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The God of the Universe wants all of us to know and reorient our lives around the reality of the ending. It’s always important. Even as a child, you were very interested in asking your parents where are we going? When will we get there? Those kinds of things. When will this be over? All these kinds of things. God knows what we need. Most of us, in order to journey correctly, have to have that destination point. We have to think about how we’re going to get there, and when we’re going to get there, what we need between here and there. God says, this is how it all ends. It’s very interesting that He emphasizes it so much that He designs the final book of the Book of books to be about how it all ends.
We started off in Matthew 6 and looked at that important element of the Lord’s prayer, thy kingdom come and the implications of that. Then, we went to Jesus. In Matthew 24 actually giving the outline of the book of Revelation. Then we started in the book of Revelation. We’re on our sixth of eight stops in this journey. What we’re looking at is, Jesus is focused on His Church in Revelation 1. We’re still trying to finish Revelation 1 and we’re going to see how far we get today. God, because remember that’s how the book of Revelation starts, that this is the Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to Jesus to give to us. There’s no other book in the Bible like that. There is something God wants Jesus to give us. Wow. What does He want? He wants us to see what the implications are of Jesus being our creator.
He wrote it to a specific group of people. That’s a picture of Turkey and the left side is Greece. Istanbul is up there on the Bosphorus. By the way, you can even see where Peter wrote his epistles to Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia. There’s Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. A lot of believers, when we read 1 Peter, we don’t even know where Bithynia is. In fact, a lot of people don’t even say it. I used to have a secretary when I was at one of the churches I served, and we would study the Bible as a staff. I would always have them read around the table. She would get to words like that and she would say hard word, hard word, she never even tried to pronounce them. There’s Bithynia.
Look at that, see the yellow little kind of strange shape there around the word Asia? Ephesus. Going north, Smyrna. Going way north, Pergamum. Then Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia. Last is Laodicea, then back to Ephesus. Most likely, all those churches were planted out of Ephesus. Most likely, John the apostle when he pastored, following Timothy, following Paul, the whole ongoing work of the church. Most likely those churches he was watching over because they were so important. That was the epicenter of the Roman Empire. It was the most Roman part of the empire. That’s where they adopted Emperor worship first. They wanted to worship the Emperor himself.
The Roman Empire didn’t believe in a creator. If God the Father wanted Jesus to get the Church to understand the reality of all the wonders of Christ being our Creator, they were going uphill and against the flow. The Roman Empire was centered around force, and might, and personality cults, and Emperor worship, and a lot of immorality, and everything else. Right in the epicenter, as the empire was moving further and further eastward that is the group that the Lord began ministering to.
If you think about the context and we always should think about the context, the only way to truly understand the scriptures is to understand the context. Just think of some of the realities. All four Gospels and the book of Acts were written and circulated before this book comes out. The other 21 epistles, by Peter (2), James (1), John (3), Paul (13), the writer of Hebrews, and Jude are all written. There were read, copied, circulated, and the Church has gone for over 60 years since Pentecost. Do you know why that’s so important? The book of Revelation is about Jesus coming back and walking around the local churches, like all of us are a part of. He’s seeing how much the people were into the scriptures. Not just into reading them, or hearing them, but into living them. That’s what Revelation 2 and 3 is all about. 2 and 3 are all about how they’re doing it, reading, obeying, and sharing the word.
Jesus comes back. He visits the churches, and He reports to the only apostle that’s left. He is old, and endangered, and on that prison island. Look at that, what are the last few words? Not alone? Do you know what sociologists say is the most piercing human pain? It’s not shrapnel and the current war. It’s not giving birth. Do you know what sociologists say? After studying the fabric of society, the most piercing pain is feeling alone, detached, ignored, forsaken, and forgotten. All those things. Loneliness cuts the deepest of all the emotions. You know what? John certainly was not alone. He was getting the message from God.
