In Revelation 1:9-20, the Apostle John says this:
“I John, your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet saying, ‘What thou seest, write in a book and send it to the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamum, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.’
And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle. And his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, ‘Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. Write therefore the things which thou sawest, and the things which are, and the things which shall come to pass hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches.'”
In this passage, John shares the context, content, and consequences of his vision of the Lord Jesus Christ and the seven churches in the Roman province of Asia.
Verses 9-11 contain the context of this vision. John begins by describing himself as “John,” his audience’s brother in Christ and fellow partaker of the trouble and kingdom and perseverance which are included with being spiritually united to Jesus, and as having been on the island of Patmos, near the west coast of modern-day Turkey, because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. In verse 10, he adds that he was in the power of God the Spirit on the Lord’s day — the first day of the week, which was the day on which Jesus rose from the dead — and he heard behind him a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, which commanded him to write in a book what he saw, and to send it to the seven churches, which were in towns along a postal route, near the west coast of modern-day Turkey.
In verses 12-16, John gives the content of his vision of Christ and the seven churches. He begins by saying that, after he heard the loud trumpet-like voice commanding him to write about what he saw to the seven churches, he turned to see who was speaking to him. When he turned, he says, he saw seven golden lampstands, and in the middle of them he saw someone like the son of a man who was clothed in a robe reaching to His feet, and had a golden sash across His chest. The Greek word for “robe” in this passage was most often used in the most popular Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, to refer to the robe of the Israelite high priest. Therefore, here it denotes this Man’s role as High Priest. The golden sash was also worn by priests. As the High Priest, Jesus constantly serves as the Mediator between God and man, making intercession for the saints, and being the Advocate before the Father.
In verse 14, John goes on by saying that this One like a man had a head and hair that were white like white wool, and like snow, and that His eyes were like flames. The description of His face and hair being white as snow signifies His absolutely perfect purity and goodness, and the fact that His eyes are like flames reveals that He illuminates everything He looks at, and is ready to judge those whom He examines. Furthermore, John says, His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In the Old Testament, the altar of burnt offering was covered with bronze, and its tools were made of the same material, so again, the fact that His feet are like hot bronze show that He is serving as High Priest, and that this service brings Him where He walks. The fact that His voice was like the sound of many waters reveals the infinite power behind His words. John ends this section by saying that the One like a man held seven stars in His right hand, that He had a sharp two-edged sword coming out of His mouth, and that His face was like the sun shining as bright as it can. In John’s day, the right hand represented the hand of authority, denoting that the One like a man had authority over the stars. Also, the sharp two-edged sword represented the Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit, and sharper than any two-edged sword. This Man speaks the Word of God, and is able to kill people with it. The fact that His face was like the sun shining in its strength symbolizes His absolute separateness from all other humans, as well as His infinity and incomprehensibility, as humans cannot understand all that He is when they look at His face, just as they cannot look long enough directly at the sun to examine it without being blinded.
In verses 17-20, John shares the consequences of seeing this vision. He starts by saying that, when He saw Jesus, he fell at His feet like a dead man. In other words, he fainted. However, he goes on, Jesus placed His right hand on him, and commanded him to not be afraid. Why? Jesus then said that He was the first, or the beginning, and the last, or the end, the living One, that He was dead, that He was alive forevermore, and that He had the keys to death and hell. Therefore, He commanded John to write the things which he saw, the things which he was seeing at that moment, and the things which would take place after them. Finally, He said that the seven stars represented the angels, or messengers, of the seven churches, and that the seven lampstands represented the seven churches. What was the significance of stars in that day? They told people what time of the year it was, and could guide people on their journeys at night. In the same way, the messengers of the seven churches were to tell the churches what time it was, and to guide them on their journey through life. Why were the churches represented by lampstands? Because lampstands held up lights that revealed what the reality was. In the same way, the churches held up the light of God’s Word for people to see.
So, are you a partaker of the trouble and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus?
Are you living by the power of the Holy Spirit?
Are you afraid of Jesus when you think about what He’s doing right now, or do you believe that He is the first and the last, and the living One; and that He was dead, and that He is alive forevermore, and that He has the keys to death and hell?
Are you like a star that lets your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven, and do you help a local church hold up the light of the gospel and God’s Word so people may see?
Do you understand what it means that Jesus has the keys to death and hell? The Apostle Paul wrote about it this way:
“. . . I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
This is what the Apostle John said about the gospel in John 1:1-18:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me. For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
This is what Christ Himself said about the gospel:
“. . . God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:16-20
John the Baptist said this: “. . . he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on [stays directed toward] him.” – John 3:36
The Apostle Paul said this in Romans 2:4-16 and 1:18-32:
“. . . despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified; (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.”
“. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.”
Speaking of those that practice sin, the Apostle Paul uses this quote:
“. . . There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness . . .” – Romans 3:10-14
This is my appeal to you, as written by the Apostle Paul:
“. . . we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
This is how you become reconciled to God:
“. . . if thou shalt confess [acknowledge] with thy mouth Jesus as Lord [Greek: kurios, or Supreme in Authority], and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him [depend upon Him]: for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [who He is, what He has done, and what He can do] shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13