Grace Community Church – Sarasota Florida
Warren: Tonight, I think, is going to be very special. I want to help you with understanding this glorious book of Revelation. Tonight’s going to be quite an experience. I’m glad you’ve got the notes. That was something that was added at the last minute. I appreciate TJ copying all of that off and giving it to you, so at least you have something in front of you that you can follow if you want. I’ll be using the slides up there, I guess. Anyway, let’s begin.
I want to begin with a massive, massive shift in your thinking on the book of Revelation. I want to begin by suggesting to you that the book of Revelation and the Gospel of John are one book. They have been separated like Luke and Acts. It’s well known that Luke and Acts are also one book. The Gospel of Luke was written to Theophilus, and when Luke writes the book of Acts, he opens it up by saying, “The former treatise that I wrote to you, O Theophilus.”
So, everybody recognizes that they’re one book. But that means they should be interpreted together. What Luke is doing is he’s showing you all the things that Jesus began to do and teach in the Gospel. Then he’s showing you how that replicated itself in the life of the apostles. Then, ultimately, it will replicate itself in our lives, as well, as it goes to the ends of the earth. That is Luke’s larger message in those two books. They’ve been separated, but they really are one book. The formal name for that is a diptych. It’s a work of art, literature or even painting in two panels.
But what I’ve found is that the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation are also one book. They were both written by the son of Zebedee, John, one of the 12 disciples; the beloved disciple. I’m going to try to demonstrate that to you in the next three weeks, but tonight, I think, you’ll be very clear, it will be very obvious that these books need to be read together. I thought for a long time I understand the Gospel of John. Revelation was so strange. It seemed so different with all these strange figures and all of that. But what I found when I began approaching the two books of John this way is that a lot of things in John were mysteries that I didn’t understand until I read them in conjunction with Revelation.
Everybody recognizes their four Gospels. Three of them are called synoptic. They’re very similar in the way that they’re structured. But John is very different. He includes different material. He arranges it differently. So, there are a lot of mysteries in the commentaries as you read the Gospel that we really don’t understand. Once you put it together, once you put it back together, it makes sense.
So, I’m going to try to demonstrate this to you tonight. I would like to help you by how we understand these books. This is the way I want you to think about them. The subject of Revelation is what takes place in heaven. I think everybody realizes that. Vials and judgments are poured out upon the earth. Angels ascend and descend to the earth. You see that it’s very much aware of what’s going on on the earth, but it’s giving you the heavenly vision of what is going on. The Gospel of John takes place entirely on the earth. Now, this is significant in a number of different ways. The way that they’re woven together is that all the major characters in the book of Revelation occur already in the Gospel of John. So, you’re going to get clues about the identity of certain figures. You’re going to see some of that tonight. You’re going to be given clues to things. One is the question in Revelation. What is the great city? We’re going to find out what that is. I’m not going to get into that tonight, but this will open up. There’s no question what the great city is.
The chief question of interpretation in the book of Revelation is who is Lady Babylon, or — I don’t like this word, but everybody understands. Historically, who is the Whore of Babylon, or the Harlot of Babylon? There’s no good word for that, but that, you will see, is a word of her desperation. So, I’m going to refer to her as Lady Babylon. I will refer to the new Jerusalem as Lady Jerusalem. So, the two cities that are the climax of the book of Revelation.
You don’t understand the book of Revelation unless you understand who this Whore of Babylon is. And you don’t make quick assumptions about it. John says when he saw her, he was startled. He was speechless, which is a word of recognition, frankly. He also says that if anyone wants to know who she is, you need wisdom. This is the mind that has wisdom. So, it takes a spiritual wisdom, given of God, to understand who she is. We will gather that, but there are clues that are going to be given to all of these characters. You’re going to get a couple of clues, very significant clues, tonight in the way that we’re going to approach this book.
Now, I want you to think of it as a trapezoid because the Revelation is about 46-48% the size of the Gospel of John. But Revelation is situated in heaven. The Gospel of John is giving us the ministry of Jesus. So, they’re woven together. It’s like a fabric. There is a wharf. When you see someone weaving something, there’s a loom and you’ve got these threads that come down this way. And then they go back and forth. There’s a weft or a woof. That brings, then, a fabric. John and Revelation are woven together the same way.
That’s why I have these railroad tracks, these parallel tracks. One of the key ways that you see that these books are tied together is that they run roughly parallel with each other. You’ll see that very clearly tonight. There is a fortunate thing that’s just a circumstance because these books are, like I said, very different in their length. But when you imagine the book of Revelation and the Gospel of John, you have to imagine this trapezoid. You have to know these books well to know where in this trapezoid you are locating yourself.
Now, let me make a comment about the verses and the chapters. The verse and chapter, everybody knows, is not inspired. It’s not a part of the original text. It was added in the 13th century, but it’s a handy way for us to focus in, specifically, on a chapter and a verse. The fortunate thing, even though these books are different in length, is that the numeration here is roughly the same. You’ve got Revelation 1 to Revelation 22. You’ve got John 1 to John 21. So, what happens is, the circumstance of that, is that if you can compare the verse address between the book, you are roughly, in the average of it, in the same part of the book. That will help us when we’re comparing verses. We’ll see that, yeah, we’re a third of the way in, or half of the way in. That sort of thing.
So, I want you to keep that in mind, too. The center of Revelation is Revelation 12, where the Satan is cast out of heaven. The center of John, the literary center of John, which is between the two foot-washing narratives — Mary of Bethany and Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. The center of John is the triumphal entry where Jesus says, “I beheld Satan cast out of heaven.” That’s the axis of these two books, and that will become significant. We’ll talk about that tonight. They’re both describing the same event, but they’re describing it from different perspectives. One is heaven and one is earth.
Now, to show you that these two books are the same, when you read a book, that introduces certain topics, usually tensions, that have to be resolved by the time you come to the end of the book. So, I’m going to give you three illustrations that, to me, nail the case that these books should be read together. The first is the Gospel of John begins, “In the beginning,” and everyone recognizes that’s a reference to Genesis 1:1, where we’re told, “In the beginning,” Moses says, “God created the heavens and the earth.” The original heavens and earth. So, the very beginning of the Gospel is looking back to the absolute beginning. The end of Revelation 21:1, John says, “I saw a new heavens and a new earth.”
So, the Gospel opens looking back to the beginning of the very beginning. Revelation ends looking at eternity future. So, this canvas, like I’ve described it — this trapezoidal canvas is comprehending all of time. The whole horizons of time. But that’s not the only thing John has done. It comprehends all of space. This one canvas, the end of John, the apostle tells us that these are the things which Jesus did on earth. You read the Gospel and it’s all taking place on earth. In Revelation 4:1, John is invited up to heaven and the rest of the book is seeing everything from the perspective of heaven.
So, you will see the bind between these books. The key verbs are ascending and descending. And angels, in both books, ascend and descend from heaven to earth and back. Now, the way that they are related — and you’ll see this tonight. If I make all these correspondences, they can’t be random. There has to be a significance to them to show an intentionality and design. The way that it’s related, heaven and earth are related, looking at things from the heavenly perspective and the earthly perspective, which is what John wants us to learn. He wants us to see earth and what happens to us in our daily life in light of how heaven is interpreting it.
