In this first sermon of our new series on the book of Revelation, we are introduced to how this book has been taught in ways that do not represent its meaning. We learn about its true meaning, and we discover why this message is so crucial to our present time. In a time when hope is waning, Revelation points us to the hope found in Jesus so that we might see the way that God brings victory when all seems lost.
This is the first sermon in the series on Revelation, which is entitled, “The Unveiling.” In Revelation 1:1, we read, “The revelation (apokálypsis) of Jesus Christ…” This book is about the unveiling of Jesus Christ. We are stating up front that this book is not about the apocalyptic end times. Rather, it is about seeing Jesus who has been unveiled in the midst of the pressures of life that make it appear that he is not present.
The first sub-series of “The Unveiling” is entitled, “Don’t Be Afraid” because that is the first thing Jesus says to John. Jesus must say this to John, because when John is terrified by Jesus’ appearance, he tells John not to be afraid as there’s a reason why Jesus appears this way, and there is good news underneath the surface-level imagery. Throughout Revelation, John uses a lot of imagery that at first glance can seem terrifying, but in reality, points to good news.
Many have used this book to promote an escapist theology that does not have anything to do with living out our salvation in the present world. In this series, we’re going to see that the theology of Revelation, and of the entire New Testament, moves in the exact opposite direction. God doesn’t give up on the world. God instead incarnated himself in the world to redeem the world. While escapist theology culminates with Christians leaving earth to fly off to heaven, the book of Revelation culminates with God bringing heaven down to a renewed earth.
The reason this is the time to study this book is that we are in the midst of an incredible culture shift. In the past, the assumption has been that our kids will have it better than we did. The present is better than the past, and the future will be even better than what we experience now. Many cultural observers have noted that this optimism is fading, being replaced with a sense of pessimism, if not dread, about the future. Hope is rare, especially amongst the younger generations.
While we tend to associate the Apocalypse with scary stuff about the future, we’re going to see throughout this series that the book of Revelation is actually a message of incredible hope. Revelation declares that appearances are deceiving because this world lies under a dark cloud of deception. It dispels this deception by unveiling the truth, Jesus Christ, who is the hope of the world.
When it seems that the world is enveloped in darkness, Revelation unveils Jesus as the light of the world. When it seems like evil is winning, Revelation unveils that evil is destined to implode on itself. In an age when it seems like the Christian faith is crumbling, Revelation unveils truth that the true Church, is actually thriving. When it seems like God has abandoned the world, Revelation unveils truth that is just the opposite: Christ suffered abandonment in our place so we might never be abandoned.
This is a book of hope in the midst of despair, injustice, abuse and violence. We need this message, and the book of Revelation more than ever because it points us away from the anxiety of our modern experience to the true foundation of our security.
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