1:9 I John, who also am your brother - John was personally chosen and taught by Christ and a writer of five books in the New Testament. He was by all accounts a true and faithful witness of Christ, but he is also our brother. We will meet John one day along with all the other saints of God and because of what Jesus has done for us all we will call one another brethren. The children of God are all members of the same family. Speaking of Jews and Gentiles Paul wrote in Eph 2:13-17 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. Matt 12:47-50 Then one said unto him (Jesus), Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. We who receive Christ as LORD and Savior are the family of God. Jesus said in John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. At present the Church of the Living God is fractured and splintered, arguing and fighting, each faction trying to distinguish itself and as a result much like a light hid under a bushel basket. It's the work of the devil and carnal men. Am I suggesting we should go out and make peace with all those who call themselves Christian? No! I'm simply trying to make the point that in most instances we can't even get along with other churches in our own denomination or members of our own church. If we have received Christ as LORD and Savior, we are brethren. We have a common enemy, a common goal and the same future. We are brethren, we're just having trouble acting like it. While we make villains of one another and judge one another whose kingdom do you think is being furthered? It's not the kingdom of Christ!
and companion – Companion means partaker with. Paul trying to unite believers in the church at Corinth said in 1 Cor 3:5-9 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. Isn't that just like us today? We have our favorite expositors and will usually try to line up behind who we like to listen to. However, we are companions in the same great work and we are individuals as well. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, different abilities, different gifts. Individually we are but one part of a whole. A whole which is the body of Christ. A body which God has commissioned to work together to reach the lost and edify the saints. When we seek to distinguish our self as an individual we weaken the body, when we become jealous of someone's ability and pull away from them we weaken the body, when we vilify other Christians for no good reason we weaken the body. We are suppose to be companions, but seem to always find reasons to separate from those we don't like or feel threatened by. Why seek to restore the brethren when can vilify them instead? As a result of such thinking and actions the work of God suffers. Can you imagine all the good that could be done for Christ if all the truly Christian churches in our city or county banded together in the common purpose God has given us? It seems impossible while each individual church is to busy trying to distinguish itself. The underlying reason for it is PRIDE, a sin which is not identified or confessed. It should be interesting to us that all the great revivals of the past have taken place across denominational lines, yet it seems we have learned nothing from it.
in tribulation - Tribulation means affliction, anguish, trouble and persecution. At the time John received The Revelation he was in exile. Not only was John our companion in labor, but he was and is our companion in tribulation. He is simply relating to us here what Paul tried to teach in his writings. 2 Tim 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. We are to openly confess Christ and His truth and if we do we shall suffer for it. In fact we are often reminded in the New Testament standing for the truth comes at a cost. Jesus said in John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. Of note in that verse is the first and second “they” are the religious people who rejected Christ, the third and fourth “they” are those who received Him. John 16:1-3 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. The majority of persecution that comes to God's people comes from those who are religious. Paul said to Timothy in 2 Tim 1:7-9 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. As God's people we must be partakers of the afflictions of the gospel and the truth if we are to reign with Christ. Rom 8:16-17 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. It was said of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 14:21-22 And when they had preached the gospel to that city (Derbe), and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. They are reminding us it will be through much tribulation that we enter God's kingdom. Paul said in Phil 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. It is given us to suffer for Christ's sake. We should be John's companion in tribulation. If we aren't, then we may not standing for truth as we should.
and in the kingdom - It's Christ's coming kingdom which John is referring to. Matt 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. Isaiah prophesied of it in Isa 11:6-9 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. In Daniel chapter two King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which Daniel interpreted to identify five major kingdoms on earth. That of the Babylonians, the Medes and Persians, Greece, the Roman Empire and the Kingdom of Christ. Four have come and gone, the only one left is the kingdom of Christ. Many bible expositors believe there will be a revised form of the Roman Empire during the Tribulation Period that will be crushed and replaced by the Kingdom of Christ at it's end. The Kingdom of Christ is coming to earth, but it should already exist in the hearts of God's people. Jesus said in Luke 17:20-21 ...The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. There is a distinction made by some between the kingdom of heaven (or Christ) and the kingdom of God. For many purposes there may need to be a distinction, but for our purpose here there doesn't need to be one. Jesus taught the principles of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 5-7. They are principles that should be in place and governing the heart and life of God's people. They are principles that will allow a seamless transition between this world and the one to come. They are principles that will make a great difference in this present evil world, but they are principles not often seen in the lives God's people today. John is indeed our companion in the kingdom of Christ, but does that kingdom show itself in us?
