Last week we began
a series of talks on the Book of Revelation. Last week was the
introduction where I explained that the book is a prophecy, but does not
confine itself to only the future, but also to the past and the present.
The Book of Revelation contains the entire mystery of the Divine
Economy, in the form of a summary - from the Incarnation of the Word of
God up to the Second Coming of Christ, the Judgment Day and the
appearance of the Kingdom of God.
talk ended with a quick look at the first few lines of the first chapter
which gives us the information on who is doing the revealing, to whom he
is revealing and why. Today we will again see these lines and see what
else they are telling us. The very first words say:
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave
thing we must keep in mind is that Jesus Christ is speaking. He is
revealing to John the Evangelist and the Book of Revelation is the
recorded account written by John of the things he heard and saw from
Jesus Christ. Therefore, this revelation is about Jesus Christ and is
presented by Jesus Christ. So, the source of this revelation is God
Himself. What is significant here is that the Script does not say
“revelation of the Son of God” because the Son of God is of equal value
with the Father. One Person of the Trinity cannot reveal things to
another Person of the Holy Trinity; the Persons of the Trinity are one
in essence. There are no secrets between the Persons of the Triune God.
All three Persons are infinite, all knowing, and all wise. Jesus Christ
refers to the human nature of Christ and the human nature of Christ is
not infinite. However through the hypostatic or personal union with the
Word of God, the human nature of Christ now can be considered
omnipresent, present everywhere, not by its own merit but by the
hypostatic union with God the Word. So, God gives this revelation to
Jesus Christ Who will in turn give it to John, and St. John will pass it
down to the Church. Now, how did the human nature of Christ receive the
revelation from God? We are given the answer in chapter five.
"In the midst of the throne and of the four
beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been
slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of
God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of
the right hand of him that sat upon the throne." (5:6-7)
John says he
saw a slain lamb but standing up! Slain but standing! This is the very
thing that Christ will tell St. John in a direct revelation, "I am the
one who died and behold I live again." The Son of God cannot become
dead! The divine nature obviously cannot die so the human body died
because of the crucifixion and the burial in the tomb. The ancient
Church had this as the most precious symbol, the most beloved symbol of
the original Church. The standing slain lamb!
Then he came
and took something out of the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
He took a book. He does not specify who was sitting out of great
respect. God was sitting, as we will see later. So, this is how Jesus
Christ the man received the revelation from God, the One Who sits on the
throne. Now who is going to open this book? The angel will say in the
fifth chapter: "Who is worthy to open the scroll,
and to loose its seals?" No one was found! No one was worthy to
open this book and John was weeping, he was crying. But one of the
elders said to him, weep not for someone was found, the slain lamb can
open the book. He will open the book. In other words, He will reveal.
This is why the book is the revelation of Jesus Christ; meaning that it
reveals and manifests Christ and consequently the revelation takes place
through Jesus Christ. This is the meaning of the words the revelation of
Jesus Christ which God gave unto Him.
He gave unto
Him to show His servants. Whose servants? The servants of Jesus Christ;
and to show what? To show those things which will define the contents of
the book. It also expresses the purpose or why this book was given. What
will it show? Things that must shortly take place. Those things that
must take place quickly; which MUST take place! This “must” has great
theological dimension in Holy Scripture.
we read that Christ began to show his disciples that he must go to
Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and
scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. He must! Its a
necessity, it must happen that way for man's salvation.
simply ask, "Why was it necessary for these things to take place?" These
things which are not at all pleasant, like the cross for example, or the
persecution of the Church and the faithful until the Second Coming of
Christ. The Church needed to set out on a specialized type of journey
through history which would be full of temptation and persecution from
the world. However, we see that this “must”, this necessity of the
Church, to undertake a journey full of tribulation and persecution comes
to parallel the “must” of the journey of Christ. It could not happen any
differently. Why? Because the Church is the very Body of Christ. So,
when Christ says that, I must be killed, I must be crucified. then the
Church must also say that, I must be killed, I must be crucified. This
is something that all Christians must understand. Christ was crucified.
We must also be crucified. Christ was persecuted. We will most likely be
persecuted as well!
"If they persecuted me they will also persecute
you." If they persecuted me, this is the must of Christ; they
will also persecute you, this is the must of the Church.
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave
unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to
pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John."
of the book of the Revelation is the holy Apostle and Evangelist John,
as we see his name recorded, which insures that this book is not
fraudulent or forged, but a genuine work of St. John the Evangelist. The
Apostles commonly use the word “servant” as they wrote their epistles.
