Robert Jeffress - Visions of Grandeur
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. It's safe to say that once the apostle John received the Revelation of Jesus on the island of Patmos, his life was never the same and the same should be true for you and for me. Once we encounter the living Christ, our lives are forever changed. Today we're going to turn to Revelation 1 as we unveil the true person of Jesus Christ in all of his glory. My message is titled "Visions of Grandeur" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asks his disciples the question, "Who do men say that I am"? What's going on in the street, what are people saying about me? Who do they think I am? And they answered, "Well, some say you're John the Baptist back from the dead. Others say, you're the prophet Elijah, others say Jeremiah, others names some other prophets". You know that question Jesus asked 2000 years ago, still reverberates today. Who do people think Jesus really is?
C. S. Lewis famously talked about his trilemma. He said, "Given the fact that Jesus never claimed to be just a good teacher, he claimed much more for himself than that, he claimed to be the Son of God leaves you only three choices about Jesus, he was a liar, he knew he wasn't God but claimed to be. He was a lunatic. He thought he was the Son of God when he wasn't. If you don't think he's a liar or a lunatic, the only other option is he's Lord". One group of scholars summarized it this way, "Frankly, it's hard to escape the feeling that our culture has taken Jesus question, 'who do you say that I am'? And changed it to, 'who do you want me to be'"? Jesus is not the sum of our speculations about him. Jesus is not whoever you want him to be or whoever you think he is.
If you wanna see who Jesus really is, turn to the passage we're going to look at today, Revelation 1. Turn there as we look at a true vision of grandeur, Revelation 1. Now, last time we did an overview of the book, now we're ready to get into the text. And John begins the first three verses with a prologue. Notice in this prologue, first of all he names the subject of the book. This book is called the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Remember that word Revelation, apokalypsis means the unveiling, the uncovering of Jesus. This book is not about an unveiling of mysterious events that are yet to happen to the future, oh, that's part of it, but what it's really about is, what those events are leading to, the return of Jesus Christ when he is unveiled and people see him as he really is, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Now notice, secondly, the time of the unveiling. When are these things going to happen? Wouldn't you like to know when these events are going to happen? Do you know he tells us right here when these are gonna happen? He says, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ which must soon take place". These events are going to happen soon. Now, one thing I wanna point out to you about that is, John says these things are still future, they must still take place. You read these fantastical descriptions in Revelation, there's no period in human history that corresponds to what John is going to unveil to us. These are future. And John says, "These things must soon take place". What does he mean by soon? Pastor are you getting ready to set the date of Christ return? No, Matthew 24:36 says, "Jesus said, no man knows the day or the hour". That word soon 'entachei' in Greek has two implications.
I want you to write this down, this is bonus material. Entachei, soon. First of all it refers to eminence. When we say something is eminent, we means it could happen at any moment. And that's true about the events leading to the second coming of Christ. As we'll see in the weeks ahead the next event on God's timetable, the first thing that has to happen before the second coming is the rapture of the church. Did you know, there is not one Bible prophecy that must be fulfilled for the rapture to take place? That means it could happen before we finish the service today. That's what we mean when we say it soon. It means it's imminent, but the word in tachei, soon also has the idea of rapidity to it. Once the rapture occurs, these things are going to happen every, very quickly.
Now look at verse 2, "John who bore witness to the Word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw". John says, "I saw these things". In fact, 44 times in this letter he's gonna use the word saw. John didn't imagine it, he didn't dream it, he saw these things about Jesus Christ. Look at verse 3. "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and heed the things that are written in it". The Book of Revelation has this special blessing attached, not just to those who read, but more importantly those who read and obey what is written. And then here you see it again, "For the time is near". You begin to get the idea, John is warning us listen to this, the time is approaching when these things are going to happen.
Now that Greek word time, you have to understand it. There are two words for time. One is kronos. The word kronos means plot time, calendar time, but that's not the word that is used here, the word time is the word kairos. It refers to a season, a period of time. He's saying the season is near. These things are getting closer and closer with every day that passes. I've always been fascinated by Romans 13:11. The apostle Paul said to the Roman Christians, "The hour has come for you to awaken from your slumber for your salvation is nearer today than it was when you first believed". He said, God's alarm clock is going off Christians, it's time to wake up. Awaken from your stupefied existence that you walk around in everyday and realize what's about to happen. Your salvation is near.
