Focus on Christ Meditations: 59. The Kingdom – in Revelation
Rev 1:5 Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
Chapter 1: Any series on the person of Christ would be remiss if it did not cover Christ in the book of Revelation where again we will see him as Lord over all. Our starting verse above speaks of what he has done and is doing. “The faithful witness” refers to his ministry on earth, that we considered in an earlier study, revealing the Father and ushering in the kingdom of God. “The firstborn from the dead” reminds us that he died for our sins and was raised from the dead. “The ruler of the kings of the earth” refers to what he is doing NOW, seated at the right hand of the Father, ruling in the midst of his enemies. The verses that follow after this remind us that he “loves us” and by giving his life “has freed us from our sins” (v.5) but now, “has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father” (v.6) but sometime soon, “he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him,” (v.7) referring to his Second Coming. In those few verses John sums up his activity and future agenda.
But that is only the beginning for next he has a revelation of the risen and ascended Christ – “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!” (1:18) but it is clearly not a vision of an ordinary man even though he is described as “a son of man” (v.13). Without going into all the detail he is revealed as a wise and mature, priestly ruler (v.13-16) whose face was shining like the sun. He stands in the midst of seven lamp stands (v.12,13) revealed as seven churches (v.20).
Chapters 2 and 3 are his words to the seven churches of Asia Minor, where he is revealed as: “him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands” (2:1) the one who oversees the leaders and their churches, “the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.” (2:8), the risen Lord, “him who has the sharp, double-edged sword,” (2:12) who comes with the word of God, “the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze,” (2:18), the Lord, tried and pure, who sees all, “who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars,” (3:1) the overseer of church leadership, he “who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.” (3:7) God who opens up the future, “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” (3:15) Saviour and Lord of all. He comes to each church, fully aware of their state and rebukes or reassures or encourages as is appropriate. He is the head of the Church (Col 1:18), the Lord of the Church. It is his, for he bought it with his life.
Chapter 5: And, indeed, that is the next picture of Jesus that is given us in chapter 5, of the Lion of Judah – the great ruler who has triumphed, (5:5) – and yet a lamb that had been slain (5:6) who alone has the right to undo the scroll of the end time history (5:5,7-10). Again note this picture that we picked up in yesterday’s study, this glorious ruler comes to rule in the form of a lamb that has been slain, a picture of ‘meekness and majesty’ as one song-writer has put it.
If you will read these verses you will see that the community before God fall down before the lamb (5:8) as they acclaim him: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (5:9.10) This risen and ascended Christ is worthy to now preside over the coming centuries or even millennia because he fulfilled the plan of God and has created a new people on earth.
And then the entire hosts of heaven join in: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (5:12) It may not be on earth, but in heaven at least the Christ is worshipped by all for what he has achieved. And then, as if to do away with any doubt, praise and worship for him is linked with that for the Father: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (5:13) This Christ is the Son of God who is to be given worship alongside his Father.
Chapter 6 on: The Lamb then starts opening the seals of the scroll (6:1,3,5,7,9,12, 8:1). This is followed by seven angels blowing trumpets and when the last one is blown there is a great acclamation: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (11:15) Wherever this fits in the human time frame, it is a declaration that the kingdom of God is supreme over all and “The time has come for judging the dead.” (v.18)
Chapter 12: There then appears to be an overview of the life of ‘the child’ and his people and it may be that the following chapters are more detailed accounts of things that took place while the judgments of the previous chapter were taking place. However, there in the midst of chapter 12, perhaps culminating in the overthrow of Satan with the second coming of Christ, comes the declaration, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” (v.10)
Chapters 13-19: The Lamb has clearly overcome and triumphed. Yes, after chapter 12 there some strange goings-on with a dragon and beasts in chapter 13, but chapter 14 returns to the Lamb and his followers and then later in the chapter we see “a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one “like a son of man” with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.” (v.14) who has clearly come to bring judgment which follows in the subsequent chapters.
Chapters 19-22: These bring us the coming of the conquering king “called Faithful and True,” (19:11) and “is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.” (19:13) and “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (19:16) Without doubt this is the Second Coming of the Christ who defeats all his enemies. He reigns with his people for a thousand years (20:4,6 literal or figurative is unknown). When John is shown a new Jerusalem – a symbol of the future community of God communing with God (?) the lamb is there is in still playing a part (21:22,23, 22:1,3) and in the closing words of the Revelation he reminds us that he will be returning ‘soon’ (22:12,20).
We should note that everything significant about the future, about an accounting before God and about the eternal future, is wrapped up in Jesus Christ. He is at the heart of the Revelation from start to finish. He is both Saviour and Lord. Hallelujah!