However, here we have the simple recording of the name of John, simply
John, without a title such as ‘the disciple of Christ’ or ‘the apostle
of Christ’. The absence of these titles shows that John knew very well
the receivers and the readers of his book. They were very close to him.
It is also obvious that the book of the Revelation is given to the
Church from God the Father, through Jesus Christ, through the angel,
through John, to the Church.
What we have
here is a living chain of paradosis, or teaching tradition. Paradosis in
Greek means “tradition.” It literally means to pass down, to have one
person deliver and another person receive. So God the Father gives to
the Incarnate Son Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ gives to the angel; the
angel gives to John; and John passes it to the Church. So, what we have
here is the wonder of the living Tradition, or paradosis. This is
precisely why this living Tradition, along with Holy Scripture makes up
the basis or the foundation of the Church. As we know, it is Holy
Tradition that preserved the authenticity and validity of the Holy
Scriptures. Holy Tradition told us which book is genuine or which is
fraudulent. This must be understood by those who discard and disregard
the Tradition of the Church, whether Protestant or Orthodox, who have
been heavily influenced by the non-Orthodox. They disregard the
Tradition of the Church. The key to the Orthodox interpretation of the
book of Revelation is to be found in the treasure chest of Holy
Tradition. If we do not take a hold of this key that Holy Tradition has
given us, then we will never interpret and see the true meaning of
Scripture. This is why the Protestants interpret Scripture every which
way, with the result being the deterioration of their faith into
thousands of pieces. They have no idea what they believe today, what
they believed yesterday, and what they will believe tomorrow.
Introduction continues: "Blessed is he that
readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those
things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." This
introductory outline, which we spoke about last week, closes with this
beatitude, this blessing, heaped upon those who study, hear, and apply
the words of this book and generally the Word of God. This beatitude is
the first of seven specific beatitudes in the book of the Revelation.
introductory outline, what follows next is the preface of the entire
book, which takes place between verses four and seven. These verses are:
"John to the seven churches which are in Asia:
Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and
which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his
throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the
first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.
Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be
glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with
clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him:
and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."
This is the
preface of the book of Revelation. Up to this point, we had the
introductory outline. The first thing we see is that the Book is in a
form of a letter. It says: "John to the seven
churches which are in Asia." John is the author; the receivers are the
seven churches of Asia Minor; and we have the greeting, Grace be unto
you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come"
etc. Which are the seven churches mentioned in the book of the
Revelation which the Lord asks that a special letter be sent to each one
of them? These are historical Churches, real churches, not noetic or
symbolic. They are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis,
Philadelphia, and Laodicea. These are all cities of Asia Minor, old
ancient cities, lively cities with strong Christian populations. They
became episcopates, which shows a strong Church presence. And to these
seven churches now Christ speaks through the book of the Revelation with
a special message for each one of these churches.
We may ask,
"Why is Christ addressing only these seven churches?" Why these churches
and not to the church of Jerusalem, or Corinth, or Rome, or Alexandria,
or Antioch? These were bigger and more important churches. Only Ephesus
could compare with the grandeur and the title of Rome, or Jerusalem or
Antioch, because the other six cities of these seven churches were
minor. They were very small cities of Asia Minor. So why are the
epistles directed to and addressing these particular seven churches, and
not the other bigger and more seasoned churches? It is simply because
the number seven is allegorical. It expresses variety along with
fullness. In other words, it represents a complete picture of the entire
Church from back in those days up until the end of the age, and the
fullness of the Church is represented by these seven representative
types of these churches. In other words, these seven churches are seven
different folds, seven different realities of the one, holy, catholic,
and apostolic Church.
So, we have
here two intertwined circumstances. One is that each epistle is sent to
each specific historical church. For example, when He says, you are
neither cold nor hot, you are lukewarm, you have forsaken your first
love. Remember the height from which you have fallen, this is a specific
flaw or weakness of the church A or B. Therefore these epistles, at the
first level, have a historical character. They aim to cure the flaws of
those individual churches, two thousand years ago. However, on a second
level, these elements aim to serve as a warning for the entire Church
all through the ages. So we have here two intertwined dimensions: the
historical one which is limited to the topographies of the seven city
churches, and then we have the other dimension which refers to the
entire history of the Church or the Church through the ages. So, when we
read what Christ says for the church of the Ephesians, or to that of the
Philadelphians, this means that all these points are elements that are
brought up and exist through the ages in the Catholic Church of Christ.
where the seven churches were located were Greek cities. The entire Asia
Minor was Greek and these are historical churches, and historical
epistles, with a historical base. When Christ says, I will remove your
lamp stand, every church is represented by a lamp stand or a candle
stand, so I will remove your lamp stand means I will move you around. He
took all these seven churches and moved them. And, none of these
historical churches exist today in Asia Minor! The lamp stands were
removed permanently in 1922, during the infamous Asia Minor destruction
and expulsion of the Greek people.
be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is
to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne."
