The Unveiling of Jesus

The risen, exalted Lord Jesus Christ delivered what was to become the final words of the New Testament, to his servant John on the island Patmos, toward the end of the first century. This message is multidimensional; a vision, a series of letters, it is prophecy and it is apocalyptic. “Revelation” is a translation of the Greek word apokalypsis; unveiling. It is The Revelation of/from Jesus Christ; the Greek implies either. Not only did this revelation originate from Jesus, “to show his servants the things that must soon take place,” but Jesus himself takes the central role. In this book, Jesus Christ is revealed in all his divine splendor. As Paul elsewhere proclaims of Jesus,

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent” (Col 1:15–18).

The Revelation brings everything in created history to its telos, its completion and fullness. Creation is restored as it should be; sin and death are destroyed, God dwells with his people in the temple-garden. In all this the unveiled Christ is central.

The list of Jesus’ titles and attributes in Revelation is magnificent: faithful witness, firstborn of the dead, ruler of kings on earth, the first and the last, the living one, holder of keys of death and hades, of the seven stars which are the angels of the churches, Son of God, searcher of minds and hearts, the holy one, the true one, he who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens; the Amen, the ruler (arche) of God’s creation, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the Lamb, the shepherd, the Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Faithful and True, the Word of God, Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. This is truly and appropriately an impressive list. Some of these titles are unique to the Son (firstborn of the dead, Son of God, Lion of Judah and Root of David, the Lamb, the Word) because they affirm his humanity and his redeeming work, although John 1:1 is clear that the Word is to be equated with “God.” Other titles are clearly descriptors of God. The LORD, YHWH, rules over the kings and nations (Psa 2; 47:7; 76:12; 102:15; Jer 10:10; Dan 5:21; Zech 14:19; Rev 15:3), is the Living One (Deut 5:26; Psa 42:2; Jer 10:10; Acts 14:15; 2 Cor 3;3; Heb 10:31; Rev 7:10). God is the one who searches minds and hearts (1 Chron 28:9; Jer 17:10) he shuts and opens (Job 12:14) is the Shepherd of Israel (Ezek 34:15) the Alpha and Omega, first and last, beginning and end (Rev 1:8; Isa 41:4; 44:6; 48:12). These ascriptions, proper to God alone (Rev 19:10; 22:9), belong to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is “the one like the Son of Man,” from Daniel 7:13–14, who comes with the clouds of heaven and is presented to the Ancient of Days, given power, dominion and an everlasting kingdom and is worshipped in the very presence of God. This prophecy is reiterated in Revelation. Jesus is worthy of worship, in the same way that God alone is worthy of worship.

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created’” (Rev 4:9–11) “…And when (the Lamb) had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints…. saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’ And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped” (Rev 8:8, 12–14).

Jesus is also described with divine imagery, as he walks among the lampstands and as he shares the throne of God. He is “one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength” (Rev 1:13–16). The fire and gleaming metal, the precious stones, the brightness, the awesome figure on the rainbowed throne (Rev 4:2-8), the living creatures, the voice like rushing waters or wind, the flaming eyes, the cry of “Holy, Holy, Holy,” call to mind the awesome theophanies of Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1, the former of which is explicitly applied to the glory of the Lord Jesus in John 12:14 and by extension to the indwelling or Shekinah glory of Ezekiel, now manifest in the eternal dwelling of “God with us” (Matt 1:23; John 1:14; Rev 21:3, 22–23). He is the Word of God, who was with God and was God, in the beginning with God, and from whose mouth goes the sharp sword (Rev 1:16;

Jesus is the one who died and lives for evermore (Rev 1:18). He walks among his churches, holds them in his hand and knows their works (Rev 1:16, 20; 2:19, 23; 3:1, 8) and has the right to remove a lampstand from its place (Rev 2:5). He has authority to grant to eat of the tree of life, giving entrance to the paradise of God, until this point guarded by cherubim (Rev 2:7; 22:14; Gen 3:24; Luke 23:43). He grants the crown of life (Rev 2:10) and authority over the nations (Rev 2:26). His is the very book of life (Rev 3:5; 20:15; 21:27 cf Ex 32:33) and he is the very resurrection and the life (John 11:25). To him, as God, belongs salvation (Rev 7:10; Psa 3:8; 37:39; 68:28; Isa 43:11).