The 22 chapters of Revelation, the 404 verses are all about how to live for God in an ever darkening world. If it was darkening in the 1st century the dimmer doesn’t have much further down to go. We know it has a lot further down to go because there’s coming a day when demons are going to be confined to the Earth. They’re going to be for five months, tormenting everyone. Then, they’re going to be in a rapid spree going through, and allowed by God, to kill every third human being. How would you like to be killed by a demon monster that you thought was just in one of those science fiction movies? No. It shows up, can come through the wall, no safe room protects you. That’s what’s coming.
It was an ever darkening world and Jesus had ascended back after His 40 days after the resurrection from the Mount of Olives. He said, I’m coming back the same way I went. The way He went, if you remember from Luke 24, Jesus had His arms out and He was blessing the disciples as they were below Him. He was going, Peter, you always have your foot in your mouth but you’re going to be my servant. John, I loved you to the end, I’m coming back and seeing you by the way. Thomas, you’re not doubting anymore. Can you imagine how Jesus was blessing as He was ascending up from the Mount of Olives? As they watched Him go away in the cloud what did the angel say? “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into Heaven, will so come in like manner.” How did He leave? Was He burning up, destroying everything in sight, and the sword from His mouth destroying His enemies? No, no, no, no. He was raining blessings and comforting. That’s what we call the hope of believers. That the same way Jesus left, blessing us and comforting us, He’s coming back. That blessed hope is of course the Rapture.
He left them with all that truth. The Gospels, the epistles, everything was spread widely by the first generation to about 60 AD. Paul’s public ministry is cut back. He spent most of his time in jail anyway. He spent his last decade in jail because he was so good at it. Then finally, Paul’s hunted down, Peter’s hunted down, the rest of the apostles they’re martyred. The second generation Church is taking all those Gospels and epistles, and they’re growing, and learning, and everything. Jesus comes back to walk around and see how they’re doing. What’s interesting is, He visited all the time in between, but He just didn’t tell us about it, what He found. In Revelation, He gives us what’s on that clipboard when He goes through and checks what’s going on in all those churches.
What I am doing is I’m just showing you what I teach. Bonnie and I are missionaries. This is my wonderful wife, the most distracting person in the world. The one person in the whole world I’d rather spend all my time with. I’m making a conscious choice to not be distracted and to talk to you. Bonnie and I are missionaries. I was a pastor. I was at Bob Jones University, if you’ve ever heard of that. At Bob Jones University I met John MacArthur. He actually invited me to come on staff at his church. I became a pastor with John MacArthur. I was a seminary professor at the Master’s Seminary. I could go on and on. I was in school for 37 years. All of that to say that Bonnie and I, after decades in the pastoral ministry, we used to spend all of our vacation on missionary trips and finally the elders said, you know what? You like that an awful lot. I said, yeah. They said, how about if we send you out? My local church, the last one I pastored sent us out and picked up half of our support. Then, all of the other people that we pastored through the years picked up the other half. We got all of our $6,100 a month in six weeks. Isn’t that the way? That’s how missionaries should raise their funds instead of wearing out their tires, just have people want to get rid of you so they support you. Not really. I’m teasing.
Bonnie and I are servants of the Lord teaching the Devotional Method in Bible institutes. We spend a third of our time at Word of Life properties. I’ve spoken from down there in Argentina all the way, to the Philippines in the jungle, to Korea, to Central Europe, New York, all over the place. We teach them how to take what Word of Life has already started. They all have to title every chapter of the Bible, it’s an assignment for every Bible Institute student. I say, yup, I want you to title every chapter of the Bible in your own words. The chapter’s I am teaching, like I’m going to teach Revelation up in New York next, and it’s not as warm as it is here up there. I say, I want you to find and note the lessons, trues, and doctrines in your own words. Use some study tools. Here’s the transforming part. Most people do Bible study. All of you do Bible study. We all do Bible study. We’re amazed, we find things, and everything else. Very often we want to share what we find with other people, because boy, they really need that. You know what most of us do?