Here we have a very wrong translation from the Greek into English. The
Greek says "χάρις
ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ Θεοῦ, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος."
Properly translated it says "grace unto you from God, the existing, and
the existed and who is coming." It can also be translated as: "grace
unto you from God, the I Am, the I Was and who is continually coming.
The I Am is a special name of God. If you remember the story of Moses
and the burning bush; Moses asked God what shall he tell the people if
they inquire after his God’s name, “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I
AM; and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the people of Israel, I AM
hath sent me unto you”. God gave his name as I Am which means that He is
the ‘Absolute Being’ that has no beginning or end, or I AM from the very
beginning and ever shall be. If you look at Icons of Christ you will see
inscribed in the cruciform halo this name of God ‘O WN’ being the Greek
words for "I Am."
Thus here in
the Book of Revelation we have a wonderful reference to the Holy Triune
God. The I Am refers to the Father, the I Was refers to the Son for as
in the Gospel of St. John it says: "In the
beginning was the Word" and the One Who is coming refers to the
Paraklete or the Holy Spirit Who comes and stays in the Church and
sanctifies the children of God through Holy Baptism.
But we can
also say that all three references refer to the Son. Grace unto you from
God, the Son, who always exists, who always was from the beginning and
who is always coming. Immediately after it says:
"and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus
Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead,
and the prince of the kings of the earth." The seven Spirits
refers to the Holy Spirit. The throne of God obviously refers to God the
Father while the number seven reveals the fullness and the perfection of
the Holy Spirit. This is beautifully expressed by the Prophet Isaiah in
his sevenfold declaration of the attributes or the gifts or the energies
of the One Holy Spirit. In his eleventh chapter he writes, "Spirit of
wisdom, spirit of understanding, spirit of council, spirit of might,
spirit of knowledge, spirit of piety, and spirit of fear of God."
Also, in the book of Revelation, we read as Christ tells John"
"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write:
‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God… (3:1)
Elsewhere John writes: "And between the throne and
the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing,
as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which
are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth." (5:6)
These are great and awesome images which serve to show how the Spirit of
God is sent out full of its gifts because the number seven again is
symbolic. It shows the multitude of gifts and that the Spirit of God
comes laden with gifts for the world.
"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful
witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings
of the earth."
greeting from the Holy Trinity, we now have a greeting from Jesus
Christ, but is not Christ also a Person of the Holy Trinity? The
faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the prince of the
kings of the earth all refer to the human nature of Christ and not to
his divine nature. Here Saint John wants to present to us Jesus Christ
who is the centre of history and the central figure of all the events
he's about to describe in his vision. And these are the events that form
the book of the Revelation along with all the events that make up the
human history. The first name describes Jesus Christ as the Faithful
Witness. Now, why the Faithful Witness? This is simply because a
faithful witness can only tell the truth. Everything He says is true.
But also, Faithful Witness is the name of God in the Old Testament. In
the 88th Psalm of the Septuagint we read; "His
seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me, and as
the moon that is established for ever, and as a faithful witness in
heaven." The faithful witness here in the book of Revelation is
Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is Yahweh or Jehovah. This is the same
faithful witness as referred to in the Psalm: Yahweh, whom the Jehovah’s
Witnesses call Jehovah. Jesus Christ is Yahweh, or Jehovah, the Lord.
When are the blind Jehovah's Witnesses, or more correctly, the false
witnesses, when are they going to see this? They blaspheme and believe
Christ to be a creation.
So, Jesus Christ is
the faithful witness or the faithful martyr for two more reasons. The
first one is because He gave witness to the Truth, remember for example
when Pilate asked Him, "Who are you?" and
He answered: "For this I was born, and for this I
have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is
of the truth hears my voice." (John: 18:37). Poor Pilate asks,
"What is truth?" (18:38) and Christ does
not answer. Some have ventured to say that Pilate should have asked, Who
is the truth? and that he would have probably received a response.
