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The Vision of the Glorified Son Reigning Over the Church

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Revelation 1:9-18 The Vision of the Glorified Son Reigning over the Church
9. I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and the kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,
11. Saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
12. Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;
13. And in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a Son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.
14. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.
15. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.
16. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
17. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man, and He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,
18. And the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys to death and to Hades.”
19. “Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.”
20. “As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands; the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches; and the seven lampstands are the churches.

This section of the Revelation brings the first great vision of John concerning the glory of the Christ, but it does not concern the future. It concerns the headship and role of Christ Jesus over His church. Just looking back we have learned that He is to receive from the Father full reward for the work that He did at the cross. He will return to judge and to receive a kingdom and that His coming is certain for God the Almighty has proclaimed it. This is the great theme of the book Christ coming in His full second coming glory to bring an end to the reign of the evil one and of his workers, it will happen for God Himself has decreed it and many things concerning scripture all demand it happen. In this book, Christ comes to receive His reward, elsewhere in scripture, it is Christ in His humiliation.

The book itself, is written during a time when to be a Christian, was not a happy experience for a life choice. The Christians under the reign of Dometian (The Romans) were receiving great persecution, many had been martyred for their faith, all the apostles were now gone, except one who had been exiled to Patmos (John). It was written to give hope to Christians to tell them to endure for the victory is certain and that Christians have this sure and certain foundation and great hope in the future.

Our passage, opens with this setting, and it is really opening like one would a letter, starting in verse 9:
‘I John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.’

John in this passage introduces himself and then sets out the circumstances clearly for us:
1. The Writer:
The opening address to his audience starts with the words ‘I John’, it is because he is amazed and surprised that he is receiving this stuff. To him it is unbelievable, for he considers himself unworthy of such great honour.
He reduces his elevation and status to that of a fellow partaker, no different from others going through the persecutions and more importantly to that of only a witness of what he sees and writes down.

We find John, who could of quite frankly elevated his position over that of others, as a mere humble servant.

There are certain characteristics that John shares in with his fellow believers, which he makes mention of:
• Persecution for their faith
• Kingdom: (spiritual kingdom awaiting the physical arrival) membership in a redeemed community of believers, over which, Christ is Lord and king.
• Eager anticipation: Like others, he too, eagerly awaits the second coming of the Lord and the physical kingdom.
• Endurance and perseverance in spite of difficult times.

These experiences, John shares in with his readership, it is the unique experience of the Christian believer, see the phrase ‘which are in Jesus.’
It means they were suffering because of their faithful witness of the one who is their Lord and saviour, not normal life twists and turns that everybody in life goes through – it means they were ‘in service of the king’ despite of it all, that they would suffer (even death) to serve the Lord, they chose to serve him.
2. The Circumstances
Where is John and why is he there?

John states that he is on the island of Patmos. Patmos is a small rocky island shaped like a crescent, no bigger than about 10 miles in length and six miles in width in a group of about 50 small islands in the Aegean sea off the coast of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey).

This island served as a Roman penal colony, it would probably have been used for the hard labour of prisoners possibly working in a quarry; chained with other prisoners, with a guard ensuring that you work hard by using a whip to beat you. This was a common form of banishment and punishment for criminals throughout the Roman empire.

However, John is not there because of being a criminal, he makes that plain and simple for us to understand. He is there because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

He preached and witnessed in nearby Ephesus, headed up a church there, but had been exiled because of his faithful witness to his Lord and saviour.

It is worthy to note the two-fold emphasis of this statement: Many preach today from the word of God, but fail to preach what the bible is all about. It must be about the testimony of the Christ.

It must be about, His life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension and return – it must be about His first and second comings. All scripture points to and proclaims the Christ in either His first or His second coming and the impact it has on mankind’s future relationship with God and of their eternal outcome.

Paul summed up his ministry of the word for us quite nicely, by stating that he preached Christ crucified in 1 Cor. 2:1-2.
He considered that preaching Christ crucified is to the Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness in 1 Cor. 1:23. However, it does go on to read that there is hope in preaching this way for those who are called it is the power of God to save them, it is by God and a work of God, not a work of man.

How often it is that those who hold fast the word of God and the testimony of Jesus undergo persecution for it, even in our day and even from those grouped into the term ‘Christian’ but are not and have surrendered huge amounts of their bibles to appease the world, when they should be warning them of judgement and wrath for sin to come and proclaiming mercy and grace through Christ.

