The following is an unedited, full manuscript of the sermon.
Thank you so much for being with us here today and joining us on a journey through this ancient and captivating book of Revelation. At this time I want you to make sure that your tray tables and your seatbacks are in the upright position. I want you to put on your seat belts, because we are going to take a flight that will last no more than 35 minutes as we fly through all twenty-two chapters of Revelation. The good thing about this flight is that you have all the leg room you need and because of your window seat, you will be able to view the landscape throughout the flight. Sorry, no peanuts or soft drinks are offered this morning. Notice, please, why I consider this study of Revelation important: It says in Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” This is one of seven different blessings in the book, and this one says, “Blessed are you if you read it [out loud].” Of course, in the days this was written, people couldn’t read for the most part, so there would be a reader who would also read aloud, “Blessed are those who hear.” Let me encourage you to open your Bibles with me to Revelation, chapter one. While you’re turning, let me just say that no book in Scripture reveals the glory of God and Jesus Christ in any more splendor than does this book, and yet no book has been more misunderstood and misinterpreted and neglected than this book. Many people have difficulty understanding Scripture, especially the book of Revelation. It seems to be so complicated, even with all the charts available today. I want you to leave here today excited about this book. I want you to become someone who says, “Revelation is my favorite book of the Bible.” Parts of this book are going to take our breath away as we see Jesus unveiled. So let’s begin our journey with prayer. Prayer
It’s the end of the world as we know it—at least if the upcoming blockbusters are any indication. Not since the Cold War has Hollywood been so preoccupied with the apocalypse. Everyone has a fixation in their heart and mind about the future. The civilization-ending scenarios lurk at the edge of our everyday awareness. It’s not just random acts of terror that are fueling our apocalyptic nightmares. We’re living in a 24/7 news cycle of catastrophe—Mass killings, plagues, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, wars, all available for our viewing pleasure at the touch of a button, and often unavoidable thanks to the omnipresent screens in public spaces such as airports and gyms. Many in the past have tried to predict the timing for the world to end but today it’s rampant as several lawmakers in Washington have declared that the world will be destroyed, as we know it, in ten to twelve years. Others are asking, “Could the Second Coming of Christ be close at hand?” Although no man knows the time, thankfully God has given us His Word and told us how it will all end. You might be here thinking, how do you know the Bible is true? Well, God inspired forty plus holy men, over 1,500 years, many of whom never saw each other, from three different continents (Africa, Asia, Europe) to write His words for all mankind. You know what? All the writers have the same theme and the message of the Bible flows together. No way mankind could ever produce a book like this. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a supernatural book. It’s still the number one book in the world. Let me just say, that one of the greatest proofs that the Bible is God’s Word is fulfilled prophecy. And fulfilled prophecy in the past guarantees future fulfillment. Friends, fulfilled prophecy guarantees the integrity of the rest of the Bible. For instance, there are over 300 prophecies concerning the first coming of Jesus Christ—where He would be born; what would happen to Him as a child; His death; His resurrection; etc. These prophecies were fulfilled and accurate down to every detail in His first coming, and we have more than twice that many prophecies of His second coming. When we study prophecy, we get God’s blueprint for the future. If you notice, the news catches up with prophecy, such as the resurgence of Israel and the European nations coming together. One day Jesus, in Luke 4, was reading in the synagogue, and he chose the prophecy of Isaiah. And Jesus started to read Isaiah 61 (Luke 4:18-19): “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” And He rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words, Isaiah 61 has been fulfilled because I am here, and I am doing all these things that Isaiah said I would do. But Jesus didn’t read the next part of Isaiah 61, “And the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2). Why? Because He’s coming again to bring vengeance. When Jesus came the first time, He came as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. When He comes a second time, He will come with His majestic glory for the world to see Him conquer and rule the world. Make no mistake about it, God is in complete control and He has revealed to us the things that will come to pass in the last book of the Bible. Make no mistake about it, Jesus is King.
The Greek word for “Revelation” is apokalupsis, or apocalypse, the literally meaning “the unveiling” or “the uncovering of truth.” Revelation wasn’t written to mask or to hide the truth, but to uncover and bring to light the truth about Christ not previously known. How grateful we should be because the book of Revelation is the golden clasp that brings the entire Bible together, and Jesus is its central figure.
But I can tell you Satan isn’t happy about the book of Revelation. He hates this book, for it dispels the fog and gives us a sure hope. Two books in the Bible the devil especially hates are the first and the last, Genesis and Revelation. Have you noticed the war against Genesis (the creation account) and the mockery of Bible prophecy in Revelation? Why does Satan hate these books so much? The simple reason is that there is no Satan in the first two chapters of the Word of God and no Satan in the last two! In other words, God wins and triumphs over evil.
