Revelation 1:9-16 Part 3

We learned that because Jesus had assumed the throne, and all power in the heavens and upon the earth was His, that the time was near; and that these things were to be done in quickness. And we learned that John, as co-sharer in the great affliction and the Kingdom and steadfastness in Jesus, was together with all the Churches in these things.

They were all IN Jesus in the affliction; in Jesus in the Kingdom; in Jesus in steadfastness (or perseverance). It is an auspicious – and even triumphant – worldview! Quite different from the ideologies we reviewed previously. The ideologies that man devises for himself are so opposed to God’s worldview that they leave fallen mankind in a grim and hopeless condition.

Whereas the worldview witnessed by John and sent to the Churches is one of great hope and assurance! For The Son of God/Son of Man has bodily assumed the Throne in the Sanctuary of God; and we are IN HIM in that preeminent location. So the “way one looks at the creation” is “from the Sanctuary”, and it is from the viewpoint of the One Who is Supreme Authority over it all!

John further says (verse nine) that he “came to be in the island called Patmos through the Word of God and the witness of Jesus.” Since we’ve already identified Patmos and said some things about it, there’s not much sense in duplicating that effort, except to say that being there must have been a miserable existence, since nothing was there except those who had been banished from one society or another. But the point here is that John came to be there through the Word of God and the witness of Jesus.

John doesn’t say that he was banished to a rock in the middle of the sea because of his testimony about Jesus. He says he’s being punished because of the Word of God and the witness of Jesus. This is worth repeating again, and again, and again, isn’t it? Because God has spoken, and because Jesus bore that witness, the apostle is imprisoned. It wasn’t John’s testimony; it was Jesus’ testimony!

Remember, in Matthew chapter five Jesus told his disciples that when they’re persecuted for His sake, their reward was great; the prophets were persecuted for the same reason!

Many take it personally when persecution comes, because they consider it their witness. But the apostle John is perfectly clear that the persecution comes because of Jesus! This is why the affliction and Kingdom and steadfastness are IN HIM. It is HIS witness to which the world order responds in such a brutal and vicious manner.

And since we’re on this subject, and completing the subject of the vicious brutality of the world order toward the witness of Jesus, let me just inform you of something that occurred just before we left on our recent trip to the Mediterranean. The details of this event were made public while we were away.

I’ve provided a map for you……a map of Turkey; one which highlights the province of Malatya, which is about three hundred miles northwest of the city of Antioch – the location of the Church of Jesus Christ where the people of Christ were first called “Christian” (Acts 11:26). Malatya is the location of this incident of monstrous savagery against the witness of Jesus Christ. And, as I said, it took place two days before we left the country; and the details leaked out while we were gone.

There was an evangelical Christian missionary from Germany in the town. And he had two Turkish Christians helping him spread the Gospel in this portion of Turkey which, for centuries, was orthodox Christian (but beginning in the eleventh century became Islamic.) These three men were teaching Bible studies to young islamists (about ten of them – all under 20 years old).

But on April 18th of this year (2007), five of them showed up for Bible study with guns, breadknives and ropes, apparently having diligently prepared to uphold the name of allah. After a chapter of Scripture was read and the Bible study began, the boys tied up the three Christians and began to torture them for three hours. Here’s a word-for-word description of what these men went through:

“Tilman was stabbed 156 times, Necati 99 times and Ugur's stabs were too numerous to count. They were disemboweled, and their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes. They were emasculated and watched as those body parts were destroyed. Fingers were chopped off, their noses and mouths and anuses were sliced open. Possibly the worst part was watching as their brothers were likewise tortured. Finally, their throats were sliced from ear to ear, heads practically decapitated.”

Surely that’s a bit graphic; but we’re not here to softpedal the facts or to make things sound “nicer” than they are. The vile and fiendish hatred of the Word of God, and the witness of Jesus Christ, and the witness of those in Him is exposed for all to see in all of its bloodthirsty details.

