Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Revelation 1:9-20

The first vision that John has in the book of Revelation comes at the end of chapter 1. This vision came to John on Sunday (he refers to it as “the Lord’s Day”), and John was given specific instructions to “write in a book” the things that he would see. John was then to make a total of seven copies of this revelation and send it to each of the churches in Asia Minor. From church history, we understand that John more than likely led the churches of Asia Minor until his persecution and exile on the island of Patmos.
Since Patmos was a penal colony, it didn’t matter that John was 90 years old, he would have been forced to labor in the rock quarries on that island while in exile. We must also remember that his suffering was caused by one thing – an unshakable conviction that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be preached even if the government told him not to preach it. Now, in spite of his tribulation and suffering, John was sending letters back to the seven major churches of Asia Minor (which Jesus mentions by name in verse 11) attempting to encourage them with the revelation that he had of Jesus Christ. The times were hard. The church was persecuted. But in this vision, John would be able to see and then share that Jesus was in control of all things.
In John’s vision, he heard the voice of Jesus, and turned to look at Him. There in front of John were seven golden candlesticks described as the seven churches to whom John was writing these seven letters, and in the middle of them all was Jesus. Here, John used a phrase to describe Jesus that hearkened to the Old Testament prophecies and Jesus’s own claims during His ministry.

I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire… and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days…and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. - Daniel 7:9-14
Here was one standing in the midst of the candlesticks who sounds remarkably like the one prophesied of in Daniel 7. This one who was given a kingdom and authority, dominion and power, dwells in the midst of His churches. At a time of unrest and concern for the churches, John could clearly see that Christ had not failed to keep his promises to never leave or forsake his church. Although they may not have known it or even felt it, the churches were ever in the presence of their High Priest who was constantly making intercession for them.
In John’s vision, Christ held seven stars in his hand that represented the messengers of Christ to each of the churches. Christ had not forgotten his own. The tribulation of the Christians under the Roman Empire was certainly increasing, but the love of Christ for His church would never diminish. He would continue to speak to them through His Word, and would lovingly guide them through this difficult time.
The message of Revelation was meant to be a comfort for those churches that faced times of crisis in the first century. Although things were difficult for them, Jesus would continually care for them and guide them through the Spirit through His Word. Similarly, we can rest confidently that Jesus loves and cares for us. We too have the Scriptures and the Spirit. We too can be cared for and ministered to by Christ. Let this be a comfort to you today - the one with all power and authority loves and cares for you.

Reflect: What was John’s response when he saw Jesus fully glorified and glowing with splendor? Why do you think that was?