- In Genesis Satan’s doom is prophesied. In Revelation it is realized.
- In Genesis we see creation of the heavens and the earth. In Revelation we see new heavens and a new earth.
- In Genesis we see the first Adam reigning on earth. In Revelation we see the last Adam, Jesus, reigning in glory.
- In Genesis we see an earthly bride brought to the first Adam (Eve). In Revelation we see a heavenly bride (the church) brought to the last Adam, Jesus Christ.
- In Genesis we see the beginning of death and the curse. In Revelation Jesus puts an end to death and the curse.
- In Genesis Satan appears for the first time. In Revelation he appears for the last time.
American humorist Josh Billings said, “Don’t ever prophesy, for if you prophesy wrong, nobody will forget it and if you prophesy right nobody will remember it.” Over the centuries, prophecies have come and gone, and yet the book that the apostle John wrote near the close of the first century is with us still. I can recall reading it often when I was growing up and wondering what it was all about. Even today, with years of concentrated study I am still fascinated by its message and mysteries. In Revelation 1, John introduces his book and gives us the data essential for appreciating and understanding this prophecy.
The Main Point: Revelation 1:1
In Revelation 1, the very first five words say, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ. . . .” This is not the Revelation of St. John. Ladies and Gentlemen, do not ever forget, as you scramble through these pages looking at all the signs and bowls and trumpets and resurrections and judgments and wars and visions, that this book:
- At the highest point—is a revelation of Jesus Christ;
- Has as its grandest theme—the person of Jesus Christ;
- Uncovers as its greatest treasure—the supremacy of Jesus Christ;
- Builds upon its most profound thesis—the sovereignty of Jesus Christ.
Above everything, this is the revelation of Jesus Christ. Is this phrase objective or subjective? Is it subjective—meaning this is the revelation that comes from Jesus Christ; that He is the One revealing? Or is it objective—meaning that Christ is the One being revealed; that this revelation is about Jesus Christ? It can be interpreted either way, for both are true. Jesus Christ is both the source of revelation and the grand subject revealed.
The Theme: Revelation 1:7-8 - “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” The overriding theme of the book of Revelation is the return of Jesus Christ to defeat all evil and to establish His reign. It is a book of victory and His people are seen as overcomers (Rev. 2:7, ll, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 11:7; 12:11; 15:2; 21:7).
The Occasion: Revelation 1:9-18 This book was born out of John’s profound spiritual experience while exiled on the isle of Patmos. Notice verse 9 with me, “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” He was there as a prisoner because he was a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, and it was while there he received this marvelous revelation.
- What John heard - vv. 9-11
- What John saw - vv. 12-16
- What John did - vv. 17-18
The Outline: Revelation 1:19
The book of Revelation uniquely contains an inspired outline of the contents. “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”
- “The things which you have seen - Revelation 1 which refers to the vision.
- “The things which are” - Revelation 2-3, the special messages from Jesus to the seven local churches in Asia Minor.
- “The things which will take place after this” - Revelation 4-22 records for us the events that will take place. What John heard in Revelation 4:1 substantiates this in.
- In chapters 1-3, John let’s us know that the Book of Revelation comes by special delivery from Jesus Christ to us. Jesus, who is the head of the church, will give a thumbs up or a thumbs down concerning these seven literal churches in Asia Minor.
- In chapter 4 John is transported up to heaven. People always are asking, “Where does the rapture come in?” In the white spaces between chapter 3 and 4. We do not hear the word “church” again in the book of Revelation until the very end of chapter 22. The church is not particularly in view from here on until the church, of course, is called by another name in the millennial kingdom and that is the “bride.” So, yes, we see the church in chapters 2-3, and all of the sudden, we appear in heaven, and I want you to see what happens in heaven, Chapter 4 - John was called up to heaven and he saw a throne that was “set” which has the idea of permanence (v. 2). It’s not a passing throne; it is forever. Jesus is the One who sits on the throne in heaven. And the theme of Heaven is worship. Verse 11 says, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” So, we go from earth to heaven. In November our study will be centered on this theme—Heaven: What’s Up?
