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Revelation - 2

Revelation message part 2

After going home, my wife said we should give a handout – it explains the ways of interpreting the book of Revelation. You are welcome to it – one per family.

I’d like you to turn in the Bible to Revelation 1.

Last week, we went through 4 ways of interpreting – and we won’t be covering that.

1) First, Revelation is first a theology book – God, His ways and how He relates to us

2) written to a group of people who were about to go through some difficult times. They were undergoing significant persecution and many were losing homes and going hungry and some even dying because of their faith.

3) It is prophetic, apocalyptic – end times and the second coming of Christ. We always focus our attention on this – and I am not downplaying that – but there is plenty of information out there (some good, some not so good).

4) It is about the future – we focus on what is next – but it is beyond that – our heavenly future. When all is said and done, God will reign supreme, and we who have followed Him will be rewarded and reign with Him. A better life waits for us. At the end of all things.

Let’s pray.

Lord, we thank You for this day, thank You that Your word is true and better is one day with you than one thousand anywhere else. Help it to be real in our lives. We can sing it, but it is often not the case with us – but make it more important than anything in our lives – You should be first.

If you stay around for the beginning of the next service, - Joe Heindel took some pictures – and put them up on the bulletin board from a service trip to New Orleans. He will be sharing in the 11:00 service.

Rev. 1: 9 I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance [which are] in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

At this point in Revelation, John begins speaking directly to the seven churches. We are not necessarily going to take them in order. Matt will be taking Smyrna – but not until the end of January. John begins speaking to the churches. He is speaking to real people. They were going through real things. When they got this letter from John – it was probably one of the most encouraging things for them and they probably hung on every word. They were in the midst of persecution and tribulation. There are two words that John uses – Brother – He identifies with them. He doesn’t say – like Paul, an apostle of Jesus – he just says – I am your brother – I am like you. We are in this together. John is demonstrating a real pastor’s heart. He is not elevating himself above anyone else. He could have – he leaned against Jesus breast at the last supper and Jesus called him the one he loved – but he identified himself as one of them. He identified with them. Through the 15th century – the church was corrupt and there was this sense – the dark ages – before the reformation – most people weren’t educated – and there was this belief that those who would enter the monastery and separate themselves from the world and devote to prayer and fasting and celibacy and poverty – living in extreme poverty for God – there was this sense that they were the spiritual ones and that God heard their prayers more than others. People could give money to these monasteries and spiritual individuals that they could pray and say mass for them. But there was this common thinking that those who did this for a living were more spiritual and better than the common person. That thinking continues – that there are two classes of Christian – but John is saying that is not true – I am no different than you.

Second word: Fellow Partaker – actually – one word – part of koinonia – he identifies with their trials, suffering and pain. It was more than today – “I feel your pain” – he is saying – I know what you are going through because I am going through it also. I am going through the same thing – being persecuted now. Fellow partaker – more than just having identity or being sympathetic or empathetic – that is true – but it is sharing his life with them.

A few weeks ago a friend lost a child – 26 years old – to a stroke. You know how you get these phone calls and your mind can’t process it. He started to ask me – me, being a pastor – what am I to do? What do you say in a situation like this? I just told him – there is nothing to be said – all you can do is be with them. That is all you can do. Be there. Be there in there time of need. There are no words that magically make things better – he is there. With them – identifying with them.

As we move on – that is the theme we will see – being with us when we have a difficult time. I learn the most from people who share my struggles. Our tendency is to think that we will learn the most from the one who has it all together – but you really don’t – it is on another level and you think you can’t get to that level. John is saying – I am down here so you can learn from me.

John goes on to describe the vision

Revelation 1:

12 And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;

The golden lampstand is a traditional symbol in Judaism – that those he was writing to would have had an understanding of – they would have gone back to Jewish things – relating to where they were.

20 "As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. 2:1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

It is explained. It is clear.

In these churches – a lot of persecution was coming from the Jews. Rome looked at the church as a part of the Jewish world – and those who had rejected Christ were not happy about that and were trying to separate the church and the nation of Israel. It was the actual Jewish nation that was coming against the church. Jesus is telling the church that they are the true Israel – and that those who were persecuting the church were not – because they had rejected Him. It also indicates that the church came from Judaism.

Revelation 1: 13 and in the middle of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His breast with a golden girdle. 14 And His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire; 15 and His feet [were] like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace, and His voice [was] like the sound of many waters. 16 And in His right hand He held seven stars; and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

This is an image of Christ. “One like a Son of Man.” When Jesus called himself son of man – we don’t always understand – this refers to

Daniel 7: 13 "I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. 14 "And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and [men of every] language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.

