************ Sermon on Revelation 1:7 ************


By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman


This sermon was preached on June 10, 2007


Revelation 1:1-8
Revelation 1:7
"Triumph of the Lamb"

Introduction
I want to remind you, very briefly, of what we learned about Revelation last week:
1. The title is the "Revelation of Jesus Christ."
2. The author is God.
3. It is a revelation, an apocalypse, meant to reveal Jesus Christ. It is not meant to conceal or hide.
4. Revelation is a book to be seen, full of symbols, but things are not always what they appear to be on the surface.
5. Numbers count in Revelation. They are loaded with significance and meaning.
6. Revelation is for a church under attack. It warns us about the great enemy and his strategies.
7. Revelation concerns "what must soon take place" that is, between the first and second comings of Jesus, between the ascension of Christ and His return in glory.

Today I want to bring up three more things to keep in mind as we look at and interpret "the revelation of Jesus Christ."

First, we will be shown that Revelation makes sense only in light of the Old Testament (I mentioned this in passing last week). Not only the visions of such prophets as Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah but also historical events such as the creation, the fall, and the exodus help us to understand John's visions.

Second, we will be shown that victory belongs to God and to His Christ. This is why Revelation is filled with worship scene after worship scene the angels and the saints keep falling down in adoring worship before God and Christ.

Third, you cannot understand and appreciate Revelation unless you love the church. I mentioned earlier (and last week) that Revelation is written to a church under attack. But this means nothing to you, it is of no concern to you, it makes no difference to you, unless you love the church and are involved in her life. John loved the church. He was concerned about the church. That's why he wrote this letter.

If you love the church, if your spiritual life is centered on the church, if you sacrificed and continue to make sacrifices for the church, if you have suffered along with any hurting brothers and sisters in the church, then Revelation is for you and means much to you and uplifts you. If you love the church then you hear what John writes and you get all excited about what God and Christ are doing in and for the church.

I A Message of Victory
A Now, let me ask a question. Suppose that you are a member of one of the seven church of Asia Minor. Remember, you love the church and are involved in her spiritual life. You are facing attack and persecution from within and without. What message do you want to hear from John?

Or, let's ask this another way. Suppose you are John. You are writing to a church under attack. What do you say to the church you love and are involved in? What do you say to a church facing persecution? What do you say to a church whose members face imprisonment? What do you say to a church whose members have been martyred?

Or, let's ask this one more way. Suppose you are Duane Vedders. Remember the news Duane received a couple of months ago? Duane received news that the church in Eritrea, a church he loved, a church he helped, a church his spiritual life was wrapped up in, was a church under attack. If I remember, 82 members of the church were arrested and thrown into prison. If you are Duane, what do you say, what do you write, to the church of Eritrea?

Let's make it even more personal. When our church is under attack a church you love and are involved in what do you want to hear, what do you need to hear?

B As John thought about the churches of Asia Minor, churches that he loved, churches that were facing violent attack, he wondered what to say. He decided, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (don't forget, God is the author of this book), to tell them about the triumph of the Lamb. This is so important to John that he brings this up already in the salutation, in the introduction, of his letter:
(Rev 1:7) Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

II Two Old Testament Texts
A You need to realize that our text from verse 7 is a blending, a joining, of two Old Testament texts. Here we see the importance of the Old Testament in understanding Revelation. The two Old Testament texts are Daniel 7:13 and Zechariah 12:10. Listen to these two texts:
(Dan 7:13) "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence."

(Zech 12:10) "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son."
Now listen again to our text:
(Rev 1:7) Look, he is coming with the clouds [THIS COMES FROM DANIEL], and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him [THIS COMES FROM ZECHARIAH]. So shall it be! Amen.
John joins together and changes the two Old Testament texts and in doing so he adds new meaning, an additional layer of meaning, to what is said by Daniel and Zechariah.

Both texts deserve a closer look so we know exactly what John is saying to a persecuted church he loves.

B Listen carefully to what Daniel writes. And, as I read it ask yourself the question: What is the direction of the Son of Man? Is He moving upward or downward? Is He moving toward heaven or toward earth?
(Dan 7:13) "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence."
Do you see the direction of the Son of Man? He is moving towards God's throne. He is moving towards God. The Son of Man comes in the clouds to the Ancient of Days. For some reason, most people see the Son of Man moving in the opposite direction, towards the earth.

