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The Book of Revelation – Write Number Two

Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer - 15 January 2020

“Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.” Revelation 1:19

After the 7 beatitudes in the Book of Revelation we are now discovering that 14 times one finds the expression WRITE in the Book of Revelation. Jesus wants the Apostle John to write in a book the messages he saw (and heard). Revelation 1:11 says:

Write in a book what you see, 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.” John was to send everything he saw and heard—the whole book—to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea. Because the whole book had to be sent to these seven churches, together they contain a message for the whole Church of Jesus Christ, i.e. not just seven separate letters that each of the seven churches received individually, as a special encouragement and admonition to them, but the whole book.

Looking forward to what will be discussed extensively later on, already at this point it appears unlikely that the Church will no longer be on earth from chapter 4 onwards. The idea that the Church will be in Heaven just observing what takes place on earth from a safe vantage point, without being further involved, does not seem plausible. No, it is because of these many terrible and often incomprehensible happenings in the world in the end-times that the Church of Jesus Christ has to know about them. They will be going through them, so they need to be prepared for them, so as not to panic when end time events unfold.

The Church, living in the midst of all these trials and tribulations must understand and be aware of the fact that He knows about these times, and that these things apparently must happen but they are not out of His control. The Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John has been given in order to comfort God’s people.

John heard the voice behind him. He had to listen carefully to what was said before being allowed to see Who was speaking to him. Everything he was about to hear and see had to be written down, just as Jeremiah had to write the Lord’s words on a scroll. “Take a scroll and write on it all the words which I have spoken to you concerning Israel and concerning Judah, and concerning all the nations, from the day I first spoke to you, from the days of Josiah, even to this day.”…“Take again another scroll and write on it all the former words that were on the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah burned.” Jeremiah 36:2 and 28. “Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run. “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:2-3. So a scroll was used as well as tablets of clay.

The word of God must be recorded. Oral tradition can add or omit all kinds of things, but what is written down is recorded. We also record things in black and white, on paper. A lot of things can be said and promised, but later on people no longer remember precisely and great differences of opinion can occur. That is why we have written contracts, notaries, lawyers and administrative archives to ensure that proper records are kept. Even God Himself wrote. He set the example and instructed His servant, Moses, to accurately write down everything the Lord showed him. Exodus 31:18 and 34:1, 27-28: “When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God… Now the Lord said to Moses, “Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered… Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” Everything that was shown to Moses like the model of the Tabernacle had to be recorded, Exodus 25.

Similarly, John was instructed to ‘write’ in this verse 19 of Revelation chapter 1.

However much has been written by theologians, however many beautiful, pious, inspiring Christian essays appear in print, they never have the authority of the ‘Scripture prophets’. Driven by the Holy Spirit, they spoke and wrote down—or dictated—what they had been told by God. That is why the Bible is the only book in the world with absolute, divine authority, reliable through and through. God gives His promises ‘black on white’, and He keeps them as well.

God gives His promises ‘black on white’, and He keeps them as well.

He “Who was, Who is and Who is to come” (Revelation 1:4), personally revealed to John ‘things to come’. He will also tell us ‘things to come’ through the Holy Spirit, as John 16:13 (NKJV) says: “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you ‘things to come’.”

Following Christ’s general command in verse 11 to write everything in a book, this order to write is now repeated, but with more precision. The writing was to contain what John already had seen—that is, Christ in all His Glory. He was allowed to see Him further unveiled. He was permitted to tell the churches that the glorified Christ is alive and ruling, and that He is the One who is coming! He was allowed to tell them about His awesome, frightening, but oh-so-loving appearance on Patmos. He was permitted to tell them that Christ has the keys—the power over death and Hades—so that dying is not the end. John had already seen that, Revelation 1:9-18.

He was also going to write about what was then and is now—about the presence of the Priest-King and Judge in the midst of His Church, about the sevenfold message to the seven churches, which was also to be the message to His one Church of all the ages, Revelation 2 and 3. And, finally, he was allowed to record what would take place afterwards: ‘what is to come’. The line is then extended into the future, Revelation 4 and the succeeding chapters.

Already in his days the Apostle John writes about ‘what is to come’: “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.” 1 John 2:28-25.

The end-times have already begun, since the first coming of Christ. Therefore John writes in his first letter: “Even now many antichrists have appeared.” But another antichrist, the final antichrist, the antichrist, the lawless one, one-day will come – ‘whom the Lord Jesus will kill at His Coming’.

The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.  Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the ‘man of lawlessness’ is revealed, the ‘son of destruction’, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the ‘temple of God’…

What does Paul mean with the ‘temple of God’? A small temple in Jerusalem? But Paul in all of his writings never refers to that building in Jerusalem. So, is he referring to the Church? Christianity at large, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the ‘temple of God’ with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people”. Do we see in Christianity today how this ‘spirit of lawlessness’ is taking over, declaring that man himself is divine?

Paul continues to write about this ‘man of lawlessness’ that he will be “…displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the ‘mystery of lawlessness’ is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that ‘lawless one’ will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His Coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness…“

The Apostle John would call him ‘the Beast’, later in the Book of Revelation, chapter 13:1. Everything is heading towards a climax, but, at the same time, that frightening future is already present in the history of Christ’s Church on earth. The seven churches were already able to identify with the anticipated suffering. Hatred and persecution were already abundantly present—in particular in those seven churches. They were located in Asia and the places mentioned were all centres of authority and focal points of ‘emperor worship’. They were no longer situated in Israel, but in the world—the Roman world—in which Greek philosophy and Eastern magic and mysticism, combined with the totalitarian Roman exercise of power, had created a spiritual climate in which it was barely possible for the church of Christ to breathe. By the 3rd and 4th Century AD, Rome had taken Jerusalem’s place as the centre of Christianity.

And in our day, now that Jerusalem is again the centre of an independent Jewish State, Rome will not easily relinquish the position it conquered. The tug-of-war for Jerusalem is already in full swing. Yet, Jesus is Coming and Jerusalem will be the centre of the world, despite all the efforts that ‘Rome’ is taking to replace Jerusalem. The final things have begun to develop. Is the Church prepared for them? That is why John was permitted to—and must—write so that the Church will be ready for Christ’s Coming!

The word therefore in ‘Write, therefore’ can also be translated as then. It connects this verse to the previous one. John must write because Christ is the Living One, who has light and life in Himself and is able to give life to whoever He likes. John 1:4 and 1 John 1:1-4 “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men… What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”

Rome as a city is indeed mentioned in the Book of Acts and in letters of Paul, but the name is not mentioned in the Book of Revelation. There, the great contradistinction is between Babylon and Jerusalem. ‘Babylon’ stands for powers that had also taken shape in ‘Rome’, just as ‘Jerusalem’ also stands for a spiritual climate inspired by God. Babylon the city of ‘man’ over and against Jerusalem the city of God.

The general significance of Jerusalem to Christians entered a period of decline during the Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, but resumed again with the pilgrimage of Helena (the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great) to the Holy Land 326–328 AD. The original seat of Roman imperial power soon became the centre of Church authority, grew in power decade by decade, and was recognized during the period of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. By 300 AD there were so many Christians Emperor Constantine mass converted all Romans to Christianity and so Christianity became the official faith of Rome and the seat of its power.


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