Friday, 01 April 2016 19:01

7. On the Lord's Day * Revelation 1:9-11

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9 I John, your brother and fellow-partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance in Jesus, was in the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

10 On the Lord's day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,

11 saying, "Write in a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea."

*** Patmos ***: this is a small and rocky island located in the Aegean sea. It is 10 miles long and 6 miles wide across the wider northern coast. It is near a cluster of islands about 50 miles off the coast of Asia Minor. During the Roman Empire, Patmos was used as a penal colony, and according to tradition, John was sent there during the reign of Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96). He was later released under the Emperor Nerva (A.D. 96), and allowed to return to Ephesus.

*** Perseverance in Jesus ***: John was sent to Patmos, a prison island. He was there not because of crimes he had committed, or for bad behavior. He was there because he was a faithful servant of the Lord. He was going through tribulation even though he was innocent. But out of that time of suffering, Jesus was able to reveal Himself. Jesus still had a mission for John. Being in a remote location and a prisoner under Roman rule were not excuses not to continue the work of God. Romans 5:1-5 tell us that through faith in Jesus we can grow. It tells us that "suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope".

*** On the Lord's day I was in the Spirit ***: in John 14:15-17; John 25-26, we read Jesus' own words as He is telling the disciples a very important message. Jesus says He will send the Holy Spirit to be with His followers forever. He is sending the Spirit of truth. Jesus says the disciples already know the Spirit, because He lives with them and in them. The Holy Spirit will not only teach them, but also remind them of all the teachings of Jesus. In Patmos, John is in the Spirit, in a direct connection with God, receiving and learning a special message from Jesus. John is in a vision. John specifies when this vision is taking place. It is "on the Lord's day. Some Bible translations read "Sunday" instead of "the Lord's day". But the original in Greek says exactly "on the Lord's day", en tē kiriakē hēmera. This is a literal, word for word translation. Let's look at what the BIBLE has to say about "the Lord's Day".

- Sunday: when looking at the original language, there are no verses in the entire Bible that mention Sunday as the holy day of worship, or the Day of the Lord. Not even after Christ's resurrection. When Sunday is mentioned, it is always mentioned as the "first day of the week" (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). Matthew 28:1 clearly says that the first day of the week happens after the Sabbath. The women get to Jesus' empty tomb on Sunday morning.

- Saturday: as we can see, Sunday was referred in the Bible as the first day of the week. This makes Saturday the last day of the week, or the seventh day. It is a well known fact that the Jewish people consider Saturday as the Sabbath. In Isaiah 58:13 we read words that "The mouth of the Lord has spoken". God promised a blessing to those who keep from doing their own will on the Sabbath, "the Lord's holy day". Let's see what Jesus himself says about it: "The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:27-28; Luke 6:5). But did Sabbath keeping start with the Jews? Did it start with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8)? Is the Sabbath just for the Jews? God's presence was with mankind way before the Jewish nation came to be, so let's look in the Bible for a reference to a time prior to the Israelites, and see if the Sabbath was there as well. In Genesis 2:2-3, we read that God blessed the seventh day and made it holy. At this point in time there were only 2 people living on the planet, Adam and Eve. So the understanding of the Sabbath as God's holy day comes from Creation, before sin.

- Eschatological Day of the Lord: eschatology is the study of the final events of the world. So far we have seen that "the Lord's Day" is not Sunday because of lack of biblical evidence. We did find plenty of evidence supporting Saturday as "the Day of the Lord". As you will see, we also find strong evidence for "the Day of the Lord" as viewed in the context of the final events, the end-of-the-world context. Regardless of which exact day of the week John was in the vision, he was taken to witness and write about the final events as shown in the message he was receiving. In Zephaniah 1:1-18, we read a strong description of what will happen on "the Day of the Lord": complete destruction of the earth and the earth-dwellers (those who sinned agains God). In Amos 5:16-19 we read about the terrible wailing and darkness on "the day of the Lord" because of the people's disobedience. We can see other Old Testament references here: Joel 2:11, 31; Malachi 4:5. In the New Testament, we also see some references to "the Day of the Lord". In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4, and 2 Peter 3:10, we see that Christians do not need to be unprepared about Christ's coming. Even though we don't know the exact date of His coming, we know He IS coming. No one knows when or if a thief will come to our house. But we know that 'the day of the Lord" is coming. If we are prepared, His arrival won't come as a surprise to us. But if we are not prepared, we will be caught by surprise, just as when a thief comes in the middle of the night. But notice what happens IMMEDIATELY after Jesus comes as a "thief" to the unprepared people and to the planet itself (2 Peter 3:10): "The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare". It's the last day of the earth, it's the "Lord's day". There is nothing left. We just read the description of a desolate and empty place. It's the end of the world as we know it. Acts 2:17-20 refers to the"day of the Lord as being "great and glorious", when the sun and the moon are changed in the sky. And "blood and fire, and billows of smoke" are expected to happen "in the last days". It is literally the end.

It is very reasonable to understand verse 10 of Revelation 1 as having a double meaning. The original readers in the first century would have very likely understood that John's vision happened on the Lord's Day (Sabbath, the last day of the week), and it was about the "day of the Lord" (final judgement day, the last day of the world).

*** Loud voice like a trumpet ***: in Exodus 19:16 we read about what happened right before God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The verse describes the presence of the thick cloud of the Lord, lightening and thunder, as well as the very loud "voice of the trumpet" as the original in Hebrew says. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 says that right before the dead in Christ are resurrected, the Lord himself will shout a command with such a powerful voice, it will sound as an archangel, and the trumpet of God. We can see that when we hear a "voice like a trumpet", God is about to say something of extreme importance. It is no different in this section of Revelation, and we can read in verse 11 what the "loud voice like a trumpet" says. John is told to write the message on a scroll, and send it to the seven churches in Asia. The message is a personal letter from Jesus to the churches.

*** Overview ***: John was in tribulation because of his faith and active involvement in preaching the gospel. He was sent to Patmos in exile. There he received a vision about the last events that will take place on Earth, on the Lord's day. The "Lord's day" likely has a twofold meaning, one literal and one symbolic. He starts with "I, John" (literal person), then he said "I was in the island called Patmos" (literal location), and then he received a 'message that was signified' (through signs and symbols) to him (Revelation 1:1) through a vision "on the Lord's day" (literal day of the week and a symbolic expression for the final judgement day). John was commissioned by Jesus to write that message and send it to seven specific churches in Asia Minor. As we will see when we study these churches, each of them also have a literal and a symbolic meaning.

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