“Searching the Seven Churches”
The Disclosed Blessing – (Revelation Chapter 1 Verse 1-3)
History is going in a straight line, moving towards the end, the goal, the final return of Christ and his ushering in of the new heaven and new earth. But, there are things that must happen on the way. He, Christ, must save all the elect, all of God’s children must be born and brought to repentance, then shall the end come. The wicked must be brought to judgment, but first the cup must be full. There must be no ways left by which man can devise ways of sinning against God. Then that cataclysmic event, “seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2Thessalonians 1:6-9). But this record is also gracious. It speaks of an end-time apostasy, of lawlessness, the rising of the Anti-Christ. It is gracious because it this is revealed to us, “come and see, I will show things that must shortly come to pass” says the Lord. In the midst of the storm, the earthquake, don’t be troubled, in all these events Christ comes. “It is me, it is I, be not afraid.” It is all done for the good of the church, for my servants (v1), everything (Romans 8:28). It all works for the destruction of the wicked and the salvation and sanctification of the church, God’s people.
The revealed blessing (v3). The world hated Christ, but it can’t touch him anymore, yet it still hates him vehemently, so the world is bent on destroying his beautiful bride, it cannot touch him, but they seek to destroy his wife. So we see the pronounced blessing is to those who read, those who preach, those who keep the word of this prophecy. But not all do, not all will. Many are asleep in Christendom today, even is our mainline reformed evangelical churches. Perhaps some because of a false view of eschatology, maybe they don’t live with a proper expectation of what must take place. So they become sleepy and careless, some even mocking. But blessed is, “he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (v3). Not far away, shortly (v1), at hand (v3), close. So the purpose in part, at least, is to stir us to obedience. For blessing is the ultimate goal, of heaven, “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ“ (1Peter 1:4-7). Notice will you, how the theme of suffering is brought out by all the New Testament authors. Not a red carpet, not a welcoming, Christianised world that loves us, but hates us as it hated Christ. That is what you are to expect as a Christian in this world, if you read, preach, keep his word. But a curse is upon all who disobey, this is a divine disclosure remember, prophecy (Revelation 22:18-20). It demands an ethical response, to stir to obedience. The tribulation has already begun (v9), John was in exile because of his faithful stand to the truth as it is in Jesus. And this is repeated times and again throughout the book of Revelation. Jesus Christ comes and he comes quickly, again and again. He comes and he goes, he comes and he goes. But then he will come finally. This, of course, gives us, the church, the sense of urgency that it ought to have, that which has completely lost today.
(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)