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Christ’s Letters to the Church (Part 3)

Many people have been mesmerized by the wonderful sights they have seen around the world. I recall seeing the Grand Canyon in Arizona documentary on an IMAX screen in 1994. In 2004 we went into the Al-Hajar Mountains in northeastern Oman and Fujairah, UAE. Coming from Cape Town, Table Mountain’s view from the top is breathtaking as are the views of the De Doorn’s Vineyards, the Drakensberg Mountain Range and many other such sites throughout the world. Breathtaking, amazing, beautiful, wonderful are some of the words used to describe these places, what they look like and the views they provide. Perhaps one of the greatest sighting was when the Apollo 11 mission took three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon and back. On July 16, 1969, the day of the launch, the Apollo 11 crew became some of the first people to look down at Earth from space. Aldrin called it “a brilliant jewel in the black velvet sky.” But note …. These sights were all sights of Creation. We now come to the apostle John seeing the Creator. The effects of us seeing parts of creation that are breathing cannot compare to what John had just seen in the verses we considered yesterday.

2) The effect of seeing the LORD.

Rev 1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. God is so holy, righteous and set apart from all that is sinful

Ex 33:20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

John’s response was both “fright” as in being overwhelmed and reverence. He was a Jew and all the imagery discussed yesterday applied to the Old Testament’s teaching about God. The sight was unbearable … and this was vision! If it were not, John would have fried into nonexistence. Right here we find a real lesson … we ought not to believe anyone who says they have seen Jesus, the Lord or God … or for that matter have been to heaven and returned with a message or story. We are so depraved from birth and even once the Spirit births us into God’s forever family, we remain sinful. We have not yet been purified in practice, although positionally we have been. This is why, like John we would never be able to see the Lord and live. We too would fall in reverent fear and worship before His feet. In heaven, after we have left this flesh it will be different, but on this side of eternity we would be like John.

3) The soothing hand and words of the LORD.

Rev 1:17b 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 behold I am alive for ever and ever!

And I hold the keys of death and Hades. The touch and not dying could have been sufficient but there were things to be said.

(1) There is something unique about the risen LORD saying “Do not be afraid.” When God approached Abram He said

Ge 15:1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.

This was in the context of God and Abram “negotiating” a people descending from Abram. A people that would grow into a great nation that would eventually be headed by the Greater Abraham and be known as the Kingdom of God. To John, “Do not be afraid” had to do with the Kingdom needing a message from its King. This is why the Lord Jesus needs to comfort John and put him at ease to be able to speak about the Kingdom, its challenges, hardships, end of the world and its future. To do this the LORD needs to confirm exactly whom He is.

(2) Jesus states that He is the eternal God … I am the First and the Last. I hope this excites you. Jesus is God. Here is another reminder that Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity.

Heb 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

(3) Jesus states that He is Saviour. I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever. Not only is He the creator God, He is the Saviour God. He came to this earth to die and pay the penalty for sin. The proof of the success of His work is that He rose from the dead and is eternally alive. Mission accomplished! This again is a huge reminder that the only way into God’s heart and family is through faith in Jesus’ salvific work at Calvary. The tomb is empty. His has risen! He is seated in Glory. Just think of it, sin has been dealt with. Jesus did it. Salvation is received by grace through faith.

(4) Jesus has all the power. He is omnipotent. And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Jesus is the Judge. The rebellious and rejecters of the Gospel will be banished to eternal damnation … here pictured as death and Hades … meaning eternal hell and damnation. Jesus alone has the keys to open hell’s doors to banish the enemy there forever by keeping it locked. He is the key holder and will never allow the wicked to exit hell, because hell is a forever place. Who would not fall down prostrate before the One John felt and saw? Beloved, you need to have a high view of God because He is the only God. You need to have a high view of salvation. God gave His all to bring about the greatest miracle of all … taking a dead soul and bringing it to life through the New Birth in Jesus. You ought always to consider God through the pages of Scripture with reverence, adoration, fear and extreme thanksgiving.

4) The instruction of the LORD.

Rev 1:19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

John needs to be Jesus’ scribe and pen whatever He wants recorded to be passed onto His Church in the future. The content will cover what John sees in the vision and when he walked with the LORD on earth … what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. That is the past, present and future. If you have read the Book of Revelation you will see it covers a long period of time … from the incarnation until post judgment day with God’s people in glory and the damned in hell. In verse 20 we understand what the Lampstands (candlesticks) are. They are the Churches in chapters 2-3 … but who are the angels of these Churches? They are not heavenly beings! The word here refers to the pastors, those who care for the Church, pastor the Church and speak God’s Word to the Church. You will notice in chapters 2-3 that each letter is written to the “angel” of the Church … the pastor of the Church. We are now ready to launch into the messages to the Churches. Never forget that these letters are all about the gospel and its impact upon the Church.

Lord, You are the Saviour, Lord and King of Your Church. Amen.

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