In this world, it is so easy to surrender the truth of the word of God, but those who do hold it fast are rewarded for their faithfulness to it.

John had been the one who was faithful to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus, that our Lord chose him to deliver the testimony of his message unto the churches that he knew and loved, but also to ensure that all churches in every age since, have this word and message of great hope going into the future.
How often it is that we find through the suffering of a servant that they become closer to their Lord and saviour and get to know more of Him. Through the deepest suffering this servant John was brought nearer to God than any other has or probably will. For John was brought into the very throne room of God to experience the most majestic experience of the glory of Christ and the glimpse of the future concerning God’s plan for the consummation.

3. John’s Commissioning
Verse 10:
‘I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day’….
This was not like some would like you to think a dream. John was supernaturally transported out of the material world awake – not sleeping – to an experience beyond the normal senses.
The Holy Spirit empowered his senses to perceive the revelation from God. See Acts 10:11

‘The Lord’s day’ simply refers to a Sunday, the day of rest, the day that Christians worship the Lord on as it symbolises the day of the Lord’s resurrection.
Some suggest that it may refer to the day of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:2), however the suggestion does not fit the context for the revelation he receives is not considering this future time event but the present time and is a revelation of the glorified Son, since His ascension, as head of His church and of His priestly office over it.

The NASB translates it correctly and the Greek word for it close the gap further still to support it as written ‘in the Spirit on the Lord’s day’…

It was while he was in worship on this day that the Holy Spirit empowered him to be transported out of normal senses and out of the material world to receive revelation. At this point:
‘I heard a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet’….
Throughout the book of Revelation a loud sound or voice indicate the solemnity of what God is about to reveal. Christ in the judging, chastising and purging role over the church

Trumpets in olden times were used to proclaim that a great announcement or a proclamation is about to be heard from the king to his subjects.

This one is from the Lord of heaven to His subjects on earth concerning His headship reign over the church. If you look back over scripture the last thing to happen with Jesus on earth was His ascension into heaven with the promise of a return sometime in the future, in Acts 1.
“Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches”….
The Greek word for book refers to a scroll made of parchment formed from papyrus that comes from a reed that grows plentifully along the river Nile. John was to be a witness of what he was about to see, by writing it down and then he was to send it to the seven churches in Asia Minor.

The churches mentioned were actual churches serving in actual cities in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). These cities were prominent cities in the region, which you could refer to as postal centre cities for that region of the Roman world. Turkey is where east meets the west, if you lived somewhere near these cities and you wanted to contact someone by means of letter, you would send your message to one of these cities for posting out. The places stated are in the order that a postal courier would go through collecting and delivering mail.

It is clear that God is doing the same thing here with His message for the church. The fact that there are seven churches means that they represent the completeness of the church age. They are representative churches of the church age since the formation of the church in Acts through to the current day. They are also significant in type – the typical churches (leading characteristics) that you will find at any time throughout the church age.

As we go through the book we will find that the Lord will have a specific message to give to each one of these churches and to all the churches of that type of church. It is important also to note at this stage that the church is also made up of individual believers coming together and that the message for the churches can be taken both as the whole assembly, but equally to the individual within that assembly.

4. John Receives the Vision of the Glorified Son
When John hears the loud voice: verse 12
‘Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands’….
John hears the voice and turns to see who it is who is speaking with him. As he turns the revelatory vision, he is to see, begins.
It begins with a symbolic image of seven golden lampstands; what are they and what do they mean? Well if we go to our passage and turn to verse 20 we are given the answer: They are the seven churches mentioned and types of churches like them throughout the church age.
Lampstands were portable gold lampstands that held small oil lamps, used in the temple, by the Levitical priesthood. Each lampstand represented a church from which the light of life should shine out into the darkness, as a beacon to those lost in the dark – to help them find their way to salvation from sin. This is the responsibility of any church, in any time, throughout the church age.

‘and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man’…
In the gospels, Christ Jesus used this title most often to describe Himself during His earthly ministry (81 times). It is taken from the heavenly vision of Daniel 7:13 and the implied intention is full claim of Christ to Deity. Jesus claimed He was not only equal with God, but was God.

What is He doing, there in heaven?
1. He is Empowering His Church: Verse 13
‘He is in the middle of the churches’….
He moves in and around the churches, He indwells believers in His churches through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works to empower the church. Jesus promised that He would not leave us as orphans on earth, nor would He forsake us. At Pentecost the Helper came to empower the church in its ministry in the world: to convict the world of sin, righteousness and the judgement to come and to glorify the Son.