When Jesus was on earth and said he was the Son of Man – what came into the minds of those listening – was this (from Daniel) – the one who was everlasting – they understood Daniel – and they recognized that Jesus was saying that is who He is.

Rev. 1:13 in the middle of the lampstands one like a son of man, - Jesus is in the midst of the churches. He is with them. He is walking amongst the churches. When they are going through the worst time, Christ makes it clear that He is with them. When you go through your worst time in life – and you will go through difficult times – Christ wants you to know that He is with them. Not outside but in the middle.

Heb. 4:15 – we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness –

We can understand that whatever it is we face, He has gone through it – he has been there, done that. He understands what you are experiencing today. You are not alone. What you are going through is not without cause. God has something in it that He wishes to do and accomplish.

Now – that is the vision – we could go into it forever – but let’s jump to the churches. Revelation 2:1

I’ll give you a pattern of how God understands and identifies with our situation. Every message starts with this phrase – to the angel of the church of….

Angel – is Messenger – if I were to say – Jason, go downstairs and tell the guys we are done – Jason would be an angel – a messenger. Most who study this say that angel refers to an angel. Others believe that it is a person – a messenger. After the introduction – there is always something about Christ – the Character of Christ – The one who holds the seven stars – the one who is in the midst of the lampstands – He is with you. He is sovereign in your situation.

Rev. 2: 2 'I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them [to be] false;

I know. He is there with them – but there is something else. This word, I know – comes up 8 or 9 times in chapters 2 and 3. Five times he says, I know your work, deeds, service, toil – he is with us – but beyond that – He knows what you have done. If you have been working hard on a project and feel like no one recognizes it – or in the home – and you just wish that someone would recognize it – to know what you have done. But most of what we do in life goes unnoticed and unrecognized. But Christ knows. He understands. He has seen it – I know your deeds – I know you have been working really hard. I know your service to me – it has not gone unnoticed. The encouragement to us – He knows what we are doing. He knows your work. He sees it. It may be in a quiet place that no one else recognizes – He knows your story.

These folks who have been working really hard in service to Christ – and now, because of that are enduring persecution; He wants them to know – He knows – He sees it.

3 aspects of God’s knowledge of us.

Matt. 6: 6 "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you

Your Father – In secret.

When we want recognition in this world, what do we do? We call attention to ourselves. Look at Britney Spears. Or a high schooler who wants to be seen by a boyfriend or girlfriend – they get louder.

If you want God to recognize you – you need to go in secret. Do your service in secret. God sees in secret. He sees what no one else does – He sees what is hidden. In those places God recognizes us. In this world, it is what is in public – but that is not what matters. Even in ministry – people try to make it public – but God says it is in what is in secret that matters the most. Who you are when no one is looking is what matters the most.

Primarily – what you are like in secret is what God is most concerned about. I remember the days – when the kids were younger – and everything goes wrong as you are getting ready for church – but then you walk in and put the smile on J - Not that you should come in and be angry with your kids! But we need to put our hearts before Him first thing in the morning – and when it gets tough – in that situation – God wants them to know that He knows – He sees. And He praises them for their faithfulness.

Hebrews 6: 10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints

God does not forget – when you are serving – down in the nursery – or practicing for worship or serving your family – God is not unjust – he does not forget. He remembers and rewards. Everything you have done for Him will be remembered before His judgment seat. Every cup of water – You don’t give a cup of water without it being rewarded! Every shoe you tied, floor you swept, meal you made – will be remembered by Him. Your husband, kids, etc. might not remember – But God does.

The reward you get there will outweigh what you might get here.

Matt. 25: 37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? 38 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 'And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, [even] the least [of them,] you did it to Me.'

As it comes to God knowing our works and deeds – we serve Him by serving others. “When did we do this?” They forgot – but He didn’t. that is how we serve Christ.

Rev. 2: 9 'I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich),

I know your difficulty – what you are going through.

13 'I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is;

He knows the events that are unfolding in your life. Not that he just knows about it- I know. I understand – and I am in the midst of it with you.

Heb. 4: 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

In light of the fact that He has been there – draw near with confidence – to help in time of need.

I challenge us – as these churches went through challenges – God was there – draw near to Me in this – draw near with confidence – boldness. Sometimes, when we don’t act right – we draw away – but God says NO! Come to me in your weakness.

Let’s pray. Lord, help us to learn from these as they went through difficulty in ways we can’t imagine, but in ways that relate to what we are going through. You walked with them – so you are walking with us – You know. Help us to have hope, because You know. In Your name we pray – Amen.


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