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Manifestation of Glory. Revelation 1:9-20
January 28, 2018

A hate speech law that generated years of heated controversy over free speech before being repealed in 2013 could be making a comeback, at least in some form. Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act made it a discriminatory practice to convey messages over the phone or internet that contain “any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt,” as long as those people were “identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.If a Section 13 complaint was upheld, the tribunal could levy fines of up to $ 10,000 and issue cease-and-desist orders.

(http://epaper.nationalpost.com/@Matthew_Kratz76565/csb_Bd4XNgV06ay3vENElMYRYDdBVqQpS_5S5m2wgKtWvPA)

Seeking to divert public suspicion that he had caused the great fire in Rome (July 19, a.d. 64), Nero blamed the Christians for it. As a result, many Christians were executed at Rome (including, according to tradition, both Peter and Paul), but there was yet no empire-wide persecution. Three decades later, Emperor Domitian instigated an official persecution of Christians. Little is known of the details, but it extended to the province of Asia (modern Turkey). The apostle John had been banished to the island of Patmos for speaking the truth of God, and at least one person, a pastor, had already been martyred on Patmos (Rev. 2:13). The persecuted, beleaguered, discouraged believers in Asia Minor to whom John addressed the book of Revelation desperately needed encouragement. It had been years since Jesus ascended. Jerusalem had been destroyed and Israel ravaged. The church was losing its first love, compromising, tolerating sin, becoming powerless, and distasteful to the Lord Himself (this is described in Revelation 2 and 3). The other apostles were dead, and John had been exiled. The whole picture looked very bleak. That is why the first vision John received from the inspiring Holy Spirit is of Christ’s present ministry in the church.

 

John’s readers, and all believers can take comfort in the knowledge that Christ will one day return in glory and defeat His enemies. The description of those momentous events takes up most of the book of Revelation. But the vision of Jesus Christ that begins the book does not describe Jesus in His future glory, but depicts Him in the present as the glorified Lord of the church. In spite of all the disappointments, the Lord does not abandoned His church or His promises. This powerful vision of Christ’s present ministry to them must have provided great hope and comfort to the wondering and suffering churches to whom John wrote. Revelation 1:9-20 provides 1) The Setting for the vision (Revelation 1:9–11), it 2) Unfolds the vision itself (Revelation 1:12–16, 20), and it 3) Relates its effects (Revelation 1:17–19).

 

Believers can have comfort and hope in the Manifestation of Christ’s glory as seen through:

1)      The Setting of the Vision (Revelation 1:9–11)

Revelation 1:9–11 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”  (ESV)

This is the third time in the first nine verses of this book that John referred to himself by name (cf. vv. 1, 4). This time, his amazement at receiving this vision caused him to add the demonstrative personal pronoun I. John was astounded that, despite his utter unworthiness, he had the inestimable privilege of receiving this monumental vision. John was an apostle, a member of the inner circle of the twelve along with Peter and James, and the human author of a gospel and three epistles. Yet he humbly identified himself simply as your brother. He did not write as one impressed with his authority as an apostle, commanding, exhorting, or defining doctrine, but as an eyewitness to the revelation of Jesus Christ that begins to unfold with this vision.

 

John further humbly identified with his readers by describing himself as their partner/fellow partaker, sharing with them first of all in tribulation. Paul says in Philippians 1 that it has been granted us not only to be saved by Christ but to suffer with Christ. Philippians 3, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings (Phil. 3:10). Colossians 1, we are “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Col. 1:24). 2 Corinthians 1:5, We share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings.” 1 Peter 4:13, Rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings.”( Platt, D. (2012). The Indescribable Christ and His Indestructible Church. In David Platt Sermon Archive (p. 3578). Birmingham, AL: David Platt.)

