Church Autopsy: Examiner by Dr. Abidan Shah

CHURCH AUTOPSY – EXAMINER by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  Many of the crime dramas on TV are based around the work and expertise of a medical examiner. The job is equal to being a physician, albeit their work begins after deaths that are sudden, unexpected, or violent. They have to determine whether the death is a homicide (murder or manslaughter), a suicide, an accident, a natural death, or an undetermined death. As I was looking up information on medical examiners, I found that the pay is not as much, and the job is not always as fun, but there is a great demand for them. In our series titled “Church Autopsy” we are looking at the cause of deaths of the 7 churches of Asia Minor in the Book of Revelation. Keep in mind: we are not the examiners, Jesus is. We have to see what he said was the cause of death. Again, the pay may not be much, and the job is not as fun, but, considering the state of Christianity in America, there is a critical demand for it. Main point: Jesus is the spiritual examiner of the church. In his letters to the seven churches, he gave them warnings of their impending death. Unfortunately, they failed to listen, and they are now gone forever. Failure to heed those warnings today will also result in our death and elimination. We have to begin by shifting our vision of Jesus from the humble Savior to the Spiritual Examiner who has the power to pronounce us dead or alive.

Revelation 1:9 “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Context: Most people are terrified of the Book of Revelation. They rather just skip over it or pull out some easier passages. Those who are brave enough to step out usually end up looking to their favorite preacher or a book someone recommended. Nothing wrong with starting there, but if that’s all we do, we will repeat the same mistakes they made and have the same inconsistencies they do. My goal in this series is to give you clues and principles that will help you understand prophecy more comprehensively, systematically, and accurately. In today’s message, we are seeking an accurate and authoritative image of Jesus as the Spiritual Examiner of the church. Of course, we find that image in Revelation, but it is also found in the Old Testament. As I mentioned last week, the Book of Daniel is the Old Testament counterpart to Revelation. When you compare how John encountered Jesus with how Daniel encountered Jesus, you will see a much accurate and authoritative picture of Jesus the Spiritual Examiner of the church. In other words, it is not just a one-time portrayal but a standard image of Jesus.

Application: First, have you met the Jesus of Nazareth? Have you met the Jesus who came down from heaven and became like us, lived for over 33 years a perfect and well-pleasing life before his heavenly Father, fed the hungry, healed the sick, preached the gospel, and then, as prophesied gave his life on the cross? Have you met the Jesus who laid buried in the tomb for 3 days but rose on the third day and now he’s on the right hand of the Father interceding for us? Have you met the Jesus who is coming again?

Let’s compare the two encounters side-by-side:

Revelation 1:9 “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ,  Daniel 10       2 “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. 3 I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. 

Both John and Daniel are willing to sign their name on this vision. They are neither ashamed nor confused regarding it. Neither should we be ashamed or confused of Revelation or the Book of Daniel.

Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day…”Daniel 10:4 Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month,

For both, this was not a “once upon a time” fairy tale. Neither should we treat it as such.

Revelation 1:10 “…was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.Daniel 10:4 “…as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris.”

Both are writing from a place of exile. Daniel was obviously in Babylonian exile. John was also in exile at Patmos. The emperor would either confiscate all you had or send you off to a deserted island nearby. So also, don’t despise the exiles of life. This is where we learn the deepest lessons or even have a vision of God as never before.

Revelation 1:11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”Daniel 10:21 But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth.

Both receive books that have a title.

Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me.Daniel 10:5 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold,

Both have a similar manner of encountering Jesus.

Revelation 1:17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.Daniel 10      7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. 8Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. 9 Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.10 Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands.

Both were very close to God and yet they became lifeless at their first encounter with Jesus. People often talk about what they will say to God when they see him or how they will defend themselves before him. You will be in a comatose state! So much better to meet Jesus as Savior and King now than to face him as Jesus the Judge and Spiritual Examiner.

Revelation 1       12b “…And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, Daniel 7:13 “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!”  

Jewish Rabbis understood this “Son of Man” was a messianic title. Of course, Jesus frequently applied that title to himself (Matthew 16:28; 19:28; 24:27, 30, 39, 44; 25:31, etc.). Here’s a major one: Mark 14      60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 61 But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? 64 You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.

Revelation 1:13b “…clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.Daniel 7:9 “I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. Daniel 10       5 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.

The title “Ancient of Days” is applied to God the Father in Daniel 7:13 but the other two times to Jesus. It signifies eternality and wisdom. Have you met this Jesus?

Revelation 1       17 But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. 19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. 20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. Dan. 10:12   Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. 13But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”

Both are assured to be fearless. Both are reminded that these things will happen in the future. For John, in verse 1, he says, “things which must shortly take place” and in verse 3“for the time is near.” The word “shortly” is “en tachei” means “soon,” but “tachos” can also mean “speed, quickness, swiftness, and suddenly.” The phrase “the time is near” can also imply “soon,” where the Greek word is “engus” meaning “almost here.” Don’t forget 2 things: 1. “A day to God is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day” (2 Peter 3:8); 2. His coming for the church will be without warning. Every generation should live as if they are the last generation before he comes for the church. 

For Daniel, he is reminded that this will be for his people. That is a key verse to maintain the distinction between Israel (Jewish people) and the Church. Failure to do so leads to a lot of misunderstandings.

Ultimately, Revelation 19:10 declares, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” 

Invitation: We have the same Spiritual Examiner in the Old and New Testaments. Do you realize that there are not many plans of the end? Are you ready to face him? Are you saved? Meet him as Savior and King now.

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