Pilate had the entire Truth in front of him. The Truth is not some
abstract idea or thought. The Truth is a Person. I am the Truth, Christ
announced. He didn't say, "I came to tell you a few nice things about
the truth to help you along.” I am the Truth and the life!I Am the Truth
Christ says, which means, everything He says, everything, will always be
true. The truth about God, the truth about man, the truth about the
world and the true worship and love of the True God can only be found
through Christ! Outside of Christ, there is deep darkness. Philosophers
are struggling. They not only contradict each other but they often
contradict themselves. They go around in circles, full of uncertainty.
If we do not know Christ, we are living in deep darkness. We should feel
very privileged; we should feel ecstatic, because we know how to get to
know Christ or at least we know the way to get to know Christ in His
fullness. So, he is a Faithful Witness for everything He will say. This
applies whether written or unwritten and of course, everything that is
written in the book of the Revelation is trustworthy and true.
reason why Christ is a faithful witness is because in Greek the word
witness also means martyr, thus Christ is the faithful martyr or true
martyr because he was martyred on the Cross. He was raised upon the
Cross for the sake of the true witness. Since the martyria or witness of
the truth is indispensably connected to sufferings and to fierce attacks
of the devil, the word martyrdom in Greek means both witness and
witness will keep witnessing during peaceful times and during polemic
times. So, a faithful witness or martyr, not only tells the truth but
dies for this truth. When the truth is offered to the world, it is
offered with martyrdom. Truth and persecution, truth and suffering are
very closely connected, so closely that the same word martyria expresses
both. This is why the Evangelist will write; "When
he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who
had been slain for their martyria" (6:9) or testimony that they
gave. They were slain of course, for the Word of God. They gave the
martyria or the true witness, the true testimony of the Word of God, and
the world, ruled by the devil, killed them. Above all of them, we have
the Absolute Martyr, the Absolute Witness, Jesus Christ Himself, because
He brought to us the entire Truth. Moreover, for the sake of this truth,
He became the first martyr with the martyrdom of the Cross.
The second name of
Christ is the First Born from the dead. So, Jesus Christ who was the
Faithful Witness, was also the First Born from the dead. Here, a great
testimony is given. The identity of the One witnessing to John is fully
certified here, and it is none other than Jesus Christ. Now it may not
be very clear here, but towards the end of this chapter, Christ will
say, I became dead and behold I'm alive again. He is alive again,
through His holy Resurrection. All this refers to the human nature and
more specifically to the body because the soul does not die. So the
First Born from the dead is the pre-eternal God who became man, died on
the cross, resurrected and now lives as God-man forever and ever. We
also read, I am the First and the Last , (18) another name of Christ and
the Living One. But when he says I am the First and the Last, He speaks
as God because no human being can be the first and the last, the alpha
and the omega. The alpha and the omega does not exist in any creation,
in any human being; it is an attribute only of God. And the Living One,
does not apply to a human being. The Living One refers to God. So,
Christ can say, I became dead, as a human being and behold I am living;
I'm alive; I live.” In other words, He resurrected and lives forever and
ever as God-man, not as God and not as a human being but as God-man
forever and ever.
we come to the third name of Christ in this verse, and from Jesus Christ
who is the faithful witness, the first-born from the dead and the ruler
of the kings of the earth. This title serves as an echo of the meeting
with Pilate, where Christ offers His great martyria or testimony, that
yes, He is truly King. Saint John the Evangelist records,
"my kingdom is not of this world." (John
18:1) Pilate asks, "So are you a king?"
Christ answers, "You say that I am." This
means simply that yes you are correct; I am a king. Therefore, Christ is
King, a ruler, and the ruler of history. He is the universal judge. He
is victorious. This last name of Christ makes up the subject of the book
of the Revelation being the central theme of the book. We read, they
will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is
Lord of lords and King of kings. (Revelation 17:14)
epithets for Jesus Christ seem to form a natural sequence between them.
He who came to bear witness to the truth; and He died for the sake of
this truth. He resurrected, gaining victory over death, not only for
himself but for all mankind for whom He will finally be victorious as
God-man, King and Lord of all the kings and all the rulers of the earth.
These three names of Jesus Christ—the Faithful Witness, the First Born
from the dead and the Ruler of the kings of the earth - these three
names serve as the diagram of the entire journey of God the Logos
throughout history. He comes. He gives the martyria or the testimony. He
suffers a martyr’s death and exits human history. He actually takes
human history along with Him by His Resurrection and Ascension and He
transforms it to the kingdom of God.
