Wednesday, August 27, 2014
John’s Vision of Christ
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:10-11)
John was exiled on the island of Patmos with no one around on the Lord’s day, thinking about what God word said and praying when he heard a great voice speak saying he was Alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, literally declaring himself as God. He then directed John to write the things he would be shown and send it to each of the seven churches that werethen in Asia. Several of these were churches Paul had started, or helped start.
“And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” (Revelation 1:12-16)
Turning to see who was speaking, John saw a person who resembled Jesus, surrounded by seven golden candlesticks. He was clothed in robe that reached to his feet with a wide gold sash or cummerbund around his body. Unlike Jesus when he was on earth, however, his hair was as white as snow and his eyes were bright like a flame. His feet glowed like brass melting in the furnace, and his voice was like the sound of a flowing river. His whole face shone like the sun at noon on clear day, and when he spoke it was like a sword came out of his mouth. In his right hand he was holding seven stars.
“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Revelation 1:17-18)
I have always questioned many of stories in which a person claims to have seen God and it was such a wonderful peace producing experience. Every time one of the biblical saints saw a vision of God, from Moses and Joshua to Daniel, there was a sense of awe and fear and their own sinfulness that caused them to fall to the ground asking forgiveness. On the Mount of Transfiguration the disciples were frightened, and John had that same sensation here. It raises the question whether those modern visions were perhaps of Satan appearing as an angel of light, rather than God.
When John collapse at his feet, as he had done with all the prophets, God lifted him up telling him he had nothing to fear. He makes it clear that he doesn’t merely resemble Jesus, but that he is Jesus, the one who died but was raised to live forever. The one who has the authority over life and death and who will be in hell.
“Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:19-20)
The Lord then commanded John to write what he sees in the visions, both the things that were presently happening and the things that would happen in the future. He explained that the seven golden candlesticks or lamps represent the seven churches that John is to write to.
The Lamp or candlestick holds the fuel and wick in position to burn and provide light efficiently, but it does not produce the light itself. It is a concept that was quite familiar to John as he had used it in the book of John.
The seven stars represent the seven messengers to those seven churches, the seven spirits that direct the pastors and leaders of the churches, providing the spark to ignite them, but they are not the source of the light. The seven stars are in the Lord’s right hand to be controlled by him. This symbolism will play an important part in understanding chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation.