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Book of Revelation 1

Book of Revelation

One of the most loved and hated books of the bible.

I’ve been talking to other leaders/volunteers over the last couple months. An incredible amount of Christians who don’t go anywhere near the book of revelation.

Obviously not our style.

That’s obviously not our style here. We like to jump right into the tough stuff and figure it out. Always with our eyes on Jesus. As people who adhere to ‘Cruciform Theology’, we don’t have to be afraid, because we believe that the truest thing is Jesus. So we have confidence in this: we go into all the bible looking for Jesus.


Some of you won’t agree with all this.

That’s ok. We’re not into groupthink. Thinking new thoughts good for you. Just patiently listen.

Studying – Theologians – last 50 years

I was reading a bunch of stuff. Theologian really like, explains last 50 years – America got ‘Apocalyptic Fever’

Hal Lindsey – Late Great Planet Earth
Larry Norman – I wish we’d all been ready
Pastors – Revelation
88 reasons why the rapture will be in 1988.


Henry Kissinger – antiChrist. – Prove it.
10 headed beast in revelation – 10 heads – european union.

They knew they had a computer called ‘The Beast’.

Bring the One World Government

Barcodes – coming out – part of the One World Government.

Huge sects – rapture was coming in the next 1 or 2 years – latest.

“Are you rapture ready?”

Used prophesies from revelation – helicopters, nuclear bombs, russia, china.

Seems silly – but it seems like it’s still happening.

  • Facebook
  • All the end of the world movies
  • Left Behind Series – NYT Best Seller
  • Movies – Nicolas Cage
  • Zombie Love
  • Climate Change
  • Pick out: passages.
  • Y2K
  • 2012 – Mayan Calendar.
  • Some people: Obama – One World Government. Him & Clintons.

Basically: whoever you hate, “have you ever thought that they might be the antichrist?!”

Problem: In certain conservative Christian communities. Starting to affect our attitudes.

Seems like they like the Jesus of Revelation (as they read it) – Sword wielding warrior; more than the Jesus of the gospels.

Gloating – Their enemies are gonna get it when Jesus comes back!

Bumper sticker “Jesus is coming back and man is he pissed.”

“In Revelation, Jesus is a pride-fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” (Well Known preacher guy.)

Missed – The whole story arc is us beating him up.

Man, Jesus is gonna come back and he’s gonna throw them all the lake of fire and they’re gonna burn! and the beast and gonna devour em, it’s gonna be so awesome!

We’ll be watching from heaven saying ‘Yes! This is so great!’

You guys obviously know: looks nothing like Jesus in the gospels.

Cruciform Theology – God always has and always will look like Jesus.

Revelation can be this perverted escape from reality for a Christian.

In fact, if you’re a person with deep hatred in your heart, it makes sense that you’d be obsessed with the end times, because it’s like it gives you permission to do the opposite of what Jesus did.

  • Giving his life for his enemies.
  • Loving the broken people of the world.

So, it’s important for us to understand this stuff.

Break free from some of the bad habits that apocalyptic fever is bringing into the body of Christ.

Instead experience the beauty of a book that shows us a God that looks exactly like Jesus. – I’ll show you.

A lot people – Burn out – revelation.

So instead of being obsessed, they just avoid is like the plaugue.

I did.

I realized how vastly different all these peoples opinions were about the book. And everyone was so positive that they were right.

Just like Greg Boyd last week – “obvious”.

Also, I felt like it was irrelevant.

Why would God create a book that would only be understandable in the last 5 years of history. – Everyone else, it’s just nonsense.

1st century-4th – councils & church leaders – “Canonical”

Why would they? That seems stupid.

About 3-4 years ago – stumbled on bible scholars – totally new view

Book became alive to me.

Started to understand ‘why’ it was written, & why it has remained.


  • Read it – wrong way: terrifying.
  • Read it correctly: beautiful book – beautiful God.


Written by a man named John

Some people think – John the beloved. Disciple. Some people don’t think that.

Some other John

“John of Patmos”. B/C – vision – on island Patmos

Aegean Sea. Between Greece & T. key.

So to stay ‘PC’. many people say ‘.John the Revelator’.

Revelation Timeline

22 Chapters

Revelation 1-3

Opening scene – slightly dull

John – prison – patmos.

Apocalyptic vision

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 1:9)

On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, (Revelation 1:10)

which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:11)

“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. (Revelation 1:19)

Revelation 4-20

Big, crazy, epic, weird, disturbing vision.

  • Lions, lambs.
  • Satan, antichrist, false prophet.
  • Seals, scrolls.
  • Angels w/trumpets.
  • 7 bowls containing 7 plagues.
  • Hail from heaven – causes men to curse God.