So, the way that they relate, when you juxtapose heaven and earth, the keyword is irony. Earth is in darkness. It’s in utter darkness. Spiritual darkness. John begins with the heavenly invasion as the light of heaven in Christ shines into the darkness of the earth. So, it’s going to be a battle scroll. Revelation is a war scroll. You should know that because seven trumpets sound before the great city falls. We know that from the book of Joshua. The first of the prophetic books of the Old Testament is Joshua. Seven trumpets announces the end. It’s a sign of warfare. So, they would always sound seven trumpets. The seven trumpets are actually named in the Dead Sea Scrolls. We know a lot about them. But when Paul talks about the very end, he says, “At the last trumpet.”
Do you remember that? There was a series of seven. At the last trumpet, God assumes control, morally, over the earth. But this irony — you’ll see this as we go through these parallels. What’s happening on earth, how is heaven receiving that? When the precious son of God came to earth and was crucified, what happened in heaven? John will tell you, “Imagine the eternal God.” I mean, John tells you that. He says, “The one Isaiah saw in heaven.” John told you this in Chapter 12. “The one Isaiah saw, and His robe filled all of heaven with glory.” That magnificent vision in Isaiah 6. In Chapter 13, John refers to that. He said he saw Jesus. He saw the face of Jesus, Isaiah did. John says that explicitly in the next chapter. He shows us Jesus, the same Lord God, whose robe filled all of heaven with glory, taking off His robe. In His nakedness, girding His loins with a towel, going to each of His disciples and washing their feet. How ironic is that? The Lord God on earth, at the feet of His disciples, going one to one. What a God we serve. What a privilege to know this God. You’re going to see this again and again, this radical disjunction between heaven and earth.
The light from heaven is shining into the earth in Revelation. The figure of speech, which words are used to express something other than, and generally opposite literal meaning, it may also be a situation that ends up in a quite different way than what is generally expected. It’s that radical juxtaposition of concepts. The difference between heaven and earth.
Now, I want to give you three clues that show you that these books are clearly one book. The first is that John begins his Gospel with the words “in the beginning,” and he tells us Jesus created all things. All things were made by the Word. Without Him was nothing made that was made. So, He creates this physical cosmos to display His glory. But John talks about the beginning. He doesn’t talk about an ending. But when you come to the end of Revelation, we learn that Jesus is also the ending. There, He creates a new heavens and a new earth. He created the original heavens and earth, implied, in the beginning, and at the end He creates a new heavens and earth. So, Jesus is the beginning and the end. That will have tremendous significance for us.
Another idea that shows that these two books are to be read together is at the very beginning of John, he tells us about a quarrel. When the light of Jesus shines into the earth, the darkness tries to overtake it. That is the powers of light and darkness will be in a Great War with one another. The light shined in the darkness, and he says, then, “But the darkness did not overpower it.” It tries to extinguish the light, but it is unable to extinguish the light. But we have this quarrel between light and darkness all the way through the Gospel, all the way through Revelation. When you come to the end of Revelation, we learn who won that quarrel, finally and definitively, because there, the quarrel between light and darkness ends and there’s no more night. These have tremendous implications.
But to me, the clearest — there are many of these. I’m just giving you three large ones, looking at themes of the beginning of John and the end of Revelation. To me, the clearest is this: At the beginning of John, Jesus is represented as the bridegroom who has come down from heaven. We’re told that He was with the Father. Jesus leaves His Father to go into earth, and He is made flesh. That is, He is made a man in the fullness of time. If Jesus is made a man, He’s born, we’re told, under the law. And the law says something about a man. What is that? It is not good that the man should be alone. Even for one as perfect as Jesus, He must have a bride. Now, His bride is different than Adam’s. His bride will be the whole company of the faithful from all the ages. He is an infinite man. He’s a man, but He is infinite.
So, only the whole company of the people of God could satisfy as a bride for Jesus. And that’s very clearly taught in the New Testament. But it’s a focus, it is the major focus of John, because he’s telling you who you are and who your eternal companion is going to be. And it is marvelous, your destiny. We’re going to be talking all about heaven. You’re going to be learning a lot about heaven. You’re going to be learning about your Savior through this study.
Notice at the very beginning of John, Jesus is the bridegroom who’s come down from heaven. He’s called that the first time in John by John the Baptist in Chapter 3 where John says, “I’ve heard the voice of the bridegroom.” And we understand what he means by that. John, in the spirit of prophecy, recognized He’s left His Father, which is according to the pattern. For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife. He’s come in quest of His bride. And John understood that in the spirit of prophecy.
Interestingly, in Chapter 1 of the Gospel, the bridegroom come from heaven is choosing His disciples, and they ask Him questions and He says, “Come, and you will see.” And then the one who hears says to his brother, “We found the Messiah.” He says, “Well, come, and you will see.” So, you have this twofold invitation. The invitation is to be invited to the wedding. So, the bridegroom comes from heaven in John 1 with a twofold invitation to come to the wedding. At the end of Revelation, we have someone else. You see, the problem with the Gospel is that you’ve got a bridegroom in John’s Gospel, but where is the bride? There is no bride. Not specifically addressed. Implicitly, but not explicitly.
So, you think, “Well, is this book incomplete?” Yes, because at the end of Revelation the bride comes from heaven, just like Jesus came from heaven. John says, “I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down, descending,” — there’s that word — “out of heaven, made ready like a bride for her husband.” That is your great day, the day of the Supper of the Lamb. My goodness. We’re going to have to spend a lot of time with that to understand who we are and what hope is set before us. But then, at the end of Revelation, John concludes it by a twofold invitation to the wedding. The Spirit and the bride say, “Come, and let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’”
So, there you are. If John is presenting the bridegroom and Revelation is presenting the bride, then these books are mysteriously and wonderfully interwoven and they require each of them to be complete.
Now, let me tell you a little bit about what we’re going to do tonight. Back to this trapezoid, now that we understand, Revelation is giving a perspective on the ministry of Jesus that’s taking place on the earth in heaven; how heaven is responding. That’s not just written for curiosity. It’s written to instruct us how we are to interpret our own lives, and we’re encouraged to see them not through the eyes of the flesh, but through the eyes of faith. It’s a challenge to live in a manner that’s worthy of heaven, to be shocked and horrified at what happens on earth, but to recognize that in heaven it’s all glory.
Jesus says, before His body is destroyed on the cross, He prays that the Father would glorify the Son. Had we been at Calvary, it would’ve been horrific. We all understand that. But in truth, in heaven, He’s entering into His kingdom. And we are being instructed to learn to live life here and to see it not from the earthly perspective, but from the true perspective, which is heaven because Jesus came to repair this breach between heaven and earth. That’s Luke 11:2. “Thy will,” Jesus says. He teaches us to pray. “Thy will be done, on earth even as it is in heaven.”
This earth, in its horror of sin and its death, its violence, its corruption, its immorality, this earth cries out constantly to heaven. “How long, O Lord?” And the Lord is actively working through us and through our precious Savior to bring heavenly light into earthly darkness. So, you’re going to learn how to look at life and the things that happen to us through the eyes of faith. What this book will do is it will cure you of your fears. You’ll see a little bit of that tonight. You’ll see it all the way through these studies. It will tell you about your destiny, which is heaven, which will give you tremendous hope. It’s not a book that frightens you. This is the Lord who comes and He says, “Fear not.” He knows the end from the beginning. It’s challenging us to believe that, but it’s so beautifully told it will capture us and encourage our faith.