 

Like them, John was at that moment suffering severe persecution for the cause of Christ, having been exiled with other criminals. He could thus identify with the suffering believers to whom he wrote. John was part of the same kingdom as his readersthe sphere of salvation; the redeemed community over which Jesus reigns as Lord and King (cf. v. 6). He shared a kinship with them as a fellow subject of Jesus Christ. Finally, John identified with his readers in the matter of patient endurance/perseverance. (Hupomonē) literally means “to remain under.” It speaks of patiently enduring difficulties without giving up. With suffering, John joins kingdom and patience. The culmination of the “Kingdomrefers to the coming period of messianic blessedness, and “patience” is the active endurance required of the faithful. The order of the three is instructive. Since the present is a time of suffering and the culmination of the kingdom a period of future blessedness, believers must during the interim period exercise that kind of patient endurance which was exemplified by Jesus (Mounce, R. H. (1997). The Book of Revelation (p. 54). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).

  • The book of revelation written to instruct. It spells out the hostility that faithful believers should expect. We must be reminded and encouraged to endure with faithfulness. There is no greater testimony to the reality and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A pessimistic believer is a living, breathing contradiction to the gospel.

 

John further described these experiences as in Jesus. Suffering persecution for the cause of Christ, belonging to His kingdom, and patiently enduring trials are distinctly Christian experiences. When he received this vision, John was in exile on the island called Patmos. Patmos is a barren, volcanic island in the Aegean Sea, at its extremities about ten miles long and five to six miles wide and about thirty miles or forty-five kilometers in circumference. Now  know as Patino, it is one of the Sporades islands, is and is located thirty-seven miles west-southwest from Miletus, fifty miles from ancient Ephesus ((cf. Acts 20:15–17). (Aune, D. E. (1998). Revelation 1–5 (Vol. 52A, pp. 76–77). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.)

 

According to the Roman historian Tacitus, exile to such islands was a common form of punishment in the first century...John was probably sent to Patmos as a criminal (as a Christian, he was a member of an illegal religious sect). If so, the conditions under which he lived would have been harsh. Exhausting labor under the watchful eye (and ready whip) of a Roman overseer, insufficient food and clothing, and having to sleep on the bare ground would have taken their toll on a ninety-year-old man. It was on that bleak, barren island, under those brutal conditions, that John received the most extensive revelation of the future ever given.

  • Both federal and provincial governments in this country are acting with greater and greater hostility to believers. Active persecution is no longer a future warning. The items listed for prayer in the bulletin are only a small sample. Even in our midst through changes to the Canadian Summer Student Grant Program, once tolerated activities are now removed from support.

 

John’s only crime was faithfulness to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. As we have previously seen in Rev. 1:2, those two phrases appear to be synonymous. John suffered exile for his faithful, unequivocal, uncompromising preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • The impact of faithful preaching of the gospel has gone from accusations of hate speech to criminal prosecution. Because the word of God itself convicts those who wish to live their lives in open active rebellion against it, legislation and the courts are the preferred vehicle to fine, silence and even imprison those who dare speak the truth. From those who are jailed for offering options to abortion, to those fired for failing to affirm anti-Christian ideology, believers are experiencing less and less freedom of belief.

 

According to verse 10, John received his vision while he was in the Spirit; his experience transcended the bounds of normal human apprehension. Under the Holy Spirit’s control, John was transported to a plane of experience and perception beyond that of the human senses. In that state, God supernaturally revealed things to him. Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:2; 3:12, 14), Peter (Acts 10:9ff.), and Paul (Acts 22:17–21; 2 Cor. 12:1ff.) had similar experiences. John received his vision on the Lord’s day(tē kuriakē hēmera). Although this phrase appears only here in the New Testament, in the second century this phrase kuriakē hēmera was widely used to refer to Sunday The phrase the Lord’s day became the customary way of referring to Sunday because Christ’s resurrection took place on a Sunday. (R. J. Bauckham, “The Lord’s Day,” in D. A. Carson, ed., From Sabbath to Lord’s Day [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982], 221ff.).