What I did my first year in the ministry, in New England, I got up in the little old parsonage built by the DuPont family in 1828, that we lived in, that was part of the church. It didn’t have any hallways because it was a colonial house. Fireplaces and the whole thing. I didn’t want to wake anybody up as I got dressed. I shaved in the dark and I put on my shoes, whichever foot you put on first in the dark. I went to my first Bible study, which was at 5:30 AM. I met with a group of men and they were all as tired as I was. After that Bible study I left and stopped at my favorite donut shop on the way to the church office. While I was there a great big camera crew was there profiling that donut shop. It’s called Allie’s Donuts and it’s a historical site. This big camera crew came. I walked out with my cup of coffee, my donut, and I talked on the evening news saying, yup, I really liked this stuff. Then, I went on to the office. My dear secretary was very short, very spry in her 80’s, served all the pastors for generations. She looked at me and she said pastor, why do you have your sweater on backward? I had one of those big collar sweaters. I didn’t even notice that I had the big collar under here and the zipper… most men’s sweaters don’t have a zipper down the back. I thought, I went to that Bible study and eight men looked at me. I think that’s one of your lists of the difference between men and women, men don’t care. They’re not going to tell you that you need to turn your sweater around. Then, I was on TV.
The most important part of Bible study is after we title and find lessons, is to write a prayer in which we asked the Lord to unleash at least one of those truths or lessons, not in their life, not in my wife who needs to read that, not in my husband who needs to know that, my kids need that verse, my friend, nope. I look in the mirror and I say, God, I want You to change my life. Do you know what really ramps up the change? If you have a small group of people that you read and study together with. I started this study years back as a pastor. I would get the men in the church, and we’d sit around and study. I would say, I want you to read your application, pray out loud in front of everybody. They go, what? That’s embarrassing! For me as a man to say, Lord, I want you to help me to be more sensitive to my wife, more loving to my children, more patient, less greedy at work, or whatever… that’s embarrassing. I said, that’s how your life will change. That’s what the Bible, the context of the Bible, is. It was a group of people that were transparently experiencing the transformation of God in front of other believers who knew them and could say, you’re right, you are far more patient than you were last year. I’ve known you for 10 years, you only gossip once a week now. It used to gossip all day long. I see God at work. That’s how they turned the world upside down as the word taught.
Here’s my journal. All I’ve been doing this week is sharing. I type it out because you can’t read my writing. We are on the 11th observation, that I made, in the book of Revelation chapter 1. Here’s the observation. This is what I wrote, the red part is my lesson. We can stay full of the Holy Spirit even through the worst of times. Look at your Bible, let’s see how I found that. Go to Revelation chapter 1 and look at verse 9. Just imagine we’re sitting in Starbucks, or Panera, or Chipotle, or wherever you go, and we’re having a small group Bible study. We all have our Bibles open and we’re studying. We read chapter 1, verse 9. “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Verse 10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying…” Then, if you have verse 11 in your Bible and you have a red letter edition, what color is verse 11? Yeah, it’s Jesus. Remember I said, John wasn’t alone. Look at this, the Apostle John has endured the horrors of the destruction of Jerusalem. He remembered all the time he walked up there with Jesus. All the times he’s going to those feasts. Jesus was always going there to teach in Jerusalem. All roads lead up to it. It’s up to Jerusalem because it’s on a 3,000 foot high plateau in the mountains of Judea. He realized as he saw from afar the horrors, as in AD 70 when that city was destroyed. The massacre, a million fellow Jews. I bet John knew a lot of them that were butchered, crucified 500 a day by Vespasian’s son, Titus, destroyed the city.