- Chapter 5 - All of sudden, something interesting happens. The worship is broken. A strong angel proclaims, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals. And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.” Upon hearing this John weeps because no one was able to open and read the scroll. One of the elders said to John, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and loose its seven seals” (5:2-5). You know who was able to open the scroll? Jesus Christ! John then lets us know what he sees, “And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.” Do you know what the scroll is? It’s a title deed to the earth. How do we know that? It was sealed with seven seals. Roman law required that a will be sealed seven times, so it couldn’t be broken. In other words, they would roll it so far, seal it, roll it a little further, seal it; roll it further, seal it; roll it further, seal it. And finally, they would roll it to the tightest part, seal it the seventh time, and you couldn’t break through seven seals without being discovered. So, a will was sealed seven times. I believe this is God’s will and testament of the earth given to Jesus Christ. Wasn’t that promised in Psalm 2? “. . .I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:8-9). Jesus Christ is the only one worthy to open that scroll. Jesus will regain Paradise. Jesus the Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world—who lives forever and ever. And heaven seeing this, erupts in more praise and worship of Jesus (vv. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14). Everyone is worshipping, worshipping, worshipping.
- Chapter 6 - Jesus begins to unroll the scroll and opens the seals. Wow, the apocalypse begins with the appearance of the four horsemen. This series in our study will include the seven seals, and each one that breaks open reveals another thing that is going to happen to the earth. Can it get any worse for the earth? Yes, because when we get to the sixth seal, there is no more earth-day observance. “. . .The sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth. . .then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.”
- Chapter 7 - He is the redeeming Lamb and the providing Lamb. So, the Lord gives John a periodic break, and chapter 7 is one of those. And we find, in chapter 7, that there is, in the midst of all this chaos, some protection going on. There’s going to be some blessing. There are going to be some people spared from this judgment. Everybody is not going to be hiding in the rocks and caves. Jesus sets up 144,000 Jews who will be saved and they will be witnesses to take the truth to the world that He is the Savior of the world.
- Chapters 8-9 - We first see silence in heaven for half an hour (8:1). I believe it’s because the people in heaven are in awe of the divine judgment and fury that will be poured out. This is seen as we come to the Trumpet judgments. The Trumpet judgments are so severe. You can read them on your own but there are hailstones, we read a third of the fish of the sea die and so forth.
- Chapter 10 - Is an encouragement to John for Jesus is the Creator of heaven and earth and sea. John saw in this vision that little scroll, which represented Jesus reclaiming the earth and John took that scroll and put it in his mouth. Because he was told to, “Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth” (10:9). And he tells us that he did it. And he said, “In my mouth it was sweet. . .but in my stomach it was bitter” (10:10). In other words, when John sees the coming of Jesus Christ in His glory, he has a sweet taste because Christ deserves to reign and reign in glory, but he had a bitter taste, because when He comes to reign, John knew it’s going to mean the devastation and eternal damnation of the world, and so it’s bitter and sweet.
- Chapter 11 - Tells us about two witnesses, who witness all during the Tribulation period. They do miracles, but they are threat to the Antichrist, and when they are put to death, everybody rejoices. How can everybody rejoice? How can a whole-wide world see dead bodies in Jerusalem? Only one way: Streaming internet. It couldn’t have been true a hundred years ago. But there will be a world-wide celebration of the death of these witnesses and gifts are sent to one another in commemoration of Happy Dead Witnesses Day! They don’t stay dead long. After three-and-a-half days, up they go to heaven. Incredible!
- Chapter 12 - What an interesting chapter, for here we see a war that breaks out in heaven, Satan is thrown out, and all heaven breaks out in thunderous praise that would rival anything you hear at Lambeau field. God lets us know that Satan spent his time in heaven as our accuser. “Accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night . . .” (v. 10). Satan then pursues Israel to destroy them. Satan has always hated Israel, the Jews. He pursues the woman, Israel, who gave birth to the child, and the child is obviously Jesus.
- Chapter 13 - Is all about the Antichrist. The question is, “Would you know him if you met him? He will be the world ruler and he’s something. He leads all this attack on God’s people. The antichrist is the beast and he also has a cohort, the false prophet. The world will be crawling with demons, and they’re in control. His number of 666 will be the identification a person will need to buy and sell. It will take your breath away when you realize that God gives him this authority. But remember, it will only be for a short time.
- Chapter 14 - We have the vision of 144,000. Remember they were the evangelist during the Tribulation. They’re now in heaven. They are pure, they were not involved in sexual immorality throughout all of the Tribulation and look at what they do. They break forth in praise with a new song. Listen to this. It says in verse 3, “They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.” And this is a song that not even Pastor Jason can sing or even play on his guitar. I’m serious. It says, “No one could learn that song except the 144,000.”
