Lesson 356:

Revelation 1:1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.

The book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John around AD 95, while he was exiled to the small rocky island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9). The church was going through a time of persecution, and John wrote to encourage his readers to persevere in the faith. Much of the book concerns the future, but its apocalyptic style makes it difficult to understand. It is clear, however, that the gospel will be violently opposed, and that evil will be crushed when Jesus Christ returns. 

Revelation 1:7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him

God is identified with clouds throughout the Old Testament. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud (Exodus 13:21). [D]ark clouds were under his feet (2 Samuel 22:10). And, The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud (2 Chronicles 6:1). 

Likewise, Jesus is identified with clouds throughout the New Testament. At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory (Mark 13:26), said Jesus. And, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight (Acts 1:9), wrote Luke. And, [we will] be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17), wrote Paul.

Shortly after believing in Jesus Christ, I was having lunch in the university cafeteria. I was looking out the window at cloud formations, thinking that Christ could return at any moment. The distant look in my eyes must have been obvious, because a friend sat down and asked if I was expecting someone. I still am. 

Revelation 1:12-13 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man

John’s vision of Christ is different than anything found in the gospels. Throughout most of his earthly life, Jesus seemed as ordinary as anyone else. He was so ordinary, in fact, that even his own brothers did not believe in him (John 7:5 ). 

One notable exception was on the Mount of Transfiguration, where His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light (Matthew 17:2). This was brief, however, and was only witnessed by a few. Even after Jesus rose from the dead, he appears to be so ordinary that some doubted (Matthew 28:17). 

But while John was on Patmos, he had a vision of Christ in his glory. He was dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest (Revelation 1:13b). This is very interesting because Jesus died naked. Crucifixion was designed to be cruel and unusual punishment, and humiliation was an important part of it. 

But here we see Jesus in the clothing of a high priest (Exodus 29:5), whose job was to offer sacrifices for God’s people. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest would bring the animal’s blood into the temple as an offering. Jesus did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12), says Hebrews. Our great high priest was also the perfect sacrifice.

Revelation 1:14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow. 

This may speak of the wisdom of Christ obtained through many years. Jesus was just a young man when he died, but he is eternal in both directions. Abraham lived two thousand years earlier, but Jesus said, before Abraham was born, I am! (John 7:58). And because he is eternal, Jesus can give eternal life to all who believe in him.

During an interview, a successful lady was asked if she had any regrets. Just one, she said. Life is too short. Even if you are successful, there are only so many grains of sand in the hour glass. And when the last one falls, it’s over. But for those who believe in Jesus Christ, it is never over. If we had everything we ever wanted, and a thousand years to live, it would not be enough. But a thousand years from now we will just be getting started.

Revelation 1:14b [A]nd his eyes were like blazing fire

Jesus is gentle and humble in heart (Matthew 11:29), but the fire in his eyes reveals a holy wrath against all that is evil. When the merchants of religion were turning a profit in the temple courts, Jesus made a whip out of cords and drove them out (John 2:13-17). But that was only child’s play compared to what he will do when he returns. 

Revelation 1:15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace. 

The same feet that walked on water, and that were nailed to a cross, will utterly crush his opponents. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:25), wrote Paul. The Apostle John took one look at those feet of bronze, and fell on his face as though dead (Revelation 1:17). Never provoke a man with feet of bronze.

Revelation 1:15b [A]nd his voice was like the sound of rushing waters

The water’s roar at Niagara Falls is so loud that it is hard to hear anything else. And the voice of Jesus Christ is so powerful that it will drown out every competing voice. The Buddha will be silent before him. Confucius will be silent before him. Muhammad will be silent before him. Everyone who ever presumed to speak for God will be silent before Jesus Christ. His voice is like the sound of rushing waters.

Revelation 1:16 His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance

Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), and will appear as such in the age to come. His glory will surpass every other glory by far. But he will also share his glory with us. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:43), he said. 

There is a building in California with a stainless steel exterior that reflects the sun so powerfully it can be hard to look at. Some of the neighbors have even complained that it raises the temperature in their homes by as much as fifteen degrees. In the age to come, we will be amazed by the glory of Jesus Christ, and also by the glory of each other. We will share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:14), wrote Paul.

Reflection and Review
How is the book of Revelation unique?
How would this vision encourage persecuted believers?
What is your favorite part of this vision?