"The Book of Revelation, An Eschatological Study of the Endtimes", by Chad J. McCoy
The REVELATION of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies of everything he saw - that is, to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
This opening paragraph validates the prophecies that are about to be revealed. It states that this Revelation was given to Jesus Christ by God, and in turn has been given to us so that we might know what is in store for us.
This Revelation then, comes with the two greatest references in the cosmos: God and Jesus Christ. This tells us that we are to take these words seriously. This is not something that someone made up. It is not the idea or theory of any man. It is not a story. This is the message of God.
We are further told that this message was sent by an angel, thereby reinforcing the point that this Revelation comes not from earthly origins, but from a heavenly source.
When John receives it, he also makes it clear that this message is to be taken earnestly. The very first thing John does is to testify, or swear to, everything he was shown. He immediately reaffirms that this is the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Just as experts are introduced by first having their qualifications, accomplishments, and educational background announced before they speak in order to certify their comments, so does the Book of Revelation display its credentials.
This is the word of God, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, dispatched via angel, and notarized by John the Apostle.
We are told that the fulfillment of these words is near, therefore we who read them are considered blessed because God is making the future known unto us, and encouraging us with the knowledge that He will come and intervene in the events of this world. He will put an end to the evil that is in it, and we have the opportunity to be on His winning side! Indeed, those who not only read, but hear what is said and take it to heart will be blessed.
During the course of this book, I won't be doing any exhaustive studies on the meaning of individual words and their Greek or Hebrew origins, but there will be times when it will be necessary to determine which definition is meant to be used for a particular word that is in a specific context. At the moment, I am curious as to what the bible means when it says we are blessed.
The word "blessed" has three different meanings in the English language. 1) It can mean happy. 2) It can mean religious. 3) It can mean divine. In other words we are told that if we read these words we should count ourselves either joyful, god-fearing, or angelic. Which one is the meaning that John intended?
It's easy to see that no one would instantly become a divine being, or anything even close to it, by simply reading the Book of Revelation. Neither would a person necessarily become religious. But we can be joyful in knowing that God has chosen to let us in on future events; confiding in us.
This allows us to prepare, so that we are not caught napping like the five foolish virgins at the time of his return. And we can also be joyful, knowing that this is the true, certified word of God, and that the return of Jesus Christ is coming soon!
To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father - to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen.
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty".
Once again, we are given more credentials. We are told that John is sending along this message to the seven churches in the province of Asia, and he relays the greetings from God, Jesus Christ, and the seven spirits before the heavenly throne.
John gives glory and praise to Jesus Christ, mentioning that he will return in the clouds and be seen by all men.
This poses a question. How could he be seen by all men? If he can be seen in the sky by people in North America, then it follows that he would not be able to be seen by those in Australia or Asia. There are two ways I can imagine this being accomplished.
1) It may be that Jesus remains in the air for twenty-four hours, thus making himself known to everyone as the earth rotates on its axis, or 2) Jesus returns in only one location, but the event could be broadcast by television and internet via satellite transmission to every corner of the world.
In any event, it matters not how this will be accomplished. It is enough to know that it will happen.
Continuing the declaration of credentials, we see John quoting the Lord God as he identifies himself, saying that he is the Alpha and Omega, the One Who Is, Who Was, And Is To Come.
You might be wondering what the seven spirits are, and if so, then you can just keep wondering. I don't know what they are, or what they might represent. In any event, their identity is not important to our study. They are not mentioned as having anything to do with any of the events of the Revelation, and even if they did, this study is concerned with identifying the events that will affect people on earth, and their eventual eternal disposition, not with trying to uncover the identities of every cosmic being that has a hand in those events. For example, we know that there will be seven angels blowing on seven trumpets. Do we care what the names of those angels are? Do we insist on knowing the composition of said trumpets; whether they be gold, brass, copper, silver, or plastic? No, we're concerned with the consequences and repercussions of those trumpet blasts for the people of earth.
Take note of the fact that it says when Jesus Christ returns, all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. They won't rejoice, or be glad, or dance, or sing. They will mourn, for the day of salvation has come and gone. It has passed them by, leaving them with only pain, hardship, suffering, judgement, death, and eternal damnation to look forward to. A day of mourning, indeed.
Revelation 1:9-20 (NIV)
I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord's Day I was in the spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said, "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea".
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. The he placed his right hand on me and said "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."
At this point, John hears a voice speak to him, and he turns around to see an awesome spectacle of a man standing among seven lampstands, and holding seven stars in his hand.
Realizing that this is a vision of Jesus Christ, John falls down before him in awe. We know this is Jesus because he says he is the one who was dead, but is now alive for evermore, and holds the keys to death and Hades. We know from scripture that when Jesus died, he descended into the lowermost parts of the earth, and obtained those same keys before his resurrection. (Eph. 4:8-10; 1st Peter 3:18-20)
Jesus explains to John that the seven lampstands represent the seven churches of Asia, and that the seven stars that he holds in his hand are the seven angels of those churches.
Now what does he mean by the angels of the churches? Again, I can think of two meanings: 1) God has assigned angels to every group of believers, wherever two or more gather in his name. For what purpose they are there is unclear, but I'm sure we could come up with some reasons if we thought about it. 2) The word angel in the Greek is angelos, which means heavenly messenger, but can also mean pastor, which seems to make the better sense in this context. Therefore the seven stars could be the seven pastors of the churches.
(I would like to interject a comment here, since we have now looked at the meanings of a couple different words. We looked to the dictionary for one, and the Greek language for the other. Here is the method to my madness: If a given passage can be understood just the way it has been written, I will not bore the reader with lengthy journeys into the archaic origins of the text. We can comprehend its meaning just fine. If something does not seem clear, I will then proceed to look up the definition of the words, keeping our study within the bounds of the English language. If there is still some uncertainty as to what point is trying to be made, I will then open up the dusty tomes of Hebrew and Greek shibboleths in search of a more precise denotation.)
Thus we see that a charge has been given John, to record the message given him by God and Jesus Christ, and to see that it gets passed on to the seven churches of the province of Asia.
In the following chapter, we will see that in addition to the Revelation message, Jesus has some personal messages to give each of the seven pastors. We will go over these briefly before getting into the meat of the endtime prophecies and the great ceremony that is taking place in heaven.