Future Glory (Revelation Overview)

June 26, 2022

Book: Revelation

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Scripture: Revelation 1:1-8

Knowing the end of God’s rescue story and your place in that story will motivate you to live wholeheartedly for the Author and Hero of the story, Jesus Christ.

View sermon slides: sermon-6-26-2022-Future-Glory-Revelation-Overview

We like good stories, whether a novel or movie, we like a story that keeps you on edge and ends well. As Genesis tells us about the beginning of the human story, Revelation tells its end. Many people ignore end of Bible story because of fear or they feel it’s too confusing or controversial. Today, we’re going to get a summary, bird’s eye view of end of God’s story and your story. My goal is 3-fold: 1, whet appetite to study it more, 2, to see your place in the story, and 3, to help you know better the Author and Hero, Jesus Christ! Let’s jump in!

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John” (1:1). From what you see in v. 1, is God trying to hide or conceal, or to reveal? Revelation means “to disclose, make known”; God gave to show us. “Soon” means “swiftly, suddenly, speedily!” Had he meant a short period of time, he would have used another word (oligos).

Point #1: God wants to reveal Himself and His future plan to you (vv. 1-2)

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, everything that he saw.”

The process of Revelation. God (Father) gave to the Son by His angel to John to the 7 churches to us. Each of the 7 letters repeats, “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” That’s all of us!

Point #2: God will bless you as you learn and live His Word (1:3).

“Blessed is the one who reads, and those who hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” This principle is true of the whole Bible, but especially promised to those who read, hear, and keep this revelation. “Time is near”; don’t let that phrase trip you. It means “next, impending, at hand”; nothing must occur before Jesus can come. This any-moment expectation is common throughout the NT. For example, James was the first book written, 50 years before Revelation, AD 45. He says, “Therefore be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brothers and sisters, against one another, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door” (5:7-9).

Prophecy scholar Ed Hindson writes, “[Revelation] is God’s roadmap to help us understand where human history is going. The fact that it points to the time of the end is clear throughout the entire book. It serves as the final consummation of biblical revelation. It takes us from the first century to the last century. From persecution to triumph. From the struggling church to the bride of Christ. From Patmos to paradise.”

Revelation is the only book that contains a divine outline. The Apostle Jn is told to write in a book what you see (v. 11) and send it to 7 specific churches. In v. 19, Jesus tells him to, “Write the things which you have seen (Ch. 1), and the things which are (Ch. 2-3), and the things which will take place after these things” (Ch. 4-22).

How do we interpret Revelation? The differences in understanding Revelation come from the method one uses to interpret the book. I prefer “consistent plain meaning” approach. We take it at face value or literally, unless the text or context indicates its allegorical, as we do in all normal communication. Jesus fulfilled all 1st coming prophecies literally, so why would He do it differently with respect to His 2nd coming?

Symbols are often explained elsewhere in the book. For example:

1st beast of sea (13:1-10)World ruler & his empire (13:1-10)1st beast of sea (13:1-10)World ruler & his empire (13:1-10)

7 stars (1:16)7 messengers to churches (1:20)
7 lampstands (1:13)7 churches (1:20)
Morning star (2:28)Christ (22:16)
Incense (5:8)Prayers of God’s people (5:8)
Great city (11:8)Jerusalem (11:8)
Woman & child (12:1-2)Israel & Christ (12:5-6)
Dragon/serpent (12:3, 9)Satan (12:9)
1st beast of sea (13:1-10)World ruler & his empire (13:1-10)
2nd beast of earth (13:11-17)False prophet (19:20)
10 horns (13:1)10 kings with the beast (17:3, 12-13)
Fine linen (19:8)Righteous deeds (19:8)
Rider on white horse (19:11)Jesus Christ, King of Kings (19:16)
Bride (21:9)Lamb’s wife/New Jerusalem (21:9-10)

God also uses key words that are repeated for emphasis.

And, even, also 1200+ times Throne 46 times
Power and authority 40 timesKing 37 times
Lamb 30 times (28 of Jesus)Seven 54 times
Overcome, victorious 17 times Like, as, similar to 22 times
Worship 24 timesProphecy, prophet, prophesy 17 times

Messianic Hebrew scholar Arnold Fruchtenbaum says, “All symbols in the Book of Revelation are explained elsewhere: either in a different part of the Book of Revelation or in some other part of the Bible. There are symbols, but the Bible itself will explain what these symbols mean either by direct statement or through a comparison of the usage of the symbol elsewhere in the Scriptures. The meaning of the symbols will not be determined by speculation.” Greek scholars Westcott and Hort find in Rev +500 allusions to the OT, and another scholar lists 1000 (404 verses containing 500-1000 OT allusions) which help us objectively understand Revelation.

