Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament prophetic book of Revelation, and more specifically, is found in the first chapter of the book. When the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ opens, it opens with these words—“The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Before moving any further into and within this particular chapter—let alone the entire book in and of itself—it’s imperative that we recognize and understand that this was a revelation that was given unto the apostle John from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In all reality, the entire prophetic book of the Revelation centers upon the manifestation of Jesus Christ within human history upon the earth. The final book of the New Testament is completely and absolutely centered upon Jesus Christ, and the revelation that is directly connected and associated to that. It’s worth noting that immediately following the words “The revelation of Jesus Christ” we notice that this particular revelation was given by God, in order that He might shew unto His servants the things which must shortly come to pass. Within the first verse of this passage of Scripture we not only notice that this revelation was the revelation of Jesus Christ, but that that revelation proceeded forth and came from the Father. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle John wrote—not only at the beginning his gospel account of Jesus’ life and ministry, but also the epistle he wrote to the Ephesian congregation. Consider what is recorded in the first chapter of the New Testament gospel of John which is believed to have been written to the Ephesians as well—“IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:1-5). If you continue reading in the first chapter of the gospel according to John you will further read these words—“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
When you come to the first chapter of the apostle John’s first epistle to the Ephesian congregation you will find these words written and recorded” That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, w high we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that the also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:1-5). Upon reading the words which the apostle John wrote—not only within his epistle to the Ephesian congregation, but also within his gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus—you will understand that Jesus Christ was not only the direct representation of the Father upon the earth, but He was the visible and tangible manifestation of the Father upon the earth. In fact, it was the apostle John who recorded Jesus’ words declaring that if men had seen Him, they had indeed and had in fact seen the Father. The manifestation and revelation of Jesus the Christ was in all reality a manifestation of the Father upon the earth through the Son. Moreover, Jesus repeatedly and emphatically proclaimed and declared that the words which He spoke did not originate from Him, but came directly from the heart and mind of the Father. What’s more, is that Jesus would also go on to declare that His will was not His own, but His will was indeed the will of t he Father. There was absolutely nothing Jesus spoke, nor anything Jesus did that was not a direct manifestation and expression of the Father. In all reality, Jesus Christ was, and is, and will always be the expression and manifestation of the Father. Jesus Christ is indeed the Word which was made flesh—that Word dwelt among men. When Jesus walked upon the earth, not only had the Word became flesh, buit God Himself had taken on the form of human flesh, and walked among men.
I do not believe it is any coincidence that the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ opens with an emphatic declaration that the entire revelation of the book was the revelation of Jesus Christ, and that that revelation was given unto him by God. The entire purpose and function of this revelation was to show unto His servants things which use shortly come to pass. Within the first verse we go on to read that this revelation of Jesus Christ which was given by God was sent and signified by His angel unto John who was in fact the servant of Jesus Christ. If we are to properly and truly understand the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, it’s imperative that we understand that it was a revelation that originated from and was given by God unto Jesus, in order that revelation might be given concerning things which must shortly come to pass. This revelation was given unto the apostle John while he was in exile upon the isle of Patmos—this same apostle “who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw” (Revelation 1:2). THE WORD OF GOD! THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST! Found within the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is not only the record of the word of God, but also the testimony of Jesus Christ, which we will later go on to recognize and understand as the spirit of prophecy. So important were and so important are the words that are found and contained within this book that in the third verse the apostle John goes on to declare “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:3).
When reading, studying and considering the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, it is absolutely necessary that we understand the tremendous importance and significance surrounding it. So significant and important were the words contained within this book that the apostle John declared that those who read the words contained therein, those who heard the words of this prophecy, and those who kept those things which were written therein would be blessed. In essence, the apostle John placed the utmost importance and necessity upon that which was written and contained within this book, and he did so “for the time was at hand.” In essence there was a matter of supreme urgency surrounding the revelation that was contained within this book, for the apostle John encouraged the reading, the hearing and the keeping of all the words that were contained within it. This entire book was a revelation given specifically unto Jesus Christ in order that His servants might know and understand those things which were to come. It was the apostle John who emphatically proclaimed Jesus Christ as the visible manifestation and revelation of the Father within and upon the earth—a reality which was confirmed within this book. What’s also worth noting in this passage is to whom these words were written and directed, for in the first verse you will read how this revelation was given by the Father “unto His servants” concerning those things which must shortly come to pass. Furthermore, if you go to the fourth verse of this chapter you will find an additional reference concerning those to whom this revelation was revealed—namely, “to the seven churches which are in Asia” (Revelation 1:4). UNTO SERVANTS AND CHURCHES! The entire prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ was released unto the servants of Jesus the Christ, and unto the seven churches which are in Asia. WHEN REVELATION IS RELEASED UNTO SERVANTS AND CHURCHES! Please don’t miss or lose sight of this particular reality, for everything that is written, and everything that is contained within this book was revealed unto servants and churches, thus indicating and speaking of those who actively followed and pursued Jesus the Christ.