 

John received his commission in verse 11, to record the vision in dramatic fashion: I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, saying, “Write what you see in a book, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” The loud voice (cf. Ezek. 3:12) was that of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. vv. 12–13, 17–18), sounding to John in its piercing, commanding clarity like a trumpet. Throughout the book of Revelation, a loud voice or sound indicates the solemnity of what is about to be revealed (cf. 5:2, 12; 6:10; 7:2, 10; 8:13; 10:3; 11:12, 15; 12:10; 14:2, 15, 18; 16:1, 17; 19:1, 17; 21:3). The sovereign, powerful voice from heaven commanded John, “Write what you see in a book (or scroll) . This is the first of twelve commands in the book of Revelation for John to write what he saw (cf. v. 19; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14; 14:13; 19:9; 21:5); on one other occasion he was forbidden to write (10:4).

  • Early Christians faced imprisonment, economic injustice, slanderous accusations by Jews, and attacks from government soldiers or mobs. We may not face persecution for our faith as the early Christians did, but even with our freedom, few of us have the courage to share God’s Word with others. If we hesitate to share our faith during easy times, how will we do it during times of persecution? (Barton, B. B. (2000). Revelation. (G. R. Osborne, Ed.) (p. 10). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.)

 

After writing the vision, John was to send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea. From when they were introduced in Rev. 1:4, these cities were located in the Roman province of Asia (modern Turkey). These seven churches were chosen because they were located in the key cities of the seven postal districts into which Asia was divided. They were thus the central points for disseminating information.

  • As these churches were central points for disseminating information, we are to function like this today as well. We don’t get together to merely catch up, be fed or enjoy each others company. We gather to worship, share and learn in order to shine that light into a dark world.

 

The seven cities appear in the order that a messenger, traveling on the great circular road that linked them, would visit them. After landing at Miletus, the messenger or messengers bearing the book of Revelation would have traveled north to Ephesus (the city nearest to Miletus), then in a clockwise circle to Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Copies of Revelation would have been distributed to each church.

 

Illustration:

Many people today, when they face unexpected difficulty feel like their plans and purpose has been derailed. John, after seeing so many deaths, and now banishment to a remote island, could have throught his ministry over. But God had other plans. John’s writings directly to these seven churches and to the church today, stands as an eternal witness. Every single stroke of the Spirit’s brush on the canvas of Scripture has a special meaning for John sees Jesus as he is! I believe there is wonderful truth in the familiar lines penned by Helen Lemmel: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in his wonderful face; And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of his glory and grace.( Gordon, S. (2000). Worthy is the Lamb! A Walk through Revelation (p. 42). Belfast, Northern Ireland; Greenville, SC: Ambassador.)

 

Believers can have comfort and hope in the Manifestation of Christ’s glory as seen through:

2)      The Unfolding of the Vision (Revelation 1:12–16, 20)

Revelation 1:12–16, 20 12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.) 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that 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 are the seven churches.  (ESV)

Having described the circumstances in which he received it, John then related the vision itself. This revealing and richly instructive look at the present work of the glorified Son of God discloses seven aspects of the Lord Jesus Christ’s constant ministry to His church: He 1) Empowers (1:12–13a, 20b), 2) Intercedes for, 3) Purifies, 4) Speaks authoritatively to, 5) Controls, 6) Protects, and 7) Reflects His glory through His church.

 

Beginning in verse 12, we can see how Christ empowers His Church. At the outset of the vision John had his back to the voice, so he turned to see the voice that was speaking to him. As he did so, he first saw seven golden lampstands, identified in verse 20 as the seven churches. These were like the common portable oil lamps placed on lampstands that were used to light rooms at night. They symbolize churches as the lights of the world (Phil. 2:15). They are golden because gold was the most precious metal. The church is to God the most beautiful and valuable entity on earthso valuable that Jesus was willing to purchase it with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Seven is the number of completeness (cf. Ex. 25:31–40; Zech. 4:2); thus, the seven churches symbolize the churches in general. Although the letters are written to real churches of the first century, they are relevant to the church universal, for the strengths and weaknesses of the seven are characteristic of individual churches throughout history (Mounce, R. H. (1997). The Book of Revelation (p. 57). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).

