“John: To the seven churches in Asia. Grace and peace to you from the One who is, who was, and who is coming; from the seven spirits before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by His blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father — the glory and dominion are His forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, including those who pierced Him. And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him. This is certain. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the One who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.”
This week, we are getting into the book of Revelation. This is always depicted as a difficult book to read and understand. There are many people who avoid studying this book and there are many who spend their lives explaining and trying to connect every dot in the book. We need to know a couple of things before diving into this book. First, while it is a book full of prophecy, don’t get stuck on the prophecy. This book is describing the final days of the earth, the tribulation, and the 1000-year reign of Jesus. The main idea that we need to understand is how important it is to know that today is the day of salvation. Don’t wait to give your life to Christ. Why? Because judgment is coming. The next important thing to remember is that most of this book was prophecy when John wrote it. John is describing things in the best way he knew how. He is describing things he has never seen. Because of this, the book of revelation is like cross-stitch or tapestry. Look up the difference between the front side and the back side of a tapestry. The front side is a beautiful picture with full, amazing detail. The back looks like a jumbled mess of strings and utter chaos. Although the book of Revelation can feel like the underneath side of a tapestry at times, know that when all the prophecies are fulfilled, we will see that they paint the beautiful story of God's plan for His creation.
Today we see the beginning purpose of the book of Revelation. John starts his letter to the seven churches in Asia. This is a way of calling out the complete church. Although the seven churches are real churches that John is connected to, the number seven means complete. This is a great way to start a letter to every church that will ever be. John then spends the next few verses voicing who Jesus is and what He is doing. He shows Jesus as our resurrected savior, our king, the ruler of the universe, the beginning and the end, the one who was and is and is to come. The picture is painted vividly that Jesus is the savior of the world and He is coming back again.
This is our motivation as followers of Jesus. We know that Jesus died for us and saved us from our sins but we must also remember He didn’t just leave us to live this life out on our own. He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us through this life and Jesus will one day return again to bring peace back to the earth. That is part of the hope that we have. We have the hope that our salvation gives us heaven, but also that the earth will one day be restored. Think through this today and set your mind up for the rest of the book of Revelation. Remember it’s all about knowing Jesus as your Savior, the coming judgment, and the restoration of the earth.
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth.
On a nice hot day do you want a nice cold glass of water or lukewarm water? Most people would say yes to the cold water and spit out the lukewarm water. When you go to take a bath or a shower do you want to get into a nice hot bath or a lukewarm bath that has been sitting there for a while? Again, most people would choose the hot bath over the lukewarm bath. Most things that are lukewarm tend to be nasty. Think about the temperature of the ocean versus a swamp. The ocean's water is always moving and tends to maintain a steady temperature. Whereas the swamp water doesn’t move much and begins to get warm and smelly. Things like algae start to grow in it and it gets pretty nasty.
In today’s verses, Jesus is speaking to the church in Laodecia. They are one of the churches that gets a bad grade when they are mentioned in the book of Revelation. Jesus says that they are neither hot nor cold and because they were lukewarm, He would spit them out of His mouth. The people of Laodecia would have known what was meant by this term, lukewarm. They were a town built in the valley of a mountainous area. Above them were cold mountain streams. They wanted this cold water for themselves so they built aqueducts from the mountain streams down to them. By the time it got to them the water was lukewarm. The problem with this is that cold and moving water keeps out germs, same with hot water, but when it comes to lukewarm water, that’s where the germs and bacteria grow rapidly. This would cause their water to be bad to drink at times. All the work they did for this aqueduct became a waist because the water was not healthy for them to drink. It would be gross and it would only be worthy of being spit out.
Jesus is using this as an example for their hearts for Him. Today we need to ask ourselves whether we would be caught hot or cold or would we be caught lukewarm. Don’t think of hot as good and cold as bad, both are useful in their own way. Hot can be the Christian that is on fire for God and cold can be the Christian that is refreshing to those that around them. But the lukewarm Christian is of no value to God. They are the Christian that doesn’t care enough about people or God. They are the ones who are more worried about the life they live, what they get and how they are treated. Think through this today, when Jesus returns are you going to be caught on fire for Him or refreshing those that are around you, or are you going to be caught focused only on yourself and your way of life. I truly believe many of us would be caught lukewarm if we were honest with ourselves. Work through this today and make the adjustments you need to be hot or cold for Jesus.
“Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw One like a slaughtered lamb standing between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent into all the earth. He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of the One seated on the throne. When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
Have you ever had a moment that just seemed hopeless? John was in the middle of one of those moments. In his vision from God, he was taken into heaven and heard the cries of heaven calling out, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” The scroll seems to be the title deed or ownership papers of the earth or it is the salvation, or new covenant, for the earth. Either way, all of the earth depended on this scroll being opened. This made John feel completely helpless and hopeless. No one was worthy, no one could be found.
