Yesterday I began a short series in the book of Revelation. I will not be preaching through the entire book, but the oracles to the seven churches in chapters two and three. This first sermon is from Revelation 1. The purpose is not to provide a thorough presentation of the first chapter, but to unfold the clues that the first chapter provides for rightly understanding chapters two and three.
The position that I take is that Revelation is an apocalyptic, prophetic, letter that is written to the church throughout all of the church age. As such, it extends a blessing to all who read it, especially in public worship, and obey it. The blessing is not just for those living at the time of John's writing, nor is it just for those who live just prior to Christ's return, nor is it only for persons living at particular points in history. The blessing is for you!
My approach to Revelation would most closely fit with the "Idealist" position, however, not completely. The idealist position (also called recapitulationism) sees Revelation as a series of repeated symbolic visions that portray the cosmic struggle between Satan and Christ and the church's place in that struggle. It is heavenly commentary that unveils the struggle from the perspective of heaven at times, while at others from the perspective of earth. And each vision does this, for example, Revelation 1-3 is one vision that looks at this struggle that rages between the two advents of Christ.
But, like Greg Beale in his commentary on Revelation, I utilize the idealist perspective with an intentional redemptive-historical perspective. Revelation 1 teaches that because of Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension, he is the Lord over all of history and rules in majesty. And what is striking is that as this is true of him, it is also true of his church because of their union with him by faith. The same three-fold description provided of Christ is later used again to describe his church. As such, the risen Lord and his persecuted church throughout the Church age are intimately united to one another. This unity is pictured towards the end of the first chapter with the description of the exalted, majestic Christ dwelling in the midst of Church--and nothing can change that reality. The result of this is two-fold. One, obviously the church has noting to fear. But two, and more importantly for this sermon, this means that when you see Christ in this book, you should see yourself. His life is your life.
This book and its blessing is written to you and for you because you are united to its author and its hero. You are given a heavenly interpretation of your earthly pilgrimage. The blessing of Revelation is for you!
You can read it here, or listen to it here.