Jesus: The First and the Last

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Scripture Focus- Revelation 1:9-20 

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Revelation means to be disclosed or unveiled. What was previously hidden has become visible. Our approach to interpreting and understanding Revelation is the Futurist View. What is historical in Revelation is historical and should be treated as such. The prophecies still to come in Revelation will be viewed and understood as yet to come.

There are three major sections in Revelation:

The things that were seen: This includes the coming of Christ into the world; his life; death; resurrection and ascension to glory.

The things that are: This includes the struggles and triumphs of the people of God as seen in the messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor.

The things that will be: This includes the judgment to come upon the world in the seals, bowls, and trumpets during the tribulation; the future triumph of Christ over the forces of evil; his final victory and the end of sin, death and darkness; and the eternal state in heaven with God.

Revelation is relevant to our holiness, our hope, and the certainty of our home in heaven.

Christianity faced significant challenges in the first century Roman Empire and was a hated religious sect of Judaism in the eyes of most people. Christians refused to acknowledge Caesar as the ultimate authority. They rejected the Roman pantheon of gods and were falsely accused of many things. Socially, most of them were from the lower class socioeconomically. Nero had blamed Christians for a great fire in Rome in 64 AD and many were killed for their faith. Thirty years later, Domitian the Emperor undertook official persecution.

John identified himself to believers as “your brother and partner in the affliction, kingdom and endurance that are in Jesus.”  The Apostle was banished to Patmos and probably charged as a religious criminal. Patmos was a relatively barren island in the Aegean Sea about six miles wide and ten miles long.

John was in the Spirit, under the control of the Holy Spirit, and received a vision on the Lord’s Day, hearing a loud voice like the sounding of a trumpet. By the second century the phrase, the Lord’s Day, would be widely used to refer to Sunday, commemorating the day Jesus rose from the dead. John was commissioned to write down and share what he saw and send it to the seven churches. The cities where the churches were, were located in the Roman Province of Asia, which is modern-day Turkey. They were key cities where there were postal districts, and information would be communicated to them. The cities appear in the order a messenger would travel with the Book of Revelation to them.

John saw one like the Son of Man in the vision, and it was none other than Jesus. We will come back to the further description of Jesus, but when John saw him he fell at his feet like a dead man. Some sixty years earlier, John had experienced the glory of Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration and been overwhelmed. Jesus put his hand on him and said, v17 Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. Jesus has always been and Jesus will always be.

Let’s consider several characteristics of the one who is the first and the last.

The one who is the first and the last is authoritative.

The seven golden lampstands represent the seven churches. The lampstands were similar to oil lamps used to light rooms in the darkness. The lampstands are symbolic of the churches as the lights of the world. The gold speaks of how valuable the church, the bride of Christ is, to God and in the world. Jesus purchased the church with his own blood.

Authority= influence, power, rule

The authority of Jesus is evident in his appearance- Jesus was v13 dressed in a long robe, and with a gold sash wrapped around his chest. In the OT 6/7 times when the robe/sash are mentioned, it is in reference to the High Priest. He is the Great High Priest. Hebrews 4:14 We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God. He is according to Hebrews 7:25 able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him.

The authority of Jesus is evident in his voice-v10 a loud voice like a trumpet; v15 like the sound of cascading waters.

The voice of Jesus is the supreme and sovereign voice, the voice of authority.

Ezekiel spoke in 43:2 of seeing the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice sounded like the roar of mighty waters, and the earth shone with His glory.

Hebrews 1:1-2 Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom he made the universe.

When Jesus preached, Matthew 7:28-29 says The crowds were astonished at his teaching, because he was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes.

Jesus has authority over creation. He has authority to forgive. He has authority to heal. He has the authority to save. John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, he gave them to the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name.He has authority to direct our lives and the church. Matthew 28:18 All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

The one who is the first and the last is holy.

V14 His head and hair were like wool-white as snow, his eyes like a fiery flame, v15 his feet like fine bronze fired in a furnace.

 A.W. Tozer- I cannot think of even one lonely passage in the New Testament which speaks of Christ’s revelation, manifestation, appearing or coming that is not directly linked with moral conduct, faith and spiritual holiness.

The head and hair of Jesus reveal his holiness-  a reference to Daniel 7:9 where the Ancient of Days, God the Father, is spoken of. Hair white as snow tells of the holiness of Jesus.

The eyes of Jesus like a fiery flame see all things and reveal his holiness. Hebrews 4:13 No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.

The feet of Jesus like fine bronze fired in a furnace reveal his holiness.  Kings in those days would sit on elevated thrones. The king’s feet were seen in judgment. Jesus loves the church and when he redeems sinners from sin, he purifies them in his righteousness.

Paul wrote to the church- Ephesians 5:25-27 Christ loved the church and gave himself for her, to make her holy, cleansing her in the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and blameless

The one who is the first and the last is powerful.

The power of Jesus is exercised in his leadership of the church- v16 He had seven stars in his right hand. The right hand represents power. The seven stars are identified in v20 as the angels of the seven churches.

The power of Jesus is exercised in his protection over the churchv16 a sharp double-edged sword came from his mouth. Attacks against Christ and his church are constant but Jesus promised the gates of Hades will not prevail against him building his church. He also holds final judgment in his hand.

The power of Jesus is seen in his glory-v16 And his face was shining like the sun at full strength. At his transfiguration, his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light.

The power of Jesus is seen in his resurrection and victory over death-v18 the Living One. I was dead, but look- I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades. He was dead, but now he is alive forever and ever. Possessing keys is the guarantee to entrance into heaven.

Jesus is worthy of worship!

Let us see as John saw. The Son of Man is there in his glory among the lampstands, among his churches. He has authority, he is holy, and he is powerful. He puts his hand on us at it were and says as he did to John- Don’t be afraid. I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look- I am alive forever and ever and I hold the keys of death and Hades.