and patience of Jesus Christ - Patience here means enduring, continuing, waiting. We should very much look forward to the coming of Christ and His kingdom, but at present we must wait. To endure, continue and wait successfully we must have the right focus. Focus is a point of concentration, which reminds me of Isa 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Far to many Christians spend time judging, analyzing and worrying about things that only have one sure solution, His name is Jesus. We should be focused on Him, His Word, and His promises. Col 3:1-4 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Isa 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Looking for answers outside of Christ, His Word and His promises is to look for very temporary solutions. We are John's companion in the patience of Jesus Christ. Are we looking to Christ for answers as we wait for His promises to be fulfilled, or are we looking elsewhere? Television, movies, games and internet do not what we really need. Many want peace that passes understanding and to be filled with God's Spirit, but their focus says they want it on their own terms.
in the isle that is called Patmos - Patmos is an island ten miles long and six miles wide that lies approximately seventy-five miles off the southwestern coast of what is now Turkey. The island is for the most part rocky and treeless. The estimated population of the island in 1976 was 3,000. However, in the time of the Roman Empire it was mostly uninhabited and one of the many places to which the Romans banished their exiles. They were forced to work at hard labor in the mines and quarries there. John was exiled there by the Roman Emperor Domitian in 95 AD in the 14th year of his reign and probably suffered harsh treatment during his stay. An early Christian tradition said that John was in exile for 18 months. He was allowed to return to Ephesus upon the death of Domitian in 96 AD. It was on this rocky island called Patmos that John received the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
for the word of God - One of the reasons John was exiled was because of his love for God's Word and God's truth. It's the only truth that really matters. Prov 30:5-6 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. John loved God's Word so much that he choose being exiled to work at hard labor rather than to compromise it. Many Christians would probably say God's Word is that important, but most won't even put in place a plan to read the Bible through in one year. So perhaps they don't believe it's that important after all. John was exiled because of his love for the Word of God. What have you suffered because of your love for God's Word?
for the testimony of Jesus Christ – Testimony means witness, record or report. What is the testimony of Jesus Christ? The eternal Creator of this universe (Jesus Christ) was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary by the Holy Ghost, was born, lived a sinless life, had a miraculous ministry, took upon Himself our sins, was crucified, shed His blood, laid down His life, died, rose bodily from the dead three days later, ascended back into heaven and is coming again. He is the Preserver of all life and the only Savior of mankind. All who reject Him as such will be tormented eternally. John was persecuted and exiled because he believed that. Do you believe that? If so what have you suffered for it?
1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day - In the Spirit is an interesting phrase. To find it's meaning here we must look elsewhere. Rom 8:5-9 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. To be in the Spirit is to be spiritually minded. Ps 1:1-2 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. In the Spirit describes someone whose mind is consumed with the LORD's truth. Being in the Spirit must be closely related to or the same as being filled with the Spirit, the result of which is found in Eph 5:18-20 ...be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I can think of no better way to be on the LORD's Day. The Lord's day is the first day of the week which is Sunday. Though John may have been physically alone he is telling us he was filled with God's truth, having thankfulness in his heart and a probably a song on his lips.
a great voice, as of a trumpet - A trumpet, in Bible times, was an instrument used to get people's attention. A trumpet was heard as Israel gathered at the foot of Mt. Sinai after their deliverance from Egypt. Ex 19:16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. A trumpet will be heard when Jesus returns. 1 Thess 4:16-18 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. For many the sound of a trumpet brought fear, for God's people it should bring peace. Here in The Revelation the great voice, as the sound of a trumpet, calls us to pay attention.
1:11 the first and the last – First means foremost in place, chief, preceding all the rest in time, number, rank, dignity, consideration and excellence. Last means uttermost, being in the furthest, greatest or highest degree. Jesus saves to the uttermost (Heb 7:25) because He is the uttermost.
