Text: Revelation 1: 9 - 20
Title : A Magnificent Vision
We are now coming to the main body of the Book of Revelation which consists of numerous visions. In Ch. 1: 9 – Ch. 3 f we find the first vision.
Outline of the Vision :
(i) A vision of the glorified Christ walking in the midst of the golden candlesticks and commissioning John to write the things which he saw. (Ch. 1:9-20)
(ii) A message from Christ to John which he must deliver to the 7 churches in Asia. (Ch’s. 2-3)
This vision comes to the apostle John ( who is probably the last surviving apostle) from the Lord Jesus Christ who is speaking from His position as the exalted Christ. At this time John was living on a rocky and barren little island called Patmos, not far off the coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). According to early church historians he had been sent into exile there during the rule of the Roman emperor Domitian ( emperor from AD 81 - 96) . He was a devoted worshipper of the Roman gods , and appears to have opposed the Christians. Our text tells us that John was banished there “on account of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” If it was under the rule of Domitian, then we may conclude that John was on that island around 95 AD.
The vision given to John is for the benefit of 7 churches in Asia (v.11). In this vision John does not see himself as aloof from the church. He sees himself as a “brother and a partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus ...” (v.9) . All these experiences are true of the church in history and today. She always participates in the sufferings of our Lord Jesus.  The church is the agency through which the Lord Jesus makes His kingdom visible . It is only in the power of that patient endurance that we can bear the tribulation and persevere unto the end. The tribulation of the Christian church in Namibia relates to the fact that she struggles to survive in the midst of materialism and the good life, and with prayerlessness and lack of heartfelt devotion and attachment to Christ. Thank God that the kingdom of God is advancing among us, but you will appreciate that unless the Lord Jesus had granted us patient endurance we would almost have become discouraged.
God used this obscure, lonely little island to send a mighty Word into the world like ours. That which we hold in our hands now known as “the Revelation to John”, continues to encourage and inspire countless Christians today.
John received this vision when, as he says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day “. On this Sunday the Lord Jesus visited him in a very profound way. On that day John was given insight into the mind of Christ concerning that which must soon take place (1:1,19) . And John records: “I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches...”.
We shall consider the content of that writing in chapters 2 &3. At this point John is not so much concerned with the content of what he must communicate to the churches. He is preoccupied with the vision of the Lord Jesus Christ. As he hears the voice behind him, he says: “I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man….”. He sees the glorified Lord Jesus in the midst of golden lampstands.
Four things are described here:
1. He describes the glorified Christ (vv. 13-16)
2. He describes the effect which this vision had on him (v.17,18)
3. He describes the commission which he receives from Christ: Write ! ( v. 19)
4. He receives an interpretational key concerning the 7 stars in his right hand (v.20)
1. The description of the glorified Christ : (vv. 13-16) .
John describes Jesus being “ like a son of man”. This is significant ! “Son of man” – that was Jesus favourite self- designation. The term is probably derived from Daniel 7: 13,14.
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days (described in Dan 7: 9-10) and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” The “son of man” who in Daniel’s vision is described as separate from “the Ancient of days”, now appears to be one and the same person in Revelation 1:13-16. The nature of the Trinity indeed is a mystery.
Let’s get back to the revelation of the “son of man”. The Lord Jesus, the eternal Son of God, appeared in time as a man. He was born of Mary, through the agency of the Holy Spirit ( Lk 1:35) . He ascended to heaven with a resurrection body, as a glorified man. He presently rules there as a glorified man, and He shall come from there in in His glorified state as a man. His return will be a visible return- as a glorified man. John’s vision confirms this. Everything that John says here, bears testimony to the fact that our Lord Jesus is indeed the Son of man. He clearly displays the features of man. Consider the following:
· He is clothed. Only bodies are clothed. Here He wears a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest. These are the robes of a High priest, and that is what Jesus is (Hebr. 9:11) . He has finished His sacrificial work on the cross, but He is still engaged as our High Priest and Intercessor with the Father, as our man in heaven.
· His hair is white like white wool or like white snow. Hair is a very human thing. The whiteness of His hair pictures the Savior in His divine nature, as very God- as the eternal Son of God, and God the Son, “whose coming forth is from of old , from ancient days.” (Micah 5: 2).
· He has eyes, and they are like a flame of fire. Eyes too are part of human anatomy. But the eyes of Christ penetrate into the deepest recesses of the hearts of men; they discover hidden things. They are omniscient eyes. All things (even the secret thoughts) to Him are an open book. Those eyes discern every evil thought or deed. Those flaming eyes also express holiness and righteous indignation and wrath.
· He has feet and they are like burnished bronze. Revelation 19:15 tells us that that with these feet He will “ tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty”. As the Son of man He will soon crush Satan under His feet (Rom 16:20) .