Even though the nation of Turkey now calls itself a (quote) “secular” (unquote) nation, one still has to have been schooled at the madrassas and have membership in the islamic fraternities in order to get anywhere in the society……as is evidenced by the fact that one of the youngsters involved in the torture and killing of the Christians was the son of the mayor of the province! So things are “not as they seem” today in “secular” Turkey!

Now, you already know that I love history; and because of that I like to make the connections that are all-too-obvious. (At least they should be obvious to those with eyes to see.) But the loathing of the witness of Jesus Christ by the world order is the key to the understanding of history. And the fact of His bodily resurrection and assumption to the throne is the impetus for the world order’s ruthless savagery.

One more time…….. should one wish to interpret and understand history, and make the connections from the viewpoint of the sanctuary of God, then the passport to that understanding must be the loathing of the witness of Jesus Christ by the world order. And the incitement to ruthless brutality is the bodily resurrection and bodily assumption to the throne of the King of Kings!

As the apostle John explains, it is due to the Word of God and the witness of Jesus Christ that he is exiled to Patmos. Then the antagonists were imperial Rome and judaism. Today it is most flagrant in islam; and the (present day) nation of Turkey has historically been as much a part of that virulent malevolence as it was in John’s day.

In John’s day it was called Galatia, where the apostle Paul was born, and the area of his great love; his first journey was to establish the Church of Jesus Christ in Galatia. It was where a congregation of believers was first called “Christian”. It was where John had labored for thirty years after the resurrection. And it was to the Churches of Galatia that God had first directed Revelation of Jesus Christ to be sent.

There is an island off the coast of Turkey called Rhodes. It’s principle city is also called Rhodes. It’s in the Aegean Sea just off the coast of Turkey. Through the centuries Rhodes became a bastion of Christianity; and it became one of the great cities in all the world. Culturally, economically, artistically, and in every other way, it was renowned for its trade and its academic and scientific institutions and its architecture and literature.

But in the early sixteenth century (1500s), a man who is now called Suleiman the Magnificent rose to power in Islamic Galatia. And by his fierce and passionate hatred of Christianity, he established world Islam in what is now called Istanbul. His regime was called the Ottoman Empire, and he came closer than anybody ever has to establishing a world-wide caliphate in Turkey.

The island of Rhodes was his first conquest. And the knights of the order of St John were a constituency of that great island nation. They were driven out of the city and off the island; and they based themselves on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean.

Suleiman the Magnificent was stopped from his conquest of the world in three places, one of which was the city of Valetta on the Island of Malta. The knights of the order of St John, at great loss to themselves, disposed of thirty thousand of Suleiman’s islamic troups and drove them out in defeat.

We were just there on that island; and all of these things were going around in my head as we visited the great Church that the knights had built, and toured their administrative building and their armory which housed the body armor and weapons with which they defeated islam.

Although the Ottoman Empire survived until 1912, after its defeat at Malta and two other places, it never achieved the goal of a world-wide caliphate of Islam. The knights of the order of St John is still in existence, but it has no further need of a fortified city and an armory, since it now confines itself to works of hospital charity.

But as we consider John’s words of suffering and exile through the Word of God and the witness of Jesus, these are the kinds of connections I like to make. It’s history. It’s the history of hostility to the Son of God/Son of Man, who has assumed the throne of the creation; and Who, in His Own time, will have every knee to bow to His authority.

Let’s now move on to verse ten and beyond.

John says “I came to be in spirit in the Lord’s Day………” By this statement John doesn’t mean that he “felt good”. Neither does he mean that he was having an “ecstatic experience”. And he doesn’t mean that he had transported himself into some secret gnostic higher realm of knowledge. Self-induced states wherein there are supposed “visions” and “revelations” and babbling in unknown tongues, are, at best, delusions; and, at worst, deceptions!

The expression “in the Spirit” has nothing whatever to do with his personal, subjective attitude or frame of mind. However, it does refer to a definite “experience”! John has “received” Revelation! He is caused to hear, and to see (which is a pattern all through Revelation of Jesus Christ). First he “hears”; and then he “sees”.

“In the Spirit” is prophetic and revelatory language which we’ve read many times throughout Scripture. Let’s look at some.