Now, I want to pay attention to these tracks. Let me go back a minute first. There’s a challenge to this study. These are two books that I think are reasonably well-known for those of you who have walked with the Lord for some time. Most of you know the Gospel of John. Most of you fall in love with that book. It’s so beautiful in its presentation of Jesus. Revelation is very different. A lot of people are frightened from reading it. People read it and have interpretations that really minister fear in many ways. It’s not intended for that, but that’s how it’s often taken. But there’s going to be a very strong difference in the way that you’re going to respond to this next material. Those of you who know these two books well will recognize the connections immediately, and they will make sense to you.
The connections, they can’t be random. They can’t be just a word here and a word here. It has to have specificity to it. It has to be unique vocabulary. And the connections have to make sense. There has to be a design. We have to see that John wrote that with a purpose. He’s training us to lift our minds ahead, lift our minds on high and to let our minds be transformed by the reality, which is heavenly, not earthly. So, these connections, some of them you’ll recognize right off. I’m going to try to give you a little bit of background to refresh your memory. But you’ve got them so you can study them. If you don’t understand them, if you’re new to the faith, this is the way to learn it. You’re comparing what God intends for you to compare. But for those of you who have known the Lord for a number of years and know these books reasonably well, you’re going to see both of these books from an entirely different light after tonight.
So, let’s begin by comparing John and Revelation. Now, let me tell you how this will look. I’m going to go through the whole book. At the first, you’ll hear it and you’ll be a little intrigued. As we go deeper into it, you’ll see some things and you’ll go, “Wow. That is a connection. That seems to be really — that makes sense how those are connected.”
We’ll go a little bit deeper yet, and you’ll think, “Those are pretty striking,” because they’re very specific, using very specific language. They can’t be random because there’s meaning. There’s ironic meaning between the two; a bind between them. We’ll come to the middle of the book and you’ll see that both the center of John and the center of Revelation are talking about the same incident that happens. The times converge in the center of the book, and that is shocking to you. You will understand something about the nature of that book in a way that you haven’t seen before. Why did John put that at the very center? And then, as we begin going on further, you will become more and more confident, as you see this, that this really is opening the book in a very different way, and it’s ministering to my heart and it’s lifting up the Savior.
So, that will be your experience, I predict, I suspect. It certainly was with me. Now, John’s Gospel. These are connections that I think are intended. The first one here is John the Baptist witnesses concerning the Word of God in the beginning of the Gospel, and in Revelation, John the Apostle bears witness to the Word of God. Now, these are connected in a number of different ways. First of all, the commonality of the name John, which has significance in the ancient world. Both of these Johns — we think highly of John the Baptist, we think highly of John the Apostle. But where are they on earth? John the Baptist is about to be thrown into prison. That’s stated for us in John 3. John the Apostle is on the prison isle of Patmos.
So, we think, “Wow. Why would John introduce these two great books in that parallel fashion?” Well, I think the answer to that is because the way John begins his revelation, he’s in prison. He has been cast out of all decent society on this barren, tiny little island in the Aegean Sea. A prison island. He says, “I am your companion. I am your companion in tribulation.”
He’s suffering for his confession in faith.
“I’m your companion in tribulation and in the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
He’s bringing together. He’s in prison, but he’s in the kingdom. You see, he’s truly in the kingdom whatever his circumstances are on earth. That’s remarkable. It’s beautiful. It’s subtle the way that these threads are aligning themselves. He’s called the Word of God in John 1. He’s called the Word of God in Revelation 1. And here we are. Jesus is the light that shines in darkness. That is, He comes from heaven to earth, illumining every man in John 1. When John sees Him, the face of Jesus shines like the sun, and His Word is like a two-edged sword. It speaks life and death.
So, John tells us, in the Gospel, “We beheld His glory as the only begotten of the Father.” The only begotten has to do not with, so much, I think, eternal generation as with His inauguration into His kingdom. He is the only begotten. That was celebrated all over the ancient world, an inauguration into the kingdom, as a birthday of the king.
So, we beheld His glory as the only begotten of the Father. The Father says about the Son, “I’ve set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” In Revelation, Jesus Christ is the firstborn from the dead. To Him be glory. So, the themes seem to be — and I said some of these will intrigue you. John the Baptist introduces the earthly Jesus. “I am the voice of one crying,” he says, “in the wilderness.” John the Apostle heard a loud voice, as of a trumpet, and then he sees Jesus come from heaven.” The glorified Jesus.
Okay. Maybe a little bit of intrigue? Let’s come to the next set. You may remember from Chapter One, Jesus is calling Peter to be one of the twelve apostles. He says to Peter, “Your name is Simon, but I’m going to give you another name. I’m going to call you Cephas, which is Aramaic, which is translated as stone. “I’m going to give you a new name.” Well, what that corresponds to in Revelation, we’re now entering into — because the first chapter of John is so long, we’re entering into the seven churches material. Jesus says, “To him who overcomes, I will give a white stone, and on the stone, a new name.”
The word “stone” in Greek, here, is an unusual word. It’s “képhas.” It sounds a lot like Cephas. It’s intended. If you know these languages, Aramaic and Greek, you recognize these words have been — it’s not “lithos,” a typical word for stone. He’s choosing an unusual stone and he’s using it because it sounds like képhas. Now, what’s the connection? The Lord promises Peter, “You will have a new name.” He’s going to be the rock. But then that promise is expanded to incorporate all of the apostles, isn’t it? Because at the end of Revelation, all of the twelve apostles are made stones. Not just stones, they’re made precious gems. The twelve foundations of the heavenly city are named for the apostles of the Lamb. So, the Lord, is fulfilling His promises far more generous than we could ever imagine by the mere statement of it. Because you see, beloved, this is a promise to you. To whoever the one is who overcomes, Jesus says, “I will give him a white stone.”
It’s a stone of election. They would have white and black stones. That’s what a cephas is. “I will give a white stone,” meaning you’re elect, you’re chosen, you’ve been delivered. “And on that stone, I will give each of you a new name.” Isn’t that wonderful? Now, here’s one that’s fascinating. Again, I think you’re probably experiencing a little bit of intrigue. Well, there’s clearly some intentionality here.
In John 2:17, Jesus puts together a cord of whips — remember that? — and goes in and overturns the tables of the money changers. I mean, His presence is so full that everybody stands back. They watch Him do this, and the apostles don’t understand it, but after the resurrection, John tells us, “Then we understood.” And he cites the verse from Psalms.
“Zeal for Your house will consume Me.”
They had taken this house of God, intended to be dedicated as a prayer for all nations, and turned it into a den of thieves and corruption. Jesus is going in. It’s a warfare. His body is a temple. He’s at warfare with the temple of Jerusalem.
“Zeal for Your house will consume Me.”
That would’ve been some sight to see. And notice there’s an asterisk by the verse address. That’s a code. I should say, by the way, the words that are red are in the same root in Greek. If they’re in blue, it’s similar, but not the same root. So, the strongest connections are the red ones, but the blue, I think, too, were appropriate. This one is very strong because John uses the word “zeal” only once in the Gospel and only once in Revelation. In Revelation3:9, too — that’s what the asterisk means. It’s very unique. Either the cluster of words or the word is only used one time. Here, it’s because there’s only one other time that word “zeal” is used, and it’s when Jesus purifies His Church. On earth, He purifies the temple. In heaven, He purifies His Church. He’s writing the letters to the seven churches and He commands us, then, to be zealous and repent.