The Book of
Revelation continues: "Unto him that loved us, and
washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and
priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever
and ever. Amen."
He shed His blood to wash our sins only because He loved us. There was
no other reason God did this. God does not have any other motive outside
of His love. God, desiring to express this love to us, gave His only Son
to die on the Cross. But He did not only wash our sins. God proceeded to
go beyond this washing. He makes us members of the royal priesthood:
vasilion ieratevma, and thereby makes us a kingdom of priests to his God
and Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
made us a kingdom of priests to the Father, or to serve the Father. What
becomes very clear and very evident in this verse, is the substance and
the purpose of Christianity. We see here that Christianity is not simply
a religion, but a kingdom. This is the substance of Christianity.
Christians are kings and priests. This describes the content of
Christianity. If someone would ask you, "What is Christianity anyway?"
You should answer, "It is a kingdom." And if someone would ask you,
"What is the purpose of the Christian community?" You should answer, "It
is to make its citizens kings and priests." This is a very high calling,
indeed, as high as the heavens.
Now once we
come to the realization that being a Christian means that I am a citizen
of a kingdom, that I am a king and priest, then how can we ever say
again that Christianity is one of the religions? How can we compare it
to the man-made religions? Christianity is not a religion dreamed by
men. It is a revelation, and therefore a kingdom. As a Christian, my
purpose is not to use my faith to make my life easier and more pleasant
here on earth. A Christian is not the person who pays his taxes, obeys
the laws of the country, and raises a good and a nice family. It seems
that this is how we have been taught to size up today’s good Christian:
“a good and honest member of society.” There is no question that this is
a consequence of the Christian life. It is clear that a Christian will
be a good person in society. But did Christ just come into the world to
make us good and honest people? If this was the purpose of Christ’s
coming, then He did not have to come into this world. The ancient Greeks
could have helped us to accomplish these objectives – just to become
good people. We have, and have had many good people, even before Christ.
The mission of Christianity is not to make me a good and honest citizen,
but to make me a king and priest of God, something that escapes the
thoughts of all those outside of Christianity. Christians are
super-privileged to have God establish a kingdom for them on earth. When
we pray, we say, "Thy kingdom come." This kingdom is not of this world.
Christians reign together with Christ. They become priests who offer
their worship to the Holy Triune God. Now, Who is the source of these
great privileges? Initially, the source of this privilege is the Lord
Jesus Christ Himself. While coming into the world as a human being,
Christ was anointed by the Father with this triple office: the office of
the Prophet, the Archpriest, and King. The Old Testament and especially
the New Testament profess this triple office of Our Lord.
Witness, refers to the prophetic office of Christ, because He came to
profess the truth and to talk about the truth, to prophesy. A prophet is
not always someone who sees or foretells the future. This is only true
in the narrow sense. In the broad sense, a prophet is he who talks about
God. A prophet can also talk about the future, but the greater challenge
of a prophet was not to foretell the future but to interpret the
present. So, Christ is the Faithful Witness who came to bear witness to
the truth, and He is the Teacher par excellence of heavenly things.
Second, He is the Firstborn from the dead. This is characteristic of the
Arch-priestly office of our Lord, combining in His person the One who
offers the sacrifice and the sacrificial Lamb, all in the same Person of
Christ. We say this in the Divine Liturgy, "The One who offers and the
One being offered." Third, the Ruler of the Kings of the Earth is
characteristic of His royal office.
offices – the prophetic, the archpriestly, and the royal –aid our
salvation. With the first office, the prophetic, the true God is
revealed. The second, the priestly office, is what lifts humanity to God
– the oblation, or the anaphora. The priest during the prayer of
oblation, or anaphora, lifts the Holy Gifts to God. He offers the Gifts
to God saying: "Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee…" But here we
have the lifting, the raising - the anaphora- of the entire humanity.
This anaphora was offered by Christ on the Cross. He offered this
oblation by His Archpriestly office. He exercised His priestly office on
the Cross. He lifted, raised, offered the human nature to the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Spirit. With the third office, the royal office,
nature becomes a true kingdom of God and ruled by God. The Holy Baptism
and Holy Chrism that each faithful receives incorporate him in the Body
of Christ, that is, the Church. The baptized becomes one body with
Christ. In this manner, each faithful participates or takes on these
three offices of Christ to a certain degree. Christ is a prophet, so the
faithful becomes a prophet, Christ is the Archpriest, and the faithful
becomes a priest, Christ is the king, so the faithful becomes a king.
