John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient
endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos
because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On
the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a
trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to
Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”
turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw
seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like
a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a
golden sash around his chest. 14 The
hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like
blazing fire. 15 His feet were
like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing
waters. 16 In his right hand he
held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword.
His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on
me and said: “Do
not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead,
and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and
therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 The
mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven
golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven
churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
God gave John this fresh vision of Himself at a time when
not only the early church, but he himself was facing overwhelmingly great
problems. At this time the Emperor Domitian was on the throne in Rome. He was the cruelest
of the Roman emperors. He declared Himself to be God and sentenced to death
anyone who wouldn’t worship Him. The early Christians did refuse and
therefore were sentenced to die by the thousands. They faced great
problems. And so did John in exile.
But, rather than focus on that, John was given this glorious
vision enabling Him to focus on the goal of Jesus Christ. By sharing this
vision, John encouraged those running the race of faith to maintain their focus on Christ as they patiently
The first thing we learn here is we can find hope through patience.
John was patient in suffering. He said in Rev. 1: 9 “I, John, your brother and companion in the
suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and
the testimony of Jesus.”
John was probably 90 years old when this took place. As you
get older, don’t you find that you get a little more patient? In a way it may
be because of physical limitations if nothing else. So John was suffering with
age and where he was: cut off from friends, support, and opportunity to serve.
We all have our Patmos. A trial we’re going
through or feeling of being cut off from others. Something that requires our
patience. And perhaps it’s because God wants to reveal Himself to us in a new,
fresh way. But in order to do that we have to get the focus off of what we want
or expect or feel we deserve and wait. Patiently. Endure. Trust that God has a
purpose and that it’s for your good.
John had also suffered for his testimony. One time he healed
a man in Jesus’ name and was arrested and told never to speak of Jesus again.
He said he couldn’t help speaking of
Those Christians that were being killed because they
wouldn’t give up their testimony? They were fed to lions, hung on poles and set
on fire to light the emperor’s garden. John knew he faced that. But he kept
preaching Christ anyway. What do we fear will happen to us when we speak up for
Jesus? That someone will mock us? Raise an eyebrow? Roll their eyes?
John was in exile because of his testimony. And that would
have been hard on him because who was there that he could tell about Christ? He
had been preaching Christ for 60 years. That was his life’s work! Could there
be a worse punishment for him then no one there to share God’s message with?
J But there was someone! In fact there were millions
of someones! Because God had him write down his vision and it became a book in the
Bible - the most read book ever! He
touched more lives than he ever could have if he hadn’t been in exile!
Isn’t that just like God to provide like that? J
We also learn from this story that we should have patience
through submission. We must submit to God’s will, not only to receive His
blessing, but to receive further revelations from Him.
Patmos was a rock in the middle of the Aegean
Sea and John still was setting aside the Lord’s Day and honoring
it. Rev. 1:10a “On the Lord’s Day, I was in the spirit.”
He wasn’t offended with God because God allowed this to
happen even though he had been faithfully serving Him. He stayed focused on
Christ. In the midst of his suffering and solitude, he was still open to
instruction and direction and new thoughts… and he heard God’s voice. Rev.
1:10b “I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.”
For us, God speaks through His Word. So we have to open our
Bibles and read with the expectation of hearing His voice speak to us. We’re so
bombarded with messages and with life; sometimes it takes exile to get us to
hear His voice through all the noise.
John heard God through his suffering because he was in
solitude and setting aside time for God and he was listening. Then he opened
his eyes to the face of God. Rev.1:12a “I turned around to see the voice that
was speaking to me.” Notice he had to turn around. Maybe this means changing
the way you are used to doing things, changing the way you are used to
thinking, to see God in a fresh way. If he hadn’t turned around he would have
missed the work God had for him to do at the end of his life. For 60 years John
had been a preacher, an evangelist, a church planter. Now he would be a writer
The turning around to look at God can also mean wanting not
just to hear the word, but to see and
know the person behind the word.
When we read the Bible, do we read it to familiarize
ourselves with facts? Or grow in our knowledge of the truth? Or so we can live
by and obey it so we might be blessed? These are all good intentions, but the ultimate purpose of God’s Word is to reveal God so we can know Him personally.
Lots of times we focus on the hands of God. What He
has or hasn’t done for us. What we want Him to do. Instead of focusing on the face
of God – simply who He is.
Patient endurance while focusing on God helps us overcome
the depression caused by the greatness of our problems because it gives us the
opportunity to grow in our knowledge and personal relationship with the One who
is our hope.
So we find hope through pre-occupation with Christ.
The next part is where John sees the 7 golden lampstands and
we learn they are the 7 churches…He sees the churches, made up of individual
believers who at this time in history were experiencing great problems and Rev.
1:13b says “among the lampstands was someone like a Son of Man.”
John saw Jesus as the Son of Man. Jesus who had Himself
endured great pain, persecution and pressure. And he sees Him in the midst of
the churches. Jesus draws near to those who are suffering.
