Ever wondered why the Book of Revelation has often been perceived as intimidating or bewildering? Join us as we explore the book of Revelation, claim the blessings it holds for us, and become conquerors through Jesus Christ.
Good morning church. So good to be with you today. You know, is there something that just brings emotion to you? Do you know that song that just makes you feel good, that song that makes you feel sorrow, that song that just gets you? I think there's one song that gets all of us in the exact same way every time we hear it. Let's hear it now. That song played at every veteran's funeral, and it is Veterans Weekend. Let's just say thank you to all our vets, thank you for your service. We honor you and we're also honored by you. So thank you very much. That song does. It just gets all of us in an emotion where we feel something. I also believe the book of Revelation is one of those books that we all have some sort of thought or emotion about and we hear about oh, there's going to be a teaching on the book of Revelation. Or someone says, hey, I've got a question for you about the book of Revelation. And we suddenly get to where we go. This book is awe-inspiring. This book is intimidating. This book is scary. This book is confusing, like I don't know what's happening with this book. Matter of fact, we even asked because we now live in a time and an age where we're all recognizing that artificial intelligence is smarter than us as humans. And so we thought well, let's ask our artificial intelligence what Revelation is about. So we put a few verses in and said to AI tell us in a quick reel what Revelation is about. And here's what they came up with. Let us begin. Great job to our creative department that was able to use I and get that. And here's the thing that's so important for each and every one of us to know Even artificial intelligence gets the book of Revelation wrong, because Revelation is not meant to be scary, confusing, intimidating, and what it is is simply supposed to be a courageous encouraging. For you and for me, revelation simply means unveiling or revealing. It's from the Greek word a Kapalupzis, which means that this is now revealed. And what is it? It is the revelation of Jesus Christ. That's what it is, not revelations, not about demons or lakes or fires or all those are all peripheral. What it's about is the revelation of Jesus Christ. So when someone says, hey, I'm reading through the book of Revelation, I don't understand it. Here it is Jesus, like it is the Sunday school answer Jesus, please don't get confused or misled or caught up in all the peripheral things that are in it, because it's simply about Jesus. My goal today, as we kick off this new series, revelation, is that we would know and see how this book of courage and hope is about Jesus in our lives, for whatever we're going through, wherever you're at that, you and I have this truth and this reality that it's always about Jesus. So how do we read the book of Revelation? Well, we do have a blog that we've written that will go deeper in the ways to read the book of Revelation, and I want to encourage you, as you see that QR code, I want to encourage you to read that blog later on, or you can go to our app, and you can find the blog on our app as well. I want to run through the four ways that you can read the book of Revelation and then tell you which one is the right way. So I'm going to do this quickly, because we have a lot of time in some other things we have to do. So the first way is called the pre-Turist view. This is an approach that believes that Revelation dealt only with the church in John's day. The second approach would be the historicity view, which is an approach that believes Revelation is a sweeping, disordered panorama of church history. The third is the poetic view. This approach believes that the book of Revelation's full of pictures and symbols intended to encourage and comfort persecuted Christians in John's day. And then a futurist view. This approach believes that, beginning with chapter 4, revelation deals with the end times, the period directly preceding Jesus's return. So you're on the edge of your seats. Which approach is correct? All of them, all four. That's a great Lutheran answer and the way we Lutherans often do it right. All four are right. And here's the beauty of that Is that when we take all four, we can really really read the book of the Revelation in the way it was intended by God, given to John, the church and to us. And the other piece that's so important for us about that is, when we try to read it and pigeonhole it into one of the four ways or just two, we will misuse the book of Revelation and we will mislead people in a way that it was never intended to do. So first, you have to believe that the book of Revelation must mean something, but please know it can't mean for us, right here and right now, what it didn't mean for them, those who received it in the days of John. It means something, but it can't mean something different for us 2,000 years later than it did for them. So let's see. What is this all