Then John witnessed a systematic hunting down and martyrdom of all of his fellow apostles by the Roman Empire. He had personally lived through the wickedness of Nero. Do you remember Nero? Nero, who killed his own mother, who killed his own wife, who, he didn’t just kill his wife he kicked her to death. You talk about a way to kill someone, kicking them. We see that in clips, in news reports, and we go, oh, it’s revolting. He was the supreme leader of the world of that day and John lived through that wickedness. By the way, on the side Nero was dipping believers in tar while they were alive and putting them on sticks. He would have them on sticks all the way around his gigantic water lake that was in front of his Domus Aurea, his golden house, in Rome. In front of that house was a lake and he lit the lake with burning, flaming Christians. Remember Peter said, enduring fiery trials in chapter 4 of 1 Peter, he was literal. John saw all of that. Then the convulsion after Nero committed suicide. By the way, the Empire didn’t like him either. He was horrible. He committed suicide. It convulsed. There were four emperors quickly. Now, the very personal adversary of John was the son of the Emperor that followed Vespasian, his son was Domitian. Domitian hunted down, captured, exiled, and left John far away from everybody who knew and loved him. What are the last two words? Except one. Do you see the ongoing theme of this book is we’re never alone, we’re never forgotten, we’re never unloved, we’re never abandoned, we’re never unappreciated, we’re never worthless, we’re never purposeless, we’re never forsaken because of Him who said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” There it was true. Jesus even knew John was on Patmos. That was my first observation and lesson.
This book is a reminder that centuries of these godless and immoral emperors that were absolute and ruthless were going to be coming. The Church was going to be going through three centuries of these men’s hunting, massacring, butchery, ruining people’s lives. Revelation was sent to guide believers to live through that, not to escape it, not to fight it off, to live a life that reflected Christ through all of that.
I’m still in verses 9 and 10 because there’s more of it. Look what it says in verse 9. I was on that island “for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Look at verse 10. “I was in the,” what? “Spirit.” If someone checked on you after you’d been hunted down, everything taken away from you, bound, thrown into a boat, taken to a maximum security prison, and put in hard labor, you’re probably in your late 80’s or early 90’s. If someone checked in on you, would they observe that you’re in the Spirit? Would they observe that I’m in the Spirit? I hope so, but John was. It’s so interesting.
Here it is again, it’s a Sunday and wherever John finds himself it’s always a Lord’s Day on Sunday. Even when Rome is calling the shots. Even when Rome doesn’t believe in the Lord. Even when it’s against the law and it’s a capital offense to be saying that Jesus is Lord.
Did you know, you could get out of all this trouble? Once a year Rome lined up all the people of all their cities. Smyrna is a great example. If you ever go to Izmir, one of the prettiest cities in Turkey, the place is still there. That’s why I love taking people to those places because you can actually see where the event took place. In Izmir and everywhere else in the Empire they’d line everybody up. The town clerk would be there with the roll of all the people that lived in the town because they were all taxpayers. They pull out the taxpayer roll, and you come there. You would come in this long line and finally get to the clerk. They looked your name up. All the Roman’s centurions are standing around. The clerk goes like this (waves you forward) and there’s a little bowl that has powder in it, its incense. Just past the bowl is the little flaming lamp, a torch of some kind. All you had to do is take two of your fingers, reach in and get any amount of that powder and just go like this, like you do when you find dust or something, you go like this and get it off your fingers. You would let the dust, the incense dust, go down to that flame. It would flame up and a little puff of smoke would come out. By doing that you were offering your allegiance because right in front of that flame was the bust of Domitian or Vespasian or Titus or Nero or whoever was the Roman Emperor to be worshiped. You didn’t even have to say anything. On the other side, a clerk handed you a little tiny slip of official Roman parchment that was called a Libelli. It was, you were freed from any consequences of Emperor worship for a whole year. You didn’t have to crawl around on your knees and wear a Nero medallion. You just had your little slip of paper, and you were set. The whole town. Your turn. No one saw what you were doing except the clerk, the one handing out the slips, and the soldier. You didn’t even deny Christ aloud, but through the motions you did. Do you understand that John was unwilling to do that? He pastored in the most prominent city. All the others were massacred, and butchered, and eaten, and burned, but because he was the last General of Christ, they decided to make a case out of his life. They were going to exile him to hard labor and make him kill himself doing work for Rome.
