When I realized I was on deck to preach on the Sunday after the most contentious election of our lifetime, I decided to prepare three sermons. One, if Trump won. A different one, if Biden won. And a third, if we didn’t know who won. But somewhere along the way I threw all those sermons away and I’ve prepared a message on the subject—All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.
We simply need to direct our attention to our sovereign Lord and His domination of history. My Scripture is from the book of Revelation, chapter 1. Let’s read this powerful little passage in Revelation 1:5-7. I want you to notice how the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth is described.
… and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father—to Him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen!
Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all peoples on earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen.
Recently a group of researchers conducted a study with participants who were given sheets of paper containing puzzles—mazes. You’ve done those as a child. You have to start on one side and find your way through a twisted maze of lines and boxes until you come out the other side. Every sheet had a little mouse near the beginning and the participant had to get the mouse through the maze. At the top of the page for one set of participants was an owl, looming over the page and hunting the mouse, ready to snatch him up if he took the wrong route. The other set of participants had no owl. Instead there was a morsel of cheese awaiting the mouse at the end of the puzzle.
Which group did the best with their puzzles? The people with the cheese consistently did better. The researchers explained that we do much better in life when we’re moving forward toward a goal, not looking backward at a threat. We don’t need to look behind us in fear, but to look ahead of us in hope and expectation.
That’s why we have the book of Revelation, which highlights the rule and reign and the return of Jesus Christ. So today I want to get out of the way and let the Word of God itself infuse you with the forward direction we need as I show you the five different functional roles of Jesus Christ, which are highlighted in verses 5-7.
1. The Revealer
First, Jesus Christ is the Revelator or the Revealer, the One who shows us what will happen in the future. Look at verse 5 again. This is a greeting John is giving to the readers. He said: Grace and peace be to you from…
And he mentions God the Father and God the Spirit, and then he extends the blessings from God the Son, but at the way He describes God the Son, the Lord Jesus.
Verse 5: …and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness….
A faithful witness is someone who tells exactly and truthfully what he knows. Someone who tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Well, let’s go back to verse 1 and see to what John is referring.
Revelation 1:1 says: The revelation from Jesus Christ….
When we open the last book of the Bible, we learn that Jesus is about to reveal something. He has already revealed so much to us. In the Gospels, He revealed Who He was and what He had come to do. He revealed the person and the truth of God. He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you….”
By His Spirit, He also revealed many other things in the epistles and in the letters of the New Testament. And now, He’s going to reveal to us one final set of teachings. There is one more subject He wants to teach us. There is one more graduate course He wants to offer. There is one last dossier He wants to open for us. He wants to show us who is in charge of this world and how it all will end.
The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon take place. He (Jesus) made it known by sending His angel to His servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
Jesus is revealing something to us that we could discover in no other way. No one knows the future except God Himself. None of us knew January 1, last, what kind of year 2020 would be. We can’t even discern what will happen tomorrow. But the Lord Jesus knows and He had decided to reveal it to us—to give us a revelation.
The One who is giving us the contents of this dossier—the twenty-two chapters of this book of Revelation—is absolutely true and faithful and every word He speaks is true and faithful. He faithfully tells us what the Father told Him. God the Father told Him what is going to happen at the end of time, in the future, and He is a faithful witness in passing the material on to us.
2. The Resurrected One
Now, let’s read on.
…and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead.
This means that Jesus Christ was the first person who ever died who was resurrected in a permanent, glorified, everlasting, changeless, imperishable, indestructible way.
This isn’t a time to present evidence for the veracity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but let me just point out that even in our relatively modern scientific era, there have been a number of highly trained scholars and historians who have set out to disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and who, upon encountering the strength of the evidence of His resurrection, have been converted. Want some names? J. D. Anderson, Lee Strobel, William Ramsey, Josh McDowell, Frank Morison, Gilbert West.
