The Guardian of His Church

Revelation 1:9-20 Daniel 10:5-10, 15

The Christ revealed in Revelation is in his state of exaltation, not humiliation. Here in our text he is represented as the exalted, victorious Guardian of His Church.

John gives us a description of his first vision – graphic picture that is far more memorable than a thousand words.

A. Who he is

sound and sight vv. 10-16

a glorious figure

compare John’s vision with Daniel’s

One of these men had a belt of fine gold, the other a golden sash around his chest. One had a face like the appearance of lightning, the other like the sun shining in full strength. One had eyes like flaming torches, the other like a flame of fire. One had arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, the other feet like burnished bronze. One had the voice like the sound of a multitude, the other like the roar of many waters. If we make allowance for the cultural differences present between the Babylonian exile and Patmos exile as well as the individuality of the authors and that John was very possibly quoting from memory, they [Daniel and John] almost certainly were confronted by the same Person. There’s A War Going On

Everything about the appearance of this individual conveys glory, majesty, power and authority. The Son of Man (also Dan. 7:13-14), bodily ascended Christ but with the glory he had with the Father before the world existed. (John 17:5) Think the Transfigured Jesus only infinitely more so.

Both Daniel and John responded the same way:

Daniel – no strength, trembling, speechless (Dan. 10:7, 10, 15)

John – fell at his feet as though dead (Rev. 1:17)

overcome with awe of his glory, fear of his majesty, an attitude of silent worship. What else could they do, what else would be appropriate?

both visions relate to same period of time

Daniel 10:14 “in the latter days” Rev. 1:1 “what must happen very soon” Rev. 1:3 “the time is near” Rev. 1:19 “what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this.”

Note: characteristics of Christ seen in John’s vision v.12-18 will be further elaborated in context of letters to the churches – salutation of each letter refers back to this text.

self-identification vv.17b-18 (also v.11)

gracious – Fear not – John will not be consumed by his sight of the exalted Lord

creator and consummator – first and last, thoroughly God, sovereign over all things and time

living sacrifice – lives, was dead; it is because he lives that the rest of the book is relevant, makes sense

exalted one – alive forevermore, victorious over final enemy – death

conquering hero – have the keys (see Ps. 68:18; 1 Cor. 15:54-57; Eph. 4:8) and absolute sovereign authority. Regardless of temporal power and claim on authority, Christ is sovereign over them; they exercise power at His discretion whether they know it or not.

Notice that the Son of man is here pictured as clothed with power and majesty and with awe and terror. That long royal robe; that golden belt buckled at the breast; that hair so glistening white that like snow on which the sun is shining it hurts the eye; those eyes flashing fire, eyes which read every heart and penetrate every hidden corner; those feet glowing in order to trample down the wicked; that loud, reverberating voice, like the mighty breakers booming against the rocky shore of Patmos; that sharp, long, heavy great-sword with two biting edges; that entire appearance “as the sun shines in its power,” too intense for human eyes to stare at—the entire picture, taken as a whole, is symbolical of Christ, the Holy One, coming to purge His churches, and to punish those who are persecuting His elect. Hendricksen, New Testament Commentary

B. Where he is vv.13, 20

among the lampstands

identified as the churches

function is to hold up the light that it may illuminate their surroundings; light is Spirit-empowered proclaiming and living the Word of God. Significant that these are individual lampstands, not a menorah; church no longer limited to one nation

seven as the number of completion

representing the Church as a whole

throughout the entire present age; the “original” churches were contemporary with one another, so the churches they represent are also contemporary. The whole church as it exists at any given point in time is represented by the seven.

to consider them as representing successive manifestations of the church throughout the age (Ephesus – apostolic, Smyrna – post-apostolic, etc.) will not pass the test of historical evidence

C. What he is doing vv.16, 20-2:1

walking among the churches (2:1)

ongoing presence – Matt. 28:20

invisible yet really there – we don’t have to see to be assured that he keeps his promise; Christ is near, actually present in his church.

