Quarter’s Theme: DIVINE DISPLAY OF THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE
Unit 1: The Initiator Of The Message (Lessons 1-3)
LESSON 3 21/6/2015
THE CHRIST OF THE CHURCHES
Suggested Hymns: G.H.B. 243, 309
Devotional Reading: HAB. 2:1-20
Topic For Adults
CHRIST HAS THE FINAL SAY
Topic For Youths
Topic For Intermediates
ARE YOU WORTHY?
Memory Verse: I am He who lives and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen (Rev. 1:18a) NKJV
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READING
The Vision Of The Son of Man
The Book of Revelation records a time when the apostle John saw a vision of Jesus on the Island of Patmos. While John worshipped God on the Island of Patmos, Jesus spoke to him but when he turned to hear the voice, he saw a vision (v. 12). John was overwhelmed by Jesus’ presence but Jesus comforted him with the same relevant words that can comfort us “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last… I am alive forever”. Be ready to hear from Jesus today and ‘see’ the vision and your life will not be the same again.
Point of Emphasis: “Do not be afraid” – verse 17
Prayer Point: Because You are alive forever, Jesus, I live forever (Amen)
The church as an institution did not just happen; it was built by Christ. The
foundation, as it were, was laid with His first message of repentance and the calling of the first disciples (Matt. 3: 17-22). The construction continued throughout His earthly ministry and is an on-going project that will not cease until rapture. As the owner, Christ has unquestionable say over the goings-on in the church, and in the book of Revelation, He exercised this right in His message through His servant, John, to the seven churches in Asia—and by extension, to the church today. This lesson sets the background for that correspondence between the Owner and the owned.
NOTES ON THE LESSON
(1) THE WORTHY ENVOY (REV. 1: 9-10)
Tradition holds that John, the writer of the book of Revelation, was sent on exile to the Island of Patmos under the Roman Emperor Domitian. John informs us that he “was on the Island that was called Patmos” (Revelation 1:9). Patmos was a barren Island that lies off the south-west coast of the present day Turkey. It was employed then as a prison or place of exile by the Roman emperors. According to John, he was exiled there “for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ”. It has been said that John would be in his late nineties when he was banished to the Island; yet, he still referred to himself as Christ’s servant. By his long association with Christ and his loyalty to Him after His ascension, John was eminently qualified to be the bearer of this solemn message, which evidently was his last earthly assignment for the master he dearly loved.
When the Roman authorities banished John, they meant to isolate him from everything dear to him. They must have envisaged him becoming broken and renouncing his faith. But Christ chose that period of isolation and detachment from the hustle and bustle of life to share one of the most protracted life message with John. Obviously, moments of undivided intimacy with Christ always produce the best spiritual yields. How much of such do you enjoy with Him?
(2) THE GLORIFIED CHRIST (REV. 1: 11A, 12-18)
Jesus Christ is presented here in very powerful symbols. He is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; the one standing in the middle of seven golden lampstands. The lampstands represent the seven churches. Jesus, being among the lampstands is thus an indication of Jesus Christ’s abiding presence in His church.
John further describes Him as one like a Son of man; a phrase that also appears in Daniel 7:13 and 10:16. The phrase “Son of Man” is Jesus’ favorite self-designation. While the phrase is unique to the book of Daniel in the Old Testament, it appears more than 80 times in the New Testament.
As Luke 5:24 confirms, Jesus Christ, as the Son of Man, is one who has authority on earth to forgive sins, judge sins and judge humanity. While exercising His judgement, He cannot be accused of being unfair or not being able to understand the impact of sin on man’s ability to choose righteousness. Christ became a man, experienced every aspect of sin, but did not sin. He is thus an experientially qualified judge.
The description of Jesus Christ in verses 12 to 18 bears striking similarities with the accounts in Daniel 10:5-6. It is a further confirmation of the pre-existence of Christ and also shows the strong link between the books of Daniel and Revelation. Similar again are the responses of both Daniel (Daniel 10:9) and John (Revelation 1:17) to their encounter with the glorified Christ: Both ‘fell at His feet as a dead man.’
Jesus capped His appellation with this: He is the living One; (that) was dead, and behold, (is) alive forevermore, and (has) the keys of death and of Hades.
(3) JOHN’S COMMISSION (REV. 1: 11B, 19)
Having got John’s full attention, Jesus Christ instructed him to write all that he had seen. This instruction is similar to the one God gave to Prophet Habakkuk (Habakkuk 2:2). Why was John to write? Because what he saw were “…the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things.” What are these ‘things’ John had seen?
- He had seen Jesus Christ the revealer of things (recorded in Chapter 1).
- He had seen ‘The things which are’ — the current state of the seven churches (reported in Chapters 2 and 3)
- He had also seen ‘The things that shall take place’ (presented extensively in Chapters 4-22)
As verse 20 sums it up, the entire contents of the book of Revelation revolve around the ‘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 churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.’
The book of Revelation is thus the message of Christ, the Owner of the church (Matthew 16:18) about the state of the church on the one hand, and how the future of the church is intertwined with the future of the earth.
God’s instruction to Habakkuk to write what he saw came only once, but occurs several times in the book of Revelation. This underscores the importance of what was revealed to John. How the message from the Isle of Patmos was received by the primary audience and how they were affected by it is a subject for Bible historians; however, our concerns as Christians in this age is how we shall allow the revelation to shapen our lives and conduct now and for the hereafter. Christ has sent His last written post as the epilogue of the Bible. All we can do is study and be guided by it. No other mail has come since then, nor ever will.
(1) Why was John on the Island of Patmos?
(2) What does the seven stars held by Jesus Christ symbolize?
(3) Why did John fall down as dead when he saw Christ?
(4) Explain the significance of Jesus referring to Himself as ‘the Son of Man’.
(5) Why did Jesus Christ command repeatedly that John should write what he saw?