3. The Ruler of the Kings of the Earth
And now look at the next phrase: Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
Now the apostle John was writing this in the last decade of the first century, and he was perhaps ninety years old. He was writing this in exile during the reign of Domitian. Emperor Domitian was less than half the age of John. Domitian was in his early forties. Domitian had exiled John to the island of Patmos. He thought he was shutting up John. He thought he was silencing the last of the twelve great apostles. He thought he had put an end to the apostolic influence of the Gospel.
But it was there on the island of Patmos that John had a vision of the future and wrote down what the angel told him about the outline of world history and the end of the age.
About the same time, Domitian had a dream. According to the Roman historian Suetonius, who was alive during this era, Domitian had a dream that he would die, and that he would die soon, and that he would die at midday, sometime around noon.
From the day of that dream, Domitian was ill at ease. About noon the 18th of September, AD 96, he asked his servant what time it was, and the servant lied to him and told him it was already in the afternoon. He went to his desk to sign some papers, and an aide suddenly pulled a dagger out of his sleeve and started stabbing him. The wounded emperor put up a fight, but the aide stabbed him again and again, and he died in agony from his seven wounds. He was forty-four years old. His nurse unceremoniously burned his body to ashes and sprinkled them in the Flavian Temple.
Two men—the old apostle and the young emperor. One had a vision of the long-term future and the other had a dream of his noontime death. Domitian has been dead 1900 years, and the Roman Empire is long gone. But the vision of the apostle John is ready to unfold into reality at any moment. The history of this world is the history of leaders who have come and gone, and most of them have been forgotten. A very few great leaders are remembered for their good works, and a few are remembered for their horrendous evil. But they come and go like ghosts on the stage of history.
Behind the scenes, the hidden hand of God’s providence is moving history along toward the events recorded here in Revelation, which is a detailed account of the seven final years in world history.
Only one person is truly in ultimate control. Only one person is guiding the nations of this world toward the swiftly approaching events of the book of Revelation. And that is Jesus Christ, the ruler of the kings of the earth.
4. The Redeemer
So Jesus Christ is the Revealer, the Resurrected One, the Ruler of the kings of the earth. And The passage goes on to say: To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father—to Him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen!
First, He loves us. If only we could somehow comprehend those words! There is a Savior in heaven at the right seat on the throne of eternity—and He is eternal in nature—He is wise and strong. And He loves you. He absolutely loves you more than you can imagine!
And He has freed us from our sins by His blood. When Domitian was stabbed seven times with the dagger and bled out in his private office, his blood was nothing but a royal mess that had to be mopped up and the emperor’s body was dragged to the fire. But the blood of Jesus Christ has the power to free you from your sins.
Now, without the blood of Jesus, the devil owns you. Your sins own you. Your failures own you. Your eternal destruction owns you. But the wondrous blood of Jesus has the power to cast off all those forces. He frees us from our sins by His blood.
And then He makes us to be a kingdom. You and I are citizens in God’s kingdom on this earth—His church. The kingdom of God is already, but not yet. It’s already here in the presence of His children on earth. But one day according to this book of Revelation, it’s going to come in a geo-political reality when Jesus comes again.
And He has also made us to be priests to serve the Lord. Have you ever thought of yourself as a priest? The apostle Peter said that the church is a royal priesthood. That is, we are appointed to serve here on earth and to represent God to the people of his planet.
All of that is bound up in the idea of redemption.
A couple of weeks ago, I spoke at a Christian camp in Illinois. The director of the camp told us that for the first time in 65 years, they weren’t able to open the camp for children. But when he realized how many children were being schooled at home he developed a learning center for middle school children and many enrolled. They studied online in socially distanced cubicles in a monitored environment, and he had activities for them. Most of these children were unchurched. One day he took them all for a hike through the campground and through the woods to a great cross that had been erected over a campfire spot. One of the little boys looked at him and said, “Mister, what that giant “T” for? Why do you have a letter of the alphabet there?”
The camp director said, “That’s not a T. Let me tell you what it is….” And he shared the story of the cross of Jesus Christ with that young man and led him to faith in Jesus Christ. Perhaps you’ve seen the cross so many times in churches or in drawings that it no longer moves you, but you’ve never accepted for yourself its great life-changing redemption. Jesus loves you, He can free you from your sins by His blood. He can make you part of His kingdom and even make you a priest, so to speak, to serve Him.
