Click on this link to read these verses as a whole. (All links to internet websites are in blue and underlined below, and open up in a new window).
First Beatitude of Revelation
1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
This verse records the first of seven blessings promised in the Revelation (click on this link to read all 7 Beatitudes). Note that the phrase “one who reads” is singular, and the phrase “those who hear” is plural. This pictures the scene where the book is read (and applied in a lesson perhaps) in the congregation to whom it is addressed.
The events of the book are described as “near” in the sense that they are about to begin. The events began in John’s day, but the full force of them would begin after John’s day and would end with the Second Coming of Christ.
John Gives a True and Reliable Testimony
1:1b-2 [Christ’s] servant John, 2 …bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
The Greek word is martyreō. Our English word “martyr” is derived from this word. A witness (martyr) relates what he knows to be true of his own personal knowledge and experience even if it costs him his life. A martyr can still live after he bears witness, but he has to be so committed to testimony even if he is killed for it.
The elaborate chain of revelation (pictured above) demonstrates to everyone that this revelation comes from the Triune God himself! It has an impeccable pedigree of transmission versus the false narrative of Rome from the Emperor and petty rulers around him.
Application to Us in the 21st Century
We stand in the Western World today in a similar place as the early church in the 1st Century. We see false worldviews — humanism, naturalism, and divine-statism combined — with which we are bombarded 24/7 in the written media, TV media and network programming, the internet, smart phones, government elitists, etc.
These false views have hijacked our institutions of higher learning. George Washington’s Farewell Letter in 1796 is very clear about what he thought was important to our Republic’s well-being —
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” (see Washington below; Click on this link to read the entire letter.)
A Divinized-State is Idolatry
We cannot attribute deity to the state any more than Christians in the first century could call Caesar Lord. Hegel infamously said, “The State is God walking on earth.” (see Brackins below). An all encompassing state with power unshared with any other organization is a divinized State — Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan (pictured below).
The Latin Verse is based on Job 41.
“On earth there is not his like, a creature without fear.” Source of picture WikiMedia.
The Divinized-State pushes a “New Morality”
“The New Morality does not believe in God or a Supreme Being — it believes instead in man as ruler of his own domain with his experience and knowledge. How’s that working for us today?!?
Humanism is the philosophy and intellectual thought system that powers the New Morality; material naturalism argues that only scientifically verified statements offer valid truth claims.” (emphasis mine; see Feazel below).
Christians cannot go with the Flow of Modernity
Christians may not be able to change the country in which they live, but Christians can and should live by the Biblical Morality in their personal lives. Christians must draw from God’s Word for direction how to live in God’s world.
“Christian self-hood is not defined in terms of who we are in and of ourselves. It’s defined in terms of: (1) what God does to us and (2) the relationship he creates with us and (3) the destiny he appoints for us. God made us who we are so we could make known who he is. Our identity is for the sake of making known His identity.” (see Piper below.)
A prayer to be used after reading Psalm 137 — which describes believers as exiles —
“Lord, remember your pilgrim Church. We sit weeping at the streams of Babylon. Do not let us be drawn into the current of the passing world, but free us from every evil and raise our thoughts to the heavenly Jerusalem.” (see Shorter Christian Prayer, p. 290, below).
Christians have dual citizenship
We, as Christians, are dual citizens—citizens of our earthly country and citizens of Heaven. We must push back today against ungodly “ideological colonization” by secular humanism, false religions, over-reaching government and educational elites, and pagan philosophies. We must pay heed to Jesus’ Revelation in the Word of God in our interpretation of the world around us. We must not render unto our “Caesar” the things that belong to God alone! (see Fitzgerald below.)
Application Chart of Revelation 1:1-3
For definitions of the left side of this figure, see the section above
“Application to Us in the 21st Century”
Evil is most often done by “Elitist Bureaucrats”
“The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered … in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.” (see Lewis, p. xxxvii, below).
Like first century citizens of Asia Minor, two choices of how to interpret reality lie before us today. John impresses upon us that we cannot live according to the “Elitist Intelligentsia” of our present age and still be true to Christ.
“The Greek and Roman gods were but different faces of the Dragon” (see Rev. 12; also, see DeSilva, p. 95, below). The ancient Dragon [Satan] did not disappear with the fall of Rome. He simply morphed into a current “elitist intelligentsia” cadre who purports to know how we should think and act better than we do ourselves. The Revelation says that Jesus’s account of how the world operates is how we should think and act as His followers in this world.
Revelation 1:4-8 next time!
Brackins, Danile. (2017). “The State as the New God.” [essay] Accessed January 13, 2019 from http://www.danielbrackins.com/essays/the-state-as-the-new-god/
Feazel, Steve. (2016). Abduction: How Liberalism Steals Our Children’s Hearts And Minds. Christian Faith Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Fitzgerald, Ryan. (2015). African Bishops Sick of West’s ‘Ideological Colonization’. Accessed January 12, 2019 from https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/african-bishops-sick-of-wests-ideological-colonization
Lewis, C. S. (1961). The Screwtape Letters: Annotated Edition (New York: HarperCollins, 1942/1996).
Piper, John. (2019). “Identity in Christ.” Accessed February 12, 2019 from https://www.desiringgod.org/topics/identity-in-christ#united-to-jesus
Shorter Christian Prayer. (1988). New York: NY Catholic Book Publishing.
Washington, G. (1796). “Washington’s Farewell Letter 1796.” Accessed February 23, 2019 from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp
© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved