Sermon: Our Eternal Kingly Priest (Part 1) Revelation 1:9-20

Our Eternal Kingly Priest (Part 1)

Revelation 1:9-20

Introduction

In this passage, God has given the church the gift of seeing the risen King Jesus in all His glory and spender. Place yourself on the Isle of Patmos with John as see the King of Kings and Lord of Lords reveal Himself.

TT- Jesus is the Great Kingly Priest governing the Universal Church

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that 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.

  1. Jesus, John and Us…Partners in Tribulation

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

Notice how John connects not only himself but all believers, including us with Jesus Christ. He tells us that whether we realize it or not we are currently reigning with Jesus. He moves forward to explain how this is so.

  1. Partners with Jesus in Tribulation

One way John says that we are reining with Jesus is that we are currently set in tribulation and trials. When he uses the word tribulation, John means that believers may need to endure extreme persecution, tribulation, and trials. First, we have our Lord as the perfect example of this. Our corporate identity with Jesus and also with John and all other true believers is to be found in being partners in tribulation.

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” [1]

Listen, it is the trial that marks us as participants with Christ. When we are in Christ, we share in His suffering as well as His glory. We partake of the cross and the crown. What encouragement it is to discover that trial and tribulation marks the Christian as loved by God and not abandoned by God. The church, when suffering needs to be keenly aware of this eternal truth.

  1. Partners with Jesus in His Kingdom

and the kingdom

Another way in which the Trinity seeks to encourage the church is by reminding us that we are currently partakers of the Kingdom of God. John and the church from his time up through ours and on are representatives in Jesus’ kingdom. There has always been some confusion regarding God’s Kingdom. The Jews, for the most part missed it as they though the Messiah’s reign would be different. They expected the Messiah to conquer Rome not conquer sin and death. When Jesus was on earth, He ruled in a veiled way through suffering not an overpowering dictator. We too are reigning with Christ in His Kingdom right now. The Kingdom of God will greatly increase and when our Lord returns it will be much greater in rule and power. We should be encouraged to undergo tribulation as we realize that we are included in the real Kingdom.

  1. Partners with Jesus in Patient Endurance

and the patient endurance

What is the third mark of a true believer? He/She endures to the end. Just as we have already learned that Jesus is the faith witness so too are His people. The ability to endure tribulation and struggles is found in Christ. Not only do we suffer with Christ but we endure with Christ.

We’ll see in verse twelve that John refers to Jesus as the Son of man. This title is very fitting because the Son of man in the Book of Daniel was the One who suffered and reined this is what Jesus was called to do and this is what the church is called to do. Suffer, Reign, and Endure. The church does not compromise with the world because this current world system is opposed to Jesus. We must not give an inch. See, we conquer by not compromising. We must follow Jesus’ example of the faithful witness and when our current world system opposes us we must stand firm[2]

  1. Jesus Commissions John to Write

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

Jesus can press His church to endure and remain faithful under tribulation because He did. John too has remained faithful under tribulation. His suffering and exile were, no doubt, part of his tribulation and endurance. John was chosen to write all that he sees in a Book and send it to the seven churches in Asia. Part of why John was chosen to write the heavenly visions of Jesus was because he also wrote what he saw of the earthly Jesus.

John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. This means that like some of the prophets, and like Peter and Paul, he fell into a spiritual trance so that he could partake of the heavenly vision. The closest example and one in which we are to connect to this is the beginning of the Book of Ezekiel…
And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. [3]

We see that John is to write what he sees and then deliver this writing to the church much like Ezekiel wrote what he saw and delivered it to Israel. It is very clear that God’s people need to hear from God. We need to be instructed by God. We must never think we’ve arrived to the point where we are self-sufficient. Much like Adam and Eve we need God to say…Eat from the trees but not of the tree in the midst of the garden.
John is chosen to be God’s secretary and to document for the church this next phase of redemptive history. He wrote about Jesus Christ on earth, now he is commissioned to write about Jesus Christ in heaven.

Notice what John heard…

I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet…

John writes that this loud voice was like a trumpet. This is important that he would give this detailed description to us because the voice like a trumpet comes from the Book of Exodus where Moses is speaking with God…
16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. [4]

In Israel, the beginning of the New Year was marked by a trumpet blast. When Moses received the Law of God, it too was marked by the trumpet blast. So, Jesus’ voice like that of a trumpet is marking something new. When Jesus returns there will be heard the great blast of the trumpet. What John wants us to see here is that God is turning over a new page in redemptive history. This Book is another chapter in God’s great history book and it is marked not by a trumpet but by the voice of our Lord sounding like a trumpet. With this voice, John is made alert and he fixes his full attention on the One speaking and when he does, the great majesty and glory of the risen and glorified Jesus causes John’s legs to crumble beneath him and he falls down in worship.

