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Revelation: The End -- and a New Beginning

Ray C. Stedman

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Followers
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Revelation: The End -- and a New Beginning

Revelation: The End -- and a New Beginning

Ray C. Stedman

1
Followers
1
Plays
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What is it that makes us want to read the last chapter of a book first? For some reason, many people begin reading the Bible with the book of Revelation; but this is a serious mistake. This book plunges you into a confusing array of dragons and trumpets and vials and seals, with many amazing sights and sounds and visions. A person starting here might well throw the whole Bible away in frustration, unable to make head nor tail of it.It is very significant that the book of Revelation is the last book of the Bible. And if you have read the rest of the Bible before you come to Revelation, you will be much better equipped to understand the climax of the entire revelation of God to his people.Nevertheless, the reason many have difficulty in understanding this book lies not only in interpreting the symbols, but also in failing to take note of the suggestions that are given in the first eight verses. If you read these verses carefully and thoughtfully, you will have a tremendous key to this book. They are like certain introductory remarks often found on the title page of a book, and if you read them that way, you will be greatly helped. The title of the book is the first line:

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him.. (Revelation 1:1a RSV)
Notice that it is not "the revelations," plural. The book is all about Jesus Christ, and it is his self-revelation: it was given to him by God the Father to reveal to his servants. The purpose of it is in the next line:
...to show to his servants what must soon take place... (Revelation 1:1b RSV)

Latest Episodes

Behind the Scenes of History (Revelation 1:1-20)

We have just come through the earthquake of October 17, and can give thanks that most of us survived without serious damage. There is one thing that can be said about an earthquake -- it is a great priority adjuster! When the World Series was being held it was regarded in its beginning games as one of the greatest events taking place on this planet at the time. Almost everybody thought it was tremendously important which team would win. But at 5:04 p.m. on October 17, there was a remarkable and visible change. At 5:05 all priorities were suddenly different.

-1 s2018 SEP 30
Comments
Behind the Scenes of History (Revelation 1:1-20)

The Church that Lost its Love (Revelation 1:19 - 2:7)

What a wonderful week this has been! The whole world has been caught by surprise at the developments in Eastern Europe. New doors of freedom have opened there; even the barrier of the Berlin Wall has been set aside. It has been fascinating to watch. What struck me most was the universal reaction of people to this dramatic change. No one ever expected it to happen! Over and over as people were interviewed they said, "I never believed this would happen in my day." It was not only the common man who was surprised but statesmen, politicians, national leaders and even the military; everyone was wholly taken by wonder at this dramatic breakthrough.

-1 s2018 SEP 29
Comments
The Church that Lost its Love (Revelation 1:19 - 2:7)

Smyrna and Pergamum -- The Pressured Church (Revelation 2:8-17)

It has been often said, with much truth, that Christians ought to live with the newspaper in one hand and a Bible in the other. It takes one to understand the other. The newspaper records the visible events that are taking place upon the earth at the present hour, but the Bible looks beyond to the invisible realm where the councils of God determine what will take place on earth. You cannot really understand life until you see both realms.

-1 s2018 SEP 28
Comments
Smyrna and Pergamum -- The Pressured Church (Revelation 2:8-17)

Thyatira: The Worldly Church (Revelation 2:18-29)

As we look at these seven letters in the book of Revelation, it is helpful to remember two things about them: First, they are a picture of seven kinds of churches that you find in any age, in any period of history. Every church in the world today will fall into one or more of these categories of churches. We fit into one of these ourselves. The second thing is the prophetic nature of these letters. They are a preview of the entire age of the church, falling into seven periods, from the first coming of our Lord to his second appearing.

-1 s2018 SEP 27
Comments
Thyatira: The Worldly Church (Revelation 2:18-29)

The Church of the Zombies (Revelation 3:1-6)

Some years ago I was in the city of Adelaide in Australia, and found I was scheduled to preach in a certain church on Sunday evening. I had never been there before, and had no idea what the service would be like, but I can say that it was so terrible that I have never forgotten it. It was an old-fashioned church building, with a spire reaching up into the heavens and a great pipe organ in the auditorium. Although it could seat about 800 people there were only around 35 present. Most of them must have been well over 60 or 70. They had hired an organist to play for them who was visibly gay, and when he had finished he gathered up his music and left. The choir consisted of seven old ladies, all in their 80's it seemed, led by a cheerful old lady who tried her best to get everyone to sing but without much success. As I waited for my time to preach I was aware of the life of the city streaming by outside, with people totally unaware of and untouched by this church. Whenever I read of the...

-1 s2018 SEP 26
Comments
The Church of the Zombies (Revelation 3:1-6)

The Little Church that Tried (Revelation 3:7-13)

Everyone knows that our historic American city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, named for the church to which we come today, means "brotherly love" (although some Philadelphians today call it "the city of the brotherly shove!"). The biblical city was located about 28 miles southeast of the city of Sardis. It was the youngest of the seven cities whose churches are addressed in these letters.