John’s in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, didn’t know when they were going to execute him. That’s the key to serving God in the End of Days. We already found out yesterday when the End of Days is, it started when Christ was here. We’re really, in the End of Days. We have to stay full of the Spirit. We have to walk through life in Christ. We can live in the Spirit no matter what. Do we really believe that?
Bonnie and I’s our first together ministry, we both serve the Lord until we got married apart, but then we started sharing ministry and still are. Our first shared ministry was when I got to John MacArthur church. He assigned me to the 864 senior citizens of Grace Community Church. There were 12,000 total attenders, but 864 of them were 65 and up. He gave them to us. We met with them. We taught them. That’s when I started traveling. We went everywhere with them. They were California travelers and they wanted me to take them on cruises and everything else. John said, as long as you’re teaching the word, you can do it. I said, great. Bonnie and I started doing that. We even carried all of our kids. All of our kids used to be in the drawers of those cruise ships. The drawers are only this big and they were newborns. We just put them in the drawer, and it was wonderful. Our kids have seen the world as infants. You know what I learned about my 864 senior citizens?
By the way, I was doing a funeral every week, at least. I would have four or five that were on the respirator thing, where it’s all over and it’s all that tape. Dialysis, it was many. You understand? It was a cross section of elderly people in declining health. You know what I learned my first weekend? There are only two kinds of senior citizen Christian’s. The complainers and the not complainers. I would go visit them in the hospital. I would go to one and they would say, did you know that they changed the nurses here every four hours? I’ve been able to already witness to three people, and what else? The one that comes in with your pills stands there until you take it, So you can talk to them. I’ve shared my testimony three times. That’s not all. They have this little tray where I have to keep having water with a straw and I can keep my Bible on it. They’re so sweet when I can’t find my glasses, they help me. That’s one kind. Do you know which group that was? The other ones, I can’t believe that I paid into that insurance all my life. I ring that buzzer; it takes them six minutes to come in. That’s not all. My kids never visited me; I shouldn’t have let them know what my estate was because now they aren’t even visiting me. That’s not all, I haven’t… whether it was the doctor, the nurse, their family, the people at church, God never came into the conversation. Do you understand what I mean?
I learned that when you get weak, what you are down deep, most people can’t hide anymore. Down deep half of them really believed all this, really had lived it, really couldn’t wait. They looked at death as going up the gangplank of the best cruise boat in the world. You know how people are about cruises, they can’t wait to go. Then the other half it looked like they were backing toward Heaven. They were muttering the whole way. That was a real powerful influence on our lives.
When I did those funerals every week, I began to love doing funerals. I went around to all 800 of my people and gave them a little paper. I said, I’d like you to write down your testimony for me, because I’m going to have to share it before long. Half of them were incensed. They could be tugging that oxygen tank behind them and they say, I am not old and I’m not dying. I said, I’m dying. You understand what I mean? I went around and gave out that sheet to all of them. We had a backdoor revival. You know what a lot of them found out? They didn’t have a testimony to write on that. You know what’s really powerful to read at a funeral? Someone’s actual words, that they wrote this to be read to everybody that knew and loved them. Whoa, people sit up. I started on the first one, I said I would like to read what Lyra gave to me about a year before she graduated to Heaven. You could see everybody sat up. What did she want read at her funeral?
We can live in the Spirit no matter where, what we’re going through. How do I know that? Because I know that no matter what you and I have gone through, I know someone in the Bible that’s gone through something worse. It’s right there, look at the best example of this in Lamentations 3, a chapter from God. This is my title, you’ll probably title it something differently but I wrote, with God you can make it through anything. Some of you didn’t open your Bible to Revelation, that’s part of Word of Life, get that Bible out and go to Lamentations 3. I want you to see something that maybe you’ve never seen before in Lamentations chapter 3. Lamentations is the Lamentation of who? Who wrote it? Jeremiah.
