To whom is the book of Revelation written? In verses 1-3, we read, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Rev 1:1-3)
Note the progression.
God gave the revelation to Jesus …
Jesus gave the revelation to “His bond-servants” …
God communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John …
Finally, the words are written to whoever can read:
Blessed is he who reads ….
Ultimately, the book of Revelation is written to you and me.
In the local context, however, John has penned the letter to “the seven churches that are in Asia” (Revelation 1:4).
John starts his greeting, “John to the seven churches that are in Asia: 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 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. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.” (Rev 1:4-7)
This is a fascinating introduction, don’t you think? First, he is writing to seven churches (as he was told to a little later on). He starts by saying, “Grace to you and peace.” But John knows already that a terrifying expectation of judgment awaits most of these churches should they choose not to repent of the deeds which Jesus has against them! And so should this be to us a warning, as well, that when Jesus says to us, “Grace and peace to you” by some means (perhaps as we look at a sunset, or as we step into the sanctuary to worship God and we sense the presence of the Lord) that this does not preclude, in any way, God from judging us for our sins. Christians are not immune to judgment, because they are Christians. But rather, as we read in 1 Peter, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17a).
Thus, “Grace and peace” does not mean that you or I or the churches are free from judgment. Far from it! Furthermore, John continues, “from Him who is and who was and who is to come”. The full implication of this statement is that he is coming back again to judge! The first time, Jesus came to die for our sins. But the second time, he will come back as judge of all the earth! “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ,” Paul writes (Romans 14:10). Notice that in the very same sentence, in his greeting to the seven churches, John describes Jesus as “the ruler of the kings of the earth”. This is a sign of supreme authority! My friends, if even the kings of the earth are subject to him, how much more are we subject to him!
John brings his audience back to the sacrifice that Christ made for us all in the shedding of his blood, in writing, “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.” Then, he returns to the fact that Jesus is coming back again! “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.” The implication of these words are frightening, really, if you do not know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. Have you really made your peace with God? This is no time to sit on the fence!
Finally, verse 8 issues forth another strong warning, ‘”I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”‘ This statement right here is a clear testimony to the fact that Jesus is God in the flesh (for those of you who may be doubting). For we read “the Lord God” describing himself as the one “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty”. Hum… sounds like Jesus to me! But if you are inclined not to agree, you can always flip to the back of the book, where we read Jesus explicitly saying, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Who is speaking here? None other than, “I, Jesus,” as we read just a few verses later, in Revelation 22:16.
Are you doing all you can to serve Jesus today? Jesus is coming back to reward all who have served him. He says, “My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” Are you ready to be judged by Jesus? Oh, that I would you were! He is. And he was. And he is to come. Make no mistake about it. “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.” I pray that you will not be as one who mourns when you see him coming back, but as one of the ones who rejoices at the sight of his coming!