I always come to Revelations with hesitation because I find it difficult to understand. Despite this, it’s important because it was a message that Jesus sent from beyond the grave. In verse 3 it says
“Blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it”
So guys, we need to step up this week and really try to get to grips with this.
There’s a bit of homework first. Revelations is full of numbers. They all symbolise different things and there’s lots of debate on the precise meanings but here goes. Seven runs throughout this passage and means fullness, completeness or perfection, especially spiritual perfection. It is the number of the Holy Spirit. So the seven churches (while also referring to 7 actual churches) may mean the whole church in Asia and translating it to our wider view of the world, it may be the whole church across the world. The seven spirits may mean the whole and complete Holy Spirit or possibly seven of his characteristics – like wisdom and power. OK that’s the homework done.
The picture of God in the doxology is amazing:
- God – “who is and who was and who is to come”. He is always the same – a rock to lean on. I don’t have to be afraid he’ll change or be moody or irrational.
- Jesus – “who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood”. He’s done it all. I don’t need to “earn” anything or measure up. How freeing!
- Holy Spirit – “before his throne”. The Holy Spirit also lives in me so he’s my link with God. Through him, I’m always in God’s sight and mind. I’m always before his throne.
- Finally the promise that Jesus will come – “with the clouds” – to usher in his kingdom. Everyone will recognise him in all his glory even if they don’t acknowledge him now. But we already have the privilege of getting to know him. We can glimpse the wonder of his kingdom here and now. There is nothing to fear – nothing that can defeat us – for we know that God’s glorious kingdom is coming. How empowering!
We are so used to animations in films and games that I think we lose out on the picture of Christ with woolly hair and bronze feet. Even so it’s extraordinary. Jesus is just so much more than we can imagine – more different, more powerful, more holy. But all this magnificence doesn’t make him remote and unapproachable. When John falls to the floor in awe before him, John says “he placed his right hand on me and said ’Do not be afraid’”. That’s a very personal thing to do. It’s the action of a parent or a friend- of someone who loves him. Our incredible, awesome God loves John …… and he loves me.
He loves you too – you can be certain of that.