Next John wrote that Jesus was dressed in a robe reaching
his feet. That’s the description of the high priest in the Old Testament. The
book of Hebrews tells us not only that Jesus is our High Priest, but Hebrews
4:14-15 says 14 Therefore,
since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son
of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For
we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses,
but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did
Jesus understands what it feels like to suffer great
problems. As a man He suffered more than most of us ever will. He gets it! And
as our High Priest He always lives to intercede for us before the throne of
God. Jesus is praying for us with personal understanding and feeling.
John also said Jesus had a golden sash around His chest.
This describes a king. He’s not only a man, not only our High Priest, but also
a King with full authority over whatever is taking place. All over the universe
and all over our own lives. Things may be out of our control, but they
are never out of His.
Next John writes that His head and hair were white like
wool, as white as snow. His white hair reveals His eternal wisdom and purity.
He is wise. He never makes a mistake. His timing is always perfect. If you are
in God’s will, your life is exactly right regardless of how great your problems
Romans 8:28 28 And
we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who
have been called according to his purpose.
Remember our ultimate good is conformity to the image of
Jesus Christ. When we are called according to His purpose – which means in His
will – everything God allows in to our life is used by Him to make us more like
Christ. And because He is eternally wise, He knows exactly what it will take.
And because He is pure we can know our trials aren’t a
punishment from God or because He doesn’t like us. It isn’t in His nature to be
mean or vindictive or cruel. He is absolutely pure and Holy.
John goes on to say, “His eyes were like blazing fire.” This
sounds angry. But, John saw Jesus as the avenger of His people. When God called
Abraham out of Ur He said, “I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses
you I will curse.” In Deut. 32:35 God says, “It is mine to avenge, I will
Next John looked at Jesus’ feet. “His feet were like bronze,
glowing in a furnace.” (Rev.1:15a)
These are the same feet that walked on water, the same feet
that walked up Calvary, the same feet nailed to a Roman cross, the same feet
that were bruised by the serpent while crushing the serpent’s head, the same
feet that walked out of the empty tomb. The same feet that ascended into
Heaven. The same feet under which God has placed all things.
John saw them as the same feet of the final Judge of the
Universe. Feet ready to trample anything and everything that had caused human
In Rev. 1:15b he hears Jesus’ voice and it was like the
sound of rushing water. Rushing water conveys energy, power and life. And when
you stand next to it, it drowns out all other sounds. Today the world hears
everything but Jesus. But, one day we will only hear Him. He will have
the last word. When we’re depressed or overwhelmed we should be reading God’s
word and letting it drown out all the negativity and lies. There is a
supernatural life giving power in the Word of God.
Then John saw that in Christ’s right hand, He held 7 stars.
(Rev.1:16a) In verse 20 we will see that the stars are the angels of the
churches. Angels are messengers of God that serve Him day and night. In Rev 2
and 3 they represent the leaders of the churches who also serve God as
messengers of His Word. Jesus holds on to these people. They are in His grip.
Rev.1:16b says out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged
sword. The weapon Jesus will use will be the Word of God. It should be our
weapon too. Double edged means it offers salvation for the believer but
destruction for the unbelievers. And in the last of that verse John sees Jesus’
face – like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
If you had asked John at that moment if all his suffering,
all his patience and enduring through all his problems had been worth it – I
think seeing Jesus’ face – he would have said “Absolutely! And I’d do it again!”
When he saw it, he fell at His feet as though dead. John had
been a companion of Jesus’ for 3 years. But, seeing Him this way, as we will
see Him one day too, caused all the familiarity to give way to fear and awe and
Falling prostrate at Jesus’ feet means a lot of things.
Someone who does that is silent. No more discussion about what you think He
should or shouldn’t do, no more argument about His will, no more
rationalization of your behavior, no more excuses for your sin. Just silent
One would also be still. No more wrestling with God’s will
for your life, no more pursuing your own goals, walking in your own direction.
Just still before Christ.
It also means surrender. Paul had experienced this too. In
Galatians 2:20 he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer
live, but Christ lives in me. The life in the body, I live by faith in the Son
of God, who loved me and gave Himself to me.”
Totally surrendering – falling at His feet – comes when we
totally give our life to Christ. Then the fullness of life in Christ begins.
Lying there like a dead man at the feet of Jesus, all John cared about was the
hand of God on his life.
And in Rev.1:17b-18a, “Then He placed His right hand on me
and said, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last. I am the Living One:
I was dead and behold I am alive for ever and ever!”
In other words, “John, don’t be afraid. I was a dead man
too, but I’ve been raised up and I will raise you up. The life you are now
going to live, you will live by faith in Me. I love you and gave my life for
you.” Then Jesus gives Him his assignment. John totally surrenders to Christ
and Christ uses him for something big. Rev.1:19 says, “Write, therefore, what
you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”
In order to be used by God we have to surrender. We have to
be totally willing to be used. Willing to be totally obedient to Him. We have
to say, “Here I am, Lord, here’s my life – all of it – I am available without
reservation.” We don’t tell God how and when we’ll serve. We just offer all of
ourselves for His purposes.
Labels: Revelation, suffering