5. The Returning Lord
But there’s one final truth here about Jesus. He is the returning Lord. Look at verse 7: Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all peoples on earth will mourn because of Him.” So shall it be! Amen.
Now, the rest of the book of Revelation is a rollout of the final seven years of world history, and this is what makes me think events are speeding up. I teach a course on the book of Revelation on my website; I don’t have time to cover it all now. But the events in the book of Revelation now seem very plausible, very credible.
Look at Revelation 6:8. This is a description of what will happen near the beginning of the seven years of global tribulation: I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague….
What’s another word for “plague?” It’s pandemic. Not long after the beginning of the Tribulation, warfare, famine, and a pandemic will kill twenty-five percent of Earth’s population. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has killed 1,200,000 people and think of the disruption it has caused in our nation and world. But it’s only a foreshadowing of a massive pandemic that will decimate a quarter of the population of the earth when combined with war and famine near the beginning of the final years of history.
Now, look at Revelation 13:16-17: It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark.
When the antichrist comes, he is going to know all about everyone and have the power to keep them from all commercial transactions, even purchases. It’s going to be an economic dictatorship. One of the most frightening things about our modern technology is how the big companies have become so invasive into our private lives. Thirty years ago, if you went to Sears-Roebuck to buy a pair of pants or a washing machine, they would sell you what you wanted without invading your private life. But now these giant companies study every stroke of your keyboard. They analyze you down to your most personal habits.
In America, they are doing this just in order to sell us things. But in China, what is now emerging is Orwellian and Dystopian.
And China is emerging as the world’s most threatening superpower. Let me just quote an article from Business Insider:
China is setting up a vast surveillance system that tracks every single one of its 1.4 billion citizens—from using facial recognition…to forcing people to download apps that can access all the photos on their smartphones.
And Time Magazine said that China is rolling out Big Data and surveillance to inculcate “positive” behavior on its citizens via a Social Credit system…. Every person is automatically given 1000 points. If you do things the government likes, they will give you points. If you do things that are counter to policy, they take away points. Now listen to this:
“Fall below a certain threshold and it’s impossible to get a loan or book high-speed train tickets.”
The concept of 666 is already at work in China.
And finally, speaking of China, look at Revelation 15:12: The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its waters dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.
This is in advance of the battle of Armageddon, and the Bible predicts that the Euphrates will dry up so that vast armies from Asia can march unhindered toward the surrounded nation of Israel. As of 1948, Israel is back in its ancestral home. And the nation of Turkey has built vast dams on the Euphrates that can stop the flow of the river.
The Economic Times reported that President Xi of China is determined to build the Chinese military complex to be on par with America’s within seven years. He’s the most powerful ruler in China since Mao Tse-Tung, and he has been declared Chinese leader for life. Of course, that’s what Domitian thought too.
The entire description of the seven years of tribulation as described in the book of Revelation seems now, for the first time in history, plausible and credible. And Jesus is getting ready to return to this earth.
Let me give you three takeaways:
- First, we must train ourselves to live with a daily anticipation of the return of Jesus Christ.
- Second, we must share the message of Jesus with those who aren’t ready.
- Third, we must speak truth to culture while we can. There are many issues right now in the marketplace of ideas that are Darwinian, atheistic, and dangerous. On every issue, the Bible speaks truth to our culture and it speaks with clarity and with charity.
This is our task until the Lord returns. No president can stop Him. No election can hinder Him. No army can deter Him. No empire can delay Him.
- The Revealer
- The Resurrected One
- The Ruler of the Kings of the Earth
- The Redeemer
- And our Returning Lord.
According to Revelation 5, when these things begin to take place, the angels will burst into worship. John wrote:
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever!”
The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshipped.
The most important song on our hearts and minds today is not “Hail to the Chief.”
All hail the power of Jesus’ name
Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem
And crown Him Lord of all.