Thursday, March 4, 2021

Revelation - A Book of the Past and the Future (Part 2)

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Greetings Everyone – it is so great to be here with you! Thank you to our friends in California, Miami, Florida, Athens, Alabama, and also in Bangladesh. Welcome to the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministries, I’m your host Leonard V. Johnson. It is certainly a wonderful age in which we live – technologically that is – to be able to preach the gospel over the internet worldwide instead of having to go all around Asia Minor, city to city, and travel around like the apostle Paul. Although he certainly was able to see many brethren scattered around – certainly it too was an exciting time.

I’m certainly excited that we are approaching the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread – I can’t believe another year has gone by already. It’s just around the corner – March 26th at sunset. And then followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread – March 27th at sunset to April 3rd at sunset.

It was requested that I continue in the Book of Revelation – so this is the book I will be teaching today. So, let us take another look at the Book of Revelation – and I know some of what I may preach today is somewhat of a repeat of the previous sermon.

What is it about the Book of Revelation which is so interesting and appealing!? A book which has within it descriptions of fierce beasts, a great whore, living creatures, a great dragon, a lamb with two horns which speaks as a dragon, a woman clothed with the sun, four horsemen on horseback – seven seals, plagues, and trumpets!? And a mysterious 666 - that truly confuses so many people when they hear or learn of that number!? Or, the mark of the beast which nearly everyone has heard about!? – and also has great misunderstandings about!? A book which has grave warnings, of coming destruction, of chaos. Why was it added to the Holy Bible – anyway!?

Who wrote this mysterious book – and to whom was it written!? Where and when was it written, and what was the time-setting!? As well as – why was it even written!? And, I guess one of the main questions being – does this book have any relevance on what is happening today in this 21st-century world!?

Now, there are basically three schools of thought concerning the Book of Revelation.
1) Preterist. Those who believe that the whole Book of Revelation has already been fulfilled.

2) Historical. That it began at the time of the apostle John and goes up unto the time of the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

3) Futuristic. That everything within the book is yet in the future.
Now in the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, I found an additional one – Idealist. That the book is symbolic of timeless truth and conflict between good and evil No specific persons or events are in view. 1 A book which described figuratively and with a lot of imagery the great principles of Almighty God. That it does not have anything to do with futuristic events or with historical events.

I pondered these – and thought that it may include all four. Easily you can think that there has been a fulfillment of some of the prophesies – e.g. when we read of the Church of God in chapter 12. Especially when it describes a time when King Herod the Great was trying to kill our Savior known as the Massacre of the Innocents. That is something that has been fulfilled. And, the book definitely has historical value. Within it, you need to couple a few of the references from the Book of Daniel and much from the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ – which speak of the nation of Israel, and of the Body of Christ. And, the book too has futuristic prophesies of things that will come to pass. And, of course, all of those indeed have the spiritual principles of Almighty God.

FIRST – let us lay some ground rules. Now, I’ve been learning and gathering knowledge of the Book of Revelation for some forty-years – and I certainly cannot cover all of the Book of Revelation in only two or three sermons, it is impossible. There is too much to cover. But today I would like to begin at the beginning of this amazing book.

But first, let us begin in the Book of Revelation chapter 22 – which extents at the very closing of this book a grave warning –

Verse 18 – “For I testify to EVERYONE who hears the words of the prophecy of this book …” – here telling us that this book has prophetic events. “ … If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book.” – now, there are some very terrible and terrifying plagues written within this book.

Verse 19 – “and if ANYONE takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” – all the wonderful blessings which are promised within the book. So, it is important to approach and address this book with much caution. And not to just read, listen, or believe anything or anyone concerning the Book of Revelation.

Now in the Book of Isaiah chapter 66, the LORD God says that He looks upon one “who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles” at His word. We are indeed to tremble and be in awe of the glorious word of the Eternal God.

Also, in 2 Timothy we are told that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 17) So that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.”

Now, sadly, there are those who will completely avoid the Book of Revelation – and there are those who will preach only on the Book of Revelation. Yet, all Scripture is here to make us complete and fully equipped. Surely, without the Book of Revelation, we are incomplete.

So, how can we properly understand the Book of Revelation!? We know that Almighty God gives us understanding through His Holy Spirit. And, we are aware of Jesus’ words, “’ No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.’” So He had to lift the veil which covered our eyes.

Over again in the Book of Isaiah chapter 28 – there a rebuttal to the prophet Isaiah, who is trying to teach a people about Almighty God and turn them to repentance. Speaking concerning Ephraim.