That’s given as a word of healing to the compromised church at Laodicea. Now, what does it mean to be zealous? The Lord, in His righteous indignation when He sees the consequence of sin, goes after it. He is a God of justice as well as grace. We should have the same attitude towards sin that we find in ourselves. We should have that same zeal that will not compromise God’s truth. None of us are there yet, but that’s the goal. Paul will use different language. He’ll say, “Crucify the flesh. Mortify it.” It’s the same kind of language, but be zealous, therefore, and repent. Recall to the same kind of zeal Jesus exercised in the temple.
In John 2:24-25, “Jesus knew all men,” John tell us, “for in Himself He knew what was in man.” This is in a context where He doesn’t entrust Himself to man. Neither should we, by the way. There’s no salvation there. Then Jesus writes to the churches, “Remember who I am.” He writes to Thyatira, which is the most comprised of all the churches. He says, “All the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts.”
That is because He knows what is in all men. He knows what’s in us. And don’t let this dismay you. We all know our secret sins. Jesus says what? He knows it and He loves you anyway. He loves me anyway. That’s the Savior. He is zealous. He will protect us from the evil one. Now, John 3:1 and 10.
“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a teacher in Israel.”
In Revelation, the churches in Ephesus and Pergamum suffer from the teaching of the Nicolaitans, and Jesus says to write in the letter that He hates the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The commentaries on Revelation, we don’t have a context for it. What does that mean? So, all kinds of guesses are made. The commentaries are guessing. But if you read these in conjunction, what makes senses is this: Nicodemus and Nicolaitan sounds very similar. Nico means victory. Demus means people. You know it from democracy. The rule of the people. Laitan means people, too. In other words, it’s a synonymous parallel term for people. We know it from laity, the common people.
So, the words really mean the same thing. What that means, then, is the teaching of the Nicolaitans that Jesus hates is Phariseeism, and Phariseeism is the anti-Gospel. It is the Gospel of self-righteousness. The false believe that I, in my own strength, can merit heaven, and that is the anti-Gospel. The true Gospel, as you all know, is there is nothing in my flesh that is worthy. I have to rely entirely on grace. That is the heart of the Gospel. And what is being hated here is this teaching of the Nicolaitans. Jesus warns them. He says, “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees.” Pharisees exceeded everyone in righteousness, but they’re not in heaven. Deep irony.
Here’s another one. John 3:20. Jesus says, “The one who does evil hates the light, and he won’t come into the light lest his wickedness be exposed.”
Remember that? The wicked hate the light. Well, I don’t want to come into the light — if I’m outside of the Church, outside of the kingdom, I don’t want to come into the light. I’ll do my deeds of darkness where I have the cover of darkness, although it’s no cover. You know that from Psalm 139. The night and the day is the same to the Lord. But Jesus says, “He who does evil hates the light. He doesn’t want to be exposed. And he doesn’t want to come forward, lest he be reproved and judged.”
But when you read it in the light of heaven, here is the confidence that you can have. If you come forward, Jesus says, “The one who comes forward out of his deeds of darkness to receive my reproof receives my love.” It changes everything, doesn’t it? He loves those whom He reproves. Hebrews tells us the same thing. If we receive the discipline of the Lord, it’s verifying the fact that we’re beloved sons and daughters.
John 3:29. Notice the asterisk. This is John the Baptist testifying of himself. He says, “I am the friend of the bridegroom, the friend of the bridegroom who stands and hears him,” — he’s listening for the voice of the bridegroom coming for His bride. He hears the voice and he rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. That juxtaposes to the verse 3:20 in Revelation that many of you know. “Behold, I stand at the door. If anyone hears my voice, I will come in to him and dine with him.”
Precious invitation of the Savior who’s at the door. He’s waiting. All we do is open our heart and He promises He will come in and sup with us. Like the Emmaus disciples, they beg Him to stay. It’s evening and He goes in. He will respond to anyone who invites Him in. And what is it that He says? I will come in with him and dine with him. The dining with him, in the context, is the wedding supper of the Lamb, which is an extended metaphor for heaven itself if you respond to that door and hear the voice.
Now we’re in Chapter 4. In the Gospel of John, this is when Jesus has His interview with the woman at the well. He says to her, “The hour is coming, and now is, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” That’s not taking place on earth, but it will. It will take place when they kingdom come. “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.”
Look at where we are now. We’re in heaven itself, at the courts of heaven, and there we see what? Wherever the four living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, the twenty-four elders fall down and worship Him. The scene in heaven will become the scene on earth. That’s the connection between the two.
I talked about irony. The difference between heaven’s vision of the ministry of Jesus. Here’s one: Jesus Himself testified — this is when He’s among the Samaritans. No. He’s come back to Israel. Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. Can you imagine the Savior, the creator of the ends of the earth, when He came to this world, they would not give Him honor? They actually dishonored Him, didn’t they? Well, while He’s saying that on earth and being rejected, look at what’s happening in heaven. You are worthy, O Lord, to receive honor. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive honor. Blessing and honor to the Lamb forever and ever.
That’s the true reality. All of heaven is giving Him honor, but not on earth. Don’t expect, in this world of rebellion, that He will get the honor that He’s due, except in our own hearts. But you’re being shown the true reality. Draw back the curtain and you see that all of heaven is giving honor, blessing and glory to the Savior.
This is a fascinating one. The relationship between John 5:18 and Revelation 5:5. They accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, which has to do with the seventh day, as you know. They do that because they want to put Him to death. He’s violating the Commandments. The chief one that they go after is He’s breaking the Sabbath. What that relates to in Revelation — we’ll have to take a look at this — is where John tells us that he learned not to despair because there is one who can save us. No one in heaven and earth can save us. John begins to weep, and then he’s told, “But there’s one who is worthy to save you.”
The Lion of the Tribe of Judah has prevailed. He has won. Because of His prevailing, because He has perfectly kept the law, He is worthy to open the scroll and to break the seven seals. That is, on earth, He’s being accused by His enemies as being worthy of death. In heaven, He’s also worthy to die in order to save the world. You see, Jesus is the Word of God. In the metaphor of Revelation, He Himself is the scroll. And to open the seven seals are the seven openings, the seven lethal woundings that He will take on the cross. He is worthy to open those seals. No, none of us is worthy. The book would reveal nothing but our own sin and condemnation. But Jesus is worthy to die for His people.
John 5:22-23. The Father has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. How they dishonor Jesus. In doing that, Jesus says, “You’ve dishonored my Father.” But in heaven, every creature John hears saying, “Blessing and honor and glory and power to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” The Lamb is the name for the slaughtered, yet standing sacrifice. It’s Jesus’ redemptive name. And the Father intends for the Son to have honor, and that the world will honor the Son and the Father.
What is taking place in heaven will take place on the earth. The next one. We’re told that John the Baptist was a burning and shining lamp. God gave two witnesses to the light. John the Baptist and Jesus, who is the light of the world. And the darkness of Jerusalem killed them. Extinguished the light. Don’t miss that. That’s very important. In heaven, John sees seven lamps of fire burning, the seven spirits of God, which testifies to the power of the ministry of John the Baptist. In John 6:2, Jesus is preparing to feed the 5,000 in the wilderness. We’re told that a great multitude was following Him. They learned that He can heal diseases, so you can imagine how the cities are pouring out, going to Jesus.
A great multitude was following Him. That’s going to be the 5,000 that are counted, men only, not counting women and children, that Jesus fed. He will feed the 5,000. In heaven, we’re told a great multitude was standing before the Lamb. John tells us they never hunger again. They neither hunger nor thirst again. You can see the perspective this looked.
