurrected, Exalted to God’s Right Hand, and Returning, first to resurrect His own and later, in the Lord’s Day, to execute the Wrath of God as Judge, to Return to Reign, and Judge the dead and finally to usher in the New Order of Righteousness in a New Creation.
Jesus our Lord is never referred to in this book of prophecy as “Lord God Almighty”. He is magnificently endorsed 28 times as the Lamb! The Lamb who was slain for you and for me!
Considering the Purpose of the book of Revelation to reveal God’s Future Plan to execute His Judgments through Christ, it is important to read it from the King James Bible (KJV). For example, in v3, after the special blessing is given, it should read “for the time is at hand”. To simply say that the “time is near” (NIV) diminishes both the Person of God in it all and weakens the Power of the Message.
The heart of any believer with an open mind to the overall Message of the book of Revelation reading “for the time is at hand” would surely skip with joy at it being God’s own Hand that possesses the Future! When God says to Christ by His side, “Go!”, He will surely go!
The Description of Christ as “the first begotten of the dead” deserves some more attention. It is not proclaiming Him as the very first to be raised from the dead. He himself raised many to life during His earthy Ministry. The word “begotten” is the key. John 1:14 says, “... (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father)...” – the parenthesis only in the Spirit-inspired KJV – meaning John and the other disciples saw Christ raised from the dead, in the same Body which had been wounded because of His total Obedience to the Word of God.
Again, John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son...”, means Him given back to the world, risen from the dead, a Saviour, a Perfect Sacrifice for every sin of man, able to be believed in for Eternal Life; the Firstborn of God’s new, sinless Family. He is not “the only Son”, He is the “only begotten Son”, brought forth from the grave as God’s First Perfect Man, His Son, officially the Son of God through whom He is able to bring many other sons to glory [Hebrews 2:10]. Psalm 2:7 is quoted in Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5. “This day” was the day Christ came out of the lowest Hell and re-entered His human Body, now horrifically wounded but unbroken, and without His Blood.
Knowing the full revelation of this will help the understanding of verses in Colossians Chapter 1. Verse 15 causes some great consternation! “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” Is Christ eternal or created?! How can He be both the full reflection of Eternal God, and yet – as some say – the first created being? But v18 ties in more with the verses in Hebrews with Psalm 2 : “the firstborn from the dead”.
The “every creature” in v15 is the “new creature in Christ” of 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
(Which is exactly what John wrote of God saying in Revelation 21:5 “Behold, I make all things new”! All things are made new because of Jesus Christ!)
Chapter One, in setting the scene for the whole book of prophecy, also reveals the most terrifying vision of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not since Daniel saw a similar vision of Christ as “a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz” [10:5-8] has a writer of Scripture been so devastated by a vision! Ezekiel fell before the brilliance of His glory, but he doesn’t indicate the kind of fear that John (or Daniel) displayed. The horrors of the End Kingdom under the vile man of the antichrist made Daniel sick, but not as dead!
So we see that this is no ordinary picture of Christ in the verses 13 to 18! John fell down before Him almost dead; the life-blood in him drained away. He had never seen Him like this before; His transfiguration on the mountain was nothing like this! John saw Him as the Son of man. This is the key to understanding the vision. John in his Gospel, Chapter 5, recorded Him explaining that the Father had “committed all judgment unto the Son”, v22, and that God had “given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man”, v27. The Son of man came to seek and to save the lost; the lost who refuse to be saved will be judged by the Son of man!
As the Judge, He is dressed in a stark, plain garment, no decoration as with the garments for the high priest, holy garments “for glory and for beauty”! [Exodus 28:2] and with a golden girdle around His breast; just as the seven special angels appointed to pour out seven terrible plagues are dressed: “clothed in pure white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles”, 15:6.