So, they sarcastically ask him in verse 9 – “’ Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? 10) For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.’” – so it is almost as if one Law, doctrine, or command, must be upon another Law, doctrine, or command. And out of this, we draw the conclusion that the Holy Bible must interpret itself. That we can only go unto the word of God to understand some of the more ambiguous passages. It is from the living word of God where we unlock the understanding of all the books. So that when we have before us a clear and plain truth passage we use those to understand the less clear passages.

Another Scripture that comes to mind is the Book of Acts chapter 8 – we can recall the Ethiopian eunuch who had been there in Jerusalem to worship –

Verse 26 – “Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, ‘Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is desert.”

Verse 27 – “So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, …” – so he was a treasurer. “ … and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28) was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29) Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.’”

Verse 30 – “So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’”

Verse 31 – “And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’”

Verse 35 – “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture [Isaiah 53:7, 8], preached Jesus to him.”

So, this man began to understand what he was reading by the Spirit of God which was within Philip that allowed this man to open his eyes for the very first time – which led to the man’s baptism.

So with that introductory commentary out of the way – let us now turn to the Book of Revelation chapter 1.

INTRODUCTION – The very word revelation is a Greek word which is apokalypsis #604. And in the Strongest Strong’s Concordance, it means, what is revealed, disclose, to make known. Now, so many people associate this word apokalypsis – and you see it in movies quite a bit; like I had mentioned the movie Apocalypto not long ago, and there is also Apocalypse Now – as the description of what happens within the book. Because like I said earlier, the book describes a lot of chaos and destruction. Yet, the word simply means to reveal.

Now, when the prophet Daniel was writing in the last chapter of his book, he wrote, “’ Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, ‘My lord, what shall be the end of these things?’” And the answer which came was, “’ Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.’”

It is interesting that the Book of Revelation is exactly the opposite of that. Instead of sealing, it is a book of revealing. 

Now, just who is the author of the Book of Revelation? In a small Bible which I’ve had since twelve-years-old, an original Authorized Version, it states up at the top in bold letters – The Revelation of St. John the Divine. And we know that within the pages of the Book of Revelation the apostle John mentions himself as to its author. It says, “John, to the seven churches which are in Asia.” And, when you read the very first verse it states, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him …” So, who is the originator!? God the Father. God gave this message to Jesus Christ, who gave it through “His angel to His servant John.”

Now, Justin Martyr – who is not considered a saint in any way by those of us in the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministries or affiliates – was a man who was born about the time when the apostle John died. He wrote a book entitled “Dialogue with Trypho,” and he lived around the year 139. And I’d like to quote something he wrote in this book concerning the Book of Revelation – “[T]here was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place.” 2 And he also wrote in the same book, “But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.” 3 Now, it is true that Justin Martyr knew some of the truths of God, yet he was terribly wrong on so many different points of doctrine. In the Jamison Fausset and Brown Introduction Notes concerning the Book of Revelation is written, “Justin is referred to also by Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History 4. 18].” 4 – the Catholic historian. Also, Melito, bishop of Sardis (who we consider being a saint of God and who held beliefs equivalent to the churches of God) – circa. A.D. 171, and Theophilus of Antioch (who did not support the false concept of the trinity and who appeared to support the doctrines of the true and original Church of God) mentions the apostle John as the author of the Book of Revelation.

Now, the apostle John had a very interesting life (if you think about the time frame in which he lived circa. A.D. 6 – 100). Most people are unfamiliar with the succession of the emperors of Rome and in a book from my library – a Time-Life book entitled Great Ages of Man IMPERIAL ROME – it lists the men who ruled Rome at that time (from 27 BC – 98-117 A.D.).

Now, the apostle John saw the crucifixion, the death, and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ – didn’t he!? He was born during the rule of Gaius Octavius – aka Emperor Augustus. Also lived during the rule of Caligula and Claudius. He witnessed the atrocities committed by Nero – who became Emperor at the age of 16, and in which a great fire swept Rome in 64; Nero was suspected of starting it. “Whether [the fire was] the result of an accident or of the emperor’s guile is uncertain,” wrote Tacitus. 5 Yet, he certainly accused and martyred many Christians of burning Rome. Apostle John was witness to the martyrdom of Paul after his long walk along the Appian Way. And was also witness to the apostle Peter’s upside-down crucifixion circa. A.D. 68. He was living during the five-month-long siege of Jerusalem in the year A.D. 70 led by the future Emperor Titus – and of the deadliest and most famous volcano eruption in European history occurring only nine years later, the massive eruption of Mount Vesuvius! So, he was witness to all of these terrible chaotic events occurring in the world in which he knew. He heard of assassination after assassination of emperors. He saw the inauguration of the Colosseum in Rome. He saw the rise of the younger brother of Titus and self-proclaimed ‘Lord and God’ Domitian – who was the very emperor who ordered his exile unto the Isle of Patmos.