about? John is the one who receives this book, and what's happening right now? Well, what's happening is, first, there's widespread fear amongst the church, and there's widespread fear because an emperor no mission is in charge and he is instituting some of the policies of Nero. There was also myth that Nero would be coming back from the dead and would institute more of his policies, twice as harsh on Christians as he did when he was alive. Now, nero was the worst of all tyrants to the Christian church. It was him who put Christians on stakes and lit them on fire to light his parties when Rome burned down. It was Nero who blamed all of Christianity for the burning of Rome, and so they're deathly afraid. Now, what's going on with John? John has been secluded now to an island called Patmos, and his torture is. He's all by himself and he has to survive, and so I like to look at the book of Revelation as the brave hearts chronicle. This is John the brave hearted, his chronicle. He is the first brave heart before Mel Gibson, and he's shouting Freedom before Gibson ever did in the movie Braveheart. And why is he shouting that? Because he has the revelation from Jesus Christ. In Revelation 1-1, it says this the revelation from Jesus Christ which God gave to him. So why did God give this revelation to John? To show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending an angel to his servants. So God intended for this book to be used by John and his servants of what is to come, meaning to have the hope and the encouragement and the courage to live out each day, no matter what circumstance they're in, for what is to come. And he intended for this book to be read, and to be read aloud, because what we know about it is that it is a blessing for whoever reads aloud these words of the prophecy. Matter of fact, we're going to do that because we're called to do that. And so on December 13th, at the I Street campus, there will be a public reading at 6.30 at night of the book of Revelation. We would invite you to come and to hear it, because the book says, in Revelation 1-3, blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who hear it and take it to heart what is written in it, for the time is near. So if you want to be blessed, come on December 13th and hear the book of Revelation read aloud. And what's happening in this book is that it's a book of encouragement and hope for you and for me, no matter what's going on in our lives. It's a book of encouragement and hope for those who are being persecuted and who have great fear in the days of John. It's a book of hope and encouragement for John, who's sequestered on the island of Patmos. And what it is given is, is it saying? Here is the very word of God that is the revelation of the victory of Jesus Christ for you. So, no matter what you're going through, you know that Jesus is the victory, is the victorious for you. This would have also recalled in their minds these words From Isaiah 55-11, as God says. So my word that goes out from my mouth will not return empty, but will accomplish what I desire, and achieve the purposes for which I sent it. You see, in the midst of the suffering, the hurt and the heartache, in the midst of the valley, the book of Revelation is a reminder that God's people are designed with a purpose, no matter where we're at, whether we're walking through the valley of the shadow of death so that we do not fear any evil for he is with us, or whether we're on a mountaintop celebrating in praise at the mount of transfiguration, seeing the very glory of God in a veiled way. We are a people designed to worship God, and it is Him, who was, who is and who is to come, that deserves all worthy worship and praise. As a matter of fact, I think, in the midst of all things, we can worship at all times, and let's do that right now across campuses, as, together, we sing and worship in this moment through the Revelation song. Exalted high, exalted high.Speaker 3:
Worthy is the lamb who was slain. Holy, holy. Is he Sing a new song to Him who sits on heaven's mercy seat? Worthy is the lamb who was slain. Holy, holy. Is he Sing a new song to Him who sits on heaven's mercy seat? Holy, holy. Holy is the Lord, god Almighty, who was and is and is to come With all creation. I sing praise to the King of kings. You are my everything and I will adore you. I will adore you, jesus. Clothes and rainbows of living colors, flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder, blessing and honor, strength and glory and power be to you, the only wise King. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, god Almighty, who was and is and is to come With all creation. I sing praise to the King of kings. You are my everything and I will adore you. I will adore you, filled with wonder, awestruck wonder, at the mention of your name. Your name is power. Jesus, your name is power. It's breath of living water. Such a marvelous mystery. Holy, holy. Holy is the Lord, god Almighty, who was and is to come. You are holy, you are holy.Speaker 1:
