Think about the following quote for a moment:
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Now, what do you think of when you think about God?
- A giant grandpa in the sky?
- A cosmic Santa Claus?
- A baby in a manger?
- A man on a cross?
- The One who spoke the universe into existence?
- The One with the power to kill 185,000 armed soldiers in a night?
While the first two choices are clearly unbiblical, the middle two options are what people usually go to, though the last two choices are biblical as well. (For the account of the death of 185,000 soldiers, click here.) John, in our text from Revelation today, wants us to think biblically about God. He writes, in Revelation 1:10-16,
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard a loud voice behind me like a trumpet saying, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven gold lampstands, and among the lampstands was One like the Son of Man, dressed in a long robe and with a gold sash wrapped around His chest. His head and hair were white like wool—white as snow—and His eyes like a fiery flame. His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and His voice like the sound of cascading waters. He had seven stars in His right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from His mouth, and His face was shining like the sun at midday.
I am going to mix it up a bit this time, and i am going to begin with the final verses and then conclude with the opening verses. In verses 13-16, we read,
among the lampstands was One like the Son of Man, dressed in a long robe and with a gold sash wrapped around His chest. His head and hair were white like wool—white as snow—and His eyes like a fiery flame. His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and His voice like the sound of cascading waters. He had seven stars in His right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from His mouth, and His face was shining like the sun at midday.
To keep it short, let me just tell you what we see here. We see Jesus. Jesus refers to Himself throughout the gospels as “The Son of Man,” drawing from a vision in Daniel 7:13. John is utilizing the same image here.
When John says Jesus was dressed in a long robe and with a gold sash, he wants us to recognize Jesus as king. He is no longer the poor, meek, preacher who had been crucified. (Next week’s post will elaborate on this fact.)
His head and hair were white like wool refers to His wisdom. He is wisdom incarnate. When He speaks it behooves us to listen; we ignore Him at our peril.
His eyes like a fiery flame means that He had a purifying gaze. When Christ looks at my life, and He sees displeasing things, He purifies me. Is He purifying you?
His feet were like fine bronze means that He is not easily moved. When He sets out on a course of action, He will accomplish His goal. You fight against Him at your peril.
His voice like the sound of cascading waters means that His voice is pleasant to listen to. However, verse 16 also tells us a sharp double-edged sword came from His mouth. While His voice is pleasant, it also cuts and carves. There are two ways His voice can cut and carve. For the believer, who will experience His voice as pleasing, His voice cuts like a surgeon’s knife–though painful it is life-giving. For the non-believer, it is an instrument of death (Revelation 19:15).
Verse 16 begins by saying, He had seven stars in His right hand which refers to the messengers (angels) of the churches (as we will see in 1:20 next week). In another sense, this is the protection He gives to the leaders of His churches. He holds them in His hand. Pastor, this is a comfort and encouragement for you. Trust Him!
Verse 16 concludes by saying His face was shining like the sun. If this isn’t a description of glory, then i don’t know what is. Try looking at the sun sometime. It is bright, and you won’t be able to do it for very long. Christ is more glorious than the sun! He deserves our worship. If we refuse to give Him our worship, the consequence is a very literal hell (Revelation 20:12-15).
Real quick. Notice how many times the word like occurs in this portion of Scripture. John is not saying, “I literally saw all this.” Instead, he is describing the fullness of Christ’s awe in similes that we can grasp. The greatness of Christ is too high to understand apart from word pictures.
But now that we know what John saw, let’s backtrack and see what he was doing when Christ came to him. We read in verses 10-12:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard a loud voice behind me like a trumpet saying, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven gold lampstands
On a Sunday morning, when John was worshipping God–likely alone since he was in exile on a deserted island–an authoritative voice startled him. The sound–Christ Himself–told him to write what he saw and to send it to seven churches scattered across Asia Minor.
It is interesting that He doesn’t just tell John, “write what you see and send it to the churches at Ephesus . . . Laodicea.” Instead, Christ specifies that they are the seven churches. This is important because seven is the number of perfection/completion. These seven churches were literal churches in the ancient world, but in addition to that, they are representative of The Church of Jesus Christ. This is especially the case because at the end of verse 12 we read, I saw seven gold lampstands, and 1:20 will tell us the lampstands are the seven churches, and 1:13 begins by saying Christ was among them. Christ is not only among seven churches in the ancient world. He is among The Church–the purchased people of God from every nation, tribe, tongue, and time.
This is the God we worship. He cares for His people despite being the most glorious being in existence. If you don’t yet know Him, you need to. Even if you feel cut off from everyone you care about, Jesus can still meet you where you are. He died on a cross 2,000 years ago and rose again to show that He had defeated death so that you need not fear death if you trust Him. Now He reigns in Heaven in glory. Don’t mistake Him for a good teacher who was unjustly killed 2,000 years ago. He lives still, and He is glorious. And He is coming again!
Give Him your life!
We call many things awesome in this day and age, and that is because they are. They have some awe. However, Christ is full of awe! He is the One who deserves our worship; nothing else comes close.
In this with you.
Soli Deo Gloria
Thanks for reading.
The next entry can be found here.