So, let us begin at the beginning which was written roughly A.D. 95 –

Verse 1 – “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants – things which must shortly take place. …”

So, here we see the very purpose of this book. God the Father wanted to reveal to Jesus Christ’s servant's things which must shortly come to pass. Now, you might ask, did it take place!? And, was it ‘shortly’!? We should be reminded of the apostle Peter’s inspired words, “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” – 2 Peter 3:8 NKJV. So, Almighty God does not count time as we do. But also here is a thought – what if God had told the apostles just when the end of the age was going to be!? What if He had actually given them a date!? What if He had told them, ‘You’ve got 1,956 years left from A.D. 70!’? What hope would they have had in completing or doing the commission of the Body of Christ!? None. Surely they would have thought – What is the use!? It’s too far away to worry about!

Now, the same goes for us dear saints – we have that same hope. That it will only be ‘shortly.’

“ … And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.”

So, God the Father didn’t send His Son directly to the apostle John, but to His Son, who signified it through one of His angels to the apostle John.

Verse 2 – “who bore witness to the word of God, …” – so John kept a record and indeed wrote many of the books of the Bible – 1st, 2nd, 3rd John, the Book of Revelation, as well as the Book of John. “ … and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.”

So, John not only saw and witnessed what happened during the life of our Lord Jesus Christ – possibly growing up around Him. Saw His public ministry, His crucifixion, death, and resurrection – but he also saw these events which we are about to begin in this journey into the Book of Revelation. And, I want to be perfectly clear here – because many people have made this error – he did not see IN THE ORDER that the Book of Revelation is laid out before us. This book, when you read it from beginning to end, you will begin to see that it does have projections out into the future, and reflections into the past. There are parts of the book which will nearly climax, and then will quickly go back and reiterate. Yet, the ending of the book is the perfect ending to this book – as it projects into the future the hope of all mankind.

Verse 3 – “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, …” – now, the word ‘blessed’ means “receiving God’s favor.” “ … and KEEP THOSE THINGS which are written in it; for the time is near.”

So, it is IMPORTANT to hear and to do the things which are written in this book!

Verse 4 – the introduction here of the apostle John – “John, to the seven churches which are in Asia.” Very simple and humble.

“Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne.” – now, who are these ‘seven Spirits’ before the throne of our Lord Jesus Christ!? We will speak of them later on.

Verse 5 – “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, …” – now, our Lord Jesus Christ had revealed everything which Father God had given Him to His disciples. He taught them the Way of God – the Word of God, the Truth of God, and the ultimate Plan of God. And He truly didn’t care about what men had to think about what He had to say. And He did not deny the Message from the Father even unto death – being ‘the faithful witness.’ “ … the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” – well, ‘the firstborn from the dead.’ What about the prophets!? Where are they if Jesus Christ is ‘the firstborn from the dead’!? Well, we should recall – in the Book of Acts, even the apostle Peter in his first sermon after having received God’s Spirit, described King David, a great patriarch to those in attendance during the Day of Pentecost A.D. 33. Saying, “’ Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.” He is dead. As well as the apostle Paul who wrote, “These [our forefathers, patriarchs, and matriarchs] all died in faith, not having received the promises, …” – Hebrews 11:13 NKJV. Our Lord Jesus Christ is here described as ‘the FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD.’

Verse 6 – “and has made us [or rather, ‘who will make us’] kings [or a ‘kingdom’] and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – the apostle Peter describes this as a ‘royal priesthood.’ – cf. 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 5:10.

Interesting observation – even though the Book of Revelation was written in Greek – the Latin word for ‘dominion’ is dominus. And, it is possible that the apostle John knew Latin. The Latin name for the emperor who exiled him to the Isle of Patmos and who proclaimed himself ‘Lord and God’ is Domitanus – is there a correlation I query!? Could it be that the apostle John used this word kratos, proclaiming to all who follow and honor this emperor that only God the Father is the ONE who has the sovereignty, the power, and dominion forever and ever! And not, in any way, was Emperor Domitanus who sent the apostle John to Patmos to work in the caves for the rest of his life!?

Now, there are some people who don’t believe that the apostle John died on the Isle of Patmos – although there are those who do. This tiny island is but sixty miles west of Ephesus which is today modern-day Turkey in the Aegean Sea.