Revelation 21-22

Last segment of scripture

John describes – new heaven, new earth.

Holy City

New Jeresalam

No more crying, pain, suffering.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1)

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

Book Ends: Jesus

““Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:12-13).”

For me, when I start a new big idea, it’s critical to come at it with the right eyes, so I like making principles that we come back to.

4 Principles – First 4 Verses

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, (Revelation 1:1)

who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:2)

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 1:3)

John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia… (Revelation 1:4)

Write this down:

1. The book of Revelation is NOT a crystal ball.

Most people come to the book of revelation with the Pre-supposition that this all happens in the future.

People look at it like a crystal ball that shows you how this whole thing is going to wrap up.

While Revelation has SOME things about the end, it’s mainly about the present.

Shows us the beauty of Jesus, & what it looks like to live faithfully unto God.

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, (Revelation 1:1)

who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:2)

Everything written: is a testimony (telling) of the word of God, and a telling of Jesus Christ.

Everything in this book a telling of Jesus Christ.

Different than being a crystal ball about the future.

2. The purpose of the Book of Revelation is to show us Jesus Christ.

Word Revelation. – Greek: “The unveiling”, uncovering.

When John says ‘This is the revelation of Jesus Christ.’ literally translated: “This is the unveiling of Jesus Christ.”

His Character

The revelation from Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1)

Only book of the bible specifically says ‘FROM Jesus Christ’

This is a book that was communicated BY Jesus. ABOUT Jesus.

3. The book of Revelation is Apocalyptic literature

We don’t read all kinds of books the same.

(Political Comic)

Missing the point.

We honor books when we read them correctly.

Song of Solomon – Describing Abishag.

Hair – flock of goats

Neck – tower of David

‘Apocalyptic Literature’

Popular genre of writing – existed between around 200BC to 200AD.

Characterized as using dramatic and often times surrealistic symbols to represent something else.

Dramatic images – make – impact.

Like: ‘Surrealist Poetry’.

Ex: Dead sea scrolls

A lot of people think the dead sea scrolls were just bible. But they were only 40% ‘bible’ and 60% other stuff. And included in the other stuff was a bunch of apocolyptic literature.

“War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness”

12 tribes of Israel, conquering – “nations of vanity.”


“The War of the Messiah” – Weird – Branches & stumps

Scene – Isaiah – chopped down with an axe.

And there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse.

And they will put to death the branch of David.

Eventually died – rabbis of the day – believed it would cause revolt against the government.

The Book of Revelation is Apocalyptic Literature.

Ex: For 100’s years – Christians – a verse from Revelation – come up with this belief:

Satan fell from heaven and took a third of the angels with him.

Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. (Revelation 12:3)

Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. (Revelation 12:4)

It’s apocalyptic literature. Things are DEEPLY symbolic.

Ex: Jesus returns – sword coming out of his mouth “with which he will strike down the nations.”

Symbolic – words of Jesus.

We know WHY it was written like this.

Book comes out strongly against rome, the ruling, horrible, and oppressive regime that they were under.

The Christian and Jewish audiences would understand the symbolism, but if it were to fall into the wrong hands (the romans), it would just look like apocalyptic poetry.

Book: Most Revealing Book of the Bible

1981 – Vernard Eller

He compares book of the revelation to Picaso’s painting Guernica – Gare-Nika (get pic)

Guernica – town bombed (destroyed) – Nazii’s 1942.

Making a statement about a historical event.

IS communicating a historical event, but in an artistic style.

You’ll miss the point ‘That one guy on the left, what’s his name?’ Must have lived by a nuclear power plant.

Emotion. – ‘Feel’ something.

Isn’t trying to show us technical details, trying to convey emotion.

To millions of people, this painting shows something that a photograph never could.

Pain / Evil

That’s how it is with Apocalyptic literature.

Book of Revelation :

Inspire us, motive us – Go – different direction.

It needs to be felt.

That’s why John Says:

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it. (Revelation 1:3)

Picture – ancient world.

House churches, 20-30 people.

1 person, read – rest – hear it.

Very different impression if you experience it as a whole.

They weren’t stopping and evaluating every single word. There were experiencing it.

For us: if we’re picking apart these tiny little phrases and trying super hard to line those up with current events.

Have to at least agree that you’re not doing the same thing that they did with this book.

Kind of like music.

We experience it as a whole, we’re not judging it on the merits of the individual notes, you’re experiencing the song.

Dissecting it rather than experiencing it.

There are times when WE (2015) have to analyze it, b/c we have to pick up on the symbolism.

There were things that were obvious to them that mean nothing to us now.

We do that not by correlating the book to their time, not ours.