-1 s2018 SEP 25
Comments
The Little Church that Tried (Revelation 3:7-13)

The Poor-Rich Church (Revelation 3:14-21)

The city of Laodicea was located about 100 miles directly east of Ephesus, the first city to which these seven letters were addressed. Laodicea was part of a tri-city area, closely associated with the cities of Colossae (to which the letter to the Colossians was written), and Hierapolis. Laodicea was noted throughout the Roman province of Asia for its wealth, its commercial life, and its medical practice. As the banking center of Asia, it was the most prosperous of the seven cities. Many large, beautiful homes were built in this city, the ruins of which are still visible, and probably some of them were owned by Christians. Laodicea also had a flourishing clothing industry. A particular breed of black sheep were raised around this area, and the glossy, black wool was woven into special clothes that were sold here. The city was also noted for its medical practice, especially for its eye and ear salve. The medical cult of Aesculapius was located here. Incidentally, doctors in the milit...

-1 s2018 SEP 24
Comments
The Poor-Rich Church (Revelation 3:14-21)

Supreme Headquarters (Revelation 4:1-11)

Chapter four of the book of Revelation represents a dramatic change. We move now to the third division of the book. In 1:19, we learned from the Lord himself the proper divisions of the book. There John the Apostle heard the Lord say to him, "Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now, and what will take place later (or after this)." It is very important to observe these three divisions because they will guide us through this difficult and sometimes hard to understand book. First, John was told to "write what you have seen." That covers the vision of chapter one. What John the Apostle saw was the Lord himself walking in the midst of his churches. Then he was told to write "what is now." That occupies chapters two and three, i.e., the letters to the seven churches which is a sweeping prophecy of the present age of the church. Then he was told "write what will take place after this." It is to that division we come in chapter four, the beginning of what will take place after the...

-1 s2018 SEP 23
Comments
Supreme Headquarters (Revelation 4:1-11)

The Great Breakthrough (Revelation 5:1-14)

In Chapter4 of Revelation, John the Apostle was caught up into the presence of God in heaven. There he saw the throne of God and the court of heaven. Though the scene in Chapter5 is still in heaven, the theme changes from the worship of the Creator to the worship of the Redeemer. Both of these themes are often reflected in Christian hymns. One of my favorites praises God for his creative wisdom:

-1 s2018 SEP 22
Comments
The Great Breakthrough (Revelation 5:1-14)

Four Terrible Horsemen (Revelation 6:1-17)

The sixth chapter of Revelation brings us to the beginning of the judgments of the wrath of God. It is not an easy passage to preach on, but it is part of the content of blessing promised to those who read and keep the prophecies of this book (1:3). I grew up on the Great Plains of Montana, and during the summer months we often experienced sudden thunderstorms. Often before the storm there would be strange calm, a sense of foreboding in the air. One could almost feel the violent storm that was about to break. This is what we experience frequently in today's world. There is a keen sense of an approaching crisis in the affairs of earth. Many secular writers of our day reflect this. To change the metaphor, it is as if we are floating down the stream of time and we sense that a great cataract is thundering ahead and we are about to plunge over the abyss.

-1 s2018 SEP 21
Comments
Four Terrible Horsemen (Revelation 6:1-17)

Latest Episodes

Behind the Scenes of History (Revelation 1:1-20)

We have just come through the earthquake of October 17, and can give thanks that most of us survived without serious damage. There is one thing that can be said about an earthquake -- it is a great priority adjuster! When the World Series was being held it was regarded in its beginning games as one of the greatest events taking place on this planet at the time. Almost everybody thought it was tremendously important which team would win. But at 5:04 p.m. on October 17, there was a remarkable and visible change. At 5:05 all priorities were suddenly different.

-1 s2018 SEP 30
Comments
Behind the Scenes of History (Revelation 1:1-20)

The Church that Lost its Love (Revelation 1:19 - 2:7)

What a wonderful week this has been! The whole world has been caught by surprise at the developments in Eastern Europe. New doors of freedom have opened there; even the barrier of the Berlin Wall has been set aside. It has been fascinating to watch. What struck me most was the universal reaction of people to this dramatic change. No one ever expected it to happen! Over and over as people were interviewed they said, "I never believed this would happen in my day." It was not only the common man who was surprised but statesmen, politicians, national leaders and even the military; everyone was wholly taken by wonder at this dramatic breakthrough.

-1 s2018 SEP 29
Comments
The Church that Lost its Love (Revelation 1:19 - 2:7)

Smyrna and Pergamum -- The Pressured Church (Revelation 2:8-17)

It has been often said, with much truth, that Christians ought to live with the newspaper in one hand and a Bible in the other. It takes one to understand the other. The newspaper records the visible events that are taking place upon the earth at the present hour, but the Bible looks beyond to the invisible realm where the councils of God determine what will take place on earth. You cannot really understand life until you see both realms.

