A Vision of the Risen Lord
9I am John, a follower together with all of you. We suffer because Jesus is our king, but he gives us the strength to endure. I was sent to Patmos Island, because I had preached God's message and had told about Jesus. 10On the Lord's day the Spirit took control of me, and behind me I heard a loud voice that sounded like a trumpet. 11The voice said, “Write in a book what you see. Then send it to the seven churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”
12When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. 13 There with the lampstands was someone who seemed to be the Son of Man. He was wearing a robe that reached down to his feet, and a gold cloth was wrapped around his chest. 14 His head and his hair were white as wool or snow, and his eyes looked like flames of fire. 15 His feet were glowing like bronze being heated in a furnace, and his voice sounded like the roar of a waterfall. 16He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp double-edged sword was coming from his mouth. His face was shining as bright as the sun at noon.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead person. But he put his right hand on me and said:
Don't be afraid! I am the first, the last, 18and the living one. I died, but now I am alive forever, and I have the keys to death and the world of the dead. 19Write what you have seen and what is and what will happen after these things. 20I will explain the mystery of the seven stars you saw at my right side and the seven gold lampstands. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the lampstands are the seven churches.
God’s final Word, and the triumphant message that runs throughout Revelation is, “Behold I am alive forever and ever!” (v.18) (NIV).
Christ is the Saviour who died and rose again (past), is alive and working in His Church today (present), and will come again (future). He is “the first, the last” (v.17). This is emphasized with another triplet as John is commanded to write “what you have seen (past) … and what is (present) … and what will happen after these things (future)” (v.19). This threefold designation is one way to outline the entire book: past (chapter 1), present (chapter 2-3), future (chapter 4-22).
The prophecy comes to John while exiled on the Island of Patmos for preaching, teaching and testifying about Christ. (v.9). Patmos, like Alcatraz, Robin Island and other penal colonies, was an isolated place from which there was no escape. It was on a Sunday that John was transported into a prophetic vision and a voice told to him to write down everything he was going to see (vv.10-11).
Hearing the voice, John turns and sees “someone who seemed to be the Son of Man” (v.13) standing behind what was possibly a Jewish menorah (lampstand, see Exodus 25:31-39). It’s Jesus Christ, but he’s no ordinary looking man. His appearance is unique, glorified, supernatural. The description (vv.13-16) emphasizes His majesty, purity, authority, and divinity. He’s dressed in high priestly garments (see Exodus 39) and radiating the visible presence of God, which the Jews called “the Shekinah”, emphasized by a sevenfold description of Jesus Christ (head and hair, eyes, feet, voice, right hand, mouth, face).
The frequent use of ‘seven’ as a significant number in Revelation is part of the divine signature in the Apocalypse. According to Edward Hindson in The Book of Revelation: Unlocking the Future, there are 21 different ‘sevens’ in Revelation. Some of the ‘sevens’ are the seven churches (ch 2-3), sevenfold praise of the Lamb ( 5:12), sevenfold result of judgment (6:12-14), seven divisions of mankind (6:15), sevenfold blessing (7:12), sevenfold description of the locusts (9:7-10), seven-thousand killed in the earthquake (11:13), and seven new things (ch 21-22). The importance of the ‘sevens’ is seen in verse 20 where Jesus Christ says that He will “explain the mystery of the seven stars … and lampstands.”
Lord, thank you that you are alive forever, are at work in your church today, and give us the strength to endure until you return. Because you are alive, we can know life. Amen.