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AM Bible Study Archives
"The Vision of the Risen Christ"
Wednesday AM Bible Study
February 4, 2009
Up to this point, John has only given us the introduction (vv. 1-3), and the formal greeting (vv. 5-8), of this remarkable prophecy. But now, he begins to give us the prophecy itself. Note verse 19: "Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this." This gives us the three main divisions of this book: "the things which you have seen" being described in chapter 1; "the things which are" being described in chapters 2-3 (see 1:20ff); and "the things which will take place after this" being described in chapters 4 to the end of the book (see 4:1ff). This morning's passage gives us the first of those three divisions; that is, the things which John has "seen".
What it is that he sees is a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ in His present, resurrection glory. How good God is to us in that, before beginning this prophecy of the tumultuous times that are ahead for His people, and before describing the dreadful judgment that will fall upon the unbelieving world, He begins by showing us the glory that He now possesses in relation to this world and to His church!
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES (v. 9).
A. John introduces himself to us as our "brother". He is not superior to us; but is given to us as a conveyor of this message from the Father as one of us. He not only is our brother, but he is also our companion (or partaker with us) in tribulation (the situation about to come), the kingdom (the situation that will be realized in the end) and the patience of Jesus Christ (which is our great need in the time in between).
B. This is a personal matter for him, because he himself was exiled to the tiny island of Patmos (a rocky island about 10 miles long and 6 miles wide off the coast of Turkey) for "the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ".
II. THE ANNOUNCEMENT (vv. 10-11).
While on the island, he apparently was "in the Spirit" (that is, uniquely taken up by the Holy Spirit) on the Lord's day (Sunday). And in this condition, he heard a voice behind him like a loud trumpet. The speaker announced Himself as "the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last" (see (v. 8); and commanded John to write "What you see" into a book; and send it to the seven churches mentioned (see Revelation 2-3).
III. THE VISION (vv. 12-16).
A. Turning to the voice, he saw the One who spoke. Note the situation in which the Lord stood (vv. 12-13a). He stands in the midst of seven lamp stands—which, we are later told, are the seven churches. Our Lord is not distant. He stands in the midst of His churches.
B. Also note the description of the Lord as "One like the Son of Man" (vv. 13b-16).
1. Clothed with a garment down to the feet (v. 13); which speaks of His priestly service.
2. Girded about the chest with a golden band (v. 13); which speaks of His kingly majesty.
3. Head and hair with like wool, as white as snow (v. 14); which speaks of His eternality.
4. Eyes like a flame of fire (v. 14); which speaks of His omniscience.
5. Feet like fine brass, as if refined in a a furnace (v. 15); which speaks of His holiness.
6. Voice like the sound of many waters (v. 15); which speaks of His authority.
7. Seven stars in His right hand (v. 16); which speaks of His care for the pastors of His churches (see v. 20).
8. Sharp two-edged sword out of His mouth (v. 16); which speaks of the power of His word.
9. Countenance like the sun shining in its strength (v. 16); which speaks of His divine glory.
IV. THE RESPONSE (v. 17a).
John responded by falling like a dead man (fainting). The glory of Christ should strike us with a sense of holy awe and terror.
V. THE COMFORT (vv. 17b-18).
The Lord spoke words of comfort. "Do not be afraid." What a great word of encouragement to us as this dreadful prophecy begins! He identifies Himself in such a way as to show His great power and authority on behalf of His church. He Himself was once dead but is now alive; so we no longer need to fear death. And He holds the authority over Hades and Death, so we no longer need to fear judgment.
VI. THE COMMAND (v. 19).
John is commanded to write the things that he sees to the churches. This is a message for the Lord's churches. Not only is this a communication of what he saw of the Lord Jesus, but also of the things that are about to happen.
VII. THE EXPLANATION (v. 20).
Jesus solves the mystery of the golden lampstands in which He stands, and the seven stars that He holds in His right hand. The golden lamp stands are the seven churches (v. 11); and the "angels" (or "messengers") are the appointed leaders and overseers (pastors) of those churches. (Note that in the ancient synagogues, the synagogue's leading elder was called that synagogue's "angel"). The Lord Jesus has the pastors of His churches in His right hand!
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