-1 s2018 SEP 28
Comments
Smyrna and Pergamum -- The Pressured Church (Revelation 2:8-17)

Thyatira: The Worldly Church (Revelation 2:18-29)

As we look at these seven letters in the book of Revelation, it is helpful to remember two things about them: First, they are a picture of seven kinds of churches that you find in any age, in any period of history. Every church in the world today will fall into one or more of these categories of churches. We fit into one of these ourselves. The second thing is the prophetic nature of these letters. They are a preview of the entire age of the church, falling into seven periods, from the first coming of our Lord to his second appearing.

-1 s2018 SEP 27
Comments
Thyatira: The Worldly Church (Revelation 2:18-29)

The Church of the Zombies (Revelation 3:1-6)

Some years ago I was in the city of Adelaide in Australia, and found I was scheduled to preach in a certain church on Sunday evening. I had never been there before, and had no idea what the service would be like, but I can say that it was so terrible that I have never forgotten it. It was an old-fashioned church building, with a spire reaching up into the heavens and a great pipe organ in the auditorium. Although it could seat about 800 people there were only around 35 present. Most of them must have been well over 60 or 70. They had hired an organist to play for them who was visibly gay, and when he had finished he gathered up his music and left. The choir consisted of seven old ladies, all in their 80's it seemed, led by a cheerful old lady who tried her best to get everyone to sing but without much success. As I waited for my time to preach I was aware of the life of the city streaming by outside, with people totally unaware of and untouched by this church. Whenever I read of the...

-1 s2018 SEP 26
Comments
The Church of the Zombies (Revelation 3:1-6)

The Little Church that Tried (Revelation 3:7-13)

Everyone knows that our historic American city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, named for the church to which we come today, means "brotherly love" (although some Philadelphians today call it "the city of the brotherly shove!"). The biblical city was located about 28 miles southeast of the city of Sardis. It was the youngest of the seven cities whose churches are addressed in these letters.

-1 s2018 SEP 25
Comments
The Little Church that Tried (Revelation 3:7-13)

The Poor-Rich Church (Revelation 3:14-21)

The city of Laodicea was located about 100 miles directly east of Ephesus, the first city to which these seven letters were addressed. Laodicea was part of a tri-city area, closely associated with the cities of Colossae (to which the letter to the Colossians was written), and Hierapolis. Laodicea was noted throughout the Roman province of Asia for its wealth, its commercial life, and its medical practice. As the banking center of Asia, it was the most prosperous of the seven cities. Many large, beautiful homes were built in this city, the ruins of which are still visible, and probably some of them were owned by Christians. Laodicea also had a flourishing clothing industry. A particular breed of black sheep were raised around this area, and the glossy, black wool was woven into special clothes that were sold here. The city was also noted for its medical practice, especially for its eye and ear salve. The medical cult of Aesculapius was located here. Incidentally, doctors in the milit...

-1 s2018 SEP 24
Comments
The Poor-Rich Church (Revelation 3:14-21)

Supreme Headquarters (Revelation 4:1-11)

Chapter four of the book of Revelation represents a dramatic change. We move now to the third division of the book. In 1:19, we learned from the Lord himself the proper divisions of the book. There John the Apostle heard the Lord say to him, "Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now, and what will take place later (or after this)." It is very important to observe these three divisions because they will guide us through this difficult and sometimes hard to understand book. First, John was told to "write what you have seen." That covers the vision of chapter one. What John the Apostle saw was the Lord himself walking in the midst of his churches. Then he was told to write "what is now." That occupies chapters two and three, i.e., the letters to the seven churches which is a sweeping prophecy of the present age of the church. Then he was told "write what will take place after this." It is to that division we come in chapter four, the beginning of what will take place after the...

-1 s2018 SEP 23
Comments
Supreme Headquarters (Revelation 4:1-11)

The Great Breakthrough (Revelation 5:1-14)

In Chapter4 of Revelation, John the Apostle was caught up into the presence of God in heaven. There he saw the throne of God and the court of heaven. Though the scene in Chapter5 is still in heaven, the theme changes from the worship of the Creator to the worship of the Redeemer. Both of these themes are often reflected in Christian hymns. One of my favorites praises God for his creative wisdom:

-1 s2018 SEP 22
Comments
The Great Breakthrough (Revelation 5:1-14)

Four Terrible Horsemen (Revelation 6:1-17)

The sixth chapter of Revelation brings us to the beginning of the judgments of the wrath of God. It is not an easy passage to preach on, but it is part of the content of blessing promised to those who read and keep the prophecies of this book (1:3). I grew up on the Great Plains of Montana, and during the summer months we often experienced sudden thunderstorms. Often before the storm there would be strange calm, a sense of foreboding in the air. One could almost feel the violent storm that was about to break. This is what we experience frequently in today's world. There is a keen sense of an approaching crisis in the affairs of earth. Many secular writers of our day reflect this. To change the metaphor, it is as if we are floating down the stream of time and we sense that a great cataract is thundering ahead and we are about to plunge over the abyss.

-1 s2018 SEP 21
Comments
Four Terrible Horsemen (Revelation 6:1-17)
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