Revelation #3 Revelation 1:5-8 Look At What Jesus Has Done
John has given us good greetings from the 3 fold God, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We left off with a 3 fold revelation of who Jesus is, the loyal witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of earthly kings.[Psalm 89:27] 3 is the number symbolizing divinity but we also must be aware of John’s use of dualism, so three can also represent something nefarious. Let’s pick up where we left off. Having told us who Jesus is now we’ll see what He has done, and what is to come.
Revelation 1:5-8 (MSG)
Glory and strength to Christ, who loves us, who blood-washed our sins from our lives, 6 Who made us a Kingdom, Priests for his Father, forever—and yes, he's on his way! 7 Riding the clouds, he'll be seen by every eye, those who mocked and killed him will see him, People from all nations and all times will tear their clothes in lament. Oh, Yes.
8 The Master declares, "I'm A to Z. I'm The God Who Is, The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive. I'm the Sovereign-Strong."
It was love that motivated God’s plan for humanity’s salvation. Jesus demonstrates that love by voluntarily dying for the sins of the whole world, you, me, everyone. Agape love seeks to meet the needs of another at the cost of a personal sacrifice. In this case, the one who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteous of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). You know the famous verse, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus blood washed our sins away, not with the blood of his enemies but his own blood. Scholars have not been able to help me figure out why blood sacrifices are so prominent in ancient cultures, why death was necessary to appease the gods, so I must accept without knowing why as I read a verse like Hebrews 9:22 that reads the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
We used to sing the song:
Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? Are you washed in the blood, In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb? Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
It is when we bend our knee to the Lordship of Jesus we are forgiven of our sins, past, present, and future, we partake in the present reality of being made righteous by God’s declaration. This is what scholars mean by justifying faith. This grace gift from God is a constant throughout the life of a believer. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7 (NIV). We are continually cleansed as the intent of our hearts is to obey God’s commands and Jesus’ teachings.
It is our task to partner with the Holy Spirit to become the person a blood-washed son or daughter of God we were declared to be. Sanctifying grace fuels this transformation. Our task as the blood washed is to grow deep in our relationship with God, to grow up in the faith becoming increasingly like Jesus, and to grow fruit by using the gifts given to us when we first believed to increase the Kingdom.
It was in His death and resurrection that Jesus won the victory. Apparent powerlessness was unforeseen power. Because of that victory, we are reconciled to God, and when we exercise faith in Him, He makes us a Kingdom and Priests. We read in Exodus 19:5-6 “If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you'll be my special treasure. The whole Earth is mine to choose from, but you're special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.'” Here we see the continuation of this promise, what was exclusively for the nation of Israel is now for those who are Christ's followers. Being made a kingdom is to bestow royal status. If you recall one of the characteristics of apocalyptic literature is dualism. We have the kings of the earth and opposed to the kings of the earth are the kings Jesus made of His followers.
Having been made a kingdom we become part of a community. The Apostle Paul described our unity as each individual being part of one body. In our very individualistic Western culture, we tend to think of salvation individually. We say when we bend the knee to Jesus that we are saved. But actually, we are incorporated into a body that is being saved. Revelation looks forward to corporate salvation. As we read we find that there are two parts of the church, one is comprised of the blood washed on earth, and the other believers who are part of the church in glory. As we progress in our reading we will see these two distinct bodies becoming one.
Jesus made believers a kingdom and made believers priests.[Isaiah 61:6] In the Jewish temple worship there were different courts, the courts of the Gentiles, the court of women, the court of the Israelites, and the court of priests. Within the court of priests, the holy of holies resided, such a sacred space that only once a year would the high priest enter and make an atonement for the sins of the nation. If you were not a priest you were barred from entering the court of priests, you were barred from entering the presence of God. But now the blood washed have access to the presence of God. The author of Hebrews wrote: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 (RSV). Jesus has made it possible for the faithful to know God through firsthand experience.
Priests have access to God so that they can serve God. When God accepts your faith and adopts you as His own the Holy Spirit empowers you with gifts of service. “God's various expressions of power are in action everywhere, but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits” (1 Corinthians 12:6-7 (MSG). Christ's followers are to use the gifts they have been given so they can channel God’s love to others. As Priests God’s children are His ambassadors to the world. It is a high and holy privilege to be a representative of the Living God. John has written that this is what Jesus has done for you, not will do for you, but already has accomplished for you. As we learned in our study of 1 Peter followers of Jesus have been made a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).
Those who have bent their knee to the Lordship of Jesus have work to do. If you are a Christ follower by serving God in the area of your giftedness you become significant, you matter. You are so much more than a little cog in this machine of life. You may appear weak, but God's strength lives within. You are to testify, for you are a witness to the incredible power that is only found in God to change a life from a mess into a masterpiece. You have the message of hope and encouragement that people need to hear in the tough times, the times of their apocalypse. You are empowered to endure in your own apocalypse, and this too is a testimony for those who need God in their lives.
