Such a wonderful theme in the music this morning, everything about the Lord being our refuge and our security and our Savior and our leader—all wonderful, comforting realities. We’ve all, as believers, experienced that, of course, and it’s along that line that I want to take you to what I believe may be the most comforting book in the New Testament, and that is the book of Revelation. And I say that because it tells you the future. And for those who belong to Christ, the blessed and the forgiven, the future is all-glorious.
Why am I going to spend some time in Revelation? Well, one reason is to help you understand the future so that we can set aside some of the insanity going on in the world about climate change and global warming and all of the things that are being said in a very destructive way. The story of the earth is really a story of God’s goodness. He’s filled the earth with good things, good things. We are to be fruitful and multiply, not stop having children because we think the climate is going to wipe us out. We are to give Him thanks for all the common graces. And at this particular point in civilized history, we’re the beneficiaries of a massive amount of advances that have made life so much better, so much richer, so much easier. That is common grace.
You get the feeling, however, that people aren’t interested in thanking God for all that He has provided that we can richly enjoy; but rather, they want to take us back to a primitive point in time. They want to move us backwards. They want us to have disdain for the good things the Lord has placed in this earth for us to enjoy. And it’s because, ostensibly, they have some inordinate, insane fear of what might happen to the planet. Well, we know what happens, and it’s God who’s going to decide when the drama finally ends; and that’s what’s in the book of Revelation.
But more than that, the book of Revelation exalts the glory of Jesus Christ more than any other book. And it’s always been a concern to me, and a sadness, that the book which gives more glory to Christ than any other book in the Bible is misunderstood, misinterpreted, and even neglected. To many, the book of Revelation is a closed and sealed book, exactly what God did not want it to be. Now, some things God intends to be sealed. In Daniel 12:9 it says, “These words are sealed up until the end times.” And we know Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord.” There are some things that we cannot know.
But the book of Revelation does not fit into that category at all; in fact, it is the very opposite of that. It begins, particularly in verse 3 just to start, with a promise: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” There’s an urgency about this book as it delivers to us the future. When you go to Revelation,, you go back to the future. This is a revelation. This is an unveiling. It is not to be ignored. It is not to be misinterpreted and misunderstood. It’s not to be sealed up. In fact, in the last chapter of Revelation in verse 10—that’s chapter 22—it says, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” It begins in chapter 1 saying, “The time is near. Read and hear and heed; for the time is near.” We’re living in an urgency. Even when this book was written there was an urgency; we’ll look at that in a few minutes.
It is the only book in the Bible with an opening and closing blessing on the reader; and who wouldn’t want to step into that blessing from God? If you’re blessed if you read it, blessed if you understand it, and blessed if you heed it, why would you avoid it, ignore it? But it actually can become fashionable to ignore this incredible book. It’s the last book in the divine library. It’s the last book that was inspired by the Holy Spirit at the very end of the first century. It’s the last word from God.
In Genesis, you had the commencement of heaven and earth; in Revelation, you have the consummation of heaven and earth. In Genesis, we were given the entrance of sin and the curse; in Revelation, it’s the end of sin and the curse. In Genesis, it was the dawn of Satan and his activities; in Revelation, it’s the doom of Satan and his activities. In Genesis, it was the tree of life relinquished; in Revelation, it’s the tree of life regained. In Genesis, death enters; in Revelation, death exits. In Genesis, sorrow begins; in Revelation, sorrow is banished. In Genesis, paradise was lost; in Revelation, paradise is regained. But most centrally, in Genesis, the Savior was promised; and in Revelation, the Savior is preeminent.
So I want us to look this morning at the opening verses, verses 1 through 8. This sets the tone for the rest of this wonderful book, and then we’ll look a little bit more into chapter 1 next time. Let me read verses 1 through 8.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His [slaves], the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His [slave] John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
“John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”
Now beginning in the first verse, we’ll just look at some of the foundational elements. First of all, the nature of this book is indicated in the word “revelation,” apokalupsis. It is an unveiling. It is a revelation. It is taking the cover off. It is telling us things that have never been told before. It’s a revealing. Some people assume that the book of Revelation is supposed to hide things. That’s the opposite of it. It is a full disclosure, an unveiling, taking the cover off concerning God’s plan for the end of His redemptive story.
The theme immediately: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” This is a book about Jesus Christ. It is Christ unveiled, Christ uncovered, Christ manifested in Second Coming glory. We saw Him in His humanity; veiled was His glory when He walked the earth; and here you see His unveiled, uncovered full glory on display. He is the central theme of this book; its divine source which God gave. This comes from heaven. Of course it’s a revelation; it comes from heaven. Only God knows the future; only God knows what is going to happen; only God ordains what is going to happen.
And God has given us this book to tell us the future; but more importantly, God put this book in our hands to show the glory of Christ to us. Because Christ humbled Himself, God exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. And one day the world will; but in the meantime, when you enter the book of Revelation, you will bow. You will bow before His glory. Its specific recipients are identified: “to His [slaves],” believers. It’s a book for Christians, for believers, those who are under the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.
So here is divine revelation about Christ from God to us. And its prophetic character comes next: It is a revelation of “the things which much soon take place.” It is future prediction, focusing on the return of Christ in glory and all the attendant events and elements and circumstances that accompany that. So we’re on a journey into the future to see things shocking and troubling and thrilling and joyous and painful and woeful and disturbing and encouraging and devastating and blessed. But it is a book of hope. It is primarily a book of hope. It is a book of comfort to the people of God. It is for that that it was revealed: to give us the story of the future so that we would know God has already determined the end of everything; and we rest in that glorious truth.
Now there’s a word in verse 1 that I would just mention to you: “the things which much soon take place.” Now when John wrote this,, it was about 90 AD in the first century. It doesn’t seem like two thousand years later this word “soon” makes much sense. It’s the word tachos in Greek, and it can mean in a brief time, it can mean quickly, and it’s often translated that way many times in the New American Standard, referring to rapidity of execution. It’s a basic root for the word tachometer, which measures speed and velocity.
So there is, in that sense, there’s a quickness about this book. There is a speed about this book. You start with the apostle John in chapter 1, and you end up in the eternal state in chapter 22, and in a very brief period of time you could sit down and read the whole story from the past and John’s experience, all the way to the new heavens and the new earth, the eternal state.
So there is a speed and a velocity about this book, and its chronology is crystal clear. The prophetic section, the bulk of the prophetic section is from chapter 4 through chapter 19, looks at a seven-year period of time in the future called the Tribulation. It’s identified as seven years. So that section from, say, chapter 4, it’s introduced; 5, it’s introduced; chapter 6 begins the Tribulation, all the way to the coming of Christ in 19. That’s a speed read through a seven-year period in the future, a period when God unleashes judgment in the world. So there is a sense that this book is a rapid trip through future history, and it culminates in the thousand-year kingdom of Christ, chapter 20, and the new heaven and the new earth in the final two chapters.
But I don’t think the idea of “quick” or “speedy” is the point of “soon.” I think “soon” is a good translation of tachos here. It simply really means just that: soon, soon. And this also appears in the very end of Revelation in chapter 22, and you’ll see by the time I’m done how many times this book is bracketed by the same statement.
But in chapter 22 and verse 12, “Behold, I am coming”—and it says in the NAS—“quickly.” It’s the same word, “soon.” “Behold, I am coming soon.” That’s the last chapter. Also chapter 22, verse 20, “Yes, I am coming soon.” This means that there’s an imminence in His coming.
You see the same word in chapter 2, verse 16, where our Lord is writing to a specific church, and He says, “I’m coming to you soon, and I’ll make war against them with the sword of My mouth.” And He came against that church; that’s historically happened. In chapter 3 and verse 11, same word: “I’m coming [soon]; hold fast what you have.” Chapter 11, verse 14 should be translated the same way. We read this: “The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming [soon].” And in the case of the churches, the Lord came soon. And in the case of that woe, it came soon. So the word fits better to be translated “soon.” And we see it also in chapter 22 and verse 7, the Lord coming soon.
So it’s a prophetic book, but it’s intended to be in our mind something that is coming at any time. This is what we call the doctrine of imminence. It’s the next event on God’s redemptive, prophetic calendar. People often ask me what has to happen before Christ could come. Answer: Nothing. Nothing. Nothing prophetically.
He’s coming soon, and He’s been coming soon for two thousand years. This does not preclude a waiting time. Obviously, it’s been two thousand years. But the church has always lived in this expectancy. You find it even in the language of the New Testament epistles.
