“Hear, O Israel! “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”
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 first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Every time, every time! I get goose bumps and tear up every time I read, “To him who loves us, and released us from our sins by his blood.” Read it all again, remembering to waltz: “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 first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Wow! Let it sink in. I, for one, often ask, “why me Lord, what have I even done, to deserve even one, of the blessings I’ve known?” Actually, that was Johnny Cash, but I agree wholeheartedly with his question. Of course we all know the answer–grace. And grace is the first thing John offers to the seven churches, notice: “John, to the seven churches that are in Asia; GRACE to you…” It’s all about the grace.
Except it isn’t. And that’s what I truly love about the all encompassing book of Revelation. Yes, grace releases us from our sin and enables us to be in communion with the Lord. In that respect, it is all about grace. But we must consider the source of said grace. Listen to the words; 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…” Yes, grace, whoo-hoo! But the source is the eternal God. John offers grace and peace, but the source is the one and only God.
The God who eternally exists in, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Notice the text while waltzing.
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 first born from the dead
And ruler of kings in earth.
God is one, yet three. It’s mind boggling if we choose to ponder it based on our own understanding. Yet somehow, deep in the pit of our souls, it makes perfect sense.
Before us, there was God. Before animals, there was God. Before the Earth, there was God. “In the beginning, God…” Soon after in Genesis, the one God reveals to us that he is plural. “Let us create man in our image.” It is very interesting that the one God reveals his plurality at the creation of man. Notice again John’s bennidiction, “Grace to you and peace, from him who is,” present tense–“I am, that I am.” “Who was,” past tense–“The Ancient of Days.” “And who is to come,” future tense–“and he will reign forever and ever.” “And from the seven spirits who are before his throne.” Don’t let the number seven cause you to stumble. Based on the immediate context and Revelation’s use of numbers, this is the Holy Spirit. We’ll discuss more about numbers as we delve deeper into Revelation. For now let’s assume that seven is a heavenly number, a number of completion. For example, God rested on the seventh day, God made the seventh day holy, The seven seals, trumpets, bowls, Jericho and the like. Look again at the context, John is clearly evoking the Triune God.
“And from Jesus Christ;” I love when it’s simple. Look! he is, “the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” And, there is the word, “and”–read in this way to help: 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. “Kai”, in Greek; “and” in English. They are there in the original Greek and they make clear that John is referring to one God, eternally existing in plurality.
Context is King.
One God, three representations. This is important for various reasons but I will cover only one here, for time’s sake, and as I often do, I will start by asking a question or two. How old is God? The easy answer is eternal. How old is the Earth? Again, the easy answer is not eternal. What did God do with his time before he created us? And now the real question; did God create us because he was lonely and bored and wanted companionship?
Real quick summary of creation and fall in Genesis. God creates, earth, plants, light, etc. And it was good! Then God forms man, in his image, out of the dust and breathes his life into man–very good. Don’t miss this part; man has no suitable partner, so woman is made. Brethren, God had a suitable partner– himselves…Just go with it. But man did not, he was alone. Now man has a suitable partner– and things are great for an unspecified amount of time. Then the man and the woman both, together, sin. And of course man blamed the woman God gave him and the woman blamed the serpent. So to this day, most of us don’t trust talking snakes. Oh, and we’re under the curse of death. Now, I am going long and have probably started to lose your interest, therefore I will try to be brief but don’t check out on the text now, notice once again. The one God, eternally existing in plurality, wasn’t bored. He didn’t create us as pets, objects to give him affections he desperately desired. It’s snowing today, again. I took the day off and went to a restaurant to write. Scrolling on the screen of the idiot box on the wall were the cancellations of numerous pet day cares, vacation homes and grooming sites. We don’t spoil our pets because we love them unconditionally, we spoil them to get love in return. In the same way, our pets don’t love us unconditionally but conditionally. If we stop feeding them and giving attention and another does, who are they going to love?
I’m going somewhere, hold on just a few more sentences. Why did God create us? Love, true love–love that he has within himself from all eternity. God didn’t create us FOR love, he created us out of love. Yet we loused that up. Something had to be done by a God that is love. Consider 1st John, yes, that John 10; “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” And what Paul wrote to Timothy, “and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.” Creation flowed out of God’s love and in the same way, redemption. Look at Revelation 1: 5 again, “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood. Creation and the most painful of redemption, was all about unconditional love. Early Genesis is about paradise lost and late Revelation is about paradise restored. Everything in the middle is about Jesus Christ, the Father, the Spirit and his love. Notice my bad grammar? According to scholars, I couldn’t have written this missive.
Through God’s eternal love, For himself and then his people–according to Revelation, “he has made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father.” That’s right, not a future kingdom but a kingdom at present.
Until next time, let John’s words, not mine, penetrate your heart. Revelation is about God’s love and how he is working behind the scenes to prepare us for eternity with hims. The hims who are eternal and eternally love. He didn’t need us, he was having himself, loving himself. But his great love was poured into our creation and salvation.
I am enjoying my apocalyptic grammar.