In today’s verses, you see that John is crying and one of the elders said, “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.” This is Jesus who was victorious. It’s like a scene that took place after Jesus was placed on the cross. No one was worthy to open this scroll but at the resurrection of Jesus, He was the one found worthy because He had paid the debt owed for all the earth. He made the payment to gain the title deed of the earth. John continues this vision watching as all that were present worshiped Jesus for what He had done and simply because He alone is worthy of this worship. They sang a new song that says, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
We too have a new song to sing when we have accepted this payment that Jesus made for us. He alone is worthy to open the scroll. He alone is worthy of worship but we are the ones who receive the benefit. We go from death to life. From an eternity of suffering in Hell to an eternity in Heaven. From lost to found. From hopeless and helpless to fulfilled and hopeful. Because of Jesus, we have a new song to sing. Think about how Jesus has changed your life and path today. What are the things that He has done? What has He kept you from and what did He save you out of. He is worthy of praise and worship, so let’s do that today!
“After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
John does an amazing job of painting a beautiful picture of the revelation that he was seeing. He goes through the seals and shows the judgments that are to come on the earth and even how 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each tribe, have come to accept Jesus as their savior and then they go out to all the world and preach the gospel message.
His beautiful picture continues in today's verses. He shows how there will be a great multitude to come to salvation during the tribulation period. Where we are at this point in the story is during the tribulation period (a horrible time of judgment and destruction for the earth). The rapture of the church has taken place already, the time where the church is taken from this earth to meet Jesus in the clouds, and many of those who came to know Jesus as their savior have been killed for accepting Jesus. This sounds like a horrible time and it really is, but look at the beauty in the description. There was a “vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language.” There are so many people who accepted Jesus as their savior that they couldn’t be counted. That’s beautiful. There are people from every, yes, every tribe, nation, people, and language. That is beautiful. They are robed in white, showing the purification they are given through the salvation of Jesus. They are made righteous because of the blood of Jesus washing away their sins. That is beautiful. They are worshiping Jesus at His feet, waiving palm trees in a visual message of victory. That is beautiful. Only God could take the chaos and pain of the judgment of the earth and turn it into something that is beautiful.
Notice today that we are looking at this from the perspective of the sinner who comes to know Jesus as their Savior. These are the people that God takes the ashes of this world and turns it into beauty. That is not true for the ones who reject Jesus as their savior. They will have the opportunity to choose Jesus, but many will reject Him. This tribulation period is all about the redemption of those who know Jesus as Savior and the judgment of those who have rejected Jesus as their savior. Today we should think about the people we know who do not know Jesus. We can celebrate the fact that we don’t have to go through this tribulation but we should use this as a motivation to bring as many people with us as possible. Are you reaching out to those who are lost? Are you doing all you can to be an example of Jesus for them to see? Are you passionately seeking opportunities to share Jesus with them? I believe this is something that we all need to work on. We allow the distractions of life to get in the way. Push those aside and strive to live a life to bring others to the feet of Jesus for salvation.
“Then I saw an angel standing on the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice, saying to all the birds flying high overhead, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of commanders, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of their riders, and the flesh of everyone, both free and slave, small and great.” Then I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and against His army. But the beast was taken prisoner, and along with him the false prophet, who had performed the signs in his presence. He deceived those who accepted the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image with these signs. Both of them were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword that came from the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.”
Have you ever watched a movie that had to do with an underdog. It’s the person that is completely not expected to win but they do. Maybe it was a sport movie where the guy with the most heart but not the most skills made the winning play. Or maybe it’s a war movie where the small band of brothers took on a large army and won. Either way, the purpose of those movies is to emphasize the underdog story. This kind of story breaths hope into our lives and allows us to think that anything is possible.
In this section of Revelation we find a prophetic, future, event that will take place involving the armies of the world being led by the Anti-Christ standing against God in ultimate defiance. As a Christian, I wouldn’t call this an underdog fight for God because I know who God is and His abilities but, I would say, the world would look at this as the underdog fight. The whole world stands in defiance against the creator of the universe. 1 God versus the whole world.
Look at what today’s verses say. As the armies are getting ready to fight in the valley of Armageddon an angel stands on the sun, (That’s pretty cool) and boldly cries out saying to the birds, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of commanders, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of their riders, and the flesh of everyone, both free and slave, small and great.” The confidence of heaven is at full strength. They aren’t worried about the armies of the world standing in defiance against God. They are confident in who God is. They fully know His love, mercy and grace but they also fully know His wrath and justice. Those who stand in defiance against God will face His wrath. That is why the angel can boldly proclaim the destruction of those armies. In the end, the anti-christ is defeated and thrown into hell along with the false prophet. The rest were then killed by the sword that came from the mouth of Jesus. The battle was over before it started.
So the thought for today is: What can we do with this message now. We know that Jesus is full of grace, mercy and love. In fact, we are living in it right now. But, there will come a day when the church is raptured out and the world will stand united against God. This is when the wrath of God will be on full display. So what do we do with this? We work as hard as we can to dwindle that army down now. Not based on winning and losing but based on people coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ so that they don’t have to face the wrath of God. The wrath of God is real and judgment is coming. This is why we must have an urgency in sharing and spreading the Gospel message to the world.
“Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God’s word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.”
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed. I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.”