Jesus who has blood-washed believers, who made believers part of His royal family and who made believers to be priests in service to God the Father and humanity, is coming soon. John writes: “he's on his way! Riding the clouds, he'll be seen by every eye, those who mocked and killed him will see him, People from all nations and all times will tear their clothes in lament. Oh, Yes.” Jesus coming soon is the source of the hope we gain through the reading of Revelation.
There is a Greek word that you may have, the Greek word is parousia. It is often used to just mean the second coming of Jesus, but the word originally had much more packed into it. A Parousia is an entrance that immediately changes the situation that is entered into. When the second coming occurs Jesus’ entrance changes everything. Truth cannot be denied. Have you ever believed something only to find out that you were wrong? This is what will occur for those who have not bent their knee to Christ. The delusions, illusions, and false narratives are simply unrefutably shown to be false in light of the truth. There is simply no argument when truth is consummated in the second coming. John tells us that the second coming is universal, Jesus coming in the clouds means that when this event happens everyone on the planet will know. [Daniel 7:13-14] There will be no shadow dark enough, no rock to hide under, no cave to escape to; those who have refused God’s invitation will have to deal with the Truth. They will see the error of their choice and regret it. Zechariah’s prophecy fulfilled: “They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zech 12:10 (NIV).
There is a mystery in this lament, that is what is symbolized in the tearing of clothes. Do the actions of the lamenters indicate repentance or acknowledgement or both? Repentance means that seeing the truth they bend their knee to the Lordship of Jesus. Acknowledgment means in seeing the truth, they realize they have condemned themselves. Does this mean that some will repent and some with acknowledge? During the apocalypse will there be an opportunity to repent? We are in the last days now, best to make your choice now. There is a small debate as to whether having rejected Christ in this life the Father gives you a second chance in the next to reconsider. This of course is not the traditional position of the Church. The commitment to be a slave of Jesus is made right now, not at some later date. “In every age all who sin crucify him … The day will come when those who disregarded and those who opposed Jesus Christ will find him to be the Lord of the universe and the judge of their souls” (Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT), Rev 1:7). The “Oh, Yes” at the end of the verse is an expression of vigorous approval.
This is what we have so far: Jesus has made those who follow Him a royal priesthood in His kingdom. His royal people stand in opposition to the kings of the earth. Jesus made His royal people to be priests. Priests worship and serve God by being God’s ambassadors to the places they live. When Jesus comes, no one will miss His entrance back into human history. With that entrance, Truth will be undeniable. The Kingdom will be consummated and all things set right. There may also be a new thought for you, while we are individually incorporated into the body of Christ, it is the body that will experience salvation. We are saved together at one time.
Verse 8 reiterates that God is the God of all history, He is the “all-Ruler” (George Eldon Ladd, Commentary on the Revelation of John, p.29). “The Master declares, "I'm A to Z. I'm The God Who Is, The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive. I'm the Sovereign-Strong." You may have heard Jesus referred to as the Alpha and Omega, which would be our English A to Z. It means not only the end and the beginning but also everything in between (John 1:3). There is a rabbit hole speculation about God's supremacy, His divine omnipotence. Looking down that rabbit hole God is not in control in the sense of controlling or dictating everything that happens, rather He is in charge, He is the responsible party for making things right. He intervenes in history as necessary to bring about His desired end state. At the second coming He completes His task of making all things right. [check out Robert H. Mounce, NICNT—The Book of Revelation, p.73 to draw your own conclusions] This is an opinion and I will warn you that it is not traditionally how the Church has understood the sovereignty of God, but for me it makes sense and explains why a loving God seemingly allows evil to flourish. God doesn’t allow evil to flourish. Evil flourishes as people choose it. In the end, God makes all things right regardless of the choices that humanity, endowed with free will, have made. Again this is just a rabbit hole idea and you certainly can hold a different opinion.
“The One who was and is and is to come” encourages us once again. We know that God has blessed us in the past. In faith, we trust that all things will work for good for those who bend the knee to the Lordship of Christ in the present. During our apocalypse, in hope, we look for what is soon coming. Later in the writing this title will change, and that change will be very significant. Allow this truth to give you a positive outlook on life, there is so much that is negative as our world changes. You are empowered right now to be proactive, to turn your dreams into reality. You have a faith that makes you bold in your witness, that testimony of words and deeds that the anti-Christs in this time need to hear, use those gifts and graces God has given you to lavish His love on people.
If you would like to prepare for our next session, read Revelation 1: 9-20