Verse 7 – “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, …” – so, the very sign of the Son of Man appearing in heaven, and in this case the atmosphere. He’s not going to be a “near miss.” This is not going to be a “secret rapture,” skipping off the atmosphere, grab the saints and then leave in “secret.” Indeed, Jesus says, “’ For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.’” What John saw in Revelation chapter 1 here is the same great being that the prophet Ezekiel saw. They are seeing the same God and His name is JESUS CHRIST – that’s what we call Him now. “ … even they who pierced Him. …” – meaning, the future end-time resurrection of the “Holy” Roman Empire. This is not speaking here of the ‘general’ resurrection. In the Book of Zechariah, the 14th chapter says, “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.” – v. 4 NKJV. Let us not forget the Book of Acts chapter 1 – “’ Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven [the atmosphere]? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’”

Now, there are a great many people who will say – “Well, in the end-time, we’ll see an explosion of Church members!” And, “People will see all these chaotic and terrible things happening all around them, and they’ll repent.” Often called “last-minute-repenters.” Now, if you want to believe this – you have that right to do so. I, however, see something completely opposite. For until the very end the Body of Christ will be small in number, compared to the rest of the world – a tiny mustard seed in a whole jar of mustard. You don’t see a big celebration – hosanna and the palm fronds being laid down, “Come, dear Jesus, come dear Messiah!” – no, the world is in absolute turmoil when they see these events happening! Notice Revelation chapter 6, verse 15 – “And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every [bond man] and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16) and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” - I don’t see people going, “O’ yes, I repent!” No, I see people cowering like bugs crawling into the rocks – like snakes. Absolutely terrified of this returning power! Recall our Lord Jesus Christ saying, “’ men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth.’”? “In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.” –

They’re so scared, so worried, so traumatized, they want to die, and yet they aren’t allowed to – this does not sound like people who are readily repenting at the last moment! Also Revelation chapter 9, verse 20 – “But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, DID NOT REPENT of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. 21) And they DID NOT REPENT of their murders or their sorceries, or their [fornications] or their thefts.”

So, again, there is NOTHING “secret” about the glorious and powerful return of Jesus Christ! There will be a deafening sound of a TRUMPET! THE SEVENTH TRUMP IS THE MOMENT OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE SAINTS! The FIRST resurrection!

While he was there on the Isle of Patmos he heard behind him a great voice, saying, verse 8 – “’ I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ …” – the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. ALL IN ALL – Genesis, the Alpha of the Old Testament, and the Omega of the New Testament – the ‘before Abraham was, I AM.’

Now, most of this world does not believe that Jesus died. Many – including a friend of mine who was a minister of the Assemblies of God – believed that He went down into the “pit” – into prison – to preach to spirits, and that He had an immortal “soul” and that He could not die. But, friends, in His own words, Jesus said, “’ I AM He who lives, and was dead.’” I believe Jesus’ own words when He said that! So many have this misunderstanding about the immortality of the soul.

“ … says the Lord [God], ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’

Verse 10 – “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, …”

Now, sadly, there are a great many Protestant’s who attempt to give biblical proof to the concept of Sunday worship – this being one of their proof texts.

They will say – “See, John was in the Spirit on Sunday!” Well, the Day of the Lord simply means the Day of the Lord – the events, the tribulations, which leads up to the DAY OF THE LORD! Most churches of this world have not a clue about the true meaning of the Day of the Lord. This is an explanation that the apostle John is seeing things through God’s Spirit about the DAY OF THE LORD! The Book of Revelation is dedicated to the Day of the LORD!

“ … and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet.”

Verse 11 – “saying, ‘I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’ and, ‘What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.’

Verse 12 – “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands.” –These being the seven churches of Asia Minor.

Verse 13 – “and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, …” – he is seeing JESUS CHRIST! “ … clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.”

Verse 14 – “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15) His feet were like fine brass, …” – remember, the prophet Ezekiel used the description ‘like the appearance of brightness, like the color of amber.’ “…as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16) He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, …” – recall the apostle Paul says, “For the word of God [the Holy Bible] is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul [of life] and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12 NKJV. Meaning, He quotes Scripture. “ … and His countenance [His over-all appearance] was like the Sun shining in its strength.”

Verse 17 – “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. …” – this great and awesome vision overwhelmed him! “ … But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I AM the First and the Last.’

To be continued …..


1) Butler C. T., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, B & H Publishing Group Nashville TN., © 2015, pp.1354.
2) Kirby, P., Justin Martyr – Dialogue With Trypho, Ch. 81, Early Christian Writings © 2001-2002
3) Ibid. Ch. 80.
4) Jamieson, R., Fausset, A.R., Brown, D., Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary of the Whole Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, 1982, pp. 1522.
5) Hadad, M. Great Ages Of Man Imperial Rome, Time-Life Books, Time-Life Books, NY., © 1965, pp. 61.

1 comment:

  1. Such things are typically found on the internal folds of the book or on the back cover. If not, the accompanying layout utilized by maker Nat Mundel to make loglines that land film and TV arrangements will help in such manner.


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