Today: [Revelation 1:] John Encounters Jesus on Patmos: In chapter 1 of Revelation we join John, the apostle in exile on the island of Patmos. Where there under extreme conditions he experiences an encounter that ultimately shapes our understanding of God and His purposes in a profound way for all humanity.
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[Rev 1:1-20 KJV] 1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified [it] by his angel unto his servant John: 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3 Blessed [is] he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time [is] at hand. 4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him [be] glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. 8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. 9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send [it] unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. 12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks [one] like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and [his] hairs [were] white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes [were] as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance [was] as the sun shineth in his strength. 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I [am] he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; 20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
In studying the book of Revelation, we want to allow this book to speak to us in its own voice. There is so much contention over the contents of Revelation that few undertake to read it and fewer still to comprehensively teach it to others. Our endeavor then at the outset will be to lay aside any preconditioned attitudes or doctrinal approaches we may have that would hinder us in ascertaining the heart of God in this writing.
Let us remember that this is the revelation of Jesus more than it is anything else. That word in v. 1 is “apokalypsis,” and it means the “revealing” or “manifestation” of Jesus. According to v. 1, it is that which the Father gave to Jesus that he sent by his angel to give to John who commits the same to writing. John wrote the apokalypsis” from the isle of Patmos whence he had been banished after the Roman’s failed attempt to execute him by boiling in oil. Patmos was a remote penal colony reserved for political prisoners at the time. John is the only apostle who did not die a martyr’s death.
In v. 2 John phrases the introduction of himself as a witness taking the stand to relate that which he has seen and heard directly from the angel Jesus sent to him. He is recounting the testimony given to him by Jesus Himself with the inclusion of everything that he saw and heard in the process. We understand then that the visions conveyed here were things that John saw and things that he heard of which he leaves nothing out that God allows him to disclose.
In v. 3 John declares that we are blessed to read and to hear the words of this prophecy and to keep the things written therein for they are at hand. This book then is not given for the purposes of controversy or contention among competing views of the end times. It is included in the canon by the leadership of the Holy Spirit to bless us and not detract from us or to discourage us in any way. We are to read and to hear (or accept) the message conveyed herein. It is one thing to read it but quite another to accept it. Accepting the words of this book is more than delving into unfruitful conjecture. We are to receive it with simplicity without the need to fully understand all that is contained therein other than to realize that more than anything else it unveils Jesus to us before more so than conveying eschatological truth.
The letter is addressed to the seven churches in Asia as coming directly from Jesus and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne. John’s experience was not just with the Father and Jesus Himself, but also with the distinct revelation of the seven spirits of God before the throne mentioned in Isaiah 11:1-3.
We might ask ourselves at this point about the throne of God. Is it on a planet called heaven as some suggest? Or is it in some ethereal realm or dimension inaccessible to us? Let us remember the following words of Jesus from the gospel of Luke:
[Luk 17:20-21 KJV] 20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Whatever can be said of this book and its disclosure of the throne of God there is a little-explored dimension of understanding that emphasizes for us that it unveils not only a timeline of God but also that which is present and in the now on the inside of us. Christ is enthroned in our heart. The Father lives within us for we are His temple. Jesus lives in our heart by faith. The Holy Spirit as the seven Spirits of God make their home in us and as we learn of what John saw we learn of something on the inside of us regarding that kingdom that Jesus speaks of in Luke 17:20-21.
Verse 5 reminds us of the triumph of Christ in the shedding of His blood for our redemption whereby (v. 6) He has made us kings and priests unto God. What a powerful revelation this must have been to the early church. Theirs was a life lived under the brutal subjugation and abuse by priests, kings, potentates, and procurators. They were powerless vassals of unfeeling and unsympathetic rulers yet here is the message that they are more than this in the kingdom. They are kings. You are a king. They are priests. You likewise are a priest unto God, who holds true dominion and disposes it to whomsoever He will. You are not powerless. You are not without representation in the heavens that rule over every governance that exists among the nations of the earth.
John declares that this Jesus who has made us kings and priests is coming in the clouds. These clouds are not referring to the natural formations of water vapor we see in the sky. They are the clouds mentioned in Hebrews 12:1 and Isa. 60:8:
[Isa 60:8 KJV] 8 Who [are] these [that] fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?
This describes a day when Jesus will come to abruptly terminate human culture and civilization as we know it bringing all men living and dead to judgment and final disposition in eternity. This same Jesus who is speaking to John declaring in v. 8 that He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end who is and was and is to come the Almighty. Now think about that. Jesus calls Himself the Almighty. Remember what this same John wrote in 1 John 4:17:
[1Jo 4:17 KJV] 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
How is He? He is the Almighty in the heavens that we might walk in His might on the earth. We are not weaklings. We are not without recourse in life’s problems. Jesus is telling us who He is and who we are in Him.
John then goes on to explain that all these things came to him on Patmos. On a specific day he describes being “in the Spirit” on the Lord’s day. Do you know what it means to be in the spirit? That means John was caught up in his attention and focus in the immediacy of God’s presence. In that state, he hears a voice speaking as clear as a trumpet. It is the voice of Jesus introducing Himself and instructing John to write down what he is about to experience and to send it to the seven churches in Asia that are listed by name. Whatever was occurring John was not in a trance. He still had his wits about him. He knew where he was and had the presence of mind to gather writing materials and to commence committing these things to memory. We may construe then that he was in his cave on Patmos and aware of it and in his spirit (in the spirit) these things were heard and seen that Jesus disclosed to him. It was an inner revealing just as God can and does speak to you by His inward voice.
In his spirit, John turns and sees one like the Son of man standing amid seven large candlesticks like the arms of a great Menorah. He is clothed with a garment cinched around His diaphragm with a golden belt. His head and hair are white as snow, and his eyes are as a flame of fire. Looking to Jesus’ feet, they appear as molten brass burning in a furnace and as He speaks His words flow over John like the rolling thunder of many voices speaking simultaneously.
In Jesus hand (v. 16) there are seven stars and out of His mouth is the appears of a two-edged sword. What are the seven stars? These would not have been unknown to John or any of the early church believers who read this. Job 9:9 and 38:31 speak of the sweet influence of Pleiades which was a seven-star constellation referred to as the Seven Sisters. There are many ancient beliefs about this constellation, but from the scripture, they represent the seven churches constituting a governing influence over the earth in the power of Jesus right hand. The sword coming out of Jesus’ mouth is the two-edged sword of the RHEMA (prophetic utterance) and the LOGOS (infallible scripture).
John sees this and falls at Jesus’ feet as dead. Then Jesus laid His right hand upon John. Question: what about the seven stars? They were still in Jesus right hand. Something about what that represented was imparted into John with the comfort of “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth and was dead and behold I am alive forevermore (amen); and have the keys of hell and of death. There are keys to hell and keys to death, and Jesus has them both to spare us not only from hell after death but from death itself if we have faith to believe for it.
John having forgotten himself is instructed for a second time to write what he sees. It is as though Jesus is looking over John’s shoulder reminding him not to leave anything out about the seven stars and the seven candlesticks which are one and the same and represent for us the seven churches. The churches in the heavens are seven stars and on the earth are seven candlesticks all of which you and I are a part.
How do we know the seven candlesticks represent the church on the earth? Because Rev. 22:5 says there will be no candle in heaven. These also represent something of God’s process unfolding in us because Prov. 20:27 tells us that the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord but in heaven our spirit will not be as the flickering light of a candle, but then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in its brightness according to the words of Jesus in Matt. 13:43.
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