Revelation 1:9-16 Part 4

John says, verse ten:

“I came to be in spirit in the Lord’s Day, and I heard a great voice as a trumpet behind me…..”

First let me read a few verses for you;

The first one is from Exodus 19:

16) “And it came to pass on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of a trumpet exceeding loud; and all the people that were in the camp trembled.

17) And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.

18) And mount Sinai, the whole of it, smoked, because Yahveh descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.

19) And when the voice of the trumpet waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a (great) voice.

The second one I’d like to read for you is from Numbers chapter 10:

1) And Yahveh spake unto Moses, saying,

2) Make thee two trumpets of silver; of beaten work shalt thou make them: and thou shalt use them for the calling of the congregation, and for the journeying of the camps.

3) And when they shall blow them, all the congregation shall gather themselves unto thee at the door of the tent of meeting.

4) And if they blow but one, then the princes, the heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee.

5) And when ye blow an alarm, the camps that lie on the east side shall take their journey.

6) And when ye blow an alarm the second time, the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys.

7) But when the assembly is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm.

8) And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow the trumpets; and they shall be to you for a statute for ever throughout your generations.

9) And when ye go to war in your land against the adversary that oppresseth you, then ye shall sound an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before Yahveh your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.

10) Also in the day of your gladness, and in your set feasts, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow the trumpets over your burnt-offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace-offerings; and they shall be to you for a memorial before your God: I am Yahveh your God.

Then a passage from the re-iteration of the law, Deuteronomy chapter five:

6) I am Yahveh thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

7) Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

8) Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

9) thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I, Yahveh, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate me;

10) and showing lovingkindness unto the thousandth generation that love me and keep my commandments.

11) Thou shalt not take the name of Yahveh thy God in vain: for Yahveh will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

12) Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy, as Yahveh thy God commanded thee.

13) Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work;

14) but the seventh day is a sabbath unto Yahveh thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou.

15) And thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and Yahveh thy God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm: therefore Yahveh thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.

16) Honor thy father and thy mother, as Yahveh thy God commanded thee; that thy days may be long, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which Yahveh thy God giveth thee.

17) Thou shalt not kill.

18) Neither shalt thou commit adultery.

19) Neither shalt thou steal.

20 Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbor.

21) Neither shalt thou covet thy neighbor's wife; neither shalt thou desire thy neighbor's house, his field, or his man-servant, or his maid-servant, his ox, or his ass, or anything that is thy neighbor's.

22) These words Yahveh spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice (the voice of the trumpet): and he added no more. And he wrote them upon two tables of stone, and gave them unto me.

And lastly, in that incredible chapter nine of Zechariah in which the coming of the King of Kings is prophesied, we read this (verse fourteen):

“And Yahveh shall be seen over them; and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning; and the Lord Yahveh will sound the trumpet, and will go (forth) with whirlwinds of the south.”

It’s obvious from these (and many others) that the voice of the trumpet is the inexpressible voice of Almighty God – Yahveh of hosts. And as John hears the voice of the trumpet and turns to see, it is the Son of Man/Son of God (the description of which we’ll see in a future sermon).

When Moses was commanded to make two silver trumpets, and he was given instructions as to when, and by whom, they were to be sounded, it was as all the other earthly replicas of the heavenly reality. As the tabernacle itself was the man-made earthly replica of God’s throneroom/sanctuary, so the trumpets were the man-made replica of the voice of God in His heavenly sanctuary. And when they were “sounded” it was always with reference to God and His voice from the sanctuary! And Israel was reminded of the appropriate worship and obedience.

So, when the apostle John hears the mighty voice of the trumpet (as the text indicates, it was a “mega”-voice), he would have known from whence, and from Whom, it came. It came from the sanctuary of God; and it came from God. All through Revelation of Jesus Christ we read of the voice of the trumpet; and they all have the same reference. It is the voice of the Christ Himself Who has assumed His throne in His Sanctuary.

Further, please take note of the fact that the text says “I heard a great voice as a trumpet……” It does not say “like a trumpet”! The voice of God is not like anything! The trumpets that Moses was to make were like the voice of God – they were “similitudes” – they were “similar”. But the voice of God wasn’t like anything; it was an incredibly intense “trumpeting” which caused the millions of Israel to tremble with dread upon hearing His voice.

So this is that which John hears. It is exactly the same as that which Israel heard in the Sinai; and it is that which is prophesied of the Christ in Zechariah. And since this is Revelation of Jesus Christ, it is the same trumpeting voice that we shall see in all the remainder of John’s Revelation.

And here’s what the trumpeting megavoice of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords says (verse eleven), “write what you see in a scroll and send to the seven Churches, into Ephesus and into Smyrna and into Pergamum and into Thyatira and into Sardis and into Philadelphia and into Laodicea”.

“Write what you see in a scroll…….”

As we observed when we were dealing with verse two, “what you see” also includes what John heard. In fact, John says just that at the end of this letter, chapter twenty two: “And I John am he that heard and saw these things.”