What does this passage of Daniel sound like? Where else do we see the Son of Man moving in the clouds towards God's throne? You know Ascension Day. Listen to what we are told in Acts:
(Acts 1:9) After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
Jesus was taken up He went to God's throne. He went up with or through the clouds.

What happens next according to Daniel? Listen to what he writes in the next verse:
(Dan 7:14) He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
The Son of Man goes up in the clouds to the Ancient of Days. He is given kingdom, power, and authority.

John has all of this in mind when he quotes Daniel 7:13 in our text for this evening. John is reminding us that Jesus is King. He is King now. He has authority now. He is seated at God's right hand now. He is the ruler of the kings of the earth now. John wants to assure persecuted Christians that Jesus has already been installed as the King of kings and Lord of lords. John wants to assure persecuted Christians that Christ's power over the nations has already become a reality. The resurrected Christ has ascended into heaven and has been seated at the right hand of God with all power and authority. This is why John tells us in verse 5 that Jesus is "the faithful witness, the first-born from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth" (Rev 1:5). He also reminds us, in verse 6, that Jesus "has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and father" (Rev 1:6).

C Listen carefully also to what Zechariah writes. And as I read it, ask yourself what this sounds like, where else in the Bible do we hear of something similar?
(Zech 12:10) "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son."

When did God pour out His Spirit on the house of David, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, in such a way that it can be said "they looked on the one they have pierced and grieved bitterly"? When did that happen? Doesn't this sound like Pentecost? We looked at this a couple of weeks ago. Jesus died and arose and ascended and poured out His Spirit. A crowd gathered, Peter preached, the crowd was "cut to the heart" and asked, "Brothers, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). And they came to God in repentance and faith.

John has all of this in mind when he quotes Zechariah 12:10 in our text for this evening. This is not a little thing people repenting and coming to the Lord in repentance and faith. They have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son (Col 1:13). This also reminds us that victory belongs to Jesus. It reminds us that the church is growing and increasing. It reminds us that the Kingdom is being established. It gives comfort to a persecuted church.

III Christ's Return
A Notice what we have established by looking at the two texts one from Daniel and one from Zechariah. We have established that neither text talks about the return of Christ to earth. Rather, John tells persecuted Christians to look at the Ascension and at Pentecost for the hope and comfort they need while under attack.

But there is more we can say about our text. We can say more because John changes Daniel and Zechariah. John changes Daniel and Zechariah so that the two texts together now say something about Christ's return. John imitates or follows Jesus when he does this. Jesus was the first one to so join and change Daniel and Zechariah that they end up saying something not just about the Ascension and Pentecost but also about His return. We find this in Matthew 24. Listen to what Jesus says:
(Mat 24:30-31) "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. [THIS COMES FROM ZECHARIAH.] They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. [THIS COMES FROM DANIEL.] (31) And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Jesus changes the direction of Daniel's Son of Man. Instead of going up He is now coming down so that "all the nations of the earth ... will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky."

Jesus also broadens Zechariah. Zechariah talks about the mourning of the "house of David" and the "inhabitants of Jerusalem" but Jesus talks about the mourning of "all the nations of the earth" upon His return. Is this a mourning of repentance like we see at Pentecost? Of course not! Because when Jesus returns it is too late to repent! Instead, it is a mourning of despair, it is a wailing, it is a beating of the chest because divine judgment has now come.

Jesus takes what is said by Daniel and Zechariah and deepens it. Jesus takes what is said by Daniel and Zechariah and says what began at the Ascension and Pentecost will be consummated upon His return. The Kingdom that was given to Jesus at the Ascension, the Kingdom that grew at Pentecost, will be fully established at Christ's return. At that time every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The elect will do this with reverence because they believe in Jesus. The people of the nations will do this in fear because they know their judgment is at hand.

B John follows Jesus. He joins and changes Daniel and Zechariah so they speak about the Ascension, Pentecost, and Christ's return.
(Rev 1:7) Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
Like Jesus, John looks forward to the day when all the unbelievers of the earth will see the sovereign Lord coming on the clouds and they will mourn. They will mourn in overwhelming despair because of the terrible judgment that is coming upon them. There will be no more opportunity to repent because it is too late.

