THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST

Previous: Revelation 1:5e-6

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. - Revelation 1:7

The whole book of Revelation is like a movie thriller, complete with supernatural heroes and villains, sci-fi scenarios, and unbelievable special effects. Verses 7 and 8 could be considered a trailer for the movie. It is just a little preview of the fantastic conclusion of this age and the beginning of the next! Please notice that even in this preview, the good overcomes the bad and there is a happy ending.

"Behold" is the dramatic translation of the Greek word for "look." We will see it many times in this book, whenever there is something that needs special attention. He is coming! This is the central message of the entire Revelation. Not only was Jesus a living example of all that a human could be; and the only one who was sinless and powerful enough to pay for our sin; and was raised from the dead to prove that He was who He claimed to be; but, wonder of wonders, He is coming back to earth again!

As we go through this study we will discover many reasons why it was essential for our living Savior to also physically return to this privileged planet.

He is coming again to complete His role as Messiah. Many Old Testament passages predicted that Messiah would come to deliver God's people from evil government and establish a righteous kingdom (Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5; etc.) However, some of the messianic prophecies indicated that He would be a "suffering servant" (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53; etc.). We now understand that He must suffer first to deal with the sin problem, and then He will reign. He did offer to reign (John 12) but He knew it would be rejected. So He came the first time to proclaim the Gospel - the "Good News," and to be a sacrifice for the sins of the world, but He is coming a second time as King of Kings! (Revelation 19:11-16) Here in chapter 1 of Revelation we will consider His dramatic appearance as the righteous judge and mighty warrior (verses 12 through 16).

He is coming again to replace the evil world systems with His righteous kingdom. In the book of Daniel a series of dreams and visions depicted the flow of world empires from the time of Babylon until the end times when Jesus will come to destroy evil kingdoms and establish His own righteous one (Daniel chapters 2; chapters 7 through 9; Chapters 11 and 12). We will refer often to these predictions from the book of Daniel.

He is coming again to fulfill His promise to His followers.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." - John 14:1-3

This aspect of Christ's Second Coming is a separate event from His Glorious Return at the end of the Tribulation period. It is called the Rapture, and is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15: 50-58. The most obvious difference between the Rapture and the Glorious Return is that in one, believers meet Jesus in the air and are taken to where He is, and in the other, Jesus comes to earth, bringing believers with Him. We will share evidence throughout the book that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation.

When Jesus returns to earth at the end of the Tribulation, it will be with clouds. John had been among the disciples on the Mount of Olives on the day that Jesus ascended into heaven.

9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." - Acts 1:9-11

We will see in the 14th chapter of Revelation that Jesus is in the clouds when He initiates judgment on the earth, and in the 19th chapter it is said that the heavens will open for Him to return to fight the Battle of Armageddon.

By some method, unknown in John's days, it is said that when Jesus returns, every eye will see Him! Today we can picture this because of satellite television signals and the Internet. It is likely that the world's attention will be drawn for days or weeks to Israel, where the evil world dictator will be gathering representatives from all over the earth to fight this epic battle. The cameras will be in place, and when Jesus appears, it will be made visible to people everywhere. It is likely that even the poorest of people will have an inexpensive mass-produced smart phone or some other means of viewing this phenomenal event.

The expression, even they who pierced Him, would be a reference to the inhabitants of Jerusalem during the siege by all nations against God's holy city. At that time many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem will realize that they misunderstood who Jesus was. When He returns in glory, they will believe that He is their Messiah!

10 "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. 11 In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem. - Zechariah 12:10-11

This mourning by God's chosen people in Jerusalem will be a good thing. It is a sign of repentance that will lead them to salvation in that day (Romans 9, esp. vv. 25-27).

And all the tribes of earth will mourn because of Him. While the people of Jerusalem are delivered from their enemies, they will mourn for their pierced Messiah but the nations all over the earth that have sent their soldiers to die in this battle will mourn because of Him.

Will all of this really happen? The Revelation gives this double affirmative: Even so, Amen. "Even so" comes from the Greek word nai, "yes," "assuredly so" (as in "Let your yes be yes" - 2 Corinthians 1:18). This affirmation is followed by "amen," meaning "so be it!" We had better believe it!

8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." - Revelation 1:8

I am is the personal name of God that was revealed to Moses. Before Moses' time God revealed Himself as Elohim, the plural form of the Hebrew word el, meaning "strong one."

13 Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?"

14 And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
- Exodus 3:13-14

Who was speaking here in Revelation? It is God, of course. It may have been the Father, giving His endorsement of this prophecy. Some think that it was Jesus, who could make the same claims about His eternal existence and power. Or it could have been the whole Trinity, especially since the prophecy was said, in verses 4 and 5, to be from the Father, the Spirit, and the Son.

The Alpha and the Omega refer to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. As you have probably noticed by our reference to original Greek words in some passages we have studied so far, the book was written in Greek. The world government of the First Century was centered in Rome, and was known as the Roman Empire. However much of the culture of the time was shaped by the previous empire, Greece. The Greek language was the trade language of that period of history. We might use a similar expression, "from A to Z" to mean "from the beginning of a subject to the end of it, and everything in between." Therefore, only the One True God could make such a claim.

Some important manuscripts omit the words, The Beginning and the End, but they are another way of saying the same thing. This brings up the question of the reliability of Scripture. It is safe to say that a great many more manuscripts of the Bible have been found than those of any other ancient book. In addition, more scholarship has gone into "textual criticism" - the study of the variations in the text - than for any other book. In the process there are many minor differences in the words used and whether or not a certain phrase, like this one, belongs to the original work.

Textual variations lead some people to doubt that we have a trustworthy Bible, but the more one learns about this process, the greater confidence we have for God's Word. The scribes were incredibly careful when they copied Scripture. They were much more cautious than modern scholars are about proofreading our writing, and if errors were found they discarded the page and started over. It is thought that most additional words were notes made in the margin by students, and mistakenly included in later copies. Sometimes a scribe would make an unconscious substitution of one word for another that had the same meaning.

The bottom line on this subject of variations in the text is this: no known alternative reading of any part of the Bible would change any of the major doctrines of Christianity. We believe that the whole Bible was "inerrant in the original manuscripts."

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

"Says the Lord (God), "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." This final identification of the speaker could also apply to the Father, who is often called the Almighty (Greek pantokrator - "ruler over all"), the Son, who "is to come," or the entire Trinity. In any case, it is so good to know that God reveals the future and gives it His stamp of approval.


Next: Revelation 1:9


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