I’ll just give you one illustration, 1 Peter 4:7, “The end of all things is near”—that’s two thousand years ago. But obviously, God is not bound by any clock. And 2 Peter 3:8 says a day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day. The eternal God doesn’t keep a calendar or a clock. So for the church, from the writing of the New Testament on, we are put on notice that He is coming soon, and that is the very next event in God’s prophetic plan.
In Luke chapter 12, just to reinforce this, from the lips of our Lord, verse 35, He says this: “Be dressed in readiness, keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their mater when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch”—9:00 to midnight—“or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. Be sure of this. . . if the head of the house had know at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.”
That’s the essence of imminence. It is imminent, it will happen soon, we don’t know when; which then is the call to the church and has been for two thousand years, to at all times be ready. So the nature of this book is divine revelation; the central theme is Christ; the source is God Himself who gave this revelation; the specific recipients are believers, the slaves of Christ; and the prophetic character is that it takes us into the future to the consummation of God’s redemptive plan for this world and this universe.
Now it had a supernatural delivery also. Go back to verse 1: It was communicated “by His angel,” “by His angel.” And this also is repeated at the end in chapter 22 and verse 16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things.” This is the only book in the New Testament that basically was delivered from God to John for us by an angel, by an angel.
Now we remember from Acts 7 and Galatians 3 that the Old Testament law was given, transmitted by angels. This is the only New Testament book that has that distinction. This is a book full of angelic ministry. God turns loose angelic beings in the story, the history that is written here. In fact, there are angels in almost every chapter. I think there are no angels in—well, there’s messengers that are human messengers in chapters 2 and 3. But starting in chapter 4, I think there may only be three chapters that don’t include angels. Sixty-seven times, angels are referred to. So we’re going to get closely acquainted with the operation of the angels in the future.
And then there was the human agent who received the communication from God by an angel, and that is His slave John. John the apostle, of the familiar triumvirate Peter, James, and John.
Now he received this revelation and wrote it down sixty years after Christ’s death at the end of the first century. At the time he received it he was in exile on an island called Patmos in the Mediterranean. I’ve been there a number of times; incredible stony, rocky place. He was actually likely a teenager, maybe in the late teens when Christ was crucified. He’s now in his eighties. He was with Christ through His suffering the first time He came, and now he is given the joy of recording His glory.
Verse 2 says it was he who testified, “John, who testified to the word of God”—the revelation from God—“and the testimony of Jesus Christ”—same thing, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, both referring to supernatural revelation—“even to all that he saw.” And the fascinating thing about this book is when you look at other books in the Bible, they’re basically the revelation of words, revelation of words. This is a revelation series in images.
We have some of those in the Old Testament, we have some visions. But this is a book that is loaded with them. There are words that are revealed, of course, in this book, particularly in chapters 2 and 3, but it is primarily what John sees that he writes down. So that gives you a sense of the book. This is truth that has never been known before. John uncovers it because God gave it to him through an angel.
And what is the benefit of this to us? Verse 3, blessed is he who reads, hears, heeds everything written in it. Again, I just point out, it’s inexcusable to ignore this book. It’s not difficult; it’s not. It’s one of the simplest chronologies of all Bible books to follow. And why would you ignore this when it says in verse 3, blessed is the one who reads, hears, and heeds? It’s just loaded with blessing.
And again, that same promise is given in the twenty-second chapter again: “Blessed is he who [hears] the words of the prophecy of this book.” And John says, “I’m the one who heard and saw these things.” You’re blessed if you understand this book. You’re blessed in ways that are just amazing, amazing. You have no fear of the future. That’s one blessing.
There are seven blessings in this book. Chapter 1, blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy. Chapter 14, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!” That’s chapter 14. Chapter 16, blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed—that is, when Christ returns. In chapter 19, “Blessed are those who are invited to the [wedding] supper of the Lamb.” In chapter 20, blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. In chapter 22, “Blessed is he who [keeps] the words of the prophecy of this book.” And again in chapter 22, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may [go through] the gates”—through the gates of heaven—“into the city.” Read, hear, heed—all present-tense participles.
This book is heavenly, it is angelic, it is elevated with visions of heaven. At the same time, it is designed to be understood so that it can encourage and bless the suffering, persecuted, struggling, patient, hopeful Christians with the glorious triumph coming soon and lasting forever.
Those seven blessings, seven beatitudes, are consistent with the way this book is designed. Many, many sevens are in this book. Just listen to this: seven churches, seven Spirits, seven candlesticks, seven stars, seven lamps, seven seals, seven horns, seven eyes, seven angels, seven trumpets, seven thunders, seven thousand, seven heads, seven crowns, seven angels, seven plagues, seven vials or bowls, seven mountains, seven kings. That’s not by accident, not by accident.
And then there are, as I just pointed out, seven beatitudes, blessed: seven years of judgment, seven divisions of each of the letters to the seven churches, seven “I ams” of Christ, and seven doxologies. Why so many sevens? Because it’s the number of fullness and completion. It goes back to Genesis chapter 2, verse 3, and on the seventh day—what did God do?—He rested, because everything was done. This book is the fullness of God’s revelation; and when this history is done, that’s the end of everything. With regard to this universe, that’s the end.
In chapter 22 again, verse 18, “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in [the] book.” So when God says, “I’m signing off,” that’s it. And if you come along and want to add something that you think is a revelation from God, you’re in danger of receiving the plagues that are written in this book.
And on the other hand, verse 19 says, “If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” That’s pretty serious. You can’t add to, you can’t take away from; this is the fullness of God’s divine revelation. God signs off at this point.
And then one final note about verse 3 is that “the time is near, the time is near,” time in the sense of epoch. It’s near. And it says that in chapter 22, as I just pointed out to you: “The time is near.” We have to live in the light of the fact that the time is near, that He’s coming soon. And it may not seem near to you; but as I said, a day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day.
Delay will be long. Luke 18 basically says the delay will be so long that people will begin to believe He’s not coming. In fact, we find in Peter that scoffers will say, “Where’s the sign of His coming?” They’ll mock believers because He hasn’t come. But He’s coming soon. It’s near, and it’s next.
I’m frequently asked, “Do you think the coming of the Lord is near?” Yes, nearer than ever, of course. It’s always been next, and it’s always been soon, and it’s always been near in God’s perspective of timelessness. But it’s nearer than ever.
And then in verses 4 to 6 is an amazing divine affirmation, a divine affirmation. Look at verse 4: “John to the seven churches that are in Asia.” Now this letter—you know that New Testament letters were sometimes sent to churches. Paul’s letters were sent to churches. Peter’s letters were sent to churches; Jude. John’s letters were sent to churches. Some of Paul’s letters were sent to individuals: Philemon, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus. This is no different; only this isn’t sent to one church, this is sent to seven churches, to seven churches in Asia, Asia Minor, which is modern Turkey.
There were seven churches, and they’re listed in verse 11. There were seven churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. That’s the postal route in Asia Minor. That’s the postal route. So when John received and wrote the revelation—and as we’ll see, he did write it down; the Lord instructed him to do that down in verse 19. When he wrote down the revelation as it came to him, he had to make six copies of it. And then it was taken by messengers to each of those churches along the postal route, and one of the copies was dropped at each church. That’s to whom it’s directed.
And then comes a greeting, very familiar: “Grace to you and peace. Grace to you and peace.” I borrowed that, in case you didn’t know: Grace to you. Standard greeting, captures the richness of our Christian faith, consistent grace, and peace.
But here comes an affirmation of this book by the Trinity. And God, of course, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit are the source of grace and peace. So the greeting to the churches is: Here is the revelation, and along with it, grace and peace, “from Him who is and was and who is to come,” the eternal God, who is, who was, and is to come. This is a title used to refer to God. The last two drop off the “is to come” part because when they’re talking about Him, He’s already come. So there is an affirmation from God. The eternal God is saying, “This book I validate.”
“And from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,” sevenfold Holy Spirit. That’s borrowed from Isaiah chapter 11, verse 2, where you have seven distinguishing characteristics of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit in all His fullness. And again, that’s another seven.
So the validation of this book comes from God the Father, and it comes from the Holy Spirit, and then we read, “and”—verse 5—“from Jesus Christ.” God the Father and God the Spirit send us grace and peace and the validation of this divine revelation. And then John moves to Jesus Christ, the one who is the theme of the book. And with that, he launches into magnificent description of the Lord Jesus Christ, glorious description: “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” He lays out all these magnificent characteristics of Christ.
