Whether we look to the writings of Isaiah from 700 B.C. or the revelation given to John in the first century, we are reminded that history is not a random sequence of events, but rather a deliberate process guided by God’s purpose.
Isaiah penned his words to a nation that had long suffered under the domination of powerful empires in their region. Similarly, Christians of the first century were faced with oppression, poverty, and persecution.
Yet God’s message to them, and to all subsequent generations, is that He is actively involved in shaping history.
Eschatology, derived from the Greek word “eschaton” meaning “goal,” refers to God’s ultimate plan for the end of time.
The Book of Revelation brings the good news that God is moving history towards a glorious culmination, where His kingdom will reign over all of creation.
Jesus – the Mediator
Jesus was the mediator of the message that God gave him to deliver to John.
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place, and he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
Who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw (Revelation 1.1-2).
The term Revelation refers to the disclosure of divine truth or an uncovering of hidden knowledge. In this context, Jesus revealed future events to John, who then documented his visions.
Who is Blessed?
Verse 3 is the first of seven beatitudes in Revelation.
Blessed is the one who reads the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near (Revelation 1.3).
Revelation or the unveiling of the future is intended to comfort suffering followers of Jesus. It is also given to encourage God’s people to remain faithful to the Lord.
The disclosure or uncovering of what is to come serves the purpose of comforting those who follow Jesus and are undergoing hardships.
It is given to motivate God’s followers to remain devoted to the Lord.
Jesus’ words to his disciples remain relevant throughout all periods of history. “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” (Luke 11:28).
The Faithful Witness
Having a person with a strong character is crucial if you plan to rely on their words to shape your life. John characterized Jesus as someone who deserves our complete trust.
John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
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,
And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood (Revelation 1.4-5).
John makes three statements about Jesus. Each one increases our confidence in his message.
(1) Faithful witness: The Greek word for “witness” is the root of our English word “martyr.” Jesus is a faithful witness and martyr, showing us how to unwaveringly uphold the truth of God.
Through his sacrificial death and resurrection, Jesus has proven himself to be an incredibly reliable and trustworthy figure.
(2) First born of the dead: Jesus fulfilled the words of the Psalm writer.
He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’
I will make him the firstborn,
the highest of the kings of the earth.
Forever I will keep my steadfast love for him,
and my covenant with him will stand firm. (Psalm 89.26-28)
The only person who is able to identify with these verses is Jesus. His standing with the Father is further evidence of his trustworthy character.
(3) Ruler of the kings of the earth: What the devil offered through worship (Matthew 4.8-10), Jesus achieved through obedience that led to death.
Isaiah provided encouragement to the nation in the midst of their suffering by emphasizing the incredible power of God. By having God on their side, they could find assurance and confidence.
Even the nations are like a drop from a bucket
and are accounted as dust on the scales;
see, he takes up the isles like fine dust. (Isaiah 40.15)
The book of Revelation echoes a similar message, as it bears witness to the truth. While the earthly king may pose a threat to the church, the ultimate King of kings assures them of the truth.
The Seven Spirits
Who are “the seven spirits who are before his throne” (verse 4)? Most scholars identify the “seven spirits” as a heavenly entourage before God’s throne.
The message about the future is delivered by the Eternal God and his heavenly host to Jesus, who then passes it on to John. John subsequently shares this message with the church.
Behavior and the Future
Through our exploration of the book of Revelation, we can catch a glimpse of what the future holds.
This insight is meant to instill in us the confidence to stay devoted to the Lord, regardless of any challenges that may arise.
Rudy Ross and I begin a study of Revelation today on YouTube. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.