The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PIV

second comming b

Revelation 1: 5-8 

“Look, he is coming with the clouds…”

We are called a kingdom and priests! What does this mean? In the O.T. meant that all God’s people were holy, set part for purpose, loved and protected by Him.

John begins His Book by reminding his readers of whom and what Christ is, His supremacy, and His role of Redeemer and Judge. What we must be reminded of as we lead and mange His Church. He then gives us a glimpse of end-time events, what we can look forward to. What does this do for us at the board meetings and in the pulpits? We must never forget who we are in Christ. If we do, we will quickly fall into pride and apostasy, buying the lies and living in our depravity. Thus, mismanaging His Church.

Revelation gives us a pointer, shows us that God is beyond time and space, and beyond our comprehension other that what He has clearly revealed to us. He has a plan; let’s face Him, not our fears or our doubts or other’s misgivings. Let us swim in His living waters, and lead our churches as well (Jer. 2:13; 17:13; John 4:10-11; 7:38; Rev. 7:17).

Before Christ, under law, there were specific roles in the priesthood that people were called and ordained to fill. Priests were to be bridges from God to man. Now, through Christ, we have direct, intimate access to Him, and in the future, each of us will reign with Him. Each of us is a royal priest as a representative of Christ (doctrine of the priesthood of all believers) on earth, and as ministers, we model His character.  And the bigger point that is often missed, is our call here, to be Christ’s representative, not come up with spurious ideas on His Second Coming (Ex. 19:1-6; 20:6; Lev. 10:10-11; Isa. 66:20; Matt. 21:43; 28:19-20; Rom. 15:16; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 7; 10:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:1-10; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; 5:9-10; 20:4-6).

Now, see what this does for church leadership, here is the Hope, “He is coming,” this is one of the main themes of this Epistle, the announcement that Christ is coming back. It is a pronouncement of not just hope, but a pointer to Who and What we are as a church to be about.

Get ready…. “the clouds,” which means a spectacular event, such as numbers of angels testifying to God’s glory. It could also mean an extraordinary storm of clouds. But what does this really mean? This means judgment for the wicked. Not so much with what the popular false teachers proclaim who miss the point (Ezek. 30:3; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 16:28; 24:30, 34; 26:64). This is also comforting for the suffering Christians and chastisement for those who are evil and reject Him (Deut. 33:2; Isa. 19:1; Zech. 1:16; Mal. 3:1-2; Matt. 10:23; Rev. 2:5; 3:20).

Now comes The Voice, God’s Voice, “I am” refers to God the Father testifies that the Son, Christ, is God. This means Jesus loves us and has washed our sins away from God’s presence. Not just the Israelites, but also all people in Him are those elected ones and have courage, comfort, and faith in Christ. He rules over all (Prov. 21:1; Dan. 2:21; 4:17; Zech. 12:12; Matt. 3:17; Heb. 13:8).

What is going to happen? The realization will come that our will is not in control and our desires and sin have gotten us a raw deal. A reminder when we lead, instruct, even in the dreariest of meetings, we are in His Hands. What a great comfort to those in persecution at the hands of such people to know that they will get what is coming (Zech. 12:10)!

Who and What it is all about, our faith and our leadership all must be from and point to: “Alpha and the Omega!” This means God is eternal and rules over all places and time. He is omnipotent, all-powerful. Referring to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet meaning His Sovereignty, Christ is all in all; He is LORD of all that is past, present, and is to come. His will and purpose will come true, and ours will not; so, to grow, we must surrender to Him (Isa. 41:4; 44:6; Rom. 8:18-25; Gal. 2:20-21; Rev. 22:12-16).

Do not worry, Christ is coming and all will consummate His will and purpose. Justice and His Kingdom will be fulfilled, and every knee will bow. God may seem to be slow, taking His time, but He does this for good reason. Life is about learning and growing, about becoming faithful, infused with His Spirit, spiritually responsible and character-driven. It is not about how we feel or what we want (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 21:1-22:5)!

Being Loyal to Christ and His Bride

Read Revelation 17-18

What is the Bride?

As we know, the “Bride” is the Church. This is Christ’s identification with His people and an image of our Redeemer’s intimacy and the community between God and His children.

This is beyond a mere metaphor as it is about the life, love, and joy that a first century marriage celebration represented that Christ shares with us and calls us to share with one another in our covenant of Grace.

And in Revelation, this is also a contrast to the divorce of the harlot and a stern warning to John’s people in his church, to not to cheat on our Lord by way of our pride, false worship, false teaching, or our apathy or arrogance, or anything that gets in the way of us pointing His Bride to the Redeemer (Ex. 22:16; Is. 54:5-7; Hos. 2:19-20; Matt. 9:15; 22:2; John 2:1-3; 3:29; 22:2-14; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-32; Heb. 2:5; 6:5; 1 John 1:3-10; Rev. 19:7; 21:1-8 ).

The passage goes on to say that evil is judged and condemned while true spirituality in Christ is eternally rewarded and beneficial. This is also about our own vindication, and all the benefits we have when we are in Christ. We are a part of His Kingdom that is being showcased in this passage, so we who are in Christ can sing a loud and clear Hallelujah!

The imagery of Rome in this passage is “Babylon” and may be referring to the persecution and martyrdom the early Christians faced in life under Rome, perhaps as illustration for some of us and reality to many others today and the principle point to his churches. In addition, this is a template for how evil and its power operates in the past, present, as well as in the future. This is about how pastors and church leaders go wrong by chasing themselves and not Christ. This is about how evil does not always know it is evil, because it is blinded by pride and self will, in the church and in society. This is also leading to its future–its self-destruction.

Here is a simple test to see if you or the pastor is loyal is this. Does the teaching and character point to Christ or point to themselves or something else? Does the first response and vision showcase the Lordship of Christ or the way I want things? What does Christ call us to do and what betrays Him?

Rome gave away food to appease its citizens while they enticed them with sins and heinous amusements of people being slaughtered in arenas. Placating to Rome gave one privileges; standing up to it gave one death or the loss of land and rights. The issue before the Church was compromise and loyalty–would their allegiance be to a prostitute Rome, to Christ, or to what?

Some theologians have suggested that “Babylon” referred to apostate Jerusalem, but there is little Jewish evidence for that. Jerusalem has already fallen. Also, the principle arguments against Jerusalem as the subject matter of this passage is that it does not sit on many waters nor did it reign over other nations at this time!

The bottom line for us in church leadership is, how is evil affecting and effecting your ministry, your vision, you perceptions and your church?