 

In the midst/middle of the lampstands according to verse 13, John saw one like a son of man (cf. Dan. 7:13)—the glorified Lord of the church moving among His churches. Jesus promised His continued presence with His church (cf. Mt. 28:20; Jn. 14:18-23; Heb. 13:5). Some times is comes through discipline (Mt. 18:20). Other times it is celebration through the Lord’s supper (1 Cor. 10:16). The presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in His church empowers it, enabling believers to say triumphantly with the apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Part of Christ’s priestly role is to tend the lampstands. The OT priest would trim the lamps, remove the wick and old oil, refill the lamps with fresh oil, and relight those that had gone out. Likewise, Christ tends the ecclesial lampstands by commending, correcting, exhorting, and warning (see chs. 2–3) in order to secure the churches’ fitness for service as lightbearers in a dark world (Beale, G. K. (1999). The book of Revelation: a commentary on the Greek text (pp. 208–209). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.).

 

Christ also intercedes for His Church. The first thing John noted was that Christ was clothed with a long robe. (cf. Isa. 6:1). Such robes were worn by royalty (e.g., the kings of Midian, Judg. 8:26; Jonathan, 1 Sam. 18:4; Saul, 1 Sam. 24:4; Ahab and Jehoshaphat, 1 Kings 22:10; and Esther, Est. 5:1;) and prophets (cf. 1 Sam. 28:14). But the word translated robe was used most frequently (in six of its seven occurrences) in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) to describe the robe worn by the high priest. While Christ is biblically presented as prophet and king, and His majesty and dignity emphasized, the robe here pictures Christ in His role as the Great High Priest of His people. That He had a golden sash around His chest reinforces that interpretation, since the high priest in the Old Testament wore such a sash (cf. Ex. 28:4; Lev. 16:4). The book of Hebrews says much about Christ’s role as our Great High Priest. In 2:17–18 the writer of Hebrews notes, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” In Hebrews 3:1 he refers to Christ as the “High Priest of our confession,” while in Hebrews 4:14 he reminds believers that “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.”. His offering was infinitely superior to that of any human high priest:“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:11–12). As our High Priest, Christ once offered the perfect and complete sacrifice for our sins and permanently, faithfully intercedes for us (Rom. 8:33–34). He has an unequaled capacity to sympathize with us in all our dangers, sorrows, trials, and temptations: since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.… We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 2:18; 4:15).Consequently” as Hebrews 7:25 says, “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” The knowledge that their High Priest was moving sympathetically in their midst to care for and protect His own provided great comfort and hope to the persecuted churches and so it should to us.

 

Having described Christ’s clothing in verse 13, John described His person in verses 14 and 15 as the one who purifies His Church. The first few features depict Christ’s work of chastening and purifying His church. John’s description of Christ’s head and … hair as white like white wool, like snow is an obvious reference to Daniel 7:9, where similar language describes the Ancient of Days (God the Father). The parallel descriptions affirm Christ’s deity; He possesses the same attribute of holy knowledge and wisdom as the Father. White translates leukos, which has the connotation of “bright,” “blazing,” or “brilliant.” The emphasis here is on Christ’s incredible wisdom, purity, and splendor. White symbolizes both moral purity and absolute victory over the forces of evil.( Osborne, G. R. (2016). Revelation: Verse by Verse (p. 37). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.)

 

Continuing his description of the glorified Christ, John noted that His eyes were like a flame of fire (cf. 2:18; 19:12). His searching, revealing, infallible gaze penetrates to the very depths of His church, revealing to Him with piercing clarity the reality of everything there is to know. Jesus declared, “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (Matt. 10:26). In the words of the author of Hebrews, “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). The omniscient Lord of the church will not fail to recognize and deal with sin in His church.

