I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and 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, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
Then 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, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that 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 seven churches. -Revelation 1:10-20
Finally, we draw near the end of this three-part article on Revelation 1:10-20. We have also nearly made it to the end of chapter 1 of Revelation. And we’re right back where we started: at the end of the beginning. This is not the last time we will be here. As I already stated early in our first article, venturing into the depths of this beautiful text, that we will see a cyclical pattern in Revelation. It will proceed from one point in a seemingly forward-moving direction, only to end up at the beginning again just as it appeared to be drawing to a close. In fact, we will see this pattern three times. But at this point, we must not forget John and what he sees in this first chapter.
John sees and recounts for us the bright and shining face of Jesus who he last saw in this fashion on the mount of transfiguration. But now, instead of only shining like the sun, it shines brighter still, as the sun does in its “full strength.” The sight of all this causes John to involuntarily dive to the ground, falling as though dead. This is the effect that seeing God has on sinful creatures, but in Christ there is hope. Just as our loving Savior will one day raise us and all those who believe, Jesus reaches out His right hand, the hand of authority, and speak the sweet words, “Fear not,” into John’s ear.
“I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” These words may not seem to be Gospel-saturated, drenched and dripping with any good news at first glance, but they are. Oh, my brothers and sisters, they are! For what Jesus has to say about Himself is what He speaks for us! And so, He says this for our benefit. He is our first and last, our living one. He died, and yet behold! He is alive forever. And He holds the keys to death and eternal death itself! And He holds them for us!
Think about it! Paul says that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. If the God who died and behold, is alive forever is your God, you too will rise in a resurrection like His as well! We have not been called from darkness to light only to succumb to death and sleep forever, but to be raised in a resurrection like His, evermore living in the provision and glorious life we are promised and share with Him even now. This is the mystery, glory, and joy of the God whose tongue is like a two-edged sword, the God who kills and makes alive, the God who has died just so He could lead us into the resurrection. This is Jesus.
Until next time, may the grace and peace of Christ be with you.
This is a weekly article series working through the book of Revelation. It is followed every Friday morning at 8 am (CST) by a live devotion dealing with the same subject matter and often additional material for reflection. Tune in Friday mornings on Christ Hold Fast's Facebook Page to learn more and ask questions.