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, god Almighty, who was and is to come With all creation. I sing praise to the King of kings. You are my everything and I will adore you. I will adore you. Jesus, please be seated With all of creation. I will sing and I will adore you. He's been made to worship and from a God who created us and designed us with a purpose to worship Him eternally. We see that in the midst of anything that is happening in our lives, god has given us this book with hope and courage to live out a life for Him, to know that we can worship Him no matter where we're at, and that when we worship Him, that he is the God who is triumphed over whatever we're going through. That's the purpose of the book of Revelation for you, and to understand Revelation, we have to see a deep connection with the Old Testament, with the people of God who have traveled through difficulties and valleys and on mountaintops, that God is consistently with them every step of the way. The book of Revelation is rooted in the Old Testament. It contains over 500 allusions to the Old Testament. As a matter of fact, 278 of the 404 verses in the book of Revelation, that's over 70% of them make reference to the Old Testament, and we like to think that this book camps in Daniel. It does not. The book camps in Exodus and why would it not Of people who have cried out under great persecution and tyranny for over 400 years, to a Pharaoh whose heart continued to get hardened and hardened and hardened, and had a God who gave them victory and led them from Egypt to the promised land. This is the God who was, the God who is and the God who will be, and what he will show us is that victory is ours and that new day is coming. So how does Revelation apply to you today? Revelation is shaping your tomorrow today. It's shaping your tomorrow today. The book of Revelation matters to you. It is for you, it's for each and every one of us, because it is for the church, the church triumphant, the church on earth, the church of all time. In Revelation 1, 10 through 11, we see this On the Lord's day. I was in the Spirit and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a trumpet, which said write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches Deaphthysis, smyrna, pergum, thyratira, sardis, philadelphia and Laodicea. Now, these seven churches, this is a figure of a reality, that seven is the most complete and perfect number. And so this is saying that it's for all the church, all the church in the days of John, all the church in the days to come, all the church today and all the church tomorrow. It's for you and for me. Why is it for us? Well, it's for us because we too have the same issues that they're having in the days of John and in that empire. They're suffering, you're suffering, I have suffering, all of us suffer. We know that if you're a Christian and you claim Jesus is your Lord, satan has a target on your back. Christianity means that in this life it is not easy. There will be suffering in our lives. The results of sin equal suffering, and it always has been. Suffering is not uniform, yet each person's agony is real. Suffering is not uniform, yet each person's agony is real as we suffer, it hurts. Every single one of us has pain due to suffering in our lives, and that agony is real and it's where we need to find and see and remember Jesus, the victory that Jesus has over our sufferings. John says it in the ninth verse this way he says John, I John, your brother and companion in suffering. So he says I'm suffering too. May not be the same, but the agony is real and I'm a companion in suffering, but also a companion in the kingdom, and I have a patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, meaning that this suffering is for a short time. It's suffering for a short time. It won't always be. Here's the effects that happen when we suffer. When we suffer, whatever it may be in our life, whether it's a divorce, whether it's a death, whether it's a job loss, whether it's people speaking words of hatred or, in truth, of us, whatever the suffering may be, it has the same effect on all of us. It's terribly lonely, we feel alone, we feel like no one can understand, no one's around us, no one's for us. We feel like it's permanent, this is forever, and we feel like this is the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone in the world. I remember in 2004, as I was at our seminary and we were in classes and it was a conference day and we had about two days on the front end before conferences. Then we had a conference and then we had a day after. On the last day of the conference, we discovered that one of our classmates had died. He was single, 45 years old, and he died in his dorm room. We found out that he had died four days earlier and no one had discovered it. At the funeral, I remember his mom coming up to me and saying it's so lonely. And was he lonely? How could no one have noticed when were you? His friends, his father had shared with someone else, saying that this grief will never subside. That was probably true for them, and our Dean of Students said that he had learned that they believed that