He said, wait a minute, I thought I already had salvation. No you've been justified and forgiven, but in the Bible, salvation refers to all God has planned for you and me in the future, including the brand new bodies that he has planned for us, the existence in a world in which there is neither nor crying or mourning or pain for the first things will have passed away. Every good thing God has for you is still future, and it's getting closer and closer with each passing day. Paul said, "Your salvation is closer today than it was when you first believed". Now, think about this, when Paul wrote those words, it was about 65 ad. And Paul says, "The day of salvation, the day of the Lord's return is closer today than it was 30 years ago, when you first believed". Paul wrote those words 2000 years ago. If it was close then, how much closer is it today? That's what he's saying that time is near.
Now, after that prologue, he gives this greeting in verse 4. "John to the seven churches that are in Asia". These were letters to specific churches, and we'll begin looking at those next week, "Grace to you and peace". The churches were being persecuted, the world was in turmoil. John said, "I bring grace and peace". God's unmerited favor and help peace and stability, an assurance that God is in control. Grace and peace, that's what the church has needed. But this grace and peace didn't emanate from John, notice the source of this grace and peace. He gives a triune description of the Godhead. First of all, he said, "It comes from God the Father. From him who is, who was, and who is to come, the eternality of God, the Father". It comes secondly from the Holy Spirit of God.
Verse 4, it's referred here as the seven spirits of God. Now they're not seven Holy Spirits, the word seven refers to completion, the completion of the Holy Spirit. But the third source of blessing is from Jesus Christ himself. Jesus is the focus of this book, and that's why Jesus gets the most space devoted to his blessing. Look at this in verse 5, this grace and peace come from Jesus Christ. And notice the threefold description of Jesus they refer to his present, his past and his future. In the present he's called the faithful witness. You can bank on everything we're gonna study in the Book of Revelation, because ultimately this Revelation came from Jesus himself. He is the faithful witness.
And then secondly, he is the firstborn of the dead. That refers to his past, what he's already accomplished for us. Now that term firstborn is an interesting term. Prototokos. Prototokos. It's the same word used in Colossians 1:18, Jesus is called the prototokos. The firstborn. What does that word sound like? It's the word prototype. He is the prototype of those who will be raised from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15:22 Paul says, "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive". Jesus resurrection from the dead was not a one off. He was the prototype, he was the sample of all of those who are gonna be raised from the dead, just like he is. He is the prototype of all of us who will be raised from the dead. He is the firstborn of the dead. And then John speaks of his future, he is the ruler of the kings of the earth, the ruler of the kings of the earth. One day, every knee shall bow, and that means every king, every tyrant in the world will bow before the Lord Jesus Christ and acknowledge that he is Lord of lords.
Then verse 7 and 8, the theme of the Book of Revelation, here it is. This is what God says, "Behold he is coming with the clouds". The reason that's in all caps in your Bible is, it's a quotation from the Old Testament, Daniel 7:13, "Behold he is coming with the clouds and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over him". Mourn, I thought the coming of the Lord was a happy thing, a joyous thing. If you're a believer, it is, but if you're not a believer, the second coming of Christ will be the worst day of your life. You will mourn, you will weep when you see the King of kings coming to be your judge. You either accept him now as your Savior or you face him one day as your judge and no man can stand the judgment of God. "All the tribes of the earth will mourn over him, even so amen". And then look at verse 8, "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord, God, "Who is, and who was, and who is to come the Almighty".
Alpha and Omega, Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, Omega the last. When he says, "I am the Alpha and Omega", he is saying, "I am the beginning and the end, I'm the first and the last". Now we get into verse 9, the vision of actually what John saw. Remember the threefold outline of Revelation, right? The things that you have seen, the things that are and the things that are yet to come, here's what he saw, the vision of the exalted Christ. Look at verse 9, "I John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance, which is in Jesus, I was on the island called Patmos because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus". John had been exiled to Patmos because he refused to bow before the Roman emperor Domitian. And he said, that was the circumstances when I received this Revelation.
Now, look at verse 10. "I was in the spirit on the Lord's day". When this Revelation came, I was in the spirit on the Lord's day. What does that mean? Well, in the spirit could refer to the fact that what he's about to reveal to you involve the transporting of his spirit into the presence of God. I certainly think that's what it has in mind here. He was taken by spirit into the presence of the Lord. But it could also mean, and I think this is equally true, he was in a spiritual mindset. He was exalting the Lord in his spirit. And the reason I say that is the next phrase, "On the Lord's day. When this occurred, I was in a state of spiritual exaltation, it was on the Lord's day". Now this is the only time in the whole New Testament the phrase, the Lord's day is used. Some people have supposed that John was talking about the day of the Lord.
