Read Revelation 1:1-3 (ESV)
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
Who wrote the book of Revelation and how was it revealed to the author?
In Scripture, when God had important things to share, He often sent an angel to reveal truth and future events to His humble servants. God sent visions to Daniel and Zechariah through the angel, Gabriel. Gabriel was also given the incredible assignment of appearing to Mary to announce that she would give birth to the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus. There are also other accounts of angels appearing in Scripture who are not mentioned by name.
In today’s verses, we see that the book of Revelation is a series of visions that were given to the apostle John by an angel sent by the Lord. Tradition holds that John is the only apostle who was not martyred. But he was severely persecuted for following Christ and was exiled to the island of Patmos where he received this revelation from the Lord. Notice that John explains his role as one who “bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ.” He was an eyewitness to this revelation and he was obedient to write it down and share it with others.
In Revelation 1:10 John wrote: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, ‘Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.’” So John faithfully recorded what he saw and then did as he was told. He distributed this book among the seven churches mentioned.
What was a major takeaway of Jesus' revelation to John? To read, listen and obey these words because Jesus’ return is imminent. We see this sense of urgency repeated often throughout the book of Revelation. Be ready. He’s coming soon. In fact, Revelation is bookended with urgent language from “the time is near” in Revelation 1:3 to the last words that John records. “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with us all. Amen” (Revelation 22:20-21).
But what did Jesus mean by soon? Didn’t John write this almost 2,000 years ago? Why hasn’t it happened yet? Well, soon can mean different things depending on your perspective and circumstances. For example, when my kids were younger and I told them their birthdays were coming up soon, if their birthday wasn’t the very next day, they were impatient and confused. While I viewed “soon” as just a couple of weeks away, my kids viewed “soon” as tomorrow.
About the return of Jesus, Peter said, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day...But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…” (2 Peter 3:8, 10a). John’s point is that Jesus’ return is imminent and we should be ready because we do not know when He is coming. Our perspective and understanding of time is significantly limited compared to God’s. In light of eternity, the day of the Lord will be here in a very short amount of time.
So what should be our response to this urgent message? Read it, listen to it, and obey it. Like John, when we read and listen to Revelation it should motivate us to earnestly and passionately share the Gospel with others. We should faithfully bear witness to these things just as John did. Being a witness for the Lord and testifying to the truth about Him should be what our lives are about. The book of Revelation makes it abundantly clear. There is nothing more important than being a servant of Jesus Christ because when the time that is near has finally come, being found faithful to Him will be all that matters.
Friends, it is a great privilege that Jesus allows us to be His servants and His witnesses. Who are you bearing witness to? Are you taking the sense of urgency found in Revelation seriously? We should be preaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to all who will hear because we are His witnesses and His return is approaching fast.
Lord, I know that You are coming soon and yet I confess that I often get bogged down with the things of this world. I get preoccupied with temporary things instead of living with a sense of urgency for Your Eternal Kingdom. Help me to faithfully witness to Your truth. Come soon, Lord Jesus and may Your grace be with us all. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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