The Living One
Open Your Bible
Revelation 1:1-20, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
What do you do when God’s plans for your life unfold differently than you expected?
This question arises again and again throughout the Bible. Abraham is promised descendants, but then his wife is barren. Joseph is promised leadership, but then he is thrown into a pit. The disciples are promised a Messiah, but then He is arrested and killed.
Over and over throughout the Bible, God’s people live in a tension between the promises of God and the reality of their present circumstances, and this tension is the context of Revelation.
Prior to the writing of this book, the world had experienced an unprecedented outpouring of the Spirit of God. People saw miraculous signs and wonders. The gospel spread like wildfire. Thousands came to Christ. Lives were changed. It all must have felt fast and furious and wonderful.
And then, as if someone had slowly turned off the faucet of God’s power, the revolution seemed to stall. In its place, persecution. Roman authorities increasingly pressured Christians to worship Caesar or face severe punishment. The hostility toward Christians intensified, and this left them wondering:
Where was God?
What happened to His promises?
Is Jesus still coming back?
What do we do now?
Sooner or later, we all find ourselves in this place of uncertainty. We wonder if we misheard God or if we did something wrong to provoke Him—or if He is even there at all. And in this place of tension, it’s tempting for doubt to become our compass, instead of faith.
This is where the book of Revelation begins. The people of God are struggling, and the mission feels unclear. As a result, some Christians are compromising the truth of God’s Word and caving into the culture. Some are disobedient, while others are simply lukewarm. So God reiterates His promises with a “revelation” to John that is glorious and startling and surreal.
It’s easy to get lost in the imagery of this book, but the first chapter of Revelation holds the key. All we really need to know of “the First and the Last” (v.17) is that Jesus Himself is the definitive “revelation” for the world. Everything we need to know about God, we know through Christ. Everything we need to know about our past, we know through Christ. Everything we need to know about our future, we know through Christ.
Not an inch of God’s Word or God’s plan is out of character with the Son of God, and this is the lens through which we should read everything contained in Revelation. It is tempting to be dogmatic about the meaning of these abstract images, but the point of this book is simple: to direct our trust toward the “Living One” who was dead and is now “alive forever and ever” (v.18).
This truth about Jesus—about His life, His death, and His resurrection—does not change with our circumstances or with our doubts. It holds. Whatever may come, Jesus is our unstoppable hope, from first to last. That is the message of Revelation, and the message for our lives.