The inspired title of this book, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” unveils its author. The first verse tells us that God the Father gave Jesus Christ this information, to show His servants, “things which must shortly come to pass.”
This verse also tells us that the prophecy was signified, or certified by the Spirit before the angel gives it to the prophet John.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:” Rev 1:1
The word “signified” is found in Acts 11:28. I want you to see how it’s being used, so you can better understand the import of what’s being told in Revelation 1:1.
“And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.” Acts 11:28
Here we see Agabus, foretold by the Spirit of a great famine that would affect the inhabitable world. This famine came to pass in the fourth year of Claudius Caesar, where, according to Josephus, “many died for want of food.” This took place around 41–54 a.d.
The word “signify” is defined as: “to indicate by signs, “to foretell, to predict.” And we’re shown that this is something the people of God are able to do, only by the power and influence of the Spirit.
The angel, we’re told, is a particular person. He’s introduced in Revelation 1:1 as “His angel,” which leads us to ask, who is Christ’s angel?
In Daniel 10:21 we learn that the angel responsible for unfolding the prophecies to Daniel is specifically tasked with revealing the secret things of the Scriptures. The verse says, “But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.” The angel speaking to Daniel was Gabriel. It would seem appropriate to conjecture the same angel was tasked to unfold these same truths to the prophet John.
Revelation 1:2 says that the prophet John “bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”
In Revelation 1:19 Jesus commands John saying, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter…”
John was exiled on the island of Patmos, a remote island in the Aegean sea for his faith. This is where the Roman government banished the worst criminals. Because of John’s unwavering faithfulness to Jesus Christ and the work of proclaiming the gospel, he was tried by the courts of Rome and sentenced to death. According to Tertullian (in The Prescription of Heretics), John was plunged into a cauldron of boiling oil in the audience of the Colosseum but was not hurt from the heat. After witnessing this miracle many of the people who saw this event converted to Christianity. Because Domitian, the emperor of Rome could not kill John, he ordered to have him banished to the island of Patmos around the year 94.
This is why we see in Revelation 1:9 John tells us that he’s our brethren and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.
In verses 5, and 6, we see that Jesus Christ, Himself, suffered persecution and death to bring the revelation of His saving power to His people.
Jesus is the “faithful witness” and “the first begotten of the dead,” an expression corresponding to what’s written in 1 Corinthians 15:20: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” And, Colossians 1:18: “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
Their example is given to fortify those who’ve dedicated their lives to proclaiming the gospel and have suffered persecution for their Christian calling.
As Bible students, we can claim the special blessing found in verse 3: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
“The importance of studying the Apocalypse increases with the lapse of time. Here are ‘things which must shortly come to pass.’ . . . Even when John bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw, the long period within which those successive scenes were to be realized was at hand. The first in the connected series was on the eve of accomplishment. If proximity then constituted a motive for heeding these contents, how much more does it now! Every revolving century, every closing year, adds to the urgency with which attention is challenged to the concluding portion of the Holy Writ. . . Never, surely, was there a period when some mighty counteracting power was more needed. The Revelation of Jesus Christ duly studied supplies an appropriate corrective influence. Would that all Christians might in fullest measure receive the blessing of ‘them that hear the words of this prophecy and that keep the things which are written therein; for the time is at hand.’ ” –Augustus C. Thompson, Morning Hours in Patmos, pp. 28, 29.
This blessing is promised on the fulfillment of the conditions given in Revelation 22:7. Those who would be prepared to meet Jesus in His second coming would be found keeping those things they’ve been shown. Jesus said: “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:7. This thought is also communicated by the angel to John, in Revelation 22:9, where he said: “I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.”
This is important to understand, as we don’t want to fall into the error of thinking that just reading this book will afford us God’s blessings. Without the commitment of keeping those things we’re being taught by the Word, we are not going to qualify for this blessing.
I say this because I once believed that just reading and knowing what was written here was enough to receive this blessing. It was only as I began to really dig deep into the matter that I realized there were conditions I have to meet, in order to be given this blessing.
In Revelation 1:7 we see the grand central topic of all the Revelation. In this verse, Jesus said “Behold, I come quickly…” referring to His advent at the end of the world. Then He continues by pronouncing a blessing upon those who keep the sayings of the prophecy of the book of Revelation.
