The Curtain Is Opened
Revelation opens the curtain and lets us see what is and what will be.
Revelation lets us look into eternity.
In this first chapter we see Jesus ruling in power and glory;
We see Jesus as He really is now.
Revelation means an "unveiling".
Unveiled is the work of Jesus Christ in His church.
In verses 1 thru 8 the curtain is opened that separates the visible realm of this earth
from the invisible realm of heaven.
John is writing to the the seven churches in Asia.
He is writing to them as a brother and companion in tribulation.
The word used here for tribulation is a word which pictures the grinding of wheat in the mill,
and of the crushing of grapes in the wine press.
It is outside pressure which appears at first to crush and ruin,
but then it proves to make the grain (as flour) and the grapes (as wine) to be of greater service.
So it was for John and his friends.
The persecution which appeared to be crushing them was in reality preparing them for greater service.
This unveiling to the apostle John on the island of Patmos is to show us Jesus as the Lord of the church.
He is God!
The day is Sunday and John is worshiping God.
John was "in the spirit."
He was in the midst of great trouble and tribulation, but he was in communion with God's Spirit
and under His power and direction.
And as He was worshiping God, he heard a voice like the sound of a trumpet addressing him.
The note of triumph is sounded even before John identifies the speaker.
"I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom
and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos
because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and 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 Laodecia.' " (Rev. 1:9-11)
John has lost contact with time and is transported into the invisible world of spiritual reality.
Paul experienced something like this when he writes:
"I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained,
I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven.
Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know-God knows.
And I know that this man-whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows."
(2 Cor. 12:1-4)
Paul was caught up in paradise.
He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.
For John the curtain that divides temporal from spiritual is opened.
John hears a voice, commanding him to write down what he is about to see, and afterwards,
send it to seven different churches in Asia Minor -- Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira,
Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodecia.
In verse 12 John said:
"I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me.
And when I turned I saw seven golden lamp stands."
John turns around and to see who is speaking to him.
He turned to see that the speaker was the living Christ.
He had last seen Jesus sixty years ago when he ascended from the Mount of Olives.
The Lord had appeared at many other times in John's experience.
He appeared in the upper room on the evening of the resurrection.
When the disciples returned empty-handed from a night of fishing, Jesus appeared on the shore
with cooked fish and bread to teach them that he could still provide for His followers as when
He multiplied fish and bread for their need.
Now as John is facing tragic tribulation, Jesus appears with a message of hope.
This time He is different in appearance.
John sees the transcendent and triumphant Christ.
He was clothed with a long flowing garment and a golden girdle, which was the clothing of a priest and a king.
His hair was "white as white wool..white as snow."
This symbolized His holiness.
His eyes were as piercing as "flame of fire."
This symbolized His penetrating vision of omniscience.
His feet were like "refined brass."
This symbolized His strength.
Brass was the strongest known metal in John's day.
His voice was the "voice of many waters."
This symbolized His authority over peoples and nations.
His face had the "brilliance of the sun shining in full strength," like at noonday.
This symbolized His majesty.
In His strong hand He held "seven stars," which symbolized
the destiny of the churches as it lay in the pastors.
Out of His mouth went a "sharp two-edged sword,"
which symbolized His keen and accurate judgment upon the deeds of men.
He stood in the midst of "seven golden candlesticks," which symbolized the churches.
Here is the meaning of the vision.
A living,holy, majestic, omniscient, authoritative, all-powerful Christ stands in the midst
of the churches and holds their destiny in His hand.
He is saying, "Stop being afraid. I was dead. I am alive forever.
I hold in my hands the keys to death and the grave.
You should not dear to go to any place to which I hold the key.
You may be persecuted to death but I am still your King."
They could stop being afraid because Christ is alive and He is in control of the entire situation.
The glorified, triumphant Christ dominates the movement of the entire book of Revelation.
There is no doubt as to the outcome of the struggle between good and evil.
Christ, the redeeming Lamb is the victor.
This is the headline of the story of the struggle.
We know the outcome, even though there are times when it seems that evil seems to have the advantage.
So, as you see all the evil that is happening today -- remember!
The Lord is here!
He knows your troubles, and He will care for you!
God and is alive and at work in His church.
Look at the verse 17:
"When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead."
John saw the Savior, his friend, his teacher, the risen Messiah.... in a whole different light.
John saw God, and he fell down in awe and couldn't move.
But then Jesus pulls back the curtain even more, and unveils another view of Himself, to John...
"Then he placed his right hand on me and said:
'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.
I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!
And I hold the keys of death and Hades.' " (Rev. 1:17a-18)
The Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 and John 10 reached down to John,
His beloved friend and faithful disciple, who had never seen Jesus in His full power and glory.
And at that point, Jesus offered him this comfort: "Don't be afraid."
John recognized those words.
They were the same words Jesus spoke to the disciples when He walked on the water to them,
in the midst of that terrible storm on the Sea of Galilee.
Their boat was almost sinking, and Jesus said, "Don't be afraid."
John didn't have to be afraid of the risen Christ.
He was still the same Jesus, that John personally knew 60 years earlier.
Jesus also reassures us.