This sermon is from our expositional study of The Book Of Revelation and was preached at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Cherry Log, Georgia on Sunday, March 30, 2014 by Pastor Paul Mims. You can hear this sermon at www.csbccl.org
Revelation 1:9-17Eleven years ago, Pastor Tom Doyle felt God calling him to leave his pastorate and become a missionary in the Middle East and Central Asia. He has made over eighty trips to places like Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey. He has met and recorded the stories of former Muslims who were first introduced to Jesus through either a vision or a dream. These countries are the most dangerous places on earth to be a Christian. However, Tom indicates that more Muslims have become believers in Christ in the last ten years through these unexplained and supernatural occurrences than in the last fifteen centuries of Islam. He has written some of their stories in a book entitled MORE THAN DREAMS.
Listen to one of the stories: Several years ago, Ali took the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca known as the Hajj. “Of course when I went to Mecca I was going there in order to pay homage to the Kabba and to fulfill the requirements in Islam. That night I saw Jesus in a dream. First, Jesus touched my forehead with his finger. And after touching me, He said, ‘You belong to me.’ And then He touched me above my heart and said, ‘You have been saved, follow me. You belong to me.’ I decided I’m not going to finish the Hajj, the pilgrimage. Whatever it takes, I’m going to follow that voice.’”
Pastor Doyle says, “We’re seeing that all around. We are hearing about people that have never thought about Jesus as savior. They are content Muslims and they are having dreams over and over.” It seems as though our Lord is taking the initiative to gather for Himself a following among the Islamic countries. He took the initiative with the Apostle John to give the last word of God to the churches and to the world. Jerome, an early church father and historian said that John was banished to the Isle of Patmos in the fourteenth year after Nero and was set free to return to Ephesus when Domitian died. This would indicate that his banishment took place in A.D. 94 and was freed in A.D. 96. The Romans used banishment to get rid of criminals. The Christians were especially targeted because they were devoted to Christ whose teaching went counter to their culture.
John says that he is the brother and companion of those who are suffering for their faith in Christ. And Jesus comes to him on the Lord’s Day when he longs to be with his congregation back in Ephesus as they worship. Look at how John describes the event.
I. “I HEARD”
“I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet which said: ‘Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.’” (vv.10-11)
Have you ever heard the voice of God? I have met a few people across the years that say they heard God speak in an audible voice to them. I would love to have that experience. But for most of us our Lord Jesus communicates with us through His Holy Spirit. He is likely speaking to you right now in this manner.
John, whose mind is so saturated with the Old Testament knew that God spoke to Moses with what sounded like a loud trumpet blast. In Exodus 19:16 the scene at Sinai is described. “On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast.”
We have to be in the right frame of mind to hear from God. John said, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” It is my prayer that when you come to worship here that you will hear from God and not just from the preacher for He wants to be involved as deeply in your life as you will allow Him.
II. I TURNED AND I SAW (vv.12-16)
John saw “Seven golden lampstands.” His mind probably went instantly to the lampstands that were in the Holy Place to give light in the Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, and the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. And in the midst of the seven golden lampstands was someone “like a son of man.” He would understand the lampstands to represent the churches and the son of man to represent Christ. Daniel had used the statement “son of man.” In Daniel 7:13 we read, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man.” Jesus used that term of himself in Luke 18:8; “I tell you…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
John describes so beautifully the glory of the living Christ. Let’s study his description.
The robe – Christ was dressed in a robe. The Greek word he uses is “poderes” which means reaching down to his feet. This word was used in the Greek Old Testament to describe the robe of the High Priest in Exodus 28:4-5; “These are the garments they are to make: a breast-piece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban, and a sash…Have them to use gold, and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen.” So John sees Jesus as our Great High Priest.
The golden sash around his chest is what the King of Israel wore. In I Samuel 24:11 David said to King Saul, “…look at this piece of your robe in my hand. I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you.” John is describing Jesus as the true King of Israel.
The fine linen was the dress of the messenger of God. Again, this is a picture from Daniel in 10:5. “I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen…” Jesus is portrayed as the messenger of the Father to give this message to the churches and to the world.
John continues to describe what he saw in person of the glorified Christ.
