The Jesus of Revelation
If you examine the first chapter of Revelation closely, you will find that the book actually contains three introductions. The first introduction, from verse 1 to 3, states the purpose of the book. The second introduction, from verse 4 to 8, tells us who wrote the book, to whom the book was written, and from whom the words of this book originate. The third introduction, from verse 9 to 20 begins the vision of John.
In both the second and third introduction, John gives an extensive description of our Lord, Jesus Christ. In this section, we will focus on the description of Jesus as given in the second introduction.
The Faithful Witness
No one on earth has seen heaven or God. There have been people who have seen glimpses of God (Exodus 33:18-23), but no one has been in the presence of God for any extensive time. Yet Jesus came to earth from the presence of God (John 3:31-34). Being a part of the Godhead, Jesus could give an accurate testimony as to the nature and desires of God (Colossians 2:9). No man could possibly give witness to God as Jesus was able to do (John 8:12-14).
Jesus not only gave witness to God, he also gave witness to truth. In fact, it was for the purposes of being a witness to the truth that Jesus left heaven to come into this world (John 18:37). There is an absolute standard of right and wrong and Jesus showed us the standard in complete clarity.
The Firstborn of the Dead
While Jesus was not the first raised from the dead, he was the first to arise permanently from the grave, never to die again. It is Jesus’ resurrection that gives us hope that one day we too will be raised to live eternally (I Corinthians 15:20-23).
In the Old Testament, the firstborn son held a special place in the family. He was the main heir of his father and when his father died, he would become the head of the family. Since Jesus is the firstborn of the dead, he holds a position of extra honor in the family of God (Colossians 1:18).
However, there is something in more significant about Jesus’ resurrection. No man was ever raised to immortality before God raised His Son. Jesus’ resurrection declares (or witnesses) that Jesus is the Son of God (Romans 1:4). His resurrection was prophesied (Psalm 89:26-27) and by being raised in fulfillment of that prophecy he is declared by God to the world to be His Son.
The Ruler of the Kings of the Earth
The psalmist in Psalm 89:26-27 connected the idea of being the firstborn of God with the right to rule the kingdoms of the earth. Because of his obedience to his Father’s will, Jesus holds a position above all on the earth (Philippians 2:9-11). When God raised him from the dead, Jesus was placed over all things, far above the highest ruler in this world (Ephesians 1:19-21).
There is something very significant about the position that Jesus holds. It is the position held by God, the Father. It is God who is king of all kings (Jeremiah 10:6-7). It is God who reigns over all the earth (Psalm 47). Who reigns over the individual nations of the world is determined by God (Daniel 2:20-27). This is why Jesus said all authority on heaven and on earth was given to him (Matthew 28:18). By declaring that Jesus is king of kings, John is declaring that Jesus holds a position of power equal to God. In other words, Jesus is God.
To Him Who Loves Us
Jesus declared that the greatest love that a person can show for another is the willingness to lay down his own life on behalf of his friend (John 15:12-13). But Jesus did not die for his friends, he did not die for righteous people, he died to save his enemies (Romans 5:6-10). It is mankind who has chosen to sin. Our sins have alienated us from God; yet, Jesus was willing to give up his precious life to bring us back to God.
And Released Us From Our Sins
Jesus wondrous sacrifice freed us from the bonds of sin (Romans 6:18-22). The very bonds which we wrapped around ourselves. It is important for us to recognize the value of Jesus’ gift. How callous can people be to reject the offer of freedom, bought with the life of God, and return to horrors of slavery (Galatians 5:1).
He Made Us a Kingdom, Priests to His God and Father
This same declaration is repeated in Revelation 5:10. Christians are referred to in both the collective and singular sense. As a group, we compose the kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13). As individuals, we operated as priests for God.
The statement harkens back to God’s declaration to the nation of Israel (Exodus 19:5-6). They were to be God’s special people, different from all the other nations on the earth. They were to be a kingdom composed of priests of God. It is unfortunate that they did not live up to the role God set for them.
Under the law of Christ, Christians, too, are a kingdom of priests (I Peter 2:5,9). As priests, we each have the right and obligation to approach God. There is no man between us and our God.
To Him be the Glory and the Dominion Forever and Ever. Amen.
Literally, the phrase “forever and ever” is “for an age of ages.” In other words for an incomprehensible amount of time or for eternity. The fact that Christ deserves the glory and the right of rule over us is repeated many times in the New Testament. See I Timothy 6:1-16, I Peter 4:11, and Jude 25 for examples.
The phrase is an allusion to a vision of Daniel recorded in Daniel 7:13-14. Christ is the fulfillment of this prophecy. However, there is a significant difference between Daniel’s vision and what is recorded in Revelation 1:7. In Daniel’s vision, Christ is approaching the Father. In Revelation, Christ is coming to the earth. This is a common feature in the book of Revelation. Statements from the Old Testament are not often directly quoted. Instead, they are alluded to by the use of similar phrases. The allusions are similar enough to the statements in the Old Testament to give understanding to the reader who is familiar with God’s Holy Word; yet, the allusions are different enough to give new meaning and application.
What Daniel foresaw in his vision was fulfilled in Acts 1:9-11 when Christ left this earth. John is reminding us of the fulfillment of this prophecy and showing us that Christ’s position now gives him the right to judge the world.
The phrase “coming with the clouds” is an old representation of judgment. When judgment was made against Egypt, God was depicted as riding a swift cloud, as a man would a horse, to bring punishment against the Egyptians (Isaiah 19:1). When God brought judgment against Egypt, it was depicted as clouds covering the light of the heavens (Ezekiel 32:7). The time of condemnation for a nation is called a day of clouds (Ezekiel 30:3).
The same symbolism was used when God punished the children of Israel. Their scattering was described as occurring on a cloudy and gloomy day (Ezekiel 34:12). And when Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem, he declared he would ride in on the clouds (Matthew 24:29-30).
To Jesus belongs the dominion and authority to execute judgment on the nations of the earth (Jude 14) and ultimately the judgment of the whole world. Everyone on this earth will see and recognize his authority. Jesus was publically humiliated and killed (John 19:37) and when Jesus brings judgment on the wicked it will be publically done as well (Philippians 2:10-11). All the tribes of the earth will tremble before our great God and Savior (Zechariah 12:10).
The Lord God Speaks
After this impressive introduction, God speaks directly to us. There is some debate as to whether this is God, the Father, or God, the Son, who is speaking. Whichever is speaking doesn’t make much difference. Christ is the fullness of the Godhead (Colossians 2:9, Hebrews 1:3), so no matter who is speaking it is still the words of God.
The statement is a seal on the words of John, much like our signature on a document. God is giving His approval to the things that John is writing and He is backing up its validity. This is not a book with which to be trifled, nor is it a book to be ignored. It is signed and sealed by the very Creator, the eternal God.
A similar seal is given at the end of the book in Revelation 22:12-13. The seal at the end of the book is without a doubt from Jesus, himself (Revelation 22:16).
The second introduction of Revelation introduces us to God, in particular to God, the Son. John summarizes all that Jesus represents to Christians. Why don’t you make this great God your King this day? You stand either with him or against him and he has promised, as only God can promise, to bring judgment on those who oppose him.