What thou seest, write in a book - John is here commissioned by Jesus to write down what he sees. We should believe he did just that. Most of what we find in The Revelation needs no interpretation because John was writing what he saw.
send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia – These were seven churches in southwest Asia Minor. This was the sphere of John's influence. The Revelation has influenced far more than the seven churches John was commissioned to write to, but in God's mind they were his responsibility. The sphere of our influence is our responsibility and it should not be taken lightly. We need to be faithful in ours as John was in his.
1:12 I turned to see the voice that spake with me – Turned means to be converted or return. This is something absolutely necessary to truly hear from God. Jesus said to Peter in Luke 22:31-32 ...Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. We all know of Peter's failure when he denied Christ, but it was upon his conversion or return that he would strengthen his brethren. If we are to truly hear God's voice in these last days we must be turned to Him. Keep in mind that when you turn toward someone or something you have turned away from everyone and everything else.
And being turned, I saw – Being converted, turning or returning to Christ allows us to see. It reminds me of the testimony of the man in John chapter nine who was blind from birth but had his sight given to him by Jesus. As the man was questioned by the Jewish religious leaders he said in John 9:25 ...one thing I know...I was blind, now I see. There is truly a dramatic difference between someone who claims to see and someone who was blind and then given sight. When someone who is blind receives sight it changes everything. As God's people we are involved in a life long process of trading blindness for sight. That means we should be continually changing, becoming more like Jesus.
seven golden candlesticks - Candlesticks here means lamp stands or candle holders. In Rev 1:20 John is told by Christ the seven lamp stands are the seven churches to which he's been commissioned to write. The lamp stands can not give off light of themselves, they must have a light source placed in or upon them. No church should have light of itself, the light source of the Church must be Jesus Christ Himself. A lack of this is the great reason churches are not properly influencing their communities for God.
1:13 in the midst of - Midst means among or in the middle of. Jesus said in Matt 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. I am absolutely sure we fail to grasp the potential of that verse. When someone is in the midst of something they are in a perfect position to actively participate. Most people do not come to a church meeting with an idea of participating, except maybe to draw attention to themselves. They come with the same idea they have as they sit down in front of the TV. One of seeing a spectacle or being entertained. This is one of the greatest reasons we do not see Jesus participating in our meetings. Oh, He is there, as He promised, but if we are not willing to participate then He doesn't either. We should realize His presence, pray to Him, sing to Him, give attention to His Word and then expect Him to participate.
one like unto the Son of Man - John sees the same Jesus who was crucified, buried, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives. This is the glorified Christ John saw on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus is the Creator and living God, but just over 2,000 years ago He also became the Son of Man being born of a woman. Heb 10:4-6 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. It's said by Paul that because of Christ, we mortals who trust Him will put on immortality. As Creator and God Christ is immortal, to sacrifice Himself for our sins He had to put on mortality, so He became a man. As a man He took upon Himself our sin, shed His blood and laid down His life. He then rose from the dead, in the same body, conquering sin, death and hell as the Son of Man, sealing our redemption. To see Christ as the Son of Man is to see Him as our mighty Redeemer.
a garment down to the foot – The description we see in the rest of this verse denote Christ as a King Priest. Example of Aaron's garments, the first earthly high priest of Israel: Ex 28:2, 4 And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty...And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. The garment down to the foot speaks of royalty. The priesthood of Christ is different than that of Aaron. Abraham met a man who was a type of Christ in Gen 14:18-20 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. We know Melchizedek was a type of Christ because of Heb 5:5-6 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Melchizedek was both king and high priest and a type of what Jesus is to us. Jesus being both King and Priest is our LORD and our Mediator. Dr. Henry Morris also notes here about Christ's garment that there is no semi-nudity displayed. The Godly definition of modesty is one of reserve and purity. To get an idea of what this garment looked like we can look to other passages where Christ is seen in His glorified appearance. Matt 17:1-2 ...after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. Mark 9:2-3 ...after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. Dan 7:9 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.
and girt about the paps with a golden girdle – Girt means to be wrapped about as one would wear a belt, sash or girdle. The paps would be the chest area. Only a priest was girt about the paps, all others were girt about the waist. One commentator says this gave the priest a freedom of movement not possible otherwise. A girdle worn around the chest could be the same as a breastplate. The high priest of Israel wore a breastplate. God described it as the breastplate of judgment in Exodus chapter 28. Wearing the breastplate the high priest both bore the judgment of the people and judged the people. Jesus Christ bore our sins and was judged in our place. God the Father has committed all judgment unto Christ, He will judge both the saved and the lost. That His girdle is made of gold speaks of Christ as a pure and righteous judge.
