THE HIGH PRIEST

Rev.1:13 – and among the lampstands was one like the Son of Man, dressed in a robe and with a golden sash wrapped around his chest.

It is hard for many Christians to really imagine the present day ministry of Jesus. He is really a man, flesh and bones, seated in heaven as our Heavenly High Priest. The Apostle John had a rare encounter with Jesus on the Island of Patmos where he was in exile because of his preaching of the word of God. He was praying in the Spirit on a Sunday when suddenly Jesus Himself was standing on the beach in front of Him. He was quite different in appearance from the last time John had seen Him at His ascension in Israel. He had eyes like lightning, a face like the blazing sun, a voice like a trumpet blast, and a two edged sword coming out of His mouth. John saw Him as He is now. His dress spoke of His current heavenly ministry as our High Priest. Gordon Fee shares about John seeing Jesus as our Heavenly Priest.

“The figure, John says, was like a son of man, which all of his readers will know from the Gospel narratives is the title Jesus used of himself. But it does not appear here in titular form; rather it is expressed in the precise language of Daniel 7:13, where the mysterious figure (from the perspective of the readers of the OT) who stood before Daniel was described as “one like a son of man.” For Daniel this would have meant simply “a human figure,” almost certainly intended to describe Israel’s hoped-for Messiah. But at “the same time, and thus creating a unique collage of images, John describes his array as that of Israel’s chief priests: he was dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his waist. In so doing, John is deliberately borrowing language from the Septuagint, where it is used exclusively for the full-length tunic of the high priest; thus his readers would readily understand that Jesus, the “son of man,” is also being presented as the great high priest.”

This amazing encounter was preparing John for an unveiling of the future of man and our planet. All revelation flows from Jesus. The words that John was about to write would impact the world for the next 2000 years.

FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD

Rev.1:5 – and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood —

John saw a resurrected man on the beach of the Isle of Patmos. Jesus was not a vision or a spirit, He came to John bodily and physically. That in itself has huge implications. First, the Creator, God Himself, was standing in front of John as a human. God became a man for all time. He died for us and is ministering as a priest for us before the Father in heaven. Here, Jesus is saying that He was the first man to raise permanently from the dead. Several others had been raised from the dead throughout history only to die again and go back into the grave. Jesus was raised in a new incorruptible body. He was the first of an entire race who will experience this. His body is an eternal, immortal body. Someday I too will have one. Here is how Adam Clarke describes this.

“The beginning, the first-born from the dead. In 1 Corinthians xv. 20, Christ is called the first-fruits of them that slept; and here, the chief and first-born from the dead; he being the first that ever resumed the natural life, with the employment of all its functions, never more to enter the empire of death, after having died a natural death, and in such circumstances as precluded the possibility of deception. The arch, chief, head, or first, answers in this verse to the first-fruits, Jesus Christ is not only the first who rose from the dead to die no more, but he is the first-fruits of human beings; for as surely as the first-fruits were an indication and pledge of the harvest, so surely was the resurrection of Christ the proof that all mankind should have a resurrection from the dead.”

For John this could be personal. John was in exile and all of the other apostles had been martyred (or would be shortly). Jesus was telling him, as well as us, that the final and greatest enemy, death itself, had been totally defeated by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the book of Revelation unfolds we see the final scene of the great plan of God. The dead will be raised, we will be given new bodies like His, we will be comforted by Christ, and will rule with Him for eternity.

VOICE OF A TRUMPET

Rev.1:10,11 – I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega…

John just couldn’t find words to describe the voice he heard that day on the isle of Patmos. One moment he said it had the sound of many waters, images of Niagara Falls and roaring ocean waves come into our mind. Next, John said the voice of the Lord had the sound of a trumpet blast. The trumpet was associated with a call to battle, festival days, or even a call to assemble. The Lord’s voice is calling John, as well as us, to prepare ourselves for the coming kingdom. His voice is calling us to Himself, to join together with His people, to fight in His kingdom, and to prepare ourselves for His return. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on this verse of scripture.

“Hearken, you poor discouraged souls, you that are ready to say that you are cast out of God’s sight: yet let the joyful sound of this trumpet awaken your attention and encourage your heart to look towards God’s holy temple. Look up, see the door that is opened in heaven, the door of mercy and of hope. See the pleasant light that shines forth from that door. ‘Tis the light of the new Jerusalem; ’tis the light of the glory of God and the Lamb. Thither you are invited to enter; the way is open. The root and the offspring of David, the bright {and morning star}, says, Come; and the Spirit and the Sender says, Come; and whosoever will, let him come.”