How would they have understood it.

Reading the bible without time and place creates a monster God.

Symbols start meaning something when you find them in their time not ours.

4. The book of revelation was written to Seven first century churches.

to the seven churches in the province of asia. (Revelation 1:4)

That’s who the book was written to.

This John – apparently had oversight of these churches, so he has them in mind when he’s writing.

Not theoretical churches, these were actual churches, actual location, with real people.

A lot of people today would think this verse should read ‘To the 21st century church’.

But it doesn’t.

And if it WAS a secret code for the 21st century church, then it couldn’t possibly have meant anything to the first century church.

But we know it does, because that’s who it was written to.

He writes things that he intents for his audience to understand.

“Locusts – attack helicopters” – Weird

Had to mean something first 1900 years – no electricity.

True of every book of the bible: the primary meaning of a book is the meaning it had to the original audience.

A lot of people know that about all the books of the bible, but for some reason when it comes to revelation, they forget that.

The book applies to us, just like all books of the bible.

But before we can apply it, we have to understand it.

Only way to do that is to understand the original audience.

Also, we see that there’s an urgency in the author’s tone, pleading for the people to act quickly, but something soon is going to happen.

‘soon take place’. (Revelation 1:1)

‘time is near’ (Revelation 1:3)

‘must soon take place.’ (Revelation 22:6)

We have to understand ‘soon’ like they would. They wouldn’t have thought ‘yeah he probably means like 2000 years from now.’

When we understand the culture that this was written in, we see tons of beauty. And THEN we can apply it to our life.

Next week:

Scrolls, lambs with 7 horns and 7 eyes.

But we’ll go into it knowing this:

  1. The book of Revelation is NOT a crystal ball.
  2. The purpose of the Book of Revelation is to show us Jesus
  3. The book of Revelation is Apocalyptic literature
  4. The book of Revelation was written to seven first century churches.



Our job as disciples of Jesus, is not to figure out the future, it’s to be passionate followers of Jesus in the present.

God’s not:

  • ‘God of the past’
  • ‘God of the future’.

He’s the great ‘I AM’.

The past is over, the future’s not here, the only thing that’s real is the now.

And if we’re obsessed with the past or future, miss what God’s doing now.

  • God loves you – perfect love – Right now, & that’s what’s important.
  • God wants – keep growing us – disciples.
  • Spread his kingdom – now.
  • Broken – now.
  • Homeless / Hungry

If you’re obsessed with the future, you won’t hear him.

Gotta wonder what God thinks when he has christians down here surrounded to hurt, pain, suffering, and we’re all just too busy looking into the crystal ball to notice.

The call is be passionate about him now and trust Him with the future.

We are told in bible over and over – trust God w/future.

Essence of faith

Repeated theme: when we trust God and let him take care of it, things go good. When we don’t trust, and instead, take matters into our own hands, things don’t go good.

Jesus: Don’t worry about tomorrow. Be like the birds and the flowers.

Carefree. Not obsessed with the future.

This is one of the reasons why the sin of ’DIVINATION’ is strongly condemned in the bible.

“attempting to get divine knowledge about the future.”

Ancient world – consult oracles – see the future.

People love this because it gives them an advantage.

Prepare right.

Gives them more power.

Shows a mistrust in God. Carefully trying to understand the future, so we can have more control. Opposite of a care-free attitude.

People who look into revelation like it’s a crystal ball. Sinful. Trying to peer in and see the future. More control.

  • “We’re not gonna fall for the anti-christ’s power”
  • Mark of the beast.
  • “We’re the special people who have the secret knowledge.”

Instead of gazing into the crystal ball, we’re supposed to be trusting God w/everything.

God says he’ll win in the end – just trust him & get on w/ life.

Bring good out of evil.

God knows best time Best way.

He’s all loving / beautiful. – You can trust him.


Come back to Jesus

Spend a little time w/him – pass it out.

Talking about – Instead crystal ball

Trusting God – future.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? (Matthew 6:25)

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:26)

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ? (Matthew 6:27)

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. (Matthew 6:28)

Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. (Matthew 6:29)

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? (Matthew 6:30)

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ (Matthew 6:31)

For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (Matthew 6:32)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

Whatever you’re going through.

Everyone – going through something.

Spend a minute – In your heart:

Be honest

Invite him in

“I trust you.”


This is the Table, not of the church, but of the Lord.
It is made ready for those who love Him and for those who want to love Him more. So come,
You who have much faith and you who have little,
You who have been here often and you who have not been here long,
You who have tried to follow and you who have failed.

Come, because it is the Lord who invites you.
It is His will that those who want Him should meet Him here.
Come to the Table.

Take a minute – take communion – own time.