2ndcentury church leader Justin Martyr (AD 100-165) wrote, “Since, then, we prove that all things which have already happened have been predicted by the prophets before they came to pass, we must necessarily believe also that those things which are in like manner predicted, but are not yet come to pass, shall certainly happen.” This is the hallmark of the “consistent plain meaning or literal where possible” approach. I like to remind us that 27% of the Bible was prophetic when written. Prophecy or pre-recorded history is God’s way of self-authenticating

His Word. He says, “I tell you history in advance; I cause it to happen, incorporating the choices or agency of people, angels and demons, to accomplish My sovereign will.”

Revelation chapter 1 gives us the historical setting. Internal and external evidence corroborate the AD 95 date, as opposed to the mid-60s. Internally the development of the churches fits the end of the 1st c, not the middle; external evidence says that a disciple of a disciple of John named Irenaeus said that John wrote the Revelation near the end of Emperor Domitian’s reign. He was assassinated in AD 96. In chapter 1, Jesus is revealed in glory on the small island of Patmos west of Ephesus.

Let’s jump to the present. Revelation 2 and 3. Today Jesus’ bride, the church is God’s primary instrument of saving the world—despite her warts, sins, and inadequacies. John is to write 7 letters from Jesus, critiquing each of 7 churches of Asia Minor or modern western Turkey. Why these 7? Over 100 churches existed at that time. Why not Jerusalem or Antioch? These were on a postal route in the shape of a hook. The issues these 7 faced would be most typical or common challenges facing the church throughout her entire history.

Ephesus – Loveless: Do you ever stray from 1st love Jesus, the One who saved you, and people?

Smyrna – Suffering: How do you handle suffering? The first three and most recent centuries of church history have experienced immense suffering!

Pergamum – Worldly: Are you ever tempted to marry the world? It’s much easier to get along when we’re just like them. That’s what “Pergamum” means.

Thyatira – Sin-tolerant: of course, it’s easier to tolerate my sin than yours.

Sardis – Mostly dead: Do you need spiritual CPR today? We still love you; we’re here for you!

Philadelphia – Faithful: remanent church we pray Calvary is. Jesus offers her a special promise: 3:10-11, “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth (used 11 times in Revelation for “the lost”). I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown (reward).

Laodicea – Self-sufficient: thought they were rich, but they were spiritually bankrupt; thought they could see, but they were spiritually blind; thought they were clothed with Christ, but they were naked. Jesus is on the outside knocking to get into the church!

Two of the churches, nothing bad is said of them (Smyrna and Philadelphia); one, nothing good (Laodicea, the self-sufficient, lukewarm church). If [everyone at] Calvary was like you, which church would we resemble? Ultimately, Calvary is only as healthy as each member.

Let’s jump to the future, the main focus of Revelation. Chapter 4:1 starts, “after these things,” the same words as in 1:19. The camera pans into heaven as God is about to judge the world! We see all heavenly creatures worshipping God.

In Revelation 4, God is worshipped as Creator. Let’s read v. 11. “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power;[Why?] for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” In Chapter 5, Jesus initiates fulfillment of Dan 7:13-14 by receiving from His Father a scroll, the title deed to the earth, as He is the only one in the universe qualified to take back direct control of this world through a series of intensifying judgments. Chapter 5:9-10, says, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; [Why?] for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and

tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” The first Adam forfeited the reign of this world to Satan (7x Satan is called ruler/god of this world; e.g., Jn 12:31; 2 Cor 4:4; 1 Jn 5:19); now the 2nd Adam, Jesus, is about to take it back!

A crescendo of 7 seal, 7 trumpet, and 7 bowl judgments fall on the earth, initiated by Jesus, the one who breaks open each seal of the scroll. Jesus said in Jn 5:27 that the Father “gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son pf Man.” Because Jesus did everything possible to save us; He walked in our shoes perfectly, died & rose for us, He is fitting to judge us. In summary, the 7-yr pd is divided into 2 halves. The 1st half involves 6 seal judgments. Seal #1 is False christ/antichrist, bringing false peace. 2nd, War; 3rd, Famine; 4th, Death to ¼ of earth’s people; 5th, Mass martyrdom; and 6th, Devastating destruction. Let’s read a sample: 4th seal (6:7-8). “When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come.’ I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.” There is a metaphor, ashen (pale green) horse, the color of a corpse, the instrument bringing death but notice its lit results, ¼ of earth perishes (6:8b). If this doesn’t mean what it says, what could it mean?

Jesus said the last half of the 7 years will be even worse than the first. “Then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will” (Mt 24:21).