The voice of the Lord is a joyful sound, nothing in this world can compare. He is calling us out of this dark world to be with Him in His coming kingdom. He is calling us into war. The world is at war with the Lord and His Son. People of the world are desperately trying to take our voice from us and hinder us from advancing His kingdom. The trumpet blast of the Lord is sounding for everyone who has an ear to hear, calling us to engage in His battle for His souls. He is calling us to join with His body, His church, in this last great battle before He returns. John was brought to the ground at the gravity of that moment in His presence. May we also be laid low in His presence until we join in this heavenly battle.

THE FAITHFUL WITNESS

Rev. 1:4,5 – John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood —

John said in John 1:18 that no one had seen God but Jesus had declared or explained Him. Jesus is the Father’s revelation or declaration of Himself. There could be no greater witness, He is the Father’s word expressed in a distinct person. This is where our understanding of everything that pertains to life begins, with an unveiling of Christ Himself. In His light we see light. He is the light of life. That is why Revelations begins with John having a new revelation of Christ. If John needed a greater glimpse of Jesus, what about me? Here is a thought from Matthew Henry of Jesus being the unveiling of the Father to us.

“He is, in person, the Son of God, the only-begotten Son of God, and as such he must have the same nature. This personal distinction always supposes one and the same nature…. The person of the Son is the glory of the Father, shining forth with a truly divine splendor. As the beams are effulgent emanations of the sun, the father and fountain of light, Jesus Christ in his person is God manifest in the flesh, he is light of light, the true Shechinah. The person of the Son is the true image and character of the person of the Father; being of the same nature, he must bear the same image and likeness. In beholding the power, wisdom, and goodness, of the Lord Jesus Christ, we behold the power, wisdom, and goodness, of the Father; for he hath the nature and perfections of God in him.”

To understand the book of Revelations we must have a revelation of Christ. It is in seeing Him that we begin to understand and see the things to come. In the beginning of this new year we need a greater revelation of Christ. This is where we see God’s plan unfolding before us. Draw near, get yourself in the Spirit like John and you too will begin to have insight into things to come.

ALPHA AND OMEGA

Rev.1:8 – “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

What a way to start Revelations, the last book of the Bible. He is the Alpha, the beginning of all things. Everything that is came from the Alpha. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. He is not only the Creator, He is also the source of redemption, healing, deliverance, provision, and renewal. Every good gift comes from above and keeps coming continually. He is an overflowing fountain of life. He is also the Omega. Everything consummates in Him. He will finish everything He has started. He is also the cause, everything exists to display His glory. From moonbeams to rainbows, from earthquakes to volcanoes; everything that is displays his attributes. We see His beauty in the sunsets, His power in the splitting of an atom, His creativity in the smallest things like ears, noses, and fingers. Only the fool has blind eyes, not able to see the glory of God all around. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes today’s verse.

“And when God is so often spoken of as the last as well as the first, and the end as well as the beginning, what is meant (or at least implied) is, that as he is the first efficient cause and fountain from whence all things originate, so he is the last final cause for which they are made; the final term to which they all tend in their ultimate issue. This seems to be the most natural import of these expressions….

And the manner is observable in which God is said to be the last, to whom, and for whom are all things. ‘Tis evidently spoken of as a meet and suitable thing, a branch of his glory; a meet prerogative of the great, infinite and eternal Being; a thing becoming the dignity of him who is infinitely above all other beings; from whom all things are, and by whom they consist, and in comparison with whom all other things are as nothing.”

As we end one year and enter another we can be encouraged from today’s verse. He will lead us into the beginning of this year with His promises of new beginnings. He will also strengthen our hearts as His declaration that He is Omega, He will watch over every day of the year from the first day until the final day to guarantee that is promises will be realized.

UNDER THE INFLUENCE

Rev.1:10 – I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,

Have you ever been under the influence? I’m not talking about alcoholic beverages or other intoxicating substances, I am talking about the influence of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. John was obviously under the influence, of in the Spirit. Why does the Lord do these types of things by the Spirit? First, the Lord uses these manifestations in preparation for spiritual revelation or understanding Matthew Henry describes it like this.