intimate oversight and tender care

promised not to leave orphans but would come to us (John 14:18)

promised the Father would send another Helper in answer to his prayer (John 14:16)

“oversees them, cares for them, values them, delights in them, takes a personal interest in their welfare. He supplies their need… He mourns over their sins—He is faithful to notice sin, and to warn against it—just as He is faithful to pardon it when confessed. He cheers them with the promise of victory and recompense.” Horatius Bonar

coordinating and governing the building of his church – Matt. 16:18

death and Hades cannot prevail – HE HOLDS THE KEYS!

the one with the keys is the one with authority, power

wielding the sword of his word – see v.19

on behalf of his church

to build up the saints – John 17:17 “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” The guardian of the Church is about to dictate/reveal the final installment to John; this will make the sword a complete weapon.

to conquer his enemies – Eph. 6:17 “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”, the church’s only offensive weapon; effective because it is a spiritual defense against spiritual enemies.

powerful because – of it’s source and the One who oversees and directs its use; truth is the only thing that will overcome error. An image that reinforces doctrine that the Bible is the word of God, that it is powerful; association of this image with Revelation – clearly the word of the exalted Christ to his church – makes it even more important to read and understand.

holding in his right hand

the hand of

blessing – Gen 48:13-18 – blessed both Ephraim and Manasseh but primary blessing associated with right hand

power – Exodus 15:6, 12 – Moses’ song after deliverance from Pharaoh: “Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.”

strength – Psa 16:8; 18:35 – “Your right hand has held me up”

refuge – Psa 17:7 – “Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.”

deliverance – Psa 60:5 – “Save with Your right hand, and hear me.”

honor – Heb. 10:12 – “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.”

victory – Psa 118:15-16 “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly, the right hand of the LORD exalts, the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!”

authority – 1 Pet. 3:21-22 – “Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.”

his ministers

in the care of Christ – which extends to the local assembly of believers

ministering in his authority – have no authority beyond what is granted by Christ and delineated in Scripture; God by his word and Spirit can bind consciences, ministers (and other temporal authorities) cannot

are the agents he uses to wield his sword – to train others in its use (by precept and practice)

secure from all enemies when they trust in him – recognizing and acknowledging Christ as authority above all others

acting as Guardian of His Church

“Beloved as we read these words, we too have heard the testimony of John and we know that it is true. We have heard the testimony of the firstborn and faithful witness, Jesus Christ, that one who has loved us and freed us from our sins by his own blood, and it is true. While the gospels show us a humble Christ who must suffer and die to fulfill all righteousness, in the Book of Revelation, John reveals to us the Christ who is “the Alpha and the Omega,’ `who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

This is the Christ with whom we have to do. He is the Lord of his church who holds the seven stars in his hand, who walks among the lampstands, and who holds in his hand the keys to death and hell. Therefore, let us humble ourselves before the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the Almighty, who is alive forever more. Let us ascribe to him all praise and glory and honor and power as we bow before him in humble faith and adoration.” Riddlebarger

 

 

The Sovereign Builder

Revelation 1:9-2:1

The message: an uncovering of the things which would occur soon v.1

The source: God (the Father) by way of the exalted Christ v.1

The messenger: an angel sent from Jesus Christ v.1

The recipient: John, the apostle v. 1
the one who had given witness of the Logos of God v. 2; see also
1 John 1:1-3 and John 1:1, 14
the representative of the churches v.9

The beneficiaries: the church at large v.4, 11
not solely for John’s benefit

The experience: worship and adoration vv.5b-8

The day: Sunday, the Lord’s Day v.10

The medium: a prophetic vision vv.10 & 12

The commission: write what you see (the revelation, the message) in a book v.11, 19

 