The scenes of the Revelation were opened to John on the Sabbath, as he communed and worshipped God in the quiet and solitude of the island of Patmos. John said, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day,” the Lord’s day, according to Exodus 20:4 is the Sabbath. Genesis 2:2 tells us that God ended His work on the seventh day. A day that was sanctified and made holy. In accordance with the Sabbath commandment, the seventh day is to be observed as the day of assembly and worship. This day commemorates God’s creation. Worship on the first day of the week as a memorial of Jesus’ resurrection is an error established in accordance with church tradition. In 321 Emperor Constantine changed the Sabbath to Sunday, in his edict calling for the observance of the “Venerable Day of the Sun,” but this change was not documented in the Scriptures. Constantine was heavily influenced by the cult of Mithraism, Sunday worship was established by this man because Mithraism endorsed Caesar as the emissary of divine grace. This decree was later reinforced by the Catholic Church in the Council of Laodice, where they claim to have transferred the solemnity from Sabbath to Sunday. This is where Sunday observance originated, and it is not Biblical.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, concerning sun worship, wrote: “During the later periods of Roman history, sun worship gained in importance and ultimately led to what has been called a “solar monotheism.” Nearly all the gods of the period were possessed of solar qualities, and both Christ and Mithra acquired the traits of solar deities. The feast of Sol Invictus (Unconquered Sun) on December 25 was celebrated with great joy, and eventually, this date was taken over by the Christians as Christmas, the birthday of Christ.”
The more we study the origin of Sunday worship, the more we realize this isn’t a godly institution, that it is indeed an abominable practice in the sight of God, which He will judge with a strong hand. We see an example of this in Ezekiel 8:15-18. While God speaks to Ezekiel, he calls this practice an abomination provoking Him to anger, and bringing upon the land violence, notice:
“Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.” Eze 8:15-18
In this story, we see the Jews had incorporated idolatrous practices into their worship which they had learned from the surrounding nations who worshiped the sun. A practice God regards as detestable and provokes Him to anger. This is why the Biblical record tells us God commanded Moses to warn His people not to unite in marriage with the surrounding idolatrous nations, to protect them from being led astray into worshiping strange gods. (Deut. 7:3).
In Ezekiel 8:13-14 when speaking of the abominations found in the temple of God, it says the prophet was brought to the gate of the LORD’S house, this is His temple, but another god was placed in this tabernacle by the name of Tammuz. It says: “He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.”
Tammuz, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, was the god of fertility in the Mesopotamian religion.
Let’s read what Matthew Henry’s commentary tells us about these verses:
“Women weeping for Tammuz, Eze 8:14. An abominable thing indeed, that any should choose rather to serve an idol in tears than to serve the true God with joyfulness and gladness of heart! Yet such absurdities as these are those guilty of who follow after lying vanities and forsake their own mercies. Some think it was for Adonis, an idol among the Greeks, other for Osiris, an idol of the Egyptians, that they shed these tears. The image, they say, was made to weep, and then the worshippers wept with it. They bewailed the death of this Tammuz, and anon rejoiced in its returning to life again. These mourning women sat at the door of the gate of the Lord’s house, and there shed their idolatrous tears, as it were in defiance of God and the sacred rites of his worship, and some think, with their idolatry, prostrating themselves also to corporeal whoredom; for these two commonly went together, and those that dishonoured the divine nature by the one were justly given up to vile affections and a reprobate sense to dishonour the human nature, which nowhere ever sunk so far below itself as in these idolatrous rites.” –Matthew Henry, Bible Commentary.
God detests sun worship. It’s a lie, don’t get caught up in this mess.
Mark 2:28 tells us that the Son of God is Lord of the Sabbath. And in Isaiah 58:13 God shows ownership of the Sabbath saying: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words…”
God requires worship of His people on the seventh-day Sabbath. This is not a Jewish rite.
Even though the Gregorian calendar displaced the Julian calendar, Sabbath remains the seventh day. Sunday has always been the first day of the week and Sabbath the seventh. This weekly cycle was established by God and is not tied to any other astronomical pattern.
It’s also important to note, in the original books of the Scriptures, like the Torah, the days of the week aren’t named. Saturn worship was a practice established by Roman pagans for the holiday of Saturnalia, a feast they celebrated between December 17-25 to worship the Lord of Misrule. Frazer explains that this god would be brutally murdered to destroy the forces of darkness, responsible for shortening the daylight hours by having his throat cut on the altar of Saturn. (–Frazer, The New Golden Bough, Ed. Theodor H. Gaster, part 7 “Between Old and New: Periods of License,” New York: Criterion Books, 1959; rpt. New York: New American Library, 1964. pp. 643–44; 645-50).