“He was not only in a rapture when he received the vision, but before he received it; he was in a serious, heavenly, spiritual frame, under the blessed gracious influences of the Spirit of God. God usually prepares the souls of his people for uncommon manifestations of himself, by the quickening sanctifying influences of his good Spirit. Those who would enjoy communion with God on the Lord’s day must endeavor to abstract their thoughts and affections from flesh and fleshly things, and be wholly taken up with things of a spiritual nature.”

We obviously aren’t going to write new books of the Bible but the Lord does use the influence of the Spirit when He wants to speak to us. Maybe you should stir yourself this Lord’s day, maybe the Lord is about to speak into your life.

The influence of the Spirit also is used by the Lord when we are under attack or are going through unusually difficult times. Here is how Albert Barnes describes this.

“He was not yet under the prophetic ecstasy, but was, though in a lonely and barren island, and far away from the privileges of the sanctuary, permitted to enjoy in a high degree the consolations of religion: an illustration of the great truth that God can meet his people anywhere; that, when in solitude and in circumstances of outward affliction, when persecuted and cast out, when deprived of the public means of grace and the society of religious friends, he can meet them with the abundant consolations of his grace, and pour joy and peace into their souls.”

So whatever circumstance you may find yourself in this Lord’s Day, get yourself under the influence. Drink in His presence as you read the scriptures, pray in the Spirit, soak in worship as you prepare to attend corporate worship. You too may find yourself in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, whatever happens from there will be above and beyond what anyone can ask or think.

IN THE SPIRIT

Rev.1:10 – I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,

Do you ever take time and really examine what the authors of the Bible were trying to say? I mean to try to take yourself out of your predispositions, the things you automatically think the Bible says. What exactly did the Apostle John mean when he said he “was in the Spirit”? Was he describing something available to all Christians or just first century apostles? I believe John was describing the influence of the Spirit that began for John that day in the upper room when he and 120 other believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit. I also believe this same experience is available for all Christians today. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the root of the supernatural element in the Christian life. Here is how Albert Barnes describes John’s comments.

“The fair meaning of the passage is, that he was at that time favored in a large measure with the influences of the Holy Spirit—the spirit of true devotion; that he had a high state of religious enjoyment…. The state of mind in which he was at the time here referred to, is not such as the prophets are often represented to have been in when under the prophetic inspiration….but such as any Christian may experience when in a high state of religious enjoyment. He was not yet under the prophetic ecstasy, but was, though in a lonely and barren island, and far away from the privileges of the sanctuary, permitted to enjoy in a high degree the consolations of religion: an illustration of the great truth that God can meet his people anywhere; that, when in solitude and in circumstances of outward affliction, when persecuted and cast out, when deprived of the public means of grace and the society of religious friends, he can meet them with the abundant consolations of his grace, and pour joy and peace into their souls.”

This is incredible to me, the Holy Spirit is available to us today, especially when we are going through unusually difficult times. That’s exciting to me knowing the times we live in. I have a feeling the need to be “in the Spirit” is going to increase in the coming days. Just as John was in the Spirit during his exile, we can be in the Spirit no matter what difficulties we face.

WITHDRAW THE VEIL

Rev.1:17 – When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.

Have you ever fallen under the power? I used to think it was bogus. To me it was an embarrassing part of the charismatic renewal that I wanted nothing to do with. What changed my opinion? My opinion changed when it happened to me. What is falling under the power anyway? One way to explain it would be this, becoming so aware of the things of the spiritual world that you lose the ability to function normally in this world. It’s what happened to John on the isle of Patmos, Paul when he was converted on the Damascus Road, and Daniel when he was interceding for his nation. Today it often happens when the power of the Spirit falls upon an individual or a group of individuals and they end up on the floor experiencing His glorious presence. Jonathan Edwards often saw this manifestation in his services, here is part of his explanation.

“Let us rationally consider what we profess to believe of the infinite greatness of the things of God, the divine wrath, the divine glory, and the divine infinite love and grace in Jesus Christ, and the vastness and infinite importance of the things of eternity; and how reasonable is it to suppose that if it pleases God a little to withdraw the veil, and let in light into the soul, and give something of a view of the great things of another world in their transcendent and infinite greatness, that human nature, that is as the grass, a shaking leaf, a weak withering flower, should totter under such a discovery? Such a bubble is too weak to bear the weight of a view of things that are so vast. Alas! What is such dust and ashes, that it should support itself under the view of the awful wrath of infinite glory and love of Jehovah! No wonder therefore that it is said, “No man can see me and live.”

