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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."

 

*** Background ***:  John is here starting the content of the Revelation letter. In the previous verses, he was still in the introduction, where he made it clear that the Revelation letter is about Jesus, and that the author of this message is God. But now, on verse 9, we see a little bit about John and how he is connecting with the people who will read this letter. Based on verse 9, John seems to be going through a very difficult situation in the island of Patmos.
 
*** Patmos ***: this is a small and rocky island in the Aegean sea. Just so we can have an idea of how small it is, Patmos is about 10 miles long and 6 miles wide across the widest portion on the 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, who was the emperor between the years A.D. 81-96. He was later released under Emperor Nerva (A.D. 96), and that’s when he was allowed to return to Ephesus.
 
John found himself in a very difficult situation. He identified himself with hotheadedness readers, as he told them he was a fellow-partaker in the tribulation. This leads us to believe that the churches are also going through a difficult time.
 
*** 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 was no excuse not to continue the work of God. Even from prison, he was still working for the Lord. Romans 5:1-5 tells us that through faith in Jesus we can grow. It tells us that "suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”. So, with this expression in mind, we see that John, already an elderly man at this point, was still working to perfect his character, with the purpose to solidify, even more, the hope he had in Jesus, in the word of God. He is here highlighting that perseverance is a process.
 
*** On the Lord's day I was in the Spirit ***: This phrase includes two important expressions. The first one is “on the Lord’s day”, and the second is “I was in the spirit”. Let’s start with the expression that says he was in the spirit. In John 14:15-17, 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 would not only teach them, but would 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. It’s clear here that John was in a vision. In the beginning of the phrase, John tells the church when this vision took place. It was "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", or en tē kiriakē hēmera. And This is the literal, word for word translation: “on the Lord day”. Let's look at what the BIBLE has to say about "the Lord's Day".
 
The original in Greek does not say the exact day of the week or the month he had the first vision. But based on the way John wrote, we have the impression that the churches would have understood this reference very clearly because he didn’t stop to explain what it was.
 
In our modern times, we see today, religious traditions that started a long time ago, around the year 365 AD. If today, we were to ask several Christians about which is the day of the Lord, many of them would answer it is Sunday. This answer is really not a surprising one. But we have to remember that John was not writing in the 300s. John was writing in the first century before this tradition about Sunday started in the Christian world. It is important that we search the answers in the Bible, and not in personal opinions. If in the Bible, John mentioned the expression “the Lord’s day”, then the explanation about what day this is has to be in the Bible as well. So let’s research this and find out what day this is. Let's start by looking into the explanation we got from the religious tradition, which is Sunday. So let’s see what the Bible has to say about Sunday.
 
Sunday: Sunday is mentioned a few times in a few passages. We see some things happening on Sunday in the verses in Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7;  1 Corinthians 16:2. In these passages, Sunday is called “the first day of the week”. This becomes very clear when we read about the day Jesus resurrected. The verses in the Gospels tell us that after the Sabbath, in the early hours of the first day of the week, the women went to Jesus’ tomb, but when they got there, it was empty. Jesus had resurrected. The fact that Jesus resurrected on Sunday is really not a point that Christians tend to disagree on. Generally, everyone agrees that He resurrected on Sunday. So we see that the Bible considers Sunday as the first day of the week. We now have this important information about Sunday. But, this information alone still does not answer our question about which day is the Lord’s day. When looking at the original language, in Greek, there are no verses in the entire Bible that mention Sunday as being the Lord’s day or a holy day. We don’t see this either before or after Christ’s resurrection.
 
The next step is to research the expression itself: “the Lord’s day” or “the day of the Lord”. In Isaiah 58:13-14, we read the words that came out of “the mouth of the Lord”. God is here speaking, specifically, which day He considers as being the "holy day of the Lord. The day is not only the day of the Lord, but it is also a holy day. And this verse identifies which day it is. The verses say: 13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, 14 Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (NKJV)
 
In these verses, God mentions by name the day of the Lord, and God said it was the Sabbath. Based on logic, if the Bible considers Sunday as the first day of the week, that makes Saturday the last day of the week - the seventh day of the week.
 
Saturday: It is not a secret that the Jewish people consider Saturday as the Sabbath. This is true today and this was also true in Jesus’ and John’s time, and certainly true in the times before them. Jesus as well as the apostles after Jesus’ death and resurrection, had the custom to go to the synagogue on Saturday, and we read this in Luke 4:16, Acts 17:2, Acts 13:14-15, Acts 13:42-43, Acts 18:4, and in many other verses as well. As we read in the Bible, Jesus faced some resistance from the Jews. Many of them did not accept Him as the Son of God, as the Messiah. So you can imagine the impact that the jewish people felt when Jesus said this about the Sabbath, and He said: "The Son of Man is the Lord even of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:27-28; Luke 6:5). After looking at all this information, more questions Come up. Did Sabbath-keeping start with the Jews? Did it start with the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:8-11? In these verses in Exodus, God says He made the Sabbath holy. Does that mean the Sabbath is just for the Jews?
 
We all know that God's presence was with mankind even before the Jewish nation came to be. Let's then look in the Bible for a reference to a time before the Israelites showed up, and see if the Sabbath was there as well. Let’s go back to the book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible. In Genesis 2:2-3, we read that during creation, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy. Now, At this point, only 2 people were living here on the planet, Adam and Eve. So the understanding of the Sabbath as God's holy day comes from Creation, which took place long before the Israelites and even before sin.
 
According to the Bible, the day of the Lord is the last day of the week, meaning, the seventh day. But the expression “the day of the Lord” show up many other times in the Bible, and in these other verses, we see it gain an even deeper dimension. We see the day of the Lord in many verses talking about the final events, about the end of the world. And that's when eschatology comes up.
 
Eschatological Day of the Lord: eschatology is the study of the final events of the world. Regardless of which exact day of the week John was in the vision, John 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": the verses say that there will be a complete destruction of the earth and the earth-dwellers. As we saw on study #6, the earth-dwellers are those who sinned against God and did not repent. 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 in Joel 2:11, 31; and 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. We can see that the Second Coming of Jesus will only be like when a thief comes, to the people who are not preparing or not waiting for His arrival. Notice what happens IMMEDIATELY after Jesus comes as a "thief" to the unprepared people and also to the planet itself . Let’s look at the text in 2 Peter 3:10. And the verse says: "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, meaning Sabbath, the last day of the week; and it was about the "day of the Lord”, meaning the final judgment 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, lightning, 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 like the trumpet of God. We can see here 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. The voice told John that he should write a message in a book, and that he should send this book 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) and he received this message through a vision "on the Lord's day" (which is a literal day of the week and a symbolic expression for the last day, final judgment 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 has a literal and asymbolic meaning. Both the literal and the symbolic messages come from God, and they are extremely urgent because God is using His trumpet voice. But look and see how much God is loving and caring. The message that John is about to send the churches is a personal message to each one of them. God wants all His children to be prepared for the Coming of Jesus.
 

   
   
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