Revelation 1:10-20 NLTse (10) It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast. (11) It said, “Write in a book everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” (12) When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. (13) And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. (14) His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. (15) His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. (16) He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance. (17) When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. (18) I am the living one. I died, but look–I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. (19) “Write down what you have seen–both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen. (20) This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
The beginning of Revelation tells us exactly where the information in this book came from, directly from Jesus in Heaven. That is one of the most important details at the beginning of every chapter in Revelation, as well as the beginning of every prophecy in the Bible. Every prophet identified where and how they received the message. That is one of the many safety features God installed in the Bible. At times authors tell us messages are from false prophets, kings made decisions without praying, asked counselors, or received advice from other sources. As we proceed through those stories, we are given the opportunity to see how each event turned out. This created a series of contracts to learn from. We can put together a series of events when people followed God’s orders, and see how it turned out. Then we can compare those results to see how decisions without praying turned out. We can also see how reliable those counselors and false prophets were.
When we get to timing in Revelation chapter one, John kept the lesson rather simple. Jesus is the First and Last. He has been around a lot longer than any of us, has seen a lot more, has generations of experience, and will be around a lot longer than many of us. In other words, Jesus should be our only reliable source of information.
John also tells us, this book contains information on events from the past and the future. Some events were happening, or some prophecies were being fulfilled in John’s time. How do we tell which prophecies have been fulfilled, which were being fulfilled in John’s day, which were fulfilled after John, and which prophecies are we waiting to be fulfilled? This can get very confusing if we didn’t have a timeline. A timeline needs a base point, or point to begin. A type of foundation to build on. From there we have to look at key words in the Bible God placed there to indicate a series of events following a particular order. This happens, then that happens, this follows, and finally we see this event. That sequence is achieved using simple words. The KJV generally used the word, “and,” to show a sequence of events.
Rev 5:1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
Rev 5:2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
Rev 5:3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
Rev 5:4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
Rev 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Rev 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Rev 5:7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
Each verse begins with the word, “And,” showing a simple sequence of events. John saw a book. John had to notice that book before the next event could take place. After John noticed the book, an angel asked who could open it. The question had to be asked before moving onto the next event. No one in Heaven or earth was able to open that book. That fact had to be established before moving onto the next event. One of the elders told John about a Lion from the Root of David. Jesus was first introduced as a Lion, before appearing as a Lamb. Each event had to follow that particular order. Each event is identified by the word, “And,” which is commonly known as a linking word, tying all those events together.
People tend to disagree with the timing in Revelation. They want to ignore those linking words that tie events together in the order Jesus said they have to occur. That is one of the most important details in the Bible, and one of the most ignored details in scripture. Why? I’m not sure. I look at those linking words and find it easy to follow prophetic timing. There is no excuse to be confused. Each event is recorded in perfect order, just the way Jesus said they will occur, key words link them all together, and anyone can follow the simple order. But people insist Revelation is a book of mystery, and they have to put prophecies in the right order. What order? People tend to look at the world for guidance on the sequence of events recorded in Revelation. People prefer to have earth’s history dictate prophetic timing. That is the way of the world. Where does that come from? The world – not from Heaven. Which source are you going to trust?
Modern Bible translators saw how Revelation told about one event, the next event, so on, and so forth. Many of them took the word, “and,” used in the KJV, and changed it to the word, “then.” The original Greek word can be translated either way.
John tells us, he was praying when the message began. This is an important point to consider. Will God approach us with a message, do we have to first approach God, or does it work both ways? Communicating with God is another subject we have to be aware of in scripture, and we should be studying.
John was told to write a book. Not just deliver a message, but write a book. Notice how Jesus told John how to deliver the message. That is another feature we need to pay attention to. Whenever we receive messages from Heaven, we are told who to share it with, and how to share it. This is another safety feature God uses. Often people create their own message, determine who to deliver it to, how, and when to deliver it. Where is the Spirit in their message? Taking a few words out of scripture does not make it a message from Heaven. Priests and Pharisees took a few lines out of scripture. Did that make every one of their messages a message from Heaven? The devil took out a few sentences from scripture and used them to try and trick Jesus. Did the devil’s message come from Heaven, or his own imagination? Just because someone takes a few sentences out of scripture does not make it an inspired message.