2. He is Interceding for His Church: Verse 13
‘Clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash’…
The word ‘garment’ (ASV and other older translations)
Most occurrences in the Septuagint, Greek OT. Refer to the garment worn by the levitical high priest. Long robes were also worn by kings.
The golden sash across the chest completes the picture of Christ Jesus serving the church in His priestly Kingship role (Lev 16:1-4; Heb 2:17; 1 John 2:1).
We have a High Priest who was tempted in every way and is able to sympathise with us, and was without sin. He made the atonement required for the sins of the people (past, present and future) and makes intercession for us.

3. He purifies His Church: Verse14
The vision then turns away from what He wears to His personal appearance, what He is likened to:
It states:
‘His head and His hair were white like wool, like snow’…..
White refers to the holiness of God. This is not a dull flat colour white, but brilliant/dazzling brightness. Have you tried to look at snow when the sunlight hits its surface? People get snow blindness from it.
That’s kind of like how John describes it.

See Daniel 7:9, like the glory cloud (Shekinah glory) no one could see this with some sort of veil. Christ was veiled in human flesh but gave a glimpse of this at the transfiguration to the disciples which left them terrified.
‘and His eyes were like a flame of fire’….

The Lord is all knowing and all seeing about His church and the members it contains. None can hide His penetrating gaze (see: 2:18; 19:12; Hebrews 4:13) We are all but an open book before Him.

‘His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace’…. (verse 15)
The alter of burnt offering was covered with brass and its utensils were made of the same material (Ex.38:1-7). Glowing hot bronze feet are a clear reference to divine judgement.

When a king was in His throne room to make judgement over subjects. The throne was often higher than the ground and the subject were before the throne of the king at his feet. Feet therefore were very often symbolic of this kingship judgement role.
Christ sits in judgement over the church and is able to move through His church in judgement and chastisement over it.

An early example of this, is in the case of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) who lied to the church and to God about the selling of their property and the money they gave in. Nothing escapes the gaze of the One who sits over the church.

4. He Speaks authoritatively to the Church: Verse 15
‘and His voice was like the sound of many waters’….
No longer the ‘loud voice like a sound of a trumpet’, but like many waters.
John likens it to the sound of the rolling surf hitting the rocks of an island (see Ezekiel 43:2). It is the voice of authority. The message the Lord gives to the churches is in this authoritative voice.

5. He Controls His Church: Verse 16
‘In His right hand He held seven stars’….
What are these? Go to verse 20 for an answer: they are the angels of the churches
It does not mean angelic beings from heaven, but the messengers to the churches and represent the church to the world. They are those who lead the church and are responsible for ensuring the message is in line with the two-fold emphasis of witness: the whole cannon of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. They are also responsible for the care of the flock. It is that they are accountable to the Lord for good stewardship of the church.

He mediates His role through the leadership of the church.

6. He is there to Protect His Church: Verse 16
‘and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword’….
Through His word and sovereign power, Christ is there to protect His church.
A large, broad sword that signifies judgement on those who attack God’s people and the church in an attempt to destroy the church (cf. 2:16; 19:15) external or internal in nature.

The word of God and His sovereign power is able to:
• For those who hear the word of God and respond positively – it is the power to save them from their sins
• For those who hear, but do not respond, or reject – it has the power to judge and condemn
• The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness and judgement – our consciences bear witness either judging or approving us before God.

To those who attack to destroy the church, it is as though the Lord here is saying to them –“I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it!!!!”

7. His Glory Shines through His Church: Verse 16
‘and His face was like the sun shining in its strength’…
His glory and light shines through His church unto the world of darkness, so that those lost in darkness can find their way unto salvation and feel the full strength of the warmth of the Christ’s glory, like the sun full heat or in the heat of the day with the sun at its highest point in the sky radiating the glory of the risen saviour. (See: Psalm 104:1-4)

5. The Effects
What is John’s response to seeing the Glorified Christ? Verse 17 tells us:
‘When I saw Him, I fell at His feet, like a dead man’…
It is an experience of great fear and shock:
John’s response to seeing the Christ unveiled, full glory. Is to fall dead at His feet. ‘I am undone!’ ‘I am ruined!’ was a response of Isaiah to seeing unveiled glory in Isaiah 6.

This is one who knew the Lord in the flesh, but he falls as though dead before Him, now.