There was a season when Jonathan’s wife Sarah was experiencing this phenomenon in her life. He said there were certain words (like Holy Spirit) that he would avoid using at home because it would set her off. Its not falling or not falling that makes any difference. What matters is having a glimpse behind the veil; when that happens you might find yourself as a heap of joy stuck to the floor.

THE DAY OF HIS COMING

Rev. 1:7 ¶ Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

 

 

I have plenty of memories from my tree planting adventures back in my Bible School days. For those that don’t know, my wife Parris and I spent about seven months in the mountains of Oregon and Washington planting trees to support our Bible School. One of the adventures including night time tree planting to avoid the sun and heat of the day. It was dark and cold on those long winter nights on the slopes. I can remember the anticipation and joy as sunrise would approach. Jonathan Edwards preached about the joy that will fill our hearts at the great Sunrise of the coming eternal day. For the saved, the celebration will begin. For the lost, rather than joy they will shrink back in fear at the dawning of the great day of the Lord. Here is how Edwards explains it.

 

“This shall be the most joyful and pleasant sight to believers that ever their eyes beheld. It will be a thousand times more refreshing to them than ever was the sight of the rising sun to them that have wandered in a wilderness, through the longest and darkest night. The sight of [it] will fill their souls with unspeakable gladness and rejoicing. It will be a bright day to the saints. The beams of that glorious Sun that will then appear will make it bright. The earth will be lightened with his glory, and the light of his glory that the world will then be filled with will be a sweet light to them…

But this appearance, that will be so pleasant to believers, will fill the souls of unbelievers with amazement. The first sight of it will strike them with terror. They shall be for hiding “in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains” [Revelation 6:15]. Every ray of that glory that Christ shall then appear in will be like a stream of scorching fire, and will pierce their hearts with a keener torment than a stream of fierce lightning…”

 

Malachi prophesied about that coming great day and how it would be for the lost.  He said,  Mal. 3:2 “But who can endure the day of His coming?

And who can stand when He appears?

For He is like a refiner’s fire

And like launderers’ soap.”

 

He also spoke of that day for the saved, “Mal. 4:2 But to you who fear My name

The Sun of Righteousness shall arise

With healing in His wings;

And you shall go out

And grow fat like stall-fed calves.”

 

The question begging to be answered; what kind of day will it be for you?

 

 

CHRIST – THE HOLY ADMINISTRATOR

MERRY WEDNESDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“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.” (Revelation 1:12-15 ASV)

It is easy to lose sight of Christ in our everyday lives. Most folks have even given up on attending a local church because of time restraints, boredom and religious reasons. Jesus warned us that “even the elect” would miss His coming and grow weary. But when we turn to the book of Revelation, Christ shows himself in the first chapter. Many times while in worship at our church, I see Christ walking among the people. I see His bare feet with His long flowing robe walking around ministering to people. “His feet were like burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace!” Brass speaks of the stability of His kingdom and the “energy of His government”. In a world that seems so unchristlike it is nice to know Is kingdom has no end. He has a fixed plan and will carry it to the end! He has made firm His word and will carry it out for eternity. We can rest knowing “his ways, counsels, methods in ordering and governing his church is for the beauty and glory of his peoples”. (Matthew Poole)
When I see Christ in this depiction I see that He is unwearied in his office as high priest. “For He ever lives to make intercession for us”. He loves his church that is why I constantly see Him in worship. He loves to minister to the broken hearted and fulfills that purpose through his body. He is constantly bearing us up and supporting His people with His holy and just ways. He also will come again and plant His feet firmly upon this earth on that day.
I believe He wants to flow thru the body of Christ with His administrative abilities. We are His hands, His feet, His voice and His touch. Have you met this Christ at Patmos? He has come to shake our world, our peace and our comfort. He desires to set in motion a mighty plan if you will, through His universal church and is working His plan. “Let’s open our eyes as John did to the present participation of every Christian in the present kingdom of the enthroned Christ. If we are in Him by that faith which engrafts us into Him, we shall ourselves possess that kingdom.” (McClaren)