What I happen to find incredibly powerful about this particular book—particularly and specifically in reference “to the seven churches which are in Asia”—is that these churches weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. There were churches which received letters from Jesus which contained no rebuke, while there were other churches that did in fact receive correction and rebuke from the Lord. The Revelation of Jesus Christ which was given by the Father to shew unto His servants and unto His churches was by no means addressed to perfect people—those without struggles within their own hearts and lives. In fact, this revelation was released and revealed unto one church that had forsaken its first love, and another church which was lukewarm in their pursuit of and relationship with Jesus the Christ. This revelation was released and given unto churches which held fast to false doctrine, and even allowed false teachers to infiltrate and influence their congregation. Oh that we would recognize and understand the incredible significance that when this revelation was written, it was written unto the seven churches which were found within the province of Asia. The Revelation of Jesus Christ was given by the Father, signified by His angel, revealed unto John, and given unto the seven churches. It was from these seven churches the revelation of Jesus Christ would go forth, as all that was contained in this book would ultimately be revealed unto the servants of Jesus the Christ. SHOWN UNTO SERVANTS AND SIGNIFIED UNTO HIS SERVANT! This revelation would ultimately be for the saints and servants of God, yet it would be given unto the apostle John at first, and then sent unto the seven churches which were in Asia. This entire book was written unto the servants and saints of Jesus Christ, yet it would carry with it both a call to overcome, as well as a call to have ears to hear.
The prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ was one that not only called men and women to a place of hearing, but also to a place of overcoming. This is absolutely critical for us to recognize and understand, for the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ would contain a direct call to overcome within the world, and to hear that which the Spirit is speaking unto the churches. In all reality, I would dare say that one cannot, and one will not truly understand the revelation of Jesus Christ without also giving themselves to hearing what the Spirit is speaking unto the churches, and overcoming within the world. It was within the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ written by the apostle John where we find Jesus Himself declaring how He had overcome the world, and thus calling us to overcome. It’s worth pointing out that the life which Jesus calls us to is not separate, nor is it distinct from the life which He Himself lived while upon the earth. Essentially, Jesus called us to the type and quality of life which He Himself lived while walking upon this earth. Jesus continually and daily committed and gave Himself to listening to and hearing that which the Spirit was speaking from the Father, as well as to overcoming all that was in the world. It was in the wilderness where Jesus overcame each of the temptations that were common unto men—namely, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. If we are truly going to understand the type and quality of life we have been called to live, it’s necessary that we recognize that this life is and was the same type of life which Jesus lived while on the earth. We dare not make any attempt to segregate the type of life which Jesus lived from the life which we think we are supposed to live ourselves. Oh, how many men and women waste so much time and effort living lives they were never created, nor intended on living? How many men and women don’t view and review the life of Jesus Christ as the type of life they have been called to live, but rather as a type of life that is altogether separate and removed from them?
Beginning with the fourth verse of the first chapter we transition to the concept of seven churches which were in Asia, which Jesus the Christ was speaking to within and through this letter. What’s so incredible about the revelation of Jesus Christ is that it isn’t simply a revelation from Christ concerning those things which were to come, but a revelation of Christ. In other words, the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is in all reality a revelation concerning Christ Himself. Put more simply, one cannot hope to understand the prophetic nature of this book, and even the events which were still to unfolded within and upon the earth without and apart from understanding the revelation of Jesus the Christ. It might very well be said that the revelation of Jesus Christ—the revelation of who Jesus Christ was in the beginning with the Father, the revelation of who Jesus Christ is at this present moment, but who Jesus Christ will continue to be throughout eternity. Consider if you will the language and text that is recorded and found beginning with the fourth verse of this first chapter: “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:4-7). Within this set of verses we are not only confronted with the reality that Jesus Christ is Him which is, and which was, and which is to come, but also He who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead. Moreover, we also learn concerning Jesus the Christ that his is the prince of the kings of the earth, and the one who not only loved us, not only washed us from our sins in His own blood, but also made us kings and priests unto God and His Father. It was this same prince of the kings of the earth who caused and made us to be kings and priests unto God and His Father.
Within the first chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ there is both the revelation of Jesus Christ which was conveyed by the apostle John, but there was also the revelation of Jesus Christ concerning Himself from Himself. In the eighth verse of this chapter we find Jesus beginning to speak and emphatically declaring “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending” (Revelation 1:8). When we transition to the tenth verse of the same chapter we find Jesus again speaking concerning Himself and declaring “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea” (Revelation 1:10-12). It’s actually quite unique to read these two declarations spoken from the mouth of Jesus the Christ, for He first declares that He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, and He then goes on to declare that He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. What an absolutely incredible truth it is to know that Jesus the Christ is not only the beginning, but He is our beginning. To truly understand the significance of this it is necessary to first read the words of the apostle John in the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus, and then journey back to the first chapter of the Bible—the book of Genesis. These are the words which the apostle wrote in the open verses of the first chapter of his gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by HIM; and without was not any thing made that was made. IN Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:1-6). IN the opening verses of the book of Genesis we read these words—“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2). This reality is further confirmed by Jesus’ own words in His high priestly prayer which is recorded in the seventeenth chapter of the gospel account of John—“Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the world which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:1-5).
