Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Volume 5, Number 38, October 20 to October 26, 2003

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Part Four:
Jesus the Speaking King, Part 2
A Study

Rev. Charles R. Biggs

Introduction

In our last study we were encouraged that Jesus is the Speaking King who continues to speak to His people through His Word by His Spirit. We should thank God that He truly has always kept his Word to His people and never left them as orphans in this world. Rather, God has stooped down to us to give us His very Word. This Word strengthens and sustains His people until He returns. This Word of God, however is a double-edged sword. While it promises blessings to those who know the Speaking King and obey His Word, it promises curses to those who will not hear it.

Jesus ends each message to the congregations in Revelation chapters 2-3 with "He Who has ears to hear, let him hear". We must remember that those who do not hear, or who do not obey the Word of the Living God, those without "ears to hear" will be judged by this Word. The disobedient and the sinful who do not have the righteousness of Jesus Christ will stand naked and ashamed before the Living God on Judgment Day to be judged by the very Word of the Speaking King that has been so precious to those He loves! The very Word of Christ that brought life and encouragement to those who had ears to hear, will bring eternal death to those who do not have ears to hear. Today's study will be on Jesus the Speaking King and His Words of Judgment to the unbelieving.

Revelation 1:9-20

Revelation 1:9-20: 9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, "Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea." 12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "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. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Lord's Day Worship

Notice first that John was worshipping God on the Lord's Day (v. 10). Since the time of the resurrection, God's people have worshipped Him on the Lord's Day, the first day of the week, or the day of the resurrection. We rest and keep the New Covenant "Sabbath" or Lord's Day on the first day of the week rather than the last day of the week. The reason for this change was because Jesus was resurrected on that day, but also that a new creation has dawned in the coming of the Spirit of God (2 Cor. 5:17-21). Rather than awaiting the fullness of the times as in the Old Covenant, and so placing the day of worship on the last day of the week (Saturday), since the coming of Jesus the first day awaits the final day of salvation and judgment.

So a day of ultimate salvation and judgment is already in view for all of us who live on this side of the resurrection. Every time we worship, we should remember that God has placed our worship on the first day to prepare us for the rest of the week, but also to remind us of the ultimate rest and restoration that is to come on the Last Day when Jesus Christ returns for His people.

The Glorified Jesus Near to Us!

On the Lord's Day (v.10), John hears the Speaking King. His voice was like a trumpet - -powerful and resounding! The Speaking King gives orders to his servant John to write to the seven historical churches in Asia, but these commands are for all of Christ's people until He returns (Rev. 1:3; 22:17-21). When John turns he gets to see the glorified Christ. This must have been astounding for him!

This was the Jesus who loved John, who he remembers walking and talking with, the Jesus who he laid his head on his breast to speak intimately as to a brother. Now, the glorified Jesus appears before him! John sees the glorified Jesus standing among the lampstands (v. 12-13), which reminds us that Jesus is present among His people. As he reminded His disciples and us, He will truly never leave us nor forsake us (Matt. 28:20). Where two or more are gathered in His name, there He promises us to be by His Spirit. The lampstands are the churches or congregations who belong to Christ (Rev. 1:20; 2:5).

There is an encouragement to know that Jesus stands among his people speaking to them by His Spirit and His Word. There is also an implicit judgment. We know that judgment begins with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17ff). This means that God's judgment begins with Christ our substitute, then through a process of becoming more like Christ, being encouraged, rebuked, and corrected by His Word, we are judged, forgiven, and slowly restored to be who we were ultimately created to be. We know that He who began this work in us at regeneration, will continue you it until He returns. We also are confident that His grace is sufficient for us to become a spotless and pure bride prepared for Jesus.

The Judgment of Christ and the Christian

The Christian's judgment is Christ's judgment. He is our substitute. We are not judged for our sins, but He is. We are receivers of His righteousness that does not belong to us. Yet, God works in and through us by allowing us to experience the sufferings of Christ our Lord and King. We are privileged participants in Christ's sufferings, persecutions and tribulations so that through this "judgment" we might be made more like Him because we are His children (Matt. 5:11-12; John 16:33; Phil. 3:9-12; Col. 1:24ff; Rev. 1:9). Notice how Peter explains this difficult subject in his first epistle:

1 Peter 4:12-18: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"

In verse 13, Peter says we share in Christ's sufferings that we may rejoice when he is fully revealed in glory when he returns. In verse 16 and 17, Peter speaks of judgment beginning with the household of God. The conclusion of Peter's teaching is that our only judgment as the people of God is a judgment of identification with Christ. Our judgment in Christ leads to eternal life!