If I was teaching this at the Bible Institute, I would tell you that it’s seven 22 verse poems that have been mangled into five chapters by Bishop Langton, who divided the Bible into chapters in the 1200’s. He didn’t understand that it was actually seven 22 verse poems. What’s nice is chapter 3 has how many verses? 66? How many verses are in chapter 1? 22. How many in chapter 2? 22. How many in chapter 4? 22. How many of 5? 22. How many in 3? 66. They’re all poems. They’re all acrostic poems. That means Alef, Beit, Gimel, Dalet. It’s all the way through the Hebrew alphabet. The first is the letter A, the second verse is the letter B (starting with). It’s just a magnificent poem by Jeremiah. Chapter 3, the center. The dead center of the book mathematically, you could figure out chapter 1, chapter 2 chapter 3’s third poem ends at verse 22. What’s the dead center verse of the book? Verse 23 of our chapter 3. What’s verse 23? Everybody has probably heard that verse. “They are new every morning.” What are the next words? “Great is Your faithfulness.” The summary of the whole book of Lamentations which means moaning and crying’s and wails and laments is, God is faithful.
What is He faithful for? Look at chapter 3, verse 1. “I am the man.” This is the testimony of Jeremiah. Like John, they were very similar. In fact, they’re palling around now. Jesus said in chapter 8 of Matthew, that when the believers that were hearing His Gospel get to Heaven, what did Jesus say in Matthew 8? They’re going to sit down at a table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When John finally died in Ephesus after Patmos, he was probably palling around with Jeremiah. They agree with all this, look at verse 1. Jeremiah said, “I am the man who seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.” This is his testimony of his life. “He has led me and made me walk in darkness and not in light. Surely He has turned His hand against me time and time again throughout the day.” That’s not very positive. Any of you old enough to remember Robert Schuller, he would not have liked this. Remember only positive, Norman Vincent Peale.
“He has aged my flesh and my skin, and broken my bones.” That’s a Hebrew poetic, remember this is a poem, it’s an acrostic poem. Do you know what he was saying? He’s saying I have broken physical health. That’s an eloquent way of saying it. My flesh is age. My skin is aged. I’m not using Porcelana to get the spots off. He didn’t have any of that. “And broken my bones.” What does that mean? He had osteoporosis, but he doesn’t complain about it. He’s just saying the truth. “He has besieged me,” verse 5. He has “surrounded me with bitterness and woe.” What does that mean? He had deep emotional strain, you bet he did. Have you read Jeremiah?
God did not let Jeremiah get married. He said you will never have a wife. I forbid you to get married. You will never have anybody waiting for you. You will never have a light on when you get home because their lights were burning oil and it had to have someone keeping it burning or it wouldn’t be burning. You’ll never have someone prepare a meal for you. You will never have the companionship; you will not ever have all the joys of marriage. Plus, his family didn’t like him. Plus, Jeremiah worked 40 years preaching the Gospel. If he was the Word of Life missionary I think someone would have cut his support because he never had a single convert. 40 years. None.
How would you like to read those prayer letters? Another month and I was out at the street corner, I preached all day long and just like last month, nobody responded. Nowadays people would send him back to school and say, teach him how to teach better. He had a rough life. Listen to verse 6. “He has set me in dark places like the dead of long ago.” What are dead of long ago. They’re the ones when you go to the cemetery and it’s all worn off, you don’t even know who was buried there. They’re forgotten. What he’s saying is, I’m depressed. He says, I am in a dark place. Verse 7, “He’s hedged me in.” I’m trapped. “He’s made my chain heavy.” Verse 8, “When I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer.” I feel out of touch with God. Is this in the Bible? This is very negative.