1:14 his head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow – In people the only sure thing that white hair speaks of is age. Christ is the Ancient of days, He always has been and always will be. White hair on a person is only a crown of glory if it be found in the way of righteousness. Prov 16:31 The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. That is a very poor illustration of this description of Christ. White here does not speak of a flat white color. It speaks of a brilliant white light that when held up to the brightest star in the universe would cause that star to cast a shadow. 1 John 1:5 ...God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. Christ's head and hair shine with the brilliant white light of perfection, purity and holiness. As mentioned earlier in this study the true perfection and holiness of God are things of Him we have a very hard time understanding. Isa 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. We tend to think and proceed in ways best for us. God thinks and proceeds in the very best ways. The ways that are best for us all. Jesus once said in Matt 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in comparison to Jesus. That is why we must be clothed in His righteousness to enter heaven.
his eyes were as a flame of fire – Fire almost always speaks of judgment. The eyes of Christ are burning, penetrating, searching, exposing all, no matter how thoroughly hidden it may be. It's with those eyes that He will judge. Paul wrote in 1 Cor 3:13-15 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. How foolish we are to think we are hiding anything. Nothing but that which is true and just can abide His gaze. The fiery eyes of Christ are both a terror and a comfort. A terror because we will be exposed for what we are, a comfort because He loves and redeems us anyway. The next time the earth is destroyed it will be by fire. Jesus sees and knows what this earth has become, a dwelling place for rebellion against Him. One day the fire in His eyes will purge it and make it new.
1:15 his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace - Brass in the Bible speaks of judgment. The altar upon which Israel's priests offered burnt sacrifices unto the Lord was made of brass. “Fine brass” is translated from a compound Greek word which speaks of brass when it has reached a white brilliancy in the furnace, flashing or glowing. His glowing brass feet represent the burning perfection and judgment of our God. The perfection and holiness of God are such that no error no matter how small can hide in His presence. It's another example of why we must have His righteousness to enter His dwelling place. Dr. McGee said, “Human nature rebels against judgment being passed upon it...it will purr like a pussycat when flattered, but it will bristle like a porcupine when failure or sin is noted. Christ in His present position as judge of His church is largely ignored. The reason: He does not flatter; He does not ignore what He sees; He does not shut His eyes to sin and wrongdoing. His constant charge and command to His own is, Repent! Therefore His church will not hear.” Peter wrote in 1 Pet 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? Many want to live by a handful of rules pulled from the Word of God, but it's by God's grace we must live. Living by grace is allowing Christ to show us our sin and then cleanse it with His blood as we agree with Him. The cost of revival is seeing ourselves the way Christ our judge sees us. Grace is the only way we can be made clean or experience revival. Someone once said, “There is a Man in glory, a Judge, a Savior, a Friend, but the church has lost sight of Him.”
his voice as the sound of many waters – The sound of many waters is perhaps one of the most fearful unto man. It's a great deafening sound, one that cancels out all others. It's a sound that must be heard because there is no choice but to hear it. At present, in this life, we are given a choice, whether to hear God or not. After this life, when it's to late to choose, we will hear Him, whether we like it or not. The voice of the LORD is the voice of authority. It's the voice that called the universe into existence out of nothing. It's the voice that raises the dead, causes the blind to see and the lame to walk. It's the voice that will one day say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”, or will say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” The children of Israel at the foot of Mt. Sinai heard the voice of God. Duet 5:24-26 ...we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth. Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Further God's voice is described in Ps 29:3-9 The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars; yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory. The voice of the LORD as the sound of many waters is one we will never be ready to hear while we persist in rebellion against Him.