The judgment of the wicked, however, leads to eternal death. When the Spirit of God descended on the Day of Pentecost, the fire did not judge and consume Christ's people. Rather, the Spirit hovered over their heads. The implicit teaching was that Christ had taken all of the judgment of God and undergone a baptism of fire on behalf of His people (Mark 10:38ff). This was so that we could be filled with the Powerful Holy Spirit -- rather than being consumed by God in fire and judgment.

The Spirit of God now works in us to make us more like Christ and we experience a "judgment of grace" by being allowed to participate in Christ's sufferings. We are identified with Christ with our own cross and one day our own crown (Matt. 16:24; 2 Tim. 4:8). This is why John writes in his letters to the churches earlier that perfect love casts out all of our fears! Fear has to do with judgment, and we will not be judged by God! (cf. 1 John 4:18-21). Has God's perfect love gripped you with this reality yet? While our present tense problems can be overwhelming in this world, we can be reminded of two important truths: (1) We are identified with Christ in His sufferings and judgment for our sins! (2) We have eternal life NOW, and await a Living Hope that will be revealed on the Last Day!

The Double-Edged Sword of Judgment

But what is the judgment to be like for those who do not have ears to hear what Christ has said? Notice in Revelation 1:16, after Jesus is described as the Glorified-Prophet-Priest-King of His people (1:12-16), John sees him with a sharp double-edged sword coming from his mouth. The Word of God is described as a sharp double-edged sword elsewhere in Scripture (Eph. 6:17-18; Heb. 4:12-13). Here John sees the vision of this Word coming straight out of the Speaking King's mouth. This is a sword of judgment for those who do not believe.

In the Prophet Isaiah's vision of the future, God makes clear to His people that those who have repented and turned to him for help, or "those who have ears to hear" (cf. Isaiah 6:8ff) will not enter into judgment, but peace. However, for those who do not hear or obey God's Word, they will be eternally punished (cf. Mark 9:47-48; Revelation 20:14-15). Isaiah teaches this in Isaiah 66:12-18, which is very helpful for us having a better understanding of John's vision in Revelation 1.

Isaiah 66:12-18: For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. 13 As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. 14 You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; and the hand of the LORD shall be known to his servants, and he shall show his indignation against his enemies. 15 "For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. 16 For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment, and by his sword, with all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many. 17 "Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating pig's flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, declares the LORD. 18 "For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory...

In verses 12-14, God promises peace "like a river", and a relationship with God like a child cared for by a loving mother! God will comfort all those who have trusted in him! Yet in verses 15-18 we see a different picture. God will come in judgment with fire, anger and fury. However, those who sanctify and purify themselves (those spoken of above in 1 Peter 4) by God's grace, will see God's glory! In Revelation 1, John sees a vision of Jesus' glory, the One who will come in judgment to judge the world on the day he returns. Jesus will judge with His Word by the double-edged sword. Contrast the passage from Revelation 1, 1 Peter 4, and the Prophecy of Isaiah with the Scripture from Revelation 19 below.

Revelation 19:11-21: 11 And I saw the heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and he that sat thereon called Faithful and True; and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 And his eyes are a flame of fire, and upon his head are many diadems; and he hath a name written which no one knoweth but he himself. 13 And he is arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and pure. 15 And out of his mouth proceedeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And he hath on his garment and on his thigh a name written, KINGS OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in mid heaven, Come and be gathered together unto the great supper of God; 18 that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses and of them that sit thereon, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, and small and great. 19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army. 20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought the signs in his sight, wherewith he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast and them that worshipped his image: they two were cast alive into the lake of fire that burneth with brimstone: 21 and the rest were killed with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, even the sword which came forth out of his mouth: and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

This Judgment of Christ should cause us all to tremble with fear because of the awesome power and majestic glory revealed in the return of Jesus Christ! For the people of God we will be with him as the "armies of heaven" (v. 14), so we do not fear because we have been redeemed by the One Who has the Sword of Judgment, the Word of God. By His grace we have been given a salvation from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:9-10), and have had ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Therefore, because this Word has searched our hearts and taught us, going deeply into the hearts and minds we scarcely know ourselves (cf. Jer. 17:9), the Word has also revealed to us a Savior for sinners like us! The Word of God has corrected, encouraged, and rebuked us and given us everything we need for life eternal and godliness!

