The “Who” is stated clearly in Revelation 1:1. God gave the book of Revelation to Jesus “to show his servants what must soon take place.” An angel then passed the revelation on to John, who addressed it to “the seven churches (Jesus’ servants) in the province of Asia,” verse 4.
So this is a message meant for Jesus’ servants, the Church, as a reminder that Jesus “has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father,” verse 6. But why was that so important?
Because there’s another kingdom in operation on this planet that’s also fully aware that the Church is God’s kingdom in the making, and one day it will take over. So, how can this other kingdom stop it happening?
No way can it defeat God’s Church in open battle, because the power behind the Church is “the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever. And I hold the keys of death and Hades,” verse 18. The Church is the instrument of the resurrected Jesus, “seated at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power, and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come,” Ephesians 1:20-21.
So what can this other kingdom do about that? If nothing, then it might as well pack up bags and not fight a battle it obviously can’t win. And that could have been the end of the book of Revelation, one chapter and all done. But the story continues in chapter 2, because the other kingdom hasn’t given up, despite the odds so obviously stacked against it. And, amazingly, despite the heavy artillery all being on the Church’s side, this other kingdom makes some serious inroads into the Church.
And those inroads are all directed toward one end too, to get the Church to “lose its connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow,” Colossians 2:19.
Which explains why Revelation opens with a stirring picture of Jesus, and nailing it down that he’s one who “gives the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God,” Revelation 2:7. He holds the key to that, and because he’s also “the First and the Last,” Revelation 1:17, he can take us right back to when things began in the Garden of Eden and re-create the chance for us to eat off the tree of life instead.
He can do that. And the other kingdom knows it, so how does it get the Church’s eyes off it? (Part 2 tomorrow…)