Within the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ there is both the revelation of Jesus Christ as conveyed and revealed through the apostle John, but there is also the revelation of Jesus Christ form Jesus Himself. When speaking of Himself for the very first time within this epistle, Jesus declares of and proclaims Himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and the first and the last. The reason I included the verses from the gospel of John, as well as the book of Genesis, is because it is within these portions of Scripture that we not only learn of the divinity of Jesus the Christ, but we also encounter and come face to face with the eternal nature of the Son. Jesus revealed Himself as the both the first, and the beginning, for He was at the beginning of all things. The apostle John recognized and understood that Jesus was with the Father at and from the beginning, thus indicating His eternal nature. Even Jesus Himself spoke of the glory which He had with the Father from the beginning—a further confirmation of His eternal nature. It’s absolutely remarkable and wonderful to consider the fact that Jesus is the Alpha—the beginning and the first—for He is our beginning. How many men and women have the testimony within their lives that Jesus Christ is the beginning of and the beginning for their lives. There’s a reason why when speaking of time we separate it into “B.C” and “A.D.,” for the life of Christ divides the course of time. I absolutely love the concept of “A.D.,” for that phrase literally stands for “in the year of our Lord.” Thus, everything that happened during His life and ministry upon the earth, as well as everything that took place after His death, burial and resurrection could very well be considered “in the year of our Lord.” Essentially, each time we celebrate a new year “A.D.,” what we are actually doing is celebrating a new year which is in the year of our Lord. Thus Christ—His life, His death, His burial, His resurrection, His ascension—defines time and history as we know it. This is actually quite important and powerful when considering the concept of Jesus being our beginning, for everything that happens within that individual who’s life is in Christ has a brand new beginning—a new beginning that completely alters the entire course and pattern of their life. Just as the physical and natural life of Christ completely altered history and time as we know it, so also does He do the same thing within our hearts and lives who are found in Him.
As this first chapter progresses, it not only progresses from the revelation which John spoke concerning Christ, but it also contained Jesus’s own revelation concerning Himself. Furthermore, there was an actual manifestation and vision of Jesus Christ that further contributed to the revelation of Jesus within this book. There was in fact the revelation which proceeded forth from the lips and mouth of the apostle John, and there was the revelation of Jesus proceeding forth from His own mouth, but there was another revelation that is found within this book—a revelation that involves manifestation and vision. Beginning with the tenth verse we read these words—“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and the in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at his feet as dead” (Revelation. 1:10-17). This is actually worth making note of, for what we read here was not merely an audible expression of the revelation of Jesus Christ, but an actual revelation and manifestation of Jesus. The apostle John not only heard Jesus speak of Himself, but the apostle John also turned when He heard the voice speaking, and actually saw the eternal and glorified Jesus Christ. This same Christ whom he, Peter and James had seen transfigured before them atop the mountain talking with Elijah and Moses was the same Jesus who was now standing before Him revealing and releasing revelation. It is one thing to hear the revelation of Jesus Christ—it’s something else altogether different to actually witness and experience a physical revelation and manifestation of Jesus the Christ. It’s actually quite amazing that John not only saw Jesus Christ as He was indeed the Word made flesh, but John also saw the transfigured Christ atop the mountain as He talked with Elijah and Moses. What’s more, is that John also saw the resurrected Christ—although at that time he had not yet seen the exalted Christ.
THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST: THE PHYSICAL CHRIST, THE TRANSFIGURED CHRIST, THE CRUCIFIED CHRIST, THE RESURRECTED CHRIST, THE ASCENDED CHRIST, THE EXALTED CHRIST. I love that this prophetic book is entitled the revelation of Jesus Christ for it is the revelation of Jesus Christ that stands at the forefront and outset of anything prophetic. Remember that it is within this book where we discover the truth that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. In other words, one cannot separate prophecy from the testimony and revelation of Jesus John first encountered the human, the physical and the natural Christ, yet there would be a progression that would take place within his life, as He would go on to experience the transfigured Christ, the crucified Christ, the resurrected Christ, and now the exalted Christ. Essentially the revelation of Jesus Christ is not only at the forefront and outset of prophecy, but also at the forefront of our hearts and lives. As you progress to the seventeenth verse of this same passage, you will find an even further revelation of Jesus the Christ—“And when I sawHim, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death. Write these things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter” (Revelation 1:17-17). I love this revelation of Jesus Christ, for this revelation of Jesus is one where He has all dominion, all authority, all power, and all might—not only in heaven, but on the earth. This revelation of Jesus Christ not only sees Him as the prince over the kings of the earth, but also as having the keys to hell and death. IF we are truly going to understand the revelation of Jesus Christ within this book, we must understand it in light of all dominion, all authority, all power belonging to Jesus Christ, and how Jesus Christ is now sovereign and supreme over all that has existed, exists now, and will exist in the future. OH that we would commit ourselves to truly understanding the revelation of Jesus Christ, and that we would allow ourselves to encounter this revelation within our hearts and lives.