A. John’s worship experience:

1. heard v.10

loud voice

like a trumpet

speaking with authority, so as to command attention

see Dan. 10:6; John 10:27-30

2. turned v.12a

responded physically and intellectually

actively “engaged” in worship

3. saw v.12b

lampstands

a majestic figure

4. fell v.17a

completely overwhelmed and overcome by the majesty of the figure

overpowered by his greatness, his glorious holiness

same response as Isaiah (Isa 6:5), Ezekiel (Eze 1:28), and Daniel (Dan 10:15)

B. The One encountered

1. Who he is

seen vv. 13-16

a glorious figure

compare: Dan. 7:9, 10:4-6

One of these men had a belt of fine gold, the other a golden sash around his chest. One had a face like the appearance of lightning, the other like the sun shining in full strength. One had eyes like flaming torches, the other like a flame of fire. One had arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, the other feet like burnished bronze. One had the voice like the sound of a multitude, the other like the roar of many waters. If we make allowance for the cultural differences present between the Babylonian exile and Patmos exile as well as the individuality of the authors and that John was very possibly quoting from memory, they almost certainly were confronted by the same Person. There’s A War Going On

Everything about the appearance of this individual conveys glory, majesty, power and authority.

self-identified vv.17b-18

gracious – Fear not

creator and consummator – first and last

living sacrifice – lives, was dead

exalted one – alive forevermore

conquering hero – have the keys (see Ps. 68:18; 1 Cor. 15:54-57; Eph. 4:8) and absolute sovereign

Notice that the Son of man is here pictured as clothed with power and majesty and with awe and terror. That long royal robe; that golden belt buckled at the breast; that hair so glistening white that like snow on which the sun is shining it hurts the eye; those eyes flashing fire, eyes which read every heart and penetrate every hidden corner; those feet glowing in order to trample down the wicked; that loud, reverberating voice, like the mighty breakers booming against the rocky shore of Patmos; that sharp, long, heavy great-sword with two biting edges; that entire appearance “as the sun shines in its power,” too intense for human eyes to stare at—the entire picture, taken as a whole, is symbolical of Christ, the Holy One, coming to purge His churches, and to punish those who are persecuting His elect. Hendricksen, New Testament Commentary

2. Where he is vv.13, 20

among the lampstands

identified as the churches

seven as the number of completion

representing the Church as a whole

3. What he is doing vv.16, 20-2:1

walking among the churches (2:1)

ongoing presence – Matt. 28:20

intimate oversight and tender care

coordinating and governing the building of his church – Matt. 16:18

death and Hades cannot prevail – HE HOLDS THE KEYS!

wielding the sword of his word – see v.19

on behalf of his church

to build up the saints

to conquer his enemies

holding in his right hand

the hand of

blessing – Gen 48:13-18

power – Exodus 15:6, 12

strength – Psa 16:8; 18:35

refuge – Psa 17:17

deliverance – Psa 60:5

honor – Psa 110:5

victory – Psa 118:15-16

authority – 1 Pet. 3:21-22

his ministers

in the care of Christ

ministering in his authority

are the agents he uses to wield his sword

secure from all enemies when they trust in him

C. Reader response v.3 (see also Rev. 22:14)

1. Read aloud

2. Hear

3. Keep

be faithful in obedience

4. Receive the blessing

a good gift from God

the first gift – an absolutely awesome and overwhelming vision of how Christ is caring for his church

confidence of God’s sovereignty over all things – v.8, 17

assurance of his personal care – vv.16-17, 20

certainty that Christ has done/will do all necessary for our perseverance – 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7

Just as he was during John’s day, Christ continues to build up his church into its final and complete form.

“This is for special consolation in evil times, that Christ hath such a care of His Ministers and Churches: let the Devil pluck again and again to have a Ministry down, sometimes by force, sometimes by flight, it will not be, they are stars, and in Christ’s hand: sooner will Stars be plucked from heaven, than they from Him.” James Durham, Commentary on Revelation

 

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