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Obligations Revealed In Revelation

by Julius Hovan

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

Thank you for tuning in today to Words of Life. What a joy it is for us to serve the Lord by bringing his Word to you by way of this radio broadcast. We hope you will stay tuned, invite others to join you in listening. Just take a few moments to gather around, hear some good gospel singing and great messages in song and a message from the Word of God as well.

Our message this morning is directed mainly to those who call themselves Christians, who claim to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. What are our responsibilities or our obligations? As revealed in the last book of the Bible, the book of the Revelation as it is called. I would like to talk to you about that this morning.

Listen to the third verse of Revelation chapter one. Blessed is he that reads and they that hear the words of the prophecy of this book and keep the things written therein for the time is at hand.

This is, interestingly, the only book of the Bible where blessing is specifically promised to those who read this book or hear this book read or seek to keep its message. The book is called prophecy in this verse as well as in two verses in chapter 22. And as promised and as prophecy it describes actual future events. And you can read about them there. God has, indeed, given us some view of future events. Whatever this book reveals, this fact indicates that God has meaning in the message, the message is clear, it can be understood. You can believe what it says and you can accept it by faith.

Some say the Revelation book is a book impossible to understand and it certainly could not be a blessing. If you don’t think it can be a blessing, you don’t think it can be understood, the two go together. One well known {?} Bible writer has said this. Revelation is not hard to understand, but it is hard to believe. Indeed, the Revelation letter has some things in it that are frightening, that are hard to believe. But our attention wants to be directed this morning to the word of the writer as we think about what obligations we as Christians have in regards to this book.

In the 22nd chapter and beginning with the seventh verse we learn, first of all, that we are to honor and protect the message. Chapter 22 and verse seven and then verses 18 and 19. And behold—Jesus is talking now—I come quickly. Blessed is he that keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. And then, before the book can close he says this in verses 18 and 19. I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add unto them, God will add unto him the plagues written in it. If any man takes away the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and out of the holy city that are written in this book.

We are to honor and protect the message of not only the book of Revelation, but the entirety of the Word of God. We must not allow it to be distorted or diluted. So many add to the Word of God. Some of the cults of our day claim to have their own special later revelation, a book, a new translation of the Bible or whatever it might be. Some take away from it as do the liberals who reject the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, that it doesn’t really mean what it says. And even many good Christians come to the book of Revelation and they interpret it totally differently than every other book. My friends, we have to be careful in our interpretation and understanding and teaching of the Word of God.

Many reject the foundation of the book of Genesis and they place it with the theory of evolution and the resulting ignorance and distortion that comes with that. This consummate book of Revelation is thought to be impossible to understand. It is full of symbolism to be sure and we understand that. But let me remind you that symbols in the Word of God have meaning. They are there for a purpose.

The writer Peter in the book of 2 Peter chapter three says this beginning in verse three, knowing this first, in the last day—let me remind you there are some last days. One of these days time is going to run out. What is going to happen? Mockers will come with mockery walking after their own lust and say: Where is the promise of his coming? For as the day has gone on from the time our fathers fell asleep things continue as they always were. They willfully forget something. There were heavens of old. There was an earth compacted out of water and amidst water by the Word of God. And the world that then was was overflowed with water and it perished. But the heavens that now are and the earth by the same word have been stored up of fire reserved against the day of judgment and the destruction of ungodly men.

 

Sobering words here, indeed, regarding those who do not honor and protect the message of the Word of God, especially in relationship to the coming again of the Lord Jesus. Many, the apostle Peter says, are willingly ignorant and they are described in the 16th verse of that chapter as we think about their view of the Lord and of his Word as he says about these: wherein are some things hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. .

We must honor and protect the message of the Word of God. The Revelation letter then tells us that we must honor and protect the message that God has given us, not only in the Revelation letter, but in the entirety of God’s Word. And then he speaks to us of the words of this book in the ninth verse of the 22nd chapter when he says: And he said to me, “See thou not do it.” The angel had come and John fell down to worship. The angel said, “Do not worship me. I am a fellow servant with you and with your brethren and with them that keep the words of this book.” And then these two simple words: Worship God. Here is a second obligation that we have. It is prominent in all of the book of Revelation, the hallelujahs, the praises, the bowing down around the throne, the acknowledging of the sovereign lordship of Jesus and the glory of God.
I am afraid too many people know the doctrine, but do not truly know the Lord. And our worship is hindered and we do not worship as good and freely as we ought to do, and not only in our worship, but in our lifestyle, in the use of our time, in the use of our possessions, our relationship to our church and commitment to the body of Christ.   Or maybe we worship things instead of God. We believe in some religious system instead of God. How sad that is, indeed. We must worship God. We must honor and protect this great message.

Verse 10 takes it a step further. And he says to me: Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. Again, we say as some have done: Oh, we don’t study the book of Revelation. It is too hard and confusing and cannot be understood. After all, it is too controversial. The writer here is told: You don’t seal up the words. We have found that they can be understood and that they can bring a blessing in understanding.

