www.christdeaf.org/bible
Christ Lutheran Church of the Deaf
Silver Spring, Maryland

Revelation 1:9-20 (New Century Version)
See next page for suggestions for signing this text

9 I, John, am your brother. All of us share with Christ in suffering, in the kingdom, and in patience to continue. I was on the island of Patmos, because I had[finish] preached the word of God and the message about Jesus. 10 On the Lordís day I was in the Spirit, and I heard a loud voice behind me that sounded like[as] a trumpet. 11 The voice said, "Write what you see in a book[scroll] and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea."

12 I turned to see who was talking to me. When I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands 13 and someone among the lampstands who was "like[as] a Son of Man." He was dressed in a long robe and had a gold band around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like[as] wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like[as] flames of fire. 15 His feet were like[as] bronze that glows[shines] hot in a furnace[fire], and his voice was like[as] the noise of flooding water. 16 He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp double-edged sword came out of his mouth. He looked like[as] the sun shining at its brightest time.

17 When I saw him, I fell down at his feet like[as] a dead man. He put his right hand on me and said, "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the One who lives; I was dead, but look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to death and to the place of the dead. 19 So write the things you see, what is now and what will happen later. 20 Here is the secret of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands: The seven lampstands are the seven churches, and the seven stars are the angels[announcers] of the seven churches.

 

Suggestions for signing this text:
See the Omega Project translation offered by Deaf Missions (www.deafmissions.org).

LAMP STAND:
Archeologist find two kinds of lampstands in Israel. One is a tall table for an oil lamp (see Matthew 5:15). The other kind of lampstand is a metal seven-branch menorah (see Exodus 25:31-40; 37:17-24). Because John describes Jesus as "among the lampstands," it may be that he is describing the tall table with an oil lamp.  However, you do no harm to the text if you chose to simply sign "flame-lamp," instead of trying to invent a sign for "lampstand."

lampstand
LAMPSTAND
Menora
MENORAH

 
On the home page for this sermon series (www.christdeaf.org/bible/7Letters) you will find materials which you can use as bulletin inserts, outlines, and visuals. I suggest that for each lesson you print and distribute a copy of the map with the text of the day.

The first page of study questions in 7LettersStudy.doc may also be distributed on the day you present this first lesson in the series. Then at the end of the service, distribute the study questions for next week - The Letter to the Church in Ephesus.

Ron Friedrich

[The sermon begins here.]

While Jesus lived among us on earth, did Jesus send a letter to anyone?

Peter sent letters.
Paul sent letters.
John sent letters.

But did Jesus? We don't know. The Bible doesn't say. But the Bible says that Jesus sent seven letters from heaven!! Jesus spoke, and John wrote. Those seven letters are now in our Bible, in the last book, named REVELATION, chapters 2 and 3.

For the next seven weeks here in church we will study those seven letters, and we will try to learn what Jesus wants to teach us in those letters.

But before we can begin studying those letters, we must look-at four important questions:

What?   Who?   Where?   Why?

1: What?

The last book in the Bible is named REVELATION. That word REV means what? [Invite people to answer.]

Possible answers:
    Inform
    Show
    Vision [think-expand]

We name that last book in the Bible "REVELATION." That is really an abbreviation [sign = summarize]. The full title is...

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John"


That full title answers part of our [2] "who" question:

The information is from who?

Answer: From Jesus

Notice John's description for Jesus:

He was dressed in a long robe.
He had a gold band around his chest.
His head and hair were white as wool,
    white as snow.
His eyes were as fire.
His feet were as bronze that shines.
His voice was as the noise of water flood.
He held seven stars in his right hand.
A sword, having two sharp edges, it came out of his mouth.
He looked like[as] the sun shining bright.
He is the First and the Last.
He was dead, but now He lives forever.

That picture is not the gentle soft shepherd!
That picture shows Jesus in His glory,
    true man and true God.

Now, REV is from Jesus, to who?

Answer: to JOHN. Yes, Jesus' Disciple.
That same John wrote the Gospel,
    the 4th book in the New Testament.
That same John wrote three other letters
    in the New Testament that have his name.
        First John
        Second John
        Third John
Last, John wrote everything Jesus informed-him
    for the book we name REVELATION.

 The information is from Jesus, to John, for who?

    ?To us? Yes.

But exactly, Jesus told John:

"What you see,
    write that in a scroll.
Then send that scroll to seven churches."

And Jesus lists the names of those seven churches.


That leads us to our 3rd question: Where?

Where is John?
And where are those seven churches?

John says he is on the Island named PATMOS. That was a prison in the ocean, between Greece and Turkey. Some of you maybe remember the California jail island named ALCATRAZ. That island PATMOS has the same idea.

John says he is in jail because he preaches about Jesus. This happened in a time that ROME increased persecution against Christians.

And those seven churches are in western TURKEY. In New Testament times, that area was named ASIA.

Church history tells us that John himself served as pastor in that area.

Jesus has a special message for each church in that area.
The things that Jesus tells them are important for us, also.


That leads to our 4th question: Why?

Jesus gave John that special vision[think-expand], why?

People often interpret the book of REVELATION two different ways.

One interpretation is history -- things happen finished.
The other interpretation is prophecy -- will happen.

Which is right?
      Both are right.
      Jesus told John: "Write the things you see,
            what is now
            and what will happen later."

You maybe will see some teachers say that the seven churches in REV are only SYMBOLS. Those teachers say that each church represents[means] a span-of-time in church history. They say that the first church in REV chapter 2 describes the church in the New Testament, during the time of the Apostles. And they say that the 7th church in REV describes our church today.

[Note to preacher/teacher: This interpretation is taught by teachers of Dispensationalism and Millenialism. See the Bible study about "Left Behind" on .]

The book of REV has many symbols, yes. But the 7 Churches in REV chapters 2 and 3 were real churches. And everything that Jesus tells them is all important for today. The problems in all 7 churches are the same problems that we see our churches today. And Jesus' answers for those problems are the same answers He has for us today.

Notice some of the true SYMBOLS that we see in our lesson today. Lucky for us, we don't need to guess about what those SYMBOLS mean. The Bible itself tells us their meaning.

A sword, having two sharp edges from Jesus' mouth:

Means what?

God's Word
Law and Gospel
that stabs deep to our heart
touching our sin
and healing us with the Good News
about forgiveness.

The Keys

The Bible says that Jesus has "Keys to death and hell."
Jesus opens heaven for all people
        that trust Him
        and receive His forgiveness.
And one day in the future,
        Jesus will throw the devil back into hell,
            shut-the-door, and lock it.

Seven Lamps (flames)

Mean what?
        Seven churches. Each lamp means one church.


Seven Stars
in Jesus' hand

Mean what?
    Seven messengers[announcers] for the 7 churches.

Notice that some translations say, "Angels." That is because the Greek word ANGELOS means announcer. And God's announcers can either be people or angels. Which one here? ? ?

The announcers in church are people - the preachers.

And those announcers are where? 
    In Jesus' hand!

Starting next week we will begin our study about 7 churches:

1. The Cold Church

2. The Suffering Church

3. The Mixed Up Church

4. The Tempted Church

5. The Big Busy Church

6. The Strong Little Church

7. The Comfortable Church

We pray:

Father in heaven, Thank You for Your Word that teaches us about You, and also teaches about ourselves. Please make Your word the same-as that sword that will touch our hearts and our minds. During the next seven weeks, help us to see the things You want to teach us about our church. Help us become more as You want. And we will announce Christ and His salvation to the world. Amen.