The Garden of Revelation
Revelation 1 to 5
The Garden of Revelation
Revelation 1 to 5
Come and take a stroll through the garden of Revelation. Come into the garden. See its majestic sights, hear its majestic sounds. Stand in awe, and wonder, and admiration. View the formal landscape -- with its patterns of sevens. See the seven spirits of God, and the seven churches. See great activity -- see the seven seals being opened -- seven trumpets being sounded -- and the seven plagues being poured out.
Note how the gardener has grafted the content of the current garden out of the rootstock of former events. The four horses of Revelation reflect the horses of Zechariah, the measuring of the temple and the city in Revelation reflect the measuring of the same in Ezekiel.
There is much to see. Let's take a stroll.
Jesus instructs John to share the Revelation. "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches."
The revelation is significant -- it originates from God.
The revelation is visual -- we view the mighty scenes.
The revelation is audible -- we hear thunderous words.
The revelation is true -- it is the Word of God, and Jesus the faithful witness testifies that it is true. John too testifies to it.
John testifies to everything he saw -- that is, the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Jesus gives instruction through the Holy Spirit
Jesus is the heavenly high priest. As such, Jesus ministers to the seven churches. He holds the seven spirits in his right hand (Rev 1:16, 3:1). In Revelation, the seven spirits symbolise the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is Christ's powerful messenger to the church.
Seven lampstands represent the seven churches. Without the Spirit of God these lampstands remain unlit, and as such the church will walk in darkness -- and the church will be useless. For the sake of salvation, it is vital that God's Spirit gives light to the church.
The symbolism embodied in the number 'seven' indicates a universal and all-encompassing nature. Therefore the 'seven churches' of Revelation represent the Christian church throughout all ages and in all places.
The Lamb (being Jesus Christ) has seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God (being the Holy Spirit) sent out into all the earth (Rev 5:6). The symbolism of 'seven' indicates the universal and all-encompassing nature of the Spirit. The symbolic 'seven horns' represent omnipotence -- indicating that the Spirit of God is all-powerful. And the 'seven eyes' represent omniscience -- the Spirit is all-knowing.
The Holy Spirit is Christ's powerful messenger to the church. He is sent out into all the earth.
The Holy Spirit of God is presented symbolically as --
*seven spirits before God's throne (Rev 1:4),
*seven lamps blazing in front of the throne (Rev 4:5),
*seven spirits in Jesus' hand (Rev 3:1),
*seven stars in Jesus' hand (Rev 2:1 and 3:1),
*seven messengers (Greek 'aggelos') in Jesus' hand (Rev 1:20),
*seven horns of the Lamb (Rev 5:6),
*seven eyes of the Lamb (Rev 5:6).
Regarding the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, "When the Spirit of truth comes he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own -- he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." (John 16:13) In this verse, Jesus gives a very detailed and clear definition of the work of the Spirit. Every one of these aspects of the Spirit's work is made evident in the Book of Revelation. Revelation reveals that the Spirit will guide us into all truth, he will only speak what he is given to speak, and he will tell us what is yet to come.
Whoever has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
The First Mystery
Now that we have ventured this far into the Garden of Revelation, the first mystery has been revealed. (Rev 1:19 to 2:1, and 3:1)
(1) Now we can see THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH: The *seven lampstands are the *seven churches (This symbolic language identifies The Church).
(2) Now we can see THE UNIVERSAL HOLY SPIRIT: The *seven stars are *seven messengers of Jesus Christ who are the *seven spirits of God (This symbolic language identifies The Holy Spirit).
The Holy Spirit is the messenger to the church. He is the messenger of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit gives light to the church. Without the Holy Spirit -- the church will walk in darkness.
Much darkness is portrayed in Revelation. Walking in darkness leads to doom, death and destruction.
Walking in the light of the good news of Jesus Christ -- and walking in the light of the Spirit of God leads to eternal 'light' and eternal 'life.' The glorious city of God (the New Jerusalem) needs no light from the sun because God and the Lamb give it light.
But what about the journey? The world is full of darkness, and we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Oh, what evil we see!
The 'great and glorious high priest' (Jesus) gives to us through the 'seven spirits' (the Holy Spirit) messages to the seven churches. He firmly commands, "Listen to what the Spirit says to the churches." The messages offer encouragement and voice concern. The messages don't condone complacency, slumber and sin. Rather they encourage us to stay wide awake, to be alert, and walk in light and not in the night.
Timely instruction is given to the church. The particular way in which the instruction is presented reminds us of Jesus' sober words. Jesus said, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19)
God in Revelation speaks the following words. In his very own words, God excludes from the kingdom all of the following -- "the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, and those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars." (Rev 21:8) And Jesus in Revelation speaks these sober words. In Jesus' very own words, he excludes from the kingdom -- those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Rev 22:15)
Along the same lines, Paul said, "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person -- such a person is an idolater -- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore, do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." (Eph 5:3-8)
Revelation contrasts in the most vivid terms -- the darkness of Satan -- and the glory and beauty of God. Nothing will be allowed to enter the kingdom of God which cultivates hurt or causes deceit to prosper.
God has his people
The message of Revelation is for everyone.
Jesus instructs his seven messengers to give messages specifically to the seven churches (Rev 2:7). And he also proclaims a message which goes to the whole world. The 'good news of eternal salvation' is to go to everyone who lives on the earth -- to every nation, tribe, language, and people (Rev 14:6). God reaches out to everyone.
"If you have ears to hear -- then listen to what the Spirit says."
God has his faithful people.
In the seven messages given to the churches, God identifies closely with each of us.
Jesus says I know your situation -- I know how great the evil is which surrounds you -- I know the opposition you face -- I know that you struggle. I can and I will support you. Come to me.
And he says I know you personally -- I know you intimately -- I know your internal conflicts -- I know your heart -- I know when you are true to me, and when you are not. -- I can and I will support you. Come to me.
God calls us to draw near to him -- to trust him completely. He calls us to be faithful -- he calls us to persevere -- he calls us to victory by the blood of the Lamb. -- And he will always support us.
God has his faithful people. And he will give us victory.
Jesus says, "To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne."
God's throne in heaven
John's attention is drawn upward. There is a door open into heaven. Jesus says, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." Attention is now redirected from the churches on earth to the throne of God in heaven. It is a scene of majesty and glory. Those surrounding the throne are involved in worship. There is but one focus. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." This is truly a majestic scene.
The Eternal One on the throne (with his right hand) holds forth a scroll -- the scroll has writing on both sides -- and it is sealed with seven seals. The sealed scroll becomes central -- as the focus now turns to a search for one who is accounted worthy to open it.
No one was found who could open the scroll -- or look inside. John wept and wept. (Rev 5:3, 4)
The Lion and the Lamb
Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.
Jesus is the one found to be worthy. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
He will open the seals -- he will look inside.
Jesus is presented in Revelation as (1) our High Priest, (2) the Lion of the tribe of Judah, (3) and as the Lamb. As High Priest, he ministers salvation to his people, as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, he is the eternal king in the lineage of King David, and as the Lamb, he is the spotless sacrifice by which we receive forgiveness from every sin.
He is the one who is worthy. Throughout Revelation we see portrayed these three aspects of Jesus' work. Individually each of us can rightly say, he is my High Priest, he is my King, my Sacrifice. Each of us can commit our lives to him -- for Jesus' ministry is for all.
Jesus receives praise
"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth." Amen.
Jesus (with his own blood) redeemed for God precious souls from every nation. Please count yourself among his people by accepting his sacrifice.
This article is to be continued -- but in the meantime please be patient. THANK YOU