A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on April 11, 2010 by Pastor Dale Raether Getting Ready to Take on the World with Jesus by Our SideRevelation 1:9-19Do you ever get tired of hearing about morons?  How ‘bout this?  The commissioner of education in Maine wants to ban the enforcement of gender division.  What that means is a boy can use the girl’s bathroom or locker room, as long as he’s gay, and this applies to all schools, even pre-schools.  What a moron!  There’s always been sin in the world, just more of it now.  Also, what’s different is it seems Christianity itself is now under attack.  For example, here are the opening words to the peace treaty that ended the Revolutionary War.  In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity.  Try getting something through Congress today with that kind of language in it.  200 years ago Freedom of Religion meant that each person could freely express his/her faith even in a public setting.  Today it’s freedom FROM religion, or if faith is expressed, it has to be that all religions are the same and all “good” people automatically go to heaven.  On the other hand, if we publicly say that God is Triune, that He is holy, and that the only way to Him is through Christ, people are going to get ticked at us.   Okay, so how do we do evangelism?  Well, we could just stay under the radar and not talk about what we believe.  But isn’t that part of the problem?  As more and more Christians say nothing, won’t unbelief and sin just keep increasing?  On the other hand, if we really start taking a stand on morality and on how we’re saved, well, things could get interesting.   Actually none of this is new.  In first century AD, you had the same kind of immorality and corruption as today.  Another thing that was the same was religion was supposed to be kept kind of generic.  The Romans didn’t care what you worshiped, as long as you acknowledged the government as God over all.  Sincere Christians couldn’t do that.  As a result some had their homes and businesses confiscated or were thrown into prison for years.  Others were even painfully executed. I don’t think I have to tell you what a test of faith this that had to be, and how many must have been asking, “Why, Lord, why are you allowing this?”  The Book of Revelation is God’s answer.  It shows Christians what to expect until Jesus comes.  It especially shows how God will bring us safely through it all.  And so, Revelation is not meant to be a scary book.  Rather, when it’s understood correctly, it’s a very comforting and encouraging book.  In fact it motivated first century Christians to take on the world, and guess who won?  The Christians did!  Over the next hundred years or so, in spite of the persecutions, so many people came to faith, that in 306 AD event the Roman emperor came out of the closet – as a Christian!  Can we do it again?  Can we stand on our faith and share our faith to such an extent, that someday when we turn on the news, we’ll rejoice over what we’re hearing instead of fearing for our children? Today we are starting a sermon series on the Book of Revelation.  Based on the overall theme and purpose of this book, we’re calling this series, “Getting Ready to Take on the World.  This morning we’ll be reassured that our beautiful Savior is with us, and He has a beautiful message for us to share.   Before we get into our text, let me say a little about how to interpret this book.  It’s really no different than interpreting any other book of the Bible.  1.  We look at the word meaning in its context.  2.  We pay attention to grammar.  3.  We understand literal language as literal and picture language as pictures.  4.  We compare one passage of Scripture with another, when they’re both talking about the same thing, because each sheds light on the others.   By interpreting the Bible in this way, we enjoy objective, verifiable truth, which also gives us unity of faith with one another, and that’s the way God wants it.  Paul writes in I Corinthians, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought – I Corinthians 1:10.”   Anyway getting back to the Book of Revelation, Revelation contains a lot of prophesies.  And one thing about biblical prophecy is often its fulfillment is repeated over and over again.  I’ll show you some examples as we work our way through the series.  One other thing I’d like to point out – sometimes there are details in the Revelation pictures we’re not sure about, even after applies all the rules of Biblical interpretation.  When that happens, I will say, “We’re not sure what it means.”  Or, sometimes we might see two different ways of understanding a detail, and both ways are in line with the rest of Scripture, and then I’ll say, “Here are the options, you decide.”  Anyway, in all of these cases, none of them change or take away from the overall message of the book or rob us its comfort.   And now let’s look at verses 9-11.  “9I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."  This section is pretty much straight-up literal.  Because of the persecutions, John was exiled to the island of Patmos, and on the Lord’s Day, which is Sunday, he had a vision.  In this vision Jesus gave him a message for the 7 congregations that were under John’s supervision.  You can read those 7 messages on your own.  They’re in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation.  But you’ll notice that each message is really for all Christians to help keep our faith safe in a sinful world.   Reading on at verse 12: “12I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”   This is picture language, because notice how the word “like” is used a lot.  Those are similes.  There are also metaphors here.  For example the seven lampstands is a metaphor for the 7 congregations, because comparing Scripture with Scripture, Jesus calls believers the light of the world; and He said you don’t light a lamp and put it under a bowl, but you put it on a lampstand, so that it give light to all.  This understanding fits with Revelation’s theme of the Church taking on the world.  Also, we don’t have to be afraid of taking on the world, because look who’s standing among the 7 lampstands.  Our beautiful Savior is.    He’s called someone like the Son of man, because that’s what Jesus often called Himself, the Son of Man.  However, now that Jesus has taken back His heavenly glory, He looks a little different than what John had remembered, and so He’s like the Son of Man.   However this is picture language, and so Jesus’ white hair and face represents that the purity of His holiness.  His blazing eyes perhaps symbolizes that His vision is like lasers that go right into our heart – He sees everything.  In Bible times feet were symbolic of ruling.  Jesus’ bronze feet remind us that He’s ruling over all things, and nothing can prevent His purposes.  His powerful voice and the double edged sword remind us of how the Book of Hebrews describes God’s Word.  It cuts right through the baloney of our excuses, but then at the same time it heals and speaks spiritual life into our hearts.   And now we come to a special word of comfort for pastors.  It says in his right hand he held 7 stars.  The Prophet Daniel said that those who lead others to Christ will shine like stars, and so the 7 stars in Jesus’ hand represent the pastors who served those 7 congregations.  When I faithfully serve Him, Jesus keeps me safe, and when you faithfully serve with me, He keeps you safe too.  So, here’s the bottom line.  As we get ready to take on the world, our beautiful Savior is with us.  For this reason, it doesn’t matter how many Romans or how many “cans” or “ists” are lined up against us.  Don’t be afraid!Yet we do get afraid.  Let’s read on, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. 19"Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”  John was more afraid of Jesus in His glory than he was of the Roman persecutions.  This is normal, because sin lives in us, and actually coming into the presence of a holy God, makes sinners afraid.  But Jesus has a beautiful message.  He says stop being afraid.  Stop being afraid, because Jesus died for us to pay for our sins.  Also, stop being afraid, because He rose from the dead, and so He has the power to unlock us from death.  He also have power over Hades.  We’re not sure, if Hades is a reference to Hell.  If it is, the passage is saying, Jesus has the power to keep us out of hell, and that works for me.  Or, hell could be picture language for devil, just like a reporter might say today, “The White House announced such and such.”  The White House is another way of saying, the President.  So, also in this verse, if hell is symbolic for the devil, it’s saying Jesus has power over the devil.  And so, no matter how the devil works against believers, including all the moronic things people are doing, God is going to make it work together for our good.  So, which is the correct interpretation: that Jesus has power to keep us out of hell, or that Jesus makes everything Satan does work against himself?  It doesn’t matter.  Both interpretations are in-line with Scripture and both bring us comfort.       So, then, are you ready to take on the world?  Maybe not quite yet, but come back next week when Revelation will put joy in our hearts and praise on our lips, and get us just a little more ready for Pentecost and taking on the world.  Amen. 

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