A few weeks ago we began an expositional study through the book of Revelation. I am as excited about this study as I have been any that I can remember. There is excitement in moving in a new direction. There is excitement in having an opportunity to restudy a book in the context of a greater foundation of knowledge. Most of all there is excitement about the new perspective I am bringing to Revelation. It is a perspective that I gained by reading through the book five or six times over about a month and a half (once out loud) and listening to it once on CD.
There seems to be a tendency to read the first line of the book (The revelation of Jesus Christ) and then immediately forget that premise. While there is undoubtedly a lot going on in Revelation the purpose of the book is to unveil Jesus Christ. In fact chapter one begins the process of doing just that.
Christ is the central figure. Chapter one really introduces us to the focus and point of the Revelation. Our tendency is to look at Revelation and see prophecy, to think about the content of the book in the context of its human impact. During my study I hope to change that. Such a view is, at its root, at odds with the book's stated purpose. I do not mean to completely dismiss the human impact of the events that unfold in the pages before us but I do intend to shift the focus. It is not so much about man as it is about Him. It is not so much about man and his suffering in the midst of tribulation as it is about Christ and the unveiling of his glory, for He is worthy!
No sooner do we get past the personal messages to the seven churches of Asia before we are ushered into a heavenly scene that defies the imagination. The song writer got it wrong. You cannot only imagine! Our imaginations are fallen and depraved! The glories of that place and the one who rules there is beyond imagination. Revelation is about his worthiness.
Consider the emphasis of chapters four and five:
Revelation 4:11 - Thou art worthy O, Lord
Revelation 5:2 - Who is worthy to open the book
Revelation 5:4 - No man was found worthy
Revelation 5:9 - Thou (the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world) are worthy to take the book and open the seals thereof
Revelation 5:12 - Worth is the Lamb that was slain
While we certainly see great suffering over the course of this book, we should not miss the great glory, the unveiled glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Chapter one point us in that direction. Chapter one does not introduce us to the anti-christ, the different beasts that appear, the great whore, the false prophet, the two witnesses, the 144,000, tribulation saints, or angels. Chapter one of the Revelation of Jesus Christ introduces us to a glorified Christ.
Throughout the text we should keep our eyes on him. If we will all the unfolding drama will simply be on the periphery of our vision and will serve to glorify He who is worthy.
It is in Revelation where we see Jesus like we have never seen him before.
In the Old Testament we see him concealed in the folds of prophecy and we anticipate him.
During the course of the gospels we see him as one of us, we see what we were intended to be and we admire him.
At the end of the gospels we see him dying for us and being resurrected and we love him.
In the Acts we see him as the message for the world, and we preach him
In the epistles we see him explained and we study him.
But.....in Revelation we see him revealed in glory and we worship Him!
Maybe this is why we are told in Revelation 1:3 - Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.