The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near. John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
Many Christians are put off by the book of Revelation seeing it only as a book with weird stories of dragons, horsemen, and strange numbers; but actually Revelation is intended to be a blessing to believers who are facing tough times. The condition of blessing is that God’s word is taken to heart and acted upon. John’s intention in writing Revelation was for it to be read aloud in the seven churches in Asia, but Revelation can speak just as much to the Church today.
John reminds us that Jesus “loves us… has freed us… and made us a kingdom.” No matter what happens, no matter our circumstance Christ’s love for us is permanent and abiding – nothing can separate us from it; Christ’s work on the cross is finished – we are forgiven and set free; and Christ’s mediation is complete – we are given full access to God – to participate in His Kingdom ministry here on earth. John says that Jesus loves believers with an unbreakable love. Christ’s love also caused him to make us to be a kingdom – the sphere of God’s rule – in which to enjoy his loving protection.
Behind the chaotic events of history, the Christian recognizes that Jesus Christ has in fact been exalted to God’s right hand where he sits as Lord, ruling over the rulers of the earth. God is the absolute beginning and the end, and therefore Lord of all that happens in human history.
John lived in a time when to be a Christian was an agonizing this. He knew that from his own experience – so he wanted to encourage the churches to remember that God had never failed in the past and God’s power was no less now. This was to give them, and us, courage and hope in all the difficulties we encounter.
Almighty God, ruler of all and Lord of history Forgive us our despair over the chaotic events swirling around us at home and abroad and set us free to live as your faithful servants. Thank You for Christ’s abiding love for me and for the assurance that you are at work in us and around us, whether we recognize it or not. Help us to live with courage and hope. Make us ministers of Your mercy and grace. Through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen
The Rev’d Sue Henderson retired minister worshipping at United Church Bradford on Avon