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Home Church Sermons The Glorious Risen Lord Comforts His People 4/11/10 Pastor Stein

The Glorious Risen Lord Comforts His People 4/11/10 Pastor Stein

Sermon (and Introduction to Revelation) April 11, 2010, Easter 2, Pastor Stein   
Text: Rev. 1:4-18
Theme: The glorious risen Lord comforts his people

Earthquakes, mine disasters, hard economic times due to the meltdown of world economies, Poland loses its upper leadership in a tragic plane crash, drug wars rage in Mexico, chaos reigns in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan due to radical religious zealots who know nothing of Christ. Worst of all are the challenges form within and without to our spiritual life. WE trip and fall into sin daily, we are tempted continually; there is constant pressure to turn from our faith – it comes from the world around us and especially satan and his forces. How are we to deal with it all? Is there hope?

The answer is, “Yes, there is hope.” Today begins a series of 7 epistle readings that mainly are from the book of Revelation. It is a wonderful book in which “The glorious risen Lord comforts his people.” I would encourage you to read the entire book sometime during the next several weeks.

The book of Revelation is a wonderful but it can be a challenging book to read. There are several keys to understanding it:
1.    Pastor Wayne Mueller in the People’s Bible commentary on Revelation states that Revelation’s position at the end of the Bible strongly suggests that before reading Revelation, it is most helpful to read all the rest of the Bible first.  Reading the rest of the Bible first is of importance because there are over 500 allusions to the Hebrew OT (few are direct quotes) in Revelation. These allusions are especially to Exodus, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and Daniel.  “. . . the overall effect of so many (Old Testament) references and allusions is to anchor every part of the book in the God-inspired words of Israel’s prophets.” David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, p. 785. Knowing what those allusions are to will help us understand better what Revelation is all about. (In a brief quick survey of chapter one alone there are 50 some allusions to the Old Testament. These references are easily found in Bibles with cross-references.)
2.    Remember as you read the Bible that it is the biography of Jesus. This is not surprising for after all he said of scriptures, “They testify about me” Jn 5:39. And what is true of the rest of Scripture is true of Revelation - Jesus is its heart and core. The Lutheran Study Bible (TLSB) states, “Chapters 4 and 5 are the heart of the book, revealing the worthiness of Jesus, who will save his people and judge the world,” p. 2198.  Don’t get so engrossed in Revelation’s details that you lose sight of this main point. As Alistair Begg often states, “In the Bible the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things.”

That chapters 4 and 5 are the main point is seen in a brief outline of Revelation. (While each section can be broken down even farther, as others do, it seems to me that for clarity it is best to keep the outline as compact and straightforward as possible. Pastor Stein)
a.    Introduction 1:1-20
b.    The Seven Letters to the churches, “the things that are (1:19), Chapters 2 and 3. The divisions are obvious. Note the repeated refrain, “he/the one who conquers.”
c.    Chapters 4 and 5, the main point, as noted above.
d.    The seven visions of end times, “the things that will take place” (1:19), 6:1-22:7 (TLSB, p. 2198)
i.    6:1-8:5, Christ opens the seven seals
ii.    8:6-11:19, The blowing of the seven trumpets
iii.    12:1-14:20, The battle between the Triune God and the anti-Trinity
iv.    Chapters 15 and 16, The pouring out of the seven bowls of wrath
v.    Chapters 17-19, Babylon the prostitute overthrown
vi.    20:1-21:8, The final judgment
vii.    21:9-22:5, New Jerusalem as the bride
e.    Conclusion, 22:8-21
Here we see “a” is balanced by “e”, “b” is balanced by “d”, but “c” stands alone. Such symmetrical structures, where one section of a book stand by it self as a central theme/point, are often seen in the Old Testament, and used by the Holy Spirit to help us to see and focus in on what is the chief point/thought (David Dorsey, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament, pp. 15-44).

3.    It is helpful to read 1, 2 and 3 John, in which John, the author of Revelation, is inspired to “warn against those who would divide the Christian family from fellowship with the heavenly Father and his beloved Son,” TLSB, p. 2169. The same is true in Revelation.
4.    As you read Revelation realize that John did not write in the linear type of style we are used to, i.e. going from point a to b to c, etc. one following after another. Rather he spirals outward and upward, not straying from the key point but staying directly above it, hitting it over and over, each time expanding the point and adding muscle to it. The major point in Revelation it is chapters 4 and 5 concerning the Father and his Son.
5.     What John wrote he literally saw, but what he saw is not always to be taken literally, for example: there are several images of Jesus in the book such as ‘Root of David’, ‘like a son of man’, a Lion, Lamb, etc., each is a different image – but each references the one Jesus. And remember the main point of the book is Jesus and his victory.

Revelation can be a hard book to understand if we overcomplicate it and miss its main point. There is the story of a pastor who saw a man reading the Bible prior to church. The pastor asked, “What are you reading?” He answered, “Revelation.” “Do you understand it?” the pastor asked. The man answered, “Yes, Christ wins.”

The churches to which John was instructed to write were plagued by false teachers who claimed to be teaching the truth abut Christ, but were not. They were harassed by Jews for their faith in Christ. Also Rome was beginning to promote and enforce the cult of the emperor as god and worship of him was increasingly required. Christians who worship Christ as Lord, not the emperor were facing increasing hostility. Some wanted to compromise in their faith, and this desire needed to be addressed and corrected before it undermined believers’ faith and their determination to stand fast in the trials that laid ahead. So in mercy the Father gave to his Son this revelation to pass on to his servant John to pass on to the churches (and us) as Rev. 1:1 tells us.
1.    To the seven churches
a.    Grace and peace to you  - this really belongs to believers, no matter what. And note who this is from
b.    The triune God
i.    The Father “Who was, etc.”
ii.    The Spirit, “seven Spirits” or seven-fold Spirit (part of Revelation’ picture language)
iii.    Jesus Christ, the faithful witness
2.    To Jesus –
a.    Who has
i.    Loved us, freed us from our sins by his blood,  this is truly important.
ii.    Made a kingdom and priests, this is truly important.
b.    Be glory and dominion from all creation – not to world or satanic powers.
3.    He is coming soon and all eyes will see him - those who pierced him will mourn – he is the one to worship and fear, not human or satanic forces.
4.    John was in the Spirit on Lord’s day and heard a voice
5.    Description of the voice seen in 1:12-16
a.    Note John’s - the apostle who served with him 3 years, the disciple whom Jesus loved - response to him  - he fell at his feet as dead out of dread and fear of him, for he a sinner, was in the presence of the holy, glorified and risen Jesus.
b.    But note Jesus’ response to him
“Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
·    I have forgiven you with my blood
·    You are robed in my righteousness
·    World, satanic powers, powers in opposition to me are nothing, “I have the keys. . . .”

In this vision Christ is opening our eyes to see
·    With whom we are dealing when we deal with him – the true God, the Victor, our Savior, our Brother.
·    That the One who is for us, the Triune God, is greater than the ones against us.
·    This God who is greater than all, is a God of grace, who does not treat us as sins deserve, Psa. 103:10.

How are we to face the challenges of life, especially to our spiritual life? By taking to heart Jesus’ words to John and making them our own, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

Know that no matter what, he is with us and on our side. He has triumphed over sin, death and hell – our greatest enemies.  Be at peace for through him the victory is ours now and forever. Amen

(Note: In the order of worship used this particular weekend, the Apostles’ Creed followed the sermon. It served as a fitting reinforcement and reminder to us of who our God is, of whose we are and of who is on our side.)

 

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