Numbers chapter 11:

“And Yahveh came down in the cloud, and spake unto him (Moses), and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and put it upon the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, but (then) they did so no more.”

And 2 Samuel chapter 23:

“The Spirit of Yahveh spake by me, and his word was upon my tongue.”

And Ezekiel chapter two:

“And the Spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet; and I heard him that spake unto me.”

The apostle Peter explains it in his second letter to the refugees from Israel, chapter one:

“For no prophecy ever came by the will of man; but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Our Lord confirms it when, as recorded in Matthew chapter 22, Jesus was speaking to the pharisees about David the inspired Psalmist:

43) “Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question,

42) saying, ‘What think ye of the Christ? Whose son is he?’ They say unto him, ‘The son of David’.

43) He saith unto them, ‘How then doth David in the Spirit call him Lord, saying,

44) The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I put thine enemies underneath thy feet?

45) If David then calleth him Lord, how is he his son?’

46) And no one was able to answer him a word, neither dared any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.”

So, when John says that he was “in the Spirit”, he means, as the rest of Scripture confirms, that as an apostle of Jesus Christ he was an inspired receiver of Revelation.

Then John writes (verse ten) “in the Lord’s day”. John is caused to hear and to see into divine reality in the Lord’s Day, from the sanctuary of God.

A number of years ago I read a book called “The Covenantal Sabbath” by Dr. Nigel Lee, a Reformed theologian (and I commend the book to you – it’s on line). Since reading it I am convinced, beyond any doubt, that the Scripture foretells and forthtells “the day of the Lord” in which the people of God come together to worship at His holy sanctuary. That day is the first day of the week.

Even though, from pagan, Roman mythology, the first day of the week is called Sunday (and we can’t very well do anything about that), the Ecclesia of Jesus Christ takes the name of the day for ourselves in order to give glory to God as He has commanded. He does not give us an option; nor does He give us an “alternative” use for the day.

As Dr Lee makes clear, the first day of the week isn’t a “replacement” for the Sabbath of the older Scripture, but it is the “fullness” of the Sabbath of the older Scripture. And it is so wrapped up in the covenant and in the salvation of the world, that a practical or theological “misuse” of the first day of the week is a denial of the covenant; it’s a denial of the Savior of the world; it’s a denial of the rulership of Jesus Christ; it’s a denial of the pattern of “life from death”; it’s a denial of the worship of Almighty God in His sanctuary!

The first day of the week is the day of the resurrection of Jesus from death; it is the day of the outpouring of the Spirit on mankind at Pentecost; it is the day of Christ’s ascension to dominion upon the throne in His sanctuary……. and it is the day prescribed to worship Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

And, as I said a few weeks ago, another Reformation is only going to come from this view of the Son of God/Son of Man on the throne of God in His sanctuary. And (might I now add) that Reformation will come only when many, all over the nations, begin worshipping the King of Kings on The Lord’s Day!

And that Lord’s Day worship will acknowledge the fact that Jesus Christ, the bodily resurrected Son of God/Son of Man, is presently on the throne of God in His sanctuary! He is God! The man – Jesus the Christ – is God! And His authority is over every created thing. And there will never be a world-wide rulership other than His. He is the One Who we worship on the first day of the week – The Lord’s day. And this is the very center of The Faith. Without it there can be no Reformation. With it there will be a Reformation.

I’m going to stop now, and we’ll leave the second half of verse ten (and beyond) to the next time. But I leave you with another reading of the great Psalm at the beginning of the Psalter – Psalm two. It very pointedly proclaims God’s view of those who rise up against His King of Kings.

1) Why do the nations rage, and the peoples meditate a vain thing?

2) The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against Yahveh, and against His Anointed, saying,

3) Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

4) He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh: The Lord will have them in derision.

5) Then will He speak unto them in his wrath, And vex them in His sore displeasure:

6) Yet I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

7) I will tell of the decree: Yahveh said unto me, Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee.

8) Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

9) Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

10) Now therefore be wise, O ye kings: Be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

11) Serve Yahveh with fear, And rejoice with trembling.

12) Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, For his wrath will soon be kindled. Blessed are all they that take refuge in him.