- Chapters 15-16 - Chapter 15 introduces the bowls now and it says, “for in them the wrath of God is complete” (v. 1). Chapter 16 is the seven Judgments of the Bowls, and these judgments also take your breath away. They come in rapid fire succession. You’ll notice that the Bible says that there is an earthquake the likes of which has never yet happened upon the earth. We think Haiti has had some bad earthquakes, but this is bad. It’s going to be an earthquake felt throughout the whole earth. In verse 21 it says, “And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent” [about 100 pounds each). People cursed God because of the hail, but do you know what? The people would not repent. On an on it goes on to say, “They gnawed their tongues because of the pain. . .they blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds” (16:10). You know what’s sad? They know it’s God. There is no longer unbelief in God. They know He is real and He is powerful but they just refuse to repent and believe.
- Chapter 17 - What an awful picture of the antichrist who will use the beast to promote a false religion but who will eventually be destroyed by the antichrist. He put himself up as God and demands all people to worship him and this takes place early in the tribulation period.
- Chapter 18 - Read it and weep. This is now commercial Babylon. This is the end of commerce as we know it. When I read it, it’s easy to think of Wall Street. For example is says in verse 11, “And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore.” So, when you get a new car and you’re so concerned as to whether it will get scratched, relax. In the end, it’ll totally be destroyed. Listen, the judgment of Jesus Christ is righteous. Listen to what Paul told the Corinthians about this coming judgment. “. . .When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (II Thessalonians 1:7-9).
- Chapters 19-22 are in sequence.
- Chapter 19 - Is a time of breathtaking fellowship with beauty and purity—the marriage supper of the Lamb, where Jesus celebrates with His saints. After the rapture of the church, all believers will be at this supper as His bride. You have to admit that there is no relationship with such elation as the marital relationship between a man and a woman. God uses that example of our relationship to Him.
- Chapter 20 - Speaks of the millennium, which speaks of “a thousand years.” The term millennium is used six times in Revelation 20. The millennium will be Christ’s one-thousand-year reign as King in Jerusalem, following the Tribulation. During this time Satan will be bound, but afterwards, for a short time, will be released and rebellion will again occur. Satan will try one last coup against God, but he is finally crushed. Satan, who has deceived the world, will face his final destination forever, “ The lake of fire and brimstone. . .[where He] will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” And then in verse 11, all the unsaved of all history are gathered to the great White Throne Judgment. I wasn’t going to read it but it’s too sobering to overlook. This should motivate us to witness to our friends and neighbors. “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (20:11-15).
- Chapters 21-22 - Read it and Rejoice! Two great chapters of encouragement. Chapters of hope. It includes the beauty of Heaven! And the last message comes towards the end of chapter 22. Look at verse 17, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” That, my friend, is the last invitation. Come now and partake of His great salvation. It will be too late when The Beginning of the End happens.
Conclusion: We all know what took place September 11, 2001. Nineteen terrorist. Four planes. Two towers of the World Trade Center. The Pentagon. An open field in Pennsylvania. Nearly three thousand people dead. What if you had known about all that with absolute certainty on September 10, 2001? What if your wife or your son or your mother or your brother-in-law was going to be on one of those planes? Would you not do absolutely everything in your power to use the information you had received to help people avoid the fiery destruction that was coming? Something is coming that is going to be infinitely worse than 9/11, eternally worse—the judgment of God. We have all the details; the Lamb, Lion, lampstands, seals, witnesses, beasts, a dragon, and a cosmic battle, the Battle of Armageddon and we have a responsibility to warn others. No longer as the Lamb of God, Jesus will come as a lion in judgment. Friends, you can ignore Him here, but you can’t ignore Him when you die. He is Savior today. He is judge tomorrow, and the day will come “when every knee will bow. . .and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11). You can ignore Him before you die. But you will not be able to ignore Him after you die. And I need to tell you that it is in this life that we prepare for that final moment. Your deciding your eternal fate today: Heaven or Hell and it’s fixed. There is no hope after death to change your destination. The Bible says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The Bible is one unified story of man’s sinfulness and God’s redemptive plan and the book of Revelation is the fulfillment of God’s promise. You might be thinking, “Wow, how do I prepare not to go through what we have just read?” You must recognize that it is not enough to believe that Jesus lived, to believe that He died, and rose again, or to believe that He is the Messiah. It’s not enough. It’s a good step but it’s not that. The Bible talks about belief “in”—a personal trust in Jesus, a transfer of your trust completely in Jesus and His finished work. Friend, acknowledge that you are sinner today, confess your sins to God, repent, and ask Jesus to save you. Greatest decision I have made in my life to trust Jesus to save me. I promise it will be the greatest decision you will ever make.
This Gift of Eternal Life is available to you today.