1:16 he had in his right hand seven stars - In verse 20 Jesus says that the seven stars are the angels of the seven Churches. The word angel or angels as we find it in The Revelation chapters 1-3 means messenger or representative. The proof this does not refer to an angelic being is found in the opening to all seven letters John wrote to the churches in chapters 2-3. “Unto the angel of the church of” There would be no need for Jesus to commission the writing of letters by a man on earth to seven angelic beings. These messengers are men, probably what we would consider, the pastors of these churches. However, true angelic beings as messengers, guardians and ministers to mankind is taught in the Bible. Matt 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. Speaking of angels the writer says in Heb 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? Heb 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
out of his mouth – A sword is usually wielded by the hands. Here and in chapter 19 we are told a sword comes out of the mouth of Christ. This should cause us to think of the power and fury of His Words. It takes us all the way back to the beginning. Gen 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. Christ's words are eternal Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. It's His words that will judge. Jesus said in John 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. His words are final. Luke 13:27 ...depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. Jesus is deliberate and careful about what He says and that's a great example for us. Prov 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Prov 17:27-28 He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. Prov 10:19 In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. Jesus said in Matt 12:37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. Though there are so many warnings this seems to be one of those topics modern Christians do not have ears to hear.
1:16 a sharp twoedged sword – Sharp tells us this sword can do its job with ease. Two edges tells us no matter which way it swings it will be effective. The Bible tells us in Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. That verse has two important parts: 1. The Word of God, when used correctly, is a great divider between the spiritual and the carnal, between the eternal and the temporary, between good and bad, between right and wrong. There is no gray area except in the minds of men. However, the Word of God has been so neglected, changed and misused through the guile of Satan and reasoning of the flesh it has lost its effectiveness. This is one reason we see so little difference between those who call themselves Christians and those who do not. In our day there is a greater effort to interpret the Bible than simply to be obedient to what it says. The interpretation most seek is one that leaves them undisturbed. That's a sure sign God's Word has lost it's value in the mind of people. 2. The Word of God, when used correctly, is a discerner of our thoughts and intentions. Meaning we can find true purpose, real answers and perfect direction through it. That is perhaps one reason people have little time for it. Many seek to use the Word of God for their own advantage, to confirm their own flawed decisions and choice of direction. The Word of God is truly, and indeed a sharp twoedged sword, but there are few that see it for what it is and even fewer who live by it. If we could only glimpse the true power, authority and finality of the Word of God, our lives, our families, our churches and this world, would be very different. Upon Christ's return the sharp twoedged sword that proceeds out of His mouth will not be misused or misunderstood, but for very many it will bring certain doom.
his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength - The word countenance refers to His appearance. John saw the appearance of Christ as the sun shining at noon in a cloudless sky. So bright was the countenance of Christ, but also so clear. Despite the brightness John was able to look and describe all the detail he gives us here in this chapter. It's very easy to ignore or forget all we have because of the “sun” shining in its strength. Take the sun away and we would all die miserable deaths in a short period of time. In fact without the sun we could not exist at all. That's a great example. Without the Son of God we could not exist at all. Take His influence completely away and we would all die miserable, horrible deaths in a short period of time. Just as people take for granted all the sun gives us, so do they ignore and take for granted all the Son of God gives us. Most ignore Jesus at present. Upon his return not one will ignore Him, but for many it will be far to late for that to make a difference.
I fell at His feet as dead – Let's think for a minute about what John is hearing and seeing. He hears a great voice as a trumpet as the sound of many waters. The words are like a sharp two-edged sword. He turns to see in the midst of the seven churches the Son of man whose countenance is like the sun, clothed in a garment down to the foot, wearing a golden breastplate, His head and hair as white as snow, His eyes as flames of fire, His feet like glowing molten brass. In His right hand the messengers of the churches. When John heard and saw the glorified Christ, he fell at His feet as if he were dead. That would be the reaction of anyone who heard and saw what John did. No one can be in the presence of the glorified Creator God and not know who He is and what He is capable of, His voice and appearance declare it. There is no instance in the Bible foretold of any man who will stand before God in judgment and ask, “who are you”? After falling at His feet all will proclaim who he is. How sad that for many it will be to late to matter. We need to ask our selves a question, why do we not long to see Jesus and fall at His feet? The answer would tell us the reason we lack His grace and power at present.