they were suffering the worst ever they had ever experienced in their lives. This is the sufferings and the emotions we all go through. You have, and may have right now, significant suffering. I want you to know this, though this is the truth that comes from the book of Revelation and from the whole Scriptures. You are not on your own. This storm will not be forever, and you will find a way to weather it. You are not on your own. This storm won't be forever and you will find a way to weather it. Max O'Cato writes in his book that says you'll get through this. He writes about the fact that, as Christians, we always have the hope and the light of Jesus Christ ahead of us and that, whatever suffering may befall us in this life, we know a few things. First, we are not alone. God is with us. That's His name, emmanuel. Number two God surrounds us with people who care for us. This is when we say I thank God for those who are partners in the gospel. We walk shoulder to shoulder with disciples of Jesus Christ. You'll get through. This is that we will get through this one step at a time, one day at a time, one second at a time, one worship praise at a time. We'll get through this because the victory is ours already and we see and we know the end of the story. And guess what? Even the evil one who brings the suffering to us knows the end of the story that Jesus died and did not stay dead, but he rose again and all of suffering and all of wickedness eventually will be sent to the pits of hell and we will not remember or experience of. And this is the peace of God that we have, because you and I, in the midst of our suffering, like those of Revelation and those of Exodus, can find an inner peace because God's grace will never cease. You and I have an inner peace because God's grace will never cease. I can't help but recall my mother in this time, who right now is going through esophageal cancer. And when I talk to her and say Mom, how are you doing? She says I'm good, like God's got me. And I know the end of the story and even if I don't survive this, I will survive this because I'll be with Jesus. And then she said to me plus, I Googled, how do you die from esophagus cancer? And she said I already have like four of the things and I feel okay. So God can give, gives us that everlasting grace. The other thing is we can raise a praise even in the midst of our sufferings. Laura Story writes in that song blessings. She writes that you find blessings in the raindrops. As she had discovered her husband had brain cancer. There's always a reason we can raise a praise for Jesus. In Revelation 117 and 18, it says when I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead, and then he placed his right hand on me and he said don't be afraid, I am the first and the last, I'm the living one. I was dead and now, look, I am alive forever and ever and I hold the keys of death and Hades Jesus has already given you and I the victory over our suffering, the victory of sin, death and the devil, and he holds the keys and he has let you and I free, so that we are no longer captive and bound to eternity of death and the eternity of suffering. Instead, we have the reality of the light to come and through Revelation, we see that he has bound Satan in his evil ways. And so today, today, there is a call to a new day, a looking to a new heaven and a new earth, to the reality that we have victory over all things. In taps, we are reminded that there is death and hurt and heartache, but our God does not leave us there. He doesn't leave us with the song of taps in our lives. Instead, he gives us a new song. Hear that now called Revolary. Friends, here is the good news you are not a captive, you are a conqueror. If you only remember this today from the book of Revelation, remember this you are not captive to Satan and his suffering, you are a conqueror over him through the death, resurrection and life of Jesus Christ, which is yours. The book of Revelation is all about Jesus, all about Jesus. And so what I want you to do today is first, in the midst of any suffering that may come, look to Jesus. You may not have the answer of how long or why or when, but you definitely have the answer of who Jesus, and so he will get you through this, and a new day is coming with a new heaven and a new earth for you. Second, I want to invite you to go deeper in Revelation. Over the next four weeks, we're going to be releasing podcasts where we have a Revelation expert, mark Brighton, who spent 40 years studying this book Going Deeper. Listen to that on our podcast through our app. Third, come and see blessings in the book and be blessed by hearing this word, by coming on December 13th and seeing the Word of God alive, because it's Jesus who was, who is and who is to come. Let's pray. Dear Jesus, we thank you for being the God who has revealed himself, who has unveiled again our victory amidst our worst misery, and that victory will overcome that victory. We are not captive to our circumstance. We are conquerors through our kingdom. You, lord Jesus, it's always about you, and all God's people said.