Now, this next one. I told you, as we go along with this, you’ll look at it and you’ll think, “This can’t be coincidental.” Look at what we’re about to see now. Look at the asterisks. There are four of them, actually. The specificity of them. When the disciples tell Jesus, “Dismiss the crowd. They’re hungry. They haven’t eaten in three days,” Jesus says, “Give them something to eat.” They’re only thinking in the earthly terms of things. They don’t have anything to give. They said, “We couldn’t do that. With this multitude, it would take the price of 200 denarii worth of silver to buy bread for such a multitude. Even the cheapest bread, the barley bread.”
And you know what Jesus does. He multiplies. That’s the Creator God. That’s who’s being revealed. He creates this material. He is creating it out of nothing, as He had made the world itself. And all of them eat to their full satisfaction, those who were hungry, and there’s only enough left to collect to satisfy the hunger of the twelve who served. Twelve baskets of barley bread are collected. So, everyone eats to their full sufficiency. He knows the appetite of everyone and there is no waste. Many miracles involved in that.
Now, look at heaven. See the asterisk? A quart of wheat for a denarius. Three quarts of barley for a denarius. Well, what’s the context in Revelation? This is the third seal that’s being opened; the judgments that are being poured out on the earth. And this is the black horse that goes forth with the scales. It’s representing famine. God is bringing famine into the earth. The evidence of that is the price of these grains out of which we make bread is sky high. In the ancient world, a quart of wheat for a denarius, three quarts of barley for a denarius, telling you that the difference between wheat and barley is a factor of three, but it’s telling you these prices are enormous. A loaf of bread for 100 dollars. Why? Because bread is so coveted. It’s desperately needed.
So, we’re all hungry. There is famine in the earth. If we read these two together, the language is so specific — denarius, barley — how in the world can they not be related? The intention, then, of John is that we should read them together. What does that mean? What does it mean? When famine comes into the earth in Revelation 6:6, because God is pouring out judgment, the one who is with us is the one who multiplied bread that His people would not hunger. That’s your security.
I’m going to tell you a personal story. In the 90s, I was National Council for an enormous defense contractor, DynCorp. Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, I headed up their asbestos litigation in Texas and elsewhere in that particular kind. I answered to a man who was the best friend of Henry Kissinger. DynCorp serves the military all over the world. They’re in charge of the petroleum reserves in Louisiana. They service aircraft all over the world. Fifty-thousand employees, three billion dollar company, and they knew the world. They were very competent. They hire admirals and generals. It’s the military-industrial complex right there in Reston, Virginia. Leading up to Y2K, I really dismissed most of what I heard, but I saw that DynCorp, my friends at DynCorp, were taking that very seriously. This was the peak of intelligence and technology.
It made me think, “Well, I need to take this more seriously than I have.” I had two small kids under 10. I had two elderly parents that were left in their 80’s. I was the only one who could work. I thought, “I need to make some provisions.” So, I went out. When I saw their panic, I went out — and maybe some of you have done this — I bought six months’ worth of food, vacuum packed, just to have something on hand. I mean, if everybody’s going to be starving, what am I going to do? It’s still in my garage. We’ll see what happens. Anyway, I thought I’d done something, anyway. I’ve got this huge responsibility.
We lived in a very nice neighborhood in Dallas. Beautiful home. But not far from us, maybe two or three miles, was a Section 8 housing complex where people are desperately poor. So, I had these boxes stacked in my garage, wondering if anything is going to happen. At least I’ve got something. Maybe we can reestablish civilization in six months. But then I thought — and these are timely topics, aren’t they? I mean, our whole world system is very fragile right now. But then I thought it through. I thought, “What if some of those kids come to my front door and they’re hungry in that six-month period? What will I do? Will I lock the door against them?”
And I couldn’t do it. I knew I couldn’t do it. I can’t live in this world as a Christian. It doesn’t work. I would have to share it with them. So, what’s my comfort? My comfort is my Christ, the One who can multiply bread. He can multiply fish. He can multiple wheat. He can create out of nothing, and He has said He is our daily bread. We pray for our daily bread. So, whatever happens, I’ve determined if there is chaos, I’m staying in the city. I’m going to work with the elders and do what I can. Like with Esther, if I perish, I perish, but I can’t live my Christian world in this world. I can’t do it. And I want to live like that.
Whatever happens in this world that frightens you, your confidence cannot be in your stock portfolio, your insurance. Your confidence has to be in the One who had nothing, not even a place to lay His head, but He could provide and would provide for His people, that they would not be hungry.
Look at the next one. Ironically, the same verse, but an asterisk. When Jesus feeds the 5,000, they want to make Him king. When Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king — think of all the people that covet being president. Here, they’re going to make Christ not president, but king. Take Him by force and make Him king because He can make bread magically appear. John tells us, “He withdrew to the mountain by Himself.”
He fled from them. What’s contrasted in heaven is this: The kings, the great men, in the last day of judgment, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, they hide themselves in the mountains and cry for the rocks to fall upon them and bury them, lest they see the wrath of the Lamb. In other words, Jesus fled the honors of this world as much as the wicked will flee the wrath of God at the day of judgment. And He’s the true king and I can trust Him. The wicked don’t want to see the wrath of the Lamb. They can’t understand that the Lamb is the one who invites you to come. All they can see is wrath. They can’t see His sacrificial love. Oh, if we could see that.
Here’s another word of comfort. Look at John 6:18 and 27 in the Gospel. After He feeds the 5,000, He dispatches them to go across the sea by themselves. He goes up in the mountain to pray. He is separated from them. A storm blows up over the Sea of Galilee. The sea was stirred. A great wind was blowing, but they were not going to perish because upon them, we’re told, God the Father had set a seal.
In Revelation, the four angels, standing at the four corners of the earth that control the four winds of the earth, are about to bring great judgment on the whole world. But a voice from heaven says, “No wind should blow on earth or the sea until we have sealed the servants of God.” That’s your promise you’re going to be protected from the wrath. You can build on that rock. You can live life on that rock. No wind will blow. No sea will come. I wish our children could understand this. Our children are being paralyzed with fear. They think they’ve got 10 years. No wind. No sea will swallow us up, those of us who have been sealed by the servants of God.
So, we’re making progress now. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “He who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” Do you believe that? If you believe that, it changes the way you live. And the words are so unique in the way that they’re phrased, I’ve given in the asterisk. Because in seven, John is shown the righteous who are now with the Lord, and he’s told they will hunger no more, neither thirst anymore. That might not be as poignant to us in the first world as it is to our brothers and sisters in the third world who literally do pray for their daily bread.
But it’s true, isn’t it? All of you who really know Him, you don’t hunger anymore. You don’t thirst anymore. He says, “Rivers of living water will flow from Him. Out of His belly will come forth…” — that’s speaking of the Spirit. “And in heaven, He will lead them to the springs of the water of life.” So, it’s promise and then fulfillment. Every promise Jesus makes, He’s going to keep for you in heaven.
John 8:21-22. “You will seek me,” he says to the wicked in Jerusalem, “but where I am, you cannot come.” That is, you will not find me. “You will seek me, but you will not find me.” Isn’t that interesting? Jesus says, “If you seek, you will find.” But here, to the wicked, “You will seek me, but you will not find me.” He says, “You will die in your sins.” They say, “Will he kill himself?” Totally misunderstanding. He is the prince of life.