Now the entire book is a series of visions of Christ sent to this persecuted, disheartened apostle who is in exile. He’s a prisoner on a rockpile, and he’s a prisoner because of his preaching the gospel. This is not only from Jesus Christ; John then turns the corner, this is about Him: “the faithful witness, the firstborn [from] the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth.” The one who loves us, redeems us, made us “a kingdom, priests to [our] God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Now there are a number of passages that are about our Lord Jesus Christ outside the gospels. Isaiah 53 shows us His suffering and sacrifice. Matthew 17 shows us His splendor. Philippians 2 shows us His submission. Colossians 1 shows us His sovereignty. Hebrews 1, His superiority. But of all chapters, none presents a more glorious, surpassing revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ than Revelation 1.
And there are three titles given to Him. First, “the faithful witness, the faithful witness.” Isaiah 55, verse 4, prophesied the Messiah as “a witness to the people,” “a witness to the people,” and a witness to the truth. Listen to John 18:37. Jesus said this: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” The word “witness” is martureō, which has exactly what you heard in my saying the Greek word: overtones of martyrdom.
Those who were faithful witnesses very often ended up dead. And while Christ did not die as a mere martyr, He certainly was martyred for speaking the truth. He was a witness to the truth of God, and He was a witness all the way to death. In Pilate’s judgment hall, He didn’t back off the truth. He didn’t deny that He was the Son of God. He affirmed the truth. He always affirmed the truth no matter the cost. Couldn’t deny the truth no matter what the price because He was faithful as a witness unto death.
And John not only refers to His faithfulness as a witness to His death, but then His resurrection—He is “the firstborn of the dead.” Of all that have ever died, He’s the premier one; that’s what it means. “Firstborn” was the son that was the heir of the inheritance. Having died for the truth, which He witnessed to so faithfully, He then arose from the dead; and of all who have ever died and will rise again, He is first in rank, supremacy, and preeminence. He is the preeminent one, exalted to a position above all other positions, given a throne; and to Him, every knee will bow. Psalm 89, verse 27, “I shall also make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” The book is the story of that event. It’s the story of Christ taking His place as King. That’s the book of Revelation.
And the third title he gives Him is “the ruler of the kings of the earth.” He is the “faithful witness,” even unto death; He is the one, of all who have risen from the dead, that is the Supreme One; and He is “the ruler of the kings of the earth.” No one is more elevated than He is. Chapter 19 of Revelation and verse 16, He’s “king of kings, and lord of lords.”
Daniel 4, He’s called the King of heaven. Matthew 2, He’s the King of the Jews. John 1, He’s the King of Israel. First Timothy 1, He’s the King of the ages. Psalm 24, He’s the King of glory. Revelation 15, the King of the saints. And then in chapter 19, the King of kings.
This is so overwhelming to John—that he’s going to receive this revelation is so overwhelming that he bursts into a doxology. Look at verse 5: “To Him”—of whom he has just spoken: “the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth”—“to Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” It’s an exalted hymn of praise.
“Unto Him who loves us,” not loved us, “who loves us,” present tense. We often think of God’s love in terms of past experience. God’s love is a present reality. It is in full force at this moment as when it was delivering up Jesus to the horrors of Calvary’s cross.
He’s the one who loves us; and because He loves us, “He made us to be a kingdom,” collective designation for all believers. He brought us into His kingdom, the sphere of God’s rule where people enter by faith due to the work of Christ on the cross and the Resurrection. He loves us enough to make us into “a kingdom,” a community of saints forever under His loving rule and protection. He’s given us royalty, royal lineage, to reign with Him.
And another evidence of His love is that He made us “priests to His God and Father.” This is the end of the priesthood. The Aaronic priesthood is done away. We are all priests; we don’t need priests to stand between us and God. He made us priests to His God and Father. We have constant access into God’s presence. This was something that was unknown under the Old Covenant.
What an amazing, amazing thing to contemplate: This supreme one loves us so much that He “released us from our sins by His blood”—that looks at His cross; and that He made us to be subjects in His kingdom to reign with Him; and He gave us, as priests, full access to the God and Father. We can come boldly to His throne. No wonder John closes with, “To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” To understand the fullness of all this, you need to understand the book of Revelation, because it expands on all these amazing glories.
