Day 41: Revelation 1:9-18
9 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. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit,and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 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.”
12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword.His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
Imagine that you are in prison for being a Christian and you find out that your captors intend to hurt fellow Christians whom you love. The only communication with the outside world that you are allowed is by mail. You desperately want to send your loved ones a letter and warn them that they are in grave danger, but, the problem is, your captors read all the mail. What would you do?
This is exactly the situation that John found himself in while he was imprisoned by the Romans on the island of Patmos. He receives a word from the Holy Spirit that Christians are about to be heavily persecuted by Rome. He wants to warn those believers and encourage them to remain strong in their faith, but he has to figure out how to do this without raising the suspicion of the guards or his letter will never get out. He comes up with a brilliant solution. He writes a letter so full of symbolism and metaphor that only believers would understand what the images meant. So instead of saying “Jesus” he says “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!”
As followers of the risen Christ, the believers would have immediately known who John was talking about. His message to them is about what Jesus has to say to the churches in the area that are about to face heavy persecution. The message that is repeated over and over throughout the whole book is not that believers will escape persecution or suffering. Instead it goes something like this: “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer... be faithful even to the point of death!” It is a message of encouragement to those he loves who are about to be persecuted, but it is hidden within symbolism and metaphor. How exciting that the story ends with such hopeful encouragement even in the face of certain death!
Justin Lewis | Facilities Director/YAMs Pastor, Lima Community Church