In heaven, we’re looking at the judgment of the fifth trumpet. We’re told men will seek death and will not find it. They will desire to die because they have not found Him who is life. They will desire to die, but death will flee from them. What a desperate need. All we have to do is come to Him. Whoever comes to Jesus will not be cast out. That’s the assurance that we have.
John 9. Jesus heals the man that’s blind in the temple. The religious leaders can’t understand how he’s been healed. He tells them they still won’t believe, so he rebukes them. He says, “Look, I was blind, now I see. But you can’t hear and neither can you see.” They’re sighted, they’re not deaf, but they can’t see and they can’t hear because these are spiritual truths.”
In Revelation 9:20, the wicked, we’re told, are like their idols which can neither see nor hear. So, the Pharisees, we see, are not in heaven. They’re with their idols.
John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
John 10:4; 8-9. John, who is a true sheep, hears the voice of the good shepherd. “The voice which I heard spoke and said, ‘Go,’ so I went.”
Now, we’re coming toward the middle of the book. We come to the resurrection of Lazarus in the Gospel. Jesus says, “Lazarus is dead, and I rejoice for your sakes that I was not there so that you might believe.” So, when Jesus came, he had been in the tomb four days, but he’s going to be resurrected. Jesus rejoiced because what had happened was happening to encourage the faith. Even the death of a loved one, the Lord uses to encourage our faith. What a kind Savior we have. The sharpest pain in life is being used to the good of us who remain.
But anyway, Lazarus was dead. After four days, he was resurrected. He corresponds to the two witnesses in Revelation. And I don’t think Lazarus is one of the witnesses, but I want you to see the correspondences. They will see their dead bodies, the two witnesses, for three and a half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into the tomb. And those who dwell in the earth will rejoice over them.
And then the actual resurrection. With a loud voice, he cried out, “Lazarus, come forth,” and he who had died came out, bound hand and foot. In Revelation 11:11-12, “Now the breath of God entered them,” that is the witnesses, “and they stood on their feet. They heard a loud voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come up here.’”
So, the Lord has power over death itself. Look at this one. John 11:48. After the resurrection, multitudes were turning to Jesus because it was well-known Bethany is just across the Olivet Ridge from Jerusalem. So, people were going out to see Jesus and to see Lazarus who had been dead. The religious leaders are upset and they said, “If this continues, the Romans will come and take away our place in the temple.”
We will lose our place in the temple. That’s their place of privilege and honor. “We’ll lose our place in the temple.” Look at heaven.
Revelation 12:8: “No place was found for them…” — that is those who follow the dragon — “…in heaven.” They were concerned about their earthly place, but in that concern about their earthly place, they lost their promise of a place in heaven. What’s true for you? Do you believe in the Lord? Do you believe He’s gone? What has He gone for? He’s gone to prepare what? A place for you in heaven. In Revelation 12, it says He prepares a place for us. Even in the wilderness, you will not, beloved, be dispossessed.
Now we come to the axis of the book. This needs a whole star system of asterisks. This is the very center of both books. It’s the account of the triumphal entry, we call it. The next day, a great multitude cried out to Jesus, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. The King of Israel. Behold, your king is coming,” the crowd said. The Pharisees, therefore, said, “Look, the whole world has gone after Him.”
“And then I heard a loud voice in heaven, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ have come, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become those of our Lord and His Christ.’”
The kingdom is being handed over. All authority. John 12:25: “He who loves his life will lose it.” And then, in heaven, John sees those who did not love their lives, even unto death. This is the axis. Look at this. At the triumphal entry, something very peculiar happens. A voice came from heaven and people heard it. They heard two things. Some said they heard thunder. Others said they heard a voice. It was articulate speech. It was the voice of an angel. But Jesus says, “Now, the ruler of this world is cast out because he…” — John 12:32. Jesus says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw people to myself. To be lifted up from the earth, that language specifically refers not to His glorification or His ascension, but to His crucifixion. That’s when He, in truth, enters into His kingdom, but you have to recognize how ironic that is. You have to see that through the eyes of faith.
In Revelation, the center of John, the literary center of John now corresponds to the actual center of Revelation. Revelation 12:9-10, again with the asterisk, “And Satan, who deceives the whole world, was cast to the earth.” And there are angels speaking. John hears a voice in heaven: “Now has come salvation,” and there were thundering. So, what you see is what is happening on earth is happening in heaven. These two points in time coincide. When Jesus sees Satan cast out of heaven, in heaven, they see war in heaven and Satan is cast down to the earth. It’s the very center of John’s thinking. Christ will be lifted up. Satan will be cast down. At the very center of 1 John, 1 John 3:8, “For this reason, Jesus came into the world that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
It’s this great reversal. That’s the centerpiece of John’s whole thinking about God. Jesus says, “And I, if I’m lifted up from the earth, will draw people to myself.” Everybody comes to the cross. In heaven, that corresponds to the child that is born of a woman who’s in labor, and the child who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron, the Sceptre of David. And to her child, her child was caught up to God and to His throne. This is not looking at the birth narrative. It’s looking at the resurrection narrative. So, He’s lifted up and all nations come to believe in Him.
Now we’re going to get a clue to one of the major characters in Revelation. I think this one is definitive. I’m not saying this is the Beast, but this is one like the Beast. When you understand the Beast in Revelation, he will be like this one. Judas. We’re told about the Beast that he wants to control all who buy and sell. Remember that? Well, in John’s Gospel, we’re told that Judas controlled the purse. In John 12, Judas excoriates sweet Mary of Bethany. “Why this waste, this precious oil poured out on the Savior? Why that waste? That could’ve been sold.” He has a price on everything. “That’s worth 300 pieces of silver. That could’ve been sold,” and then he says, “and given to the poor.” But we actually know he was a thief, don’t we? So, he wants to control. That should’ve been sold.
In John 13, at the Last Supper, Jesus commands Judas to leave. “What you do, you do quickly.” It’s His word of telling him to leave. He leaves and John says it was night. He’s left the light of the world. He’s gone out into Jerusalem, the city of darkness. And the disciples say, “Why is he leaving? It’s not the time in the Seder Supper for someone to leave. Why is he leaving?”
So, they have two theories. One is that Jesus commanded him to give something to the poor, which apparently he did often, or perhaps to buy something for the table because there’s nothing. It’s very meager, this Last Supper. There’s very little there, and everybody knew that they needed more. Or to buy something for the supper. “This could’ve been sold. This must be bought.” Judas wants the bag because he wants to control the buying and selling. We’ll see there’s another verse that ties in, specifically, the Beast in Revelation to a figure like Judas. In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Revelation 15:3-7: “Just and true are Your ways, God who lives forever.” Jesus says, in John 14:5, in the upper room discourse, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” In Revelation, “Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments.”
John 15 tells us about judgment. Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown out as a branch and is dried up, and they gather them and throw them into the fire.” We must abide or persevere in our faith in Christ. So, judgment is going to be poured out. The harvest of the earth was dried up, and another angel who had authority over fire called and said, “Gather…” — you can see why it gets the asterisk — “…the clusters of the vine, for her grapes are fully ripe.”
So, there is a division. The judgment. It’s always the good grain is kept, the wheat the chaff are thrown away. The same with the good grapes. The angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine, and threw it into the wine press.
John 16:8: “He will judge of sin, righteousness and judgment.”
Revelation: 16:7: “True and righteous are your judgments.”
