“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.” - Revelation 1:3
Today’s opening chapter continues the messages to specific churches in Asia Minor. To Sardis, “I know your works: You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains…” To Philadelphia: “I know your works: Because you have kept My word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world…” To Laodicea: “I know your works: Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth… He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
“After this I looked,” John continues, “and behold, a door standing open in heaven!” Through this door is the Revelation’s second Act, the vision of “what must take place after this.” John sees a throne in heaven, and One seated on it. Around this throne were twenty-four elders, with thrones and crowns of their own. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”
Then in “the right hand of him who was seated on the throne,” John sees a scroll, “sealed with seven seals,” six of which will be opened today. “Who is worthy to open the seals?” Only “The Lamb who was slain, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David…” The first four seals reveal four horses, with riders sent to conquer, to confiscate peace, to judge, and to kill. The fifth seal reveals the altar, under which reside “the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God.” And behind the sixth, an earthquake, darkness, upheaval, “the great day of their wrath.”
See what John sees through his vivid descriptors: not just nouns and verbs but adjectives and adverbs, similes and metaphors: the strong angel, the right hand, the loud voice, the white, red, black, and pale horses, the white robe. Close your eyes and picture a rainbow with the appearance of an emerald, an eagle in flight, a scroll being rolled up, a fig tree shedding its fruit in a gale. Pay attention not just to the details, but to the manner in which they are conveyed: what does this vision, and its form, teach us about its source, Jesus Christ?
Our verse for this week is Deuteronomy 15:11: For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
Revelation 3 through 6. Now let’s read it!
For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’