Lucian, a Greek historian, described human sacrifice, widespread intoxication, debauchery of all kinds, and cannibalism comprised the practice of Saturnalia. Today, Christmas trees and gingerbread cookies are produced for Christmas to commemorate this offensive festival.
Someone who didn’t understand this history, left several comments in one of my videos, accusing Adventists, Sabbath-keepers of worshipping the Roman god Saturn. I deleted his comment because he was trying to lead readers into strange teachings, and he didn’t himself understand what he was saying. This is why I’ve briefly explained the Sabbath question. When the apostle John tells us he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, he’s speaking of being enraptured by the Spirit of God on the seventh-day Sabbath. There’s a similar experience written by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:2. I want you to note carefully how Paul relates his experience. “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” 2Co 12:2-4.
John was a holy man of God, for this reason, the scenes of the book of Revelation were opened to his understanding.
Revelation 1:11 continues to tell us that the Revelation was sent to the seven churches of Asia.
“Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” Revelation 1:11
This is where Jesus Christ, the Alpha, and Omega, begins to unveil His Revelation to His prophet.
John saw a depiction of the church under the symbol of the seven golden candlesticks.
Uriah Smith, concerning the seven golden candlesticks writes: “These cannot be the antitype of the golden candlestick of the ancient typical temple service, for that was but one candlestick with seven branches. That is ever spoken of in the singular number. But here are seven, and these are more properly “lampstands” than simply candlesticks, stands upon which lamps are set to give light in the room. They bear no resemblance to the candlestick of the ancient tabernacle. On the contrary, the stands are so distinct, and so far separated one from another, that the Son of man is seen walking about in the midst of them.” –Uriah Smith, Daniel, and the Revelation
The mystery of the seven golden candlesticks is revealed in verse 20, where Jesus says: “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:20.
These are not only depicting Jesus as holding in His hand these literal churches in Asia. This is a representation of all His people throughout the stream of time.
The appearance of the glory of Jesus Christ in John’s vision is worthy of discussion. Verses 14-16 tells us that: “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” Rev 1:14-16
Let’s take a brief look at what Ellen White writes while in vision describing the events of the second coming of Jesus.
“The living cloud of majesty, and unsurpassed glory, came still nearer, and we could clearly behold the lovely person of Jesus. He did not wear a crown of thorns; but a crown of glory decked his holy brow. Upon his vesture and thigh was a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. His eyes were as a flame of fire, his feet had the appearance of fine brass, and his voice sounded like many musical instruments. His countenance was as bright as the noon-day sun.”—Spiritual Gifts 1:207. Hvn 33.1.
We have to get ready for this event, friend. Jesus is coming again for His people, and if we’re not found spiritually ready to receive Him, we won’t be able to stand. This is the purpose of studying the book of Revelation. To get us ready to receive God on that day. This information is not merely given to us for foretelling future events. It’s given to get us ready to stand before God, sinless. If we strive to keep these things we’re learning, we have nothing to fear. As we establish a close and personal relationship with God, His Holy Spirit will cleanse us from all iniquity and sin as we learn and obey His leading. In verse 17 Jesus tells John not to fear. In the same way, God’s people are to be joyous of His appearing. Verse 5 tells us that He loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood. It’s His desire to be reunited with His people and to end sin, forever.
This is why Jesus is ministering in the heavenly courts, overruling in the affairs of earth. In John 14:1-3, Jesus promises to receive us unto Himself, notice:
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” John 14:1-4.
Ellen G. White, when writing of the second coming says, “The doctrine of the second advent is the very keynote of the Sacred Scriptures.”
Deuteronomy 29:29 says: “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
The Lord will enable us to keep His commandments. He will provide us with the power of His Holy Spirit to get us ready for this solemn event.
As we study the meaning of the seven churches in Asia we learn “that the Holy Spirit has delineated seven different stages of the Christian church, extending from the apostolic days to the coming of Jesus. In other words, these messages John wrote to the seven churches are a connected prophecy of the church of Christ on earth, during seven periods of time, which cover the entire history of the church, from its inception to the second advent.” –Lesson 1: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, April 2, 1904, Sabbath School Quarterly