Why does God bring such judgment? Last month, 21 people killed, school shooting in TX. Where was God? Why did He allow this? Beloved church, that’s why God brings judgment! In Isaiah 13:11, God says, “I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity.”

Another reason for judgment is that many precious people who reject the good news of Jesus now will be very open when judgment starts to fall. Revelation 6:17, asks, in light of these seal judgments, who is able to stand? Ch 7 is an interlude, a pause in the action, answering that question. 144000 Jewish evangelists come to faith in Jesus and an innumerable company of Jews & Gentiles (non-Jews) from everywhere on earth will flood into God’s family. Dear Calvary, this is why we must continue to share Jesus’ rescue plan with everyone! They may not listen now, but when judgment comes, they’ll say, “I thought my Jesus-freak neighbor, sister, or coworker was crazy, but now I know she was right.”

Jesus predicts at the midpoint of this 7-yr Tribulation (Dan 9:27), Mt 24:15, there will be “the abomination of desolation”; the world ruler, antichrist desecrates Israel’s rebuilt temple (which is now ready to be rebuilt); he says, “I am god! Worship me!” The world will worship him. Revelation 13:5-8 says, “A mouth was given to him speaking arrogant words and blasphemies (profanity against God), and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven.” [I believe that’s us; the word “church” is used 19 times in chapters 1-3, then does not appear in this time of judgment, then reappears in chapter 22.] “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority was given to him over every tribe, people, language, and nation.” [In chapters 2 and 3 we, the church, are “the overcomers”; these saints come to Jesus during the Tribulation are overcome, same word.] All who dwell on the earth [that phrase for “the lost”] will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” Why does God permit antichrist to rule the world (“it was given to him”)? Because the people demand it. Jesus said, “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him” (Jn 5:43).

Revelation 8 & 9 continues the story. Some scholars place the Trumpet judgments in the 1st half while others, the 2nd. I favor the 2nd because of their magnitude. Trumpet 1 sees 1/3 of earth is burned; Trumpet 2, 1/3 of the sea becomes blood; #3, 1/3 of rivers and springs are poisoned; #4, 1/3 of the sun, moon, and starts are darkened; #5, global demonic invasion, and #6, 1/3 of humanity is killed. Let’s read a sample: 3rd Trumpet [8:10-11], “The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch (metaphor), and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters. The name of the star is called Wormwood (or “bitter”); and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter.” Straightforward language. Do you wonder why there are only 6 seals and 6 trumpets listed? Because inside of the 7th seal are the trumpets and inside of the 7th trumpet are the bowls. Jesus is unrolling a scroll.

Chapters 10-15 are another pause in the action. Here the revelator stops to talk about key characters who are prominent during the Tribulation. Two you may recognize are Ch 11, two prophets coming in the likeness of Moses and Elijah, and Ch 13 the antichrist and his associate.

In Revelation 16, the story advances with the bowl judgements, culminating the time of Great Tribulation. Like a woman in labor, these increase in closeness and intensity. 1st bowl, malignant sores; 2nd, sea dies; 3rd, rivers and springs die; 4th, the sun scorches people; 5th, the world is darkened; 6th, Euphrates dries up; and 7th, a great earthquake devastates the cities and nations. Again, the language is straightforward and doesn’t seem to contain allegory whose plain meaning is obscured. One of my professors used to say, “When the plain sense makes common sense seek no other sense.” The 7th bowl, vv. 17-21, comes with the announcement’ “It is done,” and includes great cities, islands, and mountains falling, and 100 pound hailstones raining from the sky (like those apocalypse movies). But notice humanity’s response,[16:21b]. They “blasphemed God because of the plague of hail.” When I was a little boy, the class bully would throw us down on the ground twist our arm behind our back and say, “Cry uncle.” When we said “uncle,” he would release us. You’d think after the Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl judgments, the world would wave the white flag and cry “uncle.” Instead, they shake their little fists at God.

In Chapters 17 and 18, vivid language depicts the total destruction of Babylon the Great, the global religious, political, and economic system of antichrist. The name Babylon is rooted in Genesis 10 and 11, representing all that is opposed to God. The lesson to all of us is, don’t put too much stock in this world, its temporal values, things, and pursuits. It will soon be defeated by Christ and will pass away.

In Revelation 19, Jesus returns with His bride (19:7-8, 14) to the earth. He destroys His enemies and reigns for 1000 years. Some would say the nature and duration of this kingdom is spiritual or allegorical and that Jesus is presently reigning on earth through his church and Satan is bound as 20:1-3 say. Others who take it more literally would say that if Satan is bound, he has a very long chain; the world appears mostly deceived today. Peter said that “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8).