Yet, this is the man that wrote more words in his book than any other Old Testament book. There are more Hebrew words in the book of Jeremiah. He got to write the most words of any author of any single book in the whole Bible. It’s longer than Psalms in words. This is the longest voice for God of any book in the Bible. Yet, verse 9, “He’s blocked my ways with hewn stone.” That means he was frustrated. “He’s made my paths crooked.” He was confused. Verse 10, “He’s been to me a bear lying in wait.” He’s talking about the Lord by the way. The he is not Jehoiakim the bad guy king, it’s God. He’s struggling, wow. “Like a lion in ambush.” Verse 17, “You’ve moved my soul far from peace.” That’s a poetic way of saying I’m anxious. “I have forgotten prosperity,” verse 17. That means he was sad. He said, “My strength and my hope have perished…” I’m week and hopeless.
Look what he does, verse 19, “Remember my affliction and roaming.” Verse 20, “My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to my mind,” verse 21, “therefore I have…” here’s the first good word we found in the whole poem. “I have hope.”
By the way, the fascinating thing is the Old Testament Hebrew was translated into the Greek of the New Testament. Most of the Jews didn’t know Hebrew that well in the dispersion. It’s called the Septuagint, LXX, if you’ve ever heard of it. That was for Jews who didn’t know Hebrew very well. They assigned a Greek word to every Hebrew word. You know what that does for us, that gives us a New Testament equivalent for every word of the Old Testament so we can see if God says the same thing. Do you know what this word is in verse 21? That word hope, it’s the word hupo which means under, menō which means abide or to remain. To remain under something and not let it destroy your hope in God is what hope is.
Look what he says, verse 22, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning.” Boom, there it goes. “Great is Thy faithfulness.” We can stay full of the Holy Spirit even through the worst of times. John testifies of that.
He testifies that by Jesus giving the only picture of Jesus in the Bible. We’re only on my 12th observation of the chapter. Do you see why the Bible Institute students have to take 20 hours to go to Revelation? We can read the only word picture describing God the Son, Jesus Christ. He has seven elements. We see His hair, His eyes, His feet, His voice, His hands, His mouth, and His face. All that reminds John and us because it’s to the churches, plural, that the risen Christ is Jesus the Conquer, the Son of Man. The conquer of Adam’s fallen race. He’s the one that’s come back to conquer and rescue us from the God of this world, Satan. He’s also, verse 13 is going to tell us, in the midst of 9 to 20, that He’s robed to His feet and has that golden sash. Did you know that is exactly how He is described? Remember, Revelation has 404 verses, yet it quotes, eludes, and refers to over 800 different verses in the Old Testament. The book of Revelation is like the switchboard connecting all the verses of the Old Testament and explaining, and putting them in context, and applying them in our lives.
Jesus is the perfect priest. We already know that from Hebrews 5. He is the Great High Priest. He is the one who is acquainted with us, chapter 2. He is the one we can flee, to find grace and help in time of need, chapter 4. We know all of that. John puts the pictures in. He says that his hair, He’s got this eternity, He’s the ancient of days. His hair is as white as snow. His eyes. He’s seeing those as flaming fire. Jesus is coming to John after He visited all the churches. Those flaming eyes were looking into the hearts and minds of all of God’s people. He has those feet of the ultimate Judge, like fine brass crushing His foes. His hand, that touch of Jesus. He’s holding the messengers of His Church.
That’s why it never bothered me when people criticized me as a pastor. I was a pastor for 40 years. Boy, people at business meetings, they almost lose it. You know what I always thought of? This verse. Jesus holds the messengers of His Church in His hand. I always thought you are biting the hand of Jesus. Your pastor is a messenger that was sent by God. I’m sorry, I’m just getting waylaid by the text here.
His mouth. Jesus is the word. He’s the creator. We know that he spoke all things into existence. “By Him all things were created that are in Heaven and Earth,” and under the Earth, remember that? Colossians 1:15,16,17. You know that He is the infinite eternal God in human flesh. Hebrews 1 says, He’s the exact representation of God. Jesus said, if you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen God. Don’t you get it? I’m the exact representation of the Father. This is God the Father. They would pick up stones, they didn’t like God because they didn’t like Jesus. That’s still going on by the way, people don’t like Jesus Christ as He’s revealed in the Bible. That’s why they don’t like us.