You remember the prophet Daniel was told to seal his message up until the time of the end. And John obviously is in the end time and God wants the message of the return of Jesus and his coming judgment upon the world to be clearly declared. And some of the things that Daniel could not understand we now can understand today. In God’s perception of time and eternity truly these events are at hand.

My friends, we must honor and protect the message of the Word of God. We must worship God and him alone. And then we must take the message of the truth of the gospel we have received about Jesus and we must share it with others. We must not shut it up or withhold it from those who read it. There is a concluding thought in the 20th verse of this same chapter in the simple words John writes – the words of Jesus – yea, I come quickly – and John adds, come, Lord Jesus.

There is another obligation we have. We are to yearn for the return of Jesus. That may be why many are not studying Revelation. They really have no desire for Jesus to come back. What a terrible way to live. The mantra of the first century Christians: Maranatha, our Lord comes. Paul reminds us there are only two groups of people, those who love the Lord, those who have accepted his sacrifice of Jesus by a repentant faith and those who do not. One is destined for glory with the Lord, the other for destruction.

My friends, Jesus came the first time as that little lamb, as that babe in the manger. But this Revelation letter reveals to us he is coming again. And he is coming as King of kings and Lord of lords and is pictured as a roaring lion. The desire of the first century church was for the coming again of the Lord Jesus. Is this the desire? Is this the cry of the Church today? The apostles certainly had that desire.

I love the passage in the book of Titus chapter two. I have asked that this be read at my funeral service when I pass away. It is one of the favorite passages of mine. In Titus chapter two beginning with verse 11. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. That is the message of the gospel. Those are the words of life. That grace has appeared. And now it instructs us as Christians that we deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and we live soberly and righteously and godly in this present age. And continuing, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the one that gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works. The hope of the immanent return of Jesus produced godly living in the early church. They looked for the coming of Jesus with expectation and desired it to happen. And it motivated them to good works and to faithful spreading of the gospel. I am afraid too much of that is missing in the lives of Christians and in many churches as well today. The early apostles had that hope.

Isaiah the great prophet of God reveals for us in chapter 64 verses one and two, that not only the New Testament apostles had this hope in God but the Old Testament prophets had such a hope. Listen to Isaiah 64 verses one and two. Oh that you would rend the heavens, that you would come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence as when fire kindles brush wood and fire causes waters to boil to make your name known to your adversaries that the nations may tremble at your presence.

Here is a call from Isaiah, for this great God to come down and show his power with burning and melting and trembling and the destruction of his enemies. This great hope is scattered throughout the Word of God and we can find, as we look at it, that God has much to say there regarding the prophecy of his coming again, in not only the first coming and the person of Jesus, but that second coming when he comes as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Prophecy comes to us in the book of Deuteronomy chapter 18 and verse 15. The Lord your God will raise up unto you a prophet out of your brethren like unto me, unto him you must hearken. That prophet was Jesus. This is a prophecy of his coming. And the 18th verse goes on to say: And I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren like unto you and put my words in his mouth and he shall speak unto them all that I command. Here is the Old Testament view of one coming greater than Moses, greater than Aaron, greater than David, greater than Solomon. He is coming, these writers said. You and I know that, indeed, he has come. He is the Lord Jesus our marvelous Savior. And so the first century church had this as their hope. The early apostles had this as their motivation. The Old Testament writers had this as their hope for the generations to come. But what about our present creation?

Chapter eight of the book of Romans tells this, beginning in verse 18. The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to usward, for the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the revealing of the son of God. The creation is looking for the coming of Jesus to straighten this world out. The creation is subject to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it in hope. And the creation is in bondage, the bondage of corruption and it is looking for that liberty of the glory of the children of God. The whole creation groans and travails in pain. We are in the midst of that groaning and that prevailing today, my friends. But the day is coming when all of that is going to change. The whole creation joins with individual Christians desirous of the coming of our wonderful Lord Jesus, delivered from bondage and corruption and evil and the terrible things that are happening in our world as we go so fast down hill.

Chapter 22, the closing chapter of the Word of God issues a marvelous invitation not only to the first century church and the apostles and the Old Testament writers, but those, and creation itself, long for the coming of Jesus. Listen to the 17th verse of the 22nd chapter of the Revelation letter: And the Spirit and the bride say come. And he that hears let him say come. And he that is athirst let him come. He that will, let him take the water of life freely. Here is a two fold invitation, number one, for Christ to come, number two for the spiritual, those who are thirsty, to come to him to be filled. My friends, would you come to Jesus? Would you accept him as your Lord and your Savior? Would you think about being face to face one day with our wonderful Lord Jesus? We should be bold when he comes and not ashamed before him.

God bless you for tuning in today to Words of Life.

 

Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Bohon, KY.




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