“Covenant Presence” – Revelation 1:10-13

by Roger McCay
21 February 2021
Sermon Passage: Revelation 1:10-13
Link to Audio Version

You may have noticed in the outline in your bulletin that the Fallen Condition Focus of the sermon is summed up as “Battered faith.” Battered faith. Now, “battered” here isn’t referring to “battered” like a chicken you’re about to fry up. It’s more along the lines of “battered” like a car that’s hit a lot of guardrails

Perhaps you know the feeling. You’re moving on down the path of faith, following Jesus, and wham! The world side-swipes you, you swerve and hit the guardrail, and bound back into traffic. Bam, some kid just dropped a brick off a bridge and hit your windshield, and you swerve and hit a guardrail. A text message distracts you, and wham, you’ve swerved and hit that guardrail again. Or, you’re going too fast, and you lose control, and what? Yeah, you swerve and hit a guardrail. So, “battered”—battered by the world and our own distractions and sin, but kept out of the ravine by the guardrails. Praise the Lord for the guardrails!—guardrails like his worship and his Word.

When we are struggling and hurting, suffering various trials, including our own sin, there can be times when we wonder: Is the Lord still with me? Does he really love me? Is my faith really real? What’s the point of being a Christian? Is patiently enduring really worth it? It is in those times that the Lord’s worship and Word bolster our battered faith and help us to patiently endure, as we continue along, following Jesus.

In worship and Word, God’s covenant presence is experienced and revealed; Jesus’ promise, “I am with you always” resonates within us, as we sense him and know him; and we are encouraged by the words “I have overcome the world.” It is in the Lord’s worship and Word that our relationship with him is felt and understood, renewed and strengthened; we go from acquaintance to intimate, from milk to meat. In worship and Word, as we engage with our loving Lord, our faith and faithfulness are bolstered; we are enabled to continue along focused on our eternal destination in and with the Lord.

Worship and Word is how so many persecuted Christians could die singing his praises, and in joy. It is how they could stay on the narrow path to heaven when the highway to hell would have been a much more comfortable ride. It is how they could overcome, patiently enduring tribulation, staying on the path of righteousness; battered, sure, but kept on the path by the Lord’s presence, grace, provision, commands, and discipline. In Jesus, they were enabled to make it through to the end. In Jesus, we too can make it through whatever we face on this road of life.

In the mid-60s AD, the Apostle John was going through a hard time. He was exiled to Patmos, in his shared tribulation with the church, suffering for Jesus. Yet, John patiently endured. Grounded in the Lord’s Word, having an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus, we find him in v. 10 engaged in worship. He writes, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.”

John says he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” His emphasis that he was “in the Spirit,” indicates a deep communion with the Lord. He was together with the Lord, in the Lord’s presence, covenantally secure in the blood of Christ. The term, “in the Spirit,” is a Biblical indicator that can refer to inspiration of the OT authors (like David in Matt. 22:43) and refer to prophetic utterance (like with Simeon in Luke 2:27). Numerous OT texts also carry this theme of the Spirit’s inspiration, and it is a common theme in Ezekiel.[1] Hence, John’s being “in the Spirit” sets the stage for the prophetic visions to follow.

That John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day indicates it was a time of worship. Most think that John was worshipping on the first day of the week (the day of the Lord’s resurrection), in sync with the practice of the early Christians (John 20:19, Acts 20:7, & 1 Cor. 16:2). And this is the first time the term, in the Scriptures, “the Lord’s Day” is used to refer to Sunday.[2]

So, there was John, battered and exiled on Patmos, worshipping in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and he heard “a loud voice like a trumpet.” This “voice like a trumpet” hearkens to the sound, the voice, of the trumpet, announcing the Lord’s presence at Sinai, as God manifested his presence to his people in order to communicate his will (Ex. 19: vv. 16, 19; 20:18). The Lord had manifested himself to John, and he had Words to say.