John describes the scene of judgment for us in Revelation 6. It is terrible to behold:
(Rev 6:15-17) Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. (16) They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! (17) For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"
Jesus is coming again as Lord. He is coming in judgment. That is what John is writing to a church he loves, to a church that is persecuted.

IV Yes! Yes!
A Jesus is coming again as Lord. He is coming in judgment. John adds something to this. He writes, "So shall it be! Amen." Here our English Bibles let us down. It is far more dramatic when you look at the original languages. "So shall it be!" is one word in the Greek language. It is the word "nai" it is the Greek way of saying one big "Yes!" The second word is the Hebrew word "Amen" which is the Hebrew way of saying one big "Yes!" So John adds both a Greek word and a Hebrew word that say the same thing. One word would have been more than enough. But John uses both. John wants to express vigorous and wholehearted and fervent agreement with what he has just written. John wants to say he is waiting for Christ's return in judgment, he is praying for Christ's return in judgment, he is looking for Christ's return in judgment. John is happy that Jesus is coming as judge.

B Jesus is coming again as judge. "So shall it be! Amen." "Yes! Yes!" How can John be happy about this? Doesn't this mean eternal damnation for many? Doesn't this mean the lake of fire and torment? That doesn't sound very Christian! That doesn't sound very loving!

We expect unbelievers to talk this way, of course. But they don't want to hear about judgment and damnation. They want to believe that everyone ends up in heaven, that all paths lead to God. They are only fooling themselves, of course, and will find out the truth either when they die or when Christ returns.

What is distressing is that there also are church members who don't appreciate John's double "Yes." These church members don't ever want to hear about hell and damnation either. They want the church to say that "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." They cling to the notion that God loves all redemptively in Christ. These church members think, for some reason, that they need to be more compassionate than God, more loving than God. God can talk about hell but they never will. I am convinced that these people are this way not because they have such a high concept of God's love but because they have such a little concept of God's righteousness and holiness and justice.

Jesus is coming again as judge. "So shall it be! Amen." "Yes! Yes!" John is not being vengeful. He is not being blood-thirsty. He is not being vindictive.

C Jesus is coming again as judge. "So shall it be! Amen." "Yes! Yes!" Why does John talk this way? Why can John talk this way? There are three reasons.

First, John has one over-riding passion the honor and glory of God and of Christ. John knows something that we too often forget. John knows that when the church is persecuted or mocked or despised, it is God Himself that is being persecuted and mocked and despised because the church is the body of Christ, the church is the bride of Christ. You insult God's bride, you insult God. When that happens God is not getting all honor, all glory, all devotion, all worship, all praise, all allegiance, all thanksgiving, all service.

Second, John is telling us we need to talk about hell and damnation. People need to hear about hell and damnation. We need to warn people. We need to tell people they need to repent and believe or they will end up in the lake of unquenchable fire. The most loving thing you can do for someone is warn them about hell's eternal fire. The most unloving thing you can do for someone is leave them in their sin and misery and headed for hell. The "Revelation of Jesus Christ" does not allow us to ignore hell.

Third, John loves the church. John loves his persecuted brothers and sisters in the faith. John feels their pain. John hears their cries and in Revelation 6:10 he tells us their cries:
(Rev 6:10) They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?"
"How long?" How long until Jesus comes again? How long until our suffering ends? How long until those who hate You and us get punished? How long until evil is penalized? How long do we need to wait? "How long?"

John loves the church. So, John wants the church's tribulation to end. John wants his brothers and sisters to fully experience the triumph of the Lamb. John wants the Kingdom to be completely established a Kingdom in which the wicked are punished and the righteous experience everlasting glory.

If you don't love the church, the way John does, the way Jesus does, the persecution and trials are no big deal. But if you love the church, then you cannot help but say what John does: "So shall it be! Amen." "Yes! Yes!" Yes, Jesus is coming again. Yes, every eye shall see Him. Yes, the wicked will mourn unless they repent and believe. Yes, everything will be made new. "Yes! Yes!"

Conclusion
(Rev 1:7) Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

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