This authority of Jesus is not autonomous; he is not a separate God. He is one with the Father and does everything his Father shows him, everything his Father does (John 5:17–19). The man Jesus Christ, as the infleshing of the Word of God, God become flesh and dwelling among us, was sent from the Father (John 8:42; 10:36). His teaching, his authority, his power, everything came from God (John 8:29; 14:10; Rev 2:27). As a man he did not grasp onto equality with God, but humbled himself and took the form of a servant (Phil 2:6–11). He was slain, and by his blood he ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (Rev 5:9) and in conquering, sat down with his Father on his throne (Rev 3:21).

There are many references in the New Testament to Jesus sitting at the right hand of his Father, upon his throne (Acts 2:34, 5:31; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3; Heb 8:1, 10:12, 1 Pet 3:22). This is the most exalted place, the position of absolute power. It is not a secondary position, as if there were one large throne for the Father and a separate, smaller throne off to the (right) side for the Son. There is but one throne in heaven. The divine throne in the highest heaven is a word-picture of the sovereignty of God over all things. The imagery of height (highest heaven, on high, Most High God, mountain of the Lord, etc.) reinforces this absolute sovereignty, as does the fact that in heaven God is the only one who sits. Hebrews 1 applies Psalm 45:6 “Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of righteousness . . .” specifically to the Son (v8)and goes on to address him with “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands” (v10) and finishes with another strong allusion to the throne of God/the Lord with a citation of Psalm 110:1 in reference to sitting at the right hand of God (v13).

In Revelation 3:21 (as in Hebrews 12:2), Jesus speaks of sitting down with his Father on his throne — en throno autou — literally in his throne, denoting extreme closeness. It is a shared throne. In Revelation 7:15–17, those who have come out of the great tribulation serve God before his throne and he who sits on the throne spreads his tent over them, with the conclusion, “For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd.” In Revelation 20 through 22 the throne imagery recurs, placing God and Jesus there as one. The one on the great white throne is the judge (20: 12–15), which we know is the Son, to whom judgment has been committed (20:11; 21:27). A loud voice announces from the throne that the dwelling of God is with men (21:3). He who is seated on the throne says, “I am making all things new.” (21.5) This same Person says, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega . . .” and invites all who thirst to come to him. (21:6; 22:13 specifies that the Alpha and Omega is the one coming soon — Jesus). This same Person promises to be the God of any who overcome (21:7) The function of the temple, as God’s dwelling amongst his people, has been taken up by “its temple (singular) is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.” (21:22) It is the throne (singular) of God and of the Lamb (22:1, 3). Their roles and being are merged; Jesus occupies the same position of absolute sovereignty as God.

The vision of the Lord which Isaiah saw (Isa 6), was of the Lord Jesus (John 12:13). Jesus, seated on the throne, is the King, the Lord Almighty, attended by seraphs, his glory filling the earth. In Revelation 4:11 the throne in heaven is surrounded by living creatures, which proclaim day and night, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come . . . Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” The theme repeats again in 5:12 where thousands of angels encircle the throne and sing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing . . . To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!” This is the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, at the right hand of the Father, upon his throne, the Lord God Almighty, reigning forever (Rev 19:4–6).

Revelation concludes with the awesome declaration from the throne itself, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Rev 21:6) Both God and the Lamb are Alpha and Omega. Both God and the Lamb are temple, and light (Rev 21:22–23; 22:5) just as Jesus had proclaimed about himself (John 2:19; 8:12). Like John, we should bow in awe before the majesty of the Lamb of God, humbled in gratitude for all he has done, worship him and “crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne.” Those who acknowledge Jesus is Lord, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, God with us, Alpha and Omega the beginning and end of God’s eternal plan, will be privileged beyond comprehension on that day when they see his face and his name will be on their foreheads.
Amen, Come, Lord Jesus!

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