“His Head and His hair were like wool as white as snow.” This indicates great age and speaks of his purity and his eternal pre-existence.
“His eyes were like blazing fire.” Would you have loved to look into the eyes of Jesus as his disciples did? He conveyed so much love and compassion but he also conveyed hurt as he did to Peter in Luke 22:61; “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.” This was after Peter had denied him three times. We can sense his eyes as a blazing fire looking upon us at times to purify us and draw us to himself.
“His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace.” Daniel saw the same vision and said, “…his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze…” This is interpreted to mean strength to help those in need.
“His voice was like the sound of rushing waters.” Ezekiel saw a vision of the glory of God and said, “His voice was like the roar of rushing waters.” John had seen and heard the sea roaring in the storms and the gentle lapping of the waves against the shore. God’s voice can be strong and powerful or gentle and quiet. When we are convicted of sin we hear the powerful voice. When we are ministered to by his tenderness we hear his still small voice.
“In his right hand he held seven stars.” These stars are the angels of the seven churches. His hands still bear the print of the nails and he lets his churches know that he has suffered as they are suffering and now is in full control of their destiny.
“Out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword.” This speaks of the penetrating power of the word of God. Isaiah 11:4 describes God as “striking the earth with the rod of his mouth.” And in 49:2; “He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me.” Hebrews 4:12 teaches us – “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
“His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” John likely remembered the experience that he had as a young disciple when Jesus took him along with Peter and James up to the mount and was transfigured before them. Matthew records it in 17:2-3; “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.”
III. I FELL AT HIS FEET
Have you had the experience of just having to get on your knees before the Lord. In the presence of his holiness something within you just had to bow before him. There is an experience that is recorded in Luke 5:1-11 of Peter when Jesus called him from his fishing boat to serve him. When Peter saw Jesus for who he really is the scripture says, “When Simon Peter saw this (the great catch of fish), he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me Lord; I am a sinful man!” Also the prophet Ezekiel saw the glory of God and said; “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” (Ezekiel 1:28)
John was overwhelmed that Jesus would appear to him. He had been privileged to walk with him for three years, see him crucified, resurrected, and ascended. Now, he was privileged to see him after he went to heaven and he was now announcing his return. This was such an overwhelming moment that John likely fainted just as you would if someone you knew who was in heaven appeared to you. John said that he was as “dead.”
Then John said, “He placed his hand on me and said, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last.”
We can feel the gentle touch of our Lord in our souls at crucial times in our lives. The gospel song “He Touched Me” makes us understand a little of what John knew. “He touched me and O the Joy that floods my soul. He touched me and made me whole.”
Jesus spoke to John and said, “Do not be afraid.” Have you had the Lord to minister to you with these words when you were afraid? This vision was enough to make anybody afraid. Then he said, “I am the first and the last.” This saying is also used of the Father and Jesus uses it to indicate his Deity in eternity with the Father.
John wrote in his Gospel in 1:14; “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” That was before this vision on Patmos. Now he could see Christ more clearly than he ever saw him in person or even in the Transfiguration. As we grow in our faith and progress through life our vision of The Glorified Christ comes more into focus. We do now see through a glass darkly but the time is coming when we shall see him face to face.
It was unlikely that Carrie Breck would ever be a hymn writer. She could not carry a tune and had no sense of pitch. But she loved to write poetry and she wrote over two thousand poems. One of them was “Face to Face with Christ my Savior.” When she finished the poem, she sent it to Grant Tullar who had just written a tune for another song but was unhappy with it. Then the mail came back with Carrie Breck’s poem that had fit perfectly to the tune that he had written the night before her poem arrived. We love the thoughts in the poem and the tune as well.
Face to face with Christ, my savior, face to face – what will it be?
When with rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ who died for me!
Only faintly now I see Him, with the darkling veil between,
But a blessed day is coming, when His glory shall be seen.
What rejoicing in His presence, when are banished grief and pain,
When the crooked ways are straightened and the dark things shall be plain.
Face to face – O blissful moment! Face to face to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer, Jesus Christ who loves me so.
Face to face I shall behold Him, far beyond the starry sky:
Face to face in all His glory, I shall see Him by and by!
PRAISE BE TO HIS NAME!