In the first three chapters of Revelation, Jesus gives John a vision. At the time, the church was undergoing tremendous persecution in the face of an evil Roman Emperor named Domitian. In the vision Jesus tells John to write seven letters—one to each of the seven churches in Asia Minor.
God had a special, and ultimately timeless, message he wanted to give to these churches through John.
Do you know God has a message for the Church today?
Ultimately, it isn’t much different from the message he scribed to the church through John all those years ago. I’ll use the text from Revelation 1:4-8 (NKJV) to unpack the four main things I think God wants to say.
Let’s start by reading the passage:
“…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 from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washedus from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kingsand priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 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. “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 1:4-8 (NKJV)
As I read the opening paragraph of this letter to the churches of Asia Minor, I get so excited. Here are the four things I think God wants today’s Church to know.
1. He knows what we are going through.
Many in the Church today are facing persecution. For some it’s violent and severe. For some it’s more covert. Whatever kind of persecution you are facing, God wants to remind you he understands.
He’s been there. He’s suffered too.
In addition, God reminds the Church that, although Domitian may seem powerful, ultimately HE is the One who was, is and is to come.
Domitian is a temporary ruler. He is a mere mortal.
I don’t know what kind of Domitian you are facing today—whatever issues and circumstances are intimidating you—but I can tell you this: Jesus is greater than your circumstance.
He is bigger than anything you are facing.
He was greater than Domitian and He is greater than the fears that are threatening you. You are His church and he loves you.
2. He wants to reveal himself to today’s Church.
No matter how powerful the church thought Domitian was, God wanted to remind them that He was more powerful. In the same way, He wants to remind you that He is still as powerful today.
He wants to reveal his glory so we will not fear anything in this world.
No leader. No problem. No obstacle. No disappointment. No failure. Nothing is too big for God to handle. He wants to encourage us, strengthen us, convict us, and challenge us.
Even in a time when things seem to be falling apart, He is here to hold us together.
So are we going to listen to Jesus?
Are we going to get our eyes off of ourselves and look to him?
3. We will be blessed if we listen to what He says and do it.
Do you believe Jesus is Lord and God?
If you do, then everything in your life should be aligned with him. He’s calling you to submit to his rule and reign. He wants you to open your heart to him to seek him with all you are.
You will be blessed if you listen to him and do what he says.
Here’s a simple fact: IF Jesus isn’t Lord over all, he isn’t Lord at all. And there is a day coming when all those who refuse to recognize His Lordship will face Judgment. Are you going to listen and do what he says?
4. Time is short.
Jesus is being patient with us right now…he is giving us time to get right with him. And he is giving us time to reach out to as many people as we can in this community with His message of grace and love.
But time is short. Judgment day is coming.
And all those who rebel against his rule will perish.
Where is your heart today? Are you living in full submission to Him?
I’m not asking you if you are perfect. None of us are. I’m asking you if you’ve surrendered your life and future, hopes and dreams to Jesus.
Have you determined that Jesus is the Lord of your life or are you still wrapped up in yourself?
I don’t know everything Jesus was saying to the churches in Asia Minor, but as I pray, I hear the Lord saying this to me and to the people of The Oaks:
“Listen up my people. I want to speak to you. I want to make myself known to you. I am about to do something amazing in your midst, so clean up your hearts, and clear out your ears because I want to work on you daily to prepare you for all I have planned for you. Take responsibility for hearing my voice and obeying my commands. No one else can do it for you but know this: your decision to obey me will impact more than yourself. Souls are hanging in the balance. Listen to me and you will overcome.”