His face. Jesus is the all powerful Lord of glory with the face that is blazing. His countenance was blazing like the sun that He created. You know what He said? Will you just worship me? You know what John does? He falls down and worships.
I’m now starting to skip. If you notice, I went from 11 to 12, to 14. I found lots of other observations, but it’s time to go. There’s so much we have to do. Jesus is actively coaching me right now. Look at verse 12 of chapter 1 of Revelation. I was in Lamentations; can you believe it? I was still there. Chapter 1, verse 12 of Revelation. Remember, we’re still sitting around the table at Starbucks. We all have our notebooks. We’re all looking and noting our observations and lessons in our small group. Verse 12, “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man.” I wondered, what are the lampstands? Look at verse 20 in the middle of the verse, “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.” This is a self-defining part of the Bible. God always explains what all these images mean. What He’s saying is, Jesus is now walking around among His churches, looking at their lives and ministry. Jesus is seeking how to help us best reflect Him as His lights in the world. Do you understand?
We got saved, Jesus is ascended to Heaven, and people thought… He’s up there and I’m down here slugging it out, going through this horrible thing. God the Father says, John, you need to write this. Jesus is telling you to go tell em all that He isn’t up there, that He is actually walking around coaching. By the way, I wrote student from Wales. One of the students that we taught, that was in one of the classes, had a lifelong struggle with same sex attraction. People go, Ugh. Right? Yeah, but all the rest of people have a lifelong opposite sex attraction, and we don’t go, Ugh. We go, Hmm. It’s sexual temptation. There are two kinds. Either you’re tempted as a man be attracted to women, or you’re tempted as a man or a woman to be attracted to other men or other women, but both are sexual temptations. This guy struggled with the one we go, Ugh about. He was ashamed and hiding it, and had come to know the Lord. He just was so defeated by that. He wrote and he said I started going through and studying like we’re supposed to, all these chapters and writing down the lessons. He said, I was writing down that Jesus was all powerful and whom the Son sets free will be free indeed. The short of it is he said, I’m just writing to let you know that with no fanfare or anything else, it came to the point where I believe the scriptures enough that I asked God to change my desire and He did. He said, it’s only halfway. Now, I don’t like anybody. He’s in the middle. God is at work.
Real quickly, this is what I’m concluding with. Your life coach is Jesus. Some famous and business people and everybody else have life coaches. Either they’re coaching you through your diet or they’re coaching you through your exercise or your communication, or whatever. Jesus knew right where John was and where every member of the churches was, not just physically but He knew their spiritual condition. The good news is, Jesus reveals He will help each of us all through life to be all He made us to be. His plan is simple.
This is where we’ll pick up tonight. Just listen to what I [Jesus] have to say and repent like our student from Wales. The same ending is on all seven letters, no matter where we are on the spectrum of obedience, Jesus has this plan to get us back and keep us there. He hasn’t left us to finish life struggling all on our own. He says, you’ve never been alone. I’m walking around and I’m your life coach. I’m going to help you be all I designed you to be. As we’ll see tonight, He has some pretty strong measures for people that aren’t paying attention to Him, like we see in the seven churches.
I don’t have time to do lesson 15. This next slide I will do tonight, and this slide I will do tonight. Jesus is committed. He gives a diagnostic report. Just like COVID sin affects us and on and on we could go, but let’s pray.
Father in Heaven, I thank You that You were so concerned about us that You told our Savior, the Lord Jesus, that You had a message for all of us. That He was to go down to that rocky island and give it to John. John was to be Your instrument to get it to them. Thank you that You want to coach us through life and that You’re able to change our desires. You can change our fears. Like Jeremiah, you can show us even if we’ve gone through the hardest life on Earth and we cry all the time like he did, that you’re faithful. We just need to trust Your plan. That’s what we want to do. In the name of Jesus we pray. All God’s people said, Amen.