Course: The History of Redemption
The Last Time God Speaks
The last time God spoke. So let’s commit our time to Him.
Lord, we just thank You again for time to think about You and look at Your sovereign plan. We do believe that as You placed us on earth, You created the earth for us, put us here. You just wanted us to live for You and walk in fellowship with You here. And have dominion of it and rule for You and not for ourselves. We thank You that we see now that in Christ, that is how this is going to be accomplished. And we do recognize and set our hope completely on the parousia, and the power of Jesus Christ coming to reign upon earth. And we look forward to that time when You come, that You fulfill and complete all of Your promises that You have made concerning this earth. Help us to be encouraged and receive the things that You want us to see about You in the last time that You spoke concerning the Revelation of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
The seventh major time God speaks. It is God’s final word to man. It is given to the saints to reveal the end time prior to Jesus Christ’s physical return to earth. It is a book of future prophecy and as such, it is full of symbolism. And nearly all the symbols are rooted in the Old Testament.
And the Apocalypse actually fulfills the promise of Jesus when He said of the Holy Spirit, not only that “He would lead you into all truth,” but He also said, “He shall show you things to come” (cf. John 16:13). And the Holy Spirit is the one that has given the Apocalypse, the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is the inspired Word of God, given by the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit did come and lead us into all truth, primarily in the Epistles. But now He is showing us the things to come in the Revelation. And so Jesus’ word that, “the Holy Spirit would come and lead you into all truth and show you things to come” was fulfilled in the Epistles and in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
The need is with all the evil in the world, and particularly at that time, the great opposition that was there to the church and the persecutions that they were going through. The Christians needed assurance of victory. They needed to know that Christ and His people will eventually win the spiritual war and the actual war. And so it proclaims the victory. And that was the great need at the time, to know that victory is sure. And the book of the Revelation does a great job of showing us that victory.
A cry develops and it is fulfilled in Revelation 22:20. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” And as you begin the book and you go through it, this cry slowly develops until you get to the end. And it closes with this cry: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” “Behold, He comes with clouds and every eye shall see Him. Surely, I come quickly,” He says.
So all of our hopes wait on one hope and that is why we set our hope completely upon the grace that is to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. We just have this one hope in Him and we have great assurance because of Him.
The content is simply this: Revelation chapter 1 is the person of Christ in glorified power. We see Him. It is a revelation of Christ.
In chapters 6 through 18 we see the great tribulation that takes place in the world.
In chapter 19 we see the return of Christ to reign along with His saints.
In chapter 20 we see the millennial reign.
And so it is a very simple content about Christ and what He is going to accomplish at His final and full revelation.
Then the method is that it is directed actually by Jesus Christ, through angelic messengers to the apostle John. He says it is the revelation that God gave Him. And He gave it to His angel and His angel gave it to John. And only the child of God will understand the spiritual message because it is very symbolic. However, the message is not symbolic. It is real and literal. It is to be received as an encouragement to persevere in total commitment to Jesus Christ until He calls us home. And yet it is apocalyptic, symbolic literature because a lot of the things that have to be explained, you just cannot put them into words. It was too hard for words to express and so they used symbols.
And so the response requires personal boldness to stand. You can compare Ephesians 6 and how we have the whole armor of God and with the whole armor of God we are to stand. We stand in all that we have.
Well, how can you be troubled when you are receiving an unshakable kingdom, even if you are being persecuted, as they were at this time in the early church? The only way you can be troubled is if you lack vision, if you lack epignosis. If you lack revelation on God and who He is and what He has got planned for you, then you can be troubled and shaken. But if you see the victory is sure, and you see the glorified Christ, and you see the church, taken up into heaven, and you see them returning with Christ in great glory, and you see Christ setting up His kingdom and returning as the King of kings and the Lord of lords, then you realize you have an unshakable kingdom and it does not matter what you are going through. And that is largely, the response that He expects from us, is to have that kind of, relationship there.
I mean, the very cause of the consummation is revealed in the name. He is the Lamb. He is the Lamb that was slain. And the reason that we are having the consummation is because He gave Himself for us, “To Him that loved us and washed us in His own blood” (cf. Revelation 1:5). He is the one that is coming back for us and it is just a beautiful picture. And we know that is the reason for Christ coming back, really.
I mean, you see in Revelation the very nature of history, how the unseen is connected with the seen because things lived out on earth—and the battlefield is earth. Behind it all are these unseen powers, all these battles that are taking place in heaven that are affecting what happens right here on earth. So earth and heaven are kind of fused into one drama of redemption. But Jesus Christ is the victor and He returns King of kings and Lord of lords. And it is just a beautiful picture.
So, all of our hopes are set here on the return of Jesus Christ. “Behold, He cometh with clouds and every eye will see Him” (Revelation 1:7). And His coming is a proclamation of victory. And we will see Him returning in this victory.
