Inasmuch as the title of the book of The Revelation was basically an excerpt of the first two words of the writing, itself, it is surprising to notice even another error many translators seem to make when titling this prophecy aside from its plural form while in actuality it is singular (see Part IV’s Introduction –4.0.0). The titles in the “Authorized (Kings James)” and the “New American Standard” Versions both seem to attribute the vision as having been given to John, the Lord’s Apostle. However this is very misleading and has caused multitudes of misunderstandings concerning what actually has been recorded on these pages. When carefully looking at the words of the introduction of this prophecy it was not John’s vision at all which was being recorded, except when it is specified that he was doing so; instead this recorded vision was one which Jesus himself had and which he then shared with John: “The revelation of Jesus Christ (not John), which God gave to him (Jesus) to show his servants what must soon take place” (REVn1:1).
To recognize that this vision described in The Revelation was one originally given to the Lord from his father immediately sets the stage for a different kind of understanding of the message contained within this prophecy than those generally proclaimed by theologians today. It was the revelation “of Jesus,” showing that it was his vision even as once Senator Eagleton is said to be “of” Missouri, or as the aircraft labeled “727” is “of” Boeing’s line of aircraft.
God, the Father, gave his son the revelation in order that he could pass on the information “ to show his servants what soon must take place” (REV 1:1). He did this by sending his “angel (spirit) to his servant John” (REV 1:1), who was then recognized as a faithful servant and one who had the testimony of Christ (REV 1:2). John, then, was to act as a scribe, a secretary if that term is easier understood, to the Lord; thus next is written, “blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take it to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” (REV 1:3).
This statement, “the time is near”, is in contrast to what the Lord’s angel, Gabriel, told Daniel. When Daniel stated that he did not understand the prophecy which had just been given him. The angel proceeded to explain that is was “because the words are closed up and sealed until the end of time”, then he went on to describe a period of over two millennia before the age of man’s darkness would be finally ended forever (DAN 12:9-13). But now the proclamation is delivered that whoever reads or hears this prophecy which John was about to receive is blessed.
4.1.2 GREETINGS AND DOXOLOGY
As an introduction to how he received the information contained in this prophecy, John wrote a letter to the seven provincial churches in Asia[-Minor] which he had helped to found: Ephesus; Smyrna; Pergamum; Thyatira; Sardis; Philadelphia; and Laodicea. In it he gives greetings to the church members not only from himself, but also from God the Father identified as (“him who is, and who was, and who is to come”); from the seven spirits which sit on the high council of God (being: Agape-love [who is God himself—1JO 4:8 & 16], Wisdom, Understanding, Council, Power, Knowledge, and Fearful Respect—ISA 11:2); and from Jesus Christ (REV 1:4-5).
Proper respect is then given to the one who first proved God’s power over death. Through this recognition, Jesus is lifted to a glorious position along-side his father assenting that the true purpose of Christ’s first advent was first to free mankind from unbelief and death, and also to establish “a kingdom and priests to serve him (Jesus’) God and Father” (REV 1:5-6). Here there can be left no doubt as to the duality of being between God the Father and his son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah of mankind. They are two different beings joined by Jehovah’s Holy Spirit; one who Jesus said no man has ever seen (JOH 4:24); the other who abandoned this totally spiritual life and took on a humanly physical form, knowing he was already equal to God, being his son, yet subjecting himself to “the very nature of a servant” to fulfill the will of God, his Father (PHI 2:6-8) to save mankind.
John then closes his greeting to the seven churches by reminding the readers and listeners that when the Lord, Jesus, returns it will be from the skies “with clouds” which the prophetic language shows to mean spiritually that Jesus will return bringing many people with him. He will not come back alone. When he does return people all over the world shall see him from all ages; even those who were involved in his crucifixion (REV 1:7).
The Lord God then gives his own salutation by saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega…who is, and who was, and who is to come. The Almighty” (REV 1:8). The words here “and who is to come” means “and who is (for-ever)”; not that Jehovah, the Father himself, is going to be the one who shall return to Earth. It is Jesus who shall come back to Earth, not Jehovah personally: the Father’s Spirit has never truly left. They are not the same being; however they are definitely unified in their purpose of universal eternal life through the Father’s Holy Spirit.
4..1.3 ONE LIKE THE SON OF MAN
Next, in what was considered good letter style during the time when The Revelation was written, John identifies himself as a fellow believer who carries the testimony of Jesus. He stated simply that the reason he had been exiled onto the Island of Patmos was both because of this testimony and because he proclaimed the Word of God. He then began describing the vision (REV 1:8-19).