 

Please turn to Hebrews 12 (p.1009)

 

In verse 15, that Christ’s feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace/when it has been made to glow in a furnace, continues the obvious sequence by making a clear reference to judgment on sinners in the church. Kings in ancient times sat on elevated thrones, so those being judged would always be beneath the king’s feet. The feet of a king thus came to symbolize his authority. The red-hot, glowing feet of the Lord Jesus Christ picture Him moving through His church to exercise His chastening authority, ready to deal out remedial pain, if need be, to sinning Christians. Since feet in the ancient world portrayed the direction of one’s life, the image here depicts Christ’s life in both its strength or stability and its absolute purity. This image of “polished bronze” emphasizes the glory and strength of Christ.  (Osborne, G. R. (2002). Revelation (p. 91). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.).

 

Hebrews 12:5–10 speaks to this matter:

Hebrews 12:5-10 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. (ESV)

  • It is the Lord’s love for His redeemed sinners that pursues their holiness.
  • We will return to Hebrews 12 again

 

When Christ spoke again it was no longer with the trumpetlike sound of verse 10. To John, His voice now in Rev. 1:15 was like the roar/sound of many waters (cf. 14:2; 19:6), like the familiar mighty roar of the surf crashing on the rocky shores of Patmos in a storm. The voice of the eternal God was similarly described in Ezekiel 43:2—yet another parallel affirming Christ’s deity. This is the voice of sovereign power, the voice of supreme authority, the very voice that will one day command the dead to come forth from the graves (John 5:28–29). When Christ speaks, the church must listen. At the Transfiguration God said, “This is My beloved Son,listen to Him!” (Matt. 17:5). “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,” wrote the author of Hebrews, “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1–2). Christ speaks to His church directly through the Holy Spirit-inspired Scriptures.

In verse 16, we can see how Christ controls His Church. As the head of His church (Eph. 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18), and the ruler of the “kingdom of [God’s] beloved Son” (Col. 1:13), Christ exercises authority in His church. In John’s vision, Christ is holding in His right hand the seven stars (cf. 2:1; 3:1), identified in verse 20 as the angels (Angeloi) of the seven churches, which symbolized those authorities. That He held them in His right hand does not so much picture safety and protection, but control. The New Testament nowhere teaches that angelic heavenly beings are involved in the leadership of the church. Angels do not sin and thus have no need to repent, as the messengers, along with the congregations they represented, are exhorted to do (cf. 2:4–5, 14, 20; 3:1–3, 15, 17, 19). The term for Angels angeloi can also be rendered “messengers,” as in Luke 7:24; 9:52; and James 2:25. Since Christ is said to hold them in His right hand, they are likely leading elders and pastors (though not the sole leaders, since the New Testament teaches a plurality of elders), one from each of the seven churches. These seven men demonstrate the function of spiritual leaders in the church. They are to be instruments through which Christ, the head of the church, mediates His rule. That is why the standards for leadership in the New Testament are so high. To be assigned as an intermediary through which the Lord Jesus Christ controls His church is to be called to a sobering responsibility (cf. 1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9 for the qualifications for such men).

 

The Lord Jesus Christ’s presence also provides protection for His church. He is shown as exercising His protection through the description that “from his mouth cam a sharp two-edged sword”. It is used to defend the church against external threats (cf. 19:15, 21). But here it speaks primarily of judgment against enemies from within the church (cf. 2:12, 16; Acts 20:30). Those who attack Christ’s church, those who would sow lies, create discord, or otherwise harm His people, will be personally dealt with by the Lord of the church. His word is potent (cf. Heb. 4:12–13), and will be used against the enemies of His people (cf. 2 Thess. 2:8), so that all the power of the forces of darkness, including death itself (the “gates of Hades”; Matt. 16:18), will be unable to prevent the Lord Jesus Christ from building His church.

 

Finally, we can see how Christ reflects His glory through His Church. John’s vision of the glorified Lord of the church culminated in this description of the radiant glory evident on His face, which John could only describe as like the sun shining in full strength. John borrowed that phrase from Judges 5:31, where it describes those who love the Lord (cf. Matt. 13:43). The glory of God through the Lord Jesus Christ shines in and through His church, reflecting His glory to the world (cf. 2 Cor. 4:6). And the result is that He is glorified (Eph. 3:21).