Now, that's a very specific term in the Bible for the tribulation, the Day of Judgment. This is not the same Greek construction here, this is the Lord's day. And even though it's only used here in the Greek New Testament, it was used throughout the latter first and second century to refer to the day of worship for Christians, the Lord's day. And it became common to talk about Sunday as the Lord's day. Christians began worshiping on Sundays because it was the day of the resurrection, it was the Lord's day. Could I make those simple application? Where was John when he received this Revelation? The most extensive Revelation ever given in history about what is yet to come? Where was he when he received a word from God? He was worshiping God on the Lord's day.
John was where he was supposed to be when God spoke to him. And the reason I say that is it's so common today among Christians to say, "Oh Sunday is just like any other day of the week, there's nothing special about Sunday. If it's convenient, I'll go to church, if not, I won't, but I can worship God in my heart". Which is true, you can worship God, anytime you want to. And we ought to worship God, seven days a week, but ladies and gentlemen, there is something special about Sunday. There's something special about God's people coming together and sitting under the preaching of God's word and hearing the hymns of God and joining in the praise of God, there is something special about Sunday. And when you're not here not doing what you ought to be doing on the Lord's day, you very well may miss what God wants to say to you. John was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and that's when God spoke to him. And he said, "I looked behind me and a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet saying to me, write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches".
Now, look at the details of this vision. And I want you to notice beginning in verse 12, the three aspects of this vision. First of all, the seven golden lampstands. Verse 12, "And I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me and having turned, I saw saw seven golden lampstands". What are those? We don't even have to wonder about it because in verse 20, he tells us, "The seven lamp stands are the seven churches". The lampstand, the menorah, gave illumination in a time of darkness. And John said, "I saw in heaven, these seven lampstands in the darkness". That's what the church of Jesus Christ is, it is a lamp, it is a light to the world. Isn't that what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, "You are the light of the world". Earlier Jesus said, "I am the light of the world". But guess what, Jesus isn't here now, he's in heaven and he's left you and me the church to be his light in this world. And as the world gets darker and darker, the light of the Gospel shines that much more brightly.
Listen to me, if you're a Christian and your goal in life is pleasure and peace of mind and absence of pain, well, these are terrifying days in which to live. But if your goal like that of John or that of the apostle Paul is to share Christ with as many people as possible, there's never been a better time to be alive and a Christian than right now because the darker the night, the brighter the light. And that's why God has given first Baptist church Dallas, a unique opportunity to be a light to this entire world. And thank you church family for seizing that great opportunity, we have to be a light. The second part of the vision, he saw one in the midst of the lampstand and though the person isn't named whom he saw, he didn't need to be named, it's obviously Jesus Christ. Why do I say that?
Look at verse 13, "And in the middle of the lampstand, one like a son of man". That was Jesus' favorite description of himself, the son of man. We find that description 700 years earlier in Daniel 7:13 that first refers to Messiah as son of man. Look at this, "He's clothed in a robe reaching to the feet and girded across his breast with a golden sash". Those are the garments that are related to the high priest. These are all the things Jewish high priest would wear, and that's exactly who Jesus is for us. He is our high priest in heaven. Romans 8:34 says, "Christ Jesus is he who died, yes, rather was raised, who is at the right hand of God who intercedes for us".
You wanna know what Jesus is doing right now? He's your advocate before God the Father. He's the one who is pleading your case, pleading for God's mercy, pleading for God's help in your life. He is our high priest. That's what the picture is here. And notice then it says, "And his head and his hair were white like white wool or like snow". Again, a direct quote from Daniel 7:9 about the ancient of days referring to Christ wisdom. "And his eyes were like a flame of fire". Fire represents God's judgment. The picture is Jesus is among his church and he's able to see right through every one of us. He sees us not as we want God to see us, he sees us as we really are.
And as the writer of Hebrew says, "Nothing is hidden from the sight of the one with whom we have to do". You can't cover up anything, Jesus sees you as you really are. "And his feet," look at verse 15, "Were like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace". That refers to "The purity of the bronze". Why are his feet like bronze? That denotes stability. Your feet, your shoes, your boots give you stability. Bronze represents strength. And then notice, "His voice was like the sound of many waters".
Have you ever been to Niagara falls before? The roar of that water cascading over those rocks is so great, it drowns out any conversation whatsoever. That's what he's referring to his, the sound of Jesus' voice is like the sound of many, many waters. This is the Lord Jesus Christ, whom John saw. And then notice the third element of this vision. The seven stars, look at that in verse 16, he says, "And in his right hand, he held seven stars". And what are those stars? Again, we don't have to wonder about it. In verse 20 he says, "The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches," angelos, angels. Does that mean every church has an angel? He's not saying every church has an angel that word angelos means messenger