Having said all of that, there is a reiteration in verses 7 and 8 of the theme of this book: “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him”—that’s what it says: “every eye will see Him,” “every eye.” That’s consistent with our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 24 and 25. He’s coming with the clouds. He left with the clouds, Act 1; He’s coming back with the clouds in the same way.
“Every eye will see Him”—every eye—“even those who pierced Him”—meaning the Jews. It was the Jews who pierced Him—not the Roman soldiers, but the Jews. It was the Jews who were His crucifiers, according to John 19:37. But the Jews will see Him. Some of them will already have been saved when He arrives, under the influence of the 144,000 and the two witnesses of Revelation 11. Zechariah 12 says that they will look on the one they pierced and mourn for Him as an only son, and salvation will be open to them. So when those Jews, the people who pierced Him, see Him, they will mourn. The mourning in Zechariah is amazing. They mourn over their sin in generation after generation after generation of rejecting their Messiah.
But not only the Jews will see Him and mourn, “all the tribes of the earth”—the Gentiles, everybody else—“will mourn over Him.” Their mourning is different. They’re not mourning in repentance. According to Zechariah, the Jews will mourn in a massive, massive nationwide repentance; but not the Gentiles. They will mourn in a different way.
It’s a different word. The word with regard to the Jews mourning in Zechariah is a word that’s used of repentance. This word for the Gentiles is literally koptō, and it means to cut. It has to do with pagan religion, where when people were in horrible mourning they cut themselves like the frenzied, panicked prophets of Baal who cut themselves, 1 Kings 18. This is not the mourning of repentance. But all will mourn, some in repentance—the Jews. All the tribes of the earth will cut themselves. They’ll do more than that, they’ll call on the mountains to crush them to hide them from His face, Revelation 6.
And their final response: “So it is to be. Amen.” “Amen.” A final word: This is certain. Why? Verse 8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” What does God mean by that? The Alpha and the Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Every word that is ever spoken, every truth that is ever articulated, everything that’s ever known is communicated by those letters, from alpha to omega, or alef to tav in Hebrew.
What is God saying? He’s saying the alphabet, which is an ingenious way to store and communicate all knowledge—the alphabet, when arranged in almost endless combinations, holds and conveys all knowledge. God is saying, “I have all that knowledge, and I’m telling you this is going to happen.” This is God saying, “I know everything. I know everything. You can’t put a word together that I don’t know about.” He knows Christ is coming, He knows everything else. He has all knowledge, there’s nothing He doesn’t know. There’s nothing that could exist outside His knowledge; therefore, there’s nothing that could alter this plan.
Further, not only does He know everything—omniscience—but He says, John writes, “says the Lord God, ‘who is and was and who is to come.’” He not only omniscient, He’s omnipresent. He affirms the eternal presence of the eternal God. In all matters, all issues, all persons, all events, all places, all realities, for all eternity, everything is known to Him; nothing is unknown to Him; and He is ever-present in everything. And the ever-present God is saying, “Because I have all knowledge and because I’m everywhere all the time, what I say concerning the coming of Christ will happen.” And then He signs off at the end of verse 8: “Almighty.” That’s omnipotence. The omniscience of God, the omnipresence of God, and the omnipotence of God guarantees that this will come to pass.
Jesus Christ once left heaven for earth in humiliation; He will do it again in exaltation. He once left heaven to be killed; He will do it again to kill. He once left heaven to serve; He will do it again to be served. He once left heaven to offer grace; He will do it again to demand justice. He once left heaven to seek and to save; He will do it again to search and destroy.
This book will give us the history, validated by the Trinity and by the omniscience and omnipresence and omnipotent power of our God. This is the history of the future.
Father, we are so privileged and so blessed to be given such an amazing revelation. We are without excuse if we do not cherish every part of it and find in that blessing beyond blessing beyond blessing. Thank You for revealing this to us. We know there are many things we cannot understand. But here is something we can and must understand, that so many ignore. So many feel that they’re not required to understand this book because it’s too difficult, when You have commanded us to read it, to learn it, to heed it, and then with John, to break forth in exaltation and praise because of its glorious truths, and say with him, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” To You be all power and glory and dominion forever. Amen.
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