It is a common response to seeing the awesome glory of the Lord: Gen.17:3; Num.16:22; Ezek.1:28; 9:8; 43;3 and 44:4; The transfiguration spoken of above in Matthew 17; Acts 9:3-4.
Daniel had a visitor in 10:7:
I Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless….

It is a matter of the conscience of humanity:
‘I am dead before the holiness of the Lord’, the fact is no mortal who is sinful can stand before the awesome glory of the Lord. Isaiah said of it ‘I am undone or ruined’ Simon Peter had a similar experience with the Lord in person in Luke 5:8.
The self realisation that I am a sinner before Him and cannot save myself from the judgement of the Holy One.

It is the normal and right response:
Fear and shock and self realisation of sin before him should be the normal and correct reaction to have.
Non-believers, later in the accounts of revelation, will cry out for the rocks to fall on them in order to hide them from Him and for them to die, they will just want an end of the divine judgements being unleashed upon the earth.
all know of their sin, but most do not repent of them, for men love darkness rather than light.
Others though, realise they are sinners before Him, repent of their sin and cry out to Him for mercy and forgiveness and will find their Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and longs for the sinner to come to Him so that He can give them a new heart and clean clothes and a new home with Him forever. It is the reason He came the first time.

Assurance from the Saviour: Verse 17
‘And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and Hades.”’
For Christians, this is amazing:

It is a touch from the Lord that restores John and removes all fear from him. He is restored by the Lord and has nothing to fear anymore. The fact that the Lord speaks of His death and resurrection and that He is forevermore alive in that resurrection body means that for the believer there is no more fear, even if death comes to you. The Lord says to Him to stop being afraid, you have been redeemed from the grasp of the evil one and death has no hold on you, because I died for you and rose again so you will rise again because of me. You are safe because I have the authority and control of who lives and who dies and to where they go. You now do not need to fear My judgement and My wrath for sin, for you have chosen Me and have walked with Me.

‘Because He lives, I can face my tomorrow and because He lives all my fears are gone.’ It has been paid

For the Non Christian, waken for the time is near:
If you have not come to the Lord Jesus for cleansing then the fear remains and so does His judgement and wrath upon you, the just penalty for sin.
‘Do not be afraid’ God used this phrase throughout scripture to those He chose: To Abraham; To Israel; To Joel and many more times. Christian you have been chosen too!
It is a quite common reassurance for those who believed in Him.

‘I Am’ behold I Am is here, it is the name of God used not only to describe His eternal nature ‘before Abraham was I Am’ but also His redemptive nature ‘I Am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Me.’
He uses the title ‘I Am the first and the last’, which is the Old Testament name for ‘Yahweh’ (22:13; Isa.41:4; 44:6; 48:12) and applies it to Himself, clearly claiming full Deity and full authority and full control over who lives, who dies, and to where they go forever.

Another Title is used, ‘The Living One’ Simon Peter used it in Matt. 16:16 to describe who Jesus was ‘You are the Messiah, The Son of the Living God’ 1 Thess. 1:9 serving the living and true God.

It is a title used to describe that God is the true and living God who acts. The Thessalonians and others turned aside from their idols and false gods to serve this living God.

The lord uses three titles to describe the assurance we should have in Him to not be afraid, even of death itself.

Is this not blessed Assurance?

‘I was dead’ John I died for you, believer I died for you. I took your sins with Me when I died. Non-believer I can take your sins too.

‘And behold I am alive forevermore’ Behold is a startling announcement stating the main emphasis ‘I Am alive forevermore’ because of me being alive you too will live if you believe in Me. I conquered the grave, so death has no hold of those who believed in Me.

‘I have the keys’ I have the authority and control of death and of Hades’ Christian you have nothing to fear here.

This should lead to Duty:
John is called to the task to “Therefore write down the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.”
John’s duty is to write down the things which he has just seen (Christ glorified over the church) and the things which are (the present things – the church age) and the things which take place after these things (the future things – after the church age).

He is to send his witness testimony to the churches mentioned.

Christian you were given a witness testimony of when Jesus touched your life with His redemption, this you must witness to every person you meet, it is the great commission in Matt 28; you shall be my witnesses in Acts 1 and many other places which state we are to shine forth the light of gospel testimony of Jesus Christ. We are to be His ambassadors to the world with the word of reconciliation 2 Cor. Chapter 5. Finally read 2 Cor. 3:18.