He explained how he was in the Spirit or, that is, praying and meditating on the Lord’s day when he heard a loud “voice like a trumpet.” Although the day of the week may seem unimportant, John specifically noted that the vision came to him on the Lord’s day, as Jesus proclaimed the Sabbath when talking to the Pharisees at Capernaum (MAR 2:28). The identification of which day of the week is truly the “Lord’s day” had become a source of conflict among the followers of Christ shortly after Jesus walked upon the planet; but the simplicity of the answer as to which day is specifically reserved for the Lord should be easily reconciled by simply recognizing that when Jesus said, “so the son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (MAR 2:28; LUK 6:5), the disciples picked up the phrase and coined it into a new term which meaning was “Sabbath”. And when was the Sabbath? “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God” (EXO 20:9-10).
But through the three recordings of this locution by Jesus regarding his lordship over the Sabbath recorded in the synoptic gospels (MAT 12:8; MAR 2:28; LUK 6:5) there has been massive denominations which have followed the belief that Jesus considered the Sabbath as having become a burden to the believers and decided to change it; thus the reason for the majority of the churches today worshipping on Sunday in the Christian world. However, as Samuels Becchiocchi discusses in his book entitled From Sabbath to Sunday published by the Pontifical Gregorian University Press in Rome in 1985, it is through assumptions of people like C. S. Mosna, and Wilfrid Stott that the presumption of the Lord’s changing of the holy day to Sunday came about (FSS, pg 17-18). Bacchiocchi said that ”to assess the validity of those assumptions, we must determine Christ’s basic attitude toward the Sabbath. To put it forthrightly, did Christ genuinely observe or intentionally break the Sabbath?” (FSS, pg 18).
Through the next several pages of his book, Bacchiochi investigates this question concluding, finally, that:
Anyone desiring an in depth discussion concerning worshipping on the Sabbath is encourage to read Bacchiocchi’s book. An address where it can be purchased is listed in the Bibliography of this book. There are a handful of churches which promote worshipping on the Sabbath including The Seventh Day Adventist, The Worldwide Church of God, and other smaller local congregations which could help answer questions about this subject.
And so, though not worshipping on the Sabbath will not condemn the worshipper to Hell, it was on this Sabbath day on which John had been meditating about that which God had brought him through. Most certainly his life had been one filled with miracles; including having known the Lord well enough that history often calls him, “John the Beloved”. He was even unable to be killed in a vat of boiling oil in which he had been dipped by Roman soldiers but from which he reportedly miraculously escaped unharmed (FOC. P5). Now he heard someone making a speech behind him. He said the voice was “Like a trumpet.” A trumpet has been traditionally used as an instrument of warning (EZE 35:6) and was specifically used in times of war to warn the people to prepare for battle. Today sophisticated “trumpets”, called sirens, can be heard for many miles over land and sea to enable a warning of dangerous situations impending.
This one who John saw who was speaking loudly a warning of impending danger said, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches” (REV 1:11). From curiosity, and out of surprise from the loud voice coming from behind him in a place where he thought he was alone, John turned around to see who was talking to him. When he looked he saw seven pure churches and standing in the midst of them someone he described as looking “like the son of man” —that is looking human, but different. He was seeing Jesus, glorified (REV 1:12-13a).
This being he saw awesomely dressed which adequately presented his pure righteousness; his hair was white, not grey; and his eyes, that is his spirits, were full of the ministry of truth. At his feet were churches; they were dwarfed under him as he stood there in their midst. He had become their alter of safety. When he spoke it did not sound as though just one person spoke as would be considered normal; rather his voice was like that of a recording where many people read the words of a script simultaneously (REV 1:13-15).
As the Lord over the seven churches he held them in his strength and power. And as John listened to what was spoken he had to shield his eyes due to the Lord’s countenance being as that of God’s: brilliant (REV 1:16). And his walk like unto fine brass, as if they destroyed in an affliction; and his speech as the sound of many people.
When John saw this being he fell at its feet as he would an altar, prostrate on the ground which was considered the most humble position one could assume for worship during ancient times, and became unconscious (that is, he fainted). The Lord then place his right hand on John, giving him strength and bringing him out of unconsciousness, saying, “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” (REV 1;17-18).
After regaining his composure, John was then told to “write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later” (REV 1;19). As has been suggested by several Bible commentators, John seemed to have done this through his writings of the Gospel attributed to his name, his epistles, and this, his prophecy. But also it should be easily seen that the command was fulfilled within this writing itself in that John was to write about the past, present, and future as it was shown to him during this vision.
Then the Lord began to give John a vocabulary lesson in the Prophetic Language just as he had done at Capernaum (MAR 2:1), saying, “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” (REV 1:20). How much more specific does one want something to be explained? This type of descriptive explanation was seldom given to a prophet even though ones like Ezekiel, Daniel, Elijah, and others had similar visions. This is a positive indication that it will be through this vision the Prophetic Language will finally be understood.
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