Lost sense of majesty of God. Sing the song: “Majesty, worship his majesty; Unto Jesus be all glory, honor, and praise”. Often don’t really feel it, at least after song is over. Search for feeling of being awed by presence and majesty of God one reason some leave what passes for evangelical churches these days, head over to Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic. To some degree, sense of awe can be encouraged by the space (cathedral) and ceremony (liturgy). Isaiah, Daniel, John not worshiping in cathedral somewhere when they were completely overwhelmed by God.
We don’t need to try mimicking any of these settings to have understanding and experience of God’s majesty. Should do our best with help of God’s Word and Spirit to grasp what God has revealed through Isaiah, Daniel, John to us. The God they saw and heard and experienced the same God we worship. Is one image of God we can legitimately have: the Lord Jesus.
Col. 1:15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Heb. 1:3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power
John saw “One like the Son of Man” among the lampstands – may Sovereign Lord give us clear view of risen Savior’s glory and majesty.
John had similar experience to others preceding him:
Isaiah (6) – saw Lord on throne… Holy, holy, holy… woe is me, I am undone… seraphim, coal, iniquity taken away… Go tell…
Ezekiel (1,2) – saw living creatures and throne chariot… fell on his face… voice “stand up and I will speak”… “I am sending you”
Daniel (10) – saw man… no strength remained… hand touched, said “stand up, do not fear”… then “I will tell you what is written”
Puts John in good company – his message that follows just as valid as that of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Many connections between Revelation and Old Testament, ones between Revelation and Daniel especially numerous. Like OT prophets, John had vision, responded to it in similar way, he was encouraged, then further revelation followed.
A. vision v.12-16
“turned to see the voice” – rather awkward way of speaking, eh?
would expect: “turned to see whose voice” NET; number of ways original Greek departs from “proper” grammar – used as evidence author not John or different John
number of reasons not to worry: not same kind of literature; some translations Hebrew -> Greek; circumstances of writing
not sitting in comfortable study, organ music, unlimited writing supplies, tons of time to reminisce / outline / write
recorded as he heard and saw… and was greatly moved by what he heard/saw – put yourself in John’s place, experiencing first-hand, see how coherently you write!
heard behind him a loud voice – v.10 – did he recognize it? a voice he knew… but not quite right? familiar but..
important note: response to hearing voice – turn and see; Jesus identifying himself to his own people does not cause fear
individual lampstands, not a menorah – both a connection and a distinction
connection here with lampstand constructed for Tabernacle – holding up the light that illuminated area outside Holy of Holies
only one sanctioned place of worship – Tabernacle and later, Temple – light confined to that one place
pointed toward time Jesus spoke of – John 4:21 “the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain [Gerizim], nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.”
light would leave Holy Place and go out into the world, hence 7 lampstands instead of 7-branched menorah
separated but not disconnected
not attached together as the menorah, yet still connected to one another by virtue of proximity
within sight of one another – light shed from each overlaps light from neighbor; and… within sight/reach of One in the midst
one like the Son of Man
quick note: will consider impression of this One as complete picture now; individual elements come up again in seven letters
an overwhelming sight, vision of glorious Being presented in particular way to make a point – identified as Son of Man – read Dan. 7:13-14
“…because the Bible describes Jesus as Son of Man and Son of God, it is tempting to assume that Son of Man refers to Jesus’ humanity and Son of God refers to His deity. This, however, is not exactly the case. The importance of this title is drawn from its link to Daniel’s use of it in the Old Testament (see Daniel 7). Here Son of Man clearly refers to a heavenly being who functions in the role of cosmic Judge.” Sproul
John 5:26-27“For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,“and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.”
described like man of Daniel’s vision – read Dan. 10:5-6
Daniel was to seal up the book, time not yet; time has now come, by death, resurrection and ascension Lord Jesus is fulfilling Daniel’s vision
pictured here as priest-King, ready for action, speaking with authority over church and world – no doubt whatever that this glorious One can and will accomplish whatever he purposes
B. response v.17a
fell at his feet – see Dan. 10:8 – sight of exalted and glorified Christ totally overwhelmed John, left him without strength
remember who this is: saw Jesus transfigured, sat next to him at supper
John wrote earlier: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”John 1:14
also, “Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper”John 21:20
think maybe John has slightly different perspective after Sunday vision? that sort of friendly intimacy not prominent now! — same Jesus, but different
was God clothed with humanity, deity hidden behind veil of his flesh; now humanity exalted, transformed, displaying divine glory in its fullness, still the God-Man
too often, when hear Phil. 2:10 “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” – means all his enemies
we’ll be standing next to Jesus doing a victory dance while unbelievers are humbled – maybe so, but… each of us will have our turn to be overwhelmed like John, bow the knee, submit fully and finally to his gracious loving authority
important: John was not at the movies, neither Daniel; what they experienced was for them the real deal
were not sitting in comfortable seat watching from distance, were fully involved in live action – difference between watching Gibson’s Passion and watching from foot of Cross
had Jesus literally appeared, dressed as described, with lampstands arranged in circle around him that John could have reached out and touched, would have been no more real to John’s senses
is reflected in how John responded to what he saw, questions he asked, way he wrote what he saw for our benefit
C. encouragement v.17b
laid his hand
a glorious Christ but not a distant Christ – reached down to John’s level and touched: purpose to strengthen, bless and encourage
right is hand of blessing – Jacob and Joseph’s sons; is hand of power, strength, authority; is place of honor – Jesus at right hand of Father, “angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him” 1 Pet. 3:22
cause for great encouragement to us: Lord Jesus does not overpower and overwhelm for sake of crushing or destroying us
does so to encourage our worship, adoration, submission and obedience; he stoops to our level so as to raise us up
didn’t say “do not worship”, or “do not be overpowered by God’s majesty” – was good and right response from John
no matter our present attitudes, ways of thinking, every true child of God will respond to his presence exactly same way
also true that Sovereign King of kings will respond to worship of every true child in same gentle and gracious way as to John
how many times did Jesus reassure his followers during his ministry: disciples in the boat; Mary in the Garden; two on Emmaus Road; 10 in upper room; then Doubting Thomas
“amidst the most awful manifestations of divine power, the simple assurance that our Redeemer is near us is enough to allay our fears, and diffuse calmness through the soul.” Barnes
aren’t you glad Jesus speaks peace and comfort! he uses his awesome power, not against us but against our mutual enemies
right question to ask, not if He is on our side, but are we on his side (e.g. Joshua) – He is commander-in-chief of heaven’s armies
all those on side of Lamb, Lion of Judah have nothing to fear from him; all those who oppose… their doom is sure
D. revelation v.17c
“I am… the first and last”
Jesus elaborates more in next verse… next week; that really only further confirms what he declares here: it is God speaking
whatever God says, you can count on as absolutely true and certain – if God says you have no need to fear, you don’t
more to follow! – remainder of letter, Lord Jesus reveals what we need to know in order to live faithfully and fearlessly
Are you self-denying cross-bearing Christ-follower? Do not be afraid! Do not fear to proclaim your identity, that of your Master, the Lord Jesus. Closing hymn first published in a pamphlet entitled Hymns for Times of Trouble and Persecution. Will sing all 4 verses in a moment, but 2 additional ones omitted from hymnal. One goes like this:
When devils engage, the billows arise, / And horribly rage, and threaten the skies: / Their fury shall never our steadfastness shock, / The weakest believer is built on a rock.
Trust you are indeed built on a rock, the rock Christ Jesus, and that you will faithfully and boldly your Master proclaim.