· He has a voice, and it roars like many waters - much more intimidating that the Victoria falls! “ He utters His voice, the earth melts” ( Ps 46:6) It is the voice of power. With that voice, the Lord Jesus at His coming “will kill the lawless one with the breath of His mouth and bring him to nothing by the appearance of his coming.” (2 Thess 2:8) .
· He has hands, and in those hands He holds seven stars; (more about that in a moment)
· He has a mouth, from which comes a sharp two-edged sword. The sword in Scripture is symbol of authority and of power to punish evildoers. That sword is the Word which He speaks. It is "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebr. 4:12)
· His face was like the sun shining in full strength! Moses, when confronted with the glory of God could not bring himself to look at that glory. He was afraid ( Ex 3:6). And Moses himself when he had spent 40 days in the company of God on Mt Sinai could not be looked at by his people ( Ex. 34:29-35) .
This is how John sees Him: the Son of Man in the midst of seven golden lampstands. Though these are individual lampstands, the symbolism reminds us of the seven armed lampstand (the Menorah), which once stood in the holy place in the temple in Jerusalem. These lamps had to be kept burning continuously, symbolizing the truth that Israel was the light of God shining in the darkness of this fallen world. In this vision the seven lampstands represent the church of all ages, concerning which the Lord Jesus had said: “You are the Light of the world” (Matt 5:14). It goes without saying that the church is a light, that derives its source of light not of herself, but from the Lord who is in her midst.
2. The Reaction and Reassurance from Christ (Vv. 17 &18)
“When I saw Him I fell at His feet as though dead.” This is terrifying glory – something which Isaiah also felt when in the year that Uzziah died, and when He saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, he cried “Woe is me . I am lost!” ( Isa. 6:1-7). The immediate reaction to the unveiling of God’s glory is always fear. Those that encounter the glory of God always have to be assured: “Fear not”!
Why must John not be afraid? The answer is given: “I am the first and the last , and the living one. I died and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and hades.” John is in safe hands. His life will not be taken in the face of this severe experience of glory. John is in the hand of the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. In v. 8 this was said of God; here Christ claims this for Himself. There is no conflict here. Christ is God of very God. In His particular role He fulfills the part of Mediator, the incarnate Son, the first to rise from the dead. He is the life! He has life in Himself, for He is the eternal God come in the flesh! And He died, in order that as the great High Priest He might finish the sacrifice for our sins. Death could not hold Him in the grave. He rose and now He is alive forevermore! And because He rules over death the keys of death and hell are His. Jesus has the keys to life and death. What He opens no one shuts , and what He shuts no one opens.
Therefore, John … fear not! We need not fear God ; we need not fear death if we find ourselves in Christ . Blessed are they that put their trust in Him!
3. The Commission (v.19)
Having calmed John’s fear, the Lord gives him his commission: “Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are (present) and those that are to take place after this (future).” This no doubt refers to the contents of the whole Book of Revelation. “The things that are" refer to the first three chapters , and the "the things which are to take place after this “ relates from Chapters 4 to the end. We will find that in these chapters there is repetition, but in the repetition there is progress.
4. Interpretational help ( v.20)
You were perhaps wondering what the seven stars in Jesus right hand in v. 16 were symbolizing? Here is the answer provided in v. 20. The seven stars which Jesus holds in His right hand are said to be the angels of the seven churches. Commentators differ with respect to what is meant by these seven stars or angels which the Lord Jesus holds in His hands. I will give you the two major views:
· Some maintain that these are the guardian angels of each church. This would be difficult to sustain. It is difficult to conceive of the possibility of writing letters to such guardian angels.
· Others have applied the words to the pastors or overseers of the churches. In the Bible, both the Hebrew word for angel (mal’ak e.g. Malachi means ‘my messenger’ ) and the Greek word (angelos) literally translated also means, ‘messenger’. It is most likely that the angel of the church in this case is a human messenger of God. They are symbolized as stars, not because the churches receive their light, but because stars, like planets are only reflected lights. God gives light to His church through His messengers, who say what He says. The Psalmist says: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” ( Ps 119:105) ; “ The unfolding of your words gives light”( Ps. 119:130). These messengers cannot be separated from the churches. They represent the churches. This close connection between the stars (or angels) and the churches is evident from the seven letters which follow in the next two chapters, and it is evident that Jesus through John speaks through the messengers which they represent and serve.
 Suffering with Christ: See also Rom 8:17; 2 Cor 1:5; Phil 3:10; 1 Peter 4:13
 The first day of the week – Sunday, the Christian Sabbath
 In the Gospels Jesus is alternatively called Son of man , Son of God and Son of David
 See also Paul – (Acts 9:3f); Ezekiel- (Ezek 1:23; 3:23; 43:3, 44:4) and Daniel ( Dan. 10:7ff)
 E.g. Lk 1:13,30;2:10