Therefore, this means that the Christian receives these offices from
Christ, which Christ receives from the Father. Christ was anointed with
the three offices, the triple office, and now we can see that St. John
talks about this type of thing in Revelation, that Christ has made us to
be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father.
We find this
position in the Old Testament as well. God Himself says through Moses,
"and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a
holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children
of Israel." (Exodus 19:6) The Prophet Isaiah also says:
"You shall be called the priests of the
Lord,…ministers of God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in
their riches you shall glory." (61:6) But what does it mean when
it says "you shall eat the wealth of the nations,
and in this wealth you will be glorified?" The Jews totally
misinterpreted this verse, they thought it meant that they were to
dominate and extract all the wealth from the world and keep it in some
banks. The true meaning is that you will become kings and priests, and
the true meaning of the king and the priest will only be given to us in
tells us: "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and
every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all
kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."
verses serve as the conclusion of the preface of this book, but they
also include the central theme of the entire book of the Revelation,
which is not the rapture, nor the millennium, nor the taking up of the
Church nor the Antichrist, but the Second Coming of Christ. Everything
that this book will tell us will revolve around this theme – the second
presence of Christ.
contain two Christological prophecies from the Old Testament, one
belonging to the Prophet Daniel and a second one to the Prophet
Zachariah. Daniel says: "I saw in the night
vision, and, behold, One like the Son of man coming with the clouds of
heaven, and He came to the Ancient of days, and was brought near to Him.
And there was given Him the dominion, and the honour, and the kingdom;
and all nations, tribes, and languages, shall serve Him: His dominion is
an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom
shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14)
vision is almost identical to John's in the Book of Revelation. The
Ancient of days and the Son of Man are the same person - Jesus Christ
the Son of God, but one refers to his divine nature and the other to his
human nature. This is clear in a later verse where he says:
"until the Ancient of days came, and gave judgment
to the saints of the Most High; and the time came on, and the saints
possessed the kingdom." (Daniel 7:22) From this verse it is
obvious that Daniel’s apocalyptic vision refers to the second coming of
Christ, and that the Ancient of Days is Christ for it is Christ that
will come at the end of time.
also a striking parallel text from the Gospels. Christ said that
"they shall see the Son of man coming in the
clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (Matth. 24:30) Is
this not a quote from Daniel where Jesus identifies himself as the Son
of Man who comes as the Ancient of Days in judgment? The Jews understood
this figure as representing a Divine being in the apocalyptic imagery,
thus when Caiaphas charged Jesus to tell him if he was the Christ the
Son of God, Jesus said: "Hereafter shall ye see
the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the
clouds of heaven." (Matth. 26:64) This was a direct reference to
Daniel’s Ancient of days; Christ had identified himself as the Divine
being and was, according to the high priest, guilty of blasphemy and
punishable by death on the Cross.
first verse refers to the prophecy of Daniel while the second refers to
the prophecy of Zachariah. Zachariah writes: "And
I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and compassion: and they shall look upon
me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth
for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in
bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great
mourning in Jerusalem, And the land shall mourn." (Zechariah 12:
prophecy refers to the First Coming of Christ, but it is also a preview
or foretaste of the Second Coming. The first coming is indicated by the
pouring out of the spirit of Grace and compassion signifying that the
purpose of Christ's first coming was to save. And they shall look upon
me whom they have pierced of course refers to Christ's crucifixion when
the people looked upon him mockingly. But after the signs on the Cross,
(the darkness, the earthquake) many like the centurion believed that
Christ was indeed the Son of God and returned to their homes beating
their chests saying: What did we do? Who did we crucify? There was great
mourning in Jerusalem and many mourned bitterly as thou they had lost
their firstborn son.
But now in
the Book of Revelation John says that when Christ comes again He will be
coming with the clouds and every eye shall see Him, everyone, even those
who pierced Him. They will wail because of Him. They will be beating
their chests—all the tribes of earth, meaning the entire humanity. In
the fulfilment of the first coming we have only the wailing of
Jerusalem, but now with the Second coming we have the entire world. What
is significant is the fact that they will see the One that they pierced,
but historically one man, a Roman soldier pierced Him. This was his duty
to verify the death of the executed. It was sort of a practical death
certificate that needed to be given. What does this mean? Every eye
shall see Him, everyone who pierced Him, means all those from the entire
earth who denied Jesus Christ. The person who denies Christ spears