Now, just for a minute or two, let’s deal with the “scroll”. The basic Greek word is Biblos, which is usually translated “book”. It’s the same word from which comes our word “Bible”.

But we can’t read back into the text what you and I know as a “book”. Since the printing press wasn’t even invented until AD 1445, all reading material before that was hand written; and the copying process was laborious at best.

And paper wasn’t invented until the second or third century; and Europe had no paper mills until about the tenth or eleventh centuries AD.

So, with the manufacturing of paper, and the invention of the press, there came the printing of books as we know them (similar anyway). And, by the way, with the printing press and the printing of books and pamphlets and Bibles came the Reformation.

But before that there was no paper (as we know it); and there were no books (as we know them); and there was no Bible (as we know it). There were only “scrolls” of the writings of Moses, scrolls of the Psalms, scrolls of the writings of the prophets, and scrolls of the books of the Newer Testament!

Mankind, imbued with the genius of his Triune Creator, has always found ways to do things, such as write. And he has always come up with something on which to write. Now, the history of writing isn’t something we need to spend much time on; but two products were very important to the preservation of Scripture before the manufacture of paper and the press were invented.

The earlier product was papyrus. The papyrus tree is plentiful in very arid countries such as Egypt and the Sinai. Strips of the bark off of papyrus trees were laid side by side; then strips were laid side by side in the opposite direction. Then they were pressed together to make a surface suitable for writing.

The difficulty with papyrus was that it couldn’t be folded, because it would crack in the fold; so it had to be rolled up into a scroll. Also (since it wasn’t chemically treated) it would rapidly deteriorate should it be exposed to moisture. Bacteria would set in, and it would rot (as any untreated wood product will rot). As long as it was kept in a dry place, it would survive for generations.

Archeologists have found, and are still finding, writings on papyrus in arid climes or in sealed containers. Although originals (that we know of) have never been found, early copies of books of the Bible written on papyrus have been discovered and preserved……some of which are as old as the first and second century AD. The oldest are generally pieces of papyrus rather than copies of whole books.

Somewhat more stable (but ultimately subject to animal product deterioration) was the later introduction of “parchment”. The skins of calves or sheep or goats were soaked in water, treated with lime to loosen the hair, scraped, washed, stretched, and dried, and then rubbed with chalk and pumice stone.

Remarkably, this process was developed into good writing material in Pergamum – one of the cities within the circle of John’s pastoral ministry, and one of the cities to which this letter was written! Since it was developed several hundred years before the birth of Christ, there’s a good chance that either John had parchment to write on, or at least the copies that were made to be circulated to all the Churches of Christendom were on parchment.

Parchment could be folded without too much damage to the writing; but was probably not folded – but rolled into a scroll. All this to say that, more than likely, the Greek word Biblos referred to scrolls – or a group of scrolls. Although Greek writing contained very little in the way of indentation or paragraphs or punctuation (lending some difficulty to translators bound to other languages), a scroll was very limiting as to the amount of information to be conveyed.

Just think about our own Bibles. If you were to count the pages of small, modern, English print in one of the translations of Revelation, you would find twenty two chapters on about nineteen pages. Either John had an extremely long piece of papyrus (or the skin of a monstrous sheep), or he filled quite a number of scrolls with his Revelation of Jesus Christ.

So, the conclusion here is that the word Biblos signifies either a single scroll with a complete conveyance, or a sequentially arranged group of scrolls to transmit more elaborate communications (such as Revelation).

So, that’s the reason I’ve translated the word Biblos with the English word “scroll”, instead of “book”. John would have written down all he heard and saw; and he would have sent a number of scrolls to each Church with which he was ministerially involved. And each of those Churches (and, by the way, these were city Churches….. not individual congregations, but city-wide ministries). Each of those Churches would have known that they were to produce copies of the scrolls for their congregants all over the city, and then some to circulate to many others entrenched in cities and countries the world over!

As you can see in verse eleven, there are seven city Churches – all of which are clustered in the area of eastern Galatia (now known as Turkey), all near the Aegean Sea across from Greece. The Aegean and the strait of Bosporus constitute the separation of Europe and Asia. As verse four says, the letter was to be written to the Churches in Asia.

And as we heard previously, the “seven” indicates qualitative fullness. The letter is for the whole Church universal as it existed then; and it is for the whole Church as it exists now.

But the original letter was to seven actual city Churches in Asia, all of which knew John and were intimate with his long ministry as a pastor and as an apostle of Jesus Christ.

We’re going to describe, as best we can, each of these Churches and their cities when we come to the specific instructions from our Lord to them. But as we close here today, let me just say that all seven cities were prominent cities of the world in their day. They were all seven on a circular highway connecting them. Three of the cities still exist; the other four are archeologically active.

Next time, as we begin to address verses twelve and beyond, we see John’s description of The Son of God/Son of Man in all of His glorified and resplendent Person.