 

Illustration: Christ’s appearance with his lampstands shows that the churchis at the center of everything that God is letting happen on the world scene.” Whereas the world thinks its affairs in the material realm are the really important things, God asserts that the spiritual work of Christ’s kingdom in and through the church is always the most significant factor. This principle was illustrated by the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989. The spark was lit when the members of a Hungarian Reformed church in Timisoara, Romania, refused to allow their faithful minister, Laszlo Tokes, to be arrested. John’s vision presents the church as lampstands, and in line with this imagery the Christians surrounded their church with candles in their hands. Their defiance of evil sparked a citywide protest that spread and ultimately swept aside Communist regimes in country after country. American Rear Admiral Marmaduke Bayne stated that U.S. intelligence officers were surprised by these events “because of their blindness to the importance of God and religion.” Likewise…today, the most significant institution is not the government or the political action groups that dominate the news, but the church of Jesus Christ. If the church is silent or foolishly accommodates the world, its light will burn dimly so that unbelief spreads. But if the church stands courageously as a light for God’s truth, even in the face of persecution, its bright flame is the only true hope for reform.( Phillips, R. D. (2017). Revelation. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 68–69). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.)

 

Believers can have comfort and hope in the Manifestation of Christ’s glory as seen through:

3)      The Effects of the Vision (Revelation 1:17–19)

Revelation 1:17–19 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. (ESV)

 

In a manner similar to his experience with the glory of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration more than six decades earlier (cf. Matt. 17:6), John was again overwhelmed with terror at the manifestation of Christ’s glory and fell at His feet as through dead/like a dead man. Such fear was standard for those few who experienced such unusual heavenly visions. (Dan. 10:8–9; cf. 8:17; Isa. 6:5; Ezek. 1:28; 3:23; 9:8; 43:3; 44:4; Judg. 13:22; Job 42:5–6’ Rev. 6:16–17). In stark contrast to the silly, frivolous, false, and boastful claims of many in our own day who claim to have seen God, the reaction of those in Scripture who genuinely saw God was inevitably one of fear. Those brought face-to-face with the blazing, holy glory of the Lord Jesus Christ are terrified, realizing their sinful unworthiness to be in His holy presence.

 

Please open to Hebrews 12 again (p.1009)

 

Summarizing the proper response to God’s holiness and majesty, the writer of Hebrews exhorts believers to:

Hebrews 12:28-29 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire. (ESV).

  • How do you approach God in your prayers? In your worship or how you think or communicate how He is? Is He a pall you just stroll into His presence? Assuming He is in your debt or understanding how busy you are and can’t get to things that eternally matters? Or do you first see who you are and who He is? Understanding these two factors would eliminate casual worship, demanding prayer, or half-hearted service.

 

As He had done so long ago at the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:7), Jesus now laid/placed His right hand on John and comforted him. This is a touch of comfort and reassurance. There is comfort for Christians overwhelmed by the glory and majesty of Christ in the assurance of His gracious love and merciful forgiveness. Jesus’ comforting words, “Fear not/Do not be afraid,” (lit. “Stop being afraid”) reveal His compassionate assurance to the terrified apostle. The present imperative forbids a continuation of fearing. This is the word that is almost regularly spoken to poor mortals when heavenly beings come into contact with them. Our sinful, mortal state is bound to succumb in fear before such presences from above. Because of the grace that is contained in these revelations the recipients of them are bidden not to fear. (cf. Gen. 15:1; 26:24; Judg. 6:23; Matt. 14:27; 17:7; 28:10) (Lenski, R. C. H. (1935). The interpretation of St. John’s Revelation (p. 72). Columbus, OH: Lutheran Book Concern.).