Here’s a comfort. Jesus assures His disciples just before He is crucified. He says, “I have overcome the world.” And we see the truth of that in Revelation. The Lamb will overcome so that He can fulfill His promises to you who are the overcomers. And now the other verse about Judas. Notice it, too, is asterisked. Judas is called the son of perdition. That word is only used once in the Gospel of Judas. It’s used once in Revelation of the Beast. The two together make a compelling case, it seems to me — and this seems evident, doesn’t it? — that the Beast of Revelation is one like Judas, the traitor in the midst who pretends to be the most trustworthy of all. That’s why he was the treasurer of the group. Jesus said to the disciples, “Have I not chosen you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” He had been chosen even though Jesus knew he was a devil. The Lord will accomplish His purposes even with the wicked.
John 17:24. The High Priestly Prayer. Jesus says to the Father in prayer, “I desire that they also, whom you have given me from the foundation of the world,” — He’s focusing on praying for us. He prays for you specifically in this prayer. He’s the intercessor. He prays for Himself, He prays for the disciples and then He prays for all of us who would believe through the word of the apostles. He was thinking of you hours before He is crucified.
In Revelation 17:8, “Those whose name had not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world…”
[Inaudible]. But the Father will give to the Son, all of you who have believed in Him, and your glory has been intended from the foundation of the world. And if you’ve come to Him, He will in no ways cast you out, and no one will pluck you out of His hand. That’s the security you have.
At the arrest scene in Gethsemane, the temple police and the guards come up to Him, and He goes out in front of them and says, “If you’re seeking me, let these go.” They say, “Who are You?” And He says, “I am.” He doesn’t say, “I am He.” That really out to be taken out. He says, “I am.”
“Ego eimi,” the Greek. He’s saying He is the Lord God. He uses His name from Sinai and they fall back. Physically, they fall on the ground. It’s showing you that He had to surrender Himself. He was not captured. That corresponds to the wicked in Babylon. “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great.”
Now, we’re going to be given two clues to the identity of Whore Babylon. Please don’t go ahead of me and make judgments. There are many clues we’re going to have. This is one pattern of correspondences between John and Revelation. Next week, we’ll see the fundamental pattern. It’s like a warp and woof the way that the texture, the fabric of these two books is woven together. The major correspondences are not these. It’s a pattern that shows you all the way through, but next week you’ll see and some of the mysteries of the Gospel will be answered for you.
But here’s some irony for you: The Whore of Babylon has two things that identify her specifically. The Harlot Babylon has a cup of loathsomeness, an abomination, and she’s drunk, isn’t she, on the blood of the saints. There’s only one other person in all of John’s writings that has a cup of loathsomeness. In Gethsemane, Jesus submits to the will of the Father and says, “The cup which my Father has given, shall I not drink it.” He’s drinking the wrath away from us. But I find it interesting that the only two that have the cup are Lady Babylon and Jesus. And in the trial, Pilate says to Him — remember, when he interrogates Jesus, Pilate says to Him, “What is truth?” when Jesus says He is the truth. Pilate says, “What is truth?” and walks away. He walks away from the one who is true. He walks to his own fate. “What is truth?” The word of the doubter. But in heaven, when the Father introduces the Son on the white horse of victory, He says, “His name is faithful and truth.”
He is the truth. In earth, He’s given no honor. He’s disregarded. In heaven, everyone knows He is the truth. How ironic is that, how deadly is that, that he walked away? Then a second thing between Jesus and the Harlot Babylon. The mock His kingdom, they clothed Jesus’ naked body in a purple robe. Purple and scarlet are the same word. To mock Him as a king, remember, they give Him the crown of thorns, the broken reed. Lady Babylon is clothed in purple in Revelation. So, that is raising in our minds, “Why is John drawing those connections? What are they? What is the purpose of that?”
Each of these patterns will give you clues to the identification of these people. Revelation talks about the false prophet. Well, Caiaphas is called a prophet in the Gospel, but he’s a false one, as you know. Pilate brings out Jesus. He comes out wearing the crown of thorns and a purple robe. “Behold, the man.” Imagine that. Visualize that. “Behold.” That’s your Savior. That’s the hope. You’re putting all your hope in Him and His kingdom. In heaven, “Behold, He was called faithful and true, and on His head were many diadems.” Not thorns, but many crowns. And His robe was dipped in blood. That’s a Joseph allusion. You see, Joseph had brothers who hated him, and his coat of the favor of his father was dipped in blood.
Jesus has triumphed over the enmity of his brothers. That’s why He’s on the white horse and the robe dipped in blood. Radical irony. In John 19:13, in the Gospel, “Pilate sat up upon the judgment seat to judge.” Well, in the earth, we see injustice, don’t we? We see it in every hand. Cruelty. Injustice. But in heaven, look what happens. In heaven, I saw a great white throne, and He who sat upon it judged every man. It’s like Pilate sets up his little throne on earth and he thinks he speaks for Caesar. There’s no authority higher than him.
In heaven, another court is called into session, and there the Lord will judge every man. Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” In Revelation, the word comes from heaven to assemble the great supper of God, that you might eat the flesh of kings. There is a kingdom and an anti-kingdom. There is the Kingdom of Christ with the Father and the Spirit, the Trinity. There is the anti-kingdom. It is also triune. It’s Satan, the False Prophet and the Beast. There is an anti-communion. There was the wafer and the wine on earth. There is the wine of the Harlot Babylon that is the blood of the saints, and there is the supper of the flesh of the kings. There’s many things to say in this, but we must hasten.
I want to come back to this one. This is the most striking one of all. Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and on either side the two thieves — remember? And Jesus in the midst. The language there, “on either side” and “in the midst,” John only uses one other time. When he’s describing heaven. I want to come back to that. What is it about heaven that John saw something heavenly at Calvary? I’m going to come back to that.
Pilate writes a title to mock Jesus. It’s written, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” But in heaven, on His outer garment, a name was written: “King of kings and Lord of lords.” He is not just the King of the Jews. Although Pilate was mocking Him in that, it’s true. He is the King of the Jews, but He is also King of kings and Lord of lords, and heaven will not see to it that He is not given that full honor.
They crucified Jesus. They took His outer garments. That is, they striped Him naked. He takes our nakedness and our shame. On His outer garment, He’s given a name in heaven. King of kings. Jesus, then — let’s see, I’ve got this out of sequence. I think it’s a little bit out of sequence. Did I go too far? Yeah. I did. It was my fault.
Jesus, knowing that all things were finished, said, “It is finished,” at the end of His suffering on the cross. Then they took the body of Jesus, bound it and placed it in a tomb. In Revelation, that corresponds, “They took hold of the dragon and bound him. Satan is shut up in the abyss, like a tomb, that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years were finished. And the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.”
Then Satan comes forth again. The anti-kingdom will imitate the resurrection as Satan comes forth from the abyss. In John 19:38-40, after where Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one, for fear of the Jews, took the body of Jesus and bound it with linen wrappings. What corresponds in heaven? The armies of the Lamb, which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.
We will be given linen, the good works, precious linen, but only because our Savior wore the linen shrouds of the grave clothes. John’s Gospel has that comic turn. You remember, Jesus comes forth from the earth like a new Adam, and He’s in a garden. Mary is there wondering where the body is that she might anoint Him. And Jesus comes up to her and He says, “Woman, why are you weeping?” There’s no reason to weep. She doesn’t yet understand, but you do. So, He says, “Why are you weeping?” Jesus has just returned us to the Garden of Eden. She, thinking He’s the gardener — remember? That’s not a throwaway line.
“Woman, why are you weeping?”
The end of Revelation is exactly the same. When we’re brought to the garden city, we’re promised, “He, God, will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” There’s no reason to weep, beloved, except for joy. Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me yet, for I have not yet ascended to my Father and to my God and your God.” This is not an eternal reunion, you see, because she has her destiny among the people of God as the bride of the Lamb. That corresponds, then, at the end of Revelation. “I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
Everything that Mary longed for will be fulfilled for all of us on that great day. John 20:26. Jesus met with the disciples after the resurrection. He came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst. Interesting, isn’t it? How can He do that? He just walks through the doors? We see He’s come from the new Jerusalem. A characteristic of the new Jerusalem, in the daytime, there is no night there. The gates are never shut. If He has the keys of death and hades, there is no door that can keep Him. He can come to you wherever you are. Whatever kind of prison that may be. And I’m not just talking about a material prison. Whatever bondage that you’re in. When you think nobody can break through to set you free, He can walk through doors. He’s come from a new world. And He appeared to the disciples, the doors having been shut.
So, He encourages us. Be not unbelieving, but believing, and not like those of the wicked, the fearful and the unbelieving who are cast out of the city. Simon Peter cast himself into the sea. I don’t really have — I need to hurry through. So, Simon Peter went up and drew the net onto the land. The sea gave up the dead. Peter comes up. It’s like a resurrection. So, when Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he put on his garment, for he was naked, and he threw himself into the sea. That corresponds to the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of fire and there was no more sea.
For Peter, it’s redemptive. For the enemy, it is not. Jesus tells Peter, “Feed my lambs.” What that corresponds to is the wedding supper of the Lamb. What corresponds to the wedding supper is the communion that we have in Him. In the commissioning, this is the disciple who wrote these things, and we know that His witness is true. In Revelation, what corresponds? He said to me, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” In Revelation, John is given his commission to write both books. When I’m through showing you how tightly connected they are, I think you’ll probably conclude with me these books were conceived in one moment of time. That’s the only way these patterns could work.
John 21:25. And there are many other things that Jesus did which if they were written one by one, I suppose even the world itself could not contain the books that are written. Amen. And then Revelation 22:18-19. If anyone takes away from the words of this book, of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the things which are written in the book.
Do you know what that word means? That word, the curious comment, at the end of John? These are the things that Jesus did, but if I told you everything He did, the world would be filled with a library and the world wouldn’t be sufficient. Do you know what that means? I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Paul tells us, “You are living epistles. You are these books.”
Here we have a couple hundred people. This is a little library of faith. If all of the things that Jesus has done for you were written in a book, and how many of our faithful ancestors, fathers and mothers in faith have gone on into heaven? Jesus is filling up the whole cosmos, heaven and earth, with volumes telling us about His saving work. But I want to look back in closing, and this will be very brief, but I think it will encourage you. I want to look back to this comment I made. This one. John describes Golgotha, Calvary. In John 19:17, he said, “Jesus was crucified between two thieves, and Jesus in the midst. Very unique language. On either side, two thieves, and Jesus in the midst. And at the top of Calvary is the title Pilate wrote. “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
What’s striking is that that’s the very language that John uses to describe heaven. This is so radical, this imagination. Imagination of faith. This is what John says about heaven. Listen to this.
“And He showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,”
The Lamb is the name of Jesus in His sacrifice. But in heaven, there is a throne of God and the Lamb where He’s King of kings. It’s the Father in Jesus, that heavenly throne. And coming forth from it is a river, a river of crystal waters. And Calvary — here’s the title. Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. Here is the Lamb being sacrificed. They pierced His side and out flows a river of water and blood. On either side of the throne of God was the tree of life bearing twelve kinds of fruit.
Now, the patterning of that is very intentionally drawing your mind to Calvary. At the very top, the similarities between Calvary and heaven. At the very top is a statement of the throne of God and the Lamb, or Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. His kingdom. Coming forth is this river that gives drink to the trees of life on either side. At Calvary, there is the title of the cross, the King of the Jews, and then here is the Savior. And coming forth from His side is this gushing forth of water and blood, and on either side are trees of death where two thieves are dying.
Now, what is the connection that John is intending between these two? It seems so deeply ironic. This is what that means, as best I understand it. Let me say this first. I believe with all my heart there is a place of wonderful delight and truth, and that’s heaven. I believe that with all my heart. It’s a physical place. We will be there one day. It’s a true reality. But what John is telling you is something that I think is a way of seeing heaven in a very different way. You see, heaven is not golden streets. It’s not gates of pearl and foundations of precious jewels. It’s wonderful, but that’s not heaven. John is telling you that heaven is wherever Jesus is. Wherever Jesus is, that is heaven, and that day heaven came to Calvary. You will learn more about the love of the Savior when you see heaven in that scene, and you’ll learn from looking out of those gates of pearl one day.
We have no idea how beloved we are, how loved you are. That was the price. He paid it thinking of you. It was for the joy that was set before Him of being with you that He despised the shame. But that’s when He entered into His kingdom. The heart of faith looks at that and you’ll never see the Savior more beautiful than on that day. John is telling you heaven is more of a person. Wherever Jesus is.
There’s a story that Spurgeon told. I love this story. It was an old man of the faith who was witnessing to a young man who was a skeptic, who despised Christianity. But they had an odd friendship that drew them together. The old man would always tell the young man about Jesus, and the young man, in his pride, dismissed all of this as ramblings of an old man. But there was a friendship, nonetheless. And a word came to the young man one day that this old man was dying at last. He thought, “I’m going to go visit him one more time.”
So, the young man went to see this old man. The old man went on and on about his hope of heaven and his joy in being soon with the Lord. The young man grew weary of hearing all of this, which to him was foolishness, and he said, “Have you ever thought, has it ever entered your mind, that maybe you won’t go to heaven? Have you ever imagined? What if instead of being in heaven, when you awaken on the other side, you awaken in hell instead? Have you ever thought about that?”
Harsh word. The old man thought for a moment, and then he looked at the young man and he said this: “Young man, if I wake up in hell, the Lord has promised that where I am, He will be there with me. When I see Him, wherever I see Him, even in hell, I’ll throw my arms around Him and that will be heaven to me.”
That’s the meaning. To my mind and to my imagination, this is the chief meaning of the books of John and Revelation. We’ll see this. It elaborates. It becomes even more amazingly beautiful as we go through it. But it seems to me the chief purpose is to tell us if we have Him, we have everything. And whatever we go through in this life, He is there with us. If we understand that, that’s heaven, already, to us.
Father, we thank You for the gift of Your precious Son. We can’t imagine You would give one so perfect to those of us who were so needy and desperate in our sin. We marvel at Your love and we marvel at the love of our perfect Savior, Lord. Teach us to be worthy of Him. Teach us to give thought how to testify to Him, how to be intentional neighbors, how to see where You’re walking these halls. We see Your work in our midst. O Lord, give us this part of the world for the kingdom.
We thank You for Grace. I thank You for Pastor Chip, for all the staff, for everyone who labors here, that this might become a beacon of light to the whole world because we know the light does shine in darkness. And though the darkness doesn’t comprehend it, the day is coming when there will be no longer any darkness and no night there. Because the heavenly city will be illumined by the Lamb, by redemption itself, and we will be with Him — we are with Him already. We thank You for that confidence. Amen.