Jesus Christ: Preview of Judgment; Review of Rev. 1: 8 -.
One of the most dominating images of Jesus Christ in Revelation—there are several key images—is that of Jesus Christ as judge. That is what we see at the last part of the first chapter. The vision that John had while he was on the island of Patmos is a vision of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, but the way He is dressed, the vocabulary that is used to describe Him, His visage, is all that of a priest-judge. He is the priest-judge who is about to come to judge the world. As the priest-judge He is holding in His hand the seven stars which represent the church, and so it is emphasizing His role toward the church, not just as our savior but as a priest-judge, that he will evaluate us. Of course, we know that that comes at a judgement seat called the judgment seat of Christ, the evaluation judgment of church age believers. The judgment seat of Christ occurs during the seven-year Tribulation.
One of these images of Christ is expressed in Revelation 14:14-16, "I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one 'like a son of man' with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, 'Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.' So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested." The image is of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of Man bringing judgment upon the nations. That term "son of man" is also used in the vision of Revelation chapter one where Jesus sees one like the son of man. So what does that term mean? It is a term that goes back to Daniel chapter seven, for the Son of Man is the Messiah who comes at the end of history to destroy the kingdoms of man and to establish His kingdom over against those of the kingdom of man. This term, son of man, is one that is pregnant with significance from the Old Testament as well as Jesus' frequent reference to Himself as the Son of Man. Revelation 14:16 concludes by saying, "So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested," a very dynamic and powerful image of the Lord Jesus Christ bringing judgment upon the earth during the Tribulation as he brings all of history to its conclusion. So it is this idea of judgment, accountability and evaluation that dominates the book of Revelation.
Revelation 1:8, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God [God the Father], who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." "The Almighty" refers exclusively to God the Father in the book of Revelation. The King James Bible (Textus Receptus) has traditionally been taken as referring to an utterance by the Lord Jesus Christ, but He is not the one speaking here. Remember it was the Father who gave the revelation to the Lord Jesus Christ back in verse one. Luke 1:32, "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David." This is the only time the phrase "Lord God" is used outside of the book of Revelation, and who does it refer to? God the Father. Cf. Revelation 4:8; 11:17; 16:7.
Revelation 1:9, the occasion of this revelation to John in approximately AD 95. "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."
Revelation 1:10, "On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet." This doesn't mean he was walking by the Spirit, which is a phrase we have in Galatians 5:16. It is a different phrase indicated by the context, and the phrase is a phrase about being in a revelatory state of mind where God the Holy Spirit was revealing in the process of inspiration the Word of God. So it is not a kind of status that just anybody can get into, it was a state that was specifically related to the communication of revelation.
Revelation 1:11, the content of the message: "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.'" John is commanded to write. It is important to understand that God wants the truth in a way it can be communicated. God communicated truth to be understood. John is to write in a book, so it is going to be forever recorded so that people can understand God's Word. The churches are listed in a clockwise fashion.
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,' dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest." We know what the lampstands refer to because they are identified in the last verse. Each lampstand represents one of these congregations. The "son of man" phrase again pictures that son of man personage in Daniel chapter seven who is a political figure, a military figure, who comes and destroys the kingdom of man and establishes His own kingdom. So he is one who is going to come in judgment as he establishes His kingdom at the end of the age. Son of Man is a messianic title related to Jesus Christ's coming at the Second Advent. Cf. John 5:22. The garment that He is wearing is the garment of a priest, so that pictures Him as a priest and a judge. The golden band about the chest is something reminiscent of a messenger priest, someone of a high office. Cf. Daniel 10:5.
Revelation 1:14, "His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire." His head and hair being as white as wool represents Him as being purified. This is what happened at the cross. It is a picture of Him as the one with authority, one who has been purified. It is an indication in Scripture of maturity and experience. Cf. Daniel 10:6 where the Ancient of Days has hair that is white like wool. It indicates a position of wisdom and authority. Eyes like blazing fire indicates that they see everything. It is not only a picture of omniscience but of seeing and knowing with the purpose of judging and evaluating.
Revelation 1:15, "His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters." The sound is that of a roar that catches John's attention.
Revelation 1:16, "In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance." The seven candlesticks are distinct from the seven stars. The seven stars, we are told in verse 20, are going to refer to the angels or messengers related to the seven congregations. Angels always relate to the execution of divine judgment. The whole image that we have here in Revelation chapter one is of the Lord Jesus Christ as priest-judge who is holding these seven angels in His hand. It indicates His control and for the function of these angels to be consistent with the whole book it has something to do with carrying out judgment. The seven epistles in chapters two and three are evaluation statements, judgment statements with a warning and a promise at the end of each one that the one who overcomes will receive certain blessings. So it makes sense that they must be interpreted within this context of judgment and evaluation.
Revelation 1:17, "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.'" This isn't the Lord he associated with when He was incarnate on the planet, this is a powerful vision that almost knocks him dead.
Revelation 1:18, "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." A key indicates power and control. He is the jail keeper. He has the key to release those who are in jail, and He will judge them.
Revelation 1:19, the commission: ""Write, therefore, what you have seen [chapter one], what is now [the church age] and what will take place later [after the church has been raptured and evaluated]."
Revelation 1:20, the interpretation: "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." The Word of God always interprets itself.