It is always nice to have an “in” — a person or connection that gets you special inside advice, treatment, or information. To be somewhere and realize that you know the person in charge. You can just walk up, say “hello”, and all of a sudden, you’re “in”.
My wife has a cousin that used to work at Disney World. While he was there, he was able to get us in as part of an employee benefit program that they had. Initially, he would be given so many “special” passes for a year and he could use them however he wanted. These were great! They weren’t the normal “one day” passes available at the gate. These got you in everywhere. Nowadays you can buy “park-hopper” options, but back then this was the only way to visit all of the parks on a single day pass. Later, they did away with that system and he was allowed so many “guests” during a years time. We would arrange to meet him at the entrance to one of the parks and then he could take us through a special line where he would swipe his ID, and state that we were with him — his guests. Once we were identified as his guests, we received passes that once again allowed us to roam the parks as only someone who was “in” could do. Wow! What privilege to know someone on the inside. We’ve been back a couple of times since he quit working there and it’s not quite the same.
Sometimes it is the special privileges that come with knowing the right person that makes us feel glad we are “in”. Other times it has more to do with being reassured because of the knowledge that another person has. This time of year reminds me that I have never liked “haunted houses”, “houses of horror”, or any such “entertainment”. I do remember going to one that wasn’t really that bad, though. I was in junior high or high school and my older cousins were going back to one that they had really liked. They talked me into going with them because they had enjoyed it so much the night before. The thing that made it tolerable for me was that the people I was with could not quit talking. They knew what was coming up and would blurt it out before it happened. They would explain the little tricks that would be played on your senses and how they weren’t fooled by them. Most of the time, it is the surprise, the unexpected, that brings out the reaction of fear. When I knew what was coming and how it was being done, it was more funny than fearful. With that in mind, it is critical that we read and understand how John introduces the book of Revelation if expect to get through it without fear being our overriding response.
John writes this in Revelation 1:4-8,
To the seven churches in the province of Asia:
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 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 for ever 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.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
John takes the time to introduce the real author of Revelation — not only by name, but by character. John states that this message that he appears to be writing is really the message of He who is this “faithful witness”. One that is not simply faithful, and not simply a witness, but one who is both faithful and a witness. Faithful witness to what? I think we are given that answer in the context of the middle of verse 4 and in verse 8 — a faithful witness to what is, what was, and what is to come.
Does this “haunted house” called life scare you? Perhaps something that you are facing right now has you so frightened that you can’t even think straight. Or it is something from your past — a fear that haunts you as you wonder when it will catch up with you. Maybe you are afraid of the future. The unknown of what is ahead. The uncertainty of life, family, job, relationships, and so many other details out of your control. You hear reports that sound bad. The evening news has nothing that encourages you. The economic forecasts have you in despair. It is so easy to be frightened by what we don’t know and what we don’t understand because we recognize we have no control in those areas — and we don’t know who does.
The book of Revelation can be similar to that, especially if you skip the first chapter. We think, “Ah, it’s just the introduction. Let’s skip ahead to the “good stuff”. You know, the part with all the excitement and action.” And so, many people get into Revelation and the story that is told fills them with dread and fear. They wonder, “Who is this about?” “What does that mean?” “When will this happen?” Question after question, trying to reassure themselves that somehow this makes sense and will work out. It does! The author, the faithful witness, Jesus Christ says, “Blessed is the one who read the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it”. When you are filled with fear while reading words that the author says, “How very happy is the person reading this”, I would have to say you are not reading it as the author intended.
Jesus is the author of the book. The subject of the book. The faithful witness to what was, what is, and what is to come. As I read Revelation, I am constantly reminded, “It’s okay, I know the author! He is the faithful witness and He has me covered.” May you be encouraged by knowing Jesus, the faithful witness, longs for “none to perish but all to come to repentance”. I pray that you know the author and that he fills you with hope as He is the faithful witness to what was, what is, and what is to come in your life.