 

The comfort Jesus offered was based on who He is and the authority He possesses. First, He identified Himself as I am (egō eimi)—the covenant name of God (cf. Ex. 3:14). It was that name with which He had comforted the terrified disciples who saw Him walking on the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 14:27). Jesus took that name for Himself in John 8:58a direct claim to deity that was not lost on His opponents (v. 59).

 

Jesus next identified Himself as the first and the last (cf. 2:8; 22:13), a title used of God in the Old Testament (Isa. 44:6; 48:12; cf. 41:4). When all false gods have come and gone, only He remains. He existed before them and will continue to exist eternally, long after they have been forgotten. Jesus’ application of that title to Himself is another powerful proof of His deity.

 

The third title of deity Jesus claimed now in verse 18, is that of the living One (cf. John 1:4; 14:6). That also is a title used throughout Scripture to describe God (e.g., Josh. 3:10; 1 Sam. 17:26; Ps. 84:2; Hos. 1:10; Matt. 16:16; 26:63; Acts 14:15; Rom. 9:26; 2 Cor. 3:3; 6:16; 1 Thess. 1:9; 1 Tim. 3:15; 4:10; Heb. 3:12; 9:14; 10:31; Rev. 7:2). Linking this concept with His previous description He is the One whose presence struck fear into John’s heart, the I Am, the first and the last, the living One, the One whose death freed him from his sins (Rev. 1:5).God is the eternal, uncaused, self-existent One. In John 5:26 Jesus said to His Jewish opponents, “Just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself,” thus claiming full equality with God the Father.

 

Christ’s seemingly paradoxical declaration I died/was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore provides further grounds for assurance. The Greek text literally reads, “I became dead.The living One, the eternal, self-existent God who could never die, became man and died. As Peter explains in 1 Peter 3:18, Christ was “put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” In His humanness He died without ceasing to live as God.

 

Behold introduces a statement of amazement and wonder: I am alive forevermore. Christ lives forever in a union of glorified humanity and deity, “according to the power of an indestructible life” (Heb. 7:16). “Christ, having been raised from the dead,” wrote Paul, “is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him” (Rom. 6:9). That truth provides comfort and assurance, because Jesus “is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). In spite of his sinfulness in the presence of the glorious Lord of heaven, John had nothing to fear because that same Lord had paid by His death the penalty for John’s sins (and those of all who believe in Him) and risen to be his eternal advocate.

 

As the eternal I Am, the first and the last, the living One, Jesus holds the keys of death and of Hades. Those terms are essentially synonymous, with death being the condition and Hades the place. Hades is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament term Sheol and refers to the place of the dead. Christ through his death and resurrection has defeated the powers of evil (the twin forces of “Death and of Hades”) and gained control over them (cf. Col. 2:15; 1 Pet. 3:19–20). In the NT, “key” in an eschatological text always has the idea of power/access or authority over a thing (cf. Matt. 16:19; Rev. 1:18; 3:7; 9:1; 20:1). Thus here he has overcome and gained mastery over the cosmic forces (Osborne, G. R. (2002). Revelation (p. 96). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.).

 

The astounding vision John saw inspired in him a healthy tension between fear and assurance. But to that was added a reminder of his duty. Christ’s earlier command to write is now expanded in verse 19, as John is told to record three features. First, those/the things that you have seen, the vision John had just seen and recorded in verses 10–16. Next, the things that are, a reference to the letters to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3, which describe the present state of the church. Finally, John was to write those/the things that are/will take place after this/these things, the prophetic revelations of future events unfolded in chapters 4–22. This threefold command provides an outline for the book of Revelation, encompassing (from John’s perspective) the past, present, and future.

 

Like John, all Christians have a duty to pass on the truths they learn from the visions recorded in this book. Those visions may at first be startling, disturbing, or fascinating. But they, like all Scripture, are “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17). As believers study the glory of Christ reflected in the book of Revelation,we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, [will be] transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

 

(Format Note: Outline & some base commentary from MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1999). Revelation 1–11 (pp. 38–52). Chicago: Moody Press.)

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