Judgment is the Theme of the book of this prophecy! Thunderings and lightnings and loud voices and earthquakes abound! The book sealed with seven seals is a book of Settlement [Chapters 4-6, 8:1]; the resolving of all wrongs; vengeance upon the wicked, and vengeance for the righteous, and Eternal Destinations.
v14 “His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow”. The first description of the Judge compares Him with His Equal, the Ancient of days, as Daniel describes God on the Throne as the Judgment is set [Daniel 7:9]. (Another indicator that this vision is of Christ as Judge, as Daniel sees Him for himself as the Son of man, v13.)
The words “as white as snow” in both Daniel and Revelation can only indicate the Holy Spirit shouting in these last days, “Your sins are gone! Repent and believe the gospel, or be damned for Eternity!”
Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”.
Here, in Revelation, as it unfolds the Events of the Day of the LORD, is the result of each individual’s personal response to the Lamb who made us white through the shedding of His precious Blood. The Lamb, equal with God on the Throne brought Salvation to all, offering the position of being a joint-heir with Him as a human being justified and sanctified before a holy God.
(Incidentally, as these phrases throughout the scriptures, the day of the Lord, the Lord’s day, the day of Christ, the day of God, the day of Jacob’s trouble, in that day, all refer to the same time – that Eternal Day which will begin with three and a half years’ judgments from the opening of the First Seal of the book which the Lamb takes from the right hand of God.)
V15 “And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters.” Another link with Daniel as it is recorded that the Son of God was in the furnace with the faithful young men [3:20-25]. But even more so, the vision of Christ mentioned before, in Daniel 10, where in v6, there are both descriptions together – feet as burnished brass and a voice resembling thunder. The gushing of many water would sound thunderous, as would the sound of a great many people. Jesus Christ is not a human being! These are the descriptions of a holy God!
V16b “... and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword:” The Word of God, integral with His Body of flesh and bones, bearing the marks of His Obedience to that Word, now used, as God ordained to strike down all rebellion. He will personally wield the Word of God as a sword, “piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” How the blasphemers and mockers will quake at the sight of His as their Judge!
V16c “... and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” Another reason why this vision is of Christ as the Judge and not as a High Priest... This is hardly Someone who like this is approachable! One must avert one’s eyes before such a One. As High Priest seated on God’s Right Hand, He listens and intercedes and is able to succour and help. This vision of Christ as the Judge sets the scene for the whole book...
For John, after explaining that he had been exiled to the little island of Patmos off the coast of Asia (Turkey) for his ministry to Christ his Saviour and Lord, says he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” before he turned to see who it was with the mighty voice like a trumpet in his ears. He was already geared to receive what he would be told about the Day of the Lord. Soon it will pour out all the details of the terrors to come in That Day!
Even in writing to the seven churches [Chapters 2 and 3], four of them are greeted with words from the descriptions in this vision, and all seven are told, “I know thy works”, signifying the office of One who is entitled to give rewards accordingly.
The Chapter closes with John being greatly assured that he still belongs to Christ and is told again of his commission to write to the seven churches, specifically of the three categories into which this book falls:
- the things he had already seen – Christ as The Judge;
- the things that already existed – the spiritual state of the churches;
- and the things which are still to be fulfilled in God’s Plan for the Future of All Mankind – Events which result in either Eternal Safety or Eternal Damnation for every human soul, and angel and devil.
V17b “Fear not; I am the first and the last”. The Lord has already given an incline of this description of Himself in Isaiah. But here, risen in His crucified Body, He can enlarge upon it.
He was The FIRST Man after death to enter God’s Presence in a human Body, representing all men. Resurrected souls at His Coming will have new sinless bodies in order to be able to live with Him in Heaven.
And He was The LAST Man to be punished by God for man’s sinful nature and deeds! He took the Judgment, the Wrath of God, upon Himself, counted as a criminal, a transgressor, a sinner, in order than any soul may repent and take God’s Salvation. Hallelujah! All sins have been blotted out of His sight by the Blood of Jesus Christ.
This is the reason why the horrors of the Judgments to come are so great. Rejection of Christ provokes God’s Righteous Indignation. God can find no reason or excuse for anyone to not find Christ altogether lovely!
For your soul's sake, read and meditate with the greatest enjoyment the book of Revelation!