he laid his right hand upon me – I am reminded here of something David said in Psalm 8:3-4 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? This vast and amazing universe we live in was created through the power and knowledge of God by the word of His mouth. The creation of all we see when we look up into the night sky or through a telescope into deep space is described for us in Gen 1:16 ...he made the stars also. Our place in this vast and amazing universe is that of one grain of sand among all the sand on earth. It's in light of that we might echo the words of David, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?”. The truth is God is very mindful of man, so much so that He came into this world as one of us to reveal Himself and become a sacrifice for our sin so we could be with Him. Someone once said, “human weakness is answered by divine strength in those who humble themselves before God.” Almighty God is the humblest individual that exists. It's in His humility we find rest unto our souls. Matt 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. At present any of us who will truly fall at His feet will find His right hand being laid upon us.
saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last – Any great dictator, king, ruler or prince among men would want those under their rule to be afraid. What a blessing it is to see the greatest of all, the King of kings and LORD of lords, say “fear not”. Jesus wants to be our Protector, our Provider, our Savior and our Shepherd. He doesn't want us to be afraid. Earlier in verse 11 we seen that first means foremost in place, chief, preceding all the rest in time, number, rank, dignity, consideration and excellence. Last means uttermost, being in the furthest, greatest or highest degree. Jesus saves to the uttermost (Heb 7:25) because He is the uttermost. When such an individual favors us we need no be afraid of anything or anyone.
1:18 I am he that liveth – In John 14:6 Jesus described Himself as, “the way, the truth, and the life”. I am reminded of a conversation between Martha and Jesus when they spoke of Lazarus in John 11:21-26 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? What we believe about Jesus makes all the difference. If time goes on long enough people I know will watch my body, in a coffin, be lowered into the ground. I hope none of them believe I'm dead because I can never die. Jesus is He that liveth and because He lives those who believe in Him can never die. Do you have a way to be saved or do you have the Savior? If you have the Savior you will never die.
and was dead – Jesus became a man, lived as one of us and gave up His life on earth so we could never die. Jesus said in John 10:17-18 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. If you look up death in an older dictionary one of the meanings you will find is separation. Physical death is to be separated from your body, spiritual or eternal death is to be separated from God. The meaning of the words “life” and “death” are not the same for everyone. For the believer life is knowing Jesus Christ and death is only a shadow, like a wasp that has no stinger. Death may look threatening at times, but it can never really hurt us. Jesus experienced physical and spiritual death so we could live forever.
I am alive for evermore – This statement by Christ should cause the hearts of believers to rejoice and the strength of His enemies to fail. A pastor in our community preached a message last Easter entitled “Jesus is alive and that changes everything”. After the service he gave out yellow wrist bands for his congregation to wear that had “This Changes Everything” printed on them. Though I am not a member of the church he pastors I acquired one and wore it for a while. I had the opportunity to tell some who asked what it meant and it set me to thinking. Jesus being alive ought to be something that consumes believers because of what it means. I began to realize that Jesus being alive changes things only when we believe it with all our heart and then keep that great truth foremost in our mind. We should wake in the morning and remember the words of Jesus, “I am alive for evermore”. We should hear those words throughout the day, while we face difficulty and before we lay down at night. For the believer victory is hearing Jesus say, “I am alive for evermore”.
have the keys of hell and of death – Hell is a place of torment for those who reject Christ as LORD and Savior. Death is separation from God. It's interesting the entry to separation from God and the eternal place of torment would have locked doors and the keys are possessed by Christ. I know Christ's statement is figurative, not literal, but I believe it's very significant. In order for someone to enter a place of separation from God or eternal torment Jesus must unlock the door and let them in. That means those places are closed off behind locked doors, places God does not intend for man to go and places from which there is no escape. It's a comfort in the sense they are places we can only go having ignored the declaration of God concerning His great power and love for us. Some might say, what about those who have never heard the gospel? Ps 19:1-3 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Rom 1:19-20 ...that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. It's hard to ignore the heavens and the things God has made. Everyone who enters death and hell will have rejected God.
1:19 Here we find both John's commission and the division of this book, things past, present and future.
1:20 Jesus is in the midst of His churches and holding the messengers to the churches in His right hand. The churches are His, the messengers are His and the messages should be His. That identifies a great problem of modern times, because many of the churches, messengers and messages are no longer Christ's. As we shall see in His messages to His churches His great declaration is “REPENT”.