Warning: Judgment for Those Who Do Not Have Ears to Hear!

But for those who do not have ears to hear, they will be judged with a severe and everlasting judgment. As no man has conceived, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him, so no man can conceive, nor can it fully into the heart of man the awful and destructive judgment God had for those who hate him!

The double-edged sword that proceeds out of the Speaking King's mouth is one of blessing and curse. When Christ speaks, those who hear are blessed and by His Spirit enabled to be obedient to His gracious commands! When Christ speaks, those who do not hear are cursed and will be judged by Jesus the Faithful and True One on the day he returns! We must make sure of our calling and election, knowing that His divine power has given us everything we need as his people for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-10). Those who do not love Christ, those who are apathetic to his Person, Work and commands must be warned that He will return with a judgment of fire. On that day, all men without the robes of Christ's righteousness will suffer eternally for their sins against the Holy and Living God!

One sin against such a Holy, Majestic, and Powerful is enough to merit eternal death and damnation, yet because of God's graciousness and mercy, One act of righteousness by the man Christ Jesus is enough to satisfy divine justice and judgment and give eternal life which is the gift of God (Romans 6:23).

We all deserve to perish in the fires of God's judgment for our many and ongoing sins against the Holy God! Yet, because he looks upon us with pity and mercy, he desires for all men to repent! But please be reminded that you do not have much time to repent! If you have not repented of your sins and turned to the Living God for salvation from death and damnation in Christ, turn now. Flee the wrath that is to come! If you have repented of your sins and believed upon the Lord Jesus, continue to repent daily, resting in what His Word says to you! Continue to rest in His loving and gracious grip as you ponder the riches and depth of His mercy!

All of us must remember what 2 Peter 3:3-10 says:

2 Peter 3:1-14: This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

Jesus is the Speaking King may we truly hear what he says to the churches and avoid the wrath that is to come. Do you have peace today knowing that Jesus is surely your Savior from sin and knowing that you have an imperishable inheritance preserved in heaven for you by the Loving Lord Jesus? Do you know for sure you will avoid the wrath to come? Remember for us to daily repent and turn from our sins to the Living God as He gives us commands, by His Spirit convicts, corrects, and rebukes us, so that rather than facing the judgment of the One who has the double-edged sword proceeding from his mouth, we might through the blessing of the Word of God, become spotless and pure and more conformed to His image!

By God's grace, these studies on Revelation will help you to see Jesus as Lord over all of the book. If you will prayerfully ponder the first chapter carefully, it will help you foundationally to understand the remainder of the book. Don't give up, but be encouraged to read the Book of Revelation. It is indeed a blessing to read it! It gives us hope for the future and peace for TODAY! May God richly bless your study and may the loving-kindness and mercy of God be known to you today!

Bibliography/For Further Reading

(Purchase these at www.wtsbook.com- - lowest prices on the web!)

Bauckham, Richard. The Theology of the Book of Revelation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Bavinck, H. The Last Things: Hope for this World and the Next. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996.

Beale, G. K. The Book of Revelation. NIGTC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Press, 1999.

G. C. Berkhouwer- The Return of Christ. Studies in Dogmatics Series. Published by Eerdmans, 1972

Dennis Johnson- Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation, P&R, 2001

Kline, Meredith G. Images of the Spirit. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998.

Ladd, G. E. A Commentary on the Revelation of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Press, 1972.

Longman, T. and Reid, D. God is a Warrior. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Press, 1995.

Martin, R. P. and Davids, P. H., editors. Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments. Downer's Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997.

Poythress, V. S. The Book of Revelation: A Guide for Understanding (V. 2.0). Unpublished Manuscript, Westminster Theological Bookstore.

Russell, D. S. Divine Disclosure: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Pastor Charles R. Biggs
Ketoctin Covenant Presbyterian Church
Post Office Box 628
Round Hill, VA 20142-0628
www.APlaceforTruth.org
crbiggsman@adelphia.net

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