The words “overcome,” “prevail,” “conquer,” and “victory” are all the same Greek word. If you took your English translation and went through it and took those words “overcome,” “prevail,” “conquer,” and “victory” and looked them up in your Strong’s concordance, you will find every time they are the word nikao. Nikao means to rule or to conquer. And what He wants us to get from that, I think, is that conquerors never quit and quitters never conquer. That is just an absolute principle of life. Conquerors never quit and quitters never conquer. But because we are in Christ and He is the conqueror, He is the nikao. And when you read it in the Greek language, it is even more prevalent because every time you see overcome or prevail, every time you see the words conquer or victory, every time you see that word nikao you realize this book is all about the conquering Jesus Christ. And it is almost like a magnification of the fact that in the Epistles it says He always leads us in triumph because that is who He is, He is the conqueror. He never quits and He never fails; He is always with us, so it is a beautiful picture.
And the whole teaching, you might say, culminates here because at the end, of course, we see a new heaven and we see a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. And God finally does, after all the events of history and things are over, God creates a new heaven and a new earth and He has those people on earth that He has always wanted to be here in earth, living like Christ with His life in us. So, redemption reaches its end and the Redeemer finds His joy. “He hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16).
Now, we always tend to think about us and how great it is going to be for us because we are so self-focused. But we are not the One who went out and prepared the city. We are not the one who went out and built the house. We are not the one who provided the salvation, the means, the grace, everything. He did it. This is something that God has done from beginning to end. He has prepared for us a city to dwell in forever and ever and ever and ever. And it is like it is the book of His joy because we think we are going to be glad when He comes back, but He is going to be so much more thrilled to come back and to set up His kingdom. Not only to show who He is, but because He loves us so much and He has been preparing this. He has been excited about this for a long, long time. It will be that fulfillment of the new covenant promises for this to take place. And so it will.
Secondly, one of the reasons it needs to take place is to establish perfect government on earth. We have always wanted it. That is what God intended, you know. The Lord has been preparing for us a kingdom, and unshakable kingdom and a city and a dwelling place. And the joy that He receives when we are there and we are enjoying Him and His righteousness is just a tremendous joy. It is a wonderful thing. And so, really, that is the book of the Revelation.
So we live in between two prayers. We live in between the prayer “Thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10) that Jesus gave us when He was here incarnate in the Gospels, and the prayer of Revelation 22:20, “Even so, come.” And as a Christian, you are praying both ends of that prayer in your prayer life. You are praying, “Thy kingdom come and be done on earth, even as it is in heaven.” But you are also praying, “Even so, come.” In spite of what is going to happen on this earth, “Even so, come.” In spite of the judgments that have to take place, “Even so, come,” because you know that this has to take place for the final consummation to happen. And so we are asking for His kingdom and we live between those two prayers, between Matthew 6 and Revelation 22. That is our life.
And the response that God expects from the book of the Revelation is simply, you might say, “look up because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28). But as you are looking up and seeing how close your redemption is, you are able to do what?—to be faithful unto death. That is part of the response.
Do you remember Stephen in the early church as he was being stoned? And it is like he is looking up and as he is looking up, he is seeing the face of God, you know the face of Christ. And it is like he is almost enjoying his stoning. You are like, what’s up with that? He is faithful to the point of death because he sees God. He sees the victory and he knows where he is going. And it is like Paul said, “It is far better to depart and to be with Christ then to stay here” (cf. Philippians 1:23).
So in the midst of all this persecution that was going on in the early church, they needed to know the victory was sure. And they did. And the book of the revelation covers the victory that we have in Christ Jesus in the final consummation of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. And it does it in such a unique, symbolic way, through these signs and symbols. They are visuals so that we can picture and see these things going on.
But the response is, look up! See it! Know it is real. And as you see where you are headed, you can be faithful to the point of death. Because Jesus was faithful to the point of death and God raised Him from the dead. And if you are faithful to the point of death, God is going to raise you and give you a crown that is going to be very glorious. And it is like they say, “The sufferings of this present time are not even to be compared to the eternal weight of glory that you receive in the kingdom” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
So this requires personal boldness and being faithful to death. Love not your lives unto death that is the message there.
Well, let’s pray.
Lord, we are amazed that You would speak to us at all, but yet You are trying to communicate, You are trying to get our attention. You are trying to speak to us. And You want to love us and pour out Your life into us and upon us. We are just so privileged and so blessed. And we thank You that You want to speak to us. I just pray that as we go through, you know, and continue to look and make comparison of what You did in history, and then the fact that You spoke seven major times throughout history, we just want to see these things and put them together, you know, into one big picture, Lord, so that we can appreciate You more. Really it is about You, Lord and it is not just so we can have the knowledge. The Bible is inspired by You and by Your Spirit. There is no book like this, Lord, anywhere on earth. So, we thank You, Lord, for the inspiration of Your Holy Scriptures and for the way that You speak to us, even now, Lord. We pray You would give us ears to hear what the Spirit says to the church, that we might rightly divide the word of truth because we get anchored solidly in who You are and what You have planned. Lord, let us see it clearly so that we can defend the once for all delivered faith, for Your glory in Jesus’ name, amen.