  1. John’s Vision of Our Lord as Eternal Priest

The imagery that John here gives us should cause to think OT Temple and OT Priest.

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

  1. Seven Golden Lampstands

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,… seven lampstands are the seven churches.

At the end of this chapter, John explains to us that the lampstands are the seven churches. So, make no mistake, the lampstand is a clear representation of the church. Now, in the OT we see times where this lampstand is mentioned. The one I want us to focus on is the account in Zechariah 4 where Israel was called to rebuild the temple. The golden lampstand with the seven flames was to represent the power of the Holy Spirit by which the temple would be rebuilt.
John tells us that the lampstand he sees is the true Israel or the church and we then understand that just as the rebuilding of the temple in Zechariah’s day was impossible without the power of God, so too, the building of the true temple, the church, is also impossible without the power of God.

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.[5]

Jesus has already promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church. We are the NT temple being built by God for His glory.

Notice the imagery Peter uses referring to us, the church as a temple being built…

2 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,

a cornerstone chosen and precious,

       and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

       “The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone,”

and

       “A stone of stumbling,

and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. [6]

The lampstand is the church and it is located at the heart of the Temple. The flames on top represent the Holy Spirit or as John writes earlier, the seven Spirits.

  1. The Son of Man in Priestly Garments

13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.

  1. In the midst of the lampstand

What comfort to the church while on earth enduring tribulation is it to know that no matter what it seems like at times, Jesus Christ is standing in the midst of the churches. He is present. Like Christ who reined while struggling and so His saints also reign while struggling on earth, so does His bride, the church.

During Jesus’ earthly ministry He called Himself, the Son of Man in order to identify with fallen humanity in order to redeem mankind. His identification with us and His power to pay for and free us from our sins and then to rise from the dead and to reign now with all authority and to be found among or in the midst of the lampstand is what a struggling Church needs to hear. Jesus is reigning over the Universal Church and is present in our midst as well.

The shift from the OT Temple to the Church as the True Temple expands the blessing of God from Israel to True Israel which is made up of all nations and all people groups.

  1. Clothed with a priestly robe

clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.

Here the King-Priest maintains the lampstand. As the OT priests were to maintain the menorah so that the flames rose continually before God, so Christ as our Great High Priest keeps the churches in order by exhorting, encouraging and at times rebuking, as we will see in the next two chapters. Jesus’ concern is that we shine the true light in a dark and dying world.

There is a strong corresponding example of a particular priest in the Book of Isaiah who is dress much like Jesus is clothed here in this passage.
19 I will thrust you from your office, and you will be pulled down from your station. 20 In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, 21 and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your sash on him, and will commit your authority to his hand. And he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22 And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.[7]

It is not by chance that this Isaiah text is used again in chapter 3:7 of Revelation…
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. [8]

What John wants us to see is that Jesus has divine authority as He stands among the churches. He is the Church’s High Priest. As High Priest He has the power to bless or curse. When He blesses or opens to allow sinners to approach the true holy of holies no one can close or exclude from heaven those Jesus allows to enter. The opposite is also true. No one can enter heaven by their own power, Jesus alone opens and closes.

Beloved, we need a Priest. The Roman Catholic Church is partially correct in it’s theology of a priest. Sinners need a priest to mediate between us and God. The problem is that the RC Church thinks this can be done through a human priest. We need a divine High Priest who can go to the Father on our behalf. Jesus alone qualifies and He alone has shed His blood to free us from sin.

Jesus as High Priest mediates for us. His sacrifice is what provides cleansing for our sins. Rather than a yearly (or daily) atonement, Jesus’ sacrifice is once-for-all (Hebrews 10:1-18). Jesus, like the high priests of Old Testament times, stands in the gap between us (the people) and God. He made the necessary sacrifice for us (Jesus was without sin so did not need to offer a sacrifice for Himself as did the high priests of the Old Testament). We have been made righteous by Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21) and are now able to enter into God’s presence. This mediation of Jesus is permanent and continual. Hebrews says, “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.” While Jesus’ sacrifice was once-for-all, His mediation for us continues. Jesus also communicates the will of God to us through His teachings and through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).

Additional Application

Our Eternal High Priest stands in the midst of His church leading and blessing it. I pray that we realize just how powerful this image is. It should mean the world to us that our Lord is also our Priest who goes to God for us and is accepted every time. We stand forgiven because of the perfect work of our perfect Priest…our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Jn 16:33). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Much of the sub points A,B,C come from Beale’s Revelation Commentary 200-1

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Eze 2:1–2). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ex 19:16–20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Zec 4:6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Pe 2:1–10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Is 22:19–22). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Re 3:7). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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