People often want to focus on symbols, especially in books like Revelation. The Bible has a general rule about symbols. Typically symbols are identified and explained in the story they are found in, more often than not in the same chapter like here. The seven candlesticks represent the seven churches, and the seven stars are seven angels. This rule of interpretation was recorded in the first chapter to teach us how symbols are defined, and this rule applies not only to the entire book of Revelation, but the entire Bible.
Jesus is seen standing among those candlesticks, which shows His relationship with those churches. Jesus has to travel from one church to the next, hence the need for an angel to go to each church, which shows Jesus’ concern and the protection He offers. When Jesus was arrested, He reminded everyone, all He had to do is say one word and legions of angels would be sent to protect Him.
Jesus is wearing a long robe. Is this His robe of righteous or another rode. The only clue we are given is, the robe is covered by a golden sash across His chest. Is the gold significant or the chest it covered? We could look at what gold represents, but would gold represent the same thing here as it does in other stories? The fact is, John is seeing a vision of Jesus in Heaven. If we take an interpretation for what gold represented in a story taking place on earth, would it be the same?
Jesus’ head is white like wool. What does white hair normally represent? Old age here on earth. White hair may also represent age, experience, and wisdom. Let’s put ourselves in John’s shoes for a moment. John saw Jesus a few years ago. Could Jesus have aged that quickly in Heaven, or did Jesus take on a form He exhibited before He came to this world to be born, live, grow, and die?
What did John think when He saw the one he lived with white hair? Did John think, things happening here on earth gave Jesus white hair? Did that white hair instill a spot of concern in John? We have to admit, John wrote words he was inspired to write, and left out his personal ideas about the views he witnessed.
Jesus’ eyes were like flames of fire. What did John think? Eyes normally are a key to identify people. When their eye color changes, that is something people are sure to notice. It was one of the details John noticed and recorded.
Eyes of fire may make people think, Jesus has something to get excited about. Something wasn’t right. But at that time, Jesus had a number of people doing the best they could with what they had, and what they understood. Or were they? How was the world accepting the message, and how was the enemy trying to rewrite the message? Was anyone getting the message right?
Jesus feet were like polished bronze. Bronze usually represents bondage, like when Nebuchadnezzar put Jehoiakim in bronze chains and led him away to Babylon. But is that story about an event on earth the same as an event in Heaven? This is why we have to allow the story to interpret symbols. Are all details within a scene a symbol? When you dress, are your cloths a symbol? Are they always a symbol? Sometimes they may be, and at times they may not be. We have to follow the story, looking for more information, and at times changes in the details.
Jesus’ voice was another detail that stood out. It wasn’t like the voice John knew, but a distinct voice that could carry all the way from the halls of Heaven to earth.
Stars in His right hand is a place people like to linger, but the stars are identified as symbols within the story. Jesus told John what those stars and candlesticks represented. Having angels in His right hand was a scene Jesus wanted John to see. The angels protect the church, and were seen in Jesus’ right hand. We don’t need scholars to explain the details. Jesus established the scene, controlled the scene, told John what items were used as symbols and what they meant. What more do we need?
Can you imagine John’s reaction to the scene? There John was, standing in Heaven’s court. A second ago John was on a desolate Island with some of Rome’s most notorious prisoners. John was lucky to be alive. John had to rely on prayer everyday so he wouldn’t become one of the island’s many victims. Food was scarce. People killed for a meal. Nothing grew on the Island. Fresh water was also limited. Each day seemed like a challenge. Then one day, the Heavens open up. John saw the light, then thought for a moment, this is it. This is the day I get to leave this world. But it was only a vision.
John saw the one he loved, Jesus. But it wasn’t the same Jesus John knew on earth. Jesus was different in some ways, and the same in others. His hair was different, much longer and now it was white. It wasn’t that long ago he saw Jesus. His clothing was different. That was to be expected. But Jesus didn’t choose to dress like the kings of this world. Jesus didn’t need jewels and gold to show His title. A gold sash was all He needed.
John looked down at Jesus’ feet. They were a little darker than before. John remembered the last thing Jesus did before he was arrested. No one cleaned Jesus’ feet, but look at them now. Heaven is so different than this world.
Hearing from Jesus was something else. His voice seemed to carry on forever. The tone in His voice told John, the message was important, one that would carry to the ends of the world. It began with seven letters to a collection of seven groups of followers in seven locations.