I had the opportunity to preach a message this morning in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. John describes for us not a baby in a manger or a Man of Sorrows on the Cross, but rather the Living Lord. It reads like this:
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and Hades. Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things. As for the mystery of the seven stars which 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 1:12-16 (NASB)
Did that sound like a babe in a manger or the Man of Sorrows? Not in the least! It sounds like what John saw was the fierce and judging Jesus Christ that is going to return at some point to gather His people and to judge those who have not believed in Him. But we also know that judgment begins with the house of God (cf. 1 Peter 4:17). Thus, Jesus tells John the apostle to write down seven letters to seven different churches and every indication from at least five of those letters there was going to be a quick and swift “cleansing of the house.”
Yet, when John the apostle turns to see “the voice” that is speaking to him, he falls at the feet of Jesus Christ. And even more interesting, when John falls at the feet of Jesus Christ as a dead man, Jesus Christ reaches down and touches John with His right hand. It is a compassionate touch, a merciful one. He touches John and tells him not to be afraid. He has just seen the terrible sight of the Living Lord. I mean that the sight of the Living Lord is not terrible in a negative sense, but that it is a terrifying scene for John the apostle. It would be just as terrible for us if we saw Him in this way.
Another example of this picture being seen is Ezekiel 1. Ezekiel is taken in the Spirit of the Lord to the very heart of the throne room of God. What he saw there was terrifying to him and he, too, fell as a dead man. When God told Ezekiel to stand to his feet, he writes that he could not move but the Spirit of the Lord raised him up on his feet. After being raised up to his feet, God told Ezekiel what it was that he would do. He was going to preach to a rebellious house, to Israel. He was going to face the hard of heart and the hard of face Israelites, God’s people, and he was going to tell them about the judgment that was headed their way for their rebellion.
Daniel, in chapter 7 of his book, sees the same vision as Ezekiel and John. It was a frightful scene that God revealed to him. But it is a necessary scene. How else would we know what is going to happen lest God reveal it to us?
John then is told to write down what he sees. Everything that Jesus Christ was telling him was something that He was also showing him. This is the testimony of Jesus Christ and He is making it very clear to those who read the Revelation of Jesus Christ that all of the different things mentioned in the book will soon and must soon take place.
Although John is raised up, we need to understand that everything that he sees as the “testimony of Jesus Christ,” the “revelation of Jesus Christ,” is a terrifying thing. He is coming back for His people and He is coming in vengeance, power, and judgment. It is far greater for us to live for Him than to live apart from Him. We will see in that great and terrible Day of the Lord a separation of sheep and goats, that is, those who have trusted Jesus Christ and those who have not. What John the apostle witnessed he now testifies to us that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. We will either worship and serve Him while we are here or we will do what Paul the apostle said in Philippians 2:5-11, which reads:
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. –Philippians 2:5-11 (NASB)
May the Lamb of God receive the reward of His suffering, and when He returns, may He find us faithful.