In Rev 20, six times in the first seven verses, the writer says “1000 years,” three of which he uses a definite article, “the thousand years.” This period is described by the prophets as a time of unparalleled peace, prosperity, safety, there is no curse, long lifespans, etc. Jesus called it “the regeneration” (Mt 19:28), Acts 3:21, “the period of restoration of all things.”

Notice the natural chronology; Jesus said, “In those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory (Mk 13:24-26). In Mt 25:31, He adds, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.”

To review: the tribulation, chapters 6-18, culminates in Jesus’ second coming in judgment, chapter 19, to set up His kingdom, chapter 20. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). When He comes, Jesus separates the sheep from the goats, those who lived through this horrendous period, some became followers of Jesus to whom He says, “come… enter My Father’s kingdom prepared for you”; while to the goats, “Depart from Me…into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25:34; 41).

Imagine Jesus ruling the planet! Even in this perfect environment, ruled by Jesus Himself, as the 1000 years unfold, children will be born who forget what happened long ago in that Great Tribulation. They won’t want Jesus to rule. Incited by a briefly released Satan, he was bound at the beginning of the 1000 years (20:1-3), they will rebel against Jesus who will quickly and finally put them down (20:7-10). Then every lost person who has ever lived will face their final judgment at the Great White Throne (20:11-15).

Then, we who know and love our God & Savior Jesus will experience forever the life you were made for. The last 2 chapters of Scripture echo the first 2, Gen 1 &2. Paradise lost, in Gen 3 when humanity chose to go our own way. Paradise regained by Jesus alone, our Groom-Rescuer. He paid our sin debt on a Roman cross, arose from death to save us (Ro 5:8-9), and returned to permanently put down all human and demonic rebellion.

Revelation 21 and 22 describe “Paradise regained.” A new heaven and a new earth: God Himself living among His people. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true’ ” (21:4-5). Dear church, this vision drives me every day to live for Him and share His good news! The end of this story is way too good to keep to ourselves!

Our last Point #3: Live ready!

Where are you in this story? “Watch out, stay alert; for you do not know when the appointed time is. It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay alert. Therefore, stay alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— so that he does not come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all: ‘Stay alert!’” (Mk 13:33-37).

After 2000 years, how do you live ready? Paul concludes his message to the people of Athens, in Acts 17:30-31, “Having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now proclaiming to mankind that all people everywhere are to repent [you’re going the world’s way; do a 180 and go God’s way], because He has set a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness [by God’s standards] through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all people by raising Him from the dead.” Each person here will one day face either the judgment seat of Christ where Jesus rewards you for your faithfulness as God’s child (1 Cor 3:10-15), or the Great White Throne judgment of Revelation 20 in your lostness. There is no third option, and no escape. As I’ve watched the world system disintegrate in my lifetime, I have also seen the stage being set for the coming godless global order. Global leaders now discuss this openly. One of my friends reminds us, “Things aren’t falling apart, they’re falling into place.”

My prayer is that you come to the obvious conclusion either now, while it’s easy, or in the coming Tribulation. Jesus Christ is your only hope not only for meaningful life now but for awesome forever life! I pray you place your trust in Jesus alone for your salvation, the Author and Hero of God’s grand, glorious rescue story. You can avoid the coming wrath by trusting in Him (1 Thes 1:10; 5:9; Ro 5:9).

If you’re a follower of Jesus, these words from 1 John apply to you: “Now, little children, remain [stay close] in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not draw back from Him in shame at His coming…. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope set on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” I pray this glorious destiny motivates your every breath, every decision, every word, and every movement of your body every day!

Jesus warned us, “Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day [Tribulation] will come on you unexpectedly like a trap [the professing Laodicean “Christian”]. For it will come on all who live on the face of the whole earth [11 times in Rev. lost]. But [you, beloved Philadelphian Christians, Rev 3:10] be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man [for your reward, Rev 3:11]” (Lk 21:34-36). Too many of us are fearful, worried, angry Christians over how this world is going. We of all people need to be filled with hope and the joy it produces, praying continually, living holy, serving God with our whole hearts, and telling everyone about our soon coming awesome Rescuer, Jesus. He rescued us once by His cross & resurrection, and He promises to rescue us again from the soon coming judgment/wrath (Heb 9:27-28; cf., Rev 3:10-11)! Let’s pray. “Father, give us hearts that love you and others above all else. Help us, your church, to live joy-filled, fearless, fruitful lives, showing and sharing Jesus with everyone around us. In His name. Amen.”

Here’s a helpful resource for further study: 101 Answers to Questions About Revelation by Mark Hitchcock. He’s a former attorney, PhD in Bible Exposition; Mark looks at the various views and has a gift of making complex things clear and simple.

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