01 the alpha and the omega (part1)

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<ul><li> 1. Amen! Hallelujah! - A study of the Book of RevelationLesson 1 The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Text: Revelation 1:1-8; 22:8-12 Date: March 4, 2007 Authored By: Dale WellsPalm Desert Churchof Christ </li></ul><p> 2. Lesson 1The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1)REVELATION IS A BOOK TO BE UNDERSTOODRev 1:1-3 WEB This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things which must happen soon Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written in it, for the time is at hand. Most people begin with the assumption that we cant really understand the Book of Revelation. John, on the other hand, assumes the book can be understood. He makes it clear by his choice of words. His first word is apocalypsis an unveiling, uncovering, revealing, or disclosure of something that had previously been concealed. It is significant that he did not call it a mystery (mysterion), but a revelation. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MYSTERY AND REVELATION Eph 3:1-7 WEB by revelation the mystery was made known to me when you read, you can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; which in other generations was not made known to the children of men, as it has now been revealed that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of his promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel Paul makes a point that what was once a mystery is now a revelation. By nature, a mystery isn't understood until it is revealed. Once it is revealed, it is no longer a mystery. In Revelation, something that had once been a mystery was revealed. THE BOOK BEGINS WITH A BLESSING ON THE ATTENTIVE, OBEDIENT READER AND HEARER. BLESSED (MAKARIOS) IS THE WORD OF THE BEATITUDESPage 2 3. Lesson 1The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Mat 5:3-12 WEB Blessed are the poor in spirit Blessed are those who mourn ... Blessed are the gentle Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness ... Blessed are the merciful ... Blessed are the pure in heart Blessed are the peacemakers Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness' sake ... Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake ... In the Beatitudes, Jesus describes the kind of character he expects of his followers. No one looks at the Beatitudes and thinks they represent unattainable demands. Neither should we look at the blessings in Revelation and think they are unattainable. BLESSED IS HE WHO READSRev 1:3 WEB Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written in it, for the time is at hand. The Greek (ho anaginooskon) literally means the one who reads aloud. Even if we didnt know that from Johns choice of vocabulary, it is apparent from the second blessing on those who hear. John envisions a congregational setting in which one person reads the Book of Revelation to an assembled congregation.BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HEAR Hear (akouoo) is a word that means different things in different contexts. With a noun in the genitive case, it meant hear. When it is used with a noun in the accusative, as here, it meant understand. In other words, Jesus intended the message to be understood.The Bible gives a good example of the different uses of akouoo as hear and as understand One good example is found in the accounts of Paul's Damascus road experience, which seem contradictory particularly in the King James Version.Page 3 4. Lesson 1The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Act 9:7 KJV And the men with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. Act 22:9 KJV And they that were with me saw the light but they heard not the voice ... In Acts 9:7, akouoo is used with the genitive case. In Acts 22:9, it is used with the accusative case. Modern translations clear up the confusion.Act 9:7 WEB The men with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one. Act 22:9 WEB Those with me saw the light but they didn't understand the voice BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO KEEP THE THINGS IN ITThe word keep (terountes) means observe, or obey. If God intended people to understand and obey the book, he must have written a book that they could understand, with commands they were capable of obeying!So, if that is the case, why is the book so misunderstood?People misunderstand the book because of faulty assumptions they bring to the text, not because of what the text, itself, says. Many assume it is a message to us about our time. That is a faulty assumption that leads to faulty conclusions. POPULAR APPROACHES TO REVELATION Some people see the Book of Revelation as a summary of history. They see the Catholic Church, invasions of Rome by Goths, Vandals, Moslems and Turks, and the Reformation with Luther and Calvin. Philip Melanchthon, a contemporary of Luther, took this approach to the book. Recent authors who adopt this approach are Albert Barnes and John Hinds. Each such writer has had to reapply historical events to put himself Page 4 5. Lesson 1The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) in the last days, because began with the presumption that he was living in the last moments of time. Some people believe the Book of Revelation only deals with the end of time. Ive read authors going back to 1948 who thought they were living in the last moments of time. Each has had to rewrite his timeline when unfolding events proved him wrong. Something is fundamentally wrong with an approach to the book that requires you to rewrite your interpretation every time history disproves it. Yet, people keep buying their books, and these authors keep cranking them out, even though history has proved them wrong every time! REVELATION'S TIME FRAME IS SET BY TWO PHRASES The first is the Greek dei genesthai en tachei - the things which must happen soon.Rev 1:1 WEB This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things which must happen soon...Rev 22:6 WEB He said to me, These words are faithful and true. The Lord God sent his angel to show the things which must happen soon. Some believe that en tachei means certainly. The use of the word in other contexts shows that tacheoo means quickly.Act 22:17-18 WEB It happened that, when I had returned to Jerusalem, and while I prayed in the temple, I fell into a trance, and saw him saying to me, 'Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not receive testimony concerning me from you.' Gal 1:6-7 WEB I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel; and there isn't another gospel. Page 5 6. Lesson 1The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) 2Ti 4:9 WEB Be diligent to come to me soon... The first readers of Revelation were meant to understand that the fulfillment of the book would be soon - from their point of view, not ours! THE TIME IS AT HANDThe second phrase is the Greek ho gar kairos engus for the time is at hand. Literally, engus means in hand. The idea is within the grasp or within reach.The use of the time is at hand.Rev 1:3 WEB Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written in it, for the time is at hand.Rev 22:10 WEB He said to me, Don't seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. This same expression is used elsewhere.Mar 1:14-15 WEB Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand! Rom 10:8-9 WEB The word is near you, in your mouth, and in your heart;...Phi 4:5 WEB Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. No Greek text ever uses engus of something remote. It always means something near. REASONS FOR INTERPRETING THE BOOK IN LIGHT OF ITS TIME: First, it was a revelation to its first readers, not a mystery. Second, it was intended to be read, understood, and acted on by its Page 6 7. Lesson 1The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) first readers. Third, its time of fulfillment was close at hand from the perspective of its first readers. Picture yourself as a member of the church in Pergamum. At worship one Lords Day, you learn that Antipas has been executed for his faith. You know that you may be next! Then, a messenger arrives with a letter from John that is supposed to give you hope. What do you want to know? What to expect in 2000 years? No! You want to know if youre going to be alive tomorrow! If not, you want to know what then? Was it worth it for Antipas to lose his life! Or for you to lose yours! You dont care about some 21st Century writer; you want to know whats about to happen to you and what God is going to do about it!Revelation is a message to First Century Christians about First Century concerns! KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING REVELATION All literature is not intended to be read alike. You don't read Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Edgar Allen Poe the same way. You don't read William Shakespeare and Stephen King the same way. You don't read a newspaper and poetry the same way. The same is true of a biography and a prophecy, or a history and a math textbook. They are not written the same way; and they are not interpreted the same way. Revelation is written in a style called apocalyptic. Apocalyptic writings have distinctive characteristics that must be understood in order to properly interpret the writings.Lets look at some distinctive characteristics as they are found in the Book of Revelation. For example, Revelation is written in symbols. John uses fantastic imagery that is not intended to be taken literally. Page 7 8. Lesson 1The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1)WHAT IF I TOLD YOU THAT YESTERDAY, I SAWA VISION.I saw what looked like a living creature. It had four legs, but it stood up on two, like a man. It had a prominent nose. It was brown and had long ears.I saw another living creature. It looked like a bird without wings. It was blue and had two legs with three toes on each foot. The first creature held a red cylinder. One end was pointed and a string came out of the other end. He straddled the cylinder and put a flame to the string. The first living creature sped toward the second living creature.The second stepped aside as the first sped past.Who are the two creatures? Wile Coyote and Road Runner!READ REVELATION THE WAY YOU WATCH ANIMATIONS In order to understand the book you must use your imagination. In the book, well see a seven-headed dragon, a seven-headed beast, a lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, a prostitute riding a beast, etc.Dont belabor the details theyll distract you from the picture. Let the picture take hold of your imagination and you will come to understand the book.REVELATION MAKES EXTENSIVE USE OF SYMBOLS SOME OF THE SYMBOLS ARE SELF-EVIDENT ONE LIKE A SON OF MANRev 1:13-18 WEB And among the lampstands was one like a son of man, clothed with a robe reaching down to his feet, and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and his hair were white as white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet Page 8 9. Lesson 1The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) were like burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace. His voice was like the voice of many waters. He had seven stars in his right hand. Out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining at its brightest Don't be afraid. I am the first and the last, and the Living one. I was dead, and I am alive forevermore This is clearly Jesus. It can be no one elseTHE LAMB OF GODRev 5:5-6 WEB One of the elders said to me, Don't weep. Behold, the Lion who is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome; he who opens the book and its seven seals. I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. Anyone who knows very much about the Bible will have no difficulty identifying the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, and the Lamb of God, as Jesus. It just cannot be anyone else. TWO WITNESSESA small part of it helps us identify the figures behind the picture.Rev 11:6 WEB These have the power to shut up the sky, that it may not rain during the days of their prophecy. They have power over the waters, to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.Clearly the figures depict Moses and Elijah. The picture of someone shutting up the sky comes from the life of Elijah. The picture of someone turning water to blood and striking the earth with plagues comes from the experience of Moses. A RADIANT WOMAN GIVES BIRTH TO A UNIQUE CHILD Page 9 10. Lesson 1The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) Rev 12:1-5 WEB A great sign was seen in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child. She cried out in pain, laboring to give birth. ... She gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.John expects his readers to identify the woman as Mary, and her child as Jesus. A CONQUERING KING ON A WHITE HORSERev 19:11-16 WEB behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it is called Faithful and True. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has names written and a name written which no one knows but he himself. He is clothed in a garment sprinkled with blood. His name is called The Word of God. Out of his mouth proceeds a sharp, double-edged sword, that with it he should strike the nations. He will rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty. He has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.Again, there can be no doubt that this is Jesus.THE TEXT EXPLAINS THE LESS OBVIOUS SYMBOLSWhat are the stars and lampstands?Rev 1:20 WEB[T]he mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the angels of the seven assemblies. The seven lampstands are seven assemblies.In Revelation, the lampstands are churches and the stars are their messengers.What about the dragon out to devour the childRev 12:9 WEB The great dragon , the old serpent, he who is Page 10 11. Lesson 1The Alpha and the Omega (Part 1) called the devil and Satan ...In the Apocalypse, the dragon is Satan. THE PROSTITUTE RIDING ON A BEAST Who is the prostitute? The text helps us out:Rev 17:18 WEB The woman is the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.She is riding a beast with seven heads.Rev 17:9-11 WEB The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings The text makes a dual application of the 7 heads. They are seven mountains on which the woman/city sits. They are also seven kings.Rome was the 1st Century city that sat on seve...</p>